Archive for the Football Category

Football Round Up

Posted in Football with tags , , , on September 17, 2017 by telescoper

Since autumn is coming, and the football season is well under way,  bringing with it that terrifying existential void that opens up on Saturdays between the end of Final Score and the start of Match Of The Day,  I thought I would just mention that, after a good win on Saturday against Stoke City,  Newcastle United are now in  4th place in the Premiership:

I’ve posted that simply to enjoy it while it lasts. I don’t think they’ll be so high at the end of the season, but they’ve recovered well, winning three consecutive games after losing their first two.

In a strange quirk of something or other, Newcastle United now find themselves immediately above the two teams to which they have lost.

Incidentally, when I was a student at Cambridge, in 1984, Chelsea finished in first place in the old Second Division, securing promotion to the First Division. Newcastle finished third that season and also got promoted. Manchester City finished fourth. How times change.

It’s a funny old game.

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Cose da sapere su Cardiff

Posted in Bute Park, Cardiff, Football with tags , , , , , , on June 1, 2017 by telescoper

Cardiff is gearing up for the UEFA Champion’s League final between Real Madrid and Juventus which takes place in the Principality Stadium on Saturday night. Cardiff University has produced this nice video featuring some students from Italy telling visitors about `things to know about Cardiff’, which I thought I’d share here:

There’s also a Spanish version here.

As you can imagine there’s quite a lot of disruption going on in the City ahead of this event, which is expected to attracted over 200,000 visitors. Last night one of the main roads was closed to allow the construction of a temporary footbridge to help manage the flow of people from Bute Park into the Stadium in the period just before the kickoff. There is only one small exit from the Park opposite the ground, which would probably cause considerable congestion, so the bridge will provide another route out, over the famous Animal Wall.

Cowbridge road was closed to vehicles and pedestrians for this operation, which I assumed would mean a bit detour for me on my walk home from the pub last night. Nevertheless, out of curiosity, I followed my normal route until I reached the construction site. A small group of people and a couple of very friendly policemen were there. I asked nicely if there was any possibility of getting past the road block rather than walking all the way around by side streets, and one of the officers said that if I waited for about 5 minutes they were going to open it up temporarily and let people through, which they did.

Cardiff Castle and Bute Park are being used to host a few thousand `Corporate VIP Guests’ during the weekend of the Final. For that a huge part of Bute Park – the entire area of Coopers Field – is closed to the public. Not only that, but the temporary buildings that have been erected there will cause so much damage to the grass that it will have to be completely re-seeded. This area will not be re-opened to the public until September at the earliest. This seems a very heavy price for the ordinary folk of Cardiff to pay for an event very few will be able to attend.

As well as congestion and crowd control, there is also the threat of terrorist activity (especially in the wake of the Manchester bomb). This morning as I walked into work I saw several groups of armed police officers. I’m not sure if they are intended to make people feel more secure, but they just made me feel nervous.

Road_Closure_Map_A3-Preparing-Cardiff-

It’s quite easy to infer what the biggest concern is for the security services. The presence of vehicle barriers all round the city and the suspension of all vehicle traffic within a wide perimeter of the various fan zones suggests that they are worried about potential attacks involving cars or lorries running amok among the huge numbers of pedestrians. It’s sad that we have to think of such things, but these precautions seem entirely necessary.

I was toying with the idea of taking photographs of some of the security measures but on reflection thought that might not be a wise thing to do in case I was mistaken for someone plotting an atrocity!

My own plan for the Final is to shut myself in my house, batten down the hatches, cook myself a nice dinner and drink a nice bottle of wine. I’m completely neutral as far as the match is concerned. Whether it’s Real Madrid of Italy or Juventus of Spain, may the best team win!

Champions Road

Posted in Cardiff, Football on May 21, 2017 by telescoper

Signs like this have appeared on Cathedral Road near my home in Cardiff.

From the black and white stripes you can see that it celebrates Newcastle United’s victory in the Championship this season.


You learn something new every day, though. I hadn’t previously realised that the way to say ‘Newcastle United’ in Welsh is ‘Juventus’…

Back to Cardiff

Posted in Cardiff, Cricket, Football on May 19, 2017 by telescoper

Despite torrential rain and flooding (in England) and the failure of the electronic passport readers at Heathrow Terminal 5, I managed to get back to Cardiff (via plane, bus and train) more-or-less when I expected and all in one piece, if a little tired. It was good to get home and have a nice cup of tea. I love lots of things about Italy, but I’ve never found anywhere in that wonderful country to have a decent cuppa.

When I walked home from Cardiff Central last night I noticed that road barriers have started to appear on the streets near the Principality Stadium. This is because the final of the UEFA Champions League between Juventus and Real Madrid will take place there on Saturday 3rd June. This will be easily the biggest sporting event ever held in Cardiff, with up to a quarter of a million people coming into the city, only 80,000 or so of whom will be able to watch the event in the Stadium. There’ll be a lot of disruption to traffic in the City Centre, both for security reasons and because of the sheer number of people packing the place.

Hotels in and around Cardiff sold out months ago, and an enormous campsite is being created on Pontcanna fields to house some of the people who couldn’t find a room. I’m not sure I would pay £195 for 3 nights to sleep in a tent, but some will. I just hope it’s not too noisy around my house! I was thinking of going away and renting my house out for the period, but I want to be in Cardiff for my birthday treat – a performance of Der Rosenkavalier by Welsh National Opera.

Talking of sport, since the weather was pleasant when I got up this morning, I decided to reacclimatise after a few days away by popping into the SSE SWALEC Stadium in Sophia Gardens to watch the first sessions’s play of the County Championship match between Glamorgan and Nottingham.

I’m glad I went because it was an absorbing morning’s cricket, with some excellent bowling and fielding by Glamorgan restricting Nottinghamshire to just 64 for 2 off 31 overs. The second wicket to fall involved a superlative catch in the slips by Aneurin Donald. It’s good to see Glamorgan playing with a spring in their step. After a poor start to the season they finished 4th (out of nine teams) in the Royal London One-Day Cup Southern division, which although they missed out on a semi-final place, is a creditable result and a distinct improvement on last year. Let’s hope they can carry on that progress into the County Championship.

A Good Day

Posted in Cricket, Football on May 7, 2017 by telescoper

I spent all day today at the SWALEC stadium in Sophia Gardens watching yet another one-day match, this time between Glamorgan and Essex.

It was overcast early on, as you can see from the picture (which for some reason has decided to rotate itself).

Glamorgan won the toss and batted, but lost both openers cheaply. Ingram and Bragg then dug in and slowly tried to build a decent total. By “slowly”, I mean very slowly. After 10 overs Glamorgan had crawled to 26 for 2. The batsmen gradually began to assert themselves but were prevented by good fielding and bowling from really cutting loose. Then Ingram decided to take the bull by the horns. He hit three towering sixes (including one over the top of the pavilion) on his way to a brilliant 142. Still, Glamorgan’s total of 281 for 7 off their 50 overs  didn’t really look enough…

Near the end of the Glamorgan innings I checked the football scores and discovered that Newcastle United had beaten Barnsley 3-0 while Brighton & Hove Albion let in a late equaliser at Aston Villa. That meant that Newcastle United won the Championship title. I celebrated in appropriate style in the Members bar between the innings.

Essex lost two very quick wickets – they were 2 for 2 at one point –  but captain Alastair Cook and Varun Chopra put together a century partnership. When Cook was out, Ravi Bopara joined Chopra for another 100 stand.

After 41 overs Essex were looking comfortable  on 214 for 3, needing just another 68 to win. Glamorgan’s bowlers had lost control at a similar point in their last match, so most of the spectators thought Essex would rattle off the runs without too much difficulty.

As so often happens in cricket, one incident turned the match. Chopra smashed a delivery from Meschede back at the bowler. It was a difficult chance and Meschede couldn’t hold on, but the ball ricocheted from his outstretched hand onto the stumps at the non-strikers end, with Bopara well out of his ground.

From that point the Essex batsmen came and went at regular intervals, as Glamorgan’s bowlers showed much greater discipline and common sense than on Friday. Aiming at the stumps has to be a good tactic in a situation when the batsman have to score at a reasonable rate: if the batsman misses going for a shot then the ball hits. Seems obvious, but it’s not what they did in the last game.

With 2 overs left, Essex had stuttered to 268 for 7 but were still favourites in my book. But with the first ball of the penultimate over De Lange clean bowled ten Doeschate (the last of four batsman to be bowled by full deliveries aimed at middle stump), making it 268 for 8. The pendulum had swung in Glamorgan’s favour. Or had it? Essex managed another 7 off the rest of the over.

Seven runs were then needed off the last over, with two wickets left. Hogan bowling,  the crowd buzzing. First ball: 2 runs. Groans from the crowd. Then two dot balls. Cheers. Then an awful mix-up and a run out. Five needed off two balls. One wicket left. Next ball: the batsmen ran a bye to the wicketkeeper. Four needed off the last ball..

…but they could only run two. Glamorgan won by one run.

It was a very exciting finale, and a much-needed  morale-boosting victory for Glamorgan. Well played both teams!

Oh, and when I got home I saw the news that France didn’t elect a fascist as President.

Yes, it’s been a good day. A very good day.

One-day Cricket: Glamorgan versus Surrey

Posted in Football on April 30, 2017 by telescoper

This morning I headed down to Sophia Gardens to watch a limited-overs match between Glamorgan and Surrey, the first game I’ve ever seen in the Royal London One-day Cup, a 50-overs a side competition.

The weather forecast for today wasn’t encouraging and I almost didn’t go as I thought there wouldn’t be much play. I did, and am glad I did so as there was a full session despite the murky weather.

As it turned out, most of the thick cloud passed over on the rather stiff breeze without dropping any rain. Even this lot didn’t produce a drop:

As I settled into my seat I noticed a gentleman nearby who was wearing a thick overcoat, scarf and gloves. His ensemble was completed, somewhat incongruously, by a white sun hat.

Anyway, having lost the toss and been put into bat, Glamorgan were all out for 239 in the 48th over.  The highlight of the innings was a belligerent 72 from Colin Ingram, who hit two enormous sixes on the way. That aside, it wasn’t a great batting performance, and 240 to win does not seem to be a particularly challenging performance.

Rain had actually arrived by the last few overs of the Glamorgan innings. but it wasn’t heavy enough to stop play. It was,  however, enough to persuade me to go home for a late lunch and to warm up a bit.

If it stops raining and I decide to return to Sophia Gardens I’ll post an update, but it’s possible that there won’t be any more play as the rain is getting heavier and Surrey haven’t even started  their innings yet…

Glamorgan’s next game in this competition is on Tuesday 2nd May against Sussex at Hove. I would have liked to go to that, but unfortunately I’ve got work commitments on Tuesday so I can’t. The next game in Cardiff is on Friday 5th against Somerset. I will go to that, weather permitting..

UPDATE: after a lengthy delay, Surrey were set a target of 182 to win off 29 overs (by the Duckworth-Lewis method). They rattled off the runs with 5 overs to spare.

Championship Update

Posted in Football on April 29, 2017 by telescoper

Well, the plot thickens.

The penultimate round of matches this weekend has seen another twist in the story of this  year’s Championship.

Last night Newcastle United played Cardiff City here in Cardiff, beating the home side 2-0. I didn’t go to the match, but there seem to have been plenty of Newcastle fans in town last night.

That result meant that Newcastle United were still 2nd, but only one point behind leaders Brighton and Hove Albion.

A win for them this afternoon at home against lowly Bristol City would have given them the Championship. Surprisingly, however, they lost 1-0.

The title race, somewhat unexpectedly, therefore goes to the last round of matches next Sunday. If Brighton win, they are Champions. If they don’t, and Newcastle win or draw, then Newcastle United are champions (the latter courtesy of goal difference). If Newcastle lose then Brighton are champions whatever their result.

Given the way this season has gone it seems rather fitting that it will be decided in the final round of matches. May the best team finish top (as long as it’s Newcastle)!

And in other news, to crown an excellent weekend for Newcastle supporters, Sunderland got relegated from the Premiership.