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Bent in shock transfer request

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darren bentFirst new major job for David Miliband, persuade the striker to withdraw his transfer request!

This news has come as a major shock to Sunderland fans here in South Shields, with the club confirming Darren Bent has handed in a written transfer request following yesterday’s derby match draw against Newcastle United. The news, which was announced on Radio 5 this afternoon will test the ability of the club to influence the player, and test its ambitions in finishing this season’s campaign in as high a position as possible. This is not the first time that Bent has asked to leave, and apparently the club are prepared to dig their heels in over his transfer request, especially as there could be interest from elsewhere.

It is understood that Aston Villa’s American owner Randy Lerner has sanctioned an £18m move for the England capped striker to bolster Villa’s hopes of remaining in the Premiership. Sunderland fans will be utterly shocked at the news, as it looks pretty clear that the player is bent on leaving Wearside with the lure of a probable significant signing on fee and a hike in wages.

Perhaps there is a case for South Shields MP David Miliband to test his international credentials on behalf of the club and the legions of Sunderland supporters within his constituency who do not want to see Sunderland’s campaign fall apart with the loss of it’s influential goal scorer. Miliband could well remind Darren Bent of the possibility of travel to European cities in a red and white shirt, if he was willing to forego the lucre of Lerner and see out at least another year of his contract at the Stadium of Light. Bent would be unlikely to see much European action for the midlands team next season if he decides to jump ship now.

So come on Mr. Miliband, pick up that phone and start doing what Niall Quinn really wants from you – community involvement and international influence as:

“We’re always challenging ourselves to find new ways to grow and develop the club and to make it stronger.”

On the possible non-executive director’s position for David Milband, Steve Bruce added:

“It just lifts the brand and what we are trying to achieve, and it might give a little more street cred, if that’s the right word, to what we are trying to do.”

That street cred will be shot to shreds if Quinn, Bruce, and perhaps Miliband allow Bent’s transfer request to stand, with the club currently sitting in sixth place in the Premier League one had hoped that there was an ambition to win a place in a European competition next year. If Bent is now allowed to leave a replacement bought as a panic measure might well ensue (unless, of course, that the proceeds of Bent’s sale are used to tempt Danny Wellbeck away from Old Trafford.)

So, come on Mr. Miliband, half of your constituency football supporters need your intervention – now!

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Written by curly

January 17, 2011 at 7:11 pm

Sunderland 1 – 1 Newcastle United

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Predictable derby day result

It’s been a while since I wrote seriously about football, but seriously, as a Sunderland fan I thought we were lucky to get that point today. I never attempt to predict a win on derby day, the most predictable outcome generally is a hard fought draw.

The Toon came to The Stadium of Light well organised tight and compact at the back and Gutierrez and Barton generalled the midfield for them, up front Amoebi had a couple of chances and Best was at best totally anonymous. As for Sunderland, our midfield had no bite at all, El Mohamady’s crosses mostly went to waste, and once again we failed to rise to the occasion, both strikers Bent and Gyan looked ineffective and wasted chances.

Newcastle certainly took the game to Sunderland in the first ten minutes, but then the football came to an end and we were fed a diet of long ball stuff from both teams, and passing was at a premium in the middle of the park where very few playmakers were on display. Newcastle’s goal was hardly a joy to behold, although Ameobi always seems to be a major threat to us, his headed knock down would probably have sneaked in on its own without Nolan’s deft back heel. It was always going to be an uphill battle after that, and we can count ourselves fortunate that the Lads can at least battle on these days beyond the standard ninety minutes.

Gyan, probably knew little about his equaliser after it bounced in on the rebound from his chest, and whilst the point for the draw is always welcome I don’t think in honesty that Toon fans will be happy with a point away from home. It must have felt like a loss for them, we never really tested Harper’s goal, there was never a feeling that we might threaten a goal or two, and this was simply because when Newcastle had the ball we had nobody capable of winning it back, and only one player in the right frame of mind to put it into the box.

So, a point gained for Sunderland, a get out of jail moment.

At any rate that’s the end of derby days for this season, and putting my libertarian hat on for a moment, I find it sad that the police are having to resort to treating people like animals again (all in the name of public safety you know). Kettling is bad enough for crowds, but now they have the more formidable solid metal walls to constrain and funnel people with, rather like goading sheep, pigs, or cattle into the lorries that take them to the abattoir. Treat people like animals and they sometimes end up behaving that way, sadly the only contact between fans was inside the stadium where chairs were being ripped up and hurled at each other.

There were still a handful of arrests both inside and outside of the ground, but at least the metal “walls” will have reduced the amount of potential manpower needed to police the match. It is all a bit sad to think that the only visible contact between the fans and the police on their way to the buses would have been at the end of a metal tunnel to be greeted by a big policeman on horseback with a big stick.

It’s an intimidating thought, but perhaps that was the intention.

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Written by curly

January 16, 2011 at 8:30 pm

Miliband TV Channel

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David Miliband MP

South Shields MP in new roles?

Well I’m glad you all tuned in, since it was revealed that I may be looking for a new media role I can tell you that I am also interested in being a highly paid “face” for Sunderland AFC, cannot promise that I’ll be at the Stadium of Light much though as I have this season ticket here at The Emirates.  I might also be a little pushed for time as I juggle my careers as Member of Parliament for South Shields, as well as non executive vice-chairman to Niall Quinn, – I hope I don’t upset the extremely good start they’ve had to the season but I’ll be really annoyed if they end up doing better than the Gooners, –  and part-time teacher. Don’t worry though, I’ll try my hardest to squeeze in the odd visit to South Shields.

Yes, I know, times are tough, unemployment is rising and it really hurts to be out of a job in the north east right now, I really feel for those whose homes are under threat of repossession or who have lost the company car, but with good mates around you things should be OK. It has to be better than the future that some MPs are facing!

Update 17:30

Jeff in Westminster wonders just how much spare time our MP has (although I think he is mistaken over the hours that Miliband proposes to teach), and some others imply that an MP cannot do his/her job fully if they are otherwise engaged elsewhere. It must be remembered, of course, that David Miliband still acted as our constituency MP whilst flying around the world ejecting people from their homes when he was Foreign Secretary (although a lot of casework was taken on by neighbouring MP Stephen Hepburn, as it is customary for neighbouring MPs to grow broader shoulders ). Many others still find time to get paid for speaking engagements or writing newspaper columns, but it is difficult to argue that one can be adequately seeing to constituency affairs on a day devoted to teaching in London, or chasing down a television or radio deal.

Jeff was initially in favour of increased pay for MPs, now he’s not so sure, he adds:

However, I do have a problem with MPs acting outside the job description and taking up part-time roles outside their democratic remit. If you want to be a tv star or a teacher then step aside and let someone else in to do the job that you were elected to do less than a year ago.

Does he have a fair point? Would the Member of Parliament for Jarrow be so lucky as to find additional well paid part time jobs?

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A deflating weekend……..

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wayne rooney…….more complaints about Rooney than there were about Khan and Branley!

Yes it has all been a bit disappointing to see the rich and famous not pulling their weight and to ice the cake by making sarcastic remarks about the booing that followed, even after the deflating feeling imbued by England’s failure to despatch a workmanlike Algerian team at the World Cup Finals. The monotonous droning sounds of the vuvuzelas were still ringing in my ears here in South Shields as I read of Rooney’s apparent apology, the words were likely of course to be have been penned by some minion in the F.A. and handed out in the Scouser’s name to the waiting press, thus making him possibly, the most unpopular Englishman around the world this morning – even more unpopular than some of our local councillors!

So congratulations must go to Wayne Rooney for learning to be more insulting than even Cllr, Ahmed Khan could manage!

Cllr. Khan and his leader Cllr. Jane Branley along with Cllr. Gordon Finch, all representatives of the South Tyneside Independent Alliance, have recently had complaints against them escalated to the Standards Board for England, and a couple of those complaints have been further escalated to First Tier Tribunals for adjudication. In respect of some earlier complaints Cllr. Gordon Finch, the former Progressive, was found not to have breached the Code of Conduct over allegations of fiddled expenses and racist insults, in Cllr. Khan’s earlier case he too was found not to have breached the Code of Conduct because some of his actions occurred before he had become a councillor and that his alleged racial comment

was not sufficiently insulting to constitute disrespect.

So there you are, he doesn’t yet insult to the same degree as Wayne Rooney, so we can assume it’s O.K. to carry on booing.

Cllr. Jane Branley had also been found not to have breached the Code of Conduct in an earlier case, after it was decided that there was no evidence linking her to the writing of Independent Alliance newsletters:

The ethical standards officer found no evidence that Councillor Branley was responsible for the offending articles in three of the newsletters. These newsletters were clearly written and gave the impression as being written by a member of the public.

Two other cases alleging misconduct by Cllrs. Branley and Khan are to be decided by a First Tier Tribunal, Jane Branley will appear before a Tribunal at the George Washington Hotel in Washington on 29th June at 9:30 am, and it will be open to the public, Cllr. Khan’s Tribunal date has yet to be confirmed.

I offer no opinion on these cases, especially as the outcome is yet to be determined, but I am a little surprised that neither those already dealt with, or those still to be heard, have not yet seen the light of day in our local news outlets purely as information dissemination, perhaps they are waiting to get a little more solid factual basis before being able to complete the story.

In the mean time I sit here feeling a little deflated knowing that the well paid prima donnas are making headlines in spite of very poor performances – I’m off to watch Sunderland’s Paulo da Silva playing for Paraguay against Slovakia – enjoy the rest of the football folks!

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Written by curly

June 20, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Did “The Mariners” throw a match?

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Did South Shields take a bribe from opposing striker?

I’ve never come across this one before, so thought it was worth sharing, especially as it involves a former Sunderland player.

Barney Travers, the Fulham centre-forward, was banned for life for allegedly being involved in the fixing of the  South Shields v Fulham match. He had joined Fulham in 1921 from Sunderland having in three seasons he had scored 52 goals in 104 matches for Sunderland.  His transfer to Fulham was for £3,000, equalling the British record transfer fee at the time.

Travers scored 28 goals in 45 appearances for Fulham, but was banned for life by the FA in April 1922 after it was alleged that he had offered a bribe to a South Shields player to ’throw’ a Second Division match at Horsley Hill.

I don’t suppose any of my readers will be old enough to go back that far, but some historian of The Mariners, now playing at Filtrona Park, South Shields, may be able to shed a little more light on this.

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Written by curly

May 25, 2010 at 8:14 pm

Old time atmosphere at The Stadium of Light

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Alf Ramsey knew my grandfather

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“Alf Ramsey” cast to appear before Burnley game, Lipton Trophy to be aired!

I won’t be able to see Sunderland playing against Burnley this afternoon at the Stadium of Light, in fact I’ll be nowhere near South Shields at all as we travel away on a long standing engagement, so this may be the only blog post of the day. South Shields playwright Ed Waugh, whose politics are not my cup of tea – but he does have a good seam of humour in him – is sending the cast of “Alf Ramsey Knew my Grandfather” on to the pitch at Sunderland this afternoon for a pre game appearance.

Older readers may well recall the 1982 film “The World Cup: A Captain’s Tale” which starred Dennis Waterman, him of “The Sweeney”, Nigel Hawthorne, Andrew Keir, and Tim Healey, which depicted the exploits of the boys from West Auckland as they undertook the onerous trip to Italy to play against Stuttgart and FC Winterthur and in what was to be the world’s first cup competition for clubs. Incredibly the lads from West Auckland, competing for the Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy, won it in 1909 and even managed to retain the trophy two years later in 1911 against clubs from Switzerland, Germany, and Italy beating Juventus in the final and returning the cup to  County Durham. They were allowed to keep the trophy in perpetuity but it was stolen in 1994 and now the West Auckland Workingmen’s Club only has a replica.

It will be this replica of The Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy which will be paraded at the ground this afternoon by the cast of the play (I hope they will be wearing the “replica” woollen jerseys of West Auckland too it will add a good sense of history to the game, especially as so many Sunderland footballers were recruited from County Durham during that period).

Ed has sent me this, and I’m happy to help out, and hope that plenty of South Shields folks get along to today’s match or even better get along to Newcastle’s Theatre Royal to see Ed’s play.

Sunderland Football Club have invited Alf Ramsey Knew My Grandfather cast members onto the Stadium of Light’s hallowed turf on Saturday to display the impressive Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy prior to the Premiership match against Burnley.

The play, about the West Auckland football team who won the first world cup in 1909, is to transfer to Newcastle Theatre Royal in May.

Niall Quinn, Sunderland’s charismatic chairman, will attend the pre-match event, which will be used to publicise the “greatest football story ever” – when a team of miners from West Auckland in County Durham were invited to compete for the inaugural world cup in Italy against the top professional teams from Germany, Switzerland and Italy.

“West” beat German champions Stuttgart Sportfreunde 2-0 in the semi-finals before seeing off the Swiss champs FC Winterthur 2-0 in the final.

The lads returned to Turin, Italy, in 1911 and won the cup outright after hammering the mighty Juventus 6-1.

The play, written by former Vaux Breweries worker and Sunderland Polytechnic student Ed Waugh and Trevor Wood, premiered at the Gala theatre in Durham last April to mark the centenary of the first achievement, was a huge success. Around 4,500 people attended and by the end of the 10-show run, it was playing to full houses at the 500-seat venue.

West Auckland were a team of County Durham miners playing in the Northern League when they were invited by the Glasgow-born tea magnate Sir Thomas Lipton to participate in the inaugural world cup in Turin, Italy.

“West” subsequently kept the cup but it was stolen in 1994 and an exact replica today takes its place in West Auckland Working Men’s Club. People come from all over the world to pay respect to the achievement of these plucky miners.

Ed Waugh said: “This is an incredible non-partisan, forgotten episode in football history.

“Sunderland has always been a brilliant community club and we can’t thank everyone involved enough for allowing us to bring this story to many more thousands of people.

“Alf Ramsey Knew My Grandfather is a fantastic story of fairytale proportions about the sacrifice of the lads and lasses who made this incredible story happen.

“While football is its central theme it’s really a story about characters, community, solidarity and friendship – a bit like Auf Wiedersehen, Pet with balls!”

Alf Ramsey Knew My Grandfather runs at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle, from Tuesday, May 11, until Saturday, May 15. Telephone 08448 11 21 21 or visit

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Alliance councillor to stand down

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Vic Thompson not to seek re-election in Westoe

The South Tyneside Alliance deputy leader Cllr. Ahmend Khan has quietly announced that his colleague Cllr. Victor Thompson will not be seeking re-election to South Tyneside Council following his one term as a member for the Westoe ward in South Shields.

Cllr. Thompson, a man of few reported words, said:

“Being a councillor is quite time consuming and I have now decided to give it up to concentrate on running my business.”

Cllr. Khan thanked Victor Thompson for his contribution adding:

“We all wish him well and although he has taken the difficult decision to stand down, I am certain that Victor will remain an active member of the Alliance for many years to come.”

The Independent Alliance have been swift to appoint a candidate who hopes to win the ward for the Independent Alliance group at the May elections, he is David McBride (apparently not related to the Labour arch spinner Damien)

David has lived in the ward for over thirty years and attended local schools and South Tyneside College before leaving to work in Liverpool and Ibiza. His occupational background is in the construction industry and he is currently taking a part time course to become a trainer in construction skills. David is the proud father of Jack and they both share a passion for football watching both Newcastle and Sunderland at home.

Now, watching just one of these teams play at home isn’t a cheap pursuit when taking children along, but to watch both must be a financially crippling way of getting splinters in the backside from your fence sitting!

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Written by curly

February 28, 2010 at 11:39 am

Kenwynne Jones swop deal off

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kenwynne jonesLiverpool wanted to swop Jones for Babel in loan deal

Another Twitter post has caused problems for someone, Ryan Babel the pretty useless Dutch winger at Liverpool vented his frustrations on his Twitter page after failing to get sufficient playing time, so Rafael Benitez attempted to lure Kenwynne Jones away from Sunderland by offering Babel in exchange. ‘No way Jose’ was the apparent response from Steve Bruce (who is probably eager to offload the inconsistent and unproductive Jones on to some other team during the current transfer window), yet despite suffering a heavy bout of the blues after Saturday’s 2 – 7 thrashing at the hands of Chelsea Bruce knows full well that a dispirited Babel would not in any way improve his squad at Sunderland.

However, Liverpool fans should wake up to the fact that Benitez cannot be the man to lead them back to glory, especially if he sees Kenwynne Jones as a natural replacement for Fernando Torres, as any South Shields based Sunderland supporter knows too well!

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Written by curly

January 18, 2010 at 11:58 am

Elf ‘n’ Safety men close Britain

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snow manCountry declared “unsafe” in current cold snap!

Imagine you are back in 1963 transported there by the “Tardis” that stood in Frederick Street, South Shields, it was a bad winter one of the worst in living memory, major routes were blocked with snow temporarily, streets were piled high with snow, what looked like huge impassable drifts formed on every terraced street by the riverside (this was the snow that had fallen from the roof, it hardly happens these days because we all have three feet of insulation in the loft), school playgrounds were just another blanket of white like any other place except, of course, they were full of children!

Shops seemed to have most things that you needed, logistics didn’t appear to be a problem, the cardboard carpets weren’t too nice mind, trains ran almost on time to and from Newcastle but they did have ice on the insides of the windows, people went to work one way or another as we somehow adapted and got used to winter. Even at the weekends you got to St. James’ Park or Roker Park to watch a game of football, the field may well have been white and the lines were marked by digging along with a shovel  and the players were given an orange ball, sometimes spectators turned up in the morning to help clear snow from the pitch, but hey the show had to go on!

Now let’s jump back in that “Tardis” and ask the good Doctor (William Hartnell) to transport us to the United Kingdom in 2009/10.

“Sorry, we cannot go there old chum, it’s closed!

The Health and Safety nitwits have declared a virtual state of emergency and it isn’t safe for you to travel or walk the streets”

What? Closed?

The Doctor may well have been right.

Roads are closed, we are warned not to travel, thousands of schools are closed, businesses have almost crawled to a halt as employees fail to get to work, shops begin to run out of supplies, and virtually the whole sporting weekend has been cancelled. It is winter after all!

The BBC/ITV/Sky and every newspaper is pre-occupied with the weather, this morning BBC Radio 5 Live has debated ad infinitum on the wisdom or otherwise of closing schools and cancelling football games during the current chilly spell, and the overwhelming opinion has been that the weather, the snow, and the ice have not been good enough excuses for closure or cancellation. Yet the biggest factor in head teachers, boards of governors, and directors at sporting arenas, reaching a decision to close has been “health and safety” or more precisely the fear of facing a civil litigious claim for damages following a personal injury or accident!

It seems that it is no longer a safe or healthy option to slide around in the playground or throw snowballs, even under supervision, all free time has to be spent indoors, and schools are no longer concerned solely with the prevailing conditions within their own perimeters, if the surrounding streets and pavements are covered with snow and ice then it is plainly not safe for the schools to cater for children. We should all remind some educationalists that it is the parents’ responsibility to ensure that the children get to school safely, not the headmaster’s!

In some cases schools cannot operate because a certain percentage of staff fail to get to work quoting “the weather” as a valid reason, in days gone by classes would double up and teacher to pupil ratios would be thrown out of the window for a few days, it seems this is no longer an option, but the worst reason that I’ve heard so far for a closure decision must be the one that relieves the school of the difficulty of reporting a higher than normal absentee level. Schools are measured on their levels of attendance, including those days when “the weather” apparently prevents the most local of pupils from getting there, but if the school is closed then those absences are masked completely!

The next big argument I’ve heard today is whether or not an employer should continue to pay someone who fails to get to work because of “the weather”, many are prepared to be flexible and will pay if the hours are made up later, some suggest using days of annual leave during this period of inconvenience, but should we really imagine that we have some sort of strong case in thinking that our employer must pay us come what may? After all, it’s hardly our fault that Britain is in the middle of a Siberian winter, so therefore we cannot be held responsible for not providing a few days labour!

Finally, football, rugby, horse racing, and indeed curling have all seen numerous events cancelled this weekend and generally not because the venue wasn’t fit for purpose. Most football pitches have under soil heating and covers to ensure that games can go ahead, most major stadiums these days are all seaters so spectators don’t have to stand on snow covered terraces, most rugby players wouldn’t blink an eye at turning out in sub zero temperatures on rock hard ground, they are rough tough men after all, but yet again the prevailing conditions at these venues are not the reason why the fixtures have been called off. Oh no, the reasons are all wrapped up in “Elf ‘n’ Safety” with local committees charged with issuing safety certificates to stadiums on a game by game basis, these groups consist of police, fire brigades, local councils, private ambulance services, and health care professionals and it is they who have decided that car parks, side streets, and footpaths around stadia are “not safe” for spectators to use, or that conditions are too dangerous for professional drivers of police cars, ambulances, or fire tenders! Hence safety certificates are refused and the sporting weekend is off, yes even the curling championship in Stirlingshire (which relies entirely on solid ice for it’s playing surface) is off following “health and safety” concerns:

“Following extensive discussions with a wide variety of interested parties including Central Scotland Police, The Fire and Rescue Service, the Scottish Ambulance Service, and Stirling Council it has not proved possible to address all health and safety concerns and receive the full backing of the Emergency Services within the time scales involved.

“Without achieving this it would be impossible to gain the necessary insurance to hold the event. Every possible effort has been made to facilitate this unique event but it has been acknowledged that public safety must remain the primary concern.”

God help us, if a game traditionally played on frozen lochs cannot take place in conditions that have endured three weeks of temperatures lower than those in my freezer, there is little hope for us.

Of course now that Great Britain has closed down in the face of fear (i.e. our insurers won’t cover us and if something happens we are sure to be sued by someone) we have to ask just how did we get into this ridiculous mess? When accidents no longer happen in snow or on ice, but that someone must be made accountable and be available to give a pound of flesh and a mighty slice from the bank account is hardly enough, the fat cat professionals in the legal services also have a huge vested interest, the barristers and solicitors need their almighty slice of the cash too. We began this treacherous route down the American sue everyone in sight modus operandi when some bunch of lawyers and barristers decided that the “no win, no fee” option involving insurance premiums was the way to go, and that natural justice would be available to all regardless of merit or finance, and so they legislated and it all went downhill towards the closure sign from then. One of NuLabour’s gifts to us.

So the UK has now closed down for winter, the Stadium of Light in Sunderland with it’s excellent facilities and pitch will not host a game against Bolton tomorrow in case anyone slips on the ice on Newcastle Road – good grief. Meanwhile we have taken to stealing sand from the beaches to make it “safe” for us to walk the streets, presumably to defend against possible litigants (I had a feeling that South Tyneside was running out of rock salt/grit yesterday).

Can someone please tell me why we appear to be the only state in Europe that cannot cope with winter any longer, have we just forgotten what winter is all about? Has the nanny state grown so mighty that we are afraid to try and get through our daily lives with just some adjustments to protect us against the “Elf ‘n’ Safety” police and Big Brother doing everything in his power to look after our interests? God forbid that we should ever have to deal with a real emergency, we’d never cope!

Oh well, to compensate, the good Doctor offered me this video of Sunderland playing Everton in the fifth round of the FA Cup in 1963, the year of the big freeze. You will notice the mounds of snow piled up around the edges of the pitch as players such as “the King” Charlie Hurley revel in the conditions. As far as we are aware none of the sixty-three thousand people were badly hurt, or killed in the making of this film or by their attendance at a football match! That was back in the days when the “open for business” sign was hung on the UK’s shop door.


Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger blasts Britain’s Elf ‘n’ Safety xulture, The Sun reports him as saying this about match cancellations:

“It is the price we pay for living in a society where everybody wants 100 per cent security.”

“Nobody accepts risk any more – everybody is always guided by fear.

“If one of 60,000 people has an accident, you feel very guilty and nobody accepts any more that the slightest insecurity could exist in society. “That’s why games are postponed when there is no real need. We have gone from individual initiative to collective responsibility.

“Any single accident that happens to any individual, we are collectively responsible for it. When you organise a football game, you have to stand up for that.”

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Sunderland vs Liverpool

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Yesterday’s game had strangest ever goal seen at The Stadium of Light…..

………but Darren Bent won’t be too bothered.

A  few referees have been on the radio since yesterday afternoon declaring that the goal ought not to have counted, and the game should have been stopped and restarted with a drop ball on the six yard line. At the end of the day match referee Mr. Jones consulted his assistant referee (linesman) and came to a decision – the referee’s decision is final (that’s another rule).

What did you think of it? Video from BBC’s Match of the Day.

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Written by curly

October 18, 2009 at 7:55 pm


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