Italian wines with the Manchester derby
Football talk, I'm afraid. It's half-time in the Manchester derby game. City started off badly, went 1-0 down. The prize? A place in a cup final, City's first since 1981, although this semi is over two legs.
Just rearranged my study. Brought in my amplifier and two speakers, which had been redundant since iPod and Bose Sound Dock arrived. Combined with the wonderful spotify, this means I can work with music, and a wide variety of music, too. So, dear readers, what should I be listening to?
I quite enjoy attending football matches as a neutral. You can watch the game without a gnawing sensation of anxiety in your stomach, for a start.
A few short items for Friday morning.
Went to see Man City play Fulham at Craven Cottage this afternoon. Located on the bank of the River Thames opposite Putney, Fulham's ground is pretty, compact and really easy to get to, and it's one of the away games I try to catch each year.
Just back from football. I've rather stupidly played for two consecutive nights, with different groups of people. I find it hard to say no. I'm 40 and my body is slowly winding down, but I love playing, and the more you use it the less you lose it. My feet are feeling a bit sore tonight, but everything else is still OK.
Footy talk with an artistic twist. My team, Manchester City, used to play at a ground on the fringes of Moss Side, called Maine Road. Like the team, it was a funny old place, with a rather odd juxtaposition of stands. The Kippax was a massive three tier structure, modern and impressive, which completely failed to mesh with the other three sides of the ground. Then there were the temporary corner stands, designed to fill in the gaps and increase capacity. It was a stadium suited to the team.
Played football again tonight. I've been playing regularly again for the best part of two months now, and I really like it. It's a group of dads from my younger son's school, with a few ringers thrown in. The standard is pretty good (if you're c. 40 and prepared to risk stiffness for a few days afterwards, you have to have some commitment to the game), and it's great fun, as well as doing some good for us.
Spent the evening watching Manchester City's Premier League encounter with Newcastle United, with my City-supporting chum Rob round at Pranay's house (he's a friend who has both Setanta and Sky Sports - he's planning to get up at 5 am tomorrow to watch India finish off Australia in the test match, which would be a fantastic result. Respect).
Played football again tonight for the first time in ages, and it was great fun. I was really encouraged that while I felt knackered after 10 minutes, I stayed that way for a full hour without feeling totally knackered. Football is brilliant for fitness. You run a lot in short bursts, but because you are chasing a ball your mind is taken off the fact that your muscles and lungs are in real pain, and thus you cover much more ground, more pleasurably, than you would if you were jogging or running on a treadmill. Best of all, if you exercise regularly, you can drink more wine and eat more calorific foodstuffs (e.g. cheese) without becoming fat. Not that it's wrong to be fat. It's just that I have such a fragile ego I need to avoid becoming fat because I couldn't cope with other people's disapproval.
[Not wine related]
FA Cup final day. [For the benefit of non-English readers, this is the final of England's main soccer cup competition, which has been going for 120+ years and is rich with history and passion.] This year, we had a final without any of the big four for the first time in ages, but like the Millwall vs. UTD match a few years ago, there was a non-premiership team in the final - this time Cardiff City. The game itself was quite good, with Cardiff showing well and Portsmouth looking decidedly short of ideas. A rather scrappy, but well taken goal by the talented but ungainly Kanu settled it Portsmouth's way. Could have done with a few more goals, and even a sending off to make it truly memorable, though. In Parker points? 86/100.
Apologies to the sensible readers who aren't obsessed by sport, but I have to get this off my chest. What on earth are Manchester City doing if they are seriously thinking of sacking Sven? (Here.) Despite the tail-end blip, this has been the best ever season for City in the premiership. But then remember that this is a club that sacked Tony Book after City finished 2nd and then 4th in what was then Division 1 back in the late 1970s, and then Peter Reid after two successive 5th place finishes. Both interventions led to a period of instablity and ultimately relegation. While the current craziness seems to be initiated solely by Thaskin, who must be naive, badly advised or both, we're talking about a club with a history for self-destructive behaviour.
This is not a football blog. Therefore I shall say very little about today's Manchester derby, except that City were good value for their win over United. I'm also thrilled that the City fans respected the minute's silence. Vassell, Benjani, you beauties.
I'm in Manchester with my chum Rob. We've been to see City play Arsenal at the City of Manchester stadium, which is one of the most impressive football venues you can imagine [I am heavily biased, of course]. City played OK-ish; Arsenal played very well - the result, 3-1 to Arsenal, flattered them slightly - their first goal was soft, their third came when we were chasing hard in the final minutes. I have to admit that Arsenal are a great side, and City could really do with a striker like the awesome Adebayour.
Went to the Australia day tasting today, which was held at Arsenal's impressive Emirates Stadium (though as a City fan I hate to admit this). Unfortunately, it was so crowded tasting proved very difficult. The problem was that the gallery area simply wasn't big enough to cope with four rows of tasting tables; people didn't have the room to taste comfortably (pictured above).
Those of you who follow both the blog and the main wineanorak site will see that I've put up a list of wine predictions for 2008 (here).
Forgive the non-wine focus of this post, but I couldn't let the occasion pass without a comment.
One of the features of the broadband internet age is that there are now 1001 ways to procrastinate. Never before has it been so easy to put off doing proper work by hopping over to check the BBC news site, or waste time on facebook or flickr, pick up emails yet again, or just generally arse around on various blogs and internet sites.
[Non-wine-related football banter. Sorry.]
I'm trying to think of a wine like Manchester City, the football club I support (http://www.mcfc.co.uk/). But I can't. Oasis frontman and City fan Noel Gallagher sums the situation with City up best:
"The fixture list comes out on Thursday, we haven't got a manager, we've only got half a team and we haven't sold any season tickets. It's brilliant."He adds:
"It's pure Man City. I'm loving it."
Some bits and pieces. Just got back from playing football for the first time in ages. Had a slight twinge in the hamstring before I played, but I didn't feel too bad on the pitch, although I knew I shouldn't really be risking it. Like a child, though, I just couldn't defer gratification. Last time I had a hamstring problem I was limping for two months.
Forgive the non-wine related indulgence of some footy talk.
Non wine related: What is it about Manchester City that makes everyone associated with this football club speak sense? First we have the manager, Stuart Pearce, admitting on TV that the referee was right to send one of his players off for diving (see e.g. here), and now Joey Barton - perhaps soon to be an England Player - rants, quite rightly, about the profusion of autobiographies being published by footballers in their early 20s here. It's a breath of fresh air. I quote from the Guardian piece:
The midfielder recently aired his views about players with new autobiographies out. "England did nothing in the World Cup, so why were they bringing books out?" he asked, before paraphrasing the contents: "We got beat in the quarter-finals. I played like shit. Here's my book." People might pray for his call-up, if only to see how he mingled with authors such as Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand.