Archived entries for Home

Euro 2012 – Phase 1

England entered Euro 2012 yesterday, living up to the billing of being well-organised but uninspired, with a decent enough performance that was worthy of the 1-1 draw against a French side who looked susceptible to runs behind the back of a high-line, and didn’t do enough to get behind England’s deep back four.

The ball retention was slightly better than in England’s two previous games under Roy Hodgson, with Scott Parker central to short-passing in the middle of the field, and Ashley Young linking up and creating an early opportunity with a killer pass that put James Milner through early on. Milner’s movement from off the right was a rare example of the system at its best in the first-half, although as the game wore on England defended deeper with two banks of four, which while thankfully not leaving much space between the back four and the midfield as in previous tournaments, was so rigid it meant there was little fluidity when going forward. Continue reading…

Woody Allen: A Documentary

Robert B. Weide’s documentary on Woody Allen, originally made for US Television and edited down by the Director himself for cinematic release from three-and-a-half hours to 113 minutes that flew by, has finally reached the UK. In a full-house at the BFI’s Number 1 Screen for a Preview of the film last Thursday there was naturally a lot of love for the subject in the large darkened room, with the joy of every frame even sometimes spilling out into a few laughs in the wrong places.

With the opening titles and score in the style of an Allen film, the tone is set immediately, in a documentary that is a pleasure to watch throughout, as it chronologically tells the story of a prolific independent filmmaker, who has a habit of achieving everything he wants to in life. Intercut with scenes from Allen’s own films that perfectly illuminate elements of the story as well as at times causing prolonged bouts of laughter in the audience, it also includes golden archive footage that ranges from an appearance on a chat show hosted by Derek Nimmo to Allen trading punches with a Kangaroo in a boxing ring on an American variety show. Continue reading…

Olympics: Tickets, Anyone Got Tickets?

As another batch of very high-priced tickets released today, in his latest Olympics piece on The Substantive, Mark Perryman suggests less tickets for sponsors, bigger venues around the country and lower prices would have given us a People’s Games. Continue reading…

John Scales – Euro 2012 Interview

Intelligent, articulate and with constantly insightful views on Football, it is easy to see why so many media outlets including Sky, ESPN and the BBC often turn to John Scales, as an ex-England International, for comments about the game.

Alongside Zinadine Zidane, John is currently an ambassador for Danone, and involved in the Danone Nations Cup, the largest international tournament in the World for 10-12 year olds that will host its World Cup Final in the national stadium in Warsaw, Poland, a couple of months after some of the best professionals compete there this summer.

He kindly took time out to speak to The Substantive ahead of Euro 2012, with his thoughts on the tournament which starts tomorrow. Continue reading…

Bruce Springsteen Profile

Ahead of Bruce Springsteen’s 2012 Tour coming to the UK this month, Alan Fisher writes about the enduring positive values that remain constant in the work of The Boss.

Rock music is fast approaching the Era of the Geriatric. Those stars from six decades of rock and roll who aren’t bloated on royalties or substance abuse are shlepping round revival tours, a pallid cardboard cut-out version of their former selves. Many make more money than they ever did in their heyday. Where the acts themselves can’t quite get it together or didn’t make it this far, tribute bands fill the vacuum. For those of us of a certain age, three chords over a snappy backbeat will always set the toes a-tapping but there’s no denying a lingering unease that we’ve heard it all before.

Bruce Springsteen has chosen a different option. At 62, he’s discovered a rich seam of creativity that shows little sign of running out. After a fallow period in the middle of his career, Springsteen can’t stop writing and touring. As a misunderstood punk-kid on New Jersey streets, the songs tumbled out faster than the embryonic E Street Band could keep up and forty years on little has changed. Albums, concepts, styles from full-blown storming rock through American folk to acoustic, his prolific energy puts his contemporaries to shame. His latest album, Wrecking Ball, released earlier this year, is his 17th studio effort, adding to a catalogue fans own including a cannon of live recordings and collections of previously unreleased material, and he’s already begun a world tour that comes to Britain this month. The album was number one in the States and they still queue overnight for tickets, even though he tours regularly. Seeing Springsteen perform remains special. Continue reading…

England v Belgium 2 June 2012

With balloons in the crowd, a strong focus on Royal Family look-a-likes and the Mexican Wave starting before the first fifteen minutes had passed, the general atmosphere in England’s match against Belgium less than a week before the start of a major tournament summed up the ambivalence towards the current national team. In fact there were so many paper aeroplanes thrown from the stands, made from the red and white ‘clappers’ left  in every seat, it is arguable there hadn’t been as much rubbish on the pitch of an England match since the display against Algeria in the 2010 World Cup.

However, real evidence of the low levels of expectation as the national side head towards the European Championship came at the end of the match; two years ago after England played Mexico at Wembley ahead of the 2010 World Cup the majority of the crowd stayed behind after the final whistle to fervently wish the players well before they set-off to South Africa. Steven Gerrard even commented about how he could see the determination in the eyes of so many that Wednesday evening. This time as the players started their walk around the ground, most had already headed-off despite the more convenient Saturday early evening kick-off, with polite applause from those that stayed.

And with news yesterday that a sixth player from the team that finished eighth in the League will now be part of an England squad challenging for the European Championship, as Martin Kelly was called-up to replace the injured Gary Cahill, it is no surprise there is such little anticipation and excitement, as the current England side takes on an uninspiring style, both on paper and on grass. Continue reading…

Ally Clow’s May 2012 Film Round-up

May began in a funk of April’s promise of rain and cold – perfect cinema weather in my book.  The success that Avengers Assemble enjoyed was down to great direction and script but it also had luck on its side being released bang in the middle of this dank climate too.  As I write, the heatwave most of Britain is going through has all but killed the UK Box Office figures for films such as Men In Black 3 and Moonrise Kingdom. Sacha Baron Coen’s The Dictator on the other hand made the most of a mid-May release date, avoiding any of the truly hot weather.  There were a couple of great remastered classics and even a rare 35mm showing of a Russian masterpiece with what seemed like half the UK’s film industry in attendance – a real event.  May kicked off in style however with Joss Whedon’s Avengers Assemble. Continue reading…

Olympics: the taking part

In Mark Perryman’s latest piece on the Olympics he questions the claim that that Participation will be a main legacy of the London 2012 Games. 

The Olympic Motto “The most important thing is not the winning but the taking part” represents many of the finest ideals of any model of sport as democratic, participative and accessible. As the Jubilee hoopla fades away the forthcoming summer of sport – Euro 2012, a serious British challenger to win the Tour de France, Wimbledon fortnight, overseas rugby tours to the southern hemisphere, a domestic test match series and the first, and last home Olympics for most of our lifetimes – will no doubt test those sentiments  to the full. A nation that invented a decent proportion of the world’s team sports has a perhaps not wholly unforgivable difficulty coping with the countries which it exported those games to, promptly defeating the inventor-nation. However adding in a martial and imperial tradition, and CLR James’ famous maxim ‘What do they know of cricket who only cricket knows’, indicates the need for a social and political context in which to understand the British as not the world’s best losers. Continue reading…

Arsene Wenger Profile

Sian Ranscombe profiles the man who single-handedly changed the culture of a football club.

I appreciate that a profile on a person is normally written without too much emotion or bias. I appreciated this long and hard while writing and rewriting the first paragraph for this profile – and then again as I rewrote the rewrite. I eventually decided it would be far easier to ignore this fact and go for it regardless. This is a profile on Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, unfortunately written by an Arsenal fan and, worse, one who would most definitely list Mr. Wenger right at the top in a list of ideal dinner party guests. Sorry.

In August 2011, Arsene Wenger was under fire. Journalists, football supporters, pundits and former players alike began adding their voice to the constantly simmering minority in expressing the opinion that Wenger was a man who had taken his job as far as he could. Some were respectful in their criticism, claiming he ought to be applauded for his achievements but equally that he ought to close the door quietly behind him as he bowed out. Others were less diplomatic in their views that he was past it. Football fans, a mildly insane bunch at the best of times, have an incredible ability to take any old fact and suit it to their own agenda. Some Arsenal fans claimed they wanted their Arsenal back. When pushed, few could explain exactly what this Arsenal they spoke and dreamt of was, but it sure sounded better than the current predicament to some. Continue reading…

Ordinary Boys

When Ron Greenwood became England Manager in 1977 he tried to replicate the success of the English Club side of the time by picking a team with six Liverpool players in his first game in charge. At the same time Roy Hodgson was in his first Managerial role, in Sweden, at Halmstead, but something must have stuck, because thirty five years on, Hodgson’s first match had five Liverpool players appearing at some point in the game for England.

Rather than being League and European Champions the current Liverpool side of course finished eighth in the League, a position that reflected their performances, which cricket commentators would describe as “ordinary”. And the tone of Hodgson’s overall squad selection – average and uninspired – was also the style of a pedestrian 1-0 away to a Norway side currently managed by long-ball advocate Egil Olsen. Continue reading…



Copyright © 2004–2009. All rights reserved.

RSS Feed. This blog is proudly powered by Wordpress and uses Modern Clix, a theme by Rodrigo Galindez.