Monthly Archives: June 2014

Final ESPN piece

Dear readers,

This was my final ESPN piece. It’s a few days old now. I’ve enjoyed writing it. Unfortunately, for the last piece, they edited it quite a lot to make it seem that I have been very critical (they left in the criticisms and took out most of the positives. ESPN want to make the world think that I think Honduras were heavy handed, when in truth, I don’t think they were any more heavy handed than other Latin American teams. My opinion, but feel free to disagree. I will include the link either way, but also include the unedited version. I hope you like it. http://www.espnfc.com/team/honduras/215/blog/post/1916447/honduras-world-cup-2014-summary

Since then, there have been reports that the club owners (of Olimpia and Motagua and Real Espana) who are also president’s of the national team, were having a say on who should be in the national team (so clubs from other parts of the world can see them, and therefore be sold on at high prices). Unfortunately the team didn’t do to well and they’ve had minimal inquiries. There have also been reports of unfair payments to players if they did well, which caused some players to get a bit pissed off.

Now for the piece that I truly did write.

1) Sum up your team’s tournament in one sentence
For all their hope and effort, poor mentality, not enough quality, bad tactical decisions and unfair refereeing decisions have sent Honduras packing.

2) Star Man
Carlo Costly – He scored Honduras’s only goal, their first in 32 years in a world cup. He was unfortunate to miss the last world cup through injury, so this should at least make up for some of that disappointment. He scored some hugely important goals during the CONCACAF qualifying round and he plays with the passion, desire and aggression that Hondurans love to see. At 32 years of age, it’ll be his last world cup, but no one will forget seeing his face with tears rolling his cheeks while running to celebrate his goal.

3) Highlights
Carlo Costly’s goal. It came in the 31st minute against Ecuador, and even though they only held the lead for three minutes before Ecuador’s Enner Valencia equalised, it was fantastic for Hondurans just to celebrate a goal. What a fine goal too, with Costly dispossessing a defender, latching on to the loose ball, shrugging off an opponent and striking it into the bottom left-hand corner, sending the fans wild, however momentarily.

4) Low Points
There were a few low points to say the least, the first being the mentality, a long-term issue rather than a World Cup low-point. Jorge Valdano’s well publicised appointment as team motivator has 0% impact, so it seems. Honduras, who started off with a bit of a footballing identity crisis, went flying in with wild challenges, something we didn’t see in the qualifying rounds (labelled as “violent” in the European media)and made them look a bit desperate. Even though they knocked the ball around quite well in patches, this is the least we expect at a world cup. Some parts of the Honduran media suggest there were conflicts in the camp, especially surrounding the Alan Peralta injury, as well as accusations of Honduran club owners having a say on the line up, so affluent clubs could see their players and try and sell them on.It seems not all was well.

Some of the senior players failed to show up. Emilio Izaguirre, despite doing reasonably well to stop Antonio Valencia in the first half against Ecuador, was the shadow of the man who plays for Celtic. Another was Wilson Palacios, who was foolishly sent off and left his team to play with ten men against France, which he came under severe criticism for (“he’s not played well for years for el bicolor,” supporters claim). Jerry Bengston was another disappointment, guilty of missing two easy opportunities in the Switzerland game. If Carlo Costly decides to retire, La H will be relying on Bengston to come with the goods in the future.

La H has a right to feel aggrieved about the refereeing. They certainly didn’t get rub of the green in this department. In the first game against France, Paul Pogba should have been sent off for petulantly kicking Wilson Palacios. The referee also refused to give a penalty when Varane fouled Costly. The same against Ecuador when Costly was again hauled down, coupled with a disallowed goal for handball, which even the linesman didn’t raise his flag to. Against the Swiss, Jerry Palacios was hauled down, a clear penalty that the referee didn’t give. Conspiracies that referees only help bigger teams polluted the Honduran newspapers. Had they got some of those decisions, Honduras’s world cup could have been a lot more fruitful.

5) Lessons learned
Straight after the Swiss game, coach Luis Suarez stood down, which was expected. How much the team learned is difficult to answer, especially as the coach is moving on. In regards to the team’s quality, we didn’t see La H at their very best. Had Suarez lined the team up in modern formation, making better use of the defensive and attacking midfielders, they might have fared better. In a 4-4-2 formation Suarez played two defensive midfielders in the centre, therefore sacrificing their attacking options.Also, the lack of winning of mentality is the coach’s responsibility, and therefore Suarezcould have done a lot better.

Noel Valladares, Victor Muma Bernardez, Maynor Figuroa and Carlo Costly have surely played their last big tournament. While there is a small batch of young players coming through, with the likes of Boniek Garcia, Marvin Chavez, Andy Najar and Luis Garrido, they’ll struggle to make it to the next world cup. However, watch out for Honduras in eight years. The Under-17 team did very well in their respective world cup last October.

Honduras wasn’t expected to pass the group stage. Catrachos were hoping they’d at least win a game. They played well in patches, but in the end they lost all three matches and proved to be the whipping boys they were expected to be. They scored a goal and showed they can put pressure on teams, but little else, which is a shame for a football loving nation. The fans deserved more, but they have accepted that the players aren’t up to the level. It’s a bitter pill to swallow seeing other CONCACAF teams doing so well, especially with Mexico and Costa Rica being their fiercest rivals. It’s left Hondurans thinking, “What might have been!”


World Cup poem

Dear readers,

Honduras play today having to win by two or three goals and hope France do them a grand favor by beating Ecuador by a similar amount. I suppose I should take back everything I have said about the French (apart from a French girl who three years ago behaved like a sulky bitch towards me, which got worse when I wrote in my PRIVATE journal about her sulky bitch behaviour, and she decided (with her witch like buddies) that PRIVATE journals are for PUBLIC reading. I won’t name names (I’m like Harry Redknapp, me), but if she’s reading, you know who you are!). England are out, Spain are out, Italy are out (we had an Italian living in the Las Colinas mafia house (that use of the word mafia was no cheap pun aimed at the Italian by the way, just a joke we have between the remaining English, Spanish and Honduran housemates), and I suppose Luis Suarez will be joining them, due to his fixation on biting people. The Uruguayan FA, coach and media seem to have been taking tips out of Sepp Blatter’s illogical little book by blaming the actions of their own defected personnel on the British media, which makes me as a British journalist feel a bit victimised, which says something having seen the phone hacking trial come to head this week (so it was Andy Coulson all along!! What a great surprise!).

"Don't bite people."

“Don’t bite people.”

Luis Suarez certainly can’t be accused about be closed minded when trying international cuisine, despite being accused of being racist. He’s now had a bit of Dutch, Serbian and Italian. I know the world has a poor opinion of British food (people from around the world seem to think that British cuisine stops at fish and chips and deep-fried Mars bars, but they don’t seem to have tried Sunday roast, British cider or Walkers Prawn Cocktail crisps. Bloody closed-minded foreigners). There have been homo-erotic jokes that he gives players love bites and he likes to distract defenders by charming them (he obviously doesn’t need to with English defenders; they’d roll right over for him). But at the end of the day, the last laugh is on us, as a Swede found out when he made a bet that Suarez would bite someone during this world cup. What brilliant idea. I could have put a tenner on and been a millionaire. But jokes aside, Luis Suarez has an issue. He’s up there with Messi and Ronaldo but there’s a few defunct wires in his dead somewhere, that sparks off these ridiculous acts. The British media have a right to report on this, just like the rest of the world, no matter how much the Uruguayan FA try to distract the world by blaming the Brits. Shame on them! The world is watching now. Does he deserve a ban? Yes. What does this mean for Liverpool and Real Madrid/Barca? No one knows, but I suspect all these clubs will be getting him some very well-paid psychologists to try and enter the mind of the amazing, yet faulted, Luis Suarez.

Here is a poem about the world cup.

The World Cup

To say it’s just a game,
You deserve a torn limb.
To ask, “Why are you so obsessed?”
You appear extremely dim.

Football is the funniest sport,
Where grown men bite and kick each other,
There’s splendid athletes full of testosterone and passion,
And the governing body take bribes for one and other.

Now if you find you’re an England supporter,
You have to accept your team’s crap,
Watching other teams play with ease and flair,
Makes you want to give your own over-paid players a slap.

If you’re a supporter of Honduras,
You will see plenty aggressive passion,
There won’t be too many goals to enjoy,
But they won’t show opponent’s shins any compassion.

It’s globalisation at it’s worst,
Where Budweiser and McDonalds wield their name,
The world comes together in a hysteria of xenophobia,
And out of reckless acts on the pitch, somehow the British media gets the blame!

But football is still the best,
Despite it’s foolish money-making defects,
And don’t be afraid of being a glory supporter,
Because only misery comes to those who support teams with no prospects.

By the way, the last line is not aimed at Honduras. It is a voice of experience: England and Birmingham, go and figure!

To finish off, this is one of my favourite images of supporters. Ever.

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ESPN HONDURAS BLOG – REVIEW OF ECUADOR GAME

Dear readers,

In our house lives a Spaniard, a Honduran and an Englishman. Up to a couple of weeks ago there was also an Italian and Hungarian. Four of those nations were in the World. We were all excited in the run up to the World Cup. Nacho was particularly mocking England saying that they are likely to finish behind what we thought would be the whipping boys Costa Rica at the bottom of the group, but it seems the Ticos have already outplayed the Italians and the Uruguayans and the English are being served up next on the plate. It seems though, Nacho might be right. An rightly so, after their pathetic performance against a less than vintage Uruguayan team (their best player was on crutches a fortnight ago). Spain, who were one of the favourites (and I was mocking them for the end of tiki-taka), were probably worse than England (at least England looked bothered again Italy). But last, and definitely not means least, Honduras. We all had hope that they would put a couple of performances but we were pretty sure they would fail to get out of the group. Despite their loss to France when they were down to ten men and played off the park (the French should have had Paul Pogba sent off: the referee decided that only the English should be red carded kicking in retaliation and the French again get off the hook with an amazing piece of luck. Let’s be fair though, the French have played some great football), Honduras has played with a lot of passion that has put England and Spain to shame. The news that Harry claims he has had some English players not wanting to play doesn’t surprise me at all. As always suspected, the Premier League rules the roost and they don’t give a hoot about the English national team. Why would Mourinho or Pelligrini wait on the slow progression of English players when they can hop over to Spain and buy a player who is technically better and more tactically aware? They’d be risking their own jobs if results aren’t up to near perfection. Scudmore could help by setting a charter or some sort of rule demanding a team has to play at least four English players at any one time, but he has made it quite clear that he doesn’t give a hoot. However, he could making the league more exciting by doing so. By doing this, it would make top coaches do their best to train the young English players, as well as try to bring only the best foreign players to the Premiership.

However, this isn’t a knock on foreign players. They have played a huge hand in making the Premiership the most exciting league in the world. And to put any xenophobic thoughts to rest, I HATE UKIP. I just love football.

bean

The stats for England, Spain and Honduras in this world cup is pretty much on par with Birmingham City (I’m far used to Birmingham, but at least our defence seems stronger than England’s!). Played six, lost six. And where we thought Honduras were doing to be knocked out first, they are the only ones left in, with a slight glimmer of hope if they beat Swiss by a couple of goals and hope the French massacre Ecuador (even though they are pretty much guaranteed passage to the next round). It’s a lot to ask for, but it’s still possible. I watched the Honduran v Ecuador game in the Marriott Hotel. The atmosphere was buzzing and Honduras played well. They were unlucky not to win a penalty and have two goals disallowed, but they can say their team restored some pride, having been criticized for some of the tackling (note, only the consented Europeans are moaning. Uruguay, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador and Brazil have also been a bit heavy handed, but without the same criticism. The Latin American teams do play like that, but they are not a patch on the aggressiveness of the English leagues or the Madrid derby or El Classico. Hondurans have a right to feel victimised). Seeing Hondurans score, especially Costly who missed the 2010 World Cup to injury, was a beautiful thing. It was the first goal in the finals since 1982. The release and happiness was fantastic. The emotion on his face will be ever lasting in my life. Tears rolling down his cheeks. A player who cared. Who is passionate about playing for his country. Take note England. He also played for Birmingham for a short time.

carlo costly

So, we could make an English, Scots and Irishman type of joke out this. I’m not sure yet which way it would go, but we could be based on a very basic fact: Which is the odd one out between the Spanish, the English and the Hondurans? Yes, Honduras is Central America. And yes, Honduras is still in the World Cup!!

If Honduras go out after the Swiss game, which unfortunately is highly probable, the ESPN blogs will be coming to an end, which is a shame because I’ve really enjoyed doing it. Here is my review of the Honduras v Ecuador game.

http://www.espnfc.us/team/honduras/215/blog/post/1900337/despite-losseshonduras-holding-on


Birmingham Mail

Hi all,

It seems that I had two articles published with Birmingham Mail. Here’s the second. http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/feature-gregg-evans-talks-hall-7225548


Radio Star (again!)

Dear readers,

Spain are out. People say it’s a shock but it’s not for me. Six glorious years but they failed to change their style. I hated tiki-taka with lust, but I don’t want to make this personal to Spanish people or the country itself. I have many great friends for the Iberian peninsula and had great times in the lively Spanish cities. Maybe it’s being English and we love fast counter attacking games, which makes the Premiership the most watched league in the world. It certainly changed football and will be remembered in history, but the games are like a gruesome slow death, a bit like a bullfight (I suppose this is an unlikely case of the bull getting revenge on the matador, and the usually successful matador is a bit unsure what to do). Funnily enough tiki-taka is a phrase from Catalonia, used to describe the passing footballing style that Barcelona adopted (they claim that they invented it but Ajax, Brazil, Liverpool and Arsenal have all used it long before, and at some point, all their bubbles burst when opposing teams learned how to play against it). Gary Neville referred to it as “passing without purpose” or something like it, and I agree, except I prefer to call it shitty-taka. I hope Spain doesn’t wish vengeance on me and hope Uruguay wins tomorrow. Even though England played well against Italy, I’ve a feeling Uruguay are going to gatecrash our kindergarten party tomorrow, even though they weren’t great against Costa Rica. Back to Spain, I hope they return with a new style. Something more interesting. I look forward to see what they come up with. Here’s a cruel little photo someone sent me earlier.

image

Now for the real reason you’re here. I was on a radio show today all about Britpop. It was by a friend called Diego Ardon, who went with ICYE to Finland, and I learned the other day he was a student at Dowal, the school I work at. He’s also a huge music fan. I was on the show with him and his best mate Noel Ortiz, another former Dowal student. It took place in a studio right close to my house, a place called RDS. I knew it was there but I always wondered what happened inside. It will include Oasis, Stone Roses and Pulp etc. I am including a link here. The show is called A La Izquierda de la Dial (to the left of the dial). They play alternative music, something that’s not always easy to hear on Honduran radio. It’s on at 9ish on Friday Central American time ( the UK is 7 hours ahead. You can pick up on the Internet. It will be 4am on Saturday. Go on. You know you want to hear my smooth sensual voice. Here are the details. https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=649229415125945


Birmingham Mail article about Honduras (and me)

Dear readers,

An extremely short and concise entry. An article, not written by me, but includes me, was printed in Birmingham Mail. Here it is online. http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/birmingham-city-fan-living-honduras-7225705. Enjoy.


ESPN – HONDURAS – FRANCE AFTER-MATCH OPINION ENTRY

Dear readers,

I love writing the ESPN blog for Honduras and I’m not looking forward to the day they are eventually knocked out. It was inevitable that Honduras would find it difficult but I expected them to put a performance together. I think, despite a few bad tackles, the media has over done the tackling. Thanks to Gerrard, a man who is known for putting in a few dirty challenges himself in a league full of rough tackling, he is one to talk! Hondurans like a physical game: it’s true! Playing five a side, elbows fly, challenges are late, tempers fly, but to say they are dirty or violent is a tad unfair. Honduras’s reputation is not helped by Mexican journalists, who for a long time have had a chip on their shoulder with the CONCACAF cousins. One of those is Andre Marin, who repeatedly writes negative and slightly discriminatory comments about Honduras on Twitter. I have a feeling he is just winding people up. If not, he really does have a chip on his shoulder about Honduras. I would have loved to have seen his face when Honduras beat Mexico in the Azteca. This is one of his tweets.

10405249_10154311385395515_2764301574667383412_n

The reply by the Honduran journalist is amusing. Allow me to translate:

Andres Marin: “For performances like Honduras, in the world thinks the Concacaf is rubbish”

Just a reminder that Honduras finished above Mexico in the qualifiers. Mexico might have gotten off to a better start in the World Cup, but their first game was against a poor Cameroon side that up to just a couple of weeks ago was on strike! In fact, the only two things the country has in common with Honduras’s opposition France is that they speak French and they strike a lot. France were very good. Had Mexico of played, a would have predicted a similar scoreline. To Mexicans reading, this is not a slight on your nation: just a knock at Andres Marin. Talking of knocks at Andres Marin, Honduras journalist Luis Bastillo from the newspaper Diario Diez returned with this:

Luis Bastillo: “For comments like this is that they think that the Mexican sports journalism is rubbish”

Another funny text message doing the rounds was about President Juan Orlando editing out the fifth verse of the Honduran national anthem that pays homage to the French.

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Here’s another funny photo to do with the England. I’ve heard the English press has been a bit critical of Wayne Rooney. A tad unfair. Enjoy the picture.

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Here’s a final photo that I found doing the rounds on the social media, which has little to do with football, but it is funny to look at. I thought you all might appreciate this.

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No more monkeying around, here is the real reason that you came to the blog, for the ESPN entry.
http://www.espnfc.com/team/honduras/215/blog/post/1887913/honduras-must-rally-after-crushing-defeat