Monthly Archives: May 2010

England 3, Mexico 1

Yet another lack lustre England performance made to look a little more presentable by the 3 goals to 1 scoreline.

I have to give a special mention to the Mexicans – the scoreline could have easily been reversed after the first half an hour but it just wasn’t to be for them.

I’m aware that a lot of players were rested and that the manager was experimenting but it was still a poor performance with the exception of Rob Green, Joe Hart and Glenn Johnson.

England FlagRob green made a couple of fine saves after mistakes by Ledley King – King will have to buy him a few pints for that.

Glenn Johnson looked a threat going forwards and defended well with a fair few defensive headers at the back post.

The other full back, Leighton Baines, just wasn’t up to the job and was found wanting numerous times. Fair enough he’s had a good season for Everton but he looked a liability (defensively) last night although some protection from Mr. Invisible  ‘Stevie G’ would have helped him.

Rio Ferdinand put in a decent performance.

Ledley King was caught out a few times in the first half but he scored so no doubt the press will overlook the glaringly obvious defensive mistakes – much improved upon in the second half.

Theo Walcott put in his usual performance – ie. he ran fast before giving the ball away – with no end product he shouldn’t be there – Aaron Lennon replaced him in the second half and looked much better out on the right wing – Lennon also has an end product.

Steven Gerrard was anonymous, in fact if he didn’t have a bandage around his head I wouldn’t have seen him – same goes for Carrick – he just watched the game pass him by.

Milner worked hard but didn’t manage to stamp his influence on the game.

Rooney didn’t really do much up front.

Crouch scored yet another goal in an England shirt (though he was off side and handballed it).

Adam Johnson came on for Steven Gerrard for a few minutes and looked lively.

Carragher replaced Ferdinand – didn’t do anything wrong and Huddlestone came on in place of Carrick – again nothnig to write home about.

Defoe came on and once again did nothing – let’s hope Darren Bent is fit in time as he’d be much more of a threat than Jermain ‘the biter’ Defoe.

All in all, a poor performance made to look better by the scoreline – it could have been very different had Robert Green not been in good form in the first half.

Though I imagine it will be a completely different story next monday when the likes of Lampard and Cole  are in the team – yes, that’s right – no mention of John Terry – Why? Because he’s overrated (shite).

Hopefully Bent will start against Japan, will have some decent players around him and get some service to prove what he can do. It’s hardly fair to write him off after a poor team performance in an England B team against arguably the best team in the world – Brazil.

Welcome to the Political Blogosphere

Please have a look at Myself and Malcolm Clarke have launched this site, the concept and code were written by yours truly and Malcolm has used his contacts, blog and inspiration to re-work that initial idea into a political blog portal.

What Instant Politics will do:

Instant PoliticsInstant Politics will take the latest 5 items from the RSS feeds of the blogs of many different parties and merge them into one neat list. You can filter this  list to give you the latest news from the political party you are interested in.

Instant Politics will, eventually, have lots of feeds, which will be added to as we find new blogs.

One of the common things Instant Politics has been criticised for is that it appears to be a replacement for the RSS reader. This is not what the site is intended to do.

We do not think RSS readers are as widely used as many think and this site is beneficial because it gives (or will give) lots and lots of feeds for you to click through to the site and at that point you can link them to your RSS readers.

Another benefit is that we will add the feeds, this means that you don’t have to waste time trawling the internet for political blogs – if the blog is worth the web space it takes up you’ll be able to find the latest headlines and links from that blog at Instant Politics – to put it simply we do the leg work of collecting the feeds and headlines so that you can sit back, relax and read what the political blogosphere has to say.

Instant Politics gives you blogs that fit the following criteria:

  • Our blogs are regularly updated – we do not link to out of date content
  • Up to date thoughts and feelings of the political blogosphere
  • Instant Politics is a search engine for political blogs weighted 100% towards blogs that are active.

Over the next week you will see many more feeds being added to Instant Politics and subtle improvements, so please bear with us and if you have any feedback please get in touch with us via the contact page.

Click here to visit Instant Politics and find a new Politics blog to read regularly.

Greatest Footballing Moments – MS Paint style

I was browsing the SMB – Sunderland Message Boards – today and stumbled upon a great thread, which is sure to go gold.

The thread is titled ‘Greatest Football Moments in MS Paint’ and can be found here.

Basically, the thread is full of Microsoft Paint drawn recreations of famous footballing moments – I urge everyone to take a look at it as some of the drawings are superb alongside some which are just plain hilarious.

This was my addition to the thread – Stuart McCall falling off of a car roof while celebrating promotion with Bradford City.

Stuart McCall MS Paint style

Programming and RSS feeds

Just a quickie…

I’m now sick of the sight of RSS feeds having spent most of my free time programming a script, which will hopefully make me rich and if not will at least prove useful to a few people, which merges multiple RSS feeds into one before outputting them.


This allows me to pool together all of the RSS feeds I want to follow and view in one convenient place.

I wish they were standard, rather than differing types RSS1, RSS2, Atom etc – would’ve made things much easier for me.

Seems to be working well with 5 or 6 feeds – the real test will come when there’s hundreds of feeds to parse rather than just 5 or 6.

Once the scripts finished, tested and given the OK we’ll be able to launch the new site which, linking back to my second paragraph, will make me rich or at least money to cover my pool costs.

Crowded House – revisited

I went to see Crowded House last night at Newcastle City Hall – see here for the first post on this.

We all really enjoyed the gig, Crowded House were awesome not only did they perform well but they put on a good show and created a lot of crowd interaction making everyone feel a part of the gig.

Crowded HouseThe same couldn’t be said for the support band, Connan Mockasin, who just weren’t my cup of tea (as well as a lot of other people’s judging by the amount of people that got up and went back downstairs to the bar area). I’m sure they have a good following – otherwise they wouldn’t be touring with Crowded House, but they were just a bit too gimmicky for me. But don’t let my thoughts on the band put you off – have a listen to them and make your own mind up.

Hopefully Crowded House will be back again soon, though the last time they were up here in the north east was in ’94 at Whitley Bay Ice Rink so I’m not holding my breath for any time soon.

9 ball run

I went Durham City Snooker & Pool last night to work on my game and had a relatively successful time.

The table wasn’t in the best condition, balls (which were chipped) had been tapped – in the wrong position – too much so it was impossible to break, the cloth must’ve been on for 20 years as it was very ‘worn’, moth eaten and in some places even moved when I put my bridge hand down.

It could do with a good clean, reclothing and levelling and it would play quite well.

Anyhow… back to me. I decided to just throw 9 balls out on the table and pot them in any order – doing this I managed to run 7 balls a few times, with my average run being about 4 balls.

I then tried a couple of racks of 9 ball vs the ghost.

If you’re not familiar with ‘the ghost’ then to put it quite simply if you miss a shot the ghost wins wins. Meaning it’s very difficult to win against the ghost and needless to say – I lost.

To end my practice session I decided to just throw all 15 balls on the table randomly and pot them in any order. Doing this I managed to make a couple of runs of 9, just need to work on running 9 out of 9 balls in the correct order and I’ll be on my way.

All in all I had a decent session getting used to potting angles and speeds and I’m looking forward to Saturday when I go to Riley’s in Sunderland with Malcolm Clarke for practice and a race to 9.

Seem to be improving every time I get on the table so let’s hope it continues.

Crowded House

I’m going to Newcastle City Hall to see Crowded House tonight with my girlfriend and parents – should be good!

We’re going for a meal before the gig too, hope the support band is good.

It seems I’ve grown up listening to Crowded House, they were always on in the car when travelling down, or up, to my aunty’s house and I seem to know every song. They were on in the car that much that I used to complain about it.

I remember one day complaining about it, and my parents saying, “You’ll like them when you’re older.” and do you know what? They were right!

Really looking forward to the gig tonight – just hope the City Hall isn’t as warm as it has been the last few times I’ve been.

Big Pockets

Whenever I mention that I’ve been playing 9 ball pool the person I’m talking to always says, ‘Ah, the one with the big pockets?’

To which I reply, ‘yes’ – anything else would be a lie as American Pool tables do have bigger pockets than British Pool tables.

It’s as if they’re saying it’s got bigger pockets so it must be easier, however it isn’t.

One thing they don’t take into account is the fact that American Pool tables are 9ft long which is 1.5 times (3 feet) longer than a standard British Pool table (the one you find in most pubs).

American Pool tables have ‘squared off’ jaws / knuckles whereas British tables are ’rounded’ – OK fair enough, on an American table if you hit the ‘right’ part of the jaw the ball will drop but hit the ‘wrong’ part and the ball won’t even have the slightest chance of dropping.

On an English table, with the rounded jaws the ball always has a chance of dropping as long as it’s played at the right speed.

Something else people don’t take into account is the bigger ball size used on an American table. American pool balls are 2 3/4″ that’s  three quarters of an inch bigger than standard British pool balls.

Those ‘big’ pockets suddenly don’t seem as big anymore do they?

One thing that really gets on my nerves is how people think American tables are so easy to play on – if that’s the case then why don’t they quit they’re jobs, join the pro tour and win everything?

That’s right… It may be made to look easy by the pros but trust me. It’s not as easy as it looks.

This month’s SMB photography competition entry

I’m a member of a very active SAFC discussion forum known as the SMB and post under the name ‘keeps21’.

On the SMB we have a photography forum in which there is a monthly ‘themed’ competition. This month the theme is ‘motion’.

I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to photograph to meet this theme so had a walk along Durham City riverbanks with my girlfriend and two dogs and managed to get a few shots of birds in flight and flowing water which seemed to fit the bill quite nicely.

The shot I’ve chosen to enter this month is the one below although I’m starting to think I should’ve entered the one posted below it.


Motion of Flight

The second shot, just seems to have a better ‘feeling’ of motion / movement about it. Not that it matters now, once a shot has been submitted it can’t be changed. Maybe I’ll be less hasty in entering a shot next month.

If you’d like to see more of my photography you can do so by visiting here and also on my flickr profile.

Let me know what you think – constructive criticism is always welcome!

My Journey into 9 Ball Pool

I’ve recently started playing pool again, the 9 ball variety that is,  and this time I’m taking it seriously.

I’d always enjoyed playing pool but generally the only chance to play comes when I’m in the pub.

I do have my own 7ft American Style table but unfortunately it’s been ‘out of commission’ for the last year and a half to two years after moving house and being unable to find the space but hopefully I’ll be moving into a house with enough room to get the old table out soon.

I got back in touch with an old friend – Malcolm Clarke, whom I’ve known since… well as far back as I can remember, who has played on the pro tour and with him have managed to get a couple of hours of 9 ball under my belt and have really enjoyed the racks we’ve played as well as just getting in touch with an old mate – one which I must’ve spent hundreds of hours playing NHL games with in our youths.

Now, I’m the type of person that will read just about everything I can find about technique and tactics and always welcome hints and tips so that’s what I’ve been doing as well as watching all the 9 ball I can find on youtube, mostly Efren Reyes and Earl Strickland.

Mal has agreed to help coach me and I must say that even after just a few tips the difference in my game after receiving the advice is more than noticeable. He also gave me a great book, ‘Play your best 9 Ball’ which I’d recommend any aspiring 9 ball player to read as I’m sure it will benefit everyone from beginners to the pros.

My cue - a BCE BA-26I’ve bought my own cue now, (pictured) so that I can get used to one cue rather than using a different club cue each time I play and I’m looking forward to testing it out this Saturday.

I now really can’t wait to get my table back up and running so that I can work on my game at home as well as in the club, but until then I’ll keep playing Virtual Pool 3 – the best billiards game available on the PC to date, to help with sighting and tactics.

And who knows, with the practice I’m willing to put in, my drive to get better and my competitive nature you may see me in a tournament in the distant future, hopefully winning it.

Be sure to check back here to see how I’m progressing and until the next post, Seeya.