Thursday, 18 September 2014

Large in charge, Wide of mark

 Image result for adrian peterson images 

Being a huge sports fan has been a difficult hobby in the last week of so.  I live on the outskirts of London, I am a Tottenham Hotspur fan first, but a football fan in general. I adore the New England Patriots, but I love the NFL mostly.  This does not make me ignore other sports either, I am passionate about English rugby, praise Andy Murray and Mo Farah to the hilt; cannot wait for the Ryder Cup next weekend. And yet on numerous occasions of late, the people in charge of these sports are letting me and other sports fans down.

Starting with the NFL which has had two high profile suspensions of talented individuals due to off the field incidents. Firstly, last Wednesday, TMZ released the footage of Ray Rice punching his then fiancee (now wife) Janay Palmer in the elevator of an Atlantic City hotel in February.  In response, Rice's team the Baltimore Ravens suspended him and the NFL suspended him indefinitely subject to an appeal. 

The NFL let itself down in this because allegations came to light that the NFL head office, led by Roger Goodell, knew of the footage back in April and did not act upon it; hoping that the video would never surface. In my eyes, this would make Goodell's tenure as questionable at best or at least make him answerable to questions of integrity.

On Friday, another incident hit the NFL fan, when Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was indicted by a court in Texas for child abuse on his own son, where his form of discipline - hitting him with a wooden stick - was apparently so brutal, ESPN has chosen not to air the pictures of the child due to the graphic nature of the imagery.

Whispers were that after Peterson gave himself out and was released on bail, that he would play for the Vikings on Sunday at home to the Patriots (a game they lost 31-7); and yet the Vikings took the correct decision to not play him.  He was then reinstated to team practices on Monday, but then the team late on Tuesday evening/early Wednesday morning chose to put Peterson on the exempt list meaning he cannot be involved in any team activity until the 'due process' has been resolved.

Nevermind due process, Peterson's actions warranted a termination of his contract and an indefinite suspension from the sport. In many ways, Peterson's actions are worse because it was against a defenceless individual in this case a minor; whereas Ms. Palmer is an adult who is capable of defending herself, although Rice did not give her the chance with his surprise attack.

This makes Goodell's position as NFL Commissioner untenable, he is not doing a good job if his players are being arrested for domestic violence, child abuse, drunk driving; and these are not big defensive linemen or special team operators, Rice and Peterson are franchise players in high profile positions with huge contracts of guaranteed money.  Peterson is assured of his income by being put on the exempt list, despite being indicted for child abuse, so he can put his feet up and still be paid; another bizarre twist in the story.
The unsavoury incidents leave a bad taste in the mouth, and the NFL needs to shake it up before they lose the trust of those who matter, the fans whose ticket prices and merchandise sales allow these players to have huge contracts and the belief they are above the law.

On this side of the Atlantice, the Rugby Football Union have made an almighty faux pas by inserting on the new England rugby shirt imagery or design of the Victoria Cross into the jersey worn by hookers.  Now, rugby more than any other sport has done the most for such charities as Help for Heroes; yet this misguided attempt at a tribute to our armed forces is wrong, because it sees the RFU profiting from those who have fallen, and it is worn in a competitive respect by those who may never get close to a battlefield.  Make tributes, praise the dead just do not profit from it.

And finally in cricket, you had the incident last week of Yorkshire Cricket captain Andrew Gale being told he could not celebrate with his team-mates as they celebrated clinching the County Championship last Thursday at Trent Bridge as he is serving a two-match suspension.  This narrow sighted edict marks the English Cricket Board (ECB) as stuffy and out of touch; Gale played in a majority of the games and made telling contributions, he is entitled to celebrate with his team.  If that was the case, why was John Terry allowed to celebrate with his Chelsea team in Munich 2012 even when he did not play; UEFA in that instance did the right thing.  And people think cricket is behind the times. 

All in all as a sports fan it has been a hard week, one of reflection and introspection about where does my loyalties lie.  I love the NFL and like most fans it will only diminish once Tom Brady retires and my Patriots are tanking for the No 1 pick in five years time; as a Tottenham fan I hope to visit the new stadium once it ever gets built and I hope to go to our temporary home be it Milton Keynes or Wembley. 

However, too often the men at the top of the tree are too often out of touch with the general consensus and wide of the mark with their attempts at contrition.  They hope to appeal to the everyman when not every man is going to be happy.

Follow me on twitter @JamieGarwood

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Make Us Dream

This entertaining book is somewhat of a revelation, the type of book that many a fan wishes they could write about their beloved football side. However, what strikes you most about the book is that it is ultimately one about belief and inspiration.

From the foreword by Ben Smith, the book is about how an unheralded Liverpool side came mightily close to winning the Premier League ahead of the eventual champions Manchester City; only succumbing in the last week of a tumultuous season.

Neil Atkinson and John Gibbons, are born and bred Red, and host a successful podcast entitled The Anfield Wrap, which has seen them host shows in Australia, USA and Ireland.  Whilst this reader has never heard that podcast, the wit and humour in the writing makes it one to seek out for a true unbiased view of the club.

The book takes on a chronological slant on the season, so you get a sense of the writing as the season progresses, with the match reports begin filed shortly after the game.  You get a sense of the smell of Anfield and of a city enjoying its return to the limelight.  The best writing comes from the more emphatic victories namely those at home against Everton (4-0) and Arsenal (5-1).

Also the glowing for one Luis Suarez, is telling in that you were witnessing one of the great single seasons in Football league history, and to think he couldn't play for the first 9 games of the season.

You even get a sense of when they cannot be at the game for work commitments such as when one writer is stuck on a plane while Liverpool play; the sense of helplessness at the situation and the frustration when 28 text messages arrive when you turn your phone back on.

It's quite right that a book about this specific Liverpool season should be chronicled, at times they were the best team in the land and much like those entertainers of Newcastle in 1994/95 who came up short for Kevin Keegan, there's is a side that will live longer in the memory than the actual champions. And thanks to this book the memory will never fade. 

Walk on dear reader 

Make Us Dream is published by DeCourbetin Press and is available at their website for £9.99 or from all good online retailers.

Follow the guys for more at the audiobook 
And on twitter @makeusdreambook 

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Spurs v Liverpool Observations

In an all too familiar outcome between these two sides, Liverpool ripped Tottenham Hotspur apart at White Hart Lane.  In a battle between two Bielsa inspired coaches, the British overcame the South American as Brendan Rodgers charges out thought the team from North London.
Here are my takeaways from the game:

1. A Sterling performance
Raheem Sterling showcased perhaps his best overall performance of his career today. His pace was lightning but coupled with technical nuance and intelligence.  Sterling provides a touch of flair and pizazz to the team and has an eye for goal to add to his repertoire. It is safe to say that Rodgers is nurturing his talent correctly and if he remains at this level he will become one of the great English players.

2. No Dier call up
A few people were surprised by the exclusion of Eric Dier from the most recent England squad of Roy Hodgson this week, however, on a few occasions Dier's naivety was in evidence against the incisive passing of Liverpool. This lead to him conceding the penalty leading to Liverpool establishing a two-nil lead. His outstretched arm on Joe Allen was rightly penalised but it was more an indication of the training method employed at youth football, where players are taught to pull a shirt to stop forward progress. It might have been a 'soft' penalty but you will be surprised if Dier attempts again.

3. Mario will soon be Super
Mario Balotelli failed to score on his debut and he was quite ring rusty with some headers and a long range shot that he shanked terribly, but there were glimpses of a new emphasis on teamwork for the 24 year old Italian; he tracked back to tackle and do the nitty gritty and his strength was his strength against Younes Kaboul although his lofted pass was counter productive for the run of Sterling. The link up will prosper eventually and Super Mario shall return.

4. Over-manned midfield
Mauricio Pochettino was out manned in his midfield selection. His attempt for continuity in selection by starting the same XI that defeated QPR so convincingly last weekend, played into the hands of the Anfield club who had captain Steven Gerrard, the motor Jordan Henderson and Rodgers lynchpin Joe Allen faced the less than fearful Capoue and Nabil Bentaleb, who were outgunned and overpowered. Whilst he is out of favour the presence of Sandro might have made Liverpool think about a more combative approach. However, even an under par Gerrard did not have much to do as no pressure was forthcoming from a weary Tottenham side.
Perhaps Pochettino needs to focus more on motivation rather than tactical philosophies as Tottenham seem to currently freeze against fellow top 6 sides.

5. Mouth watering versus Madrid
The Champions League draw threw up the tantalising prospect of Real Madrid v Liverpool in back-to-back games at the Bernebeu and Anfield. These two encounters promise to be played at a neck break pace full of speed and passion at two footballing cathedrals, no need to pray, the prayers have been answered.

Follow me on twitter @JamieGarwood

Monday, 11 August 2014

The Morning Comes

When the morning comes
Will you be there
Lying by my side
Staying near

When the evening comes
Will you hold onto my arm
Holding close
Aware of harm

I will stay with you
All night through
I'll watch your back
Will you watch mine

I feel for you
I really do
Do you feel for me?
Like I do for thee

- it's funny looking back at your work.  I wrote this when I spent a summer in Spain probably 2003. Wow, that's over 10 years ago and you look back at yourself then and think about what happened to that guy you were.  Personally, I don't think I have changed, I'm still me, still a romantic fool. And looking at the relationship I am in now, there is some resonance in the words when I think about the girl I am with now

Thursday, 7 August 2014

One More Dance

I'm making a move
Busting a groove
Out here on the dancefloor
I've got it down
Spinning around
Time stands still once more

So why don't you dance with me
Did I do something you couldn't believe
Like not tell the truth
Say somehow rude
Can we have one more dance

I remember when we danced
Just to make he time pass
As the night ghosted along
We would swing and salsa
Up close and together
To each and every song.

So why won't you dance with me
Are you not digging my scene
Have I done something wrong
Was I right all along
Can't we have one more dance

It's not a lot to ask for
Not a lot to want
I just want your body close
Up and personal with me
I want a night to remember
Longer than a photograph
So give me one more song
And one more dance

- I must have written this in a jealous pique whilst in Spain, after one night where a girl would dance with one guy but not me.  I like the way I have an AABAAB structure of rhyming throughout until the conclusion but you see me able to do a variety of different styles, whilst the content remains.  The reference to Spinning Around is a link to the Kylie song of the same name, which gives you a sort of time capsule quality.

The Homesman - Preview

The Homesman

Tommy Lee Jones, one of the finest and most consistent actors in America, returns to the screen but also goes back behind the camera for his sophomore effort, The Homesman, following the critical success of The Three Burials of Melquaides Estrada.

Entertainment One released the trailer for the film this morning (7th August) before the scheduled 21st November release.

The film stars Jones as George Briggs, a man about to hang himself when he is saved by the independent Mary Bee Cuddy, portrayed by Hilary Swank.  For saving his life, Cuddy convinces Briggs to help her escort three crazy women across country. Set in the American West of the 1850s, this is a western film based on the synonymous novel by Glendon Swarthout.

The trailer shows us plenty of action and gives us glimpses of other fine talent in the film including John Lithgow, Tim Blake Nelson and Meryl Streep.  Tellingly, we do not get much of a look of the three troubled women, although they appear to be played by unknown actresses.  The trailer concentrates on the dynamic relationship between Briggs and Cuddy, with Swank ending the clip on the upbeat note, 'We make a good team you and me'.

In cinematic terms, the film carries the same sinister and underlying darkness that was in Jones' directorial debut; and yet the pictures harken back to a time of late era Sam Peckinpah and Don Siegel.  We can be assured though that the acting will be first rate.

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Follow me on Twitter @JamieGarwood

This Summer

Come to the beach
To get up
You better dress down
The beer is flying
Round the party pool
This summer is here.

But this summer will be better than the last
Cos I'm going to live each day at a time
Try and do something I've never done before
Like drink too much and wake up a quarter to four

In the afternoon will we make friends
From far off places we'll never see again
Will we remember them or become a tag
On facebook that we'll only see when looking back

This summer will be better than the last
Cos the temperature will be high
And we will sure have a blast
Toasting the sun in the sky

So this summer is going to be good
Take my word for it
And you'll never want to go home
But you sure will want to come back

Will this summer be memorable
Or will it slide away from the sky
We can make it great
If we all have a good time

- looking back I like how this lyric seems to be just natural and has a good feel to it, embracing the moment but wary of what lies ahead.