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
Thursday, November 27, 2014
Sunday, November 23, 2014
"The best way to inspire creative young minds is to tell them that their voice is important, that it is unique in the world and there is no other voice like it." Kai Coggin
Kai Coggin is a full-time poet and freelance writer born in Bangkok, Thailand, raised in Southwest Houston, and currently a blip in the 3 million acre Ouachita National Forest in Hot Springs, AR.
Kai recently authored Periscope Heart, which is her first full length collection of poems. My copy arrived with a personalised message and card. I read with good measure and took my time to digest the array of rainbows and sunbeams sent my way.
Kai holds a Bachelor of Arts in Poetry and Creative Writing from Texas A&M University and writes poems of feminism, love, spirituality, injustice, metaphysics, and beauty. Kai has been published in Elephant Journal, Cliterature, The Manila Envelope, [empath], Catching Calliope and an anthology released summer 2014 called Journey of the Heart.
Kai released her first chapbook, In Other Words, in August 2013. Periscope Heart is her first full length book and was published by Swimming with Elephants Publications in September 2014. She is also a teaching artist with the Arkansas Arts Council, who loves to go into the classrooms to teach her love of poetry and creative writing.
Kai knows that words hold the potential to create monumental and global change, and she uses her words like a sword of beauty. She can be found most Wednesdays at Maxine's, reading her poems into an open mic, hoping the wind carries her words out to the world.
She said: "I am most inspired to write poetry by moments of beauty that are delivered to me from a higher realm, a deeper dimension. Sometimes, I will be experiencing something beautiful and everything begins to slow down and become almost twinkly, like I have a chance to inspect all of the word-hungry details of the moment and taste every color and sound with the upcoming composition of a poem.
"I am always reminded of the quote by Anais Nin, “We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” This happens with my life and writing. I experience something, and as it is happening, I get this inner voice saying, “Pay attention, there is a poem here!”
"Beauty is a source of poetry for me, but so is the lack of beauty, both love and loss, darkness and light, spiritual striving and the hell of illusion. It is a spectrum of experience, and I never know when the inspiration will hit, but I always hope to be prepared to take it all in and do it justice with my words."
Part of Kai's vision is to inspire creative young minds: "The best way to inspire creative young minds is to tell them that their voice is important, that it is unique in the world and there is no other voice like it.
"As a former High School English Teacher, I saw the difference that this simple statement made with my students. When they were given the creative freedom to write poems about their identity, using their own untamed and unique voice, the products were cathartic and beautiful pieces of writing that conveyed the "under the surface” wonder of each student. To be inspired, they need to know they have a voice, but also, that their voices will be heard.
"Young people need mentors, teachers, family members, community leaders, coaches, band directors, orchestra directors, adults in general to step in and listen. Listening to a blooming child, giving him/her a safe space to create, and encouraging their individuality and power of voice; this is how to inspire creative young minds."
And how does poetry make the world a better place? "Poetry speaks when otherwise there is silence, when otherwise there is media or money at the mouth of an issue. Poetry speaks for the broken and the disillusioned, for the misfits and the rebels. I believe poetry has the potential to wake people from the sleep of life, and remind them of a subtle existence just behind the veil, where metaphors and imagery can paint anything into a poem. Poetry is expression, it is an expression of feelings, it is love and life and loss and and joy and destruction and millions of voices, simultaneously writing the story of the human experience.
"There will always be poets. Through the wars and the peace, through the growing pains of the new-world crowning in the birth-canal of a darkened past, there will always be poets. Poetry makes the world a better place because it is the collective voice of the people, the real people. It’s out there. It’s happening right now. Someone is writing a poem as you read this. Someone is permeating the noise with the sound of their own beating heart."
Kai's creative workshops are always different. She likes to gauge a workshop based on who is attending, who needs what, and how She can best utilise the time and space to provide the safety of writing in a non-judgmental and open creative field. Kai's workshops range from a single class or to a few weeks, and the focus is bringing the art of poetry to the forefront of peoples’ lives, even for a short time, to show them it is a beautiful process of discovery.
"Poetry is a gateway to expression that many people never try to use," she says.
"It may be confusing at first, this search to find your voice, but once it is discovered, there is no turning back and the process is exhilarating. I like to give aspiring writers, young and old, the basic tools for creating. Like giving a painter a brush and paints, I give writers poetic devices such as metaphor, imagery, meter, diction, simile, rhyme, alliteration, assonance, forms and freedom. I put these tools in the back pocket of their minds and provide prompts and ideas for writing. Then, we write together. I write while they write, so they can see that I am also going through the process, using the tools, and thinking poetically about the same topic."
Kai's future plans include becoming a world-famous author, once Periscope Heart hits the top of the New York Times Best Seller List: "I’m still waiting. As for now, I am a poet watching the world as it turns, floating with the moments that turn the mundane into the extraordinary."
Periscope Heart is an extraordinary collection of poetry.
The collection itself encapsulates the reader in a myriad of warm and glowing emotions.
Coggin is devoted to her art and the words within manifest like colourful rainbows. In fact it helps to read in parts - close eyes, contemplate, read on.
The best thing about Coggin's collection is the delicious anticipation and the sure expectation that there is more to follow this excellent compilation. It is a collection that will spark your verdure, vigour and vim.
Periscope Heart is available on Amazon and www.kaicoggin.com
Limited edition signed copies are also available.
Saturday, November 22, 2014
Sister Christine Frost very kindly invited me to this Interfaith Lunch at the Salvation Army Hall in Poplar.
I loved the company and was awed to be among some of the most active members of the community. There's beautiful work from all races taking place in the borough and this super bunch are no exception.
Thanks to Meshiel, David and Ann, we had a lovely lunch of jacket potatoes with cheese, beans, salad, tea and cakes galore. Thank you also to David and Jenny who helped wait on us.
There is also a Families Together Fun Day today (Saturday 22nd November 3pm - 5pm) at the St. Matthias Community Centre. There will be a bouncy castle, entertainment, refreshments. All are welcome.
Joey and I had to shift a load of longer shelf life food to the main warehouse in Bow so I joined him to lend a hand with the transportation.
It's fun catching up with Joey and the manual labour is a great workout for me. The timing is great for me too and I don't have to take out chunks of my evening.
Running a foodbank is a lot more than just stacking shelves and distributing. Amongst many roles, there's a whole science involved in arranging delieveries, collections, transportation and distribution.
We both made it onto the school newsletter too for the harvest collection.
Tower Hamlets Foodbank is having a Christmas Supermarket Collection and volunteers are needed.
The collection will be on Saturday 29 November and will be at Waitrose Canary Wharf.
Volunteers and staff will be at the store from 9am until 5pm collecting food and other goods to provide to local people in crisis.
There are three time slots:
If you are able to help out on the day then please e-mail email@example.com
Speaking at the launch of the Royal London sponsorship launch with the PCA Benevolent Fund Harmison said: "I'm happy with the preparations that have been put in place. The team management have taken pains to make sure that the lads spend a good length of time bedding in and getting used to being around each other. It will help create squad harmony and hopefully forge a bond that will prove difficult to break during the heat of battle at the World Cup.
"Sure, the England team prospects for the World Cup have been dismissed within many quarters but let's look at this way. South Africa, India and Australia are clear favourites but if teams like England can make it through to the knockout stages then anything is possible.
“Luck can also be a big factor during knock out games so you can't rule out anything. The bottom line is a weaker team may play out of their skins and raise their standards for a one off game. Their opponents may suffer a day off and this could combine to produce shock results that are not in line with the general form book. That's just cricket for you.
“I feel that a Quarter Final or a semi spot would be a good achievement for England to build on.”
It’s almost ten years since Harmison and the marauding attack unit of Andrew Flintoff, Ashley Giles, Simon Jones and Mathhew Hoggard were unleashed on the Australians during the 2005 Ashes.
Harmison believes the “phenomenal” Ben Stokes and Steve Finn can be the difference. England are now in Sri Lanka and with James Anderson and Stuart Broad injured it will be Finn who will lead the attack. “I feel these two could easily be a part of an attack that could outshine our famous 5 from 2005,” he said.
“Finn has returned from injury and needs to go out there and just bowl. With injuries to Chris Broad and James Anderson he will be the senior bowler on show. For me, if he is fit, firing and bowling well, he is a key player for England. I believe if they’re all bowling well – Anderson, Broad, Finn, Stokes, Moeen – That’s as good as 2005. I really do.
“I think Finn is the key because somebody who can bowl over 90 mph and make the ball bounce on any given surface and be aggressive, that makes the job easier for the rest.”
Bell spoke at the launch of the Royal London sponsorship launch with the PCA Benevolent Fund prior to the England Cricket team flying out to Sri Lanka.
"It's a great test for us," said Bell. The Sri Lankans are sure fire bets to be one of the favourites to lift the World Cup and our game preparations against them will be of tremendous benefit.
"With the World Cup months away what will be key for us is the the ability to put together a consistent run of form.
"The World Cup will be really exciting. England are capable of beating any of our competitors. The series defeat to India was not good for morale but we have plenty of character to pick up and compete with the best."
Bell, along with his team mates has relished the appointment of Mark Ramprakash to the position of national batting coach.
He added: "He (Ramprakash) is young, energetic and he knows a lot of the guys in the international set up. His experience and know how will be very helpful.
Emdad Rahman: Matt Dean is in a confident mood. The right handed batsman has been playing blind cricket for over a decade and has progressed through the cricketing ranks
to become the captain of the England Visually Impaired One Day International team.
The right arm medium bowler has been a key member of the side since making his debut in 2004. He was captain of the 2008 tour of Australia, where England won 3-0, and scored an unbeaten 111 against the same opposition in a T20 in 2012.
Dean plays for London Metro and was attending a celebration of Disability Cricket event with the England Physical Disability and England Visually Impaired teams at Lord’s. He said: "In 2003 my sight became worse and affected my daily life. My Dad was keen for me to lead an active life. He took me along to play cricket at our local sports club and I haven't looked back since."
Until then Dean had never played cricket. "My Dad gently encouraged me to go to these local trials. I did and it turned out that I was supposedly a very naturally talented cricketer."
And that's when it all began for Dean: "There is no greater honour for me than leading the England cricket team. To be honest with you, when I came into the sport I literally expected to be playing at reserve levels. I didn't expect to break into the first team. But I did, and it went from there really. When I first started I didn't expect to be England captain but as the journeys gone on I've taken hold of the opportunities that have come my way and now each time I take to the field it's a real privilege."
Dean gushes as he speaks of improving his game by learning from cricket heroes: "One is David Gower. I liked his elegant style of cricket. He is someone one who has really appealed to me.
“Aside from that there's Alastair Cook. For me, he's been really important. I see him lead the current England team and I think he’s doing an excellent job of it. I’m an opening batsman and he’s an opening batsman and I just try to keep up with his scores.”
Dean reflected on his career: "It's a dream come true. Eleven years ago I was encouraged to play cricket by my Dad and now here I am on the verge of leading England into the World Cup. It's the stuff dreams are made of. Disabled sports people, including visually impaired cricketers, are now widely supported. It's a great thing and reflective of the changing attitudes in our
Dean is not thinking too far ahead with regards to his cricketing future: “I’d love to still be involved in blind cricket. It’s something I haven’t put much thought to as I’m concentrating on the here and
now. I’m certainly not going anywhere soon. The players in the team see me as an older brother and I have a big role to play there. After I finish my playing career I’d love to stay involved in the game.”
The event at Lord's marked the Visually Impaired team’s departure for the Blind World Cup in South Africa and included a screening of a behind-the-scenes video of the Physical Disability team’s tour to UAE earlier this year. Dean is confident that his team will come good: “On Friday we fly out to South Africa for the World Cup. It’ll be constant 40 over games. We are a young team and we are ready to go. We play Sri Lanka in the first game and they are up there with us.
“India and Pakistan are probably the best two teams in blind cricket. We are looking to make an impact in the World Cup, hopefully reaching a semi final. Once we get into the knockouts anything is possible at that stage.
"I'm confident that England will put on a good show at the World Cup. If we can get past the Round Robin Games and make it through to the knockout stages then who knows what can happen."
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Today’s clash at Celtic Park is the 112th meeting between both countries. It’s a fixture that has remained constant over 140 years.
Here are five memorable clashes in the oldest fixture in world football.
1872: Scotland 0-0 England
It was the historic year of the first game between the Auld Enemy. The venue was the West of Scotland Cricket Club’s home ground at Hamilton Crescent, Partick.
Queen’s Park were the dominant force in Scotland and supplied every one of the starting eleven. In contrast England’s players came from clubs. A crowd of 4,000 witnessed a historic 0-0 draw.
1928: Scotland 5-1 England
It was raining heavy and Scotland were in no mood to take prisoners. Billy Smith hit the post for England before Alex Jackson drew first blood for the Tartan Army.
England defended stoutly but Scottish pressure paid off just before the interval – Alex James’ left wand doubling the lead for the visitors.
The floodgates opened in the second half as the mesmerising Scots upped the ante, picking off their foes with stunning skill and exquisite co-ordination. Jackson headed a third and Alex James completed his brace. Scotland carved up the English rear-guard as they pleased. Jackson smoothly rounded off his man of the match performance by slotting his hat trick. England did not give up and self pride was somewhat restored after Bob Kelly scored a consolation.
The hypnotic show by the Scotsman earned them the nickname “The Wembley Wizards.”
1967: England 2-3 Scotland
This game is Scotland’s most famous win over their bitter rivals. It was one year after England had been crowned world champions. Although the English stepped out on to the Wembley turf on the crest of a 19 game unbeaten run their diehard opponents were oozing with flair and talent themselves. The starting eleven boasted four of Celtic’s “Lisbon Lions” alongside Billy Bremner, Denis Law and Jim Baxter.
It was Denis Law who struck first before Bobby Lennox doubled the lead. The decision to turn Big Jack into a makeshift centre forward paid off as the older of the Charlton brothers halved the deficit. Not for long though, and the Wembley crowd were silenced three minutes later as debutant Jim McCalliog made it 3-1 to the Scots. Geoff Hurst scored right away but Scotland held on for a historic 3-2 win.
The iconic moment of the match saw Slim Jim Baxter torment England as he played “keepie uppie” after slowing his stride down to walking pace. The bragging rights went north of the border as proud Scots announced themselves as unofficial “world champions.”
1996: England 2-0 Scotland
It was the summer of love as Terry Venables’ England dazzled the world with their slick brand of football. Hosts England met the Aud Enemy at Wembley in the second of their group matches at Euro 96.
Alan Shearer had discovered his scoring boots again in the first game and his rejuvenated form continued as he scored the first. The game then turned into the Gazza show as a certain Paul Gascoigne of Glasgow Rangers sent Colin Hendry into cuckoo land before unleashing a sublime half volley past team mate Andy Goram. It was the goal of the tournament, cementing Gascoigne’s reputation as a genius and one of the greatest players to have worn an England shirt. Unlucky Scotland also saw a Gary McAllister penalty saved by David Seaman.
1989: Scotand 0-2 England
Chrissie Waddle opened for the visitors but for me the iconic moment was when the marauding debutant Steve Bull came on. “Bully” replaced John Fashanu and scored to secure a 2-0 win in what became the final Rous Cup fixture between the two sides.
I was convinced that the Wolves legend, a favourite of mine, would sign for Liverpool. Alas, it wasn’t to happen. However, the game was the making of Bull who continued his scoring form in the national team (4 in 13 games). He was selected by Bobby Robson to play for England at Italia 90. Bull still remains the last non top flight player to have played for England at a World Cup finals tournament.
Sunday, November 09, 2014
Saturday, November 01, 2014
"Sure I'm for helping the elderly. I'm going to be old myself someday."
Lillian Gordy Carter
I was talking to Jay on the phone. The music was blaring and I told him I was at a party. Jay said I was Chuck Norris hardcore for attending a midday rave on a Saturday.
Whilst we both giggled I felt a sort of muffled slap on the back. I was in Sam's 99p store in Barking Centre and turned round to see this very sweet old lady stricken on the floor.
"The way the elderly are treated, and in some cases warehoused and medicated, rather than nurtured and listened to, is distressing."
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Saturday, October 18, 2014
We were joined by Jay and I got my 60 second skateboard lesson. Mariusz, Maureen and Paul visited (pictured). Annan, Alou, Chris also turned up along with our regulars and other new faces. Amanda was missing today but I got to meet Rodney - an ex army veteran in his 70's. His spine is severely curbed and he is constantly hunched. Rodney was starving and had seconds. Jakob turned up late. He was famished and cleaned out the pot with 4 helpings.
There was a lot of nice comments about the tasty soup tonight, which was a veg one with a touch of spice. In fact Kam and I sampled some. It was simply delicious.
We made three new contacts, 2 to supply the pot, and 1 to join the team with volunteering.
During the shift we were told by a security team from the Stratford Centre to move on as it was their land. They were civil so we didn't go all verbally militant on them. It seems next week we may need to pitch up a few metres away.
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Sheikh Mohammed Aslam is one of Bangladeshi football's golden boys.
His father Sheikh Ali Ahmed was a notable footballer and he encouraged the young Aslam to share his love for the beautiful game. "I started as an athlete and it was because of the support of my father that I became a footballer and achieved my boyhood ambitions.
"I was playing competitive football whilst in Class 4 and it was just a dream come true as I progressed up the ladders of both club and country."
The golden boy of Bangladeshi football learnt and honed his considerable playing skills whilst playing football barefooted at his family residence, the forecourt, roads, and bumpy fields. "It is simply the greatest training methods for aspiring young footballers and there are thousands who did and still do the same as me," he said.
"We played in these unusual settings and imitated our heroes all day. There was no pressure to bring in silverware, perform, achieve and the only emphasis we placed on ourselves was to enjoy to the maximum and to develop the freedom to express ourselves. It helped me become a half decent footballer and it is a refreshing attitude that I believe should be adopted by today's grassroots coaches.
"Young people playing with carefree attitudes will develop into better and more technical footballers. Today there's a lot of emphasis on strength, power, on speed, and although this is important, we are losing the raw skill elements from the players performances."
The 58 year old is currently touring the UK with Sonali Othith Bangladesh. The name of the team roughly translates as "Golden Past," and is made up of veterans who have played out careers in the Bangladeshi Leagues as well as the national team.
Aslam gained his greatest fame while playing for Abahani Krira Chakra, one of Dhaka's two major football clubs. He was a lynchpin of several league-winning Abahani sides, and was the national league's leading scorer several times.
During his playing career Aslam enjoyed some momentous career highlights. The barnstorming hit man was top scorer in the Bangladesh Premier League for 5 years; 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987 and 1989.
Aslam scored 176 career goals - all in the top flight Premier League. His 38 international goals make him Bangladesh's record goal scorer at national level. He said: "It was a golden period for my career. We were unbeatable and it was amazing being the fulcrum of the attack of such a powerful and successful team. I'm in my fifties now but I still have people hugging me, inviting me for tea and food and congratulating me wherever I go. I understand their sense of love and reverence. This is an emotion that is unique to the world of football."
Aslam is still a pin up boy for Bangladesh after establishing himself as one of the country's greatest ever marksmen.
The national hero grew up watching Pele but for the legendary number 9 it was another famous number 9 - the flying Dutchman who became his best player: "Johan Cruyff was for me the greatest player I have ever seen and he was my favourite. The Flying Dutchman influenced my style of play. Cruyff was handsome, he was of a slight build and effortlessly rode and navigated the attentions of some of the world's strongest and aggressive defenders.
"He was like a prince and he conducted that Dutch team like an emperor did with his army. His skill and mark on the game will never be forgotten."
Aslam's greatest moment in the lush green shirt of Bangladesh came in 1986 when he netted a hat trick against Finland. The moment cemented his place amongst the echelons of the greatest Bangladeshi players.
Bangladesh Football Federation Chief Rakib Khandoker had feared a heavy Bangladesh loss but had promised Aslam a reward of 10,000 Taka if the gifted frontman made history by scoring Bangladesh's first ever goal against a European nation.
Aslam was in brutal mode. After Bangladesh went 2-0 down he unleashed a devastating hat trick to exact a brilliant comeback. "On a purely individual basis it was the greatest moment of my career," said Aslam.
Aslam believes the English Premier League is the best league in the world. "No other league comes close. The passion amongst fans is also second to none. In England the crowds in the second and third tiers have larger attendances than some of the biggest leagues in world football.
"The Premier League attracts the best players and the TV revenue is single handedly supporting it to become the place where the world's best players want to be seen. I cannot wait to see the day a Bangladeshi will play in this league."
For now Aslam is enjoying participating on the UK tour: "It's great to be touring, meeting known faces and making new friends, travelling and sight seeing whilst playing football in one of the world's great capitals - London. We have had a tremendous reception and I hope that football can be used to build positive bridges between our two nations."
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Tuesday, October 07, 2014
Eid is one of the most important of celebrations for global Muslims. Part of the celebration remembers the sacrifice Prophet Ibrahim AS (Abraham) was prepared to make as an act of obedience to Allah.
In many Muslim countries Eid is celebrated as part of a Bank holiday and festivities can continue for the maximum 3 days.
Eid Al Adha is a time for happiness and to reflect, to forgive, unite, serve and ponder. It is about sharing and a portion of the meat from the sacrificing of animals is delegated to the poor and needy. The whole Muslim community is bought together to remember the importance of sacrifice, and that their lives are a submission to the will of Allah.
Although Eid is a Muslim festival, the majority of Muslims celebrate with people of other faiths as well as those of no faith. In Barking & Dagenham the community gets together to celebrate with a fun day straight after the compulsory Eid prayers. This has served a number of great purposes:
• The fun day brings the local community together, Muslims, those who are non-Muslim, elected representatives, the Police, fire brigade have all attended.
• It has a very positive impact on interfaith relations. Rivergate Church/Centre is where the Muslims of that area pray.
• It gives the young ones (and elders) a chance to get out of the house and do something memorable together. The children go crazy on the rides and activities by lunchtime. The rest of the day can easily be spent visiting and entertaining guests.
We also talked about doing something amazing on Eid day (do something amazing every day is my precise motto). I spoke about visiting Pete on Eid day and goofing around with him by taking selfies, watching F1, sharing a few jokes and... writing a short Eid poem for the assemblies.
I shared the story of One Third Soup Kitchen deciding to keep the momentum going at Eid and holding the Soup Kitchen at Stratford to serve food to the homeless guests who sleep rough in Stratford. I explained the reason for sharing these experiences was in the hope that the young listeners, supported by teachers and their parents would do similar activities when they were older in order to help those less fortunate but also to unite and come together as one human race.
There was a mention of the Salvation Army Harvest Festival in Tower Hamlets - A great example of how the likes of Nick Coke are doing wonders with their interfaith activities. I’m a great admirer of the amazing works of Sister Christine Frost and was chuffed as a cherry when she said that she’d like to invite me to events and activities that she runs. Now that would be an honour indeed.
Here's that Eid poem Pete and I penned together...
All folks happy
Faces so shiny
And Mum screams yay!
Dad seems cheery
Hooray it's Eid day
© Peter Chatfield & Emdad Rahman
P.S. I had a super Eid lunch at Cyril Jackson too.
Monday, October 06, 2014
Saturday, October 04, 2014
I took a small break from family gatherings and the Eid fun-day to visit Pete at his care home. I initially went to the Hospice and saw his bed empty. I shared a joke with the nurse and asked if he had gone AWOL for Eid walkies. We had a laugh and I was told that he had been discharged and had returned to his care home. That was a relief to me as it meant that his pain treatment had gone well. It's only a short drive back so I made my way over pronto.
Pete was in great spirits. He was watching the news and switched to Formula 1. This is a great passion of his and the mechanic in him came out as he spent a good half hour taking me through the intricacies and sciences of what exactly the technical teams go through in preparing a car and monitoring performances before, during and after a race. "They earn their bread do those lot," he said. It was interesting listening, and his eyes sparkled bright as he talked.
We called Farhana who had visited and he spent ten minutes talking to her and Tamim, thanking them for the privilege of their company last Sunday. That's Pete in a nutshell for you I thought - Grateful and unselfish. Contact with the outside world rejuvenates Pete and keeps him chirpy. Farhana is convinced he can beat the Cancer and I pray she's proved right.
We took a few selfies and shared a few laughs whilst recording an Eid greeting video.
Pete is super intelligent. He's street wise and sharp as a tack. I always learn something new when I sit with him and his vivacious attitude is nothing short of endearing. Like many, he dreams of a just world free of violence, hatred and enmity.
Pete needed care from his nurse so I left. Missed Sam today but I'll be back very soon to meet up again with both these lovelies.
Pete isn't bitter. He's accepted his fate either way. He will continue to be Pete: quirky, inspiring, loyal and brave. He's a battler and will not let his condition leave him a withering wreck.
"I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind.
Some come from ahead and some come from behind.
But I’ve bought a big bat. I’m all ready you see.
Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me." Dr. Seuss
Eid Mubarak video from Pete - http://youtu.be/b060VcptrWw