Archive for the ‘Sport’ Category

Live! Roller Derby! Auld Reekie Roller Girls Home Bout: ARRG’s Twisted Thistles vs ARRG’s Cannon Belles

Auld Reekie Roller Girls travel teams are facing off this weekend, in  a bout that many have waited a long time to see. Here at Alhimself we are excited about the prospect of an Edinburgh Roller Derby Home League in 2012, so this bout will certainly be something to whet the appetite in anticipation.

The bout will see the two teams face off against each other to ensure that both are skating their best heading into the 2012 season, when these two teams will represent the best of ARRG across the UK and beyond.

“We are immensely lucky to have so much talent in the ARRG league,” said Belles (for whom Alhimself will be rooting on this occasion) captain Bruise Leigh. “But these two teams have never been pitted against each other. What better way to hone our bouting skills for 2012 than to take on this fierce and formidable team?”

Thistles captain Crazylegs said, “We’ve faced teams from Glasgow to Stuttgart, but the Belles are sure to give us a run for our money. If anything, we’ll all probably be harder on each other because we know it’ll help us get ready for next year. This is going to be very, very fun.”

Next year marks a new era for ARRG with the introduction of home teams, which will play each other in a series of tournament-style bouts. The travel teams comprise the league’s best players, who take on the challenge of representing ARRG in external bouts in addition to playing on their home teams.

What is Roller Derby? I hear you cry. Well I asked the people at Auld Reekie to explain:

“Roller derby is an all-female sport that involves teams competing on an oval track in a series of ‘jams’ – two minute periods that see teams of five players each battling to score points. During each jam, one player on each team is designated as the ‘jammer’ who scores a point for every member of the opposing team she passes.

The sport requires a punishing array of agile and athletic skills, from zig-zag blocking moves to body slams to all-out speed-skating. To perfect these manoeuvres, skaters commit to several hours of practice every week, paying for gear and practice space out of their own pockets.

While it has its roots in sports-entertainment-style exhibition bouts going back as far as the 1930s, modern roller derby has reinvigorated the game with a grass-roots DIY ethos that puts the passion for athleticism front-and-centre.

The trend finally reached Edinburgh in 2008, when a small group of women founded ARRG. The Edinburgh league now averages at over 80 skaters, and is run purely on the volunteer efforts of its members.”

Saturday 29th October 18:30 – 20:30. Tickets are £5  (Free for children aged 14 and under) from:

Categories: Sport Tags: , ,

Parliamo Fitba’ ?

12/10/2010 1 comment


Source: SFA


A few thoughts on Scotland vs. Spain, 12th October, 2010

Tonight a nation hopes that with enough pluck and vigour, they can take something from the World Champions. The team that has had unprecedented dominance of the European and World stage ever since a young man called David met lots and lots of other men called Fernando, Pepe, Andres… you get the picture. With the nucleus of Barcelona, the satellites of former Liverpool starlets (Torres has had a hard road since that 2008 final) and more world-class goalkeepers than England have probably ever laid claim to; this is a phenomenal era for every fan of Spanish football. Scotland’s game-plan? Braveheart defending. It’s always Braveheart defending, or at least that’s been the excuse for as many years as I can recall. Last Friday though, Craig Levein tried a system that involved no strikers. Even for Scotland fans, that was beyond the pale. It shouldn’t, though, have been a surprise.


Scotland hasn’t played with heart for years. We’re an amateur team struggling in a professional era. What we need is a team young enough not to remember qualifying for anything; a manager with the nerve to make them fear no-one and a league that protects the teams that produce promising youth. Do I think that’s going to happen? The days of qualifying with the rigidity of Craig Brown’s team of Premier League regulars are long gone. Those years were only made possible by a FIFA bias that allowed those “home” nations who had been considered rightful attendees at the major tournaments to pick up a place, whether we finished third behind Finland in qualifying, or not. Then the Eastern European nations realised that if you had a Zlatan Zahovic and someone to mop up behind him, you could build a team with belief. Sadly for us, the members of our successful under-17 or under-21 international squads get given a Porsche before they have the attitude to excel, or they spend too long playing long-ball in the lower leagues to remember the spirit of winning is more important than any whacky tactics.

Difficult questions?

Vogts, Levein, Smith, Burley… we can blame them all for trying to re-invent the team as many way as we like, but ours is a national problem. No amount of scape-goating managers with quality club records is going to change that. Each and every time they were the man we wanted, the right man for the job. The way we treated Berti Vogts was the worst hypocrisy of all, here was an international manager with the nerve to say that enough was enough, to give any worthy professional a chance to shine for his country. He, like all of us who had the sense to admit it, knew that Scotland was a country that needed shaking up from top to bottom. Did we get behind him, did we roll with the punches, and take every bit of humility and introspection we could out of bad results? No, rather than take the hard knocks; rather remember what it was like to watch a 38 year old Tom Boyd embarrass us against Australian farm-hands and still walk into the team every month, rather than face up to what we already knew about our status in the world; rather than realise that it would take years to undo the laziness of the Craig Brown years, the falsity of that qualifying record. Rather than do any of that, we chose to crucify them all rather than ask those difficult questions.

Levein has had hardly a chance to prove that he is going to ‘change’ Scotland’s pattern of disappointment. If anyone is going to do that, they are going to make a few mistakes. Let’s at least take a look at ourselves, as well as the coach, when things go wrong. Not crucifying them when they try something new, demand their removal and hope for the next quick fix. Maybe, just maybe, if we have some patience, then we’ll end up with a team and a coach that can get the ball down and play. No matter the opposition.

Categories: Blog, Sport Tags: , , , ,

Benitez’ ghost haunts King Kenny as Hodgson looks set to move.

So it looks like Liverpool are keen to snap up Roy Hodgson? Fair enough. He’s been my favourite to get the post since Rafa took his money and ran. It also seemed ludicrous from the outset, that Martin O’Neill would trade up 6th place Aston Villa with their secure backers and well performing squad for a cash-strapped 7th place club in turmoil. That the other major contender, Guus Hiddink, is still under contract at Turkey made his appointment seem nigh impossible.

One of the more interesting aspects to the Hodgson appointment though, is the timing. That England’s World Cup match against Slovenia tomorrow might result in Capello leaving the England job, and Roy looking likely to head up England’s most-wanted list, has added another dimension to what some had seen as a simple coronation for the Fulham boss.

In many regards Hodgson seems like a good choice for Liverpool. A steady pair of hands, no doubt a damn sight cheaper than an O’Neill or even a Klinsmann. He has a track record of getting the most out of ordinary teams, and is fresh from a European Cup final with Premiership second-tier Fulham. What should worry any discerning Liverpool fan however, is the possibility of entering a bidding war with the FA. That would add the woes  of the club, not only in the public eye, but financially aswell.

Kenny Dalglish, who was tasked with hunting down a replacement for Benitez, is said to be keen on the job himself. Though a good friend of the 62-year-old Hodgson, Dalglish feels he is the best qualified for the job.

If Liverpool do not tread carefully, and should England go out tomorrow, they face a tough time in convincing Hodgson to take on a team likely to have little to spend on repairs. The appointment might even have to rival Benitez’ salary simply to attract him from the England job. If they strike before the World Cup campaign is over they might find themselves losing a fine ambassador for the club in Dalglish and further dividing the fans from the director and owners of the beleagured club. 

It seems that even with the axing of Rafa Benitez, Liverpool’s mangerial woes are far from over.  

Categories: Blog, Sport Tags: , ,

All Football, All the time, Forever.

One week or so gone and the World Cup is certainly coming to life. I found the time to start covering the International Film Festival, safe in the knowledge we’ve seen all the big guns come out to play by now. Spain’s loss was probably a bigger upset than South Africa getting a point, but aside from France’s predictable paltry performance, so far the usual suspects have got the starts that were expected. Italy getting a draw was pretty much inexorable, they had no need to be gung-ho against a Paraguay side that will very probably qualify out of the group with them. The Dutch looked shaky but comfortably got a couple in their opening win. So too, Brazil eased past the fiesty North Koreans without too much drama. So far, so wait-for-the-third-round-of-games. The stand out games go to Germany’s crushing of Australia and Argentina’s second win against South Korea. Well, that is apart from Portugal’s drubbing of North Korea, but didn’t I tell you the World Cup was coming to life? I’m going on the record here, pre-tournament my (actual) money was on the Argies, and aside from Guttierez flapping, I’ve seen nothing to make me regret that. Chile looked pretty handy against Honduras and I look forward to watching them progress. All that said,

England are the team with the most worries for their next match. Reliable sources close to Alhimself thought they might open up a few volleys against a pretty ordinary looking Algerian team. 3-0? 4-0? That bore no fruit whatsoever. Everyone, including myself, was surprised though. Where had Rooney gone? Let’s be realistic about the latter stages. (Not quite Rod Liddle realistic, his Sunday Times comment piece on the 13th was doom-saying I wasn’t then prepared to believe.) At this stage though England need to win handsomely, or have someone do them a favour. Sounds as pathetic as Scotland’s qualification record since the millenium. England are not going to win the World cup on this performance. They would need luck and/or the sort of improvement that would make Lazarus look like Harry bloody Kewell. Who, by the way, is basically a thief. A recent GQ Australia article confirmed this for me finally.

“The lowest point apparently came after the World Cup in 2006, when Kewell was told by British doctors that they had fixed him physically and his problems were more in mind than body.”

I implore the Turkish government to extradite him in order he be forced to pay back all those £65,000 pay cheques he got to sit on the bench. Australia’s 1-1 heroics against Ghana confirmed how much they need him. Not a lot.

So, never experienced the World Cup before. Not sure how to predict the winner? Nabokov’s Lolita, page 17
“You have to be…”

You’ll get the drift. Also, keep a look out for the World Cup Poems blog. We are launching the book itself at the Roxy Arthouse on the 30th, where I will be reading from the 32 poems we’ve published, alongside Dave Coates and Aiko Harman. Enjoy the weather, enjoy the tournament. We shall speak again soon.



Categories: Blog, Sport