Monday, August 07, 2006

Well, I've got the shoulders for it...

Your results:
You are Will Riker

At times you are self-centered
but you have many friends.
You love many women, but the right
woman could get you to settle down.

Will Riker
James T. Kirk (Captain)
Deanna Troi
Leonard McCoy (Bones)
Mr. Scott
Jean-Luc Picard
Beverly Crusher
Geordi LaForge
An Expendable Character (Redshirt)
Mr. Sulu

Click here to take the Star Trek Personality Quiz

Saturday, July 29, 2006

What's Next ?

I'm feeling a bit fragile this evening, as I'm struggling to come to terms with a great loss. After seven years of unbridled joy, one of the great lights of my life is no more.

I'm talking of course about "The West Wing" - IMHO, THE finest television drama series in history, bar none. Since first catching this show way back in its infancy in the latter months of the last century, it is the one serial for which I could not possibly contemplate missing even a single episode.

The last two episodes were shown last night - a little anti-climactic to be sure, but this was not unexpected given the plotline - and this has been followed up today by an afternoon of highlights from down the years, in which I have self-indulgently wallowed to the exclusion of all else - including the cricket - with many a tearful eye.

Goodbye West Wing, and thank you...

Thursday, July 13, 2006


How on earth did I go so long without discovering this ?

It's an online RSS reader, with the added bonus of (among other things) being able to subscribe to email newsletters and having a fairly cool Notifier app that sits on your desktop.

If you haven't tried it, give it a whirl - it's cool.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Inadvertant Humour

Son Number One is on a school trip to the London Aquarium today. When I asked Mrs Infoholic if he was looking forward to it, she replied.

"Oh yeah, he'll have a whale of a time"

Cue a fit of helpless giggles from me.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

What the hell has happened to justice ?

Dead girl's family attacks driver's 'laughable' sentence after crash

Okay, so I know the family and went to the funeral, therefore I'm not objective, but could somebody please explain to me how drunk you have to be to hit two girls and drive off without noticing ? The guy didn't just hit Natalie, he drove right over her for f***'s sake (according to the medical reports).

Note to boy racers : If you hit someone while high, drive off and hide your car. If you can stay undiscovered for 24 hours, you can't be charged with driving under the influence, no matter how many people saw you getting pissed and driving like a nutter.

Essex police said it had conducted a thorough investigation. "With all the evidence and statements we collated there was no proof that the manner of his driving prior to the crash was dangerous."

Again, under what circumstances can you wipe out two girls without noticing and NOT be driving dangerously ?

Even if you take the driver's story at face value, what the hell happened to people having to take responsibility for their actions ? A seventeen year old girl died, and another lost her best friend and has had to cope with terrible injuries and mental trauma. You shouldn't just be allowed to collect up some litter and walk away from that...

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Message for Sven

Take your money and **** off you ****ing useless ****.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Quick Note

No posts. Work mad. Maybe next week. Bye.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Bloody Typical

Clarke wants tougher convict law

Doesn't that just sum up this useless excuse for a Government. Rather than admit they're either incapable or unwilling to enforce our existing laws, simply pass some more draconian legislation to pretend you're doing something about the problem.

And in any case, the problem wasn't that they were asking 'can we deport this person' and getting the wrong answer, the problem was that they weren't asking the question. Passing this law would therefore achieve precisely nothing.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

More Cricket

Another Saturday, another game. Home to Potter Street, who are a good three divisions below us (the league starts next week), and in the end it showed. After a fast start, we collapsed somewhat at the end and were disappointed to finish with only 212. I'd scored five when their medium-pacer sent down a juicy long-hop - I rocked back to pull it, but the ball hardly got off the floor and I ended up stretching and gently looping it to extra-cover. Annoying - I always seem to get to balls that keep low, particularly when playing at home. We were playing league rules i.e. 45 overs a side, but they took an absolute age to get through theirs - by the time we had tea and went out to field, it was already well past 5:30. Good job we bowled them out for under a hundred, or we'd have been playing in the dark.

Three things I observed about the different standards of the sides. Most glaring and yet least decisive was the fast bowlers - we've got two genuine quickies, they only really had one seamer who got anything above gentle medium. The nature of the pitch meant that this gave them an advantage if anything - their openers used the pace to score well. The second difference was the depth of batting - we bat all the way down to about nine, they were into the youngsters and shufflers at six. The key difference was the fielding - now we're a very old side (at 35, I was the third youngest yesterday), but we're all competent fielders and we don't generally spill catches, and the only one we grassed yesterday was a sharp caught-and-bowled chance - in contrast, they put down several fairly regulation catches. Took one myself at deep mid-on.

Didn't bowl today, but after last week, I don't really care. For the first time in a long time, I'm actually enjoying the fielding now.

Resurrecting the Daleks

Watched last Saturday's Doctor Who episode with the kids on Wednesday - tried a little experiment afterwards. I put on the 1983 episode Resurrection of the Daleks from the Peter Davison era. Son number two lost interest and fell asleep, but the older lad was hooked. Strangely, he refers to the Ecclestone/Tennant era Daleks and TARDIS as 'old' and the archive stuff I'm showing to him as 'new' - which I suppose to him it is.

He got very agitated when the Doctor went back to the TARDIS halfway through episode two - "it can't be the end now, Turlough's on the ship". Think he's picked up on a pattern in the current series - the TARDIS generally only features at the start and end of each story. He got quite upset when I turned it off and sent him to bed before the end - but it's a four parter and three hours of Doctor Who is too much even for me these days.

Apart from this story, the only other episode I've got is Tom Baker's penultimate story, The Keeper of Traken. My brother has all the old videos - think I may have to borrow some.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Down and Up

Another disappointing defeat for the Villa last night, at home to a team who had lost their last six. A heavy defeat at Anfield on Saturday and we could still be heading into the final day with a real chance of relegation.

Despite my admiration for Arsene Wenger, it was the return of boring, boring Arsenal last night, as the Gooners ground out a 0-0 draw to see them through to their first Champions League final. Amazing to think that this is the first time a club from the biggest city on the continent has got to the final.

Splendid lunchtime drink with Mr IcedInk - see BlogRoll. First time I've met up with an e-aquaintance - felt a bit like meeting a mate you haven't seen for months.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

End of an Era

Grandstand finish as BBC blows the whistle

Sad, but to be brutally honest, I'm amazed it's taken this long. They've been scraping the bottom of the barrell for at least five years - apart from the Six Nations, the Beeb no longer have any competitions of note, apart from the odd FA Cup game, which they can't show during that slot anyway.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Soggy Snickers

Grey day at the Marathon yesterday - it's not quite the same when it rains, and that's twice in three years. Very disappointing. Only upside was we did actually manage to get served in the City Pride for a change.

Still aching today. Right shoulder is naturally most sore, but why are my stomach muscles complaining ?

I understand next weekend's Doctor Who sees the return of Sarah-Jane Smith and K9. Takes me back to when I was my sons' age - my earliest memories of the show are Liz Sladen partnering Jon Pertwee's doctor.

The England manager saga rolls on - thankfully Marlon Harewood hammered a sizeable nail into McClaren's chances yesterday. If they appoint any British candidate other than Martin O'Neill, I'll be very disappointed. Sadly, the fact that David Dein is on the selection panel probably rules out my preferred choice - they won't even be allowed to discuss Arsene Wenger, still less approach him.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Trials of Age

Oh my God, I ache this morning. Ten years ago, first cricket match of the season just meant a sore shoulder on Monday - by 10pm last night I could barely move or keep my eyes open. In the cold light of day - sore calves, hamstrings, sides, back, shoulders and even stomach muscles. Good job the Marathon means I get some early 'anaesthetic' this morning. Weather's disappointing, from a spectator's point of view at least - it's probably perfect for the runners.

Good game yesterday, the opposition declared on 188 and we squeezed home with one ball and three wickets to spare. I was 12 not out at the end, having gone out at number seven with 40 needed from 10, and I did a fair job during the run chase - I kept my end up while the guy who was set scored runs, and when he got out I took on the senior partner duties when the new batsman was struggling to lay bat on ball. Runs were not easy to come by - the pitch was slow and the bowling fairly tight - so I pushed the field back with a couple of controlled lofts over the top and then ran quick singles to the withdrawn men. Having said that, I reckon I was extremely lucky to survive an LBW shout to my first ball - hit me on the foot and it seemed a fairly straight ball to me. Still, he was the oppo's umpire, so no foul play - I do take a one leg guard, and I didn't really move my feet, so perhaps it was just missing leg stump.

My fielding was good, made a couple of really good stops - no catches came my way. Bowling was weird - I came on first change and the first two overs were good, getting heavy in-swing, albeit straight from the hand rather than the more dangerous late movement. But then a really weird thing happened - I loosened up, and my shoulder was fine - no pain or resistance - in a way it hasn't been in the five years I've been playing here. As a result, I completely lost my timing - I was releasing the ball either too early or too late, which meant either rank full tosses or pitching the ball near my toes. Embarrassingly, I got their opener out when he top edged a ball that bounced twice straight to mid-on. Not my finest ever wicket, but I'm off the mark for the season. I need to get in the gym and tighten up my now overly loose shoulder muscles, and somehow I have to get some bowling practice - re-model my action AGAIN for the new state of my shoulder, or at least get the timing right. Unfortunately, after next weekend I then can't play in May - on successive weekends I have a stag do in Madrid, a day at the Test Match, a wedding, and a business trip to Singapore. Not going to do my rhythm any good at all...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Something for the Weekend

We're nearing the end of April, and in the Infoholic household, that always means two things.

First cricket match of the season on Saturday - Mrs Infoholic is not overly impressed at taking first turn to do the teas. Reckon I'll give it a couple of games, but if my bowling shoulder goes again (which brought last season to a premature end in July), I may just have to give it up for good and take up golf or something. My batting's improved out of all recognition in the five years I've been playing at my present club, but bowling's the thing that gets me going, and if I can't do that to the standard I want, I'm better off just packing it in altogether. On balance, I suspect the three serious shoulder injuries in 1996, 1999 and 2005 have finished my seam bowling days for good, but I'm willing to give it one last try.

London Marathon on Sunday, and I shall once again be bringing son number one to Docklands to literally watch the world go by. The fact that the pubs open at 9am has no bearing on this whatsoever. Would like to bring son number two as well, as I think he's now old enough to enjoy it, but two small boys + large crowds + alcohol = disaster.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Negative Campaigning

I see Labour have taken off the gloves and given David Cameron the full cartoon treatment.

Surely the response is obvious - fight fire with satire. Lots of soundbites of 'Honest Tone', followed by the footage / newspaper headlines when he gets caught with his pants down - let's face it, from WMD to loans for peerages, there are plenty of examples. All set to Charles and Eddie's "Would I lie to you"...

Tony Blair and his awful cronies have brought me very close to the brink of the unthinkable. After a long period of reflection, I have come to realise that I have no alternative. I may, and I will stress 'may' here, have to consider doing that which I always vowed I would never do. Hateful though it may seem, and much as it pains me to say it...I'm thinking about voting Conservative.

Oh the shame...

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Rock This Joint

Lovely comment from Simon Briggs in an article about the England captain in the Telegraph today.

Vaughan's right knee is fast becoming the most talked-about joint since the one Bill Clinton didn't inhale.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


If I've been a bit quiet in the last few days, and continue to be so for the coming weeks, then apologies, but I've been playing Oblivion.

I'm not a heavy gamer these days, but I've played most of the best over the years, however this is just another level entirely. The graphics are nothing short of breathtaking, the gameplay is near flawless, and the storyline well thought out (if understandably a little derivative).

Son number two nearly met with a sticky end on Sunday, when he decided to nick off with my manual (which was open next to my keyboard) and give it a good soak in the bath. Mrs Infoholic rescued the day by pulling out the staples and hanging the pages one by one on the clothes horse, but it's now about two inches thick where it was half a centimetre ! Looks a lot more 'authentic' now though :-)

Panic on the streets of Birmingham

The next two Sunday lunchtimes are make-or-break for the Villa, as neighbours West Brom and Birmingham take turns to visit Villa Park.

Two wins and Villa are safe as houses, the fans will go home happy, and O'Leary survives to fight another day, and may even be in place come August.

Two draws will probably be enough to guarantee Premiership football for another year. There will be murmurings against the manager from the terraces, but no outright rebellion. O'Leary will almost certainly be dismissed at the end of the season.

Two defeats and not only are we in the shit, but we'll have re-energised our rivals' hopes, and there will probably be defeaning calls for the head of both manager and chairman, not to mention pitched battles on the streets of Aston and Witton - midday kick-off notwithstanding. Doug will panic and sack O'Leary to divert attention away from himself and the chaos.

I hate to disappoint any Portsmouth-supporting readers, but having seen how badly we are playing at the moment, I suspect a draw with the Baggies will be followed by defeat at the hand of the Blues.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Right of Reply

David O'Leary recently called the long-suffering Villa fans 'fickle' for booing him.

Oh dear...

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Armchair Masochist

What with three televised Villa away defeats and another pair for the England rugby team, it's been a tough eight days for this armchair supporter. Saved myself a little punishment by not paying for the game at Everton yesterday, as I took one look at the teamsheet and knew what was coming. Thought I'd covered myself by being one only two people to back Ireland in the score prediction contest, so the only way I could lose-lose yesterday was if Ireland won by five points or less. Which naturally they did.

Very depressing. The awful form and run-in for Villa's Birmingham neighbours means we *should* avoid relegation this year, but Villa are unmistakably a side in rapid decline, and I am now certain we will go down next season unless there is root-and-branch change in both boadroom and backroom.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Motoring Along

Took two and a half hours to drive home last night, due to an accident on the A13. Took another hour and a half to get in this morning, for no apparent reason that I could ascertain, other than weight of traffic. Meanwhile, serenely passed a mobile camera unit at 50mph on a deserted dual carriageway on Saturday morning, only to discover to my horror that the limit is inexplicably 40mph on that stretch of the North Circular (which I rarely use). Not a residential area, so I'm baffled as to why.

If I get fined for that, I'm leaving the country.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

White Dorks on Mogadon

I think that was the worst performance I've seen by an England rugby team since the eighties.

Brian Moore called them inept, Jerry Guscott said they were terrible, Andy Robinson admitted they were awful. Eddie Butler said that France crushed them, but in truth, the French didn't even get out of second gear themselves - they had no need.

At the start of the competition, I thought we were starting to make progress, but in truth, we've gotten worse with every game.

Robinson needs to change the players - Cohen, Tindall, Noon and Grewcock are all living on borrowed time. And Lewis Moody may have a great work rate and do many good things, but he's worth six to nine points a game to the opposition in penalties and he shows no sign of learning. If Robinson won't change the players when they're clearly not up to it, he has to go himself.

Cracking Cretaceous

Took the boys to the Natural History Museum yesterday - the younger lad is potty about dinosaurs, and is just about old enough to walk around all day without need for a pushchair, so this seemed like the ideal test outing.

On arriving at South Ken, shortly after it opened, huge crowds at the front entrance, so we walked around to the side - completely deserted, we just walked straight in ! Moseyed around the Earth stuff for a little while until the boys got too restless, then made our way through to the Life section, and of course the good ole' dinosaurs.

The animatronic T-Rex was quite impressive - as expected, son number one wasn't at all keen to get close, but suprisingly, fearless destructo-boy was also a little nervy, until he noticed the T-Rex's feet weren't moving and decided it wasn't real, and therefore couldn't eat him. Impressive logical deduction for a three year old I thought. Nonetheless, even he didn't want to linger when we got around to the front and the dinosaur was roaring straight at him.

Back to CW for lunch at Chilis - didn't know they had a child's menu, was quite impressed. All in all, the boys were relatively well-behaved - they both had their moments, but generally it was a success. Our oldest pronounced it 'A grand day out'. About as ringing an endorsement as you're going to get from a six year old I guess...

Hiatus Over

Have been quiet on the blogging front lately, mainly due to starting my new job. Still sitting in the same seat, but working with the team behind me rather than in front, so that's a bit weird.

Have to say I'm really enjoying it - it makes so much difference having a manager who trusts and empowers you. There's a lot of hard work ahead, but I like to think I'm making a small difference already - team morale seems to be on the rise.

Taking this job is a bit of a gamble, as it's got an immovable external deadline, which essentially makes it a binary career opportunity - we either deliver on time and get muchos kudos (and hopefully cash too), or we don't and we get sacked.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

And now for something completely different

In the cold light of day, I decided to remove a particularly expletive-filled Cabernet Sauvignon-fuelled rant about ID cards, or to be more accurate, the craven idiots who allowed this law to be passed. Let me just say this - putting aside all my idealogical and practical objections to this awful idea, as an IT professional I don't believe the Government has the expertise or management capability to make a project of such unprecedented scale work, and that administering it without significant errors - human, machine or malicious - will be next to impossible. Make no mistake - this is going to cost a fortune and it will NOT deliver any benefit whatsoever.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Consistently inconsistent

Following last week's great away result, you just knew another shocking home defeat was coming for Villa.

From the sounds of it, our makeshift midfield did as well as could be expected under the circumstances and we could and should have taken something from the game, but for me it just sums up the season. We'll get the odd result when we need one to keep us just clear of the drop zone, but the whole club is just marking time from top to bottom. If a takeover doesn't materialise soon, I really fear for our short-term future.


I've been laid up in bed (well, on the sofa) with a nasty cold for the last couple of days. Having played havoc with both my work and social diary, the only upside was that I had the perfect excuse to watch the entirety of both Six Nations games back-to-back yesterday.

The game in Paris was one of the most bizarre I've ever seen. The Irish were playing quite well, but for some inexplicable reason, kept gifting the French easy tries. Of the six tries Les Bleus scored, only one did not involve an obvious Irish blunder.

Having got themselves 40 points to the good after 50 minutes, without actually having any posession or field position to speak of, the French then completely switched off, and the Irish promptly ran in four tries of their own, to make the scoreboard look respectable. Ten tries may be a great advert for the game of rugby, but to my mind it showed up the glaring deficiencies in both teams. Makes you wonder if the French are going to stutter all through this tournament, and only fully switch on mentally when England are in town.

Down in Rome, the Italians turned in one of their best ever performances to make England work hard for their win. While I never felt worried about the result, even when Italy led by a point early in the second half, it was good to see one of the 'lesser' nations take the mighty English pack on with some degree of success.

Interesting also, despite the hype over the one-dimensional English approach, all four England tries came from the backs. Worsley and Moody really went to town in the second half, and the resulting quick ball allowed Charlie Hodgson to show why I think he's currently second only to Dan Carter in the world's premier outside-half stakes.

I think if Italy will work Scotland and Wales really hard - the Welsh in particular will have to raise their intensity from last week if they're to compete.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


As I've hinted in recent days, today was do or die for my career within my current company, and given how things have gone in the last 18 months, I was decidedly pessimistic about how things would go.

However, I'm shocked and delighted to say that everything I wanted has come to pass. I can now throw myself into my new assignment with renewed vigour, confident that my contribution is actually being appreciated.

I'm in a totally confused state now - I'd hyped myself up into throwing my toys out of the pram, and in actual fact it was all completely unnecessary.

I'll try and post something more coherent when I sort my life out...I apologise if this post appears self-indulgent, but I'm completely stunned about the day's events.

Dizzy, my head is spinning...

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Western Imperialism

If this is the effect that the West has on Chinese Students, then perhaps oppression and censorship aren't so bad after all...

After my cryptic words yesterday, I have been given a hot tip that D-day is tomorrow. Will try and blog before I go down the pub and get plastered (either way), but I wouldn't hold your breath.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Home Life

Day off today - takes spending a 'normal' day at home to realise exactly how many hours I spend at work. After the kids got home from school/nursery, have had time to watch a new film with them (Jurassic Park III, which the 3 year old LOVED, he's mad about dinosaurs), give them a bath and put the dinner (roast lamb) on - all before 7pm, which is normally the earliest I get home.

Makes you wonder if the stress and long hours is worth the money...would I be happier earning less and having more relaxation time ? Decision day is rapidly approaching - watch this space !

Steelers Steal

So Pittsburgh win Superbowl XL, but I'd imagine there will be a very sour taste in the mouth of all Seattle Seahawks fans after that. Three very marginal and absolutely crucial calls by the officials all went Pittsburgh's way - a Seahawks touchdown ruled out early on for the slightest of push-offs, Roethlisberger awarded a touchdown when the ball appeared not to cross the goal-line, and most crucial of all, a completed pass to the one yard line - which would have given Seattle 1st and Goal to take the lead - was called back for a holding call that only the official appeared to see.

Having said that, Seattle didn't help themselves with some chaotic hurry-up offense at the end of each half, and Matt Hasselbeck losing his head and throwing a needless interception shortly after the holding call. Pittsburgh's game clinching touchdown was an outrageous trick play, which the reserve safety completely bought - we'll never know if their injured starter would have read it, but it was admittedly a great throw by wide receiver Randel El. On the whole, Pittsburgh played quite well, including Willie Parker running in the longest running touchdown in Superbowl history (75 yards) but if you ask me, the best team lost.

For my part, I was joined for the second half by son number two, who only fell asleep after the two minute warning when the game was over - I shall be having stern words with Mrs Infoholic tomorrow. I was logged onto a Yahoo chat forum for about an hour too, until my laptop did it's overheat-and-die trick again - sadly the natives all appeared to either be 12/13, or acting like it, or trying to attract kids of that age - the only sensible conversation I could get was from a fellow Brit.

All in all, not quite the great game I hoped for - scrappy, and punctuated by unjust calls. Bit disappointing really...

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Call myself a geek...

Okay, so I wrote my first computer game when I was twelve (trust me - young for someone of my age), I have a degree in Computer Science, and I've worked in the IT industry for the last thirteen years. I'm well known as a quiz expert, I read Fantasy/Sci-Fi almost to the exclusion of all else, and I even went to a Star Trek premiere at Leicester Square once (no, I didn't dress up, although plenty did). All of which makes having to ask the following techie questions to the world at large rather embarrassing.

What's a good entry-level digital camera ? I'm not one for taking a lot of photos, but if I go away for the weekend, or do something with the kids, I'll want to take a few snaps along the way and shove them onto my PC. I'm currently looking at the Olympus FE-110 - 5 MegaPixels, 2.8 zoom and a 3.8cm screen seems good value for £100 to me - anyone know different or have an alternative ?

How good are the current breed of printer/scanners ? I've got an ancient Black Widow flatbed scanner, but no drivers or SCSI port to plug it into on my new PC, and my Epson printer hasn't worked for years. I reckon it'll cost more for the new interface and repairs than to buy a new USB device - anyone got any recommendations ?

Wrong Again

Well bloody hell, the Scots beat the French. And what's more, they thoroughly deserved to.

So to summarise, the game I said would be competitive, was the only one that wasn't.

Good job I don't gamble, I'd be living out of a cardboard box by now...


Another stolen image from H&V - had to be done.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Jingle Bells...

...oh what fun, it is to see, the Villa win away OH !

All right, so Middlesborough aren't playing very well at the moment, but that's still a good result in anybody's book. Haven't read the details or seen the highlights yet, but as Luke Moore scored a hat-trick and Kevin Phillips got the other, it sounds like O'Leary actually had the balls to drop his big signing (Baros), who has been awful in the last few games. I never thought he had it in him.

I've always thought Luke Moore had the ability, but until now he's always looked to lack confidence at the highest level. Having scored twice against Chelsea this season, and now bagged his first senior hat-trick, perhaps this will be the launching pad to greater things for young Luke. I sure hope so - nothing better than seeing local lads come through the ranks and go on to great things. Up and down week for the Moore family though, with big brother Stefan no longer wanted by QPR. I really thought he'd do well in the Championship - while he was never as talented as Luke, he's still quick and intelligent. Ian Holloway said similar things about HIS confidence - if he can work out the mental part of his game, he's still young enough to make a name for himself somewhere.

Return of the White Orcs on Steroids

So England exceeeded my expectations and totally destroyed the Welsh in the second half. For once, I totally agreed with Brian Moore's man-of-the-match choice on the BBC - Matt Stevens had an outstanding game in the loose today.

On this performance, England only need to find a creative alternative at inside-centre to have a very useful unit indeed. If everyone's fit, I'd also tinker a little by playing Voyce ahead of Cohen and Sanderson over Worsley (switching Moody to 6, as I said yesterday), but Andy Robinson's hardest call is going to be at Number 8 - Corry's a fine player and decent leader, but Dallaglio is still world-class and can make a difference. I thought the BBC got a bit ahead of themselves by talking about the Grand Slam - winning in Paris is no mean feat, and the French are further along the road to next Autumn than we are at the moment. I still expect us to come a close second this year.

And I apologise to the Italians - they were very unlucky to come away from Lansdowne Road with nothing, as I don't think the Irish grounded the ball properly for either of their two tries. Having said that, there were suspicions about a couple of England's scores, but at least that would hardly have made a difference.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Superbowl XL

Okay, the beers are in, Monday's day off has been booked - just need to purchase the popcorn.

Looking forward to this one - while obviously a bit of a comedown from recent years for us Patriots fans, I think this has the potential to be a classic. By replicating our 1985 run of three play-off wins on the road, taking some truly mighty scalps along the way, Pittsburgh will start marginal favourites at the bookies for this year's honours. Solid running game, increasingly impressive young quarterback, and a hard-hitting defence - no obvious weak points for the Steelers, and Jerome Bettis is clearly the romantic story for the weekend.

On the other hand, the NFC championship game was the first time I've seen the Seahawks this year, and I was mightily impressed. Outstanding running back, unflappable and wily quarterback, a clutch of top receivers and an offensive line to die for - while the defence is mobile and adaptable.

I'm going against my previous opinion that the AFC would win no matter what, and predict the Seahawks to come from behind to squeak a thriller late on.

Six Nations 2006 : Round 1

At the risk of mortally offending the Italians and the Scots, there's only one truly competitive match this weekend, and that's England against Wales at Twickenham.

Last season's champions are wracked by injuries, and with England showing some promising signs of semi-recovery during the Autumn, this should be a comfortable victory for the home team. However, I suspect that despite having about 70% of possession, England's backs will somehow conspire to make it look difficult.

Prediction : England by 9.

Key man : Lewis Moody, Has only played 40 minutes of rugby in the last two months, will be targeted by the Welsh, and I still think he's suspect as an international open-side - he's a natural number six for me. If he can keep the ball away from dangerous linkman Martyn Williams, it'll make England's job much easier. If he loses his discipline, Big Lol may make his comeback earlier than expected.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Played like...

Villa are looking for a new shirt sponsor, some wag on H&V suggested this...

Practical Jokes

Little gem hidden in this good interview in the Telegraph

"Cooley's decision to return home is, says Jones, a 'sickening blow', though one he fully understands. 'England are going to lose a very, very good bowling coach and I'm going to lose a very good friend.' Just that morning the two of them had played a practical joke on a classroom full of coaches. The set-up was that Jones would be helping Cooley with a seminar on 'How to handle an elite athlete', but instead he turned up late, launched a volley of invective and stormed out."

Sunday, January 15, 2006

End of an Era

Just as I feared, Denver put an end to New England's dream of a third straight Superbowl win, the home team coming through 27-13

The game turned on a single play - with Denver leading 10-6, New England drove to within five yards, and Tom Brady was intercepted in the end zone, and the ball was returned the length of the field to NE's one yard line - one play later, instead of being behind, Denver had an eleven point cushion.

Call myself a big fan, but having been excited all week, I somehow inexplicably forgot to record the game, and inadvertantly caught sight of the result on the BBC website first thing this morning. An anticlimatic end in all respects - I did manage to catch the re-run this afternoon...

Ironically, I've today found the website of the UK Patriots - to think I've been celebrating in silence these past few years. At least I now have somewhere to drown my sorrows...

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Winter in Foxboro

It's that time of the year again - the NFL play-offs have begun, and the New England Patriots are looking menacing.

For those of you unfamiliar with American Football, the Patriots have won 3 of the last 4 Superbowls, and are looking for a unprecendented third in a row. After an injury-devastated season, they limped into the play-offs with a 10-6 record by virtue of being the best team in a very poor division. However, most of their sick list victims are now back, and they clicked into gear with a 28-3 demolition of Jacksonville on Saturday night. New England now travel to Denver, courtesy of the Pittsburgh Steelers upsetting the Bengals in Cincinatti on Sunday evening, which means THEY travel to favourites Indianapolis rather than the Pats.

I started following the Patriots when I first watched the sport on Channel 4 in the mid-eighties. They got to the Superbowl that year (where they were thrashed by Chicago), and for most of the next fifteen years, they were the whipping boys of the NFL (a popular Gulf War I joke was why did Saddam bomb the Superbowl ? It was the only target guaranteed not to have Patriots). However, the arrival of coach Bill Belichick and his trademark aggressive and unpredictable defence, coupled with star quarterback Tom Brady, means the Pats have turned into arguably the best team of all-time. Their first Superbowl win, where they upset the highly-fancied St Louis Rams with the last kick of the game, was one of the most exciting sports events I've ever seen.

Denver's going to be a tough game on Saturday (1am Sunday here), and I wouldn't be surprised if the great run of 10 successive play-off victories came to an end at the hands of some hungrier Broncos. But until that day, nobody is going to want to play New England - they know how to win.