Sunday, 29 May 2011

The Blizzard

An exciting new quarterly has hit the world. It's called The Blizzard and essentially jam-packed with top football writers and me.

I have an article in issue number one about the African Nations Championships - known as the CHAN. It was held in Sudan back in February and I went to cover it for the radio station.

Just before I went I bumped into top football writer Jonathan Wilson during one of his visits to the Guardian. And since I owed him at least one drink for his help during the world cup last summer in South Africa, off we trudged to the bar downstairs at the Guardian complex.

During our natter he mentioned the concept and asked if I'd do something. What else could I say but yes.

Glad I did because it got me to consider the tournament in a different way and also look at my surroundings. Can't say that I'd recommend Khartoum as a must-see place. But then I wouldn't say avoid it like the plague.

The Blizzard, on the other hand, receives unequivocal backing.

But I would say that, wouldn't I?

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Wellcome Time

Obviously a trend is developing here. I arrive in London and go to the Wellcome Centre. It's not for the exhibitions nor the tales of medical mysteries but the cafe.

Though I am going off the coffee. I think the cup is too big. My cup runneth over?

Is life becoming so run of the mill that I'm getting picky about the cups?

But one does have to be judicious. A few weeks ago the powers that be at St Pancras erected the five rings of the Olympic movement. It's part of gearing up for the games next year.

The rings are rather splendid and dominate the moment of arrival. I find myself today thinking about back home.

The French Open started on Sunday and my mind is back at Roland Garros and the hard hitting thrills of clay court tennis.

I went to the press day at the tournament on Friday and listened into the likes of Andy Murray, Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova and Novak Djokovic.

Djokovic is the head honcho of the moment not having lost a match this year. Seven tournaments under his belt, two of them on clay and he beat Rafael Nadal in Madrid and Rome.

This is seismic. It means that for the first time in many years, the French Open isn't about waiting for the final between Federer and Nadal. Or actually the Nadal victory because he always beat Federer in Paris.

Poor Rog. In his press conference he was being quizzed like an also ran. The one time boss of the circuit was reduced to admitting he was not among the favourites and hailing another man's unbeaten start to the season.

The mighty is falling but there's about 40 million dollars sloshing around his accounts to help him and his family cushion the fall.

Nadal and Djokovic will be out showing their wares on Monday and Tuesday. When I get back to Paris I'll do my best to go and give moraml support to underdog Rog.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Eye Life

My conscience has been exercised. My right eye was crunched by the ball during the Saturday morning kickabout. It has been watering ever since. Should I take time away from work to rest it?

It seemed a strange question to pose as I sat on the Eurostar. Given that I could see through the streams of water, it didn't seem serious enough to lay down tools. And I wasn't exactly sick.

Of all the injuries I have known playing football, this is the strangest. I was shocked by the bruised ribs at the start of the season but a gammy eye playing football? I am not that committed. Moreso since it wasn't a foot in the face going for a header. Just a deflection into the face.

Oh well. Probably a trip to the doctor when I get back to Paris on Tuesday or Wednesday.

It's impeding my mission to finish reading Simon Kuper's latest book called the Football Men. I plan to interview the author and do a review for the radio station website next week. WE were supposed to pow wow last Friday but then the Financial Times called him and said they wanted words on the FIFA boys and those allegedly wanting cash or favours to vote for England.

Am up to page 284 and there have been some fascinating insights into how the modern footballer conducts himself.

Of all their woes - tabloid stings, derisory pay rises and being benched - there are no tips on what to do when you get a ball in the face.

Perhaps they're such men, it never happens to them.