Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Scintilla Cricket Club support Dementia Awareness Week

Essex County Cricket League Premier Division champions Scintilla CC are supporting Dementia Awareness Week.

The team posed for a picture with their Dementia Friends badges and information leaflets.

Club captain Ahmed Choudhury said: "Dementia affects young and old alike. With love and support people can lead happy, fruitful lives. We are very happy to support Dementia Awareness Week and help make a difference to the lives of people living with dementia."

The Alzheimer’s Society believe passionately that life doesn’t end when dementia begins - that it’s possible to hold on to your life and to do and experience new things. That’s why the Society is encouraging all supporters to do something new during Dementia Awareness Week.

Aspirational or ordinary, well wishers are requested to do something new to help spread the word that life doesn’t end when dementia begins.

Marathon sessions.

This Friday the first ever 24 hour marathon of back-to-back Dementia Friends Information Sessions will be taking place. From 10am Friday 22 May to 10am Saturday 23 May, Dementia Friends Champions across the country will be running Information Sessions, including throughout the night and the early hours of the morning! If you're not a Dementia Friend yet, why not book on one of the Sessions!

Become a Dementia Friend or Champion.

Do something new and become a Dementia Friend for Dementia Awareness Week, if you aren't one already! A Dementia Friend learns a little bit more about what it's like to live with dementia and then turns that understanding into action. From helping someone to find the right bus to spreading the word about dementia on social media, every action counts. 

#df24


Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Scintilla CC lift the Champions Cup at last!

League winners presented with championship trophy at Essex County Cricket Club
 
Emdad Rahman: Scintilla Cricket Club were honoured for their extraordinary 2014 Premier Division triumph as the Barking & Dagenham team were invited to The Essex county ground to watch Essex Cricket Club continue their push for promotion in their County Championship fixture against Gloucestershire.
 
The team was invited onto the pitch at lunch where the famous trophy was presented to them by Essex left hander Nick Browne – the first Essex player to score two unbeaten hundreds in a championship match in the same game (against Derbyshire at Chesterfield).

Eastbury School in Barking & Dagenham have supported Scintilla by allowing them use of the club’s cricket facilities for youngsters, and tributes were paid to the school at the presentation. The school’s Sports Liaison Officer Mick Rose and Head of PE Rhys Davies attended the game and ceremony. Mick Rose said: “We were looking for a local project and team to partner with, and Scintilla Cricket Club ticked the boxes. It has been a pleasure working with this team. Congratulations for the on-field success.”

Abul Hussain and Ashfaqur Rahaman Nobel were awarded trophies as joint players of the year and Rokhan Khan, 16, was selected as young player. “The dedication from these players has been excellent. It was hard making choices as all our players played out of their skins,” said current first team skipper Ayaz Karim.

Club captain Ahmed Choudhury thanked the team for their efforts: “We have always dared to dream and standing here on the turf of this historic ground today while receiving this grand trophy is the fulfilment of a dream. Thank you to Techshed Ltd for the financial support that has kept us afloat and allowed us to prosper on the pitch.”

Sushanta Das Gupta from Techshed Ltd said: “It has been a pleasure to support the team. I wish you further success and hope our partnership continues for a long time.” Club Chair Muhammad Rahman added: “This is the result of years of blood, sweat, tears. As far as I am concerned we have had a taste of elite success and it is important that going forward our focus remains on the current season. It will be harder this time and every game will be a cup final. A massive thank you to Graham Smith from Essex Cricket for providing us with valuable expertise, support and advice.”

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Hugs, back-slaps & love is all around!

"My soul does not find mercy -
Somewhere on the bank of oblivion;
There,
Where hunger freezes my bones to death."

Kristian Goldmund Aumann

And so Kam and I paid our scheduled visit to Westfield in Stratford City for our One Third Soup Kitchen shift.

Today, right from the off, we were mobbed by a group of twelve homeless guests who sat in front of the Stratford Centre in anticipation of our table and food pots being set up and laid out.

Although I'd like to think our popularity was because of Kam's classy presence or my personally initialed football coaches top, I have to blame it all on the aroma of the delicious feast we had in the pots courtesy of Nazia.

Pat was first on the scene. He's originally from Canning Town. He asked for several hugs. "You don't know what a hug means to me," he said and added: "It goes a long way. "I've suffered a recent loss in my family and I feel like I want to end it all." He pointed at my fellow shift partner Kam; "Thank you for this, the food you people serve is a Godsend and I can't thank you enough. I will always protect you because you're all practically family." 

Our chat with Pat made me think and I now have a poser for readers of this blog - Exactly what does society expect a homeless person to look like?

I honestly thought Pat with his wiry build would try lift me onto his slight shoulders and we shared a cheeky chuckle as I told him he didn't need to add permanent backache to his list of woes. 


Roy was next. "I've been homeless for five days," he said. "I'm ill, cold and hungry," he told Kam and me. Roy had two big plates and thanked us so much I had to tell him to stop in the politest way possible. Bless him!

The food was delicious and the silence from our ravenous patrons was enough to give an accurate indication of their contentment. "Delicious and amazing," shouted Petr as he had a big second helping.

I told Pat, Billy, Anjali, Mia and the rest of the crew that our colleague Nazia had provided the food and I would pass on their kind comments. "Thank you Nazia," said Mary.

As we posed for a group picture Billy shouted cheekily: "David Cameron's modern day Britain." That really bought the house down.

In all, we served around 35 people before the contents of the pot ran out with the last hungry visitor. At this point we usually clean up pronto and beat a hasty retreat after saying goodbye to our friends, mainly in order to avoid having to say non to a disappointed late guest who turns up with the pot all shiny and empty.

We are a really happy go lucky bunch and fund this all ourselves so if any readers would like to volunteer or provide a pot of food then please feel welcome to get in touch.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Ian Rose: "Achieving is created by vision and has nothing to do with sight."

I was inspired to meet Paralympian and Judo champ Ian Rose and want to share his story.

Ian is a Paralympic Medallist, Motivational Speaker and Workshop Facilitator on Goal Setting & Achievement. He was a Torchbearer and Opening Ceremony performer for the London 2012 Paralympic Games, winner of 2 Paralympic, 5 World Championship and 9 European Championship Medals.

Born in 1972 Ian contracted eye cancer (Retinablastoma) and lost his left eye and most of the sight in his right. Following many operations Ian was left with an indent on the right side of his face and having to wear some pretty thick glasses.

He was bullied at school. At the age of 7 Ian’s parents, realised that he needed help to improve his self-esteem, as he was coming home from school some afternoons in tears after being teased about the way he looked. Little did they know how the next step they took for him, would inpact on his life so much. Ian was introduced to the sport of Judo and 2 coaches called Ron Cleere and John Oke, who accepted him into Micklefield Judo Club and treated him exactly the same as the other members, with no special treatment because of his eyes.

From that point on Judo became a big part of Ian’s life and within 3 months the teasing he received about his looks stopped, because he now had new confidence.

Ian was not a natural at Judo taking 2 years to win his first medal, but worked very hard in training and had a passion for success. The longer this went on the better Ian got and he received his first International selection in 1989 whilst still in the last year at secondary school.

Competing in the European Visually Impaired Championships was a dream come true and the beginning of an international sporting career that would see him travel the world, winning 2 Paralympic medals, a World Championships and 4 European Championships.

Ian is one of Great Britain’s most successful Paralympic Judoka. Retiring in 2011, Ian was on course to represent ParalympicsGB at his 6th Games in London, but due to an injury in training he called it a day, bringing to an end a glittering international career spanning 22 years at the top.

Ian now focusses on motivating and inspiring others to achieve their full potential.

Ian say's: "life is full of opportunity, don’t let it pass by."

www.ianrose.co.uk

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Sport gets up close and personal


Andres Iniesta and Serge Ibaka endorse cutting edge technology

Since Serge Ibaka (NBA Oklahoma City Thunder) and Andres Iniesta (Barcelona FC) became partner investors in Spanish company FirstV1sion 300 fans have followed suit in investing in the company through an e​quity crowd funding campaign on BnKToTheFuture.com

Fans who attended last weeks game between Zalgiris Kaunas and Real Madrid were able to watch the game for the first time from a player’s point of view thanks to a revolutionary piece of body kit. 

A 99-83 defeat by Real Madrid in Euroleague’s second group stage was most definitely the talking point for many of the fans and players. Zalgiris Kaunas were happy to endorse such innovation and decided to be the first international team to test the kit out.

The basketball players were given the opportunity to wear a smart wearable broadcasting vest (developed by Spanish company FirstV1sion) with in built cameras installed to give the audience an immersive experience.

Spanish company FirstV1sion are planning to bring innovative change for basketball fans as technology as such has never been used on a basketball court.

“It would be very good for fans or even basketball players to see what’s happening inside the game,” said E​dwin Jackson of F​C Barcelona Basquet of the Liga ACB.

Founders of FirstV1sion, Jose Ildefonso and Roger Antunez, firmly believe that what they have developed could immerse basketball and football fans deeper into the game just as in the cockpit of a F1 driver.

Over 300 investors and sports fans have invested so far in the Spanish company FirstV1sion through the e​quity crowd funding platform​ BankToTheFuture.com where they can join top sports legends such as Andres Iniesta and Serge Ibaka in becoming an investor in the company.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Rangers lose second spot but dig deep to rescue home point


Rangers 2-2 Falkirk

Emdad Rahman reports from Ibrox

Glasgow Rangers stepped out at home against Falkirk looking to solidify their second placed position.

A bright and breezy start saw Darren McGregor’s right footed shot cause a few stirs but his attempt went just wide of Jamie Macdonald’s left post. Seconds later Marius Zaliukas had another attempt with a right footer. 

Falkirk picked up the momentum and for a ten minute period in the first half they looked more like the home team. Just before the 20 minute mark John Baird’s right footed attempt from inside the box was pushed away by the alert Cammy Bell.

Stuart McCall reverted to three at the back for the start of the second half as Robbie Crawford replaced Zaliukas and an attacking foray down the Falkirk left saw Tom Walsh come close with a right footed shot.

In the 55th minute Lee McCulloch conceded a corner and this lead to Falkirk’s John Baird striking home the opening goal from a Craig Sibbald cross.

Worse followed four minutes later when ex-Leeds United and Chelsea academy player Tom Taiwo doubled the lead courtesy of an error from Lee McCulloch - leading to boos for the home captain.

Within the next 5 minutes Stuart McCall made swift changes as he bought on Dean Shiels for Kenny Miller and Nicky Clark. Rangers pressed and with eight minutes of the match remaining Haris Vuckic halved the Falkirk advantage. With the Gers piling on the pressure a frenetic last half minute saw Rangers lay siege to their opponents goalmouth. The pressure paid off and up popped Nicky Law to level the scores 2-2 and send fans off home happy.

Two points dropped mean Hibernian leapfrog Rangers into second place ahead of next week's final round of Scottish Championship fixtures. The third placed team in the SPFL will face Queen of the South over two legs to decide who meets the division's runners-up in the Premiership play-off semi-final double-header. The winner will then meet the team finishing second-bottom in the Premiership, again over two legs, with a place in the Premier Division the prize.

In his post-match interview Falkirk manager Peter Houston said: “It’s obviously very disappointing to have lost a goal so late but I’m happy with the way the team played. Playing in front of big crowds like here adds to the players experiences and will help them become better players.”
 
Rangers manager Stuart McCall said: "They (Rangers) kept going, and the desire, togetherness and the drive to keep going and not accept defeat will be needed. We'll need that in the play off games. We started the game really well in the first ten, fifteen minutes and had a couple of opportunities. We started on the front foot and played some good football. Falkirk then came into the game and enjoyed some possession. 

"Coming in at half time Zaliukas came in with an ankle injury and we had to rejig it a little bit. We had a couple of opportunities in the first five minutes of the second half. They scored from a set play and scored on the break. It was looking doom and gloom but we kept at it. 

"Going forward I'm very pleased as we made a lot of opportunities today. But obviously we made a lot of errors too. So, disappointment and emotion, because we haven't won the game, but proud with the players at the way they stuck at it. We still have to go up to Tynecastle and win and as Falkirk showed today, Hibs will have it hard, just as we will have it difficult at Hearts. No one can say what will happen. 

"Hibs are back in pole position. My focus doesn't change. We have to go out and try and win at Tynecastle.  We'll need the spirit and togetherness that we showed today."

On Lee McCulloch being booed by a section of the home crowd McCall added: 

"I was sickened to hear it at the time. What did please me was that after a couple of minutes of it, the supporters then turned it on its head and drowned out the booing with cheers and claps. That's what we need as a club - togetherness.

"It doesn't matter what has gone on last week, years ago, months ago, today. It's all about next week and the future.

"We put Lee up front near the end and he was denied a goal by another fantastic save from Jamie MacDonald who was world class today. If he'd scored, I thought that would have been justice.

"He is an experienced guy who has witnessed the highs and lows, but it's never nice to hear that kind of thing."

"The players needs the supporters as much as the supporters need the players and as disappointing as it was to hear, we've grown and I was pleased the rest of the supporters turned it on it's head."

Paul Canoville: Black & Blue


Paul Canoville was Chelsea's first black player and he had a torrid time trying get accepted by the faithful. Paul's had a tough life but he's turned it round. His journey is an inspiration for those facing life's struggles. 

Please click this link for a short I nterview with Paul... http://youtu.be/r4ocWwo-Vh4

Estádio José Alvalade: home of Sporting CP


Emdad Rahman: As you walk through the entrance and foyer, through the VIP Lounge to the reception, you become aware that football is just one of many sports played and celebrated at this historic Portugese club. Founded on 1st July 1906, Sporting Clube de Portugal (Sporting Lisbon) are part of the “Três Grandes” (The Big Three) national football teams. 

Sporting was formed by affluent Lisboetas who indulged in “foot-ball” at Belas and hung out together at the Pastelaria Bijou on Avenida da Liberdade. Along with their illustrious rivals Benfica and Porto, Sporting has never been relegated from the top flight since it was established in 1934.

Sporting began life under the venerable and watchful eye of the local landowner – the Viscount of Alvalade. The club initially played football in plain tops, but that all changed by quirk of fate when the players, on tour in Brazil during the 1920s, found themselves having to loan rugby shirts to kit themselves out in.

By the 1930s, the Sportinguistas were at the top of the Portuguese national game. They were spearheaded by the “five violins” – including the prolific Peyroteo, who shares the goalscorers’ record in the Benfica derby with Eusébio. In 1956, Sporting opened their new stadium, named after José Alvalade.

At Academia Sporting in Alcochete, the club has a world class standard training facility. It was used as a base for the Portugese national team during Euro 2004 and for the celebrated youth academy. Sporting has the distinction of boasting global footballers of the calibre of Paulo Futre, Luís Figo, Ricardo Quaresma, Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani, João Moutinho and Simão Sabrosa amongst their resplendent ranks. Among other managerial giants, Luiz Felipe Scolari and José Pekerman have acknowledged the academy as one of the finest in the world.

It was August 2003 when the modern Estádio José Alvalade was unveiled to the world. During a trip to the beautiful capital of Lisbon we decided to experience the magic of Sporting Clube de Portugal as part of a stadium tour.

The stadium, with a capacity of 50,095, opened to the world amid much acclaim, and club captain Pedro Barbosa became the first man to step on to the turf of the newly refurbished and modernised Estádio José Alvalade. England played a part during this historic occasion – Manchester United providing the opposition as referee Silva blew his whistle for the first time at the new arena. That day a jubilant crowd left their new home happy, as Sporting ran out easy 3-1 winners. Luís Filipe beat World Cup winner Fabien Barthez to become noted as the first player to score at the new stadium. João Pinto scored a brace before United struck a late consolation. Ronaldo made his mark and his performance during the game persuaded Sir Alex Ferguson to sign the starlet for Manchester United. The rest is history.
The Estádio José Alvalade is a jewel of a stadium and was newly constructed right next to the old Estádio José Alvalade in time to serve as a playing venue for the Euro 2004 tournament which Portugal gusted. The home of the green-and-whites hosted three first round group matches, a quarter final, and the semi-final between Portugal and the Netherlands. One year later, in 2005, Estádio José Alvalade hosted the UEFA Cup final between CSKA Moscow and Sporting.

Sporting is Portugal’s third most successful club. The Leões (lions) lifted the 1963-64 European Cup Winners’ Cup. On the domestic front, the Verde-e-Brancos has proudly lifted 18 Primeira Liga titles, 15 Portuguese Cups, seven Portuguese Super Cups and four Championship of Portugal titles.

Proudly displayed in the VIP foyer is a plaque from ex-UEFA President Lennart Johansson who visited Lisbon to certify the Estádio José Alvalade as a “Five Star” stadium, accrediting the Club as one with a stadium of excellent condition that is fit to host any European game.

The stadium exterior is decorated with vibrant coloured tiles along with colour coded seating which gives the impression that games at the arena are full to capacity. We went on a formal tour, which was both enjoyable and profound. Visitors can also get to see the two famous (stuffed) lions and the historic Museu Mundo Sporting narrates the story of the clubs success and achievements in numerous sports including basketball. Rita, a Club Press Officer, was our tour guide. Her knowledge and insight was greatly appreciated.

Estádio José Alvalade is located in the north of the city of Lisbon, about seven kilometres from Lisbon’s historic centre and only two kilometres from Lisbon’s other major stadium, Estádio da Luz. The stadium lies next to the E1 motorway. Take exit 5 Campo Grande to get to the stadium. If using public transport, the stadium is best reached by metro. Take the green line from the historic centre and get off at station Campo Grande, which is next to the stadium. The yellow line also stops at Campo Grande, and may be useful from destinations north of the city centre.

Estádio José Alvalade
Rua Professor Fernando da Fonseca, Apartado 4120, 1501-806 Lisboa

Alvalade XXI Guided Tour – Stadium and the World of Sporting

Tel.: 217 516 523 / 217 516 000
email: eventos.visitas@sporting.pt
Open every day, 11.30 onwards.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Delph ruins Gerrard's dream


FA Cup semi final 2015: Aston Villa 2-1 Liverpool

I headed with high hopes to Wembley 
Semi with Anwar, Mian and Saad
It was Suarez who'd struck me glory
My winning doodle on a sketch pad

Shay Given is clipped by Coutinho
The little magician scoring on thirty
But Delph ramps up Villa's flow
Benteke adds to his red hot spree

Brummies hungrier on the whole
No fairytale finish for Stevie G
Delph cuts in for the winning goal
And so Villa return to Wembley 

number7
© emdad rahman

I actually won a comp to doodle El Suarez and took my place amongst a boisterous and friendly Villa contingent. Thanks to Saad for taking me. A great day out but gutted about the result...

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Hillsborough - Justice for the 96

For one day the Steel City is Merseyside

No blots on the horizon show trouble
The Red machine is in full swing
All conquering on the road to the double

Through the peak district to Sheffield
Fans savour “God’s own County”
Famed Woodhead and Snake passes
Amongst the finest of all in Blighty

On the banks of the River Don
To Hillsborough they rejoice and head
Built nine decades prior to that year
And soon to be a shrine to the dead

Red Battalion of 13 in port
Grobelaar, Ablett, Nicol, Staunton
Beardsley, Aldridge, Burrows, Whelan
Barnes, Houghton, McMahon, Rush, Hansen

At 2.55 there are shrieks of delight
Witness all too customary a scene
Led out by Ray Lewis – the Hillsborough ref
King Kenny’s champs take to the green

3:00pm and further gladness
Semi final kicks off with a flourish
Heaving Leppings Lane and the Spion Kop
Human pen where many will perish

No stewards where it mattered
As ticketed Reds wielded their gold
With the carnival very much in full flow
Death’s shrill voice, calls out cold

A moral free Police Chief on call
“Deceitful” Duckenfield the security host
Ham-fisted Superintendent Murray
Responsible for the control post

“Dishonest” Duckenfield the rookie
Held sway over blameless fates
Yet still gave that fateful order:
Instructing; "Open the gates"

Despite a lucid view of the Leppings pen
There’s gross duty evasion
That “deceitful, dishonest” match commander
Mistook all for a pitch invasion

In streamed a flurry of Reds
Adding to the burgeoning number
Intensity, panic, and horror set in
The Police obstinate in their slumber

Asphyxiation took hold and ribs shattered
“Please Bruce (Grobelaar), help us!” they exclaim
As Beardsley struck the bar
Ray Lewis whistled the end of the game

That whistle set in motion a nightmare
All beheld an abominable crush
The carnival fizzled out with a whimper
Death mingled with the huge onrush

Paramedic Tony Evans blocked entry
“They’re fighting”, the Police scowled
Ad hoardings became makeshift stretchers
“Shan’t abandon the dead”someone growled

Death’s stench, permeated in abundance
Owl’s gym resembling an ER ward
Powerful and all encompassing
Lone, grief stricken voices roared

Trevor Hicks and his teenage daughters
In memory evergreen
Sarah and Victoria captured forever in time
Forever 19 and 15

For Jon Paul, Stevie G’s cousin
3:06 the dead whistle blown
Kevin Williams amongst the deceased
And the rest will always be known

94 confirmed dead on the day
Football watched with bated breath
95 the figure four days later
Wee Lee Nicol succumbed to death

Life switched off four years later
Number 96, Anthony Bland
“Matter of life and death” a world away
It’s still “Justice”, the families demand

26 years and still no justice
Resolve is now rock iron mould
Malicious falsehoods add fuel to the fire
But justice is best served cold

Never forget the screams
The denials, the lies, the sorrow
You’ll never walk alone
Not yesterday, today or tomorrow.

For the victims and their families #JFT96

Number7
© Emdad Rahman

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Once a Red, always a Red

Interview with ex Liverpool player Nick Tanner

Emdad Rahman: The iconic Nick Tanner thought he’d struck gold when he made his debut for Bristol Rovers, his hometown club. But life was to get better for the fresh faced 20-year-old who was setting off on a memorable football journey.

The Pirates mainly employed Tanner as a midfielder and after passing 100 appearances he was spotted by Liverpool chief scout Ron Yeats, who had been watching striker Gary Penrice at Rovers.

Yeats felt Tanner was better suited at the back and with a whole host of established defenders ahead of him the youngster had to bide his time in the reserves whilst learning his new trade. Tanner made his debut against Manchester City in 1989 and made another three appearances that season.

The following season was spent mostly on the bench. He said: “There was a change in fortune after Graeme Souness took over the hot seat. Gary Gillespie had joined Celtic and Alan Hansen had retired after a glittering career.

"It was an opportunity for me to push my claim. I missed the first two games but things really took off for me after that. I played 32 of the remaining games that season.

"I also made my goal scoring mark for the Reds, and what a moment it was – I scored in the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park. There was no goal line technology then and the Everton lads furiously protested that the ball hadn’t crossed the line.

"I was relieved that the ref saw it our way and awarded the goal.” On that note Tanner wants to talk about the greatest goal he’s seen scored at Anfield. “It was undeniably the own goal I scored against Luton," he laughs.

Graeme Souness’ reign at Anfield saw the record breaking Liverpool team lapse into a period from which the Reds have failed to win a single league title. The horrors of Hillsborough were fresh in the mind and the club and the city were still in shock.

In the week of the Hillsborough memorial and with the inquests taking place Tanner recollects those dark days. “It was such a tragic day to be associated with and what makes things worse is justice is being served and the truth is only finally being unmasked all these years later, which is shameful. My thoughts are with the families during always, especially during this time.”

When you talk to a former Red it's hard not to ask them to single out the best footballer they played alongside. Tanner is unequivocal: "John Barnes was magic. I can't say anything more than that. In terms of sheer ability he was just on another planet."

As a rugged defender at Anfield, Tanner played in a period where hard men ruled the football roost. Intimidation and physical presence was a regular feature and the tough stopper came up against a few who weren’t shy in introducing opponents to their boot studs.

Tanner’s number one is the old king of The Den and the man nicknamed Warlock by Millwall fans. "For me it has to be Terry Hurlock in his Brentord days,” he reminisces. “I was at Bristol Rovers at the time. Hurlock was a tank and many a player was relieved when he travelled north of the border to play for Rangers in the Scottish Premiership."

I asked him about the best player he’d played against and again the answer was swift; “Eric Cantona. He scored three for Leeds against us in the Charity Shield and we got him that transfer to Manchester United. The rest is history."
Tanner's career ended in his 20s following persistent injuries and he remains fondly remembered in Liverpool. “A back problem forced me to retire just when I thought I was making positive career inroads.

"It was a major blow but I have great memories of my time at Anfield. I cost the club a mere £20,000 and always gave 100 percent.

"It’s good to hear from fans, many hold good memories of me. I had great times there. Mike Marsh is my best mate and Bruce Grobelaar’s mad cap antics make him my ultimate football funny guy.”

Tanner achieved not one, but two boyhood dreams during his playing career: "I supported Bristol Rovers so that was extraordinary.

"Liverpool were the best team in the country and it was very special to sign for them. Not many people can say that. I’m really happy with what I have achieved in my career."

Tanner is involved in various ventures and is happy to talk about his exciting plans. “I want to start pushing myself much more. Having sat back, watched and helped other people progress its time I looked after number one for a change. I’m doing work with various media; from co-commentary to match analysis.

“I enjoy being involved and will look to extend spread my wings a bit more. I am also interested in continuing my event management with Global Sporting Ventures (GSV), a sports management consultancy specialising in a number of areas by bringing the world of business and sport together.

"I share a vision with GSV in that I believe in connecting the right people and offering the best products and services generates success and, in effect more opportunities.

“It’s something I have done all my life and feel that this role is a natural fit in that I always go for maximum exposure for clients and help create platforms to attract new audiences and enhance reputations.I’m also looking at getting footgolf started in a big way in Bristol via the Kendleshire Golf Club so watch this space for exciting announcements.

Tanner is a multi-talented man and I ask if he would like to coach or manage. “I actually did plenty of managing and coaching when I first retired a while back.

"It was at non-league level and I produced many young players who have gone on to make a decent living from the game. Phillip Walsh is now at Bath City. He went on to play for Dagenham and Redbridge.

“It gave me great pride watching them fly the nest and go on to better things. I’ve also scouted at league level and believe I have got a great eye for a young player, but the game seems to be a job for the boys now I’m afraid. It’s not what you know it’s who you know unfortunately.”

Stadium review: Bournemouth Football Club & the Goldsands Stadium


Emdad Rahman: For me a visit to a new area is seldom complete without a quick trip to see the local football stadium. And so, during a trip to the South Coast I took the little one over for a quick visit to the home of Bournemouth Football Club.

Previously known as Dean Court, the Goldsands Stadium is the home of the Cherries. The first match officially played by A.F.C Bournemouth at Dean Court was on 1st September 1923 when an estimated 7,000 avid supporters watched a 0-0 draw against Swindon Town. The club moved to Dean Court in December 1910 after it took longer than anticipated to clear the previous gravel pit.Before the start of the 1923/1924 Division Three South League, the Cherries, were known as Boscombe F.C.

We were given a personal tour by ex-Manchester United winger Russell Beardsmore who now works for Bournemouth. One of my first contributions to the tour was to remind Beardsmore of the 5-1 drubbing by Manchester City at Maine Road on 23rd September 1989. We chuckled and Beardsmore reminded me that he had crossed for Mark Hughes to volley home that spectacular consolation for the Red Devils. Indeed, Beardsmore, described as a “mischievous little player” during the commentary clip dinked in, dinked out and whipped in a measured cross just before he reached the goal line. An airborne Mark Hughes did the rest, volleying in with his customary precision. “They had five shots on target all throughout and they scored each one,” Beardsmore recollected.

The old Dean Court was decked out with fixtures and fittings from the British Empire Exhibition Stadium. Thereafter the Cherries played eight games at Dorchester’s Avenue Stadium as the ground was totally rebuilt with three stands to house a total capacity of 9,600.

In 2010/11 the temporary South Stand was developed for the 2010-2011 season. After the South Coast side were promoted to the Championship, the club built a more permanent seating stand. The stadium is very compact and has a 12,000 capacity at the moment. With Eddie Howe’s men surging towards the Premier League, Beardsmore informed me that plans are afoot to increase the seating capacity to meet Premier League requirements. “The obvious proposal is to fill in the corners with seating and to build bigger on the current Ted MacDougall Stand at the South side of the stadium as this stand is designed to be dismantled,” he said.

First stop was the main stand, the executive boxes and the directors’ area. The rooms are posh, spacious and photos of current stars and old legends adorn the walls. There is a signed, framed Real Madrid shirt and pictorial memories to remind visitors and staff of the memorable day football royalty took a trip to the South Coast to play the Cherries on their home turf. The Spanish giants turned up with a full squad that day. Ronaldo scored twice before Sami Khedira, Gonzalo Higuain, Angel Di Maria and Casemiro wrapped up a 6-0 victory for Carlo Ancelottis’ nine times European champions. Having just been signed for £23 million Isco also made an appearance. The game also witnessed the largest turnout of fans as a little fewer than 12,000 crammed in to watch the boys from the Bernabeu strut their stuff. This remains the Cherries record attendance, however before modern developments took over, 28,799 watched Manchester United and the Busby Babes visit Bournemouth in the FA Cup 6th Round on March 2nd 1957. The game took place a year before the Munich air disaster. Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic lost 1-2 to their illustrious visitors. The magic of the F.A Cup saw Brian Bedford give the home side a shock lead but the Cherries semi-final dreams were dashed by a brace from Johnny Berry.

The current stadium, built in 2001, has good views all around. We were given a tour of the boardroom and also the home dressing room which houses all the trappings and comforts of the modern day game. There are features within the dressing room which are in fact similar to the Arsenal home dressing room at the Emirates Stadium.

I took a look inside the ice plunge and Beardsmore told my son that he was tempted to give me a cheeky nudge to send me diving into the freezing abyss.

The stadium has undergone significant changes. It used to face a completely different direction and has been completely rotated ninety degrees from where the old Dean Court ground once stood. The decision to rotate was primarily taken to limit the impact on local housing. Also, a corporate sponsorship deal led to the ground being renamed as the Goldsands Stadium during the year of the London Olympics in 2012.

The training facilities are just behind the stadium. We finished the tour to watch the players train and were lucky to meet (one of my favourite players) Leeds United legend Ian Harte, who is enjoying veteran status with the Cherries, Welsh international Shaun MacDonald and Ryan Fraser.
 
Thanks to Steve & Max for arranging this.

Capacity: 12,000 (all seated)

Address: Dean Court, Kings Park, Bournemouth, Dorset, BH7 7AF
Telephone: 01202 726300
Fax: 01202 726373
Ticket Office: 01202 726338

www.afcb.co.uk


Thursday, April 09, 2015

CADFA charity cricket tournament 2015


Emdad Rahman 

Camden Abu Dis Friendship Association (CADFA) support Palestinians from the West Bank, organising twinning and exchange visits to the UK and Palestine. 

CADFA have organised a charity cricket tournament. Middlesex cricket board have agreed to help organise the event and the organisers are looking for teams to participate in this one day tournament this Sunday.  There will be prize money for the winners and this will be a 6 aside indoor event open to anyone interested, regardless of faith or no faith, gender, ethnicity etc. 

Organiser Shahid Malji said: "CADFA help bring Palestinians over to the UK on twinning visits, men, students, women, and in June we are bringing 12 teenagers to the UK, hence this tournament will help Cadfa pay towards the cost of the trip."

If anyone would like to sponsor or submit a team please inbox or email shahid.malji@hotmail.com

http://www.camdenabudis.net

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Where's Wally? Fun Run 2015

I joined a few hundred Wally's at Victoria Park to run, dance, walk, hop, step, skip their way over the course in aid of the Literacy Trust. What a great combination - A great book and keeping fit. There was a good warm up before the runners set off at their different paces. There were old and young alike. There were children, pensioners and feven family pets.


There was good spirit amongst the runners and the outfits attracted attention from passerby and vistors. My family came to watch me run for the very first time - 11 years since I ran the London Marathon.

www.literacytrust.org.uk

Monday, March 23, 2015

Champions!



History making Stepney Football Club sweep to the title 


Emdad Rahman


Unstoppable Stepney Football Club thrashed Leytonstone to lift their 7th league title in 14 years. 


Stepney needed a point to secure the title on El Classico Sunday and a nervous first half saw both teams go in 1-1 at the interval. 


Co Managers Harun Miah and Delwar Ahmed's half time pep talk did the trick as their stylish outfit came out with all guns blazing. Mustapha Shahid, the leagues top scorer, led the rout with two goals. He was joined on the scoresheet by Zola, Toks, Robino and Shane Baptiste, as storming Stepney steamed home 6-1. 


Other records were broken on a historic day. Goalkeeper Shamimuz "safe hands" Zaman was named best goalkeeper. Helped in no small part by a stout back four, the long serving Zaman conceded a measly 21 goals throughout the campaign - the lowest in the division. "Our backbone has been rock solid" said Zaman. "Apart from a hammering to Beaumont we have kept things tight at the back and this confidence has spurred the whole team on. It's no coincidence our striker is the league top scorer."


Mustapha Shahid finished as club and league top scorer with 22 goals from 13 games for the three times League cup winners and 2007/8, 2008/9 back to back double winners. "With such great service it would be near impossible not to score plenty of goals" said Shahid. "I dedicate this honour to my team mates."


Ecstatic captain Sam O Brien said: "The boys have been amazing. We had to dig deep after starting 2015 with a loss to our long standing rivals Beaumont. To make matters worse we got knocked out of the cup early on too. But this team has character and this has been epitomised by how we've bounced back. It's a proud day today."


Co managers Harun Miah and Delwar Ahmed were jubilant: "We train hard and believe in playing football on the floor - this is a proud moment," said Miah. Ahmed added: "There's an unrivalled spirit around this team and managing them is a pleasure. Well done to the lads on making history. 


www.stepneyfc.com

Monday, March 16, 2015

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Serving homeless guests with One Third soup kitchen


"Hunger makes a thief of any man." - Pearl S. Buck (1892-1973). 

A nice piping hot biriani served with delicious samosas greeted our homeless friends. Paul was there along with Rosie and they enjoyed the food so much they requested seconds. 

Nimo contacted me and made her way down from Bow in record time to lend Kam and myself a hand. Her help was much appreciated as we were a man/woman down. 

If you are local and would like to donate a pot of food then please contact me to arrange pick up.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Repaid: A 20 year debt



"Can I speak to Emdad Rahman please," asked the voice. "Speaking I replied."

This was not a business related call. The gentleman spoke good English and proceeded to tell me that he had spent years trying to track me down and had eventually struck the jackpot by randomly ringing my place of work. He explained that he owed me and Dad a sum of money from years ago when we ran a grocery store in Bethnal Green. He gave me his landline and asked me to visit. I said I'd try the next day. 

To be honest we are owed a lot of money by customers who duped us by taking groceries on credit and never paying back. We're not stupid, we just had a lot of goodwill. It's been twenty tears since we had a family grocery business on Bethnal Green Road and 15 years since we sold up. I must admit I was wary and 90% tempted to ignore the guy, especially as bad memories resurfaced of me and my brother chasing up disappearing customer's who owed us a load of decent capital. The trick was to build up trust, a line of credit and then disappear/go into exile. Then there were stories of their demise being greatly exaggerated. 

However, my curiosity got the better of me and I called the said gentleman at lunchtime as requested. He said he was unwell and requested me to visit. I was a bit wary at this suggestion but agreed. I phoned the missus to keep her informed. 

I called the gentleman when I reached his door and made sure I waved and grinned at all the CCTV cameras on the estate. He came out and gave me £100.00 to settle his debt and asked me about Dad's health and to request his forgiveness. I told him to think nothing of it. We greeted and parted. Before I got into my car I flashed my pearly whites at the cameras before zooming off. 

There's another local guy who owes me a few hundred. I visited his house 15 years ago to remind him to pay his debt after he just disappeared into thin air. He complained to the council about me threatening him. Nothing came of it because there was no head, tail or substance to his complaint. However we never had the money paid back to us. The debt remains outstanding. I hope he reads this and his conscience starts eating at him too. 

Tonight the Doner Kebab's and Biriani were on Dad and I am royally stuffed. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

One Third Soup Kitchen

“It is not necessary to advertise food to hungry people, fuel to cold people, or houses to the homeless.” John Kenneth Galbraith

A very productive evening was over in 40 minutes. Saqib's mother had cooked up a delicious Biriani which went down in a flash. We were left scraping the bottom of the large silver pot before you could blink.

We had our regulars and Paul even had seconds. Today though there were lots of new faces and a mixture of young and old. The weather was ice cold and the mouthwatering steaming plates of food were a bonus. Three of the guests in the main picture did not even have  a hostel and were sleeping rough on the streets.

Two nice ladies had been observing us and when we had packed up we had a long chat with them before heading back home. The best thing about volunteering with One Third soup kitchen is you get to meet the regular guests, who have now become friends. It's nice catching up. The shift is quick and one can get back to their regular weekend activity quick time.

If you would like to donate a pot of food and you're local then please give me a shout and we'll arrange a pick up and drop off.

Mark Hateley: “John Barnes scored one of the greatest goals ever seen.”


Interview with Gasgow Rangers, Milan and England legend Mark Hateley.

Emdad Rahman: I grew up excitedly watching Mark Hateley terrorise defences. The Englishman was a swashbuckling hero of a figure. After the exploits of Frank McAvennie at Celtic, it was high time that another striking hero emerged in Glasgow. Scottish football wasn't shown much on the box in England, but young fans like me kept abreast of all the action through Shoot magazine, Sportsnight, BBC Football Focus, Saint & Greavsie and Grandstand.

Hateley had left English shores in 1984 and spent several seasons with AC Milan and Monaco before returning to Rangers. In 1992 English fans received a taste of what they had been missing during the “Battle of Britain” European Cup games against Leeds United at Elland Road. In the second leg Hateley controlled the ball 25 yards outside John Lukic’s penalty area and ripped home an unstoppable volley. Leeds manager Howard Wilkinson described the home reaction as “a stunned silence at Elland Road.”

There may be dark clouds gathered over Glasgow Rangers, but this is still very much a world renowned institution. We visited Ibrox to watch not only a game but also to spend some time being shown the ropes by this club legend. “It’s always a privilege coming here, as you can see very much for yourselves,” said Hateley. “It’s always a warm feeling. It’s always been that way. I supported this club as a young boy. I have had an association as a supporter since I was a kid. My Dad (Tony Hateley) played at Chelsea in 66 and there is a strong affiliation between the two teams. Big Derek Johnstone played for both Chelsea and Rangers. As a really young boy I knew a lot about this club even before I joined. And when you are a schoolboy and support a football club, you’re always going to be very, very close to that side of it, and if you get the opportunity as a professional footballer to come back and play for one of the clubs you supported as a kid then it’s a dream come true.

“Every day when I walk through the front doors here it just makes me feel fantastic. I saw you sitting at reception taking it all in and I enjoyed watching that. It’s the sense of history here. Don’t forget the architect of Ibrox built the old Highbury, so there were always similarities in both the grounds as at Fratton Park, where I played with Portsmouth.

“So, I seem to have had a connection with the architect of this great building throughout my career. But, as you say, you walk through the front door and the history just hits you straight away. Ibrox is such a fabulous place to be. The circumstances of the football club over the last few years have been very difficult, but as an ambassador you keep going – albeit with a heavier, more sombre sort of feeling; especially when you've supported a club all your life and are surrounded by people who have come to watch the club play all throughout their lives.
“It’s a heavy feeling and we share the ups and the downs. We've had three years of being on the back foot and we are trying to rebuild a historic institution and in my role I try and do that with a smile on my face.”

Rangers have an affinity and close relationships with Glasgow’s diverse communities and big Mark plays a major role in welcoming the world to Ibrox. “We host the Asian Cup here and we’re close to the people who run these high profile championships. There’s a lot of negativity surrounding Rangers but when we run our projects within the diverse communities they help to forge greater and stronger links. Just last week we had community workshops here and activities supporting Police initiatives in the community.

“That’s what I enjoy. We are more than just a football club. We are all about community. Without a community a football club is nothing. The community is the football club. Without the community you have no football club. They are the soul of the football club and there is no bigger soul than the one at this great club.”

As club ambassador Hateley was the face of Rangers during the memorable Commonwealth Games. He recalled when the Baton passed Ibrox: “When they were coming past the leader of the local Sikh community had the Baton. It was magnificent. He’s a friend of mine and he broke protocol and veered off the beaten path to come running towards me. We shared an embrace. It was incredible and typical of the relationship this club has with its local community. They are our greatest patrons.”
Hateley joined Glasgow Rangers in 1995 after spending six years on the continent with AC Milan and Arsene Wenger at Monaco. In 1984 Hateley joined Italian giants AC Milan during a transition period in their history. He became a crowd favourite and was nicknamed Attila by the faithful.

During the same year a young Hateley caused carnage on the continent as his goalscoring rampage led England under 21s to European Championship glory. It remains the last piece of silverware lifted by the national team at that level – and at any level until Robbie Fowler led England to victory at the 1993 European under-18 championships. “I was top scorer and we were unstoppable,” said Hateley, who was subsequently handed the UEFA Golden Player award which had been won by Rudi Voller two years earlier.

Hateley was mesmerising for Dave Sexton’s young lions – scoring four in a 6-1 demolition of France in the last eight, scoring the return leg winner, and despatching Italy as the Azzurrini were sent packing in the semis. Mel Sterland scored in the first leg of the final against Spain. “In the away leg I scored a volley from a Nigel Callaghan cross. Howard Gayle wrapped it up and then a lot of our careers just took off. I was just pleased to be there. In 1982 I had been sent off in the semis against Scotland and missed the final. It was great to make amends so spectacularly.”

On the south coast Hateley had scored 25 goals for Portsmouth and that coupled with his international purple patch led to a call up to Bobby Robson’s full England squad. Less than 20 days later Hateley was signed by Italian giants AC Milan. He recalls the fiery Milanese derby of 30 years ago. “My winner in the Milan derby has secured me life long hero status at the San Siro. Alessandro Altobelli put Inter ahead but we levelled through Agostino Di Bartolomei.” A cross by Pietro Virdis from the right was met full on by Hateley, who out-jumped former Milan star Fulvio Collovati to steer a bullet header past Walter Zenga into the Inter goal. It was Milan’s first derby win in ten attempts. “Magic! It was magic,” said Hateley.

At Rangers Hateley became a cult hero. “There are a lot of golden memories but my favourite moment in a Rangers shirt would be probably the first season when I was here. It was the hardest for me because I’d had two years when I hadn’t played a game of football after numerous operations on my right ankle. I had come from Monaco, so it was a really hard season for me to get back my form, my strength, and my confidence.

“We played Aberdeen in the last game of the season here and they needed only to draw here in 1990 to win the league. We’d just won two leagues back to back and it was the beginning of nine in a row. That day I scored two goals. I played against Alex McLeish and he made me look a great player that day, he really did. I scored one of my type of goals. It was a header from the edge of the box from a Mark Walters cross and it just flew in.

“From that particular moment in the last game of the season it was like all the shackles had come off me and all the confidence had come back, all the strength had come back, the hair had grown and I’d got my strength back. And you know what the fans are like here. They went mad! Crazy! But that particular goal against Aberdeen in 1990 was the beginning of the love affair.”

You can’t speak to Mark Hateley and not speak about the famous John Barnes goal at the Maracana – conjured from an assist by the big man. “You mean the tap in,” he laughs out loud. “Did you know we were both born on the 7th of November? Both Scorpios. I’m three years older than John Barnes. I know it’s hard to believe he’s younger than me. I see John a lot because we work out with Al Jazeera Sport out in Doha and we talk a lot of football. That goal was 30 years ago. I helped make the first one for him. On my chest, laid it out and then boom… He went on that amazing mazy run. John Barnes scored one of the greatest goals ever seen. “Barnesey repaid the favour to me,” He grins again: “He put this horrible ball into the box and I nodded in. A typical header. Both our careers went into overdrive after that.

“People always ask me what’s my favourite goal. Goals are all great for strikers. But you have goals throughout your career that become more important because they elevate you and the circumstances surrounding that goal against Brazil were incredible.

“The week before that I had just played in the European under-21 final and won and scored against Spain. It was the last English team to do that at under-21 level. I scored six in the tournament, including four against the French in the semi final… as you do.” (We laugh together).

“I got called up from the success of the under 21s and went straight into the squad and during the triangular tournament I got ten minutes against Russia at Wembley as my gift for doing so well, and also for doing well at Portsmouth where I scored 25 goals – 22 in the league that year. So it was a steady build up. Somebody got injured. One of the strikers got injured, so that meant that there was one more place in the squad left to go to South America. So I got dragged in. I got the arm around me and was asked if I’d like to come along.

“I thought I would be pushing the skips and doing the teas and the coffees for the senior pros. I got there. I was in the right place at the right time. On the night before the game we had another injury and before you knew it I had the arm around the shoulder again and told I’m now playing. “So it was me and Tony Woodcock up front and if you look back you’ll realise that Tony Woodcock and I were one of England’s most successful pairings. We only played four or five times together but the ratio per goal, per appearance between us is good.

“It was that set of circumstances, two players getting injured, that led to me getting to play the game. I grabbed it. That was a great England side as well. There were a lot of good players in Ray Wilkins and Bryan Robson – Mark Chamberlain, who’d already played a game I think. Barnesey had already played too.

“It was the beginning of a new dawn – to be at the game was just ridiculous and to be at the Maracana was just a schoolboy dream. And then you’re playing. I’ve always seen myself throughout my career as a goal maker, not a goal scorer. I used to provide the ammo for other people like I did here for McCoist and having an assist for Barnesey and his amazing goal was enough for me. We went 1-0 up and looked like we were going to win. And then John puts this ball into the box and I was up against the big boy centre half Mozer who went on to play at Italia 90 and have a great career at teams like Benfica and Marseille. It was very similar to the first goal I scored for Portsmouth that year at Craven Cottage against Fulham. Same cross, same header, foot of the post. So I started the season and ended the season with a typical centre forward’s goal which sent me on the path to a very successful career.”

We talk about favourite schoolboy heroes and Hateley has a name rolling off his tongue right away. “Zico was my ultimate footballer, brilliant individual, brilliant team player. He played for everybody and had great ability. The other was obviously my Dad, who was a centre forward – but Zico was the player I looked up to purely because all in he was such a fantastic team player.”

Hateley has played alongside some great strikers, but his favourite is a fellow Rangers legend and current manager. “Ally McCoist, I would say. There were far better players than him without a shadow of a doubt. I played with Ramon Diaz who partnered Maradona and led Argentina, Gary Lineker, Paolo Rossi at AC Milan. Tony Woodcock was a great player to line up alongside but for me McCoist was the ideal performer because I knew what he was going to do. I knew he wasn’t going to run around, but I also knew he would stay with me. We were barely 15 yards apart and I knew exactly what he was going to do, knew exactly where he was going to be and I never had to look for him. It all happened naturally. He was a great goalscorer and possessed a great footballing mind as well. We were two decent intelligent guys and when you have intelligence with any duo up front then it all goes bang! We scored just under 300 goals I think, in five seasons. Don’t forget Alistair missed seven months with a broken leg. Ours was one of those dream partnerships that a football club gets once every 100 years.”

Hateley is hopeful that Rangers can gain promotion and take their place among the elite of Scottish football. “Our current season is touch and go. The performances haven’t been great. Our cup performances in the Scottish Cup so far have been great as we’ve beaten three Premier League teams. That’s what confuses the fans in that we can beat Premier League teams but struggle in the Petrofac Cup, like we did against Alloa. I think that’s the head scratcher for a lot of people. Alistair has had a pop at the players’ attitude, and rightly so. The manager takes a lot of flak and I think he has bought home a realisation of the standards expected of players at a club like Glasgow Rangers. Here you win every game, nothing else is acceptable. Performance levels have to be up there all the time. You can’t afford to drop off 25% of your game. You have to be at 95% or 100% all season. Every time we get played against, it’s a cup final.

“Scottish football needs a fighting fit Glasgow Rangers in order to prosper. The last three years have proven that. We haven’t had a sponsor for the league for two years and that speaks volumes. The TV deal has dropped down and the likes of Motherwell, Partick Thistle, Kilmarnock, St Mirren,

Inverness Caley have lost immensely. Imagine the knock-on effect on the rest of the Scottish teams. The standard has dropped dramatically and the quality between the Premier League and Championship is very fine. At this end it’s more competitive at the top. Celtic could lose nine games and still romp home to the title by ten points. During our nine-in-a-row years we had a season when Celtic only lost one game during the season and we still won the league. That’s how high the standards were. Remarkably, the Scottish national team has flourished as the Premier League has suffered. It’s quite remarkable what Gordon Strachan has achieved.”

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Estádio da Luz e Benfica


Stadium of Light is a footballing wonder show

Emdad Rahman: The playing surface has seen some of the greatest players in the world take to the stage for As Águias (The Eagles).

Eusébio, Rui Manuel Costa, Pablo Aimar, Javier Saviola, Ángel Di María and Nicolás Gaitán have all mastered their trade whilst playing for Benfica.

Football in Portugal is one of the country's most important pastimes so during a two day trip to Lisbon we visited the 65,000 all seater Estádio da Luz e Benfica, one of the best stadiums in Europe and the home of one of the world's most historic clubs.

The home of Benfica is more popularly known as the "Stadium of Light" (not to be confused with Sunderland AFC). The Estádio da Luz is found in the "Light area" of three Lisbon parishes - Benfica, Carnide and São Domingos de Benfica, and named after the "Our Lady of the Light" Church.

The new build is more compact than it's predecessor. It has 4 tiers and holds 65000 within it's seating capacity. This makes the Estádio da Luz is the biggest stadium in Portugal. The current stadium was knocked down and rebuilt in time to host games including the Euro 2004 final which Portugal lost to Greece.

The new Estádio da Luz was built in place of the old Estádio da Luz. Construction works started in 2002, and Benfica played their last game at the partly demolished old stadium in March 2003. The first team to play at the new stadium on the 25th of October 2003 were Uruguayan Club Nacional who lost 2-1 to the home team.

During the Euro 2004 Championships, the Estádio da Luz hosted three group matches, the quarter-final between Portugal and England (2-2), and the final between Greece and Portugal (1-0). The stadium also hosted the 2014 Champions League final.

A group of ex pupils of the Real Casa Pía de Lisboa founded the club during a meeting held in the back room of a Lisbon pharmacy on 28 February 1904. The colours chosen were to be red and white, its emblem an eagle and its motto E Pluribus Unum (Out of One, Many). In 1919 Benfica became the first club on the Iberian Peninsula to stage a floodlit match.

Fast forward and under the watchful eye of the legendary Hungarian Bela Guttmann, Benfica won the Portuguese title in 1960 and 1961. In 1961 Benfica picked up their first European Cup after beating Barcelona 3-2 in the final. They went onto successfully defend their crown the following season when the amazing Eusébio scored a brace as Os Encarnados (The Reds) came back twice to hammer Real Madrid 5-3.

Benfica is said to be the only club in the world whose official anthem is sung by a tenor, Luís Piçarra, and the classic musician António Vitorino de Almeida wrote a symphony to commemorate the club's first 100 years.

We enjoyed meeting the beautiful eagles and our tour guides were both eloquent, informative superb. The tour was exceptional. In fact the museum tour was the best we have had the pleasure of visiting so far, and that includes Camp Nou, Bernabeu, Anfield, Old Trafford, Emirates, White Hart Lane and Ibrox.

Benfica organise guided stadium tours around Estádio da Luz that include access to the VIP areas, players tunnel, dugouts, and the away team dressing rooms. The stadium also houses the Benfica museum and there is an outstanding section dedicated to Eusébio, who is more fondly referred to as "the king."

Águia Vitória and Gloriosa (Victory and Glory) are the two eagles who live within the confines of the Estádio da Luz. Visitors can have their picture taken with the beautiful eagles. I was able to get close up to Vitória and spend a few minutes observing this magnificent creature. The two Benfica eagles are seen as living symbols of Benfica. During each day they rest on a perch behind one of the goal areas.

During a packed match day and prior to kick off Vitória flies around the Estádio da Luz several times and lands on top of Benfica's club shield, creating a real life version of the club's emblem.

Tours run every half an hour between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm. There are no tours on matchdays.

Tickets can be bought at the club store at the stadium or by emailing visitasestadio@slbenfica.pt.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Jimmy Adamson: The man who said "no" to England

Emdad Rahman: Sir Bobby Charlton described Jimmy Adamson as a "tall, slim, elegant player who to my astonishment never played for England." Adamson is Burnley's greatest ever player. He was born in Ashington, Northumberland and made 476 appearances for the Clarets ranking him sixth in the Clarets all-time appearance list.

As captain Adamson played every game as Harry Potts' Burnley became League Champions in 1959-60. The Turf Moor trio of the cultured Adamson, Irish schemer Jimmy McIlroy and England wing star John Connelly helped the Clarets to lift the Championship by one point on the last day of the season after a win over Manchester City.

The following season Adamson led Burnley as they locked horns with the cream of Europe. French champions Reims were sent home before England's champions lost to the Germans of Hamburg. The boys from Turf Moor almost completed a domestic double as they agonisingly finished second to promoted Ipswich Town in the race for the Championship and losing to Spurs in the FA Cup Final.

Adamson also skippered the team to the 1962 FA Cup Final which they lost to Tottenham Hotspur. The mercurial right half was also named Footballer of the Year in 1962.

When Walter Winterbottom retired, Adamson, who was his assistant at Chile 1963, turned down the most prestigious job in English football. The F.A then turned to the authoritarian Alf Ramsey, who himself, had taken unfashionable Ipswich Town straight from the Third Division South to the League championship. Later Adamson even joked that his decision had helped England win the World Cup after Sir Alf led the Three Lions to World Cup glory at Wembley in 1966.

In 1970 Adamson famously predicted Burnley to become a powerhouse of football - the 'Team of the Seventies', but a small club like Burnley had to sell to survive and this greatly impacted his vision. He was controversially given his marching orders in 1976 and took over at the helm of Sunderland before a further two tough years at Leeds United left him walking away from the game which he had contributed so much to.

Adamson enjoyed and excelled for almost three decades at Turf Moor but it was all cut short abruptly. Author Dave Thomas wrote in “Jimmy Adamson – The man who said ‘no’ to England,” that things began to go wrong at Burnley for Adamson in the year leading up to his dismissal, his decline accelerated after he left Sunderland and joined Leeds United. By the late 1980, he had simply had enough of the whole football business; of malicious fans, working under the shadow of Don Revie, unsupportive directors, and the sheer, never ending, day to demands of running a football club.

It all ended with the ignominy and stress of a libel action he took against Leeds United, some newspapers and his successor Allan Clarke.

Although Burnley chairman Bob Lord; described by Adamson as "the megalomaniac dictator that destroyed the club," is seen as the pantomime villain it is strange that no one looked at the sour relationship he had with Adamson from his perspective.

After Leeds, Adamson became a recluse and only returned to Burnley in 2011 to open a corporate suite named in his honour in the Jimmy McIlroy stand. By that time his health was in the decline and he had outlived his wife and both his daughters. His own mother had committed suicide more than half a century ago after he had taken her to Burnley to be near to him.

The elegant Jimmy Adamson remains a football great. In the golden seventies he fashioned a passing team that is still revered by football fans and the achievements of him and his team mates will never be repeated at Turf Moor - That is unless a modern day oligarch takes over the reins.

Dave Thomas writes an intriguing story. One full of unhappy memories, of hopes and broken dreams. The Burnley legend was a football enigma, alternately affable, brooding and off-hand. A supremely elegant player of the ‘50's and early ‘60's, a title winner and a revered coach, his poignant story is one of broken dreams, failed d ambitions and personal tragedy – a story of what might have been.

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