Announcements Live

Radio Radio

I don’t post very frequently these days, so this is mostly an archive. Recently though, I’ve ventured into the world of podcasting with my old mate @ElTele. It’s going well, I think. You can find us on all the socials, but the best place to begin is our Only A Podcast web site. Happy listening!

Or scroll down for musings new (not so often) and old!

Life Sport

Blast from the Past – 1997

A post written back in the day, originally for Vital Sheffield Wednesday, now lost to site upgrades. So here it is once again.. sport hurts!

1997: Owls fans had a season much like the one we’ve just witnessed, although at Premiership level.

Off the back of a creditable performance the previous season, 1997/8 (like 2007/8) began with a terrible start. Losses to Newcastle and (oh, the embarrassment) at home to Leeds instantly put David Pleat’s side on the back foot. A point rescued by Paolo Di Canio away at Wimbledon gave travelling Owls fans (including myself) some relief that day.. but a greater shock was to come.

Next up, a tough test for any Premiership team: a Bank Holiday Monday evening game at Blackburn. I lived in Brighton at the time, had to be in London bright and early the following day but hey, it’s a Bank Holiday: what’s a guy to do but have a few jars in the afternoon with his mates?

The particular pub we’d settled into had great beer.. but no Sky. Kick off time approached, and no one else cared about the football but me. I hadn’t set the video: earlier in the day I was convinced I’d watch the game somewhere in town. I racked my beer-fuddled brain but there was no Sky screen nearer than my house and as I’d left it far too late, that’s where I had to go, and quickly. Extricating myself from the good company and ales round about the time the teams were coming out, and ignoring calls to stay, I legged it up the hill and home. I knew I’d be late, but I wouldn’t miss much. Six, maybe eight, minutes tops. No problem.

Into the house, on with the TV.

We’re two down.

As I found out during the half time re-run, Kevin Gallacher headed home a Stuart Ripley corner for the first and finished off a cool Jason Wilcox pass for the second. Shattered. My heart in my boots already, another pressing need took over.. get rid of the beer. Quickly upstairs for a pish.

I’m out of the room. Benito Carbone pulls one back (Paolo Di Canio crossed for Guy Whittingham to provide the assist). I missed it.

Three goals have gone in and I’ve not seen any of them.

Well, never mind. 2-1: I settled into my armchair. Come on, we can do this, we’re back in the..

Graham Hyde heads into his own net. Ten minutes gone. 3-1 down.

Ewood Park is rocking and further misery was piled on. 19 minutes: Gallacher crosses from the right to Chris Sutton who lays the ball on for Wilcox to score. Five minutes later Sutton gets in on the act himself for his fourth of the season, and Blackburn had been totally rampant for half an hour.

At which time, Andy Booth takes a knock and David Pleat brings on.. Steve Nicol. Oh that’s going to work fine, Pleat, what are you trying to do, defend a lead we don’t have? I’m sure there was a reason for it, but it was lost on me at the time. Too subtle for me, maybe.

Paolo did miss a golden opportunity shortly after though, played in by Beni. And that gave me hope. Half time, 5-1 down and I still think we can rescue it. You do, don’t you? Sometimes it just happens: call it blind faith but you still think your team can do it.

Whistle blows, second half, game on. Wayne Collins and David Hirst come on for Des Walker and Guy Whittingham. I am now totally tactically baffled by our manager. Let’s face it though, look on the bright side, it can’t get any worse. But what’s this? Oh my lord! Beni blasts in a 30 yard screamer, I’m out of my seat and the revival is definitely on. We’re looking lively, at least. We’re 5-2 down but showing promise. We can do it.

And then, if it hadn’t gone pear-shaped enough, the match becomes a giant inflatable 40 foot high pear with the words ‘you should have stayed in the pub’ printed on it.

Gallacher finds Lars Bohinen at the back post for him to score the sixth. Beni gets sent off on the hour for butting Gallacher. Ripley crosses for Sutton to complete the rout, 7-2. There’s still 15 minutes to go. Glassy eyed and immobile, I watch the rest of the game. I physically can’t move. I’ve done ten rounds with Mike Tyson and I don’t want to get up. I’ve had worse Wednesday experiences, but..

Ten years ago, we finished just above the relegation spots, much like this season. The years to come were hard ones, but we got through them. Time is a healer, and I’d discover many moments of joy along the way in later years to lessen the pain of nights like the Blackburn game. If there is a lesson, it’s this: make sure you enjoy the good times, and have faith. Take the hard knocks, and come back stronger than ever. It’s what being a fan is all about, isn’t it?

I’m glad I didn’t stay in the pub that night.

Blackburn: Filan (Flowers 64), Kenna, Hendry, Ripley, Gallacher, Sutton, Wilcox (Dahlin 57), Flitcroft, McKinlay (Bohinen 44), Pearce, Valery. Subs not used: Andersson, Broomes

Booked: Pearce

Sheffield Wednesday: Pressman, Atherton, Nolan, Newsome, Walker (Collins 46), Whittingham (Hirst 46), Carbone, Booth (Nicol 32), Di Canio, Hyde, Blondeau. Subs not used: Oakes, Clarke

Booked: Hyde, Carbone, Hirst

Sent off: Carbone

Attendance: 19,618

Referee: Jeff Winter

Life Sport

VAR, No Ha Ha

A post written back in the day, originally for NZ football site In the Back of the Net, now on permanent hiatus. So here it is once again.. the anti-VAR stance.

The English Premier League, three years from now. Post-match, Dazza and his father walk to the Supporters Arms for a drink. The pub door opens..

“Bloody hell, Darren, I thought we’d never get here. The usual?”

“Aye Dad, I’m gaspin’. It’s not going to touch the sides. What’s the time? [checks phone] Quarter past six! I’m in trouble.. I should be home by now. I’ll just text Sally.”

“Two pints, please, Geoff. How many bloody times did they have to go to the video ref? Seven, was it?”

“I think so. If that’s modern football, I’ll tell ya, I’m fed up with it now.”

“I mean, could we please get through a match without any referrals? Come on, I have to sit down: matches go on so long, it really takes it out of me now. Grab that table there.”

“Here we go, Dad.”

“So humour an old man and tell me again why the referee has to go to the side-lines and check the replay on a chuffin’ screen. Why doesn’t the video ref make the decision?”

“Because they say it has to be the actual referee’s decision.. more integrity, like, if he does it. It’s not another fella’s say-so, it’s the man on the pitch. The video ref isn’t a qualified ref, he’s just someone who can work the video gear. So the ref has to watch the video himself. ”

“And we have to wait for him to run over and run back.”

“But he can view the replay on the screen of the ‘official video provider’.  [laughs]

“Bloody hell. Do we get any money for that from .. who is it?”

“Samsung. I dunno. Can’t be much, Dad, if we do.”

“Well, I’ve had enough of it. Whatever you thought about refs before all this bollocks came along, the game flowed better. And refs might have made a mistake or two but it all balanced out in the course of a season. You might have shouted at them on occasion, and lord knows we’ve seen some bad ones, but at least we had some kind of respect. They had a bit of character. You kind of knew where you were with the likes of Graham Poll, but now what? Referees are just automatons. I couldn’t name one of them. Anyone can do it. And what’s more, everyone adds up the mistakes they make now, so the poor guy, if he’s been a bit rubbish in previous weeks, gets some real stick right from the off. The FA’ll be using the stats on these referrals to rate refs soon, and they’ll be dropped if they get a bad rating.”

“Seems like that’s the way of the world, rate everyone at everything, sack them if they don’t live up to the ridiculous standards. The only thing I like about this video thing is that it works for making sure the ball’s over the line.”

“Aye, because that doesn’t really interrupt anything. But for offsides, it’s pushing it. Handballs and dives, it’s ridiculous.”

“It’s more ridiculous now that the opposition can ask for a referral, like cricket.”

“Oh aye, now that is daft. How often can they do that? Three times, isn’t it?”

“Three times a game. Which you’d think would be OK, but all too often the video doesn’t help. You might as well have just gone with the ref. A video can tell you if there’s contact. It can’t tell you how hard that contact is. It can show you a guy flying through the air, but I don’t think it helps you decide if the guy is diving or not. It’s still the ref’s interpretation. So why not just go with what he said in the first place? Why five minutes of messing about with video if it doesn’t show anything extra?”

“More like ten minutes, sometimes! And why do they have to play bloody music while this goes on? Do they think we’re all incapable of amusing ourselves while the ref watches his little video? I don’t want to hear We Will bloody Rock You and Hi Ho chuffin’ Silver Lining every two seconds.”

“They were thinking of having a T-shirt cannon too.”

“WHAT? While the video is playing..”

“.. yeah, some guy comes round and fires rolled up T-shirts into the crowd.”

“Jesus, Darren, the world’s going mad. If I went in with a wooden rattle they’d confiscate it and yet some idiot from Marketing can come along and shoot stuff into the stands. And what about when they couldn’t get the video to work? How long did that take? And they just went with what the ref said at first, so they had to have a drop ball! And bloody Wimbledon got the ball back, and it was supposed to be their foul in the first place!”

“I know, and this is supposed to make things clearer and make sure it’s the right decision and everyone is happy.. well, that time it was right in front of the us  and everyone was going mental. And we saw it four times on the big screen! I was livid.”

“I know. I don’t think I’ve ever heard you swear like that.”

“Sorry, Dad. But you don’t come as often as me.” [laughs]

[laughing too]  Here, less of that, lad, I’m not as young as I used to be. So they’ve spent all this money and they’ve got all these new-fangled things and there’s still controversy. It hasn’t really fixed what it set out to fix. Clubs will be suing referees next, if one of these video replays is interpreted the wrong way, and someone’s relegated or doesn’t get into the Champions League one year, a club could easily take the ‘video evidence’ to a trial. Seems to me there isn’t really a foolproof solution.”

“Aye, but they’ll argue that there are less mistakes, and it could never be 100% correct. Just better than not having video referrals.”

“Well, I don’t know if there will be less mistakes, watching today’s game of.. let’s see.. 125 minutes. Holy flippin’ moly. Hey, shouldn’t you be going for a tram?”

“Oh bloody hell, Sally will be furious. Got to go, Dad. Hey, we haven’t talked about the football, just the flippin’ video ref.”

“We can talk Sunday. At yours for dinner as usual?”

“Of course, Dad, see you then.”

“See you, son. Oh, Darren..?” [smiling]

“Yes, Dad?”

“What was the score again?”

“Three tw.. ah, you bugger.”

“Gotcha. Love to Sally. Go on, lad, get your tram.”

Life Live Sacred Days

Just Like Me, They Long To Be Close To You

So what do you do, when you have a chance to meet your heroes, either fleetingly, or if you’re lucky enough to be in the same room with them for a goodly period of time? You’re in a quandary, there are too many questions unanswered, there’s no time to think. Will I look like a gushing fanboy twit? Can my hero be arsed with the attention after so many years in the spotlight? Will my hero dash my expectations to the ground, because despite all my doubt, deep down I do really really want a word or two from him or her, and gad, they might be too tired, it might be the first few minutes they’ve had to themselves all day, and it might be the eightieth time that day someone’s pestered them, and.. what to do? What to DO? What to SAY?

Well, sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not, sometimes it’s.. strange.

Life Old Music

Moon River, Me, Morrissey

When you’re northern, you’re northern forever and you’re instilled with a certain feel for life that you can’t get rid of. You just can’t.

The very early sixties: my grandad, with a Yorkshire practicality and foresight demonstrated daily in his job as a loom tuner, bought my aunt, far younger and cooler than my mother, a reel to reel tape recorder. In grandad’s view, her pocket money was to be saved for more important things, because records were a waste of cash: you could just stick a mono crystal microphone in front of the radio and record all those new-fangled bands you liked, and when you got bored with them, just tape over the songs with new ones. The recorder got plenty of action a few years later, when my aunt developed into a fully-fledged Beatlemaniac and the Fab Four started to dominate the airwaves.

Old Music

Get On The Good Foot

or.. A Baker’s Dozen of Debut Albums.

All the activity on Twitter over selecting 50 Debut Albums got me thinking, and what I wanted to avoid was reprocessing my own lists, because if you look through those, you’ll see my favourite artists and it stands to reason their debuts could quite possibly feature in any list I could make.. y’know, Costello, The Clash, Stone Roses, and so on. You know I like them. I’ve written about them before and I pester you with links to those old articles every now and again! Somehow it would have been simultaneously very easy and also a slog to come up with a list of 50, and I didn’t want it to be a slog, because that’s no fun.

So what’s a guy to do? Here are the ones that popped into my head. I don’t want to debate their comparative worth to ‘classic’ debuts by the Doors, Specials, Beastie Boys or whoever. Here they are, I like ’em, and that’s all, no further thought. I’m doing thirteen, like the Quietus does, in chronological order. And if you’re gonna argue with me that they’re live albums or compilations or another technical disqualification, and therefore don’t count as debuts, I’m putting my fingers in my ears.