Monday, January 29, 2007

If You Pay Them, They Will Come

NCFC Transfer Woes.

Woe is me! Woe is me – as phrase that just about sums up the local media's reaction to Norwich City's FA Cup result at Blackpool.

Having achieved a creditable draw away from home, the players were, perhaps, a trifle unlucky to find the press bemoaning the injuries and suspensions picked up instead of looking forward to the replay. Bottom of the Barrel Reached, should have been the EDP's headline. NCFC have so few players available for selection they may have to scour the local parks to get a side out tomorrow.

Hang on! Wasn't it only the other day the press were reporting Gruntie Grantie as promising three or four new players before the transfer deadline? That story seems to have disappeared faster than a Glaswegian's wallet on a Saturday night out down the Gorbals.

Why is this? Transfer fees – that's the perceived wisdom.

Rubbish. Transfer fees are irrelevant. Transfer fees are simply part of the cost of doing business. Transfer fees are only part of the cost ( a small part!) of running a football club. In terms of getting players, they are meaningless. Unless your new signing decides to hang himself from the goal post by his shoelaces or go skydiving without a parachute, what you pay out in transfer fees is simply recouped when players are sold on. That is provided the club has sufficient management skills not to place themselves in a position where players' contracts expire and they are allowed to just walk away for free.

Ah, that's the Norwich City way, I hear you sigh!

Facts are – going right back to the days of Justin Fashnau and Kevin Reeves – NCFC have always sold players for lots more than they were worth. Good business! Only recently they have continued this trend by unloading Dean Ashton before he got injured. Good call!

So, what is the problem?

Wages. It's that simple. If you pay the players – they will come. This the Board steadfastly refuses to recognise. If you want quality players you have to pay quality wages. Dopey Doncaster and St, Delia just won't let go of the cash. Because, unlike transfer fees, there is no way to recoup wages except by winning football matches and reaching the promised land of the Premiership. See? Causes more problems than it's worth!

Result? Already the media are talking up a relegation fight – instead of looking forward to a plum home draw for the next round of the Cup.

That's the kind of optimism that encouraged Haig to attack at Paschendale. and the Spartans to defend Thermopolae.


Friday, January 26, 2007

Aussies Rule!

England's Poor Run Continues

Up just in time this morning to see the news that the England cricket team have crashed to another embarrassing defeat in Australia. Aussies are revelling in it!

The latest fiasco was, perhaps, the worst of all. After a week where the Australian coach baited the English for not giving his boys enough of a contest and Freddie Flintoff and his players sounded all the right noises in reply, the result was especially disappointing – if predictable.

Bottom line. Aussie's are running rings around us.

Why? Simple. They have better players.

England should not give up hope. Just about everything that could go wrong on this tour has. Sometimes life is like that! What's important is how you deal with it.

One thing that should worry the England management is the number and severity of injuries we are picking up. Injuries are part of the game, but England seem to be getting more than most. This could, of course, just be the luck of the draw, or it could point to a lack of preparation and mismanagement.

The introduction of central contracts should mean that our elite players are fitter, more rested and more committed than ever. This is not happening. Why?

Some players are under pressure to declare themselves fit when they clearly are not. Michael Vaughan is he classic example. The team need him so badly, he is under a lot of pressure to play. Such is his influence on the team, he should be rested now that the one-day series is well and truly lost. He should not play again until the English summer. But, resting players seems to be a modern mantra. So many of the English squad are or have been resting it's sometimes difficult to see where they will get eleven out on the field! With central contracts the elite players should be playing almost every game. If they cannot; they are, by definition, not elite players! Their just injury-prone. This needs sorting out – now!

Simon Jones and Ashley Giles are long-term injuries and need to be truly fit – instead of just declaring themselves fit. Jones is essential. Giles expendable.

The loss of Petersen was a body blow. At his best, he is a match winner in one-dayers. Without him the lower order has been exposed for what they are. Ordinary. Collingwood is unconvincing in what is supposed to be his speciality – one day cricket. Strauss is having a nightmare. He has suffered enough ill-luck in the form of bad umpiring decisions to last a life time. Combined with the loss of Trescothick this has meant that England are always chasing the game.

Against the Ausssies – that is usually a recipe for disaster. So, it has proven.

Bowlers win matches, but the current crop have never had any runs to play with; therefore, it is unfair to blame them over much. Still, they have, to a man, looked very ordinary.

Fletcher is past his sell-by date. He should go gracefully. A new coach is needed to take the players to an acceptable level.

England must hang in there until most of the current crop of Aussie world-beaters retire. That's the bottom line. Don't look for much respite in the up-coming World Cup. It's very unlikely.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Canaries Prepare for Relegation

Norwich City Woes

Somehow escaping the attention of the well-paid journalists who produce such pap, the leading story about the fortunes of Norwich City FC today concerns the number of players who are out of contract at the end of the season and is clearly designed to prepare the long-suffering fans of the club for life in Division One. It's surprising that none of the Carrow Road hangers-on who masquerade as reporters have picked this up.

It's fairly clear.

Stories abound that the new manager, Wee Jocky Unintelligible Grant, is unhappy with the effort and commitment of some of his players. Darren, Premiership Reject and Massively Over-rated Mid-fielder, Huckerby is quoted in today's paper expressing his dismay that the Canaries have 13 players out of contract in the summer.

An innocent bystander might speculate that the two reports are related. Gruntie Grantie doesn't think much of many of the players he has inherited. The Board finally realises that they are paying a bunch of headless chickens vast sums for nothing. Grantie see a possible solution – wait till the players are out of contract, unload them to whoever wants them and sign a new bunch at vastly inferior wages.

Problem is vastly inferior wages implies vastly inferior players - (Yes, it's difficult to imagine but there are some even more inferior players out there!).

Granties' agenda is therefore clear but must remain disguised for political reasons. Norwich will bite the bullet of relegation in order to provide him with the opportunity to bring in players of his choosing. The majority of out-of-contract players will be allowed to leave by the politically expedient method of offering them inferior contracts and then bemoaning their ingratitude. Grantie would then be able to rebuild the team in his image and blame the club's demise on his predecessor. Looks like a win-win situation for Grantie. The real beauty is: if the club avoids relegation; he can still follow the same strategy. His starting point just becomes the bottom of the Championship instead of the top of Division One.

Delia and her cronies will rejoice that they have cut the wage bill and can spend more money on the really important things at the club: car parks, catering, and director's perks.

Everyone's a winner – except, as usual, the real supporters.

Whose fault is it?

The sheep who trudge willingly through the turnstiles on Saturdays must bear some of the responsibility. News that all the tickets for an up-coming game are sold is neatly contrasted by a letter from an irate season ticket holder who insists that he will only wait until March for some indication of improvement – then, if none is forthcoming, he will not renew. Bit late there, pal!

The supporters must shoulder a lot of the blame for not holding the club and its shareholders and directors to account.

Unless the fans wake up and realise the only way to influence the Board is to cancel their season tickets and not show up to matches, it's a good bet things will remain as unsatisfactory as they are.

Gaining a few converts from the local press wouldn't hurt either.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Chanting B-B, B-B, B-B

Chavs and chavettes hi-jack literature

Jade Goody is a prole. According to the original Big Brother in the novel 1984 by George Orwell, she is a powerless member of the great unwashed and can safely be ignored – as she will never trouble her intellectual, political and social betters.

Winston Smith, the novel's hero, speculates that the proles will one day overthrow the Party. Winston's hopes are as serious a case of wishful thinking as believing Jade is in imminent danger of being swept off her feet in a whirlwind romance by Prince Andrew. The 1984, the proles are powerless to overcome the Party. Orwell sums it up rather nicely when Winston's chief tormentor and torturer assures him that if he wishes to contemplate the future, he should imagine a boot smashing a human face – forever. Nice image that. But, then again, it's that kind of book.

Orwell wrote his warning about human nature and the prospect that the human spirit might be overcome as a modern morality play and a warning against totalitarianism. He would be horrified to see that his character, Big Brother, has been hijacked by the proles and that their agenda has become the chief form of entertainment for the masses. For, Channel 4's Big Brother is only that channel's variation on the genre that includes Coronation Street, Eastenders, and Neighbours. The proles chief entertainments in 1984 include grisly, real-life executions of “ war criminals” (Saddam Hussein in 2007) and cheap, pornographic and violent films and novels (pretty much modern media culture then!). Orwell wrote better than he knew.

What Orwell couldn't foresee or, perhaps even grasp, was that the proles might become the dominant cultural influence. Enter Miss Goody – perhaps the most inaptly named person on the planet!

Jade's antics on Big Brother have set her up, quite rightly, for intense criticism. Her abuse of the Indian actress, Shipa Shetty, is nothing less than mindless bullying.

What is truly deplorable is the protestations by the programme makers that they are raising issues that need to be discussed. Rubbish. Bullying does not need to be discussed under the guise of reality TV – it only needs to be condemned. By placing profit before responsibility, Channel 4 has exposed the worst side of the media. So, where does the final responsibility lie?

With us, I'm afraid. As long as people are “entertained” by Goody's antics, there will be a market for showing them. As long as newspapers vie with each other to print the most vile story of the year and people queue up to buy the newspapers, they will continue to do so.

Solution. Stop watching Big Brother and stop buying the Sun. It's that simple.

Final take: you can see examples of Jade's behaviour any day in any playground in the land. Fat, ugly girl bullies elegant, pretty girl because she is elegant and pretty while the bully is fat and ugly. It's really that simple and, human nature being what it is, very difficult to stop.
It's Orwell's Two Minute Hate turned adman for Chavs. Instead of gathering together and chanting B-B, B-B, B-B over and over, the chavs and chavettes gather nightly in front of their televisions (instead of Orwell's telescreens) and bemoan the demise of one of their heroines – Miss Goody. Tragic! Not!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Saint Delia's Halo Finally Slips

Mike an Delia Exposed!

Poor old Delia (the poor man's Nigella Lawson) has finally let slip a few home truths about Norwich City at the annual shareholders' meeting.

According to the EDP, Delia said, “. . . she is willing to give up her role as Norwich City's “sugar mummy” - as long as any new investor brought 'new' money into the club.

City's joint majority share holder, along with husband Michael Wynn Jones, told the club's annual general meeting last night that anyone with sufficient funds could try their hand on the Carrow Road tiller.

However she emphasised that simply purchasing her and her husband's shares was not the answer.

“I have been here 10 years and nobody has ever come in seriously,” she said. “We have had the odd letter but nobody has ever seriously said, 'look, I will give this money if you let me have a seat on the board'.

“If people want to come along and offer Michael and me a large amount of money for our shares what is that going to do? That is going to give us a lot of money but it is not going to help the football club.

“The only way we would relinquish our shares is if somebody is going to put money into the football. Only if they put money into the squad - not if they buy our shares, we don't want money. It has to be that there is money for the squad, serious money for the squad.”

Now, this is interesting. Let's analyse what she actually said. To paraphrase: in order to tempt Delia into parting with her shares, there would have to be a big money offer. That being achieved, she would sell.

Wait a minute! Is this not the same St Delia who masquerades as Norwich City's saviour and benefactor? Surely not. If it were, she would be lobbying for anyone with real money to join the board. Buying her shares is irrelevant. What she is actually saying is: NCFC is up for sale. Anyone with enough money can buy it. I will sell my shares – as long as I get a good price. Does that sound like a selfless benefactor to you?

I have a solution. Let Delia sell half her shares for inflated prices. Then she can put millions into the club with the proceeds. I would love to see someone call her bluff!

Don't hold your breath. Asphyxiation is painful and final.

The EEN printed a series of questions they put to the shareholders' meeting. Here's my take.

What has happened to our youth policy?

Peter Grant – Och aye! We dinna have any good young players – and if we did we would sell them.

Why wasn't Nigel sacked sooner? Why did we sign just one player in the summer?

St. Delia: We didn't sack Nigel sooner because, for all his faults; he never criticised the Board. Even when we made it impossible for him to get any good players he loyally maintained that everything was super excellent and that I was a fantastic employer. What more would you want? We only signed one player in the summer because we will not pay the wages needed to get good players. It's as simple as that. Pass the doughnuts, please.

Where has the passion gone from Norwich City players?

Grantie: Probably down Ber Street – or maybe to one of the nightclubs down Riverside.

Why has so little money apparently been made available for new players? Will the Board free up money for the manager to spend in the transfer window?

Chief Executive Neil (Numpty) Doncaster: We can't make money available because if we did, where would my pay rise come from? And, Delia and Michael would have to stop pocketing the assets of the club.

Some questions the EEN is still waiting for answers to. I can help them out.

Why is it so difficult to get players to come here or clubs, such as Arsenal, to agree to loan deals?

Numptie Neil: Top class players will come here if we pay top class wages. I've already explained - we are not going to pay top class wages, so we have to make do with second-rate players. Thankfully, the local press (thanks guys) usually drool when when we sign anyone and pretend that whoever we sign is a great player. It's amazing really – the press are so thick!

Why should the board expect fans to sign up for season tickets next season?

St Delia: Why not? We've been short-changing them for years and they still pile through the turnstiles. I guess Norfolk folks are just thick-os. Please don't quote me on that (after all, I live in Suffolk).

Thursday, January 18, 2007

It's a Funny Old Game

Why America doesn't like soccer football

News that David Beckham is leaving Real Madrid for L.A. Galaxy has been met with only a modicum of excitement – chiefly by the shop-keepers on Rodeo Drive who stand to benefit most when Posh Spice spends the massive pay cheques.

Joe Public (President, American branch of the WGTU (Who Gives a T*** Union) has responded with Ho and a Hum and a Fiddly, Dee Dee.


Poor old Becks is flogging a dead horse. Or, a horse that is marching to the beat of a different drummer at least. Whilst the rest of the world is obsessed with football, America remains largely unimpressed and mostly unresponsive. Becks' arrival will not kick start Soccer U.S.A. He might do some good and trouser a lot of dosh, but he will not wean the American public from their diet of baseball, gridiron football and basketball – with a small dash of ice hockey on the side.

Trying to generate interest in soccer in America has a long and distinguished history. In the 70's Pele, Best, Beckenbauer, Moore, Marsh and a host of other stars were paid lots of money to play in the U.S.A. All the best players were there. Result. Poor crowds and not much interest. Why?

Firstly, the American public did (and still does) not want to watch a bunch of foreigners kicking a ball around. What success soccer has had in America has been hard won and has involved generating home-grown players. Soccer did get a boost from the '94 World Cup, held in the U.S.A. and, therefore, quite rightly, set about developing their own players. The results have been good. There are many Americans playing in Europe, including the Premiership, and there is a stable domestic competition which Becks will shortly join. Crowds are decent, if not spectacular, and steady growth is being maintained. Becks is unlikely to do any more than generate some local interest in the Los Angeles area.

Secondly, it is “pie-in-the-sky” to imagine that just because the rest of the world has a benighted affection for football, the U.S.A. should, or is likely to, join in. Americans like winners. When the U.S.A. soccer ladies won the World Cup, they were rightly hailed as exceptional athletes. Interest soared. Lots of young girls began playing the game. It's an ideal game for girls who lack the abnormal height needed for basketball stardom. Team America can and does compete successfully with other nations, and they receive support and interest from the American public. Why not the men?

Two reasons primarily. One: Team America, men's version, has not been so successful. Qualification for the last World Cup was achieved but the team clearly wasn't going to challenge for honours. So, the public were largely unimpressed. Secondly, and most importantly, the game itself is not equipped to generate real enthusiasm in the American sports fan. Why?

What? Are you seriously telling me that what the rest of the world refers to as “The Beautiful Game” isn't good enough for Uncle Sam? Yep. That's about it.

Football's oldest cliché, “It's a funny old game” is often misinterpreted. Funny here doesn't mean humorous. What the saying really means is, “Football is a imbecilic game where skill, determination, athleticism and effort are often completely unrewarded and blind luck, poor judgement by the officials, the weather, and a hundred other nonsensical reasons are usually more important in determining the result of the game than the skill of the participants. It's the only game where the object of the game (scoring a goal) is so obtuse that it becomes almost irrelevant. After ninety minutes of skilful endeavour by twenty-two exceptionally fit and skilful players, quite often the purpose of the game (to score goals) is skilfully unachieved.” Fantastic! No wonder soccer has failed to impress the American sporting public.

It doesn't have to be like that of course. Sports, all sports, are human inventions and are not static. They do and should evolve. Almost every sport accepts that change is an integral part of the evolution. Almost all – except soccer. Soccer is stuck in a 19th century English public school time warp. It has been stagnating since it was invented by Toffs in long shorts and miner's boots with a ball made out of leather which, when wet, was so heavy that it must have been designed to break the bones of the foot, cause headaches that last for months, not to mention serious long-term brain damage, and reduce the spine of the idiot who heads it to a mass of quivering jelly.

If the Martians ever landed and had football explained to them – they would promptly leave, reasoning that any civilization which thinks that soccer is “The Beautiful Game” is seriously cuckoo and not worth conquering.

The reason that football will not “take-off” big time in the U.S.A. is football itself. Or, to be more precise, the inability of football to adapt to a changing world. Most of the idiots who govern football (did you know there are more national associations affiliated to FIFA than there are members of the United Nations?) simply conspire to maintain the status quo. There is no real impetus to evaluate the game and adapt it to changing circumstances. The very success of football as a world game is its own undoing. The administration is so unwieldy that any effort to improve the game is soon lost in a bureaucratic sea of isolationism, national agenda and chronic inertia.

For that simple reason the American public have rightly relegated football to a game suited to women and children. Americans will not take football seriously until the rest of the world takes football seriously – instead of conspiring to produce a hide-bound game of mind-bogglingly boring games populated by over-paid “heroes”.

Of course, there are fans who will cheerfully remind critics of the sweeping changes made in football in the last 100 years. Things like: modifying the offside rule (,1369,105502,00.html); changing the way goalkeepers may use the ball; increasing the use of substitutes – I wish the list was endless – but it is not. I'm struggling to think of any fundamental change since the game was invented. Some are long overdue. This is a tragedy. Football could be a much better game. How?

It is quite simple really. The purpose of the game is to score goals. What football lacks is a fair contest between attack and defence. Despite FIFA's talk about giving the benefit of the doubt to attackers, it is all just talk. Watch any game. The officials are philosophically incapable of allowing close calls to go the attackers way. Why – because goals are so hard to come by. The importance of scoring a goal is so over-whelming that referees and their assistants are scared to death to give the advantage to the attack.

Change this by making goals easier to score. Each close call then becomes less important. How? Easy.

Number 1 – make the goals wider and taller. Not by much – just enough to raise the average goals score by say one or one and a half per game. By the way, at the last world cup, such a system would have raised the goals per game to just about 2.5, instead of the woeful 1.hardly anything it was! We could argue precision but for arguments sake how about six inches taller and a foot wider (15 cms and 30 cms). Does anyone seriously think that this would make the game something fundamentally different?

Number 2 – enlarge the area of the pitch. Yes, larger. Modern player are fitter and faster than their 19th century fore bearers. Give them the room to show their skills. Again a 10 to 15 percent increase in the pitch area would make a real contribution to opening up the game, for players and spectators alike.

Number 3 – change the off-side rule. Instead of tinkering with the rule – overhaul it. There was an experiment in moving the “off-side line” from halfway to the 18 yard box. OK, maybe this is too much – but how about an ice hockey type off-side at a third of the attacking area? Give players a chance by extending the playing area by making them defend a larger space. It's not rocket science!

Number 4 – give the “Assistants” real power in the game. On a football pitch you have 22 extremely fit athletes trying to kick a ball and (sometimes) each other. It is ridiculous to imagine that one middle-aged official is going to be able to control the game and make correct decisions. Use the Assistant Referees, who were “upgraded” from Linesmen a few years ago – but who still act only on the periphery of the game. Let the Referee control the middle of the field. Get the Assistants onto the field and let them involve themselves much more closely with the last 20 metres of the action. That's where getting it absolutely correct is most important.

Four simple changes to get the game into the 21st century and get more goals into the game. More goals equals more excitement. More goals means less controversy. More goals will bring more crowds. Can anyone honestly say I'm wrong?

All it takes is a change in mind set. Stop seeing football as “The Beautiful Game” and see it simply as a game like any other.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Growth Industries

Plods strike again!

Lot's of things confuse me. It's easily done. You know the type of conundrums: why is there air? Why do wild bears wee in the forest? How many beans make five? I'm sure you are familiar. OK, some of these are just silly – but some conundrums are quite mystifying.

Let's take blankets for starters. Just ordinary blankets. Most people have one or two about the house. Even if they prefer a duvet, they keep a blanket handy for emergencies; like the mother-in-law arriving for a visit, or being thrown out of the house for staying too long in the pub. Handy things blankets. Especially if one is to hand if you do end up sleeping in the shed.

Where do they come from? Almost anywhere really, shops mostly. Strange there would still be a good market for blankets. Unless they are given to homeless pikeys at Christmas or victims of Pakistani earthquakes, you wouldn't think people buy a lot of blankets in a year. We've got some upstairs that are quite old. Years old, for sure. I can't remember the last time we actually went to the shops and bought a blanket. I suggest that most people are in the same boat.

Just thinking about blankets could do your head in! But, there is one real area for growth in the blanket industry. Perhaps that what keeps them in business.

Figured out where it is? The police. Yep, the Old Bill, the Fuzz, the Cherry Tops, the Plods. They must buy more than a few blankets every year.

Figured out why? Because, whenever someone is arrested or transported to court the coppers provide a blanket to cover the criminal's head and upper body. Why do they do this? Perhaps they get a kick-back from the blanket manufacturers trade organisation.

What are they up to? Beats me.

Since the accused must appear in court (in public) without a blanket over their head, it would make sense for the coppers to mind their own business and get on with their job.

Who at the police station is in charge of blankets? Where do they get them from? How many do they use a year? (Presumably, the police are only able to use a blanket once – to avoid health risks or avoid contamination by other criminals DNA!

Crikey! The Constabulary must go through thousands of the damn things every year!

I'm going to investigate shares in blanket companies. Suggest you do the same.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Norwich City FC Fun

Enjoy footie fans!

Q: What do you call a lot of very rich people sitting around a TV watching the FA Cup?
A: Norwich City football players.

Q: What do Norwich City and the evangelist, Billy Graham, have in common?
A: They can both make 20,000 people stand up and scream, "Jesus Christ".

Q: What should you have at Carrow Road instead of crowd stewards?
A: Goal posts – nothing goes past them.

Q: Where in Norwich are £20 notes most scarce?
A: Carrow Road – there's never a score there.

Q: What do you call a Norwich City player with a Championship ring?
A: Fraud or thief!

Q: Why was Peter Grant so upset when his team sheet went missing?
A: Because he hadn't finished colouring it in.

Q: What can you buy with a Norwich City season ticket and 50p?
A: A cup of coffee.

Q: How many Norwich City players does it take to win a football match?
A: Nobody knows and we may never find out.

Q: What do Norwich City and hedgehogs have in common?
A: Both play dead at home (and get killed on the road).

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Sadly Insane

Sadly takes the long drop!

So, Saddam Hussein (titularly Sadly Insane) is an ex-President of Iraq. Actually, he's pretty much an ex everything. Like Monty Python's parrot – he is permanently “ex”, i.e. this parrot is dead.

Not much to lament there.

What is lamentable is the bone-crushing nauseating rush by Labour politicians (who ought to know better) to jump on the anti-capital punishment bandwagon “caused” by the unsavoury nature of the actual execution. That, and their slavishly stupid attempts to on one hand applaud the efforts of the democratically elected Iraqi government, while simultaneously, on the other hand, expressing their heart-felt (yeah, right you hypocrites!) opposition to the death penalty.

What abject nonsense.

No-one believes that Saddam could have been brought to justice but by the combined efforts of the USA and Britain. No-one believes that the Iraqi government could dispense justice to Saddam without the approval, co-operation and complicity of both powers.

Unfortunately, only the US has the necessary political maturity to explain this to the public and not hide behind the ridiculous pretence that “it's nothing to do with us”. As 'ol Dubba might say, “That dog won't hunt”. Pretending that the execution is nothing to do with the UK and their politicians reiterating their long-standing, historical and illogical opposition to capital punishment only serves to make the politicians, of all major parties, look like light-weights. Just when they should be punching above their weight – they can't resist trying to distance themselves from what the general population applauds.

Think I'm making this up?

From the internet:

Although many groups campaign against any re-introduction of capital punishment, its restoration remains popular with the public. Those in favour of its reintroduction cite natural justice and its value as a deterrent.

However, this apparent public support is not mirrored in the political establishment and any movement to reintroduce the penalty would be unlikely to survive a vote in any recent House of Commons. Indeed, despite three 'free' votes in the last 20 years, MPs have rejected all calls for its restoration.

From an on-line survey:

The 2005 survey has seen a 56% increase in activity over the previous year, giving a total of 1,188 responses.

Of these an overall 66.5% were in favour of the death penalty for some or all of the offences suggested.

This survey claims no demographic or statistical basis. All responses were entirely voluntary and only from people who visited the Capital Punishment UK website and who presumably had some interest in the subject.

There is little or no doubt that the general public supports the use of capital punishment.

This does not, of course, make capital punishment either right or appropriate – nor is it necessarily a good reason to re-introduce it in the UK. What it does show, however, is the appalling arrogance of statements by UK politicians who attempt to distance themselves from the hanging of Saddam Hussein - a process of their own making and responsibility. This is criminal hypocrisy.

Personally, I'm opposed to capital punishment – on practical grounds. It's just too easy to make mistakes – even with Sadly Insane; therefore, life without parole is the appropriate punishment for perpetrators of heinous crimes. Sadly should have rotted in jail – not have been martyred by Iraqi militants.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Nah, nah - nah, nah nah

Chiefs stagger drunkenly out of Indianapolis!

We chopped. They dropped.

In a week where the Aussies confirmed the ineptitude of the England Cricket team; association football plumbed new depths of non-interest in the third round of the FA Cup; and I confidently predicted the demise of the Indianapolis Colts at the hands of the all-conquering KC Chiefs – once again the truth had an uncommonly bad habit of intruding into my reality (perceived!).

In racking up their defeat at the hands of the Colts, the Chiefs really outdid themselves.

Zero first downs in the first half.

Golden opportunity wasted after an interception gave them a first down on the Indy 10 with the score only 6-0.

Missed chip shot field goal from 20 yards.

Heroic defence from a very maligned group of players (Chiefs' defensive unit) utterly wasted by as inept a group of losers (Chiefs' offence) you are ever likely to see.

Three fumbles recovered – Chiefs dominate the turn-over war. For no good purpose!

On paper, I had it all worked out. Chiefs would run over the Indy run defence – Trent Green would throw just enough to slow down the rush – and Indy would never have the ball long enough to do much damage. Sounds good – doesn't it!

So, what when wrong?

Firstly, sport is like that. So is chess. That's why I lose always at chess. I can never see what the other guy is up to. Neither did the Chiefs coaching staff. They are an easy target. So they should be! They must be waking up wondering if they have a job next season. So they should.

More importantly, it's the players. Watching the offence on the side lines during the game was painful. The body language and facial expressions spoke volumes. These guys were following another agenda. Most looked like they didn't want to be there. There are issues there that someone needs to sort out. Quickly!

Personally, it looked like the O-line decided to take super-star Johnson down a peg or two – and put in a bid for large pay rises to keep playing – by not blocking for him. His look said it all, “I'm wasting my time here. These guys are not playing for my team, they're on the Colts payroll this week.”

Sport is the great leveller. We got levelled. I mean, tarmac style!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Chop till you drop!!

Despite needing every improbable chance come immaculately true to make the play-offs, the Kansas City Chiefs staggered in this week when everything that had to happen – did!

Could this be an omen? Could be.

I'm out on a limb (as usual) in predicting the Chiefs to whup the Indianapolis Colts in the first round by about 10 points.

My record is actually very good. Last time the Chiefs played the Colts in the play-offs was two or three years ago at Arrowhead. I confidently predicted that poor old Peyton Manning, Indy s starting quarterback, famed for his ability to audible at the line of scrimmage and thereby confuse defences, would not be able to handle the crowd noise and the Chiefs would win easily. Sounded good. Looked good. Didn't happen. Indy won easily and ran rings around a poor KC defence.

This time it will be different. I've got 50 quid on the boys in red at 3-1 and they will come good. Time to turn the tables.

This time it's the Colts whose defence is poor. Actually, worse than poor. They are flat last in the NFL in run defence. Absolutely last. And, they are facing Larry Johnson, probably the premier running back in action this week.

OK, OK the pundits will say this and say that and Indy are favourites – but the smart money should be on the KC Sunshine Boys. A good running game should always beat a good passing team. That's the magic equation. Mr Manning will score against the Chiefs through the air – no doubt. But, Johnson will run riot and he will eat up a lot of the clock. Chiefs should score on every possession. If they do, as I confidently predict, it will take a lot to beat them.

So, you heard it here first. Get money on the tribe and chop till you drop!

Go Chiefs.