|WINTER'S WORLD FEATURING CELTIC v RANGERS
30th April 2012
Orient Aggro, low in numbers but loud in mouth!
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After the frenetic pace of Brunei and KL things did not exactly quieten down up my return. At home for less than 24 hours but got up-to-date before setting off to Tamworth for a speaking event in the function room of the Globe Inn. Working with comedian Ollie Spence in a social night that the pub organises from time to time. Managed to convince them to play red card/yellow card and we raised £170 for the local hospice.
Friday and a 200 mile plus drive up to Cleator Moor in Cumbria. Rachel Riley looks her normal gorgeous self on Countdown. Evidently she's getting married in the summer. One lucky bastard her intended most certainly is.
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The aim of my involvement at Sportsman's Dinners is to make people laugh and enjoy themselves, Friday night though saw me laughing myself, in fact I can't remember the last time I laughed so much.
In Cleator Moor for a local football team, you don't get much further west without being in the Irish Sea. Working for the man that is the legendary Howard Nicholson. He is madder than a bag of frogs, along with new comedian Pete Emmett, a great audience including a lad that Howard managed to get to outbid himself up from £80 to £130 for a signed football. Perhaps you had to be there but it was hilarious.
Whilst wanting to be at Watford on Saturday it would have been suicide, so I was going to have to sweat from afar and hope for a miracle.
Hadn't planned on being here, but needed my football fix. Hartlepool's last home game of the season against Leyton Orient on Saturday afternoon.
Saturday morning and as I was unable to get down to Watford from Cumbria in time for the ridiculous 12.30pm kick-off for Boro's vital Championship game, I elected to attend the pointless Darlo v Kettering game. Pointless as both teams were already relegated. Hopefully this will not be Darlo's last ever game!
The new owner of the visitors is well known to me as I have worked for him at previous clubs Cambridge United, Weymouth and only a few weeks ago at Kettering.
Well that had been the plan... got home, unpacked and sorted, sat down to tune into Boro game and the early news was good; Palace had gone ahead against Cardiff. It was not going to go well though as Cardiff fought back to win and Boro slipped behind, season over and what might have been was all that was left.
Another season over at Victoria Park and Pools players thank the supporters who like the Riverside faithful have not seen the best of the side, with the outstanding performances being reserved for their travelling supporters.
Well it turned out to be Boro's last match of the season, I managed to win on the three goals or more in the final day defeat at Watford, increasing the monies raised this season for the Great North Air Ambulance at £853.24 in conjunction with William Hills. Many thanks for the bookies for their continued support. Hopefully they will oblige again next season.
I tried to get a bet on so that I had an interest in the Darlo game. Surprisingly I could not find any odds on the internet but there was a good reason for that as it happens. The bloody game had kicked off at 1.00pm! It was 1.40pm so that kyboshed my plans to go to that game. My bet had been for three or more goals in the game. 3-1 it ended up so the day was getting worse. Plan B, Hartlepool v Orient and I put my intended stake on three goals or more in that game at 21/20.
"You'll never walk alone" and "No surrender" reverberate around the ground. If the SFA and some quarters of Celtic support think that the game will survive without this fixture then they are sadly deluded.
Sat next to my old radio mate Terry Cochrane and explained to him and Boro scout Gary Gill and filled them in on my day. The early stages of Pools game was more about watching the off field action. The Orient over 40's Boot Boys were having a day out.
Despite their crew of around fifteen being more that outnumbered by Cleveland Constabulary's finest - I thought they were all supposed to be searching for the murdering head the ball that's killing people - the Cockenee hard boys were giving it large to the local hoolies. In my day punches would have been thrown. Not now - posturing was as good as it got.
Bored by the match, the Echo's finest Nic Loughlin moved along the press box for a natter. Our chat was broken short by Tony Sweeney netting from close range. Nic scurried back to write up the goal, he came back later in the half and the same thing happened again, this time Campbell-Ryce equalising. Get in, two goals already. Nic you can come back again, I only need one more goal.
The game continued and it looked like there would be no more goals. Kevin Lisbie was clear through but fluffed his chance, then as time was running out, the promising Jack Baldwin surprised everyone by playing a free kick wide instead of the expected kick into the penalty area, Horwood crossed and Ryan Noble glanced a header into the corner of the net. Get in, at last something was going right.
Orient pressed forward and it looked as if yet again Pools would wilt at home but they hung on and as the players thanked their fans for their support, the Orient fans celebrated as they realised that despite their defeat they were safe. Another season over at the Vic and Pools continue to punch above their weight and can look forward to another season in League One.
The Green Brigade make their point!
At Darlington, where I had intended to be, the future is far from certain. They had won for the first time in 2012, but where they will be playing and indeed what league they will be in is in doubt.
On that subject it's off to Glasgow on Sunday for what could be the last Old Firm game for sometime. I cannot see that happening but we cannot be certain. There are people who definitely will do anything they can to see the demise of the world's most successful club and won't rest until they have seen the club and it's fans suffer.
In Glasgow on Saturday thousands showed their support in a protest march. On Sunday yet again the away end will be filled with defiant Bears proving that we don't do walking away.
Ready to go. The last ever Old Firm game? Never, surely.
I really could do with a lie in, as sleep deprivation seems to be prevalent at the moment. Next week maybe, the alarm was set for 6.30am though.
Up for 6.00am, before the alarm. Geoff driving and four minutes late. Picking up Neil, only soft cock had forgotten where he lived. We eventually got off our estate at 7.50am! Typical when Geoff drives, at least we were in his lasses car, not his rust bucket.
Good journey apart from nearly hitting two deer that tried to run onto the motorway near Cambuslang. Parked up by 10.45am, two hours before kick off. The Leven lads were just coming over the Forth Road Bridge.
A beer proferred by the Larkhall lads parked next to us was followed by Jaeger bombs. Well it will keep the cold out! These guys had shown tremendous planning providing the glasses albeit plastic ones to ensure that the JB hit the spot.
With the developments near the ground the coaches were parked further away. That would mean Scott and our tickets would arrive even later! Got them eventually after being told that Scott has a new nickname, Kes, after a childhood admiration of the film and wild birds. I've seen him with a few in Leven!
Geoff the driver indicates a 2-0 score line, I think!
In Parkhead seated three quarters of the way back in the lower section. They were having their fun celebrating their tainted title. Rangers started strongly but from a corner Mulgrew was unmarked to head home. At least I had backed an early match goal.
Nothing in it and then a killer second which prompted a spell of dominance. Is Bartley really an Arsenal player? He makes Justin Hoyte look like a world beater. Wallace gets a deserved booking for a scything challenge. Getting feisty!! Half-time and difficult to see Rangers getting back into it.
The third goal finished the game and ensured I was in the money. I had backed three goals or more in the game. Decided not to celebrate though! It sparked an unbelievable response from the Rangers fans; you'd have thought we had won the title. Magnificent support, simply the best!!
Let's face facts - there is no disgrace in losing to Neil Lennon's side that are likely to dominate European football for years to come. In Samaras they have a player that will soon eclipse Messi as the world's number one player!! NOT!!
The better team won on the day without doubt, but twice this season Rangers have tanned their arses so whilst they won the league and its tainted title it's hardly cause to get too excited. As with our last three title wins in fact, this is a poor league, with poor teams and poor players.
More important battles lie ahead; one thing is certain - whether Rangers are in the SPL, the Scottish Third Division or anywhere else the fans will always be there.
Its all over Celtic and their supporters get ready to celebrate. Rangers supporters still prepared to Follow On.
On the journey home Kris Commons no doubt endeared himself to the Celtic faithful by praising the Rangers support and stating that Scottish football needs Rangers. Common sense from the Commons man!
Fuck me, and then Lemon came on and also praised the Rangers supporters!! Am I dreaming, a Celtic/Rangers love in? Even the game lacked the normal OF lunacy with only three yellows, all fully justified. The daftest was Scott Brown's late challenge - 3-0 up with minutes to go and he still flies in. A different day with more at stake and any of the three challenges would probably have instigated war fare.
The greatest club game in the world. Without it Scottish football would die.
It was on all counts a tame affair with only pride at stake. Rangers lacked width and quality in key areas. Oh for a Jelavic up front. It may be a long time before we see his sort of quality in a Rangers shirt.
Like with Boro yesterday you wonder how many players will still be with the club next season. A few sarcastic tweets from them lot. Funny - they were quiet after Hearts and Killie!!
Home and knackered, but despite the result it was worth it all. The rivalry is intense, the hatred apparent, but we need the buzz of the Old Firm games, I have said many times and nothing compares. Those making decisions at the moment are well advised to think about that long and hard.
The coffins and banners displayed by the Green Brigade will be needed again to signal the end of the SPL is the already uncompetitive league is turned into a one horse race that interests nobody, especially the TV companies!
Defeated but defiant, Rangers supporters show an unbelievable, magnificent support on Sunday.
The week ahead and Sedgefield races on Tuesday, weather permitting. Watching my lad's cup semi final at Norton on Wednesday night, maybe Newcastle races on Thursday if one of my horses in running there. Friday night speaking in Lancashire then on Saturday up to Ibrox for the Dundee United game before speaking in Scotland on the night.
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Enjoy your football.
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