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Sunday, 29 November 2009

A case of Sour Grapes

It's almost two weeks since the Ireland and France match. The night itself can only be described as the stuff nightmares are made of. Ireland sat glued to the television sets in all four corners of the country. I myself sat in the living room, attached to my laptop and blogging away goodo here. I'll admit I was confused at times, and I still need someone to explain the offside rule. But over all I really enjoyed watching the match even if I didn't enjoy the end result.

Not long after the match ended I went to bed to do some lesson planning. Not exactly the highlight but it had to be done. I wasn't there long when I noticed a very popular trend in the online worlds of facebook and twitter. Groups were being set up Henry bashing. Now I agree he was wrong and he knows better then to do the hand ball thing but at the end of the day he did it and got away with it. Given half the chance we would have done the same. I was sent links to various anti Henry sites and pages begging me to join them on twitter or the facebook craze lashing out at Thierry Henry or calling him a cheat (which he is) it goes on and on and on and on.....

It's two weeks later and people are still joining this pointless groups and going on and on and on about the Match. I do understand that it's a big deal. Because of Henry Ireland will not be going to the world cup next year and YES we are all heartbroken but this Hatred of Henry has GONE BEOND A JOKE!!

The rest of the world now sees the Irish as a bunch of sour grapes. And we do not need to be seen like that.

Outside of our little bubble of a island we are seen very differently to how we view ourselves. To look in the mirror we see ourselves as really welcoming and friendly, a lovely nice green country.
Let me assure you the only green thing about Ireland now is the green envy we embody these days. Hating Henry does very little to help our self image.

And as for the replay we spend so long talking about does anyone really believe we deseve it? In all fairness if we had played in anyway well in all the other matches we wouldn't be in this mess. In the group matches yes we did ok but as I stated in a post just hours before the first Ireland and France match, We could have done so much better against Italy. We threw it away. And in the first France match we didn't play half as well as we could have done. And we banked our whole world cup experience on one match in Paris. Yes we played well in that match but it takes more then one match to be good enough to get to the world cup.

So I have a question....

Did we throw away our World Cup chances because we were afraid of actually having to go to Africa and play on the biggest stadium in front of a massive world wide audience? What do you think?

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Kidney calls for Sexton appeal

Bit of a shock, but Jonathan Sexton gets the nod at Out-half over Ronan O'Gara for Ireland's clash with South Africa at Croke Park on Saturday. In a surprise move by coach Declan Kidney, Sexton has seized the number 10 jersey from O'Gara as reward for his outstanding display in Saturday's 41-6 victory over Fiji.

To be fair, Sexton has been the form fly half in Ireland this season with O'Gara failing to find any real decent run of form since returning from the Lions Tour. It is a bold selection that rewards the 24-year-old's sparkling form since being thrust onto centre stage during the latter rounds of Leinster's march to their first Heineken Cup crown last season.

Elsewhere Keith Earls comes in on the Wing for the injured Luke Fitzgerald. Other than that its the same team that lined out in the drawn match with Austrailia. With Denis Leamy back on the bench after what I thought looked like a seasoned ending injury against Fiji.
The South Africans are the World Cup & Tri Nations champions and are formidable opposition, however they have been hit by a bit of an injury crisis. Fullback Zane Kirchner (knee), centre Adi Jacobs (ankle), scrum-half Fourie du Preez (hand), lock Bakkies Botha (back), hooker Bismarck du Plessis (ribs) and backrow forward Schalk Burger (ribs) are all on the treatment table. This has been a trying tour for the Springboks as they have already been beaten by France and Guinness Premiership opposition in Leicester & London South Africa... oh i mean Saracens. Having said that I still believe it will be a fairly brutal encounter on Saturday & a fine test of this Irish side.

I'll put my head on the line and predict Ireland to win by 3 points.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

The Case For A Replay

The fallout from last night's game has been astonishing.  All around the world, Henry’s handball is the centre of sport attention.  Here in Ireland, it is the lead story on front page and back.   It’s been spoken about in the Dáil while the BBC have held a live blog about the fall-out, the sort of treatment they usually only give to actual matches.

The demand of the Football Association of Ireland today is simple – a replay.  They’ve lodged an official protest over last night’s result, a move I agree with because to accept it without kicking up a fuss would insult the two-million Irish fans who watched the game.  FIFA have so far said no to this and (in my opinion) rightly so.  Decisions of referees should be sacrosanct, even when they are wrong.  Nonetheless, like a lot of Irish fans, I am clinging to the hope that such a replay should be given.  It’s what my heart wants, even if my head says that it shouldn’t happen.  Like all Irish fans, I have no problem when my side are beaten fairly – I just want to be given the honour of fairness.

FIFA have released a statement on the matter this afternoon, referring to Law Number 5 in their Laws of the Game which can be seen here.  It is both long and convoluted but essentially FIFA are standing by it to say that the referee’s decision is final, and cannot be tampered with.  However, there is precedent which may work in our favour.

In 2005, Uzbekistan and Bahrain played a World Cup Qualifier in which the referee made an incorrect decision which averted the course of the game.  Essentially, a player encroached into the box as a penalty was taken and the referee ordered a free kick for the defending team, rather than allowing the penalty to be re-taken.  To me, that’s a less significant mistake than last night’s but it was nonetheless regarded as important enough to render the game null and void.  That judgement was made under article 12.4 of the 2006 FIFA World Cup regulations, which essentially gives organising bodies the right to make such decisions.  It should also be noted that this decision was made despite Article 14.4 (amended slightly for the 2010 World Cup, under the title Article 13.6) which states that 'no protests may be made about the referee’s decisions regarding facts connected with play. Such decisions are final...'

It would seem that, as they say, would be that.  The FAI look likely to have no way of protesting last night.  I’ve read through any relevant legislation that I can find and can see only one course of action.  Article 5.g says 'all participants...including players...should observe the principles of fair play.'  Those principles, under the FIFA Fair Play Code, call on players to ‘play fair’, to ‘observe the laws of the game’, to ‘respect opponents, team-mates, referees, officials and specators’, to ‘honour those who defend football’s good reputation’ and perhaps most crucially, ‘denounce those who attempt to discredit our sport’.  Last night, Thierry Henry discredit football by his actions and it is now up to FIFA to take action.  I don’t hold my breath.


Ireland’s only other hope is that the French FA step in on our behalf.  The public in France, I’ve been told by people there, are unhappy with last night’s match.  They want to qualify with honour, like the other 30 countries who won their way through to join South Africa in the World Cup.  However, given the large financial bonus that comes with playing in a World Cup, I wouldn’t expect this to happen, nor would I believe that the French authorities should go to bat for Ireland.  We may just have to walk away from this incident with a very bitter taste in our mouths.

Henry Handball Humour

I don't agree with some of the vitriol directed at Thierry Henry today, but here's some of the photoshopping that's happened in the last 24 hours.





My Sporting Memories

After the highs and depressing lows of the encounter in Paris and after listening to Gav's great from the heart pod cast i got thinking about my own love & passion for sport. And instead of ranting on about the details of last night's game I've decided to share with you a few of the moments in sport that have moved me & made me jump for joy or given me a lump in my throat.

Moment 1: Robbie Keane Vs Germany - 5th June 2002 World Cup

Most of the Irish soccer moments blogged about in the build up for the game are included. But Robbie Keane's goal against Germany in the dying seconds was a moment that will stay with me forever. Watching with all my family including uncles, aunts & cousins, as soon as we thought hope was lost, up steps Robbie Keane & the nation goes wild! Mick McCarthy's jaw dropping reaction is priceless. After this game and the win against Saudi Arabi, I donned face paint, a green jersey and Tri colour, with a sign that read Korea and took to the streets of Mullingar hitching a lift to the Far East... Honestly!

Moment 2: Injury Time, Manchester United vs Bayern Munich, 1999 Champions League Final
Back in the day I was a huge Man Utd fan. (Now i'm back to my roots as a Watford fan). The 3 minutes of injury time played that night were special. I remember sitting in my front room with my pal William when Teddy Sheringham knocked in Gigg's effort. The two of us jumped up and actually ran around the house, then the garden outside. We were just settling into the idea of extra team, maybe penalties when Beckham's corner is nodded on by Sheringham for Solskjaer to poke home a winner. Cut to - more running around the garden & mad screaming and shouting. Fantastic stuff.

Moment 3: The National Anthems Ireland vs England. Croke Park 24th February 2007
This was the season when the GAA opened up Croke Park to 'foreign sports'. All the talk during the build up was of God Save the Queen being played in Croker, the scene of a massacre by British troops on Irish GAA fans in 1920. It was a tense build up all week and the atmosphere on the day was a curious one, with small protests being held in Dublin.

I was at the game, standing in Hill 16, made it even more special. There was an eerie silence just before the Anthems roared out, a pause as the Irish President took her seat in the ground. Then the English Anthem was played. It passed off well, and when it was finished, it was met with a large round of applause. Then Amhrán na bhFiann began. As tears rolled down my face, I tried to clear the lump in my throat to join in the singing with the rousing rendition I was being treated to by my fellow Irish Rugby followers. Glancing at the players and you saw exactly what it meant. John Hayes, Jerry Flannery & Paul O' Connell were overwhelmed with emotion. It was one of those 'glad I was there moments'. And after all that passion and emotion, we hammered 'em!

Moment 4: The Munster Haka - Thomond Park, Limerick 18th November 2008.
It is a year to the day nearly since the Rugby world was treated to one of the great matches of the modern day. This game marked the beginning of a truly remarkable year for Irish Rugby. The All Blacks, on there tour of Europe, were shown how passionately the emotionally the game is supported in Munster, & in Limerick in particular.As the teams gathered on either side of the halfway line, the four New Zealanders in the Munster side; Rua Tipoki, Doug Howlett, Jeremy Manning & Lifeimi Mafi, stepped out ahead of their teammates and challenged the All Blacks with their own Haka. The Thomond Park crowd went wild. It was another welling up & lump in the throat moment.

So now, there is just four amazing sporting moments that have moved me to tears. There are many many more. Up there includes the first European cup win for Munster in 2006, Munster beating Saracens in Thomond Park with an injury time try by Keith Wood. (In fact most years Munster provide a few of these for me!) When Damon Hill & Ralph Schumacher finished off 1-2 for Jordan in Belgium in 1998. Or Paul McGinley sinking the putt to win the Ryder cup for Europe, God I could go on!
Last night we nearly had another lift the nation result, but Ireland is unrivalled in its sporting achievements in one sense. This small nation produces special athletes who have a unique bond with the people of this island, and I know that just around the corner is a another iconic moment waiting to happen which will capture or imaginations, lift our spirits & let us cheer once more.

Hand Gaul

I want to sleep badly but I can't.  Too troubled by the match this evening.  Instead of a rushed post about the game, here's an audio blog post capturing how I feel about the Irish team, tonight and that goal.

PS Thanks to all who came out for the live blog.  After this, and Dunne's KO in September, I'm not sure if I'll ever do another.

France v Ireland LIVE blog

Only 31 or so hours to go... loads of time!  Live blog is below.  Do take part but in the lead-up to the match and, of course, during the game itself.  There'll be plenty of posts about the match over the coming days so be sure to come back and check out The Almost Daily Sports Blog.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Ireland's World Cup Qualifying History - Part 2, Things Get Better

At the beginning of Qualification for the 1990 World Cup, Ireland’s fans were more optimistic than ever before. The long wait for a major tournament was broken months when Big Jack led us to Euro ’88. England had been beaten, and Ireland were within ten minutes of the semi-finals before an agonizing defeat to the eventual champions, Holland.

So as one of the best teams in Europe, Ireland’s fans no doubt believed that they would be in Italy two years later. They nearly didn’t get there. Ireland drew two and lost one of their opening three games, all away from home, against Northern Ireland, Hungary and Spain (where we lost 2-0). Four home games in succession got our campaigns back on track however, as Spain, Malta, Hungary and the Northerners all came to Lansdowne and lost between April and October of 1989. The final qualifying game, twenty years ago last Sunday, was held in Valetta and qualification, already virtually secured, was clinched with a 2-0 win. Ireland were headed for Italy, having kept seven clean sheets in the eight games. We all know what happened there...

Four years later, an Ireland side which missed out on Euro ’92 were faced with a tough group which included Spain, Denmark and Northern Ireland. Things started well, with wins over Albania and Lithuania and draws away to Spain and Denmark. However, one point from home games against the Spanish and the Danes left Irish fans with a nervy ending to the group. The equation facing us in November 17th 1993 was simple. Ireland, taking on Northern Ireland in Belfast, needed a win to guarantee qualification. A draw would be enough, but only if the game between Spain and Denmark in Seville wasn’t a draw. The Northerners wouldn’t make it easy for us, even if they were unable to qualify themselves.

Spurred on by Billy Bingham, the home side took the lead thanks to a wonder strike from Jimmy Quinn. All looked doomed, before Alan McLoughlin, a bit player in the team, scored an equalizer which ended up being one of the most important goals during the tenure of Jack Charlton. This, and Spain’s win over Dublin, meant that we were on our way to America and eventual revenge over Italy at Giants Stadium.

The next qualifying campaign, beginning in 1996, saw Mick McCarthy in charge of an aging Irish side that was in need of new blood. Drawn in a weak group, qualifying for France shouldn’t have been out of the question. It was an unimpressive campaign however – results included 0-0 draws at home to Iceland and Lithuania and a defeat in Macedonia. A late resurgence in form – Roy Keane manhandled us to a 4-2 win in Iceland – meant that we finished a million miles behind Romania, albeit in second position. A play-off with Belgium ensued, and we drew the first leg in Dublin after a Denis Irwin free-kick. We went to the Heysel Stadium but were ultimately undone by Luis Oliviera and lost 2-1, despite a Ray Houghton header. A loss to Holland at Anfield two years previously may have ended the tenure of Jack Charlton, but it was defeat to Belgium that ended the careers of many of the players who had given him and us so many great memories.

As a result of this, the team that entered the 2002 Qualifying campaign had an entirely different look but the same manager in the form of Mick McCarthy. Where four years previously we had been inept in many of our games, this wasn’t the case here as Ireland qualified out of a tough group which included Holland and Portugal. Along with the 1990 campaign, this was as good as Ireland ever performed. Estonia, Cyprus and Andorra were all dispatched with, home and away but the best performances came against the group’s superpowers. In our opening game we drew 2-2 in Amsterdam (a match we should have won having gone 2-0 ahead) and then 1-1 away to Portugal while in June 2001 we managed another 1-1 draw against the Portuguese. The group’s highlight though, came on September 2nd 2001 (I didn’t have to look that up) where Jason McAteer scored to sink the Dutch and give Ireland a second-place finish in the group. This set up another play-off, this time against Iran. Ireland won the first leg 2-0 and then battled hard in the tough atmosphere in Tehran, losing 1-0 to a late, late goal. It didn’t matter though, and we were on our way to the Far East, via Saipan.

McCarthy was gone by the time our next qualification group got underway, and again we were up against France. Many fans were critical of Brian Kerr’s negative approach, given that we had some creative players. There were draws in Switzerland and in Israel, and the campaign’s highlight was a 0-0 draw in Paris. However the negative approach hurt us at home, most notable when we blew a two-goal lead at home to Israel. A Thierry Henry moment of magic handed us our only defeat of the campaign at home to France, but we could have reached another play-off with a win against Switzerland. That match finished 0-0 and Brian Kerr’s contract was not renewed.

Since then, Stan has been and gone and we know all about Trapattoni this time out. Comparing this campaign to all of our others, as I’ve done today, a number of things stand out. Ireland struggle, regularly, and to get as far as we have is the exception rather than the norm. Also, comparing this set of players to some of the ones which have been successful, it could be argued that our current team is not as good as any of the ones which have qualified in the past. We’ve also had several amazing moments and fantastic wins over some of Europe’s greatest football powers. Tomorrow night, if it went well, would be the best of all.

Ireland's World Cup Qualifying History - Part 1, The Dismal Years

Should Ireland win tomorrow, it will of course be the fourth time that we’ll play in football’s showcase. For years, we looked on longingly at the World Cup from the outside. In fact, Ireland’s history of World Cup Qualification makes for depressing reading.

Ireland has entered every World Cup since 1934, when we were placed in a group alongside Belgium and the Netherlands. The highlight was our draw at home against the Belgians, when the great Paddy Moore became the first player to score four goals in a World Cup game in a 4-4 draw. We then lost our second and final game 5-2 against the Netherlands – a one goal defeat would have sent us through.

In 1938 we lost out to Norway with a draw and a defeat while in 1950 we finished ahead of a team for the first time (Finland) but behind Sweden. With only the winners to go through, it looked like that would be that, but when Scotland withdrew we were offered their spot. The FAI, in their infinite wisdom, baulked at the £2700 cost of travel. The tournament was such a success (financially) that they would have made a handsome profit.

In 1954 we lost out to France (hopefully not an omen for tomorrow night), in 1958 England topped our group after getting a 1-1 draw in Dublin and 1962 was probably our worst ever campaign – Ireland lost every single game home and away to Scotland and Czechoslovakia.

With the 1966 World Cup to be held in England, Irish qualification would have given a large travelling support and ex-pat community a chance to roar on the boys in Spain. Drawn in a two-team group, things got off brilliantly with a 1-0 win in Dublin. We then lost 4-1 in Seville and, given that goal difference was not used at this time, both sides were to play a play-off on a neutral site. That game was to be held in London but an agreement was made to move it to Paris, where there was a larger Spanish support. Ireland lost 1-0.

Ireland finished last in their 1970 Qualification group, and second in 1974 (behind the USSR) when we beat France in Dublin, and drew 1-1 in Paris. There was another win over the French in the 1978 Qualification, but that wasn’t enough to prevent them from beating us to the group’s top spot.  We did, however beat them in Dublin thanks to a wonder goal from Liam Brady.

1982 gave us another close call, and again the French were involved. Ireland were also drawn alongside Belgium, Netherlands and Cyprus with two of five teams to reach Spain. The group started well with a win in Cyprus, a win at home to Netherlands (who, remember had been in the 1974 and 1978 finals) and a draw at home to Belgium. Two defeats though, in Paris and in Brussels, were to prove crucial as Ireland finished up with four wins and two draws after our eight matches. Irish fans could then just watch on as France, who still had two games to play, got the wins they needed to overtake us on goal difference.

Ireland again missed out on the 1986 edition of the tournament, as a 4-1 home defeat to Denmark marked the end of Eoin Hand’s time in charge and the introduction of Big Jack Charlton. The man who’d won a World Cup as a player with England was to usher in Ireland’s greatest years on the football field, but I’ll talk more about them tomorrow...

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Allez Les Verts!

Óle Óle Óle Ireland take on France....Twice

So today is MASSIVE I am told. I'm guessing it hasn't a whole lot to do with the X Factor and Queen night or with the shopping spree I had this morning. Instead Gav tells me it has something to do with a small insignifigant night of sport.....men in shorts running after a round rolling abject gets my vote any night so I decided to look into it!

Seemingly its Ireland vs France tonight in the World Cup Qualifiers....who knew eh?? Gavin did. As always. But Gavin is a very busy man today at work but I'll explain that later on....I promise. So Trap has had a tough job ahead of him. We all remember the Italy game. That game in my humble opinion was by far the biggest f**k up of the year. I mean we were ahead twice in that match and both times we threw it away and Italy came back so we ended in a draw. We coulda had that win boys! To make it even worse it wasn't long after, a few days to be exact when we realised how crucial that win, the one we threw away, really was.

Then the nerves started in when the draw was coming up and we were faced with the propect of some really tough teams to be in a play off against. Now it's France. So tonight at 8pm the whole nation, inculding me (the girl who is giving up X Factor on Queen night to watch) will have their fingers crossed in hopes that we can come up Traps in this and show France that they have serious competition in Ireland. Prayers will be said. Hopes will be high. Dreams will be made or broken. Lives will be put on hold for 90 minutes of the most important match in ten years.

Nervous?? Hell ya! France won the World Cup in 98, how could we not be nervous? Trap and Given both say it will take nerves but it can be done. I just hope they're right. A squad with Thierry Henry, Karim Benzema and Nicolas Anelka doesn't scare them says the Republic boss Trap. After all he says his team inculdes players who play against Arsenal and Man Utd. Lets hope his faith is all our Fates.

Trap is leaving one decision to the last minute. Having named Shay Given, John O Shea, Richard Dunne, Sean St Ledger*, Kevin Kilbane, Keith Andrews, Glenn Whelan*, Damien Duff, Robbie Keane, Kevin Doyle as definite starting players this week, Trap is leaving the right side of midfiled open until just before the match. He has a choice of Aiden McGeady and Liam Lawrence. A tactical move? A decision Trap can't or won't make? We'll have to see closer to kick off what our team leader will do. Meanwhile * St Ledger and Whelan are musts after a pair of fantastic goals againt Italy. Can they do it again?

Mistakes like the Italy match cannot happen again and Trap knows this, a goal in Dublin for France tonight could be detrimental to Irelands chances next Wednesday in Paris. If like me you are not a religious person now is the time to pray and pray that our Irish team, our boys in green keep their nerve and show what we Irish are made of.

Ireland has a lot to offer sport mad people tonight as Limericks own University College is hosting a major fight tonight. Our own Andy Lee against Frances own Affif Belghecham, I can see the irony of that too. Belghecham is the French and European Unions Middleweight Champ and tonight Lee looks to take a leapfrog step towards European and World Titles. Fellow Limerick men Jamie Power and Willie Casey are in front of their home crowd as well tonight on the undercard. Having seen Power at the Dunne fight in Sep of this year I can say he's a handy fighter who had a bad night and he will want to bring himself back from his one and only defeat against Micheal Sweeny last September.

It is a big big night! The reason you're stuck with my incoherent ramblings today? Gavin is up the walls at work and is going to see and report on the Andy Lee fight in the Univeristy Arena tonight. So if you happen to be there keep an eye out for him!!

Meanwhile Ireland has a lot to offer us tonight and we want it all. We want to beat France. We want Andy to beat Belghecham and We want to have that good good night we're sacficing the X Factor for. Check out Gav's very quick post from today of Ireland in World Cup 90.....we want this but with less CRINGE factor please!!!


Thursday, 12 November 2009

Chairman of the 'Boro

After reading Gav's piece on Notts County I have been very curious about the type of characters investing money, big money, into Football clubs in the UK. One individual in particular caught my attention more than a few others, a certain Irishman named Darragh MacAnthony, Chairman of Championship side Peterborough United. I rcall being slightly taken aback at this move and by this gentleman in general. A 30 year old Dubliner, with a massive personal fortune of allegedly over €50 million.

I remember all the publicity and meda attention on the club three years ago when MacAnthony invested heavily in the club and took over from Barry Fry as the club's Chariman (Although Fry did remain on as owner and director of football). The club at this stage were positioned in League 2 & struggling for survival in both financial terms and footballing terms. Fry's 'Knight in Shining armour' promised 'Boro would be "Knocking on the door of the Premier league in 5 years time". It was a bold and brash statement to make, but you don't expect anything less from the Playboy Chairman of a company turning over £200 million pounds a year.

The club achieved great success following the appointment as manager of Darren Ferguson, son of Sir Alex. They achieved back to back promotions and attracted the highest quality players from the lower English leagues. Playing the Championship is a big step up, especially this season with a number a very strong sides, so most people expected them to struggle, and they have done. However the sacking of Ferguson came as a huge shock. The press conference held by Fry & MacAnthony last week made for interesting viewing. They seemed almost at odds with each other & claimed Ferguson as ready to step into another job immediately. This claim has been vehemently denied by Ferguson.

Looking a little closer at the company MacAnthony set up, MRI Overseas Property, gave me an unnerving feeling. Blog after blog have pages dedicated to the rip off merchants & dodgy dealings of this company



Just a few examples of the stuff being said about them. Just curious if Mr. MacAnthony was subjected to the FA’s fit & proper persons criteria for club ownership. He might be 100% above board, in fact he probably is, to be the chairman of a multi-million Euro generating company he must be… I just find the whole thing very curious indeed.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Women's Soccer Catfight

This story has been all over the sports news here in the US for the last two days.
Now, I know that there are dirty players back home, but even Vinnie Jones would be proud of this girl!
New Mexico were playing BYU in the Mountain West Conference Semi-Final, which BYU ended up winning 1-0. But nobody will really care about the score thanks to New Mexico defender, Elizabeth Lambert. Enjoy your 15 minutes Liz!


Needless to say, she's been suspended indefinitely by the University of New Mexico.

They say women's soccer is popular over here. I've watched a couple of Division 1 college matches, and..... well, trying to describe how awful they are without using profanity wouldn't really be doing it justice. It really is a chore to watch, so this is pretty much the only way they're going to get on television. More power to them!

Heisman Watch: Don't Believe The Hype

I regularly read a few college football blogs, and most will have the inevitable “Heisman Watch” section. My feelings on the Heisman Watch have grown from a fascination of mine, to a minor pet peeve, and are now bordering on full blown hatred.

The only instructions given to voters seems to be to vote for the “most outstanding player in college football”, which is pretty vague. Still, shouldn’t be too difficult. But somehow many “experts” that I follow, seem genuinely clueless. They cling to traditions rather than judge by what is happening on Saturday afternoon.

The Heisman is, above all else, an individual award. How good a team is should not be a deciding factor. But if you look at the majority of lists out there, you’ll see Tebow, McCoy and Ingram atop of them. Coincidentally Florida, Texas and Alabama are currently ranked 1, 2 and 3.

Anyone who has actually watched college football this season would have a hard time justifying that they’ve been the three most outstanding players.

In my opinion, the most outstanding player this year has been Golden Tate, the Notre Dame wide receiver, who uses his insane leaping ability and speed to consistently get the better of double teams. Since his first couple of so/so games, where his team-mate Michael Floyd clearly outperformed him, Tate has exploded. His catch against Washington State this weekend was one of the best I’ve ever seen.

Take this into account – USC has allowed 3 passing TDs all season. 2 of them have been caught by Golden Tate. USC has allowed only one 100 yard receiver all season – Golden Tate. This is in spite of the fact that he has been double teamed all year long because of Michael Floyd’s absence. Based solely on the 2009 season, he’s been the best player.

Others who have been getting some consideration are Case Keenum, Ndamukong Suh, Jimmy Clausen and CJ Spiller. Again, based solely on the 2009 season, these are the best players.
Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy have been getting consideration because….. well, I don’t know. It’s because their teams are undefeated (thanks in large part to dominating defense) and because they both had a great 2008. But neither should matter because it’s 1) an individual award, and 2) it’s now 2009.

So (drumroll please), here is my Heisman list as of November 4th 2009.

1: Golden Tate – WR – Notre Dame
2: Ndamukong Suh – DT - Nebraska
3: Jimmy Clausen – QB – Notre Dame
4: CJ Spiller – RB - Clemson
5: Case Keenum – QB - Houston
6: Mark Ingram – RB - Alabama

There are other names which, on another day may have been included like Jacquizz Rodgers, Kellen Moore, Ryan Mathews, but I could mix and match them all day and still not be any the wiser.
I’m pretty sure most people who have Tebow and McCoy on their lists have just taken a look at the BCS standings, based their “opinion” on that, rather than actually watching games. If you see any of these lists, I wouldn’t put too much emphasis on them. Just go and read Dr. Saturday to make sure you get some common sense.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Girardi The Good Guy

The New York Yankees won the World Series last night, a win master-minded by their manager Joe Girardi.  Girardi made the gutsy gamble of starting his pitchers on 3 days rest (as opposed to the customary five) but the gamble paid off when Hideki Matsui fired them to a win in last night's Game 6 and to a 27th World Series title.

So well done Joe, right?  Sure, but I reckon that is only the second most impressive thing he did last night.  I quote an article on Yahoo Sports.

Girardi stopped in the wee hours Thursday to help a motorist who crashed her car into a wall after losing control on the Cross Country Parkway in suburban Westchester County.

The crash happened at a particularly dangerous section of roadway, so it not only surprised police to see Girardi on the scene jumping up and down and waving his arms to flag them down, but it also worried them.

The area is notorious for its blind spots and Girardi, who parked his car along the right side of the parkway, and then ran across the traffic to get to the injured motorist, put his life at risk, police said.

"He could have gotten killed," county Sgt. Thomas McGurn said, adding that responding police units take extra precaution in that area because of the blind curve and speeding cars. "Traffic goes by at 80 mph."

The driver was stunned from the accident and otherwise unhurt...The motorist didn't realize who was helping until police told her afterward.

"The guy wins the World Series, what does he do? He stops to help," said Westchester County police officer Kathleen Cristiano, who was among the first to arrive at the accident scene. "It was totally surreal."

Monday, 2 November 2009

More Nutty NASCAR Madness

Only caught the last fifteen minutes of last night's NASCAR race from Talladega and it looks like I didn't miss much - NASCAR bosses are being (rightly) panned for pre-race announcement that they would launch punitive measures against overly aggressive drivers.  That said, the last few laps were more than dramatic.  In the space of five laps we were treated to these two 'minor incidents'.  Everybody walked away safely.

Firstly, take a look at Ryan Newman' flip:

And now here's footage of a multi-car crash that was headlined by Mark Martin's flip (that's him in the 5 car)