…I can’t ignore this man at the moment:


You don’t get classier than that do you?

Courtesy Sabotage Times

I’m not sure where to start this one, so I’ll just say it. Sócrates – footballer, doctor, poet and man of the people – is no longer with us. A man of supreme talent, heart and desire passed away just this weekend at the crushingly young age of 57.

He played in (let’s just admit it, eh?) the best team never to win the World Cup – the Brazil ’82 squad, and a Corinthians side that allowed him to score a ridiculous 172 goals in only 297 games. He played for Garforth Town, called out his country’s dictatorship of the 1980s, and was vocal on the misgivings of hosting the tournament in which he made his name. Known, also, of course,  for sporting the finest beard amongst his peers. 

After a life well lived – decades of alcohol and cigarettes eventually took their toll – few footballers can profess to having quite the political awareness, life experiences, and style as Socrates. He was undoubtedly an idol of mine. I’m happy this blog has been dedicated to the trailblazing ways of Sóco. Long Live the Doctor!

FwB #15: AVB

Courtesy Telegraph 2011

This long overdue update comes at a doubly significant time.

Firstly, although I must add this is far from a reactionary response, we are fast approaching the end of a month now known to those in the blogosphere and beyond as ‘Movember’. The last 25 days have seen this fast-growing charity event capture a certain public attention and raise some much needed funds for prostate and testicular cancer initiatives. I will be the last one to denigrate such causes; hugely worthwhile and a supremely successful campaign. The only problem though, as I’m sure you’ll agree, moustaches still have a bit of a PR problem (since, well I don’t know? Berlin 1945?), and despite the hipster’s best attempts, all ‘Mo Bros’ either look like models in an American Apparel advert, or sexual predators in a police line-up.

Secondly then, we are also fast approaching the Christmas period; that which in football is often the ‘real test’, if not only for football managers, then also for cliché-ridden sports reporters and pundits instead. But it is the former who, nonetheless have to deal with the results-driven business. Games double in their frequency most weeks come the end of December, league games are thwarted in their consistency by the ‘unwelcome distractions’ of the FA and League Cup (and if you’re Harry Redknapp, heart surgery and court cases), and fans of under-performing teams start to get itchy feet (Wolves, Wigan, Blackburn and Bolton fans I’m looking at you). One manager who, possibly unexpectedly, depending on how you read his experiences in the game, faces the end-of-year pressure is Andre Villas-Boas. Only months after taking Porto to an unprecedented treble, he took up one of the world’s most pressured positions and tried his hand at guiding Chelsea to their first ever Champions League trophy. But with inconsistent results at home, and with a final group game to go in the Champions League, Chelsea are not guaranteed progression into the knockout stages. If Villas-Boas is to remain Chelsea manager into the New Year, results will have to improve. Yet, as ever, if players and managers deserve to grace the pages of FwB, they must demonstrate a particular je ne sais quoi. ‘AVB’, as he is affectionately known, is not without his credentials, not least to challenge the purveyor of all bearded, suave and talented; Pep Guardiola. On we go… Continue Reading »

Song in action against Man City...

Watching Leeds United is a great passion of mine. As a young boy I used to go to many a game on the Elland Road terraces watching my heroes – Radebe, Deane, Yeboah, Dorigo – battle it out against the big gu…oh, wait. What I mean to say, is I love watching Leeds lose.

On Wednesday they did just that. By playing 90 minutes like it was the final 5 (in a similar way Liverpool and Newcastle do), with little calmness or build-up, they allowed Arsenal to quietly control the game. Johnson and Howson were bullish in midfield, with the former scoring a screamer before half-time, but they were no match for the Gunners, driven by the tenacity and strength of their central dynamo, Alex Song. Continue Reading »

FwB #13: Darren Bent

Photograph: PA

Darren Bent’s £18/24m transfer, if nothing else, has polarized opinion.

The football journos have had just a little bit of ammo upon which to instigate this debate. From Bruce’s public dissatisfaction, Bent’s twitter bullshit, and Quinn’s face-saving statement, to Redknapp’s dragged-up rant and now, Sunderland fan’s death-threats, Bent’s transfer has certainly stirred up an otherwise dull January window.  Up until now, there’s only been two sides. Those dragging up his goal-poachery style-of-play, and those championing his unquestionable goals/games ratio. I’ll entertain both, but settle with neither. If there’s one single characteristics that Darren Bent has been blessed with, it’s his beard. Continue Reading »

FwB #12: Roger Johnson

Some say Roger Johnson could heal the blind...

With the impending celebration of the birth of a man who could turn water into wine, it seems apt to discuss the magical talents of another bearded messiah. Only yesterday, Paul Doyle in the Guardian mused that Birmingham City – not the banal Blackburn, woeful Wigan or withering West Ham – were most in danger of boring their fans into relegation. In it he argues that Blues ‘have little creativity…no cutting edge…[and] no pace’. Truth is, I’ve known this for years. So have many of Big Eck’s/Steve Bruce’s detractors. But then, Doyle probably hasn’t seen Roger Johnson – sometime bearded messiah – because there is no single player with more ‘cutting edge’ than Big Rog.

Continue Reading »


‘Epoch-defining’ seemed to be the term du jour for bed-wetting journalist’s describing Barcelona’s destruction/humiliation/mullering of a a woeful Real Madrid last night. ‘The Orgasm Team’ screamed a gushing Sid Lowe in the guardian, as Pep Guardiola stood and watched a TRULY BEDAZZLING Barca rip Mourinho’s Madrid allstars apart. ‘Labour of Love’ was how Graham Hunter described Pep’s crafting of an all-conquering team on ESPN, and yes, I don’t doubt he’s done a lot. But then again, doesn’t a team containing 8/9 Barca-bred youth players and a bunch of Spanish World Cup medal-winners play itself? Carlton Palmer could manage that team and they’d still be able to pass the ball LIKE NOONE ELSE ON EARTH*.

Continue Reading »


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