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Football Column – EPL IPR OG

Football Column – EPL IPR OG: Man Utd ban tablets & laptops, the Premier League ban vines but the memorable moment of the opening weekend was viral footage.

Last Friday, on the eve of the new Premier League season, a Premier League spokesman said it would be clamping down on unofficial footage posted online while in the same sentence plugging that content would be available at a price from two brands of a global newsgroup. While it is reasonable the Premier League want to protect the value of the intellectual property rights they auction off, their comments actually go further than worrying about pirate streaming and copies of replayed goals – they also object to the paying punter sharing footage they have captured themselves.
Continue reading…

Football Column – A Few Good Men

A pre-season return for The Substantive Football Column.

The Premier League had a launch party today. It’s not entirely clear why. It’s nothing new and the media that report on the launch cover the Premier League on a daily basis anyway. A suited Mike Reilly demonstrating how a black can of whipped cream can vanish when sprayed on astro-turf doesn’t justify Richard Scudamore picking at cocktail sausages while having a dig at La Liga, boasting how many $200 tickets were sold for a pre-season friendly and no doubt checking his emails on his mobile device. Continue reading…

Undercover

Undercover Guardian Books

The secret network of police that come across as more David Brent than Tim Roth in spirit, but who had few scruples in living a double-life.

Two weeks ago the latest report from the police investigation, Operation Herne, confirmed that the Metropolitan Police carried out secret surveillance on grieving families following 18 separate deaths, including those of innocent victims Stephen Lawrence, Ricky Reel and Jean Charles de Menezes. The unscrupulous lengths that undercover officers went to, often on seemingly harmless targets, including the revelation that the Lawrence family were spied on after he was murdered in a racist attack, were first brought to light by journalists Rob Evans and Paul Lewis.

Their book Undercover gets into the detail of a network of spies, not the Thirty-Nine Steps but a state funded bunch of detectives, mainly blokes, who took on their roles to manipulate, deceive and change the lives of citizens, with relish. It was a lifestyle that appealed to the wandering star copper with a hungry heart who could lead a double life armed with a stolen identity of a dead baby, the ready-made back story of a long-distance dying relative that would lead to a quick escape, a van to ferry the perceived poor do-gooders around, a tidy expense account and a James Bond style watch that would record conversations of their new friends and lovers. Continue reading…

Racing Hard

Racing Hard

Last weekend the Tour de France started in Yorkshire before coming to the Capital on Monday via Cambridgeshire, Essex and Enfield. Now, with the magic combination of mobile phones and social media, you didn’t have to be there to get a great insight, with photos and videos posted from numerous different vantage points on the routes on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. It wasn’t always so. When the Tour came to Tunbridge Wells in 1994 for anyone who wasn’t there newspaper reports gave a rarer glimpse of what it was like being there as bikes came round at pace on local streets. William Fotheringham’s piece at the times tells of the community spirit and excitement on the streets that looking back it now seemed to be a forerunner for the atmosphere that was to sweep the nation when the Olympic Torch came round before London 2012. Continue reading…

Arcade Fire Hyde Park 3 July 2014

Arcade Fire Hyde Park 2014

It’s been ten years since Arcade Fire’s first sprawling album, Funeral, an instant epic that still stands up now; it remains one of the very best albums of this century so far, alongside the debuts of The Streets, The Fleet Foxes, The Strokes, The Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand. Unlike many others bands though, after a decade, Arcade Fire continue at the top of their game, making great new music and producing electrifying live performances.

Their fourth album, Reflecktor, released last year, is high quality and central to their current, long, tour, the European leg of which ended last Thursday night at Hyde Park. Back in London less than four weeks after two great sets on consecutive nights at Earls Court, Arcade Fire delivered in style again. Continue reading…

Tour de France Books

Cycle of lies - book on Lance Armstrong

Cycling Anthology - Volume 4

As road cycling takes over Yorkshire this weekend ahead of a day in the Capital tomorrow, some Tour de France books recommeded by Mark Perryman.

There seems to be something about cycling that helps inspire fine sportswriting. Perhaps it is the landscapes and countries traversed, the solitude on a bike, the risk factor of a fall or worse, the extraordinary feats of human endurance, and human-powered speed too. Add a healthy dose of British elite level cycling success plus a dash of greenery and its no surprise that publishers are backing bicycling authors to deliver sales, for the most part with very good books too. Continue reading…

World Cup 2014: Land of Hope and Dreams

Fifa World Cup posters 1930 - 2014

That was the week that was, the best first week of a World Cup certainly since Espana ’82 when the entrants were increased to 24 and the competition grew to another level. It’s already, as some of us predicted, an open tournament, with no clear favourites. Before it began Paul Wilson wisely noted most teams, including England, had a chance and flair and progressive football may yet be rewarded. There have been high-quality clashes, games with end-to-end action, plenty of goals including a couple of world class ones, a degree of unpredictability, new rules that have benefited the games, and even, largely, good officiating, with the referee decision to let play go on in dying minutes of stoppage time in the Switzerland game as good as a decision as the soft penalty the hosts were awarded on the opening night was disappointing.

There are two certainties during any football World Cup: (1) People around the world will be united with a passion and interest in the global game. This is exemplified in bars in cities the world over every four years. Just as telling, in an hour plus bus ride through ethnically diverse and far from affluent towns in west London this morning, England flags were a constant with people wearing their colours for the nation where they live and work. Meanwhile, there is another category of people that always seem to pop-up while millions immerse their soul in a love of the game: (2) the passive-aggressive sneering cynics who look to discredit football at every given opportunity. What a blow for that second group this last week has been.

We can smell these naysayers from afar, as annoying and distinct as exhaled smoke. There are the landlords in pubs who originally don’t plan to show football but seeing their takings fall they begrudgingly turn their TV set on, presumably previously there as a fake decoration like a library book in an O’Neill’s pub or in case war breaks out and there is an address to the nation; having turned the telly, like a modern-day Basil Fawlty, they then insist on turning the volume down to zero, as football is beneath them. These are the type of people who have sneered at working-class kids like Beckham and Rooney earning money they can only dream of, but never mention golfers, motor racing drivers, or bankers or barristers or any other profession where having a more advantageous start in life may have played a part. Continue reading…

England Cricket – A Tale of Two Ashes 2013/14

Jimmy Anderson by Lilly Allen for The Substantive

A successful England test team was taken apart in Australia, leading to wholesale changes and three new call-ups for the first test of the summer against Sri Lanka this week. A look back at some of the key moments for the England team of the back-to-back tests against Australia that went from triumph to disaster.

Australia v England, The Gabba, Novemeber 2013First Day at The Gabba © Mel Gomes

It is hard to think of any England cricket tour that has produced so much carnage.

First Jonathan Trott, who looked like his was found out in the English summer yet still taken on tour, looked all at sea in the heat of battle at the Gabba and flew home the day after the first test. Another staple of the successful side, Greame Swann, whose intelligent, beguiling over against Ricky Ponting against Edgbaston in 2009 will long-live in the memory, found it hard to get any bounce or spin; he boxed up all his records and a head full of ideas after the third test. Steven Finn, a genuine match-winner, wasn’t given a look in before he was sent home before the one-dayers began. Andy Flower, who had hinted the tour would be his swan song as coach, didn’t even get to make the choice himself before being given his marching orders upstairs. Further changes followed, including the end for Mustaq Ahmed and a still despondent Graham Gooch; Ashley Giles hides his humble hopes now and Geoff Miller is no longer chief selector. And of course the most talented and successful England player of the generation since he practically clinched the 2005 Ashes on his own, Kevin Pieterson, was the convenient scapegoat. What dark arts he performed in the dressing room that meant the team couldn’t bat, bowl or field, we may only fully find out when the confidentiality clauses end. Continue reading…

Sports Books – Summer 2014

Pirates, Punks and Politics -FC St Pauli Book Review

Mark Perryman shares his tips for Sports Books in the Summer of 2014.

Summer 2013. The British and Irish Lions win their test series against the Aussies down under. Andy Murray wins Wimbledon. Chris Froome makes it a second Tour de France British Yellow Jersey in a row. Mo Farah does the double in the 5000m and 10,000m at the World Athletics Championships. For the second summer in a row, sporting Brits are forced for once to come to terms with what it feels like to be winners.

Of course the glorious appeal of sport is its unpredictability. A year ago Man Utd won the League by 11 points with Sir Alex in his retirement pomp. A year later Utd managed to hold on to 7th place. The best sportswriters engage with the cause and effect of unpredictability to capture not only the glories of victory but the far more common experience, the miseries of defeat. 2013’s summer of British victories only meant so much because most of us were better accustomed to the experience of British plucky losers. Amongst the finest sportswriters to cover this emotional scope was Frank Keating and The Highlights is a posthumous collection of his superb writing spanning more than fifty years of sport, reviewed in-depth on this website earlier this week here. Continue reading…

Frank Keating: The Highlights

Frank Keating Book Review Sports Writing

A review of a collection of over 50 years of great sports writing from Frank Keating, the Guardian Journalist who died in January 2013.

Compiled and edited by Frank Keating’s former Guardian colleague and sub-editor Matthew Engel, this wide-ranging collection of pieces from the late sports journalist who died in 2013 is a window into both the world of sport in the twentieth century and also Keating’s own art, his writing. There is very rarely a sentence not packed full of punch, sentences which are woven together to make articles that transcend match reports, interviews, profiles, obituaries, previews and reviews into a sum greater than their parts.

Keating’s skill is clear in this highlights package from work that spanned over five decades: he could take a one answer interview and turn it into a polemic, a history lesson or a reportage, while painting several pictures at the same time. Engles notes in his introduction that Keating sometimes took artistic license to the words of his interviewees to add a flourish in-keeping with the flair he himself consistently produced in his work, never misrepresenting them, Engles argues, rather delivering a more genuine portrayal of his subjects that the anodyne responses controlled by a PR spokesman who only allows clichés, platitudes and statements of the bleeding obvious.

The book contains Keating’s filed articles on genuine sporting heroes including Muhammad Ali, Ian Botham, Bill Nicolson, Basil D’Oliveria and Harold Larwood; there are the stories about unsung heroes from loyal servants at Fulham and Port Vale via golfing academies; and there are the brief encounters with the famous from other arenas such as Trevor Howard, Mother Theresa and John Betjeman. Continue reading…



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