19 December, 2008

Sulk Hard With A Vengeance

Ok, hands up who wants to see Nicolas Anelka in a movie. Yep, thought so. Well apparently the man affectionately known as ‘Le Sulk’ has aspirations to not only be a stand-up comedian (seriously), but also now a Hollywood movie star. Now far be it from me to deny his natural charisma and charming personality, but really Nicolas??

He told close pals that his hero is Bruce Willis (don’t blame him) and that he would like to follow in the footsteps of Vinnie Jones. Now if that’s really true, I’m sure he won’t have many problems finding someone to glass him, but as far as aping someone’s film career, I’m not sure if Vinnie is exactly the paradigm he was once thought to be.

Anelka dribbled modestly: “I’ve already appeared in a film called Le Boulet, which a friend of mine produced.” Yes Nicolas, you really stretched yourself there playing ‘Nicolas, the soccer player.’ Anelka continued: “After football, maybe we will see an Oscar in the Anelka trophy cabinet. I like action men. I think I’d like to be the bad man in a movie. Like Vinnie Jones? Ha ha! He’s good.”

Obscure South American of the Week Dieciséis

Name – Hugo Rodallega Martinez

Affiliation – Necaxa

Reason for Coolness – He has hair like a mid-90s gangsta rapper

Reason for Obscurity – He has hair like a mid-90s gangsta rapper

Young Hugo is currently making headlines with a move to join Steve Bruce’s South American revolution at Wigan apparently on the cards early next year, after impressing for Mexican outfit Necaxa over the last two years. Originally from Columbia, Senor Rodallega announced his arrival on the scene a few years ago when he became the all time top goal scorer of the South American qualification for the FIFA U-20 World Cup, scoring 11 goals in just 9 games.

A nice little debut season for home team Deportes Quindio produced a rather healthy haul of 31 goals in 32 games, earning a (ahem) dream move to the Mexican top flight. After pretty uninspiring spells at Monterrey and the awesomely-named Atlas, Hugo moved to Necaxa for the 2007 Apertura and made an instant impact with 9 goals in 15 games. Since joining the central Mexico outfit he has averaged almost a goal every other game, and subsequently bagged a spot in the improving Columbian national team.

So we’re looking forward to seeing him at the JJB in January then, if you believe the press reports, he looks like he could do a pretty decent job alongside the quality of Zaki, Palacios and Valencia.

Finally, here’s him scoring a pretty sweet goal last season and celebrating with an even sweeter dance. Sorry, this is literally the only video I could find:

18 December, 2008

I Need Japanese Steel

Thanks to The Spoiler for the heads up on this story, which kind of puts one of Joey Barton’s recent indiscretions into perspective a bit. Last year, former Werder Bremen heartthrob Thorsten Legat got into a little spot of bother outside a McDonalds, and rather than take the Barton punching route, he decided that things had escalated way past the stage where fists would suffice.

Legat was allegedly in his car with his wife when he was threatened by a group of ruffians, who clearly did not realize that the man is built like an army transport vehicle. Well, one thing lead to another, and Legat pulled a samurai sword from his boot! Quite why he was carrying an actual sword is up for debate, but what is clear is that in the ensuing row he managed to somehow injure the head of one of the hoodies. Since yesterday he was forced to pay 1,000 Euros in compensation, he presumably didn’t actually cut the pikey’s head off…

Pick On Someone Your Own Size!

Apologies folks, we’ve let you down; you see, in compiling our ultimate rundown of footballers’ Christmas parties earlier in the week we missed off one vital event. Former Chelsea player Tony Cascarino recalled to The Independent recently what went down in 1991 when amazingly Vinnie Jones was left unchecked to organise things. The location was a West London pub and the theme just a good old fashioned lock in; players only, no other staff, and training pre-emptively cancelled the next day.

So what ace did Vinnie have up his sleeves? A dwarf-tossing contest inside the pub. Yes, you read that right: an inter-team competition to see who could throw a vertically challenged adult the furthest. However, when only two dwarfs walked through the door, Vinnie was unsurprisingly perturbed: “Oi, what's your game? We've paid for three, not two!” One of them replied: “Oh, the other one got injured when he was thrown into a load of chairs at a gig the other day.” That is a sentence I definitely thought I’d never have to type.

The Chelsea boys apparently just cracked up, with a couple reasonably suggesting: “What about Wisey [Dennis Wise] making up the third one!” Anyway, faced with having to accept that explanation, Vinnie pointed at one of the dwarfs and said: “Ere, I fucking recognise you, don't I? You were the one I met when I appeared on that television programme, weren't you?” Apparently he was spot on, as the dwarf replied: “Yes, Vinnie, you were the one who tried to throw me in the water!”

The dwarves’ next step was to erect a bouncy castle, which had a sticky velcro wall, and put a mattress on the floor. They then reportedly strapped themselves into velcro suits and prepared to be, ahem, tossed. Cascarino remembers some of the players having difficulty getting the dwarves to stick to the velcro wall after a couple of jars. “They were heavier than I expected,” he quipped.

Why doesn’t this kind of stuff happen these days still? Damn you health & safety and political correctness!

17 December, 2008

Oh Fuck Off, It’s Christmas

Inspired by this simply amazing photo of young Giovanni Dos Santos charming all the ladies at Spurs’ recent Christmas bash, we endevoured to dredge through the history books and dig out some of the more famous incidents from the past. Thankfully though, The Mirror had the same idea, so what follows is pretty much just ripped off from them. Still guys, I guess at least someone might read it now eh?

Celtic (2002)

After their 2001 party ended with Neil Lennon unceremoniously smashing his head on a kerb in Glasgow, Celtic decided to head south of the border this year in “an effort to avoid attention.” And it was all going so well too, until that is a load of photographers turned up at up-scale Gateshead eatery Buffalo Joe’s, and Neil Lennon, Bobby Petta, Johan Mjallby and Joos Valgaeren decided it was time to punch someone. Subsequently the four spent the night in police custody.

Leeds (2001)

Remember when Leeds were both full of young British talent and also good? Well if you don’t, it was around this time. On paper this sounds literally perfect – a 10-hour Wild West-themed fancy dress pub crawl – and the execution certainly didn’t disappoint. The club hired five security guards to follow the 30 or so players around the city in an attempt to prevent any trouble, but never fear, you can always count on Robbie Fowler to kick off. He duly cracked a photographer and smashed his camera. Good lad.

West Ham (2001)

I doubt anyone actually knows who Hayden Foxe is, but all you need to know is that he’s ginger and Australian. Anyway, after dropping the best part of £2,000 in the VIP section of London’s Sugar Reed bar, Foxe decided he was too famous to be bound by stupid conventional labels like ‘lounge’ and ‘toilet,’ so promptly took a huge piss all over the bar. Pretty smooth. He was let go by the Hammers soon after.

AGF Arhus (2004)

Stig Tofting is a truly great name, and he more than lived up to its scrapping promise by having a rather good time out with the AGF Arhus lads shortly after joining them. After a mix-up where his shirt got torn, Stig decided the best way to bond with his new team-mates was to start throwing punches. He subsequently knocked four of them spark out. What a legend.

Liverpool (1998)

As STT’s favourite ever photo of Parrott Crouch proves, the Liverpool lads love a good dress-up, and even in the pre-Crouch days they didn’t mess about. A decade ago Jaime Carragher really outdid himself though by dressing as the Hunchback of Notre Dame, covering himself in strippers, and then covering all of them in whipped cream. Incredible. According to a genuine report in the NOTW at the time, Michael Owen just stood uncomfortably in the corner, while Paul Ince chilled out with the DJ looking “concerned.”

Leicester City (2001)

I just love that no-one thought that a Christmas piss-up involving Dennis Wise and Robbie Savage might end badly. It kicked off when Wise allegedly presented Savage with a teddy bear impaled on a dildo and told him: “Take this, because you're the only prick in a Leicester shirt at the moment.” Pretty strange comment, but I think the intent was clear. Not one to back down, Savage responded by smearing chocolate on Wise’s face and suggesting that him and Dave Bassett were, ahem, special friends. Wise duly responded with some crude sexual remarks about Savage’s then-girlfriend before it was fisticuff time.

Manchester City (2004)

In a quite famous and much-lamented incident, Joey Barton had a pretty good time at this bash. Word is that the ever-charming Joey was going around boasting about his hugely inflated wage, and attempting to make holes in the other players’ fancy dress costumes with a lit cigar. Youth player Jamie Tandy strangely took offence to this and tried to light Barton’s outfit with a cigarette lighter. Barton’s reasonable response? Stubbing said cigar out in the 18-year-old’s eye, almost permanently blinding him. He’s a sweetheart isn’t he?

Manchester United (2007)

You have to do something pretty special at a Christmas lash-up to get your boss to officially ban all future festive parties. And that’s exactly what Manchester United managed to collectively do last year. Conceptually it was just perfect: the night started with a 15-hour pub crawl and Rio Ferdinand was left in charge of organising entertainment, a task at which he did not disappoint by hand-picking 80 (eighty!) tarts to accompany them. First of all Wayne Rooney, while strumming a pretend plastic guitar, unknowingly chatted up a journalist with the immortal line: “I'm dressed like Justin Timberlake tonight – and you can be Beyonce.” What does that even mean Wayne?! Anyway, things kind of turned when the party went upstairs to the rooms and one of the bevy of beauties described a “vile” orgy, during which the men shrieked “like hyenas.” Oh, and 19-year-old Johnny Evans was also arrested on suspicion of rape. To be honest though, I’ve never had a bad night out that’s ended in accusations of sexual assault.

Happy Bidet

And the strange groin-area-related stories continue apparently, and yet again I don’t really understand how a grown-up could have actually said this. Meet Napoli president and movie producer Aurelio De Laurentiis, who looks kind of like Alan Sugar but a bit more rape-y. In case you care he’s responsible (and by that I mean, he paid for) such luminary silver screen works as Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, while his more-famous uncle Dino De Laurentiis bank-rolled the Hannibal Lector movies among others.

Anyway, the point here is that there are many rumours flying around Italy at the moment that half the Napoli squad are looking to flee his iron-fisted rule for our fine shores. De Laurentiis had this bizarrely incongruous retort:

“We made these players — two years ago nobody knew who they were. If they want to go to England then in the end they’re going to go, but they need to understand this: the English live badly, eat badly and their women do not wash their genitalia. To them, a bidet is a mystery.”

Er, what? We don’t actually still live in the Dark Ages Mr De Laurentiis, we have running water and Pret-a-Mangers and everything. I can also assure you that, to every girl I’ve hooked up with this week at least, the bidet is certainly not a mystery.

One for the Boys who like Boys

I don’t really know what to make of this, it’s just generally a pretty weird story. According to reports in the Italian press today a new team-mate of David Beckham is openly very keen to check out his package. AC Milan striker Marco Borriello said:

“I must admit I have a dressing room curiosity over Beckham. I want to see if he is equipped as he is in the Armani underwear adverts.”

Sorry Marco but you do realize you said that out-loud right? In front of a man with a clever little box that records what you say. Who works for a national newspaper.

16 December, 2008

Rip the Head off that C**nt’s Barbie Doll!!

It seems like just the other day that we were lamenting about the lack of decent hooligan stories, and then bang, a load of them fall onto our desks all at once. It appears that late last year more than 30 of Crystal Palace’s gamest lads rushed Charlton Athletic fans on a train between Sydenham and Penge East stations, in what has hyperbolically been dubbed a “pre-planned riot.” Thing is though, rather than targeting specifically the Charlton firm, they mashed up a load of regular passengers. Casualties not listed in the media reports include a woman who had her jaw broken, and a little girl of 10-years-old who was treated for facial injuries. Pretty hardcore eh? As a result, some people got understandably a bit upset, and several top boys are now facing up to four years on lockdown.

A jury heard that the mob banged on train windows and threw bottles as the train arrived at Sydenham station, while a roar went up as they boarded the first two carriages, immediately attacking people. They reportedly chanted “kill them,” which seems a bit extreme, and “get off our manor,” which to be fair is perfectly reasonable. Witnesses helpfully described the violence as “pandemonium,” as if “all hell had broken loose.” And what did the two clubs say? A Crystal Palace FC spokesman offered this: “In support of the police the club will be banning for life all and any of the offenders who masquerade as football supporters of Crystal Palace Football Club.” Charlton Athletic Football Club operations director Mick Everett meanwhile said the attack was “an act of contemptible thuggery carried out by mindless idiots.”

Meet the Mindless idiots then. Clive Taylor, Carl Thomas, Darren Bush, Andrew Spicer and Bobby Kennett, all between 30 and 50 years old, and 21-year-old Ashley White, were all found guilty of violent disorder this month. Christmas cards for Taylor, Thomas, Bush, White and Spicer can now be sent Belmarsh, while Kennett actually bought the farm last month before the hearing so, I dunno, send his widow a bouquet maybe if you really must.

The lads were all part of Palace’s quite shitly-named Dirty 30 crew, who, as you can see from here, aren’t too good with computers and that. Anyway, a little bit of superficial research revealed that this Carl Thomas chap is actually a drum and bass MC, known as Flux. Now I don’t know quite how it works these days, but I think ‘street cred’ can be worked out using a simple algorithm, where can achieve a balance between being a good MC and being a good criminal. That is to say, you’re fine to get away with being a shit MC if you carry guns and properly kill people, but you have to be an amazing MC to get away with something as wet as punching a woman and a child. Lucky for Flux then that he constantly drops heavyweight sick bars, innit fam.

In what is a cruel, cruel irony, it seems that all these lads will be sharing jail space with plenty of Charlton’s own top boys, still incarcerated from 2002’s Maze Hill riot. No doubt when lads like Dave ‘Three Lions’ Walker get wind of what the Dirty 30 did, Thomas et al will be biting the pillow, or whatever hip gay rape euphemism is ‘in’ at the moment.

15 December, 2008

Gameweek 17 - Stone the Coles

Happy Monday to one and all, after a weekend that saw clubs festively playing out scoreless draws and the big 4 all charitably drawing, to leave the top 3 unchanged.

Gareth Southgate’s record against Arsenal in his 2 and a bit years of management has been excellent, drawing 3 games and winning one. The early kickoff at the Riverside on Saturday wasn’t a game for the neutral, but saw a couple of goals. Adebayor’s opener fell straight to him from a corner, but a nice header from Arsenal reject Jeremie Aliadiere levelled it up and was the cue for much chest thumping and badge kissing from the sprightly Frenchman.

Villa's great win over a slugging Bolton took them to 4th in the table, after an excellent performance from both sides. Ashley Young and Gabriel Agbonlahor both proved to be virtually unplayable, while Villa's midfield purred under the direction of Gareth Barry. The pick of the goals has to be Agbonlahor's, collecting a long ball and smashing home like he didn't care.

A triumvirate of thumpings were dealt out by Sunderland, Wigan and Newcastle, over the pummelled West Brom, Blackburn and Portsmouth respectively. Sunderland, under interim manager Ricky Sbragia turned on the class, with Kenwyne Jones returning to form with a brace of goals after getting laid the fuck out by David James 6 months ago. Conversely, Paul Ince’s position looks increasingly untenable, after a Wilson Palacios inspired Wigan tormented a shaky Blackburn defence, which shipped 3 goals, including a cheeky Emile Heskey backheel. Newcastle also scored 3 against a woeful Pompey, who had 12 shots off target in a chilly Fratton Park encounter, the pick of them being Michael Owen's lovely chip, which will surely add another million pounds onto his inevitable transfer fee in January.

In other games, Stoke had a thrilling encounter with Fulham, which ended 0-0 and Manchester City's slide down the table continued, after a strikerless Everton side scored in injury time. West Ham's Craig Bellamy scored the first goal in a decent encounter at Stamford Bridge, but the Hammers couldn't do anything about Anelka's reply, although they held on for a very creditable draw.

Goal of the Week

It has to be Heskey's effort, even if he didn't mean it. The big striker, whose ball control has been likened to a Disney character on frozen water in the past, touched in a nice cross from Zaki with a flick behind his standing leg.

Game of the Week – Liverpool vs Hull City

An exhilarating contest at Anfield ended with Liverpool and Hull City earning a point apiece and it would have been unfair for either side to lose. The Tigers have made a surprisingly bright start to the season and their attacking adventure has been just as refreshing. They forged a two-goal lead thanks to a Paul McShane header and Jamie Carragher own goal but Liverpool's talisman Steven Gerrard rescued his team once again with two clinical finishes before the break. There was no change to the scoreline in the second half as the visitors held firm to frustrate Rafa Benitez's men.

Player of the Week – Gabriel Agbonlahor

Perhaps inspired by team-mate Ashley Young's recognition in the same category last weekend, Agbonlahor produced a dazzling display to help Aston Villa come from behind and claim a 4-2 victory over Bolton. The newly-capped England international dragged Villa level at 1-1 with a fine strike and later showed another side to his game with a headed goal. The speedy striker was a constant threat and his final contribution was to set up Young for a fourth late on.

Hero of the Week

Martin O'Neill's men really showed what they can do on Saturday, with an absolutely beautiful attacking display against a pretty well organised Bolton team. In moving up into 4th, ahead of Arsenal, Villa really showed what they are made of and what they can potentially achieve this season, when Arsenal may not be at their best.

Zero of the Week

John Pantsil's hilarious panto dive takes the biscuit here. After an ill-advised contretemps with Yardie striker Ricardo Fuller, where foreheads were homoerotically rubbed, Pantsil went down like he'd been helicoptered by John Holmes. Fuller's reaction was priceless - a combination of malice, confusion and disdain.

Petulance of the Week

Ronaldo's silly little kick on Dawson deserved a card and players have been sent off for much less, even though Ronnie wanted big hugs to say sorry afterwards.

“He’s behind you!” etc etc

I get the impression that playing for Manchester United kind of requires a sense of humour bypass these days. I don’t know why, but it just seems that they all take themselves way too seriously, even the usually reliable Wayne ‘Wazza’ Rooney. However, every Christmas the club’s young players get the chance to inject a much needed smile into Old Trafford by sending up the first team in a festive pantomime. It’s basically the equivalent of final assembly back in the sixth form at school; you know, that one chance of the year to dress up as the female biology teacher that everyone knew was actually born a man, and make some crude wanking gag. Just to give you an idea of the level this normally sinks to, last year’s effort was cleverly dubbed ‘Pant-ho’ and involved a real-time spoof of Ronaldo’s pool party with five hookers.

Anyway, reports have reached STT HQ that this year’s event was one of the best ever, with the big egos of Ronaldo and Berbatov right in the firing line. An excitable source gushed: “The panto was in the form of an ITV News bulletin with Danny Welbeck posing as Sir Trevor McDonald.” Try and contain yourself folks because it gets much more hilarious from there. The man-on-the-inside continued: “The youth team guy playing Ronaldo was wearing a Real Madrid shirt with 123 Days To Go on the front – which is a reference to how long is it until the end of the season.” Comic genius! Ah, Swift must be rolling around his grave trying to sew his sides back together! Even Cristiano himself was tickled apparently: “The real Ronaldo was absolutely pissing himself laughing!”

Finally, and brace yourselves for a laughter explosion, “a coffin was wheeled in with a player dressed as Dracula with Berbatov 9 on his back – followed by someone as Wayne Rooney with a full on Bobby Charlton wig!” I think those two are maybe a little bit subtle for me, but kudos as ever for trying.

There we have it then folks: proof, if ever needed, that footballers are not very bright and not even remotely funny.

09 December, 2008

Gameweek 16 – Colony

Right hello folks, it’s midweek and everyone’s very busy, so I’ll keep this brief and mainly copied-and-pasted off the BBC. So, for the first time in what seems like decades the big-4 all notched up wins this weekend, although aside from Chelsea they were anything but convincing.

Starting with the leaders Liverpool then, a struggling Blackburn put up quite a fight for more than an hour, and to be honest the scoreline certainly flattered the Scousers in the end. Chelsea were sublime for half an hour, and unfortunately for Bolton, by the time they’d actually started playing, the game was already over. Arsenal flattered to deceive after last week’s great performance against Chelsea, somewhat limping over the line against a Wigan side who were keen to exorcise the embarrassment of being spanked by the Arsenal kids a month or so ago in the cup. Manchester United on the other hand left it late to shatter Sunderland’s hopes of an away point, with the ever reliable Vidic slamming the ball home deep into injury time.

Harry Redknapp enjoyed a decent return to Upton Park on Monday night with his unpredictable Spurs team, adding to Gianfranco Zola’s misery as their winless run continues. West Brom still remain bottom of the pile however, with three decent points against Pompey snatched away from them in the last few minutes by a cracking Peter Crouch effort. Fulham and Manchester City also shared the points at Saturday lunchtime, with the Cottagers outdoing themselves against a tepid City side who lacked anything approaching creativity without Elano and Robinho.

Finally then, the good runs for Hull and Stoke refuse to cease, with both teams coming from behind to claw points from games they were effectively out of. The Tigers started poorly, and it took a Tugay opener to motivate Phil Brown’s men to start playing some football, but when they got going they were more than worth their win. Stoke meanwhile looked dead at half-time following a Michael Owen brace, but clearly Tony Pulis made some pretty serious threats in the dressing room because what re-appeared for the second period was a completely different side who, if anything, could’ve even poached a winner.

Game of the Week – Everton vs Aston Villa

So the two main contenders to break into the Champions League spots faced off at Goodison Park this Sunday then, and the results were as explosive as everyone hoped after a pretty dull Saturday of action if we’re honest. It took the rejuvenated Steve Sidwell just 34 seconds to open the scoring, with his 25-yard drive into Howard's top corner setting the tone for the afternoon. Twice Joleon Lescott thought he had equalized for the Toffees however, with an acrobatic volley in stoppage time looking to be enough to share the points, before Ashley Young produced a bit of magic a minute later to break Merseyside hearts.

Player of the Week – Ashley Young

Without doubt the performance of the weekend, with two quality goals punctuating a superb away win for Villa against one of their closest rivals. Young showed pace, composure and clinical finishing, but unfortunately for him and his international ambitions, this level of impact has been somewhat lacking this season so far.

Goal of the Week – Deco

After an incredible opening to the season, Deco seems to have dropped off a touch as the temperature has plummeted, but this weekend his unquestionable talent was on display once again for all to see. As Bolton struggled to clear their lines, the ball was lofted back across the penalty area by Michael Ballack, where Deco was on hand to hammer a perfect bicycle-kick past a helpless Jaaskelainen.

Comeback of the Week – Stoke City

After 25 minutes and the score 2 – 0 to Newcastle, pundits and fans alike were writing off the Potters. Once again however, Tony Pulis’ men dug deep, and inspired by the introduction of Ricardo Fuller, were quite superb second half. Goals from Mamady Sidibe and Abdoulaye Faye were enough to rescue an unlikely point, but even without the long-throws of Rory Delap, Stoke proved that they could compete at this level and have a good chance of staying up come April.

Gaffe of the Week – Phil Jagielka

There’s not much else really to say about this, it’s just pretty awful. Under no pressure, Jagielka turned from the midfield to guide a back pass to Tim Howard, only for the ball to unfortunately fall short and straight to Ashley Young, who duly slotted into the corner past the despairing Everton keeper.

Taking Point of the Week – Arsenal fans booing Eboue

Ok there are a couple of things you should put aside when thinking about this issue. Firstly, imagine that Emmanuel Eboue isn’t an arrogant little shit who’s actually rubbish at football, and secondly, pretend that it isn’t incredibly amusing when a player brought on as a substitute gets substituted off themselves later. The point here is just the brazen caprice of Arsenal fans, who can worship someone by association one minute, and then crucify them the next for a couple of ultimately meaningless mistakes. Are they so used to absolute perfection that anything less than that warrants a cacophony of boos? And this isn’t an Ashley Cole-esque situation here either, because the abuse he gets is pretty unrelated to his actual footballing performance. No, Eboue hasn’t really done anything to rile up Arsenal fans (who, might I remind you, were calling him the best right-back in Europe two years ago when they reached the Champions League final), it just seems that most casual fans at the Emirates have no sense of context, or even what it means to support their club. I simply cannot conceive of a player for my team being booed just because he makes a mistake; that truly is unforgivable.