THEY CALLED HIM THE BELFAST BOY

Tonight has marked the opening of a new musical about George Best at the Grand Opera House by Marie Jones. Call me cynical, but given Jones last attempt at writing a football related play, I think i’ll give this one a swerve.

Of the many ways people have paid tribute to George Best during his life, and in the (almost) five years since his death, few are as visually striking as a mural.

For a city famous for it’s murals, it’s unsurprising that Best’s home city has various tributes to him.

The first photo was taken in April 2007 of Best on a wall alongside other Northern Ireland legends, and the mural is still there. It is painted onto a wall at the entrance to a bridge where supporters can walk out of Windsor Park onto the Lisburn Road.

The actual bridge itself has a painted tribute to Gerry Armstrong’s goal against Spain in 1982 but has sadly fell into a state of disrepair.

Interestingly, the image of David Healy on the wall wasn’t painted on until late 2006, with the square left blank, laying down a challenge to the current Northern Ireland team to become legends in their own right.

If the mural looks familiar, it’s because it was one of the iconic images of the media coverage of Best’s death, as it became an unofficial shrine for football fans in Northern Ireland to pay tribute to him, especially fans of Linfield and Portadown, who took advantage of their sides meeting the following day to leave their tributes before and after the game.

The second image was taken in January 2007 and is located in Blythe Street, Sandy Row, not far from Belfast City Centre and is still there today.

The final image is from the Woodstock Road in East Belfast, not far from the Cregagh Road, where Best grew up.

The mural has an interesting history as it was originally planned to be a collage of footballing heroes of East Belfast, with Best the centrepiece in the middle.

In the original piece, there were two players to the left of Best, and two to his right.

From memory, the legends I think were Danny Blanchflower, Sammy McIlroy, David McCreery and Derek Dougan.

Derek Dougan’s was a keen advoacate of an All-Ireland football team, something which isn’t really going to go down well in East Belfast, where he only gained a meagre 1.4% of the vote when he stood there in the 1997 General Election.

There were many times when his image on the wall would be paintbombed.

As a result, when George Best died in 2005, it was decided to remove the other legends permantly, replacing them with ‘1946’ and ‘2005’ (The years of Best’s birth and death) and turn it into a George Best tribute mural.

The mural is still there, although some of the paint has now peeled off. Hopefully, that will be remedied soon.

Another mural in East Belfast is a painting in a bridge in Victoria Park with a red number 7 shit with ‘Best’ on the back (even though he played in the era before names were on shirts) and the years 1946 and 2005 to signify his birth and death.

Unsurprisingly, Best is honoured in his local Cregagh Estate with a mural. Apologies for the poor picture quality, as building work meant it was hard to get into a good position to take a photograph.

Meanwhile, there is a piece of graffiti not far from Burren Way, the street where he grew up which simply sayd “G.Best – Legend

Sometimes, you only need three words to say a lot.

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DUNMURRY REC 0-8 LINFIELD 27.7.2010

With eleven days to go until the start of the new Irish League season, clubs are finetuning their sides in preparation.

Linfield are currently in the process of doing this, tonight playing Dunmurry Rec at Ashley Park.

With the relatively close location, I decided to venture down to take in the action.

It was a routine win for Linfield, 8-0, with Jim Ervin of all people scoring a hat-trick, and not one of them was a penalty.

The ground is very friendly to amateur photographers in terms of getting close access to the pitch, although the poor lighting meant that getting photos late on in the game was going to be hard, due to it being an evening game.

Enjoy

Photo Album

 

ALEX ‘HURRICANE’ HIGGINS 1949-2010

It was announced today that former Snooker player Alex Higgins died, and unsurprisingly, like a favourite son of Belfast, he is honoured in mural form in the city.

To my knowledge (please feel free to correct if there are any others) there is only one mural of him in Belfast, just off the Donegall Road, where he grew up.

This photo, taken in May 2007, came about as a complete fluke. It was the Sunday of a Bank Holiday Weekend and it was light at a ridiculously late hour, I went out that evening to get photos of as much murals and graffiti in the University, Donegall and Grosvenor Roads.

The reason why I was doing that route was that I had always remembered seeing a plaque in commemoration of Belfast Celtic in the Park Centre and wanted to do a recce to see how to get there on foot.

Incidentally, there is currently an exhibition dedicated to the history of Belfast Celtic in the Park Centre. It’s periodically open to the public, and i’m hoping to try and sneak a visit on the lunchtime of 7th August, when Linfield host Ballymena United.

I was walking back home and spotted the mural, and couldn’t get the camera out quick enough, as I didn’t even know it had existed.

From time to time, i’d usually spot him walking around Belfast, usually in the Univeristy/Botanic/Shaftesbury Square areas, and there was still an aura about him, as other people in the street would stop and mutter to themselves “That’s Alex Higgins”

I actually once served him a beer when I worked in The Globe. Such was the change in his appearance that a work colleague thought I was winding him up when I pointed out that Alex Higgins was in the building.

I’m not sure what the mural is like at the moment as I haven’t ventured into the Donegall Road for a while. Hopefully, it is still there and in good condition.

A typically Belfast tribute to a Belfast sporting hero.

THE CHART SHOW 1986-1998

It’s not often that 24 hour music channels on Sky serve a purpose, by my word, The Vault has been more than justifying it’s existence over the last couple of weeks by broadcasting repeats of seminal 1990s music show ‘The Chart Show’ from the 1997-1998 era.

I am an unashamed geek. I love music, I love TV, and I especially love archive TV clips from yesteryear, so unsurprisingly, I am absolutely loving these repeats.

For me, The Chart Show was essential Saturday morning viewing for me, first as part of a double-header with Saint and Greavsie, and then latterly, as part of a channel-hopping trilogy with Live and Kicking, and Football Italia. As sad as it sounds, I still remember that 01818118181 is the phone number for Live and Kicking.

This isn’t some sort of wide-eyed nostalgia for a bygone age brought on by being older than I want to be, Saturday morning TV was genuinely that good once upon a time. I genuinely don’t think my nieces and nephews will be fondly reminiscing about Saturday Kitchen when they grow up.

It was actually a while before I realised that the charts on the show were projected charts with a couple of songs switched about, as due to copyright reasons, only Top Of The Pops could show the charts with each song in it’s exact position.

I found this out the hard way unfortunately, as one Saturday, I excitedly told friends that the Man United FA Cup Final Squad (with Status Quo) were Number One, and then the next day, it turned out that they weren’t.

But the exact chart positions wasn’t what the chart show was about, it was the opportunity to have new music showcased to you, that you wouldn’t hear or see elsewhere, to dangle a carrot in front of you to want to explore more about that band.

As a teenager having to listen to your friend’s music collection such as Hixxy, Scooter and Sharkey (As part of those abhorrant ‘Bonkers‘ compilation CDs), The Chart Show was a welcome relief.

Watching the recent editions, I find myself wondering what happened to so many acts who were tipped for stardom in late 1997 and early 1998, such as Rialto, North and South, and most bizarrely, an unashamed Elvis rip-off called Jimmy Ray.

That said, the only act on that list that i’m sad about vanishing off the face of the earth in Rialto.

The Chart Show had a winning formula, no presenters and as much music as possible. The information captions that appeared onscreen for a short period during the songs seems primitive in this day and age with 24 hour news channels filling up as much space as possible with text.

Sometimes, less is more, and The Chart Show managed to inform you of music news, and then removed the text from the screen to let you enjoy the song.

One of the best and worst things about the show was the FFWD captions that appeared on the screen to move from one song to the other.

Sometimes, when they had to play a really awful song because it was in the charts, they would show their contempt for it by flashing it on the screen as soon as the video started, as you’d sit in front of the TV shouting “ABOUT BLOODY TIME”

Other times, you’d be complaining about it as you were getting into the song.

Sadly, in 1998, ITV dropped The Chart Show and replaced it with CD:UK. Now, I enjoyed CD:UK, but it didn’t have the same feel as The Chart Show. In an ideal world, I suppose we’d have both on our TV screens.

So forget Boyzone, Take That, Spice Girls and East 17, The Chart Show is the only 1990s music comeback that would get me excited.

‘Bring Back The Chart Show’ Facebook group

Peter Ebdon – Chart Show Award Winner

MEDIAWATCH : HOW DO YOU SPOT A SLOW NEWS DAY AT BBCNI?

Answer : When they do a Talkback special on an All-Ireland football team.

Today’s Talkback show on Radio Ulster featured a twenty minute debate on wether there should be an All-Ireland football team. What propmted this, is the news that the IFA are going to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to try and stop players from Northern Ireland with no ties to the Republic of Ireland playing for the Republic.

Almost as bad as the tedious nature of the subject matter was the fact that the show was full of factual errors when making their case studies, and in some cases, often being one sided with their arguements and debates.

We begin with being told by presenter Wendy Austin that “This sort of thing has been going on since time immorial”. No, it hasn’t.

It’s a recent phenomenon. Before the likes of Darron Gibson in recent years, name me the last player born in Northern Ireland to have played for the Republic of Ireland?

It’s only since a loophole has allowed the FAI to behave like this and get away with it, that they have been doing it.

We then get told by journalist Aiden Fitzmaurice of the Dublin Evening Herald that “It happens all over the game”, before citing the example of Nigerian and Polish immigrants to the Republic of Ireland who may decline the opportunity to play for the Republic of Ireland in order to play for Nigeria or Poland, as if to justify the FAI’s actions.

But those are two totally different matters. If you are born in Poland and grow up in the Republic of Ireland, you have dual nationality under FIFA rules, and can choose to play for either country.

A player born in Northern Ireland, growing up in Northern Ireland with Northern Irish parentage is only eligable to play for Northern Ireland.

There’s no parallel between the two cases.

I’ve criticised the IFA in the past on various issues, but they are totally correct to go outside of FIFA in order to correct this injustice, which can potentially divide Northern Ireland football society, as you could have a situation where you have attitudes such as “The prads play for da norf and da kafflics play for da souf” becoming the norm, due to the specific targeting of the players the FAI have poached, and attempted to poach.

Unbelievably, when Belfast Telegraph journalist Steven Beacom is introduced, he is told “These things happen”

With questioning like that, implying that the IFA are somehow digging their heels in and wasting people’s time, you can only see the show going one way.

To justify the “These things happen”, we are given the case study that there are players in the England Cricket team who aren’t born in England.

We are not talking about Cricket, we are talking about Football. Who plays for who in other sports is totally irrelevent to this issue. She might have well pointed out that a Welsh person sang Cyprus Eurovision entry.

But sure, as Wendy points out, “They might change their mind”, as if to suggest that the Northern Ireland football team is some sort of 1am sloppy seconds should they get turned down by the Republic of Ireland.

As Beacom points out, “We don’t want players who don’t want to play for Northern Ireland”. That’s not the point. Our international team is being raped and pillaged by another association, and players who don’t want to play for us should be allowed to just walk along to another country they have NO AFFILIATION with.

A caller ‘Graham’ spoke some sense, highlighting the point about the potential of this issue to divide football and society in Northern Ireland.

Like any debate about football in Northern Ireland, it didn’t take long for “The L Word” to be mentioned, as many texters were to speak about Neil Lennon.

What happened to Neil Lennon against Norway was unacceptable. Unlike a lot of people who have commented on the issue, I was there. There was booing, but it was by a small minority for a small period of time.

It was too many people and lasted for too long, but it certainly wasn’t to the extreme that some people make out.

A texter then helpfully points out that “They got rid of Neil Lennon”, without actually stating who ‘They’ are.

If ‘They’ are the IFA, it seems strange when you consider that the same Neil Lennon is currently doing his UEFA Pro Licence coaching badges with the IFA, and is even pictured in the current edition of the IFA’s magazine, wearing a Northern Ireland training top.

We are then told of the German World Cup team, with their side “made up of 8 nationalities”, failing to mention that the players have been living in Germany long enough to gain citizenship, basically echoing the point about the Poles and Nigerians now living in the Republic of Ireland, which is totally different from the matter that the IFA are debating.

“You could forgive young people for not playing for Northern Ireland due to the IFA shambles” without actually highlighting what sort of “Shambles” actually stops players from playing for Northern Ireland.

Aiden Fitzmaurice then states that “You can’t tell someone from West Belfast they are not Irish”. You can consider yourself “Irish” and play for Northern Ireland, such is the complex wording of nationality in Northern Ireland, but is he actually from (or eligible to play for) the Republic of Ireland, is the issue at point.

We are then given a case study of Alex Bruce being eligible to play for Republic of Ireland due to a Bangor born granmother, though not stating wether she was born before or after partition, which is the key issue which made Alan Kernaghan eligible to play for the Republic of Ireland.

Caller ‘Joanna’ then helpfully tells us that we should have an All-Ireland football team, because “People would really get behind it” Really?

An All-Ireland football team would underwhelm me and wouldn’t get my support. Why should I have to travel to Dublin and change currency in order to travel to watch “My” country? How many games would they play in Northern Ireland? How would I be able to relate to this team?

A Great Britian football team would get the same respons. I’m from Northern Ireland, and they are the international team I support and relate to the most.

Everytime we have these debates about a potential All-Ireland football team, we always get told of why there should be such a team, but never why there shouldn’t be such a team.

If there actually was an All-Ireland team, would they actually achieve more than what Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are achieving?

Of course, the usual “they have it in other sports” was used to justify this team, as listeners seem to forget tha the rules of football competitions are different to other sports, and you can’t have one set of rules for all sports.

Personally, I thought Beacom performed poorly on the show, speaking a lot but saying very little, and when he did say something, he was usually sitting on the fence.

Most disappointly of all, was that the BBC’s text response seemed to focus more on those making allegations of sectarianism against Northern Ireland fans.

One texter, suggested that the players choose the Republic because they are “more successful”, ignoring the fact that the Republic have only reached one tournament since 1994.

I suppose if you consider being more successful at not qualifying as success, then go ahead.

Another texter used the case study of the half-German, half-Ghanian Boateng brothers. The THIRD time such a point has been made, without correction that it is totally different to the point that the IFA are arguing against.

It dooesn’t matter wether the likes of Kearns, Gibson and Wilson win 1 cap or 100 caps, the principle remains that they are Northern Ireland players, not Republic of Ireland players.

The FAI were quick to squeal about “Fair play and ethics” last November in Paris, but don’t practice it themselves in their player selection policy.

School bullies, nothing more, which is why the IFA are right to stand up to them and challenge them, with hopefully the CAS seeing our point of view.

What the FAI are doing is far worse for the integrity of the game that what Thierry Henry did last November, and if the IFA are successful in overturning this, it will be a far greater victory that any three points gained in the Euro 2012 Qualifiers.

Talkback, 20.7.2010 (20 minutes in)

Time To Stand Up To The School Bullies Of International Football

END OF THE WORLD (CUP) BLOG

So, it’s almost a week since the World Cup finished, and in truth, it’s really hard to know what to make of it.

If a World Cup is only as good as it’s final, then the 2010 competition will be easily forgotten.

I wasn’t supporting either Spain or Holland, but I was glad one of them won as it was such a poor game that even the penalty shoot-out would have been dull. That said, Spain were worthy winners.

There were times during the tournament, especially during the first week, when I was having to force myself to like it, and almost whisper it when discussing the action that it was, in fact, dull.

There were many things about this World Cup which annoyed me and sadly for the tournament, the much maligned vuvuzela was well down the list.

One of the major irritations for me was the growing increase of “Moral Crusading” brand of football commentary where the pundits would seemingly pick a team they were supporting or supporting against, and then ramming it down your throat for the duration of the broadcast.

The most prominent example of this came during France matches where the media decided to cover their matches whilst acting like bitchy schoolgirls sticking their noses into a playground spat that has nothing to do with them as a fall-out from the Thierry Henry handball incident with a level of anti-French sentiment that would make the Daily Mail blush.

I have absolutely no trauma or grief about what happened in Paris last November (In fact, the opposite, given the FAI’s player recruitment policy) but I certainly don’t want it rammed down my throat who I should be supporting in a match i’m watching as a neutral.

All matches involving African nations (Except Agleria v England for some strange reason), especially those involving Ghana when it became clear they were the continent’s best hope in the competition, had the BBC and ITV commentators hopelessly biased in their favour to the point where it became nauseating.

Within about 5 minutes of watching the Ghana v Uruguay game, I was supporting Uruguay simply because I had grown sick of the ITV pundits being ridiculously biased towards Ghana in their build-up and match analysis to the point where they were talking about what they want to see rather than what they actually saw.

That’s if it was actually Ghana playing, as the pundits and commentators seemed to be under the impression that it was Africa the continent, rather than Ghana the country playing.

Of course, when the media darling team loses, the pundits generally start stropping about it, and in Luis Suarez, they had a ready made villain.

The analysis of the incident reached farcical levels with the conclusion being that Suarez is somehow worse than Hitler, Al Qeada, Facebook and Asylum Seekers all rolled into one, with Adrian Chile ludicrously lobbying for a ‘Penalty Goal’ to be awarded.

I can’t speak for FIFA, but I have slight hunch that they aren’t going to change the rules just because the guy who is going to present TV-AM says so.

It seemed to be that they were basing their analysis on who the ‘victim’ was rather than the offence, which incidentally was punished within the laws of the game.

The player got sent-off, and more importantly Ghana had a chance to win the game. When they didn’t and the game went to penalties, Uruguay went into that shoot-out without one of their key strikers who would have taken one. And when they won the shoot-out, they went into their biggest match in 15 years without one of their key players.

So, how anyone can say that neither Suarez or Uruguay weren’t punished is beyond me.

It might be hard for pundits to accept, but the World Cup doesn’t need an African team in the Semi-Finals. It doesn’t not need one either. If it happens, it happens and well done to the team who achieves it, but the competition can survive regardless of who gets to the Semi-Finals, and no continent has a god-given right to a Semi-Final place, even if they are hosting it.

Talking of World Cup allocations, I thought the allocation of 13 places to Europe was an insult, bearing in mind how well European teams had done in previous tournaments but the European performance was pitiful in the group stages, despite having three Semi-Finalists and not losing a knock-out game against countries from other continent, but it was really hard to crow about the European performance overall.

As well as the surprising early exits of the ‘A List’ nations such as France and Italy were the early exits of ‘B List’ nations such as Denmark and Serbia who would traditionally negotiate the group stages.

Of France, they were always the ones people looked at as the most likely to have an early exit, but it was the manner of their exit to Mexico (By the time they lost 2-1 to South Africa, the damage was long done) was the most shocking as they played like a team who could play all night without scoring and were just ripe for the taking by the Mexicans.

Despite having a generous draw, England managed to just about scrape through, but in second place and a tie against Germany.

When Alan Hansen stated in the pre-match build-up that “A maximum of two Germans would get into the England team”, it was pretty clear that most of the pundits on the BBC have never watched a club match that hasn’t been in the Premier League.

Every tournament since 2002, we’ve been told “This Germany team is in transition and isn’t as good as past German teams”.

With a World Cup final, a European Championship final and two World Cup Semi-Finals in that time, I bet England wish they could have a similar period of transition.

With the score at 2-1 to Germany, England had a goal disallowed. It was clearly a goal and should have been awarded but the worst thing about it for England was that it gave them an excuse to lose.

Having played the game with a fear of losing, they now had an excuse to lose, despite the fact that when the non-goal was scored, they had the momentum and the game for the taking.

As ever, the incident reignited the debate about goal-line technology. People seemed to hopelessly miss the point over the incident. A lack of goal-line technology wasn’t the problem, it was the incompetence of the officials that was the issue.

On a light-hearted note, for the second World Cup running, ITV won the battle of the opening credits and theme tune, even though the song they used was a blatant rip=off of ‘Eat The Music‘ by Kate Bush. It’s a good job they did have the better theme tune, otherwise we would have been reduced to trying to find positive things to say about the studio lighting and Gareth Southgate’s shirts when trying to find nice things to say about ITV’s coverage.

It might sound a bit arrogant to say that they should have the kick-off times changed to suit European TV audiences, but South Africa has the same time zone as Germany, and there was no reason why they couldn’t have had 2pm, 5pm and 8pm kick-off so people who work 9-5 could at least see one and a half games rather than just one.

Maybe a week after the event isn’t the best time to judge it, but I get the feeling that time won’t be any kinder to an overall disappointing tournament. Roll on Brazil 2014 I suppose.

CHOOSE LIFE, CHOOSE STREET ART IN BELFAST

As regular readers will know, I do enjoy the phenomenon of ‘Jalking’, where I go out with the intention of jogging, but actually end up walking. In order not to get bored, I like to change my routes and do different areas in order to keep things fresh.

Last Thursday, I decided to go along the Woodstock and Cregagh Roads as I hadn’t been down there in ages. I wasn’t expecting to see anything exciting, so it was a pleasant surprise when I glanced upon a wall with various popculture figures such as Thom Yorke, Jim Morrison and Renton from Trainspotting stenciled onto the wall.

I headed down this morning to have a wee look and got some photos, which are now available on Myspace and Twitpic.

Meanwhile, today was the Trans Belfast Festival taking place at St Anne’s Square, an event incorporating Street Art and Music. I’d previously blogged about and enjoyed the Winter Base event.

Trans is a series of various events in the city during July, which has so far successfully brought acts such as Air and DJ Shadow to Belfast for concerts.

Had a wee look around and most of it was all works in progress so I can’t wait to pop along tomorrow to see the finished art.

If you’re in Belfast tomorrow, why not pop along to see it as well?

MEDIAWATCH : STEPHEN WATSON’S CADDYSHACK

In television, it always pays to have a catchphrase. For BBCNI’s Stephen Watson, the catchphrase he appears to be working on is “I’m Stephen Watson, and i’m reporting live from a golf club”

Last week, Watson was in Limerick giving us the lowdown on a Pro-Am Celebrity All-Star event. Yes, a celebrity golf event, a golfing equivalent of Soccer Aid, if you will.

I don’t know which is more depressing, the fact that BBCNI consider this to be a sporting event (It’s not, it’s a showbiz get-together) or the fact that they consider it to be a Northern Ireland story.

I’ve said it before in previous blogs, that i’m not arrogant or ignorant to suggest that there should be no Republic of Ireland stories in the Northern Ireland, absolutely not, but there needs to clear distinguishing between what is relevent and what isn’t. To include a story about a showbiz get-together in Limerick as a ‘local’ story is poor editorial judgement.

Northern Ireland’s A-List golf starts, Graeme ‘G-Mac’ McDowell and Rory McIlroy were there, but their presence only got a mere mention as a box ticking exercise to justify the expense travelling to this event, as Watson spent most of his report stalking Tiger Woods, bypassing the major issues to ask him if he was enjoying his stay in Ireland.

Brilliant, you get interview time with one of the world’s most high profile sportsmen and all you find out is wether he has enjoyed his time in the Republic of Ireland. I guess you could say the licence fee payers got value for money with that one.

From the glamour of being patronised by Tiger Woods to sitting in an empty terrace at The Oval in the space of 24 hours, such is the life of a sports reporter, as he was covering the non-payment of Glentoran player’s wages.

It is often said that our local media are quick to swarm like flies around a bad news story, but in fairness, there was nothing over the top about the story.

It was interesting though, to notice the coverage to recent onfield violence in GAA in comparision to the reaction to the Newry-Larne game in January, reported in a calm manner in comparison to the hysteria of the Newry-Larne business where it seemed to be an opportunity to stick the boot into football, rather than report the story of what happened in the Newry-Larne game, and how both clubs are to be punished for their offences.

It did seem bizarre that having reported on the Glentoran story on Wednesday night, with a key part of the report being that the players would be having a meeting after the following night’s UEFA Cup tie, that there was no follow-up report on the Thursday night, especially as it was such a key aspect of the story they were covering.

Even more disappointingly that night, was the lack of a mention on BBC Newsline of the result of the Skonto Riga v Portadown game.

With the match kicking-off at 5pm, it was always going to present a problem for the two local TV broadcasters, especially with the logistic issues of getting pictures of the game from Latvia, but credit to UTV for actually reading out the latest score at the end of their show.

It wasn’t a lot, but it was a nice gesture that they took the time to keep up to date with the score to the last possible moment and read it out on air. How hard would it have been for the BBC to do likewise?

In fairness to UTV, since I criticised them for their obsession with the England football team during the World Cup, they have actually upped the game and improved their local football coverage on UTV Live.

The past week has seen a report on Portadown’s win in Riga featuring an interview with Ronnie McFall and a preview then report on Linfield’s tie with Rosenborg.

Sadly, Linfield’s well deserved draw with higher ranked (and with a far superior Champions League pedigree) opponents barely made a ripple at BBCNI as tonight Stephen Watson had swapped Limerick for St Andrew’s for his latest licence fee funded golf themed jolly-up hard hitting sports report.

Like I said, i’ve no problem with golf being on local sports bulletins as long as it’s newsworthy, and the progess of McDowell and McIlroy is newsworthy.

However, with the competition being broadcast live on the BBC network, you have to question the need to send a reporter there, when they can use BBC pictures and interviews voiced-over in a studio in Belfast.

From there, they then moved to a story about economic regeneration in Monaghan as a result of hosting GAA matches.

Now, i’ve no problem with BBCNI covering GAA on their sports bulletins, but Monaghan? Seriously?

Again, another example of BBCNI being unable to judge what stories are relevent and irrelevent.

Sadly, that wrapped up their sports bulletin. No action of the Linfield game, not a mention, nor was their a mention of Portadown and Cliftonville’s European matches. Unbelievable.

I’m not arrogant enough to suggest that football should get mass coverage and top billing, but last night’s game was newsworthy and a lot of Irish League fans (and yes, even those who don’t support Linfield) would have tuned in expecting to see a report on the game.

It was a club from Northern Ireland, playing in an international competition, and not only that, holding their own.

Sadly, the BBC saw fit to slap the local game in the face by failing to find time in their flagship news programme for this game.

If this is what their football coverage is like when we are still technically in pre-season, I dread to think what their football coverage will be like when the season starts.

LINFIELD 0-0 ROSENBORG 14.7.2010

The World Cup might have only finished three days ago, but the 2010-2011 season kicked-off for Linfield supporters tonight with a visit to Windsor Park by Norwegian side Rosenborg.

Rosenborg have been Champions League regulars since the competition was rebranded, reaching the Quarter-Final in 1997, but are perhaps best known in the UK as the team that got a draw at Stamford Bridge which ultimately led to Jose Mourinho’s departure as Chelsea manager.

By that definition, tonight’s result means that officially (or technically) David Jeffrey is as good a football manager as Jose Mourinho. Being such a grounded down to earth chap, i’m sure Jeffrey would shrug off any comparison.

Repair work meant that the North and Railway Stands were out of bounds for supporters, as was the Kop Stand, though I don’t know wether that was for repair work or because they wanted to compress the crowd together to create a better atmosphere.

European games are generally enjoyable apart from the result. As someone who is oppsed to the idea of summer football, I do like the warm evenings heading down for a game, against different opposition who rather shamefully bring more away fans than a lot of local teams despite the distances involved travelling.

Unfortunately, being in the South Stand, trying to get photos was a bit of a nightmare. Got some photos, nothing Flickrable, but i’ll post them up.

The game itself was a 0-0 draw, but not a dull 0-0, and it was certainly a far better than the snoozefest in Johannesburg on Sunday, as Linfield set themselves up for their inevitable (I say pessimistically) heroic defeat, either 1-0 or 2-1 with a last minute goal.

It was a deserved draw as Linfield held their own against their more illustrious opponents and sometimes as they attacked you thought that maybe, just maybe, this might be the build-up to the winning goal in a famous 1-0 victory.

By playing a 4-5-1 formation to stifle the opposition, it meant that when attacking situations arrived, there was often a lack of bodies to pass to. Even more infuriatingly, when there were players in positions, the Rosenborg defenders always seemed to get a part of their anatomy in the way to divert it away from the Linfield forwards.

That said, Rosenborg had their attacking moments as well, with the often erratic Alan Blayney having one of his best performances in a blue (well actually, red) shirt.

Interested spectators in the crowd included players from HNK Cibalia, a Croatian team who play Cliftonville in a UEFA Cup tie at Windsor Park on Thursday night.

As enjoyable as the World Cup was (at times), it was great to be back at Windsor for a match, although I won’t be back (European Cup progress permitting) until the start of August.

Never has ‘Wake Up’ by Arcade Fire sounded so good.

Photo Album

PS : Keep any eye out for a World Cup blog, looking back at the tournament as I saw it. I’d decided to leave it for a day or so to let the dust settle, but I then got lazy and the BatBlog took priority. Holy Editorial Decision!!!!!

 

HOLY OMISSION SKY MOVIES!!!!

This week, Sky Movies are launching the ‘Batman Boxset’, where viewers can watch all Batman movies, which are being broadcast at various intervals.

Eagle-eyed Batfans will notice that there is one shocking omission, the 1967 movie spin-off from the TV series.

Sadly, the TV series and associated spin-offs appear to be written out of Bat-History by Warner Brothers, which is sad, as it’s the one thing I often associated when I think of the portrayals of the caped crusader.

It’s a show which brings back memories from my childhood, which is probably why I love it so much.

When the Tim Burton 1989 movie was released, it gave the TV show a new lease of life.

For some random reason, my dad used to always record it for me, as it was on during the wee small hours, as part of ITV Nightscreen, and I would then watch it the following day after coming home from school.

I used to love Chief O’Hara struggling to work out which criminal they were dealing with, despite it being so blindingly obvious.

“They’ve left us a clue ……….. in the form of a joke, who could it be?” he could be found screaming at the crime scene, painfully trying to work out which criminal in Gotham City specialises in jokes, before Batman suggests that it is possibly the work of The Joker.

O’Hara would then usually ask “Why didn’t I think of that?” as Batman politely ignores the opportunity to point out that it’s because he’s a complete idiot.

I suppose that’s why Chief O’Hara is such an endearing character, because we all know someone like him.

We’ve all work with a ‘O’Hara’, someone who has managed to get into a position of authority, despite seemingly being a halfwit who can’t even spot a problem when it is staring right in front of them.

O’Hara however, has a heart of gold, as he once stated during the show that he is “Violently opposed to police brutality”

With this guy the second most senior police officer in the city, it was no surprise that Gotham City was over-run by criminals, especially with criminals being released seemingly every six weeks going by the recurring nature of the casting.

To combat this, the producers began inventing characters such as Egghead, played by Vincent Price and whipping up an array of bad egg-based yokes, sorry, jokes.

There was once a simpler age when you would put your coat hood on your head, using it as a cape to recreate the slapstick fight scenes (The A-Team had by now replaced as the TV show to recreate in our school playground)

This wasn’t case of children copying something violent they seen on TV. It wasn’t violent you see, as made up words such as KER-POW!!!!, BIFF!!! and ZOINK!!!! would appear on screen.

It might have been violence, but it was comic violence, like Stan and Ollie, especially as Batman and Robin were usually defeated by their own stupidity, but never violently.

Having scored an own goal through their own stupidity, the bad guys usually left them in an easy to get out of trap before leaving them unsupervised in order to escape, and them having the cheek to be shocked, usually asking “I thought you were dead”

Batman’s escape was usually aided by one of the various bat-branded products in his utility belt, with Robin usually exclaiming “Holy ………”.

He might have been generally useless when it came to fights, but at least he had a way with words and a “Holy ………..!!!!!!” for any occasion.

Comedy was an essential part of the show, and the worse the punchline, the better.

To rank alongside O’Hara’s remark about police brutality, Batman once memorably declined the offer of a VIP table in a nightclub (where he was staking out a criminal) as “He didn’t want to attract attention”, because a man dressed in tights and cape wouldn’t attract attention.

Incidentally, for that scene, Robin was outside as he was too young to be in the nightclub. Despite being a masked crimefighter, Robin has to obey the laws of the land, it’s called Good Citizenship.

Memorably, Batman once took time out after parking outside a villains lair to pay the parking metre despite Robin pointing out that no parking attendant would dare to give the Batmobile a parking ticket.

That wasn’t the point, Batman was using the facility, and felt obliged to pay for it. After all, his money would go towards building better roads and improving the transport infrastructure in Gotham City.

Thanks to a combination of Batman and Mr T, I don’t speed, I pay parking tickets, I stay in school and say no to drugs. Ahh, the power of television.

The legend of Adam West lives on with his cameo appearances on Family Guy, playing himself as the O’Hara-esque Mayor of Quohog, lampooning the Bruce Wayne character in the role.

An under-rated Batman movie is ‘Return To The Batcave’, where Adam West and Burt Ward player their older selves in a biopic of the TV show.

West demonstrates his comic ability which made him so loved as Batman by constantly called his butler ‘Alfred’ when his name is Gerry..

After having this pointed out, West apologises, saying “Sorry Alfred” before using a switch hidden underneath a statue to open a book cabinet which revealed a pole.

“A nostalgic nod to that TV show you were in Mister West?” asks Gerry, before Adam West replies, with a straight face, “No Alfred, it was part of the house when I bought it”.

Genius.

Some actors often battle typecasting but Adam West thrives on his fame. For many people, Adam West IS Batman, not Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney or Christian Bale.

As Adam West asked during his Simpsons guest appearance, why doesn’t Batman dance?

Where is the fun? Where is the colour? Why do the Batman movies have to be so dark?

And most importantly, why do the marketing men feel the need to write Adam West and the 1960s TV show out of Bat-History?

It could be best summed up, as Heath Ledger once remarked when playing The Joker, Why so serious?