Superb Sexton Keeps Ireland’s Dream Alive

From the moment this year’s Six Nations fixtures first hit the feverish eyes of the game’s followers, many looked upon round five’s skirmish between England and Ireland at Twickenham as the tie that would likely decide where both the title and, quite possibly, the grand slam were heading. Continue reading “Superb Sexton Keeps Ireland’s Dream Alive”

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Footballing Driftwood: Hughes The Victim of Stoke’s Growing Identity Crisis

A few months ago scientists in America revealed new findings equal parts fascinating and terrifying. Among people suffering cardiac arrests, experts announced, even after your body has given up the fight and your heart has pumped out its last desperate beat, there’s enough residual blood sloshing around your brain to briefly keep it functioning as though your entire existence hasn’t just been abruptly sucked into a cold, black eternal void. The upshot of this cheery piece of news is that those of us unlucky enough to suffer the torture of a sudden heart-attack face the added delight of hearing our own deaths being announced to our loved ones before body and mind are finally unified in shuffling off the mortal coil. Continue reading “Footballing Driftwood: Hughes The Victim of Stoke’s Growing Identity Crisis”

Premier League Midweek Roundup: Claude’s Revenge

In the summer, the powers that be at St Mary’s concluded that an eighth place finish, complemented by narrow defeat in the League Cup final, fell so far short of expectations that it wasn’t even worth giving the architect of such a calamity a chance to turn things around. Maybe his meek demeanour persuaded them he wasn’t quite cut out for the brash brawl that is the Premier League? Maybe after seeing the previous two managers they’d headhunted desert them in pursuit of fancier projects (with very mixed results), the board just wanted to be the ones who got to dictate the terms of disengagement for once? “It’s not you Mr Puel. It’s us”… “We just don’t think we’re in a place where we can give you what you deserve right now”… “You’ll always hold a special place in our hearts”. Whatever the case, revenge is a dish best served Claude. Continue reading “Premier League Midweek Roundup: Claude’s Revenge”

Pulis Awaits New Canvas on Which to Paint His Singular Style

History’s greatest artists have each perceived the world in a unique manner. Picasso expressed it in cubism, Van Gough through swirling cacophonies of melancholia, Turner via nebulous explosions of light. Continue reading “Pulis Awaits New Canvas on Which to Paint His Singular Style”

The Premier League: A Week in Review

Farewell then Slaven, for now at least. In truth, the most impressive aspect of the Croatian’s tenure at West Ham was not that fondest of farewell thrillers against Manchester United at Upton Park or unleashing a season a half of brilliance from Dimitri Payet upon English football. Rather, it was the sheer volume of time the man was able to continue occupying his post beyond the point where his credibility seemingly became as shot as those who put him there. Continue reading “The Premier League: A Week in Review”

Andy Carroll Idiocy Presents Bilic a Shot at Redemption

Andy Carroll has always seemed more horse than man. Often, this is his greatest attribute. There are few more paralysing sights for a centre-half than catching Carroll in your peripheral vision, tongue drooling and eyes bulging with anticipated glory, as he comes galloping in at the back post to meet a cross like a Grand National contender attacking Becher’s Brook. It’s a truly awesome sight and there are surely very few players in the world who are so good at one single element of footballing practicality as West Ham’s centre forward is in such a situation. Continue reading “Andy Carroll Idiocy Presents Bilic a Shot at Redemption”

Intrepid England Boldly Go Where They’ve So Often Been Before

As the final few minutes counted down inside Wembley the crowd was hushed in quiet contemplation. We were going to the world cup, and as the feeling sank in, such was the overpowering swell of emotion, not a soul could think to disturb the moment of collective reflection on the achievement. Those who were able to pull themselves together spoke artistically instead by playfully launching paper planes, poetic symbols of the journey their heroes will now take from these shores next summer to let the lions roar. Continue reading “Intrepid England Boldly Go Where They’ve So Often Been Before”