Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Tottenham Hotspur v Leeds United

Tottenham Hotspur v Leeds United
FA Cup 4th Round
Saturday 23rd January
ITV 17:00


The Cup is dead! Long Live the Cup! The cup was dead after the Saturday of the 3rd round (traditionally one of the highlights in the calendar of course), poorly attended fixtures with no giant killing left us longing for the days of Ronnie Radford, Sutton United and Tim Buzaglo to re-ignite the flailing passions in the grand old competition. The romantic British sporting public needed a hero of a similar ilk and just when it seemed all hope was lost we were blessed with 2! Step forward Jermaine Beckford and Rafael Benitez who were the stars of the subsequent 3rd round upsets and breathed new life into this year’s competition much to the delight of neutrals everywhere and relief of ITV sport executives.


Steve Ryder welcomed us and introduced the panel of ex Spurs and Leeds Goalkeeper Paul Robinson and familiar ITV face Andy Townsend. He immediately fell into the common trap of asking a footballer a question while giving him the answer at the same time by putting to Robbo that he must have split loyalties tonight. Robbo didn’t let us down: ‘Yep, split loyalties. Just hoping for a good game of football.’ Townsend then told us that since Leeds win at Old Trafford they hadn’t won another game since, all of which they’ve been favourites in but tonight, being underdogs ‘makes them dangerous again.’ More gibberish followed when ‘Appy Arry’ was interviewed and asked if it was going to be pretty straightforward for Spurs tonight. ‘Straightforward?’ he responded while half-laughing in bemusement. ‘I’ve never seen a cup tie that’s straight forward yet.’ This prompted me to wonder what he was doing for his teams 3rd round tie against Peterborough and if he wasn’t there why didn’t someone tape the 4-0 win for him?

Commentator Peter Drury gave us the team news and seemed most excited that Spurs included ‘a delicious full 1st team debut for Leeds United Academy product, Yorkshire’s own Danny Rose.’ In the few minutes before kick-off we got shown a few crowd shots and the camera focussed on a bare-chested Leeds fan before finding three more just a few moments later. At this point I decided that for your benefit I’d do a running total of shirtless Leeds fans we were ‘treated’ to but after numbers 2, 3 & 4 there was a resounding drought so unfortunately here’s where this ‘fun’ feature begins and ends readers!

A whirlwind start to the game where other than an opportunistic effort from round 3 hero and all-around livewire Jermaine Beckford, the famous Tottenham Hotspurs are absolutely battering their League 1 opponents. It’s not long before Spurs pressure looked to have paid off as Rose was clearly caught in the box and Allan Wiley, stood just yards away inevitably pointed to the spot. Defoe stepped up but put a decently struck penalty far too close to Casper Ankergren who made a good save. This predictably got the travelling four and a half thousand travelling support giddy but Drury was going somewhat OTT when he described them as ‘celebrating like they’d won the cup.’

Spurs continued to create chances and you could tell the home fans clearly thought they weren't in any danger of not winning as there wasn’t the discontent crowds get when their teams missed a pen with a game still at 0-0. I’m not saying this is particularly wrong as they’d fancy their chances at home to anyone and that obviously includes a team two divisions lower. I do have to be honest though, at this point (and all points since the draw was made) I found myself hoping Leeds United would win through this particular round of the Football Association Challenge Cup.

After another run and shot from Defoe, Drury tells us ‘Tottenham could be over the hills and far away’ and Spurs fans can clearly be heard singing their elongated version of ‘oh when the Spurs go marching in’ which (if you’re interested) I think is one of the best versions of a traditional classic heard in our stadiums folks. How Spurs aren’t in front at this point really is a mystery as Ankergren’s goal is being peppered from all angles. Great mate Shoegl, shamelessly pimping himself for a mention in this blog txt me at this point with ‘If this was a boxing match…’ which in fairness is a great cliché and subsequently he’s achieved his aim.

22 minutes in and Defoe is put clear through and when appearing to hesitate, gets tackled from behind by Leeds defender, Jason Crowe. Co-commentator and former Leeds fullback Jim Beglin didn’t think Crowe ‘got a huge amount of the ball.’ At this point I disagreed with him as on first viewing it appeared he’d cleanly taken the ball. The replay then proved why Jim Beglin is paid to give his opinions about football and I’m not paid to write mine down and publish them on a sparsely-read blog as it clearly should’ve been a 2nd pen to the lilywhites. Leeds best spell of the game so far then followed with chances for Robert Snodgrass and Beckford who were clearly their most dangerous players.

The Leeds fans then thoughtfully start singing ‘are you blogging Manchester?’ Which I thought was some nice recognition of my work although Drury seems to mistakenly think they’re singing ‘are you watching Manchester?’ In either case the answer is yes and it’s nice that they thought to enquire about my activities during such a big match for the fallen giants. Then, just as I begin to think they’re looking good to repeat the previous round heroics, Peter Crouch easily hits in a rebound after Nico Krankjar has a shot saved and dispels these thoughts.

The Spurs fans predictably break into their famous FA Cup Chas’n’Dave penned classic as half time approaches. No, not 1991’s ‘It's lucky for Spurs when the year ends in 1’(or to give the accent effect ‘Its Laaaaaarckey for Spurs when the year ends in wann!’) But ‘Ossie’s dream’ and ‘Spurs are on their way to Wembley’ reverberates around ‘the Lane.’ Jermaine Jenas leans back and sky’s what would’ve been a belting 2nd goal and that’s it. Half Time, Tottenham Hotspurs 1 Leeds United 0.

Leeds start the second half with real purpose and are gifted an opportunity almost immediately as Beckford intercepts a poor Jenas backpass but his touch is too heavy and it rolls out for a goal kick. Leeds manager Simon Grayson has clearly put something in his players’ half-time cup of tea as pressure leads to another corner, from which the ensuing scramble sees Beckford skilfully put the ball under Mario Gomez to equalise. ‘Rockingham Road, Old Trafford, White Hart Lane’ Peter Drury decides to shout out the grounds Beckford’s bagged at on the road in this years competition.

Leeds who really could’ve been beaten in the 1st 20 minutes are now on-top and seemed to be flowing with confidence. ‘By the way’ Beglin begins his point as if he’s going tell us he’s going for a pint after the game and ask if anyone fancies it ‘are Leeds up for this now!’ which was a rather disappointingly bland ending to his sentence/statement/question. It also seems the home crowd are becoming somewhat agitated which is welcome viewing as each misplaced pass or lost tackle is met with the not unfamiliar White Hart Lane groan. Beglin does however seem worried that his former club wont want a replay as another game could upset their promotion hopes. Fortunately for him a moment or so later Roman Pavlyuchenko produces a moment of quality as he dummies a pass which takes a defender out of the game allowing Defoe to put him though easily and he places past Ankergren to make it 2-1. In quite a unique celebration the goalscorer runs to the fans behind the goal, takes off his gloves and throws them into the crowd. I’m surprised that some 4 days after the FA haven’t yet issued a directive to referees that all glove chucking celebrations will now result in a booking.

In the same way ‘do-gooders’ watch programmes they know will outrage them so they can clog-up the switchboards and write to points of view, I watch Spurs cup ties (well any cup ties as it gets shown regardless) to get irked at mentions or clips of Ricky Villa and would you adam’n’eve it, on 78 minutes Peter Drury refers to ‘that’ goal. If your reading this Peter, I can do without the constant (once in 90 minutes) reference to a goal that still haunts me to this day (I should point out was only 1 year old at the time.)

Everyone appears content with Spurs seemingly progressing to the 5th round and Leeds on their way out but ‘having given a good account of themselves’ which appears to be the only thing you have to do as a lower-league underdog in a cup tie. Chances come to both Bale and Jenas to get the 3rd goal and put the tie out of sight and despite a lot of effort Leeds don’t look like creating the chance to get a second equaliser. Extremely deep into injury time Beckford gets the ball in the Spurs box in a one on one situation with Michael Dawson. Just as I’m urging him to shoot he runs at Dawson and lures him into a challenge that sees Beckford going to ground and appealing for a penalty. Wiley delays his decision and dramatically points to the spot which prompts me to shout ‘he’s give it!’ despite the fact I was in the flat on my own.

After a seemingly huge wait Beckford stepped up to take the dubious pen he’d just earned. This was a pressure kick yet Beckford showed composure ahead of his years to hit a perfect and unstoppable pen into the roof of the net. Predictably this sent the travelling Leeds fans into raptures and the game could only re-start for a few seconds more before Wiley brought it to a close and the Leeds players celebrated their unlikely draw and impending Elland Road replay. What a game! Its 2 in 2 for dramatic late goals on this blog’s featured games so far and lets hope this is a sign of things to come eh TV sports fans!


Crystal Palace v Wolverhampton Wanderers
FA Cup 4th Round Replay
Tuesday 2nd February
ITV4 19:30

Leeds United v Tottenham Hotspur
FA Cup 4th Round Replay
Wednesday 3rd February
ITV 19:30

Monday, 18 January 2010

1.FC Köln v Borrusia Dortmund

1.FC Köln v Borrusia Dortmund
Sunday 17th January
ESPN 16:30


Why cant British press and media types get their collective head around foreign football teams calling themselves after the town or city they come from in their mother tongue? Really, ESPN advertised this game as ‘Cologne v Dortmund.’ Why? Were they afraid that viewing figures would be affected as British TV sports fans (which I presume you all are) wouldn’t tune in as they were confused as to which city ‘1.FC Köln’ represent? Why does it only affect certain teams as well? Later on that evening the same channel showed Napoli v Palermo. Surely if the insistence of using ‘Cologne’ were to set a precedent then our fellow euro-soccer enthusiasts would be treated to Naples v Palermo later that evening. Unfortunately it annoys me significantly enough to influence me to waste the 1st paragraph of my first posting. Just be grateful they weren’t showing Bayern Munich v Inter Milan loyal readers as this whole blogging nonsense could well have been over before it even started.


Commentator Steve Bower with whom I have a tenuous link (great mate Cheets worked with and speaks highly of the feller) welcomed us to this ‘battle of the west’ in ‘Germany’s fourth largest city’. It was the expected packed Bundesliga stadium with the usual smattering of away fans all around the ground bar Cologn..sorry Köln’s ‘end.’ I’m surprised how common this scenario is in Germany as I cant think of another country where there seems to be this complete non-requirement for mass segregation. Its not like they don’t have a hooligan problem, big supports or like a good drink beforehand but the average German seems more than content to sit next to a fellow sausage muncher wearing a different coloured scarf.

The home team started the better but didn’t really create any chances and were limited to a couple of long-range efforts. Dortmund’s keeper was the stand out player of the 1st 20 minutes, firstly in his attempt to appear on a future own goals and gaffs video by fumbling a weak shot and then by diving at the feet of Köln’s big centre forward in the way ‘goalkeepers don’t do anymore’ (© Old Bury fan at work). This act of old-skool bravery leading to him getting injured and being taken off. To be fair he clearly took a knock but you have to think Bert Trautmann would’ve continued.

It had been all Köln up to this point when out of nothing Dortmund get a corner and score with their first notable effort. The technical term is I believe ‘a clanger’ from the keeper who came for a cross and completely missed it leaving Dortmund’s centre half Mats Hummels to head into the unguarded onion bag. Almost immediately after Köln had a very good penalty shout (i.e. it should’ve been a penalty) turned down. ‘I’ve seen them given’ comments Bower which as a recent writer to WSC commented, is a ridiculous thing to say as we’ve all seen the most implausible decisions awarded. I have however seen them given.

Köln again are doing most of the attacking but the game calms down as we reach the 45 minute stage with the most noteworthy incident being Dortmund fans singing a song that sounded to my ears like a Deutsch equivalent of ‘my garden shed’ that Villa fans seem so keen on. Köln’s Lucas Podolski now seems to be in a right strop and gets booked for what would commentator worth his salt would call (I can’t remember if Bower said this or not…he probably did) a ‘cynical foul.’ The resulting free kick is lofted into the box where Hummels gets on the end to bag his 2nd after another week effort from the Köln ‘stopper.’

At this point I realise the major handicap this keeper is placing upon himself. He’s wearing trackie bottoms! When will our friends on the continent realise that wearing trackies automatically decreases your ability as a goalkeeper? There’s been overwhelming evidence over the years to highlight this yet many still ignore it and for this I’ve no sympathy for the hapless scally lookalike.

While on the subject of playing attire I should inform you that Dortmund are wearing the brightest possible yellow that does not cross the barrier into the category marked as luminous. Köln’s shirt is from the same Reebok template as Bolton’s but in red with red shorts and socks. I’m sure that back in the Toni Polster’s day Koln’s home shirt was white with red trim but Bower has already told us that they are ‘wearing the traditional all red colours’ so maybe I’m wrong, and more importantly maybe its not that crucial you know this.

As the game went on I got a bit more aggrieved by Bower’s commentary mainly due to him repeating the facts that Cologne is Germanys 4th largest city and that Kevin McKenna their large Canadian central defender had a spell at Hearts.

The game went into something of a lull after Dortmund had doubled their advantage with the only highlights being Podolski’s textbook petulant reaction to being subbed (chucks trackie top on floor, sulks off down tunnel) and the travelling Dortmund fans (actually Bower went on a few times about what a large fan base Dortmund have which didn’t need repeating and everyone knows that anyway) singing and bouncing away. Then with the visitors seemingly easing to a routine 3 points the team from the 4th largest German City got back in the game through a header form their tall Canadian former Hearts centre half, Kevin McKenna.

This re-ignited both the home team and crowd and the proverbial kitchen sink was now being launched at the Dortmund goal. Then with just 2 minutes left Köln’s Lebanese skipper Youssef Mohamad beat Dortmund’s keeper to a 50-50 and poked the ball into the net to send the locals into delirium. As it went in I was just scribbling ‘equaliser…brave’ down when Bower out-articulated me (and not many do that) with a passionate ‘what courage..what spirit!’ This caused another immense display of passion as Dortmund coach Juergen Flopp got in a right hissy-fit and was sent to the stand. He proceeded to climb into the stand and looked like he was offering all the home fans outside. Unfortunately no one took up the challenge as I would’ve loved to have seen someone stick one on him.

What drama for the 1st game of the 1st blog, bit of a local derby, dramatic comeback and child like petulance from players and management but it wasn’t over yet. Just into injury time after something of a scrappy build up, Dortmund’s Kevin Grosskeutz hit a speculative effort from outside the box that hit Kevin McKenna (he played for Hearts yer know) and left the newly nicknamed ‘Trackies’ stranded as it trickled into the net, sending what seemed like most of the ‘home’ stand behind into raptures. Dummy out of the pram specialist and Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp ran along the main stand in celebration in a manner that can only be described as ‘giving it large.’ How no one chinned him I’ll really never know.

The game finished shortly after and Köln will feel hard done by at the 3-2 scoreline and stay perilously just a point above the relegation zone. Dortmund are well in the hunt for a champions league spot after this result and have a huge game against fellow champs league pretenders Hamburg next Saturday in what looks like the most open of Europe’s major leagues. This a game you can watch on the same channel and I’d imagine Mr Bower will do another half-decent job of talking you through it although I’m sure he’ll repeatedly tell you what big clubs these two are and that Hamburg were of course managed by former Tottenham boss Martin Jol last season.


Next live Bundesliga coverage (both on ESPN):
Freiburg v Stuttgart
Friday 22nd January at 19:30

Borrusia Dortmund v Hamburg
Saturday 23rd January at 17:30


Hello and welcome to my blog that reviews sports programmes I have watched on the good old telebox recently. Now I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking ‘why have you decided to do a blog reviewing sports programmes you’ve watched recently Dave?’ Well the answer is this, I felt if there’s one thing the world needs its another blog! This is of course a lie, there are gazillions of blogs on the old interweb the majority of which no bugger reads and the creator has long since given up on. The real reason is that I love TV sports. I do, really. I love live sports as well (probably more than TV sports in all fairness) but I only get to see them a few times a month whereas I get to watch sport on TV nearly every day…and that’s just awesome and therefore deserves a right good blogging!

Anyroad, from now on I aim to update this blog with at least one review a week. This will largely take the form of football matches and football related programmes. There are a few reasons for this that are as follows:

1) Football is my favourite sport.
2) There’s more football on tele than other sports.
3) I only have freeview and ESPN (and not the TV sports enthusiasts eutopia that is SKY)and the latter shows getting on for 10 games a week along with some wonderfully bizarre ‘magazine’ progs.

That’s not to say it will be exclusively football centred, I hope to include amongst others Rugby (both codes), Cricket (although this may be difficult as Sky have all the live stuff obv), Darts, Aussie rules (if ESPN show it again this season), NFL and pretty much anything else I happen to bump into on my televisual travels.

The form of the reviews will be this. I’ll tell you what I've watched (who’s playing who etc), when and what channel it was on, comment on the actual contest, the coverage of it and anything else I feel it vaguely relates to. I hope it will provide you with the odd giggle, titbits of information and despite being a passionate follower of various teams in different sports, sincerely hope that all sense of neutrality is avoided and my preferences and prejudices come across clearly.

Happy viewing fellow enthusiasts, Dave.