Archive for December, 2010

What I have been up to this week 2010-12-26

December 26th, 2010 No comments
  • Ended up at a house party in Warrington with @Aislinfrancis , Cara and @christopherowen #randomtimes #
  • Do I eat the 2nd half of my sandwich now or leave it til later? Keep in mind I have no concrete meal plans today at all :-(#
  • Getting up to go to work on christmas day is a little annoying. At least santa came. #
  • RT @wilw: Oh, by the way, the secret ingredient in my cranberry sauce? Sheldon Cooper's tears. #
  • Half of my xmas eve partners have gone to bed. Might have to tuck #jackdaniels in now and switch to rum. #
  • Gonna see xmas in with my good friends @chrisworfolk and #jackdaniels #
  • Xmas shopping kind of failed :-( tesco had put away all the xmas stuff. So bought myself some wine and went home. #
  • RT @RAtheist: How does Santa deliver presents all over the world on Christmas Eve? With Rudolf the red-shift reindeer. #badsciencejokes #
  • RT @RAtheist: one of my fave xmas songs ever! White Wine In The Sun by @timminchin #
  • RT @gibfootballshow: #FF @cornb33fmckeith has started his own football blog for all things Leeds Utd, check it out. #
  • 2hrs of work left then starting my Christmas shopping then pub. #
  • Serious mix up with rental company this morning. Ended up with a dodgy hyundai with faulty fuel guage, but its a car. #
  • Also, should probably start the christmas shopping at some point… #
  • Pick up the car in the morning :-) hope its a good one. Ford focus would be nice. Tho as long as stereo is good I'm happy :-)#
  • Home made mince pies – made my @lauraaisthorpe #
  • Christmas eve eve drinks ftw. Super alcoholic egg nog, grolsch and duvel so far. Good work by hosts @gibshow and @lauraaisthorpe :-)#
  • RT @iammattabbott: Just started a new game on #FootballManager & resigned straight away, citing the reason as … #
  • RT @davidallengreen: Perhaps there should now be a #StupidSecularists tag to go with the #StupidScientology one? #
  • RT @RichardWiseman: Great stat: One in three Americans now weighs as much as the other two. #
  • Loving @BrentSpiner and alice krige's scenes in first contact. #
  • Falling asleep to First Content. Good times. #
  • Scarlet johanssen and natalie portman together in a film. Win. #
  • RT @BHAnews: Pope to do Radio 4's Thought for the Day on Xmas eve. Can we expect something positive – or more secularist & atheist bashing?! #
  • Ooh, got to sort out a mix tape for rental car for xmas weekend. Any thoughts? #
  • Today's bus playlist is counting crows @BenFolds and barenaked ladies :-) full of win. #
  • Going to warrington christmas day night, should be an experience, lol. Also, if any tweeps have floor space that night let me know. #
  • Anyone up for a weekend in Dublin in April 2011? Got tickets for josh ritter but thought I'd spent rest of weekend … #
  • If you're in Leeds and like steak (or just good company and debate) then head to @leedsatheistsoc steak night at 'spoons from 7pm. #
  • What is it about people bringing babies to work. Ridiculous. #
  • Chocolate fountain at work. Awesome win. #
  • Here begins 18 days out of next 21 at work. Have 26th dec and 2nd jan off. Gonna be tough but worth it. #
  • That's car booked for Christmas week. Looking forward to seeing some people. Might even make it to family's for an hour. #
  • Check out @cornb33fmckeith and his new football blog on Leeds United and related stuff #

Tim Minchin

December 20th, 2010 2 comments

I finally got to go and see Tim Minchin at the end of last week. Tim is a fantastic comedian who mixes satire and song in a unique clash of witty and intelligent humour.

I am always wary of comedy done in large venues, so it was with some trepidation that I accepted Chris’s invite to go and see Tim at the MEN Arena in Manchester. I have long been a fan of Tom’s brand of comedy and some of his songs in particular have significant personal meaning – mainly due to their atheist and skeptical nature – but also on a purely musical level.

One of my other big concerns was that with his mix of rock and comedy, how would he fit in new material that comedy fans demand (remember the Eddie Izzard incident a few years back) but also sate his fan’s desire to hear the classic songs of previous tours?

He didn’t disappoint. The gig was simply fantastic, the best I have been to all year without a shadow of a doubt. I took away aching sides and a new favourite song! I think his use of the 55 piece symphony orchestra was the icing on the cake, although I felt he over used it on a couple of songs and under used it on others, buy this is the first tour he has done with it so i think he will get better at using it going forwards.

What I have been up to this week 2010-12-19

December 19th, 2010 No comments
  • Too ill to go to birthday party hosted by @sarannity . Bed for rest of weekend for me :(#
  • Also, @timminchin was best gig of year. Beat linkin park, meatloaf, gorillaz, stewart lee and all of solfest. #
  • Anyone in manchester got a spare room? Looks like we might get snowed in. #
  • The @timminchin gig is going sooo well. New fave song now :-)#
  • 7 rows from the front at @timminchin gig. Is it rape if they're famous? #
  • Benefit #1 of having no sense of taste due to flu… Being able to drink stella and not care. #
  • Stupid trains. Running late, overcrowded and low standards. If I wanted trains like this I would live in the South East!! #
  • Colonel or the D? Clearly going to be a Colonel as we don't have one in city centre here :-(#
  • Off to Manchester to see the awesome @timminchin live with @chrisworfolk @theblindking and Kat. Gonna be epic. If only I could see/hear lol #
  • I've got less than 24hrs to get myself fit for @timminchin gig. How can I shake the flu in less than a day? #hourofneed #
  • So paloma faith and ray davies are quite good. She would definitely have gotten on with rest of kinks. #royalvariety #
  • Ding 85. #
  • Now struggling to fall back asleep. Watch a film or listen to music?? #
  • But would like to point out that I once forced a draw from Nigel Short in a quick play game. #
  • Spent all afternoon asleep :-( awoke to a universe where @DrEvanHarris is now a chess commentator… #
  • Had to come home sick from work :-( feel like shit tho. Hate being ill, really hits productivity. #
  • Good luck to @gibfootballshow for the NOPAs today!! Check out what got him nominated at #
  • Sorted @timminchin tickets out :-) so excited. #
  • Delivering food parcels to homeless shelters around leeds with @cwfnews and #hags #humanismatwork #
  • The end of another weekend is here. Done virtually none of my to do list. I blame @Aislinfrancis and my mother #notagoodcombination #

Sporting Success

December 17th, 2010 1 comment

After the relative success of my recent post on Blackpool’s start to this season’s Premier League campaign, which got reposted on a couple of well respected football blogs, I thought I would write a second piece on the beautiful game.

This piece is focussed on one of the main reasons for Blackpool’s current success story, their manager and coach Ian Holloway. Holloway, who made 2 short of 600 league appearances as a tenacious midfield player, has had a relatively low key career to date. Many of his playing days were spent in the lower leagues with teams such as Bristol Rovers (where he had three successful stints over 18 years), Plymouth Argyle and QPR. He was known as a hard working midfielder who fitted in well in the hard working teams of the bottom couple of tiers of English professional football. His spell at QPR under manager Gerry Francis saw Holloway taste the top flight for several seasons, playing over a hundred times in a four year spell in the Premier League, scoring 4 goals.

Holloway took his first steps into management in 1996 when he rejoined Bristol Rovers as Player-Manager. Bristol were struggling in Division 2 (now League 1) and looked likely to get relegated. Holloway steered the club clear of the drop and managed to finish in a safe 17th position. With a full off-season to work with the squad, Ollie managed to guide the team to a play-off place in the 1997-1998 season. Bristol Rovers were unlucky to lose their semi-final play-off game 4-3 on aggregate to a strong Northampton Town outfit. After finishing a disappointing 13th the following season, Holloway retired as a player and took on management full time. 1999-2000 saw Bristol Rovers move back up the table to 7th place, narrowly missing a play-off spot.

In 2001 Holloway took the QPR manager’s job and was tasked with avoiding relegation. Holloway failed and tasted his only taste of relegation is his career. Holloway learned a lot from the experience and rebuilt the squad from scratch. He started to demonstrate some of the traits we see today, he began to think about how he could turn a club around in a season. Unfortunately, QPR did not bounce straight back up and spent three seasons in League 1 before winning automatic promotion back to the Championship in 2004. A couple of mid table finishes in the next two seasons started to see Holloway linked with a few higher profile jobs, especially that of Leicester City. However, Holloway blames the arrival of F1 mogul Flavio Briatore as the the main reason for the club’s dip inf form and his own apparent lack of focus. QPR narrowly avoided relagation in 2006 and Holloway spent the majority of the tail end of the season on gardening leave.

In June 2006 Holloway was appointed as boss of Plymouth Argyle, the third club he had now managed and played for in his career. Holloway spent a little over a season at Plymouth, leaving them in 2007 to become the manager of Leicester City. This decision was not met well by the Plymouth supporters after Holloway had promised them the Premier League. In an interview he would later give, Holloway looked back on this period and said:

I had a year out of football and had to think about what went wrong in my life. I was given some decent values from my mum and dad in our council house and one of them was honesty and trust and loyalty, and I forgot to do all that at Plymouth. I left them and I made the biggest mistake of my life. But I ended up here [Blackpool] and it was the best thing I have ever done. Daily Mail, 2010

Holloway’s time at Leicester was not a happy one. He had developed health problems due to the extensive commuting he was doing as a result of caring for his profoundly deaf children, he also experienced his second taste of relagation, losing to old club Plymouth Argyle 1-0 along the way. Following relegation, Holloway and Leicester parted company.

A year out of the game saw Holloway concentrate on his family and personal life. Holloway battled his sciatica and anger management issues and in May 2009 was appointed as the manager of Blackpool FC following the departure of Tony Parkes as caretaker. 15 months later, Holloway and Blackpool played in the Premier League, beating Wigan Athletic 4-0.

Enough of the history lessons. Ian Holloway has always been an eccentric figure. Seen in the media and by a number of other managers as a bit of a clown (though he was voted the 15th funniest Londoner in a Time Out poll in 2006), he has been know to give some interesting post match interviews. Whilst at Plymouth Argyle as a manager, he offered to buy every one of the travelling supporters a drink to say thanks for their support. This image has led to many doubting his ability as a manager and coach.

However, recent history has shown this is not necessarily the case. Holloway knows the game he wants to play and tries to build his teams around that game. Holloway is very much a proponent of the “we’ll score one more than you” school of football philosophy and believes that attack is the better form of defence. Holloway often deploys a minimum of three attacking players at Blackpool, often supplementing these with additional forward thinking midfield players. he is also not shy about making attacking changes late in games, even with a slender lead.

In my opinion, where Ian Holloway excels as a manager and coach is the psychological game. He is no talent scout like Arsene Wenger, or a wheeler dealer like Harry Redknapp. He is certainly no tactical wizard like Jose Mourinho or Carlo Ancelotti. What Ian Holloway is, however, is a motivator. He manages to get relatively mediocre talent and make them play with passion, intent and desire. He turns Championship players like Taylor-Fletcher, Evatt and DJ Campbell into solid Premier League players. I am not trying to have a dig at the quality of the squad, it is what it is based on budget, stature and training facilities. What I am saying is that under a different manager, even a better tactical manager, Blackpool would probably not be in the same position they find themselves in today. In terms of his ability to get the best out of players, he reminds me a lot of Alex Ferguson. I do not for a moment think that Holloway is the next Alex Ferguson, or even close to him, but they have the same ability to make people play and love playing.

The obvious example of this ability is in the pre-season signings that holloway made when Blackpool won promotion. He shunned the traditional European and South American journeymen that many promoted sides plump for and instead went for Premier League rejects such as Craig Cathcart and Marlon Harewood and players that needed and wanted to provide themselves after being jettisoned by other clubs. He demanded that the players he signed bought into his philosophy of attacking football and had a desire to play 38 games a 110% of their ability and turn up and give 100% each and every week.

This approach will probably keep Blackpool in the league and will probably see Holloway extend his current two year deal. I think Blackpool will not stay in the Premier League long term unless they can attract better quality players, the euphoria of promotion and the passion that Holloway is getting the existing squad to play with will not last forever. We have seen in the past with teams like Reading, Wigan and Hull that good first seasons count for very little in subsequent years. However, I think that in Ian Holloway, Blackpool have a coach they can stick with and build the club around.

What I have been up to this week 2010-12-12

December 12th, 2010 No comments
  • On the d20 of life, I rolled a 2. #
  • Getting my groove on to some sooooul music. #
  • Fab Cafe on a Friday night… Not sure I'm drunk enough yet, lol. Oh well double rum will start me off. #
  • RT @gibfootballshow: Everyone check this out what an amazing idea, fantastic adventure, can you help? @ECChallenge #
  • Finishing on Paradise by the Dashboard Lights. Good gig. The free beer helped. #imillhonestly #
  • There an awful lot of horny 30 somethings here… #
  • I would do anything for love, except go to a meat loaf gig on expenses and blame man flu when I don't make it into work 2moro #imillhonestly #
  • Suffering really bad flu with @chrisworfolk got blurred vision and feel light headed. No head cold tho. Oh well 2 out of 3 aint bad. #
  • RT @chrisworfolk: Man this flu is debilitating. And real, totally real. My head feels like a bat out of hell. #NotAtAMeatLoafGigWithAFreeBar #
  • So I'm now 'double drinking' ie getting 2 drinks on every bar visit… #
  • Bat out of hell ftw #
  • At MEN to watch Meat Loaf courtesy of O2. Free bar, free food and private VIP box :-)#
  • So have spare VIP ticket for meatloaf tonight at MEN. Starts at 7.30pm. I have to provide a name by the time I leave work, so let me know. #
  • Anyone like meatloaf or scissor sisters? #
  • Any1 from Boston area RT @goodwithoutgod: I joined Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard University on Meetup. You should too! #
  • RT @BHAnews: measures to label meat from animals slaughtered without pre-stunning for kosher/halal purposes are dropped #
  • Really hope #cataclysm arrived whilst I was at work today. Will make the ridiculously shitty day I've had a little more bearable. #
  • Crap. RT @NatSecSoc: European Ministers drop proposals to introduce mandatory labelling of ritually slaughtered meat #
  • RT @gibfootballshow: Rangers v Bursaspor – Tactical preview for @STVSport by me please RT if you enjoy it. #
  • Yay. England just wrapped up an innings victory over the Aussies. #ashes #
  • RT @cwfnews: Help Leeds Humanist Action with our food drive for people living in shelters this holiday – – please retweet #
  • Getting re-acquainted with my old friend Jack. Good times. #
  • My post about Blackpool has been reposted by @gibfootballshow at w00t #
  • Just employed myself a PA :) now I can get all those jobs I just don't have time for done. #
  • In Las Iguanas for tea. 2 for 1 cocktails all night. This could end in tears. #
  • RT @willwybrow: NSPCC #DonationDecember #
  • Had a great night out last night :-) paying for it a bit today tho. Off to #hcol tonight then going to chill tomorrow. #

A Dream Season So Far

December 5th, 2010 No comments

When I wrote a blog post about Blackpool winning the English Championship play-off final with the title “Blackpool for the Champions League”, I was writing somewhat tongue in cheek, I could not have imagined that they would actually go out and perform the way they have done. The English Premier League season is nearly half way through and Blackpool lie in 12th place on 19 points. Blackpool are not going to qualify for a Champions League spot from here, but it is highly likely they will avoid relegation which is a major feat in itself as they were by some margin the bookie’s favourite to go down at the start of the season (average price around 2/7). I have to admit that I was cautious at the start of the season about the team’s prospects, especially after the summer transfer activity that Ian Holloway undertook. It seemed to take an age for him to make any signings at all and with him releasing a large number of players at the start of the off-season, I was worried that he would struggle to bring in any players. Ian Holloway said at the time that we was looking for the right sort of player with the right mentality to fit into his system, a system that many thought would contribute to the team’s downfall. Ian Holloway prefers an attacking style of play, as seen in the Championship play-off, and tends to employ an “we’ll score one more that you” approach. Eventually Holloway made some signings, which included picking up strikers DJ Campbell (Leicester) and Marlon Harewood (Aston Villa) along with Elliot Grandin (free), Chris Basham (Bolton Wanderers) and Luke Varney (on loan from Derby County).

Blackpool fans are enjoying an amazing start to their first Premier League season

Even with the additions to the ranks, most pundits thought Blackpool would struggle in their first Premier League season (and first in the top flight since the 1970s). Few would have predicted the start that Blackpool got off to beating Wigan by four goals to nil. The result actually led to Blackpool sitting in top spot in the league for a couple of hours until Chelsea won their opening game of the season by a bigger goal margin. This start could not last and a couple of games later Blackpool were dumped out the League Cup and then humbled by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. However, wins against Newcastle, Liverpool, West Brom and Wolves have meant that Blackpool avoided the possibility of ending the season on the lowest ever points total and also ensured that pundits started changing their minds about them even getting relegated.

Before I get ahead of myself, I think it is important to mention that this is still going to a very tough season for Blackpool and if they do manage to avoid relegation this season, it is a real probability next year. Blackpool will always struggle to attract quality players, it is not the most attractive club in the world and it has no money so will never be able to match the wages that teams around them can offer to journeymen and promising lower league players. The stadium, Bloomfield Road, is also a massive problem due its size and the lack of expandability. With a capacity at the moment of around 12000, it is the smallest ground in the league and will never generate the kind of match day income that the club will need to survive. The Blackpool hierarchy need to sort this out and sort it out pretty fast if they have any real chance of ensuring their continued stay at English football’s top table.

Blackpool manager, Ian Holloway

Where Blackpool have a fighting chance at the moment is their manager, Ian Holloway. Seen as a bit of a joker and an average journeyman coach/manager by most, he has transformed Blackpool in his relatively short tenure as Blackpool boss. His attacking philosophy and ability to make players play at a level higher than their underlying ability may allow are the reason that Blackpool won promotion the Premier League and their performances in the league so far. Holloway has a habit of adding extra attackers during games he is already winning, and often plays with three or four attacking players in his formations. Both of these tactics were obvious in Blackpool’s now famous victory over Liverpool in October.

The other ace in Blackpool’s hand is their skipper and last season’s top goalscorer, Charlie Adam. Signed for a once club record of £500,000 from Rangers, Adam has quickly become the keystone in Blackpool’s team. His goals, set pieces and on field leadership are vital for the team and Blackpool look a far weaker team when he is missing. Whilst at Rangers, Adam was never considered a particularly good player. He had a strong left foot but was deemed surplus to requirements at Ibrox. Many fans, myself included, questioned his move to Blackpool but we have been ecstatic to have been proved wrong!

Charlie Adam

By the New Year we should know whether Blackpool are going to stay up this season. They have a testing series of fixtures over the festive period, playing Liverpool, Man City, Sunderland, Tottenham and a very tough game away at Stoke. If Blackpool can come out of that series of games with four or five points then they will be a win or two away from securing their position for the 2011-2012 season.

Come on the Tangerines!

What I have been up to this week 2010-12-05

December 5th, 2010 No comments
  • At Leeds Town Hall with @Aislinfrancis to see Opera North orchestra. Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Rrimsky-Korsakov on the menu. #
  • Don't suppose anyone knows where I put my spare blackberry battery?? #
  • Really looking forward to seeing the Opera North orchestra perform the Firebird Suite by Stravinsky. One of my faves :-)#
  • Drunk now :-(#
  • Train is such an awesome band. On my 4th rum and coke of the evening. Not going to end well, lol. #
  • Anyone know where in Leeds might sell champagne saucers (the shallow champagne glasses)? #
  • Hmm, what to have for dinner?? #
  • Sat down with a very large cuba libre. Ahhhh. #
  • Hmm, not sure how healthy tweeting my flatmates to ask if they want anything from supermarket is, lol. #addictedtotwitter #
  • The week ive had definitely needs at least a 10yr old scotch to mark its end. #
  • I emailed my MEPs last night and had an email back saying 1 agreed wholeheartedly with my view. So me and BNP now have something in common. #
  • So Aus 2 down in first over. Fuck me. #ashes #
  • Today has turned into a bit of a stinker. Ah well, weekend soon :-)#
  • Sausage and mash for dinner. That's just what the doctor ordered. #
  • On my way to work. On time. Crazy. #
  • Just got in from boys night out with @BinaryMage and @chrisworfolk . Not too many incidents to report. #
  • Me @chrisworfolk and @BinaryMage just shared a courtship menu and are heading for drinks. #
  • So apparently this restaurant is going to break me :-( #
  • Off into the wilderness to treat birthday boy @BinaryMage to some food and drink. #
  • RT @markjt1978: since it started snowing all my missus has done is look through the window, if it gets any worse ill have to let her in #
  • Is it wrong that I like late night tweeting? A lot of US folk are on now, plus give me a small sense of youthfullness. #
  • Just read this ( ) and thought of @Viki_Chan #
  • Last minute shout out to anyone in Leeds tonight who is interested in morality and where it comes from. @leedsatheistsoc host @BHAnews 7pm #
  • RT @BHAnews: Work for us! We have vacancies for the positions of Faith Schools Officer and Head of Ceremonies. #
  • Come to @leedsatheistsoc 2nite to see @BHAnews chief exec deliver a talk. 7pm at Leeds University. Check out for info. #
  • So Airplane, Police Squad, Naked Gun marathon anyone? #
  • So, its cheaper to go to Dublin for weekend than to go to Edinburgh for a night. Ah, well. Good job I like guinness. #
  • Just realised one massive downside to not having own car anymore. I'm at the mercy of other people deciding if its too bad weather to drive. #