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Which Premier League manager will get fired first

Friday, 21 May 2010

Know Wot I Mean ‘Arry

This week sees the 44th anniversary of Sir Henry Cooper’s heroic defeat to Cassius Clay (who later became Mohammed Ali). This fight more than any other has come to personify the concept of the heroic loser especially given that he had knocked Clay down in their previous round and Clay had been saved from a knock-out due to a dubious delay and Clay’s manager illegally using smelling salts to bring him round .

Here we take a look at some other plucky English Losers: -

Frank Bruno - Perhaps one of the most famous lucky losers considering he took beatings by Mike Tyson, Tim Witherspoon and Lennox Lewis. Although he finally won the world title from Oliver McCall he lost it when Tyson once again came calling. Most famous for HP adverts, panto performances and his friendship with Henry Cooper whose interviews led to the phrase “know what I mean Harry” he became a well loved popular icon.

Tim Henman - Like Andy Murray the most gifted British Tennis Player of his generation Tim had the misfortune to play at a time when Pete Sampras and Lleyton Hewitt were ruling the grand-slam circuit. Reaching 6 grand-slam semi-finals and winning 15 ATP tour titles he was hardly a failure but there was such a high-level of expectation about him he was often judged (unfairly in my opinion) by his failure to win Wimbledon suffering at the hands of Sampras, Hewitt and Goran Ivanišević much the way Murray has suffered at the hand of Federer in Grand-Slam finals.

Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards - The best ski jumper in the United Kingdom, setting a British record of 73.5m Eddie the Eagle endeared himself to millions around the globe and in the process upsetting the ski-jump establishment who felt he was mocking them to the extent that they had the IOC change the rules to stop him competing by insisting that athletes compete in international events and place in the top 30 percent or the top 50 competitors. Eddie had the final say though carrying the Olympic torch for the 2010 Vancouver games.

England Football Team - The England football team have become notorious for narrow defeats in the latter stages of tournaments. In Mexico 86 they were robbed by Maradona’s “Hand of God”, Ronaldinho’s free kick in Japan 02 and on penalties in Italia 90, France 98, Euro96, Euro 2004 and Germany 2006 with 2 of those penalty defeats also producing red cards for David Beckham and Wayne Rooney.

Paula Radcliffe - While a successful athlete in most competitions something about the Olympics didn’t agree with her. Whilst she achieved 4th & 5th in the 96 and 2000 Olympics she failed to finish either of her events in 2004 and placed 23rd in 2008. On the flipside she broke the world record for the London Olympics in 2005 but was forced to apologise for an unfortuante incident towards the end of the race.

So there we have it at major events England seem to be best at coming 2nd, 3rd or indeed anywhere but first but it is worth remembering that we have won the Rugby World Cup, Ashes, Ryder Cup, World Championship & Olympic golds and 20/20 World Cup in recent memory. We now need that to transfer to Football and Tennis this summer and we may well be happy chappies on our sunbeds.

(assuming the Germans haven’t been out with their towels again)

Monday, 17 May 2010

World Cup Theme Songs

This week marks the commemoration of the event that inspired England's most well known International theme tune - The Dam-Busters.

While the song was originally meant to commemorate the brave men of 617 squadron it has become universally known as a tune to taunt the Germans with at international matches, But what other World Cup songs have we had? Here I take a look at the past and give my opinion on if they were good or awful.

World In Motion - Probably the best England song ever. Fresh from their success with True Faith, Blue Monday and Bernard Sumner's Electronic collaboration with Johnny Marr and Neil Tennant New Order tried their hand at writing an England Football song with Comedian Keith Allen and came up with an inspired dance-floor hit. Combining Sumners earnest singing with a John Barnes rap was the perfect recipe for a number 1 hit. - OUTSTANDING

Three Lions - The Lightning Seeds and Baddiel & Skinner tried to replicate New Order's success for Euro 96 and were in general successful however subsequent new remixes of it have been a bit repetitive and it is released again this year with Robbie Williams lending his vocals. - GOOD BUT OVERPLAYED

Jerusalem - Released by Keith Allen (this time as Fat Les) he teamed up with Alex James from Blur and Damien Hurst to produce a rousing version of this classic hymn. A Remix By Pet Shop Boys was released to clubs with great success. - OUTSTANDING

Back Home - The first official song was a fairly standard sing-along affair from the England squad setting a precedent for less than harmonic communal singing - CATCHY BUT CHEESY

Vindaloo - Another Fat Les offering it was another catchy anthem for World Cup 98. The song was inspired by an incident on a BBC politics show when Keith Allen said to a minority spokesperson It's not a chip you've got on your shoulder, it's a vindaloo!" explaining to press reporters that a vindaloo is as faux ethnic (this piece of Goan cuisine actually originated from Portugal) as those who masquerade as self-appointed spokespeople for ethnic minority communities' rights in order to censor arts and culture according to their own pet prejudices. The song reached #2 with some conspiracy theorists claiming that it sold more than the Three Lions remake but was kept off the number 1 spot deliberately by the BBC - CATCHY BUT REPETITIVE

All Together Now - This re-working of The Farm's classic 1990 anthem was well-received and commercially successful. Originally produced by Suggs (Madness) it was re-edited by DJ Spoony. NICE, CATCHY ANTHEM

World At Your Feet - absolutely AWFUL. This shocker by Embrace was the theme tune for 2006 and although it reached #3 in the charts most England fans hated it. - AWFUL.

This year there will be no official theme tune but I suspect their will be several unofficial anthems to sing along to. What we really need is a remix of GO WEST to round it off but can't see it happening.

Together We will go away
Together We will win some day
Together Do something new
Together This is what we'll do

Go South
Win a trophy there
Go South
Give everyone a scare
Go South
Wear with pride the shirt
Go South
End all those years of hurt

Go South
Bring the cup back home
Bring the Cup
back where it belongs
Bring the Cup
Home to Wemberley
Win the cup
With Rio and Rooney

Anyway we have a good chance this time as the squad will not be distracted by recording chart-topping singles (unless Tennant/Lowe get hold of these lyrics and finish them) and hopefully we will be seeing Rio holding that trophy aloft in July.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Milli-Band Of Brothers

As the Labour Party leadership contest starts in earnest over the next week or so the possible contest between the Milliband brothers Ed and David will be fascinating to watch. One of the key questions I guess people will ask is what's the difference between them. Surely they are just 2 sides of the same coin and yet there are enough differences between them to make it interesting.

Ed being the younger of the two has to some extent been in the shadow of his older sibling for a few years. Although he has held ministerial offices since 2007 the fact that David has been Foreign Secretary and has had a global platform on which to operate does overshadow Ed's own position as Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change. The Prestige of being Foreign Secretary often meant that David Milliband's meetings were high-profile and his achievements more obvious.

In spite of this Edward Milliband has suddenly been seen as the favourite of the two to take over leadership of the party. Many feel that David is too closely associated with the previous regimes of Tony Blair & Gordon Brown to gain a broad enough support from the grass-roots membership especially given that he was head of Blair's Policy Unit which formulated a lot of the policies of the New Labour project.

It is fair to say that both brothers have been influenced by the political views of their father Ralph who was a noted Marxist theorist and take a lot of their ideals from his New Left movement which through the New Reasoner and Socialist Register many hold responsible for the legacy of what they call "politically-correct multiculturalism" which was seen as a key focus of New Labour with some wondering whether New Labour was just a re-packaged and more successful version of the New Left movement.

Whatever the outcome whichever brother succeeds in succeeding Gordon Brown (assuming they can first defeat Ed Balls) the greatest challenge will not be winning the contest but integrating the New Left with Old Labour values to re-invigorate a Labour Party that many think has lost its way from its original ideal to represent the interests and needs of the urban proletariat rather than the "chattering classes" of Islington, Hampstead and Notting Hill.

If one of them does become the Leader of the Opposition will this Band of Brothers stay as unified as Easy Company in the TV series. By the end of the summer we will know