Poetry Corner: More In Common

One I started ages back after the murder of Jo Cox MP. Still relevant, sadly.

I do not give you permission to divide my community.
You will not turn me against my neighbour.
No-one can instil fear of the other in me
On the basis that they’re foreign.
We will always have more in common.

You will not make statements on my behalf
Simply because our skin is of similar hue.
You will not assume I agree with you on the same basis.
Your beliefs are utterly rotten.
We will always have more in common.

And I say this to you
From the very heart of my bottom;
We will always have more in common.

Dobbo’s House of Games

Since the start of lockdown 1, a bunch of us – largely from the old, Socrates-era football blogging community – have been doing a weekly football quiz on our slack channel. Open to all. Join in if you fancy. It was my turn last week, so I shamefully nicked all the rounds from Richard Osman’s House of Games. Thought I’d share.

Round 1: Correction centre
One word is wrong in these statements. Which word are you changing to what to make it correct?

1. Billy Wright, the first footballer to make 100 appearances for his country, played his entire club career at Bolton Wanderers.
2. The last champions of the Simod Cup were Genoa.
3. The first champions of England were Glossop North End.
4. Naming rights to Huddersfield’s new ground were first sold to Alfred Hitchcock.
5. Shrewsbury Town provided most of the footballers in Escape To Victory.
6. Playing at Estadio Monumental, River Ouse are the big rivals to Boca Juniors.
7. Vinnie Jones made his acting debut in Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, directed by Andy Ritchie.
8. England’s 1966 World Cup winning captain was Roger Moore.
9. Dave Whelan broke his shoulder in the 1960 FA Cup final.
10. Nottingham Forest’s and Notts County’s grounds lie either side of the River Mersey.

Show/hide answers

1. Bolton -> Wolverhampton
2. Simod -> Anglo-Italian
3. Glossop -> Preston
4. Hitchcock -> McAlpine
5. Shrewsbury -> Ipswich
6. Ouse -> Plate
7. Andy -> Guy
8. Roger -> Bobby
9. Shoulder -> leg
10. Mersey -> Trent

Round 2: Rhyme time
Two clues, the answers rhyme with one another. Yes you need both for a point

1. England winger in the 1990 World Cup. England manager who hates disableds.
2. Scotland manager at the 1998 World Cup. Club known as The Mariners who play in Cleethorpes.
3. Stockport County’s ground lies closest to this river. Graeme Le Saux was born on which Channel Island?
4. Commentator noted for his sheepskin coat. Everton captain when they won the FA Cup in 1995.
5. Long-legged Sheffield Wednesday and England midfielder of the Graham Taylor days. ‘El Pibe’.
6. Dutch defender sold by Alex Ferguson after writing his autobiography. Home city of Feyenoord and Excelsior.
7. Pundit fired by Sky for being a massive creep. 118-cap Irish international defender who played for Man Utd and Sunderland.
8. Scottish-born Ireland international who played for and managed Bolton. Sherlock Holmes creator who played in goal for amateur side Portsmouth.
9. Crystal Palace’s nickname. Brighton’s nickname.
10. Manager of Leeds for 44 days. Scottish goalkeeper at the 1978 and 82 World Cup.

Show/hide answers

1. Chris Waddle, Glenn Hoddle
2. Craig Brown, Grimsby Town
3. Mersey, Jersey
4. John Motson, Dave Watson
5. Carlton Palmer, Carlos Valderrama
6. Jaap Stam, Rotterdam
7. Andy Gray, John O’Shea
8. Owen Coyle, Arthur Conan Doyle
9. Eagles, Seagulls
10. Brian Clough, Alan Rough

Round 3: This round is in code.
I give you the answers here, but they’re all in code where A=1, B=2 etc 
These first five are ‘Pot 4’ countries at the 2018 World Cup

1. 19-15-21-20-8  11-15-18-5-1
2. 16-1-14-1-13-1
3. 10-1-16-1-14
4. 19-5-18-2-9-1
5. 13-15-18-15-3-3-15
And these five clubs are all one-time winners of the English championship
6. 19-8-5-6-6-9-5-12-4  21-14-9-20-5-4
7. 9-16-19-23-9-3-8  20-15-23-14
8. 12-5-9-3-5-19-20-5-18  3-9-20-25
9. 14-15-20-20-9-14-7-8-1-13  6-15-18-5-19-20
10. 23-5-19-20  2-18-15-13-23-9-3-8   1-12-2-9-15-14

Show/hide answers

1. South Korea
2. Panama
3. Japan
4. Serbia
5. Morocco
6. Shffield United
7. Ipswich Town
8. Leicester City
9. Nottingham Forest
10. West Bromwich Albion

Round 4: Games House Of
General trivia, but you must give me the answer in alphabetical order. So if the answer was my name, you put Dobson John

1. Which Dutch striker won the Ballon d’Or in 1988, 89 and 92?
2. Which Scottish side contest the Highland Derby with Ross County?
3. Davide Gualtieri scored a famous goal against England playing for which national side?
4. David Beckham, Ashley Cole and Steven Gerrard have all played for which MLS side?
5. Which club were the first to crack 100 points in a season in English football?
6. Which Italian nutjob’s career high/lowlights include flinging a Nazi salute, shoving a referee over and a spectacular flying volley for West Ham?
7. Arsene Wenger joined Arsenal from which J-League side?
8. Which Dutch striker played for Celtic, Hull and Rapid Vienna in between spells at PSV?
9. What was the official mascot of the 1966 World Cup?
10. Bradley Wright-Phillips scored 125 goals in MLS for which team?

Show/hide answers

1. Basten Marco van
2. Caledonian Inverness Thistle
3. Marino San
4. Angeles Galaxy Los
5. City York
6. Canio di Paolo
7. Eight Grampus Nagoya
8. Hesselink Jan of Vennegoor
9. Cup Willie World
10. Bulls New Red York

Final round: ANSWERSMASH
A picture, a clue beneath, smash the answers together
First five are pictures of players, smash them into the clues

34-time champions of Spain
Scottish club known as The Accies
Hampshire club founded in 1992 after the previous club folded and resigned from the Football League
Scottish team from Perth, the only league club in the UK with a J in the name
Only French team to win the European Cup
And vice versa, pictures of club badges, smash them into the clues
Scored Manchester United’s first in the 1999 Champions League final
Arsenal stalwart, wrote the autobiography ‘Addicted’
26 caps for Italy and current Everton manager
Rangers and Blackpool defender, once got injured by a poached egg
Norwegian striker who is ‘at the wheel’

Show/hide answers

1. Nacho Monreal Madrid
2. David Beckhamilton Academical
3. Steve Archibaldershot Town
4. Iain St Johnstone
5. Marc Overmarseille
6. Scunthorpe Uniteddy Sheringham
7. Portony Adams
8. Benficarlo Ancelotti
9. Falkirk Broadfoot
10. Espanyole Gunnar Solskjaer

The ballad of Danny Allinson

Something I wrote years ago and got to thinking about this morning. 


The day always started like this. He never intended it to, but it always did. Let’s face it, All-Bran tastes like shit – he wouldn’t even give the budgie that crap – and the well-intentioned cup of tea just never seemed as appealing as the four-pack of cheap unbranded lager from the local offy. And so Danny Allinson cracked open his first can of the day. It was half past eight.

It wasn’t always like this. The faded poster on the wall of the bedsit spoke of a British heavyweight title fight. He was 23 at the time, four years a pro, but it was a step too far and too soon. His opponent that night, Carl Lonergan, was nearly ten years his senior with twice the number of fights under his belt and gave him the mother of all beatings. Sure, Danny had tried to come back, but he was always ‘that lad that got his head woven into the canvas against Lonergan’. After that, he was just a stepping stone for any other young fighter on the way up. He wanted to advise them, let them know what they were getting into. Tell them not to go anywhere near his manager when they’d beaten him.

His manager, Alan Crossley, was a grade A twat. Said he’d put all his prize money in a trust fund. What the fuck did Danny know about trust funds? Apart from the lack of trust that is, which he found out when Crossley legged it to Barmouth with the whole lot, leaving Danny penniless. He’d had an aversion to Wales since then.

He’d squeaked out a living on the doors in town, but once people got to know who he was, they’d all fancy a crack at him after ten pints. “Take him on his left Dave”, he’d heard one bloke say. “He always drops his left, that’s how Lonergan got him”. The fury washed over him and seven months in Armley for ABH was the result. That was his door security career finished.

The benefits paid for the bedsit, a few cans of beer and the occasional packet of Old Holborn. He wasn’t a big smoker, never had been, but a roll-up once in a while took the edge off that first drink of the day. Now and then, he’d have enough for some millet for the budgie. He could never work out how he came by that thing. Pointless bloody bird. He’d called it Adam Faith. It was his idea of irony.

The loss of the money was the start of it – the drinking. By that time, his legs had gone. He was no use as a fighter any more, not that he wanted to carry on. He’d had enough years before, but just kept going. One more. Just one more. It became a mantra to him, he’d said it so often to the wife. The wife… There’s another story. Once the gravy train had stopped calling at Allinson Junction, she’d soon buggered off. She took the boy. No idea where he is now. Probably university age these days. Danny would have liked university. A different crowd to the lowlives he mixed with at that age. And he was smart, but that didn’t matter much when his dad got ill. Money. That was what mattered and Danny knew that a lad who could punch could earn some, much more than the coal board were going to cough up. That was his dad’s pun.

“Bugger this”, he said to Adam Faith, swilling down the dregs of the can and heading for the bookies. Two hours and four races later, he’d done all his remaining money and was back within the four walls of the bedsit. He was sick in the sink. Grab another can. That should take the taste away. “How the fuck did this happen?”. Adam Faith didn’t reply, merely headbutting the small mirror Danny had found round by the chippy. “I looked after meself” Danny continued, scarcely noticing Adam Faith’s indifference. “I liked school. I getting good marks until… well, you know”. Adam Faith didn’t know, or if he did, he wasn’t letting on. Danny threw the can across the room. “It’s all that bastard’s fault!” he yelled. He could hear them downstairs, perturbed by the noise.

He went next door. Little Marco was about the closest thing he had to a friend. Marco was six and loved Adam Faith – the bird, that is – and would pop round sometimes to see him. “Look after him Marco”, Danny told the young lad as he handed the cage over. He went back to the flat. He packed a bag. A change of clothes, a train timetable, an emergency can of lager and his dad’s old hunting knife – the only thing he’d left Danny.

Tomorrow wouldn’t start the same way. Tomorrow, he was off to Barmouth.

The Rules

  1. Never drink owt you can’t see through
  2. Never eat anything bigger than your head
  3. Never have a pet that does bigger shits than you do (courtesy @sugwindfire)
  4. Be less Morrissey, be more Johnny Marr
  5. Never joke about someone else’s shed (courtesy @NorthernWrites)

Poetry corner: The Notts County Linesman

I have a lot of sympathy for linesmen. Assistant referees my arse though. Especially at non-league level where the voices are easier to pick out and, as opposed to a wall of sound, I imagine harder to blot out. They shuffle sideways through mud, get piss wet through and for what? £40 and their mileage? Anyway, this.

I am the linesman at Notts County
And I wave the yellow flag
I hear all the abuse from the Derek Pavis stand.
I hear you calling me a bastard
Because your striker was offside.
But the Notts County linesman’s still running the line.

I get pelters for my fitness,
I hear you calling me big-boned.
I passed the bleep and fat tests I will have you know.
I hear you calling me a wanker
Cos your left-back’s a niggly shite.
But the Notts County linesman’s still running the line.

I barely cover my expenses,
I get just 40p a mile,
But the Notts County linesman’s still running the line.

Poetry corner: Screws!

The other day, I put a TV stand together. The kit came with absolutely bloody loads of screws. Two-thirds of them were totally not useful as well, so why they were in the pack I don’t know. Did I throw them away? Of course I didn’t and now my toolbox has even more loose screws in it than before. Along with the random washers, clips, pins, nails, fasteners and sundry other items that ‘might be useful one day’. And that prompted this.


I open my toolbox; it’s full of loose screws.
Screws! Screws that I’ll never use –
I’ll never use but I dare not lose.
‘Is it some sort of madness?’ I’m oft prone to muse.
‘Have I a screw loose?’ No, I’ve loose screws.

They may come in handy, I always say.
They haven’t as yet, but they may do some day.
‘How?’ you may ask. ‘Handy in what way?’
That question I cannot answer today,
But in my toolbox they’ll all have to stay.

Poetry Corner: Shopping In A Different Aldi

My regular is shut for a refit or something,
Or they’ve got new staff to train,
So I’ve to go and shop at a different spot
And it’s about to break my brain

I’m shopping in a different Aldi
And my blood is starting to boil.
I’m shopping in a different Aldi;
Where the fuck’s the fucking cooking oil?

When I come down here in my usual one
I find pizzas – Hawaiian, margherita.
But what do I find in this strange place?
A workbench and a patio heater.

I’m shopping in a different Aldi.
I can’t find the bloody pies.
I’m shopping in a different Aldi.
Is there any falafel in this house of lies?

There’s couscous where the crisps go,
Everything’s different and yet just the same.
Crisps have replaced the cat food,
I can’t find the bog rolls. I’m going insane

I’m shopping in a different Aldi.
Garden furniture and a welcome mat.
I’m shopping in a different Aldi.
There’s a whole extra aisle of pointless tat.

The parking bays are bigger here,
I swear there’s room for a tank.
The layout is different but familiar,
Like using your wrong hand for a wank.

I’m shopping in a different Aldi.
Getting carried out and bundled into a van.
I’m shopping in a different Aldi.
Screaming ‘Instead of cheese it were frying pans’.

Another depression post

Yeah, more stuff about depression. Sorry about that, but when you live with it you find that it kind of dominates things. Even when you’re not feeling down, there’s a shadow, a presence, even if it is diminished for however long.

Anyway, it’s not my fault it’s topical again. No, it’s Johann Hari‘s. He’s written a book and been doing the rounds on various channels, not least Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast (RHLSTP). The book has been critiqued by many. I’ve not read it and don’t intend to. I love me a bit of RHLSTP, not just because of the celebrity York City fan aspect, but I had to turn this one off.

I do not doubt Hari’s experiences with depression – and lord knows he’s given us all ammunition to do just that, but let’s be charitable. I do not doubt that what he talks about – and I refer specifically to the podcast here – can and has worked for him. Much of it bears a truth as far as I can see, though only goes part way to making an understanding of what goes on in a depressed person’s brain. The big selling point of the book seems to be these new revelations about lifestyle – societal rather than personal – factors weighing so heavily on the id which, so far as I can tell, aren’t really revelatory at all.

I’m not having a go at Hari – I’ve not read the book so can’t really dive in like Dean Burnett did. More, I want to explore this line of thinking.

At least in part my own depression, I came to work out, lay in this existential angst of my place in the modern world, in a neo-liberal end-game capitalist era. This article from George Monbiot really struck a chord with me. On the back of it, I bought the Paul Verhaeghe book cited within, What About Me?, and again it helped me make a lot of sense about what I was feeling and how utterly misplaced I was within modern society. Still am, really, just better able to understand why. And I keep forgetting the key takeaway – I’m probably a deviant and should be proud of the fact.

Obviously that’s not all there is to it and someone else’s experience of depression will not tally at all with mine. Verhaeghe’s book was no more a magic bullet than any other possibly could be, and from what I’ve read and heard, neither will Hari’s. What worries me more is that Hari’s is being marketed as that magic bullet. Listen to this and all will be fine. And that’s potentially dangerous.

Depression is complex and it’s crafty. It changes. There is no checklist to tick off a few items and declare yourself fixed. I guess what I’m saying is take with a large pinch of salt anyone suggesting otherwise. By all means read Hari’s book, just take it as one bloke’s experience and how he dealt with the issues he was facing, and don’t take it as a recipe book on how to fix depression. There are all sorts of therapies out there – yes, referrals take time and that – as well as medication. Some will work for you. Some won’t. And that’s absolutely fine. You will find one that works for you. Just beware the snake oil salesman.

Poetry Corner: Aliyev

Aliyev, Aliyev, the thinnest skin by man possessed.
You run the risk of an arrest
By taking the piss out of Aliyev.

Now Azerbaijan is a wonderful place
Run by a sentient turnip with no charm or grace.
He’s got a big moustache and a very big nose,
And in downtown Baku what he says goes.

Aliyev, Aliyev, the thinnest skin by man possessed.
You run the risk of an arrest
By taking the piss out of Aliyev.

Insulting him is beyond the pail;
Do it on twitter and you could face jail.
He’s a tinpot despot with a slug on his face,
And like all oil-rich tyrants has a Formula 1 race

He hates criticism and he hates free press
Because they might find out that he’s a corrupt mess.
He appointed his wife to be his own VP –
No problem there, nothing to see.

Aliyev, Aliyev, the thinnest skin by man possessed.
You run the risk of an arrest
By taking the piss out of Aliyev.

His country’s blessed with lots of gas and oil
Which he uses to fund his lavish lifestyle.
It’s fun to mock this ridiculous man,
But now I’ll never be allowed into Azerbaijan

Aliyev, Aliyev, the thinnest skin by man possessed.
You run the risk of an arrest
By taking the piss out of Aliyev.

Poetry corner: Citalopram Sam

Citalopram Sam,
Citalopram Sam:
40 milligram.

Fluoxatine Slim,
Fluoxatine Slim:
Don’t know where my libido’s been.
Trazodone Frank,
Trazodone Frank:
Brain and hands don’t work,
But feel slight less wank

Citalopram Sam
40 milligram.
Citalopram Sam
40 milligram.

Prozac’s alright,
Prozac’s alright:
Little chap won’t get up
He’s just outta sight.
Paroxetine Jake,
Paroxetine Jake:
Can’t shit, can’t sleep,
Got the sweaty, dizzy shakes

Makes me invincible
You know what I mean?
No pain in my knees or in my back
And every emotion I now seem to lack.

Citalopram Sam,
Citalopram Sam.

I’m a howlin’ mess