only two months

Its the end of the football season and while rugby has had my attention in the past few weeks, in particular the last hurdle of Lady Rugga I have enlisted Samantha Robinson to sum up the 2010/2011 season for in(TRACK)suit.

As the 2010/2011 football seasons comes to an end I get the same feeling I had on the 13th of July 2010 when the World Cup ended. The only reason I haven’t cried is because it is only two months (two months of boring weekends may I add) and then it is back. I guess this is a good time to reflect on the season that was – the good, the bad and the sometimes ugly!

I could think of no better way to do this than involve those who make my football weekends that much more interesting – my friends on Twitter who are never too busy for a good old banter or chat. Thanks for all your comments and I look forward to next season where we can start afresh.
Let’s see what everyone had to say:

I guess it is only fair to start with the English Champions Manchester United – by far my least favourite team in the EPL although I cannot dispute that they had an amazing season. The biggest Man United supporters I know are @sangxa and 17 year old Sri-Lankan known as @236meli.

After the game on Saturday when his team lost to Barcelona @sangxa sent me this: “Losing to Barcelona was hard to take, but as a football fan I know that on the night we were beaten by the better team. Overall I am happy with the season, an FA Cup Semi-Final and winning our 19th League title is what makes me a proud supporter.

I was pleasantly surprised when, out for a work dinner, I discovered one of the girls at a fellow agency is also a HUGE football fan and equally surprised when I heard what a big United Supporter she is. @marislee I look forward to going through a whole season with you and having something more to talk about than nappies and tissues.

the 19th title

Next up is my team – the Blues, Chelsea! Well what a season we had – we started off with a bang and it looked like no one could stop us but then it started going downhill. The biggest news of the season was the move of Fernado Torres from LFC to Chelsea. I won’t lie I was over the moon – I thought he would be brilliant for us. I thought that the change would lift his spirits and his game and at the same time help Chelsea get back on track. But I was wrong. I watched one game after the next where he just could not score and I moved beyond feeling sorry for him to actually not liking him (nearly hating him).

the let down

Finally he scored, after 14 games and 734 minutes, against West Ham United. But that is where it ended and he was not able to get another one in the back of the net for the rest of the season. Although we finished second for the season – there is a lot that just didn’t happen.

I must agree with @tyronlSA that the highlights and low lights for any Chelsea fan were our games against Manchester United. A big highlight was the 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge. That was the game of the season for me – I have not seen such a display of football for a long time. But they also broke our hearts in what was called the title decider where they beat us 2 -1 at Old Trafford. When Hernadez scored his goal in the first minute I knew it was over. With Ancelotti fired and rumours of Pep Guardialo and Kaka joining the Blues, I wait in anticipation for the 2011/2012 season to kick off.

Although Liverpool has been breaking their supporter’s hearts of late (and we know how passionate the LFC supporters are – ask my good friends @derekm11, @KateNokwe and @kojobaffoe ) they can be happy with the way their season ended. Although next season will the first time in 11 years that they are not Europe I believe they ended off their season better than they started. @derekm11 says that at the beginning of this season his mindset changed from expecting the team to qualify for Champions League to hoping they would stay in the EPL.

the turnaround

@kojobaffoe said that at a stage watching games felt like going to the doctor’s offices – necessary but painful. Although they lost their last two games, the fact that LFC can still beat United 3 -1 and win with scores like 5 – 0 against Birmingham, 3 – 0 against Newcastle and 5 – 2 against Fulham show what King Kenny is capable of with his team. Of course the big news for the club was selling Torres to Chelsea. Although at the time the fans were angry about it (and most of them still have bitter feelings about what Torres had to say) they are over it and enjoy what the two new comers – Andy Carrol and Luis Suarez have brought to the LFC game. I believe that LFC is a team to watch next season – they don’t have to worry about Europe and concentrate on the other important titles and improving their game. Do you think it can be 19 – 19? I think it will be close.

Who do you think had the worst season? I definitely think Arsenal. My memory of watching the Arsenal games this season were that of watching my husband and Granddad cringe with embarrassment as well as Arsene Wenger throwing water bottles around. The season was one of ups and downs and who knows this better than @Tyronbarnard who tells us of his highlights and low lights: Arsenal was within one point of MFC at the end of February and looked like they would be worthy competitors for the EPL trophy but they finished 4th for the season. Beating Barcelona, at home, in the Champions league only to lose 4-3 on aggregate and being knocked out of the cup. Getting to the final of the Carling Cup against Birmingham City but losing in the 89th minute. And who can forget the 4-4 draw with Newcastle after having a 4 – 0 lead. It will be a summer of change for the Gunners, but what happens next year is anyone’s guess.

what wasn’t

Normally teams like Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspurs would not feature in a blog like this. But they have proven to be worthy competitors to what use to be known as the “Top 4”. Unfortunately I don’t know any Spurs supporters so no comment here but hopefully we can get to know a few in the next season. But I do know one very happy Man City supporter – @lil_vale ! The highlight for him is first knocking Man United out of the FA Cup and then going on to win the FA Cup at Wembley. And for the first time Man City will take part in the Champions League. But as any good supporter @lil_vale can see his team’s faults – “hopefully Carlos Tevez sorts himself out or just goes home and I still think we don’t finish off the smaller team enough and if we did we could have been more than just FA Cup winners this year. “

The one form of this wonderful sport that I have not really followed is the South African version. Since the World Cup I have been extremely proud of our country including our football players but I must admit that I still have not followed the PSL or the other cups and tournaments that happen right in our backyard. I do know that the game must be good if the winner of the PSL is decided in the last game of the season and is between four teams though. Well done to Orlando Pirates on winning the treble – the first team to do this in SA!! I have now recruited a new friend @khencie to teach me the ins and outs of the SA version of the game. I have already received a rundown of who is who in the PSL so I will go into the next season with my background knowledge on the up. Best believe @khencie I will be asking you loads of questions as we go along. Plus I am also relying on @kyleorton4 to organise me some tickets to watch the game. (By the way follow him because he will be one of the hot players at Bidvest Wits in the next year or two and I could be featuring his game in a blog).

So that is the season in a, very long, nutshell! I am sure we will be chatting as we watch to see who is going where with transfers. And I will check you all again on the 7th of August to watch Manchester United take on Manchester City in the FA Community Shield – the start of yet another exciting football season.

Samantha Robinson is an Public Relations Account Director at Sabio Communications.
Follow her on Twitter : @samrobinson25

Advertisements

women + sport = rivalry

From the day I started this page (late last year) I had an ally, one that (not only) faithfully read my post (but) saw them before anybody else – my editor.

You’ve often read posts mentioning my ‘sporting loving boss’. Actually she was not my boss in the very core sense of the word(because she didn’t pay my salary and she’s only two years older than me).

To this day I often wonder how Samantha Robinson and I got along. I guess it is true what they say – sport can unite even people destined for rivalry. (Okay that’s a bit extreme, read her post and you’ll understand). I have finally convinced Sam to be my first guest blogger.

Take it away Sam:

I am a woman and I love sport. I think this has something to do with the fact that I have a grandfather, father and two brothers who are sport mad. I have always been able to give good commentary on most sports (except rugby) and I always find myself gravitating towards the group of men talking about the sporting highlights of the weekend and away from the ladies talking about the shopping highlights of the weekend.

I thought I was alone and that I would always be one of the very few ladies engaged in conversions around EPL standings, the starting line-up for the Proteas and the F1 teams and drivers. And then I met Kate! When she started as my intern we were in separate offices so we didn’t chat much and then I walked into the office one Football Friday in my Chelsea jersey and life at Sabio Communications was never the same again

I must admit we don’t agree on most things sport. I am Chelsea and she is Liverpool (shame poor girl), she supports the Blue Bulls and I support the Cheetahs, she likes the Proteas and well – I don’t! So most of the time, especially Mondays, we are giving each other a good go. The only time we have been on the same sporting page, well sort of anyway, was during the World Cup. We both supported Bafana, we both had a big crush on Diego Forlan and we both admittedly supported Uruguay. We followed each game, whether on TV at home, radio and our computers at the office (before we convinced our boss to get a TV with DSTV) or Twitter. We were at the office together watching the 16h00 games not wanting to go home until we knew the result and we often found ourselves in our boss’ husband office having an in-depth conversation about the games, goals, results and players. It was safe to say we probably knew more than he did. And at the end of the World Cup – on Monday 13 July 2010 we sat at our desks and cried. Seriously. Two girls cried over the fact that the Soccer World Cup was finished. The rest of the office knew not to bring up the subject for at least a week.

Now we have the next big sporting event starting in a few days – the Cricket World Cup. Although Kate is no longer with us (how I miss you!) we will no doubt battle over Twitter, Facebook and BBM. Unlike the Soccer World Cup cricket brings out the worst in both of us. We become fiercely competitive. As mentioned – she is a loyal Proteas supporter (I swear the girl should be made president of the Graeme Smith Fan Club while I could make millions ensuring Kevin Pietersen’s legacy lives on) And I find it a bit difficult to support our boys. I have tried, trust me I have tried but I struggle. Throughout the series against India I found myself gravitating towards the Indian team. But in the final ODI against India where the series was tied I woke up thinking I will support the Proteas, I will dig deep inside of me and support them until the very end. I thought that this will be a good attitude change leading up to the World Cup. But as with the other games after a few a few over’s I could already feel myself siding with India. And this was when I admitted to myself that I had a soft spot for this Indian team (or any other team name that plays against SA) especially MS Dhoni (or any hot captain’s/player that plays against SA). Being a non-SA supporter I get a lot of flack, as you can imagine, especially from Kate and our friend on Twitter, Mel. Even Sias du Plessis from 5fm has commented on my ability to “stir”. I doubt this will cool down over the next month or so. My team for the World Cup will be England and seeing that they are not too far from being completely South African it is not such a bad thing hey? I have also decided that my other two teams will be India and believe it or not – South Africa (if they don’t play against England or India or my next soft spot team).

So as the World Cup nears, whether you support SA, England, India and dare we say Australia, enjoy it and remember there is nothing wrong with some healthy competition. (Go England whip those South Africans on 06 March)



Author: Samantha Robinson – Account Director at Sabio Communications

long live another day


By now you should have seen and heard the chirps over the past weekend’s football affairs. And if you are a Manchester United or Chelsea supporter, you most probably been on the receiving end. My two favourites being:

“His armband said he was red, Romans money turned his head, he thinks he’ll have a better life, until John Terry meets his wife

And
“If you see an Arsenal supporter walking a dog, get them to call 0800 4-0 4-1 4-2 4-3 4-4 for advice on how to hold a lead”

These (of course) cultivated by the scrutiny that is soccer. An unforgiving tale of all that is the game. No one knows this better than a Reds supporter… Or so everyone thought. Let’s face it; Chelsea did not give the men in Red half a chance, as did their supporters reciprocation.

Who can forget the we-took-Torres-right-under-your-noses slurs? The Manchester giants suffering their first season defeat to the ‘Davids’ at the bottom of the log is something never envisioned.

And I guess one has to be an Arse to comprehend as well as perhaps explain …some things. However, a great outcome for Dalglish’s outfit who bared it all and handed Ancelloti’s men their seventh drub (well imagine that).

It’s been said that “Football is not what you deserve, but what you do” What you make of the chances created. The rare, and yet so golden opportunities that procure a great touch lethal to opposition.

No statement has ever been more unerring as far as Davide Somma is concerned. Wednesday night brought South African fans together. Replicas, once again dusted off and out of the cupboards to support ‘The Boys’.

Bars, households, and of course twitter buzzed – how did we watch any game before the twitter phenomenal – as international friendlies around the world befell.

Bafana Bafana welcomed Kenya to the South African shore. Somma’s second appearance for his country should be somewhat memorable, but for the fan club the memories are not what they anticipated, especially considering how it all began. An ordered hat-trick to say the least.

His minute and eight seconds goal gave an impression of his determination to (possibly) be Pitso’s number one forward. One may argue that, it may not be off the cards just yet, but the Leeds United’s striker currently lacks the command that is identity to Katlego Mphela.

It cannot be denied he’s pacy, strong with agility on his feet, and always in the box at the right time, exactly what is required while ‘Killer’ Mphela fights his I-want-to-go-overseas demons, but one has to wonder if his current footwork will be good enough to break The Pharaohs’ backline, when they meet in March.

It doesn’t take the final score to indicate that SA was a much stronger side and though(the score) will certainly boost the 47th ranked side confidence (to a certain extent) and inevitably give it a good standing with FIFA Rankings, however, we cannot dispute the fact that Egypt will not be running with jitters due to that performance.

As we move onto another great sporting weekend, whatever it holds, one thing is for certain only a few will elude the on-coming chirps. Let the count-down begin.

smile in mourning

During the 2010 World Cup a number of things shifted in SA as well as me.

Obviously I backed the boys in Green and Gold along with, the eventual winners, Spain. But my other two teams were the Yanks and (dare I say it) Uruguay! I was quite distraught when I found two of my teams in the same group.

My dream, for the first round at least, was that SA and Uruguay made it through but as I was often reminded they had the French to concede with. But as it always does Karma came back to bite the French in the backside and they couldn’t pull off a single convincing win (I am sure Ireland could have done better).

Now as a confessed Uruguay fan you can imagine the condemning comments I received after the Suarez hand ball incident against Ba-Ghana Ba-Ghana (how I hated that name!).

After the game I posted something along the lines of “Gyan will (forever) be remembered as the man who single-handedly cost Africa a World Cup.” Many responded “Don’t you mean Suarez?” more than once. This made me realize that most of us had fantasies of Ghana actually claiming the title and Suarez broke the hearts of the entire continent…right.

This brings to the question; will LFC’s newest recruit break hearts even further? I’ve already ‘welcomed’ the obscene remark that we have just become the most hated club in Ghana.

Let’s admit it has been a roller-coaster ride (if ever there was an understatement) in the life of all that is Liverpool Football Club. Arguably the greatest club in England (you know what I mean), with a breathtaking history than any bed time story from Nelson Mandela.

The Reds have seen and been through it all especially these past two seasons – from the prospect of new owners, Woy, not making the Champions League, fighting off relegation, fighting to stay in the top half of the table and more recently the loss of our Golden Boy – El Nino – to Chelsea.

We didn’t have much time to comprehend, let alone mourn this loss – the rumours started and were confirmed within a week. As expected the supporters didn’t take kindly to the news of his departure and a person understand this debacle only too well would be Melissa Reddy hence the tweet:

“Dear footballers, you have every right to want to win trophies, further your careers and make more money. Just please respect supporters.”

I can only hope that, the heart breaker keeps our hearts in one piece and along with Andy Carrol starts scoring some goals. And I must admit that if his hand ruptures the hearts of some Chelsea, Arsenal and United fans I won’t complain.

It is ironic that the two teams who were most affected by this last transfer period are playing on Sunday. Whether it’s seeing Torres comes on the field in a blue shirt, which will be worse than seeing an ex with a super model a week after a break-up or the possibility of a winning goal from the boot (or hand) of Suarez it is going to be an interesting clash between these giants of the EPL.


You’ll Never Walk Alone

as it were

Let’s face it – Sport as we know it is gone. The love we have for the game is tainted by so many reactions and choices from individuals we’ve idolised.

What’s with our soccer heroes gracing the pages of Rolling Stones more than Brangelina or our political leaders crippling the motivation to fill up Rugby stadiums? Yeah, sport as we’d like to remember is dead and buried.

Be it as it may, we still take our vuvuzela’s, brace the cold and give the ‘Ultimate Fan’ thing a go. Superbru is sky-rocking. Hell, Vodacom is still making as much money out ‘Player 23’ as with BlackBerry contracts.

Yes, we put aside the grating political influence, proudly put our replicas on and chirp the next person for not supporting same team. No one knows this better than me and my sport loving boss, who celebrates Football Fridays in blue, with a big Chelsea grin, while I (and the rest of her family) insolently proclaim ‘This is Anfield: I Will Never Walk Alone’.

And when we return to the office on a Monday conversations begin with Cheetahs vs Bulls. Yes we bury the hatches, forget Tiger’s infidelity, and stand oblivious to Micheal Phelps, Marianne Jones’ or even Bakkies’ stupidity.

We swear at government for their meddling, scream our lungs out at having to wave goodbye to the Super 14 only for a (long) while and will eventually forgive the Boks for their poor Tri-Nations campaign, because as exasperated as we may be by these, at the back of our supporting mind, the game is still as it should be. At least would be.

That is more than I can say for cricket, however.

The most popular game in the Eastern and Western Cape. A discipline that sees 7/10 Indian or Pakistan households fed is forever lost. Its credibility belongs only to the History Channel.

A land where 666666’s are the miracles of the game; The splendour of hat-tricks. A museum of super-overs. Sheer sanctuary of clashes between giants like SA, Australia, Pakistan, India or England that guarantee a spectacular heartache, but money’s worth for the avid lover of the game.

A history of unsung heroes ordained by roars of crowds with what seems to be more passion than from the ones in batting helmets. Yeah. That era has ceased with a vinyl and in its place are carbon copies of broken cd’s worth the bottom of a street kid’s shoe.

While some parts of the world have joined SA for the exciting Airtel Champions T20, trouble began to brew in England, who is busy with a series against Pakistan.

The series has produced allegations of match fixing by now suspended Pakistanis. Last week a cloud began to descend upon the English when injury-prone Andrew Flintoff hung his bat up for good.

This week assembled an even greater distress, when reports that they (England) are not above match-fixing. Of course this sent Andrew Strauss and his cronies over the edge.

However, we in SA know a thing or two about smokes and fires. Whether the allegations are legit or just that, allegations is another blog, but what this means is the series is now farce that needs to be scrapped.

Cricket is not cricket but rather a massacre of greed and lies killing dreams of many around the world. Hansie Cronje (R.I.P), it seems planted a seed that is growing like unwanted weed, producing a generation that has undermined the value of the game, paving a way for endless uncertainties.

Will we ever grace cricket stadia without questioning the legitimacy of the game? Will the great Tendukar be above our scrutiny? Is Rusty Theron’s great bowling a result of his form or a lost bet?

Can Shahid Khan Afridi reach a century and claim a MOM award without raising an eyebrow? Will James Anderson ever be allowed to have a ‘bad’ game? God forbid Mark Boucher misses a run-out.

May the Great Almighty have mercy on Graeme Smith in 2011, for we will raise more than a flick of an eyebrow should the Proteas emulate the Boks’ Tri-Nations Campaign.