Tag Archives: Football

Weird Ways Your Country Could Win Euro 2016!

UEFA Euro 2016 kicks off on 10th June 2016! Excitement is mounting as football fans wonder if their team can actually win it this time.

The answer is, yes they can! Games can be won by wonder strikes, super saves or creative passing. Even top-class teams occasionally win by a fluke goal or dodgy decision. And there have been some even weirder ways teams have won important matches:

By winning a coin toss – Italy got through to the 1968 UEFA Euro final by winning a coin toss after the semi-final ended in a draw. The final also ended in a draw but this time it went to a rematch and Italy won to lift the trophy!

By scoring an own goal – Barbados deliberately kicked the ball into their own net to qualify for the 1994 Shell Caribbean Cup. They were winning 2-1 but needed to win by two goals. Time was running out so they booted the ball in their own goal to take the game to extra time. They then scored in extra time where goals counted twice and qualified!

By failing to qualify – Denmark failed to qualify for the UEFA Euro tournament in 1992. However, they were offered a last minute place when the Yugoslavian team was kicked out due to a war in their country. Denmark went on to win the tournament.

So, whoever your team, there is always a chance! Enjoy the tournament.


Football: It’s a Game of Too Many Clichés

Football is a simple game. Two teams use their feet to try and get the ball into the opposition’s goal. That’s it in a nut shell! But by the time we reach adulthood we have eaten, slept and breathed so much football that it’s coming out of our ears. And we have heard so many football clichés that we can’t help them from pouring out of our mouths, even when they make no sense at all!

Take a look at an under 7s game on a Saturday morning:

The coach calls the team in and they all huddle round waiting for some words of wisdom from their mentor. “These are our bogey team,” he says. “They are nothing special though. We just didn’t turn up last time.”

A child puts his hand up, “We turned up,” he says, pointing around at the friends he remembers being there.

“Yes I know you turned up,” says the coach. “I just mean, never mind. We need to keep a clean sheet today.”

The children exchange confused looks, wondering where bogeys and laundry come into the game.

Not to be deterred, the coach continues, “Remember, keep your shape. Push forward. Clear your lines. Use the ball. Grind out a result. Does everyone understand that?”

Ten blank faces stare back at him.

He holds up a whiteboard. “Okay, we are going to play as a diamond today. This is the starting line-up. The rest of you are on the bench.”

The substitutes look around. There is a bench further across the field but it seems a long way from the pitch.

The referee calls the captains in and the teams line up for their pre-match handshake.

“Get stuck in,” says the coach. “Be ready from the off. Go out fighting!”

The referee shoots the coach a warning look as the players shake hands.

The game kicks off and the children begin to play. But the opposition are on the attack and the team concede a corner. The coach shouts to a defender, “Jonny! Hug the post!”

Jonny approaches the post and eyes it up warily but decides against hugging it.

The ball falls to Jonny. “Away, away,” shouts the coach.

“Kick it out,” screams a woman from the side of the pitch.

“Get rid of it” shouts Jonny’s dad.

Jonny swings a leg and desperately kicks the ball off the pitch for a throw in to cheers from the side-lines.

Back in play, the ball bounces into some space in the box a few metres away from a small boy who hasn’t yet touched the ball. A man on the side-line who looks like his playing days are long gone and leisure activities now consist of drinking beer and eating burgers shouts, “Carry it.”

The boy looks puzzled but as instructed, bends down and picks up the ball to carry it.

Screams of “Handball!” come from the opposition parents.

The man with the beer belly shouts at the boy: “No, what are you doing?”

The boy looks even more confused. The referee points to the penalty spot.

The opposition striker, who is twice the size of the other children steps up and places the ball on the penalty spot. The tiny goalkeeper stands eyes wide like a rabbit in the spot light in the middle of the massive goal.

“Make yourself big!” comes a voice from the side.

“Fill the goal,” adds another unhelpfully.

The whistle blows and the striker takes his shot. The ball whizzes past the keeper who turns dejectedly to pick the ball out from the back of the net.

The half time whistle sounds and the children gather around the coach. “We’re letting them pull the strings,” he says. “They’re playing us off the park. We’ve lost our shape. We’re being sucked in and giving the ball away too cheaply. We need to hold the ball up in midfield.”

The children look worried after the earlier hand ball incident.

The coach continues. “Freddie, I need you to sweep up behind the defence. Can you do that please?”

Freddie nods, wondering where he can find a broom.

The second half starts and the team win a free kick. “Let Tommy take it,” shouts the coach. “He knows how to hit a dead ball.”

Tommy scores to the cheers of the parents. The coach is jubilant. “Well done. Now get another and put this game to bed. We’ve got it sewn up. It’s in the bag.”

The ball falls to Amy in front of the goal. “Shoot,” shouts her dad.

“Pass it,” shouts her mum.

“Run with it,” shouts the coach.

Amy miskicks the ball in her panic.

“She’s sliced it again,” says the coach, throwing his hands in the air.

The opposition are in control now and look likely to score again. “It’s backs to the wall now lads…and lassie,” shouts the coach. “Dig in deep. Let the ball do the work. Park the bus. The ball never gets tired. Leave everything on the pitch.”

A constant stream of gibberish continues to be heard from the side of the pitch throughout the game: “Drop in. Pick it up. Square it. Tuck in. Hold. Sit in!” It’s no wonder some kids would prefer to play their video games, at least they can enjoy them in peace without someone shouting nonsense in their ear.

The children will eventually learn that much of the advice isn’t much use and block it out anyway. So let’s just keep quiet and let them enjoy the game. They’ve plenty of time to learn the strange language of football. Let the children play and they’ll be sticking the ball in the onion bag before you know it.

What are your favourite or pet peeve football clichés?


My First PechaKucha

Back in 2015 I was asked over Twitter if I’d be interested in presenting at a local PechaKucha evening in January. I’d never even heard of PechaKucha but took a look at the website and thought, why not give it a go!

For those that don’t know, PechaKucha (Japanese for chit chat) is a form of presenting using 20 images. Each image moves on automatically after 20 seconds. This encourages the presenter to be concise. PechaKucha nights originated from Tokyo as a way for people to meet, network and display their work.

PechaKucha nights are now held all over the world, including, as I found out, in my home town of St Neots, Cambridgeshire. The St Neots events are run by Neotists a group of local creative professionals.

When I agreed to present at the next event, January 2016 seemed like a long way away and I thought had plenty of time to prepare, after all 20 slides of 20 seconds only totals 6 minutes and 40 seconds. How hard could it be?

Being indecisive, I took forever to decide on my topic. I eventually decided to base my presentation on a blog I had written  many years ago about the strange things people say in football. The piece takes you through a children’s mini-soccer match where the adults are using football clichés throughout and shows how confusing it could be for the young players.

I planned what I wanted to say and separated it out into twenty sections. Then I decided what pictures would best illustrate each section and set out with my camera phone to capture the images. Where I couldn’t take a photo I used royalty free stock images.

I practiced my presentation several times before the event and tweaked it to try and get the timing right. I’m not a confident public speaker so the last thing I wanted was to be standing in front of an audience with huge pauses as I waited for the image to move on.

At the event, in the town’s rowing club bar, I was greeted by the guys from Neotists who reassured me that the audience was nice and friendly and not to worry. I was pleased to hear them actively encouraging people to spend plenty on drinks over the bar to thank the club for the use of the room.

The first three speakers were great, with really interesting presentations. I was a little concerned I would disappoint the audience with mine.

Luckily for me though I was up after the break so a few more drinks were consumed and when I stepped up to the front I was pleased to see friendly faces looking back at me. I was nervous and there were a few awkward pauses but I think I pulled it off okay in the end. I was relieved when it finished and the audience applauded. I sat down, relaxed  and enjoyed the final presentation.

Overall it was a great night. I’m proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone. Public speaking is one of those things for me that I have to make myself do in order to get better.

I’ll definitely attend another PechaKucha event as it was great to hear and see what other local people are involved in. You never know, I might even speak again at one too.

You can see my presentation on football clichés here: