Thursday, September 27, 2007
Phil Neal, Bob Bolder: gentlemen, heroes, teachers. Team-mates.
Colin Murray, Euan Blair, Paul 'Wilbur' Smith, Graeme 'G' Inman, Nick Haycraft: LFC fans, friends, soldiers. Team-mates.
Because of late changes to our team we had Liverpool legends Ray Houghton and Jason McAteer in the side as well, but while Phil Neal and Bob Bolder were with us for the whole day, they turned up later. Playing 20 minutes in their company was a heightened experience. A rare pleasure.
There's something about watching people with so much ability up close. They ooze quality. They do difficult things with ease and they think faster.
In spite of the way it ended, Tuesday has to rank right up there as one of the most enjoyable days of my life. Phil Neal and Bob Bolder were with us from the start and were so good at taking the 6 amateurs under their wings and sharing their knowledge. Meeting heroes is a dangerous game. They can disappoint. Illusions can be shattered. That didn't happen. Phil Neal exceeded my every expectation. I can't remember meeting a more inspiring and invigorating person. Nobody who was involved in the day has achieved more than him (8 League Championships, 4 European Cups) and yet nobody involved gave more of themselves. A true honour. At the end of the day, I nicked his captain's armband. We all want souvenirs.
There are two matches each day. The first of which kicks off at 8pm. Because of the filming the day is long and there are several hours after the coaching and before the kick off where there's really nothing to do. The production team warned us that the day could be boring and recommended that we didn't stay around the Academy. But after our coaching session we decided we didn't want to go our separate ways. We wanted to hang out together. We wanted to be a team. And so we did just that. And it wasn't boring.
And nor was the game. 3-1 down at half time, we summoned the spirit of Istanbul, dug in and came back to 3-3. The tournament has a vaguely complicated structure which I won't bother to explain, suffice to say that we didn't just need to win to get through to the quarter finals... we needed to win by two goals.
This being a TV show they have a few changes to the rules all of which are intended to keep the action going and encourage attacking play. In the final minute of each half they have a powerplay... during which, all goals count twice. So, in the 20th minute, we were needing to score one goal to take a two goal advantage and put us through to the next round. We had two great scoring opportunities, but the ball didn't find the net and the game ended in a draw... meaning that both teams failed to get through. We were devastated. I really wish we were going back for another match on Friday. But we're not. I'd do it all again at the drop of a hat.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
I've written before about the late night quiz shows. (Actually, they're not quizzes are they? They're guessing games. If you went to your local pub quiz and Question 1 was "Name a female singer with an 'M' in her name?", you'd think it wasn't a very good question because there could be so many right answers. If when the marks were being handed out you found your answer, Madonna, didn't score a point because it wasn't one of the answers they were looking for, but that the table next to you did score a point with Kylie Minogue, you'd probably feel a bit pissed off.)
My opinion on the shows hasn't changed since I wrote about them in June. I still think the presenters have an admirable ability to talk about nothing. It's like watching QVC except that instead of selling diamonique jewellery they hawk empty hopes and dreams. Which is worse. Obviously.
Anyway... somehow, the knowledge that not only were ITV and five both broadcasting examples of the genre in the early hours of the morning but that they were actually broadcasting near enough the same game at the same time made the whole thing seem worse. They're both asking you to think of words or phrases that follow the word Hot. Yes, one is hosted by a pretty but not sexually threatening blonde and has a wordsearch and the other is hosted by a hunky blonde who can't work out whether he admires Alan Partridge more or less than he does Steve Coogan but the essence of both games is the same: HOT-BLANK.
I don't know why this makes the whole thing seem worse. Surely when things are as rotten to the core and morally bankrupt as this nothing else matters? Maybe the two near-identical games just underline the paucity of imagination at work? Or maybe it feels like they're ganging up on people and working as a team. I don't know. In any case, I think it's pretty strong evidence that we are all going to hell in a handcart.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
When I spoke to the researcher about the show a few days ago I ended up mentioning this football related looky-likey that I'd seen. It's from the video to the Kaiser Chief's song We Are The Angry Mob. One of the characters in the posh restaurant looks the spit of Rafa Benitez. Okay, he has a full beard... but last season Rafa had no beard and this season he has a goatee so it's entirely possible that he grew the full beard and then trimmed it back. I mean... it could be him. It fair freaked me out when I first saw it. It's probably been discussed elsewhere and I wouldn't have been at all surprised if they'd mentioned it on soccer am before now... but apparently not. Apparently they were planning to show it this morning. But - as happens so often on live TV, they ran out of time. So, seeing as I didn't have the satisfaction of sharing it with the world then, I'll share it with you now. The video can be found on youtube. And here's a screengrab from near the end:
The only downside to appearing on the show was that afterwards my Mum called and asked me me to explain what I'd said towards the end of the first chat (clip.) I'm not going to explain what a camel-toe is to my Mum. If you don't know what it means, you're a winner. Continue not knowing. It's better that way.
Friday, September 21, 2007
It's a 7-a-side tournament which mixes up ex-pros, members of the public and, ahem, so-called celebrity fans. I always find the word "celebrity" vaguely uncomfortable but not to the extent that I'd turn down the opportunity to play football for the team I support... especially when there are some former players in the same side.
I'm a Liverpool fan and I know the ex-pros in the 10 man squad will include Gary McAllister and Jamie Redknapp. How ridiculous is the world? Criminy, I've just realised that Gary McAllister was winning trophies with Liverpool when he was the age I am now... which makes my lack of fitness all the more embarrassing. (As you can see, I had the belly and the ball control when I was a bairn... nowadays it's just the belly.)
Also pulling on the Liverpool jersey will be Radio 1's Colin Murray and son-of-a-former-Prime-Minister, Euan Blair who at least has youth on his side. I read a press release for the show somewhere and the names I saw playing for some of the other teams were a bit intimidating; Mark Ramprakash for Arsenal, Martin Offiah for Wigan and Jonathan Edwards for Newcastle for example. So that's a cricketer, a rugby player and an athlete... while we're a pretentious comic, a disc-jockey and Tony Blair's son. Hmmm. Could be interesting.
Anyway... we're playing Derby on Tuesday night and I'll be popping up on soccer am on Saturday morning alongside the lovely, funny (and surprisingly skilful midfield wizard) Omid Djalili.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
We're making a one off episode of Genius for the tellybox later this year.
It'll be towards the end of November... I'll let you know more about it and how to get tickets to come and be in the audience nearer the time. (If you want to be the first to know, sign up to the mailing list - the link is on the right)
But for now, all we know is that if we're making a new show we want to hear more of your ideas. If you've heard the show you'll know the kind of thing... although having said that, we don't want to have a load of ideas that are a-bit-like-the-ideas-we've-already-discussed... we want to hear your ideas that are brand spanking new and y'know, genius. Think outside the box and we might well ask you to appear on it.
Don't send your ideas directly to me mind... I'm an idiot with a book to write so I'll only go and lose them somewhere on the way to Genius HQ. Send them direct to Genius HQ instead:
Monday, September 17, 2007
This was followed by a lovely night at Hell's Kitchen on Saturday. The food was good (fab mussel soup/slightly dry fish cake/sherry trifle better than the one my auntie Peg used to make at Christmas) but the secret ingredients that made it a really good night out were:
a) my Dad
The old fella was visiting London for the weekend and staying with yours truly so I thought it would be fun to take him there and even more fun to not tell him where we were going. I was right.
They film it at Three Mills studio. I think three mills is one of London's lovely little hidden gems but you approach it by taking a dark and dingy lane through a dark and dingy industrial estate and you definitely don't feel like you are on the way to any kind of fine dining experience.
How many times are you going to sit down for dinner with your Dad and have a conversation that legitimately includes the phrase, "Crikey, I see Andi Peters has been working out!"?
Not often, I'll wager. And he has, you know. It's like seeing Andi Peter's head attached to someone else's body. Tickled by life. Very, very tickled.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
"Oh yeah... you claim to be working hard... but you obviously have time to party, Mr Gorman."
In the end I decided to go. If it was a trap it was a silly one. If it slows down my writing they'll only have themselves to blame. Besides, it was a huge opportunity for smugness. Cyclists are a smug breed at the best of times but never more so than when there's a tube strike. You can grind to a halt if you like London... but there's nothing you can do to stop the cyclists. We will prevail. Lovely.