Sunday, November 29, 2009

I Suddenly Feel Very Old

It came as a shock today when I found out that I'm older than Chelsea captain John Terry.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Season 2009/2010: Match 5: Montrose v East Fife

You wait more than three months for a home win, and when it arrives it's in a cup tie against a team from a higher division boasting a player/manager who's a former Scotland international.

Stevie Crawford has been manager of East Fife since the start of the season, but I'm sure losing a Scottish Cup tie against lowly Montrose won't be terribly high on his list of achievements.

Montrose were the better team throughout and could have had half a dozen goals by half time. Steven Tweed had his best game in a Montrose shirt (or the best I've seen anyway), and the youngsters swarming around him were excellent.

Oddly, the victory arrived in a match in which Marek Tomana was confined to the bench. Maybe Tweed should drop his best player every week....

Bring on Rangers at Links Park.

To The Faraway Towns

I spent two days this week in London.

In my late teens, when it became apparent that I was going to be studying journalism at university, I always assumed that I'd end up working in London.

Life didn't play out that way, and I've been to London less than a dozen times since my first visit in 1999.

I always look forward to heading down to the big smoke - especially when my employer is paying, as was the case this week.

But it's a place that delights and infuriates in equal measure.

The sheer size of the city is something that a life spent mostly in Scotland can't prepare you for. London isn't a single entity, it's a whole series of towns linked by what, in my experience, is the world's greatest underground network.

But the tube, while generally working like clockwork, can be a source of great frustration. It seems that Londoners are adept at avoiding eye contact, instead stampeding impatiently from platform to platform, barrier to exit. One second's hesitance and you're immediately in someone's way, and they're not slow in telling you.

The sheer volume of people takes some getting used to as well, especially for those of us who split their time between Montrose and Aberdeen. But London seems overcrowded even when compared to New York and Shanghai, although perhaps memory serves me incorrectly.

Even with the overcrowding and the sullen faces surrounding me on every side, London is incredible. There are amazing buildings on almost every street. Huge ornate buildings that would be royal residences in any other country are train stations or offices in London.

But it's a tiring place, especially when you're at a conference for the entire time you're there, and even more so when your flight is delayed. I did at least get a meal at Gordon Ramsay's Plane Food restaurant, and it was one of the best meals I've ever had.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Berwick Raingers

Today, as is my usual practice every second Saturday, I set off around 2pm bound for Links Park.

The focus of today's attention was to be Montrose v Berwick, but when I arrived at the ground at 2.20pm it was apparent all was not well. Groups of people huddled in the shelter of the ground's front entrance, and the turnstiles weren't open.

Angus has been bombarded by torrential rain over the past few days, and I assumed that even Montrose's plastic pitch had proven too soggy for football today.

But the club employees inside the stadium informed us that one of the teams was stuck en route due to a road closure between Perth and Dundee.

Now, I would have assumed that the team unable to make it Links Park today would have been Berwick, seeing as how they were coming from England. But the Berwick team bus was parked in front of the ground, and small groups of their fans were wandering around nearby.

No, the team unable to make it to today's fixture was the home side.

It's a funny old game Saint....

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Pakistani and The Automatic Door

I'm not sure if the gentleman in the video below actually is Pakistani or not, my Arabic isn't quite up to scratch. If anyone wants to enlighten me, I'd be grateful.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Just As Well They Really Did

A few days ago I pointed you strange people in the direction of The Beatles Never Broke Up.

If you've not been yet, I wouldn't bother. I recommended the site on the basis of a couple of brief instrumental excerpts.

But having listened to the first two tracks (I couldn't bear any more) it's apparent that the "album" is just a poorly-executed mash-up of various post-Beatles solo works.

At least the story was vaguely entertaining.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Season 2009/2010: Match 4: Montrose v Stranraer

Today, despite hammering rain at the time I left the house, the fact that it was freezing cold and that Wales v Scotland was on the telly, I went to Links Park, handed over my hard-earned (OK, let's just pretend it's hard-earned) cash and watched Montrose come away with a point.

They deserved all three. Stranraer are dire, but Montrose have regressed so far over the past few months that even a home match against a team as shite as this can't be regarded as a shoo-in.

It was end-to-end stuff, but neither side created much in the way of genuine chances. Saying that, if Stranraer captain Danny Mitchell could hit the target with his shots, Stranraer could have had half a dozen goals.

The first goal came in the 54th minute, Sean Anderson flicking a Paul Watson free kick in off the far post. The lead only lasted ten minutes though, Michael Moore beating the offside trap (or Montrose's backline standing roughly in a straight line anyway), avoiding a late Tweed lunge and sending a low shot into the bottom corner.

But Montrose should have finished the match, Tweed somehow managing to volley OVER the crossbar from three yards and both Maitland and Nicol missing late chances from inside the box.

Montrose looked much better today than they have of late, with more width and drive in evidence. They need to cut out silly mistakes, with Fraser Milligan in particular guilty of carelessness on a number of occasions. The side is crying out for a goalscorer as well, but I've been saying that all season. I've seen Montrose play four times this season, but only seen them score twice.

Optimism says that the potential is there for the team to start winning - perhaps a first league win will lead to an avalanche. But pragmatism says that the season is going to be a long, long grind.

Today could have been worse though. I could have watched the Scotland match.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Of Its Time

I despair. Truly I do. Within the first sentence, which ever illiterate monkey from National Express East Coast wrote this has completely lost any hope of me partaking of their super-duper special offer.

The Beatles Never Broke Up

Barking mad, marketing his own band or genuinely in possession of an unreleased Beatles album?
Or just barking mad?

Anyway, it's a good story and the music is half decent - is this really unreleased Beatles music from an alternative dimension?

You decide....

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Black and White and Read All Over

Thanks to my daily commute, I get through a fair few books over the course of a year. Here's the tomes that have been keeping me entertained over the past wee while - the list is somewhat shorter than I would have expected, but that's because The Great and Secret Show, The Creation Records Story and the Michael Jackson biography were all huge books.
Yes We Have No - Nik Cohn: Disappointing travelogue of a tour around "alternative" England, including travellers' camps, National Front members, witches and an Indian boxer. Promised much more than it delivered.
Trussed - Shiromi Pinto: Entertaining, fast-paced novel about three intertwined lives - Sri Lankan dominatrix Vinda; her cousin and Elvis impersonator Angel; and bail bondsman Regis. Read in a week and thoroughly entertaining from beginning to end.
The Final Whistle? - Harry Reid: Interesting, well-argued look at the problems facing Scottish football and the possible solutions to those problems. A few years old, so some things have changed - Gretna's demise being the most notable. A few strange idiosyncracies in Reid's style, surprising in a former editor of The Herald, were infuriating, but all in all, a worthwhile read for fans of Scottish football.
Gangster - Lorenzo Carcaterra: Fantastic novel about New York crime boss Angelo Vestieri's rise from sickly immigrant to the most powerful man in America. Written by the same author who wrote Sleepers, the book followed the standard Godfather/Goodfellas route, but was all the better for it.
The Great and Secret Show - Clive Barker: Sprawling fantasy novel recommended by a colleague, who said it's her favourite book. Strong start and finish, but a lull in the middle of a very lengthy novel meant it was a struggle at times. Worth a read, but never going to feature in my favourite books list.
Marley & Me - John Grogan - Surprisingly entertaining tale of One Man and His Dog. I read it after seeing the Owen Wilson/Jennifer Aniston movie, but the book was much better. A worthwhile read, although it's hardly War and Peace.
Michael Jackson: The Magic and The Madness - J Randy Taraborelli: The definitive Jackson biography from one of the few journalists ever taken into the King of Pop's confidence. I started reading this a month before I was due to go and see Jackson in concert; by the time I finished it, he was dead.
The Creation Records Story: My Magpie Eyes are Hungry For The Prize - David Cavanagh: Thorough history of the record label that dominated the Britpop years. A tale of junkies, geniuses, nutters, coke, lots of money, Primal Scream and Oasis. Noel Gallagher left Oasis while I was reading the book.
A Death In Tuscany - Michele Giuttari - Fast-paced novel following the exploits of Florence police chief Michele Ferrara. Complex plots involving paedophiles, drug dealers and mafia dons tie well together for an enjoyable read.
Bravo Two Zero - Andy McNab - Exciting tale of the SAS behind enemy lines. McNab's unadorned style was a bit grating to begin with, but once the story picked up speed, so too did the writing. Not as harrowing as I expected it might be, but a glimpse into a world I'm glad never to have been a part of.
The Resurrectionist - James Bradley - Rather odd tale of anatomists and grave robbers in Victorian London. Bradley's writing style captured the era well, but there was little to keep the reader desperately turning the pages.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Season 2009/2010: Match 3: Montrose v Livingston

And still the search for that elusive first league win of the season goes on.

A comfortable win over Banks O' Dee in the monsoon a week earlier seemed to spark Montrose into life on Saturday, and they played their full time opponents off the park for long spells.

Livingston have few friends in Scottish football and Saturday's match did little to win new buddies in Montrose. Jonathan Brown was sent off for a high, late and dangerous tackle in the 22nd minute, and striker Andrew Halliday appeared to feign injury to get Montrose's Sean Anderson dismissed 13 minutes later.

Despite the hinderances, Montrose played as well as I've seen them this season (albeit that is only three games). Tomana, Nicol, Hegarty and even Tweed looked good, but Montrose still can't score goals. There's a desperate need for someone who can put the ball in the net by any means possible.

(As an aside, I'm reminded of the West Ham fan who sat behind the dugout in a pre-season friendly. He spent the whole first half lambasting whichever lump of meat Harry Redknapp was playing up front at the time. Eventually 'Arry turned round to the fan, told him to put on a Hammers shirt and get on the pitch. He did, he played up front and he scored. I might take my boots to Links Park for the Stranraer game on November 14 and see what happens.)

Did Livi deserve to win 3-0? Did they hell. They were lucky even to win, but the margin exaggerated the result. Sure enough, Halliday scored the second, which effectively decided the match, and was subbed off near the end to a chorus of boos from the home fans.

Sitting amongst said fans was Jamie Buchan, until recently one of the best players at the club. He's still unattached, and it would be a great piece of business if Mo could bring him back to add a bit of experience, cool passing and solid tackling either at the back or behind Tomana in midfield. Here's hoping....