Thursday, December 04, 2014

Remembering Peter Chatfield's life on his birthday

"I have no idea what's awaiting me, or what will happen when this all ends. For the moment I know this: there are sick people and they need curing."

Albert Camus, The Plague


In harsh throes you planted the tree
Peter's gift, a beautiful legacy
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

Peter Chatfield

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

The Baking Artist

Emdad Rahman
It is not unusual for Daisy Brydon to spend 50-60 hours plotting artistic baking creations.

The talented baker was presenting masterclasses and pulling in the crowds during the Foodies Festival at the Truman Brewery in Brick Lane when we caught up to share a chat and cake. I was introduced to the sweet version of Yoda - an immaculately designed model of the Grand Master of the Jedi Order. The loveable high general of Clone Troopers really did look cute enough to eat. 

As a child, Brydon discovered a love for all things cake and spent a lot of her youth creating, baking and persuading her mother and grandmother to help her sell her delicious wares to passersby on her street. “It was a doorstep shop and was my first foray into a world I have fallen in love with,” she said.
“As I grew older my studies in photography really helped to develop my creative side and inspiration. I’m not the academic type and I really enjoyed creating challenging sculptures.”
The arts beckoned and the quirky Brydon pursued a career in acting. After a decade she took a break from acting to pursue her passion for baking artistry. “So, I was an actress for ten years,” she said. I started to suffer from a little bit of depression and it was through my insomnia that I sought comfort in baking at night. 

"Then I was filming a TV series and my cast and crew wouldn’t let me sleep with their baking requests. We filmed during daylight and I baked at night. It was the best therapy.

“I made a birthday surprise and fell in love with cakes. My passion and talent blossomed and by the end of 2012 I had launched Daisy Brydon Creations. I now specialise in 3d sculptures.”
Brydon is building up a yummy reputation and is now a much sought after bespoke baker. “I did all the foodies during the summer,” she added. I did Cake International up in Birmingham and will be doing the one in London next year.
“Internationally I’ve just been to Australia to meet my business mentor and make plans and to meet others like me from other companies. It’s all very exciting at the moment.”
She must be doing well. Her list of clientele include Matt Le Blanc, Wilson Luna and Jessica Hynes.
Brydon’s cakes are made to order and are never outsourced. “Everything is baked fresh for each client, ensuring you receive the highest quality, not just in the decoration, but in taste too.”
Brydon is set for a successful career ahead and she speaks about her plans. "My long term future plans are to have my own show. I love teaching. I love inspiring people. One of my passions is to teach disadvantaged kids and also to teach, support and mentor offending teenagers and youth who are in prisons."
Inspiration and mentoring are key to success and Brydon has experienced both. “My inspiration is definitely Duff Goldman from Charm City Cakes in Baltimore.

"For anyone who wishes to indulge in food art like me I say go for for it! You don’t need to spend a lot of money on training. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on equipmemt. A lot of the equipment you can use from home and youtube is a great place to learn. I'm self taught and I haven't taken any courses."

Brydon’s mission is to create memories through awe inspiring cakes that taste as good as they look and will have people talking for years. “I get inspiration from everywhere, from art and fashion to furniture and architecture.”

With such artistry and attention to detail it's not difficult not see why this baker will soar the heady heights.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Ben Day: “Boxing didn't change my life – it saved it”

Emdad Rahman: Tucked in behind Chrisp Street Market is the Lansbury Boxing Club. Like the best ones it’s old fashioned. I’m here to meet Ben “the Entertainer” Day, unbeaten Light Welterweight and owner of the Ringtone Gym in Euston. We had to be quick. Day had put on his gloves and was ready to start training. “My trainer will go potty if I don’t start soon,” he said, referring to Alec Wilkey.

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

Any additional donations are highly appreciated. Find out more on

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Ben Day and Ringtone to hold charity night!

Emdad Rahman: "I have a dream" - Ringtone Boxing Gym's next White Collar show in support of Motor Neurone Disease Association is only 3 days away. 

The tickets are now available to buy on Ringtone Boxing Gym's website 

Standard tickets are £25.00 each, ringside tickets are £40.00 each. Doors open at 6.30pm. 

Unbeaten lightweight boxer Ben Day is hosting the event. His father died from the condition. "Every penny from the show and my London Marathon goes to Motor Neurone Syndrome which is close to my heart," he said. 

Any additional donations are highly appreciated. Find out more on

Sunday, November 23, 2014

"Poetry speaks when otherwise there is silence"

Emdad Rahman interviews Poet Kai Coggin

"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

Limited edition signed copies are also available. 

Photo credit: Jeremy Rodgers, of Hot Springs Hot Spots Magazine. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Interfaith lunch

As part of Inter Faith Week (November 16th - 22nd) Churches Together in Poplar organised a shared lunch at the Salvation Army Centre in Poplar E14.

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.

Foodbank volunteering diary

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

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

Steve Harmison believes current England bowlers can be better than 2005 Ashes stars

Emdad Rahman: Steve Harmison believes England have as good a chance as any other team in their quest to achieve Cricket World Cup success in Australia.And the ex-England and Durham fast bowler has cited England’s promising current crop of bowlers as the ones who will be able to make the difference.

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.”

Ian Bell looking forward to Sri Lanka tour

Emdad Rahman: Warwickshire batsman Ian Bell has hailed the appointment of Mark Ramprakash to the England coaching set up and say's that the tour of Sri Lanka is crucial in building up team morale and rapport in the run up to the Cricket World Cup.

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.

Matt Dean: "I'm confident that England will put on a good show at the World Cup”

Interview with England Visually Impaired Cricket Captain

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

Top 5 Scotland v England clashes

Emdad Rahman: For me as a young fan growing up, England and Scotland football clashes were one of the highly anticipated games in the football calendar. There wasn't a lot of live football during the 80’s and it was a chance to see the best of Britain lock horns in a game that was anything but friendly.

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

Volunteering is no bed of roses

It's always important to be disciplined during any ambassadorial type work and on a dark, wet and cold November night I learnt a harsh but useful lesson in self discipline. 

Zak had gone to get water and as I waited for aktar to drop off the table near our distribution point, an Irishman shouted: "Who you looking at, you dirty fucking nigger?"

I replied straight: "I don't want no trouble mate."

He came up to me with his sidekick. My body tensed, sensing things could get physical. The sidekick asked me why I had pots. "It's for homeless guests."

The Irishman retorted: "You don't look homeless." I told him we served homeless people. The sidekick shook my hand. "You're both welcome to a plate!" I offered. 

The Irishman added: "I'm from Belfast and I would never ever trust a black bastard like you. We shoot you lot for fun." The minion shook my hand again and I glanced and was reassured by the blinking CCTV cam above Starbucks. 

I'm very pleased that I didn't take the bait and even raise my voice. It was the right choice, though there is a small voice niggling me for not retaliating. I really hope the fella reflects later and changes his outlook. 

I'm human, and truth is, I was really tempted to chin him one. But I kept repeating that I was an ambassador for One Third Soup Kitchen and I was here to meet my homeless friends and serve them some biriani and chicken curry with chick peas. Community work is not always a bed of roses and you have to take the good with the bad - the smooth with the rough. Thankfully this is the first negative encounter I've had since we started the Soup Kitchen. 

Whilst waiting for the boys to arrive the starving Piotr arrived and helped me set up. He got an extra large plate from the boys. 

Zak and Aktar were excellent company. There were plenty of guests, good banter and chit chat. 

Paul said he had helped himself to a buffet of four plates at The Taste of India at lunch but the aroma was too much and an hour later he too succumbed to a plateful of of magic from Moz's finest home cooked pot. 

The food was mouthwatering and we were left another pair of clean dishes. Plenty guests talked to us and a group of shoppers from Hackney said they were inspired to start their own Soup Kitchen after a long chat with the three of us. 

One Third Soup Kitchen runs every Saturday. Please pop in and say hi if you're around. 

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Magic evening at One Third Soup Kitchen

"The war against hunger is truly mankind's war of liberation." 

John F. Kennedy

Magic was the theme as tonight we set a new record. Kam bought biriani from home and the delicious contents of the pot vanished before you could say hey presto. 

The day had been warm but we were set up with a chilly evening. The kitchen was so busy with frenzied activity that the volunteers could have worn T shirts. It was all so fast paced it was almost like an open 45 minute circuit training session in Stratford City. 

Kam, Omar, Saqi and I were this able to enjoy a bit of a catch up before we left to pursue the rest of our evening. 

Thanks to Bhabi for the exquisite biriani.

Looking out for our senior citizens

"Sure I'm for helping the elderly. I'm going to be old myself someday." 

Lillian Gordy Carter

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. 

My first absurd reaction was that it was a joke, until her pleading eyes widened and she reached out towards me. I crouched down, rubbed her arm, and spoke to her to check that she was in control of her senses. She was fine on the faculty front and was frail voiced but totally coherent. 

A nice lady, staff member and I helped her up onto a makeshift box seat. A customer gave her a Kitkat for a sugar rush and another staff member bought water. I kept talking to her. Her name is Patricia. Poor Patricia lost her husband four months ago and has been depressed and ill. "He was my life, and I'm so lost without him," she whispered. 

The poor thing kept apologising: "I've been so silly," she kept muttering. I reassured her that nothing could be further from the truth. 

Patricia revived sufficiently enough for me to escort her onto her seat on the ELI heading to Ilford. I'm content in the knowledge that she has very supportive neighbours. In fact she told me that the boy in the house is also called Emdad. I gave her my card as insurance. Patricia has a blank cheque with me now. 

The encounter stirred my thoughts. 

We must look out for the elderly, especially during the harsh winter. I don't care what anyone says but our parents have an ironclad right over us and it is primarily our duty to care for them. 

If we have elderly neighbours we should keep contact with them and ask them if any chores need doing or if any support can be provided. Senior citizens are proud people rightfully, and will be loathe to ask for assistance for fear of inconveniencing others. With that in mind we should befriend them and keep a check on them whilst respecting their right to privacy.  

It's the very least members of a progressive society should do. 

In the digital age there is no excuse for non contact. Remember, they sacrificed their yesterday's for our today's. 

Minutes after leaving Patricia on the bus I had to catch up with the family in Vicarage Fields and my first job was to confront a bullying Ugandan gentleman in Asda, who had decided to publicly berate the missus and kids. I abhor bullies with a vengeance, so gave him the full monty. Part of the problem is that there is more space in a pig pen than in Asda, Barking. It also attracts the cream of the asylum crop. The fiery gentleman was quite a contrast when compared to the ever grateful Patricia. That's just human nature in a nutshell for you.

I have just resumed my conversation with Jay who say's it's probably my charm and snaking hips what makes the fairer axe swoon and keel over. 

And who am I to dispute that!

"The way the elderly are treated, and in some cases warehoused and medicated, rather than nurtured and listened to, is distressing."

Bill Nighy

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

BFA Awards Night Celebrates Grassroots Football

Emdad Rahman: Football development and progress was the main point of discussion as the annual Bangladesh Football Association Awards night took place to celebrate all things great about grassroots football. 

The Troxy in London's east end was full to capacity as an audience averaging 1000 and consisting of players, managers, officials and guests turned out to celebrate another year of great achievements by the local teams as well as Sporting Bengal FC. 

Kevin Coleman from the F.A, officials from West Ham United, and Dagenham & Redbridge attended. The Premier League and F. A Cup were both on display and fans were allowed to pose with both trophies and take pictures throughout the evening. 

BFA Chair Aroz Miah started proceedings. "We have fire in our belly and we will do whatever it takes in terms of endeavour, until mainstream football recognise and recruit from our community."

The event was hosted by BFA vice chair Imrul Gazi. He said: "Football unites our community. It brings all races and faiths together and I'm proud of the way the BFA has worked so hard to achieve so much. 

"The road is long and we will continue to strive hard until our leagues become a hotbed of talent from which professional teams come to scout and recruit. It is the dream the team at the BFA aspire to achieve."

Lutfur Rahman, the Mayor of Tower Hamlets pledged his support to football in the borough. He said: "Another brilliant year has passed for the BFA and it is a wonder how so many volunteers come together to make it all happen. This is what makes things so special. We will work hard and I'm unison to support the tremendous work you do say in and day out."

Shahel Ali from sponsors Hunter & Bloomfield added: "I echo the Mayor's sentiments. The BFA do a tremendous job and what is evident tonight is the shiny, happy and young faces in attendance. 

"And it is with this mutual benefit of the community in mind that Hunter & Bloomfield are delighted and proud to continue with their support of the BFA."

Guest Mohsin Ahmed was greatly impressed: " The F.A Cup, Premier League, great speakers, delicious food. What more can one ask for Congratulations to the BFA for such great achievements. I haven't seen so many young people as well as trophies in one place for a very long time."

The inspirational Manisha Tailor, an F.A Tutor and Kick it Out Ambassador spoke about leadership in football. She added: "The most important aspect of football is not winning, but having fun. This in itself will lead to unity, togetherness, understanding and the development of greater skill levels. 

"I have really enjoyed this evening and I hope we can work in collaboration in the future to deliver great community football programmes."

Sporting Bengal manager Mamun Chowdhury MBE selected officials and players for individual awards. He offered his own assessment: "I feel pride in managing this great team and long may it continue."

There was a special moment when Bangladesh's record goalscorer took to the stage. All time great Sheikh Mohammad Aslam said: "Our tour of London has been tremendous and we are impressed with the level of grassroots football. It will be a dream come true to see a Bangladeshi play in the Premiership."

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Saturday Night Live With One Third Soup Kitchen

Tonight was very busy but very fruitful. Kam made his home debut and ended up cleaning the pot out. A great start indeed.

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

Football Legend Relives Golden Past

Interview with Sheikh Aslam: Bangladesh's greatest striker

Emdad Rahman

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

Legends of Bangladesh visit East End

Legends of Bangladesh visit East End
Mile End Stadium hosts football showdown

Sonali Othith UK 1-2 Sonali Othith Bangladesh

Emdad Rahman

A game between Bangladeshi veterans on a rainy night in Mile End Stadium may not be most people's idea of a glamour game but plenty turned out to watch the visiting golden oldies turn in a match winning performance. 

Sonali Othith Bangladesh are currently visiting the UK as part of a four game tour. 

With high winds, rain and the winter air in full effect many locals thought it would simply be a case of turning up as the visitors from the warmer climes would be expected to struggle to cope with the harsh British elements. 

Sonali Othith Bangladesh started off looking to hit their hosts on the break. It was a wise tactical move by Nasir Ahmed's men as they raced into a two goal lead through Mohammad Aslam and Mohammad Arman. 

Sonali Othith UK rallied, and buoyed by the home support, the local veterans stepped up the pace. But their opponents were resilient throughout - stifling creativity through the deployment of Arman as a holding midfielder. Aslam's energy up front also caused the Sonali Othith rearguard countless problems. 

The second half tactics remained consistent as both teams played cat and mouse. In the 89th minute. Rahoul's lofted free kick was struck home by Ferdous Alam for a consolation goal for Sonali Othith UK. 

"I'm proud of my team," said Sonali Othith Bangladesh head coach Nasir Ahmed. 

"We were given a very good workout by our opponents and are very impressed by the standards we met today. Football unites communities and it is this very reason why we have travelled such distances. Thank you to the British public for the amazing welcome."

Captain Mohamad Aslam said: "I have played football for decades and I'm grateful for the very nice people I have met through playing the beautiful game. I would also like to thank the fans who braved the weather and came to support both teams."

"We failed to gel tonight," said Sonali Othith UK captain Runu Miah. "Our opponents played a measured game designed to stifle our attacking instincts. The tactics worked to a tee and by the time we got warmed up it was too late."

Midfielder Hamid Yusuf added: "Despite the disappointing result the game was a great spectacle and an advert for football in general. I'm proud that we are hosting some of Bangladesh's great footballers and look forward to conducting further football programmes in the future."

Sonali Othith UK are hosting a gala dinner night on Tuesday 21st October 2014 at the Dhaka Regency, 501 High Street North, London E7 9HA. 

To attend, please contact Faruque Mahfuz Ahmed on 07956 972328

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Eid and school assembly presentations

I had kindly been asked to do Eid assemblies at two primary and schools (pupils & parents) and I'd like to share the short presentations with readers.

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

number 7
© Peter Chatfield & Emdad Rahman

P.S. I had a super Eid lunch at Cyril Jackson too.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Pat - Keeping London moving

Pat is now firmly established as one of the faces of the East End. Please say hi or give him a toot if you see this Big Friendly Giant on Tower Bridge or the Blackwall Tunnel. 


A Haiku For Alan Henning

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Eid with Pete

"The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it." C.C. Scott

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 -

Eid Greetings From One Third Homeless Soup Kitchen

"Only the pure in heart can make a good soup." Ludwig van Beethoven

To keep the momentum going the team agreed to continue the kitchen over the Eid weekend. We bought our shift forward to Friday and set up stall a little later than the normal time.

It was a boisterous evening with many revellers hitting the town. Stratford is noisy on a Friday night.

Omar made his debut and I think we might have secured a deal for a kind soul to pay for branded T shirts and hoodies for us to wear whilst serving guests.

We got lots of greetings and Eid wishes and I met Ram from the Whitechapel Mission. Bless him, he can't do late nights as he has to be at the Mission to do an early morning shift with homeless visitors coming in for breakfast.

Our regulars popped along but there were plenty new faces too. Alou had four helpings (no bread and no water). He's regimental is that one. Edwin had two and we also gave him a Nandos Peri Peri breast piece donated by a member of the public. I joked we had no Reggae Reggae sauce to top up his chicken. Paul (centre) said it was the best soup he'd tasted for a while. A productive evening and we all got to go home and prepare for Eid with our families. None of our guests are so blessed. We received a donation of a tenner too.

Hope you all have a good Eid!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Walter Tull: Football icon

Emdad Rahman interviews Author Dan Lyndon

With October being Black History Month it is perhaps appropriate to celebrate the life of a truly great football pioneer.

Walter Tull was a football pioneer who served as an officer in the Middlesex Regiments Football battalion during The Great War. In 1916 Tull also fought in the Battle of the Somme.

He was of mix race origin. His Grandmother had been a slave and his Father left Barbados to ply his trade in England as a carpenter. He settled in Folkestone where he met Alice Elizabeth Palmer. Walter was born to the couple. He lost his mother to Cancer aged 7. His father remarried Alice’s cousin but she found it hard to cope with the children and so they were sent to a National Children’s Home orphanage in Bethnal Green orphanage and grew up to play amongst others for Tottenham Hotspur, Northampton Town and also signed up to become Scottish giants Glasgow Rangers’ first black player.

His brother Edward was an established Dentist in Glasgow and was Britain’s first black man to practice the said profession. William Wilton signed Tull for The Gers after he was persuaded by Edward to join in 1917. Before he could make his debut at Ibrox he was shot dead at the Somme in March 1918 – aged 29. Tull’s body was never recovered.

As a player at Spurs Tull became the first black football player to tour South America.

Despite the 1914 Manual of Military Law specifically excluding “Negros” from taking command as officers Tull became the first black infantry officer to lead white soldiers in the British Army.

Arsenal fan and teacher Dan Lyndon has authored Walter Tull: Footballer, Soldier, Hero - a book about the life of Walter Tull; published by Collins Educational. I caught up with him during an event to discuss Walter Tull’s life and achievements at Bethnal Green Library, London.

I asked Dan how relevant is Walter Tull's story in the modern day. “I think Walter Tull is hugely relevant to modern football. He was someone who had to overcome real adversity on the pitch - the first recorded example of racism at a football match in Britain (maybe in the world!) when he was abused at Bristol City in 1909.

“He also had to deal with the fact that Tottenham didn't really know how to deal with the situation and decided that the best course of action would be to drop him to the reserves, through absolutely no fault of his own. He also had to rebuild his career at Northampton who were in a lower division, so that would have been a challenge for him too. Throughout all of these difficulties it seems that Walter just got on with it and didn't whinge or make a fuss. A lot of footballers today could learn from his experience.”

Glasgow Rangers were steaming ahead in Scotland in 1917. William Wilton’s men had won the league, Glasgow Cup and Glasgow Merchants' Charity Cup Winners. Lyndon feels that in the modern game Walter Tull would most probably have fetched millions of pounds in transfer fees.

I ask if Tull was good enough to play for England at the time and if prejudices affected his international chances for the English national team: “Again that is a very difficult question to answer; we know that Andrew Watson, the first Black footballer in Britain, who played for Queens Park in Glasgow, was capped a number of times for Scotland, and played against England a few times. That suggests that there wasn't particular prejudice against Black footballers in the 1870s which is interesting. However we also know that it wasn't until Viv Anderson was capped for England in the 1970s that a Black professional played for England. I would like to think that Tull was good enough, but he probably didn't have the same profile when he was playing for Northampton Town.”

Lyndon strongly believes that the history of this country should reflect honestly the diversity of its inhabitants: “Britain truly is a 'nation of mongrels' or 'a magpie nation' which has taken elements of so many different cultures and merged them into what has become the dominant narrative. We know that there were Africans in Britain before the 'Britons' - Roman soldiers from North Africa arrived in the early part of the Roman conquest, long before the Saxons and Normans. We also know that there has been a settled African community since the Tudor period and a settled Asian community from the 18th century.

“You can study every period of modern British history and find a black presence whether it was John Blanke at the Tudor court, William Cuffay the Chartist, Dadabhai Naoroji the first Asian MP. That history is there all around us. The tragedy is that it was hidden for so long, but now it is becoming much more present. If you look at my you can find plenty more examples.

Lyndon was introduced to the Tull story many years ago when he did some work for the Northamptonshire Black History Association: “I fell in love with the story. I also have some weird connections with Walter; we share a name (Daniel), we share a birthday (28 April), my grandmother was born in Folkestone as Walter was and my grandfather played for the same team (Clapton) as Walter did albeit a few years later. So I was very lucky to be given the chance to write the book 'Walter Tull: Footballer, Soldier, Hero' in 2011 so I could share his story with a wider audience.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Visiting Pete

“Even death has a heart.” 
― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

Pete phoned me Saturday morning.

Pete: "Hello"
Me: "Pete, how you doing?"
Pete: "When you coming to see me, it's been a long time bruv?"
Me: This eve for sure, I'll bring food!"

He weren't hungry when I visited but it was super spending time with him and Sam.

I told Pete about my recent exploits, Scafell Pike, Maggie's Culture Crawl for Maggie's Cancer Care Hospices and the Mosque Run. Pete enjoyed listening to the stories. I've told him I will dedicate next years night walk to him if I do it again.

Pete has had a tough week and is now in a Hospice for pain relief. He is still fighting the cancer that is ravaging him from within. He was jovial but also very tired. The pain in his back is now more regular and more intense.

Thank you to the wonderful staff for taking such good care of him.

Here's a few verses I penned today.

Peter Chatfield Haiku

such a fine sweet treat
i'll miss that hugged greet, as pete
departs his earth suite

© Emdad Rahman

Walter Tull - 1888-1918

Black history is a chance to mull
Over the inspiring life of Walter Tull
From an orphanage to lead a white soldier
The British Army's very first black officer

Walter found it so tough at Spurs
Joined Northampton to escape racist slurs
Herbert Chapman and peace with the Cobblers
Alas no appearance for Glasgow Rangers

Walter lived life with dignity and aplomb
He fell tragically in the Battle of the Somme
Now coins commemorate this "Negro"
He is truly a bonafide British hero

© emdad rahman

The 1914 Manual of Military Law specifically excluded "Negroes" and "Mulattos" from exercising command as officers.

#waltertull #blackhistory #blackhistorymonth

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Longest Night

Liverpool 2-2 Middlesbrough
Liverpool win 14-13 on pens

Rossiter fulfills a teenage dream
Mignolet short of Adam's Reach
Suso strikes on returning to the team
Paddy Bamford makes the Kop screech

Reds match The Daggers and Orient
Gunners, Millers, City, Stoke, Villa
Silkmen surpassed on the ascent
In the longest League Cup shoot out ever

An F.A call from the national elder
Roy Hodgson to make an approach?
A vital role earmarked for Brenda
As England's spot kick coach


© emdad rahman

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

R4YM 2014

This year I changed my solo routine and took my boys, bro in law and my friend Dulal with me.

Dulal is diagnosed with the ever rare Gurg - Strauss Syndrome and he is paralysed from the waist down.

It was a joy seeing his awesome smile and I know he's single handedly inspired many more to pick up the baton and do something positive. Even Mayor Lutfur Rahman came off the stage to greet ol Dulal. He's a special one is that one and I'm guessing there's more to come from the soldier.

God bless you mate!

Maggie's Culture Crawl 2014

Emdad Rahman

"Life is a shipwreck but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats" ~Voltaire

One thousand walkers took part in the annual Culture Crawl for Maggie Keswick Jencks Cancer Caring Centres.

Participants from all over the country swamped the capital clad in brilliant Dutch Orange to head out into the night, discovering cultural, architectural and artistic delights, raising as much money as possible to help people living with cancer.

Working in partnership with Open House London, Maggie’s Culture Crawl is a 15 mile night-walk, part cultural adventure.

From the Foreign Office, to Fulham Palace by way of the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, all the walkers were encouraged to and got exclusive access to all these buildings and many others.

George Clark got the Crawl rolling and venues along the route included many of London's most iconic buildings: Chelsea Physic Garden - a walled garden that celebrates the beauty and importance of plants, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Foster + Partners Studio.

Also on the menu was Fulham Palace - Dating back to 700, a Tudor manor house with Georgian additions and a Victorian chapel, and Maggie's West London - The first Maggie’s in England.

There was also a visit to the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, a new cultural destination in the heart of London designed by Zaha Hadid Architects.

The Foreign Office kickstarted the evening and hosted a 4 minute ballet performance.

The night finished at the The Royal Festival Hall. Opened in 1951 as part of the Festival of Britain, the Grade I listed Hall is one of the world’s leading performance venues. Last year there were over 4 million visitors to The Royal Festival Hall which hosts musicians, comedians, dancers, artists and films. The Clore Ballroom which sits beneath the main auditorium will be welcoming our Culture Crawl participants at the end of their 15 mile journey around London.

At each stop there was delicious food all along the way. This was mightily impressive and surpassed last years superb arrangements. Each stop was like a visit to Mr Willy Wonka.

The standout feature was the friendly chat and banter with fellow walkers. For me, each exchange was simple, brief but memorable. I will most likely never see any of these people ever again.

The walk route was first route and the mouth waters at the prospect of just how better the organisers can make the route. I'm fully confident that the route will continue to become more cultured (enjoyable) as each year passes.

I had a buddy with me this year with Omar accompanying me. I made my excuses early, citing my recently healed Achilles as reason for not speeding the route. Nevertheless we were told that we finished in the top 100.

No offence to the comedy performance
but we didn't hang around after getting our medals. I had a full Saturday in store. The ever reliable Chach and Mabs were ready and waiting to whisk us home.

Bravo to the organisers and the volunteers. You're all just simply amazing.

For further information and to sign up for next year please visit -

Striving to the top

Tara is hiking to the summit of Kilimanjaro. 

Emdad Rahman: Tara Kaur is hitting the heights as she joins a team if friends on an expedition to conquer Mount Kilimanjaro.

The Office Manager at Woolmore Primary School in East London is raising money for 'When You Wish Upon A Star.'

Here is a quick interview: 

1. Why did you choose trekking?

A few years ago I watched a number of celebrities including Gary Barlow and Cheryl Cole climb Kilimanjaro Challenge for Comic Relief and I was really inspired and touched by what they did and I said to myself one day I will do that climb.

2. Who are you trekking for? 

As well as achieving a personal dream of mine I wanted to raise money for a good cause and chose a charity called 'When You Wish Upon A Star.'

3. What is the cause about? 

This Charity raises money to make dreams come true for terminally ill children.

4. Have you done this before? 

No this is my first time, it is also my first time sleeping outside in a tent - something else I will be doing a lot of during my climb.

5. How have you prepared? 

I have been going to the gym at least 3 times a week, doing a variety of cardio and resistance training, I also go to Surrey every Saturday to do a hike and walk when ever possible. I feel fit and ready for the challenge.

6. How have you funded your trip? 

I have funded the whole trip myself. Every penny I raise through sponsorship will be donated to the charity.

7. With the trek days away, how do you feel? 

I feel excited and ready. I am looking forward to the challenge and pray that I stay fit and healthy throughout the climb.

8. What advice do you have for anybody inspired by you? 

Keep focused and never give up on your dreams even when when it gets tough. Believe that you can and you are halfway there.

9. Your inspirations in life? 

My Mother - She is the most determined and most positive person I know. As a child my mum made everything possible. She has always been my side, supported and encouraged me to follow my dreams. I am the woman I am today thanks to my mum.

10. Your charity link?