Before i Forget : Simon Jones's blog


SportsMonday, November 15th, 2010, (11:34 am)

Sebastian Vettel became the 2010 Formula One world champion on Sunday after one of the most exciting Grand Prix seasons ever.

Sebastian Vettel. 2010 Formula One World Champion

I followed F1 since I was a kid and this years title battle was epic. After watching British drivers crowned World Champion in 2008 and 2009 I wanted to see Australian driver, Mark Webber take the title this year, but in the end it was not to be. Instead his German Red Bull Racing team mate became the youngest ever F1 World Champion at just 23 years old. Certainly we can expect to see Vettel take more titles in what, I’m sure, will be a glittering career, but for now I just thought I would tip my hat to ‘Seb’ and say well done to him on taking the title.

I’m a passionate follower of Grand Prix racing and the end of the season always feels a little like the end of a party to me. When I was a kid the wait for the new season to begin seemed like a lifetime, these days though, I’m a little more patient. The arrival of 2011 can take it’s time, but there’s every reason to believe that next years Formula One season will be every bit as good as this years, and who knows, maybe it will be even better.

Sebastian Vettel. 2010 Formula One World Champion

Red Bull Racing official website
Sebastian Vettel wins Formula One world championship in Abu Dhabi

SportsSunday, November 2nd, 2008, (11:52 pm)

This afternoon my neighbors might very well have wondered what was happening as they heard shouting coming from my apartment. But the shouts weren’t part of anything ugly, rather my hyper-energetic shouts of encouragement to British Formula One race driver, Lewis Hamilton, as he made a pass on the last corner of the last lap that would crown him Champion of the world!

Lewis Hamilton's McLaren Mercedes F1 car

Fewer races have ever been so charged with excitement in the closing laps, and I simply couldn’t help but shout at the TV as if Lewis could somehow hear me.

I’ll confess that I would have also been delighted to see the only other contender, Felipe Massa, win the title. Both men wear yellow crash helmets, inspired by my hero and Formula One legend, the late Aytron Senna from Brazil. Senna was killed when he crashed out of the lead at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.

Seeing a yellow crash helmet in a McLaren is a joy that harks back to my younger days when Senna was himself a McLaren driver. It’s easy to be reminded of Senna when one sees Lewis’s unswerving self belief and breath-taking skill.

Massa is a Brazilian and also draws inspiration from his late fellow countryman. This years final race took place near Sao Palo, close to where Massa grew up, so winning the world championship at his home race would have probably been the highest point of his career, however it was not to be. While Massa won the race this afternoon, Lewis’s dramatic and frighteningly close 5th place finish allowed the Englishman to win the title by just a single point.

Oddly enough, after all these years, I’m always left feeling a little deflated at the end of the F1 year. It’ll be months now until the first race of 2009 when the whole circus starts again.

Next year the British TV coverage returns to the BBC, and frankly I’m not excited about that. ITV’s F1 coverage has been peerless as far as I’m concerned, and I can’t imagine the BBC will deliver the sport to us with quite the same flare that their TV rivals have over the past 12 years, however I’ll be happy to be proved wrong on that.

Well done Lewis! Though next year I might just have to cheer for Felipe Massa.

Lewis Hamilton becomes youngest Formula One champion
Lewis Hamilton admits: “I just don’t know how I kept my cool”
Ayrton Senna remembered

SportsFriday, March 14th, 2008, (2:11 pm)

Football isn’t a game that appeals to me, a fact that often sets me apart from your average english ‘bloke.’ Nonetheless though, it’s a crime that after all these years living in the burbs of one of Europe’s most football frenzied cities, I had never been to match, if only for the experience. Last week I finally put right that particular wrong and went to Anfield stadium with Philly to watch Liverpool beat West Ham, like they stole something!

Football, or “footy” as it is known in these parts, is as much a part of British culture as the monarchy, bangers and mash, and double decker buses. I’ve tried to love the game, but for me there’s simply no spark there. I’ll enjoy a key match now and again, and the world cup can be fun, but I can always think of better ways to spend 90 minutes of my life. That aside, I’ve long said that I’d like to go to a match, and living so close to Liverpool, Everton, and Tranmere Rovers there’s simply no excuse for not seeing at least one game, but it’s taken me until now to actually do just that.

Along with fellow footy match virgin, Philly, and accompanied by his sort-of-kinda step father in law, Steve, and Steve’s Dad, the four of us headed to Anfield stadium last week to watch Liverpool play West Ham, or if you would rather use the footy vernacular, ‘The Reds’ play ‘The Hammers.’

Steve and his father are hardened Liverpool supporters who hold season tickets in a different part of the stadium to where Philly and I were going to be seated. For this reason, and perhaps because they had already grown tired of my sarcastic approach to football talk, they quickly left us at the main gate to find take up their seats while we battled the masses in the club shop.

We emerged a few minutes later suitably adorned in Liverpool hats and scarfs that convincingly disguised us as life-long fans enabling us to blend in as we thread our way though the crowds to turnstile S in search for seating block MX, row 4, in the main stand.

We find the correct line to stand in and eventually squeeze through the impossibly narrow turnstile that would exclude many an American from entering the grounds. Given the state of clubs animosity toward its relatively new American owners I wondered if the skinny turnstile might be a new measure, a ‘scouse‘ “welcome and thanks for nothing” perhaps?

Anfield stadium isn’t like the stadiums I’ve been in before. It’s an ugly concrete block that has all the style and charm of a public toilet. But as we make our way through a sea of red hats and scarfs to our seats, the functional and utilitarian feel gives way to a more atmospheric air, not the excited high spirited climate I had expected, but more of an expectant throng that is perhaps more akin to something like a minors strike rally.

Philly and I are sat in the very corner of the main stand, right next to the West Ham supporters in the other stand. As the players come onto the pitch the cheering and jeering picks up. The Liverpool fans sing in crowd chorus their anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone” while the West Ham fans sing the less iconic feeling “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles.” It’s 8 o’clock, and the match kicks off.

Now this is where a true fan could tell you who was kicking the ball and how they were playing. My summery would be far less detailed. The players were quickly running around and kicking the ball and we, ‘we’ meaning Liverpool of course (come on, I have a Liverpool hat and scarf now so I can say ‘we’), nearly scored a very quick opening goal. As the game continued Liverpool seemed to be playing much better than West Ham, but then what the heck do I know? All the action tough was huddled around the West Ham end of the field as ‘The Reds’ made repeated goal attempts.

Being so close to the pitch I recognised a few players after seeing them on TV. The Liverpool captain, whose name I have honestly forgotten, took a couple of corner kicks, and some guy called something-or-other Torez scored a hat trick much to the delight of the fans and the two fake fans sitting in the corner.

At half time I wished for scantily clad cheer leaders and some kind of half time show, but instead people left their seats returning a few minutes later with steaming cups of tea and hot dogs as some lady in a wheelchair on the side of the pitch holding a microphone talked about disabled kids or something. Hardly the cheerleader I’d hoped for.

The match resumed and this time it was down the other end of the pitch as the teams had changed sides. Now we couldn’t really make out what was happening, but nonetheless we stood up and oohed and aahed appropriately.

At this point the West Ham fans began mercilessly taunting the Liverpool fans. Throughout the game the banter between the fans had, much to my surprise, been extremely good natured and given the controversial situation surrounding Liverpool’s unpopular American owners the West Ham fans took every opportunity to chant “USA, USA, USA.” At one point they were all pointing at us chanting “Where’s your famous atmosphere!” which I have to confess I was wondering myself. The home team was by now winning 3 nil and their seemed to be little excitement.

In the end, as good as the game itself was, (‘we’ won 4 – 0) the whole experience was made that much more fun by the banter between the fans in the stadium. Picking on one particular Liverpool fan who they had labeled as ‘fat lad,’ the West Ham supporters came up with repeated amusing chants. At one stage the ‘fat lad’ left his seat and the West Ham supporters began chanting “He’s going home for his dinner!” He returned a few minutes later to the chant “He only went for a burger!” The Liverpool fans laughed at that and applauded ‘the Hammers’ supporters. As the final whistle blew the fans stood to applaud the players as they left then turned their attention to the visiting opposing supporters to applaud them. It was a friendly gesture which actually seemed to sum up the entire night.

The experience didn’t make me into a footy fan, but I enjoyed the night perhaps more than the Liverpool fans who all seemed to walk home in a rather boring ‘job done’ fashion that felt like a trudge home after a day down the mine. I’ll go to another match though. I’m told the European games are good so I might try one of those games. Lets hope they bring a little of their weather with them too!

Liverpool fans rage against American owners
American owners tighten their grip on Liverpool
Liverpool fans threaten American owners with financial boycott

SportsSunday, October 22nd, 2006, (3:51 pm)

Seven times formula one Grand Prix driver Michael Schumacher bowed out of Grand Prix racing today in his final race. He’s now retired, bringing to and end one of the most impressive F1 careers.

I’ve not always been a fan of Michael. The german has not always endeared himself to Grand Prix fans with questionable maneuvers and tactics. But no one can deny that Schumacher has an unrivaled success record that is unlikely to be beaten for many years to come.

His final race today was set to be a world championship showdown that might have ended in his eighth world title, but bad luck in the race meant that any hope he had of winning the title faded in the first few laps. I had hoped that Michael would have the fairy tale finish to his career and the 2006 season.

Some people think that with the dominance of Schumacher gone from formula one will mean better, closer and more exciting races. I’m not so sure myself, I guess we’ll find out next March when the F1 circus starts again in Australia.

Michael Schumacher’s official website
Michael Schumacher [Wiki]

SportsSaturday, July 1st, 2006, (10:55 pm)

England are out of the World Cup. They lost 3-1 on penalties after the quarter-final game with Portugal ended with neither team scoring a goal.

I don’t really care too much to be honest, but as much as I’m not a football fan (that’s soccer to all you Americans) it would have been great to see England get through to the last stages. However, I think we got as far as we could have expected.

I dislike the fact that these later stage games are often won and lost on penalty shoot outs. It seems to unfair, almost like drawing straws really. Heck, lets avoid all the bother of actually staging the matches for the next world cup in 2010. Instead lets just put all the teams names into a big hat and then pull one and award that country the the damn trophy!

And that’s another thing… why is it called the World Cup when the prize isn’t a cup but a bloody great big trophy?

All the England flags will be coming down then over the next week or so. The World Cup itself will continue of course, I’ll probably watch the final, I would imagine the host nation, Germany, will be in it and if so I think I’ll cheer for them. It would be nice to see the hosts win at home.

Match report from the BBC

General and SportsWednesday, June 21st, 2006, (10:00 pm)

If you live in England there is almost no chance that you have escaped World Cup mania that has swept the nation. England flags have been appearing everywhere in some truly cringe-worthy displays of national pride that almost make me want to grab a can of cheap beer and launch into a chorus of the national football chant “In-ger-lund!!!!”

I’m not at all into football. I might be if the game didn’t seem to attract such large numbers of ‘bevied up’ louts who gather in large numbers and often end up causing all kinds of agro.

I like seeing all the England flags everywhere, it’s nice to see a bit of national pride. But I can’t help but notice, and this is a dangerously un-pc thing to write, that it seems the poorer the household the more England flags they seem to fly. Drive through any low cost housing area (I didn’t say crappy council estate) and you’ll see house after house bathed in ‘In-ger-land’ flags.

The same can be said of cars. Lots of people in England are flying England flags on their cars. I’ve no problem with that at all, I just find it mildly amusing that the crapper the car the more flags it has. The other day I saw a white van that had a flag-pole with an England flag that was so big it couldn’t pass under a bridge!

I suppose the people who enjoy dressing up their homes in vast numbers of England flags are the same people who cover their homes in a million fairy lights at Christmas and having fairy light nodding reindeer on their front yards.

Believe it or not, decorating your home with flags is actually against the law in many parts of England. The law actually only allows one flag, with no advertising, flying from a single mast. Peterborough City Council has recently reminded residents of the law and stated that they will tolerate flags until the competition is over at which point the flags must then be removed.

All the flags will disappear soon enough though. England are sure to be knocked out in the quarter finals like we always are. That’ll probably be a good enough reason for drunk England fans to go on the rampage in towns across the country as well as in Germany where the world cup is being held.

I know, I know, it’s a terrible way to talk about my fellow countrymen (and women). But there is something about football that seems to bring out the worst behavior in a small minority of so called fans in a way that it doesn’t in other sports.

Until then I suppose I should get behind ‘our boys’ and chant along with the beery brotherhood. “In-ger-land! In-ger-land!!”

Top cop talks bollocks about England flags in Wales
Take your flags down or face trouble
Blair the scare will be a chav on match days
Horses don’t like England flags

Next Page »