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Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Olympic football. An eyewitness report...

Hello. I remember back in 2005 when the Olympics were awarded to London I was unashamedly underwhelmed having no interest in athletics or rowing or showjumping. I have to confess now that I do appreciate the games more and enjoy the chance to see some more esoteric sports such as handball, volleyball and water polo. Olympic football has largely passed me by in all honesty so I was pleasantly surprised when my significant other announced she had bought tickets for us to watch the double header of group games between the titans of New Zealand and Egypt followed by the mighty Belarus against some mob of minnows from Brazil. All of a sudden I was enthused by the prospect  of a visit to Old Trafford to see the matches. I hadn't been to Old Trafford for years (Last time I had been Fabrizio Ravanelli scored against them for Middlesbrough!) so it was shaping up to be a good day out. The day itself was good although a couple of games with an hour or so in between makes for a long afternoon, so long in fact the other half fell asleep during a football match with a mere 66000 people in attendance proving my assertion that she can and will sleep anywhere. It was a genuinely nice experience to go along to a football match where segregation wasn't necessary and a genuinely good atmosphere pervaded. I suspect it was a peculiarly twenty first century experience to go to a double header of matches between countries from South America, Europe, Africa and Oceania and end up sitting next to a guy from Kazakhstan and end up discussing flight durations to Central Asia but such was my lot on the day. The football was generally decent and both games benefited from the comparative underdogs scoring early goals. Egypt's Ahmed Hegazy caught the eye as did elements of the Belarussian midfield which looked neat and tidy but the main attraction was surely the Brazilian side.
The spirit of Olympic football. A periscopey thing made of highly toxic mercury

The stadium filled up markedly for the second game with what I can only assume was every Brazilian with a passport appearing to cheer on the selecao. In the end the Brazilians were just too damned strong for Belarus and ran out comfortable 3-1 winners. Neymar might just be the best (non-St Mirren) player I've seen with my own two eyes. "He got game" as they say in the states.

Pele's got my name on the back of one his jerseys too. Honestly
On the subject of St Mirren I noticed that Manchester United have named a stand after Alex Ferguson. I can only assume that this was for his sterling work at Love St in the late 1970 and early 80s. I imagine it's only a matter of time before they name their other stands after Ricky MacFarlane, Alex Smith and Tom Hendrie. Who knew that even the corporate shills at Man U thought so highly of St Mirren?

As you probably know the individual flair of the Brazilians got them a silver medal but wasn't enough to deal with the characteristically savvy and talented Mexicans. From a footy shirt perspective the tournament was a bit of a non event. Most countries sported a fairly plain shirt with their national flag in place of a badge but some such as USA, Morocco and Egypt didn't even bother with that! The best shirts were probably the victorious Mexico, Honduras or (whisper it) Team GB. Team GB was mercifully short lived experiment with a distinctly temporary air about it and it all felt a bit forced and understandably artificial. It was the first time in my lifetime such a thing had existed and I never really got a handle on how to relate to it. 

In other news the site is coming along slowly and I've made a lot of changes behind the scenes and been doing a LOT of shirt photography, 670 down only 437 shirts to go which as the more numerate amongst you will not takes the collection over 1100 shirts. If that's not time for a sanity check what is? Anyway the push is on over the next few weeks to get a shedload more photography done and then gradually get ALL the shirts on the site. If anyone out there knows anything about search engine optimisation let me know as the site traffic has just dropped of a cliff since I put the new one online.

Until next time take care, have fun and enjoy the new season. Yeaaaaay, proper footy is back.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Notes and Queries

New website graphics. So many black and white stripes it's practically a barcode!
Thanks you for attending ladies and gentlemen. This blog will cover a few thought which occur and a couple of bits of site news.

Firstly, the new site is up and running and has just over half of the collection on it (562 of 1073 at present). I'm hoping to get another BIG chink of the collection uploaded to it in the next few weeks. It's on the usual URL - so have a look round it and let me know what you think. I've added thumbnails of all the shirts on the menu pages which took ages to do but helps browsing through the site.

I'm currently having withdrawal symptoms from the excellent Euro 2012 tournament. That was the best international tournament I remember for quite some time. The vast majority of the teams played an attacking brand of football, even Italy! While I would have liked to see Germany in the final Spain were worthy winners and dispatched the Italians with elan and panache. the tournament was also very well refereed on the whole even of the Greece sending off in the opening game was very harsh. The referees didn't blow for a free kick every time someone fell over and waved play on when in tournaments passed they would have stopped the game. Long may it continue.

Is this sending your eyes funny yet?
Here in the UK the continuing farce of the Olympic football team has reached fever pitch when manager Stuart Pearce had the audacity to pick a squad based on trying to win games and not about giving past it media whores a last hurrah. The UK press seem to think that he should have included David Beckham in the squad as a thank you for all Beckham's work in getting the Olympics in the first place. Here's the thing. IT'S AN UNDER 23 TOURNAMENT. While you're allowed three over 23s in the squad it's a tight 18 man squad and that doesn't really leave much room for a guy pushing 40 whose legs have gone and is semi-retired (given he doesn't seen to take his job at LA Galaxy all that seriously). Pearce did pick Ryan Giggs who is even older than Beckham but still playing week in week out in the EPL and  Champions League AND wont disappear halfway through a tournament to do some media work. As for picking him as a "Thank You" that's utterly ridiculous. Sebastian Coe has worked on the Olympic project for years but nobody is suggesting that he should dust off his running spikes for the 1500m are they? So the press are criticising Pearce for trying to pick a squad based on merit and availability as opposed to who is friends with Tom Cruise.

Or have you gone colour blind?
In other news Glasgow Rangers no longer exist, having dodged paying their taxes and essentially cheated through financial doping. Due to the hugely unbalanced nature of Scottish football where two clubs have over 80% of the fanbase this has put the whole league into jeopardy with TV deals and sponsors looking to bail out as it turns out they are only interested in basking in the reflected sectarian bigotry of Old Firm games. A pox on all their houses. At least the rest of the SPL had the integrity to boot the newly reformed Rangers out and the SFL are in two minds about where to accommodate them. I just hope that this doesn't have too much of a financial impact on the league as a lot of people could lose a living wage. Just as an aside this is a chance for the newly formed Rangers to make a statement and put some clear blue water between the club and the darker side of the heritage of the old Rangers. I doubt they will as a bigot's money is a good as anyone else's isn't it?

Anyway, that's the blog ticked off for another four months...

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Form is temporary, a profound lack of class is permanent!

OK, so I'm a bad blogger, have no blogging discipline and wont be going to the Euro 2012 Blogging Championships in Bjarkalundur this summer. In my defence I'd say that I'm not the first person to go missing halfway through the season, in fact I recall the whole Charlton Athletic team doing it year in year out under Alan Curbishley.

Regular devotees of the website will also notice that I haven't updated it in months. There's a reason for this. I had an agreement with a web design company to redo my site. This meant that I realistically had to rephotograph ALL of the sodding shirts (1053 at last count and more on the way) which will take a while. Well things change and the deal with the web design company fell through but it made me look at my site which is a bit "Web 1.0" and I have already done new photos for about 25% of the shirts. All of these factors mean I've stopped updating the current site and have decided to throw all my limited mental capacity into developing a new look website myself. It wont look professional but it will look better than the current one.

The new look pictures will be a lot more standardised and with a little help from Photoshop will make sure that there's no background to draw attention away from the lovely shirts. There's a couple of examples of the new format pictures as a taster for the real shirt geeks out there to get marginally excited by. What do you reckon to the new format? Miles better than the old one I think.

I promise I'll get my head down, work hard and try and produce (a website) and achieve a level of consistency (i.e. blog a bit) and get back into the team!