Eryck's Corner

The Gemans Are Coming

In the South America unlike in Europe, when they say "The Germans are coming,"...they mean up the middle! More »

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The Darkest Evening of Barcelona's Year

I find it fascinating how fans and pundits and soccer aficionados love to oversimplify problems with their teams. More »

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Respect, Promotion and Money

This is a guest article from Eryck's soccer buddy, Dale Churchett

The Premier League is over but the game touted as "the most expensive prize in football" has just been played at Wembley. Crystal Palace have, yet again, won promotion to from the Championship (the old Division 2) to the English Premiership. The South London team are now the only club to have won promotion playing the Championship Play-Off Final at the Old Wembley (with Twin Towers), the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff and the new Wembley. Their last promotion only last for one season and they go into the premiership having placed 5th in the league below.

I have a real problem with the play-off system. Teams that have won promotion through the play-offs generally don't stay promoted for long, and is it any wonder when you look at the gap between the 1st and 2nd place in the Championship with the bottom three teams in the Premiership. There are exceptions of course, (Swansea for one), but I find it a strange decision where a team that comes 3rd in the Championship over a very long season are not automatically promoted. The reason? Money. Extending the Championship by those extra four games brings in a ton of money in ticket sales, television rights and advertising space. Never mind the team that is promoted may never be able to compete at the next level. I do respect Crystal Palace for going for it though, and hope they do well next season.

And talking about Respect. We all know about FIFA's Respect Campaign. At the start of every World Cup match, we have to endure a speech read by the Captain of each national team about how much Respect there is in the game, and how all players Promise to show respect and sportsmanship. We then are subjected to a comical display of diving, cheating, bad language and spitting over 90 minutes.

british-lions-logoNow let's jump to The British and Irish Lions Rugby Team, who tour a Southern Hemisphere country every four years, and have done for over 125 years. Now to be selected for the British and Irish Lions squad you have to be the best in the United Kingdom. You have to be the best in your country, and that means you've likely racked up at least 20 or 30 international appearances. Then for each position on the field, you are competing with the best from all the other countries. Then you have to have demonstrated you are playing at the highest level in the year of a Lions tour to be considered. To get into the final 15 players that take the field you have to prove you are better than everyone else on the squad. It is not an exaggeration to say being selected for the British Lions is one of the greatest honors in Rugby.

You may be surprised then to hear that when the English Hooker, Dylan Hartly, was selected for the Lions he wasn't on his best behavior for the remaining games of the season. During the Rugby Premiership Final he did something almost unheard of in rugby; he swore at the referee! For this he was banned for 11 games, and has lost his place on the Lions squad. No 'ifs or buts', he is done and has probably lost the last chance he'll have to wear the famous red jersey.

Harsh? You may think so, but respect for the officials is one of the unwritten rules deep in the culture of rugby. The fact the ban was enforced by those running the game is no surprise to those that embrace that culture. Imagine how much nicer football could be to watch if that sort of Respect was actually demonstrated by 22 highly paid players kicking a ball around to entertain people.

A Reminder Why the FA Cup Is So Special

This is a guest article from Eryck's soccer buddy, Dale Churchett

fa cupWhen Dave Wheelan lead out Wigan this weekend at Wembley for the FA Cup final against Manchester City, he could not have imagined what fate had in store 90 minutes later. Teams are lead out at Wembley by the captain, sometimes the manager. It is almost unheard of a team is lead out by the club owner!

Dave Wheelan is 71 years old and owner of Wigan football club. He is a successful businessman who built up the JJB Sports retail chain. He also played in the 1960 FA Cup Final with Blackburn Rovers; a game that was to effectively his career when he broke his leg in the first half of the game. He did play for a couple of years afterwards for Crewe Alexandra F.C, which was remarkable in of itself given a broken leg in 1960 was generally a career ending injury.

How poignant then, that the winning goal that won the Cup for Wigan was scored in the first minute of stoppage time by a player who broke his leg only 3 months ago and came on as a substitute with 10 minutes to play!

Wigan outplayed Man City the entire game, and highlighted what a fantastic competition the FA Cup really is. Too often of late it has not been given the respect the oldest football cup competition deserves. The money won and lost to clubs in the Premiership often means teams treat the FA Cup as an annoyance rather than a pinnacle of achievement. The final we just saw puts those views to shame and maybe, just maybe we can return Cup Final Day to the last game of the season, and make it a national party again as it used to be when I grew up. Champions League Final? What's that?

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

This is a guest article from Eryck's soccer buddy, Dale Churchett

The Good:

On Saturday the Premiership Season for 2013/14 kicked off and a new era started; FIFA finally figured out that goal line technolgy can be useful and a good thing. Of the two games I watched on Saturday, the HawkEye system was used twice. Both decisions took less than 10 seconds to deliver to the officials via their wrist watches and controversy was avoided. More importantly, the number of correct referring decisions was increased by at least two.

The on-screen view to the viewers was clear, accurate, slick and FAST. All the things sane people already knew about HawkEye.

The Bad:

The HawkEye system has been in place for years. It is used to great effect in both Tennis and Cricket. The system had been ready to go for at least three years before the FIFA President Sepp Blater, who had been strongly against any form of technology of any kind, witnessed at first hand Frank Lampard's goal for England against Germany in the World Cup that crossed the goal line by about a yard. Suddenly Blatter came out and said 'Oh yeah, I get it'. The system could have, and should have, been in place at least two years ago and goes to show what a senseless body of government FIFA really is.

The Ugly:

The World Cup bid for Qatar for 2022 has been filled with rumors of corruption and payola. And although I don't have hard and fast evidence of brown bags being passed around, I have to wonder how the board of the largest sporting organization in the world could have accepted a bid to play a SUMMER World Cup in an environment that reaches temperatures of up to 120 degs F (that's 50 C).

Now there people that play sports for fun and recreation, and people that play at the highest levels. But it really doesn't take too many brain cells to figure out that playing in such temperatures is NOT a good idea, either for the players that actually have to run around for 45 mins at a time without a break or the fans that show up to cheer on the teams. If you thought the Vuvuzela was annoying, try waving your scarf over your head when you're passing out through dehydration!


The only sensible course of action is to give back any brown bags that may have been passed around, or better still put the people responsible in court, and change the location! Re-bid for the games and send the World Cup to a nation where a) fans can actually afford to go b) fans can enjoy the games without fear for their lives and c) the players can perform to the highest level.