Tears…

One part joy, two parts relief.
Well done, boys!

More tomorrow…

It’s tomorrow, and here’s the match report, featuring some sporting words from Preston manager Alan Irvine:

I can’t speak for previous play-offs and it wasn’t down to luck this time in any case.
Sheffield United were better than us in both games and deserved to go through overall.

Compare and contrast that with Didier Drogba…

Written on my Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1 after one of the most nerve-wracking 45 minutes of my football-watching life.

Tom Henning Ovrebo

Was it just yesterday that I complained that there wasn’t enough drama in the Arsenal v Man U UEFA Champions League semi-final to keep me interested? Well, evidently Tom Henning Øvrebø was reading while (possibly) getting instructions from various betting syndicates across the shadier parts of Europe. And he offered me some lovely Stilton to go with my previous evening’s chalk.

ovrebo_tom_v2
Our Tom

I don’t think I have ever seen a more biased or inept refereeing performance in my life. Well, not one that didn’t involve Sheffield United or a match I was playing in, anyway. The refs always seem to be bent in those matches.
For me as a neutral to have been so disgusted at it tells you what the Chelsea fans must have thought. As does the fact that there are death threats against Mr Øvrebø all over the internet and the fact that he had to be smuggled out of the UK by police.
He must be thanking his lucky stars that the annual gathering of the Uncle Fester Lookalike Organisation was held in London this week, affording him some form of protection.
Now, I’m certainly not condoning the death threats, nor do I support the antics of Didier Drogba, who turned dramatically to the camera as he left the field at the end of the game and shouted, quite audibly:


“It’s a disgrace! It’s a [naughty word] disgrace!”

But I can quite understand why he felt that way. Because it was a [naughty word] disgrace. I mentioned this whole thing in February, when Peter Walton made mistakes in the Blades cup tie at Hull City. Once again, a referee has not done the job he is paid to do. And it’s cost Chelsea millions of pounds. Sod the fact that Roman Abramovich can afford it – that’s beside the point.

Drogba and teammate Michael Ballack will surely face disciplinary hearings over their actions last night. I would guess that Bosingwa and Lampard, who have also spoken out will be in trouble too. But what of the overweight baldy from Norway, smuggled back to Oslo by police overnight? What action will he face?

Well, if Euro 2008 is anything to go by – not much. Øvrebø refereed one match there and made so many errors that he was removed from the referees list for the rest of the competition. But UEFA still obviously trust him to have another go at making costly errors in big games. Surely that’s got to be it now, though?

Til next time, right?

EDIT: I was on John Maytham’s show on Cape Talk last night discussing this point.

EDIT 2: Drogba has issued a formal apology.

EDIT 3: 5fm reporting that Chelsea will dump Drogba at the end of the season and not renew his contract.
Really?

You fill up my senses…

Today’s the day.

At 1315 BST, Sheffield United will kick off their game at Crystal Palace and about several miles away, Reading will kick off against Birmingham City. Between them, the results of these two games will determine who will be promoted into the Premiership.
This might not have a huge impact on your day, but it is already having a huge effect on mine. I can’t eat anything (apart from bagels for breakfast and a satsuma), I can’t drink anything (although, if I’m fair, I have managed a couple of cups of coffee) and I can’t sleep. But that’s because I have a teething daughter.

A touch of spice is added by the fact that the manager of Crystal Palace is a lifelong Sheffield United fan and therefore wants Palace to win (as it’s his job) and United to win (because of his emotional ties).
And before anyone says – “Well, how about a draw, then?”, that won’t be good enough for United. 

So – all to play for and it is thus, I sing the Oath of Allegiance:

You fill up my senses…
Like a gallon of Magnet.
Like a packet of Woodbines.
Like a good pinch of snuff.
Like a night out in Sheffield.
Like a greasy chip butty.
Like Sheffield United.
Come fill me again.

And now I must go, because my daughter is hitting herself repeatedly over the head with an orange  plastic cricket bat. That’s the influence of the IPL.

What’s the problem?

Oh, this one makes me proud to be English.

From here, via here.

A 29-STONE mum who feeds her eight-month old triplets with McDonald’s has insisted she is bringing the tots up in the “best way she can”.
Leanne Salt, 24, said she is “too busy” to properly feed daughters Deanna and Daisy and son Finlee.
So she lets them eat her takeaways and gives them Wotsits snacks and microwave meals.

(for my non UK visitors, 29 stone = 406 pounds or 184 kilos) 

I have to admit that once, in a fit of desperation, Alex was given 6 Chicken McNuggets from the Kenilworth drive-thru. It was as a result of poor paternal planning and I felt awful for ages afterwards, although with hindsight, that was probably because of the Quarterpounder with cheese that I had at the same time. And the cardboard fries.
Alex seemed to enjoy his reformed lumps of fried, mechanically-recovered chicken though, even if he didn’t really seem to know what to do with them. Well, he was only 6 weeks old at the time.

Of course, there’s no problem with the odd McDonald’s every now and again, even if they do their best to put parents off buying their inaccurately-named Happy Meals. But we certainly don’t go down the road of doing it every day. That would get in the way of his KFC addiction.

Leanne steers away from healthy foods in case it makes her tots anorexic. She said: “I don’t want them to think they have to watch what they eat. I’ll tell them big is beautiful.”

Yes readers, “big is beautiful” – I’ll let you decide on that one:


Picture from Closer magazine

When I see that sort of picture, aside from the immediately overwhelming thought that “big is beautiful” (obviously), I also find myself marvelling at the amazing strength of denim. Presumably, those are just over-the-counter jeans from the fat section of Matalan, and yet look what they’re holding within them.
Quite remarkable and a great advert for Vietnamese sweatshop workmanship.
Oh – and I wonder where the bikini-clad Carrie Fisher is, as well.

Swine flu can’t get to Coventry quickly enough.

Our wine, your wine

Living in South Africa has many advantages: the weather, the nice people, the lack of Gordon Brown, the amazing scenery and – especially for us folk down in the Western Cape – the easy access to some great wine.
I know you can get South African wine in the UK as well, but let me make this abundantly clear: there is the South African wine that gets exported to the UK for sale in Tesco, Asda and Thresher and there is the South African wine that we keep here for ourselves.

Sadly, there seems to be a new trend developing: to try and sell those commercially-named “export” wines over here, presumably on the grounds that if it’s good enough for Tesco, it’s good enough for the South African public. And we’re more used to the easy to understand wine nomenclature of <vineyard> <cultivar>, we’re starting to see ridiculous brand names like Railroad Red and Tall Horse appearing on the supermarket shelves of Constantia Pick n Pay – usually in the household cleaners and solvents aisles.

Step forward Flagstone Longitude. I’m not sure where it came from, but it ended up in our kitchen and it bears all the hallmarks of one of those “wines for over there”: Silly name, absence of any named vineyard, importer in Guildford on the back and that all important management style bullshit for people to read at their London dinner parties and nod pseudo-sagely.

Effortless access to masses of information and penetrating technology characterise our modern life. Yet, the more time-saving devices, the less time we seem to have. The more accurate our satellite navigation, the less we know of our origin… [etc etc etc… continues for another twenty minutes without actually making any reference  whatsoever to wine.] 

Oh do [shut up]*.

Flagstone Longitude is a red blend. For the novices among us, that means that there is more than one variety of grape in there. No problem with that, some of my favourite wines are red blends, especially the “Big Reds”, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot. I have to say though, most of my favourites tend to have two or three grapes in there, rather than the… er… eight in here:

wine

That’s: Cabernet Sauvignon 53%, Shiraz 31%, Tannat 6%, Malbec 5%, Petit Verdot 2%, Cabernet Franc 1%, Pinotage 1%, Merlot 1%. Wow.
Strangely reminiscent of our recent election results, with the leading cultivar just failing to secure a two-thirds majority thanks to Shiraz’s last-ditch “Stop Cab Sauv” campaign.

Presumably, those dinner party guests in Hampstead will muse over the unbelievable skill of the vintner in adjusting the delicate balance of the blend by adding subtle  “1%” touches of Merlot and Pinotage. Ja right.

Just so you know (because we know) you’re drinking our leftovers. Enjoy!

* careful and sensible self-censorship in case my mother reads this.