Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Oliver Holt, Twitter and why newspapers are #fucked

Oliver Holt the Daily Mirror's chief football correspondent told an interesting anecdote on Sunday Supplement a few weeks ago.  He was asked by the show's host, Brian Woolnough, whether he'd seen the dispute between Carlos Tevez and Roberto Mancini while he was covering Manchester City's game with Bayern Munich.

Holt replied that because of the position of the Press box he hadn't, and the first he knew about it was when he started receiving texts and Tweets from people watching the game on TV, it's a story which pretty much sums up the problems newspapers are facing in today's multi-media world.

Here was a guy who was writing a report for a newspaper which wouldn't hit the shops for about another eight hours finding out about the game’s top line from people watching the match live on TV via a social networking site accessible to all.

Just like with the telly, sport is hugely popular on Twitter.  Of the top 10 events measured by tweets per second four are sports-related.  Last summer's women’s World Cup final broke the record with a peak of 7,196 although thankfully the Twitterverse has since shown its intellectual depth as that record was in turn broken when Beyonce announced she was pregnant in August.

Barton sends another Tweet
Now there are loads of footballers tweeting all sorts of shite with no brow-beaten PR on hand to say: “Joey, I don’t think that’s such a good idea”.  So, you’d think that in many ways Twitter would be a boon for the archetypal lazy hack ready to pick up all these juicy quotes and turn them into a ‘story’ without having the hassle of actually leaving the newsroom.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Goals on Film: The Firm (1989)

When you spent as much time watching telly as I did as a kid, certain images live long in the memory.  There’s the scene in nuclear-holocaust drama Threads where the woman pisses herself when the bomb drops.

There was lovely Holly Aird playing the young Elspeth Huxley in the Flame Trees of Thika.  I was seven, she was 12 we were a match made in heaven despite the age difference, at least so I thought.  Recently she popped up in a brief cameo in Page Eight. Now we're older I think the phrase is "bang tidy", but I digress.

Another drama seared on to my retina was the 1989 Screen Two film The Firm.  Before watching it for the purposes of this post, I'd only seen it once 22 years ago, but I can remember some of scenes verbatim.  In part this is down to the central, visceral performance of Gary Oldman as Clive ‘Bex’ Bissel the leader of the Inter City Crew, loosely based on the real-life West Ham hooligans the Inter City Firm.

Where's my faacking wand?
Getting Oldman to appear was a bit of a coup as he was just about to 'go Hollywood'. Like many, since The Firm I've made a point of watching all his films. A measure of his talent is the gulf between the menace of Bex and the quiet control in his portrayal of George Smiley in this year's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. He even made the Harry Potter films just about palatable. (The books are still derivative shit, mind. JK, you're a charlatan; take your Horcrux and shove it up your arse.)

The Firm, which is a little over an hour long, charts Bex’s efforts to recruit an English crew ahead of the (fictional) European Championships in Germany that summer.  More than that, it portrays his deepening and ultimately fatal obsession with besting Yeti, the leader of the rival Buccaneers.  Along the way he, perhaps predictably, alienates his wife and even some of the members of his crew.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Women, football and a century of sexism

Okay, so you’ve probably all heard of the Dick Kerr Ladies by now.  As the media got terribly excited about the Women’s World Cup over the summer – like a toy they didn’t know they had – the team seemed to be the default starting position for any article on women’s football.

That being the case, I won’t bore you with the details of how the Ladies played to packed crowds and gave Jenny Foreigner, as well as several men’s teams, a good arse-shoeing before the FA pulled the rug from under their feet in 1921 by banning ladies teams from Football League grounds.

From that point until the Seventies the women’s game in England existed in more-or-less underground fashion with matches being staged for charity purposes or at local events. The Dick Kerr Ladies regained national prominence briefly in the Thirties and finally disbanded in 1965.

The original Girl Power movement
It was a year later, however, with the 1966 World Cup Finals being staged in England coupled with the recently begun ‘second wave’ feminist movement that the slow journey towards proper recognition for women’s football in the country began.