Sucking heartily on life's half-time oranges

Monday, 23 May 2011

Match of the Day = Action Thriller (Rated 15, with some blood and mild peril))

Blimey, that was the most emotional and exciting Match of the Day ever, even for a neutral supporter of the Prem like me. Kudos to the producers for choosing to splice together the five big relegation battles, giving us 40 minutes of high-voltage, Bourne-style action (with Charlie Adam as Jason B), though it was slightly confusing given the rout of teams beginning with W and B. I wanted Wigan and Blackburn, perpetually-dull blue teams, to go down, not the plucky tangeriney ones. In the end, fate offered the trapdoor to one of each hue, and down went Blackpool and Birmingham, mixing up with some claret to no doubt create some swampy brown goo to coat the Championship with. Poor sausages.

A few MOTD awards to see off the season!

Cliché of the Day: Every single word that came out of Alan Hansen's gob: his choice of phrase is as lazy as his drawl. The phenomenal atmosphere and tension of the relegation-splice was utterly punctured by Al's volley of hackneyed lines which always seem to fall into the same end of sentence: 'There was drama, there was tension, there was excitement, the depths of despair, there was pace, strength, integrity, strong teeth, a glossy coat, etc etc'.

Faint Praise of the Day: Gary Lineker calling Blackpool 'the entertainers of the season', like they were a canteloupe-coloured court jester, doing silly dances and fey songs in front of the Premier League's Big Four, or Three, or Six, or whatever it is.

Movement of the Day: There was a lot of bouncing: teams ricocheted up and down the table more quickly than the fashion for skinny jeans with every new goal; Manchester United toyed with Blackpool's hopes and dreams like a tennis ball on their nonchalantly-buoyed racket - you always knew they'd sink 'em eventually; and Roberto Martinez was tossed up into champagney spume by his players.

Eyebrow of the Day: Carlo Ancelotti's left one, which will now be lost for good, having wiggled right off his forehead in surprise at being fired by the Russian Overlord and General Nincompoop. Ridiculous. You can't win EVERYTHING every year! (Oh. Unless you're Alex Ferguson of course).

Shirtwatch: Alan Shearer is not capable of turning out in a shirt without furbelow. Last night his bedizenment was an irritating pocket detail and black lining. NO, Alan! You will never got into FANTASTIC MAN magazine looking like that!

The conclusion of much of this, and I certainly read it elsewhere, not least the Guardian's nominations for 'gripe of the season' in their end-of-season poll, that MOTD really needs a shake-up. It needs more Lee Dixon, more Gabby Logan, and less of just about everything else in its unbearably smug, male-centric universe. SORT it, Beeb!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Kerry on Two Unfortunates

I was asked to write this article by those excellent chaps at Two Unfortunates, a blog about the Football League. Ummed and ahh-ed over whether to write about our first season in the League, but in the end the hysteria of the FA Cup won out... enjoy!

Greatest Football League Teams No. 22: Wycombe Wanderers, 2000-1

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Telly Fever

Late Kick Off made up for The Football League Show’s slight on our noble character (harping on, like Shrewsbury fans have been via Twitter, the unsporting rogues, about that 'phantom goal' when we played each other that apparently cost them promotion. Pfftth.) by featuring Wycombe more heavily. Here's a brief, MOTD-style report:

Embarrassment of the day: BBC Breakfast presenter Bill Turnbull – how is this man our most famous fan?  He’s such a holy fool. He gasped that there were ‘millions of people here!’ and finished his piece with ‘my shirt smells of beer; smells of victory’. Get back to the morning sofa, Bill for your discussions on Eastenders plots and  lead ‘Did Tupperware change womens’ lives?’ debates (I kid you not.!). Ugh.

Most amusing moment: Gary Waddock, whilst being interviewed, and with the girlish screams of the lads celebrating in the dressing room behind him, being splattered right across the face with champagne (at least I assume it was champagne; this being Wycombe it was probably discounted Asti Spumante). Sort of like a submissive girl in a heartily liberal face-cum shot from, ooo, just about every porn movie going.

Shirtwatch: Sir Gareth of Ainsworth was in the studio for the show, and sported a daringly - some might say licentiously - unbuttoned darkish blue number, revealing a quite alarming amount of chest. Complete with the crosses round his neck, ravaged features and quite ludicrously Viking-esque locks, he IS (a Lancashire version of) Aragon! Like a lower league Ryan Giggs, he's ploughing on into another season as he stares down his forties... what a champ!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Up, Up And Away, In Our Beautiful (Blue) Balloon (As Long As It's A Big One That Can Hold The Whole Team. And Backroom Staff. And 8,000 Fans.)

It had to be done. I skipped out of work early, hired a husband-shaped taxi driver and careered down the M40 to Adams Park for the Big One: if we won our last game of the season we were UP. If we did anything less and fourth-placed Shrewsbury got a better result, we would be dragged - like Edward Woodward in The Wicker Man, screaming ‘NO! Oh Christ, NO! Oh GOD!’ – kicking and trembling, into the fiery belly of the play-offs.

It was eerily silent in the walk up Hillbottom Road, the oppressive humidity seeming to portend our potential fate. It was too previous to be lording it up, despite the attempts of WWFC to create a carnival atmosphere in putting beer tents and bouncy castles out in the car park, like some sort of crap village fête. At least we hoped that our players were stoked up, daubing their faces in sky/navy blue à la Mel Gibson in Braveheart in the tunnel and roaring ferociously at wispily-quivering Southend, who, mired in mid-table murk, were hopefully just looking to play out their last game without fuss nor fight.

Hhm. In fact it was Southend’s manager who turned out in a kilt (truly! He saw the Braveheart analogy coming!), and Wycombe, seemingly stymied by the heat, confused by the kilt, and blown away by Southend’s totally natty hot pink away kit (Everton are leading the charge for the resurgence of this supposedly girly colour; hurrah!), began the match in heart-jigglingly lily-livered style. The opposition was full of attack dogs, particularly their no. 6, Mohsni, a loping Afghan hound of a player who attracted the eye with his range of winning headers and flamboyant tumbles. As Southend swept forward again and again, I couldn’t believe that ours was a team who needed to win: Nikki Bull seemed unruffled by two thundering shots so close to the bone there were probably a couple of hairline cracks. The whopping crowd of 8,500 meant an unusually noisy atmosphere, with 'OOO!'s and 'NOO!'s sounding like the depths of an Elizabethan bear-baiting pit.  Wycombe, sadly the raggedly ursine ones, eventually buckled: though Anthony Grant is reported as the scorer, it really looked like an own goal from where I was standing. 1-0 down; the pessimistic fug descended on the terrace and we all perspired with nerves. Thankfully, before we all drowned in our own sweat, the chaps recovered, and five minutes later plucky little Donnelly popped one in, and not long after that Ben Strevens got on the end of Foster’s cross. At 2-1 up, the tension melted just slightly, though the stands were hardly buoyant with joy. Bull still looked rather forlorn towards the end of the first half; clearly we all felt that, ooo, about five more goals would make us feel safe.

In the end, one more at 8 minutes into the second half, was just about enough to give the whole ground the effect of a 40-minute deep tissue massage. Betsy’s shot was saved (the Southend keeper did pretty darned well to keep more out in the second half) and Rendell (who resembles Ye Olde Dave Carroll, if Dave had eaten more protein and visited a dentist regularly) slotted it in. Hallelujah. We had plenty more chances, and Southend still didn’t entirely submit, but it was enough to see us through. Our scorers all played very well, though I can’t help doting on the two most zealous team members:

1) God love Captain Gareth, the sort of passionate talisman like Scott Parker of West Ham, when fit, or Charlie Adam of Blackpool, who is so gung-ho that he lunges head-first towards a ball which is being high-kicked by an opposing player with not a whit for the potential brain-damage which might follow, and seemingly blocks free-kicks with his very mind and being. He should probably have his wild lour chiselled into the hillside behind Adams Park, perhaps Mount Rushmore style, alongside…
2) Nikki Bull, whose double ‘k’ and Twitter-style should surely suggest a Rhianna-lovin’ 15-year old girl and not a fervid Bear Grylls/elite military assassin-type.  He brought on his kids at the lap of honour (not before an unnecessary pitch invasion, which briefly polarised the fans into two sets, one looking down on the other: a) those who remained behind the barriers, waiting patiently for some proper celebrations, who were eventually shouting ‘WANKERS!’ at b) the embarrassing prongs lording it up on the pitch, who then ran towards the Southend fans in a worringly rabid manner. FOOLS!), his little tottering daughter with ‘Daddy’ on the back of her shirt. Super-cute!

So anyway, hurrah. We have set forth aloft (obviously after a previous rebound or two, ahem), up into a glorious new (well, not new, we’ve been there twice before) world. Well, up into a slightly higher (lower) league. Woo hoo!

PS I absolutely love Twitter's enrichment of my WWFC-life: Check out Nikki Bull's tweet some time after the match yesterday - it doesn't get any more sweetly lower league than:

 Nikki Bull 
 by WWFCAdvertiser
Me & Mr Ainsworth having a celebration meal for two at Pizza Express in Windsor waiting for all the other lads to show up to get on it!!