Sunday, April 19, 2015
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
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
© Emdad Rahman
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
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.
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.
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.
Capacity: 12,000 (all seated)
Address: Dean Court, Kings Park, Bournemouth, Dorset, BH7 7AF
Telephone: 01202 726300
Fax: 01202 726373
Ticket Office: 01202 726338
Thursday, April 09, 2015
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
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.
Monday, March 23, 2015
History making Stepney Football Club sweep to the title
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.
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Sunday, February 22, 2015
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.
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
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 email@example.com.
Tuesday, February 03, 2015
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.
Sunday, January 25, 2015
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Monday, January 05, 2015
Thursday, December 25, 2014
Monday, December 22, 2014
In his homeland he may not have a human size bust but here in England there is no denying the stature of this football great.
For sheer ability, magnificence and panache the Frenchman stands out amongst the pantheon of the Premier League's greatest performers.
Discovered by Arsene Wenger at Monaco, Henry became stifled on the wing at Juventus, and it was not until the dreadlocks were shaved and his destination led him to the red half of north London that we saw the the first signs of Gallic greatness from this mercurial genius.
Monsieur Wenger had different ideas in mind and switched Henry's on field position - from being a speedy winger to one of the world's most feared strikers. Ian Wright had left a major void to fill and the introduction of Henry to the frontline revolutionised the role of the modern day striker. It was not just about scoring twenty goals. You now had to do it in style and from outside the six yard box.
With a water tight back four commandeering the space in front of David Seaman, Henry became the first line of defence. He was backed up by the formidable presence of Patrick Vieira. It is therefore no surprise that the silverware at Arsenal flowed - the Premier League title twice and the FA Cup three times. An appearance in the Champions League final.
France's greatest goalscorer ever served two spells at Arsenal scoring 228 goals in 377 games. After joining Barcelona he also won the Champions League in 2009 as well as adding two La Liga titles, the Copa del Rey, Spanish Supercopa, Uefa Super Cup and Fifa Club World Cup during three seasons at the Nou Camp.
After finishing with NY Red Bulls Henry now joins Jamie Carragher and co at Sky Sports. "He was certainly the toughest opponent I ever faced and possibly the best player the Premier League has seen," said Carra. "I would have loved him to be on the same team as me during my playing career, I'm delighted we're finally on the same side."
"Happy retirement to my hero and idol @ThierryHenry," Daniel Sturridge tweeted. "Wish you all the best in the next chapter.
At work I have the knowledge of Gooner Sam and Spurs Terry to keep it all in sync during our catch up chats. I've recalled the debates we have had about Henry and used my own memories to come up with a list of best five goals. Hope you get half as much pleasure reading about them as I did watching them.
2002: Arsenal v Tottenham
A flawless counter attack led to Henry sprinting past opposing Tottenham players from inside the Arsenal half. The thoroughbred racehorse then clinically beat Kasey Keller into submission. The subsequent sliding knee celebration is now celebrated as a statue outside the Emirates stadium. I've been to see it several times and it's always a buzz.
2000: Arsenal v Manchester United
Gilles Grimandi played to feet as Denis Irwin muscled in. Henry flicked the ball up and a half spin later he unleashed a dipping volley from outside the box past the helpless Fabien Barthez. "Absolutely unsaveable, absolutely magnificent," bellowed Andy Gray.
2012: Arsenal v Leeds
It was the much anticipated return of the king. Henry came on as a sub for Marouane Chamakh and the Emirates rose in jubilation. Alex Song fed a through ball and Andy Lonergan stood no chance as Henry slotted home coolly. As the world witnessed the chest thumping and raw emotion I simply stood up as a Liverpool fan and applauded.
2004: Liverpool v Arsenal
This Good Friday treble was a season saver for "The Invincibles." The Gunners had suffered recent exits in the FA Cup and Champions League to leave their treble dreams in tatters.
They were unbeaten in the league but Liverpool took advantage of the recent loss of confidence to take a 2-1 lead. Henry's solution was to shrug off a back problem and score a hat trick. The pick of the bunch was a merry dance involving the Reds defence, a pulsating run which left Jamie Carragher floundering before the Gunner picked his spot past Jerzy Dudek.
2006: Real Madrid
This one was in front of the travelling Gooners in the Bernabeu. After seeing off Brazilian Ronaldo, Henry darted past Álvaro Mejia, Guti and a charging Sergio Ramos to leave Iker Casillas clutching the Madrid night sky.
Adieu Thierry Henry - For me he's been the greatest player the Premier League has seen.
Amidst the ravaging spectacle of war
It’s the most unheard of events in years
A certain killer comes to the fore
Putting aside the stench of the death tax
Then came much aerial bombardment
Cacophony of despair and poison gas attacks
Mustard gas sprayed with much resent
No ghetto blast in the dressing ring
No frenzied skipper in full swing
No chest thumping, head butting
No wooden doors unhinging
Lone German voices mixed with death’s moan
Joined in union with the English enemy
Only warm carols, silent, soft in tone
Echoing beyond the darkened stymie
Crossing no man’s land in hope and glory
‘We come in peace’; singing ‘Tipperary’
A change of wind blows across death’s plains
Will there be a melee, a scrum or a brawl?
Bully beef swap for smokes as amity flows
Thus a Scot brings out a football
Braveheart wee willy Wallace’s face glows
Helmets for goals, no offside on dry ice
Chasing a sphere of peace, a free for all
‘Watch that gunge and detonating device!’
Marauding hunting packs chase that ball
No longer a faceless enemy clan
Mud football is today’s game plan
King George’s soldier hugs the Kaiser’s man
Each foe part of a peace plan
Hearty 3-2 win as Fritz beats Tommy
That so loathed, became for an instant, loved
Not a shot fired in this festive party
London & Bonn for a moment beloved
So sworn enemies unite merrily
Football the great healer shares it free
Hate, replaced so lovingly
Real men, they were truly gutsy
The dawn of Boxing day and Cap’n Stockwell’s three shots signal the end of the truce.
Goodwill to all men.
© Emdad Rahman
An Austrian at Ypres called Adolf complains at such bizarre integration
Thursday, December 04, 2014
Happy and honest as the day is old
Your razor sharp wit broke the mould
Those who loved you all those years
Bonded with your new family's tears
We beg for mercy as we rise to pray
May the lamp of deeds shine your way
If I could keep one thing from the past
It's the cheeky smile that will always last
Love for you bruv has grown and grown
Pete, you'll never walk alone
© emdad rahman
Dedicated to a simply wonderful friend #peterchatfield
One day Pete said to me
"Here, grab that black book off the floor
"I know you've got an injury
"But I'll still back you a score"
© emdad rahman
Today would have been Peter’s 62nd birthday. It's taken me some time to write this about my friend. His death, though not a shock, was numbing and I miss him every day. Pete was a real go getter. Outspoken, brash, opinionated and loveable. Even when he was angry there was not the slightest bit of malice in him.
Peter’s greatest gift is Peter’s Legacy and the good volunteers at Eden Care were inspired by Pete to carry on supporting people nearing the end of their lives.
I'm editing my own Pete-isms and will publish them soon. I hope you'll all get as much pleasure as I did listening to the big man.
God bless Pete and may your journey be a luminous one.
Monday, December 01, 2014
Sunday, November 30, 2014
Day trains daily at the Poplar gym in preparation for his mid December fight against Ben Kneller at York Hall.
He’s led a coloured life and each time he’s hit the canvas of reality Day has risen up stronger.
Ben’s favourite boxer Prince Naseem Hamed: “He had everything; a showman through and through, he had the substance to back it, a big heart and a great ambassador for boxing.
“Naseem Hamed has inspired me and takes top spot in my favourite boxers list. I am honoured that he has visited my gym. I met him through my friend Yasin. It was a whirlwind experience. I got a call from the man himself – “Come and meet me in Marylebone for coffee,” he said. Next minute I’m in a Bentley and face to face with a boxing legend.
“I give unconditionally to people and that’s why I believe that Naseem Hamed graced me with his presence. It’s one of my proudest moments.”
Of the modern day boxers Day reserves the greatest admiration for Roy jones as a hero but Floyd Mayweather is one of his favourites. “He’s a colossus. I've been to the States and trained with his uncle Jeff Mayweather four times. It's not training anymore its friendship and we are constantly in touch.
“I have an upcoming fight with Ben Kneller at York Hall. I'm older and wiser at 36. I've had two white collar fights and turned pro. No one has done that. He may be a journeyman but he’s got nothing to lose. I have been inactive 13-14 months. I was about to go live on Eurosport, but my opponent was overweight so the Boxing board stopped him. It’s been mentally frustrating but I believe it’s made me stronger. Behind every misfortune is an opportunity. My mantra is that there are no failures, only temporary setbacks.”
Day has battled the demons that plagued his younger self. He has fought them, defeated them, banished them and turned his life into a success story.
“I used to drink heavy. Bought up by my father, I lost him to Motor Neurone Disease. Since the age of 15 I have been alone. I have battled ferociously ever since.
“There were bad times. I got into debt and lost my job through drink driving.
Every birthday, every Christmas was tragic. I totally forbid this abomination but it was for me a great blessing. When I was 27 and rock bottom a bloke grabbed me and stuck me in a ring. I have been there ever since. Boxing is amazing. Joe Bloggs can be somebody, it’s a great leveller. Boxing didn't change my life – it saved it.”
Day has big dreams. He’s chirpy, charming but has a steely resolve. “I’m scared of my own desire at the moment. My ultimate goal would be a British title. Everybody dreams of a British title. The gym is taking care of itself and I would like to become a public speaker. I have completely changed my life around in four years. Not many people have been where I've been. It is a story worth telling.
Day runs a wholly inclusive gym for anyone and everyone. And he means it. During the interview he told me that on that very day five members of the local public were treated to a free boxing master class as part of a partnership with the NHS. It was a reward for reaching their alcohol free target and abstaining from the dreaded drink. “My purpose is to serve humanity. I know what’s valuable and what’s not. I'd love to be in a position to give and give.”
Last Saturday, Day hosted a charity night. "I have a dream" - Ringtone Boxing Gym's boxing show to support the fight against Motor Neurone Disease. Day’s late father died from the condition. "I saw what it did to him and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone,” he said.
Fight night at the London Irish Centre was frenetic and jam packed with guests and well wishers. Fighters on the bill included Peter Henegan, Maurice John, Peter O’ Loughlin, Scott Valentine, Amit Ram and the very popular Neil Brailee. On the night Day said: “Just look around you. Look at the raw passion. Everybody is here to give. It’s heart warming. Every penny from the show and my London Marathon 2015 goes to support those battling Motor Neurone Syndrome.”
Day introduced me to Gilly who presented a trophy to one of the winners. “She’s my boxing mother. She nurtured me like her own for a number of years. She’s never watched a punch thrown – live or on the telly, and tonight she’s here to support this great cause. It’s a bit of magic.
“Tonight is all about heart – the paying public, my family, friends , journalists, trainers and the boxers who have all come together to make this such a memorable night. I have shivers going down my spine and my heart is welling up with pride. Thank you to everyone who made this such a great spectacle.”
Ben Day’s next fight against Portsmouth’s Ben Kneller is at York Hall on Saturday December 13th. Tickets are available on 07816823586 or by visiting www.ringtoneboxinggym.com
Any additional donations are highly appreciated. Find out more on www.mndassociation.org