Archive for June, 2011

Book review: Calcio, a history of Italian Football

June 29, 2011

Calcio, a history of Italian Football : by John Foot

First Published : 2006

ISBN-13 978-0-00-717575-8

Score out of 5 :

Romeo Benetti played for Milan, Juventus and many other clubs in the 1970s. His appearance alone was terrifying. A huge muscle-built man, with a big face, he sported a large red moustache. Rarely did he come away from a challenge without the ball. His job in every team he played for was a simple one – win tackles, and then give the ball to the appropriate playmaker. Benetti was the epitome of the mediano – defensive midfield ball-winners who were – and are – a key component of every successful football team.[…] Nobody enjoyed being marked by Benetti. You never had a moment’s peace, or a yard of space, and you came off the field feeling as if you had been at war, not in a football match. Players like Benetti were the water carriers or, to use one of my favourite Italian football phrases, distruggitori di gioco – destroyers of play. Over the years, Italian football made destruction of play into an art form.

Back when I started watching football in the 1980s Italian football was a far-off exotic animal, you only ever had fleeting glimpses, like their national side destroying the second-best Brazilian side ever in the 1982 World Cup in Spain, likewise West Germany in the final (with Marco Tardelli and that goal celebration). Then there was the low point of Heysel in 1985, but it was still an unknown (but very much a threat) to any British fan whose club or country wanted to progress away from our shores.

That all changed (the knowledge, not the threat) in 1992, with Channel 4 and Football Italia. After watching that first unforgettable live TV game, a thrilling 3-3 draw between Sampdoria and Lazio I was hooked on Calcio (the Italian word for football which also means ‘kick’), and a (fairly uncommited) Sampdoria fan. I’ve had since 1992 a keen interest in Calcio as in broader Italian culture (the most stylish people in Europe, with the best cuisine), and anything about their version of the beautiful game.

This book really is a must if you want to know the background and rich history of the Italian game. Pretty it ain’t – calciopoli is only the last in a long line of ludicrous football scandals to afflict the sport. But the beauty, la passione, is there for all to see. A long chapter entitled ‘Foreigners’ highlights the baffling lack of success of British players in Italy (apart probably from John Charles or Liam Brady), compared to the huge successes of players from Holland (Van Basten, Gullit, Rijkaard). There’s lots more, the legendary and tragic Grande Torino side of the 1940s, heroes on the pitch from brutal mediani like Romeo Benetti to the outrageously talented abatini (young priests) like Gianni Rivera. If you like football you’ll love it, if you enjoy Italy you’ll also love it, it’s a fantastic read.


A casual buy no. 37

June 28, 2011

Summer is teasing us, even down here on the naturally sunny south coast. She’s been hiding for most of June, and peeks out shyly from behind her veil once in a while. The upshot of this is I’m still wearing gear that usually gets aired in April before being stored away until October. A lot of dressers prefer the colder months, they get to wear more clothes, and thats what makes them happy after all. I’m not of that school, I love the heat, the jugs of Pimms, ice creams, polos, sunnys and shorts etc.

I haven’t picked up much from CP Company in a good while now. I’m a huge fan of SPW (the Bologna company that owns both CP and Stone Island), but have been buying more Stone Island, because more of that arm of the Italian dynasty has been catching my eye. But I wanted shorts, and although I love SI outerwear, I don’t really go for their bottom half stuff – the compass doesn’t look right on your arse I think. I’m also wary of cargo shorts, scruffy things with big map pockets, D-rings and all that other nonsense. Loads of good labels seem to have succumbed to this trend, but luckily CP Company haven’t. Wearing shorts shouldn’t mean you let yourself go, perhaps on the beach you can, but around town shorts need to be smart, and these are very smart indeed.

The sheer joy of cycling

June 24, 2011

My running days are virtually over, I’m 15 stone and when I do manage to get out for a run I’m in bits for days after, bad knees and sore ankles. Not wanting to stop keeping fit I’ve taken up cycling again, after a break of about 5 years. I must say I’ve missed it.

Living in the wonderful setting of Brighton & Hove there’s no excuse not to get out there and see the beauty of the place. So far I’ve been bombing along the undercliff walk to Saltdean, getting soaked in Shoreham before racing along the A270 back to Hove, I’m a new man I tell thee. Of course there’s always rough with the smooth, my arse is in total clip from my criminally spartan saddle – but it should toughen up soon enough. Here’s a few shots from the last few days of cycling along the coast, taken with the Vignette app on my HTC camera phone, which makes anyone into a half decent photographer.

A casual buy no. 36

June 22, 2011

There’s a Sale on at Clarks at the minute, by and far my favourite shoe manufacturer. I picked up this pair of British Millerain waxed canvas Wallabees. I love this idea, matching up the classic (1964) design of the Wallabee with the Barbouresque Millerain canvas; it’s like wearing a pair of mini Barbour Jackets on your feet, and you get two Best of British classics for the price of one pair. Of course, the iconic crepe sole and the contrast leather around the ankle are little touches that keep Clarks way ahead of more expensive footwear brands. Lastly, you don’t have to break a pair of Clarks in, ever.

Sunday drinking

June 20, 2011

It’s the ideal day for a shant in Brighton is Sunday. The best pub for a midday tipple is the Quadrant opposite Boots at the bottom of Queen’s Road. Get a frothing  pint in a real dimpled glass, find a nice window seat, and watch the weekending stag and hen nighters struggle back up the hill to the train station after a weekend of debauch.  Fucking hangovers on some of them! It’s revenge for them acting like tits on a Saturday night – which also happens to be my least favourite time for having a beer in Brighton.

Sunday is the real ale day, and I’m especially enjoying a pint of Dark Star American Pale Ale nowadays. Cheers.

Biscuits in the Bush

June 18, 2011

Our Nige gives it the big 'un onstage at the O2 Empire

Recovery time today, I was at the Half Man Half Biscuit gig up at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire last night. They’re still one of the best live bands in the UK, older than most (“…avoiding proper work since 1985”), but bald pates aside the boys from the Wirral have not lost it. The Empire was rammed to the rafters with beer bellies swathed in Dukla Prague away kits, the beer was flowing faster than the torrential rain outside, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

If you still haven’t seen HMHB live, you simply haven’t lived.

Home made pork scratchings and a pint of Doom Bar, sorted

Piss wet through, thankfully no real queue to speak of

Best view in the house? Where else but from behind the bar



June 17, 2011

Rip it up and start again, last game at the Goldstone v Doncaster April 1997

Doncaster at home in the first game in the Championship 2011-12, very fitting and certainly NOT a fix (!?). Palace at Falmer is a night game on 27th September, and we’re up there on another Tuesday night on 31st January (cheers PC Plod). Boxing day is a big let-down, away to Reading (snooze). I can’t wait, this summer is dragging and the weather is pants, roll on August.

Full Championship fixtures click here

Book review: The Rough Guide to Cult Football

June 15, 2011

The Rough Guide to Cult Football : edited by Andy Mitten

Year Published : 2nd edition 2010

ISBN 13: 978-1-84836542-1

Score out of 5 :

To be fair, Ron himself was born in Liverpool’s Old Swan, and has had some trouble with Scousers. “Going to Anfield was like Vietnam”, he said of his visits as Manchester United manager. He was once tear-gassed on a trip there, and had to put up with baffling Kop banners reading “Big Ron’s Leather” and “Ron’s Tart Is a Slag”.

I’ve done a fair bit of travelling in my time, and before I went somewhere I would usually buy a Rough Guide travel guide, because a) I like info on cheap hotels in third world shitholes, b) Rough Guides are British, unlike them hippy Aussies who churn out the Lonely Planet guidebooks.

But Rough Guides do other quirky stuff too, and their guide on the beautiful game is one of the oddest. Thinking it might have some information like how to navigate say a Faroe Islands v Northern Ireland World Cup qualifier, I bought a copy at Heathrow en route to work abroad. Not a bit of it, with chapters on “The Legends”, “The Gaffers” and “The Rivalries” the Rough Guide to Cult Football is no travel book.

The idea is great, a potted history of the oddness that follows the game everywhere, from fandom to the many whackos and spivs who have populated football from the start. There’s also sober stuff about legends of the game and memorabilia, it’s a great read, perfect for clocking time on the bog. My only gripe is that there should be a lot more in it. I’ve lugged the Rough Guide to China around China, and if those writers can flesh out 1140 heavy pages on one fifth of the world’s population, surely they can better that on the game that is adored by many more teeming billions.

Meet Foul Paulo

June 14, 2011

Paulo and pals enjoying an alternative day out at the match

It’s shameless plug time here at Hovian Towers. Foul Paulo is a very good pal of mine from Stirling in Scotland; apart from being well into his football and good clothing, he’s also a very accomplished musical artist. Paulo’s been making music since the early noughties, and his signature style is chopping up and sampling vinyl, taking inspiration from such wide ranging artists as Daft Punk, DJ Premier and The RZA. But it was hearing the freaked out sounds of Timbaland in the 1990s that first got him hooked and wanting to make some beats of his own.

At present Paulo is currently working on projects with other musicians in both the USA and UK, and is trying to get his stuff out there and make a big footprint in the UK electronic scene. I’ve heard his stuff and love it, so without further ado, please click on his SoundCloud link, where you can get FREE downloads of Paulo’s latest tunes. When you’ve done that, like his Facebook page, and follow him on both Twitter and YouTube.

At the minute Paulo’s just happy to get his music out there, but some time in the future there should be commercial releases, that’s why I’m helping to raise his profile, because he’s a nice guy, not just a talented one. So, if you like it, play it and tell people about it, he’s definitely my sound of the coming summer.

Oh Gary Hart

June 12, 2011

I pinched this video for the blog after a NSC poster put it up over there (I think it was his Mum, but glad she did it anyway LOL). This video was apparently shown at Harty’s testimonial dinner and has never been shown in public before

I forgot how good some of OGH’s goals were, he will always have a place in the heart of every true Albionite, truly a club legend.