Month: October 2013

Clubs That *Should* Be In The Premier League

Okay, to clear things up, I’m by no means suggesting that the following seven clubs get automatic admission to the top-flight. In fact, the teams that are in the Premier League, deserve to be there… obviously. So to the likes of Hull City, Swansea City, Cardiff City, Crystal Palace and beyond, congratulations you merit your position. This is just, if I had to start the Premier League from scratch, who I would choose to be the additional founding members.

Leeds United

Current league: Sky Bet Championship
Years in exile: 9

Marching on together… Leeds United are a sleeping giant.

The lilywhites of West Yorkshire are simply one of the most famous clubs in the country. They’ve experienced great success in the past and have a fanbase to much, despite their now dwindling numbers at home. Leeds would bring a great deal of atmosphere to the Premier League with their passionate away support and would ignite the ‘Roses derby’ with Manchester United that the neutral has been robbed of for so many years.

Ipswich Town

Current league: Sky Bet Championship
Years in exile: 11

Unchanged… Portman Road has experienced more than a decade of stability.

The former UEFA Cup champions from Suffolk are certainly unsung when this debate ever arouses. Despite spending the last 11 years rooted in the second tier, Town are still, in my humble opinion, a bigger club than their East Anglian rivals, Norwich City. The Tractor boys may not have the fanbase to match other clubs in this list but they are certainly worthy of gracing the top flight, having finished fifth as recently as the 2000-01 season.

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Current league: Sky Bet League One
Years in exile: 2

Underachieving… Wolves will spend the 2013-14 season in the third tier.

Woeful Wolves have only spent two seasons outside of the top-flight but now find themselves two promotions from returning. The West Midlands club have been in free fall since 2011 and should never have hit the low they’re at now. Wolves remain a club with a sizeable fanbase and a glittering history, certainly worthy of returning to the Premier League sooner rather than later.

Sheffield Wednesday

Current league: Sky Bet Championship
Years in exile: 13

Invasion… Fans celebrate 2012’s promotion to the Championship

If we’re talking underachievers, you can’t look much further than Sheffield Wednesday. Historically, the club can boast eight major trophies and a huge fanbase in a city that shares two fairly big clubs. The Owls ought to reach the Premier League just to spare their long-suffering fans who have seen the third tier nearly as much as the second in the last decade.

Leicester City

Current league: Sky Bet Championship
Years in exile: 9

Geared… City’s impressive ‘new’ home has only seen one season of top-flight football.

I may be biased here but the Foxes are more than worthy of a place in the big time. Despite being steeped in a history of nearlies, Leicester City have always been slugging it out in the top two tiers, in fact, they have spent less time outside the top two divisions than any other club on this list. City have been knocking on the Premier League door since 2009 and have had several excruciating close calls, the fans of one of the Championship’s four biggest fanbase deserve a return to the lucrative 90s.

Nottingham Forest

Current league: Sky Bet Championship
Years in exile: 15

‘World famous’… The City Ground has been more attuned to League One football than the Premier League in recent years.

A painful inclusion to say the least, but one I’d struggle to argue against. The once well-known Reds are former European champions, not that they like anyone to know and have a fair history even without the legendary Brian Clough’s contribution. Forest also boast one of the best fanbases outside the top-flight with Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds and local ‘non-rivals’, Leicester City.

Derby County

Current league: Sky Bet Championship
Years in exile: 5

Blind loyalty… Derby fans sold out nearly every home game of the record-breaking 2008-09 season.

It would be nice to see all of the East Midlands big three back in the top-flight meaning the Rams needed a place on the list. A club that boasts a good history and a recent calamitous foray in the Premier League that I’m sure they would like to rectify. Recognition has to be given to Rams’ fans for their loyalty at home during the dire 2008-09 season and beyond, even if their fans do share a travel sickness.

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Against Modern Fads

If you follow English football on Twitter, you’ll know how difficult it is to go thirty minutes without a disgruntled fan lambasting ‘modern football’.  In fact, the term ‘against modern football’ has become somewhat of an internet cliché. The phrase seems to encompass every thing from soft red cards to obscure mascots and is essentially a persistently minor protest against the modern adaptation of the world’s favourite sport.

A lot of the major criticisms of ‘modern football’ are the increasing expenditure of following a club, the almost identical new-style stadia and the lack of atmosphere they produce. It’s fair to say that these are all fair comments and something many football fans share a disliking of. Others bemoan the influence of broadcasting giants, BSkyB in determining untraditional kick-off times instead of the standard Saturday 3pm start. As silly and banal as some of these issues seem, they genuinely matter to many a football fan, even leading to the popularisation of flares at football matches in tune with Eastern European footballing traditions that are similar to English football’s in the 1970s and 80s.

Modern stadium… The home of Cardiff City

However, many don’t consider the ridiculousness of attacking the entire institution of modern football. Many seem oblivious to the fact that emulating football support from forty years ago is also a promotion of hooliganism and intolerance. Others forget that modern football is also superior as a game with huge advancements in facilities paying dividends in creating a more entertaining sport with fitter players.  A deluded sense of nostalgia seems to be the culprit in this absurd movement to disestablish everything football has evolved into.  On the other hand, naive ‘bandwagoning’ from the younger generations may be at fault. I for one would guess that most of the ‘AMF’ crowd are under the age of twenty. In fact, most older football fans I know love ‘modern football’.

In reality, ‘against modern football’ is nothing but an irritating catchphrase used by fans who choose to ignore the historic flaws of the game we love. Sure, we would all like cheaper match tickets, better atmosphere and maybe less characterless stadiums but ignoring that, there isn’t much wrong with the current game. In fact, modern football isn’t something to be opposed at all, it’s something to be embraced.

My Story as a Football Fan

I didn’t always like football. Actually, when I was little I didn’t see the point. As a seven-year-old boy, I didn’t understand why kicking a sphere of air in to a net brought such joy to people – I was really all about Star Wars. One day circa 2002, my sister was playing football outside with my Dad while me and my two cousins re-enacted Yoda and Count Dooku’s lightsaber duel with my Lego… I know. They soon got bored and went outside to join them, apparently people don’t appreciate being told that they’re not recreating an intricate fight scene with toys correctly. I didn’t want to be a loner so I went outside and played too and I loved it. I never expected to but I really did. From that point on, I was a football fan. I didn’t know anything about the English game, except that my family’s club, Leicester City were on the brink of relegation from the Premiership; a concept I simply didn’t understand.

Glorious… Filbert Street’s infamous double decker stand.

Something, I’ve never tweeted nor mentioned in any blog is that initially, I was Manchester United fan. Truthfully, they were the only team other than Leicester that I knew and I think I thought Leicester ceased to exist whilst they weren’t in the Premier League.  My ‘support’ of Man U didn’t last long. I soon decided to support my local club (still Leicester) and it came about in a very special way. The 2001–02 season marked Leicester’s last in the Premiership and their last at their historic home, Filbert Street.  On the day prior to its demolition, the ground was open to fans to have a kick about. Me and my family went down and had a game and I ended up scoring the winning goal against my Uncle Paul. To our knowledge, the ground closed when we left, meaning we were the last people to play a game of football on that historic pitch. I was the last person to score a ‘goal’ at Filbert Street, as the family legend goes. Not a bad way to start off your following of a club, eh?

From then on, my support for the Foxes ebbed and flowed, I went to my first game in 2002/03 after I won a pair of tickets from a football course at my primary school. We drew 1–1 at home to Sheffield Wednesday. The next season, following our promotion back to the top-flight my Dad caught the City bug again and bought us season tickets. Sometimes, me and my sister and my cousins who also went loved it and sometimes we didn’t. We used to take a small ball and play downstairs on the concourse. I still remember every result from that season and most from every one that has followed. We’ve renewed our season tickets every season since but I truly fell in love with Leicester again in 2008, after years of mediocrity, our club had been relegated to its lowest ever position – the third tier of English football. From then on, I’ve been hooked, resonating City’s triumphs with my own and their defeats likewise. I’ve always been proud of my hometown. In fact, I was always infamous at school for being from Leicester, because I never stopped banging on about it.

As you can tell if you follow me on Twitter, I’m very much infatuated with Leicester City Football Club. Which is weird when you really think about it, especially when you know how skeptical and cynical I am about these sorts of things. Being a Leicester fan and a football fan unites my family and my community. Some of my best memories are from football. We all want to feel apart of something bigger than ourselves and football offers us that. That’s why we refer to our favourite team as ‘we’ when we have nothing to do with the actual playing of the game. To be honest, I don’t know why I’m writing this. I was inspired by Kyle Andrews’ post on Charlton Athletic and MK Dons which I’ll link at the bottom of this post. He talked about feeling a sense of belonging around his club and although, we admire the fans of Germany, Spain, South America etc., following a club is a unique experience in this country. Where else do you see 7,000 fans in the fifth tier of the domestic league turning up every game like they do at Kenilworth Road for Luton Town and better yet, where else do 1,500 fans pile in on a cold Tuesday night to back Darlington 1883 in the 8th tier? This dedication, to me explains why English football fans nearly always put club before country. Football is our game, it’s part of our culture and we don’t like to share it. We’re more bothered about being the best on these shores than globally because our clubs have a real sense of belonging. It sounds corny, I’m sure I’ll read this back and cringe myself but it’s true as far as I can see. You often see people refute claims that football is ‘just a game’. But it is. Football is merely a game, nothing more, nothing less. The problem is, the people that chose what was allowed to encompass a ‘game’. Passion, drive, community, dictation of mood, anything you want can be part of this game. But really, football is just a game. It’s also just a very special one.

 

TV Characters We Would All Hate In Real-Life

Joey Tribbiani

Frustrating… Matt Le Blanc as Joey Tribbiani

To be honest, I hate him anyway. I’ve never understood his appeal but to some people, he’s the funniest character on Friends. I doubt the general public would be as loving of him if they knew him in real life. For a start, he is stupid and although it can be charming, he must be frustrating to deal with seeing as he cannot grasp simple conversations. He’s sleazy, sleeping with and then ditching multiple women with no remorse and he often barges in to Monica and Chandler’s apartment demanding food and freeloads off of them in general. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the whole French debacle.

Eric Cartman

Chickenlover

Respect My Authoritah… Evil Eric Cartman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is there to say? We all love watching him on South Park but let’s not lose sight of the fact he’s a horrible little kid. He regularly exhibits racist and anti-semitic views, he tricked Butters in to thinking the world was ending so he could go to Kyle’s party in his place, he tried to exterminate the Jews, he injected Kyle with AIDs and he killed a boy’s parents and then made them in to a chilli that the boy unknowingly ate. A very sick individual that I’m sure none of us would like to know.


Ted Mosby

Let it go… Nobody is sure why Ted continues to pester Robin

It says a lot that the main character of a five-piece ensemble cast is the show’s least popular. The whole concept of How I Met Your Mother is based around Ted telling his kids the lengthy story of how he met their mother. Unfortunately, he is sidetracked by a whole lot of neediness, pathetic pining for ‘the one’, despite only being in his twenties. The whole Ted and Robin relationship is the most draining and irritating one to ever take place on the small screen, and since we love Sparkles so much, we blame it on Ted. We’re then left scratching our heads as to why he tells his kids about his various sexual conquests too. He just seems unbearably in need of constant emotional support.

Brian Griffin

Brian Griffin

Smug… Family Guy‘s Brian (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The epitome of ‘liberal douche’ is Brian Griffin. I’m not against Liberalism, I’m actually a Liberal myself but the insufferable way Brian goes on about his political and moral views like he’s some sort of prophet is very irritating. Quagmire sums it up best when he calls him out for pretending to be smart when really he isn’t all that. Plus, if his pompous attitude isn’t enough to turn you off, he’s also a dog, nobody wants to be condescended to by a canine.

Piper Chapman

Naive… OITNB’s Piper in puppet form

If you’ve seen Netflix’s drama sensation Orange is the New Black then you’ll know what an anti-hero Piper Chapman is. She is the show’s protagonist and from the start, we are led to feel sorry for her but then she starts putting her foot in her mouth far too frequently and getting herself in to all sorts of problems that causes us to abandon her. And whenever she is forced to defend herself, she naively states that ‘she never meant for any of this to happen’, will she ever learn?

Charlie Harper

Promiscuous… Charlie Harper

Like Joey Tribbiani, Charlie Harper is a heartless lothario who shows no remorse for the many, many, many women he has wronged – it’s no wonder one of them pushed him in front of a train. And is it me or does he never actually seem to be working?  I don’t watch Two and a Half Men as much as the other shows referenced in this list but I’m certain I would much rather live with Ashton Kutcher.

Susan Delfino

Cutesy… Teri Hatcher as Susan Delfino

Okay, we liked her ditzy antics in the first season of Desperate Housewives and the other housewives seem to tolerate her but I like to think I’d treat her with the same contempt that Edie Britt does.  She’s slyly selfish, constantly putting her needs before others, shown perfectly by her desire to rely on her teenage daughter, Julie for empathy. Her cutesy act would quickly wear thin as would her clumsiness and her apparent inability to keep hold of Mike, the ‘love of her life’. Urgh, she should have been fried by a power line – not Edie.

Barney Stinson

Barney Stinson

Compulsive liar… NPH as Barney Stinson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You’d have to include Barney for the same reason as Joey Tribbiani and Charlie Harper. He is an absolutely nightmare to women. He uses them for sex and then chucks them plus his compulsive lying would make him exhausting to be around. He’s the sort of person you’d have out grown in high school but may keep him around because you feel sorry for him.

The X Factor USA: Top 16 Evaluation

The X Factor USA’s live shows are rolling around in just two weeks and given the rapidly declining standards of my country’s edition, I am truly grateful. Once more, the Stateside version has produced 16 top class acts. Here is how they are shaping up going in to the final rounds.

Kelly’s Over 25s

Rachel Potter

Can she sing?
Yes, very well in fact. Rachel surprised everyone at her first audition with her impeccable high notes. The Four Chair Challenge didn’t go as well for her and she was put through based on her first audition.

Does she have the ‘X Factor’?
Hmm… this is debatable. She can definitely sing and she was likeable in her first audition and the country market in the US is huge but she did herself no favours by rattling off excuses in her second performance. I think Victoria Carriger would have been better received by voters.

Jeff Gutt

Can he sing?
He’s actually got a great voice. It’s very much suited to rock ballads but he can sing, he was unlucky not to have made it to the live shows the season before.

Does he have the ‘X Factor’?
Not really. Sure, he’s likeable as a good singer and being a single father supporting his son but he doesn’t look like a star and he doesn’t have much charisma. He could do well from this but I can’t foresee him being a global star.

James Kenney

Can he sing?
Another yes, here. He’s not a strong a singer as Jeff but his voice is soulful and unique within the competition.

Does he have the ‘X Factor’?
Not really. Sure, he’s likeable as a good singer and being a single father supporting his son but he doesn’t look like a star and he doesn’t have much charisma. He could do well from this but I can’t foresee him being a global star.

Lillie McCloud

Can they sing?
Can she ever! Vocally, Lillie is a cut above the rest of the competition. It says a lot that she is the only act to have received two standing ovations so far this season.

Does she have the ‘X Factor’?
You may think a 54-year-old grandmother has little to offer mainstream music but the stage presence she carries is that of a seasoned veteran. She has the look, she has the talent. Can she connect with a younger audience? Maybe not but with a voice like hers, that shouldn’t be problematic.

 

Demi’s Girls

Khaya Cohen

Can they sing?
Vocally, she’s arguably the strongest in Demi’s category.

Does she have the ‘X Factor’?
Meh, probably not. She’s enthusiastic and likeable but does she stand-out? Not really.  That’s why I’ve just used those generic terms to describe her.

Ellona Santiago

Can they sing?
Yes, she can. Simon picked her out as the star singer when she was part of Season 1 group InTENsity.

Does she have the ‘X Factor’?
Again, she’s very forgettable. She’s just your average girl. She’s yet to show anything that sets her apart from any other female singer with a good voice.

Danie Geimer

Can they sing?
Again, she is a very good singer with amazing control for a 15-year-old.

Does she have the ‘X Factor’?
Thankfully, she may do. She’s certainly more memorable than her two predecessors. She’s the geeky girl at school that no one pays attention to, until they realise how talented she is. I bet that story will resonate with many of the show’s younger voters.

Rion Paige

Can they sing?
Yes, she can. Excellently, in fact, for a 13-year-old.

Does she have the ‘X Factor’?
She’s arguably the most likeable contestant in the whole competition, her resolute positivity in the face of her disability is simply inspiring. I almost want to see her succeed more for her mum than herself.

Paulina’s Boys

 

Carlito Olivero

Can they sing?
He can but he’s definitely one of the weaker singers in the competition.

Does he have the ‘X Factor’?
Sort of. He’ll appeal to certain audiences but he’s nothing special.

Carlos Guevara

Can they sing?
He can, very well in fact. One of Paula’s strongest singers.

Does he have the ‘X Factor’?
He’s certainly likeable given his triumph over Tourettes Syndrome whenever he sings, but he isn’t the most charismatic.

Tim Olstad

Can they sing?
Yes, he is a very good singer. That’s about all he is.

Does he have the ‘X Factor’?
Not all. He is easily the dullest contestant left. Simon was spot on when he said he’d only appeal to older audiences.

Josh Levi

Can they sing?
There are better singers in the competition, but yes he can sing.

Does he have the ‘X Factor’?
I think so. The girls seem to love him, he’s confident without being arrogant and his stage presence is impressive. There’s no reason he can’t go far.

Simon’s Groups

 

Sweet Suspense

Can they sing?
As they’re a manufactured group they can all sing equally well. Well, there’s one stronger singer but…

Do they have the ‘X Factor’?
Potentially. They’re fairly likeable and will probably be popular with young teenage girls.

Restless Road

Can they sing?
Very well, particularly together.

Do they have the ‘X Factor’?
Absolutely, it was a genius move of Simon’s to put together a group of three young male country singers. I’m certain they’ll do well.

Alex and Sierra

Can they sing?
They have unique voices. They’re not powerful but good, no doubt.

Do they have the ‘X Factor’?
I think so. They have a unique style and are actually likeable as a couple, you want them to succeed because of how down-to-earth they are. I love them.

RoXxy Montana

Can they sing?
You bet they can. Coming from a gospel choir, their voices are very soulful too.

Do they have the ‘X Factor’?
They could be the new Destiny’s Child. They’re very talented, great performers but they’re not necessarily as likeable and charismatic as the other acts. They might not do as well as predicted.

False Widow. False Problem.

Recently, the British media has been in a frenzy (when are they ever not?), over the apparent surge in the UK population of the false widow spider. Several newspapers, particularly the Daily Star have been running stories about the spiders attacking and severely injuring unsuspecting citizens. Typically, people up and down the country are now petrified of this new frontier of deadly arachnids, because quite simply, they’re being sold a bunch of striking lies.

Here’s what the media has been saying about the false widow spider and with it, the truth;

  • “The false widow spiders can kill humans”

No one in the UK has ever died from a false widow bite, in fact, no spider of any sub-species has every killed a human being on these shores. Even so, the false widow spider isn’t even likely to attack unless provoked.

  • “The false widows have recently landed in the UK”

Incorrect. False widow spiders have actually inhabited Britain for over 100 years. Scientists suspect that climate change is the major contributor to their modestly swelling population.

  • “They are extremely venomous”

Again, a misconception. The false widow’s bite is usually only dangerous to those who are allergic to its venom. Otherwise, it would have a similar effect to that of a bee sting.

  • “They are engulfing the entire nation”

Now, it’s true that false widows are commonly spotted in the south of the country. There have been a fair few sightings in Essex, Hampshire and London for example, but north of Birmingham, sightings of the species are very much a rarity.

  • “Now the winter is here, the false widows are coming in to our houses”

This is partly true. Apparently, false widow spiders don’t like houses but prefer sheds, conservatories, garages and places of the like. So, while they are moving indoors now the temperatures are dropping, don’t expect to be sharing a bed with one any time soon.

2013-10-13-Falsewidow.jpg

In honesty, this pandemic really is nothing to worry about. It’s just the media’s way of selling papers, by preying on an already common fear in arachnophobia. Has anyone noticed that they never report that twelve people are actually killed by bees and wasps every year? That’s because people aren’t usually fearful of bees. Maybe, when the entire nation recovers from the swine flu we all contracted back in 2009, we can focus on this ‘killer’ spider problem, that’s assuming we’re all not wiped out by yet another ‘killer’ freeze this winter…

‘Orange…’ is the new ‘…Bad’

I’ve never really been one of those people to attach themselves to the ‘in’ show. You know, the sort of programme, usually a drama that out of nowhere becomes really popular and everyone is watching it and talking about it? It was all about True Blood once upon a time, then Homeland, then Game of Thrones and of course the titanic, Breaking Bad.  I’ve never watched any of those shows but the latest ‘in’ drama is one I did watch and honestly, I’m glad that I did.

Groundbreaking… The characters of Orange is the New Black

Piper… Taylor Schilling and Piper Kerman

I doubt many were expecting a thirteen part series, streamed on Netflix to be so tantalising and absorbing and more importantly, popular. Jenji Kohan‘s no doubt exaggerated take on Piper Kerman‘s stay in Danbury Correctional Institute is thrilling from “I Wasn’t Ready” to “You Can’t Fix Crazy”. The show’s protagonist, Piper Chapman is obviously based on Kerman. Orange follows her story as an upper-middle class white woman deigning her way through prison, while trying to maintain a seemingly fraught engagement to her boyfriend. The show gives great insight in to the ongoings of this often exclusive environment as she tries to ascertain the workings of a world where a passing comment could lead to anything from passionate sex to attempted murder. In truth, I felt uncomfortable during the show’s pilot watching a seemingly helplessly nice woman squirm in such a hell-hole but as the seams of her character are unwoven, discomfort subsides and engrossment takes over.

Pioneer… Laverne Cox’s character has broken down transgender barriers.

The show would be nothing without the characters. In my opinion, there is simply not one character the viewer sides with. The show probably rightly portrays the inmates as complex – not detestable but not likeable either – even the protagonist, Piper or Chapman as she is known, is insufferable on ocassion, something that if is based on Kerman’s own story, is commendable to include. The supporting cast, if you can call them that include a houseproud Russian with the formidable ability to burst tits, stern but secretly vulnerable child labourers, wacky Christian murderers to name but a few. But in my opinion, the bravest character is that played by Laverne Cox. She plays Sophia, the prison’s hairdresser and a transgendered woman, with both a wife and a son on the outside. In fact, the show doesn’t shy away from controversy, reflecting the tribalism, homophobia and sexual fluidity we all expect from a prison.

I actually raced through the unlucky amount of episodic installments, regrettably so, in fact. The show faultlessly blends elements of comedy and drama in a unique and undiscovered environment. It’s popularity and online presence is entirely just. It’s the show every US network is forlorn that they didn’t get but glad they don’t have to support in it’s controversial marriage of life, love and lack of liberty.