Sunday, 31 May 2009

Monthly Review Time

My Week

A decent week, due mainly to my best ever tennis grand slam performance ( don’t get too excited – I’ve lost on every slam to date, harsh lessons learnt ). I actually ended with a disappointing weekend including a red Sunday, due to Mr Soderling’s extraordinary victory at Roland Garros, but I’m sure there are a few people who got burnt today. I recovered a chunk of my liability at 4 match points to Soderling, couldn’t believe I could get 1.06 at 6-2 in the tie break. Maybe some people didn’t have TV pictures. I thought Rafa was second best throughout the game today, an excellent performance by the Swede. Didn’t stop me backing Rafa at 1.5!

My clear strength with tennis betting is in selecting winners. I’m still a novice when it comes to trading. I’ve certainly reached a stage where I can avoid major mishaps, but my natural ‘odds-on’ instincts mean I’m not spotting trading opportunities quickly enough. A good example came in this morning’s Cibulkova v Szavay match. Cibulkova went down to 1.02 at 6-2, 5-2. Both women are on my list of ‘bunny boilers’, so there was no way I was going to back the Slovak. The quality trade was a lay at 1.03 – mentally I expected Cibulkova to falter, but my mindset was still looking for the right time to back rather than the right time to lay, so I sat on my hands. She went out to 1.18 of course, before finishing Szavay off. Frustrating.

My Month

I’m pleased with the month. April was a shocker, so I simply needed a solid and unspectacular few weeks to increase my bank with the minimum of stressful moments. That’s what I achieved. I’ve certainly had more profitable months, but often with too much drama and adrenalin rush. 95% of my profit came from Soccer and Tennis, exactly what I want to achieve.

June may be difficult. My most obvious betting opportunity – the grasscourt tennis season – will occur within working hours. Soccer will be limited to a couple of World Cup qualifiers plus Scandinavian matches. So my aim has to be for another quiet month, steadily building my bank.

I’ll start with a few quid on Mr Federer tomorrow. He’s won his last seven against Tommy Haas, so I don’t think the German will have the mental strength to overcome Roger, particularly with the title now firmly in his sights.

And remember, I have a 100% tennis tipping record on this blog!

Friday, 29 May 2009

Falling Down

Further to my recent post regarding Kyle Lafferty's 'simulation', I remembered another classic dive, which I've located after a little searching.

This time it's a manager! The gentleman is one Norbert Meier, then coach of Duisburg, during a Bundesliga game against Koln in 2005. This incident got him the sack, though he's currently back in business as coach of Fortuna Dusseldorf and has brought them up two levels to the second tier Bundesliga 2.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009


Two good evening sessions to start the week, with a profit on bank of over 10% over the two days. I'll settle for that sort of return on a regular basis.
I concentrated on the tennis. I find it better to stick with one sport if there are plenty of opportunities available. My recent record on grand slams is appalling, 'kiddy in sweet shop syndrome' tends to set in. Maybe I'm more suited to these short sessions of a couple of hours.

I was, however, caught by the darkness at Roland Garros. I had backed Christophe Rochus early in the current set using around 10% of my bank. The game was halted with Rochus leading Fabrice Santoro 5-3 fourth set, and 2 sets to 1 up. I'm working in the morning so am unable to trade during the remainder of the match.

So what should I do?
i. Trust my original judgement, particularly as Rochus just has to serve out to win.
ii. Trade out to equalise the green and take a couple of tick profit.
iii. Just cover my potential loss, with a slightly larger green on Rochus than in ii.


Sunday, 24 May 2009

Sunny Sunday

Great end to the week, mainly due to the weather.

A couple of weeks ago, I bought tickets for today’s meeting at Uttoxeter races, despite the clash with the Premier League climax and the opening day of the French Open. A great decision, there’s nothing better than being outside on a day like we’ve had here in the Midlands.

Managed to come home £5 up. Yeah! Also brought home a shiny red forehead.

I decided to have a £5 bet on each of the seven races, and started badly when my choice in the opening race fell at the first hurdle. I took this as a sign that this wasn’t likely to be my day. Things got better with a winner in the third race ( Eleazar at 5/2 ), and I had a second and third in later races. Really chuffed with my win in the bumper ( Get Me Out Of Here at 7/2 ). It’s great to get a win at the end of the meeting, recovering your losses, and it was the one race where I had conviction about my selection.

Despite my limited racing knowledge, I was convinced that Messrs McCoy and O’Neill wouldn’t have made the trip from the Cotswolds to go home empty-handed, and the earlier two O’Neill/McManus horses had failed miserably. So I went with their unraced 5 year old, and McCoy brought it home without fuss.

Had a quiet week on Betfair, having missed today and also missed Tuesday night ( Maximo Park concert in Brum ) and Thursday night ( no sport by the time I got home from work ). More low points than high really, but managed to crawl into a modest profit with Stepanek’s win over Gaudio today ( I was confident enough to leave that bet open when I went out for the day ).
Worst loss – placed a lay on the away side in an Asian Champions League tie between Gamba Osaka and FC Seoul selected from the ‘Wednesday In-Play’ coupon. As the match time arrived, the game disappeared from the in-play coupon. Why do Betfair do that? To make it worse, Gamba led before conceding the FC Seoul winner in injury time. Bollocks.

Lots of fuss this week over Mr Ferguson’s team selection for the game at Hull. It all fell flat, with all four teams in jeopardy losing. I don’t think anyone can complain, if you can’t put up a performance when everything’s on the line, you don’t deserve to succeed.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

The 'RTB' Awards

Ah, the British Summer. My thoughts turn towards a season of washed-out international cricket matches and the annual ‘Plucky Brit’ search at Wimbledon. But first I must put aside the football season as it’s final embers glow.

So here I list my players of the season of 2008/9.

You will notice the absence of players from England’s finest team. This year has been very much a team effort for the red United. Van der Sar, Rooney, Giggs, Ronaldo, Evra, Ferdinand and Vidic have all had fine seasons, but I suppose I expected them to. The players below surpassed my expectations.

Stephen Ireland.
You’ve worked hard to cement a regular first place at the club you’ve been with since you were fifteen. And now your club has got 800 trillion to spend on a batch of international mercenaries. How do you respond? By being consistently your team’s outstanding player throughout the season.

Fernando Torres.

Ok, my expectations were high for Torres. But it’s been the consistency of performance that’s surprised me. So many of the millionaire superstar club tend to perform to a big audience, but go missing during the tough mid-winter battles against the middle-rankers. Week in, week out, Torres has come up with the goods. Liverpool came damn close to toppling the champions. There were two major reasons for their success ( see also below! ). It must be fantastic to play for Liverpool, knowing that Torres will score when the chance presents itself.

Stephen Gerard.

Just read the above, but change the word ‘Torres’ to ‘Gerard’. On the basis of likely results when these particular players are missing, Liverpool are a two man team. If they had each played 38 league games this season, we may have had different champions.

Rory Delap.

We have some of the finest defenders in world football playing in the English Premier League. Players who have to cope with a weekly threat from the likes of Torres, Drogba, Kevin Davies, Rooney, Adebayor at el. But could they cope with a bloke who chucks the ball 40 metres with a nice low trajectory? Er, no.

Chris Eagles.

Burnley have had a great season ( which may still get better ). A great run in the League Cup, plus being one step away from the Premiership as I write. The ex-Manchester Utd man may not have been Burnley’s most consistent performer, but he makes my list based on the couple of performances I’ve seen this season. I was reminded of schoolboy football days, when one player was occasionally so much better than the other twenty one that parents would mutter from the sidelines about how unfair it was. Eagles seemed to have been dropped into the game from footballing heaven above, with an easy style and an eye for goal. Certainly one player fit to grace the top flight if Burnley can overcome the final hurdle.

Joey Barton

Only kidding.

Monday, 18 May 2009

The Pillory

'The pillory was a device made of a wooden or metal framework erected on a post, with holes for securing the head and hands, formerly used for punishment by public humiliation and often further physical abuse.'

'The pillory consisted of hinged wooden boards that formed holes through which the head and/or various limbs were inserted; then the boards were locked together to secure the captive. Pillories were set up to hold petty criminals in marketplaces, crossroads, and other public places.'

'As part of the punishment, crowds would throw garbage and other objects at the captive pilloried offender. With hands trapped, he or she could not avoid thrown objects—either mostly harmless items like rotten food, or injurious ones such as heavy stones, where blinding, permanent maiming, or death could be the consequence. Sometimes a criminal's ears would be nailed to the pillory so that any movement of the head to avoid thrown objects would cause further injury.'

This seems a suitable punishment for behavior like this from Rangers' Kyle Lafferty during Saturday's match against Aberdeen. Pathetic.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

The 43 Year Old Brain

Unique moment today - I forgot about a bet I'd placed! Only spotted it during my end of day P&L check. Placed a lay of Pacos Ferreira in the Portuguese League soccer, before being distracted by something on my other laptop ( more of that later ). I think I'd convinced myself that I'd considered the bet, but not actually placed anything. Fortunately, it went my way.

Yet I can still remember the final sticker that completed my Panini '79 album 30 years ago ( Jimmy Case of Liverpool ). I'm sure a doctor could explain.

Anyway, an unusual day's betting. 25 bets placed, all won. And I only greened up on one transaction, the other 24 went to plan without needing to offset. If I carry on like that, I'll soon be able to afford a BMW X6!

Things were going too well in early evening, so I had a break off to check out a few blogs and other sites. Came across a video with three of my music heroes together on stage, great find. In the unlikely event that anyone is interested in Michael Stipe, Natalie Merchant or Billy Bragg, the video's here. For anyone else, check out my video on the right, it's a good one.

All Hail The EPL

That’ll be the English Premier League then. Or the Barclay’s Premier League as it is officially known.

As we approach the season’s finale, it’s worth appreciating what a great spectacle we’ve become used to watching each week in this country. Life (and sport) tends to move in waves, and it may well be that we’re currently in a golden age of English football. We have three (maybe four?) of the best teams in world football in our midst.

But what makes the Premier League different to it’s Spanish, Italian and German counterparts is the teams below the ‘Big 4’. On a weekly basis, we see competitive and skilled teams put on contests worthy of filling stadiums. And the teams ( Stoke, Bolton etc ) who don’t have the finances to compete on player quality have developed an industrious work ethic that ensure they remain worthy adversaries.

From a gambling perspective, the major up side of the Premier League is the knowledge that in every match, there will be two squads giving maximum effort. Every contest is fair, the refs aren’t as bad as managers would have us believe, and there are vociferous crowds to ensure players maintain their commitment throughout. There is obviously also enough liquidity to satisfy whatever stakes you wish to play with. The down side – there are few anomalies in odds, so those intent on finding easy value may find better markets elsewhere.

For years I avoided bets on Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea - too obvious, better value elsewhere etc. Now I'm a regular backer of all three - it doesn't matter about value if they keep winning.

Unfortunately, my own teams won’t be seeing any Premiership action for a while yet.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Headline Of The Day?

No further comment required.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Time To Stop Gambling?

Just read this on the blog site. I'm pleased to see guys making a success from full-time gambling, and I know some people get great encouragement from seeing the achieveable results from the likes of Peter Webb and Adam Heathcote.

I would note some caution. It's tough out there, and presumably someone is losing the money that Adam and Peter are making. Particularly at the beginning of a trading career, it's worth reading these guys' comments and advice rather than their P&L's.

Anyway, if all I can hope for from gambling is a BMW X6, I'll pack it in now. WTF! Styling by Stevie Wonder. It reminds me of one of those design student concepts - lets's make a 4x4 coupe. Or a 3 series coupe with pick-up truck wheels on. Let's hope Jimmakos keeps making enough profit to get a better looking car next time.

Anyway, off to the Corgi shop to find a car to buy with my winnings.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Stay Positive

Once again, Leeds have fallen just short in the promotion chase. A tight game tonight, no complaints about either the result or both team’s effort, although, having previously noted the importance to the side of Jermaine Beckford, felt he failed to perform when it really mattered.

My overwhelming thought is that teams who change their managers as often as Leeds have done in recent times rarely move upwards in the League. Hopefully, Simon Grayson is the right man the lead the club forward and will be given time to consolidate his good start.

I’ve never had any real interest in betting on horse racing, mainly through a belief that there are too many people around with inside knowledge, scooping up all the profit from the mug punters who rely on each morning’s Racing Post for their information.

So it would be nice to be on the inside line occasionally. I was chatting today to a guy at my Telford work contract. I know he part-owns a racehorse, so asked about it’s progress.

Rob – “How’s the racehorse been doing lately?”

Jim ( in thick Irish accent )- “Had a run last week”

Rob – “Oh, you didn’t say anything when I was here last week”

Jim – “Got fed up of everyone taking the p*** about how they’d lost their cash on it”

Rob – “So what happened last week”

Jim – “It won, at 25-1. Knew it would.”


(Wednesday 6th May, Bath 3.45, King Of Connacht, SP 25/1 )

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

What Are The Chances Of That?

Regular readers of this blog will note my penchant for spotting oddities during my trading sessions. I took this screenshot of tonight's Betfair live games as Barcelona equalised.

Things I have learnt today.

Hollywood actor Gary Oldman and 'Big Mo' from Eastenders are brother and sister.

I hope this fact has added to your feeling of wellbeing.

Squaring The Circle

As I have noted in a few posts, I have had difficulty over the past two months finding a trading style to suit my modest bank. To recap for any new visitors to this blog, I spent 8 months as a full-time gambler/trader between June of last year and March, when against expectation I found work on two fronts, allowing me to gain a self-employed status ( building ) and part-time status (betting).

This is probably an opposite situation to many sports betting traders who are currently practising their craft on Betfair, with a dream of turning their skills into a full-time career.

I had become used to a circa £2000 Betfair bank, which became a £383 bank in early March. So here are a few thoughts after 2 months of ‘small-time’ betting.

The Negatives

i. I have found that a number of the strategies I used with a larger bank simply don’t work at lower levels. For example, I had a successful autumn betting on ‘Under 4.5 goals’ in the European football leagues. The majority of these bets would be somewhere around £210 at 1.13, with the aim of greening up at an appropriate point. I found that my successes came from being patient, often waiting until the latter 15 minutes of the game before greening up, rather than clearing out after every early goal. But I have found it difficult to remain patient for 70-odd minutes for a potential £5 gain, and tend to green up (or red up) at the earliest opportunity so I can re-invest my modest bank.

ii. Tennis trading can be very profitable due the market’s general over-reaction to events during games. A simple early hold of serve for a clear favourite can show enough of a swing to make a worthwhile gain if your stakes are high enough. This is a time consuming way of making pennies with smaller stakes. Most of my tennis bets are now made pre-match, looking to trade out at a suitable point.

iii. Both the above are examples of opportunities lost. There is a tendency to replace these with higher risk bets. I regularly get sucked into small bets with no exit route ( say ‘to win’ on a soccer match with the team 1 goal ahead ) on the basis that the potential loss is modest. But I would have never placed the bet at 10 times the stake.

iv. If I’m to use the small stake betting as a practice ground for ‘proper’ betting, then each bet should stand up to scrutiny, whether it is staked at £30 or £300. I’m just not achieving this consistently.

v. I have become too cautious at times, simply because one bad loss drops my bank to a level which restricts my opportunities further.

The Positives

i. There is obviously a pressure to win when mortgage payment is reliant upon Betfair income, leading to overbetting. I have managed to reduce my quantity of bets per session. I’m sure a mantra of ‘wait for the opportunities to come to you’ will aid my future profitability.

ii. I’ve commented at various times on the subject of targets. I’m happy to say I currently have no target, apart from eventually increasing my bank to £2k. The main obstacle to that aim is a tendency to nick the odd £50 from my B/F account to pay for my weakness for Sausage & Egg McMuffins and Fruit Gums ( not considered in my detailed and tightly controlled monthly expenditure budget ).

iii. I managed to come out of April, a month where I made slightly less than zero, being able to analyse my month’s fortunes calmly and learn lessons, rather than being a wound-up ball of frustration. Definitely progress.

Squaring the circle? Developing a part-time betting technique which will transfer successfully to full-time trading if I’m ever put back in the situation I found myself in last summer. I’ll keep plodding away with this thought in mind.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Tip Of The Day

Another of my 'insider' tips for your attention. Today is the final of the Serbia Open in Belgrade. I understand that the local player, one Novak Djokovic, is playing reasonably well and may have more determination to win his home event than his Polish opponent, Lukasz Kubot.

I'll be having £2.00 on a Djokovic win.

Oh, and I've just noticed that the Serbian is 176 places higher on the ATP rankings.

On more domestic matters, I see Ledley King has been arrested outside a London nightclub. Sure I've heard this sort of story before. One day, soccer players will finally learn that having a few drinks in a public bar leaves them wide open to every 'have-a-go' nutter to start a fight in the knowledge that the cops love to arrest footballers, and that there's probably a nice pay day from the Sunday tabloids available afterwards.

I presume that King can only go dancing one week in three, and doesn't listen to any music during the week, to protect his knees.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Worthy Of Mention

As Rafael Nadal heads towards another dominant year on clay, cementing his position as the finest clay-courter of all time, I notice the announcement of the retirement, at the age of 27, of Guillermo Coria.

It's easy to forget that Nadal has only been at the top of the sport since 2005. In the previous year, Coria, a 21 year-old Argentine, reached number 3 on the ATP rankings off the back of a 31 game winning streak on clay, only ended by Federer in Hamburg. He was, for an 18 month period, 'King Of Clay'.

He went to Roland Garros as favourite to take the 2004 French Open, and reached the final with the loss of just one set. And then came the defining moment of his career, as he took to the court as overwhelming favourite against his unseeded countryman, Gaston Gaudio.

At that time, as a big tennis and soccer fan, I'd been considering internet betting, and had just taken delivery of a new computer. I'd had a look at a few bookmakers sites to see what bets were available, and noted in-play betting as a possible interest. I distinctly remember checking the odds of the final on the Sunday morning. I actually listened to most of the match on Radio 5 Live whilst working on the kitchen table. What transpired put me off in-play betting on tennis for a long time.

Coria dominated the early stages, breaking Gaudio six times in taking a 6-0, 6-3 lead. Gaudio's game improved, and he pressurised Coria into making unforced errors in taking the third set 6-4.

At this point, the match moved into bizarre territory. During the fourth set, at 1-1 Coria called for the trainer, and then as cramp kicked in he was unable to serve properly or move around the court. Gaudio took the set 6-1 in front of a stunned crowd and incredulous BBC commentary team. Coria called the trainer again, and the game looked to be over.

But Gaudio was now in the position of clear favourite, and his nerves kicked in. The fifth set drifted into farce, as both players choked under pressure. Coria's cramping improved, he took a 4-2 lead, nerves took hold again and the cramping came back. Gaudio was simply falling apart. The set reached 4-4. Coria broke to go to 5-4. Another break - 5-5. Another break - 6-5 Coria. 2 match points came and went, the commentary team were apoplectic, 6-6. When Gaudio finally held serve to lead 7-6, the game was up. Coria had gone mentally, and Gaudio crawled over the finish line 8-6 in the fifth.

Neither player ever reached these heights again. Don't doubt the mental damage done to both players during the match.

Coria pulled out of Toronto in the September and required shoulder surgery. He actually had a good 2005, despite hitting a Nadal-shaped brick wall on three occasions, but in the latter part of the season, the service yips took hold. In 2006 he had further physical (shoulder) and mental (yips) problems, and his ranking dropped from 6 to outside the top 100. He played just 2 matches in 2007, and with a 3-11 record in 2008, the recent announcement was no surprise.

His statement upon retirement said he'd lost motivation to compete, rather than had any particular injury issues. I wonder how much of the damage was done at Roland Garros that fateful day.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Deja Vu

A highly anticipated night of football, with two British heavyweights clashing in the premier european competition. A full house in the stadium, and millions watching on ITV. The away team bring a one goal lead into the second leg clash, but the home team's players and fans expect a better performance than in the first leg. The pundits are undecided - it may be a classic contest.

The game kicks off with an electric atmosphere around the ground. But quickly, the home fans' anticipation is replaced by a subdued sigh - the blue-shirted away team score! The home side now need 3 goals to win, a huge task for a team whose season's form has been below their best.

The hosts press forward. The crowd try to raise the temperature in support of their side. And then, in an instant, the dream is gone.

The away side's star striker makes it 0-2 on the night, and whilst there is plenty of time on the clock, the tie is effectively dead. The away side grow in confidence and the match turns into a stroll, the home players losing a yard of pace as adrenalin levels evaporate. By the time the home side's continental striker scores, it is merely a consolation, and many fans miss the goal as they head home ahead of the traffic.

The game?

November 1992. European Cup 2nd Round, 2nd Leg. Leeds United 1 (Cantona) Rangers 2 (Hateley, McCoist).

Monday, 4 May 2009

My Weekend - A Photo Blog

As Pete Doherty once said, 1001 words are worth more than a picture. Or something like that. And maybe not Pete. Anyway, to avoid a novel I add illustrations to my post.

I started my weekend watching the 24 hour news channels. I'm sure it's the incessant barrage of information we now face that creates these exploding news stories. I've only just got over my fear of sherbet caused by the Anthrax scare of 2001. Well, I definitely won't be eating any of those Burger King 'Texican' burgers for a while.

Spent most of Saturday in the big city ( Brum ), ending the day at the newly re-christened 'O2 Academy' ( they don't serve Carling there anymore for some reason ). I'm not usually a fan of resurrected bands from the past, can't see the point of a batch of fifty year olds back on the road just to collect a monthly mortgage-payer. But I never got to see Spear of Destiny in their 1982 - 1990 heyday, so thought it worth a trip. Kirk Brandon still had the voice and the enthusiasm to keep a small and middle-aged audience happy. Certainly the oldest mosh pit I've ever encountered. Good evening.

Sunday afternoon was spent at Catton Park, a ten minute drive from home, for an annual festival of transport event, £5 each entry fee ( good value ), £5 for a bag of pick n'mix sweets ( not so good value ).

Not quite sure why anyone would spend twenty years of their life polishing a Vauxhall Chevette. If anyone's interested in old cars of varying dynamic ability, I've linked to my photos taken yesterday here.

I'm not convinced that Alan Shearer's got what it takes to be a top manager. When asked about Joey Barton's red card, Shearer responded that it was a fair decision and that Joey had let down the club, blah, blah, blah...

Would a top manager give this answer?

Sir Alex - ' I thought the referee bottled it. He was obviously pressurised by the Anfield crowd'

Rafa Benitez - 'Sir Alex is obviously feeling the pressure, he should concentrate on his own player's conduct'.

Arsene Wenger - 'you all know exactly what Arsene would say'.

Neil Warnock - 'terrible refereeing decision, I thought it was a superb challenge'.

Watched the Women's FA Cup Final earlier. The Arsenal side had the most blondes seen in a team since the 1942 German squad.

Thought the quality was poorer than the last couple of years. I have only come across two female players in this country worthy of watching - Kelly Smith and Julie Fleeting - and the Gunners missed them badly. Smith's gone to the USA to play, and Fleeting is currently pregnant. There's a problem Sir Alex has never had to deal with.

Obviously haven't spent much time on Betfair this weekend. Happy to have achieved a modest green, although not for the first time tennis has subsidised losses on other sports.

I'm struggling a little for enthusiasm at the moment. I'm trying to combine small stake betting with a disciplined bank-protecting strategy. I know it's the right way to go as I attempt to build up to a larger bank, but it is frustrating letting opportunities pass by. Would have loved to have thrown my bank on Man Utd and Liverpool this weekend, and twice in the last week I made a couple of pounds on Carla Suarez Navarro when it could have been a couple of hundred. I'll hang in there throughout May, and then hopefully I should have a substantial enough bank to get more enjoyment from my betting.

And finally, spent a little time this evening in the Bloggersphere, and came across this piccy. Impressive, eh?

The art student involved had a great idea, the bottle to ask a scrapyard for a free car, and the painting skills to pull it off.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

One Of The Best

The name of Peter Jones came into my thoughts during the Hillsborough memorial events a couple of weeks ago. Thought I'd leave this post a little while, as obviously the events of that day are more important than sports commentary, but Peter Jones' part in that day is worthy of replay. I grew up with his commentaries and reports, and hearing his voice still reminds me of childhood, of listening to Sports Report on the way home from Elland Road. Check out his commentaries of FA Cup Finals in the seventies and eighties - masterpieces.

I was listening to his fateful final commentary the following March, confused as to why expert pundit Dan Topolsky called the finish of the Boat Race, when Jonesy was the lead commentator. It felt like a friend had died when I heard the news the next day.

So this is his epitaph. He commentated at Heysel, and was then confronted by Hillsborough. The dignity of this piece summed up the professionalism and humanity of the man.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Gone Without Anyone Noticing

So the M10 is no more. From today onwards, this rather pointless leg of Britain's infrastructure is downgraded to the more anonymous 'A414'. I know how this feels, being currently 'that bloke who does a couple of days for us' rather than a previous exalted title.

This information quickly brought me to a list of items which have gone from our lives without the hurrah given to such as Top of the Pops or Carol Vorderman's stint on Countdown. I am a list person. I think it's a male thing, the creation of a mental 'top 5' of everything whilst tolerating the daily commute. God, I still make my annual best of year compilation cd every year, at 43! Sure I'll grow up soon.

The list :

Pagers. We're all used to the fact that you can no longer escape from friends and colleagues. The mobile is expected to be on at all times. It was not always this way.
One of my favourite jobs in the late '80's was a weekly drive around a number of outlying building sites dotted across East Yorkshire. Particularly in summer, a great day out. Windows down ( pre air-con ), bunch of the latest indie cassettes in hand. Bliss. Then I was given 'The Pager'. I was taught how to use this - hear bleep, immediately accerate car to 'Life on Mars' car chase speed, find phone box, ring office hurriedly, be told that the Sales Manager would like you to pick up a cushion. Definitely in my room 101.

Music on Breakfast Radio Shows. There have been 'personality' DJ's around for a while. I quite enjoyed Chris Evans' Radio 1 stint. But I'm sure he used to play some music. I regularly scan across my preset channels during my morning commute, and everybody's always talking - generally about themselves. I blame Steve Wright and his soddin' possee. Now every show has four or five people in the studio chatting away inanely.

TV Sports Presenters. Yes, I know they still exist, but nowadays the qualification for the big jobs, particularly on the BBC, seems to be a trophy cabinet of sporting success rather than any presenting ability. I'm sure John Inverdale wouldn't have been sidelined to 'World's Strongest Man' a decade ago. Des Lynam, in his prime, had an authority and respect for both the sport and the viewer. I don't see this in most of our current crop.

Snooker Personalities. I've not watched any snooker this week, but I guess that, like many sports, the standard is higher than ever. Professionalism has spread across sport, and sadly the time spent honing skills and technique no longer seems to allow room for offbeat characters to flourish. Snooker has always been TV friendly, ever since colour sets became prevalent in the seventies. And it's success was personality led, starting with Fred Davis, through to Ray Reardon and Alex Higgins, taking in John Virgo's crap impressions and reaching a crescendo with the 'Snooker Loopy' era. The anti-personality of that time, Steve Davis, has actually now become the 'interesting' one. I didn't see that coming.

I could go on, but the post may just turn into the reminiscenses of a forty-something.