The Sixfields experience

23 10 2013
Sixfields (copyright Willie Carr)

Sixfields (copyright Willie Carr)

I went to Sixfields Stadium in Northampton last night to watch Coventry play Leyton Orient in League One. It was my first experience of seeing Coventry play in Northampton since they left their purpose built 32,000 state of the art arena in Foleshill in the summer. I had a great time – the team played the best football I’ve seen in years, scored two absolutely stunning goals and beat the top of the league team easily 3-1. It cost £9 to get in, £2 to park and took only 20 minutes longer than it normally does for me to get to the Ricoh on the outskirts of Nuneaton. Admittedly there were only 2,386 supporters in the stadium but the atmosphere was good. It was far from an electric football atmosphere but it was positive – the main stand (the only stand open to City supporters) was buzzing with supporters eager to get behind the team.

The reasons why Coventry are playing in Northampton are complicated as a bitter battle between the company that bank role the football club SISU/Otium and the City Council (who – through holding company ACL – own the arena) goes on. The best explanation for the whole situation can be found by clicking here (written by Paul Knowles from the City fanzine GMK Online). The whole situation is ludicrous and doesn’t seem like it’s going to end soon – a fact reiterated by the head of Coventry council’s rambling statement yesterday afternoon. Ann Lucas – head of Coventry City Council and involved in the saga from the ACL side of things – released a 940 word statement in which she says both “The Ricoh Arena can survive without the club – there’s no doubt about that” and “Let’s sort this out now, and bring the club home for Christmas.” Somewhat of a contradiction in a long statement of very little substance – its release timed after a petition to bring the club back to the City was handed into their offices. More conjecture and a statement with more emphasis on gaining popularity with stay away fans than actually sorting the situation out. ACL need to come up with an action plan that is sustainable to both them and SISU – something with which they can’t do by just saying “it’s over to them”.

All the while Coventry fans bicker amongst themselves on forums calling each other scabs and tools for wanting to/not wanting to watch their team play home games. From what I can gather I’m a scab as I went to the game last night. However, if I was to go to an away game I wouldn’t be a scab. But, what if Coventry got to the play off final this year? The way the team is playing it’s a possibility. Would Sixfields be packed to the rafters with scabs for the home leg? How about the final at Wembley? Would Wembley Way be awash with Sky Blue scabs? As a massive money spinner for the club that a lot of fans refuse pay “not one penny more” to and the first semblance of success in a number of years it would be interesting to see what happened. I for one would love it as I’m a Coventry supporter and want to see them do well. Admittedly I don’t go often and don’t live in the city but I really think Coventry supporters should really stick together during the current situation and support their team. It’s far from satisfactory situation what’s going on behind the scenes but the team need the support and it’s a team playing excellent football under a good up and coming manager at the minute. As a City fan, why deprive yourself of that?





You’ve got shit hands

1 08 2013

This was a comment a dear friend of mine said to me on Sunday afternoon after I dislocated my little finger. As it was my second dislocation in less than a year I thought it was probably a fair comment. Both happened at the cricket club – the first time I dislocated the 4th finger on my left hand and it was put back into place by Liam. Liam’s a bit like an old fashioned farm hand. But he works he telesales. Things like wonky fingers, hygiene and blood don’t bother him too much so he grabbed my hand and put it into place. It was hardly technical but effective. This time our opponents had a physio with them and as I showed him my pinky he simply said in his Australian accent “look away mate” before giving it a yank and popping it back in. A far cleaner effort than last year’s and one with which left me covered in considerably less blood. He did inform me that I’d managed to dislocate it 3 ways. I’m not even sure that’s possible but it certainly smarted a little.

The shit hands comment led me to remember a sketch from Big Train. I absolutely loved it at the time and upon finding it on Youtube again it was just as good as I remembered. Perhaps I’m a shit handed twat.

Here’s the link to it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zv1w9bg3bMM





Travel bore – Dubai

31 07 2013
The Burj Khalifa

Dubai’s Burj Khalifa: It’s taller than Grafton church.

I have very simple but specific rules about whether you can ‘check’ off a country on your ‘I’ve been there’ list. These rules were implemented to eradicate the countries you simply drive through to get somewhere else or those which you stop off at to change planes. And in my eyes the rules are as follows.

You have to have:
a) stepped on the ground of the country,
b) been there for longer than 8 hours AND/OR
c) ventured at least a mile away from the point of entry.

To give this a bit of context I can’t include Singapore as I didn’t leave the airport and was only there for 4 hours yet I can include Lesotho as I was there for 4-5 hours, got out a vehicle, had a pint and ventured much further than a mile away from the border post. You’ve got to have a system.

So despite only spending a little over 48 hours there, both Lisa & I are able to include the Emirate of Dubai on our ‘I’ve been there lists’.

It’s not a place that we’d have chosen to go to or a place I’ve ever had any desire to go to in the past. I’ve never really seen the appeal of the place. In my head it was just a massive sandy building site where you can’t have a beer. But as Emirates Airlines were offering cheap flights to Southern Africa via Dubai we thought we might as well check it out en route.

We were pleasantly surprised. Aided by a bit of luck as always we managed to cram a fair bit in during our time there. Our accommodation was through Airbnb where you rent spare rooms in people’s flats. It’s like posh Couch Surfing and it’s a bit of a risk as you never know who you’re going to be hosted by or exactly what sort of place you’ll end up. But we landed on our feet as our host was a rich property developer that didn’t really seem to do a lot of work. And he lived in a spacious bachelor pad complete with pool table, DJ decks, coffee machine and a fridge full of beer. It turned out he was new to Airbnb also and had similar preconceptions to us when it came to using the site. But alas, neither host nor guests ended up being chloroformed and stabbed to death during the stay.

"If you can prove there's a cricket club nearby you've got yourself a deal"

“If you can prove there’s a cricket club nearby you’ve got yourself a deal”

Our host was that keen to avoid work that he insisted on taking us for a cruise around Dubai (in, naturally, his brand new Range Rover sport). Not a bad way to see the town all told. He was a fascinating chap and when we mentioned that we were keen to go up the Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest building) he immediately stopped us talking and phoned a mate. Within the hour we were at a considerable height in the Burj Khalifa posing as would be property buyers. His friend – another property developer – basically ran things when it came to sales/lettings there. Our host initially told a little white lie to him suggesting that we were interested in buying an apartment but when he saw me – stubble, t-shirt, flip flops – I’m pretty sure he twigged that this was nothing more than an extended tourist trip. Nevertheless he was very welcoming and showed us around. He firstly showed us an apartment – a snip at £2m on the 46th floor – before taking us beyond the public viewing deck to some empty offices on the 127th floor. It was mental. It felt like you were in a plane coming into land you were that up high up. Interestingly, the majority of the offices were completely empty. Bought as investments by investment funds and the like the majority of which were still completely unused without any intention of being filled. It just confirmed that general sense you get in Dubai that although very grand and impressive it’s all a bit false and pointless.

We spent the rest of our time in Dubai pottering about the beach, old town, drinking weird drinks, getting hassled in the souks and feeling really shady going into darkened rooms in hotels for a beer. It was fun and a great start to the trip. Dubai’s an incredible experience but not somewhere I’d hurry back to. I likened it to a massive game of Sim City before something shit happens. Everything is perfectly in place, infrastructure good and very safe. It’s just all a bit contrived for my liking.





500+ words of self indulgent nonsense

31 07 2013
My hair: Steve thinks I'm busting the Hans Gruber look at the minute. I'm inclined to agree. If a little blonder.

My hair: Steve thinks I’m busting the Hans Gruber from Die Hard look at the minute. I’m inclined to agree. If a little blonder.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written a completely self indulgent blog. There are many reasons. I predominantly blame Temple Grafton Cricket Club as that’s what I seem to spend the majority of my days thinking about be it sorting teams/any other stuff out or day dreaming about the possibility of winning a championship. This year, for a change, that’s a possibility as we sit 17 points clear at the top of the Cotswold Hills League Division 3 table with just 5 games remaining. I’ve only won one league title before and that was in the Grafton Invincible’s XI that won every game in the 2005 Division 5 season. I played every game but my actual influence on the results was pretty minor. The cricket since then has probably got a bit more competitive – both at Grafton and with the opponents we play. I’ve now got a chance to achieve something again and this time, as captain, make a bit of a difference. Which is quite an exciting prospect. However, there’s still plenty of time for it to go completely to rat shit and with 2 defeats in the last 3 games there’s every chance it could. However, it’s still in our own hands. As witnessed on match days through my combination of pessimism, angst and cricket anger – despite us being a small village cricket team – it matters a lot to me.

Another reason blogging has ceased is that I’ve gone self employed. Immediately after returning from Africa I spent April, May & June doing remedial work to the lawns of people across the Shires. This was great work – active and outside. My kind of bag and when that dried up I’ve had the opportunity to work with a mate doing a bit of work on drives. Again that’s been brilliant but the end of June & July has been pretty on and off in both fields. My role now is essentially a part time self employed [insert role here]. If you need something doing and you’ve got a job that a trained chimp could do then I’m your man. But things such as rain have an effect and today is such a day. I’m sat inside when I should’ve been earning. Thanks rain. It’s all a valuable lesson though as I try and work out what the next step for me in the long run will be. As it honks it down outside it’s definitely something with which I have time to ponder.

It’s been a great summer so far. The weather’s been beautiful and with my situation allowing me to appreciate my surroundings a bit more it feels distinctly like it did when I was on school holidays. Perhaps with considerably less football playing with Radburn and Championship Manager 96-97 involved.

So that’s it, 500+ words of self indulgent nonsense. That wasted half an hour. Keep an eye out for further blogs later. There’ll be one on Dubai*.

*I know I sound like the boy who cried wolf the amounts of times i’ve promised them bit this time I will. Probably.





Travel blog

27 03 2013
Something good

Something good

Lisa & I are back home. Prior to leaving I confidently stated that I planned to blog throughout our 2 months in Southern Africa. I had visions of an abundance of air conditioned internet cafes with up to date computers and super fast broadband. I think I’d forgotten we were going to Africa. Added to the fact the internet was slower than dial up in those places we could actually find it was the state of the archaic and foreign keyboards. In fact, I’m pretty confident the majority of keyboards you come across in Africa are ones that were thrown out by Spanish primary schools in the mid nineties.

Something shit

Something shit

But it was an excellent trip and one with which I diarised throughout using good old pen and paper. We saw many interesting and beautiful places, met fascinating people and got into a few random situations. There were also the shit things and the shit places. These, I realise now reading back through my notes, bought out my cynical side. So I hope I’ll be able to blog about it all over the course of the next few weeks instead of at the time as I’d previously planned. I certainly need something to focus my mind as my only real achievement since returning is watching ever episode of The Office whilst horizontal on my couch.





Back to blog

24 01 2013

So I’ve left my job. Which seems an apt time to restart my love affair with talking absolute nonsense to, well, nobody in particular on this blog. I’ve had a break from blogging. It wasn’t a conscious decision but it was a by product of the energy sapping amount of miles I was driving coupled with my propensity to be too bone idle to string a few sentences together. It’s not that I’ve not blogged – I have but I’ve either not finished them or ranted them out loud to whoever happens to be in ear shot. Usually either Lisa at home or Ruth on a run. Thanks for listening.

On the road with Techy somewhere in the Lakes. My trusty stead (10 plate Skod) in the background.

On the road with Techy somewhere in the Lakes. My trusty stead (2010 plate Skoda) in the background.

So I did all but 5 years with the same company (my longest period of continued employment) and a time that I’ve experienced and learnt a great amount. Not just about the company, the way companies operate and the industry we work in but a lot about myself and what I want to get out of life. From the day I started – in my role affectionately titled a ‘number 2’ to today as the company’s sales engineer – no two days have been the same. I’ve had similar days but broadly speaking every day has had a different challenge. Be it dealing with customers face to face and talking them through the products they offered and how the company’s could work together to the very beginning where I’d see if I could actually read every word in the Times from cover to cover in our ridiculously long lunch breaks. Oh I miss those days CC.

It’s a job that’s taken me all around the country to places that I’d never been to before and to sites that the majority of people will never get to go on. I’ve worked at airports, steel works, oil refineries, nuclear power stations, ports, chemical works and at places from Plymouth to Rosyth and from Milford Haven to Dungeness and pretty much everywhere in between. I’ve stayed in countless hotels – some good, yes that’s you Inn on the Prom in Lytham where I put on a stone in a month due to their free 4 course dinners and some bad, Travelodge anywhere – and listened to more podcasts than you can shake a stick at.

And, of course, there was Middlesbrough. Oh Middlesbrough with your delightful Parmos and air of complete and utter abject misery. I spent more time in the ‘boro than anywhere else. Whether this is factually correct or not or whether it just felt like it I just don’t know. We never really got on but in the end we’d learnt to tolerate each other. I shan’t be heading back up the A19 in a hurry but it will always, strangely, have a special place in my heart.

But it’s come to an end for a variety of reasons. It’s time for a new challenge and a greater challenge than one spent for the most part on the motorways of Great Britain. What the new challenge will be, I’m not sure. Firstly, though, the next couple of months will be spent in Africa. A trip with Lisa that I can’t wait to embark on. We’re both travellers (backpackers, not gypsies) at heart and this will be the first one for a number of years and the first we’ve done together. How she’s going to put up with me day in day out I don’t know. But I think we’ll manage. Africa’s quite big, I’m sure she’ll find a hiding place. It’s come around very quickly but we’re leaving on Monday and we’re hoping to take in South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana & Namibia. Bring it on. I hope to blog throughout. TIA.





Pakistan vs. England day 3 – Bring back Aftab Habib

19 01 2012

Here’s today’s thoughts on the 3rd day’s play of the first test in Dubai..

Bring back Aftab Habib*

Misbah (right) and his man tats

Maybe not. That would be a bit too much of a knee jerk reaction. But England’s batting performance over the course of the last 3 days shows that England aren’t as good as the majority of people thought. England may be the number one ranked team but great teams don’t get bowled out for less than 200 twice on a placid pitch (this wasn’t a green seamer in England or the WACA remember). Watching the highlights, England looked a bit clueless. Alistair Cook for example. Today he seemed to get out the way I get out. It goes something like this through my head “I can hit that. Yeah, I’ll have that. Actually, no I won’t I might get out. Shit I’ve got bat on that. I’ve neither left it or larruped it. I’ve got out like a tit”. In his first innings he was a victim of his over confidence – trying to impose himself on a spinner early in the game. In his second innings he was a victim of pessimistic indecision. Very English, you wouldn’t have seen Hayden, Langer or Waugh get out like that.

KP

I didn’t want to go on a rant about Kevin Pieterson but unfortunately I appear to have no control over my fingers this evening. I like KP – I’ll get that out there to start with. But, having seen his shot today (live as I had it on in the office) I wanted to get his bat and ram it up his sphincter fat end first. “It’s the way he plays” “He averages over 50” – bollocks. In no way should a professional cricketer get out 8th ball slapping a long hop to backward square leg. In Monday’s Times he claimed that he never played well in the warm up matches and that the first 10 balls of a series are the most important in the context of the rest of the series. Having scored 2 runs from 47 balls I can only presume he’s now thinking he might as well go home.

Losing

The thing that I found the most disappointing about this test was that England were rolled over so easily. In the first innings, possibly understandable – alien conditions, new ground, a little under prepared. In the second innings, having been taught how to bat by the Pakistani’s for the best part of two days, I’m not so sure. Let’s hope that England can bounce back in the second two tests and make a good series of it. Well done to Pakistan though they executed their skill sets, performed well as a unit and showed great unity. Enough media clichés in that sentence for you? Hope so, it’s like reading the transcript of every England press conference over the last 3 years.

Misbah

Are they moobs or pecs?

*For those not in the know Aftab Habib played two tests for England in the 1990’s scoring 26 runs in 3 innings. He played in an era when England chopped and changed the team everytime they lost. Habib, who averaged over 40 in first class cricket, was one of said players that was drafted in to try and save England. He looked a bit like a hamster.