Category Archives: Current Events

Out damned spot (bettor) out I say

…apologies to Mr Shakespeare for that one.

So, there I was on Saturday evening enjoying a comprehensive win for the RH Corstorphine first team, hearing of how the thirds had only just scraped the points required to avoid relegation and wishing our OA and his lovely girlfriend a safe journey home to Durban.  Not to mention catching up on what had been an quite incredible day at Lords in the fourth Test, when the rumblings started to emerge on Twitter.

That august organ, the News of The World, had evidence, names and details of a spot betting scam on operation during that very fourth test match.  Whilst there have been mutterings in the past, and fairly recently too of things untoward, indeed the Sydney test between Australia and Pakistan earlier this year had been deemed to whiff a little of Grimsby, never had there been such immediate reportage of an incident of this nature.  It took years for the seeds sown by Hansie Cronje to germinate and take flower.

Cricket is a game I love.  As a friend of mine once said, “life can only be improved by cricket”.  It has a timeless nature, and regardless of how many cold, grey, damp and windswept days I’ve spent playing the game, it always evokes memories of warm sunshine, lush green grass and time passing slowly.  There is no better way to pass a day than sitting watching a match live, be it international, county or East of Scotland league.  Hence my current pastime of sitting in a scorebox, I may have stopped playing, but I still feel the need to be involved.

What angered me most about this ‘event’, is that once again a sport I love is sullied.  I’m a bit of an omnivore when it comes to sport, I don’t believe a person can only be a fan of one sport, and certainly don’t subscribe to the Murdochian view that football is the beginning, middle and end of sport.  I’ve lived and cringed through Ben Johnson, through the Festina affair, Lance Armstrong, “Fraud” Landis and Operation Puerta right up to “bloodgate” and the various troubles that have beset the sport of kings of late.  Each one  a knife to the guts of a sports fan cursed with an interest in “minority sports”, that catch all term used to deride anything that isn’t football and only crosses the radar of non fans when something bad happens.

I’m not naive, I know betting takes place, hell I place a few cricket bets myself via http://www.cricketbetlive.com and, I’m not ashamed to admit, one of my first thoughts was as to whether or not my potential winning bet would be paid out in the light of the events unfolding, it wasn’t on no-balls and it was paid out!  Betting will always happen, it seems to be part of the human psyche that whenever two raindrops run down a pane of glass, someone will bet on which one will reach the bottom first.

All that can be done, is to punish any players involved in draconian fashion, life bans being one option.  In this I mean a life ban, not the Pakistan Cricket Board version of a life ban, which usually extends only as long as the PCB feel the team can go on losing without the banned player….generally a couple of matches.  Heavy fines, and start by confiscating any money paid to them in order to carry out whatever action is being bet on.

At Lords it was only a couple of no-balls, but so amateurishly done that antennae started twitching automatically.  But, this would be only the thin end of the wedge.  Once a player is in someones control, the deeds can be upped, and if the suspicions of throwing the aforementioned Sydney test are correct, that just serves to show how far this can go.  Sadly, the players of the Asian teams appear to be most at risk from these nefarious types, in part because of the financial situation (players in England, India and Australia tend to be well paid at the higher levels and thus somewhat immunised), and in part because Pakistan in particular is an unstable and volatile country where sourcing weapons and men versed in using them is a little easier than elsewhere, thus giving the fraudsters a stick with which to back up the carrot when approaching a player.

I also wonder about the News of The World.  Whenever something like this breaks, it’s always the News of The World doing it.  Sven Goran Ericksson, the Fake Sheikh, Laurence Dallaglio…there’s a long list of exposes they have broken, usually involving large sums of money.  In their zeal to get a story, are they inadvertantly, or even advertantly, creating one?  Sometimes, much as when the boy cried “wolf!”, I’m never sure.

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Filed under Cricket, Current Events

Infamy, Infamy…..

Wow, I’m in print!!  Funny how your heart jumps when your name appears:

Half way down page 2, and then again at the end!

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Filed under Current Events, Sport

Schadenfreude is my weakness

So there I was at the kids school on Saturday.  The Summer Fun Day providing another excuse for Master C to empty my pockets of change.  In walks a former work colleague of mine.  A guy who I knew pretty well when we worked together, he and his then girlfriend acted as witnesses at my wedding, we went to their wedding.  We lost touch after he moved to London to work, but bumped into one another on the train a while back.   He’d moved back up here to bring his kid up in Scotland.  He and his missus had moved into the same town as us, and his kid is at the same school as ours.  So far so good.  Anyway, to Saturday, and another woman walks in behind him.  She is introduced as his girlfriend and the conents of he pram she pushes, as his son.

I’m no prude, despite the fact that he was one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met and probably would’ve been the last person I’d imagine in this situation, he’s there.  What went on in his marriage, I neither know, nor indeed care about.  What it got me thinking about was whether or not I’m a curse.

I’ve been to a fair number of weddings in my time, particlarly in the period since I got married.  The number of those marriages that are sill marriages is significantly lower.  I counted four that are still existant, and two of those are less than two years old.

Now, my marriage is far from perfect.  We have many issues to overome, and not so long ago, it wouldn’t have been too much of a stretch to see us split up.  We certainly don’t stay together for the tax breaks, but neither do I judge those who can’t make it work.  I just wonder, are we strange that we’ve managed to last almost 17 years?  Do we doom our friends to divorce by accepting their wedding invite?

Life eh?  What a tangled web it is….

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You may have noticed the World Cup is about to start.  I’m already getting world cup fatigue.  It’s a peculiarly British thing, and comes from the strange conflict between nation and union.  I use to be very much of the “Anyone But England” camp, but I like to think I’ve matured over the years, and from a strictly sports point of view, I reckon the whole of the UK could benefit from England winning the Cup and more especially the bid for hosting of 2018. 

Where I still fall down is with all the attendant hoopla, hype and general ill informed forgetful punditry.  Quotes like “The entire nation”, profligate use of “we”, the interminable corporate tie ins…..it goes on and on.  These are the reasons we non-English in Britain like to see it all go breasts skyward.  The shocked faces of the punditry teams, the near tearful voices of the commentators and of course all those hopelessly optimistic but now just funny confectionary wrappers.  It’s just reward for confusing England with Britain.

I’m boycotting Mars, Kellogs, Tesco and especially Carlsberg.  The last of these really should have more self respect, I mean, they’re Danish ffs, and Denmark are actually in the tournament!

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I’m conflicted.  Earlier this year I took the decision to stop playing cricket.  The club needs a scorer, i quite enjoy doing it and thought it would be the ideal means to scratch the cricket itch without putting my aging, overweight frame through the rigours of playing and training..

Due to circumstances I’ve not been anywhere near the club yet this season.  But, I’m home now, so that’s about to change.  The problem I have is that given the number of player losses over the winter, the club finds it’s playing resources stretched.  Our first team has lost 4 in a row, the seconds aren’t doing too well and the thirds, the time I was so recently a part of, have lost all 5 they’ve played so far.  Relegation is not an option, and I find it hard to resist the thought of “riding to the rescue”….until the rational brain kicks in.  I haven’t trained, I feel heavier than I did at seasons end last year, and to be brutally honest.  Bowling doesn’t look like the week link on the team.  They’ve held teams to decent totals and bowled sides out.  Run scoring seems to be the issue, and for me, a bat is for leaning on.  No, I should resist, I want to resist, I must resist…it’s the scorers hutch for me.

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Filed under Cricket, Current Events, World Cup

Competition Time!

It’s the World Cup, and that means prediction time, in the interests of fundraising for RHC Lions cricket club.  Roll up, roll up, all welcome.

Join the prediction madness at:

Website:   http://www.sportguru.co.uk/worldcup
Pool code: gustmuse
Pool name: RHC Lions WC Predictions

It’s £5 to enter, simply drop me an email to confirm the details of how to pay.
Half of the entry fee goes to club funds, the rest into the prize pool.  Normally pay out is split such that 60% goes to the winner, 30% for the runner up and 10% to third.  This is however dependent on the total prize pool value.  If we have fewer than 12 entries it’ll be a winner take all prize.  13 to 19 entries will see us pay out to first and second on a 70/30 split.
Get predicting, get winning.  Sportguru is free to register and use.  I took part in a World Twenty20 pool on there and it’s straight forward to use.  Best of all, no spam from them since signing up.
Or the alternative version is available here (hopefully)….Fifa2010
email me on chappersp@gmail.com for a copy of the original excel sheet.

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Filed under Cricket, Current Events, Sport, World Cup

Paging Charlie Foxtrot

From time to time my employer deems it in their best interests for me to disappear to the other end of the country for variable periods on the whim of which ever paymaster is meeting the bill. Basically, I work for a pimp. I’m loaned out for a fee, only some of which I get back as a reward for my services. Such was the case two weeks ago when my slumbers on the bench were disturbed by the strident tone of the phone. “We need you to go to Manchester, for 3 months”. Now, 3 months is the standard unit of time deployed by our sales team when coming up with an assignment. This is an elastic unit which much like the band, will only stretch. Confirmation was gained on the Thursday, that I would be required to start the following Tuesday. Ok, not ideal but still sufficient time for our travel department to get ripped off, sorry to book the requisite travel and accommodation. The only occasions upon which T and A is supplied for me. Cut to Monday, and at 1:30 in the afternoon, whilst I’m “working from home” (err, walking the dogs), I receive a message that tells me I’m required in Basingstoke instead. Cue much annoyance, followed by frantic messaging of travel to get my arrangements changed in line with the email I’d received. Tuesday comes and I begin the trek to Basingstoke at 5am, finally arriving at my destination office around 12:30. I then sit in reception for 45 minutes as no one can locate the client contact. Not the most auspicious of starts. It’s also about now that things start to unravel, as it’s discovered that I’m expected to schlep up to Manchester on the Thursday, then down to Birmingham on the Friday. Thankfully, sanity prevails and my employers refuse to redo the arrangements again. I’m deliberately not naming names here as it’s not good for anyone concerned and it gets worse. Having organised next weeks festivities to be split between Basingstoke and Manchester, it’s now up in the air where the client want me and when. All that’s certain is Basingstoke for Monday and Tuesday…..truly, I despair……

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Today I turn precisely 39 and ¼. Now, I’ve never really been bothered about age, particularly as in my head I’m about 25. However, 40 seems like such a particular age to be passing. I feel like I’m supposed to grow up, be a responsible citizen. Many people who know me may be surprised to learn I’m so youthful, given my appearance resembles that of my father so readily. That’s the one thing that does get on my chebs. The youthful person inside my head is starting to rebel. Is this “mid life crisis?” If so, I don’t want it. I’ve already faced up and decided to stop playing cricket. My performance as a bowler hasn’t really diminished, but it feels like it takes longer to recover and I just don’t have the time to dedicate to training now that I need just to remain competitive. Not that my inner virulent stud agrees. Shit!

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It’s funny how the mind works. There I was killing time in Birmingham Airport. Two hours between the end of the meeting and my train home. Yes, despite the addling of age I realise I’ve mentioned waiting for a train at an airport. If you know Birmingham, you’ll understand. I’m having a late lunch in Frankie and Benny’s, (who said business travel wasn’t glamorous?), finishing things off with a fairly rank cappuccino. The mind drifts back the thick end of 20 years to the north-eastern Italy, and the village of Aviano. Sitting in a little coffee shop, enjoying a much better cappuccino with a dear friend. I swear I could smell her perfume, hear her voice and see the way her lips pouted as she licked the foam from her spoon. Not sure where I’m going with this now. Our relationship was purely platonic. Josie was more like the sister I never had than a potential girlfriend. We’d met when I did an exchange visit to Italy with my college. The girl who’s family I stayed with had me tag along to her school one Saturday morning. Seemed like good idea. I had nothing else to do, not enough Italian to make conversation with the rest of her family and her class was exclusively female, which to an 18-year-old was the jackpot. (As an observation, Italian females are almost uniformly easy on the eye until they reach 40. At which point they split into two camps:

Sophia Loren, or

Mamma………and it seems to happen overnight.)

I was sat near the front of the class, which was studying tourism, as all the girls wanted jobs in that area. And, not having met may of the girls before was just listening to the babble of Italian and wondering what the hell was going on. It was at this point, that a voice spoke up, and when she got to a word for which there was no Italian equivalent, her American accent was obvious. Josie was the product of a marriage between an Italian mother and US serviceman father. America has a large air base and marine presence in Aviano, it is, or at least was pretty much the raison d’etre for the town. We hit it off almost immediately, for her I think there was the fascination of the fact I was from out-of-town, was familiar with American culture and treated her as a person. For me, there was the fact that we could communicate without the barrier of translation, and needing to simplify speech. I’m also not afraid to admit I found her attractive, but, as time went by, and by this I mean, we took up a correspondence by letter for this was the time before email and the internet. So it wasn’t stalking! As the time went by, I think my feelings for her went beyond lust, and to the familial as noted above. I visited with her a couple of times during summer holidays before she eventually left for college in Florida, and we continued to stay in touch before a foul up with an early sojourn into email meant we lost touch. Until recently that is. Through the wonder of social networking our paths crossed again. On LinkedIn of all places, Facebook for professionals. Hah, as if I’m one of those! Anyway, we’re both married, both have two kids, of around the same ages. I’d love to meet up again, and chew the fat, have a couple of beers for ‘auld lang syne’ and just catch up…maybe…….

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Dear Virgin Trains, Please get with the program.  Why is it necessary for you to charge those of us in cattle class to access the on-board wifi?  East Coast Trains don’t see the need.  And while we’re at it, what’s with the airline style announcing.  I mean, it’s a reasonable assumption for the head trolley dolly on a flight to make that all of the passengers have been onboard for the entire flight, but, on a train?  Really?  It’s stupid, it’s patronising and it’s unrealistic.  Other than that, your service is perfectly adequate.

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Filed under Current Events, Travel, Whinging

Hurrreeeee, Haaaaaarddddd

So, this is what my life has become. Suddenly, I’m obsessed with curling. Surely it’s no coincidence the throw rocks, this is as addictive as crack. Then again, we’re getting away from frumpy houswives these days.

Even the British team has a couple of cuties on it these days.

I now know more about ‘the hammer’, ‘hacks’ and ‘hog lines’ than I ever thought possible. I thought it was just about sliding stones down the ice to the target. Turns out, there’s a chance of both the mens and womens team ‘medalling’ for GB.

Even the Twitterati are following their fortunes.

——-

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Sport, Huh. What is it good for?

I did have my usual misery guts ranting type of entry ready to go on Friday, then Nodar Kumaritashvili happened. Here’s a young guy, doing something he loved, about to have the biggest day of his life. Something he’s prepared for, dreamed of and thought about for years. He wasn’t necessarily going to win a medal, or even threaten to, but, just to be there on the start line.

We all know what happened next.

Further bad news on Saturday as Scotland wing Thom Evans is carried off the Millenium Stadium pitch, taken to hospital and operated on after suffering a neck injury. Thankfully the news is reasonable this morning with reports that he is moving his arms and legs. One of my classmates suffered a neck injury playing under 18 rugby when we were at school. He’s been in a wheelchair ever since.

Why do we take these risks? Because we can? Speaking personally, I love the camaraderie of the of the team atmosphere, being able to take part in something I can do.

On the field, the Scotland Wales match was the most surreal finish to a game I can remember. With Scotland comfortable for the majority of the game only to concede 10 points in the final 30 seconds.

I was at the Stadio delle Almondvale for the Livingston v Annan Athletic clash. Fantastic match it was to. Annan had two chances in the first half, scoring with both, only being in the game thanks to a number of good saves from their keeper.

Not sure what Gary Bollan said to his team at half time, and it certainly wouldn’t be printable, but with a change to 3-5-2 they came out a different side and proceeded to batter the Annan side into submission. Young Andy Halliday was particularly fired up, and goals from De Vita, Winters and Halliday saw the result turned around. Sadly the side dropped back into 4-4-2 and invited Annan to get a bit more play in the late stages. Assisited by the referee who played a huge amount of injury time, most of it to make up for time Annan had wasted whilst in the lead! But Livi held out for a thrilling win.

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Filed under Current Events, Rugby, Six Nations, Sport