Saturday, July 22, 2006

New Kits for 2006/07 - Part 1

As you'd no doubt expect, some of the new football kits for the 2006/07 domestic season are now starting to appear so we thought we'd take a look at some of before the action begins in earnest.

To start off with, we have the top four in the Premiership all sporting new home strips. Here you can see the shirts for Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool accordingly.

Arsenal, you'll note, have reverted back to the old 'red with white sleeves' routine having ditched last year's redcurrant shirt. It features a gold stripe down either side, has Arsenal's new sponsors Emirates Airlines on the front and is currently in the shops now. Not bad, but perhaps not one of their 'classics'.

Next we have the retro offering that is Manchester United's new home kit. It commemorates the first league championship to be won by Busby's Babes 50 years ago and is, well... old-fashioned in it's design. Oh don't get me wrong - I like retro design when it comes to football kits, but this one just looks too boring for my liking. Anyway, Man United's kit is also (like Arsenal's) made by Nike and they too have new shirt sponsors - AIG. If you want to adorn your back with this one, the kit goes on sale on July 27th.

Next up, a more modern outlook for Chelsea. They've joined Adidas after a lengthy spell with Umbro and the first strip to head their way is pretty standard fair for the German firm. It has the usual three stripes down the sleeves, a bit of white piping here or there... and that's about it. Nothing too out of the ordinary, but it looks smart enough, I guess. You can pick it up now, should you so wish to do so, and is available in various stockists including Chelsea's official website.

Finally, we have the rarely seen new Liverpool home shirt. They, too, have defected to Adidas and this one is reminiscent of the kits worn during the 2006 World Cup by France and Germany. It's red (naturally) and has curly white stripes running from the neck down to the sides. It hits the shops on Monday, but other than that, do try to keep an eye open for their snazzy away kit of yellow with red trim which accompanies it, too. Harking back to the away kit they wore during the early 1980's, it's based on the same design as the new Chelsea home shirt.

That's your first four to chew over - next up, some selections from the other end of the Premiership pecking order that may just appeal to you more than this bunch...

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Welcome to the new-look 'Some People Are On The Pitch'!

Yes, we're back and ready for the 2006/2007 domestic football season with a brand-new look and lots of great stuff to talk about!

As ever, we'll be keeping you entertained and amused as we deal with all things 'football,' whether it's the latest transfers, the latest news or the latest rumour heard down the pub - it'll be here, and it'll be treated with disdain as is entirely appropriate.

When it comes to features, some of your old favourites will be making a welcome return but we'll also have some new stuff to keep you interested in the beautiful game from the pre-season friendlies right up to the moment when Watford lift the Champions League trophy. Yes, we really have got that much to talk about.

So without further ado, why not settle down, forget all about Zidane and his wayward head and get yourselves ready for another season of top quality club footy. This is Some People Are On The Pitch, and you are invited to join us.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Big Bluffer: And the winner is...

Gary Lineker!

90% of the voting went in favour of the BBC's main anchor-man and presenter of 'Match of the Day' with Alan Shearer taking just one vote to finish second.

We called Gary to ask for his reaction and he said "I'm sorry, I'm not available to take your call at the moment as I'm out with the woman I love. However, if your call is of an urgent nature, please call my wife on 07971..."

Thanks to everyone for voting and congratulations to our newly-crowned top pundit, Gary Lineker!

Spot the Balls Competition: Answer

In case you were wondering (and you probably are by now), here's where the missing balls were from the picture shown a week or two ago:

Obvious really, wasn't it?

Monday, July 10, 2006

Obscure World Cup Kits From History #3

Today, we take you back to 1970 and the sweltering heat of Guadalajara in Mexico. England are playing their first match at the World Cup as defending champions against Czechoslovakia and memories of their dramatic 4-2 win over West Germany in 1966 are still abundant. Such evocative images - 93,000 people crammed into Wembley, the wide green expanse of that pitch, lush from the previous night's rain, and those bold red shirts worn by the England side as they strode out to face the Germans. How those red shirts would become engrained into our collective consciences over the decades to follow.

So what better way to keep the memory going by starting the first match of the 1970 campaign wearing... SKY BLUE?!?! Whose idea was that?!?

Yes, England amazingly broke with tradition by temporarily abandoning the red worn with such pride in 1966 - a decision made even more incomprehensible given the fact that Czechoslovakia were wearing white. Remember, this was in the era when most of the world were watching in black and white. How could you tell which team was which?

The simple answer: England were the team in front. The debut of this sky blue strip on the world stage coincided with a 1-0 victory over the Czechs thanks to a 50th minute penalty from Allan Clarke. Yet this was no ordinary kit - this one, like the all-white strip worn in England's other matches of the 1970 World Cup, had little perforations in its shirt to allow the sweat to evaporate and the air to get to the body. And you wondered where those tea-bag manufacturers got the idea from...

Strangely, this was the last time England wore a sky blue strip for about twenty years and the next time they had to wear a change strip in the 1970 World Cup was in the quarter finals against West Germany. They reverted to the classic red and white from 1966, but it didn't bring them luck - they lost 3-2 and bombed out of the competition.

It's one of those kits you either love or hate, but it's just possible that it might have given England a bit of luck back in 1970. Will we ever see its like again, I wonder?

A final "Thank You"

Written by Smart

Not too long after starting his own 'personal' blog page, Chris suggested I start one of my own. My reply was that, in my opinion, most blog pages are tedious affairs about someones tedious life, and I wouldnt want to make it any worse by imposing my very unexciting life upon other people. A blog page is only as good as its content.

And then he set up 'Some people are on the Pitch'... Now football I CAN 'talk' about!

Chris and I have written many articles together, over more years than Portugal had yellow cards this world cup, and this seemed like a perfect venture.

I'd like to both thank and congratulate Chris on another of his 'fiendishly simple yet brilliant' ideas, and for allowing me to take part in the capacity that I have.

It has been more than fun, helped maintain my interest through the dull parts of the World Cup, and along the way it has been great to see alternative views and some great humour from both girls and boys alike. With the Premiership season about to kick-off, I hope it continues.

Thanks again Chris. You should be pleased that your idea was, in my opinion, a succesful one.

I'm sure others agree.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Big Bluffer - The Final Vote

So here we are on the final day of Big Bluffer and only two housemates are left - Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer. Thanks to the discerning opinions of our judges, 19 pundits have been evicted over nine days to leave the two that remain, and it'll soon be time for you to vote for the pundit that you think should be Big Bluffer.

Looking back, it's fair to say that ITV's lack of pedigree was woefully apparent from Day 1. Ally McCoist and Robbie Earle were the first to go, then it was Gabby Logan and Andy Townsend. Terry Venables and Ruud Gullit got the chop on Day 3 and it wasn't until Day 4 that the first BBC head rolled in the form of Ray Stubbs, and even then he was replaced by Adrian Chiles.

After Portman and Emma relieved us of Jim Rosenthal, we were left with only three ITV pundits left. Surely someone from the BBC team had to go? Well indeed they did. Day 5 saw Hekuran boot out Marcel Desailly and Leonardo but on Day 6, Anna reduced the ITV contingent to just one by closing the door on Steve Rider and Stuart Pearce.

I had the chance to redress the balance on Day 7 by removing Lee Dixon and Adrian Chiles (it was for their own good) and on Day 8, ITV finally surrendered to the cutting blade of Smart as Sam Allardyce left a BBC-only final four in the house. Alan Hansen went too and that left Lineker, O'Neill, Strachan and Shearer quaking in their boots, wondering who'd make it to the end.

Yesterday on Day 9, Kedge put us out of our misery by evicting Gordon Strachan and Martin O'Neill and that means we finally have a choice to make. Who will win Big Bluffer - Gary Lineker or Alan Shearer?

To decide the winner, I invite you all to vote for the one you think should win. Please try not to fix the result by voting from your home PC, work PC, friend's PC and so on - this is something which has taken literally minutes to put together and relies on the sort of scientific precision which frankly you'll never understand.

You have until 4pm on Tuesday 11th July to cast your vote and the winner will be announced here as soon as possible thereafter. Thanks everyone for your participation... now let's find ourselves a winner!


Saturday, July 08, 2006

Big Bluffer : The Penultimate Day

by Kedge

I shall relish and cherish this moment. To be asked to adjudicate the penultimate evictees from the Big Bluffer house. An honour indeed! I shall even spell check this report.

So let’s take stock on our remaining presenters.

1. Gary Lineker.
The front man and face (and ears) of the BBC’s football coverage. A national hero, former player, prolific goal scorer (compared to many) and once described as the ultimate goal poacher, (or was it egg boiler?). He also does a lot of work for charity. Currently he is perfecting his own tribute act……… as a Prince of Wales impersonator.

2. Martin O’Neill.
Evidently did play football at school, burst onto the management scene with high flyers Wycombe Wanderers whom he guided from the depths of nowhere to somewhere west of London. Has since been linked with every vacant managers position and indeed has occupied some.

3. Gordon Strachan.
Another former player, spent a lot of this career in the wilderness of the Scottish International side. Was sent to Coventry, for reasons unknown. He has managed almost every team in the land, except the successful ones, and is another whose name is first in the frame when a vacancy occurs.

4. Alan Shearer.
Another footballing hero and national treasure. Despite being a Geordie he is well regarded both by the press and the public. Once unbeatable as part of the SAS (until Chris Sutton sustained a career ending injury and was forced to ply his trade in darkest Glasgow), he made a reputation for himself as another goal poacher, striker extraordinaire, and Olympic freestyle diving champion. Also does a lot for charity and the community.

So! Who is for the chop? One of our heroes? The men that support charity in a big way? The Englishman?, The Irishman? The Scot? Or the Geordie?

I’m sorry, but as a true blue English football lover and a staunch nationalist it has to be Martin and Gordon the singing duo from the sixties.

I’m sure they wouldn’t want to "be in a world without love".

Friday, July 07, 2006

The End of the World (Cup)

"And so the end is near, and I must face the final" etc, etc. Yes, the World Cup is about to disappear from sight for another four years once again. One minute we're counting down the days with great expectation, waiting for the tournament to start, the next, we think it's all over. After Sunday night's Final, it will be.

So what have we learnt from this year's competition? Let's reflect for a moment...

1. Never write off the Africans
Before proceedings got underway, I was asked to predict the finishing positions for each first round group and yes, I admit it, I put all the African teams bar one at the bottom of their respective groups. How wrong I was. In the end, only one African team out of the five (Togo) finished bottom of their group, and I felt suitably ashamed.

It should be said that in recent times, African nations have achieved more and more at the Finals but this year saw arguably their best tournament yet. Angola and Ivory Coast finished third in their groups on their World Cup debuts while Ghana went one better by finishing second in theirs to qualify for the second round. Had they met Switzerland rather than Brazil directly after, they might have reached the Quarter Finals.

All in all, the African teams performed remarkably well and looked not one bit overawed. The Angolans, we were told, were in organisational disarray, the Ghanaians lacked fire power, Ivory Coast only played 'route 1' football and Tunisia were likely to under-perform. How wrong we were. Well, I was in any case.

2. Sexy Football gets you nowhere
Back in the heady days of Round 1, we were treated to the occasional glimpse of what World Cup football should be like. Teams like Holland, Mexico, Spain and Argentina followed the lead of Germany in the opening game by playing the ball around just like you’d expect Brazil to. Actually, they played the ball better than Brazil really did, but that’s beside the point.

While we were swooning at the performances that were laid before us, the likes of France, England and Brazil seemed to be struggling to even get a result, let alone play well, and yet when it came to the crunch, most of those teams that played sexy football were soon on their way home. All of which goes to prove that grinding out narrow victories in a workmanlike fashion with no frills can reap the ultimate rewards. Any Arsenal fan can tell you that.

3. There’s no place for sportsmanship in the modern game
For some reason, the vast majority of games at this World Cup have been littered with the gentlemanly act of kicking the ball out of play when a player is lying on the ground injured. Sadly a lot of the time, they’re just lying.

Whereas once upon a time a player would roll around on the ground for a while after being fouled (thus prompting a free kick to be awarded), nowadays the referee turns a blind eye until such a point when the injured player’s audition for RADA can no longer be ignored. The ball is kicked out of play, the stretcher bearers come on, the injured played is taken off, the ball is thrown back to the opposing team’s goalkeeper – sometimes back off the field again - and the ‘injured’ player returns to the field of play. All this causes the ball to be off the field more often than it should and everyone gets bored waiting for something to happen.

It seems the days of football becoming a non-contact sport like Basketball are now not far off.

4. Ignore the FIFA Rankings - they’re worthless
According to FIFA just before the World Cup, the Czech Republic were the second best team in the world. The USA were the fifth best. Neither made it past Round 1. Nigeria and Denmark were ranked joint 11th in the world, and they never even made it TO the World Cup Finals.

Something’s obviously wrong, and FIFA have finally realised it. Starting next month, their World Rankings will be calculated using a different system which they hope will give a fairer reflection of who’s best and who’s not. And not before time…

5. If you think you’ve got enough strikers in your squad, take one more
You never know when they might come in handy, eh Sven?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Big Bluffer: Day 8

So finally I get to choose who to ejaculate from the Big Bluffer house. (Thanks for stepping in at short notice yesterday, Chris).

My first choice is the last remaining ITV pundit - Big Ham Salad Rice of Bolton. I often wonder if he is watching the match or looking up Gabby Logan’s skirt, as some of the comments he makes seem to be out of context to the match itself and what the other pundits are saying. Perhaps he is too busy seeing which veteran African player he can sign? Or perhaps he is still miffed that he didn’t get the England job? The FA have told him he didn’t get it, didn’t they..?

Alan Hansen is the next out of the door. Popular as he may be with his cheeky Scotch wit, I find him a bit too smug, and kind of enjoy it when comments are proved to be wrong - often spectacularly so.

I have always had my ‘doubts’ about Hansen, and they were pretty much confirmed about 2 or 3 years ago. I went to see Spurs v Liverpool on the opening day of the season and Naybet had a great game for Spurs. That much was obvious from the applause he was getting – and not just from me. That night I watched the highlights on ‘Match of the Day’, where the Scotch (t)wit decided to slate Naybets performance. In disbelief, I decide to check out the comments and reviews in the morning papers, and low and behold Naybet was man-of-the-match.

Since then I have listened to what he has said waiting for him to put his foot in it. My favourite of this World Cup has to be on the opening day, when he was asked by Gary Lineker who he thought would lift the trophy this year. With great joy and slightly too much smugness, he proceeded to totally write off the Italians …

To top it all, when he talks I keep looking at the scar on his face. I know I shouldn’t, but I cant help it - its mesmerising. It reminds me of the Lee Evans 'Sleeping on a pillow' sketch. How I’d love Hansen to run around the studio screaming “I’VE BEEN SLASHED!!!”

Hansen does have his uses and makes me chuckle. Unfortunately for him, it’s for the wrong reasons.

Be gone – the pair of you. Close the door on the way out.

That leaves us with just FOUR ‘Bluffers’ …

Gary Lineker
Martin O'Neill
Gordon Strachan
Alan Shearer

… and its upto Kedge now to whittle them down to the final two. Choose wisely young Kedge...

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Quel Suprise

Marcel Desially is French again.

Big Bluffer: Day 7

Just to confuse you, it's not Smart's turn to make his choice today (Wednesday), but mine. We can't have you taking things for granted now, can we?

So let's take stock of who we've got left. Only nine remain in the Big Bluffer house. They are:

Lineker; Hansen; O'Neill; Strachan; Shearer; Wright; Dixon, Chiles (BBC)
Allardyce (ITV)

And because I have supreme power over such things, I've decided that today THREE people are to be evicted. Only one remains from the ITV squad, but will Sam Allardyce leave the BBC contingent to fight it out amongst themselves?

Well my first evictee today is Lee Dixon. He's far too quiet, far too boring and not incisive enough with his comments by a long chalk. That's all I have to say where he's concerned. Byzee bye, Dicko.

Next, I'm going for his former Arsenal team mate Ian Wright. Now don't get me wrong - Wrighty's a good larf... well at least he was when he first appeared on the Beeb as a pundit, but now he just seems to sit there... trying not to look bored. If England don't play well, he has a face as long as a kite as if he personally paid them to play better. Passionate about the side he may be, but I'm afraid I have little time for a pundit who lurches between acting like a spoilt kid and acting like a bored one. It's time to go, mate, so just go Wright, Wright, Wright now and shut the door behind you on your way out.

And finally, it's with some regret that I have to tap lightly on the shoulder Adrian Chiles. Yes, I know he's only just come in and if I'm honest he's someone who I personally like a lot... but his slightly miserable persona is probably best suited to the late-night editions of World Cup Match of the Day where it can't do any harm. Don't get me wrong - he's got a very good sense of humour, a dry wit and an excellent knowledge of the game, but for some reason I don't think he has the personality to cut it on prime time telly when people of a happy disposition are watching. Sorry Portman, but at this stage of Big Bluffer, there are no easy decisions as Smart will find out on Thursday...

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Play on

by Smart

Incase you hadn't noticed, tonight sees the first of the Semi-Final matches.

"WHAT?!?" I hear you exclaim "They are still playing?!?". Well you're not alone, as I also thought the tournament ended at around 6.40 pm on Saturday.

Apparently not.

Some teams are insisting that they play on and you have to go with the majority dont you? Oh and the Germans, as its their tournament.

Its Germany v Italy tonight and that promises to be a great game. So I expect much tedium, a 0-0 scoreline and penalty shoot-out. And who would bet against those crazy Germans to lose a penalty shoot-out?

Tomorrow pits Portugal against France and, well, after Saturdays fiasco, I shall be hoping the French win that match. Call it sour grapes if you wish, its just that I prefer to see football, not cheating. (Not only that, but I picked France in the office sweepstakes. Money talks.)

On the subject of cheats, have the new FIFA laws made it easier for players to dive and roll around on the floor? FIFA have tried to eliminate certain tackles from the a physical contact game, to which the response seems to more diving and play acting than ever before. The cheats arent being punished, the players making the challenges are.

Who said "Cheats never prosper"? I think it was my Nan, wasnt it?

Ah well, it could be worse. You could be watching the tennis...

Big Bluffer: Day 6

By Smart

Well its not quite my turn just yet as today's evictees have been selected by my wife, Anna.

Steve Rider
It still seems odd seeing him present football. Golf and Athletics, yes, but football? Perhaps he saw Christian Ronaldo and thought he was watching Diving.

Stuart Pearce
Just because.

So another two bite the dust.

Tomorrow is my turn and by looking at who is left, the choices are becoming harder. In a way im glad im picking now and not near the end!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Big Bluffer: Day 5

Well it's all getting a bit hot in the Big Brother house today. Temperatures are up and not just in the jacuzzi where Gaby Logan's absence has been sorely missed.

Nope, it's time for another couple of evictions, so it's over to 'H' (no, not the one from Steps) to wield the axe...

"Easy - Odenke, Leonardo, and if I could, O’Neill.

Odenke & Leonardo - they really have joined the BBC just to ‘improve’ their English and because the TV studios of their respective countries did not want them. What sort of commentators / analysers are they when you do not understand what they mean? Lineker will not always be there to correct them. Does Leonardo have a first name?

O’Neill - just because he thinks that he knows everything. I just don’t like him. I would have voted him out as my first choice, but at least I can understand him - just about."

Well I'm afraid we can only evict two pundits today, so Martin O'Neill stays in the Big Bluffer house by the skin of his teeth. As for Desailly and Leonardo, they're out, and suddenly the BBC contingent are starting to look a little decimated.

Who will be next to be shown the door? Will Alan Hansen and Gary Lineker finally get it on in the bedroom? And will Steve Rider's drugs finally wear off?

Join us tomorrow for the next thrilling installment of Big Bluffer...

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Big Bluffer - Day 4

Written by Portman and Emma

"Our first nomination (and the first for the BBC) is Ray ‘Stubbsy’ Stubbs. To us he just seems to be lacking charisma and looking at his official photo on the BBC website, should in fact feel more at home in a dodgy episode of the Hammer House of Horror. He must be what Linny sees in the mirror, his complete opposite!

Embarassing Stubbs publicity photo on the BBC website

However, staying in the tradition of Big Brother, we would actually like to see the ejection of Stubbsy (due to breaking the Big Bluffer rule stating that you must not be undead), and vote to bring in Adrian Chiles. Adrian is third in the list of ‘meet the BBC team’, so we feel that he has been neglected. Also, he looks like he has been separated at birth from Stubbsy, which is probably where all of the charisma went!

Adrian Chiles: separated at birth from Stubbsy?

For our next nomination we are going back to ITV and Jim 'Pointy Nose' Rosenthal. When F1 was on the BBC, we quite enjoyed it - the thrill of the race, the crashes, etc. And then for some reason, it appeared on ITV. The races were then broken up for adverts, and for some strange reason ‘Count’ from Sesame Street telling me how great ITV was! Well I eventually found out that it was ‘Pointy Nose’, and after about 2 races gave up watching F1 because he was scaring us. And now I find him everywhere, boxing and now football… is he trying to take over the world?! He should go back to writing ‘London’s Burning’!"

So, two evictions but one new entrant to the Bg Bluffer house in the form of Adrian 'Agreeable Brummie' Chiles. That means we have 13 people left to evict, and they are:
  • Lineker (BBC)
  • Hansen (BBC)
  • O'Neill (BBC)
  • Leonardo (BBC)
  • Strachan (BBC)
  • Shearer (BBC)
  • Wright (BBC)
  • Dixon (BBC)
  • Desailly (BBC)
  • Chiles (BBC)
  • Rider (ITV)
  • Allardyce (ITV)
  • Pearce (ITV)
Who will face the chop tomorrow? We'll find out soon enough from 'H' who has the dubious honour of wielding the axe on Monday...

My team of the Quarter-Finals

Hargreaves [Eng] Hargreaves [Eng]
Hargreaves [Eng] Hargreaves [Eng] Hargreaves [Eng] Hargreaves [Eng]
Hargreaves [Eng] Hargreaves [Eng] Hargreaves [Eng] Hargreaves [Eng]
Hargreaves [Eng].


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