Monday, September 17, 2012



Much is being made of the recent report into the Hillsborough disaster.

Finally we learn what the people in Liverpool have been saying for years: the police action on the day were the cause of many deaths that could have been prevented.

This is not new; nor is it news.

The wheel has turned full circle. No-one now is prepared to blame anyone except the police and the authorities.

Another tragedy is likely to be played out in the coming months as normally responsible and thoughtful people jump in the band-wagon to blame everyone and anyone except Liverpool supporters or, indeed anyone else who may have been responsible for this tragedy.

Perhaps this is only right?

After all, many innocent Liverpool supporters were killed in tragic circumstances. This is now beyond question. And, the police and other authorities have been shown to have been either monumentally stupid, carelessly incompetent, or downright criminal.

This is clearly beyond the pale.

However, and no matter how unpopular it may sound, the primary cause of the tragedy was the behaviour of a large proportion of the fans at Hillsborough that day. The actions of the police were reprehensible, but they must not have to shoulder the complete blame.

The fans who turned up late, probably having another beer in the pub, and overwhelmed the incompetent police, who were supposed to be supervising the crowd, were the cause of many deaths.

People in Liverpool who now view this tragedy as somehow a vindication of the fan's actions should be ashamed and are complicit in tarnishing the memory of those who died.

There are many people in Liverpool whose punishment is daily to remember their part in causing the deaths. That is probably punishment enough for them. Others, including the police who were complicit should be brought to justice.

Thursday, September 06, 2012


We lost the dog today.

I just forgot how sad I could get.

We keep cheering each other up and reminding ourselves of the positives, but it's not really doing much good.

She was fine yesterday, hanging around the dinner table to see if she could cadge a few scraps. She went racing down the garden this morning absolutely sure she had spied a cat. She had two small biscuits and then got on the settee. About mid-morning, I noticed that she was panting and not really asleep. Julie's nurse came at 12 and Sheba went to her water bowl, I say “her water bowl” but it's the water bowl she shared with the cat. She made to move outside but dribbled wee all the way out of the conservatory. She had never done this before. She got back on the settee and we could see she was not well. Her eyes were rolling and she was panting hard. I rang the vet and they could see her at 12:30. We managed to get her in the car, but instead of getting excited as we drove up Park Road thinking she was going somewhere exciting, she just lay on the back seat next to Julie. At the vets, she did not want to get out and I had to lift her. She managed to walk in but lay on the floor outside the vet's door.

Sorry, just had a short break, watched a bit of the One Show, but as I got up I glanced at the settee and was upset not to see Sheba lying in her usual spot.

The vet took her for an X-ray and a scan. I expected the worse and I was not disappointed. She had a massive growth on her spleen. It could be cancerous, about a 90% chance. Our choices? They could operate and remove the growth but the op would probably kill her – she was 13 and quite a large dog with a heart murmur. I opted to have her put down. We managed to call Pete who came down and we had 10 minutes alone with her. She was in a little pain, but lay quite quietly on the vet's table. The actual injection is a strong tranquillizer and quite quick, she was gone in just a minute.

I always draw the short straw. I had to take Suzy down to be put to sleep in 1999. That was traumatic, but now that more than 10 years have elapsed, it has faded in the memory. Today's has not had time to fade and it's quite raw.

The vets were very good. They ask if you want cremation (No) and provide a large box to bring her home in. She was weighed just before she went in to see the vet and was 28 kilos. That a large amount to lift as “dead weight”. I got Pete to come back in and lift the box into the van. She went home with Pete and Julie in the van and I drove the car. It was all so sudden.

Pete dug a nice grave halfway down the garden near the bush where she liked to “hide” her football when you kicked it. We removed her collar and Julie remembered that we never had another name tag made for it. Her first collar, which wore out, had a tag that Julie had had made with Shebba on it. We teased her often about that and sometimes called the dog Shebba for fun. We put her in with her yellow Frisbee and the “manky football” she loved so much. I took a few photos. I spied another of her footballs near the door and kicked it angrily towards the apple tree. Pete retrieved it later and placed it on the grave. I spent the evening comforting Julie and expecting the sense of loss to fade.

I went to bed early convinced that I would be able to sleep, but all I could do was doze and think about the dog. I had to précis the Chiefs football season over and over in my mind to stop from feeling sad and finally went to sleep, only to wake at 03:30 for the toilet and just dozed until time to get up.

In the morning Pete appeared and confessed that he had slept little and could not stop thinking about Sheba. We agreed that it was probably the suddenness of her going that had affected us so badly.

I thought it might help to remember what I had been telling the family for years, i.e. “That dog lives better than we do!”. And, she did.

Sheba was a rescue dog from Gt. Yarmouth. She arrived in the spring of 2000 on a Saturday. Pete and Steve were both away at University and I was working away at Finborough during the week, so I thought that Julie should have a dog for company and as “protection”. Suzy had passed away a few months earlier. They brought her over from Yarmouth in a car and we waited at home. She bounded out of the car and into the house. She was a bit bigger than we had hoped for but they said she wouldn't grow much more (they were wrong). She immediately latched on to Julie. I gave them a cheque for £50. I hope it helped to place other dogs. We prepared the garden by having a small brick wall built to close the gap between the bathroom and the garage. We blocked the gap between the hedge and the garage with the old metal gates that used to be at the top of the drive way.

We had a lead and we walked her down the road. She pulled a lot, so Julie bought a special collar to train her not to pull. It was never entirely successful. She settled straight in. How many time did I say over the years, “Dog, it was the luckiest day of your life when you arrived!”? She followed Julie everywhere and incessantly – most likely afraid she would lose her. I was at work on the Monday but got reports everyday by telephone. She soon proved her worth during the week when she barked at a woman causing a row in our road in the early hours and woke Julie. Clearly nothing could move near the house without her knowing and then letting you know. This talent stayed with her all her life.

We booked her in to the Bridge Vets and had her spayed and vaccinated.

One of her first walks was to Salhouse Broad. We had one of the extendible leads so she could roam a bit and we occasionally let her off the lead entirely. Fortunately, she was on the lead when she spied a group of ducks sitting on the quay side and charged. She flew through the air and landed in the Broad. She just sank. I managed to grab her collar and pull her out. I have never seen a more surprised look on the face of a dog.

One of her favourite walk was down to Caen Meadow where she would race up the hill for the ball and swim nearly across the river chasing a stick or the ball. When young she never tired of this. As a middle-aged dog she loved to play there in the snow and would happily lie in the river even if she had to break the ice in order to get in.

I thought to finish this today, but have to stop. Julie, Pete and I were just talking about Sheba and we all started crying again. You can tell yourself how silly this is, but it doesn't seem to do any good. I intended to pick it up on Sunday, but I was in the garden and was telling my next door neighbour Geoffrey about it and I stated crying again. I think I'll have to leave it for a bit until I can get some kind of closure. I feel so silly, but I just can't deal with this at the moment.

Months have gone by and I'm ready to finish this off.

We are never really good without a dog, so after my knee replacement and some recovery time we found a small Jack Russell/Patterdale terrier cross for sale in Norwich. Just a 12 week old puppy and with the same colour fur as Sheba; so I bought it. She has settled in well. We move on, but we don't forget.

Just heard today that my friend, Linda Taylor, has lost her dog, Shelby. Hope she and Robert get over it quicker than we did.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Chiefs Prospects 2012

Here we go again!

Instead of my usual shot in the dark kind of prediction for the Chiefs this season I decided to have a look at what the “experts” have to say.

The Chiefs are at 17 in one of the the power rankings and a few pundits have them as Div winners or wild card prospects. A few weeks ago, when I first looked, they were far more favourably assessed.

What's gone wrong?

Pre-season results were poor. In the areas where they were seen to be strong – they were weak. The defence couldn't do anything and the offence scored few points. A sure-fire recipe for dropping in the rankings.

The most quotable quote I saw is “As Matt Cassell goes, so go the Chiefs”. Matt is running out of time. He has to produce or he is gone.

Ignoring the pre-season, simply because it is the pre-season, things do not look so black. The running game is back and back stronger. Both offence and defence line play looks much stronger. The receiving corps looks very good. All positives.

The Chargers seem to be the favourites to win the Div. Nothing new there – they always are and always fail to produce. The pundits love them but they can't win consistently. The Broncos have the Peyton factor, but that's about it. He will bomb in Denver. Believe me, he will not be a factor. The Broncos will sink and sink fast. The Raiders will be the Raiders. They may win some games.

The Chiefs look the strongest in a weak Division. They should win it. I'm going with the positives from:

NFL Power Rankings: Chiefs at 13

The expectations are high in Kansas City after general manager Scott Pioli added a load of talent in the off-season. How well it pays off depends on the incumbents, not the newcomers.

The Chiefs offence will only be as good as Matt Cassel is at quarterback. He struggled in the 2011 campaign minus Jamaal Charles and Tony Moeaki, and the team hopes a shuffling on the offensive line plus the addition of Eric Winston will help Cassel play more consistently.

The defence was a great unit in 2011, but the front three in the 3-4 defence is a major issue. Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson haven't lived up to their draft stock, and even 2012 first-rounder Dontari Poe is on the second team right now.

The Chiefs have stiff competition in the West, but the division is theirs if they play up to their potential.

Summing up: the Tribe are on the up. Cassel will have to play well for them to win. The running game will keep them in a lot of games. The defence will be better (barring injuries). They should win the Division and may win a play-off game. They are still a year or two away from a Super Bowl. But, who knows? As usual, the NFL will be super-competitive and very hard to predict. Everyone has the Packers as Super Bowl favourites. They were last year as well and look what the Giants did!