Tag Archives: football

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.  

Just click on the relevant link for more information.

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?

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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

Screenwriting and the art of the opportunity.

writing, screenwriting, author, ebooks, independent film, self publishing, amazon, kindle, sex, pervert, writer, horror, hooligan, gangster, thrillerA couple of weeks ago, whilst trawling through my hard drive searching for something I’d written an age ago, I stumbled across a folder which contained the first draft of a script I wrote earlier this year.

I actually wrote it on a bit of a whim and whilst it has a football theme, it’s as far removed from my normal stuff as it is possible to get. However, whilst it received decent feedback as well as some quality notes and even a glimmer of interest from a very well known producer, the demands placed on my time by other projects had seen it slide slowly down the pecking order. So much so that it had reached the point where the chances of my ever picking it up and doing the work it required had become negligible to zero. At least in the short term.

As I pondered this later on, the more I began to think this was a bit of a waste. Not simply in terms of the time I’d already put into it, but in the sense that it’s a good premise and would actually make a decent little movie.

Then the thought struck me that if I didn’t have the time to do the work, why not find someone who did? After all, as things stood it was just sitting there on my hard drive and with things as they are, that’s where it was likely to remain. 

But then the thought struck me that rather than simply pay an established writer with a few IMDB credits to their name, I could give it to a relatively unknown and provide them with an opportunity. After all, I have a very good agent, links to a number of producers and a decent track record so this was potentially a chance for someone to get their name and work out and about.

The more I thought about this idea, the more it excited me and eventually, I decided that it was certainly worth asking around to gauge interest.

So, later that day I posted messages on Stage 32 as well as on a couple of the Facebook screenwriting groups outlining my idea and asking what people thought of it. The response was astounding and ranged from outright hostility (why would I want to do it when you couldn’t be bothered/arsed?) to genuine excitement of the ‘me, me, me’ kind.

However, whilst I was bemused by some of the negative comments I received, some of which were downright hostile in tone, it was clear to me that I was certainly on to something and I soon found myself with a short list of extremely talented writers willing to get involved. But the more I went through them, the more I kept coming back to one name; John Bale.

An actor and film maker, John is also a talented writer and was in fact, the winner of the extremely prestigious BBC Writers Room competition in 2013 which already marks him out as a much better writer than I given that I got elbowed from the same competition early on. So quite how or why he jumped on this escapes me but I’m thrilled to bits that he did. For once we had agreed the deal, not only did he completely rewrite the original script at lightning speed, in response to notes from a director we’ve attached to the project, he’s since come up with three alternative endings!

As an example of both recognising and jumping on an opportunity, that has to be as good as it gets because from nowhere, thanks entirely to his efforts, John has taken a script that not so long ago was gathering dust, to the point where in a very short space of time it will be ready to send out to producers and financiers.

Just as importantly for me, so successful has this been as an exercise that I may well take the same path with another script I have which is also lying dormant. Albeit for an entirely different reason.

Exciting times.
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I’m currently working flat out on the third (and final) novel in the The Crew/Top Dog series and all being well, that will be released toward the end of the summer. In the meantime, I’m delighted to tell you that my non-fiction book Rebellion is now available as an ebook.

football, protest, manchester united, norwich, bournemouth, wimbledon, tory, politics, FSAFirst published in 2006, it tells the background to some of the more infamous fan protests including those at Charlton, Wimbledon, Manchester United, Manchester City, Norwich and Bournemouth amongst many others.

And on much the same subject, my last novel, Wings of a Sparrow, may well be heading for TV as a four part comedy drama so watch this space!

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

cass pennant, leo gregory, football, soccer, premier league, watford, manchester united, chelsea, hooligan, russia 2018, racism, racist, UKIP, top dog, we still kill the old way, independent film, self publishing, acting, author, screenwriter, screenwriting, gangster, krays

The Death of Football.

football, soccer, watford, hooligans, gangs, top dog, danny dyer, we still kill the old way, green street, screenwriting, author, screenplay, script, independent filmI am a football fan. This, dear reader, is a well documented fact.

Now to some reading that, it will be natural to assume that if I’m not watching Sky Sports I’ll be trawling the back pages absorbing every fact about every game in every league the world over. Well I have to tell you that this is far from the case. In fact it’s the polar opposite of what I actually do for the truth is, I find the vast majority of football boring as f**k.

You see I am one of those supporters who believe that if their team isn’t playing, it’s not important. For me,  the great game really does begin and end at Watford FC and if they’re not playing, I have more important things to do than be bothered.

This, in essence, is why I rarely get involved in debates about football related issues. Yes, if something’s causing a stir in the media I might sling out the odd comment on twitter or Facebook and occasionally I’ll even blog about something but in the main, I don’t really care. As I say, if it doesn’t impact on life at Vicarage Road, it’s someone else’s problem. And to be honest, there’s usually enough football related drama going on at Watford to negate the need to get involved in crap going on elsewhere.

Once in a while however, something happens at my club which does demand comment. Today is one of those instances.

To give you a bit of background, over the last couple of decades Vicarage Road had developed a reputation as a ground where the concept of atmosphere was alien. There were no terrace anthems of the ‘Keep Right On’ or ‘Blue Moon’ variety, singing and banter amongst the home support was, to put it kindly, subdued. Even general crowd noise usually bordered on the safe side of medium. Certainly not enough to upset the patients in the hospital less than 200 yards away.  

Recently however, a group called the 1881 have sprung up in the home end and things have begun to change. I won’t go into it all in too much detail here but suffice to say, thanks entirely to their efforts, the atmosphere has improved markedly and Vicarage Road is becoming a great place to be on match days.

Pretty much everyone recognises this with even the players frequently pouring compliments upon the fans and in particular the 1881 and with things going well on the pitch as well, you’d think everyone would be happy. You’d think that, but it is apparently not the case. For this morning a letter appeared in the Watford Observer from a gentleman called Ken Connelly.

From what anyone can gather, Ken sits in the same section as the 1881 and he is not pleased. He is not pleased at all. This is that letter.

 http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Geezers-Guide-Football-Mainstream/dp/1840181141 

Now I’m not going to attack Ken personally for what he’s written because he is of course, entitled to his own opinion and strictly speaking, he is absolutely correct. It is indeed illegal to stand at football grounds in this country.

However, aside from lining himself up for what I’m guessing will be a legendary piss taking at the game tomorrow, what he has done is underline one of my biggest gripes about modern football and that is the issue of designated seating.

I understand the case for it, I really do. But that case is based on a history which is no longer relevant in the vast majority of grounds in this country. As a consequence, it has now become the key factor on the demise of the traditional atmosphere at games as well as the main cause of the majority of arguments I’ve seen at Vicarage Road this season.

If there’s anything more annoying than the sight of people wandering up and down at 3.05 with their tickets in their hand looking for ‘their’ seat I can’t imagine what it is. And what’s most annoying about it is that it’s entirely avoidable.

In fact if we are ever to see a return to the safe standing that so many are demanding, designated seating would almost certainly have to be scrapped anyway so why not do it now? Not only would it allow us to sit where we like but it would allow people like Ken to get up and legally move if something or someone was bothering them.

Football grounds are not theatres and crowds are not audiences. For too long now clubs have failed to grasp that simple concept and that has to change.

Because if people like Ken Connelly are allowed to hold sway over the wishes of the majority, football as we know and love it will finally be killed off.

manchester united, david moyes, liverpool, british film, ryan giggs, old traffordIf you don’t know, Top Dog has been nominated in the ‘Best Action’ category at the National Film Awards which will be held at the end of February.

This is a real boost for the film but we need votes! So if you watched the film and enjoyed it, please click on this link and vote!

In other news, I’m currently in the middle of negotiations for options on two new screenplays and all being well, I’ll have these tied up next week so will be able to pass on details fairly soon (although I will tell you that one of them is the adaptation of my football comedy, Wings of a Sparrow).

football, soccer, comedy, cost of football, manchester united, liverpool, derby, watford

green street, top dog, we still kill the old way, danny dyer, elijah wood, leo gregory, script, screenwriter, author, independent film, self publishing, ebooks, dvd, hooligan, gang violence

 

The Great Game. Or not.

football, writing, sex, oral, sport, soccer, film, screenwriting, analI am one of that lucky breed of individuals who has ended up doing a job, if you can call it that, which just happens to revolve around one of their  passions. As a result of this good fortune, what I do occasionally rules my life 24/7 to the point that if I’m not working by necessity, I’m doing by choice.

Thankfully, my son has also become infected with this passion and no doubt, as the years pass by, the two of us will continue to enjoy our shared obsession not just because we’re father and son, but because…well, because we’re blokes. And as we grow older, we’ll talk about the good old days and how things were much better back … er, now, and moan about how it all went wrong. Which of course, it surely will. Because the thing of which I speak is of course, the glorious, but all too often disappointing game that is football. And if you follow football, as anyone who watched the pathetic efforts of our nations supposedly finest players in Brazil will be acutely aware, the chances are that you’re going to spend a good portion of your supporting life feeling depressed.

To be honest, I guess that’s where the main attraction lies for me. I am after all, a natural pessimist and so it stands to reason that football is my ideal sport. After all, if you go to a game expecting to be disappointed, anything else is a serious bonus!

But the other benefit the great game provides is that the pre-match pub has replaced the traditional campfire as the place where stories and legends are both told and heard. And who can deny the pure unadulterated joy which comes from hearing about someone else’s misfortune or the simple thrill of trying to work out if someone is lying through their teeth or not.

The problem of course, is that every so often, you are expected to contribute. And tragically, I have one of those footballing stories that tread the fine line between bizarre and bullshit. A story that I still have difficulty believing even though I was the central figure. In short, I once saved a penalty taken by my own team in a game that we lost. Confused? Oh, it gets worse than that. Much worse.

You see during my time in the RAF, I was the manager of our Squadron football team. A team who I have to admit, were rubbish. The sad thing was, I was also a member of the defence and as we were leaking goals at a frightening rate, I eventually got to the point where I dropped myself.

Come one particular match, against the side who were top of the table, we all turned up as normal but due to circumstances beyond their control, the opposing side turned up with only ten players. However, as they were superior to us in every aspect of their play, they were quite happy to play us with ten men, which, if nothing else, was pretty demeaning for our lot.

Of course, the inevitable happened and just before half time, in the only attack we had managed to mount during the previous forty minutes, their keeper got seriously hurt and was carried off. As a result, they were now down to nine men and it looked like the game would have to be abandoned. However, sensing at least a point for my lads, I offered to go in goal for them with the promise that I would, of course, be totally impartial!

Following various warnings from their captain and bearing in mind that we had only threatened their goal once in the first half, they reluctantly accepted my offer and I thus took my place in goal against my own team. But such was the lack of skill exhibited from my own players (this gets confusing) I had nothing to do for the rest of the half and at the break, gave my own team a rousing pep-talk designed to get them playing well enough to score a goal against me.

However, as the second-half progressed, despite their numerical superiority my own team remained pegged back in their (our) own half but the team I was keeping goal for still could not score. As the final minutes ticked away and that elusive point became ever closer to reality, a hopeful punt from our defence  (and that’s our as in my own team) released our centre forward who came charging toward me followed by their defence (the team I was playing for) who clearly who had little faith in my saving their skin. As our striker entered the box with me firmly rooted to the line, they hacked him to the ground and the ref awarded a penalty.

So, to clarify: I was now standing on the goal line, facing a penalty about to be taken by a player from my own side who, were they to score, could well end up securing their (our) first win of the season, and against the top of the table side.

Their (their) whole side were now giving me dire warnings of what would happen to me if I didn’t at least make an effort to save it whilst my (my) lot were shouting at me to let it in. Meantime, I was trying to let our centre forward know that I would go to my left by using exaggerated eye movements etc, and it seemed that judging by the wry smile on his face, he had got the message. As he ran up, I dived to my left and he, thinking that I had actually been telling him to put it to that side, put his shot exactly where I ended up with the result that the ball hit me and bounced back into open play.

Such was the shock of my actually saving a penalty taken by my own side, that their (their) defenders won the ball, screamed up field and scored whilst my own team remained rooted firmly to the spot in total disbelief. The result being that I ended up on both the winning and losing sides.

Inevitably, as soon as the whistle blew, the repercussions began and eventually, after a blazing row, I resigned my position as manager and never played for the team again.

You see, I told you. Unbelievable.

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wings-of-a-sparrow-final.pngMy latest novel, Wings of a Sparrow, is now available in both paperback and ebook formats. Just click on the relevant link to purchase via Amazon. It’s also available via all online retailers and in good bookshops.

For details of all current, future and previous books and movie projects, please visit www.dougiebrimson.com

 

football, writing, sex, oral, sport, soccer, film, screenwring, anal, animals, top dog, green street, elijah wood, charlie hunnam, brimson, premier league, 

This Band of Brothers…

argentina, falklands war, thatcher, royal airforce, nimrod, vulcan, harrierToday is the 6th of June. A date which in the history of the world, will forever hold a special significance. For it is of course, the anniversary of the D-Day landings, and I hope you don’t need me to tell you what that means.

For me, such days are memorable for all kinds of reasons. Remembering the fallen is obviously the most important but not far behind is the joy I get from seeing those glorious old men and women who, bedecked in their berets, blazers and medals, are placed firmly centre stage and looked upon with the awe, reverence and respect they so richly deserve.

Heroes is too small a word.

Now as some of you may know, I served in the military. For over 18 years in fact. And although I played a minor role in the Falklands War, went through Gulf War One and have marched past the Cenotaph with the Falklands Vets more times than I care to remember, I have never really considered myself to be a ‘proper’ veteran. At least not in the sense that I have always regarded those who are quite rightly filling our newspapers and TV screens this morning.

However, (and I won’t go into it all now but if you want to know more, click here) this last week, for the very first time in the 18 years since I last wore a uniform, I have actually started to feel like one of them. A member of that special Band of Brothers we hear talked about so often.  And ironically, I have Mister Stanley Collymore to thank for that.

veteranFor as a result of the disrespect he has shown, and continues to show, to the 255 men whose boots he isn’t fit to even glance upon, he has awakened an army which has come together to gain not just respect, but justice but for our fallen comrades.

And believe me when I tell you that we will not rest until they get it. A simple truth Talksport, media organisations, elected officials and Talksport advertisers will already be acutely aware of.

Yes, I said ‘our’ and I said ‘we’. Because the truth is that I am finally not only happy, but proud to count myself amongst their number.

Tally ho chaps!

falklands, veteran, war, soldier, sailor, airman, RAF, Navy, racism, social media, twitter, Facebook, football, soccer,

This Band of Brothers…

argentina, falklands war, thatcher, royal airforce, nimrod, vulcan, harrierToday is the 6th of June. A date which in the history of the world, will forever hold a special significance. For it is of course, the anniversary of the D-Day landings, and I hope you don’t need me to tell you what that means.

For me, such days are memorable for all kinds of reasons. Remembering the fallen is obviously the most important but not far behind is the joy I get from seeing those glorious old men and women who, bedecked in their berets, blazers and medals, are placed firmly centre stage and looked upon with the awe, reverence and respect they so richly deserve.

Heroes is too small a word.

Now as some of you may know, I served in the military. For over 18 years in fact. And although I played a minor role in the Falklands War, went through Gulf War One and have marched past the Cenotaph with the Falklands Vets more times than I care to remember, I have never really considered myself to be a ‘proper’ veteran. At least not in the sense that I have always regarded those who are quite rightly filling our newspapers and TV screens this morning.

However, (and I won’t go into it all now but if you want to know more, click here) this last week, for the very first time in the 18 years since I last wore a uniform, I have actually started to feel like one of them. A member of that special Band of Brothers we hear talked about so often.  And ironically, I have Mister Stanley Collymore to thank for that.

veteranFor as a result of the disrespect he has shown, and continues to show, to the 255 men whose boots he isn’t fit to even glance upon, he has awakened an army which has come together to gain not just respect, but justice but for our fallen comrades.

And believe me when I tell you that we will not rest until they get it. A simple truth Talksport, media organisations, elected officials and Talksport advertisers will already be acutely aware of.

Yes, I said ‘our’ and I said ‘we’. Because the truth is that I am finally not only happy, but proud to count myself amongst their number.

Tally ho chaps!

falklands, veteran, war, soldier, sailor, airman, RAF, Navy, racism, social media, twitter, Facebook, football, soccer,

From novel to screen – The joy of adaptation.

manchester united, david moyes, liverpool, british film, ryan giggs, old traffordWith Top Dog heading for release on Monday, the PR machine has been running at full speed and one question which has repeatedly cropped up is how I found the process of adapting my own novel for the screen.

Rather than go into it all here, I’ll point you in the direction of an article I wrote for PureMovies.com which not only goes into it in some depth, but also talks about how the movie actually came about.

Thankfully, the screenings thus far have gone really well and everyone seems more than happy which is all I could hope for. But now comes the really important bit and that’s the public reaction so if you fancy a look and haven’t ordered a copy, you can do so via Amazon. Either that or simply head down to your local DVD/Blu-ray retailer early next week.

All being well, the reissued paperback will be not far behind as copies have already rolled off the presses. That can also be ordered online via Amazon or if you can’t wait and fancy the eBook version, that can be downloaded right here right now for the princely sum of £1.99p! It’s also available via iBooks of course.

kill, indie, british film, hooligans, krays, violence, gangsAway from Top Dog, work on We Still Kill The Old Way is almost complete with the final scenes being shot in Spain early next week. I visited the set a couple of times and have to say that there was a real buzz amongst everyone that something really special is coming together.

It’s a great script, the crew are fabulous and it’s being helmed by an excellent director in Sacha Bennett but the really exciting thing about this project is the amazing cast we have working on it. A cast which includes legendary names such as Ian Ogilvy, James Cosmo, Chris Ellison, Steven Berkoff and Lysette Anthony as well as a raft of brilliant young actors led by Danny-Boy Hatchard and Danni Dyer.

If that lot doesn’t get your juices flowing, nothing will. You’re going to have to wait for a few months yet but believe me, it will be worth it.

Exciting times.

 

 green street, top dog, martin kemp, elijah wood, hooligans, gangs, violence, crime writing, indie film, writing, screenwriting, leo gregory, brimson, 

The Folly of David Moyes.

manchester united, david moyes, liverpool, british film, ryan giggs, old traffordIt cannot possibly have escaped your attention that Manchester United sacked their manager David Moyes this week. Similarly, it cannot have escaped your attention that he has been replaced by Ryan Giggs.

I say it cannot have escaped your attention because it has quite simply dominated the news all week. Never mind events in the middle east, sinking ferries, missing aircraft, the forthcoming European elections, the launch of the Top Dog trailer, etc, etc, etc, the dismissal of a football manager from his multi-million pound job has been the main talking point on TV and in print. God only knows what it’s been like on TalkSport!

Now, the fact that this story is deemed of such importance that it demanded six whole minutes as the lead story on the BBC TV evening news feeds into all kinds of debates, many of which may or may not have occurred to you.

For example, the mere mention of a bankers bonus sends the nation into a rage yet the fact that a football manager who has been sacked from his job is handed a reported £7,000,000 payoff (which equates to over £137,000 for each of the games played during his short tenure. And that’s on top of what he’s already been paid) seemingly passes by without a murmur. Why? Is there really any difference between the two? After all, the money ultimately comes from exactly the same place. 

However, this blanket news coverage also brings back into focus an issue which has long been a source of some irritation to me. It’s this inference that we care. And by we, I mean those of us who don’t follow Manchester United. 

The media of course, think we do. They think that following football means that we must, simply must have all eyes firmly fixed on the top end of the professional game and that because as both a club and a global brand, Manchester United are so immense, events at Old Trafford must have us all on the edge of our seats. But they are wrong, very wrong. Because the truth is that other than a passing interest (accompanied by the odd wry smile) the vast majority of us don’t give a shit.

But worse than that, by bombarding us with blanket news of one club, they are being disrespectful because they infer that the achievements of Burnley, Brentford, Wolves, Everton and even Liverpool, or the fears of clubs such as Norwich, Yeovil, Millwall or Torquay are the less important. And they are not. To the people who follow those clubs, they are all they care about.

Yes, Manchester United are a great club and obviously they are news. But that’s all they are to me, news. Because my club are Watford and I care more about the construction of our new stand, the issue of Troy Deeney and the identity of the nutter who inhabits the Harry The Hornet costume than I do about what goes on in M16.

And the truth is, I always will. 

manchester united, david moyes, liverpool, british film, ryan giggs, old traffordAs the release of Top Dog approaches, I’m being bombarded with requests for news of premiers, screenings, Q&A sessions and all sorts of other stuff.

Without wishing to be evasive, the truth is that I can’t answer any of those questions at the moment because I don’t actually know anything. What I can tell you is that the Universal PR machine is hard at work and as soon as things are confirmed, then they will be revealed. Therefore the best thing I can suggest is that you follow the movie on either Facebook or Twitter.

And on the subject of Top Dog, if you haven’t seen the trailer yet, please click right here!

Finally, filming We Still Kill The Old Way is due to start on May 5th. Casting is still underway and it’s fair to say that we have some cracking names in the major roles.

News of those should be confirmed this coming week so please keep an eye on Twitter for details.

Oh, and if you want to buy the odd book, that would be nice! I’ve written a few you know and there’s more coming!

Exciting times!

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The joy of football – local rivals.

hooligan kidI know this might seem odd to some, but believe it or not, there are people who don’t actually follow football. To them, it’s simply a game awash with obscene amounts of money which is played by morons and watched by fools.

To be fair, that’s a pretty close summary of things at certain clubs but it misses the point. Being a football fan isn’t just about watching great football, in some instances it isn’t even about watching crap football. It’s about everything else that goes along with it. Be it the emotional turmoil, the time spent with mates, the laughs, the tears, the moans and a million things between.

Trying to explain all that to someone who doesn’t share your passion, especially when there are parts of it you question yourself, is incredibly difficult if not impossible. But there is one subject which is beyond explanation because in many ways, it is totally nonsensical. It is the subject of local rivalry. Or to be more specific, how that rivalry manifests itself in every day life.

Now if you know about this, you know. It’s as simple as that. But if you don’t understand why the sight of a local rivals shirt in the local Tesco can be so irritating or grasp the concept of refusing to employ someone purely because they support the club up the road, nothing I say can ever enlighten you. We know it’s irrational, stupid and even childish, but it’s what we do.

And that brings me to the point of this blog. You see as I was trawling through my folders this morning looking for something I still haven’t found, I stumbled across a piece I wrote for one of my very early books, Derby Days. It refers to an experience I had whilst serving with the Royal Air Force and if anything I’ve ever written highlights the stupidity of following football, it’s this.

But if the same thing happened today, I wouldn’t hesitate to do exactly the same thing. Enjoy!

In 1993, I suffered the unimaginable horror of being posted to serve a four-month tour of duty on the Falkland Islands. Normally, such things are great fun but 16 weeks on Mount Pleasant airfield means a time of unspeakable boredom punctuated only by work, homesickness, excessive bouts of drinking and, depending on which Army regiment is there at the time, fighting.

As someone who stopped drinking some years ago (not because of any alcohol-related problem, but because I am crap at it), who avoids any kind of work with a passion and who would now rather have a decent cup of tea than become involved in any kind of violence, the four months stretching before me as I walked off the plane seemed like an eternity.

But holed-up in a single room, living with loads of blokes in a permanent state of either drunkenness or hangover, I soon took a decision the like of which I never thought would be forced upon me. I decided to use the time to get fit.

Now one thing I do have to say about the Forces is that they like their people to be fit and able, and as I fitted neither of those descriptions, the superb facilities available in the Falklands were soon being put to good use by yours truly. Within a few weeks, I had lost weight and was ‘pumping iron’ and circuit training with the best of them. Something else happened as well, which was a bit scary: I even started to enjoy it.

It was at this point that I met a bloke called Paul. He was, like me, a reluctant regular in the gym and, like me, looked as out of place as a copy of Playboy in a dentist’s waiting-room. But he was a decent bloke, like me in the RAF and married and lived in a town about 40 miles from where I was brought up.

Eventually, we decided to work on our fitness together and soon got to the point where we would partner each other in the weekly competitions which could be anything from badminton to basketball.

We were both doing well, weight was falling off and I was feeling healthier than I had for years but because we were different ranks (I was a SNCO, he was an oik), Paul and I never saw each other outside of the gym. This was to change one weekend, when I managed to get hold of a daily paper (like gold dust back then) and decided to go to the Christian reading rooms for a coffee while digesting the news from back home.

As it happened, Paul was there and we started chatting about families and back home, as you always do in those situations. Now, for some reason, we had never got round to talking about football. I have absolutely no idea why not, but when we did, the truth came out. For some reason, I had expected Paul to be a Spurs fan, but no, he calmly announced to me, as if it were normal, that not only was he a L*t*n Town fan, he was in fact a season-ticket holder so attended every home game.

I looked at him in abject horror as the realisation that I had been fraternising for weeks with one of the enemy hit home like a Mohammed Ali right-hander. When I asked him if he was joking, the look on my face clearly had a similar effect and after an exchange frequently peppered with the word ‘scummer’ I did the only thing I could do. Holding onto what dignity I had left, I got up, grabbed my paper and walked off.

We never spoke again.

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