Thursday, 10 November 2011

Poppies, FIFA and the Daily Mail

I bet there were sighs of relief all round at the Daily Mail offices when FIFA said England players couldn’t wear poppies on their shirts this weekend.  Journalists are among the best recyclers I know, after all why be creative when you can be lazy and just repackage the same shite you served up last year?

So it is that with no celebrities or football teams left to bully into wearing them, the Daily Mail got all angry about the fact a bunch of sweaty, smelly foreigners had had the temerity to stop our boys from showing support for our other boys in their friendly with Spain.

As the filthy right wing rag couldn’t quite swing it, it took the intervention of two of England’s finest to finally make Sepp and his chums see sense.  That’s right you can always rely on the balanced and measured members of the English Defence League to win the argument when our useless politicians have failed.

Who do you think you are kidding, Mr Blatter?
The whole problem over the poppies was about whether or not they’re a political symbol.  FIFA said they were but the right-minded people at the Daily Mail clearly demonstrated they weren’t by creating such a fuss that the Prime Minister was compelled to write an indignant letter.  You can’t get less political than when the head of the Government is involved.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Goals on Film: Mike Bassett - England Manager

I’ll be honest, I skipped Mike Bassett: England Manager when it was released in 2001. Never having been a fan of Ricky Tomlinson, I thought it would be a sub-Royle Family 'comedy' with little to offer.

Given its release just two weeks after England, under the guidance of Sven-Göran Eriksson, beat Germany 5-1 it was easy to dismiss the film and I wasn't the only one to do so. The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw suggested its "entire premise, with its jokey stoicism, suddenly looks obsolete".

Bradshaw's position was easy to understand at the time. After all, here was England’s so-called Golden Generation under the influence of a cosmopolitan foreigner with one of the best managerial CVs in the game dismantling an age-old enemy in their own backyard.

So, when I recently watched Mike Bassett I was pleasantly surprised and disheartened in equal measure. Surprised because it is a brilliantly observed satire in the best traditions of the British genre, disheartened because, well, despite the hope created by that famous win in Munich nothing’s changed, in reality the film could have been made last week.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Gone But Not Forgotten - Withdean Stadium, Brighton

This week we take a trip to Brighton's Withdean Stadium with Tom Biggs, co-editor of The Sports Desk . You can also follow him on Twitter @TBiggs90

It was a ground no opposition fans or players ever wanted to visit.

Not because the home team were so brilliant, so dominant, but because there was no real closeness to the players, no cover from the south coast storms and most of all no atmosphere.

It must be said, the lack of atmosphere wasn’t down to the loyal home fans, it was down to the stadium. With a huge running track around the outside, only one stand covered and the other three assembled from scaffolding, it would’ve been hard to feel any real atmosphere had England won the World Cup there.

The Withdean Stadium
Brighton and Hove Albion finally waved goodbye to their temporary accommodation, the Withdean Stadium, at the end of last season as they moved to the new state-of-the-art 25000 all-seater American Express Community Stadium.