Category Archives: football

When Harry met Ally.

harry the hornet, sam allardyce, watford, crystal palace, premier leagueI’m not generally a fan of mascots, at least not British ones. Not because I find them pointless, but because unlike those in the US where it is pretty much an art form, our versions tend to be either scruffy or embarrassing (often both).

But more importantly, it’s usually obvious that the people who inhabit these costumes are not actually performers. Indeed, having seen mascots at all kinds of events over the years, I often get the impression that the only reason they have donned the outfit at all is because they drew the short straw that day.

There is however, one exception and he happens to be the mascot at my club. His name is Harry the Hornet, and entertainer doesn’t do him justice. I would even go so far as to say that there have been plenty of times over the last few season when he’s been the most entertaining thing on show at Vicarage Road.

Central to this is the fact that the guy who inhabits that strange yellow outfit has a fantastic sense of humour and is not afraid to use it. Be it with home fans, visiting fans, officials or even players. Which brings us nicely to the events of last Saturday and the mocking of Wilfred Zaha for diving. An offence for which he was rightly booked.

To his credit, Wilf eventually saw the funny side and the two exchanged a series of tweets (yes, Harry has his own Twitter account) but sadly, the same cannot be said of the former England and now Crystal Palace manager, Sam Allardyce who seemingly took grave exception to one of his players being ‘abused’ in this manner. He even suggested that the FA intervene which, given the subsequent social media piss take, has to go down as one of the great managerial PR own goals of our time. Given what happened with England, you’d have thought that he’d have been wary of anything even closely resembling a sting.

But whilst there is a huge amount of humour to be found in all this, there is also a very serious point. For the truth is that Harry was only mirroring the feeling of the home support and that was a frustration at the antics of certain players in the Palace team. Diving is cheating and a number of Palace players were guilty of that and more on Saturday.

As a former England manager who is now back at the helm of a Premier League side, maybe Mr. Allardyce should be focussed not on the antics of a man wearing a large yellow head, but on those of his team.  

This will be my last blog of 2016 so I would like to say a huge thank you to all of those who have continued to support me in any way shape or form.

independent film, screenwriting, screenwriter, script, writing, indie, RAFWhilst I haven’t been exactly prolific on the book front these last 12 months, a lot has been happening behind the scenes, primarily on the movie front. Indeed, as some of you may have seen, my next movie, Three Greens, has recently been announced.

So can I take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy and productive New Year.

Keep the faith!

@dougiebrimson

sex, lads romance, love, vibrator, george clooney, fart

football, soccer, comedy, cost of football, manchester united, liverpool, derby, watfordJust in case you didn’t already know, all of my books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes.

Further information at dougiebrimson.com

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British football must take a stand against FIFA.

poppy, fifa, footballAs you must be aware by now, FIFA, in their infinite wisdom (sic) have decided to punish the FA’s of the four home nations for offences relating to the display of the Poppy on Armistice Day.

Now you don’t need me to go into the grubby details because they are no longer of any importance. What is important however, is what happens next. For it surely goes without saying that England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland must refuse to accept this punishment on the basis that the poppy is not, nor ever has been, a political symbol. 

The various FA’s of course, have a record of ballsing things up and we are already hearing noises about fines being paid, albeit reluctantly, in an effort to avoid any potential sanctions. But in this instance, all those sitting behind their polished desks at Wembley, Hamden Park, Vanguard Way and Donegal Avenue have to understand the depth of feeling involved and accept that this is an issue which is bigger than football. Much bigger in fact.

It is about the integrity of the poppy, the memory of all those who made the ultimate sacrifice and the fact that our tradition of remembrance on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month is enshrined in the British DNA. Not because it’s political as FIFA allege, but because it is honourable and respectful.

As a consequence, those who administer our national game have to do the right thing and make a stand against this ludicrous decision. Anything else would be a dereliction of the duty they owe not just to those who follow the game, but to the history of their respective nations.

@dougiebrimson

sex, lads romance, love, vibrator, george clooney, fart

football, soccer, comedy, cost of football, manchester united, liverpool, derby, watfordJust in case you didn’t already know, all of my books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes.

Further information at dougiebrimson.com

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Why we should welcome the FIFA investigation into the Poppy.

fifa,poppy,england,scotland,footballSo it appears, as threatened, that FIFA are going to investigate both the FA and the SFA for a variety of incidents relating to the displaying of a political symbol during their World Cup qualifier on 11th November. Or Armistice Day as some of us refer to it.

The symbol they refer to is, of course, the poppy and whilst a large portion of the British sporting public are rightly up in arms about this affront to the war dead, it might shock you to read that I hold the opposite opinion. Yes, that’s right, this particular veteran actually welcomes this investigation, and for a variety of reasons.

The first is that it will show English and Scottish football fans just how strong the backbones the staff at our respective FA’s actually possess. For given the public reaction, not to mention our inbred dislike and distrust of both FIFA and UEFA, even the acceptance of a token fine would be seen as an admission of guilt and given the significance of both the poppy and the date to the British people, that would be totally unacceptable. Hence, they dare not back down.

Second, it will show once and for all exactly how FIFA regard the English game and the people who follow it. Indeed, given the nature of the allegations, one has to wonder why the Welsh FA aren’t also being investigated given that they put on a show of remembrance in Cardiff the following day.

So angry are fans at this affront that many are already calling for the home nations to step away from the existing governing bodies and whilst I can’t ever see that happening, if FIFA fail to show any flexibility with regard to this matter, the damage to our relationship could be immense.

Finally, and most importantly, it will establish once and for all that the poppy is NOT nor ever has been a political symbol. For the stark reality is that if FIFA decide it is, and the FA accept that decision, it will set a legal precedent which would open the floodgates to all kinds of groups who attack the very idea of remembrance. 

That simply cannot be allowed to happen which is why we have to have this investigation and why we have to come out of it with the dignity of the dead intact.

@dougiebrimson

sex, lads romance, love, vibrator, george clooney, fart

football, soccer, comedy, cost of football, manchester united, liverpool, derby, watfordJust in case you didn’t already know, all of my books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes.

Further information at dougiebrimson.com

screenwriting, author, ebooks, kindle, green street, writing

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Never mind FIFA, Theresa May’s the wrong ‘un when it comes to Poppygate.

remembrance sunday,poppy,football,fifa,faLike many people, I’ve been somewhat irritated today by the news that FIFA, that most honourable of institutions, has refused permission for the teams to display Poppies on their shirts during the World Cup Qualifier at Wembley on Armistice Day.

Inevitably, a sizeable chunk of the nation went ballistic at this news whilst the British press, another honourable institution, have been almost rabid in their condemnation of football’s governing body. And to be fair, I had my say as well.

However, as the day has gone on I have mellowed somewhat on the subject of Poppygate and to be fair to FIFA, I have actually been able to see their point. After all, we are brought up with the poppy and understand exactly what it represents but not everyone overseas is familiar with it as anyone who has ever spent Nov 11th in either America or Russia (for example) will know only too well. 

Therefore it is not unreasonable to assume that whoever received the request from the FA simply responded as they would to the potential use of any symbol (OK, I’m being generous but let’s be honest, someone screwed up somewhere). It’s also not unreasonable to assume that inevitably, some kind of compromise will be reached and that this most special and poignant of days will be suitably marked. As of course, it must be.

The result of course, is that Poppygate will simply fade into the background and become yet another non-story of the kind which the British press are prone to create these days in a desperate effort to deflect attention away from something else.

But, there was one comment today which really got my goat and as the day has gone on, I have become more and more angry about it. It was made by Theresa May during Prime Ministers Questions today and was this:

poppygate,poppy,FIFA,football

Now I am a big fan of our PM but in this instance she is out of order. Bang out of order in fact. Because to use a phrase from the good book, ‘let those without sin cast the first stone.’

If we didn’t have veterans living on the streets, if we didn’t have veterans committing suicide because their mental health issues aren’t being addressed, if we didn’t have veterans scrabbling around for help from the NHS and if we didn’t have a Marine languishing in prison after being unjustly convicted of murder, then she would have a right to say what she did. But we do, so she doesn’t.

So here’s a message for Ms May from one veteran speaking on behalf of many veterans: If you’re going to tell someone to get their own house in order, especially when it’s made in the context of the military and veteran community, make sure that yours is squeaky clean first. Because I’ve got news for you, you have some serious tidying up to do before the UK is going to pass that particular inspection. 

@dougiebrimson

sex, lads romance, love, vibrator, george clooney, fart

football, soccer, comedy, cost of football, manchester united, liverpool, derby, watfordJust in case you didn’t already know, all of my books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes.

Further information at dougiebrimson.com

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Sorry, but The London Stadium is not fit for purpose.

west ham,watford,hooligan,hooliganismMuch has already been made about the trouble which took place inside the London Stadium at the West Ham versus Watford game yesterday. However, to those of us who attended the game, as I did as one of the visiting support, it was hardly a surprise. For it is fairly clear that whilst this is an amazing venue, it simply does not yet work as a football stadium.

Leaving aside the fact that the lower tier is so shallow that it almost demands you stand to see anything (totally illegally of course) the segregation is almost laughable with the two sets of fans being barely a decent right-hander apart. 

However, there is a more fundamental problem and it one which will have to be addressed sooner rather than later. It is the thorny issue of stewarding. Not just inside the stadium, but outside.

At the risk of causing offence to anyone -and if I do, I apologise, but someone is going to have to say this- putting a dayglo vest on someone with only rudimentary English language skills does not make for an effective steward. More worryingly, if they have no experience of English football let alone dealing with aggressive fans, it makes them a liability because it can cause more problems than it solves. Just as importantly, it can place them in direct danger. More so when there are no police around to back them up.

As visiting fans, we saw the consequences of this inside the stadium yesterday but the truth is, they were exacerbated by some of the things which went on outside before the game. Indeed, the close proximity of the Westfield shopping centre, coupled with the lack of places to drink beforehand, is a recipe for disaster. More so when you have security staff walking around sticking camera’s in peoples faces as they did to us yesterday. Understandable if we were being a problem but not when you’re sitting outside a bar quietly drinking a coke.

That might be a small thing to some but the overt way it was done coupled with the arrogant attitude of those doing the filming pissed off an awful lot of people and this wasn’t the only incident of its type we heard about. The worry being that if the London Stadium witnesses these types of problems when a club such as Watford are visiting, what is it going to be like when clubs such as Chelsea or Spurs are the visitors? The consequences were it to kick off inside the mall don’t even bare thinking about.

I am not for one second trying to defend those who cause trouble because ultimately, they are to blame for what they get up to. Nor am I pointing a finger at West Ham fans, the majority of whom are amongst the best and most passionate in the country. However, the responsibility for the safety of all supporters in and around a home stadium is entirely a matter for the owners and it is one which, in the case of The London Stadium, is being failed. Badly.

Given what is at stake, that is totally unacceptable and one must hope that the results of the investigation announced by the FA today will leave the club management in absolutely no doubt as to what is required of them.

@dougiebrimson

sex, lads romance, love, vibrator, george clooney, fart

Just in case you didn’t already know, all of my books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes.

Further information can be found at dougiebrimson.com

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Chants about Hillsborough? What’s the big deal?

supporters, liverpool,manchester United,hillsborough,fans,footballMuch is being made today of the fact that during a game at Anfield last night, Manchester United fans were singing a song about the Hillsborough disaster. Or to be specific, they were singing ‘The Sun were right, you’re murderers’, amongst other things.

This is obviously unpalatable and on the face of it, unacceptable. Indeed, were you to walk along the average Liverpool street belting it out, you could reasonably expect either a kicking, a nicking or both. And quite right too.

However, we are not talking about a street, we are talking about a football stadium. And inside a football stadium, especially one holding two sets of supporters with a long standing and very bitter rivalry, the gloves are pretty much off. Which in my opinion, is exactly as it should be because to me, grounds are at the very best when they akin to fully functioning bear pits.

That might not sit comfortably with the over sensitive watchers of Sky Sports or the journalists sitting in their free seats moralising about fan behaviour, but speaking as someone who has been to hundreds of games over the years, it’s safe to say that the majority of the most memorable were played out in atmosphere’s which would have had Nero reaching for a cold flannel. I’m not just talking about the kind of rivalry that has always been a part and parcel of the game, I’m talking about outright hatred. That, in essence, is what my book Derby Days was about.

Of course, those days (or at least the worst of them) are long gone and in this politically correct football world where happy clappers and half and half scarves have become the norm at games rather than the exception, there is obviously a line to be drawn. The problem is, thus far, aside from the issue of racism, no one has ever been able to decide where it sits. Why for example, is Hillsborough a chant too far when songs about Munich -which ironically were allegedly being sung by Liverpool fans last night- aren’t? 

And what about Heysel (more irony), Bradford, Istanbul, Yids, Jimmy Saville, Adam Johnson, Mathew Harding or any one of a hundred subjects which are routinely sung about inside grounds? Would they be illegal in this new sanitised and banter free environment? Even if you were able to work out what’s permissible, how would you let the fans know? Song sheets perhaps, or big screen subtitles? Would swearing be included? Or gesturing?

More importantly, how would you police it? And what would be the punishment for transgressions? Bans? Fine’s?

The sheer number and nature of the questions is proof enough that the very idea of any kind of ‘banter boundary’ is laughable and any attempt to enforce one would be doomed to failure and ridicule from day one.

Singing, chanting, shouting, screaming, moaning and even abusing are fundamental elements of the match day experience and the simple reality is that there is only one thing that will ever define what is and isn’t acceptable inside football grounds and that is peer pressure. Therefore if the clubs are genuinely serious about dealing with foul and abusive chanting then the only way to do it is to empower their own supporters and encourage them to get their own houses in order.

Because until they do that, none of them, not even Liverpool FC, have the right to bleat about anyone else’s.

@dougiebrimson

football, comedy, humour, rivals, derby, soccer, premier league, championship, manchester united, chelsea, liverpoolMy numerous books including the football comedy Wings of a Sparrow and the #1 thrillers, The Crew and Top Dog are available from both Amazon and iTunes.  

Please click on the relevant link for more information.

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Harry the Hornet: football’s perfect response to Paris.

Harry1In the wake of the horrific events in Paris, English football was quick to show it’s solidarity with the French capital. First at Wembley and then on Saturday, when every game in the English Premier League was preceded by the singing of La Marseillaise.

Now as a fan of a Premier League club (ahem) I was happy to stand in silence whilst the French national anthem was played (well I’m hardly likely to sing it) and I also understood why the Manchester United fans saw fit to interrupt it with a chant about Eric Cantona. He is after all, the greatest living Frenchman and closely allied with the club. However, little was I to know that even as the game began, a social media storm was brewing. A yellow and black hornet shaped storm.

The reason for this angst can be found toward the right of the photograph at the beginning of this blog. For people watching at home began to accuse Watford of being disrespectful by allowing the club mascot to line up with the players. But they are wrong. In fact, the exact opposite is true for one very important reason.

I know most football fans say this about their clubs, but Watford Football Club really are unique. I may have spent decades bemoaning the ‘Family Club’ tag and spend a good portion of most Saturdays ridiculing the ‘clap your hands, stamp your feet’ brigade but the fact remains that they are, and always will be, a genuine family club. Our club mascot, Harry the Hornet, is an integral part of that family and to me, to most, when he stands with the players, as he does so before every home game, he does so to represent us, the fans.

Therefore, for him to stand with the team and join them to show solidarity with the people of Paris was not simply right, it was absolutely right.

And if you still have an issue with that, you don’t understand my football club at all. But that’s your  problem, not ours.

Come on you ‘Orns.

@dougiebrimson

football, comedy, humour, rivals, derby, soccer, premier league, championship, manchester united, chelsea, liverpoolMy numerous books including the football comedy Wings of a Sparrow and the #1 thrillers,The Crew and Top Dog are available from both Amazon and iTunes.  

Please click on the relevant link for more information.

The joy of football, and Watford.

footballAnyone who knows me will be aware that I like a moan. And I don’t mean ‘as much as the next bloke’ I mean over and above the next bloke. Some would even argue, with some justification, that I have forged a career (of sorts) doing it.

The reason I moan is simple. It’s not because I think it will change anything or that I think anyone will actually take notice or even care, it’s because it makes me feel better. And so, from the state of the nation to the ongoing pain in my left-leg, if it causes me enough angst to get my brain rattled, I’ll give vent to my thoughts. Be it in public, on Twitter and even occasionally, here. Which, to be fair, is why I set this blog up in the first place.

Oddly, the one thing I don’t often moan about is football. OK… I’ll rephrase that. The one thing I don’t often moan about away from football, is football. Instead, outside of match days where moaning is obviously bog standard practice, I tend to adopt the true meaning of the word ‘support’ and actually provide a bit of backing for the team I’ve followed pretty much forever.

Sadly, this is not a practice adopted by many of my fellow Hornets who are currently in meltdown over our supposed poor start to the current season.

Now for those who do not know, Watford were promoted to the Premier League last season and subsequently not only appointed a new manager, but imported almost an entirely new team. After four games, we’ve drawn three (all of which we could and perhaps should have won) and lost the fourth away to the team who will almost certainly walk the league given their squad of world class players. As a result, we currently sit 17th out of 20 teams in arguably the most competitive division in world football. 

To me, this is no disgrace and is actually slightly better than I expected given the wholesale changes. We’re certainly looking more solid at the back than we have for years and actually have a midfield worthy of the description and that can only improve as they play more games together. And it will improve.

Yet if you listen to the rantings of some of our ‘fans’ you’d think we were in free fall because we’re not creating many (if any) chances. Now whilst it’s true that goals win games, what these people are tending to ignore is that the only two areas of the team which remain unchanged following promotion are our goalkeeper and the two guys at the front. And in every game thus far, both of our strikers have been almost man-marked out of games. Not just by defenders, but by Premiership (and by definition, better) defenders than they had to face last year. No wonder chances are few and far between.

But you don’t turn from a 20 goal a season striker into a donkey overnight and everyone at the club knows that with time, and possibly a bit of tweaking, it will all come good. 

So to all those currently battering Twitter and Facebook with your whining, give it a bloody rest and do what you’re supposed to do; support. But above all, have faith.

In Pozzo we trust remember. And they certainly haven’t let us down yet.

My numerous books including the football comedy Wings of a Sparrow and the #1 thrillers,The Crew and Top Dog are available from both Amazon and iTunes.  

Just click on the relevant link for more information. Some of you newcomers might also want to take a look at The Geezers Guide to Football. ?

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e9c2d86a77eb85e9b94deb9705acd122dee4689dcd

 

The joy of football – Superstition.

football,soccer,superstition,sweet,sherbet,author,writingAs you may or may not know, the football season proper starts tomorrow.

Yes, I am well aware that it actually started last week as I was one of those who endured a nightmare journey up the M6 to Everton, but the truth is that for me, a football season isn’t a real thing until I’ve walked into Vicarage Road for our first home game. And that dear readers, is tomorrow.

This season of course, is going to be something special. Watford as a club have undergone a huge transformation over the last couple of years and never more so than in the last few weeks. New players have arrived at the club almost daily and even our ground has undergone a transformation the like of which I don’t think any Watford fan could have ever envisaged in their wildest lager induced dreams. But more importantly, we are now officially a Premiership team and I don’t really need to expand on what that means both for the club as an entity and for us, the fans.

All of this of course, is attributable to one thing. That thing is me.

You see years ago, long before the Pozzo family came swanning in with their money and business acumen, I discovered that when it came to Watford, Sherbet Fountains have magical, possibly even spiritual properties. Why else do you think the packaging is yellow, black and red?

Having discovered this, I made it my business to consume one (sometimes even two) once I was inside the ground on match days and whilst we’ve had our up’s and down’s over the years, most notably following the switch from paper wrappers to plastic carton, the fact remains that thanks to my sherbet intake, the club has now reached the heights it has.

There’s no need to thank me. But feel free to join me.

wings of a sparrow, the crew, top dog, football, screenwriting, leo gregory, hooligan, martin kemp, jonathan sothcott

My numerous books, plus the odd DVD, are available from both Amazon and iTunes.  

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Why Russia absolutely MUST host the 2018 World Cup.

I wrote the following blog a year ago but in light of events in France and the growing clamour to strip Russia of 2018, I thought it worth posting again. Because in my opinion, nothing russia, 2018, world cup, england, football, soccer, racism, fifia, uefa, blatter, homophobia, has changed.

Not surprisingly, in the wake of the furore surrounding FIFA, calls have been made to strip both Russia and Qatar of their respective world cups.

Whilst I totally agree with the logic in respect of Qatar, the idea of relocating 2018 even to England, fills me with horror. Yes, Blatter may be as bent as a nine bob note and yes, allegations that the bid was corrupt may well have a basis in fact, but to me the decision to stage the tournament in the motherland was always absolutely the correct one for one very simple reason.

One of the great strengths of the global game has always been the fight against discrimination in all its forms and by taking the World Cup to Russia, it underlines that message by providing an opportunity to not only bring about, but actually witness real change. That’s why we have to continue along that path because to do otherwise would be a massive mistake.

Now I know that will cause some angst in certain circles however, unlike the majority who will pontificate about this, I have actually been to Russia. Three times in fact.

Just as importantly, I’ve spent considerable amounts of time in the company of Russian football fans including those who are, shall we say, questionable. As a consequence, I have more than a passing knowledge of what makes these guys tick and that knowledge is based not on the ill-informed drivel that the British tabloids are prone to pumping out, but on actual experience. And one of the things I learned quite quickly is that Russian football culture is very different from what we are used to here.

That’s not to excuse the problems which infect the game there, many of which can legitimately be described as both racism and homophobia. But it is fair to say that racism in Russia is a very different animal from the beast we have here in the west and to treat the two in the same manner is a grave error.

More importantly, if the game in the motherland is ever to see an end to discrimination, the very last method of bringing it about would be via the use of any kind of blanket punishment because in my experience, nothing will cement public attitude faster than the western nations adopting a ‘holier-than-thou’ stance. Russia is many things, but fiercely patriotic stands head and shoulders above everything else.

Therefore, it is imperative that the tournament go ahead as planned because it provides the perfect platform for organisations such as FARE and Kick Racism to work with the Russian authorities and start actively promoting an anti-racism and anti-homophobia agenda.

Just as importantly, it will provide scope for that agenda to be taken to those who stand firmly at the very heart of the problem because the support of Russian footballs extremist support will be absolutely vital. That might sound like wishful thinking but in my experience, it is perfectly achievable as long as it is done in the correct manner. However, if that is to happen, work must begin sooner rather than later because it’s going to take time to build both mutual respect and trust.

Thankfully, we currently have the opportunity to do all of this which is why to give it up would be a tragedy. Not just for Russian football or for the entire Russian nation, but for everyone else. Lest we forget, football drove the anti-racism message into English society from the dark days of the 1970’s and there is nothing to suggest that exactly the same thing won’t happen in Russia on the back of 2018.

Is it really worth the risk of losing that chance?

.

I’m delighted to tell you that my non-fiction book Rebellion is finally available as an ebook.

football, soccer, protest, hooligans, european elections, UKIP, top dog, green street, author, screenwriting, writingFirst published in 2006, it explores the background to some of the more infamous fan protests told by those who were right at the heart of things.

Amongst the clubs featured are Charlton, Wimbledon, Manchester United, Manchester City, Norwich and Bournemouth amongst many others.

I can also announce that my last novel, Wings of a Sparrow, may well be heading for TV as a four part comedy drama. Watch this space!

 

All of my books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes

russia, 2018, world cup, england, football, soccer, racism, fifia, uefa, blatter, homophobia, brimson, hooligans, hooliganism, violence