Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Season half-way point

No goals

That's very much been the case so far this season. And last nights 'top-of-the-table' clash between Leicester and Man City also ended 0-0. Goalkeepers making fantastic saves accounting for this score line, much as it did at Old Trafford on Monday evening.
But the facts are that few teams have scored more goals after 19 games compared with the same number of games last season. See below contrasting Premiership table, now with a year ago.

* Arsenal, though top, have scored one less goal than they had when placed 5th a year ago.
Chelsea have scored a whopping 18 less goals, Man Utd 11 less.
Obviously Leicester have scored more (20), as have Tottenham (9), Palace (3) & Everton (6).
Remarkably though so have Sunderland (3) and Villa (4) despite being the bottom two right now.

Friday, 25 December 2015

Not being much of a fan of Christmas songs I've avoided picking any for my 'Music Spot' - every year we say Christmas comes around before we know it, which means the same old songs start playing all over again, that I find by the time Christmas Day arrives I've had enough of sleigh bells and their like.
I still enjoy one or two Carols and certain songs at Christmas, but much like the prolonged build up to the festive season, it's not what it was…!

That said, the occasion has got the better of me, and I offer you a new release. The Courteeners "Winter Wonderland" -  It looks beautiful on a postcard,  It's bloody annoying after a day
An alternative Christmas song I heard a month ago on BBC Radio London's - Gary Crowley Show and again the other day, which jogged (or jingled) my memory. 
Makes a welcome change from Slade and Wizzard !  I hope you agree.

All profits from the single will go to Shelter, the housing and homelessness charity.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

From bottom last year, Leicester will be top of the table this Christmas. Incredible turn around, but are they riding their luck or making it? Certainly a year ago by contrast they were not enjoying any good fortune. Now they're making things happen

At Chelsea on Saturday fortunes also took a turn for the better. Branislav Ivanovic scored his first goal of the season, from a corner. A ball into the box then bounces off a defender right into the path of one of our forwards and finally the ref awards us a penalty. Three goals and three things that previously had not happened this season in a league game. No luck previously and then we make some with an improved performance? The thin line of success and failure illustrated in 90 minutes, probably little comfort to Managers all over the country.
Apart from half the Premiership games resulting in an away win this weekend, there were quite a few penalties too. Bournemouth's maybe the luckiest (they're on a bit of a lucky streak at the moment) and Leicester won two penalties - though I can't help myself saying Jamie Vardy doesn't jump over on rushing goalkeepers anything like as well as Loic Remy can. Still bugs me that !

Friday, 18 December 2015

Let me take you down, 'cause I'm going to… Christmas 50 years ago.

18th December, 1965. For the third year in a row the No.1 Christmas single on the UK Hit Parade would belong to The Beatles. The double 'A' sided "Day Tripper / We Can Work It Out".
The group had also released a new album and this too was top of the LP Chart. "Rubber Soul" contained one their best songs "In My Life". So that's today's slice of Christmas Past.

"In My Life", was voted 5th favourite Beatles track by Rolling Stone magazine in 2011.
The 'baroque' influenced instrumental section, is a piano recorded at half-speed then played back at normal speed to sound like a harpsichord. 

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Now and again a place turns up in the news and out comes the World Atlas to discover exactly where this place is: (On page 92 of my atlas) I found Baikonur, where today Tim Peake blasted off to the International Space Station on board a Soyuz rocket. 
The Baikonur Cosmodrome is located in Kazakhstan, approximately 2,100 k (1,300 miles) southeast of Moscow, Russia.

Astronaut 'Major Tim' will spend 6 months on the Space Station.

What's the difference between an astronaut and a cosmonaut ? Nothing !
The distinction is that they are titles awarded by different space agencies. They both mean essentially the same thing. Cosmonaut is used by the Russian Space Agency. Astronaut is used by NASA, ESA, CSA, and JAXA.
"Note to Jules Verne"
The International Space Station, travelling at roughly 17,150 mph, goes around the world in 90 minutes.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Grounds for Improvement (2)

AFC Wimbledon's plans on 'Coming Home' have seen their application for a New stadium approved by Merton Council. See:
On the site of the current Greyhound stadium, in Plough Lane, which has been in need of serious improvement for many years, this sees AFC Wimbledon, formed from the ashes of the original Club, who moved out of Plough Lane in 1991 before relocating to Milton Keynes and being renamed MK Dons, return to their spiritual homeland. 
I know plenty of people who'll be pleased by this news. More:

What is it with MOTD and Offsides ?

Another Saturday and Match of the Day once again found no stomach to review the offside in the Crystal Palace v Southampton game. Yannick Bolasie was definitely 'off' when passed to, prior to supplying the cross for the winning goal.

The Lucky Strike award must go to Manchester City, as Yaya Toure's injury-time shot hit Iheanacho and looped over the goalkeeper's head. Bad luck Swansea, again !

Champions League Draw

Was not kind to the two London clubs, with a sense of deja vu thrown in as Arsenal get Barcelona and Chelsea draw PSG. 1st leg in Paris on February 16th, return leg at the Bridge, March 9th.

Graphic of the Day

8pm, kick-off this evening

Friday, 11 December 2015

I had a request for something uplifting this week and my thoughts went back to a video I'd seen earlier this year just after my son went off on his travels. The message is "Live a life you will remember", from Sweden's Electronic Dance Artist: Avicii with 'The Night's'.
So this one's for fathers everywhere and thinking of Scott. See you very soon.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Around the World in 80 Days

I have just finished reading Michael Palin's book "Around the World in 80 Days". Before you stop me and protest, I know Jules Verne wrote this book back in 1873, roughly 115 years before Michael Palin's recreation of the journey in 1988, but it's his trip that I've just been on.
Due primarily to the fact that I left the book at the van to read only on weekends, it has taken me rather longer than 80 days to complete. But his circumnavigation of the globe ended on December 12th, so I did at least manage to catch him up.

Some of you will remember the BBC tv series aired during October/November of the following year, and note as reflected upon in the book's preface that 'this was just the beginning' for Michael Palin's Travels. In the introduction he says "The compulsive urge to travel is a recognised physical condition. It has its own word, dromomania, and I'm glad to say I suffer from it."
I realised of course I have the same problem, known to me as 'wanderlust'. And I'm glad too. Though it's odd to think the desire to escape the world by actually travelling around it, is an interesting contradiction.
The book of the series of the journey is full of typical Michael Palin observations and humour. Here's s few extracts: 
Day 1   "In a shoulder bag I carry my diary, a small dictaphone recorder for on-the-spot notes, a camera, the BBC's Get By In Arabic, a Kingsley Amis novel, some extra-strong mints, a packet of 'Family Wipes', an address book and an inflatable globe to enable me to check on our progress. Phileas Fogg would doubtless have regarded all this as clutter, but it's still less than I would take on a two-week holiday."
Nearing the end   "I lie in bed this morning and seriously consider what it will be like to be back home. Up till now I've not allowed my thoughts to take such morale-threatening direction for very long, and the thought of a return to city life is not, this morning, as tempting as I expected it to be. In fact I could easily go round again."
Day 78   "Forty-eight hours to go before the deadline. Fogg at this same stage was literally burning his boat in an attempt to get the Henrietta to Liverpool….
A last few deep breaths of sea air and back to my cabin to pack my bag and deflate my world for the last time."
The whole book is on-line at  if you want to read it. 

I'll leave you with one final thought from the book's Afterword, which feels as relevant now as it seemed back then. "Travel of this kind, travel when the hands get dirty, when contact is made, brought home to me how much we all see of the world on television and in the newspapers, and how little we know of it."

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Match of the Day

Still suffering from the weekends results that once again provided as many surprises as it did inconsistencies in the refereeing decisions. Yes, that old chestnut I'm afraid.
Offside, use to be either given or not. Now we have variations of marginal, way off by a mile and flagged but level, so not offside. This provided goals for Bournemouth and Leicester but not for Liverpool. In the case of Leicester's second goal scored by Mahrez (clearly very offside) Match of the Day didn't even bother to review it after showing the match highlights. Bad luck Swansea!
Was this so surprising ? 
MOTD was on for 90 minutes and featured 8 Premiership games. With all the in-between chatter and after match analysis of say roughly 5 minutes per game, this left only just over 6 minutes of highlights shown of the actual football played. Barely enough time to see any of the action, let alone all the replays of the important incidents. Time for MOTD to be on longer or simply not show highlights of every match played? Or, dare I say, cut out a lot of the unnecessary chatter and interviews?

As is often the case there were bookings and missed fouls that video evidence may yet see punished. Schweinsteiger of Man United is in the frame for his elbow in the face of West Ham's Reid, however Fellaini isn't for his stamp, which also went unpunished at the time. While WBA's McClean should have seen a red card and not just a yellow for his challenge on Dembele of Spurs.
Next week, penalties, perhaps ?

For those of you who missed the bus from Inverurie to Annan at the weekend (see last weeks Scottish Cup action reply) you would have been more distraught, as the replay was a late postponement due to high winds. As Annan is not actually in the highlands but close to the English border the obvious headline "High Winds in the Highlands" didn't apply. 
You Loco fans keen to know how they fair, the game is due to take place this evening.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Having enjoyed my birthday the other day I'm going to exercise further self indulgence today with this week's track featuring a drum cover of Biffy Clyro's 2004 track 'Glitter and Trauma'.
Some of you will spot the 'cool' drummer, those of you who don't, will just have to guess*.

To view larger, hit Full Screen [   ] or this link:

If you're not familiar with Biffy Clyro, liked what you heard and want to hear more, then just click here: 

* Answers on a postcard to 'Friday Music Spot'  ℅    Or comment below.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Happy Birthday to me

The label's small print bottom right says PALE ALE for post-match commentary.
Unmistakably appropriate gift. 

Cheers to everyone for all the best wishes 

Bill x

Sports Desk

Grounds for improvement

For those of you who missed this, Chelsea FC submitted a planning application to the Council yesterday for a new stadium at Stamford Bridge.
It's very comprehensive with 210 plans and documents to view (if you have the time). My photo taken of the model is below.

Inverurie Loco Works v Annan Athletic - Scottish Cup 3rd Round Video (only available to UK users) of last Saturdays cup tie that ended 4-4, showing Neil McLean's last minute solo goal equaliser. Remarkable effort that fools the Scottish keeper. No comment !!!
- Replay is this weekend, 5th Dec. Bus leaves at 7.30am. It's a long way from Inverurie to Annan.