Then Saturday Comes… the half decent football blog


Woy’s Adventures In Volcanoland
April 22, 2010, 10:44 am
Filed under: Mat Reville's Football Blog

Roy Hodgson spitting lava

Chapter one: volca-no fly zone
In a marble floored hallway in West London a weathered gentleman waits patiently to be called into his boss’ boardroom.

Fulham chairman Mohammed al Fayed has asked the club’s manager Roy Hodgson to sit outside the office while news comes through from UEFA. A week before the pair have appealed to miserabilist Michel Platini to postpone their Europa League semi final tie with SV Hamburg due to the earth’s crust exploding.

Minutes feel like hours as Hodgson awaits the call of his manager.

The volcano in Iceland has ushered in a total black-out of flights all over Europe, meaning the Cottagers and their fans face an arduous 600 mile trip to Germany before playing the biggest club in the club’s history.

Minutes feel like hours.

He knows he has already performed miracles to get Fulham this far. The team he inherited from village idiot Lawrie Sanchez was doomed for relegation: two years later the same players were beating giants like Juventus and Zenit St Petersburg.

Minutes like hours.

A crash and a bellow come from Al Fayed’s office. Hodgson winced.

“Allāhu Akbar”, the chairman screamed.

Hodgson edged to the door. He could see his boss’ sillouette darting around the office with a brevity that defied his age.

Hodgson opened the door. Al Fayed turned to face him. As their eyes met, no words were needed. The pair nodded, and Hodgson knew the tie was going ahead.

Hodgson winced.

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Chapter two: Of mice and men

Hodgson headed for the player’s lounge.

Bobby Zamora was trying to teach Tinie Tempah dance moves to the rest of the squad; they all watched intensely. Apart from Chris Baird, who sat patting his pet mouse “Sanchez”. Baird always plays with that mouse, the only remnant of his former mentor Lawrie Sanchez.

Hodgson grabbed a chair, span it around and sat in a backwards fashion made popular by AC Slater in the ’80s.

“Listen up”, Hodgson said. “We can’t fly. We can’t postpone. So we have to drive to the match.”

Baird’s ears pricked up. Still though his eyes remained transfixed on his pet. “But boss, that’s 600 miles away. We’ll be shattered”, he whimpered.

Hodgson stared at his ugly right back. “It is our only option.”

Baird carried on petting the mouse, and tutted.

Hodgson calmly rose and dragged his weary, battered body over to his outspoken defender’s chair. He stood over his player, and taking deep breaths, slowly removed his sunglasses.

The room fell silent. Even Zamora stopped dancing.

Hodgson grabbed the mouse; Baird shreaked.

Hodgson flung the mouse into the wall, and the squad recoiled as its splattered carcus dripped slowly to the floor.

Hodgson casually walked to the most identifiable piece of Sanchez’s corpse. He nonchelantly picked it up by what was minutes before its tail, and flicked it to the nearest bin.

“There will be no alfalfa patch. Any more objections?”, the boss asked.

Damien Duff looked at his feet.

Nobody said a word. They all got to their feet and made for the door. It was time to board the bus and go to Germany.

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The face that launched a thousand Cottagers

Chapter three: the Eastern commute
The coach arrived into Poznan, Poland. The route had become distorted because Zoltan Gera couldn’t get to England for the drive over, due to the no-fly zone.

Instead, the Fulham team vowed to meet with their Hungarian maestro near to the Polish-German border.

As experienced as Hodgson was on continental driving, he had no idea where to find the place his Eastern European playmaker had organised as the liason location. They drove around for hours asking for help, but nobody had heard of the mysterious “Szaboville”.

Baird, still sulking about the loss of Sanchez, turned to Chris Smalling, who had been forced to travel with him after signing for corporate bores Manchester United months before.

“We don’t know where we’re going, we may as well forget this”, Baird said.

Though they were loathe to agree with him, the rest of the squad felt the same way.

However, Hodgson said he knew of a source. Remembering scouting trips for hidden gems in Eastern Europe, he headed for the closest tent shop.

Hodgson knew that the most talented people from these parts live in shanty communities, and after the introduction of Reville’s Law he knew there may be many more of these campsites.

The coach pulled into “Poznan Tent Imporium”, and Hodgson descended from the coach and waltzed into the shop.

The shopkeeper nodded saguely at the mention of the mysterious Szaboville.

“I know it, it is where they go after Reville’s Law prevented dreams from coming true.” He then pointed to his map, and Hodgson skipped back to his van. He knew where to go.

The coach raced to the spot, and after parking up the squad left the coach and stretched their legs through the woodland where they hoped Gera was resting.

After forcing their way through foliage so treacherous it left Damien Duff in tears, they found the camp.

Hundreds of Eastern Europeans ditched their swan carcusses and gazed at the footballers. When they recognised the badge they all pointed to a tree-house: Hodgson immediately knew that was where Gera was.

After scaling the makeshift ladder, Hodgson knocked thrice on the sheet of metal being used as a door.

The squad, who had stayed on the muddy floor, exploded into joyous celebration when Gera opened the door.

“Come, Zoltan, we have a match to win”, Hodgson excitedly clamoured.

However, Gera had a shaken look on his face.

The Hungarian gulped, shook his head and spoke.

“But boss, it is Friday and the match was yesterday. We lost 3-0 by default, like that Scotland match in the 1990s.”

Hodgson hung his head as it dawned that the squad should have left a day earlier.

The end… or is it?

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Matty Revs’ Posh Day Out

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In a flagrant disregard for copyright laws, this latest blog entry is going to be nothing more than my latest Peterborough Evening Telegraph exclusive. And yes, that includes any photos taken by Bob Davis’ boy.

Sadly for fans of immigrants living in sheds, it is actually my debut in the paper’s sport section. Inevitably, it focused around Leicester Casuals coming to town.


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CURRENT FORM

Since moving to Peterborough six months ago I have enjoyed a refreshingly critical reaction to people hearing I am a Leicester City fan.

Usually the response is apathetic. We are that kind of a middle of the road team that is patronisingly called a “nice family club” when we’re wheeled out for our customary 2-0 FA Cup Third Round defeat to Blackburn Rovers.

However, in Peterborough there is a special disdain for The Foxes.

The LCFC flask I bring down to Powerleagues on a Tuesday night has been greeted with a number of cynical jabs and my retro 1980s Leicester scarf has garnered many a dirty look while I saunter through Cathedral Square.

I hate to tell Posh fans this but the hatred is one sided. We were actually pulling for you to keep up with us last year – anything to keep Leeds United in League One!

On paper this was a great chance for an away scalp. Leicester are overachieving fantastically in our return to the Championship and heading for a top six finish, while Posh finally sealed their increasingly inevitable relegation last weekend at Barnsley.

That said, I had little confidence we would get anything from the game. “New manager syndrome” for Gary Johnson’s first game combined with the bizarre phenomenon of already relegated teams gaining title-winning form gave me a sense of caution during the office banter before the match.

PRE MATCH

Being one of our closest away games it wasn’t hard to get a bunch of mates together to join me in the away end.

12 of us got tickets and we started the day by piling into Charters’ heaving beer garden, which seemed to be populated by half of Leicester.

After a couple of pints we headed for the ground. Despite some over-zealous stewarding that made Jack Bauer’s interrogation techniques look timid, we made our way to the terrace.

The terrace was a major pull in getting people to come along. Compared to the soulless Walkers Stadium (aka identikit Championship ground #23), it was great to be able to stand for a whole fame in a proper football stadium.

/
HALF TIME

As we seem to always do against Posh, Leicester didn’t get started for the first half an hour.

However, the fans’ growing resentment subsided when big Stevie Howard rolled back the years by beating Ryan Bennett and coasting a low shot in off Joe Lewis’ far post.

The match really didn’t look like a professional football game – it was the most ugly performance of the season – and I don’t just say that because it was the first time I’ve seen Jay Spearing in the flesh – truly a face that only a mother could love.

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For more wonderful witticisms visit http://scotlandonabike.wordpress.com

FULL TIME

Despite Posh rallying to get an equaliser, Leicester’s resolve was too strong. Two minutes after getting level some appalling defending gave Andy King the chance to bundle in the winning goal.

I won’t get too bogged down in Posh’s post-match post-mortum – I’ll leave that in Swanny’s capable hands.

All I’ll say is that the team Gary Johnson will mould over the summer would thrash the sorry outfit he put out on Saturday.

As for Leicester, we did what we have done for the last two years. We rolled our sleeves up and ground out a victory. A lot of teams must play Leicester and think “how did we lose that?”

We have got a hard spine to the team (Wayne Brown, Richie Wellens and Steve Howard through the middle) that make few mistakes. Drop in a few flair players (Paul Gallagher and Andy King) that can always pop up with a goal and we have a formula for gritty victories.

This wasn’t a memorable game but it was a thoroughly rewarding one for the Leicester faithful.

With play off rivals Blackpool, Swansea and Doncaster all losing, this ugly win firmly entrenches us in the top six and cautiously dreaming of the Premiership.

OVERALL MATCH RATING: 4. OUR FANS: 8, THEIR FANS: 5

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And to prove I’m not delusional here’s the article as it was published: notice how the editor got a swipe at Leicester as the headline!

CURRENT FORM

Since moving to Peterborough six months ago I have enjoyed a refreshingly critical reaction to people hearing I am a Leicester City fan.Usually the response is apathetic. We are that kind of a middle of the road team that is patronisingly called a “nice family club” when we’re wheeled out for our customary 2-0 FA Cup Third Round defeat to Blackburn Rovers.

However, in Peterborough there is a special disdain for The Foxes.

The LCFC flask I bring down to Powerleagues on a Tuesday night has been greeted with a number of cynical jabs and my retro 1980s Leicester scarf has garnered many a dirty look while I saunter through Cathedral Square.

I hate to tell Posh fans this but the hatred is one sided. We were actually pulling for you to keep up with us last year – anything to keep Leeds United in League One!

On paper this was a great chance for an away scalp. Leicester are overachieving fantastically in our return to the Championship and heading for a top six finish, while Posh finally sealed their increasingly inevitable relegation last weekend at Barnsley.

That said, I had little confidence we would get anything from the game. “New manager syndrome” for Gary Johnson’s first game combined with the bizarre phenomenon of already relegated teams gaining title-winning form gave me a sense of caution during the office banter before the match.

PRE MATCH

Being one of our closest away games it wasn’t hard to get a bunch of mates together to join me in the away end.

12 of us got tickets and we started the day by piling into Charters’ heaving beer garden, which seemed to be populated by half of Leicester.

After a couple of pints we headed for the ground. Despite some over-zealous stewarding that made Jack Bauer’s interrogation techniques look timid, we made our way to the terrace.

The terrace was a major pull in getting people to come along. Compared to the soulless Walkers Stadium (aka identikit Championship ground #23), it was great to be able to stand for a whole fame in a proper football stadium.

HALF TIME

As we seem to always do against Posh, Leicester didn’t get started for the first half an hour.

However, the fans’ growing resentment subsided when big Stevie Howard rolled back the years by beating Ryan Bennett and coasting a low shot in off Joe Lewis’ far post.

The match really didn’t look like a professional football game – it was the most ugly performance of the season – and I don’t just say that because it was the first time I’ve seen Jay Spearing in the flesh – truly a face that only a mother could love.

FULL TIME

Despite Posh rallying to get an equaliser, Leicester’s resolve was too strong. Two minutes after getting level some appalling defending gave Andy King the chance to bundle in the winning goal.

I won’t get too bogged down in Posh’s post-match post-mortum – I’ll leave that in Swanny’s capable hands.

All I’ll say is that the team Gary Johnson will mould over the summer would thrash the sorry outfit he put out on Saturday.

As for Leicester, we did what we have done for the last two years. We rolled our sleeves up and ground out a victory. A lot of teams must play Leicester and think “how did we lose that?”

We have got a hard spine to the team (Wayne Brown, Richie Wellens and Steve Howard through the middle) that make few mistakes. Drop in a few flair players (Paul Gallagher and Andy King) that can always pop up with a goal and we have a formula for gritty victories.

This wasn’t a memorable game but it was a thoroughly rewarding one for the Leicester faithful.

With play off rivals Blackpool, Swansea and Doncaster all losing, this ugly win firmly entrenches us in the top six and cautiously dreaming of the Premiership.

OVERALL MATCH RATING: 4. OUR FANS: 8, THEIR FANS: 5



An ode to Europe’s finest mind (apart from Roy Hodgson)

Rafa knows

Red Devils, Chelsea and l’Arse all out by May
Anfield still to host European big days
Fools all wrote off the Liverpool boss
Although I doubt he gave much of a toss

Kopites thought their season was done
Now they realise how right it’s gone
Opportunity to win some Europa gold
When they thought they were in the cold
Should have known Rafa’s values were bold

Because dropping out in the first round
Enlarged his chances of becoming crowned
Sure it’s not as good as the Champion’s League
To win the Europa would still strengthen his creed

So now we see his wonderful plan
Of getting knocked out as fast as you can

None of the other managers in the Prem
Even Fergie, Ancelotti or Arsene
Verge on Rafa’s chance for success
Europa winner would have a nice stress
Regardless of whether Riera thinks you’re a mess

Daggers were out for the fat Spanish man
Over the elimination he lost many a fan
Until tonight when we all understood
Because now you can see through all of the mud
To understand his plan while Fergie’s turned to crud

Happy days for the scousers are here once more
I‘m sure many trophies will come to their door
Man U, Arsenal + Chelsea in Europe? Jamais retour

..

I do hope you enjoyed my little poem about Rafa Benitez.

If you are a fan of Liverpool, Chelsea or Manchester United don’t worry, you can follow the other TV soaps – they carry on after the Champion’s League TV finishes.

For the record I still think Rafa is rubbish, but for tonight: “Vamos Rafael, vamos!”

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You can keep your Champion’s League football, I’m sorted for E’s and Whizz
April 2, 2010, 3:30 pm
Filed under: Mat Reville's Football Blog | Tags:

Sky Sports cameras outside the Premiership’s top grounds have shown us two things; how homogenous each Top Four team’s fans are, and how devoid of enjoyment they seem to be. With Chelsea morons joining Manchester United prats at Old Trafford this weekend, it is a fine opportunity to delve into the common psyche of each team’s glory hunters.

Join me on a delightful look into each of the idiots that literally choose to ‘support’ one of the big teams, simply because they see them on the tellybox more than the team that play in their city.

Somebody who makes such an obtuse decision cannot be trusted: they are the people who would rather read a text message because it’s more accessible than go to a library to read a book.

Picking a team to support because they have a high media profile is like thinking you’re in love with a celebrity. For this reason, Manchester United fans are essentially all Barry George.

This may appear to be a bitter lament from a perennial Football League fan, but that isn’t my intention. Rather, it is a celebration of the 87 other fine sets of soccerball supporters. Of course, the other set of fans that cannot be lumped into the group of sane fans are Derby County morons (who are the worst of the lot).

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MANCHESTER UNITED

The most common of the glory hunting crew. Also the ugliest.

The Manchester United glory hunter is an increasingly dopy person, easily identifiable by the unusually large space between their eyes and swinging the latest piece of merchandise from their closest Manchester United megastore.

Aged between 18-28, they chose to pitch their mast to the Red Devils because they were winning titles in the 1990s. As Sky hit its pomp so did Manchester United, and the frequency of them being transmitted into the living rooms indoctrinated the weak minded masses who know call themselves Man U fans.

After two decades of domniance, Manchester United plastics have started to go a bit mental. They look on with envy at other fans enjoying the decadent rollercoaster experience of good and bad patches, while they plod to two trophies a season.

This has manifested itself into the bizarre gold and green ‘protest’. Quite what wearing colours of a club that died over a hundred years ago achieves is beyond me. All I know is they do it to protest against the Glazers – that’s right, the same Glazers that have bankrolled Ferguson from 3rd place finishes to three successive titles.

It’s no co-incidence that their eyes are so wide.

They are consistently treated to the finest football in England yet they do not support their team. Every goal is greeted with mocking the other team’s fans/players, rather than celebrating their own – the number of V signs from the Man U fans every time a goal is scored sums the club up.

While every other club sings songs about their players, Man United sing songs only about celebrating Argentina (for opposing England) or their hatred of one of their many ‘rivals’ (Arsenal, Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea etc). They live their life through negativity because, frankly, they are spoiled brats. The only sense of achievement is by others failing, compared to their side’s own continued excellence.

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CHELSEA

Chelsea fans are more wallies than wankers.

Unlike Manchester United, they do not govern themselves on hatred but rather on being overly happy with their team. They extol every player as being the “best in the world in their position”.

While this is true of midfield beast Michael Essien, it certainly is not of Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, Petr Cech and, most certainly, John Terry.

However, the fandom is not like a lower league fan rejoicing ironically: Chelsea supporters are truly deluded that their players are the best a man can get. Unless he’s George Gillette, and then he’s scrambling after Spanish no marks. Does that work? I’m not sure.

Anyway, Chelsea fans don’t really care about football. The club have installed computer games into the back of the seats in the family stand, but to be honest such diversions would be warmly welcomed in every seat in Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea fans aren’t football fans; they’re Chelsea fans. They don’t look at life beyond their club and they certainly don’t care about it.

The weirdest thing is that when the club have an entrenched manager like Mourinho or Hiddink, that is actually quite a likeable trait.

But without such a talisman they are exposed for what they are: spoilt brats that will switch back to rugby the next time England win a World Cup.

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ARSENAL

Arsenal fans are probably the ones you would least like to be stuck in a lift with.

Much like Arsene Wenger, they have deluded themselves that they are a cut above everyone else they meet. There is an unquestionable arrogance about everything to do with Arsenal, and it is an arrogance that is becoming more and more misplaced with every passing season without a trophy.

An Arsenal glory hunter would think they innately more about football than a fan of Crewe Athletic, simply because they have chosen a team that passes the ball on the floor. They are miserable fools.

However, the most annoying thing about Arsenal fans is their sense of hyperbole whenever anything goes slightly against their team.

A dodgy penalty becomes a bribe and an injury becomes a murder. They wear black armbands if a player breaks a bone.

Like Manchester United fans, I believe this is a form of escapism. Like a bored housewife blowing up over a contretemps over a spilt cup of tea, Arsenal fans are bored of the status quo and look for bizarre small details to lose their rag over.

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TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

I would put Liverpool here but there fans are all either scousers (fair enough), plastic scousers (don’t have an identity so piggyback onto Liverpool’s) or second generation immigrants (their glory hunting dad passes it onto them).

Frankly Liverpool supporters are just a bit dull. They are all together a less interesting bunch of glory hunters than Tottenham Hotspur’s, who are essentially the geeks of the football world.

Spurs fans are mainly overweight and hairy, yet believe they are suave and sophisticated. They believe the kebab on their way back through Seven Sisters is a nod back to their Grecian heritage, rather than being an acknowledgment of their depraved current nature.

As a club, Spurs are the equivalent of Welsh people – they don’t have so much a chip on their shoulder but a whole bag of potatoes.

To compensate for not being as good historically as Arsenal, as good contemporaneously as Chelsea or as rich in tradition as West Ham, Spurs fans resort to learning obscure facts and bringing them out at any opportunity.

Much like that other great Jewish stereotype of lawyers, arguing with a Spurs fan is redundant.

They have learnt every small bit of detail so that, no matter what you say, they can prove Spurs did something a little bit better under Bill Nicolson in 1961. There will be some obscure statistic that Spurs have the highest percentage of fans born south of the River Thames, and believe that constitutes them being the biggest club in the country.

The other most annoying trait of Spurs fans is their massively misplaced feeling of importance.

Tottenham Hotspur are a mid-table Premiership team, yet they harp on about themselves being a bastion of the sport. They think having Ossie Ardiles in the 1970s makes them a big deal, without acknowledging that Manchester City have got Carlos Tevez in the 2010s.

And they like Harry Redknapp and he’s a scoundrel.

Something was needed to break up the text from the conclusion, and I think this dragon does a bang-up job

Anyway, keep an eye out for these four horrible, horrible people. They turn up thousands of times in stadiums every weekend, and millions of times in pubs where they noisily jeer the opposition team, while barely noticing their own players.

With big games coming thick and fast for the top four, there’s increasingly little to talk about between each match. Sure there have been a couple of top knacks this week (Wayne Rooney and Cesc Fabregas), but there’s only so much Richard Keys can discuss a nobbled ankle.

Instead, Sky Sports cameras are resorting to pointing their cameras at the great unwashed that lazily support (and I do use that term sparingly) the Premiership’s top sides.

I should clarify that I use the term support is being used sparingly, not lazily or unwashed – which I pronounce proudly and confidently.

The fans who follow their home town clubs have much more a sense of humour about things, while supporters of the top four teams seem so myopic about the smallest details that they forget that they are there for two purposes: to help their team’s players, and to be entertained.