Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Magnificent Seven

Me has always lamented the utter lack of sophistication & fun amongst Malaysia's backward car-buying public. As South East Asia's largest car market, Malaysians (save fer small minority) are decidedly mundane when it comes to their choice of wheels.

The obsession fer mini-tanks &/or Japanese saloons with zero character has meant we are deprived of choice. Many marques & models never make their way here (eg Ford Ka).

Only the other day, me was showing the wifey a copy of Octane magazine & the report on the latest incarnation of the Caterham Seven, saying how nice it'd be if we had a choice of buying something like that.

And today, me wipes me blinkers in disbelief as news filters through that Dato' Tony Fernandes has bought 100% stake in the lil' sports car manufacturer.

YES!!!! And double fooking YES!!!

There is now a chance that the magnificent sevens will find their way onto our shores & may even be within reach of an average salaryman. These are truly incredible machinery which have largely remained unchanged since Colin Chapman designed them as the Lotus 7 half a century ago!

"Lightness = Speed" was Chapman's mantra & we may just be able to sample one of the fastest track & road cars ever made fer ourselves.

To start drooling, click here:

ps: Please excuse the rather obvious header . . . But blimey, me is as excited as 7-year old on a trip to the fooking toy store. To Dato' Tony, me says "Caya La, Macha!"

Keyboard bashing of the highest order

Found this piece in the Guardian commemorating When Saturday Comes' recent 25th anniversary. Wish me could write like this.

But more importantly, it celebrates a true fanzine which has remained unchanged in the face of football's continuing evolution. Sticking righteously to the principles of this being the people's game & all articles should thus be written by dyed-in-the-wool supporters who live & breathe the sport.

You will find the link to WSC on the sidebar (under footie news) of this blog.

Long live WSC!

When Saturday Comes – eyes and ears of football, and voice of the fans
WSC provided a voice for an outlaw sport back in 1986 but its relevance is as great as ever

When Saturday Comes has been in existence for 25 years and has become a bastion in a sea of greed and inanity. Photograph: WSC
We really are spoilt these days. Football: it's everywhere. And not just in its shoutiest, most broad-brush incarnation. Intelligent comment, learned discourse, frenziedly pedantic obsession: they're all not just available but forcibly thrust into the gaping cavity of our collective footballing gullet. The progress of football into, through and beyond the mainstream is still a striking thing. Perhaps it is this endlessly barfing nature of the sport's media – under- and overground, paper and screen – that makes us take these riches slightly for granted.

Last month, When Saturday Comes celebrated its 25th anniversary as the UK's leading – and now only – independent national football magazine. This milestone passed without a great deal of comment beyond the immediate environs of its readership and the industry itself. The magazine is commemorating the achievement with a series of special issues over the summer. Most commercial anniversaries are largely meaningless – and rightly ignored – but with WSC there is a sense that this really is a moment worth reflecting on, at least in my own partial opinion as a long-standing on-off contributor.

Over its quarter of a century WSC has spanned, chronicled, and even perhaps spurred along the entire period of football's recent fast-forward evolution. Like a slightly mildewed Victorian keystone buried within the sparkling bowels of a craning new-build mega-city, it has remained essentially unchanged as football has mushroomed around it.

To get a sense of WSC's significance it is necessary to tinkle the wind chimes, smear your screen with Vaseline and time-tunnel back to 1986. Strange as it might seem, in WSC-year-zero football was still considered a kind of outlaw pursuit. Not a charismatic outlaw pursuit either, but instead a kind of dunder-headed yobs' circus, to be laughed at and not with – albeit only at those moments when it wasn't bull-necking its way around your town centre throwing darts at pensioners and conscientiously rioting in Wimpy.

There was no real mainstream football presence: in the broader media the game was usually portrayed as a kind of urban affliction, like planning blight or unlicensed mini-cabs. Nobody expected the players to be role models or the face of a new range of edgy urban menswear, perhaps because they all looked like angry junior butchers. Football had been, by turns, assailed and ignored. It lurked touchily in semi-leftfield.

It was against this largely unanimous sense of righteous and hierarchically sanctioned alienation that WSC first emerged. It was a DIY-ish production, an echo along with its many fanzine contemporaries of the moment 10 years earlier when punk musicians had decreed that lack of a recording contract, an instrument – and indeed talent – need no longer be an obstacle to getting yourself heard.

Founded by the journalist Mike Ticher, occasionally of these pages, WSC was initially an offshoot of the music fanzine Snipe, which was published from a small press in a semi-derelict shed in Upper Clapton Road, east London. Issue one of WSC was a giveaway with issue two of Snipe, a piggybacking that soon gave way to outright historical ascendancy as Ticher's spiky, likeable, unashamedly cerebral football magazine struck a chord with an unexpectedly voracious audience.

By 1988, WSC had shed its hand-stapled adolescence and blossomed into a national monthly magazine covering both the domestic leagues and international football, its popularity spurred in part by coverage of the African Cup of Nations through the 1990s. While louder, more expensively backed, more cravenly ambitious football magazines bubbled up and disappeared with predictable regularity in the coming decade of mainstream footballing land-grab (what we might call the Lovejoy Years), WSC has continued along its way.

Its longevity is perhaps grounded in the unwavering refusal of its editorial staff to bend with fashion, agree to go on TV, pop up as a talking head in a year-end countdown clip-show, cash in with a series of annoying and hastily scrawled books, or basically extend far beyond their own pages. The magazine has still only been edited by two people: Ticher, who now lives in Australia, and the current editor Andy Lyons, also an early contributor.

WSC has changed very little. It remains infused with that founding fanzine spirit, its default setting as ever a football supporter's eye view. It is quietly and constitutionally political: the running man emblem on the cover since issue one (tagline: "The People") no empty boast from a magazine that has backed supporter campaigning from the early days of the Thatcher government's reflex demonising of the football supporter to campaigns for justice for victims of the Hillsborough disaster, to providing a dissenting voice in the last decade and half of galloping financial chicanery.

Where WSC has been most prominent is in its ambient influence. Before its rise to prominence the wider media – outside of the thriving club fanzine network – simply didn't write about sport the way it does now. The fanzine culture that WSC popularised was a template for the new vocabulary of puckish humour, critical scrutiny of football's hierarchies and the promiscuous eliding of football with other parts of the popular culture.

Beyond newspapers this voice has evolved further, finding expression in the massed cyber-rhubarb of the eclectic, unstoppable – by turns arch, rabid, ill-informed and chasteningly refined – new frontier of the footballing blogosphere. WSC first brought this into the mainstream, and it did other things first, too: the football-humour bits, occasionally spot-on, occasionally excruciating; and the publication of more literary or tangentially related writers – John Peel, Mark E Smith and the pre-fame Nick Hornby have all contributed.

There have been tricky times along the way, with periodic near-foldings plus issues of tone and outlook too. Football has transformed itself completely over the past 25 years. The founding oppositions of WSC's genesis – football versus the enemy – have melted into gurglingly inclusive triumphalism. It is now the non-football fan who is marginalised. Even the title When Saturday Comes looks terminally outmoded, redolent with unintentional nostalgia. When Tuesday Night Comes might be more appropriate; or When Saturday Comes: Only 24 hours Til Super Sunday. At times during the last decade the magazine has even risked becoming a little crabby and defensive.

No doubt this is the price of remaining eternally vigilant against bogus and transient. It is also one of the reason WSC should be treasured. English football needs all the cussedly unbending sense of conscience and duty it can get these days.

It is, though, still perhaps easier to praise WSC by saying what it isn't. This is the only place where you will find no sponsor-driven interviews with a captive star (in fact one promised one-to-one with a top Premier League player was abandoned when the player concerned answered a succession of probing questions with "I'm just here to talk about Puma boots"); no celebrity-driven features, of the James-Corden's-Top-10-favourite-player-mucus-expectorating-incidents; no forced gaiety or feigned interest in the passing clouds of the day; and best of all, no barriers.

Twenty-five years on, WSC is still an open forum, open to contributions from all and still ploughing its entirely unbeholden furrow. If it is still with us in another 25 years we can be sure at least that there are one or two bits of football yet to be annexed by the forces of greed and inanity.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Never too old !!!

Though wifey & meself have seen this noisy lot twice, me is still fooking chuffed to bits that that they are coming to our shores again. Have once again tried contacting two of me former gig-going buddies from varsity days to join us.

One is too wrapped up in his business while the other seems to have become the very definition of middle age fuddy-duddiness.

Fer fook's sake, dudes, how bad can things have degenerated to if ye cannae spare an hour or two fer dinner & a ear-splitting gig to relive wasted youth?

Success & a comfortable family life means being able to do some silly things like going to see Napalm Death Live on June 18!!!

Otherwise, wot's the point?

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Moment's Silence

Another Spring & perhaps memories are not as fresh.

But the pain lingers on.

Will not try to pretend me understand wot it was like to lose someone @ Hillsborough.

All we can do spare a moment's though & a silent prayer fer those who went too soon & fer their families & loved ones.

To watch the Memorial Service, click here:

JFT96 . . . YNWA!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Flares, Hairs & Football!

This has been making the rounds again on Astro & me would definitely recommend it to all footie fans.

The Damned United tells the tale of Brian Clough's ill-fated appointment as manager of Leeds United. Fourty four fooking days is all he lasted.

This has got to be one, if not the best, films on the beautiful game. A damn fine performance from Michael Sheen as Ole Big 'Ead & Timothy Spall as his partner in crime, Peter Taylor.

The scenes of muddy pitches & flamboyant sideburns really did bring back some fond memories of watching footie from a bygone era.

The actual footage of Liverpool's King Kev clash with Leed's Norman Hunter in the 1974 Charity Shield on its own is worth the entry fee.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Built fer F1, broken by . . .

Tarox is a company founded by Gianni Taroni in 1976 & specialises in making high performance braking systems. Its reputation was greatly enchanced when it powered Williams to F1 victory in the 1982 season.

D'Yella Beast came fitted with a set of these magnificent brakes & the previous owner assures me they are in very good nick.

So how is it possible fer me demure wifey to wear out a set of these THICK, BIG ASS pads in less than a year??!!??