Friday, 15 August 2014

Rainy Fridays, Footie season and Sports books and movies

Rainy Days
Well, OK, that's not really the view outside my den window, but you get the idea. Much needed rain falling today and pretty steady too. Of course, that means a day indoors for the puppies and me, while the missus is downtown. Of course, that does provide me with the opportunity to spend some time on this Blog. I was wondering last night what I might right about today and a few thoughts wandered through my old head.

Coming up shortly will be Jo's and my 12th wedding anniversary. When I moved out to the West Coast I had no idea how my life would change in a very short time. Jo and I met on line, chatting on a Buffy the Vampire Slayer forum and became friends; she visited and next thing you know, we're married. It's been a fantastic 12 years from our wedding on Aug 30th, 2002. We've enjoyed our life here on the Coast, travelled a bit, bought and fixed up our home. Jo had to put up with me being deployed for 6 months and being transferred down island for two years until my retirement. But it's been a great time and I feel like I'm the luckiest man in the world. :0)


Wedding photo
 Coming up this weekend is the start up of the English Premiereship 2014/ 2015 footie season and tomorrow morning will find me and the dogs downstairs ensconced on the couch around 5 a.m. ready to watch the first games. Oddly enough, even though she's English, Jo will probably stay in bed and miss these games. hmmmmm and she's the one who got me hooked on it.. Ah well, not to worry.. My enjoyment of the wonderful game came about during Jo's first visit, spring of 2002, which also happened to be the time of the World Cup, hosted by Japan and Korea. Jo asked if I minded if she watched the England games and, of course, I didn't. The games being in Japan, it meant that live, they started here between 11 pm and 6 in the a.m. I took a couple of days off to stay up all night watching and my enjoyment just grew. So next thing I know, I've discovered that our Sportsnet TV station is broadcasting the Premiereship games and I'm now getting up early - bird hours on the weekends to watch those games.

I also discovered on line some Fantasy Football pools; no cost to enter, just a weekly pick of my players and finding out how many points they managed to get for me. With my love of lists, this has become a yearly endeavour for me. Over 2,000,000 people participate in this Fantasy football and I'm reasonably happy with how I do every year. I haven't a hope in hell of ever winning, but it's just fun playing. Checking out the site, I can see that I started in 2006. This is how I've managed to perform since then....

2006/07    1806 points    111854 ranking
2007/08    1867 points    418157 ranking
2008/09    1848 points    175254 ranking
2009/10    1844 points    867740 ranking
2010/11    2054 points      32936 ranking   (best ever score and ranking)
2011/12    1751 points  1,027,469 ranking
2012/13    1985 points    261,707 ranking
2013/14    2026 points    938,497 ranking

So the new season starts tomorrow.. This is the team I've got in place for the first games...

Team Name - BC Islanders

Goal

Tim Howard (Everton)

Spare - Julian Speroni (Crystal Palace)

Defenders -
Matthieu Debuchy (Arsenal)
Gary Cahill (Chelsea)
John Stones (Everton)

Spares - Steven Caulker (Queen's Park Rangers)
Joel Ward (Crystal Palace)

Midfielders

Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)
Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea)
Adam Johnson (Sunderland)
Ross Barkley (Everton)

Spare - Jason Puncheon (Crystal Palace)

Forwards

Diego daSilva Costa (Chelsea) (vice Captain)
Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) (Captain)
Rickie Lambert (Liverpool)

Starting off with a 3-5-3.. :).. My favourite Premiereship team has been Everton FC from the beginning, basically because, when I started watching, they were the only team with a Canadian player on it. Over time, I have come to admire their style. They are a team operating on a shoe string budget but who still manage to stay in the top ten and challenge for positions in Europe. Last season was one of their best in years, finishing fifth and they find themselves in the Europa League as well competing for trophies there. :)

Books on Footie

With my new found love, Jo, and my new attraction to all things footie and my massive enjoyment of reading anything I can get my hands on, Jo's family discovered that getting me books on footie made a lot of sense for Xmas prezzies. No complaints from me either. I've received some excellent books over the past few years and have enjoyed them very much. Here are a few examples.

1. Pointless by Jeff Connor. One of my personal favourites. It's the story of sports reporter, Jeff Connor, who took it upon himself to follow East Stirling, a team in the 4th division of the Scottish football league, the titled "Britain's Worst football team, around for a season. I enjoyed this immensely. Connor follows a team playing in a small football ground in Scotland, struggling to even stay in the 4th division (another futile season may see them relegated out of the football league into non-league football). Loved the people, the stories, the humour and since that time, when I check out the weekly football activity, I always check out East Stirling and see how they are doing. Just checking and they lost their first game of the season against Montrose 4-1. Come on East Stirling!!

2. Foul! The Secret World of FIFA by Andrew Jennings - The missus bought me this for Xmas in 2009 and almost ruined my enjoyment of footie with it.. ;0) A fascinating inside account of the wheelings and dealings with Footballs ruling body and the crooks that find themselves there. Reading about the possible scandals in awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar has just reinforced some of the interesting details found in this book. Luckily I still enjoy my day-to-day footie and watched this year's Brazil World Cup with much interest. Good book though.

3. Football's Greatest Heroes by Robert Galvin - An excellent book listing some of the greatest players Britain has ever produced from Dixie Dean through Stanley Matthews, Gary Lineker and Paul Gasgoigne to name just a few. I enjoyed reading this very much and often interrupted Jo's TV watching to tell her facts about another footie player. She loved it.. ;0)

Those are just a few of the excellent books. I've got biographies of Frank Lampard, Bobby Robson and Bill Shankly and a couple of books filled with interesting Football facts and stats; always an enjoyment for me.. More lists!!!


One book that I still have to read is My Father and Other Working Class Football Heroes. I received it a couple of years ago and this is the synopsis "A beautifully written and moving account of the author’s search for the man his father was, and the life he led as a well-known footballer at a time when the men who played the game, and those who watched it, led fundamentally the same lives together in the same communities."

Top Ten Sports Movies

I haven't made a Top Ten List for ages, I think my last was probably my Top Ten Horror films... *shudder*. Since I'm on the topic of Sports, I think a Top Ten Favourite Sports movies list would be appropriate. I've been checking out various lists of sports movies and there are so many excellent movies. I've tried to make a list that isn't strictly baseball movies, because I really could. The list below isn't perfect by any means, but it does include some of my favourite sports movies. As to making a movie a 'sports' movie, there are a couple that aren't about sports teams, but the theme is a sport I believe. Anyway, here you go -

10. Men With Brooms by Paul Gross (2002) - a truly Canadian sports movie starring Paul Gross, Leslie Nielson and Molly Parker. Fun stuff about the reunited of a local curling team as they try to deal with their personal demons and win the curling championships. Great stuff and one I could watch over and over.

9. Mystery, Alaska by Jay Roach (1999) - Another fun movie about a local Alaskan hockey team that issues a challenge to the New York Rangers and it becomes a televised game. The movie has a great cast, including Russell Crowe, Hank Azaria, Mary McCormack, Burt Reynolds and Colm Meany and is a feel-good hockey movie.

8.  Moneyball by Bennett Miller (2011) - The first of a few baseball movies on my list, stars Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill and is the story of Oakland Athletics manager, Billy Beane, and his introduction of a computer generated analysis into managing a baseball team and the teams run for a World Series title.

7. The Worlds' Fastest Indian by Roger Donaldson (2005) - Starring Anthony Hopkins as Burt Munro in a true story about this New Zealander and his years building a 1920 Indian motorcycle and his journey to Utah Bonneville Salt Flats to test his motorcycle and challenge the speed record. Excellent movie, touching and emotionally positive. Loved it.

6. The Blind Side by John Lee Hancock (2009) - Starring Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw and introducing Quinton Aaron, this is beautiful, positive true story of Michael Oher, a homeless and traumatised young boy who is taken in by a family, Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy who adopt and raise him as one of their own. Oher ultimately becomes an All-American football player and is drafted by the Baltimore Ravens. Quinton Aaron is fantastic in his first major role and Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw also bring out the best in this wonderful film.

5.  Chariots of Fire by Hugh Hudson (1982) - A true classic starring Ben Cross and Ian Charleson as Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddel as two British sprinters competing in the 1924 Olympics in Paris. One a determined Jew trying to prove his place in Cambridge society and the other a devout Scottish missionary running because he knows it will please God. Beautifully filmed and covering many issues, it is well-deserving of its 1982 Best picture Oscar. Also a fantastic moving score by Vangelis, another Oscar winner. Wonderful movie.

4. Sea biscuit by Gary Ross (2004) - One of those movies that chokes me up just thinking about it. It stars Tobey McGuire, Jeff Bridges, Chris Cooper and Elizabeth Banks and is the beautiful true story of a small Depression-era race horse, his owner, his trainer and his jockey. Moving, powerful and excellent, it won best picture in 2004.

3. Field of Dreams by Phil Alden Robinson (1989) - This also one of the missus' favourite movies. A movie I can watch over and over. One thing about Kevin Costner is that he does know how to star in a great baseball movie. The fantastic cast also includes Amy Madigan, James Earl Jones, Burt Lancaster, Ray Liotta and many many more. Based on a baseball fantasy written by Canadian W.P. Kinsella, it's a story of an Iowa farmer who hears voices telling him to build a baseball diamond in his cornfields. It features one of the most iconic movie lines ever, "If you build it, he will come". And he, Shoeless Joe Jackson, does and brings along many of his baseball friends.. Excellent!!

2. Hoosiers by David Anspaugh (1986) - A simple story starring Gene Hackman as a former disgraced basketball coach who turns up at a small college in Indiana and tries to mold a team into a NCAA championship team, along the way finding out things about himself and life. Excellent supporting cast of Barbara Hershey and Dennis Hopper, who turns in a tour-de-force as an ex-drunken basketball coach who finds his way when the pressure is on. A beautiful, emotional movie that is must-see and can be watched over and over.. At least I have..  :0)

1. A League of Their Own by Penny Marshall (1992) - One of my all-time favourite movies about the Women's professional baseball league formed during WWII while the men's professional league was shut down due to the men being off fighting the war. It's a great movie in so many ways, funny, powerful, emotional, a great sports movie, a great cast; Tom Hanks as the coach of one of the teams,Geena Davis in her best movie, Madonna in her best movie, Rosie O'Donnell, Lori Petty and so many others. One of those great movies that comes along once in awhile and makes me laugh and cry no matter how many times I see it.. Must see!!!

So there you have it, my ten favourite sports movies. There are so many great movies that I didn't mention, well, until now that is, but all deserve a look. Make sure you also check out - in baseball, The Rookie, Bull Durham, For the Love of the Game, Eight Men Out, Major Leagues, etc'; Football - The Longest Yard, We are Marshall; Footie - Goal, Bend it Like Beckham,. The Damned United; miscellaneous, Rocky, Dodgeball, Phar Lap, The Karate Kid, etc..

Now I've got to get something to eat, passing out with hunger here. :0).. Have a great weekend!

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