Posts Tagged ‘English premier League’

125 years strong

125 years strong

As anyone knows who has wandered by Wellthisiswhatithink in the last couple of years, I am a fanatical, tragic, totally addicted, beyond help supporter of Southampton Football Club.

That’s why occasionally a post has no relevance whatsoever for anyone except my fellow football sufferers. This is one of those.

Now, if you didn’t vote for Saints to fill one of the three relegation positions … 18th-20th … then care to say who will fill them?

 

You have three votes in the second poll.

You have one week to vote in both polls!

News again – in Australia, today – of a father of two severely injured by a single blow to the head.

It seems that every few weeks someone gets “king hit” somewhere or other, and ends up hitting their head on a kerb stone or the ground and either killed or severely injured.

I have written before about the dangerously casual acceptance of violent behaviour that now seems pervasive in society, and the fact that people everywhere, young men especially, need to understand that a single blow thrown in anger can ruin lives, including their own.

I blame both the acceptance of violence fostered by living in a society where violence is normalised through endless coverage of armed conflicts, (not to mention the ready use of armed conflict to resolve disputes), and also where scenes of violence are commonplace (but sanitised) in innumerable movies and TV shows. And also where what I call societal violence – allowing entire families to fall through any concept of a social safety net – is accepted with little comment across the political spectrum – where concern for those less able or less well off than ourselves has somehow become daggy and unfashionable. Where breast beating ferocity meets any attempt to devise a society which is fairer or more caring.

Violent behaviour of any sort should never be acceptable. Not everything about the “good old days” has been airbrushed in retrospect. There is little doubt in my mind – no, make that no doubt – that society is more violent in many ways than it was in my youth, in terms of casual violence against the person, rather than formal violent crime.

Yes, of course there was violence back then too – I just missed the “mods and rockers” era but remember full well what it was like to attend a football match with 20,000 skinheads. But those social movements were transient, and have largely been left behind us. Sadly, though, what has replaced them is a world where no one seems surprised to see someone – anyone – throw a punch, or react with fury, sometimes to the mildest of stimuli, in a vast range of environments. The prevalence of “road rage”, for example is just one example, where one is frightened to remonstrate no matter how politely with another’s poor driving for fear of inviting a tyre lever through the windscreen or worse.

The answer? Well, it’s a cultural issue, of course. It’s not about enforcement or interdiction. Young people simply need to be brought up to respect the values of a peaceable passage through this world, and to instinctively reject violence as a means of navigating their way through life, instead of instinctively resorting to it. And older people need to be reminded that the mores of their youth had real value.

Jordan+ClarkI balance that miserable little diatribe, however, with this great story from the UK, that a young cricketer has just become one of a remarkably elite group of players – only four previously, in the whole history of the game – to hit six sixes in an over in a competitive (professional grade) cricket match. Step forward, Lancashire’s Jordan Clark .

The English county club said in a statement on Wednesday that the 22-year-old had achieved the astonishing feat in a Championship Second XI game against Yorkshire to join an illustrious list of names.

For Americans reading this blog – or anyone else who doesn’t have a clue about cricket – a “six” is the highest scoring shot a player can achieve on any one ball: banging the ball right out of the playing area without it bouncing on the ground, for a score of six points (called “runs” in cricket). A bit like a home run in baseball, if that helps.

There are six balls bowled in each “end” or “over”, a subdivision of the game after which play moves to the other end of the pitch for six balls, then back again, and so on.

(And so on ad infinitum, some would say, especially those who don’t enjoy the fine nuances of the game.)

So for someone to score six sixes in an over is unbelievably difficult, a freak occurrence. Like one player hitting six home runs in a row. Most players would be glad for just the occasional six in their entire batting performance, no matter how many hours that may last, let alone six sixes in one over.

 

Anyhow, as you can see in this wonderful piece of classic TV, former West Indies all-rounder Garfield Sobers was the first man to do it, against Glamorgan in 1968, and Indian Ravi Shastri followed suit in 1985.

South Africa opener Herschelle Gibbs smashed six sixes in an over at the 2007 World Cup and Indian Yuvraj Singh did the same at the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup the same year.

If young Mr Clark does as well as those names, he will have a hell of a career.

Just a moment after the sinking of the teeth. Photo: AFP

Just a moment after the sinking of the teeth. Photo: AFP

I had thought to spend some time today yammering about – in the context of my mental meanderings on societal violence – Luis Suarez’s just announced ten match ban from the Premier League for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic in last weekend’s English Premier League match at Anfield.

Liverpool were quick to react, with managing director Ian Ayre declaring: “Both the club and player are shocked and disappointed at the severity of today’s Independent Regulatory Commission decision.”

And then I decided, bugger it, I really can’t be bothered to talk at length about the obnoxious Suarez, or even my distress that Liverpool’s reaction wasn’t “Yup, he deserved it, and we’ve sacked the little twat.”

Especially since this is just the latest in a series of incidents from this astoundingly gifted but serially idiotic young man. Last year, remember, the FA banned him for eight matches and imposed a £40,000 ban for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra. And in 2010 let us not forget he was previously suspended for seven matches in the Netherlands when he sank his teeth into PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal, leading to him being dubbed the “Cannibal of Ajax”. Should punishments escalate for repeated behaviour? Yes, they should, Mr Ayre.

So. Well done Jordan Clark, enjoy your moment. And Luis Suarez? Read the start of this article, and ponder. Long and hard. Do you want to be remembered as the finest attacking player of your generation, or just as an out-of-control infant? Hmmm?

Adam Lallana celebrates scoring against rock-bottom Reading on Saturday, flanked by four of Saints most improved players this season. But which three teams will fill the bottom spots come the end? Photo: saintsfc.co.uk

Adam Lallana celebrates scoring, flanked by four of Saints most improved players this season. But which three teams will fill the bottom spots come the end of this year’s titanic struggle against relegation? Photo: saintsfc.co.uk

So another critical weekend has passed in the English Premier League, all bar the Manchester derby later today, but let’s be honest, the race at the top of the table is all but over, even if teams are still scrapping over the final European Champions League qualification place, so all the real interest now switches to the incredibly congested and exciting – well, that’s one word for it – scrap at the bottom to avoid relegation in one of the last three places in the division.

Here’s the table after everything except the Manchester game.

Saints up to 11th - nosebleed territory

Saints up to 11th – nosebleed territory!

After three great wins on the trot, (the last being a vital “six pointer” against Reading courtesy of goals from Jay Rodriguez and Adam Lallana) my beloved Southampton look all but safe from the awful prospect of the drop now.

(I trust that is not tempting fate.)

This becomes ever more vital with the vast influx of cash planned from TV rights next year – Premier League clubs will have no excuse not to be swimming in cash in 2013-14. Anyhow, a win for Saints against West Ham next weekend would make survival virtually certain and could also thrust West Ham into all sorts of poo depending on other results.

West Ham do have a game in hand over most of the other threatened teams but it’s against Man Utd in ten days when United will still definitely be wanting a win. Meanwhile, also having a game in hand Wigan can overhaul Sunderland and get out of the bottom three but that game is against Man City, and they’ll still need points, too. So the table as it stands now looks pretty realistic. So, footie fan, who will go down?

I am going to assume that Reading and QPR have been cut adrift, but you may disagree. My pick to go down with them is Sunderland (especially being aware of Wigan’s and Martinez’s fabled determination) but I’d also be very nervous if I supported Norwich or Stoke, both of whom seem to have lost the plot somewhat at exactly the wrong time. Villa seem to have hit a vein of form, but they have been dreadful all season, so who knows? Newcastle surely can’t continue to hover around the bottom with the squad they’ve got, can they? A recent uptick would say probably not. Then again …

So, you tell me: which three teams will head to the Championship come the end of the season? Vote now! Everyone gets three votes of course: just click on the boxes next to three teams and press Vote. Simples!

The poll expires in one week, so vote today! When you’ve voted, feel free to leave a comment as to why you chose the teams you did …

What must be said is that this season’s competition shows once again what a great test of clubs the English Premiership is.

To have so many teams in genuine danger of the drop at this stage shows how the differences between one side and another are really quite marginal, and why, on their day, most teams can beat most other teams. Even if the top spot itself is really, over the course of a whole season, restricted to four or five teams with very deep pockets, even those top sides can come a cropper against a more lowly team who lift their game on the day, as with Saints’ huge recent wins against Liverpool and Chelsea.

This is what gives the league its worldwide fascination. Long may it be so!