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Monthly Archives: November 2011

I couldn’t believe it when I got the phone call yesterday from our physio telling me the terrible news that Gary Speed had taken his own life. He was a player I had so much admiration for and the general reaction to his death doesn’t surprise me one bit. Tributes have been flowing in from all over the world for a man who was respected as much for his footballing ability and professionalism as he was for his qualities as a person.

I loved his style of play. As a midfielder, he had everything, an unbelievable range of passing (what a beautiful left foot), got stuck in when it mattered, scored some great goals (remember those bullet headers!) and was an inspirational leader. He captained every team he played for and lead by example. Most of his incredible tally of 677 league appearances came in the top flight but the fact he was still playing in the Championship at the age of 41 sums up what a true professional he was.

I’ll always remember playing against him for Dundee United in a pre-season friendly back in 1999 when he was at Newcastle as he was someone I genuinely looked up to. He made the game look easy, switching play with pin-point passes over 50 or 60 yards with hardly any back-lift. I’m honoured just to have been on the same pitch as him. He wasn’t a bad looking guy either. My wife used to have quite a few pictures of him on her bedroom wall when we first started going out as teenagers and I must admit, I felt a little bit under pressure! I think she was almost as excited as I was when I played against him in that friendly all those years ago.

In such a short time as manager of Wales he has given his country a team to be proud of, winning five of their last six games and rising to 45th in the FIFA rankings, with such a young and talented squad who knows where he could’ve taken them. It’s hard to imagine what’s driven him to take his own life but the tragedy has robbed football and the world of an honest, hard working young manager. My thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family who will miss him most. Rest In Peace Gary.

I found this poignant piece of video from the BBC particularly moving.

I’ve written another tribute for my Footy Extra Pro-View post this week, if you’re interested in having a look you can find it here.

I’m currently sporting some pretty dodgy facial hair. I’m not going to lie to you, I do enjoy growing a beard now and again but the moustache that I’m rocking isn’t a style statement, it’s in aid of charity. Movember gives us real men an excuse to grow a moustache throughout November and raise some money for the research into testicular and prostate cancer.  In the past I’ve taken part in Tacheback, a similar fundraising event, with the Everyman campaign, and since they don’t run it anymore, I thought I’d get involved in Movember.

And I’ve got good reason to. Just over five years ago one of my best friends and teammate at Leyton Orient, Adam Tann, was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Luckily he caught it early enough and after expert treatment, which included surgery and a single course of chemotherapy, he was back playing football within four months. He knows he was very fortunate and that’s why we first got involved with the Institute of Cancer Research’s Everyman campaign which is promoted by the English FA and the PFA. Diagnosed early enough, testicular cancer is one of the most treatable forms of the disease and a big part of their campaign is promoting awareness, urging men to check themselves regularly and if they find anything out of the ordinary, go to see their GP as soon as possible.

It’s a fun way to raise a bit of money for a really worthwhile cause. Davie Graham, one of my teammates at Dunfermline has grown one as well and his is looking much bushier than mine. He did cheat a little though as he wasn’t clean shaven at the start of the month – that’s the excuse for my patchy effort. It’s good to see Davie getting involved though and personally I think it’s about time there were more moustaches in the modern game. If you would like to sponsor me check out my Mo Space  page, any amount would be greatly appreciated. Here’s how I’m looking with five days to go.

Dodgy tache, but still looking quality.

Liverpool F.C. Home 1979-1982

I’ve not posted for a while as I’ve been really busy with Uni work so on my return I thought I’d introduce a new feature called My Greatest Kits. I know it’s a cheesy title but it does what it says. I’ll be featuring kits that I’ve either owned or played in throughout my career. Between the ages of 4 – 16, my wardrobe consisted mainly of football strips and tracksuits and some of you who know me might be thinking it would be better if it still did!

The young Easton brothers – nice shirts, pity about the shorts!

I’m kicking off with the very first kit I ever owned and probably my all-time favourite, the Liverpool home shirt from 1979-82 as worn by my boyhood hero Kenny Dalglish and my Dad’s favourite player, Graeme Souness.  I was only 4 when my parents bought it for me on the way back from our holiday in Cornwall and my Mum even sewed King Kenny’s iconic number 7 on the back.

It’s a simple design but it just looks so cool and was a kit synonymous with success. The Liverpool team of that era were untouchable, winning League Championships, League Cups and European Cups in one of the club’s most successful spells. Everything about it oozes class, firstly it’s made by Umbro with their logo and the simple liver bird club badge sewn in golden yellow. Then you’ve got the sponsor,  Hitachi (the japanese electronics company) emblazoned across the chest in white block capitals. Liverpool were the first ever club in history to have a commercial sponsor on their jersey’s and they didn’t muck about. I love the way it looks and I used to liked the sound of the word when I was little. When Souness smashed one of his 25 yard blockbusters into the top bin and then turned around to celebrate, it was like HITACHI! – Take a bit of that! There is one negative though; the material. I don’t know what it was made from but I can only describe it as being a nipple burner. After three hours running about pretending to be Kenny Dalglish, I’ve got to say there was a fair bit of chaffing and even a spot of blood on more than one occasion, but it was well worth it.

Worth checking out –

Historical Football Kits (Liverpool F.C.)

Umbro Football Shirt Archive on Flickr

Umbro Blog – football shirt post

The Liverpool Shirts Museum – Home Kit 1979-1982

Hope you enjoyed this blast from the past, let me know which kits you think should be considered classics.

This weekend Sir Alex Ferguson celebrated 25 years as manager of Manchester United. It’s an unbelievable achievement and probably one we’ll never see again in modern football.  During his time at Old Trafford Fergie has won everything there is to win and has established United as one of the biggest clubs in the world. I’m not a Man Utd fan but they play football the way it should be played and it’s been great to watch them over the years, especially in Europe.

There have been some amazing players in the United team during Ferguson’s time in charge which got myself and the lads in the Dunfermline dressing room wondering what his best eleven would be out of all those stars. As you can imagine there was a fair amount of debate but here’s my pick of the best of Sir Alex’s reign;

Schmeichel

G. Neville              Pallister                    Bruce                      Irwin

Beckham                 Keane (c)                  Scholes                   Giggs

     Rooney         Cantona

There were some tough choices, (leaving out Bryan Robson was one of them) and maybe this team wouldn’t necessarily work in that formation but I squeezed in who I thought were the best players.

What do you think, would your’s be any different? Let me know by commenting below…

I was going to have a bit of a moan after what’s been a pretty rubbish weekend for me personally. We were beaten 4-1 by my former club Dundee United and in the process I picked up another injury which I’m currently trying to shake off in time for our game against Hibs this Saturday. But the death of Doncaster Rovers’ forward Billy Sharp’s two-day-old son has given me a massive reality check and puts things into perspective. We’re all aware that there’s always someone worse off than us and I’m not saying we’re not allowed a grump and a groan when things aren’t going our way, but it strikes a chord when it’s a fellow player who’s going through something I can’t even imagine. Sharp asked to play only three days after the tragedy and scored the opener in his side’s 3-1 defeat against Middlesbourgh, revealing a t-shirt that dedicated the wonder goal to his little boy. Rover’s manager, Dean Saunders revealed that Sharp had pleaded to play as he wanted to score a goal for Luey, and what a goal it was!

I can understand his motivation for wanting to play again as soon as possible. When I was at Dundee United my Aunt, who I was very close to, died the day before we played a match and while I’m not trying to equate the two situations in any way, playing in the game was really important to me. It was weird but I had a strong feeling I’d score that day and with the support of my teammates, did manage to get a goal for her which was a special moment for my family. The dipping left foot volley Billy Sharp scored for his son was a fitting tribute from a player who wanted to do something positive when he would’ve easily been forgiven for taking a bit of time out.

I don’t think we should be comparing Sharp’s attitude with that of Carlos Tevez like so many in the press and on social networking sites have been doing. In my opinion his effort stands alone and is incomparable, it needn’t be put into any context. However, the outpouring of goodwill and support for him and the recognition of his unbelievable character should be celebrated. It’s increasingly rare that the world of football gets the opportunity to display it’s humane side since we have become accustomed to hearing about players’ negative behaviour. But in this instance the football community as a whole has shown all that’s good in the game by acknowledging Sharp’s display of such genuine courage in difficult circumstances.

“Absolutely brilliant to see support & admiration fans of all clubs showing for Billy Sharp tonight. Our thoughts are with him & his family.”
@football_league

“Thoughts are with Billy Sharp and his wife tonight after losing 2 day old son. Delighted to see him score. Very brave to play. #RIP”
@mattholland8

“Billy Sharp – fine example of a man,father & sportsman.Not forgetting ref Darren Deadman’s show of humanity in the situation.RIP Louie Sharp”
@swindon_em

Billy, you’re an inspiration.