Scotland B v Northern Ireland B – Will there be any winners?

April 29, 2009

Scot-NI

A week’s time from now, we will know what the result will be from the Scotland v Northern Ireland B international being played at Broadwood, but the question is, will there be any winners, or only losers?

For George Burley, the occasion seems to hold more risk.  As the ‘better team’ (source arrogant Scots fans, not my own opinion) they have more reason to question the usefulness of the exercise.  Burley has already come under criticism from Chick Young for the nature, and the timing of the game.  He has suffered the setback of Kris Boyd rejecting a chance to return to involvement with the international team, Ala Chris Sutton.  On top of that there is ignominy of being unable to select any players involved in the Old Firm set up, as well as players belonging to Aberdeen, Dundee United, Hearts and Hibernian, teams who play on the same night.

For Nigel Worthington, the night provides a great opportunity to look at some of the fringe players available to him in the squad.  Expect Tuffey and Carson to get 45 minutes each as both battle to prove themselves worth of a regular squad place, waiting patiently for Maik Taylor’s retirement.  Regulars under Roy Millar when he was in charge of the u-21s, Rory McArdle (a defender in the Craigan/Murdock mould), Craig Cathcart and Chris Casement have the opportunity to show Worthington they are ready for the step up.  In midfield Michael O’Connor will dominate, showing that his impressive 45 minutes against the Czechs in September was no fluke, while up front I’d expect Jamie Ward to get 70 minutes and a goal, unless Sheffield United remain in the playoffs, in which case his withdrawal would be expected and understood.

Worthington is on record as articulating his belief in these exercises; 

 

“This match bridges the gap between the Under-21s and the seniors, which is a big jump,” said the Northern Ireland manager.

It is an ideal opportunity for us to have a look at some fringe players and some young players. I do not see the point of including players that I know enough about.

“If they perform well against Scotland, they could well be in my thoughts to face Italy [in June].

For Scotland and Burley, I think the match will also prove to be deeply constructive, but he has more obstacles to overcome to convince his players, and the press, that this is so.

 

Frankly, I think the match will prove to be entirely useful for the Northern Ireland set up.  With the team cruelly providing hope of qualification, there is a strong desire for fringe players to realise their dream of international football.  It gives Worthington a chance to have a close look at players – some of whom will be a part of our set up for the next few years – not only in training, but in a match setting with a natural competitive edge.


Sophie Scholl – The Final Days (2005). “Decency, Morals, God”

April 27, 2009

Last night I watched Sophie Scholl – The Final Days, and would encourage you to watch at least part of the film, this fascinating clip below.

Sophie Scholl and her brother have been arrested for their involvement in the White Rose movement, distributing leaflets criticising the Nazi regime and Hitler.

After thorough interrogation their guilt is proven, and here (2mins 3os in) we see a conversation between Scholl and Investigator Mohr, who treats her in this as intellectual equal, dealing with issues of morality, conscience and God.

The White Rose movement holds high significance, showing clearly that there was opposition to the Nazis from within Germany, thought painfully highlighting its infrequency and lack of strength.

I was in Cologne a few years ago where the actions of the White Rose movement are now celebrated annually.

Article on Sophie Scholl from the Catholic Herald can be found here


Scrap the Scrap money

April 27, 2009

£2,000 for a 1965 Morris Minor which hasn’t been roadworthy for decades? Scrap it

The decision by Alistair Darling to introduce a car scrappage scheme whereby you can trade in your old car for £2,000 off a new one is a ludicrous one.

As an article in today’s Times shows, loopholes are rife. The scheme would allow me to trade in the Renault 9 GT Turbo I bought on Ebay for £42* – providing I had a SORN (statutory off road notification) and owned the car for a year – and receive £2,000 off a brand new car. I’m interested to see what this will do to the second hand car market.  Even if you overpaid and bought my Renault 9 off me for £200 and took me along to sign the paperwork, you’d still be on course to save £1,800, providing you were planning on buying a new car in the first place.

The scheme undoubtedly benefits the car industry, sure, but why prop up an industry that is fuelling (see what I did there) increased carbon levels? Why not follow Obama – a leader who recognises that renewable energy, and the manufacturing of hybrid cars will create jobs and boost a flailing economy – and promote ‘green’ cars, and use this scheme in accordance with this?

It’s Economy over Environment once more, and ignorant of the huge potential for both to compliment each other

*Incidentally, I don’t have this car anymore, having sold it – ironically – for scrap, netting £90


Gerry the Prod?

April 27, 2009

An article in today’s BT (quoted here at the Indy) attributes some interesting quotes to Gerry Adams talking about faith with Gay Byrne as part of a series on the spiritual beliefs of public figures.

“I have formed an opinion,” he says to Byrne, “and it’s probably a Protestant thing, that the notions of having some sort of middle-man isn’t altogether necessary.” He admits he hasn’t gone to confession “in years,” preferring to speak directly with God.
When asked on the matter of Transubstantiation and whether the elements are the real body of Jesus Christ, he replied unconvincingly “Who knows?”
With these comments perhaps alienating some ardent Catholics, and McGuinness seen by many nationalists to be ‘in bed’ with the DUPers, just how are SF perceived amongst their traditional base? I’d love to see some poll data…

R we getn thikker?

April 27, 2009

Eugh…even my own title repulses me

I’m glad to see the media are providing coverage on the ever-decreasing value of language, vocabulary, spelling, grammar.
In today’s Indy (and BT) Robert Fisk writes an opinion piece lambasting society’s reluctance to read books, and the knock on effects this has on grammar
Meanwhile in The Times, a leading report by Alexandra Frean on the shrinking range of language in children (especially amongst disadvantaged children) coins the phrase ‘word poverty’, and makes an interesting observation – “If a child hits or pushes another child, it is usually because they don’t have the language of conflict resolution.”
Other pieces worth looking at are the appalling comments made here by a ‘leading academic’ calling for spelling within English language to be re-drafted along phonetic lines.
Another interesting report can be found here, at First Things, A self-titled journal of Religion, Culture and Public life which makes the point that the Internet has not increased our learning, but rather increased our social network at the expense of our social skills. I found this particularly true: “The genuine significance of the Web to a seventeen-year-old mind is not the universe of knowledge brought to their fingertips, but an instrument of non-stop peer contact”
Below is my favourite mis-spelling, taken at London protests against Israeli strikes in Gaza


Match Fixing – justifying the original scepticism of Professionalism?

April 24, 2009

The Independent reportstoday on the betting scam surrounding a match between Accrington Stanley and Bury at the end of last season, which saw home side Accrington lose 2-0. Meanwhile at home, the Irish League is once more embroiled in the now annual farce of supposed match fixing where teams with nothing to play for are suddenly backed either to win or to lose by huge sums of money. Gareth Fullerton broke the story on the front page of the Belfast Newsletter, reporting that Paddy Power are only taking bets on the IPL matches involving Linfield and Glentoran this weekend.

These problems were foresaw at the very inception of professional sport in the late 19th Century, and the prospect of match fixing was one of the major reasons why Gentlemen Amateurs were desperately against the introduction of payment for playing. Neal Garnham reports that “In England the most influential arguments against professionalism had been based on ‘the social antipathy of men who considered professional sport ethically unacceptable’”. There was a genuine fear that if a man was being paid to win, he could be bought to lose.

Reference – Garnham, Neal; Association Football and Society in Pre-Partition Ireland; (Ulster Historical Foundation, Belfast, 2004).


“Why we can’t go to war with North Korea” according to one American

April 24, 2009

This simplistic article highlights numerous reasons why the US shouldn’t go to war with North Korea. However whilst he illustrates why a war isn’t a good idea (and it isn’t) he implies that any interference in the goings on of NK is none of the USA’s business, even if they do bomb Japan.

Fascinatingly enough, he quotes Santanya’s well known phrase, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it” to illustrate his point about the mistakes of the Korean War. However, he should also imply that phrase to the Isolationist policy the US had in the 30s and early 40s which allowed a dictator far too much room to manoeuvre and almost brought about a restructuring of world order. With the new totalitarian regime possessing nuclear weapons, this is no time for America to be isolationist, and thankfully Obama seems to recognise this