Sunday, 21 October 2012

Modern Football: What is ruining our beautiful game?

It's been a long and strange couple of months in the world of football. It's mid October, and my team, Sheffield United, are somehow still going strong on an unbeaten run. Well, I say strong...

But sadly, it isn't unbeaten runs, wonder goals (Did he mean it? He definitely meant it!) or unexpected results that have had us all talking recently. Over the past year, football seems to have taken a really negative turn. Of course, there are still moments that make the hairs on the back of our neck stand on end and remind us just why we love the game so much; the greatest example of course being Sergio Aguero's 90th minute winner for Manchester City which handed them the Premier League title back in May. But at the moment, the negatives of football seem to massively outweigh the positives, and people seem to be slowly but surely falling out of love with the beautiful game.

The incident on everyone's lips at the moment is of course the vile attack on Sheffield Wednesday's Chris Kirkland during Friday evening's match against Leeds United. As most of you know, I really, really dislike Sheffield Wednesday. However, I dislike thuggery and violence much, much more than any silly old rivalry. To think that in the 21st century, a fan could find their way onto the pitch and physically abuse a player who has done absolutely nothing wrong is baffling and disgusting. What makes me really sad is seeing a minority of fellow fans blaming police, stewards and other staff for what happened. Of course, crowd control is important for goal celebrations etc, but why should the Hillsborough staff be blamed for what this person did? It's not their fault that this idiot doesn't have any sign of a brain cell knocking around his skull. But sadly, this wasn't the end. Both sets of fans (although it has to be said again that it was a small minority) then went on to sing what can only be described as despicable chants about some truly awful things which have had devastating affects on people's lives. I think my Dad said it best when he said "Some footy fans just can't seem to have a laugh like we used to. It's personal and it's nasty, I can't imagine what must be going through their heads to think it's ok to sing something like that." What also seems ridiculous is that this game was on a Friday evening. Putting fans and players in danger for the sake of Sky Sports coverage is wrong and should not be allowed to happen.

So, this incident reflects the idiocy of a minority of football fans. However, other recent events have shown that unfortunately, some of the people who are very high up in football and also some players themselves are just as bad as these fans. Let's take yesterday for example. Rio Ferdinand refused to wear a 'Kick It Out' campaign t-shirt on the pitch at Old Trafford pre-match, and Sir Alex Ferguson told the press that he was 'embarrassed' and that Ferdinand 'would be dealt with'. Now, I've seen a few different opinions on this, but I think that most of us can understand why Ferdinand acted this way. If the FA had found a fan guilty of racially abusing Rio's brother Anton, that fan would have been banned from every football stadium across the country for the rest of his or her's life. So why should it be any different for John Terry, just because he is on the pitch rather than off it? The fact is, his 4 game ban, fine and reputation probably won't affect is life in anyway at all. The near quarter of a million pound fine is hardly a dint in his back pocket, four games out of forty is hardly a dint in Chelsea's Premier League campaign, and as for his reputation, well I think we all know that that was pretty much in tatters anyway. As for the incident that happened with Danny Rose and the Serbian fans earlier in the week, well I don't even know where to begin with that one.

If the FA don't come down on these players and fans like a tonne of bricks, how are these massive, massive issues ever going to be resolved? At the moment, it doesn't look like they ever will be, and that is what will from now on tarnish the beautiful game as something that is in fact rather ugly.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

What Feminism means to me.

Ever since I started this blog, I've wanted to write about why I consider myself a feminist. I've tried various times, but the thing which I find incredibly difficult is getting the tone right. I don't want to joke about it and make out it's all a right laugh, because it's something I think should be taken incredibly seriously. However, the last thing I want to do is come across as one of those mind-numbingly irritating, ranty 'rad-fems' that can turn every word that comes out of your mouth into something which offends them deep into the heart of their soul. Eugh.

I've always been kind of embarrassed to call myself a feminist. No, actually, embarrassed isn't the right word... let's say 'wary'. I've always been kind of wary to openly discuss my feminist views because I worry that people will think I'm a dickhead that takes offense at everything. And I realise that if that happened, it would say more about the other person being a judgmental idiot than it would about me, but I'm still very wary about it. There are certain issues which I'm cautious about discussing on the internet because I worry that radical feminists will completely twist everything I say. It's happened before, and it makes you feel totally shit and like you're a bad person. I really don't want to be the person that makes someone feel like that, and I worry that in openly declaring "I AM A FEMINIST!" to the whole world, people will run for the hills. At the end of the day, all I want is for both genders to be totally equal. That's it.

I recently read 'How to be a Woman' by Caitlin Moran. Apart from the chapter on abortion (which I disagreed with for personal reasons), I thought it was absolutely spot on, and it made me want to embrace feminism more than I ever have before. I absolutely loved the way that it was written; everything Moran said made sense, and it didn't feel threatening or confusing like feminism sometimes does. The side-splitting memoirs coupled with the intelligent reasonings as to why feminism is still so important fitted together like a jigsaw. It made me realise that it was possible to openly talk about feminism and not come across as a total lunatic; and for the first time ever, it made me feel really proud to believe in feminism.

Sadly though, even since the Moran-fuelled epiphany, there's some things that have really wound me up. I absolutely bloody loved the Olympics. Honestly, like most of us, I could've cried for a bloody week when it was over! Seeing as I am made up of a South Yorkshire Dad and a West Yorkshire Mum, I felt unbelievably proud when Jessica Ennis and Nicola Adams won their gold medals. What didn't make me so proud was the reaction from a lot of so-called feminists.
"I really hope girls watch this and aspire to be like Jessica Ennis or Katarina Johnson-Thompson rather than Kim Kardashian or Cheryl Cole."
Woah woah woah, hang on... we tell girls to fight the patriarchy and do what they want, but then we're totally contradicting that by saying "Oh no, sorry! I know we said to fight for women's rights and stuff, but it's only certain types of women. Don't you be wanting to be a commercially successful popstar now young lady!"
That just doesn't seem right to me at all. Surely we should be encouraging young women (and young men for that matter) to aspire to be whatever the hell they want to be? Well, apart from murderers and all that, of course...

There's a lot more I could say on this subject, but I think I've said all I want to say for now. I don't know why I felt like I really needed to write this post; I'm not sure whether it was for a bit of closure on the subject for myself, or to try and explain myself to those that think I'm sometimes a bit over the top about it. I'm not very good at many things in life, but I think am pretty good at being a feminist, so maybe that was part of the reason. Either way, it was nice to write about it and hopefully make a few people see that we're not all totally crazy. Well, I say that...

P.S. You can buy that t-shirt here.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Runaways - The Killers

Before you begin reading this, you should know that this post/review/whatever is going to be extremely biased. And I could not be less arsed about that.

The Killers are my favourite band. I still remember the very first time I ever heard The Killers' music. It was early September 2004, just as I was starting high school. Me and my then 13-year-old brother were sat on the sofa arguing over which music channel to put on. He flicked on to 'Q', and there they were, dancing in a desert and singing about 'a boyfriend who looked like a girlfriend'. I remember just sitting and staring at the screen for the entire four and a half minutes of that video, totally mesmerised. I'd never felt that way about a song before, and as someone who was only near to turning 12, it was pretty overwhelming. Ever since that day, The Killers have been my favourite band, and I no doubt will be forevermore.

Despite it being four years ago, it feels like only yesterday that we were last all crowded round the radio ready to hear a new track from the Las Vegas quartet. I've never seen a fan-base so torn about a song like The Killers' fans were that day. It has to be said, compared to the beautiful, crescendo crashing, anthemic hit that was 'When You Were Young', 'Human' was extremely underwhelming. 'Day & Age' was a big risk for The Killers, and although not a personal favourite, that album needed to be made. The Killers needed to explore and fulfill all their curiosities about creating different sounds; simply trying to re-do the masterpiece that was 'Sam's Town' would have been idiotic, and quite frankly it could well have been a train wreck. But as I said, they did the right thing. They created a dynamic album which means they'll never be left with that 'what if?' feeling, and now they've got the chance to go back and bring some of the older ideologies into new track 'Runaways'.

The opening piano intro (after the space-ship sounding bit) sounds very much like Flowers' lead solo single 'Crossfire'. In fact, 'Runaways' is quite similar to 'Crossfire' in a number of ways; they both have that piano intro, they both have those big, swooping choruses, and they both have us air drumming or fist pumping the air. Like his hero Bruce Springsteen, Flowers' lyrics hit us instantly and send visions through our minds. The opening line, 'Blonde hair blowin' in the summer wind/ A blue-eyed girl playing in the sand', gives us an immediate feeling that a story is coming. See, like Springsteen, this is what Flowers is so brilliant at. Instantly you know that you're about to be told a real story about real people, and it's exciting and refreshing; it grabs you and pulls you in, making you want to hear more. 

Taking a little longer to kick in than most Killers' choruses, this one comes in at around 1.20. But oh boy is it good. Honestly, the thought of standing in the middle of the crowd at one of the bands' live shows and screaming along to 'WE CAN'T WAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT TILLLLL TOMOOOOOOOORROOOOW' makes me shit myself with excitement a little bit. You might say they've done it all before with the likes of 'When You Were Young', 'This River is Wild' and 'Mr. Brightside', but when The Killers are just that good at big, sing-a-long choruses, why on Earth would we want them to stop? Yes, it's arena rock. But who cares? The Killers have never been ashamed of being this type of band, so why should the fact that it's big and U2-like get in the way of the fact that it's a really fucking great song?

Now, of course 'Runaways' has its little synth section in the second verse (let's face it, as much as we hated 'Human', a Killers song wouldn't be a Killers song without a synth section), but the thing which stands out most for me is the guitars. Those guitars that we haven't heard in almost six years and have missed so much it actually hurt at times. For me, Mr. Keuning has got it absolutely perfect on this record. It's not over-powered by squealing solos or power chords, it's a simple mix of subtle riffs, and it works perfectly. Well done, Tavian Go.

As you can probably tell, I could go on for hours about just how much I adore this band and this record. But there's one last thing I will say. Don't be put off by the fact that some of the older generation like The Killers. Don't be put off by the fact that they're considered a mainstream, arena rock band. Don't listen to the cool, underground indie bands telling you that this type of music is wrong. Just listen to this record, and bask in the true wonder and beauty of it.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Kate Nash - Under-Estimate the Girl

Although I can't stand most music journalists and music magazines/blogs, I've decided that I want to start writing a bit more about the music I enjoy. I don't want to sit and write about music that I hate, because I've never understood why anybody would. I have no passion for the music that I don't like, so I just ignore it.

Over the past two or three years, I have really fallen back in love with pop music. From the age of fourteen to sixteen, I was obsessed with the way that my music taste made me look. I was constantly on the internet trying to find out about new bands that no-one else had heard of, or forcing myself to listen to bands which I really didn't like because I thought it would make me stand out and look cool. Whilst I was doing this, I didn't enjoy music at all. I even began to distance myself from my favourite band of all time, because I didn't think they were considered cool enough. By the age of seventeen, I realised that this ideology was completely and utterly ridiculous, and I began listening to pop music again. I have favourite bands from all different kinds of genres, and I have absolutely no shame whatsoever in that. Anyway, the point of all this is that one of the artists that made me start to enjoy listening to Radio One and watching the music channels again was Kate Nash.

Kate Nash's debut 'Made of Bricks' came out in 2007 and enjoyed much commercial success. I was fourteen when that album came out; the perfect age to enjoy it. Particular favourites of mine are 'Nicest Thing' and 'We Get On'. 'Made of Bricks' expressed exactly what it was like to be a British teenage girl like no album ever had for me. Tales of going to arty-farty parties and seeing the boy you liked kissing another girl, and sitting with your friends getting drunk and whinging about your boyfriend. All the things that seem to matter more than anything in the world when you're in your mid to late teens.

What I love about 'Under-Estimate the Girl' is how unexpected it is. I won't lie, the screaming is a tad too much for me, but I really love the rest of it. We live in a society where morons that are influenced by Oasis and The Stone Roses constantly whinge about 'the state of music' and complain that pop musicians push no boundaries; yet Kate Nash (who most know as a pop musician) comes out with a punk record as good as this one and people complain more than ever? Unfortunately, it seems that it's the artist that matters these days, and not how good the song is. If Courtney Love, Comet Gain or Huggy Bear had released this song, it would have been heaped with praise. However, because it's the North London girl who used to sing about soup and mouthwash, it just can't seem to be accepted that she's written a really great punk song. And I don't think Nash being punk is anything particularly new either, I think she's always had some pretty punk ethics. She never felt the need to cover up her strong accent, and she never felt like she had to use stupid metaphors or any of that bollocks. She has always just told it exactly how it is, and for me that's what punk is all about. It isn't about wearing leather jackets or only using three chords, it's just about doing what you want and not being bothered about what any other fucker thinks, and I think that's exactly what this new song does.

I think Kate Nash has been really fucking brave to release this new song, and she's got more balls than any of the journalists and musicians that will no doubt slate this record. Good on her.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Sheffield United's play-off flop (again).

To be quite honest, I'm not sure where to start with this post. Saturday was a pretty horrendous day for every Sheffield United fan. On a personal level, there were various reasons why I wanted us to win the play-off final. After a death in the family the previous weekend, I desperately wanted a United win to put a smile back on my dear old Dad's face. I wanted us to win to shut up the other lot, and I wanted us to win so we could prove to everyone that we aren't the biggest bottlers in the football league. But of course, it wasn't to be.

The actual match itself was horrendous. Horrible, horrible football between two teams that were obviously terrified to lose. My man of the match would 100% be Steve Simonsen, and it sickens me that some people think that he's to blame for United's late penalty loss. If it weren't for Simmo's cracking saves throughout the 90 minutes, United would have lost the game 3 or 4-0. After saving the first two penalties, we should have had it in the bag; Simonsen should never have had to take that penalty, which unfortunately he missed. I understand some of the criticism Simonsen has received over the season, because he has made mistakes. But for some reason, a lot of Blades fans seem to focus on Simmo's mistakes and forget other players'. What about Cresswell's flying header into his own net against Oldham? Maguire's stupid tackle resulting in our second red of the match? Beattie's moronic sending-offs? Footballers may be well paid to have a job that they love, but too many fans forget that they are human beings, and criticising one player over and over again can cause serious mental damage.

I think we all know where United's season went wrong. After Ched Evans' controversial departure, the whole team just seemed to flop. There wasn't that passion and fire in their bellies that we'd seen throughout the rest of the season. I think we all know that if we hadn't lost Ched, we'd probably have gone up second. But anyway, there's no point in going into all that, because I'm sure Evans feels bad enough already.

I'm not sure what will happen over the summer and next season. Of course there are many players who I hope stay at Sheffield United, but I'm not counting on anything. We all know that players' loyalty to clubs rarely exists in modern football, which I think is a desperate shame. Many say we're unlucky, which goes without saying. But perhaps, for once, the coaching and backroom staff at Sheffield United need to forget about their unlucky tendencies and think about the flaws which need to be addressed.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Ched Evans: Drawing the line.

It's safe to say that the past six months have been a series of major highs and manic lows for Chedwyn Michael Evans, a Welsh footballer playing for Sheffield United FC. Unable to make a start for the Blades for the first 9 games of the 2011/2012 season due to injury, he came into the squad in mid to late September. Controversial new manager Danny Wilson has been a breath of fresh air for Sheffield United Football Club, and proved his peers very much wrong sometime ago. One of the players that Danny has had a significant impact upon is Ched Evans. As a young player, Ched always seemed to struggle to show his potential under the likes of Blackwell, Adams, and even the late Gary Speed, who went on to be Ched's manager for the Welsh National Team, up until his unbelievably early, shocking death. This proved to not only be difficult for Ched Evans to come to terms with, but every single person who has any footballing connection across the UK and the rest of the world. Ched has scored 35 goals for Sheffield United this season. He has been an utter pleasure to watch, and I can honestly say I have never enjoyed watching a Sheffield United footballer so much in my 10 or so years watching the Blades.

The thing is, this is my opinion of Ched as a footballer, not a person. I've never met Ched Evans. All I know about him is that he's from Rhyl in North Wales, he's absolutely excellent at scoring goals, and that on the 20th April 2012 he was convicted of raping a nineteen-year-old woman. A large majority of people know pretty much those same three facts, yet are completely convinced that he is either innocent or guilty. Until his trial, he should have been treated as innocent until proven guilty. Now that he has been proven guilty, I firmly believe that this is the way in which he should be treated until (well, if) he proves his innocence. So, pre trial: innocent until proven guilty. Post trial: guilty until proven innocent. Rape is one of the most disgusting, unforgivable offences that any person could ever commit. I'm sure I'm not the only person who has seen the way in which rape can completely destroy a person's life. 

I understand why people are questioning the verdict, as I also did. All the evidence shown in the court was also shown in the media, and there didn't really seem to be that much of it. However, I'm not a judge, barrister, solicitor or member of the jury that came to this conclusion. And they obviously came to this decision for a reason. Just because he is an utterly wonderful football player, and in the words of colleagues and friends 'a great guy', it just does not mean he is innocent. 

I'll miss watching Ched play football, but for now, until this entire case and possible appeal is over, he is where he deserves to be. The way in which Danny Wilson and other backroom staff at Sheffield United have handled the entirety of this case is something which they should be incredibly proud of as both people and professionals. The last thing I'll say on this matter is that me and Chris (@chris_webster) reckon if we all chip in a few hundred quid each, we could get Messi on loan for about 7.5 seconds... anyone else in?

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Sexism In Football?

I first read this article a few days ago. A lot of people would probably find it very strange how excited and overjoyed I was after reading it, but I just couldn't believe that the issue I'd cared about for so long was finally being given the media coverage it completely deserves. Ending sexism in football is something that I have been extremely passionate about since I first started Sixth Form, which was about three years ago now. I'd never really spoken to a lot of the boys in my year before, and when they all found out I was a big football fan, reactions went both ways. Of course, I have to stress that it wasn't all the boys that wouldn't take my opinion seriously. Many of them often chatted to me about the game and listened to what I had to say, but I still found it annoying that there was just as many who wouldn't listen to my opinion just because I'm a girl. Phrases that often came about were 'YOU like FOOTBALL...?!' and 'Do you actually like, go to matches and stuff?!'

Yes, I do. I'm a girl, and I really love football. I go to every home match and as many away matches as I can. What is the problem with that?

 It was the week starting 20th March 2011 that I feel my opinion was properly listened to and respected for the first time. Living in a town near Leeds, pretty much every football fan supports Leeds United. On 19th March 2011, we beat them 2-0, and of course I got loads of stick for it. But by arguing the facts and explaining how we completely outplayed them in every aspect of the game, many of the boys that never gave me the time of day actually began to realise that I knew just as much as they did.

So, back to last night's program. I thought that it was done very well, and it showed the women and the issue exactly as it should have done. We don't hate men, we don't want women to dominate football, we just want to be equal. I knew there would be a lot of debate afterwards, and I knew that I'd probably get annoyed by a lot of the comments on Twitter, but some people's opinions really did shock me. What really, genuinely upset me the most was being told that this is something that women should just accept.

'It's just banter, and women should accept it.'

So Karren Brady should just accept having 'get your tits out' and 'slut' shouted at her, simply because she's a woman who works in a supposed "man's world"? These are derogatory, upsetting, offensive terms. Shouting offensive comments towards somebody of a different gender is no different to shouting racist, offensive comments at somebody of a different ethnicity. Would you tell somebody being racially abused at work that it's just 'banter' and that they should just shut up and accept it?

Another point that was thrown around was 'What about sexism towards men? That's never talked about in the media and given it's own TV program.'

The whole point of programs such as 'Sexism in Football?' is to show that any kind of sexism is completely and utterly wrong, whether it is towards women or men. It just happened to be focused around women because sexism in the football industry is currently one of the biggest cases.

There are many people that will think this whole issue is just one great big overreaction. If that is your opinion, think about just how much you love football. It wouldn't be the same without the females behind the scenes and the females that support it. And if you think football would be much better if we just left you men to it? Firstly, shame on you. Secondly, tough shit, we're here to stay whether you like it or not.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Twitter, Tumblr, and why I'm close to giving up with both.

The one thing that annoys me more than anything else in the world is being treated like I'm stupid. Unfortunately, this seems to happen to me quite a lot. Firstly, because I'm a Media student. For some reason, a lot of ignorant people think that Media Studies is a degree for morons, and that all we do is watch telly. I'd love to see these people attempt to explain semiotics or the deconstructionist theory to me. The second thing that makes a lot of people jump to the conclusion that I'm thick as pig shit is that I'm a football fan. I can't even begin to explain that one...

However, the point of this post is not football or university. Yesterday, an internet phenomenon took over Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr: the Stop Kony video. And with it, out came the knobhead brigade. All those absolute dickheads that think that because they like Bon Iver, green tea and charity shop knitwear, they know absolutely everything about the entire world and it's politics.

Myself and many other people (the supposed 'stupid people') watched the video and thought "Bloody hell, this guy is horrendous and needs to be stopped." The video was supposed to be for awareness, so I shared it on Facebook, and so did about 50+ others. We tried to do the right thing by raising awareness for this utterly despicable human being, but nope, we were wrong. And weren't we told we were wrong! There were many, many people who I felt insulted and patronised by yesterday, but here's the two that angered me the most:

The first was from the Twitter account of my favourite venue, The Cockpit in Leeds. Their tweet read:

"Oh, you retweeted and shared a link about Joseph Kony? Tell me more about how you've always cared for Ugandan children ..."

Alright, dickheads. A lot of us don't spend our time trawling the internet finding out about all the horrific things that go on in the world because we have jobs to go to. It doesn't mean that we don't care. As soon as myself and others saw that video, we took the time to read about Kony and re-posted the link to attempt to raise awareness, which could hopefully make a difference. Don't belittle us.

The second post that I thought was just ridiculous was this one from Tumblr:

Do you know what, I don't know where Uganda is on this map. So in the future, if I ever hear of a charity who are trying to help children that are being used for sex trafficing and rape, I'll make sure I know the exact latitude and longitude of the country where this is happening. If I don't know it, I'll just ignore it. Is that what you're getting at, yeah?

And finally, the best, the absolute BEST thing about all of this:
Where did all these patronising, hipster dickheads find out about the supposed corruption of Invisible Children? A FUCKING TUMBLR POST.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012


I've decided to make a proper blog, seeing as Tumblr isn't actually really a proper blogging site, is it... This will mostly be lists of things that I dislike and football rants, I think..