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World Cup Dreams (Days 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)

Just a quick post to say that World Cup Dreams is still going strong and because of that I am still yet to edit I can hear your pain. It will happen, but now it will not be till after the World Cup. If you have not read any of World Cup Dreams so far then feel free to catch up by going to Wattpad. Most stories are between 300 and 500 words as planned but there are a few poems of less and at least one story so far that is a little longer. To keep you up to date, the stories since last post are…

 

Day 5 – A (probably quite bad) poem saluting football fans

Day 6 – A view from a player who sits on the bench hoping for a chance but never gets it

Day 7 – A bit of radio commentary about an underdog upsetting the World Champions

Day 8 – A look at a player’s view of a controversal issues that still haunts them years later

Day 9 – A poem (slightly better than the one from Day 5!) from the point of view of someone who hates football and doesn’t want to hear any more about the World Cup

Day 10 – A frustrated fan talks about his team going out in the group stages of the World Cup

Day 11 – Someone has to go to a meal but would rather be watching the World Cup

 

And what is Day 12 about I hear you ask? Well, ok, you are probably not asking that but it was a  divisive way of saying it is written but you will have to check back tomorrow to read it. All there is left to say is that you can read World Cup Dreams here. Hope you enjoy and please feel free to leave any comments both positive and negative.

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Word Cup Dreams (Days 1, 2, 3 and 4)

The cover for the new project, a short story of 300-500 words everyday during the World Cup

The cover for the new project, a short story of 300-500 words released everyday during the World Cup

The problem with finishing writing on one project is you immediately want to start another one. This desire appears to be an issue with me as I seem to flit between projects quite a lot. About a week and a half ago I finished the first draft of ‘I can hear your pain.’ Rather than edit it I wanted to write something else, particularly a Super Lizard short. Again life got in the way and I was able to do neither of the two projects. However, I did had another idea, a challenge to myself, during this time. Being a massive football fan and loving the World Cup I wondered if I could write a short story of between 300 and 500 words everyday then publish it on Wattpad. This would build up to be a small book in its own right and look at football and the World Cup from different angles and using different written styles. The ability to quickly write a short and edit it each day appealed to me so I decided to have a go. Realising I could actually write more than one short each day so I had some in the bag for days when I couldn’t write helped cement the idea in my head. I am happy, therefore, to announce ‘World Cup Dreams.’ The first three shorts are up, looking at the excitement of travelling to the World Cup, wearing the team’s shirt for the first time in the World Cup and a disgruntled football hater talking about how they dislike it when the World Cup is on. You can get to it here. Today’s offering is written but not edited so will be up a little later today, it is a cheeky look at TV advertising around the World Cup.

I hope you enjoy the project as I am enjoying writing about one of my favourite sports from different people’s perspective, particularly those that are alien to me. Keep checking back on the book as there will be new shorts every day during the World Cup.

p.s. Come on England!

Who’s going to sort out these referees?

For some time now I have noticed refereeing standards falling fast in the upper echelons of English football. Over the festive period, however, it appeared that standards had taken a further nose dive. It seems every other game these days has a controversial issue. I am not saying that refereeing is an easy job, just that we need some proper standards. If a player underperformed in a few games he is dropped, if a manager loses a string of matches he is sacked, why is it then that referees get away with putting in poor performances again and again? It seems that the higher up you are on the refereeing ladder the worse you are allowed to be. Some of this is down to the rules, some, such as the offside rule, is confusing at the best of times. The problem as I see it, however, is consistency. One referee sends a player off for nothing whilst another allows teams to scythe each other down and does little about it. I love that football has discussion points but it is starting to get ridiculous. As a Leeds fan I watched as Ross McCormack was hauled back and would have been in on goal, why was the offending player, Broadfoot, not sent off? It is not as if that is a touch and go issue, one where the referee has to think about what would happen. The rules state a red card so a red card it should have been. A few days later I watched as Samuel Eto’o was allowed to foul Luis Suarez with no repercussions and whilst Oscar dived into challenges and did not get sent off. These are clear-cut decisions, surely the referees in question know the rules.

The problem here is that referees are protected when they make bad decisions. If a manager or player speaks out the only solution there seems to be is the fine that person. It is like referees are petulant teenagers who you have to tread carefully around lest they get upset. If there are issues we need to look at them ask if these are to do with the referee or the rules? Does the referee in question need to stand up and be counted or do we need to clarify areas of the rule book? If we delve deeper then we can solve these problems rather than just becoming another part of the blame culture. What concerns me more is that referees need protection from other areas, players that swear, diving and blatant cheating. There are rules that say that only the captain can talk to a referee but they are never upheld, why? Are they worried that they will be ridiculed? It is thoughts like this that give power to the top managers and thus mean they get favourable decisions.

One thing the BBC have said is that, like managers and players, referees should come out and talk to the media. I think this is a great idea, referees make mistakes and should be allowed to acknowledge this rather than leaving everyone else with an interest in football to fume about poor decisions or try to understand why they made a certain call. It seems to me that if we are to sort out problems with football we need to start with referees, get that right then players will not be out of hand and expect to get their own way, managers will start telling the truth a lot more as lies will just show their lack of understanding of the rules and we can discuss problems with officiating rather than either ignore them or fine whoever points it out.

I think one way to solve this is to give referees a system where they are judged on performances, maybe get points for bad decisions, when these points rack up they are banned for so many games. This would mean that referees need to get decision right, if they get the odd one wrong it would not matter but persistent poor performances would be picked up. It would also mean that there was a body who were making sure that rules were consistently applied. One thing this would clear up would be what the rules are i.e. if someone swears at the referee then they are booked no matter who they are. Referees should also have to explain their actions or apologise if they got something wrong, this would hopefully appease players and fans but all show that managers cannot just lie and take offence when their team has lost. All in all we need more respect in the game of football, we need players and managers to be true role models and the only way to achieve this is by playing by the rules. The referees are the keeps of the rules and as far as I can see they are letting people get away with acts that should be stopped, if they can not control a match then what hope do we have for everyone else in football. Something needs to be done and if FIFA won’t do it then the Referees’ Association needs to stop being petty and sort the game out properly rather than joining in with the moaning little kids that players and managers seem to have become. Rant over!

Why do the BBC not show more women’s football?

In previous posts I have talked about the depression that overcomes many football fans when the season finishes. Sometimes we get the joy of a tournament over the summer. For the men’s game this was not the case this year but the women’s Euro 2013 tournament is on and I feel that will keep me going. The more exciting thing is that one match each day is shown on BBC Three. Some people laugh or give derogatory looks when I say I am excited about the women’s Euro 2013 and I really struggle to see why. My history of enjoying watching the women’s game started some about six years ago when the women’s World Cup was on. I was shocked by the lack of skill and indeed concerned at the flapping nature of the goalkeepers. Four years later it was on again and I decided to try once more. To my surprise the standard had raised immeasurably and, although not as good as the men’s game in my opinion, it was an exciting spectacle with some very skillful players. Turn the attention a year later and we have the Olympics and now Euro 2013. At each viewing it is clear that the quality of the game is improving. Even so that now goalkeepers are flying across the air and tipping shots over the bar, something I never saw six years ago.

To my dismay I was just reading a post about England’s loss to Spain and some of the comments were simply unfair. Yes I understand that Hope Powell said that the women were far more technical than the men which at the present stage of development in the two versions of the game is simply untrue. But it is true that the England Women’s team are much more of a force within world football than the England Men’s team. Comments seemed to centre around a lack of skill, goalkeepers being poor and the team being tactically unaware. Did any of these people watch the game or were they just men trying to be macho by laughing at our so-called weaker sex? What I saw, admittedly only from the highlights, was some mistakes being made but mostly great long balls which the men could really learn from, strong finishes for goals, sweet through balls and teams that wanted to win. Yes there are still some improvements to be made, particularly in goalkeeping, but to say these guys are a joke is not only untrue but downright offensive. Is it that we still have people living in the dark ages who are sexist beyond belief or is it that some people cannot understand that a woman could be better at football than they would ever be? I love the beautiful game and I don’t think I am terrible at it but every woman on that pitch could run rings around me. Let’s just accept that women can be as good at football as men are. I think some of these people would be lucky to even be HABs (husbands and boyfriends….see what I did there?!). I understand that the own goal at the end was a little laughable but in the men’s game would that not have been a foul? I recon that those people who were chuckling about it would have been up screaming and blaming the referee in a men’s game. Is it simply one rule for one and another rule for another? Were are getting into alarming territory there.

One comment that made me think was about the development of the women’s game. There is now a Super League which is great for the game but promotion and relegation have not yet been integrated which makes it pointless for teams who are not in the top few. Apparently this will come in some point in 2014. However, despite some more media coverage of the national team, there is little talk of women’s football. I have seen a few more articles about it on the BBC Sport website but other sites like Sky Sports seem to ignore it altogether. The comment I mentioned previously was about TV rights. The BBC have done well to show many Euro 2013 games so why not have live games, or at least highlights, from the Women’s Super League? The game needs a promotional boost and as it is play over the summer then I am sure many men would watch the highlights or live games in the depressed stage when there is no men’s football. This may build their interest in it and thus build the brand and the game. It surely can’t be that hard to organise as they have managed to show the Euro 2013 games as well as showing highlights on the BBC Sport website. I for one would be much happier watching women’s football then countless repeats of old comedy shows and reality trash like Don’t Tell the Bride and Barely Legal Drivers. Speaking as a teacher with female pupils who play football, a boost in the women’s game would give not only entertainment value but show young girls that they can do what they like and be who they want to be. More importantly, increasing the popularity of women’s may just give our young females some stronger role models than the glut of orange skinned, pink lipped women in short dresses who’s only claim to fame is that they can down a pint as fast as any drunken fella and show off their knickers far too often!

Depression rises when the football season finishes

Apparently research (I don’t know where from?) reveals that football fans suffer withdrawal symptoms and depression over summers when there are no World Cups or European Championships. One of my friends recently stated, out of the blue, “life’s rubbish without football!” Whilst they clearly exaggerated that statement I do feel some part of it to be true. Us fans follow football like a religion, the stadium is one of our temples of worship. Yes it sounds sad but it is actually true. I have heard Christian Ministers say “no-one understands the world like believers,” and whilst I think there is no way to quantify this and thus is a load of rubbish there is something true in this about football fans. I would change the word understands to feels. People can understand a religion inside and out but do not necessarily have the same feeling. So it is with football, you can know all the rules, understand key strategies, learn how the players play but I don’t think you have the same feel for the game unless you are a fan. That said I may be wrong, I am looking at this from a fans point of view. Anyhow, a boring little anecdote for you now, I had set about one Saturday afternoon to do some gardening and though it would be fine as I could pop my headphones in my ears, get up the BBC iPlayer Radio app and get all the latest action. But the season is over. The blues started to hit me straight away. I usually check football news first thing in the morning to see if there is any transfer gossip or issues at a club, but whilst there is a bit it all seems rather dead. In a way I feel slightly empty. It is hard to explain the feeling to someone who thinks it is just a bunch of men acting like toddlers kicking a piece of pig round a field (ok I agree they act like toddlers!). This feeling led me to think about writing, a lot of people I know who write try their hand at the odd poem. I must admit, poetry is not something I overly enjoy but to expand my repertoire I thought I would have a go. I might do some more and pop it on Wattpad but for now here is a free poem about my summer feelings when football finishes. Be warned, it is terrible (that’s why I am giving it away free, no-one in their right mind would buy this!). Anyhow, enjoy…

As the cheers die down

by Chris Harvey

As the cheers die down

As the whistle is blown

As the ball bounces out

And the players depart

Like the roar in my ears

A small part of me dies

Silence in the stadium

Silence in my soul

No longer shall I stop

No longer shall I wonder

When doing the housework

When dragged out shopping

This device in my hand

This jack of all trades

No longer gets the attention

The attention my heart craves

It may be summer outside

But here I feel lost

For it is an odd year

No international lust

I am left to gossip

Reading headlines and web spaces

“Are they getting him?

Surely he won’t go there?

Please buy someone

Please don’t go”

Electronic versions

Of real life folk

Is all the contact I have

With the love of my life

I’ve won all the cups

I have all the trophies

But they are just pixels

No cold metal to touch

And they just add a score

Another achievement

I’ve unlock all the secrets

But no-one cheers for me

As the days go by

I count, like it’s Christmas

For it is my present

The escape that I need

Then there is it

The days are still light

I turn on the TV

Late in the night

They have pulled on the shirt

They run round the field

My passion is back

My religion rekindled

And the cheers have arisen

Louder than ever

The false hope is alight

We can do it this year

It is just like rebirth

Like a brand new beginning

A shiny new kit

Costing more than it’s worth

But I will pay the price

I will chant the chants

I will cheer with pride

And watch them fail again

It’s a sad day when you agree with Sepp Blatter!

He has had many strange ideas such as stopping goal keepers coming up for corners and free kicks, curbing goal celebrations and awarding World Cups to certain countries despite humanitarian issues, lack of footballing knowledge and dodgy betting, but for once I am actually inclined to agree with FIFA present Sepp Blatter. And what is this all about you ask (well probably not if you are football fans and have kept up with the news recently)? It is about Michel Plantini’s current idea to spread the European Championships across thirteen cities in thirteen different countries. If the number thirteen didn’t worry you then there are some views that may do. Whilst I know that UEFA president Platini wants to stamp his mark and make the tournament evolve with the times we live in, I feel the biggest losers will be the fans. Think about World Cup 2010 in Africa, what did that do to a nation, no, a whole continent. People from South Africa could very rarely see world-class football and as such the tournament was a boost the country needed and got locals further into the international game. Now if we spread that across the different nations then how would all these fans get there? Unless the countries that hosted the games play all their matches in their home stadium, but does that not give an unfair advantage to thirteen teams? In the old system, one or two countries had the home support and it meant something to them. If the cities chosen are based around the best football then are you just giving advantages to the best teams and most likely winners? What about those minnows? I have heard people say that some cities could be in countries that do not have the infrastructure or enough world-class stadiums to host a whole tournament. But these are teams that are unlikely to qualify. Does that mean there will be little support for the two teams actually playing in the stadium? Unless the stadium hosts all that team’s group games so it becomes a home away from home, but what happens if they get to the knockouts, do we have fans frantically travelling across Europe in the space of a few days? Well it would be like that if teams were not designated a home stadium. But if they are then the last group games could not be played at the same time and two teams would already know the result they needed. Again this is unfair.  To me it is all a logistical nightmare. The other way is to give the thirteen hosts automatic spots in the final tournament, but then doesn’t that make a mockery of qualification. Also what if they are drawn against each other? Unless you make the draw after the groups and maybe pick from the four who will host then everyone gets a chance. But this could cause large distances between stadiums say if England and Turkey qualified and both hosted. Going back to the travel issue, what about our carbon footprints? Multiple planes, trains and automobiles will mean increased CO2 into the atmosphere. That is not very 21st century now is it!

Blatter’s main concern is the atmosphere, saying it will lack any soul and I would have to agree. The home supporters always have a second team and are aware that they will only see that standard of football on a regular basis in their home country once in a lifetime. Imagine all the Olympics, European Championships, Commonwealth Games and World Cups being more in style like the Champions League. For me it doesn’t have that special atmosphere, that party feeling, a nation coming together to celebrate the beautiful game and people from around the world travelling somewhere to not only witness world-class football but to gain an understanding of another culture. Whilst I like Plantini’s stance on general football governance and financial fair play, I do feel his idea of spreading the European Championships across Europe is flawed. It raises more questions than answers. If we look in detail at those questions, the clearest and most obvious answers don’t seem to cover up a multitude of issues. But as that famous phrase goes ‘you don’t know if you don’t try.’ Lets just hope that if it doesn’t work they don’t just keep trying till it does.

One of my dreams has come true….and it only took a hash tag!

My first tweet on BBC Sport's Get Involved section

My first tweet on BBC Sport’s Get Involved section

If you read my last blog entry about a week ago I said I had joined twitter and made a comment about wanting to appear on BBC Sport’s Get Involved section. I can confirm that with my first ever use of a hash tag this has happened. The tweet in question was about Rio Ferdinand’s inclusion in the England squad. I believe that it is wrong that Hodgson has recalled Ferdinand. Yes I am a Leeds support and therefore a little biased but I cannot see Rio being more than a back up. If that is the case then we need to be aware we are playing San Marino, surely we should therefore keep with youth and look at players like Jenkinson and Wisdom. In particular Carl Jenkinson has been playing well for Arsenal, he has also been playing the top clubs in Europe in the Champions League. If we want to look to the future then bringing back an older defender who was dropped for footballing reasons seems odd to me. What has changed since he was dropped, very little in his form. We have got experience with Cole, Dawson and Johnson so do we need Rio as well? Yes we have got Montenegro and that is a very important game but I would not expect Rio to play in that game and thus any youngster that was brought in would not be playing either. If we do not get youth playing now we could find that we are in same position as before with the old guard failing yet again. Anyway, whatever your views are lets just revel in the fact that I am now one step closer to being a professional football pundit, look out for me on Match of the Day in the near future!