Category: football (page 1 of 18)

Links on Friday

If obscure curling and hurling stars, scantily-clad models looking tanned and freezing cold, people dressed as fruit and Giovanni Trappattoni are among your interests, you won’t believe your luck when you visit 68 Examples Showcasing The Absolute Ridiculousness Of Irish Sporting Photo Shoots.


Judy Murray’s Twitter account has forced to revise labelling her as ‘bite-yer-leg-ambitious tennis mum’ to ‘actually quite funny and self aware’. And she trolls Yoko Ono for larfs. I think everyone can get behind that.

Your teeth are offside, your teeth are offside, Luis Suarez, your teeth are offside.” Top ten funniest football chants.

From the ‘kind of useless but kind of cool’ files, here’s MLB’s newest statto-graphics. Sure would like to see this in cricket for something like Trent Boult’s catches.

Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 10.46.43 am

Free kick freakery

Is this a great effort from Hakan Calhanoglu of Hamburger SV, or something else?

To me, this doesn’t even look like an attempt on goal, it’s more like a golfer’s chip from the bunker. Just get it up close and see what happens. Even the celebration seems a bit half-hearted. Compare and contrast with Roberto Carlo’s effort here, where the intent is obvious.

Maybe it’s the state of modern hi-tech footballs that makes this unpredictable swerve possible, or maybe it was just really windy on the day, but it seems equally likely that Calhanoglu could have hit the corner flag. In all seriousness, WHAT was the ‘keeper meant to do here?


Sport from the future

According to the Usbourne Book Of The Future, the EPL over the internet thing is just the start – in a few short months, we’ll be enjoying sport like so:

This vision of the future promises an air of effortless sophistication, characterised by a robot butler serving drinks, fridge-sized headphones, just ONE remote control (preposterous) and, disturbingly, a houseguest monitoring your neighbours with a video camera.

The only thing that hasn’t changed in this scenario is sport itself – this is a 70s-style-eyebrows-and-sideburns game with disturbing-goings-on-in-the-background. No sign of goal line technology or isotonic drinks here.

So what will sport in the future be like? Popular culture dictates future sport is characterised by tight clothing  and space-age fonts (which we’re not too far off in fairness):


Future sport can also be retro, if you consider Running Man‘s relaxed atitude toward participants’ health and safety, which feels like a throw back to the have-a-go 70s:

 Could be a Stihl branding op there. 

With the rise, and then full scale takeover of modern TV programming by reality TV, the Running Man premise feels a lot less surreal and depressingly conceivable, and could easily take place weeknights at seven in the very near future.

Future football is a dystopian affair, taking place on a ship (presumably all the land and that fell into the sea years ago, and is probably Winston Peters’ fault), where former highly paid stars of the Champions League are forced to score goals for bread and survival, presided over by a clearly even-more-insane-than-usual Eric Cantona (that’s pretty insane). I’d buy a subscription to that, for sure.

Charmingly, future cricket appears remarkably similar to today, if a little more pastoral. Green grass, white clothing, wickets. No dramas. The only concessions to modernity appears to be the addition of a few new lines on the outfield, the use of six new balls (building on recent developments there), and players being confined to a box during play.


For now, the sport that seems like its been beamed-in from the future is arguably the All! New! America’s Cup.

 Oracle get fully extreme to starboard or something.

Once, the Cup had a charmingly shambolic vibe of sunburn, rum and mad scientists in back sheds devising super-kebab-ed keels or turbo bowsprits that would crush those dastardly Americans in their own back ocean. But Russell Coutts’ America’s Cup seems more X-Games than Newport, more Tron than Sailing Away. It’s a Simpsons-esque  attempt to modernise itself, and not one that’s captured the public’s imagination, beyond mouthing ‘fuck that’ while watching it on the sports news.

One possible path for future sport is where new, grassroots sports spring up, in a move away from the globalised path we’re on, like in Baseketball:

A possible Kiwi version of this would be BBQ-Melee, where contestants arm themselves with gas bottles and tongs, and chase each other through suburban backyards. The player with the most garages at the end of 14 days is declared the winner. It would be compelling viewing, as long as a passing game doesn’t requisition your satellite dish for a weapon.

But more likely, future sport is going to be about robots, whether it’s camel racing:



 ”The name’s Iron Mike.”


 This robot will not only out-surf you, but schmooze more girls at the beach than you.

…or ice hockey.


As this study shows, robots can already kick Rory McIlroy’s arse at golf, and probably chess too.

In any event, non-carbon based players could be a real game changer. Any robot All Blacks will have the mongrel calibrated to 11, be able to detect when they are off camera and commit atrocities on Australian robots at those precise times, and can be programmed not to go to Japan. says we should welcome our new robot overlords. Any future that has Alien taking on Predator at Swingball like a suburban idyll is one this website wants to live in.


You spin me round like a GIF

Once, GIFs were simply jokey pictures on the internet, like so:


Now, the whole internet is GIFs. Which is great, because a GIF’s repetition allows you to appreciate the intricacies and combinations of skill that make up a goal, for example.


Or combining the action to highlight Things Like This, tough to do in any other medium:


It’s a new way of telling a story. It’s also a new and great way of making sportsmen look silly.


They’re also wonderful for making poetry from easily missed moments off-field, like crowd catches…


…on-field catches…


….people getting hit in the face…


…and Arsene Wenger having trouble operating a pocket competently.


There’s obviously room for the weird and wonderful. This is quite fantastic:


As is this. Sign him up.


And in case you ever wondered if Batman colour co-ordinates his boardies to his utility belt when surfing, now you know.



Magical not-much-mystery tour

In Australia, the dossier on the South Africans has got a lot of coverage, after being carefully couriered leaked to an eager Aussie media. The document seems to mainly prescribe:

a. short pitched bowling, and

b. sledging

…which makes you wonder if the jandal-lickers’ tactics have moved on since the days of Ian Chappell etc. It’s as innovate as wandering into the Aussie’s dressng room and shouting ‘everyone grow a moustache!’. Still, it should be a fantastic series for cricket lovers bored with watching Sri Lankan groundsmen moving covers about.

 Picture included mainly because of ‘how awesome is this?’

The All Blacks have been on a full on Scottish social media assault, instagramming the locals and digitally tweeting themselves hoarse. Gone are the days when All Blacks like Meads, Lochore or Murdoch would turn up in the mother country to glower at the press and organise a big pub fight before boarding the plane having not actually said *anything* over the two months’ tour.

The All Blacks’ end of year tour has fallen into a fairy comfortable routine now, we either do the ‘warm up by smashing a couple of easy beats, before playing Wales then England’ or the grand slam, which is pretty much the same thing. Australia and South Africa do the same, which must be pretty depressing for the about-to-play-the-Six-Nations locals. Imagine if some guys turned up and smashed us for a month just before we played the Rugby Championship. More depressing than being Clive Woodward I’d imagine.

I’ll leave you with Rod Stewart crying, probably the best sporting thing that actually happened this week:

Highs so high, lows so low

Harry’s Tottenham has a lot to like about it. Modric, with his geometrically perfect passing and Bale, with runs that make defenders turn into office chairs are the jewels in the crown. Van Der Vaat (his wife is awesome on Twitter) though, is my favourite, all running, giving everything for the cause – he just looks like he loves Tottenham and would do anything for us. There’s old pros (King, Friedal, erm Nelsen), young kids (Walker etc) and about 37 quality midfielders to choose from.

At one stage, we were playing sublime football, all wingers, full backs, overlapping runs, tasty balls through the middle (ooo-er) and goals going in all over the place. We were also genuinely challenging for the league. Or so we told ourselves. And anyway – the beauty of being in the top three for the first  three quarters of the season was that surely, surely, if we messed up, at least we could fall back on Champions League qualification for next year.


Um, this is Tottenham, haven’t you been paying attention? The two Big Distractions came mid season. First came the ‘is Harry Redknapp a dodgy geezer?’ court case, to apparently no effect. The players rallied around and continued winning. But then, on the day Harry was found not guilty, Fabio Capello flounced out (if you can flounce out in a car) of the England job. All of a sudden the newly-not-dodgy ‘Arry was the popular choice for England. And Spurs began crapping themselves.

The slide was painful. Whenever Tottenham start doing well, I’m bracing myself for the inevitable failure. THIS SEASON, for the FIRST TIME, I’d finally come to terms with us being a Proper Team, a team that wouldn’t just inexplicably fold in a Tottenham-like matter when it really counted. But slide we did. Second. Third. Fourth. FIFTH. Jesus wept.

Somehow, we kind of turned it around toward the end, and clung on to fourth. If it wasn’t for WBA’s second choice keeper throwing the ball into the net three times against Arsenal, we would have wrapped up third and a definite champions league spot on the last day, but we should have wrapped up third (at least) months ago. We only had ourselves to blame.

And so, our fate was in Chelsea’s hands. The veterans Terry, Lampard, Drogba, all tackles, dirty tackles, painful OTT goal celebrations, referee abuse and loathsomeness beyond reasonable levels had one last chance to get that European trophy their owner has been so desperate to buy. But against Bayern? In Munich? Surely they’d have no chance.


Again, this is Tottenham.


I worked myself into an epic frenzy on the Twitter but sadly, it had no effect on the outcome. Chelsea, with their football-free style took it, in the most painful fashion you can imagine if their success was the difference between your team making the Champions League next year. It was awful.

And so, we’re out of (proper) Europe, and I expect it’ll be a very long off season. Some Spurs fans have turned on Harry after his flirtation with England. Modric and Bale will no doubt be linked with every top Italian or Spanish club, and may well go. I don’t have a clever way to finish this, it’s been a harrowing, frankly. As Ali G said, there is a high, but there is also a low. I’d love to be optimistic that we’ll build on what we have now, but you know, this is Tottenham. Let’s see who’s still there next season.

The fans, they are a’crying

Taking joy in other fan’s pain (har! har!) is the sign of a shallow, shallow person, team, ESPECIALLY when your own team faces a very long week ahead.

That said, is a keen student of the football fans crying genre, and when the two Manchester teams went head to head in full final-day-championship-dramageddon, there was bound to be some tasty crying action for the neutral.


0-0, 22 mins in. I wonder if this City ginger is this kid all growds up?

As an aside, there certainly seems to be a connection between gingers, with all their comedy awkwardness / unrequited longing for fulfilment / susceptibility to sunburn / appeal to bullies and Manchester City fans. At least this one isn’t prepared to take any shit.


1-0 City. All the hurt built up over the long glory-barren years being is released like a tennis ball can being opened in an explosion of beer-guts and dry humping in the stands at this stage.


1-2 QPR. Not going well. No-one waving an inflatable. Mass head clasping and looking around like a bus passenger trying to avoid eye contact is the form.


News of QPR’s goals filters through to Sunderland, sparking happy-head-clasping and hope against hope. Could this development mean an against-the-odds premiership win for Man U?

Spoiler alert: no.


And here we have the money shot – an honest to goodness crying fan, with bonus head-clasping. What is going through this mostly grown man’s mind as he sheds tears in public? The thought of facing his paper round mates on Monday without a championship trophy? The pain from his freshly-inked Man City Champions 2012 tattoo? The realisation that his cape won’t actually allow him to fly? Relief from years of hurt dangled within reach about to slip away in a hilarious-for-everyone-else scenario? I hope he went out and got very drunk, if he was able to sneak into a pub.

Still, for all the sniping by a barely-read, poorly written sports blog from New Zealand, at least City, even after spending all that money, sealed the deal and won a premiership, and avoiding adding the 2011/12 title challenge to the Man City pantheon of comedy gold. That is some pressure to cope with, fair play to them.

All screen captures from this BBC report – recommended viewing.

Back, in a fashion

Australian Open
I thoroughly enjoyed this year’s Australian Open. The January evening matches are perfect for us Kiwis to loll around in front of with a beer and full stomach, in the heat. The top four men making the semi finals meant the ‘epic-ometer’ was going off, and the cringe-inducing Aussie commentry team had to draw even deeper from the hyperbole well than ever.

Andy Murray must be kicking himself very hard indeed – Djokovic looked like he was going cold turkey on a 3 year heroin habit midway through their semi final, but still managed to deny the Scot. Murray must be slowly coming to terms with the prospect that nothing good is likely to happen for him, tennis-wise, ever. Federer had moments in his semi final when he looked like he’d ballet-step all the way to collect the trophy, but he just can’t sustain it over a whole match these days. He’s still obviously the best at hitting a tennis ball in the game, but he’s no longer the best at winning tennis matches.

The final, however, was more gripping and harrowing (not to mention longer) than a ‘watch the Downton Abbey box set and Christmas special’ party. Nadal is still a class act, but Djokovic is my favourite. From his wild eyes, to his stumbling exhaustion, to his scarily-competitive-looking girlfriend and the guy in his entourage who wears sunglasses at night, he has it all. The Serb is a champion I can get behind.

Links: here’s an incredible ball boy catch and the fantastic In Focus photo blog covering the tournament.

Nelsen to Spurs
Somehow, we have the All Whites’ captain now, making Tottenham the most popular club in New Zealand right now, and the most likely to be turned on when ‘Arry plays international window injury funny business. To celebrate, and amuse NZ’s most popular spurs fans on Twitter @sportzfreak and @Chris_Brain, I got Ryan into some famous Spurs moments.

Update – there’s more on this transfer window genius at Sportsfreak, along with some really crappy Photo shop work.


Flogging a dead 2011

2011 was the year you could say ‘it’s all happening’ and be right. Earthquakes. An election. A world cup. What didn’t happen? Here’s a quick round up.

Rugby World Cup
As a nation, New Zealand did the vacuuming, put the sausage rolls in the oven and hosted the rugby world simply and well, despite the haters and grandstanding, which became less and less important as we went. As for the rugby – well, we bloody won it, didn’t we? Two months on, you only have to show me Graham Henry’s post-final-win-eyebrow gymnastics or Richie McCaw being eye-gouged and I’m glowing like those folk in Cocoon.

Beating the Aussies
After a world cup (remember that) where we did our lose-in-the-semi thing, That First Win In Australia Since Ever was an epic of fingernails on the floor. It was hard to know what kind of NZ cricket team we had post-captaincy switch (alright, it’s ALWAYS hard to know what kind of team we have), but the Tasmanian fightback showed we had some real heart – and hope for the future. Bring on the South Africans.

Super Tottenham
I haven’t mentioned them much on the site, for fear of jinxing them. After missing out narrowly last time, Spurs are quietly having a brilliant season and look very much at home in the top four. Ask me more about how it’s going after we beat Chelsea this morning.

Le Tour
One of the best and worst I’ve seen – worst because of the first week crashes that took Wiggins et al out – best because of the slow burning drama and eventual, worthy winner. Cadel deserved his win for the way he rode, and the way he’s ridden over the last few years. He won’t do it again though, and I hope for a few more fireworks next year. It’s been a fantastic year for NZ’s cyclists also, the folding of Pure Black Racing aside – hoping for a big medal haul on the track in London next year too.

Man of the year
Well, who do you reckon? Stephen Donald is a bigger folk hero than Bob Dylan, his journey from whitebaiting to world cup winner was more beautiful than an unattended burger restaurant. The whole country got the Beaver fever and I couldn’t have been more pleased. Here he is resting on the beach or my little tribute. highlights
A new daughter, other family stuff and employment related madness meant I’ve not been able to give as much care and attention to the site as I’d like – but I’m still proud of how it’s gone this year. I’ve done some of my favourite rugby writing ever on the back of the world cup, with the brouhaha over the jerseys beforehand, and the nervousness against Argentina, beating Australia in the semi, the final the highlights for me. Drinking was a reoccurring theme over the year, with the All Black selectors getting drunk and this little number about alcohol abuse in the north of England.

Twitter, obviously, is where all the former sports bloggers are hanging out these days – and most of the athletes. It’s possible to go from abusing someone on the field to abusing them on the internet in no time nowadays. Two twitter related posts: for the cricket and for the rugby. I love Powerpoint (even thought it was a slow year for sportreview cartoons) and loved this.

Of course, most thanks go to you, mysterious readers. This site is obviously a little labour of love, I do it for no other reason than I enjoy it thoroughly. is the kind of crappy NZ sports blog I would like to read if this one didn’t exit – it’s extremely heartening to know others enjoy it too. Thanks, appreciate it.

Other stuff:

My top five listened to songs, from
1. Harry Nilsson – Lullaby In Ragtime
2. Robyn – Dancing On My Own
3. Robyn – Indestructible
4. Joni Mitchell – Car on a Hill
4. Harry Nilsson – Always

I’ve done bugger-all film watching or reading this year. Drive was the best (only?) (current) film I saw at the cinema, and I’m working my way through Peter Guralnick’s Elvis Bios. TV wise, I’ve really got into Game Of Thrones, Breaking Bad and Community. I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed the Discourse NZ podcast. All recommended.

Wishing you a happy and more settled 2012 – see you next year!


Just me and some guy

Me and Dan. I told him how gutted I was for him, but also how stoked I was for Stephen Donald.

Best rugby ground inNZ #rwc2011

Best rugby ground in NZ, still. Tremendous atmosphere for all three matches I went to there.


Eden Park felt like a proper international stadium during the RWC. Let’s hope they keep those temporary stands somewhere handy.

Future Tour de France champ.


There’s no question Socrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Souza Vieira de Oliveira was one of the *coolest* footballers ever to stroll onto a pitch. He died at the weekend, and being Brazilian, a thinker and a drinker, he’s right up the Guardian’s alley. They pushed the boat out to play tribute to the great man, with Richard Williams chipping in, exhaustive-world-cup-chronicler Brian Glanville writing the obituary and Gavin McOwen’s yarn about getting on the razz with him. There’s also a photo gallery.

Kiwis will remember this, a match from ‘our’ 1982 world cup. The blaring horns, the Tango ball, the overly colourised grainy footage, and those wonderful Brazilians (from when Brazil really were Brazil) that cheerfully humiliated the All Whites and Scotland, before going out to Italy. Socrates scored though – he even appears to run. Sorry Graeme!

One more goal.

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