Category Archives: Sports mad

134. Bicycles II

Last year I regaled you all with the tale about the time when I was driving to work and encountered a bearded man in pyjamas cycling towards me on the wrong side of the road. As I was driving at 80 Kommunists per hour, the limit on the road in question, I sounded my horn to alert him of a) my imminent presence and b) his total, utter stupidity. He fell off. Ah. No matter, he was fine, but I was angry. I very nearly killed him and he did not seem to mind at all. In fact, he seemed relatively upbeat despite being within a stones throw of eternal darkness.

I adore cycling. It is perhaps the most entertaining of all the exercises and I truly do miss it. I have considered cycling here but there have been three key factors that have put me off the idea. The first is the fact that, according to the word of the law, cycling is illegal. Cycling may only take place on private land or in pre-designated cycling areas. It is obviously one of those numerous, mad laws that exists solely to make the law-book more girthsome. But law or no law, the bicyclists pedal on. We see them everywhere, usually cycling against the flow of traffic on what are basically motorways.

The second facet that has put me off cycling is that my life expectancy would be severely reduced. It is dangerous enough out there, on the roads, when you have four feet of steel and engine to protect you together with a sturdy side-impact protection system. Take the NCAP crash tested safety features away and I don’t fancy my chances against a speeding Land Cruiser when I all I have in my arsenal is my face and a witty last remark. I would be safer cutting my own head off.

But the third and final reason why my cycling dreams sit there gathering dust in the corner is that for nine months of the year it is simply too hot. Yes, this reason puts me off getting the Raleigh out more so than certain death. The moment it hits 30 Celsius you are finished. You will get 25 yards down the road before you either die of dehydration or are as wet as the hull of HMS Conquerer.

Nothing in the UAE is nearby, nothing is within walking distance. Therefore should you wish to cycle to work or to the mall then you will arrive looking like a Christmas turkey; moist on the outside, dry on the inside and certainly missing some vital extremities. You might look at your beer-bellied co-workers with a smug grin that implies you have done some exercise and that they will die of scurvy, but, and believe me, you will stink to high heaven. That will make you about as popular as George Osbournes’ austerity measures.

Al Ain isn’t really the party capital of the UAE and more often than not people would choose to live in either Dubai or Abu Dhabi before they do the garden city. But Al Ains’ trump card is that it does not have to deal with ambient humidity, unlike the capital and its enemy. Still, when it is 55 Celsius outside and getting hotter just peer through the window of the nearest automobile and look how comfortable the occupants are. The humidity in the flagship cities however, well, that is hell on Earth in the height of summer. You can barely walk the six feet from your front door to your car without needing to rush back upstairs for a shower and a change of clothes.

Why is it, then, that a German company has decided to set up shop in Dubai providing hire-bicycles to those who wish to die too young? Who in their right mind would want to get off the Metro and then make the rest of the journey to the office on a bicycle? In December or January, go for it, but July? Are you out of your mind? If I went for a meeting and met someone who looked like they had just been wrestling Mike Tyson for three hours, and also carried the distinct aroma of manure about them, then I would request that we reschedule.

Watch out, Beadles' about.... and he's trying to get you to cycle in the Dubai summer sun...Punk*d.

Watch out, Beadles’ about…. and he’s trying to get you to cycle in the Dubai summer sun…Punk*d.

This enterprise is one of two things; diabolical market research or pure exploitation of the daft classes. If a bike-hiring man approached me on a sultry summer’s day and asked me if I would like to complete my journey to Mall of the Emirates on a Raleigh Chopper, I would do pugilism on him, and then wait for Jeremy Beadle to jump out. But he is no longer with us, so maybe Rio Ferdinand instead. Punk*d.

I think the whole rent-a-bicycle idea is, in actual fact, a really good one. It is tremendously popular in Europe, but chiefly because the weather is far more accommodating. Ok, Boris Johnsons’ ones get covered in pigeon shit, but I think that is more of a statement against Barclays Bank than anything else. It is a good idea but sadly not workable in the UAE. It is simply too hot, and when the human body is dehydrated it cannot think properly. That is when accidents happen and that is when the undertaker is called to spring into action. Just look at the guy with the beard who came at me on the wrong side of the road. Don’t tell me he was firing on all cylinders in the brain department.

When summer comes, stick to your air conditioned car. No one wants to meet someone who smells like a landfill site. It may upset some environmentalists but at least you won’t be killed.

And if, even after my rallying cry, you are still considering renting a bicycle, then I implore you to think of your family.

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107. Beckham

Publicity is a curse upon this world.  In the good old days when the world was powered by steam and swords the only celebrities were the ruling monarchs, a few Generals and the odd playwright.  It was simple.  If you saw a gold carriage being towed by a white horse towards St. James Palace then you knew who was inside.  However, since the moving pictures were first invented things started to get out of hand.  All of a sudden Charlie Chaplin was famous, then Clark Gable and before you knew it Eddy the Eagle was selling us 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner.

Fame and publicity are very highly sought after commodities.  Once upon a time they were difficult to come by.  In the same way that an Elizabethan groundskeeper dreamt for electricity, fame was something most of us could only ever imagine.  These days we have The Only Way is apparently Essex, Jersey Beach, Big Brothers, I’m a Jungle and of course, Made in Fulham Broadway.  Then we have the Twitterists, one goofy teenager says something mean to Cheryl Tweedy and its front page news, pushing the Syrian crisis back to page 24.  Alex Reid…need I say any more?

Of course then there are sports stars.  99% of athletes just get on with it and kick balls, jump fences or drive cars in circles.  There are those that have a certain appeal and become simple marketing tools, or brands.  The faceless corporations who all bathe in gold bullion find someone they like the look of, whether it is a beard, a chest or funny temper and mould them from a sporting hero into a logo, but there’s nothing new there.

These heroes’s can be used in great ways.  They can be used to sell shampoo, trainers, renewable energy or cheese.  They can also be used to raise the profile of something, like say, a sport in a developing country, most commonly this happens in football…  They are called “Franchise players”, designed not to help a club on the pitch, but for the club to build an image around.  They are worth billions.

Do you know how much stick I got at school after that goal?

You may have read this week that metro-sexual footballer David Beckham has tendered his resignation to his current team; LA Galaxy.  In case you don’t know who he is, David Beckham is an English footballer who is also as globally recognised as Coca-Cola, McDonalds and the moon.  Becks is a former Manchester United and Real Madrid player who also made 115 appearances for England, the second most.  He also enjoyed kicking Argentineans.  He shot to fame in 1996 when he scored against Wimbledon from the halfway line – I was there, my school life was ruined for there on in.

Anyway, his resignation from LA Galaxy has sent the footballing world into a Beckham bidding frenzy with top clubs from all over the world throwing their hats into the Beckham ring.  Of course through all the English Premier League, the La Liga, Bundesliga and other top European league clubs in the mix, there in the middle of them all is the UAE Pro League jumping up and down waving its arms in the air.

I despise franchising; its so fake and plastic it completely misses the point.  In football especially it has no place.  But my idealism, it seems, is old fashioned.  These day’s the whole artificial orchestration of top flight football is acceptable.

David Beckham, at 38, is coming to the end of his career.  He was a decent footballer by all accounts in his day, but then Jimmy Saville used to be a popular TV personality too, not any more.  There are apparently several UAE Pro League teams interested in hiring the services of Mr. Beckham, notably Al Jazira, Al Wasl and Al Ain Club.  But will Becks be wooed here?  And what will Victoria think?  Has the UAE got enough shops?

Can you imagine David Beckham playing in the UAE?  Now forgive me, but the standard of football over here isn’t great, Mark Lawrenson said so, and he’s right.  It’s a bit fumble-rumble, un-fancy and route one.  But the lads have pace; I fear that David won’t gel very easily.  But how do you think he would feel in the dressing room?  Knowing that the only reason he is there is not because of his current football abilities but because he appears on the Head & Shoulders bottles and Pepsi cans.  He would have to play each game, pushing a UAE star out on to the substitute’s bench and that is going to cause problems.  What if David isn’t playing well and the guy he has replaced could turn a match around?  Will he be left on the pitch to flounder?  What if he gets hit by a bus and breaks his legs?

Using David Beckham as pure publicity for the UAE Pro League is scandalous in my opinion.  They would be better off in investing more money in creating their own national heroes as opposed to trading off one of ours.  I wish that’s how we could do it in England.

My advice to David – and I hope he is reading this – is to stay away from the Pro-League, retire gracefully and be a family man.  Thanks for the memories, apart from that halfway line goal of course and we look forward to seeing you on Celebrity Jungle in a few years time.

Go back to England and teach our future players to kick like you.  You can still sell us Pepsi.

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101. Grand Prix

You are reading the words of a man who has been obsessed with Formula 1 since 1991.  Ever since I was a young boy I have followed the likes of Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell through to Damon Hill, David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen to Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton.  I have books upon books and magazines stacked to the ceiling going back to the early 90’s.   I therefore consider myself very F1 savvy.  Go on, ask me anything.

I have not missed a Grand Prix since Monaco 1998; I have been to the British Grand Prix at Silverstone twice and now the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix for the fourth year running.  Unless you have been yourself you will never understand how loud the cars are or how fast they actually go.  It is a great day out by all accounts.  The Yas Marina circuit has received very negative reviews since its inaugural race in 2009.  Oh there’s nothing wrong with the facility, that is world class, but the circuit design has not permitted overtaking and the first 3 races were, in essence, pretty damn boring.  This year though there was a German child who started from the back twice and came home third, a wannabe rapper was leading but then his car broke so an angry Finn grumpily took the lead.  Then there was a mono-browed Spaniard driving fast as well as my boy, Button, who got passed by a German finger-wagger at the end.  There were expensive German cars trying to decapitate Indian drivers, a Mexican lad facilitating war between a Scotsman, a Frenchman and an Aussie… the action was just non-stop.

A Formula 1 Grand Prix is a prestigious event to behold and across the world the races can be broken into two distinct categories: first there are the traditional European races that are designed for motorsport enthusiasts.  They are all about the race because they have been hosting it for anywhere between 20-60 years.  The circuits will possess unique characteristics and have a strong place in the history of the sport.  The second category of circuit is the advert circuit.  Mainly, these are the newer Asian circuits.  They have built a circuit and been awarded a Grand Prix (for an eye-watering fee) simply to showcase their city/country to the world.  They are no different to the tacky poster of an Airbus flying over a beach that you see in the window of your local of Thomas Cook.

There is nothing wrong with that at all.  All of these category 2 circuits are built by the same bloke; a German called Herman Tilke, and all possess very similar characteristics.  You basically receive your circuit and facility in the post and just like what you buy from Ikea, you throw it together yourself.

So Bernie, what are you going to do here in Abu Dhabi this weekend? “I’m off to 49ers”

Of course what we’re all waiting for is the race itself.  The average Grand Prix will receive anywhere between 80-140 million viewers around the world, all of them will be watching you.  Before the cars start their engines the cameras will do some wonderful panning shots of the fans in the grandstands and so on, and maybe what’s happening in the public areas too.  All those millions of viewers will be there, taking it all in and judging your country deciding whether or not to book a week off work.

The question is what did all those viewers see?  Did they see the UAE, no wait; it’s a showcase for Abu Dhabi, not the country.  Obviously the first thing the people saw on the TV was a jaw-dropping, no expense spared venue with its real grass and space-age hotel.  People look at that and think “wow” and who can blame them?  Whether you like the Yas Marina circuit or not you cannot knock the facility.  It has raised the bar for sure and I doubt there are many other countries around the world that can rival it.  But all the glitz, glamour and Heinz baked beans blue paint is only detracting the audience from something alarming…

I was in the Marina Grandstand on Sunday and once the race had started I looked around and do you know how many locals I saw?  In a Grandstand of 10,000 people I saw two; who left after 15 minutes.

I looked down the track to my right at the South Grandstand, expecting to see a sea of white kanduras, but no, it was all Westerners.  I looked to my left, at the West Grandstand, it was the same.  There weren’t any locals anywhere.  It was all expatriates and tourists.

Those of you watching it at home may have seen the odd local on TV, but I bet the cameraman had a tough time finding them.  And there’s more…

Around the back of the grandstands are obviously social areas where you can spend AED 450,000 on a baseball cap or AED 6 million on a cheeseburger.  There is also a bar where you can stock up on refreshing beer.  Modesty in dresscode also fell below conventional UAE standards.  Whilst I’m not complaining about it, (sorry Mel) there were lots of pretty girls wearing next to nothing and walking around most provocatively.  And (I am complaining about this part) lots of men walking around topless; drunk.

Whilst this kind of behaviour is perfectly normal anywhere else in the world, the UAE is a conservative place where people have been in trouble with the law for a lot less…  Honestly walking around the place on Sunday I could have sworn I was in Malibu, Miami or Melbourne.  The TV audiences must have been on Google Maps trying to pinpoint where this paradise island was and who and where the natives were.

The people at home watching all this must have been scratching their heads thinking “is this the same country where that British couple got jailed for kissing in public?” No, that was Dubai, Dubai is much worse.  Same country though.  It is no surprise that expatriates and tourists are always getting into trouble over here; the UAE is being advertised as a hedonistic party land where the liberal and the orange can live the life of the jet set.  This is in stark contrast to the reality…or is it?  Nobody knows!

If you came over for a holiday with the intention of getting paralytic each day because that’s what you saw in the advert, but you got nicked for it, wouldn’t you want your money back?

You should call Watchdog. 

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89. Live Sports

We all have things we enjoy.  Things that we look forward to and plan our week around.  Me, I watch Formula 1.  Ever since I was a young boy I have followed the sport and since the 1998 Monaco Grand Prix have never missed a race.  I would move the heavens so to be able to enjoy a Grand Prix.  Yeah sure a lot of the time I don’t like the result but that’s part and parcel of watching sports.  Your favourite athlete or team can’t win it all.  But watching the sport is only half the experience, your surroundings and how you watch it helps define why you enjoy it.

Since I can’t speak Arabic I don’t like watching the race at home on Abu Dhabi Sports 2 because the “commentary” is in Arabic.  I don’t have Abu Dhabi Sports 6 so if I want to listen to Ben Edwards and David Coulthard I have to go to the pub.  It suits me fine, live sport and beer: perfect.  Usually most races kick off at 4pm, but today was the Korean Grand Prix and it started at 10am UAE time.  This caused me a problem; the pubs don’t open until midday.  There is only one place in all of Al Ain that will show the F1 with English commentary before midday, and that is a poolside bar at a hotel.

I like a drink – who doesn’t? – But 10am is a bit too early to be getting on it, so for me it was a coffee and a sandwich.  I was on a stool with my Americano with only one barman for company.  It was heaven; peace, quiet, coffee and David Coulthard cracking wise.  The lights went out and Sebastian Vettel took the lead.  Moments later and Jenson Button was savagely wiped out and my interest in the race was slashed.

Somehow it is all your faults why Vettel won today

After about 5 laps into the race a few men joined me in the bar.  All three men were not speaking in English and obviously had no interest in the Grand Prix at all.  Of course, they had no consideration for me either.  They weren’t so much talking to each other but shouting over the top of each other.  It was horrific.  How can you, a grown man, be incapable of holding a dignified conversation at a mellow level?

To add to this shouting match was a selection of musical numbers.  I don’t really get Arabic music, it all sounds the same to me, but I can only assume the men were having a ring tone battle.  All three of them, whilst shouting at each other, continued to play with their fancy iPhones playing music very loudly.  We were 12 laps in to the race with 43 to go and Sebastian Vettel was dominating; my left eye was starting to twitch.

There was a lot of action happening on track and we entered the first Pit Stop phase when one of the bearded men behind me started screaming in what sounded like agony.  I turned to him thinking that his leg had just been bitten off by a lion but no, his beer glass was empty and he was trying to get the attention of the barman.  The way the hotel employee was addressed was vulgar.  Had that been me I would have been inclined to smash the glass over his head as opposed to filling it up with Amstel Light.

No matter how hard I tried I simply could not hear David Coulthard over the top of the shouting match that was going on behind me.  I stood up and went over to the TV and turned the volume up to the max, so much so that I think I broke the speakers.  Did this solve the problem of the loud-mouths behind me?  Like sin it did, they just started shouting even louder and playing their music louder still.

At 30 laps with 25 to go things briefly quietened down, the trio of men were now on their 4th beers, hell it was only 11am.  Sitting there I distinctly smelled smoke, turning around to investigate, sure enough one lad had the Marlboro reds out and another had his pipe.  The pool bar is a non-smoking room with signs confirming such a thing displayed everywhere.  Obviously such rules are only meant for some people and the staff didn’t intervene.  Even if they did I doubt very much they would have succeeded.

So we’re half way through the race, it’s the worst result possible for me, I cant hear the TV despite it being on full whack, the men behind me are blowing smoke onto me and I cant have a beer.

I was now at the stage where I was contemplating action.  I imagined frisbeeing a plate at them.  I thought about poking them in the legs with a fork.  I contemplated calling the Police at one stage.  I wanted to cry.  They were ruining the Grand Prix for me, it only happens 20 times a year for 2 hours at a time.  Why oh why did Larry, Curly and Moe insist on making my life miserable?  Don’t they know who I am?  Don’t they have jobs to go to?  I expect this kind of behaviour from young lads on holiday in Ibiza, but grown men who drive Mercedes AMG’s?

The race came to a conclusion, the result was not to my liking and the experience of watching it was horrific.  Will I go back there and go through it again?  Yes…

…Because I’m stupid and won’t buy AD Sports 6.

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64. Maradona

I was born in 1984 and by my calculations that makes me 27 years old.  This then proves that I am in my 20’s and as such have no business or affiliation with the word “old”.  People in their 90’s are old.  Not people in their 20’s, or 30’s, or 40’s, or 50’s.  So it came as a great surprise to me when I was told last night by a dribbling alcoholic that I was a “grumpy old man who was past it”.  Past what remains a mystery.  But after having spooled back through the last 60 or so blogs it is clear that above all else I do enjoy a good moan.  And damn right too.  It’s easy to compliment and praise and be happy, but this runs no risk and can be quite boring.  I like to grouse and lament because it’s funny and, more often than not, true.

So, after promising the slobbering alcoholic that my next missive would be a more cheerful one, I have this to say…

Shilton: “Oi mate, you’ll need mi gloves!” Maradona “No it’s ok, do you have a £10 note I can borrow?”

…Maradona was a rubbish football manager.  Yep, true.  Maradona was not however a poor football player.  He was one of the greatest of his generation, arguably one of the greatest of all time, up there with John Fashanu.  He could even score goals with his hands, which is something that no one else could do, even the referee basked in his glory.  But why on earth did Dubai based football team Al Wasl employ him as their manager?  That’s like employing Paris Hilton to pilot Air Force One.  Ok, she is brilliant at running her hotel chain but that is a completely different profession to flying a Boeing 747 with the President of United States on board.  By the same logic I could be employed as a neurosurgeon.

Maradona’s football management career has been fruitless thus far.  He managed two Argentinean clubs between 1994 and 1995 with no success whatsoever.  Then, after sniffing lots of cocaine, he ended up managing the Argentine national squad in 2008.  His time at the helm there was also fruitless.  He barely got the team to qualify for the World Cup in South Africa in 2010 and oversaw Argentina’s biggest defeat in history, losing 6-1 to Bolivia, a team that play without boots, or even a ball.  He was sacked after the 2010 campaign and before you knew it he was drafted into Al Wasl in May of 2011.

Of course I’m asking you a question that I have already answered.  Why was he employed as manager in the first place?  Why did Al Wasl want to be affiliated with a player whose career was decorated in equal measures of brilliance and disgrace?  Well obviously it was for publicity.  Sadly, he was highly incompetent and as such there has been plenty of publicity, all of it bad.  And now he has been sacked from his post rendering all of the investment completely and utterly worthless.  This is the problem when money is no object; you go out and buy the big main brand that everyone knows.  We all know that if you do your research and you shop around a bit you will always get a better deal.  You cant afford to be impatient.

There are plenty of decent football managers out there who are more than capable of turning a club around, you have to be modest when picking.  Maradona was a poor choice made for superficial reasons.  It’s a shame because the UAE pro-league is in its infancy compared to the highly established European leagues and it has a golden opportunity to do things right.  A football manager is one of the most important mechanisms of any club.  Look at all of the greats over the years, they all had long careers.  As much as I hate to admit it, Manchester United is arguably the greatest club of all time, and Sir Alex Ferguson has been in the captains chair non-stop since 1986.  He was a bold choice for the club at the time of his appointment, but with a little bit of faith he’s proven his worth.  You need to employ a manager who is hungry to win and prepared to work hard for it, not someone who is hungry for tequila and prepared to phone in sick 3 times a week.

So, there’s no hidden message or morals in today’s missive.  It is what it is, me chuckling at the justified sacking of a man who should never have been employed in the first place, and also proving to the dribbling drunkard that my blogs can be far less melancholic and miserable.  Well, depending upon your point of view.

Actually thinking about it, the bloke last night was a big lad with a distinct South American accent… good with his hands too…hmmm…

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38. Football

I love Football.  It is the sport of the people, open to everyone on every level of all ability.  Like both my Dad and Granddad I support Wimbledon.  We beat Liverpool 1-0 to win the FA Cup in 1988 which is still to this day one of best remembered games of all time.  Well, it was Wimbledon FC from 1889 until 2002 when the team was callously franchised off to Milton Keynes and became MK Dons so we the fans started our own club:  AFC Wimbledon.  That’s right, we are a fans owned club.  You buy an equal share, you own it.  Since our inception in 2002 we have gone from the 9th tier of the English football pyramid to the 4th: Football League 2, or Division 4 as my Dad and I still call it.  Wimbledon (the old Wimbledon) was once a Premier League team, not a very good one, but one all the same.  For 14 years we were in the top flight, scalping the big boys, but the financial gulf between us and the big clubs eventually became too great.  Then, after we were relegated to the old Division 1, which used to be called Division 2, we went into decline with shoddy owners, careless management and still no home ground.  See, we had to leave our ground – Plough Lane –  in 1991 because it was too small to re-develop (we were told) into an all seater, as they all had to be after the Hillsborough disaster of 1989, so we moved in with our then-enemies, Crystal Palace FC at Selhurst Park, and it was from there that we eventually died…

The iconic Dave Beasant. Football in the good old days

See.  I know my club back-to-front; my passion for them is matched only by my passion to keep breathing.  Whenever anyone asks me who I support I have to explain all of the above so people know about both the injustice and the glory.  You know what I get back in response?  “Ok, so which Premier League team do you support?”  Stop it!  You know nothing.  I just told you who I support.  I support Wimbledon.  Not United, not Chelsea, not Arsenal, not Liverpool, not Spurs and certainly not Manchester City.

Obviously being an old Wimbledon fan as a kid I could never be accused of being a glory-hunter, but I grew up around them.  I went to school in south-west London surrounded by Manchester United fans. Manchester?  That’s 267 miles away.  “Yeah but my uncle’s best mate’s dog lives there”.  Oh, I see.  How loyal of you.

You may all now be beginning to wonder how on earth any of this is relevant to living in UAE.  Well, in case you have been living in a box, on Sunday Manchester City won the Premier League in dramatic style. Manchester City is owned – as of September 2008 – by Abu Dhabi.  And that makes it relevant.

What make’s me laugh is the people I see in my local bars.  I kid ye not they all once used to wear Manchester United shirts, Real Madrid Shirts or Barcelona Shirts.  Occasionally you would get an Arsenal shirt.  “Yeah I have supported Barca for years, I love them” they would say with gusto.  But now they are all wearing “Citeh” shirts.  “Yeah I have supported Manchester Citeh for years, I love them” they say with a hollow pride.  The hypocrisy burns like the fires of hell of damnation.  On the terraces in the old days crowds used to chant at each other “WHERE WERE YOU WHEN YOU WERE S#@T!!!??!” We used to sing that to Chelsea quite a lot as they hammered us 3-0 and I hear Citeh fans receiving the same treatment now…

I don’t understand how some people can be so fickle about the beautiful game.  I mean Manchester City isn’t even a real team anymore.  It’s a load of supposedly best players in the world fused together in the vain hope that they will gel as a team.  Do you have any idea how much money has been invested in Man City since 2008?  $1 billion.  No hyperbole.  $1 billion.  Yes.  On a football team that only won the league by goal difference.

Still, the league title has always been bought, that’s nothing new.  The team with the biggest budget generally wins.  Take something that already exists, throw money at it and reap the rewards.  Where’s the graft?  Where’s the magic?  Where’s the soul?  But I don’t care. Wimbledon may only get an average attendance of 4,500 in League 2 but supporting them has a magic about it like no other.  Stick your millions and your Premier League titles.  We don’t rely on outside investors.  I enjoy explaining to the gormless no-hopers all about my team.  I’m a Womble till I die.

Sigh…ask me one thing I miss about home.  You may guess the answer quite easily…

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