Friday, October 13, 2006

Robinson Howler

This is a shot from the England Croatia match. It's funny for so many reasons. I mean, how is Robinson supposed to concentrate with Borat beathing down his neck?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Euro 2008: England only big-name flops

Ireland's new zest lifts Staunton's spirits,,1920233,00.html

Little T shows football the next stage of ego evolution

Marina Hyde on T.O.'s book...

Media pour scorn on England while Croatia crow

Spain restore pride with 2-1 win over Argentina

The Best Ever Barça First Eleven

Ronaldo Turns To Song-Writing

Richard Williams: England lose their shirts on rash tactical gamble

El Superclasico Mio

The Superclasico was last weekend and when River Plate beat Boca Juniors 2-0 in this year’s version it brought back some memories that I thought I would share. In 1994 I was in Buenos Aires and wanted to take in the match. I was a Boca fan, but lived within walking distance of River’s stadium (El Monumental) on the north side of town. This match would be at Boca, south of the city center. When I arrived in BA I was strictly a Boca fan because of Maradona, but Boca was also supposed to be the working man’s team, while River was the team of the rich and wealthy. And that was fine by me. I’d be for Boca.

So a friend (OK, he wasn’t a friend but he was another American who wanted to go) and I got tickets (the cheapest, of course) and headed down to La Bombonera. Argentine friends and associates with I whom I had spoken ahead of the game were incredulous that I was going to go. “It’s dangerous”, they said. “There are crazy people that go there.” Then they all asked what type of ticket I had purchased. “The cheapest” was my inevitable reply. Looks of shock and horror greeted me. “You’ll be with the real crazies! Behind the goal! Don’t bring anything with you! Only a little cash and a copy of your passport. If you try to bring a camera, it’ll be stolen, smashed, or lost.” I was only 21 and still fearless and naïve so I blew them off. “I’ll be fine.” “It’s no big deal.”

Turns out it was a big deal. We took a train down to the main station in the center of town and then transferred to a bus going to the stadium. About a mile from the stadium all traffic stopped and everyone got off the bus and starting walking. Like many other matches around the world, fans were chanting and waving scarves, and it was pretty cool. Then I saw my first tank. I was in Argentina studying the Dirty War and the disappearances and deaths of thousands of civilians that had occurred less than 20 years before. These soldiers did not look very nice to me. There were armored troupe carriers, large tanks with massive turrets, and guys in jeeps with M-16s. Kind of like the bad guys in The A-Team. And soldiers. Loads of soldiers.

So we finally arrived at the stadium (La Bombonera means “chocolate box”) and after a claustrophobic push through the ticket booth, we were inside. Since we had the cheap seats, we could only enter at one spot, and once inside were faced with a long climb up even more claustrophobic concrete tunnels. The tunnels went around and around and up and up. There were guys pissing in the tunnels and urine running down in stream. The urine went around and around and down and down. Finally, we emerged on the terrace. Thank God! The stadium was beautiful (if falling apart) and the crowd was going nuts. It was similar to this but more chaotic:

The terrace kept getting fuller, and fuller, until I was forced to stand sideways to have enough room to remain upright. Every few minutes the wave of men (I saw one woman there the entire match) would tumble forward and everyone would fall as one. During one of these waves, I found myself pinned against a metal rail and just managed to slide under it as the weight of people behind me hit my back. There was no way I could have taken a picture if I had wanted; I could barely breathe. As for the action on the pitch, it was great, except Boca lost. They had been going through a rough patch and River had a great side during that period. Hernan Crespo and Ariel Ortega both scored for River, with Ortega in particular having his way with the Boca defenders. The fact that both of these players are still playing now and have had successful careers makes me happy. Because I saw them when they were young and before they went to Europe. Even though they are wankers. But I digress.

After the match there was plenty of cussing and people pushing towards the exit. The tunnels leading out had changed from stinky tubes to urine-filled luge runs. I saw a guy take a dump right in front of me. Just squatted down at one of the curves on the way down and let it plop. As for my traveling companion, I had no idea where he was. It was impossible to stay together during the match and I had lost him shortly after we arrived on the terrace. Within 10 minutes he was 20 feet away and still being carried by the human tide.

So at this point I was solo. I emerged from the stadium and saw the tanks, armored personnel carriers and German Shepherds. As I headed for the bus stop I realized that was a futile move. The lines stretched for blocks and the busses weren’t moving anyway. So I started walking. I managed to get off the main drag to another street where traffic was moving very slowly. There was a flat-bed 18-wheeler and a bunch of guys had already hopped in the back. It was going my way. North. A guy gave me a hand and I was up and in. They were all Boca fans. Slowly, they realized that there were other cars around them going north that were filled with River fans. The guys in the truck with me started picking up the trash and junk that was in the truck and throwing it down on top of the cars. Most of the stuff was harmless but one guy found a piece of brick and slam-dunked it onto a small red car, cracking its windshield. The River fans in that car got out, ran over to the crumbling sidewalk, picked up pieces of concrete and started throwing pieces of concrete at the guys in the 18-wheeler. And at me. “Shit! I gotta get outta here,” I thought. Just then traffic in our lane began to move and we started to pull away from the concrete-throwing River maniacs. But a few blocks up the road, we stopped again. The Boca maniacs I was with decided that throwing concrete was a good idea. A couple climbed out of the trunk and went to the sidewalk. They managed to jar loose a large chunk of cement and pick it up (many things in Buenos Aires were falling apart in those years). There was a small sedan with River flags on the antennae next to our truck. The Boca maniacs saw it and headed over. “Uh, oh.”

The car was packed with young fans heading home from the match. The two guys carrying the chunk of cement walked over to the car, lifted up the chunk, and slammed it into the windshield. The whole thing collapsed onto the people in the front seat. “That’s it”, I thought, “I’m gone.” I climbed out the truck and took off running for the station. After about 10 minutes I got there and stepped onto a train. The doors closed and I breathed a big sigh of relief.

Later that night I watched the news on television. Apparently, two River fans had been shot and killed during violence after the match. The reporter was interviewing the president of Boca’s Barra Brava, or fan club. When asked about the two dead River fans he replied, “well then, I guess it was a tie. Two-two.” And so went my Superclasico. -Sanford

Boston Goals

These are some clips from a very hilarious segment that airs every Sat morning on Sky Sports 1 called SoccerAM. I was able to catch some of it when I called on The News/Sanford's Soccer Net Derby County & St. Pauli Correspondent Alec Thomson at his Hamburg flat back in June.

I'd far prefer being able to see this than Dream Team. Anyway, Boston United is in the Second Division and Boston Goals does a fine job of making fun of U.S. announcers...and much more. Enjoy... -Sanford

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Reports of racism by German U21s alert UEFA

Scotland fans 'attacked by hooligans' in Ukraine

Weds. Euro 2008 Qualifying Preview

England and France bid to bounce back in Euro qualifiers...;_ylt=Ag9rF_7QH_QuSSEeZ4S3EiAmw7YF?slug=afp-fbleur2008&prov=afp&type=lgns

Lawro's Euro Predictions

Poor Lawro got zero results right on Sat. Here are his predictions for tonight...

Staunton one game from sack

Republic of Ireland face the Czechs tonight...,,1892470,00.html

Wenger likens international coaches to 'joy-riders'

American Abroad: DeMerit making his name in the Premiership

Wednesday's rumours,,1892866,00.html

If Lampard Can't Perform Tonight When Will He?

Striking Options: Van Basten Blasts Ruud's Refusal

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Phil Ball in Spain

Phil talks Spanish National identity...or lack thereof.

McClaren fails to deliver

Richard Jolley on England's pathetic display...

Whelan: 'Rooney killed stone dead by Sven'

It's tough to argue with this assertion. Sven's lack of support up front for Wayne was pretty brutal. And I agree that Sven is an idiot. His squad selection was poor. Good for Whelan for saying something about it, although it doesn't take much for Wigan man to voice an opinion...

Norman Hubbard on Rafa's changes at Liverpool

94 games! 94 games! That just cannot be good...

Sunil Gulati: President of the U.S. Soccer

France's Boumsong enjoys Juventus challenge

Boumsong starting for France is like Roque Junior starting for Brazil - I just don't get it...

Tight security for Croatia qualifier with England

Bets on monkey chants?

Denilson Hoping For Arsenal Chance

Alan Hansen's column

The Fiver

Oh, The Fiver makes me laugh...,,415657,00.html

Tuesday's rumours

Ahh, Le Sulk is already starting to complain...,,1891951,00.html

Monday, October 09, 2006

Five-star Cyprus blitz Ireland

England 0 - Macedonia 0

Lifeless display tests McClaren's revival powers

Steve McClaren's powers of motivation will come under the spotlight in Croatia.

Caldwell winner stuns French at Hampden

That's my boy...

Republic of Ireland: Why Staunton must go

Richard Williams: Steve is the same as Sven

Boring Boring England - on TV too

What's worse - watching England, or watching the BBC's coverage of England?

Is playing for country now an optional extra?

Simon Evans opines...;_ylt=Ajw1._Qh8aJ4FcUoWlLIhi4mw7YF?slug=reu-column&prov=reuters&type=lgns

Superclasico: River beat Boca

Klinsmann gets offers from U.S., Mexico

Materazzi to release headbutt joke book