Jan 04

3-0 is the standard walkover result

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3-0 is the standard walkover result – when Scotland ‘beat’ Estonia when Estonia didn’t turn up. If UEFA upheld Wales’ complaint, UEFA would scratch that game and the record would say it never got played, Russia didn’t show and Wales were awarded the points.

A side-benefit of the case shows that comments about Rio Ferdinand playing against Turkey take on a new light – Turkey would presumably have complained had he played, so the argument that this was reason enough to exclude him seems to have gained weight in my book.

Jan 04

Wales are trying to get to Euro 2004

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Wales are trying to get to Euro 2004 through the back door, after a doping scandal in the Russia team. They want the 0-0 draw in the first leg replaced with a 3-0 victory for them. What I don’t understand is where this scoreline was plucked from – a 2-0 win would have got them through just as well, and if you’re going to throw on extra goals why not go for 4, 5, why not go for a historic national record victory? Were there three particular tackles in which the midfielder in question looked particularly wide-eyed?

(Also if scorelines get changed like this do the phantom goals get credited to anybody? Maybe they should be raffled off for charity.)

Jan 04

JogBlog 2: Kit.

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JogBlog 2: Kit.
I hate the word ‘kit’. But it’s not the association with school PE kit, with scabby knees and wet shorts, cold fields and being completely unable to kick a ball in a straight line, that puts me off. Oh no. It’s the way the word is used by the hardware junkies who populate science and especially the military, for whom ‘a piece of kit’ could refer to a billion dollar remote-control space exploration vehicle, some harmless new spectrometer or the latest hi-tech murder machine. In that context it always seems a pathetic lads-mag way of trivialising slaughter: Colonel Cock-farmer and his jolly boys salivating over their new rifle sights the tax-payer has sprung for. In comparison the idea of PE kit seems innocent, even naive.

But running these days necessarily means kit, and lots of it. Upgrading my running shoes last year I asked what the big difference the extra twenty pounds I was prepared to pay this time around would mean. The shop assistant didn’t answer, but picked up my old trainers and, grasping them at either end, twisted her hands in opposite directions — like wringing out a cloth. The shoes crumpled, buckled and twisted under her grip, before springing back when released. Same procedure with my prospective new shoes: they hardly moved at all. If you imagine the pressure the foot faces as it comes down on uneven surfaces, at all angles, and particularly if — like me — your feet have a tendency to roll in of their own accord as your foot strikes the ground, you should be able to see the advantage of having a little more support! I was sold, and didn’t blink as we finally found something to fit my feet — too wide in the wrong places — a few quid over my original limit.

Kit at the moment means being able to run in temperatures close to zero. I’m not up for running in the rain, but given I live in Edinburgh not Glasgow, it’s cold that’s the real bugger… Or at least it was until I could step out of the flat in skintight thermal leggings and a heavy duty long-sleeve T-shirt. NB we picked the leggings which didn’t make me look too much, in CB’s somewhat-alarmed phrase, like ‘a ballet dancer’ below the waist. NB also, I am using the euphemism ‘leggings’ for what should I think, properly be called ‘tights’. Other essential for early mornings = workies’ flourescent tabard, scrounged off a mate in civil engineering, which though about eight sizes too big is at least visible to even the most hungover road-hog of a commuter driver.

I’m never quite sure what to make of the hard-cases you see out and about in all weathers in shorts and a T-shirt: or apparent novices running in layers of sweatshirts and jackets made from decidedly un-breathable materials with none of the special gimmicks and thingummies which the kit manufacturers claim will help you ‘perform’. (And don’t all those promises of enhanced performance sound like something the spam merchants have been offering me in my inbox all year?) I’d like to be able to run by smugly in my warm cocoon of hi-tech fabrics: but I can’t help suspecting that telling youself you need the proper gear before you go out might actually be just another way of putting off the inevitable confrontation with your own unfitness. Of course such doubts will only last until the point where I turn a corner into the kind of wind they use to test the aerodynamics of grand prix cars, but blowing directly from Scandinavia.

Jan 04

Chelsea 4 – 0 Watford.

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Chelsea 4 – 0 Watford.
The reason why holding the big team to a draw at your home ground can never be seen to anything but a slightly delayed result to the big club. Still you make a bob or two. But just don’t even think about calling it giant killing – more giant rousing.

Jan 04

The main reason

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The main reason I never liked football was that I could never play it. Football at school involved skilfully dodging people who were charging towards me – fine had I been a striker, less so as a defender. Nobody in my family liked the game enough to watch it on TV, so the upshot was I never got any idea of the shape and tactics of football. Even when I got into the drama of the game I would watch games in wary ignorance of what was actually going on pitchwise.

That may finally be changing, thanks to the miracle that is Pro Evolution Soccer 3. Ten days of playing it over Christmas led to a wonderful moment: I sat down yesterday afternoon to watch the second half of Liverpool-Yeovil and I – I – I could see!. It was just a game of football, not an especially great one, but I could understand what people were trying to do and why, and even why it worked or didn’t. This comes naturally to the rest of you I’m sure but it was a revelation to me.

(The only problem is that I see everything in Pro Evo terms, especially the goals. At one point Heskey put a shot well over the bar, and in my mind I could feel his pushing that square button too eagerly – my PS2 controller has given fresh meaning to the word “tap-in”.)

To follow up Mark’s post below

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To follow up Mark’s post below, there are some special editions of boardgames which seem incomprehensible to me. Having viewed the Betty Boop Monopoly set some weeks before Christmas I am still no closer as to how the standard board has been altered to fit the somewhat obscure world of the watermelon headed sexpot. You win a beauty contest might work but getting sent to jail. Bad Girls Betty anyone. Maybe other Out Of The Inkwell characters get a look in too.

The big problem I always had with Cluedo was that it was a game that was bundled up by Waddington’s as a game all households must have. In comparison to the other rmust haves Monopoly (and perhaps Risk) Cluedo is ridiculously short. A game is over in twenty minutes. This always struck me as odd, though now as an uncle I see some good points in not spending three hours playing only to lose. Also Cluedo, along with Mastermind (world dictator with sylph-like associate version), is a great game to play without any board at all to pass a boring train ride, though it does require a degree of trust. Trust which i am not sure I would have if I was playing with Sistrah Becky: Uri Gellar is a cheater and a fraud after all.

Are there any board games which are actually IMPROVED or AT ALL CHANGED

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Are there any board games which are actually IMPROVED or AT ALL CHANGED – as opposed to momentarily coloured – by having their own classic scenarios recast to conform to some TV programme or other? My sister was given Simpsons Cluedo for xmas: the board and the pieces are nicely enough designed/made (Bart dressed as Professor Plum, Krusty as Reverend Green etc, and such weapons as “poisoned donut” and “nuclear rod”, and the rooms are the “Kwik-E-Mart” or “Mr Burns’s Office”) but actually, apart from none of us ever remembering who or what anything is, this adds nothing at all…

(Well, we did discover that Becky has nurtured Uri Geller-like abilities since last time we played, probably in the 80s: the first game she guessed the contents of the envelope exactly correctly on her first go; the third game ditto; there was no fourth game, only sulks and tantrums)