The Players of MSV Duisberg can step forward and take their bow, at least in one respect this season. Having struggled to avoid the drop from the Bundesliga, they are paying for fans to travel to the match at Wolfsburg on April 1st. Now the cynical amongst you will have noticed the date of the fixture and be thinking that this is a cruel April Fools joke on the fans, along the lines of transporting them to the ground and then demanding cash to cover the costs of the coaches and tickets having ensured that they will be there to support their team. Anyone who doesn’t pay will presumably be dumped in the middle of nowhere, miles from the nearest train station or autobahn and left for dead. But no, the players are deadly serious. Captain, Georg Koch, believes that The fans have followed us all season and paid out a lot of money in doing so,” only to witness the team become embroiled in a relegation battle. There are a number of more highly paid Premier League stars who could take note of this largesse and dig deep into their even deeper pockets to compensate their supporters for the absolute cack that they have served up this season – the players of Birmingham, Aston Villa and Newcastle spring immediately to mind – and even better learn from the humility displayed by Georg. Of course, if Duisberg lose then it will all have been a big Koch up.
As a marked contrast, Chelsea have been charged with “Not Controlling Their Players” again, this time after their tantrums at Craven Cottage following William Gallas’ dismissal. Even at the height of their misdemeanours, George Graham’s Arsenal side never repeated this trick two away games running. Some might say that this time Chelsea will get a points deduction which would make the title race interesting if say, three points were deducted as if United win their game in hand, they would only be six points behind with a visit to Stamford Bridge being the title decider potentially….But this all goes to prove that despite the words of Messrs Buck and Kenyon, protesting that all they want to do is have a big love – in with everyone, the players are just overpaid, ill-mannered thugs.
When I was a young lad, there used to be an advert for the Milk Marketing Board about a monster stealing kids milk so they’d better drink it before he got to it – the monster was called “Humphrey” and the tagline was “Watch out, watch out, there’s a Humphrey about”. This is soon to be updated to “Watch out, watch out, there’s a Lennart about” as the great big cuddly Wookie that heads up UEFA is itching for a row with the G-14 and standing squarely behind Darth Blatter in his fight with Charleroi. Whilst the cycnical amongst you may say that this is just politicking and that there is absolutely no way that The Stockholm Monster was backing the Boys From Berne just to curry favour for his chosen candidate to replace Boom Boom Blatter next year, I think he is genuinely worried. After all, the UEFA and FIFA competitions will be hugely devalued if the G-14 and chums bugger off and set up in direct competition. After all, let us not forget that if they go, they still own the players contracts and therefore would view any ban as a declaration of war which would mean that the players could not represent their countries, thus wiping most of Western Europe, Africa and South America off of the footballing map. Plus, it would not be difficult to work out which competitions would be televised – hint: it won’t be yours Lennart. The only thing that Darth Blatter needs to really be worried about is the shove over the edge of the precipice that he’s getting from UEFA. Any stronger and he will plummet into the canyon of obscurity from whence he rose.
The draw for the semi – finals of the FA Cup has pitted Liverpool against Chelsea with the winner probably going into the final as clear favourites, unless of course Middlesbrough get there who have beaten both teams this season. I am sure that Jose and Rafa have their excuses ready for their defeat but the law of averages puts Looneypool as slight favourites to progress as they have not beaten Chelsea in the four meetings between the two sides this season, scoring just once in those matches. It is not often that I want Liverpool to win but on this occasion it is the lesser of two evils.
Today’s Tunes are from my favourite band, New Order. Temptation was the first record of theirs that I bought, well got given. A friend decided that my love of all things punk, mod, ska and soul needed updating so gave this as a birthday present which introduced a certain coolness that Crass just couldn’t do. As it is, my parents came to loathe this song as it was regularly cranked out on the turntable at loud volumes as you do when you are sixteen. The second is Blue Monday which brought forth the bands debut on Top Of The Pops which was still something to be proud of in those days. In marked contrast to the mimed slick pap of the era, they insisted on playing live – another momentous thing back then – and sounded bloody awful compared to their peers. Yet they were infinitely cooler for doing so. These are taken from their gig in Hyde Park during June 2005.