Sunday, 4 July 2010

QUESTION TIME

If you could go back in time to any match what would it be?

I would take my Tardis back to Highbury and Rangers v Red Star Belgrade in 1964.
The largest Rangers travelling support, a crucial win in the European Cup and a Jim Baxter masterclass. Who could ask for anything more!

GO GIO. The Future’s Bright. The Future’s Orange.

Congratulation to former Ranger and now Holland captain, Gio Van Bronckhorst on leading Holland to the World Cup semi finals. Gio was and is a superb player and left after 3 seasons at Ibrox to join Arsenal for £8.5 million. (Not often Monsieur Wenger dips that deep in the Arsenal coffers). Will we see another ex Rangers hold aloft the World Cup? I really hope so. Perhaps the Rinu Gittuso theorem is not that far off afterall! But best check with Paul the Octopuss first.

The distinguishing feature of all the semi finalists is their dedication to a team ethic. Something a few other nations already back home might do well to take note of.
It returns to Mr Struth’s first law. “No man is greater than the team.”

Monday, 28 June 2010

BETTING TIPS

Kindly note, all betting tips for the World Cup 2010 have been deferred to the Octopus.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/10420131.stm

Sunday, 27 June 2010

WHAT’S WORSE THAN ENGLAND’S ABJECT PERFORMANCE

Just clicked on BBC news and found it.
Pope Ratzi the Nazi having the temerity to describe the Belgian police raid on Catholic Church offices in Belgian as ‘deplorable.’ What really is deplorable is the Catholics church’s organised and systematic abuse of little children whose parents naively thought priests could be trusted. How dare he call the Belgian investigations as deplorable.

BLITZED : AN IMMEDIATE REACTION

With respect to USA, Algeria and Slovenia, England play their first quality opponents and get slaughtered. Though to be fair to the former trio, England on a good day are pretty much on their level.

SO WHO’S TO BLAME?
The Manager : Intransigent. As for the mistakes, I can’t be wasting an hour on his shortcomings at this tournament. As for taking questions from an interpreter after today’s game, what a final insult. Ciao.
The Premier League : It’s not the best league in the world, it’s the best paid league in the world. Stop kidding that its players are the best in the world and putting them on a pedestal. Moreover let’s not kid ourselves the English players in the Premier League are the best in the world. But don’t forget they have their families and their roots in this country with a full support system behind them whilst the foreign players are a long way from home.
The FA : They can sack the manager but this is where the cancer of mediocrity emanates from.
The Media : Pandering and massaging the ego’s of the players. Frankly it’s about time these prissy prima donnas are no longer treated as celebrities they are sportsmen and as has been exposed, some way off world class.
Television : Stop the hysterical ‘England Expects’ coverage, it puts additional pressure.
Agents : From a young age players are surrounded by agents who tell them how wonderful they are, they actually need people around them to tell them that they are overpaid and overrated. Frankly they are bloody lucky young men who should get on their hands and knees in gratitude to be paid to play football.
Beckham : Did you notice how after the Slovenia game, his fawning media friends started spinning how Becks had got Milner playing well. Beckham cost England 3 world cups whilst playing and ‘brand Beckham’s’ presence for England is always good for Brand Beckham it’s a liability and distraction for England.

WHAT IS TO BE DONE?
The Manager : Bring Back Hoddle? Bring Back anyone? Someone who will put the players in their place, knows tactics, blimey Eileen Drewery couldn’t have run England 2010 any worse.
Players : Don’t go for the prima donnas, go for people with a bit of fire in their belly desperate to wear the 3 lions. Prepared to play within a team pattern. If they are from mid table premier league teams or even second tier outfits, why not.
The FA : Get professionals in, get out the freeloaders, get out the apparatichiks and political appointees. Moreover if the FA are serious about success, they will sort out the grass roots. How with all their resources can England produce single footed players who can’t play in multiple positions and worst of all cannot control the ball properly.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

A COMMENTARY ON COMMENTARY

Yesterday’s BBC commentary on England v Slovenia has to be among the more ludicrous to have ever been broadcast. At best it was juvenile but infantile is probably a more appropriate description. I’m not going to waste time going over the multitude of stupidity but the commentator’s remark about the first 2 games being forgiven was so moronic given that the 2nd place finish in the easiest group ensures a path to the final that will now have to include Germany and Argentina. And as for Mark Lawrenson, ‘Lawro’ from Preston has the temerity to play the ‘England Cheerleader’ card when he chose himself to represent none other than....Ireland. Even though I find it morally wrong I can understand why limited players will use some obscure great grandad’s birth certificate to get a sniff of international football, but Lawrenson if he had wanted was easily a good enough player to regularly have the 3 lions on his shirt. So why didn’t the Cheerleader want them?

ANYONE FOR TENNIS

Last night I did the unthinkable, I passed up watching a big World Cup match (but I did watch the Germany v Ghana highlights later) to watch a game of tennis. And tell you what, I’m glad I did. The truly great football teams have the qualities of resilience, determination and a sheer bloody mindedness never to give in, to never surrender. None perhaps more so than Mr Struth’s legendary inter war Rangers. Last night I was privileged to watch Nicolas Mahut and John Isner break all tennis records in a final set tie break that finished in the mid summer dusk still deadlocked at 59 games all. Moreover in this age of cynical of professional sport awash with money it’s easy to think that one of the men would think of throwing it in as there will be another payday round the corner and why risk collecting an injury. Not a bit of it, not only was the physical stamina of both men awesome but their mental strength when clearly their body must have been telling them to do something else was truly staggering. In the tiny court 18 and watched by others from adjoining balaconies this was a truly rare and glorious throwback to the Corinthian ethos of playing sport for the honour of victory and the special pride in never accepting defeat. I suspect there’s a few footballers who would do well to take note.

Monday, 21 June 2010

BELATED UPDATE

JOB WELL DONE ANJUN
Big Thanks to Arjun of Printerama, Holloway Road, London for getting the new Rangers In London website up and running. Not only was I thoroughly impressed with his quality of work and value for money but most of all with his amazing levels of patience! Thank You Arjun. The Rangers in London ebook is available for purchase on the website.

WORLD CUP
The lack of updates has for the large part been due to the World Cup! So I suppose I ought to share a few thoughts. I’ve really enjoyed it, probably because I look for the positive not the negative. There’s been some very good games, a fair few surprises, good team football from the South Americans and some comedy relief courtesy of France and England.

BALLS
My only complaint is the ball, (and this isn’t an excuse for a tirade of ‘double entendres’ but it might sound like it) the problem is that as the balls get lighter they are much harder to manipulate and control when shooting (honestly I’m not trying to be funny) from range and this is why there’s not been as many thrilling goals from distance and unfortunately the best tactic seems to be to get the ball on target as it’s equally hard for goalkeepers to hold and so smart teams will shoot on target and chase in the rebound.

LOST MY BRIEFS
As for the vuvuzela’s, not my cup of tea but then again it’s South Africa’s world cup not ours. And overall I’ve been very impressed with the hosting and organisation. For the most part the refereeing has been first class, it would be nice if the tv coverage highlighted the good decisions. And speaking of the TV coverage, in the Rangers In London ebook I recall the legendary North London touts Fat Stan Flashman, One Arm Lou and Johnny the Stick but frankly Robbie the ‘Earle’ (I rather liked the Tout Of Africa headline) could have given this trio a run for their money or stock of briefs. I did rather like those beautiful ladies in orange, if that’s ambush marketing I’m all for it!

LOST MY SHIRT
Oh and as for my tip, ermm the first team knocked out of tournament I did warn you! Alas it was a rerun of Paul Le Guen at Rangers not at Lyons. As I’m drafting this blog I’m listening to Portugal 6 North Korea 0 so could this be Pedro Mendes year! But (sorry it’s now Portugal 7 North Korea 0,) Pedro was in my opinion a very good Ranger so that kind of doesn’t match the Rino Gattuso theorem. The South Americans look good and Chile could be a good bet if you’re looking for value but I still think one of the slow starting big European nations will get it together in the knockout phase. (Spain, Italy or England).

Most importantly I hope you’re enjoying the World Cup as much as myself and I promise more regular updates soon. As of tomorrow the games are only on at 3pm and 7pm, so no excuses.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

POPTASTIC - NOT 'ALF MATE

When I originally wrote the book I wanted to set the matches in the wider social context of the time. Music was of course then as it will always be, a major part of many people’s lives. And how often when you look back, it’s often something of a soundtrack to where you were at a given time and place. However the football took up all the space, so here is a list of my 3 favourite songs from each year of a visit from Rangers to London.

1960 : Raindrops Keep Fallin On My Head by BJ Thomas, Gloria by Shadows Of The Night and Remember Walkin In The Sand by the Shangri-Las
1962 : Telstar by the Tornados, Moon River by Danny Williams and Locomotion by Little Eva.
1963 : Louie Louie by the Kingsmen, It’s My Party by Lesley Gore and Return to Sender (Ticket application song!) by Elvis.
1964 : House of the Rising Sun by the Animals, Glad All Over by the Dave Clark 5 and 5-4-3-2-1 by Manfred Mann.
1967 : Puppet On A String by Sandie Shaw, A Whiter Shade Of Pale by Procul Harem and Like A Rolling Stone by Bob Dylan.
1968 : Those Were The Days (could have been written for the book!) by Mary Hopkin, The Good, The Bad And The Ugly by Hugo Montenegro and What A Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong.
1969 : Where Do You Go To My Lovely (Peter Sarstedt), The Liquidator by Harry J and the All Stars, Je T’aime by Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg.
1970 : In The Summertime by Mungo Jerry, Wandrin Star by Lee Marvin and All Right Now by Free.
1971 : My Sweet Lord by George Harrison, Take Me Home Country Roads by John Denver and American Pie by Don McLean.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

RANGERS IN LONDON SINCE 1878!

The earliest reference to Rangers In London if you read the current website is the 1892 joust with Arsenal. However this was not Rangers first trip to the capital.

CLAPHAM ALL THE WAY TO WEMBLEY
25 October 1878 : Clapham Rovers 1 Rangers 5
(Source : The Gers a day to day life by Graham Betts.)

However Clapham, brushed themselves down and went on to reach the 1878-79 Cup Final!

Given that in 2010 Portsmouth reached the FA Cup Final having played Rangers in a friendly before the start of the season, history shows that you know who to invite if you want to be at Wembley in May!

THE LIONS OF THE SOUTH
Aside from Arsenal the only other team Rangers faced in London before Sparta in 1960 were the ‘Lions of the South’ or as you will probably know them Millwall, twice in Friendlies.

THE SCOTTISH CONNECTION
This link with Millwall might be down to the Scottish roots of the lions. Millwall were formed in 1885 by Scottish employees of the Morton Jam Factory on the Isle of Dogs.

I attended a Millwall exhibition in 2002 by said Lion’s title.

On display were some original artefacts and flags from the club including saltires and red lion rampants. Millwall’s colours of course are the saltire’s blue and white.

However, much as I would love to say that Millwall was created exclusively by Rangers fans, if the wikipedia version of Wall’s history is correct it might not quite be so.

“J.T. Morton had his first factory in
Aberdeen, Scotland in 1849 to supply sailing ships with food. They opened their first English cannery and food processing plant on the Isle of Dogs at the Millwall dock in 1870, and attracted a workforce from across the whole of the country, including the East Coast of Scotland who were predominantly Dundee Dockers.”

Yet they can’t have been Dundee fans as Dundee FC was formed 8 years later in 1893 and Dundee United not until 1909! So maybe there was a bluenose involved in the creation of Millwall??? The plot thickens.

Anyway, if you don’t want to know the scores look away now, otherwise:

GONE TO THE (ISLE OF) DOGS
17 APRIL 1897: MILLWALL ATHLETIC 1 RANGERS 0

MILLWALL BEAT THE INVINCIBLES!
1 APRIL 1899: MILLWALL 5 RANGERS 1 (ATTENDANCE 7,000)

(The source again, The Gers a Day to Day Life by Graham Betts.)

This was a pretty amazing result giving the Rangers won every single league game in the 1898-99 season! The only match not won in the 1898-99 season was the Scottish Cup Final.

1899 FIXTURE CONGESTION!
Rangers did however play the day before against Liverpool on Merseyside and then travelled on to London which goes someway to explaining the performance.

GIVE THEM A BREAK...
Incidentally, 2 days later Rangers played on south coast at Southampton in another friendly (and won 1-0). So next time you hear a player complaining 5 games into the season that he needs a break…

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

JOHN BANKS WENT TO MECCA! A LINK TO A REMARKABLE LIFE

John Banks sold his chain of 34 betting shops to Mecca bookmakers for just under £1 million back in 1972 but that was by no means the end of a colourful life story which alas was ended cruelly by cancer in 2003.

Following his death, a number of obituaries celebrated the life of this amazing character. The most detailed in my opinion was this one, and I’m pleased my first link goes to such a well researched piece by Bob Shields on such a remarkable life story! (If you google ‘John Banks Glasgow Bookmaker’ you’ll get the others)


http://www.thefreelibrary.com/LORD+OF+THE+RING%3B+Never+scared+to+take+a+gamble,+legendary+bookie...-a0106573406

May this fearless bookmaker not only Rest In Peace, but 6/4 says that the next person in heaven has brown eyes!

Saturday, 29 May 2010

2010 WORLD CUP BETTING TIPS

VISIT THE BANKS
This is my tribute to the daredevil, fearless Glasgow layer John Banks who nearly went bankrupt on a genius display by Jim Baxter against Red Star Belgrade in 1964. His downfall was offering typically overly generous odds on players to score. Anyway John regrouped and if I’m not mistaken not only got his money back (those bookies always do) and later sold up his chain of betting shops for a lot of money. His generous odds were genuinely missed by punters and are still fondly recalled by older Glaswegians.

TRADITION
"The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that is the way to bet." Damon Runyon.
-And I would add the tortoise v the hare was definitely fixed. The hare has since denied ever meeting with members of a far east betting syndicate.

CHECK OUT THE FORM
Firstly the pre tournament prices are slim so you might as well wait for a couple of games to check out the form. The International Friendlies before the tournament when managers are still experimenting are not a great form guide.

BETTING ON THE 2 FINALISTS
Betting on the finalists is a tricky business, especially as some of the better teams are not always too upset about being group runners up. However that’s why the odds are long. If you want to have a punt it’s often a good idea to pick 2 teams from the same group (as they can’t meet again until the final) or teams from opposite ends of the draw.

TARGET THE DEAD RUBBERS
For match betting, the games to look out for are the last games in the group stages and the ‘dead rubbers’. Where a qualified team team plays an eliminated one.

Sometimes nations that have already qualified will use these matches to rest their best players, omit players on a yellow card as they don’t want them to risk suspension for the knock out stages, rotate the squad to keep fringe players happy etc.. and of course sometimes if you’ve got your eye on the big picture it is no great heartache to finish second in the group and possibly get an easier route to the final. For a team already out, there is considerable pride to play for, players one last chance to showcase their talent, putting on a show to ease the forthcoming criticism back home and of course a desire to say that they won a game at the World Cup.

What I’m saying is, this is the set of matches when there’s real value in backing the underdog.

SLOW STARTERS.
Another thing to look out for is for teams that are sluggish starters, the odds on them drift out. Historically Italy are a good example of a team that are slow out of the blocks (possibly due to their defensive first nature) but are very dangerous in the knockout phases. Their 1982 win, a very good example. Sometimes a big team might be shocked early on eg Argentina against Cameroon in 1990, not only will this galvinise the team but their odds after that defeat went out to 33-1 and if you backed them ‘each way’ you would have collected as they went on to reach the Final. (And if you’re good at maths, you could have then laid off the bet in the final to guarantee a bigger win)

CLOSE GAMES
The other thing to bear in mind is that in the knockout phases, draws are particularly frequent over 90minutes.

OR ASK LOU
Celtic football club once appointed a guy called Lou Macari as manager, Lou was what is known as a category Z punter. that’s a phrase in the betting industry for bookies to be very wary of said punter. Among his coups, famously he collected at 100-1 on a team he then managed, Swindon to lose a match 5-0. I think he does quite a bit of media work so I’d listen closely to his predictions!
(Edited To Add : Just googled Lou Macari and it seems his betting predictions of late have not been so great)


IF WE CAN'T RELY ON LOU, GO ON GIVE US A TIP
OK – CAMEROON! (80-1 with Corals)
“With the competition on the African continent, an African country is well placed to launch a serious challenge and Cameroon have got some very good players and have plenty of World Cup Experience.” But whilst that’s all very true, I’m actually basing my prediction on the Rino Gattuso theorem.

Namely they are managed by one Paul Le Guen and so somebody who was not successful with Rangers will therefore go on to lift the World Cup. If only John Banks were still laying odds.

& LASTLY
Don’t bet more than you can afford, but if you’re a compulsive gambler you will ignore that anyway. Bear in mind that if I was a top gambler (or like Lou once was, a category Z punter) I would be in the Caribbean sipping tequilas not a rundown home office in rainy North London.

REDS, WHITES & BLUES ROUND UP FOR 2010

REDS, WHITES AND BLUES ROUND UP FOR 2010
CONGRATULATIONS, COMMISERATIONS AND THANK YOU’S.

Whilst I’m waiting for the new website to be coded and uploaded, I would like to begin by a quick round up of the Rangers in London clubs for 2010.

GLASGOW RANGERS CHAMPIONS
Firstly, Congratulations to Rangers on their world record 53rd Scottish title and a remarkable 9 man victory in the League Cup Final. Particular praise must go to Walter Smith and the coaching staff for getting the most out of our squad when financial constraints have made buying re-inforcements impossible. Yet it is the very quality and tradition of resilience in the face of adversity that makes Rangers so special. Equally so, the support given to the 9 men at Hampden was not just breathtaking but a crucial factor in a triumph against the all the odds.

A special well done to 40 year old Davie Weir who played in every minute of every league game against and with players old enough to be his sons. You are an inspiration. Delighted Walter Smith will be in charge for 1 more year and the chance to make it 3-in-a-row.

Incidentally, I’m in that camp that thinks his assistant the legendary Ally McCoist will be a great manager when he takes over in 2 years time as unlike some players who immediately become managers, Ally has patiently served his apprenticeship working alongside Walter Smith. In the process sacrificing a cushy, lucrative and fantastic lifestyle as a media pundit to work daily on the training ground. He is and will be determined but I trust remain the popular, smiling and fun gentleman that he’s always been.

Obviously, the sooner the financial mess is sorted out and David Murray is once and for all out of Rangers the better. I hope at least a responsible custodian is installed who is there for the football, Rangers and not the chance of a quick buck or a bit of property. I hope we can move upwards in Europe where even if we probably won’t win the Champions League, we will at least punch our weight again.

WE ARE THE PEOPLE!

HONOURABLE MENTIONS
Also Thanks to former Celtic manager Tony Mowbray for his contributions or lack of them during the season. A special Thanks to Scottish Cup Finalists Ross County for giving me the best laugh of the season with their glorious semi final triumph. Listening to Neil Lennon afterwards, pure comedy gold.

LONDON

BLUE IS THE COLOUR BLUE IS THE COLOUR
Congratulations to Chelsea for winning their first ever League and Cup Double. Not just for collecting the trophies but the way they won them with dynamic, attacking football and a hatful of goals. Carlo Ancelloti hit the floor running and though Manchester United without Ronaldo and Tevez were not the team they had been (see also Arsenal below), you can only beat what’s in front of you and the longer Ancelloti is there the better you should become. Incidentally if I’m not mistaken this is the 3rd consecutive season that the winners of the Champions League have been the team to beat Chelsea. Maybe next year Roman’s final wish will come true. (Looking at his wealth and Chelsea’s triumphs, here’s the man who found a lock up full of lamps complete with genies inside)

GLORY GLORY HALLEJUAH. TOTTENHAM ARE BACK
Congratulations to Spurs on reaching the Champions League for the first time and earning their first tilt at the big eared cup since 62. It’s been great talking to normally cynical Spurs fans in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and beyond already looking forward to next season with an excitement akin to a young child the night before Christmas. That’s what football is about. For so many years, all the aggravation, recriminations and then the hit of joy that makes it all worthwhile. For goodness sakes Spurs, don’t screw up your Champions League Group Stage qualifier, the Samaritans in North London couldn’t cope. Incidentally, even my cousin an Arsenal fan (his Dad is a Spurs Season Ticket holder and he’s been wandering around with the widest grin on his face) didn’t begrudge you your Champions League spot, he’s very moralistic and was pleased it went to yourselves rather than Man City who spent a small fortune trying to buy their way there. And well done to Harry Redknapp for setting a high target, reaching it and for somehow making a quality keeper out of the man formerly known as Hilarious Gomes. A metaphoric slap (this blog does not incite or condone violence) though and I daresay more than a few of you will agree with me is deserved in the direction of the Directors for recently buying up the historic Corner Pin pub only to immediately close it and turn it into another ticket office. That is not progress it’s cultural vandalism.

THANK YOU ARSENAL
When you look at the Arsenal team of the early 1960’s a 3rd place finish would be worthy of Congratulations. However by the standards set by Arsene Wenger and not least by his ‘invincibles’ it’s probably a case of Better Luck next time. As usual Arsenal played some absolutely glorious stuff at various points of the season but I hardly need to tell you about the clowning around between the sticks and lack of depth up front. Still in Arsene Wenger you must trust, to those Arsenal fans who get on his back well frankly it could get plus mal quand il quitte l’Arsenal. You might also want to watch out for an impending boardroom battle, Arsenal is extremely well run, your new stadium amazing but you don’t want to be another Manchester United or Liverpool run by spiv, leverage merchants.


Thank You for hosting the Emirates Cup and I can’t believe you considered Jack Wilshire surplus to requirements for this season and loaned him to Bolton, that young man was simply brilliant against us. Finally, wishing young Aaron Ramsey a full and speedy recovery from that terrible injury sustained at Stoke.

RECORD BREAKERS OF WEST LONDON
Congratulations to QPR for their attempt at breaking the world record for managers hired and fired in a season. Not sure if it’s been verified yet. Still at least you stayed up and hopefully can now remove the revolving door in the manager’s office as you now have in place a really good manager who knows the division and how to get out of it and has funds available from the assorted billionaire owners with the one’s now running the show promising no further boardroom interference. So long as they keep to their word, I think you’re in with a real shout for Promotion next season.

BELGRADE

WILL DO EVEN BETTER
Congratulations to Red Star Belgrade on their 2010 Serbian Cup Triumph.
Red star though are like Rangers in that they are a massively and passionately supported club whose fans expect them to win the League Championship every season. Sadly this year it wasn’t to be and it was a 3rd place finish. Still football is frequently cyclical and who knows it might not be too long until you have another great side like the European Cup winners of 1991. Good Luck in Europe next year.
ROTTERDAM

COMMISERATIONS SPARTA
Commiserations to Sparta Rotterdam who finished 16th in the 18 team Eredivisie but then got relegated in the play offs. Least said, the better. Hope you make a speedy return to the top flight. Bring back Dennis Neville!

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

HELLO HELLO, HALLO HALLO, ZDRAVO ZDRAVO.
Welcome To The Blog To Accompany Rangers In London.
~Lots of ½ interesting content coming soon~

The Rangers In London website is currently being updated.
(Yeah I know, last update 2005)

The Rangers In London ebook will be released
with the updated Rangers in London website.

Both website and book with a bit of luck should be ready
before the World Cup kicks off. (They better had!)