10 December 2005

Scotland to Cheer on Trinidad and Tobago

My prediction for the world cup is that there will be a high demand for Trindad and Tobago shirts here in Scotland.

With Dundee keeper Kelvin Jack, Rangers defender Marvin Andrews, Falkirk Midfielder Russell Latapy Dundee United Striker Colin Samuel and St. Johnston Striker Jason Scotland all hailing from Trindad and Tobago, not to mention Dwight Yorke, Shaka Hislop, Dennis Lawrence, Scotland fans loved England's world cup draw.

Devon Mitchell, Errol McFarlane, Jerron Nixon, Anthony Rougier, Brent Sancho, Arnold Dwarika and Lyndon Andrews have also all had spells in Scottish football. They even have a Gary Glasgow on the squad who like Scotland is aptly named though has never played in Scotland. Indeed the full list of clubs in Scotland for whom these players have plied their trade is Rangers, Dundee, Dundee United, Falkirk, Hibernian, Livingston, St. Johnston, Raith Rovers and East Fife.

In fact if you see the full list of players who are currently playing in Britain it makes some interesting reading:

Chris Birchall (Port Vale), Russel Latapy (Falkirk), Jason Scotland (St Johnstone), Stern John (Derby), Kenwyne Jones (Southampton), Kelvin Jack (Dundee), Marvin Andrews (Rangers), Dennis Lawrence (Wrexham), Carlos Edwards (Luton), Shaka Hislop (West Ham), Brent Sancho (Gillingham), Hector Sam (Wrexham)

So be prepared for cheers of Marv, Marv, Super Marv, Super Marvin Andrews whenever a ball is cleared from defense leaving Owen, Rooney or even Crouch looking stupid.

3 December 2005

Best's Final Journey 3

Here is the text of the poem that Calum Best son read by Belfast woman Julie McClelland, the one that brought him and me to tears earlier today.

Farewell our friend, but not goodbye.
Your time has come, your soul must fly.
To dance with angels, find the sun,
But how we'll miss our special one.

He walks among us just a while,
Weaved your magic, made us smile.
Your life was so full of light and tears,
We lived it through you, through the years.

The golden days, they went so fast.
The precious times, why can't they last?
So many loved you, did you know?
We were not ready to let you go.

The stars from Heaven are only lent.
A gift from God, that's why they're sent.
We won't forget our Belfast boy,
He filled our lives with so much joy.

Your star will shine now in the sky.
Farewell our friend, but not goodbye.

I've just being reading the comments on the BBC website and am astounded at the number of people complaining about the coverage amongst all the tributes. Why now? Why today? Why mock a man for the disease of alcoholism? Something which as his doctor put so eloquently today he was made too well by the transplant that he returned to drink.

Many of the comments however do refer to the fact that yet again today George Best has done more to unite the people of Northern Ireland than many a politician has tried and been unable to do.

Best's Final Journey 2

Since I last wrote I've been griped by the coverage on the television. I tried to identify the scarfs that were thrown unto the hearse. As well as Northern Ireland and Manchester United I'm sure I also spotted Linfield and Celtic showing that yet again George has united the people of Northern Ireland.

The service was very moving. The second poem that Callum read out got to me as well so I'm not surprised he reached the point of tears. Hearing all the anecdotes for his friends, family and doctors shows the light he will be remembered in. Yes there was the down side but he was a light that was extinguished too early.

Best's Final Journey

I have the TV playing in the background showing live pictures from the Cregagh Estate as the funeral procession of George Best prepares to pass through thousands of mourners to Stormont. Already in scenes reminiscent of Diana flowers are being thrown from the masses unto the hearse in what is the biggest funeral in Northern Irish history.

The location of the funeral service is somewhere I used to walk to during my lunch breaks from one of the government departments just off the estate. It's at the top of a mile long wide avenue that leads up to Parliament Buildings and will undoubtedly provide exception pictures of crowds later on today as the masses stand either side of Prince of Wales Avenue watching the service on big screens.

Best marks a period of Northern Ireland football history where the fans did not care which side of the community the players came from, it was a form of escapism. Sadly for the last few years Neil Lennon has been hounded out of the Northern Ireland team by sectarianism. Best debuted alongside Pat Jennings, two young lads from different sides of the community who both enter the hearts of al football fans in the province.

It is a shame that in relative peace the national football team has become a target of sectarianism, while at the heights of the troubles it was one thing we could agree upon, largely.

26 November 2005

A Minutes Applause

Have just come back from the Livingston game this afternoon.

Before the kick-off all the fans observed a minutes applause for George Best. I'm sure that George as the consummate showman and rebel would have approved.

Unfortunately had little to applaud the rest of the game as the team lost to Kilmarnock 3-0.

So Long Bestie

Obviously as a Northern Irish born football fan yesterdays news of George Best's death came with great sadness if not a great shock.

There are so many tributes from so many people Malcolm Brodie football correspondent for the Belfast Telegraph who knew George before he even set foot in Manchester.

He was to go to Matt Busby's Manchester United to join England's first choice striker Bobby Charlton and Scotland's Dennis Law.

In 1964 he made his Northern Ireland debut with another debutant Pat Jennings.

He lived a life claiming that he lived up to his name being the Best. In first his autobiography, 'The Good, the Bad and the Bubbly', he had a photograph standing next to Pele with the caption:

Me with the second best player in the world.

However, Pele admitted that Best was the best player he had ever seen. He did dazzle and entertain and on several occasions even after beaten his man would go back just for fun and do it again. he won English and European footballer of the year titles before he was 22. And was a key part in Manchester United's European Cup winning team of 1968. However, he walked out on United in 1974 after a dispute with Tommy Docherty never to return, he was only 28.

He returned to football with lowly Stockport County in 1975 then joined the North American Soccer League. From 1976 to 1982 alongside names like Pele and Franz Beckenbauer, first playing for the Los Angeles Aztecs, Fort Lauderdale Strikers and San Jose Earthquakes. He interspersed this appearances with spells at Cork Celtic, Fulham and Hibernian before ending his playing career at Bournemouth.

Sadly none of George's 37 International Caps lead to one at a world cup. His first was six years after the historic side reached the 1958 Quarter Finals in Sweden, the last in 1977 five years before a glorious return in Spain 1982.

He may have succumbed to alcoholism, but in his death the greats remembered his football from Diego Maradonna to Sir Alex Ferguson, many of his Man United, Hibernian and Northern Ireland Colleagues.

19 November 2005

No Longer Bottom of the League

After finally getting over all the elections of this year it is a relief to get back to watching football on a Saturday afternoon again.

This afternoon I took the short hop to Dunfermline for what was a real needle match, there is a lot of animosity between the fans and the chairmen of the two clubs. However, we came away smiling as Livingston won away 1-0 and deservedly so. There was a good traveling support we had to queue for fifteen minutes to get to the turnstile. But Paul Dalglish standing in sparkling form and it was he who scored a belter of a goal. Sized up looking to get through from the edge of the box just like his old man. If it is King Kenny we have definitely found Prince Paul.

The result is our first win in the league all season following 5 draws. However most importantly it takes us off the bottom leaving Dunfermline there instead with just one win and three draws.

While we were getting back into the car the draw was made for the semi-finals when we avoided Celtic and got Dunfermline again. There is a real possibility of us getting to our fourth game at Hampden (semi-finals of the Scottish are also played at the national stadium).

8 November 2005

Dalglish Scores Winner in Cup Tie

Before any of you think I am going slightly mad or have stepped out of a TARDIS by accident I'm not referring to King Kenny but to his son Paul.

This season I must have entered an elite groups of people who have cheered on both Kenny and Paul from the terraces/stands while they play for my team. Being Northern Irish I feel that I am allowed to indulge my football support not just for home team Bangor but also two other teams that have been in European competition, Liverpool and Livingston.

Paul has overcome a slight injury earlier this season to return with strength to the Livi starting line up. Scoring in extra time in today's game against Inverness Caledonian Thistle to secure a place in the semi-finals of the CIS Insurance Cup.

14 September 2005

So England Beat Australia...

...cast your mind back to last summer.

remember this

Thought not!

Ireland beat the West Indies...AGAIN.

Now which team was the first to beat the English Rugby World Champion's. Lets see if the ECCB arrange a match in Sion Mills soon.

8 September 2005

1-0 I still don't believe it

Last night I came in to be told the Northern Ireland had beaten England 1-0. I'm still coming to terms with this, that is up there with beating Spain by a similar scoreline in the World Cup of 1982. Or Ireland beating the West Indies at Cricket in in the 1969 at Sion Mills.

Now all I need with the campaign kicking off is to win a Lib Dem MP as well. That would make my month.

3 August 2005

Losing 4-0

I must admit I am not a big fan of the Old Firm, either Rangers or Celtic: probably has something to do with my upbringing.

However, knowing that Liverpool were reasonably safe I found myself glued BB2 not ITV2 last night. In first half Celtic started appallingly but they picked up going in 2-0 at half time, three more for extra time, four for the outright win. Was is possible? They were lively throughout the second half and soon all three Livingston supporters in the house my fiancee's father, brother and me were groaning at every missed opportunity.

In the end 4-0 was a good result but not enough, Celtic went down 5-4 on aggregate. Heaven help us when that team travels along the M8 to visit us at Almondvale. Especially as they'll have no midweek football to tire them out this year.

24 July 2005

Club to Honour Electrocuted Youth Star

Falkirk Football Club are to honour Craig Gowans who was electrocuted in a freak accident on their training pitch earlier this month. Craig was carrying a pole which struck overhead cables at the club's Grangemouth training ground. The 17 year-olds strip is to be placed above the clubs tunnel as a tribute.

Falkirk's first away game of their first SPL season is on the 6 August and sees them coming to Almondvale to take on my team Livingston in a local derby. This comes a week after unfurling their Dvision 1 Pennant against our other arch rivals Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

22 May 2005

World Cup Gains 33rd Nation

The vote for independence for Montenegro means that this year's World Cup in Germany has actually just gained another country in the draw. Having qualified as Serbia and Montenegro the narrow vote (as yet not finalised) over the 55% threshold means that the team will have representatives of two states in their squad.

In political terms it would mean that Serbia, once the hub of Yugoslavia, will be returned to roughly the same land-locked area it occupied before the outbreak of World War One. Montenego was last independent in 1918 and follows Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina in voting to secede from Serbia. Pressure might now also be mounting in the semi-autonomous Kosovo region to press ahead for their independence as well.