Tuesday, 24 June 2014
At work at the moment, so sneaking this one in under the radar.
Correct me if I am wrong but as of the last day of season 2013/14, Watford FC were a mid-table Sky Bet Championship side.
Today they announced the signing of Craig Cathcart from Blackpool, on a 2 year deal.
Craig Cathcart is a 25 year old who started his career at Manchester United.
Craig Cathcart has played professional football in Belgium.
Craig Cathcart has played 30 times in the Premier League.
Craig Cathcart has played 101 games in The Championship.
Craig Cathcart has 15 caps for Northern Ireland.
Craig Cathcart has played for Watford FC before.
He's British and experienced.
He's cost nothing. A free signing!
And yet still people moan!
Welcome to The Vic, Craig.
You have the support of all sensible Watford FC fans.
Saturday, 21 June 2014
Up, walked the dog and as sometimes happens, I had a few thoughts.
Less than 24 hours after their second defeat in the World Cup, England's slim mathematical chance of progressing to round two was blown to bits by a wonderful Costa Rican performance against Italy.
England's woeful tournament showings, especially since the 90's come as no surprise to me and I honestly believe that England are destined to never win a trophy (or come anywhere to winning a trophy) anytime soon and it goes far beyond the way football is taught at grassroots level.
If you've a few minutes to spare, here is my reasoning.
Firstly, the nation's obsession with celebrity - Football has enjoyed a huge popularity surge over the past three decades. The Hillsborough disaster in 1989 brought about a change in how football was watched live, with the introduction of all seated venues. That coupled with the birth of Sky TV and their glamorous coverage of the Premier League has made Football more accessible and its fan base has broadened beyond expectation.
In the last couple of decades, the media's obsession with who is doing what to who has more and more branched out from film and music stars, to encompass those involved in sport. It has created idols, heroes and villains off the pitch, of persons who really should only be any of those things on the pitch. We now have a nation full of people more interested in what players are wearing, or who they are sleeping with, than what they do in their primary profession.
The spoiling of our children - Wealth, in fact, has very little to do with the compulsion to spoil. I see kids, even with parents on low income, wearing all the latest fashions, playing Xbox, sporting the brand new home strip of whatever team they claim to support that week, all because they stomp their feet until they get what they want.
From the sport perspective, I see kids playing in youth football teams demanding they play for another team because they think they are better than those around them (in many cases, they are nothing special). I see parents pandering, letting the child dictate, rather than explaining to them that perhaps it be better to stay and fight and lead because the cream will always rise to the top.
Many don't teach their children that life isn't always easy and that you can't just give up and walk away when things get tough. Most things in life have to be earned. You have to work hard to achieve your goals.
Another word for spoiling is ruining. Kids are literally being ruined by mums and dads who simply find it easier to give in. Bluntly, they are morons breeding a generation of (excuse me) fucking idiots. Spoiling is not love. It is as destructive and abusive as the more obvious forms of neglect.
Those lucky enough to be picked up by top clubs and go on to sign professional forms, in many cases, are given too much too soon. The very best are millionaires in their late teens and even the lesser players are on so much dough that they consider themselves 'Billy Big Bollocks'.
It is not right that they are not given time to grow as people and it can hardly be any great surprise that no British, let alone English player has been considered the best in the world for as long as I can remember, what with all the distractions of money and fame and everything that entails.
It is total rubbish that the influx of foreign players to these shores has hindered the rise of home-grown talent. Grounded, humble, grateful and of course talented lads should have learnt from their overseas counterparts and become as good (if not better) but all of what I address above has put paid to that. You can't blame Dennis Bergkamp for a waster like David Bentley. The culture in other countries, whilst nowhere is perfect, is obviously more conducive to producing not only better footballers but better people. Who would you invite to your dinner party? Lionel Messi or Wayne Rooney? Of course, there are exceptions but I would generally stand by what I say.
The bottom line is, those England boys who went to the World Cup are the best we have. Sadly, whilst there has undoubtedly been hard work to get where they are, they are disadvantaged by being the product of British society that sets them up to fail. Too many end up overpaid millionaires, interested only in personal glory and how they are perceived in the media.
It will take a huge change to our celebrity and media obsessed culture, not least in addressing how we raise our kids, to have a positive knock on effect in changing our nation's future footballing fortunes. Can we get them off the PlayStation and out onto the empty fields? Can we make them earn their favourite team's football top or a new gadget by doing some chores? Will we set them limits and boundaries and instil the ethics of not giving up, teamwork and respect? Keep their feet on the ground? Make them work hard to reap the rewards?
As upsetting as being knocked out of The World Cup after two games is, it will probably change nothing, with so many willing to accept the circle of mediocrity, as long as it's teeth are straight and it's dressed correctly.
Grim as it may sound, perhaps only a huge catastrophe, a war or a natural disaster that devastates the nation, would give us the true fighting foundation to build on (and not just from a football perspective!).
1966 came after 21 years of rebuilding from the end of World War 2.
Unlike the devastation of war, the ashes of this current footballing debacle simply aren't big enough for a Phoenix to rise.
Internationally, we're done and have been for quite some time.
No one wants war or disaster, so the only answer is fundamental change.
Can we change in large enough numbers to make a difference?
I'm going to keep trying.
Friday, 20 June 2014
Despite England's World Cup capitulation, I must say it's been a fine week, the highlight being my son, Aidan, winning the 'Players' player of the season' prize, at his club's end of season awards on Wednesday evening.
Myself and his family are so happy for him.
As a goalkeeper, you can often stand by watching the outfield players taking all the accolades but in a tough season, that saw the side unfortunately relegated right at the death, Aidan had a lot coming at him and he eventually shone, going on to win this prize for the second time in three seasons.
I say 'eventually shone' because after half a dozen games or so of the twenty game league season, the lad was out of form, bemoaning his luck and was, perhaps, weighing up jacking it all in.
A quiet word from management, the 'threat' of being dropped and me taking up the responsibility of training him one on one at the team's weekly sessions bore results immediately. He improved, was back to his best inside three or four games and towards the end of the campaign he was in the best form of his young life.
This end of season award is testament to a turn around brought about by a good attitude and hard work. Both Aidan and I are very thankful to the team mates and parents who selected him as their player of the season and to the team management, who kept faith in him and have continued to give him plenty of encouragement.
Aidan sometimes finds it difficult to differentiate between Dad and Paul, the bloke who knows a bit about goalkeeping but he's getting there. He thoroughly deserves the recognition and I am very pleased to have played a small part in helping him forward and I'm looking forward to continuing to help him, ongoing.
His Mum and myself are rightly proud of him, not least in the fact that he does not get too big for his boots. There is no talk of leaving to play for a 'better team'. He is very much of the attitude that 'we've been relegated as a team so let's get back up as a team'. That's an attitude I, the management and many of the parents thankfully share.
The team, Evergreen Juniors, based in Abbots Langley (Near Watford) are moving up from 9 a side to 11 a side in the Under 13 age group this coming season (starting end of August) and are therefore looking for a few new players. Any interested boys must be going into year 8 at school this coming September. Training is generally on a Wednesday evening with matches on a Sunday morning, in the West Herts Youth League.
It is a decent team, with great lads and some real characters and it's really well run by Corey and Dean. The club has good facilities and is a real part of the community. All the parents are welcoming and friendly, which is always a bonus when someone new comes along.
If you want the contact details to arrange a trial for your lad, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can relay the info to you.
I wish you all a fantastic weekend.
I'll, no doubt, be immersed in football!
Sunday, 15 June 2014
I was, I am and I will always be far from perfect but if I could offer up one tip on what is the key to being a great Dad (well, parent in general really), it is that spoiling your kids, giving in to their every whim and letting them dictate what goes, is a recipe for disaster.
For me it's about giving them your time, your wisdom and every ounce of your love.
It's not about giving them everything they ask for.
Make them earn things.
Teach them respect.
What you do for and to your kids when they are young, will go a long way in dictating how they and subsequently their own children turn out.
Being a Dad should never mean having an easy life and as I know from personal experience, it's never too late to have a positive influence on the life of a youngster.
I'm giving it my all and I feel blessed today (and every day) because I am lucky enough to be Dad to a wonderful young man.
It's the best job there is.
And thinking about it, I've had some great role models.
Happy Fathers Day.
Tuesday, 10 June 2014
It's my mate's birthday today.
I thought I'd jot down a few thoughts during my lunch break at work, as it just struck me that I've now known the birthday boy for 40 years (40 YEARS!!!) or near as dammit, having met at a local pre-school playgroup when we were about 2 years old.
That chance meeting formed lifelong bonds between two families.
He and I have been through a lot, since then.
The whole of school, family holidays, Christmas jumpers, forming a band and writing music, to name a few things.
We've seen weddings, births and death.
We've laughed and cried.
We've fallen out.
We've cursed each other from time to time.
We know things we never wanted to know.
We've come back stronger.
We are there for each other.
We don't compete.
We have respect.
We have stories to tell.
We have brotherly love.
We are getting to know the next generation.
We are family.
40 years a friend.
Undoubtably one of my greatest achievements.
Happy birthday David and cheers!
Thursday, 5 June 2014
A fine, bright start here in suburban Hertfordshire.
Make the most of it while you can!!
As the calendar has meandered its way into the month of June, my attention, as it always does at this time of year, has been drawn to 'The Sway', the band I am a founder member of, played Bass Guitar in and on occasion, wrote songs for.
June was the month the monster was created and 1989 was the year. So this month is officially the band's 25th anniversary!
I don't often feel my age but the thought of 25 years passing since my first foray into the murky world of rock and roll is a scary one because it simply feels like yesterday.
We were a good band, no doubt but the bottom line is despite many great achievements (2 top 100 records, 2 UK tours, headlining The Marquee in London twice, being regular mischief makers around the pubs and clubs of Camden and having bands such as Travis as our support act), the step up to the next level, as with so many bands in that era just before the internet, never materialised.
I can look back now and be grateful, be it by the grace of God, the hand of fate or the whim of good old lady luck herself, that I didn't 'make it' because a man with my appetite for destruction and a taste for everything indulgent, in measures whatever the opposite of moderation is, would simply not have come out the other side.
In the intervening years since the band originally split in August 1995, I managed to control the addictions within me for large periods of time and although I have completely succumbed to them on three occasions, not being in a fame seeking rock and roll band undoubtedly resulted in a slower acceleration of the disease and ultimately, ensured my survival.
So today I can reminisce fondly about the music. I can laugh at the mayhem surrounding those early years. I can be satisfied that we got back together a few years back to record the album we never got to make first time round.
I'm proud of the lifelong bonds formed, that would not have been born, if not for the existence of the band. I am particularly warmed by the fact that my friend of 40 years and the man I wrote my first song with over 25 years ago, is still my friend today.
Not least, we, as a band, can be proud (and pehaps amazed) by the popularity that our music has achieved in our absence.
As this anniversary swung round, I have been online to check out what's what and have a fair estimate that all of The Sway related material across dozens of different internet sites, now tops half a million combined downloads, listens and views.
Everything has been put out there free of charge to listen to and download. The most important thing now, is that the music is enjoyed and continues to be shared.
http://www.jamendo.com/en/list/a27356/the-sway-silk-ep (link to the 1993 Silk EP)
http://www.jamendo.com/en/list/a27359/the-sway-going-blind-ep (link to the 1995 Going Blind EP)
http://www.jamendo.com/en/list/a113950/the-sway-when-worlds-collide (link to the 2011 Album, When Worlds Collide)
So I hope you do enjoy it and if you do, please, please share it.
I'm here today as a Father, Husband, Friend, Son, Brother, sometimes writer and very much an ex-rock and roll bass player.
As the title says, looking back is a marvellous way of checking how far you've come.
I've come along way.
And I did 'Make it' really, simply because I'm still here and I'm happy.
Happy Birthday to The Sway.