Saturday, 25 February 2012

Mock Draft Version 1.0

Over a Dominos pizza (not stuffed crust, despite our order, nor did we get our wedges.  You'll keep Dominos), my good friend Paul Mainwaring (@mainzey7) and I chewed the fat (and the pizza) over who would be the first 32 college players selected in the NFL draft at the end of April.  This is our conclusions.  I'd like to say that there were arguments, food thrown and hands to throat.  But there wasn't.  Mainzey and I seemed to be in complete agreement on most of the picks.  The only I would disagree with, but asked to be accepted in order not to bore people, was the Eagles pick at number 15.  Im not saying that the player we have put down is a bad player.  Not at all.  He'd be PERFECT.  Thats why the Eagles won't draft him.

So here it is.

NFL Draft
1 Indianopolis Andrew Luck QB Stanford
2 St Louis Matt Kalill LT USC
3 Minnesota Justin Blackmon WR Ok State
4 Cleveland Robert Griffin III QB Baylor
5 Tampa Bay Morris  Claiborne CB LSU
6 Washington Riley Reiff  OT Iowa
7 Jacksonville Quinton Coples  DE UNC
8 Miami Johnathan Martin LT Stanford
9 Carolina Michael Brockerss DT LSU
10 Buffalo Courtney Upshaw DE Alabama
11 Kansas City Trent Richardson RB Alabama
12 Seattle Devon Still DT Penn St
13 Arizona David DeCastro OG Stanford
14 Dallas Dre Kirkpatrick CB Alabama
15 Philly Luke Kuechly ILB Boston College
16 NYJ Mark Barron S Alabama
17 Cincinnati Janoris Jenkins CB North Alabama
18 San Diego Nick Perry DE USC
19 Chicago Michael Floyd WR Notre Dame
20 Tennesse Melvin Ingram DE South Carolina
21 Cincinnati Peter Konz C Wisconsin
22 Cleveland Kendall Wright WR Baylor
23 Detroit Lions Mike Adams OT Ohio State
24 Pittsburgh Cordy Glenn G Georgia
25 Denver Jerel Worthy DT Michigan St
26 Houston Alshawn Jeffery WR South Carolina
27 New England Alfonzo Dennard CB Nebraska
28 Green Bay Zack Brown OLB UNC
29 Baltimore Dont'a Hightower ILB Alabama
30 San Francisco Gilmore CB South Carolina
31 New England Mohamed Sanu WR Rutgers
32 NYG Vontaze Burfict  ILB Arizona State

This draft does not take into account possible trades, nor any Free Agency swoops.  I daresay Mainzey and I will get together again AFTER Free Agency.  What our your thoughts? Agree, disagree, not a clue what we're banging on about? Let us know!

Thursday, 23 February 2012

A look back...

I joined Maghull Cricket Club in 2002.  As I write this, I can’t actually believe that it has been ten years.  I’ve had some wonderful times at the club, and fewer bad times.  I’ve played in the same sides as some of the best players Maghull has ever known, and I’m sure those legends of Hall Lane are just as thrilled to have played alongside me.  I’ve had the honour and pleasure to captain two teams, while serving as vice captain under three different captains.  During the period, I’ve had numerous off field roles, as well as managing the (as I write this) last U18 side Maghull had.
In this edition of my blog, I would like to share with any who read it my ten favourite matches from those ten years.  So, in no particular order (until we reach number one), here we go.

NLW (a) 3rds, Embee Trophy, W
Why Memorable? – Last cup match I won.  Also the best fielding display of my life.
HIGHLIGHT – Lloydy’s massive six onto the bowling green.  What a hit…

Northop Hall (a) 4ths, W
Why Memorable? – First time I won a match away from Parkhaven.  Also the 4ths were bowled out for 19 a mere month earlier against the same opponents.  Revenge is sweet…
HIGHLIGHT – Chally smoking two big sixes to win it for us.

Wavertree (a) 3rds, W
Why Memorable? – The 3rds clinched the 3rd XI First Division Championship this day.  Grand team effort all season, culminating in a great victory.
HIGHLIGHT – John Comer battering his way to 56, whilst wearing sunglasses.

Lytham (h) 5ths, W
Why Memorable? – A great and dramatic victory for the 5ths, off the second last ball.
HIGHLIGHT – The performance of Mike Bell, 58 and 5-38.  Still the best all round performance in 5ths history.

St Helens (a) 5ths, L
Why Memorable? – We’d been bowled out for 75, but we came so close to pinching a victory.  St Helens finished 76-9.
HIGHLIGHT – Chall taking a wicket with the first ball of the innings.  Great in swinging Yorker.

Prestatyn (h) 5ths, W
Why Memorable? – Capped a great weekend.  Friday at York Races, Sunday a tense game for the 4ths at 
Sefton Park, then this game coupled with England regaining the Ashes.
HIGHLIGHT – We won by 54 runs.  My contribution was 54, including my first six for the 5ths.

Northop Hall (a) 3rds, W
Why Memorable? – The 3rds completed the Great Escape, avoiding relegation on the last last day.
HIGHLIGHT – The match winning partnership of 191 between Mikey Cummins and Craig Parkinson.

Ainsdale (h) 5ths, W
Why Memorable? – The 5ths first ever win.  My first as captain.
HIGHLIGHT – The epic 18 over stint by Jack Snowdon.  The first time he ever opened the bowling for the 5ths, he got 4-30.

St Helens Recs (h) 5ths, W
Why Memorable? – We defended 160 on a dusty track, against a team that were at that time heading for promotion.
HIGHLIGHT – Liam Symes took five wickets, and Parky finished unbeaten on 94* after I declared on him.

Colwyn Bay (a) 5ths, W
Why Memorable? – Colwyn Bay 3rd XI hadn’t lost a home match for absolutely ages.  We rolled them for 119 on the best batting track in the County Game.  We recovered from 38-6 thanks to Liam Gibbons (49*) and Billy Symes (20).
HIGHLIGHT – Les Newbolds winning leg bye, Gibbos victory lap in his Winnie the Pooh boxers.  Simply the greatest game of cricket I will ever play in.


I'd like to introduce you to another good friend of mine, and a former work colleague, Mr Christopher Hughes.  I asked him to tell me some truths about the world we live in, especially the local world.  After careful thought, he came up with several reasons.  I have decided to break his offerings down, so here is the first part!

"I am an extremely angry and grumpy person. I have no patience and hate most people apart from my immediate family. Most things annoy me. I will write about them as and when I see fit. A weekly rant is quite possible in my life. This is my first one. Grammar might be shite but so what, I am writing as it comes out of my head.

Post Office Queues.

Lets get one thing straight. The demise of the Post Office is not a bad thing. I hate them. They are a completely pointless meeting point for geriatric, senile, stamp licking moth ball smelling old people. Don’t get me wrong, I respect old people. They have lived through the second world war, rationing and they never get divorced. Respect.

However. When you are in the Post Office; do what you need to do and then get out. Immediately. Every time I go in a PO, there are usually 6 or 7 old people in front of me. Joy as the “cashier number 2 please” rings out. Dismay at the fact that Mavis is now telling the 1 GCSE’d halfwit behind the counter her entire life story. Stop it. One such person made me queue for over 10 minutes as she bought a stamp. One single stamp. Then spent another 5 minutes counting out a bag of two pence pieces from a plastic money bag to pay for a stamp. She should have been shot for that. Then there are the morons asking about car tax. Should I get six or twelve months they ask. Why are you asking a thick cashier that? What do they know? My blood pressure goes up every time I step into the dreaded places. There is the case of pointless questions, scenario:

Cashier: “you need your insurance certificate”
Idiot “do I, are you sure” ?

This is repeated for about 10 minutes.


Avoid the places. They are harmful to your health.

Traffic Lights.

I’ll keep this short and sweet. The government bend us over every time we visit a petrol pump. Millions are spent on engine research, striving for the most economical design. Toyota Prius, electric cars etc.


Carpet Fitters.

We have had carpet fitted this week. All is well so far. Until the robbing bastards tell me that to ‘pull up’ the old stuff will cost me £50 extra. Yes, £50 to lift up some carpet. That will be in addition to the £200 + I am paying you.

Can you explain what the £50 breaks down into ? Considering the gruff voiced Neanderthal that ‘fitted’ the carpet can’t even count, I’m not sure it goes on his wages.

I asked some today to take away the old stuff that I had pulled up myself.

“Can’t mate, industrial waste”

You lying lazy bastard. I’ve just paid you £120 to fit a rug sized piece of carpet and you are refusing to bin the old rug for me?


Old Drivers.

We all hate them. Speeding is bad. So is doing 27mph in a 60.

Why is it that every time I’m in a hurry, a Yaris driving corpse pulls out in front of me? Gripping the wheel in sheer terror (at doing over 20mph), they have absolutely no sense of speed, distance or judgement. It is a crime that such people even possess a licence. Why have mirrors when you can just stare vacantly through the gap in the steering wheel and not have a flying fucking clue about any other road users? More often than not, these drivers display an “AA” or “RAC” badge on their grille. A sure sign that the driver smells of mothballs and wee.

I hate them.

They always pull out on me. Roundabouts are a near death experience if a Yaris driving corpse is oncoming. Forget your indicators. They don’t even look at them and probably can’t even see them. They just pull out. Then, you beep your horn having slammed on to avoid a collision and they don’t even turn their heads! They just grip the steering wheel tighter and continue, oblivious to everything in the entire world.

I know one day I will be killed by an old person driving a motor car. I’ll be on my bike and the last thing I’ll see is an “RAC” badge heading toward me at 26mph."

(Chris can be followed on Twitter under the name @chris_h_1982).

That's all for this week, but on Saturday I will be presenting a special Mock Draft produced by myself and my good friend Paul Mainwaring.  For the first and best (ahem...) idea of who the first 32 college players to be taken in April will be, give us a read!

Friday, 17 February 2012

One Battle in A Long War

Mervyn Westfield.  Its a name many people have probably never heard before.  Its a name most who know and love cricket wish they'd never heard before.

Today, Friday February 17th 2012, Westfield became the first English cricketer to be jailed for corruptly accepting cash to under perform during a match in England.  He was sentenced to serve four months at Her Majesty's pleasure (and not just her pleasure).  Hats off to those on the front line in crickets war against match fixing, this is a notable victory.  But there are some (including the author) who worry that not enough has been done to send a message to others who would contemplate accepting the brown envelope.

Westfield will probably serve two months of his sentence, so straight away that punishment has been watered down.  The ECB will decide on how much of a cricket punishment he should receive.  I would hope the common sense of the professional circuit would mean that he never gets a chance to play the king of games again.  How could you trust him? Every bad ball he bowled, every slip in the field, every bad shot played, questions would be asked.  I know this, because I'd ask them.  Once a cheat, always a cheat.

A worrying factor is the seemingly lax attitude Essex CCC took to the behaviour of Westfield, and also of his "handler", former Pakistan leg spinner Danish Kaniera.  According to the Telegraph, Essex coach Paul Grayson "admitted he had heard Kaneria ask players if they wanted to meet bookies".  OK, first alarm.  Former Essex skipper Mark Pettini also claimed that this attitude was not taken seriously, and when challenged Kaneria claimed it was a joke.  Are you kidding me? Surely Essex, a fine old county boasting many former (and probably future) England captains, had a responsibility to push Kaneria further and, if possible, report the matter just to be sure?

The simplistic view of match fixing (or spot betting, as it seems to be more popularly known, due to the seeming difficulty in securing the overall result in a match involving 22 players and at least two officials) is that it is the influx of T20 matches, which are shorter sharper and more likely to hinge on one bad over, that has seen the re imagining of corruption in cricket.  This may be true, given the huge popularity of the format in the subcontinent (the hotbed of crickets Mr Fixes) and the large amount of this type of matches being played.  However, it should be noted that the most notable "fixed" matches were a Test match at Lords (the home of cricket, for shame) and a 40 over one day match between Essex and Durham.  Those who love the game, and particularly those with power within it, must remain vigilant at all levels.

About ten years ago, Richie Benaud, in an interview with a tabloid newspaper, spoke of his disgust that some people are now earning more money playing to lose one match than he ever earned in a whole career of playing to win.  Can cricket ever be free of the dark disease of corruption? Doubtful, but if this war is ever to be won, we will need stronger weapons than four month prison sentences and fixed term bans to win it.

Friday, 10 February 2012

No no, listen..

Welcome back once again good folks.  Another full week in the shoes of Neil, but a tiring one.  However I have committed to writing this blog, and I can't possibly let my reader down...

Beginning us this week is a look at the different bowling talent pools enjoyed by England and Australia, written by former Maghull CC strike bowler Paul Bower, now an authority on Strength and Conditioning.  Very informative.  Bowser can be found on Twitter @pbower10.  Here it is.

The new generation of Aussie quicks and why they won't emulate Pidge and Dizzy.

Modern day fast bowling takes it toll on the body. Test matches, ODI's and of course, T20 cricket. About 10 times over, per format, per series, per year... You get the drift. So what makes a modern day text bowler successful? Pace? Accuracy? Aggression? Skill? A mixture of the aforementioned traits? For me one of the most important factors is longevity (or maintenance). Let me explain my opinion. James Anderson been near the top of the Test charts for the last 2 years. Cruicially he has some pace, accuracy, aggression and loads of skill. However, something which is often ignored - he plays in every game England play. The rotation policy brought in by the English cricket squad (quite brilliant from the ECB) allows players like JA to be rested in ODI's/T20's while younger players can be blooded, keeping him fresh for the main event: Test cricket. This vital cog in the English jugganaught counts for Broad, Bresnan and any other bowler that is named in the Test side. It is something other nations do not have at their disposal - the ability to rotate and look after the fast bowler: the match winner.

So that leads nicely into the main topic of this blog (my first ever article of any nature). Do the current Australian team have the bowlers at their disposal to cope with the rigours of modern day international cricket? My opinion is no, and that's why the talented and raw Patrick Cummins and James Pattinson will struggle to emulate their predecessors. GD McGrath, Dizzy Gillespie, Andy Bichel, Michael Kasprowicz, Brett Lee, Stuart Clark etc etc etc. These men tormented Michael Atherton and those that followed for year upon year, and this is without even mentioning the greatest bowler ever in Shane Keith Warne. The Aussies could rotate, rest and rejuvenate their ace cards in the shorter formats of the game should their workload have been great in the prevailing Test series. It was a recipe for success, and one which was noted by England, taken on board by the ECB, and is now flourishing. Pattinson and Cummins are playing catch up. They are Australia's "future". They "have to play". So they play. Again. Again. And again. Young men who do not know their bodies, who are not fully developed and may have slight asymmetries in their bodies and action. This leads to one thing, injury. As long as the Australian's have a small quota of fast bowlers to choose from, their injury problems will continue as the public pressurise the selections of these young guns without the knowledge that too much, too soon will disrupt or end their careers prematurely. Remember Shaun Tait? Looks like it's down to Peter Siddle and Mitchell Johnson then (oh dear)! 

To summarise and exemplify my points, here is the current "squad" of fast bowlers at England's disposal (Test side, Lions and Development Squads) compared to Australia's.

England: James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan, Chris Tremlett, Steven Finn, Graham Onions, Stuart Meaker, Ajmal Shahzad, Chris Woakes, Jade Dernbach, Liam Plunkett, Boyd Rankin, Tymal Mills, Nathan Buck, Jack Brooks and Maurice Chambers.

Australia: Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Patrick Cummins, Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris, Trent Copeland, Ben Hilfenhaus, Mitchell Starc and Nic Maddinson.

I may be completely wrong. However, as Pattinson and Cummins both recover from stress fractures I'd suggest not.

Marvellous stuff, I'm sure you'll agree.


Englands first series after gaining top spot in the ICC Rankings has ended in glorious defeat.  Glorious.  Some wonderfully inept batting took the shine of a series in which the five bowlers who played throughout the series for England excelled, ensuring that Pakistan only once posted a very impressive total (that said, 12 would have been a competitive total most times....).  Ian Bell is now once again being lambasted and offered up as the goat for an angry fandom and media to feast upon.  However, Belly is not alone.  The only specialist batsman who can hold his head up with a degree of something like pride is THE BEST keeper batsman in the world, Matt Prior.  How did he get there? He went after the bowler.  He didn't allow the "spin" of Ajmal to tie him down.  EVERYONE ELSE DID.  (Incidentally, this will not be the last we hear of the Ajmal debate.  He has really not helped himself with his "the ICC said I can throw it" outburst.)  The batsmen were so reluctant to come forward, or use their bats.  Pad play in the age of DRS is about as effective as the chat up line "you don't sweat much for a fat lass", its just not going to work...and you'll end up with a slapped face.


The Giants did it, they beat the "favourites" to win their second Superbowl in five years.  I have mocked the use of the word favourites because EVERYONE thought the Giants would win.  Yes yes, the Dave Cunninghams

The game itself was one of the better Superbowls (a matchup that can often, like the FA Cup Final result in glorious anticlimax).  Low scoring, field position battles make for the better spectacle for the fan with little on the line, and in this one Giants punter Steve Weatherford deserves a ton of credit for his consistent ability to pin the Patriots deep.  Sure, Eli gets the Kudos and gets to go to Disneyland, but he needed help from the Weatherfords and Manninghams of this world to get it done.

Which brings me to Eli Manning.  2 for 2 in Superbowls, beating his brother Peytons 50% record at the big dance.  Both victories against Peytons nemesis, Tom Brady.  Well done Eli, you are now an elite quarterback.  But I'm not inducting you into the Hall of Fame just yet.


Had some angry tweets from Mr Jordan Doyle this week after my Gangster movie choices last week.  I love getting feedback, it hones my ability to try to have an answer for everything.  You read something in here you don't like, hit me up on it.  We'll go toe to toe via Twitter about it.

I followed up my appearance on the TMS live over by over commentary (for a tweet about Jimmy Anderson being the best fielding bowler ever) by actually having my name read out on the Dave Dameshek Football Programme podcast.  Great moment, especially having Adam Rank (@adamrank) refer to me as "His Man".  Great stuff.

Also this week I would like to thank Mr Michael Challinor (@mdcpne) for his contributions re the Urban Dictionary.  My favourite this week was "InFlight Refueler", used to describe a man who takes his beer with him when he goes for a piss. "I'll mind your pint John." "No thanks Steve, I'm an Inflight Refueler".  Thanks Chally.

Incidentally, a much better blog than this can be find called "AndySymes-the" Well worth a read, and a lot more considered than mine.  But please stay and read my rantings too.


Friday, 3 February 2012

Things I Know I Know

Lots to talk about this week, but I want to get straight into a special article, the first ever guest article in this blog.  Its been written by my good friend Mr Paul Mainwaring, who may be known to some as @mainzey7.  With the Superbowl approaching, he has decided to draw attention to a side that won the big game some twenty years ago.  So here it is.

This used to be a day my team played

Of course you all see the Washington Redskins as old stars being overpaid, coaches being fired and being only one of 2 teams who haven’t won their division in the new millennium (in the NFL that is basically impossible), but I remember a better time.

I started watching the NFL when I was 8 or 9 when the NFC was dominant and one of the most consistent teams in the NFC was my Washington Redskins. I liked the colours and I liked Joe Gibbs and most of all I liked the winning. The Skins, Giants and 49ers dominated this time and the Skins were my team, whereas the Giants and 49ers seem to be riddled with franchise & hall of fame players the Skins didn’t. There were groups like the Hogs and the Fun Bunch. I mean can you name the starting QB’s on the 3 Gibbs Super Bowl winning teams (its Theismann, Williams and Rypien in case you couldn’t) and for some reason this is why I loved this Franchise.

Now when people start talking about the best NFL teams ever people always point to a Niners team, the Cowboys with the triplets, the 70’s Steelers or the 85 bears, well I have another one, this team was:

1st in Scoring
2nd in Points Allowed
1st in Turnover Ratio
QB threw for 3500
RB ran over 1000

It went 14-2 (both losses by 3 points) then crushed all 3 teams it played in the playoffs winning Superbowl 26, ladies and gents I give you the 1991 Washington Redskins

What a team (emphasis on team). In Washington it’s called the bandwagon year (coined by Tony Kornheiser who pronounced this team would win the Superbowl in week 2). This team is now 20 years old which means firstly I am getting old and secondly my team hasn’t be relevant for a long long time. I know everyone loves looking forward and living in the past 5 years but if you ever get a spare hour or so watch the NFL Americas game and You Tube this team it’s a fun one.

Now I look forward to the Skins selling the Franchise for a QB who will stink and then we can see if we can get Gruden after we fire Shanahan, when will we ever learn…. Hopefully soon

Paul Mainwaring
My thanks to Mainzey for his contribution today, I hope to get a regular offering from him.
After ripping Public Enemies to pieces last week, I thought I should educate anyone reading this as to what a REAL Gangster film is like.  I therefore present my top five.
ROAD TO PERDITION - Great film, based on a graphic novel.  Features Tom Hanks against type as a Mafia hitman, going rogue aginst his employer (Paul F**king Newman, as he's known in Trainspotting) after his wife and youngest son are killed by his boss's son (played by Daniel Craig).  Also features Jude Law as a creepy assasain.  This films ending was revealed to me by some inconsiderate bint coming out of Screen 7 in the Odeon.  Gobshite.
GOODFELLAS - Would be worth consideration for the soundtrack alone, especially the use of the instrumental from "Layla" during a scene in which countless bodies are found.  De Niro is quite excellent as the psychotic Jimmy Conway (he actually was barred from visiting the actual criminal Jimmy Burke as he kept badgering him), while Joe Pesci's "Why my funny?" rant is the stuff of legend.  Ray Liotta's angry eyes serve him well as Henry Hill.
THE UNTOUCHABLES - I love this film.  The fact that the costumes were designed by Giorgio Armani tells you something about the style of it.  Sean Connery famously forgets his character was Irish, but still steals the show, especially with his now famous "Here's how you get Capone" speech, but also with his fatal pronouncement that its "just like a wop to bring a knife to a gun fight".  De Niro once again is awesome as Al Capone.  If you want a true biographical account of Eliott Ness and his efforts to bring down Capone, DON'T watch this film.  If you want style, honour, loyalty and a nod to scruples...Get on it.
THE GODFATHER, PART TWO - First sequel ever to win the Oscar for Best picture, the narrative is split between the rise of Vito Corleone (played as an adult by that man again De Niro) and the consolidation of power by Michael.  As good a film as you could wish to watch, stands alone and as part of a great duology (the third is shit, stay away).  Michael's descent into the man he tried to avoid becoming is gripping.  Which can only leave one film at the top of the tree, which is...
THE GODFATHER - One of the finest films ever made.  Marlon Brando is wonderful as the head of the Corleone family, in a story "about a family, who just happen to be criminals, rather than a criminal family".  Great supporting performances from Pacino, James Caan (before the Dragons Den), Robert Duvall and Diane Keaton, I have heard that this the most quoted movie in OTHER movies in history.  Awesome
Hi Blackpool, its me your old pal Neil.  Hows it going?
Look, we've known each other for a long time.  Had a lot of good times during the years.  But I need you to do me a favour.  LOSE TO SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY, will you?
If The Tangerines (stupid nickname) do indeed lose to my beloved Owls, this will tee up an FA Cup 5th round tie at Goodison Park against Everton.  I used to work for Everton, and have been waited to go back to Goodison as a Wednesday fan since 2000.  Even if we'd start as massive underdogs, it would be great to be back in a Premiership stadium watching Wednesday play.  Please...
Superbowl 46 hits Indianapolis this sunday, in a repeat of the clash between New England and the New York Giants from 2008 in Glendale, Arizona.  I personally hate both teams with a passion, so I am free to watch in glorious neutrality.  But here are a few pointers from me as to how I think things need to happen.
FOR THE PATRIOTS TO WIN - They need to neutralise the NY pass rush.  Led by human wrecking ball Jason Pierre-Paul, if there is one thing the Giants like to do its rush the passer.  The Patriots, led by future Hall of Fame QB Tom Brady will look to freak Tight End Rob Gronkowski to make big plays over the middle, but also to help the blocking up front, possibly opening the door for Wes Welker to have a big day.
FOR THE GIANTS TO WIN - Eli Manning, tied with his brother Peyton with one Superbowl win, will be looking to get the ball downfield to one of his three stud Wide Receivers, Victor Cruz Mario Manningham and Hakeem Nicks, against a very poor Patriots secondary.  They must also, using the afore mentioned pass rush, get in Bradys face.
Who will win? Don't care, wish they could both lose.  See you next week.
P.S. Still no mention of England....