Après Match 2008

If there’s one thing that always brightens up RTÉ‘s coverage of the big fitba’ tournaments, it’s the Après Match team’s piss-takes of the Irish TV pundits, which are usually shown at the end of the live coverage or highlights programmes. They remind me a lot of the early Only an Excuse? sketches from back home.

I’d missed most of AM’s Euro 2008 efforts so far, so I was happy to find out tonight that they’re online here[1]. I presume the site will be updated as they do more throughout the tournament.

Naturally they’re much funnier if you’re familiar with the Irish TV stations’ football coverage, although the targets include the likes of Graeme Souness, Liam Brady and Frank Stapleton who are familiar enough to viewers in the UK and elsewhere. That said, they actually started with a Sky Sports send-up this year—just a pity Gary Cooke‘s impression of Andy Gray is one of the poorest I’ve heard any of them do, especially as Risteárd’s Richard Keys is right on the money!

[1] RealPlayer plugin required, and doesn’t seem to work with Firefox, I’m afraid

Not forgotten

Phil O’Donnell would have turned 36 today, the same age as me (albeit only until June). Calls for a wee dram and a re-watching of the ’91 Scottish Cup Final video tonight I think, if only to reinforce just how badly we could do with him back in our midfield at the moment… 

EDIT: Coincidentally, it was also the 13th anniversary of Davie Cooper‘s untimely death a couple of days ago, too. Unbelievable that two of that cup winning team died in their 30s, while just doing their job.

Life after Phil

I like this idea. Motherwell fans have had two weeks to pay their respects, and Hearts fans have already paid theirs with a minute’s applause before their last two games (and fair play to them for doing it the second time– not entirely sure why they were asked to do it more than once…)

Let’s just get back on with the fitba’ now– it’s what Phil would have wanted!

RIP Phil O’Donnell

Numbed by the news when I got home last night that Motherwell captain Phil O’Donnell had died after collapsing during the game with Dundee Utd yesterday.

I well remember his debut against St.Mirren in the 1990/91 season, when as a 17-year-old he was given the complete runaround by Kenny MacDowell. At the end of that season, he scored his first goal for the club– in the memorable Scottish Cup “family final” at Hampden Park. Ironically, that was also against Dundee Utd, in a game which was also tinged with sadness– the managers of the two teams were brothers Tommy and Jim McLean, whose father died a couple of days before the final.

(That cup winning side seems somewhat jinxed, now… it also featured Davie Cooper, who was to collapse and die a few years later on the training ground at the age of 39. And two of our other stars that day never played again, forced into early retirement through injury.)

So, thanks for the memories, Phil. Thoughts are with your family and friends today, especially to your wife, kids, and nephew and Motherwell team-mate David Clarkson who’s been a revelation this year– I hope he can find it within himself to pull on the claret and amber jersey again after what he witnessed yesterday.

Plus ça change

Just a bit deflated that one of the most inexplicably wrong refereeing decisions I’ve seen cost Scotland a draw against Italy this afternoon, but I don’t think it would have been enough anyway, and I’m certainly glad we’re not sitting waiting on the France result on Wednesday. Can’t fault the lads for another great performance (bar the first two minutes), bring on the World Cup qualifiers!

(To be fair, the ref ruled out a perfectly good Italian second goal for offside, and failed to disallow ours for the same offence… but to lose like that was just rubbing it in, really.)


Bit disappointed to be sitting out the FreeFA World Cup this year, especially as I’d presumably have been lining up in the menacing black kit– I have a dodgy shoulder at the moment though and I know what these “friendlies” are like!

Having only contributed one goal en route to the final last year though (albeit a sweetly-struck volley with my wrong foot), I doubt I’ll be that badly missed.

Ee aye adio?

Congrats to the Scotland U19 fitba’ team, who’ve reached the final of the European Championships in Poland tonight– although they’ll probably get humped in the final against Spain, having already lost 4-0 to them in the group stages. But what with that, the big team winning the Kirin Cup (against Bulgaria and Japan) in May, and our subsequent 18-place climb up the FIFA rankings, you could almost believe we might have a respectable team again soon. If nothing else, we’ve reached two more finals than England this year* 🙂

* Okay, I expect England have probably reached some equally-diddy finals this year, but why let research get in the way of a good story…

Germany So Far…

Not too many dud games in the World Cup so far… Sweden v. the Scots’ adopted team of Trinidad & Tobago was probably the least action-packed, but livened up considerably by watching it on the big screen in a pub full of Trinidadians and Tobagans (and one bloke from Montserrat).

Of course there were all the usual jibes from the English media in the build-up to the opening Germany v. Costa Rica game, about how the Central Americans beat Scotland 1-0 in Italia ’90. It’s funny how everyone conveniently forgets that in same group, Costa Rica also beat Sweden (as did Scotland) and were unlucky to lose 1-0 to Brazil (as were Scotland), thus progressing to the next round (where they were, admittedly, whipped 4-1 by Czechoslovakia). They certainly weren’t the mugs that everyone makes them out to be; it’s just unfortunate that Scotland had to play them first before everyone else cottoned on!

Incidentally, any British fans who are bemoaning the lack of Baddiel and Skinner’s Fantasy Football on the telly this time around might be interested in their World Cup Podcast instead– I only came across it by accident, so you might not have noticed it either (unless you read The Times, presumably, as they’re sponsoring it…)

Le Moan

Can’t believe all the complaints from Wenger and Henry today about the referee costing Arsenal the Champions’ League Final last night. Er right, and what about the fact he should have allowed Barca’s first goal to stand when Lehmann was (quite rightly) sent off, and that you scored from a free kick that was the result of a blatant dive? Learn to lose with some graciousness, you whiney muppets.

Farewell Tel

After a couple of weeks of speculation, former England captain Terry Butcher is officially departing his post as Motherwell boss to take up the reins at Sydney FC in Oz.

He’s been at the helm since Motherwell went into administration in 2002, and despite the sort of budget that entailed, nonetheless took us to a couple of cup semis, one final, and consecutive top six finishes in the SPL. While sometimes guilty of displaying all the tactical subtlety you’d expect from a 6’4″ centre-back, Big Tel did a sterling job under the circumstances, was well-liked by the fans and the media alike, and goes with everyone’s best wishes.

Assistant manager Maurice Malpas takes over, with his former Dundee United and Scotland teammate Paul Hegarty rumoured to be joining him as number two.