Archive for World Cup

After Extra Time

Posted in Biographical, Football with tags , , , , , , on July 12, 2018 by telescoper

My blogging activities have been a little thin over the last few days as I’ve been in a race against time to submit a grant application. The deadline for that was 4pm today. I was advised to submit it `in good time’, however, and managed to do that. The electronic submission receipt is time-stamped 3:59:47. I guess that’s what they call `Just-in-time Delivery’!

It’s my first attempt at a grant application in the Irish system and I had very little notice of the funding call. It took me quite a while to figure out how to construct a budget using rules that are different from the UK, and that left me relatively little time to write the science case. I cobbled something together but don’t expect it is coherent enough to get funded. On the other hand, I might get some useful feedback on what to do better next time. This approach doesn’t work in the UK system, because for many schemes there you can only apply once every three years.

Anyway, to get a break from grant-writing yesterday evening, I strolled around my local in Maynooth for a pint and to watch a bit of the World Cup Semi-Final between England and Croatia. I got there just in time to see Croatia’s equalizer, which drew huge cheers from the (predominantly Irish) crowd, and decided to stay until the end. Croatia’s second goal got an even bigger cheer, though it wasn’t exactly a surprise even if it did take them until extra time to score it. From what I saw, Croatia thoroughly deserved to win. Congratulations to them.

(In case you’re wondering, yes I did bet on Croatia to go through. But only €50, at 5/2….)

It has been a strange World Cup for England. With Germany, Argentina, Spain, Portugal and Brazil (and Italy not even qualifying) it seemed that the fates had paved a relatively easy route to the final. I do think, however, that people overestimated the quality of the England team: they lost to Belgium’s B-team in their last group game and only just scraped past Colombia in the following round. It’s true that they beat Sweden comfortably in the Quarter Final, but I thought that was more because Sweden were poor than because England were good.

In the end I think Croatia won because England displayed a longstanding weakness of English teams – an inability to maintain possession of the ball in midfield.  Against teams with good attacking players you just can’t afford to keep giving the ball away!  They also seemed to get very rattled when Croatia equalized. On the other hand, this is a very young England side which promises much in the future.  There’s plenty of time before the next World Cup for them to grow proper beards, for example. And one person who definitely deserves praise is manager Gareth Southgate, who has not only shown that he’s a pretty good tactician but also that he’s a very nice bloke, with a fine sense of sportsmanship.

So football’s not coming home after all. But where will it go? I do fancy France to win it, but I hope it’s a good final. I have a feeling that the 3rd/4th playoff between England and Belgium might be a good game too!




Overs and Outs

Posted in Cricket, Football with tags , , , , , on June 24, 2010 by telescoper

Strange day. After a few days dominated by departmental duties I actually started to get down to doing some research, or at least trying to remember where I was with half-a-dozen projects I haven’t looked at for a while. Hopefully I’ll get some of them finished in the next few weeks now that the students have gone for the summer, but inevitably my concentration’s disrupted a bit by the World Cup. It’s so tempting just to have a quick peek at the scores…

It was the turn of the department’s contingent of Italians to slope off to watch their World Cup match this afternoon. Strangely, though, they didn’t come back afterwards. Perhaps it was something to do with their team – the current holders of the World Cup – losing 3-2 to Slovakia and now being out of the competition.

After a somewhat disappointing start, the tournament is producing some smashing games – although perhaps not if you’re Italian! Tonight I watched a splendid performance from Japan, who beat Denmark 3-1 in great style. Many of my most recent research collaborations have involved scientists from Denmark, Italy and Japan. I know which group will be happier tonight!

More importantly, after an initial dearth it’s good to see a recent increase in the number of clichés being deployed by the comentators, especially in the final third and at the end of the day, defending deep and holding a high line. Tonight’s match even produced a mention of the Last Chance Saloon, which is one I haven’t heard for a while.

Coming home around 7pm I walked in the bright evening sunshine past the cricket ground at Sophia Gardens which is where England were playing Australia in a 50-over one-day international. In fact when I walked to work this morning, spectators were already arriving. That surprised me because the game didn’t start until 2.30pm. Quite a few Australians among them  too.

 I had toyed with the idea of going myself but never got round to buying a ticket. I’m not as keen on one-day cricket compared to Test matches so decided to give it a miss. As I meandered home through Bute Park, I did stop to watch a bit of the England innings from the Taff embankment from which  I saw Monty hold off the Australians for a hard-earned draw at the end of  last summer’s test match. The curious thing was that although the sun was shining,  all the floodlights were on. I suppose that’s to get the players used to the lights in good time before they’re actually needed.

The other noticeable sign of a big cricket match was an extraordinary blend of food smells wafting up from the assorted purveyors of greasy comestibles surrounding the stadium.  I can’t say the smell was particularly enticing, although it didn’t put me off my dinner.

I’ve waited to post this until the match finished, which it has now done. I could hear the roar from my garden as England won by four wickets with 5 overs to spare. No doubt the England supporters will be heading for the local pubs for a few drinks before closing time. Come to think of it….


Posted in Education, Football with tags , , on June 23, 2010 by telescoper

My agenda for today was dominated by three events, each involving a different form of progression. The timing was a coincidence, I think.

First, this morning, a bunch of interviews with our first-year postgraduate research students. Like most universities, the first year of a PhD at Cardiff University is a probationary period so we get the students to write a report on what they’ve been doing and also get input from their supervisor. This is then followed up by a panel interview, with 3-4 members of staff, at which a judgement is made as to whether to allow them continue. This used to be a relatively informal thing involving supervisor and one other member of staff, but I’ve recently taken over as Director of Postgraduate Studies in the School of Physics & Astronomy and made the process a bit more rigorous, having the same panel talk to all the students. It all passed off pretty well apart from the fact that a couple of students are away and I’ll have to put them through the process later on in the summer when they get back from their observing trips and whatnot.

After a spot of form-filling and a quick lunch we went straight into another examiners’ meeting, this time for undergraduate students. We already went through the marks for graduating students a couple of weeks ago, but today we had to look at the results for our Prelim candidates, and Years 1 and 2. Here the focus for most staff is on their personal tutees, usually 4 in each year, checking they all progress as intended to the following year and presenting any special circumstances.  This meeting can be quite fraught, but this year went smoothly.

Which brought us to the last issue of progression, and the one I was less optimistic about  prior to the event. However, England did manage to win their game against Slovenia in the FIFA World Cup by the not entirely convincing scoreline of 1-0. That means they too progress to the next round, although how much further than that they can go is not very clear. Well done to the USA too, who beat Algeria to win the group and take their place in the last 16.

All in all, a busy but productive and satisfying day. Now I’m going to watch one more game of football and have a glass or two of wine before having an early night.