England

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.

 

Richard III: Greedy York Eye Fortune

The body of the last king of England to die in battle, Richard III was discovered under a council car park in the Grey Friars area of the Leicester. The discovery was made in 2012 and proven to be him in early 2013 but now some several months after the excavation, the citizens of York have pound sterling signs wedged between their eye lids.

The citizens of the northern city claim that York is his ‘spiritual’ home and it would be ‘morally correct’ to bury him at York Minster. The petition to remove his remains from the East Midlands has drawn plenty of support in online petitions with even Dame Judi Dench joining the crusade. My question is, do they really have a claim to his remains? No. Richard III was not born in York, he was born in Fotheringhay, Northamptonshire. He did not even live in York, nor did he grow up there. He was the Duke of Gloucester and his wife was buried in London, if anything these are the places that should be contesting Leicester not York.

Resting place… Richard III was discovered in Leicester.

While, his links to the town are obvious through the war of the roses you must too question the timing of the people of York who are now adamant his remains should be moved. Nobody cared when the excavation was taking place and nobody cared when he was found. It was only when the mainstream media latched on to his discovery and tourists flocked to see him that York-dwellers paid any attention whatsoever. Now, you won’t find a more passionate hive of Richard III sympathisers.

The ludicrous nature of the campaign reaches new heights when you realise that the University of Leicester and Leicester City Council have spared no expense in their historic search. They’re the ones who put their hands in the pockets to find him and put in the time and effort to uncover his body in the first place and now York want to reap the rewards and pass it off as a compassionate act of humanitarianism? The Richard III society remain neutral on the subject, realising we have no concrete knowledge on where Richard wanted to be buried and there’s a huge chance, Leicester nor York were his preferred choice.

Greedy… York Minster initially backed Leicester’s burial plans.

In fact, the only people claiming to know of his wishes are a group of people claiming to be his family. The same ones who didn’t know they were his descendants until they were tracked down and are now acting as if they had a deep emotional bond. It’s even more ridiculous when you realise that Richard III’s number of descendants has been estimated as somewhere between one and fifteen million. The fact remains is that nobody alive has ever met Richard III – not even close. There is not one person who knew him well enough to make this decision or who know him well enough to even care. I’m talking about a social version of the Statute of Limitations. So how they have the audacity to proclaim his burial wishes is beyond me.

Those in the pro-York burial clan have certainly had no qualms in bashing the city of Leicester for its conduct in the matter by trying to pass organisers off as money-driven buffoons. Those same people quietly ignore the fact of Leicester’s great expenditure and effort in unearthing the fallen king not to mention the historical significance of Richard with the city. They also don’t seem to care that Leicester Cathedral has commemorated many of the major anniversaries of the Battle of Bosworth; York Minster has not.

Exhibition… The city of Leicester has already spent money honouring the king.

Keeping the King in Leicester is even within keeping of archaeological and religious practice. York Minster even backed plans for Richard III to be re-interred in Leicester cathedral in March of this year. Unsurprisingly, as soon as Leicester began the construction of their tourist attraction, including alterations to their historic cathedral, and the citizens of York saw the potential income involved they decided to play the role of moral guardians.  Leicester is even in the middle of the country and a bigger city in general, far more recognisable on the international stage and a much better place for people to pay their respects and visit the King. The worst thing of all is that the citizens of York have managed to convince much of the general public that their cause is an honourable one and not a factually invalid ploy to make money for their city. Please don’t be taken for a fool and allow this injustice to occur. Although, not initially, Leicester has honoured Richard III for decades. York only became involved when the money did. As Leicester’s mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby so plainly put it; “the case for Leicester is overwhelming.”

Please sign this petition and keep Richard III in Leicester. Thank you in advance; http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/39708

2013–14 Football League Predictions

With every new seasons , comes a new found expectation. Seventy two clubs up and down England and Wales will be dreaming their club will be steeped in glory come May 2014, whether it be a thrilling chase for promotion or a nerve-racking scrap to quell relegation. Here are my thoughts on how the tables may look in nine months time.

The Championship

Bookies’ favourites for promotion: QPR, Reading, Bolton Wanderers
Bookies’ favourites for relegation: Yeovil Town, Doncaster Rovers, Barnsley

Promotion Contenders

Challenge… Redknapp’s talented Hoops may not be enough to mount a promotion challenge.

As always, the relegated Premier League sides are tipped for the top. Reading seem the best placed for an immediate return to the top-flight with a strong squad that excelled in the Championship two seasons ago, strengthened with new additions and led by a talented manager in Nigel Adkins. Queens Park Rangers could dominate the division but risk ‘doing a Wolves’ if the heavily priced squad fail to motivate themselves to the task. Wigan could struggle to break in to the top six with Europe a lengthy distraction next season. East Midlands ‘money-bags’, Leicester City and Nottingham Forest are among those tipped for the top. Forest appeared rejuvenated under Billy Davies and have strengthened in pre-season but the Scotsman has failed on two occasions to lead Forest back in to the top division. The Foxes have added only one player to their roster but stability may be key in their quest for promotion, motivation shouldn’t be a problem for City following their cruel play-off exit in May but frailties seen in the second half of last season will need to be rectified. Bolton too pushed for the top six at the end of last season and a replication of that in 2013–14 will see the Trotters at the right end of the table. Watford’s incessant borrowing from Udinese and Granada will too keep them in contention, providing a play-off hangover doesn’t dent their chances.

The Question Marks

Ram raid… Derby fans should be quietly optimistic for the year ahead.

Several clubs are picked as this season’s ‘dark horses’. Charlton Athletic and Ipswich Town are favoured due to their strong finishes but their late form may prove to be inconsequential in the wake of the coming season.  AFC Bournemouth are predicted by some, including the bookies to consolidate and maybe mount a promotion push but in an even more competitive league than last season, it may prove to be one step too far for the Cherries. Derby County have been quietly going about some good business in pre-season and this may finally be the season that the Rams’ long-term approach pays off. Nobody can seem to weigh up neither Brighton & Hove Albion nor Middlesbrough this season. The Seagulls odd managerial switch may stifle the progress they had made in previous years whereas Middlesbrough’s dramatically different form in either half of last season means they could be either knocking on the door of the play-offs are floating in and out of the drop zone.

The Relegation Candidates

One direction… Donny have little hope of escaping the drop.

Only two of the promoted trio are widely fancied to drop back to the third tier and rightly so. Somerset minnows, Yeovil Town will struggle but may put up more of a fight than expected with manager, Gary Johnson capable of securing the Glovers’ survival. Doncaster’s signing of pop heartthrob, Louis Tomlinson will do little to bolster a squad and manager ready for the drop.  As is customary, Barnsley will be poking around the bottom of the table, but their scrappy nature may be enough to carry them above the dreaded dotted line once more. Millwall seem a lesser threat given their end-of-season form and the transition of manager Kenny Jackett to Wolves. Blackpool are too fancied to struggle with a depleted squad and a manager in Paul Ince rumoured to be unhappy in his surroundings. Elsewhere in Lancashire, Burnley may be the surprise strugglers this season following Charlie Austin’s defect to West London – the striker secured crucial points for the Clarets last term. The blue-striped duo, Huddersfield and Sheffield Wednesday may have to contend with another relegation battle too.

My predicted table

1 Reading
2 Bolton Wanderers
3 Watford
4 Nottingham Forest
5 Queens Park Rangers
6 Leicester City
7 Leeds United
8 Wigan Athletic
9 Derby County
10 Brighton & Hove Albion
11 Ipswich Town
12 Charlton Athletic
13 Bournemouth
14 Blackburn Rovers
15 Birmingham City
16 Middlesbrough
17 Sheffield Wednesday
18 Barnsley
19 Huddersfield Town
20 Blackpool
21 Millwall
22 Burnley
23 Doncaster Rovers
24 Yeovil Town

League One

Bookies’ favourites for promotion: Wolves, Peterborough, Brentford
Bookies’ favourites for relegation: Coventry, Shrewsbury, Colchester, Stevenage

1 Brentford
2 Wolverhampton Wand.
3 Peterborough United
4 Sheffield United
5 Bristol City
6 Preston North End
7 Notts County
8 Milton Keynes Dons
9 Swindon Town
10 Rotherham United
11 Walsall
12 Crewe Alexandra
13 Leyton Orient
14 Crawley Town
15 Bradford City
16 Tranmere Rovers
17 Carlisle United
18 Gillingham
19 Port Vale
20 Oldham Athletic
21 Colchester United
22 Coventry City
23 Stevenage
24 Shrewsbury Town

League Two

Bookies’ favourites for promotion: Portsmouth, Fleetwood, Chesterfield, Bristol Rovers
Bookies’ favourites for relegation: Accrington Stanley, Dagenham & Redbridge

1 Chesterfield
2 Portsmouth
3 Oxford United
4 Bristol Rovers
5 Fleetwood Town
6 Cheltenham Town
7 Scunthorpe United
8 Burton Albion
9 York City
10 Northampton Town
11 Bury
12 Hartlepool United
13 Southend United
14 Plymouth Argyle
15 Exeter City
16 Mansfield Town
17 Newport County
18 Wycombe Wanderers
19 AFC Wimbledon
20 Rochdale
21 Accrington Stanley
22 Torquay United
23 Dagenham & Redbridge
24 Morecambe

Leicester: England’s Forgotten City

I’m weirdly proud of my city. Most people up and down the British Isles don’t hold that strong a sense of local pride. Of course you hear people from places like Liverpool, Cornwall and Essex exerting their local pride but a proud ‘chisit’ is a rare sight to behold. Leicester often goes unnoticed on a national scale despite being one of the largest settlements in the United Kingdom. Many just see Leicester as a big town stuck between Birmingham and Nottingham, but it is so much more than that.

History… Leicester’s Roman remains

People had lived in the area for thousands of years, but Leicester began as a late Iron Age settlement set up by people from the Corieltauvi tribe. After the Romans fled British shores, the town’s urban function ceased to exist. Although listed as a city in medieval times, Leicester lost its city status for 800 years until 1919. Despite being one of Britain’s most important places for wealth, religion and trade, Leicester remained a borough. In spite of it’s lack of coal and iron, Leicester began it’s expansion and industrialisation in the 1700s.

Nowadays, Leicester is a superb example of a cross-cultural city owing to it’s large South Asian population. Despite this mix of ethnicity, culture and religion, little tension is experienced within the city between different groups. The city benefits from this influx of Asian culture in many ways such as; the locally known Golden mile on Belgrave Road, which provides some of the best curries in the country. Believe it or not, this obscure Midlands city boasts a lot of historical and social relevance. Leicester is home to the National Space Centre, one of the UK’s leading tourist attraction – I even know a family from San Diego who holidayed in Leicester for a week… really.

Picturesque… Bradgate Park in Summer.

Leicester is a massive sporting city too, being home to the biggest rugby union club in the country in Leicester Tigers, the oldest British basketball club in Leicester Riders, multiple time 20/20 champions in Leicestershire CCC and of course the mighty foxes, Leicester City.

The surrounding areas in Leicester are also stunning too, when you take in to account the charming county of Rutland, which if we’re honest is Leicestershire in all but name. The Charnwood area of the county is home to some of the best woodland areas for miles and home to the infamous Bradgate Park where the 9-day-Queen, Lady Jane Grey once lived.

National Treasure… Sir David Attenborough grew up in the city.

Leicester has actually been the home to many well-known names over the years. Famous ‘chisits’ include spud-flogger and England legend, Gary Lineker, as well as former City and England keeper, Peter Shilton. Successful band, Kasabian (who grew up a mile from my house), fashion expert Gok Wan (whose parents own my local chippy and Chinese takeaway). Engelbert Humperdinck, the Elephant man, Joseph Merrick, the world’s fattest man, Daniel Lambert and of course the legendary Attenborough brothers; David and Richard. You can even thank the city for the timeless classic that is ‘Return of the Mack’. Leicester is also famous for being the home of Walker’s crisps but many people are unaware that most of Britain’s beloved snacks are produced in the city or county, including Galaxy, Mars and Snickers in Ashby de la Zouch – you’re welcome.

The city also has its ties to the British monarchy due to the well publicised finding of Richard III’s body in late 2012. He was found buried in the Grey Friars area of the city following his death at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 – the last King to die in battle. The Queen also personally chose Leicester as the first stop on her 2012 Diamond Jubilee tour and thanked the city for exceeding her expectations in welcoming her. The visit made such an impression on the locals that the council plans on opening a new complex called ‘Jubilee Square’ in the coming years.

To be clear, I’m under no disillusions. I realise Leicester will never be an iconic city of the world like Paris or New York but as far as Britain goes, Leicester, in my opinion is one of the best cities there is. Ask my Granddad – he’s compiled a comprehensive argument on why Leicester should actually be the country’s capital but that’s a different story altogether.

Interesting facts about Leicester

Rejuvenated… The city of Leicester.

  • Leicester is home to the biggest outdoor, covered market in Europe.
  • The city lies on the River Soar and on the edge of the National Forest.
  • With a total population of 329,600 Leicester is the tenth largest city in the United Kingdom.
  • As one of the oldest cities in England, with a history going back at least 2,000 years – Leicester appears in the Doomsday Book as “Ledecestre”.
  • BBC Radio Leicester was the first local BBC radio station.
  • Leicester has the largest economy in the East Midlands and one of the largest in the country.
  • Leicester hosts the largest Diwali celebrations outside of India, the largest comedy festival in the UK as well as annual Pride and Caribbean events.
  • Leicester was Britain’s first ‘Environment City’ and was singled out for special praise at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.
  • The name for a person from Leicester is a ‘Leicesterian’ or ‘chisit’, the latter deriving from the locals of Skegness (a popular holiday destination for Leicesterians), who noticed that the phrase ‘how much is it?’ sounds like ‘I’m a chisit’ in a Leicester accent.
  • Leicester was the first place outside of London to have traffic lights and Tesco.
  • Experts have determined that Leicester is the birthplace of modern standard English.

My favourite things

This blog is completely pointless and narcissistic but I feel like I moan a lot in my posts so I thought I’d share the things I really like and give them a bit of praise.

TV Programmes

“Shut up, I win”… Modern Family is my all-time favourite TV programme

1. Modern Family
Okay, maybe I’ve praised this show enough but then again, I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of gloating about just how good this programme is. Its brilliantly observed  social commentaries, combined with impeccable writing of various types of humour make it a refreshing change from the average US sitcom. It’s already a classic and easily my all-time favourite TV programme.

2. Friends
Given the fact, I’ve spent my entire life watching re-runs of this show on E4 and now Comedy Central, it would be unfair not to have this among my favourites. Unlike Modern Family, it is a typical US sitcom, it’s just a lot funnier than the others.

3. How I Met Your Mother
Funnily enough, I was sceptical of HIMYM when I first heard of it. I assumed it would be a less-funny ode to Friends. And in all honesty, Friends is funnier but HIMYM’s interesting spin on the plot of an average US sitcom and it’s brilliant gimmicks make it stand out from the rest.

4. Desperate Housewives
I don’t even know why I liked this programme so much. It’s just so interesting, a perfect blend of drama and comedy that’s oddly relatable to every day life. At times, it is completely over-the-top and unrealistic but that can be forgiven when you consider it at its best. If you only watch one season of this show, make sure it’s season one.

Films

The force is with Star Wars… my all-time favourite films

1. Star Wars saga
Being honest, I’m not a big film person. Obviously, there are loads of films that I like but few that really stand out. Other than White Chicks and the Lion King, I struggled to think of anything that could compete with this, so it stands alone. Regrettably, I haven’t seen many of cinema’s modern classics (something I intend on correcting every summer but never do). Anyway, Star Wars is the ultimate sci-fi saga. I spent a lot of my childhood being obsessed with this franchise, meaning I have something like 20 lightsabers stored underneath my bed. It really is a great film, and yes the original trilogy is far better. It still shocks me that some people have never seen these films… and I hate them for it.

Albums

“‘Cause this is Thriller. Thriller night!”

1. Thriller
This is simply put the best album ever made. Featuring so many of MJ’s classsics including Thriller, Billie Jean, Beat It, P.Y.T., Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’, The Girl is Mine and Human Nature, you can see why it’s the biggest selling album of all-time and my favourite.

2. Aim & Ignite
Okay, Fun. burst on to the chart scene in Spring 2012, with their hit “We Are Young” taken from their second studio album, Some Nights. While, that album is superb and only just misses out on a spot in the top 5, Fun.’s lesser known predecessor is even better. It’s melodic from start to finish with brilliantly crafted songs and lyrics that really make you think. It’s a shame they didn’t get much recognition for this album too.

3. Fearless
I don’t really care about the stigma attached to picking a Taylor Swift album as one of your favourites. I have a quiet love for country music and she has a well-known talent for song writing. In all honesty, I could have selected either Speak Now or Red to join the top five too but this album is just about her best.

4. Songs About Jane
When you were young, every family had that one album that you played in the car non-stop, every journey. This was ours. It really is brilliant.

5. Rumours
Again, a worldwide recognised classic. My love for this album probably again stems back to my quiet love for country and guitar music. It features many of the bands classics and is hard not to like. Although, funnily enough when I first heard this album, I hated it.

It’s worth noting, these are also my five favourite artists. Honourable mention to S Club 7 for providing the soundtrack of my childhood and yes, I still have a cheeky  S Club party every now and then.

Holiday destinations

Bude-iful… My favourite holiday destination

1. Bude
Ideally, an average looking seaside town in Cornwall is not the place you want to go on holiday. It’s mostly for personal reasons that I’ve picked this as number-one. Nearly everyone has a holiday destination their family goes to often. Bude is that for my family.

2. Los Angeles
Most people say LA isn’t as good as it’s hyped up to be. But it really is, the climate, the people and the sights are all incredible. It’s a place you simply have to visit.

3. San Francisco
San Fran is a great city of diversity, it has such a varied nature to it, there are rural areas, coastal areas, Skegness-esque areas and big city areas. Accompanied by the climate which is great too, it’s a must visit. In fact, if it weren’t for the USA’s gun crime problem, the San Andreas fault and its proximity to Yellowstone, I’d move to California in a heartbeat.

4. Canary Islands
Particularly Gran Canaria and Tenerife, these islands are wonderful, just off the coast of Africa, it is always hot and just a great place to be.

Banter or Bile? : The Ugly Face of Homophobia in Football

In recent weeks, both Brighton & Hove Albion and now retired-footballer, Robbie Rogers have sparked up debates over the existence of homophobia in football. For decades, campaigners have tried to kick racism and sexism out of the game with noticeable progress but still in 2013, no openly gay footballers in England exist. Begging the question; are the exchanges between the terraces harmless banter or malevolent bigotry?

Targeted… Football fans from the UK’s gay capital have complained to the FA.

Football is a game synonymous with hearty yet edgy banter. Fans are renowned for their sharp passion filled exchanges in the stands with barely anything off limits. Racism, sexism and homophobia are the three main targets for discrimination that organisations such as Kick It Out and The Justin Campaign have sought to eliminate, but to little avail. Since the 1970s and 1980s when football hooliganism and discriminative chanting were at their peaks, only racist chanting has come close to disappearing from the English banter arsenal. Homophobia and sexism has remained rife in the stands. Sian Massey has made huge strides towards gender equality in the sport but an openly gay active player has yet to the same for LGBT equality.

Pioneer… Robbie Rogers is only English football’s 2nd openly gay player

The reason for this imbalance in success, is that racism has been combatted with rigorous campaigning both on and off the pitch. Whereas, the issue of homophobia, which too is discrimination for an innate disposition, is targeted less. Kick It Out should rightly be commended for their work against racism in football but when it comes to tackling homophobia, you wouldn’t be wrong in saying that they’ve tried a little less. With this video campaign (below) coming under fire for almost promoting homophobia by treating the issue in a mocking fashion.

It’s a well-known fact that there are currently no openly gay professional footballers. Justin Fashanu was the first footballer in England to come out as gay.  After coming out in 1990, that’s just 23 years ago, many of his former team-mates spoke out in anger against him, stating that gays had no place in team sports. Legendary manager, Brian Clough also labelled him a ‘bloody poof’, a statement he revealed he later regretted. But due to the horrific torment he received, Fashanu took his own life. Following Fashanu’s suicide in 1998, it would take some 15 years for the next player to out themselves. US international, Robbie Rogers came out in a blog post in February 2013 and although the overall reaction of fans was generally positive, he felt he had to retire from the game as a result. Begging the question, has any progress been made at all?

‘Role model’… Brian Clough publicly vented homophobic views

Brighton’s FA report this month condemns fans of nearly every Championship club,9* for homophobic chants from “We can see you holding hands” to “You’re from a town, full of gays. We hope you all die of AIDs”. A sizeable portion of gay football fans would dismiss a lot of these chants as banter but on occasions, the line is crossed. Initially the seriousness  of the issue, highlighted by this report, had been picked up on, with fans of Leicester City being warned by their club that their season ticket would be confiscated should they unleash any homophobic chanting during an away match at the AMEX stadium in April 2013. However, some have argued that Brighton fans are not the ones that should be concerned, given that the majority of them are not gay. While this may be true, stadiums around the country are filled with gay fans every week and none of them should have to feel like an unwelcome minority. No doubt, there will be a few fans who condemn the changing landscape of terrace chanting, drawing reference to the good old days where everyone was fair game for a cheap dig. But what was so great about vitriolic bigotry in the first place?

Progressive... Less than a third of clubs are currently making a stand against homophobia.

Progressive few… Less than a third of clubs are currently making a stand against homophobia.

Chanting itself is not the only problem. Many football fans will be able to confirm the commonality of homophobic heckling to players and officials. It’s probably true to say that the  fans that make these comments are unaware of the effect they have and the possibility that their sick prejudice will be ingrained in the mind of the small children in attendance, pushing gay rights progress back years. Remarkably only 29 of the 92 top clubs in English football support the “Football vs Homophobia” campaign, a surprising stat given the more ‘family friendly’ nature of sport in the 21st century.

In actuality, the real damage of homophobia in football isn’t done to the fans of Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club, it isn’t done to the fearful closeted players of the English leagues. The damage is done to every conflicted young boy or girl, discovering the love of their football club only to be met with hateful comments simply for being who they are.

Fans views

The only way to gain a true insight in to Homophobia in football is to ask the fans. Here are some of their comments on the issue.

“In a nutshell, homophobia isn’t acceptable, but players “coming out” won’t make a difference. I’ve never seen any incidents at football.” – Kate (@bantamskatee), Bradford City fan

“(on Robbie Rogers) I have the utmost respect for having the balls to come out and say it, but if anything a massive shame that he’s retired as a result. I’ve got a good mate who’s gay also, and he says the one thing that scares him most about coming out is the way gays are perceived in the media, seeing as people who act especially camp such as Gok Wan & Louis Spence couldn’t represent his personality less. In-fact, him admitting to me he’s gay stunned me and I’d say it’s changed my opinion on gays and how I see them, I can fully see his side of it.” – Dan Turner (@DanLCFC93), Leicester City fan

“Well, I have never actually heard any homophobic abuse at Rovers or an away game and it is something I would never want to hear at a game… it is something to be stamped out along with racism…I feel like it shouldn’t be a bad thing to be gay and a football fan/player but I feel people are scared of the backlash from it.” – Lucy Ford (@LucyRovers), Bristol Rovers fan

“In modern day football, it’s unacceptable to be homophobic. The society away from football doesn’t accept homophobia, being a football fan doesn’t make you immune to the rules. There’s having a joke and then there’s intent to insult which I believe should lead to a ban in football.” – Jess Beasley, (@nffcjessx), Nottingham Forest fan

“When Rogers came out and retired it made big news here (United States). Many MLS teams said they’d welcome him. I think that he should’ve kept playing. But on the other hand I can understand why he retired. No gay professional athletes here either. Also, there haven’t been ANY homophobic abuses here stateside in football. (on whether a San Francisco franchise would receive homophobic abuse) That’s never been an issue here with other sports that have a team in San Fran, so I’d think it wouldn’t be an issue in football” – Kyle Debelak, Manchester City fan 

 

Ten Years on Filbert Way : The 10 Greatest Matches

August 2012 marks the tenth anniversary of the first competitive fixture played at Leicester City’s new home, The King Power Stadium. We’ve seen ups, downs, drunken fans attacking goalkeepers, Newcastle players knocked unconscious from a sharp free-kick, wordly strikes from Nalis to Gudjonsson and a 12-month-cameo by a super Swede. But here are the 10 picks for Leicester’s greatest match at our new home.

10. Leicester City 4–0 Norwich City

2007/08 Coca-Cola Championship        Att:  25,854

The first on the list is an oddity of sorts. A win under Ian Holloway in the dreaded 2007/08 season and on top of that DJ Campbell found himself on the scoresheet for the Foxes. It may not be the Foxes’ fan’s favourite win over the six-fingered faithful from Norwich but at the time, it was quite a scalp. Norwich had been on a 13-game-unbeaten run and Leicester were staring a relegation scrap straight in the face. The game also sparked violence from the Norwich fans in the city centre which led to Leicester fans being unjustly and nonsensically labelled ‘high risk’ for 2012’s FA Cup fixture. Cue David Nugent.

Trounced… High-risk Howard punishes the canaries.

9. Leicester City 3–0 Coventry City

2006/07 Coca-Cola Championship      Att: 25,816

What a difference a chairman makes! Number 9 on the list is Leicester’s first game under sneaky Serb, Milan Mandaric and it was a fruitful affair indeed. The Foxes kicked off Mandaric’s manager-chopping reign with a dominant win over M69 rivals, Coventry City. One the Hinckley-dwelling Foxes will savour for years to come.

Handful… City’s scorers embrace.

8. Leicester City 4–0 Nottingham Forest

2011/12 FA Cup 3rd Round Replay      Att: 16,210

It was inevitable really, the 8th best game on Filbert Way was the classic FA Cup replay of January 2012. In truth, Leicester dismissed Forest with ease. In some respects, the scoreline was flattering to the away side who couldn’t even hit the back of the net from 3 yards with an open goal. It says it all that hat-trick hero, Jermaine Beckford scored 3 times despite suffering from a cold. I’m starting to think, that Alan Birchenall could have taken to the pitch and scored himself. However, if there is one downside; this game seemed to be the turning point that saved Forest from relegation.

Rout… But it’s okay. Forest only hate Derby, remember?

7. Leicester City 2–0 Brighton & Hove Albion

2002/03 Nationwide Division One     Att: 31,909

Number 7 on the countdown is the 90 minutes that confirmed a controversial promotion for the Foxes. Having suffered relegation at Filbert Street 12 months earlier, Leicester bounced back to the big time at the first attempt after beating the Seagulls two-nil. Of course as Neil Warnock would have it, Leicester’s remarkable 92 point tally was condemned as ‘farcical’ due to financial issues. News flash, Neil – If the Foxes had had a 10 point deduction, they would have still finished in an automatic promotion spot.

Promotion…Jordan Stewart scored the crucial goal that sent Leicester up

6. Leicester City 4–0 Derby County

2011/12 nPower Championship    Att: 22,496

They say history never repeats itself and that was proven to be false in October 2011 as the 1994 classic ‘Silence of the Rams’ churned out a thrilling sequel at the King Power Stadium. The Foxes and the Rams had had unexpected starts to the season; Promotion favourites, Leicester had found themselves in the bottom half whilst Derby were leading an unlikely play-off charge. However, a convincing 4 goal winning margin in the East Midlands derby brought the feel good factor back to Leicester and left a handful of travelling sheep slunking back to Derby with nothing but a spanking.

Baaaaaad luck… Vassell sends the home crowd in to raptures.

5. Leicester City 2–2 Manchester City

2010/11 FA Cup 3rd Round     Att: 31,200

The only draw to make the countdown is the FA Cup third round clash against Man City. To fit the old cliché, it was a classic cup tie; two sets of passionate fans, two big spenders and a fascinating teacher vs. pupil battle in the dugout between Leicester’s Sven-Goran Eriksson and Man City’s Roberto Mancini. However, Leicester not only took the game to the Premier League club, they were unlucky to only get a replay. Bamba bundled the ball across the line in the first 50 seconds before Leicester let their lead slip. Andy King found the equaliser in the 64th minute with the search for the winner continuing in to the last minute. Even former fox, Mancini revealed he was ‘relieved’ to escape with a draw.

Premier League? You’re Having a laugh… Bamba makes a name for himself

4. Leicester City 3–2 Tottenham Hotspur

2005/06 FA Cup 3rd Round     Att: 19,844

The Gary Lineker derby as it was affectionately dubbed on the day is perhaps one of the most infamous victories of Leicester’s recent history. Having been two-nil down by the 41st minute, The Foxes who were 21st in the Championship at the time embarked on a remarkable second half comeback led by the Elvis Hammond and Steven Hughes. The Foxes were back in it by the hour mark, leaving Mark ‘donkey’ de Vries to score the 90th minute winner and dump Premier League Spurs out of the cup.

Scalp… De Vries’ placed shot sends City through

3. Leicester City 3–0 Nottingham Forest

2009/10 Coca-Cola Championship     Att: 31,759

The first ‘El Clasico me duck’ thrashing came in February 2010. Both Leicester and Forest were locked in a battle for promotion and having been on the receiving end of a 5-1 defeat at the City Ground, it was time for the Foxes to get some revenge. The two East Midlands’ giants played out a dull hour with no real chances before a fifteen minute deforestation would get the Walkers rocking. A goal each from Bruno Berner and Andy King and a memorable free kick from Paul Gallagher ensured 3 points as the Foxes sank their teeth in to their bitter rivals, knocking them out of the top two.

Tale of two thrashings… Leicester exact their revenge on the Tricky Trees

2. Leicester City 1–0 Leeds United

2008/09 Coca-Cola League One     Att: 25,507

It was the battle of the big clubs in April 2009 as the Foxes edged closer and closer towards a remarkable turn in fortunes. Following years of decline, the Foxes were finally back on the up after a dramatic last minute header spread vibes of delirium around the Walkers Stadium. In truth, the game was a rugged affair and to fit the old cliché; a tremendous advert for England’s third tier. But it was Leicester who stood tall as Howard headed Gradel’s corner in to the back of the net, writing off the 2008/09 season as Leicester’s one and ONLY third tier tour.

Classic… ‘Super’ Steve Howard practically seals Leicester’s Championship return

1. Leicester City 4–0 Leeds United

2003/04 Barclays Premier League     Att: 30,460

The greatest game to ever unfold before our eyes at the King Power Stadium is the famous four-nil drubbing of Leeds United. The victory seen by millions on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football captured all the best Leicester’s most recent Premier League team had to offer. From the first whistle, the Foxes were on the hunt and the scoreline was one the home side had earned. Complete with four tremendous goals, in particular, a jaw-dropping 30-yard volley from Lilian Nalis, Leicester saw off a Leeds United team that had graced Europe just one season before. The victory was celebrated by fans alike including Chris Moyles’ breakfast show colleagues who concocted a jingle mocking Leeds’ (Moyles’ team) defeat to City. The win was the first of only five Premier League wins that season but boy was it a sweet one.

Rankings based on the votes by members of the FoxesTalk forum.