Sunday, May 29, 2011

Five things we’ve learnt this past football season…



1) In the old days, fans dreamed about getting just one minute on the pitch. This season, both Gary Neville and Steven Gerrard (above) fulfilled long-held ambitions to sit among the fans in the stands. What next? Players getting replica Mille Miglia jackets with the name of notorious thugs on the back?

2) Radio 5 now interviews fans if they’re actually part of their favoured club’s playing or managerial staff. “So, John – how are you going to approach the upcoming derby?” Er… by going to the pub and eating a pie at half time?

3) Danny Baker – apart from perhaps Stuart Hall – is the one presenter who reliases that the discussion of tactics should be of no interest to us. What do we care for four-four-two or defensive midfielders “playing in the pocket”? I’d rather listen to a Radio 4 discussion on local government reform. Football is about prejudice, hatred and the discussion of obscure oddities from the game’s past.

4) We are now in the era of “FIFA football”. Not the corrupt world soccer organization, but the video game that carries its initials. Barcelona now play football just like a PlayStation team, all tippy-tappy passes, no missed tackles and goals curved in from outer space. Even the players resemble avatars, apart from Puyol, who looks like a piece of Play Doh dipped in bucket of pubes.

5) Winning the Premier League isn’t actually that big a deal. When Manchester United finally put us out of our misery two weeks back, it merited about five minutes of discussion in the Sky studio and some footge of their players repeating that Champione* song on the pitch. After that, it was back to the “Race for Survival” and an examination of Charlie Adam’s lovemaking tips.

*It’s campione, not champione – ie: a song Liverpool fans brought back from Rome

Monday, May 02, 2011

The evening before the Royal Wedding…

Despite my predictable misgivings about William and Catherine’s do at Westmintser Abbey (I’m a left-leaning journalist from Merseyside who lives in north London), there was something irristable about the size of the event that drew me to it.

So, the night before, and armed with my “entry-level SLR”, I walked from work to St James’s Park and Westminster Abbey, looking for an opportunity to take the sort of sneering class-tourist photographs that Martin Parr has made a career out of.

Unsurpisingly, there were lots of red-faced ladies about – many, it has to be said, in pastel coloured fleeces, but there were also MILF-y women from America, stoic teenagers bedding down for the night and more foreign correspondents than at John Simpson’s retirement bash. This is what I saw.