Posts tagged ‘Blackburn Rovers’
The British and Irish Lions Tour of Australia is just around the corner and the fact that tickets sold out in 15 minutes proves what a great sporting event the Lions Tours have become. With the team only heading to Australia every 12 years the series is one that no player or fan wants to miss.
Former All Black Justin Marshall suggested a few years ago that the Southern Hemisphere nations should form a composite side every four years in between the Lions Tours and take on the Northern rugby playing nations, and idea that probably had a greater appeal to the fans than it did the administrators. It certainly would be far more interesting than some of the games in the current European Tours. In the current rugby climate one has to wonder how many Australian players would force their way into such a team, which is bound to be dominated by All Blacks and Springboks.
The idea of a team from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales going on tour as one also did not have appeal when it was first raised, but luckily for those of us around today cricketers Alfred Shaw and Arthur Shrewsbury thought otherwise. As it was these two men who conceived the idea of a tour to Australia along with England Cricket Captain A.E. Stoddart. Little did they know the impact they would have on the game. (Shaw and Shrewsbury opened a sports business under this very name manufacturing cricket balls and bats. The business was later bought by Grays of Cambridge, who also own Gray Nicholls, so their influence on sport was immense).
The Tour took place in 1888 without the backing of the Rugby Football Union, and all of the players were not to be paid so that they maintained their amateur status. Was it representative of all of the ‘Home nations?’ As it happens it was, W.H. Thomas become the first Welshman to Tour Australia and New Zealand, while Angus Stuart although he played for Cardiff was in fact from Scotland; the latter stayed on in New Zealand and played for their national team in 1893. Arthur Paul from Lancashire wa sin fact the only Irish born player in the squad and was the principal goal kicker. He wrote his name into the cricket record books when with Archie Maclaren he established the then English batting record of 424 in a first class innings against Somerset. He also played in goal for Blackburn Rovers!
Also on that first tour A.P. Penketh became the only man from the Isle of Man to ever tour with a British team for Rugby Union. Also of far greater consequence J.T. Haslam was credited with inventing the dummy pass.
The team played 16 games in Australia, where they won 14 lost none and drew two. In New Zealand they played 19 won 13 lost two and drew four. In addition to these games they played 18 exhibition games in Victoria which were played under Australian Rules, something that did not go down too well. Here they won six drew one and lost 11. No Test Matches were played and with only twenty two players on the trip the results are remarkable. Even more remarkable is the fact that Harry Eagles, a forward, played in every single Tour match; an achievement that no other touring player has ever matched.
The Rugby fraternity owe a great deal to these pioneers and it is worth remembering their feats as the Lions prepare to head down under.
As we have witnessed in the past week there are many that are hailing the signing of Brett Emerton at Sydney FC and Harry Kewell at Melbourne Victory as the greatest things to happen in the Hyundai A League. Sure they are high profile names who have served their country well, but the big question is how much have they got left in the tank, and will they make the impact in the league that many are predicting.
What is strange is seeing the games governing body sending out Press releases about these two signings. Why is the FFA suddenly promoting the two signings, surely this is not part of the soon to be unveiled A League marketing strategy for 2011/12, because if it is then the eggs have been put in the wrong basket?
These two players will undoubtedly attract a few people who may not have otherwise have come to the A League, but the big question is will they keep them. If they, like Robbie Fowler fail to impress, those drawn to the game will soon leave it again.
When they were playing overseas they were somewhat unattainable so there was a lot of fuss made when they returned home, but now that they are here permanently the interest will soon wane, unless they perform.
The key question is why are the FFA sending out statements on these two signings and no others? By all means forward the clubs official statements so as to gain maximum exposure, but do you see other governing bodies comment on transfers?
FFA CEO Ben Buckley proved this week in Perth that his knowledge of the game is limited, and in the Brett Emerton press release is quoted as saying “Let’s not forget that Brett is leaving the English Premier League at the top of his game and will add pure football class to the Hyundai A-League.”
To many this statement is questionable, at 32 he is unlikely to be at his peak. Last season he started 24 games for a struggling Blackburn Rovers and came on as a substitute in six and the club played a total of 42 games in the league and cups. Emerton is a good signing, but whether he is at his peak is questionable, he is a great team player and a very good signing for Sydney FC.
With the signing of Harry Kewell, Buckley was quoted as saying “The signing of Harry Kewell tells the story of ambition, credibility and growth for the game in Australia.” A truly bizarre statement, the signing of a Thierry Henry would have been a sign of credibility, a world star coming to Australia to play while still having some playing years left.
Do the fans really buy this? We do not believe that they are that gullible.
News that a second Socceroo is returning home as Brett Emerton prepares to sign for Sydney FC confirms the end of an era for Australian Football. Many are hailing his return and Melbourne Victory’s signing of Harry Kewell as a major coup and one that is great for football in Australia, forgive this writer for not being quiet so enthused.
Many thought that Kewell would return to his hometown, but it may appear that Sydney were wise to invest in Emerton rather than the injury prone Kewell.
Harry Kewell possessed immense footballing talent, and there is also no doubt that at times he has been much maligned, often wrongly, sometimes justifiably, as his manager endeavours to obtain the best deal possible for his client.
Emerton too has had a wonderful career in Europe with Feyenoord and Blackburn Rovers and has always managed to let his football do the talking, although the recent game against Wales showed the talking is becoming more of a whisper at international level as age and injuries begin to catch up with him.
The A League is a tougher league than many realize, and the pace is very different to the European leagues. As has been seen in previous seasons some attacking players from these leagues have struggled to adjust.
If we look at those former Socceroos who have returned to the A League to finish their careers it is the defenders who have stood out, Kevin Muscat, Craig Moore and Tony Vidmar. The attacking players have all struggled, Stan Lazarides, John Aloisi, Mile Sterjovski to name a few.
Both Emerton and Kewell are going to have to buck that trend. Kewell is going to have to realize if he plays the role discussed, behind the front two, that his teammates may not think as quickly as he does on the park. Emerton will find that his pace may not be there and will have to rely on his ability to keep possession and hold onto the ball, to bring other players into the game. There is no doubt his delivery from the wing will be a huge bonus to Sydney FC.
Kewell was touted by Melbourne Victory as being the best player of his generation, a statement that is open to opinion, there is no doubt that he has been marketed the best.
Kewell is going to have to hit the ground running when he arrives in Australia a month before the start of the A League season to convince many that this is a good move for Melbourne Victory, and The Hyundai A League. The same will apply to Emerton.
It appears that the FFA see the signing of these two as a Marketing coup, something that will help garner interest in a flagging Hyundai A League, if that is the case it also has a feel of desperation about it from those close to the game, almost a last roll of the dice, to pull punters in.
As always when Harry Kewell is involved the non-football media go into an excited frenzy. Emerton will not create such stir. Kewell is quoted on the Melbourne Victory website as stating, “I am proud to be Australian and want to give something back to the game there. It has always been my ambition to play in my home country and I am very pleased to have that opportunity by playing for Melbourne Victory.”
There are many questions surrounding Kewell’s signing, had his manager been able to land him a contract overseas would he be playing in Australia next season? Had he still not harboured hopes of playing in the 2014 World Cup would he have signed a three-year deal? Why when on the Australian sporting rich list with earnings reported as being $10.5million, would you want a percentage of the increase in attendance income, sponsorship income and membership income, which has been reported?
Emerton’s return appears to have more to do with where he is at in his football life.
Kewell has stated that he wishes to play in a third world cup but this move could see that dream end in tears. It is one thing to return to Australia to prolong your career, and play under the nose of the Australian coach, but as witnessed in Jason Culina, eventually the standard that you attained playing in superior leagues in Europe begins to slip, and whether Harry Kewell in three years is still of a standard that warrants selection for the World Cup should Australia, qualify only time will tell. Interestingly Emerton has not been drawn on his aspirations to play in Brazil in 2014.
The only way Harry Kewell will win over his doubters is by maintaining fitness, and maintaining high standards on the pitch. With such a short A league season that could prove a challenge over three years.
If Kewell fails and Emerton disappoints don’t expect clubs to be shelling out big bucks on returning Socceroos, as so far it has been a gamble that has rarely paid off, especially with attacking players.
The United Kingdom’s National Health Service has just completed a survey of 25,000 football fans from around England.
The questions related to fitness, eating and alcohol consumption. At the end of the survey they compiled a league table of the results. Fulham are the unhealthiest fans in the EPL with 49% of fans overweight. 37% percent of their fans were found to be exceeding the daily recommended allowance of alcohol. To add to their woes Fulham also topped the London smoking league, with 33% percent of fans liking a cigarette.
Surprisingly Spurs fans are the healthiest, although not surprsingly when you look at their form until Harry Redknapp arrived at White Hart Lane, 85% of Tottenham fans drink over the daily limit. The good news is though that 77% percent of Spurs fans are non-smokers.
The League table ran as follows:
1. Tottenham Hotspur
3. West Brom
4. Aston Villa
5. Manchester City
6. Blackburn Rovers
7. Manchester United
9. Birmingham City
10. Stoke City
11. Wigan Athletic
16. West Ham