Football Blog: Tangerine Flavoured

Saturday, September 17, 2022

How do you like them Apples?

It will make sense later. 

I'm not going to Millwall cos, well, I don't have to make my excuses to you do I? Just because you click a link and skim read this shite, doesn't mean you own me does it? Essentially it's cos it's both too much money and time for my life this weekend. Boo. 

I'm annoyed though, about how this season works, with it's early start and extra midweek games, as that seems like a number of the decent away games are at stupid midweek times when I can't go as well. It pisses me off that I'm denied going to football so we can have the World Cup in a country that doesn't even like football and is essentially just a massive architects sketch on a great big easel and when you lift the first page with all those generic architect drawn trees and people milling around in the shade of buildings with sweeping lines and pencil shaded estimations of the colours involved, there's a massive Breugel style painting of people with contorted pain filled faces and broken bleeding limbs and grieving relatives being eaten by the spectre of poverty and that's grand in FIFA's world.

I'm not going to pretend I'm more angry about that than the fact I probably can't get to Sunderland cos I'm not knitting yoghurt and saving lives and I'm just a fucking weight on the world like anyone else, but it's not really particularly good that the World Cup (c) is brought to you by Slave Labour (c) and we'll probably have to sit through loads of mawkish shit about how Football (c) brings People Together (c) in the Global Village (c) and how fucking ace that is thanks to FIFA (c) who are well worth the money they cream off a game (c) that could be administered by one lad who knew what he was doing on a computer and someone else who could send an email and stick something on twitter now and again. 

 The World Cup or 'the Triumph of Death' by Peter Breugel? 

This was supposed to be a blog about Micky Apples but it's not heading that way so far.

Lets have a go at an awful tenuous link shall we?

FIFA is a bloated layer of ineffectual bureaucracy that takes a big wage for what it does, which really seems to amount to not an awful lot that couldn't be done with a lot less hoopla. Blackpool's much vaunted transfer strategy and large 'football operations team' on the other hand...


Hilarious topical shade throwing aside (love you Ben), the thing about Appleton is, I'm not entirely sure we can decide what we think with any degree of certainty.

I'll now establish why we can't really decide in a manner that takes far too long. Buckle up and belt up too. You have to pay for everything but some things are for free, so take that look from off your face and lets do this thing! 

We seem to be in age where it's not so important what you know, or how loud you sing, or whether you even go to games or not, but how FIRM YOUR OPINIONS ARE.

Why is this?   

Football fandom has been fed through the lens of 24 hour rent-a-pundit opinion in which an ex Southampton full back who no one can actually remember having a professional career has to say outrageous things to bait an ex Fulham player who people can only remember for thinking 'fucking hell, we're a bit short of midfielders if they're picking him' when he won two England caps against Austria and Peru in highly forgettable friendlies. If the two of them don't generate 'content' to be shared on social media then they'll maybe have to get proper jobs or drink themselves into oblivion because their glory days have gone and where crowds onces mumbled muted appreciation for them, now everyday is just a yawning chasm that screams 'YOU ARE OLD. THERE IS ONLY DEATH AHEAD' 

A man with opinions. Actually.. Lets not do this... 

We're constantly exposed to people who aren't Roy Keane but are trying to be Roy Keane and failing to get even close to the scornful incredulous majesty of Roy Keane saying things like, 'y'know what Alan, I know we're only 8 minutes into the first pre season friendly, but you've got to worry for [insert name of manager]' and presenters saying 'Wow! what an opinion! Call us later to let [insert christian name of ex pro] know what YOU think about THAT!'  

We're also bombarded by Bobby Ravaged and Vinegar Piss Sutton (note to self, that's fucking awful, never write that again) shouting 'Go on then. Who is going to get relegated? Eh? Eh? Eh? Eh? Who is going to get relegated? Eh? Go on? Eh? Who? Eh? Who? Go on? Say it? Eh? Who is going to get relegated?'  and 'You said they'd finish top 4. You said they'd finish top 4, You said they'd finish top 4, You said they'd finish top 4, You said they'd finish top 4, You said they'd finish top 4, You said they'd finish top 4, You said they'd finish top 4' at each other*.

*You may wish to know, I didn't copy and paste at all in this paragraph. Standards matter. 
Such quality broadcasting apparently passes for the nation's leading football debate show. 

I also think the fact that football has been ensnared by gambling doesn't help. I've nothing against gambling. I'm not Oliver Cromwell marching on your palace of fun saying 'stop it or I'll do nasty shit and are there any Irish sorts around I can be a cunt to while I'm at it' but I think it's slightly dicey how much we're implored to BET, BET, BET to have FUN, FUN, FUN! (like, football isn't really fun in and of itself) - I don't remember football being a thing anyone I knew who gambled gambled upon once upon a time, but now, it's all anyone I know who gambles gambles upon. 


This leads us to a point where a lot of fans actually have a literal stake in having a very clear prediction of future events and therefore drawing conclusions from the available evidence is a literal industry. LOOK AT THE XG! LOOK AT THE POSSESSION STATS! LOOK AT POINT PER GAME WITH JIMMY HUSBAND AT LEFT BACK! LOOK AT EXPECTED SECOND PASSES IN THE THIRD PHASE WHEN THE BALL RECEIVER IS OVERLAPPED AND ONE FULL BACK IS OUT OF SHAPE ON A TUESDAY WHEN THE MOON IS IN THE EAST AND THE DOW JONES IS HIGH

We're constantly coming up with ways to convince ourselves that football is deeply scientific really and that if we can find the right pundit, the right metric, the right source of wisdom, really, we can predict the future. That might be simply for the right to say 'look, I was right all along!' or it might be so we can win £50/500/5000/50000 and maybe have a chance of some heating and lighting this winter. 

It's ok darling, the house isn't at risk - I've looked at the heat maps for last week and West Brom will leave a gap our winger will exploit. Would you mind if I stake the black market value of your liver on it too? This time, I think we'll win BIG!

This isn't me trying to be a 'proper football man' - For one thing, proper football men don't intersperse their blogs with art references or sometimes random obscure avant garde music references. It's me trying to say that however you look at it, football is a game of randomness and chaos where any number of factors can disrupt any attempt to read into it.

To draw a firm conclusion about football, you need a lot of data. Using little bits of data is about as much use as any proper football man truism - in fact, a trusim is likely the result of a subconcious human processing of a lot of data, so is probably more use than most of the poor quality data floating about...

It is fair to say that 'Stats show that Joe Nuttall doesn't appear to be a world class forward in the mould of Haaland' as we've got enough evidence for that and analysing a single player over time, is fairly easy to do.

Assessing the impact of a manager though and making claims about their long term prospects for success on the basis of a few games is much more like deciding if a complex recipe is going to succeed or fail when the chef gets the first onion out of the bag and puts it on the chopping board. 

WARNING - here after, the blog gets a bit weird. I know I'm adopting a grumpy tone this week, but I do esteem the readership really and I think it's fair to point out the stuff hereafter is a bit tenuous. 

If I may continue with this culinary metaphor (I dunno why I'm asking you, no one ever comments anymore anyway, so fuck it, I'm going to stretch it as far as I humanly can) ol' Micky Bigarms has been gifted a really shit bag of ingredients.

Imagine being him. He's got to cook a meal for us, so he he chats with the supplier (Mansford's fresh meat and veg we'll call them - completely random name I've chosen there) - He decides to cook, lets say, a (4-3-)3 Cheese pasta bake. He rings up, places his order for the supplies and preps the kitchen. 

"Hi Mike, sorry, bad news, I know we said we were getting you that cheese and those herbs, but we're out, the weathers been bad, blight, that sort of thing, we'll have them for you in a few weeks...Chow for now! Or not as the case may be Ha ha ha... Chow - it means both 'eat' and 'goodbye' *snort* I make myself laugh y'know - Got to go, got some blood to get out of a stone... Toodles!" 

Michael decides he'll have to alter the menu. He looks at what he's got and decides, it's ok, he's got some cupboard staples and does a simple tomato pasta. It's not what he wants, but the business is just opening and he'll get to it in time. 

Eventually the supplies arrive. "Sorry Mike, we've been trying to source the good stuff. It's taken a bit of time I know, but we think this is the way forward. Hope it goes well, can't chat, got a date at the golf course with (another utterly random name here...) Jonty" 

One night, he knocks up a lovely dish. It tastes divine. Everyone enjoys it. We're in business he thinks. Cooking on gas! 

The next morning he turns up at the kitchen, ready to set up the next meal. Unbelievably, there has been a power cut and all the lovely special ingredients his premium quality suppliers eventually provided him have gone off. 

"Fuck my life" thinks Micky and unfolds his arms and refolds them again in a devastating display of emotional frustration. What can he do? 

Luckily he remembers. He has a pantry too and in the pantry is a big slab of beef. It's from a rare breed of cow 'Bovinus Madineus' that is an acquired taste, but definitely could work. He wasn't planning on making steak and ale pie - it's a bit obvious for him, but fuck it, needs must. Cooking on Gaz so to speak... 

He slaps it together, he puts it out. It's not bad. It's quite good in fact. Maybe. At least acceptable. Things are ok. The supplies will be here sooner or later so it's just getting by and frankly, it could be worse.  

"What the fucking fuck?" Michael has not only folded and unfolded his arms but has also looked up to the sky and breathed out quite heavily. This is as close as he gets to tears. He's holding a letter from the food standards agency saying that 'Bovinus Madineus' has been banned from culinary use for a period of weeks due to some shit they made up that no one understands. 

What has he got left now? A fridge full of stuff he can't use, a pantry of things he can't cook with. He's got a load of flour, a couple of eggs and 7 onions. 

Personally I feel sorry for the chef in this scenario. I find it strange that anyone would draw a firm conclusion as to the chef's abilities given such misfortune. I'd prefer to judge the lad when he's actually able to put some food on the table that resembles the recipe he originally chose. 

Sure, somewhere along the line, he's probably put too much salt or not enough pepper in something but who doesn't do that sometimes? 

Why have you made me a plate of mashed potato?

Cos I've only fucking got potatoes you ungrateful bastard. You can eat lice or worms if you'd prefer. 

Football is a chaotic and capricious game - the one metric we can be relatively certain of is that the teams that pay the biggest wages over the longest period of time will be far more likely to succeed than the teams that don't. That's been shown beyond doubt by studies that span decades, continents, hundreds and thousands of divisions 

There have been issues in the games we've played for sure. Some of the players we've got aren't playing well at all. There have also been mitigating factors. Our midfield situation has been akin to Ten Haag trying to play Ten Haag football with only Scott McTominey available. That wouldn't work. It wouldn't just reflect badly on Scott McTominey either, it's likely the other players would also look less good. Liverpool looked rank bad without Thiago. We've been missing for one reason or another six creative midfielders and the one player that can make a reductive style (i.e. how you have to play with no creativity) work got banned cos the game was on Sky for an action that, even in my most objective mood, I can't really say is more than 60/40 deliberate. 

Seminal Cover for the album 'Gary Madine on the FA CCTV cameras (Peel Session)' by indie legends ''TALKSTOOMUCHSHITE' 

We also sold the best player we've had in a decade (clue, I don't mean Reece James) and on that note, I'll finish with a random anecdote (I wish you stayed on topic more MCLF - fuck you, I wish you read another blog.)

I'm reading Duncan Hamilton's fucking brilliant book on George Best - I've never been that bothered about George Best cos I'm too young to remember him and who gives a fuck about Man Utd and all that, but it's a wonderful story told with skill I can only marvel at. - Anyhow, I've just read the bit on the European Cup Final in 68 and I'll ask you this - what United player had the most impact that night? 

Yes. It was... Best, Charlton, Law, Styles, John Aston... (???) 

Best and Charlton both scored, but Best finished the game frustrated. He'd been marked out. Double and at times triple marked. John Aston wasn't in the same league as him, not by a million miles but he was gifted freedom, left 1:1 with his full back time and again because Best was drawing so much attention, pulling the other team out of shape defensively, messing with their heads, disrupting their plans. He didn't play especially well, but that doesn't matter, his mere presence was enough to gift a lesser player the space and time to damage the other team. 

This is not the footballer John Aston - I put the picture in to demonstrate how obscure the memory of John Aston is, because, despite being the MOM in the first English European Cup Win in a game of tremendous legend cos of all the Munich emotion, this other John Aston lad is searched for more often than him and he appears first on a Google image search. He's some kind of science bloke I think. We don't really care what he is do we? The point is made. Lets carry on. We're nearly through... 

I think we underestimate sometimes the impact Bowler had and how without that magic, we become a much more routine task to defend against. I suppose, if you like, for Micky Apples, the loss of Bowler was like discovering the restaurant owner had decided to sell the chef's high class frying pan and replace it with one he'd borrowed from the restaurant down the road for a bit that may or may not be any good. That only makes me feel more inclined to root for the chef in my frankly horrific metaphor.

I dragged it out far too long, but hey! We're 260-ish blogs in and you should be amply prepared for that by now. Reading it and wishing it was shorter or to the point is like buying beans with 'beans' written on them and then wishing they were spaghetti hoops. It fucking says what is it on the tin. 

Anyway, the point is, judge Appleton on a fair set of circumstance, not a fucking shambles in the background that he's had to try and make sense of. I could have just written that on twitter I guess.

Sorry. (not sorry)




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Saturday, September 10, 2022

Cancelled culture?

This picture blew my mind. At the bottom is another mini blog that explains why.

Yes. This is definitely one of those blogs that I 'go on' a bit to the extent that I've blogged twice in one blog which even for me, is likely over egging the blog pudding to an extent that even the people who read it regularly, even the really aimless pieces, will probably give up before the end...



It's not about that at all. I really can't be arsed with the CULTURE WARS cos in reality they're a few weird people raging over a few things that don't really make any difference and the phrase always makes me think of a scrap in a library or two opera singers driving tanks at each other. I have political views and so do you. Even if you're ambivalent to all politics, that is, in itself a view. What I really like about football is, how through talking about it and attending it, I meet and engage with people who support the same team or enjoy the same sport but who (and wait for this!) DON'T THINK EXACTLY THE SAME AS I DO ABOUT OTHER STUFF THAT ISN'T FOOTBALL! - I like engaging with people who aren't me, cos frankly, I irritate myself and if everyone I knew just agreed with me, that would shite. 

One of the things about democracy and that (this will get to football) is that OTHER VIEWS are LITERALLY THE FUCKING POINT. One of my favourite people I've met (a Birmingham fan by the way, for his sins) is someone who is essentially ideologically different to me in almost every way aside from the stuff that you would reasonably ostracise someone from your acquaintance for like being an actual Nazi or a nonce. We agreed they were bad, but just about everything else was a reason to disagree. As we both supported relatively crap football teams who'd played each in the not too distant past, that gave us more to talk about and made us more interesting to each other than lots of people we both knew that shared our respective ideologies but didn't support relatively crap football teams. 

My friendship with this lad led to some of the most interesting conversations I've ever had, often book ended by conversations about our crap football teams. My views are what they are and like yours, they're formed by a combination of experience, upbringing and the things I read and watch. What was fascinating was learning that his ideological view was really well thought out and borne of experiences that made perfect sense. I didn't have some kind of epiphany and denounce everything I though previously and neither did he, but, at times we violently agreed on some things we probably didn't think before that 'the other side' would think and more than anything, I learned that people who think differently politically aren't automatically SCUM or LUNATICS. I'd like to think we made each other reflect and probably made our relative positions a little more realistic and a little less based on a rigid set of beliefs and where we hadn't shifted, probably strengthened each others arguments by the debate we had. 

That's literally how democracy works. The ancient Greeks had a theory on that - the idea that new and stronger ideas emerge from the combat of opposing positions - and it's really one of the reasons why (some of them at least) they thought dictatorship was essentially weak - because intellectual dominance by one position, would stifle development of society and the Ancient Greeks, were, whilst MAD HYPOCRITES who had slaves and that, for the time they lived, pretty fucking sharp. They worked out atoms and had a fucking computer for fucks sake. 

I fully appreciate my* readership probably don't come here for half baked analysis of the Ancient Greeks and a wet story about a mate I had 25 years ago but we're going to some FOOTBALL now. 

*I don't claim any possession over you really, you can go and read another blog any time, I don't mind, this is just me chatting shite and I'll do it with or without you** 

**sorry, that seems ungrateful now I've typed it, I do appreciate you reading it, I'm just trying to say, this isn't some kind of fake shit where I foster a relationship with you by pretending I'm making things 'for you' when actually, I'm all about the adverts and that - I just like doing it and you can do whatever as a result)

I've already given an example above of football being a uniting factor. I can't pretend football is MDMA or LOVE and has everyone gurning and plaiting their hair with flowers and going 'y'know what, you, you are beautiful, really, I know we're both heterosexual* but man, I think you're beautiful and that's beautiful. You know what else is beautiful? ASDA. ASDA is beautiful when you really look at it...' but as things go, I've hugged, randomly spoken to more strangers, shared emotions and had in depth conversations about all sorts of stuff as a result of football than I've had anywhere else. I'm a bit old now, but the last ILLEGAL RAVE I went to (it was a while ago) everyone just chewed their own teeth and stared at the floor and the last actual hippy I met I had to be escorted away by my girlfriend cos the smelly self indulgent cunt launched into one of the most appalling self pitying eugenics driven rants about how people should be sterilised if they come from certain social classes (which would include basically my entire family, friendship group and 80%-90% of the people I've ever met) and whilst I'm a lover, not a fighter, I really wanted to deck him for the good of humanity. (which is, I suppose ironic in a way, but hey!) 

*or whatever combination of people who aren't trying to shag each other but acknowledging each other's beauty that you like

I'm not saying all hippies are cunts (all hippies are cunts) or all illegal raves are antisocial experiences where people disappear inside themselves cos that would be a crass generalisation, but I am saying that football, for all the moments where it appears STUPID, TRIBAL AND CHILDISH (and to be fair, sometimes those moments are pretty fucking good fun and to be fair, people are all really a bit stupid, tribalism is kind of baked into the history of our species and for fuck's sake, if you aren't childish every now and again, then you might as well be dead) that it also has a lot of moments which aren't those things. Football is a ritual of coming together as a group and very few of those rituals really exist in the modern world any more. 

We don't tend to work en masse any more. I'm not romanticising being down the pit or on the mill floor, or collecting the harvest or whatever but it's a fact that generally speaking, machines do those things. Consequently, we don't really tend to talk as much about our shared experiences or see ourselves as part of a group in the same way. We often work alone or in a small team and if we're in a larger team, we tend to be hooked up to screens, databases, headsets and other things that put us in a bubble. We all watch different telly. There's 5 million channels and even then, we ignore that and watch something from an archive on demand, so we don't talk about the things we consume any more as we can't really agree as everyone has a different experience. We don't tend to go to church and things like social clubs are largely a distant memory in many places. I'm not making a value judgement, but it's pretty obvious that even since my youth, society has become more individual - if you had to sum up recent decades in an image, someone looking at their phone (maybe you, reading this now?) with some headphones in, surrounded by other people, doing the same, would be a reasonably good candidate. 

Where all of this is leading is the FA's decision to CANCEL FOOTBALL out of RESPECT AND THAT. I'm not going to express my views on royalty. You don't come here for that and frankly, why would you care what I think? Whatever your view you can find lots of other people to argue with on Twitter (it's on this thing called 'the internet' which is getting quite popular these days) 

I am going to express my view on the FA though, because that's in the self invented remit of this blog. 

Over the last few days, I've read a wide range of opinions but predominantly (not exclusively, but definitely a majority) of people have expressed that cancelling football is (variously) - a bit weird, inconsistent, 'not what she'd have wanted as she loved sport,' 'fucking stupid' and 'mentalism' - Obviously, I've only put one side of the argument, but in my flawed methodology of 'looking at the internet for a bit' the pro playing argument has been much more prevalent. 

I didn't know the Queen, but one of the things I thought I knew about her from the picture we had of her that was painted for us, was that she was a stickler for time keeping - one of her admirable qualities was her dedication to maintaining her timetable as she was very conscious of letting people down, of her fraility or ill health creating inconvenience and disruption for others. Whatever we think of the concept of monarchies, that's a positive quality (responsibility, duty to others and such) and one that seems to be more than Palace spin, judging by the fact she kept on keeping on right into her old age. The proof is in the pudding so to speak. 

She also did genuinely seem to like gatherings and sporting events. Again, I don't know that for certain, but long after she had perfectly good reason to stop attending things, she made every effort to turn up and be among the crowd. Perhaps, like many of us, she just liked being part of something that was different from her every day. It's one of the things I like most about football and I don't think it's that wild to suggest that the Queen seemed to like a big sporting event for vaguely similar reasons to me. 

I love how everyone is in the crowd, everyone kind of subsumes their ego to the event and you get a bit of a break from being you. Even the suits and ties get announced, but then, during the game, no one thinks of them. They kind of disappear until the end when they hand out the medals - and that's a good thing, because for me, the outside world and even to some extent, my sense of self disappear - which is, as I said a relief from the norm. I assume the Queen, being a person, also enjoyed in some small way, a similar sense of just watching and being there. 

Here, then, is why I think the FA decision is bizarre: 

a) She seemed to like sport and honouring something by cancelling something they liked is a bit odd

b) what are people going to do instead? I'm going to buy a coat and some school shirts for what it's worth... 

The point is, there are very few opportunities outside of sports stadiums to demonstrate respect or actively participate in acts of remembrance and I don't think milling aimlessly around a dying shopping centre full of vape stores and pound shops is really going to be a tribute or a reflective act that puts us in touch with our shared mortal limitations. 

c) if this is (and you can choose the version that suits you) a time of national tragedy/a bit sad/a moment for respect/not all that emotional, but nonetheless a moment where the page of history turns and thus worthy of pause and reflection/no big deal it seems really odd that some random lads that run the FA have decided PEOPLE MUST NOT COME TOGETHER

d) I do understand that a funeral of a head of state is a national event and it's absolutely right that people have the choice to 'attend' via their television. That's absolutely fine. It's good. We should collectively address the reality of death and that and the passing of time and suchlike - this isn't about the funeral though - there is nothing to miss today other than going 'oh, Nicholas Witchell is still going on about the same shit why does he now look like he died six months ago and was dug up on Thursday - is he actually a real person or some kind of waxwork made out the melted fat of rat bones mixed with cigarette ash?' which is a question I suppose, but not really one of much spiritual or existential value other than to cause us all to realise that no matter what, entropy is the one constant and that's we're all heading towards looking more like Nicholas Witchell than our own self image of the days of our prime


This blog doesn't have the responsibility or, for that matter, the budget of the FA - I haven't yet sold the blog to a dodgy subscription funded rebranding package (offers are welcome) and thus my budget for production and resultant incomings are both literally zero. 

Despite that, I could, if I wanted, use some of the many free tools at my disposal to consult with blog readers on decisions I was going to take on their behalf. I don't run this blog along those lines cos as I said above, this isn't one of these 'it's for you! disingenuous marketing exercises, it's unashamedly self indulgent) but, the point it is, if I wanted to, I could. 

What I find really strange is the FA (who, lets face it, don't have any particular right to 'govern' football, which is, as they literally said in their own press release the national sport and is drawn from a long history of football as a social game) deciding, seemingly on little or no evidence (who have they consulted here? anyone?) They paid no attention to the FSA, who, whatever you think of them, are the group you'd expect them to look to first. There's no evidence of them surveying anyone or taking a snapshot of opinion from supporters groups and that, is frankly lazy, in an era where anyone can gain an opinion in a matter of seconds. 

this will make sense in two paragraphs time, I'm not trying to be flippant for the sake of mere flippancy

This is exactly what to expect from the FA though. They just decide shit and bung out half arsed statements. They never respond to criticism or seem to give a fuck what fans think. Some decrepit nobody or some repurposed CEO cunt has decided that in his opinion, even kids shouldn't play football and we all have to accept that he knows best because he is powerful. Literally* nobody on earth thinks VAR is a good thing but the FA don't give a flying fuck. They do nothing to govern the game other than let the clubs rake in money in a really weird way that corrupts the game itself, and then to disguise that inertia, occasionally lash out at supporter behaviour with random decrees demanding draconian punishments, ignore entirely the plight of clubs run by sociopaths, incompetents and convicted rapists and issue drive by punishments for disciplinary indiscretions that follow no consistent logic. 

*I'm deliberately misusing literally to emphasise a point in a rant and you don't have to write in and go 'I like VAR' because a) you've are wrong and b) I don't give a fuck cos you are wrong and c) see a) + b) 

They have no right to make this decision. I absolutely respect that people may think differently to me. I've just written an entire blog celebrating the fact that we are capable of more than mere group think but were I in a position to make a decision (lets imagine, I am choosing whether or not Gary should jump the queue and become king for real) I'd make at least a half arsed effort to find out if *what I thought* was in tune with *what the people who would have to live as Gary Madine's subjects think*

Ultimately, I think the FA have sacked off all of football, because they literally see football fans as a lumpen inconvenience who can't be trusted to behave and frankly, they fear 'brand damage' more than they care about anything that we think, no matter how valid it was. I think the truth is, that whatever our political and sociological standpoints, 99.99% of us are more than capable of understanding that today was a chance to raise a metaphorical glass to the end of an era. To either thank the queen or to simply acknowledge the passing of a long, eventful and (in the words of own, actual real life first born son) well lived life and, like all people in the public eye, a life that stands as a cipher for the universal experience of us all. We all live, we all die and we understand that, just as well as anyone else. 

I don't really know why I've written this - it doesn't really matter and I'll probably enjoy my Saturday and it's healthy to do other shit but what gets me is, as a random shite blogger, I think many of us put more thought into the game our my spare time than the FA puts into their decision making in their highly paid committee led working lives and whilst singularly, this decision is just 'one of them Chizz, could go either way' - it's symbolic of a lazy disregard for the very people who enable the FA to exist in the first place, the group whose attendance at football make it possible for the game to be a professional sport and thus merit a governing body. The FA would do well to realise that games that people don't pay to watch don't tend to have such things and fans might care to ask the FA why, in general, they don't really tend to appear in the workings out that lead to the FA's answers. 


The mini blog within a blog that I referred to above that actually, now I've written it is probably longer than the main blog. I think I'm realising why this blog hasn't yet attracted a mega deal because *possibly* it might just *not be commercially viable* as I just write *any old shit I think of regardless of whether it's a good idea or not* 


As I've stated multiple times in the earlier main blog bit, I ain't here to talk about the politics of all this. What I do think though, (and this is sort of political I guess) - is that we live in a society where we are obsessed with material things and how we can attain a weird unnatural state of permanent youth. We're all obsessed with collecting and expressing our identity as if somehow desperately trying to erase our own impermanence. 

I want, thus, to try and discuss death because it's a spiritual reality. By spirit, I don't mean 'god' necessarily, it's grand if you think of it thus, I don't mind what you call it because, whilst we can interpret that idea however we wish, it's essentially the same concept - we have (as humans) a particular sense of our own existence and with that, an awareness of our mortality and sense of our individual (or perhaps collective) selves. We form strong bonds with others and when they die, we mourn for them because it's sad we'll never engage with them again and it's sad that we realise that we ourselves are going to also die, because, in general, most of the time, most of us value being alive (and if you don't feel like that, for fucks sake, please, please, please, don't suffer alone, talk to someone because you can feel better and people do care and the sun will come up one morning) 

The queen always reminded me of my grandma. Like her, she seemed dignified and at times a little impish. I don't know the queen, so I'm not going to bang on about her, but my nan was my favourite person in the world. She lived in Anchorsholme and to the outside world was just another elderly Cleveleys trolley pusher, but to me, she was one of my best friends ever. I had the privilege of travelling around with her as a kid after my grandad died and I was sent to her house 'to take her mind off things.' My gran threw herself into life and we went everywhere on trains and pensioners coach trips. With my grandad's pension and a bus pass, she forged an incredible life - one that might seem mundane, consisting as it did of flower arranging, long life learning and visits to places like Halifax or Kidderminster but that was rich, thoughtful and engaging to be part of. MY grandma had a terrific capacity to be content and being around her made you also feel that way too. A cup of tea and a slice of cake and a natter. What more could anyone actually want? 

I had the incredible privilege of living with my nan for a while. We'd talk about this, that and everything. Usually our conversations were whimsical and happy but there was one time when, stuff wasn't especially good for me in general and I wasn't really doing myself any favours in the choices I was making and when she asked me about something, I broke down in tears that as I tried to stifle them turned to proper tears. I felt awful, I was laying this shit on my gran. The one person in the world I wouldn't want to weigh down with this sort of thing. She was in her 80s for fucks sake. What was I doing? Just being cared about had broken me. 

You don't need to know why I was broken, nor do you need to know what she said, but the point is, her wisdom, kindness, calm and what I suppose you'd have to call 'love' (which is a word we bandy about to mean a million things, but I think my nan is probably the best working definition I have of it) was a massive part in me sorting my head out and seeing things in a more healthy way. That's why we should respect the elderly - cos they've lived through all sorts of different things and whilst it's easy to dismiss people who are out of style or seem different to us, really, the old are just us, but further down the line and with a better view of stuff and things. 

When she died, I stood outside the Vic and I felt that sense of emptiness that is one of the common characteristics of grief. I had no thoughts. I felt nothing. The seagull cries and the sound of the road were everything. I've rarely ever felt such a profound sense of cold. Everything was sharp and the sky was icy blue. I'd always known I loved my grandma and I'd always known she loved me. My nan helped me know who I was and where I'd come from. 

I spoke at her funeral and halfway through, I broke down as I was telling a 'funny story' that turned out to absolutely murder me emotionally. I cried in front of the 60 or so people who were there for a few seconds. I could see some elderly folk looking at me as if to say 'for fuck's sake lad, she was 91' and I sorted myself out and carried on. 

Afterwards, I sat with her sons, her other grandkids, her sister in law, her cousins and her care worker from the last year of her life and after a pint or two, we started laughing. My grandma was funny, she didn't mind being teased and the evening was beautiful. Her son, (my uncle) said 'she'd have loved this, everyone together and she'd have probably laughed about how the fact she wasn't here any more meant no one had to make a fuss over her' - it was a quip to disperse the misery, but it had a real ring of truth. She had a real sense of not wanting to be 'trouble' - which, ironically as she got older had the reverse effect to that which she intended but no one minded cos she'd spent a lifetime living for others. 

In that sense, I also see echoes of the Queen - someone who, like my nan, I can imagine, no matter how grim she felt physically or emotionally, 'putting her face on' (as my nan used to say when she went upstairs to do her hair and apply her make up) and facing the world and doing what she saw as her role. We're all born into different roles after all and all we can do is our best with the hand we're dealt.

I remember a night when, towards the end, she showed me, hands frail and bruised, old pictures of my grandad in uniform I'd never seen and told me 'I loved him so much, he was so handsome and kind - but I led him a bit of a dance, because that's what you did - he was too charming though' - she smiled whilst her voice trembled, 30 years after he'd died, she still loved him and it still ached.

I've never got my head around how we filmed and watched the queen whilst she grieved for her handsome prince. What were we doing there? Love and loss really, really hurts. That she shared that with everyone is something I do respect her deeply for because to be frank, I couldn't do it.  

After her funeral, I did an odd thing - I sat downstairs for a bit, on my own and I looked at the order of service. On it was her year of birth. I'd never really thought about this before. I knew exactly how old she was and when her birthday was, but the fact she was born in a particular year hadn't ever really struck me.  I thought about how I don't really know anything about that year. I thought about how 'the 1920s' doesn't mean a great deal to me and how, to be honest, a lot of my history is only really dates and photos of football matches. 

I did what anyone else would do whilst grieving for their favourite person on earth. 

I watched the 1927 FA Cup final on Youtube because why not? That's obviously what she'd have expected me to do anyway. She regarded my football fandom as an eccentric habit that she'd poke gentle fun at but indulged me by keeping all the Gazettes she'd bought between my visits so I (who didn't live in Blackpool) could keep up with the news. "I don't know why you bother" she'd say "They've been useless since Stanley Mortenson (who she liked a lot cos he was very polite to her in a shop queue once) left"

I watched it to try and work out what 1927 actually meant. I wasn't really interested in the game (Cardiff won, if you want to know) but in the general feel. What world had my nan been born into? Where did she come from? The answer was a shaky black and white one that looked to have so little to do with the one she died in that it was astonishing. This was cobbled streets, chimneys, horses and carts, rickets, slums, deference, empire and all that. It was more Victorian than it was modern, far more Dickens than Dan Brown. 

It made me think about her life and who she was again. She was cool was my nan. My friends liked her as she could talk to people of all ages without being a cliche and she was funny. She was both old fashioned and modern. Like any of us, she sometimes found changes a bit frightening or unsettling, but she always saw good in people and would come to accept those changes in the main. It blew my mind thinking about the sheer weight of social, scientific and political upheaval she'd lived through. 

When she died, she had a laptop that she used well. She used to sometimes order herself an Indian or a Chinese takeaway, which was something 20 years before, I don't she'd have been able to even conceptualise. She'd flown to other continents. She'd seen the space race, she'd lived through the 1960s, already in her middle age, she'd witnessed a world war in her teens, seen jet engines and nuclear power, motorways and so much more come to fruition and yet, she was born into a Manchester street that probably looked more like Lowry painting or matched Dicken's description of Coketown than anything modern Manchester served up.. 

She'd moved, as a kid to run a boarding house with her mum, right at the time Blackpool was building all the sprawling suburbs and just when the beautiful, beautiful 1930s trams (one of my favourite things that humans have ever built) were being painted in the sensational art deco style green and cream logos. She'd lived long enough to see them through their entire working lives and finally, to see the tramway rebuilt again. 

No words. Just beauty. 

It brought a different perspective on my feelings. I still felt sad, cos frankly, to this very minute, I'd really like to have brew with her and be called 'love' as the world is cold and harsh she was warm and kind and I really miss that going to the football doesn't also mean popping and seeing her, but it made me realise what a life she'd had. It made me think about the richness of just being here and stuff happening around us and how, to be honest, to live forever would be probably a curse as opposed to a blessing. There's only so much wonder and so much hurt we can withstand. 

That's why that picture blew my mind. I didn't know the Queen and well, I think most readers would work out that I'm not especially fussed about pomp and circumstance and all that, but she gave the cup to Stanley Matthews. She was already grown up and doing her life's work by then. She belonged to an age, like my nan, that has gone, she grew up through things that have shaped us all and yet are receding in memory, becoming just paragraphs in history books. She was real and existed in colour and three dimensions and the world around her smelled of things, made sounds, touched her skin and tasted of joy, sorrow, love and everything else. In her mind was the memory of a world that changed in so many ways and the sense memory of so much living. It's people that make that past real. Books and films just show us the surface, people are the real depth and flavour of it all. 

She shook Stanley Matthew's hand. She was right there for the greatest game of football of all. The one that probably, more than any other, propelled football into the collective consciousness by a TV screen and laid the groundwork for a modern game that dominates the cultural landscape like no other TV spectacle does. After it, she met the man who had made the game what it was and who is possibly the greatest legend of the entire history of the footballing nation that gave the world organised football in the way we understand it today. 

She did so much more than that, but that particular picture put the length of her reign into terms I could understand. It made me think again of my own family. It made me think about both what I miss and what I remember fondly. It made me think of a lot of things, quite outside of the binary arguments and baiting of each other that passes for a lot of discourse in this particular era. 

I'd like to have raised a glass to all that if nothing else - but hey, the FA know best after all and we're just brainless thugs who get in the way of the real business.  

It is what it is. I really should be able to think of something else to do on Saturday I guess.

Cheers. To stuff and things. 

*You'll be relieved to know there is no third blog. 
** However, I'd highly recommend this blog for managing to say more in a lot less words 

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Sunday, September 4, 2022

Josh who? - Huddersfield Town vs the Mighty

Huddersfield is a nice easy away game to get to. Except when everyone has decided to have accidents on the bits of motorway I need to use to get to Huddersfield. The satnav suggests a Top Gear road trip episode of a route taking me via Bowland and selection of the Radio Lancashire cricket score round up towns. The scenery is pretty and I have the added bonus of seeing a hipster couple in the middle of nowhere, wearing matching entirely green outfits, walking a poodle and (the hipster presenting as male only) possessing the kind of moustache that both everyone's 1970s dad and all of the 1980s serial killers had. 

Finally we make it to what I like to call 'the industrial north's version of Bath' (cos it's in a valley like Bath and has yellow stone, like Bath) and find a car park. The team is less death or glory, all or nothing, devil may care, caution to the wind, we'll score one more than you and more 'we'll be probably about as stodgy as you are, try to break us down and we'll try and nab one on the break...'  


The first half follows a fairly mundane pattern. They pass the ball out of play quite a lot. We pass it about and don't get very far. It's a weird event - a Sunday game that doesn't have the 'we're on Sky so we'd better show off a bit for the telly factor' and people, presumably delayed by the same things that caused Google to reroute me through middle earth are still turning up in dribs and drabs through the first quarter of an hour. 

Dom Thompson is lively on the left. The midfield is congested. Theo manages to drift through though and tries a speculative effort that is surprisingly close. More congestion, more passing out of play, more getting it, giving it away, getting it back and so on ensues. A Huddersfield player sets himself for a slide rule pass but slide rules it over the goal line to some muted derision. Town fans are already grumbling. Dom Thompson is in tight spot but his spin to get out of it is sensational. That doesn't cheer them up at all. 

There's some great closing down... Jerry is through. He beats one, he does something that's either a cross shot, a cross or a shot but whatever it is (I'm low down and miles away so the other end might as well be in Hull for all I can really make out) it doesn't go in. There's a general gnashing of teeth at the missed opportunity. 

Town make a few chances. They're not very good at most of football but they are decent at taking corners. Sorba Thomas is all cornrows and viscous inswinging delivery. There's general panic as one is glanced wide, lots of stretching of sinews as Marvin nods one away and then heads the ball wide again from the return ball. There's concern as Grimmy punches one, but also takes the striker's head with it. He lives. Thorniley, who is terrific today, throws himself at one and does really well to bullet it wide, not past Grimshaw. 

Talking of terrific, Dan Grimshaw makes a couple of fantastic stops, one from distance, where he sees the shot coming, steps, loads up, springs, reaches and guides the ball round the post, the other, from a near post effort that again, he is supremely well placed to deal with, falling on it and killing a dangerous situation stone dead. 

C'mon Pool! We're looking stand offish. Huddersfield really aren't up to much, but if you let Stannah under 9's play for long enough, they'll score against you sooner or later and we're giving this bona fide championship side way too much time. 'Get into the them!' hollers the bloke behind me, just as the ball breaks and Gabriel is in a footrace to win it. He clatters into the tackle in the way that makes him beloved of virtually everyone of a tangerine persuasion... He comes out with the ball, he's racing up the right flank, he's cutting inside, he's squaring to Poveda who buys a bit of space, shoots and, oh... the chance has gone... but no, it's rebounded to Theo who.... SCORES!!!! 

Theo seems to do this. He. Just. Scores. No fuss. No faff. Just pops the ball in the back of the net when it comes to him. 

We'll take that all day. 


It's all been a bit hot, sluggish and humid but a lead is a lead and better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. 


The flip side of being close to the front is that when the players have turned around, you can get a full close up of their wizardry. Poveda has lovely balance and seems comfortable receiving the ball and going either way with it. I like him. I like his song even more. POVEDA!!! Theo is a switched on CJ, his off the ball work much tighter but his sudden burst of pace and leggy running style similar. Jerry is linking really nicely and doing his usual angled running and little flicks. 

We're doing pretty well (i.e. not much is happening and we're still winning) until they have a corner. It seems to take forever to take and next to me, someone says 'sooner or later they're going to have to put one of these in' - what happens next, is... they put it in. Fuck's sake. My head jerks back in that instinctive angry whiplash response to a goal from the other side. My head returns to it's normal position and whilst my ears are telling me that they've scored, my eyes are seeing Grimmy with the ball in his hands, setting Pool off for a counter attack. The ball is down the pitch... Poveda (POVEDA!) is haring in with the last man and almost getting through. 

What the fuck just happened? 

The most fun thing about the day, aside from the Poveda song (POVEDA!) and Theo's goal is pretending to celebrate imaginary goals for the next 5 minutes after their goal/not is declared not a goal. 

We defend manfully. Connolly has a masterful trip as they break that earns a round of applause for it's well timed, clinical necessity. Williams gets booked for a lunge and then mistimes two more. He looks a bit like Marvin when he's shadowing his man back, but in about 5 minutes he gets more slide tackles wrong than Marvin has in his whole career. Jimmy Husband is always ready to come on and when he comes on, things look altogether more solid. I think Jimmy could be exiled to Sibera for ten years, lose half his body weight, lose an arm, but on his return, he'd just slot in like he's been ever present. 

We offer very little going forward, Yates streams into the box and offloads to Poveda who has an effort bundled wide but that aside, it's not surprising when Lavery is warmed up and CJ readied for action. The subs throw me a little though as I'd assumed Yates would make way as he's run himself into the ground as usual for the 3rd time in 8 days but it's Poveda (presumably not ready for 90 minutes) and Theo who make way. 

Lavery chases hard and runs everything down. CJ gives a highlight's reel of things that make CJ frustrating. Time ticks on. Dougall prompts a song by tackling the same man three times, being walked all over and yet, still getting up and coming away with the ball. Town carry on passing the ball out of play about every 4 minutes but in between they do launch it into the box but with no real joy. Jimmy makes a great block. Gabriel chucks himself in front of a shot. 5 minutes go up. Jerry is brilliant at shielding the ball and wasting time. Huddersfield have one more go and then... 


The sweet sound of the whistle and some general delight. Appleton is so no fuss, bit of applause, off you go and I really like that. Gabriel looks so happy he might aggressively shake his first of the end of his arm in celebration at the end. Hey Baby! (ooh ah!) 

I even see Big Gaz outside. What's not to love? 


I have no idea if their goal was a goal or not. It was like looking through the wrong end of a telescope but if it wasn't, then, it's another master save by Grimmy who was fucking ace today and if it was then, well, we don't get luck ever, until we do and that's life so we'll grab it with both hands and run off not looking backwards. 

I think we need to discuss the centre half partnership. Thorniley hasn't (to the best of my memory) made a mistake in any game he's played since Blackburn away. In most of them he's looked the best centre half. I don't have a problem with Williams but he wasn't convincing today and that's the second time he's been hauled off this season. Aside from that though, we were defensively very good and all involved did their jobs very well, including the welcome sight of Jimmy Husband doing Jimmy Husband things. 

It was, to be honest, proper ugly football. The midfield reduced with tackles, headers and grappling and thus the expansive, thrilling stuff we saw only last week was but a memory but it was good that we got something out of a game like this and good that we can find different ways to play, especially after getting a bit of mauling by Rovers in a similarly scrappy game last time out. I very much like the look of Poveda (POVEDA!) - He's not Josh Bowler - and frankly, who is or could be? - but he looks like he can drift, find space and has no little skill and no lack of fight. He really reminds me of someone too, but I can't put my finger on it... 

Football on Sunday is weird though. I don't like it. I've got to go to work tomorrow and that's no good at all. 3 points is grand though. 



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Friday, September 2, 2022

Cheers Josh

The tragedy of modern football is that when you get something you love, someone bigger will come and take it from you.

Josh Bowler leaving us is like a kind of folk tale from days of yore, about a beautiful peasant girl who falls in love with a peasant boy. One day, some evil wealthy lord sends for the beautiful girl to come and join his harem in return for a bucket of gold coins. The choice is agony. Accept poverty or take the riches? The peasant boy gets enough gold coins to pay for himself and all of the village out of penury and she gets a life that she never dared dream of in return for being a passing whim of the evil wealthy lord but all the coins and all of the palace finery and fancy foods don't really make either of them happy because love and money aren't the same thing.

It's a bit like that. Maybe. Possibly. Fuck it. It might not be. That might be an absolute bag of shite. Love is grand but in reality you probably need both. I don't know. I've possibly run out of words to say about Josh Bowler and am chatting absolute gash to disguise that.

Lets see if I can manage one more blog. I'm not crying. I've just got a bit of something in my eye.  

Since we returned from our self imposed exile, there is no question that Bowler is the most exciting player we've had. I loved Armand for his general demeanour, Kaikai was fucking class despite what idiots think and obviously, there was and remains some quality cult heroes from the two seasons just gone, but no one had or has the blinding quality of Josh Bowler. Electric is exactly what he was and, whilst I'm not married and 'long term partner' doesn't fit the song quite as well as 'wife', I did, (almost literally) go home and tell her that he'd done a left and right step over. More than once. She didn't care cos she thinks football is a bit weird, but that's not the point. 

If it was just a few step overs, then well, Bowler would be Owen Dale and no one would be that fussed about him leaving but it was far more than that. He was a firework released in an enclosed space, a bullet train cutting through the landscape, a 110 metre hurdler with balletic grace. He was the wildcard in Critchley's deck of conservative cards and the ace in Michael Appleton's more daring hand. The spark that lit the blue (tangerine) touch paper. Magnetic control and a change of pace like a match dropped in a trail of gasoline. He was any fucking metaphor that suggests 'pretty fucking special when he's on it' 

His last game was quite sad. We didn't sing his name. He barely touched the ball. Crowded out. Frustrated. His final act though, summed up what he was for us. The danger man. The player the other team feared. A figure who gave you hope, no matter how badly we'd played or how diffident he'd appeared to that point. His valedictory run, picking the ball up deep, close control, ball pushed away and then that familiar 0-60 in a split second kick, ends with a Blackburn player clothes lining him, sending him tumbling into the hoardings by the east. A great player brought crashing down by one far inferior, unable to cope with his magic, fearful that once he'd got away, nothing and no one could reel him in. In some ways, that final failed, fouled run said so much about what he'd done in such a short space of time. That, even on a night where he'd done almost literally nothing, the other team were shit scared of him and what he could do, because of what he'd already done so often. 

Lets not pretend he was perfect. In fact, lets not pretend that (like just about every flair player we and probably every other team in England has ever had) there weren't people who got on his back from time to time. Those people were quite simply wrong though. Yeah, he could lose the ball, yeah, he sometimes held on to it too long, no, there wasn't always 'end product' but let's be honest, if he'd ended every run with a goal and been as good at defending as he was attacking, he'd be the greatest player we'd ever had in our entire history. He made things happen almost every week. Some weeks, he made so much happen, he was like an entire attack, distilled into one man. Just imagine if he'd have been able to head a ball too. 

He was raw when he came. He ran at defenders without really knowing what he was going to do next - looked like someone doing a really quick version of that weird sidestep dance when you meet someone in a corridor and try to get out of their way but they go the same way as you and then back and then back again. The ball would be overrun or sometimes he'd forget it. The cross would be tame and he looked all one foot. He was exciting though. He was a vodka and red bull to a Critchley side that could sometimes be a bit tepid warm ale. He was your mate turning up on a boring night in the local with something to liven things up and finding yourself in a club, sweating and the music sounding like heaven. Again, whatever imagery you want. He was poetry in motion and nothing less. 

He started out looking like a luxury, but he soon became all but undroppable. The few times we did bench him after a couple of fitful or frustrating games, he just came back better than he'd ever been before and he made you wonder how we'd ever considered that a more dependable character could be a better bet than the headband wearing whisp of smoke and magic that could glide, ghost and gallop full tilt in a way that would send defenders sprawling, his slight frame having an impact like the heaviest of bowling balls sending the lightest of pins scattering every which way. 

Bowler wasn't a player playing above his ability, he wasn't someone on the edge of what he could do. He was a player discovering just how good he could be and that journey isn't complete. The Josh Bowler that has departed is a much more well rounded player than the one who signed and I dearly hope he gets to stretch his legs properly and his career is the dazzling run for glory that it should be. This is the player who time and again, I'd come out of an away ground and hear their fans say 'that lad with the long hair for them, he was fucking good' or 'thing is, they had that no11 - we just don't have anyone like that' 

The fact he's gone as literally 21st choice to a club who last year weren't so far away from us grates, but that's the way it is. The rich clubs treat signings like a chance to stock up the farm for winter and everything is stacked against clubs like ours keeping their talent for long. I hate this deal, not just because we've lost a rare talent, but because he's gone to somewhere that won't treasure him as we do and seem set to offload him the moment they've got him. That's the game now though. I don't like it, I fucking hate it in fact, but it is what it is. 

There'll be a new hero soon. Maybe even by Sunday. Josh Bowler is seared into my mind though. A lightning flash of electric talent, killing a ball dead, pivoting on a sixpence, working an angle, always trying the shot, the jink, running like a hurricane with his hair in his wake and the ball under his spell. If I can name one moment, I can name twenty, but that time he made two Preston defender look like absolute carthorses as one after the other they tried to take him out brutally but he just leapt over them as if it was the easiest thing in the world will never leave me. Ever. It's one of the most thrilling things I've ever experienced anywhere. An amphetamine heartbeat rush of a moment that lasted for a few seconds but burned into my mind for a lifetime. Bowler as Road Runner to the lumbering defenders' Wiley Coyote. 

All those moments where he took your breath away and made your heart race and you had hope. We're so rarely the better team overall in this league but when we had Josh Bowler, very often, we had the best player on the pitch and the boy made such a difference. 

The club is not Josh Bowler and he's gone and we will move on but we will miss him. I will miss him. I think he will miss us. It was an absolute privilege. I've never written a player a letter in my life. Not even as a kid. I did write one for Josh. I hope it doesn't ring true in a few years. I really, really do. On this occasion, I really would take no pleasure in saying 'I told you so' 

Go well Josh. You were fucking special. I hope you stay ever thus. Perfect. Flawed. Magical. Electric. 


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Yet another bad owner. Where do they breed them?

This is Brooks Mileson. He owned Gretna FC. If you don't know who he is or what the score is with Gretna, it might be worth giving it ...