Monday, April 30, 2007

Best Day - Ever

Leamington FC hosted a day of football, based on past and future. This consisted of the kids doing an exhibition style game, with Brakes Legends v Chairman Select 11. We were up first and playing the other U11 team, now, Tub's team (manager of U11) are midtable division B, and my team are rock bottom of division C, 15 minutes each way, and it was all about the kids having a laugh, and showing what the Youth club is all about.

Both teams were given the dugouts at the New Windmill Ground, where the kids were able to play on the perfect carpet pitch in a 6aside pitch setup. After 2 minutes, my team went 1-0 up with one of the lads first goals of the season, and we held on, much to Tub's annoyance. Half time came and went, and we had a number of chances up front, and holding strong at the back. However, typical Colts Styleee, we conceeded a goal in the very last minute of the game - making it 1-1 - however probably good for the team, club and crowd to see an entertaining game.

After the game, I was told to go see the youth chairman at half time about getting a couple of minutes on the pitch as part of the chairman select team - fair enough. Nice to be rewarded for working with the kids all season. After 5 minutes of talking to some of the lads, my name was called out on the PA system and told to go to the players tunnel. Half expecting a rollocking for nearly beating Tub's team, I was told to go into a door way. There was the chairman of the youth squad, handing me a kit (all white - handy with my complexion) and sitting on the chair was Tubs. He pulled on this goalkeeping top, looking so giddy - you know the look, like all your dreams have come at once, you've got your first train set, or something special, just add about 30 years and add the same amount of excitement. Tubs was holding onto my arm, more or less dancing saying "Steve, we're going to play, isn't this great ?!?!?"

Photo : Paul Edwards - Me in Number 17 - Looking Excited.

Anyhoo, I sat on the bench for the remaining of the first half, listening to the lads, and hoping the weather would warm up a little. The whistle went and chairman select were 3-0 up, we went back to the changing rooms and had a couple of orders (me replacing the manager of the academy side) but mainly listening to a couple of the legends, about tales from old - fantastic - this is like every boys dream - coming true. The lad who was playing in my position in the first half, warned me about some old legend nutmegging him and generally making him look like a fool - oh fantastic I thought.

Thankfully by the time I got on the pitch, they'd swapped it around too, marking the U9's manager, Mr Ackrill, so we had a laugh, and I generally had him in my pocket for the time I stayed on the pitch. Thanks to Pete and JJ (my coaches) they had collected all the kids from my team, and decided to give me loads of abuse, and the kids shouting the same things that we shout to them when they're playing. Luckily they got bored of that quickly and went to play football. I did manage to get a bit of a clap & cheer when I back heeled the ball to a player behind me while someone was closing me down, and managed to cross a ball into the box. After 25 minutes of running around like a headless chicken, I decided to give it up for a bit and sit back on the bench.

The final score was 4-4 - so there was a bit of Pen action. I don't think it was being counted, but I took mine, managing to some how, slide it under the keeper and squeezing it into the back of the net. What a fantastic day tho, completely honoured to be involved in the game, honoured to represent the kids as a manager, and they done themselves more than proud.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Day 2 - Denmark

Before I get onto the main story of the day, lets talk about Denmark a little and how they actually work. Due to the fact that I'm working on a massive account, with some problems, they have what is called a WAR room - where all the coordinators and subject matter experts (that's me) sit, so if there are any questions, they can ask, without moving more or less. The culture in Denmark is, start early, finish early - which is fair play to them really - however, this did mean, getting up at a god unearthly hour (5.30 UK time) to get showered, ready and get breakfast.

Some of you may know, I'm not the best at getting up early, and I do like my sleep, so this kind of knackered me up slightly. Anyhoo, I slightly go on a tangent, we get to this WAR room, where they've already got jugs of tea, coffee, milk, water, everything you could ask for - so by the 10am - I'm a little full. A great thing about Denmark, lunch is from 11am til 1pm - so by 10am UK time - I was having my second meal of the day - crazy. This WAR room also have salads, sweets, cakes everything - damn the Danish Pastry. Anyhoo, by 3.30pm Danish time, we were finished - and it felt good, but strange.

Anyhoo, to the story. I missed the Brakes game last night against Market Drayton - my 2nd missed game of all season - all comps - not bad hey ?! Leamington FC lost 2-1 to the Drayton - bad, but apart from a semi cup final, the season is more or less over. One of the chaps at work, who has been very good for ferrying me around the place, offered to take me to see some Danish Football - which seems fair enough. With temps dipping to around 10 oC and only having a small hooded top we reached the stadium. The story behind the Danish "premiership" goes something like this, Brondby (the team we went to see) were massive for many years - a club for the fans. Then popped along FC Copenhagen, which from what I can tell is more or less a franchise club, who attracted fans from all over the country and it concentrated on selling things etc etc - a little like the Chelsea's and Man U's of the world. Brondby and FC Copenhagen are the closest rivals, so it tends to kick off - but in a quiet Danish way.

The ground can hold around 20K fans, but tonight only had just over 10K - which for a cold Wednesday night, fair play to them. The opposition for the night were relegation fodder Viborg FF and as soon as we got into the ground (just making kick off) you can tell the fans are mentalists and follow the team with pride and passion. What was quite interesting, was that most of the songs were English football songs, sang in English too. The first song I heard, I recognised straight away - a Newcastle song, but obviously changed the words slightly. The curse of Warburton kicked in, as Viborg FF went ahead due to the keeper completely misjudging a freekick. Half time came and thankfully, a warm drink and a hot dog later, we moved upstairs to get some seating action (around lovely pretty women - mmm). Brondby must have had a good kick up the arse from the managers team talk and came back, scoring 1, then 2 and with a couple of minutes left, scoring a 3rd.

After the game, I asked if there was a club shop that I could get a shirt from, and the chap showed me, admitting that he needed to keep a low profile, as he was a Randers FC fan, but would help me out. I asked Rich if he wanted a shirt (after he offered to get me one from Germany when he was out there) and got a text back saying "yes, get the away shirt, the home one (which is yellow) would make me look like busby".

My conclusion on Danish football, fun & exciting. It needs to take off a little more, and they need to change their tactics a little more. Its slower than the premiership and English football in general, and they'd rather pass the ball within 50cms, rather than punt it over to the wide man, who has been stood there for 20mins, more or less taking up a new hobby. Thoroughly enjoyed tonight's football tho, an experience that I completely enjoyed, however, missed watching the Brakes play.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Denmark today

Up at the crack of dawn, I swear it was still dark when I got up - great - and in a bad stressed mood. After showering and putting everything into the bag, I set off to Birmingham International Airport, only to be stuck in traffic. As I mentioned in the last most, I have a bad sense of timing, so made sure I set off even earlier than I would have normally, so we should be OK. I left the car in long stay and headed to the airport to check in. I'm never sure about these etickets - scares me that I've cock'd up somewhere along the line, or don't have the correct form of ID or whatever.

In the departure lounge, I picked up some Danish Currency and some new CK aftershave, then the flight was called. Once on the plane, I was faced with an empty row of 3 - one seat for me - and loads of space to spread out. Having already consumed breakfast at such an early time, I was looking forward to whatever they give me, turned out to be salmon steak with veg, dessert, as much tea as I could drink and fresh warm bread - better than what I get at work!

When I landed, I was met at the arrival terminal by one of the chaps at work - who kindly told me he would pick me up and take me to work, rather than trying to get a taxi, getting ripped off and lost. Within 10 mins we were at work, and was shown around, including the canteen, and more food. After being introduced to the guys working on the problem, I was dropped off at my hotel in the city centre.

My hotel, pretty expensive for people of my level, was only in the middle of a redlight district - but a clean one, so not too bad. I dumped my bags, had a quick shower and left to find somewhere to eat, and around 15 mins walk, I found an English style restaurant and pub. After having eyes bigger than my belly - yes, they're very big eyes, I was stuffed, and ended up watching some premiership football in the main bar. They had different types of Carlsberg, more of an ale type beer, rather than lager, then trying one of the local brews. After 5 beers, and it getting dark quickly, I decided to walk / shuffle back to the hotel - which I managed to find without asking anyhow - and avoiding hookers. Welcome to Denmark - only have to get up at 06.30 (05.30 UK Time) - erk!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Denmark T-1 Day

OK, a couple of weeks late, but not really had a chance to blog of late - which is really a shame - seems as one of the reasons I do blog is to destress and get the chaos out of my head. Does that mean I'm not stressed and strange in the head now ? Guess so.... *

Well, the account that I'm working on want me over in Denmark as soon as possible, I suspect the amount of problems they have, are not really problems, but, a week in Copenhagen, who am I to argue. Don't get me wrong, its a great experience and good to get out of the goldfish bowl, but I don't like to travel for the sake of it - just wastes money, time and energy. If anyone has to travel in the company, they have to go thru a travel approval database - regardless if the trip is to Newcastle or New York. Luckily, today my travel was approved and they want me there first thing tomorrow.

I booked my flight, and told to take what ever tickets are available, just so happened to be economy extra - which is the first time I've travelled above the bulk standard level - exciting too. One thing also to note, my sense of time is pretty shocking, this stems from not really wearing a watch, but having to be somewhere, in advance of a certain time - I can't really do. Turns out, Cophenhagen has a large conference, so the cheap hotels are all booked out, and had to leave it to my colleagues over in Denmark to sort out - so technically - don't have anywhere to stay.

As its around midday - I don't at the moment have a dry clean shirt to take and everything else is outside trying dry before ironing and getting packed. To confuse the situation even more, I have a meeting up at the football club too, which tends to last a couple of hours.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

10Km - Oh, so much fun

You may recall, that I applied for the Regency Race a month or so ago, against my better judgement, well, it was today. I've been loaded with cold all week, so much so that I could barely see on Friday when I went into town, full of hot flushes and burning pain. It got to Friday night and I nearly conceeded to the fact I wouldnt be able to do it, but because I'm doing it for the Football Club, and I don't like letting people down, I done my best to get myself fit. Armed with a wad of cash, I went to the nearest Chemist and ordered the strongest medicine that Leamingtonshire could provide. Rather than being given medicine, they give me some dodgy tablets called "chest-eaze" - but true to the chemist's word, they worked pretty well, so took a couple yesterday between the football and Dr Who. Lastnight also involved Vix Vapour rub all over my chest and nose, to help the process along a little faster.

This morning was an early start, mainly because of the chuckling idiots at the Grand Union Restaurant til none o'clock, but at 7.30 it was shower, get dressed and get something simple on my stomach. Bananas I thought would help my energy, so I had 3, turns out, they're not so good. I met Debbie out on the street and we went for a nice stroll into Leamington to find the race start, bumping into Liz & Andy from football. We got ourselves sorted and then it started.

The 1st Km went pretty well, and I was going past a lot of people, not worrying about distance, and listening to music. The "only incline" was up Newbold's Golf Course, which was aided nicely by the Water Treatment place leaking, taking me back to school cross country - so nice, my trainers and socks were soaking wet. The 2nd Km went pretty quickly and I was still moving forward rather than backwards. This was the theme really, and knowing I was full of cold, tried to keep it easy til 5Km - which again, was pretty quick. We headed into town, and I went past what I thought was 8Km, so I decided to pick up a bit of pace, thinking I could get to 9Km, walk a bit then run the rest. Needless to say, after hitting the road pretty quickly, I reached the real 8Km marker and being a bit disappointed, I started to walk a little, to be pep'd up by a complete stranger, while I was listening to the Klaxons.

Anyhoo, to cut a long story slightly shorter, I managed to get to Mill Gardens and greeted by Vince, a football friend, taking nice photos of my "Doc from Back to the Future" style head (putting Hair Gel on before I came out) and barely able to speak. I managed to get my prize bag, greeted by Caroline, Liz, Vince, Andy and waited around for Debbie.

My stomach done some funny thing where it vibrated for a while, then settled down, but I couldnt get any words out - all strange. Luckily for me, everyone else apart from Debbie buggered off, muttered the word "turn around Debbie" and as she asked "why" I cunningly spewed my guts up in front of her. Bananas - bad - told you (sorry if you're eating by the way). But after some water, perfectly brilliant, apart from the stiff legs. Oh, finished the race in 1hour 5 minutes, of which, my aim was 60 mins, so not too bad really, considering its the furthest I've ran - EVER!

I've not got close to £200 quid for the Terracing fund - heading to bed before legs stop working. Oh, so much fun, and bugger off to the 2 castles race!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Tickled my fancy.

I've had a relaxing day by the canal today, reading a book, chilling and sitting in the sun. Yesterday, I took the train to Cradley to see Leamington beat then 4-0, and it involved alot of drinking, needless to say, my throat it knackered up and haven't been able to do any training today for this race this time next week.

I've been pottering about this afternoon while the weather got a little cooler, and tried to remember what made me laugh out loud from months ago, and came up with the conclusion, the Simpsons

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Cradley v Leamington

What a brilliant day - the sun was out, it was warm, people were smiling, people were drunk, people travelled from afar and most importantly, Cardboard Dog. Met Vince and Pete in TJs at 10:20 this morning, slowly followed by heabutt pete, ordering his first guiness for the day. Walked the short distance to the train station to meet 3-1lee, JJ, Simesy and Sarah, hoped on the train, to meet the tallest man in the world, Martin. Beers were cracked open, gentle banter and sing song up to brum, a quick train swap and over to Cradley.

We found a lovely welcoming pub, had a bit of a laugh, John and the lovely Faith turned up, more banter, more piss take and watching Chelsea score against the Ham of Spurs (Headbutt Pete still drinking fast and strong).We got a nice taxi to the ground, had a laugh, watched HB Pete fall asleep in the sun, fall over, and drop all the chips that were bought for him, he then swore at alot of people.

Funniest moment of the day, was Jimmy Husband whipping a cross from our wing, missing the goal and keeper, hitting HB Pete on the forehead, and him not even flinching. Lots of songs, lots of positive chanting, lots of getting behind the team. We obviously won 4-0 with lots of random singing and again positive vibes when we heard the Roms score come thru (both HT and FT)
After the game, we had a beer, the nice taxi man turned up, give us a nudge, we all piled in to tunes of "do we have everyone" and everyone saying "yes", 2 minutes later, Simesy shouting "Sh!t, We've forgot Sarah". So we go back -- idiot.

We get to the train station, only for village professors, JJ and Simesy, deciding at this point they've forgot the rucksack with 2x flags in. Luckily John had the car, so went back to fetch them - cheers chap.

Train drive was a little strange, between JJ and Simesy moaning, cursing and swearing at one another, Sarah getting the huff, then a "fellow" geordie singing songs to JJ, kissing him and being loud. Popped into town with Tall Swedish Chap, Vince and Pete (and Headbutt, we think) for a couple of beers - come home, watched Dr Who.

Video credit : Vince Taylor.