25th May 2017

A couple of my life stats to begin with. It is my 36th birthday today which means it is 15 years ago today that I left Lincoln University. I had a great time in Lincoln and appreciated every moment. On a sadder note it is 26 years ago today my Grandfather passed away on my 10th Birthday in 1991.

Recent events including the horrendous act of terrorism in Manchester this week and noting the one year anniversary of the murder of Jo Cox MP reminds me of the luck we all enjoy in simply being here. We should never forget to consciously enjoy every day.

Another planned footballing cameo in the Europa League Final saw Wayne Rooney make what appears to be his final appearance for Manchester Utd, coming on as a (very) late substitute.

A thought struck me that if Romelu Lukaku is sold by Everton for mega-money, this might pave the way for a last hurrah for Rooney at the club where it all started for him? Watch this space as Rooney has made no secret of his desire to return to Everton towards the end of his career and if Everton offer to play him up front to replace Lukaku, surely he’d be tempted.

Or maybe the recent Footballing cameos have turned me into a footballing romantic.

23rd May 2017

I made the effort to visit Consett FC’s stadium to watch the final game of the season for Leadgate FC. In 2014, I got involved with the Consett Sunday League and Leadgate FC had a great set of lads and I ended up running the team for a year and had a blast doing it. We won Division 3 that year.

Unfortunately yesterday sees the end of the road for Leadgate, who I was told have decided to call it a day. I hope some of the players like Gavin Marshall and Damian Bone try their hand at a higher level. They are good enough and I love watching them play.

Sunday League is a salt of the earth level of football. It’s unpaid, often rough and getting your team there at all is a success before a ball is even kicked. That said, the crack is good and the matches are always full of goals and, admittedly, the odd meaty tackle you simply don’t see on a Saturday.

I am very grateful for Leadgate giving me the chance to manage a team. It was a little dream of mine and it saw me getting my Level 1 Coaching and Level 1 Goalkeeping qualifications. I may yet do more coaching badges in the future and get my Level 2 in both coaching and keeping.

22nd May 2017

What is your views on “subgate”?

With Sunderland’s pre-match blessing, it was agreed that Chelsea legend John Terry would be given a 26th minute guard of honour at the time of the match that matches his shirt number, as he was substituted in front of his home fans for the final time as a Chelsea player. He later lifted the Premier League title that afternoon in what was the perfect way to end his Chelsea career.

I think it is clear Terry will probably retire. What else is left to do in the game with a send off like that?

However, what do you think of the substitution itself? Alan Shearer said it brought the game’s integrity into question, Garth Crooks criticised the staging saying this is “not Hollywood” whilst Ian Wright said he had no issue with it.

My opinion? It was acceptable, but only because Chelsea were already champions and Sunderland were already relegated. In any other setting I would be against it because this type of thing is what testimonials are designed for. Doing this in a competitive match is not the best precedent to set.

Thinking aloud even further, in an era with hardly any “one club players” anymore can we not make an exception for a man who has captained his country and club in a career that spanned 22 years at the club? Maybe we can and maybe we should.

Just don’t expect Wayne Bridge to join in. Or Rio Ferdinand. Terry was not without his critics, despite his successful career.

21st May 2017

Sorry! My life is just all over the place at the moment. There’s change everywhere so with less Football to watch than usual and plenty of other stuff to be doing it’s been a totally different life than from 8 weeks ago. The blog has suffered, but I’ve not forgotten about it.

Before I continue, as County Councillor for Delves Lane I do get access to a Members Initiative Fund (for Members to fund initiatives you’ll be surprised to learn!) that is £19,400 deep.

For those of you who hate politicians (that’s everyone yeah?!) I don’t personally have access to this money, so no brown paper envelopes stuffed with cash for me! The MIF money is funds that the Labour council ring-fenced when moving to a unitary authority in 2009 to ensure funds would be made available each year at the elected councillors discretion for the local area. Obviously there are some conditions to meet in order to get a portion of it, but if you have a properly constituted group and a need, get in touch with your local representative.

Back to Football. Congrats to South Shields who won the FA Vase this afternoon. Awesome job boys! Another Northern League victory, although if one is being very detailed they clearly have a team that is well above that level, hence their sweeping of all before them this season.

4th May 2017

Newcastle Utd can still win The Championship, but more importantly they will play Premier League football next season which is what the fans really care about.

Quite rightly the toon fans celebrated the achievement of getting out of that division, which is actually a difficult league to get promoted from. Despite the toughness of the division, Sunderland and Newcastle seem to make it look easy when they get relegated, usually bouncing straight back up.

Instant promotion is the best chance for a club because those Premier League standard players who stick around for one season soon move on if their club are not immediately promoted. Remaining in the second tier sees squads gradually transformed into honest, but less skilled outfits that struggle to reach the top again. For now at least, Newcastle have avoided that fate.

Sunderland fans will be lamenting relegation, but they should take heart that they will probably win lots of matches next season and probably win the league easily. It will be a season of success instead of a constant struggle to survive.

Of course their fans would never have chosen relegation but now that it’s happened, good times probably lay ahead for them. They will be back.

3rd May 2017

There was some days when I thought May 4th would never come. I am standing for election to Durham County Council and tomorrow is polling day. Hopefully if you live in Delves you’ve noticed, as you will have received (hopefully memorised) at least two leaflets, probably three!

Politics is a weird game and if I’m honest I’m unsure if I’m suited to it. I hope to find out over the next four years and it’s up to the voters tomorrow. I live in the ward and despite my colleague Jane doing a great job for (I think) the past 12 years and hopefully a few more, I’d be the first Delves Lane county councillor to actually live in Delves Lane for well over 10 years. But that’s for the voters to decide.

The downside to standing is that everything leads to 4th May and other things in life can get left to one side. Certainly my other interests have been sidelined, like Snooker and Pool, a game I used to spend hours practising and got reasonably good at, so the upside is that whatever happens, my mind can notice other things and that’s the plan.

Things like my diet, which needs a complete overhaul and making time to do more/some exercise. I’m too big by some distance. I’m lazy and I love food that’s bad for me. As I swipe good looking women in my region on Tinder I note that unfortunately my face must illicit a swift swipe left (or right, whichever is ‘no thanks’) pretty much every time. Only I can get to being the best I can be. So tomorrow is a new start, pending the result of the Friday count which takes place in Spennymoor.

Back to Football (I hate the off-season!) Consett U21s have won all before them this season and celebrated another win the other night. They finish their season in the final of something else. A few players like Mackenzie Milner (who looks a very good player at only 16), Chris Rogan and Michael Brown are being seen at first team level quite regularly and others are in the system.

Success seems close for the club, maybe even this coming season. I don’t think it’s wishful thinking.

1st May 2017

I hope you are making good use of your May bank holiday.

Football was once again this week marred by the ugly face of racism when a Rangers fan appeared to aim monkey chants and gestures towards Celtic forward Scott Sinclair, who had just scored a goal. Football does illicit high emotion, but there is never, ever an excuse for racist language at any time.

It surprises me that people think they can get away with it at a Football match these days. Notwithstanding the many eye witnesses all around them, state-of-the-art cameras with the best technology mean the club can zoom into the assailant from any angle in the ground of high-profile matches to ascertain who is responsible for bad behaviour. Facial recognition software alerts security before that person even enters the ground in the future if they incur a ban.

Mind you, this is hardly something someone would reasonably consider if minded to act in such a way. But it means there is a consequence to the actions, which I think counts for something. It is also worth reminding that most fans watch the game in the right spirit.

Players and officials know they are going to get targeted for banter and maybe some unfortunate comments but there is a line that shouldn’t be crossed. Racist language should incur a life ban in my view, no ifs or buts about it.