Friday, 19 February 2010

Party like a Premiership Footballer!

Football birthday cake for someone named Barry.
Sadly we can't all be rich, famous and talented but should we let that get in the way of our desire for a good old fashioned knees-up? Heck no! Follow these simple rules (as demonstrated by some of your favourite players) and soon you'll be partying like a pro!

#1 Set the mood with decorations.

Everybody knows a party needs decorations but let's face it, balloons and banners are old hat these days. So what do the boys from Manchester United recommend?

The news travelled fast between the racks of £1,000 Prada dresses and podiums loaded with Louis Vuitton handbags in the Manchester branch of Harvey Nichols. Word had come down from the players at Manchester United that it was time for a "harvest".

The best looking shop assistants were put on alert to expect an invite to one of the biggest football parties of the year.[...]
One by one, the invites for the event came; sometimes directly from a player shopping after training, or from a friend deputised to handpick the most attractive young women to "decorate" their party.

#2 Have fun, but stay dignified.

Our next tip comes from former Arsenal fan favourite Ashley Cole, reminding us that a man is nothing without his dignity.

"During the ride he was slurring his words and was a right mess. Then he just threw up everywhere.

"My friend was going mad but he just smiled and said to me, 'She should be privileged Ashley Cole was sick in her car.'

#3 Make sure there are enough bathrooms.

There's nothing worse than going to a party, having a great time and then spending twenty minutes in a queue for the toilet. Just ask Hayden Foxe!

After running up a bar bill of almost £2,000 one of the Hammers involved, Australian international Hayden Foxe, decided that rather than urinating in the toilet he'd do it on the bar instead. While standing on top of it.

#4 Be polite and gracious with other guests!

A party is not a party without other people and its important to make sure that everyone has a good time. Something Joey Barton knows only too well.

[Barton] stubs a lit cigar into the eye of young team-mate Jamie Tandy during club's Christmas party. Fined six weeks' wages by City. Forced to pay four weeks' salary - approximately £60,000 - immediately, with a further two weeks suspended for a year.

#5 Give a gift, make a friend!

Its said that giving is better than receiving, but its important to give the right gift.

Invite one of Dennis Wise and Robbie Savage to a party and you're arguably asking for trouble. Invite them both, and you might as well call the cops before it even starts.

The atmosphere at relegation-threatened Leicester's Xmas bash understandably turned sour when Wise gave Savage a teddy bear impaled on a sex toy and reportedly told him: "Take this, because you're the only p***k in a Leicester shirt at the moment."

Savage responded by smearing chocolate on the former Wimbledon star's face and mocking his relationship with old pal Dave Bassett.

But the mood really went downhill when Wise went on to make sexual remarks about Robbie's then girlfriend. Cue knuckle sandwiches all round.

Hopefully now you have learned some important lessons and you too can enjoy the fabulous life of a professional sports athlete sporting-person.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Take Care

Ashburton Grove at dusk.

Caretaker manager may well be the second-least glamorous position in football (someone has to clean the bath tubs.) The only guarantees it brings are difficult circumstances and zero job security. Yet despite this, certain individuals have been able to triumph over adversity and bring success to both themselves and their clubs, in the process securing themselves full time employment. But reading about them would be boring. Instead lets look at three crazy cases of confounding caretakery!

Tony Parkes
Graeme Souness and Tony Parkes
Tony Parkes will forever be associated with Blackburn Rovers, having spent an incredible 34 years (count 'em) with the club as both a player and a member of the coaching staff. During this time he enjoyed (endured?) an even more astounding number of stints in charge, temporarily taking the reins not once, not twice, not thrice, not...erm...quice.... Well anyway he was caretaker manager on six separate occasions, with his first stint in 1986 and his last in 2004, all the while serving as Assistant Manager under seven different managers. Two of these stints (During 96/97 and 99/00) lasted for over twenty-five games.

Sadly his three decades of loyal service counted for little when angry-faced Welshman and former Barcelona ace Mark Hughes took over and brought his own backroom staff with him. Even worse Parkes himself wasn't informed in person, instead being told by his own daughter who had heard the news on the radio.

The Odd Couple

Steve Coppell yelling.

Speaking of long service, how about Steve Coppell at Crystal Palace? He took the reigns at Selhurst Park on four separate occasions over a sixteen year period at the club, spanning 84 to 2000 (aka "The Willenium").

However its the time between Coppell's third and fourth stints that's relevant to this article. At the time the club were competing in the Premiership but had spent the past few years yo-yo-ing between the top flight and Division 1 (The Championship/Old-Old-Division 2) and mounting debts meant new ownership from Mark Goldberg.

With such a tumultuous atmosphere surrounding the club it was obvious to all involved that steady hands would be needed at the wheel.

So to whom did The Eagles turn to steer them back on course?

Bobby Robson, the former England manager, who had recently lost the managerial hot seat at Barcelona to Louis Van Gaal?

No? Well what about Ruud Gullit? He guided Chelsea to FA Cup glory in only his first season and, at the time of his sacking (only a month before Coppell's departure) his team were second in the league.

Still no? Well... What about Gerry Francis? He'd resigned as Spurs manager in September 1997 and, whilst not exactly possessing a glorious record, he at least had experience.


Instead of any of those options or in fact any other qualified coach in the world they chose to give the management job to these two:

Attillo Lombardo playing football & Tomas Brolin playing poker.

Attillo Lombardo and Tomas Brolin.

This despite the fact that neither had coached before. At any level. Ever.

Lombardo later described the circumstances as follows:
“I came home last night and received a phone call and was summoned by the chairman-to-be and I was proposed the job there and then. I had half-an-hour to make a decision, and it felt like being run over by a lorry.”

Unsurprisingly Palace lost five of their next seven matches and were eventually relegated.

Ending on a lighter note... Sandy Stewart

Sandy Stewart

When Owen Coyle left Scotland's St. Jonhston to take up the reigns at Championship side Burnley it was up to his assistant Sandy Stewart to lead the side into their next game. Which just so happened to be the Scottish Challenge Cup final. Which they duly won. Beating Dunfermline Athletic 3-2. Capturing their first trophy in over ninety years. And leaving Stewart with a 100% winning record. One game, one win, one cup.

Five days later Stewart resigned to resume his former position as Coyle's No.2 at their new home of Turf Moor, leaving one important question unanswered:

What would happen if Sandy Stewart managed a team with Pegguy Arphexard in it?!

Monday, 20 April 2009

Reminder: Not all footballers are Greedy Guses.

Fans raise a banner protesting the financial aspect of football

Has your club ever had a high-paid player whose sat out more games than he's played? Frustrating, isn't it? Well take heart from two example of footballers who took a bash but didn't take the cash (see, I did a little rhyming there.)

Fernando Redondo

Redondo poses, clutching the ball to his chest like a newborn baby.

Following an £11,000,000 move from Real Madrid to AC Milan, Argentinian international Fernando Redondo suffered an injury just three minutes into his first training session.

After spending over a year trying to regain fitness the combative midfielder showed his class by voluntarily suspending his £2,750,000 annual wage.

He did eventually manage a comeback and played a dozen or so games before another injury finally forced him into retirement.

Damiano Tommasi

Tommasi celebrates.

Back in 2004 Roma stalwart Damiano Tommasi suffered a horrific knee injury in a pre-season friendly with Stoke which kept him out for over a year.

As a way of thanking his team for sticking by him he voluntarily accepted minimum wage.... Well, footballers minimum wage.... of around £12,000 a year. For his noble gesture the player received multiple accolades and even a papal blessing making him roughly fifty percent as holy as Stuart Elliot.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Brazilian international Amarel used to be a grave digger.

Amarel with a mustachioed fellow

Before turning pro and playing for the likes of Parma and Fiorentina, Amarel earned his bread down at the cemetary.

Rumours are that he quit because he was DEAD tired! Ha!

It would be hard work though, I make no BONES about that.

Ok enough with the jokes, this is obviously a GRAVEly serious matter.

Time to log off and let this article REST IN PEACE.

[Thanks to Scott for the eagle-eyed spotting on this one.]

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Arsene Wenger presents: "Wait... You played for Arsenal?!"

Wenger gives the thumbs up.

Arsenal gaffer Arsene Wenger has a well earned reputation for his astute and erudite dealings in the transfer market. The fiscally fettered Frenchman's finest finds frequently fulfil functions fabulously for fairly few funds. However no man is bullet-proof in any area and the Premiership's second most successful manager has his share of unsuccessful buys. Here we shall take a look at just three thrilling examples:

Igor Stepanovs

Stepanovs goes up for a header

Signed for a cool one million of our pounds sterling from Skonta Riga the centre back nicknamed "The ogre from Ogre" (Ok I just made that up. But it should've been his nickname, right?) made less than 20 appearances in three seasons and was most famous for being utterly terrorised and looking completely terrified during the 6-1 defeat by Manchester United in February 2001.

Stepanovs, who has 99 caps for Latvia, was shipped off to KSK Beveren in 2003 and is currently without a club.

Kaba Diawara

Kaba Diawara poised to do something with the ball. Probably trip over it.

During the Wenger years Arsenal have played host to many of the finest French players around. Sadly Kaba Diawara was not one of them. The pacy striker was acquired from Bordeaux for £2.5 Million (or seventy billion shillings and a ha' penny in old money) in January 1999 and sold to Marseilles (at a profit of £500,000 no less) less than six months later. The reason for his quick departure was his inability to convert any chances at all. Seriously talk about poor finishing, this guy couldn't finish his dinner. He failed to find the net for Arsenal in 15 appearances and later stretched out his dry spell into a full on drought by not scoring for a further two and a half years (which included loan spells at Blackburn and West Ham) before finally finding form again for Racing de Ferrol and Nice. He now plays for Alki Larnaca in Cyprus and represents Guinea internationally.

Alberto Mendez-Rodriguez

Mendez runs with the ball

Five years. Eleven appearances. Two goals. Those are the statistics for half-German half-Spanish midfielder Alberto Mendez-Rodriguez. But it gets even more bizarre when you consider the story behind his move:

Arsène Wenger's talent for spotting talent has rightly attracted plenty of praise, but perhaps not enough. His £250,000 summer signing of Alberto Mendez from a German fifth division side revealed the far reaches of Wenger's scouting network. But that was only half the story.

The Arsenal manager signed the SC Feucht striker despite watching him only once, against the might of ESC Rangierbahnhof Nurnberg, and even though the player was suffering from the effects of alcohol at the time.


But Wenger had complete confidence in his powers of detection. "Alberto was terrible when I went to watch him," he agreed. "But I could still see he had potential. There is something very special about him." We wait to see what it is.

Sadly the answer was very little and, despite his two goals (one against Birmingham in the league cup, and one against Panathanaikos in the Champions League. Yes really.) Mendez spent most of his half decade spell away on loan to first AEK Athens, then Unterhaching and finally Racing Ferrol who he joined permanently once his loan period had concluded.

Currently he is back in the German Fifth Division plying his trade for the mighty SpVgg Weiden!

Despite these (and more) misguided signings Wenger's overall record in the transfer market is still untouchable. Certainly more so than his current North London rival.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Shaun Newton took drugs and scammed the Police. But not at the same time. Also I mean the Police force not the band The Police.

Shaun Newton running and pulling a funny face
Its fair to say that in recent years Shaun Newtons career hasn't gone exactly as he'd of liked. Once seen as a one of the greatest bargain signings of recent times (after his move from Wolves to West Ham for an initial fee of just £10,000 in 2005) the Londoner has seen his value drop to almost nothing after being hit by two separate brushes with the law. Indeed at the time of writing he is without a club.

His first offence was his infamous drug test failure, his cocaine problem being widely reported. His second offence passed under the radar somewhat more. This time he took money from Teddy Sheringham and Bobby Zamora to get rid of speeding tickets for them. His method for doing so was to give the tickets to a friend who then provided fake names and addresses of drivers who were then reported as being behind the wheel of the vehicles when the offences were committed (although Newton claimed he thought his friend was dealing with the tickets legitimately.)

Sadly Newton's scam was eventually rumbled, resulting in a 28-week suspended prison sentence, 180 hours of unpaid community service, a 12-month driving ban and an order to pay £5,000 in legal costs.

It's safe to assume that after this bruising treatment from the judicial system the ex-Hammer realised his scam wasn't quite the golden ticket he'd been looking for! HA! TICKET! I've literally spent the last five months thinking up that joke.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Sub Goalie Hall of Fame!: 2nd Edition!

Previously we've looked at Steve Harper and all that he has managed to achieve through his non-playing ways.

Today we look at not one, not two but three (count 'em) sub goalie's who've made their way in the world without making their way off the bench.

Carlo Cudicini

Carlo Cudicini disposing of a flare that has been thrown onto the pitch.
Good old Double C is probably one of the best keepers in Europe. I say probably because the old mucker hardly gets a look in since the arrival of Petr Cech in 2004. In fact Carlo's made a mere 54 appearances in the four seasons since, his first team aspirations kept firmly in check by the Czech Cech.

Despite this lack of playing time the Italian has shown little inclination to move elsewhere, a stance that has drawn criticism from some corners, although surely he deserves some credit for his loyalty.

Of course there may be another reason why he'd want to stay at one of the world's richest clubs. Notably a salary of allegedly £1.6 million a year. That amounts to £6.4 million over the past four seasons. Divide by the number of games he's played (6400000/54) means he earns approximately £118518.51 per appearance. Not bad work if you can get it. If you assume that each appearance lasted 90 minutes (they didn't all I know, for example he got sent off against Newcastle in the FA Cup back in 2005. And of course he got injured against Reading back in 2006. But let's play along anyway!) that would mean he earns around £1316.87 for every minute he plays. Bargain!

Pegguy Arphexad

Pegguy Arphexad looking menacing
Guadaloupian goal guardian Pegguy Arphexad may well be the most efficient footballer in history, winning 7 medals over 6 years whilst only making a total of 23 appearances!

The Caribbean custodian spent the early years of his career attempting to break into the starting line-ups of Lille and Lens. After little success en Francais an offer to cross the channel and join Leicester City seemed too good to pass up.

Three years, 21 appearances and a League Cup Medal later he left for the greener pastures (not literally) of Liverpool. There he was even more successful, winning two league cups, an FA cup, the UEFA Cup, the European Super Cup and the Charity Shield, all whilst only playing for the first team twice! That means his English career average was a medal every 3.2 games played. Imagine if he'd played a full season, the FA would've had to start making up new competitions for him to win!

It is worth noting that whenever called on Arphexad showed himself more than capable of tending goal at the highest level. Sadly he was never given an extended first team run and retired in 2005 after spells at Stockport County, Coventry City, Notts County and finally Olympique de Marseille.

Still he's won more trophies than Alan Shearer and George Best combined so it's not all bad.

Valerio Fiori

Valerio Fiori dives across the ground to make a save.
There have been few more enthusiastic exponents of the occasional appearance than Milan's former third choice keeper Valerio Fiori; the Roman could almost have been registered as a missing person with only three appearances in a nine year stint with the Rossoneri. The former Lazio No.1 certainly made good use of his free time; completing a law degree in 2007 before retiring at the end of the 07/08 season.

I guess he really did love "sitting on the bench"!

Because, you know, Judge's sit "on the bench"...

And so do football substitutes.

Get it?