Are celebrities the new fall guys for our powerless society?

I am not an apologist for the words of Andy Gray and Richard Keys, but it seems that Gray’s dismissal was unusually swift. I wonder how much of this was down to the public “outcry” over what was said, or down to the Sky Empire’s desire to be seen to have a softer side as the proposed buyout from Murdoch gathers pace.

Recently we have seen a number of unpopular policy decisions suggested and then acted upon by our politicians:
-the bailout of the banks
– the cuts agenda
-the rise in tuition fees
..as well as other actions which have been out of the hands of the public such as the award of sky-high bankers bonuses this month. All of these measures have seen massive public demonstrations and protests, but they’ve led to no changes in policy so far. It’s all been allowed to just happen.

Because of this failure by the public to influence and change Government policy…are we now switching our attention to everything said and done by public figures as a way of venting this frustration and anger? I don’t think it’s too much of a leap to make. Major names in the BBC, figures in the world of sport, Daily Mail columnists, women who put cats in bins, and politicians’ private lives have all been the subject of media campaigns of some sort…usually ending with a resignation or apology. And you could say this triviality then distracts our attention from more serious news.

Ch _ _ ch – what’s missing? U R ..etc.

Listening to Nicky Campbell on Five Live this morning just before 7am, Stuart Elliott the former Hull City player and NI international was being interviewed about his decision to quit football and become a Pastor.

It’s quite well known over here that Stuart Elliott is very open about his Christian faith, yet as he explained his reasons for becoming a Minister, and gave his opinion on a few different issues including why the Pope’s beliefs are not shared by him it became more and more cringeworthy to me. I felt a bit ashamed of myself.

Stuart wasn’t expressing views that surprised me. In fact, I agreed with most of it – but listening to him felt embarrassing. Perhaps it was the starkness of what he was talking about – no embellishments, no illustrations, just a simple articulation of what he believed.

I wouldn’t say it offended me, but definitely stirred a strong reaction, maybe almost the sort of reaction someone strongly opposed to Christianity might have, which shocked me a bit.

Over the years I’ve developed a nostalgic affinity with the old road signs, smart-alec slogans, sandwich boards, and megaphone men that are still around – rather than regarding them as constant reminders of why I am here and what I must do.

Perhaps the reality of the gospel and the Kingdom of God is closer to us than any billboard or radio soundbite.

Maybe it is so much under the skin of those who believe, or believe there is something else…a desire so close to us that it makes traditional gospel methods at times seem alien and intrusive.

I’m thankful for men like Stuart Elliott who stand up for their beliefs in the way they do, but also the anytime/anywhere nature of the Holy spirit, reminding us that the Kingdom of God is at hand.

I hope being embarrassed at the radio this morning was positive thing. A reminder that the gospel message is relevant and speaks to a deeper longing.

Every football supporter should have times like this

I’m talking about the moment when – after the lowest of the low defeats – then comes a sequence of results so unexpected and enjoyable, that it takes you back to why you started following this game in the first place. Followers of some teams experience these fantastic results more often than others, and I can’t help thinking that this dulls the experience and excitement.

Of course I’m talking about Tottenham’s march to fourth place – after inexplicably losing to Portsmouth in the FA Cup semi-final. Defeats of Arsenal and Chelsea within a week were unbelievable. I guess I am so ridden with bitterness as a supporter that I would have been happy with those two victories as the crowning glories of the season. To clinch a Champions League qualifying place with one game to spare was actually even sweeter and much more satisfying. This season offered the best opportunity for “the rest” to break the Sky Four monopoly and I’m glad Spurs did it!

What’s your team?..oh it’s Man United/Rangers/Linfield!

I’m really disappointed that Robbie Keane’s career at Tottenham seems to have petered out via a loan move to the SPL with Celtic (where he should clean up by the way), but reading the web today many pundits and fans have questioned Keane’s motives upon signing for the Glasgow giants, based on quotes like these:

“Being a fan makes it even more special because there aren’t too many players who can say they are lucky enough to play for the team that they support” – Robbie Keane on signing for Liverpool, July 2008.

“It’s absolutely unbelievable. This is the reason why I’ve always wanted to come to Celtic. It’s no secret over the years I’ve been a Celtic fan. I’m hoping to bring a lot of success in the short time I’m here…I always wanted to play for Celtic and it works out well for both parties” – Robbie Keane on signing for Celtic, February 2010.

Seems the English media can’t understand the Irish tradition (North and South) of following 2 or maybe 3 football teams! The most common example is the unimaginative Man United/Rangers/Linfield triumvirate. Certainly it covers your back in terms of following a winning team..but as well as being boring its still a doggedly sectarian way of viewing football.

For me its Ards and Tottenham, oh and maybe Nimes Olympique in France..but I also own a Barcelona shirt. No Scottish football for me thanks but if Rangers were playing Celtic….

Anyway, goodbye Robbie Keane. Thierry Henry always got the upper hand against him at Tottenham, and when he did the same against the South last November Robbie’s form at Spurs definitely suffered. Also our best penalty taker has gone…

His best years were definitely at Tottenham, here are some highlights from arguably his greatest season at Spurs:

Beaten

And so it was not to be in the end, outplayed and out-thought by a Slovakian side who wanted it more. I don’t believe there was much difference between the teams in terms of ability, but perhaps dare I say it the NI team was complacent last night.

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Much has been written (possibly too much) about the fantastic Windsor atmosphere but maybe last night were the first signs of the team and supporters taking each other for granted. Many of our fantastic wins in recent years have started with the team coming from a goal down and when Slovakia scored how many of us thought ah sure they’ll come back. At the same time, maybe some of the players thought they could coast along with the crowd behind them – hang on we’re not literally the twelfth man!

Having come so close to qualification again its harder to find words of support for England (actually I never will support that lot), and of course the South who are still in with a chance. Hopefully later on I will rediscover that good will!

Still, perhaps more so than at any other match recently the roar of the home crowd behind the team at the beginning of the second half was truly stirring stuff.

Thinking of NI v Slovakia

Old man predicts the future – this is old but a good one. Has it really been four years since we beat England?

Catalan v Matalan

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