Nae more for Neymar – Belgium 2 Brazil 1

The omens were promising: a 77-year-old German-Canadian in the hostel was attending his 12th consecutive World Cup.

He travelled to his second – Argentina in 1978 – by cargo boat. “I saw Scotland, they weren’t very good.”

Continue reading Nae more for Neymar – Belgium 2 Brazil 1

Cricket in Calzaghe’s back garden – Abercarn v DinkyPooThrees

Essex is great, you might be surprised to hear, but after 13 Saturdays of less than magnificent arenas what a treat to play at Aber-lovely-carn. ‘Carn’ as in Imran.

After Orsett Vs in Stanford le Hope, it felt like Lord’s. 

Continue reading Cricket in Calzaghe’s back garden – Abercarn v DinkyPooThrees

Fortaleza fan fest fun: a critical evaluation

20140625-104307-38587808.jpgFan fests – what are they like?

Kharkiv two years ago in Ukraine was dominated by the Dutch, who brought their oompah songs, orange boiler suits and their shtrange anticsh that would probably be banned in any other country.

It was much more fun than the game that followed.

Continue reading Fortaleza fan fest fun: a critical evaluation

The ‘Death Match’ stadium, Kyiv

Death Match Stadium, KyivThe ‘Death Match’ inspired a film starring Sylvester Stallone and is still a cause of furious debate more than 70 years after it was played.

The stadium in Kyiv which hosted the game on August 9, 1942, still stages games but is in typically decrepit Ukrainian condition.

It inspired the Escape to Victory movie but if you read wikipedia accounts then eye-witnesses claim players were not killed as a result of inflicting defeat on German players

Continue reading The ‘Death Match’ stadium, Kyiv

Back in the USSR! Soviet soccer at the Pele Museum


Lev Yashin and burning passion for Soviet links with Brazil feature strongly in the Pele Museum in Lugansk.

It has a host of fascinating Soviet football artefacts collected by its owner Nikolai Khudobin.

Lev Yashin, the most famous Russian footballer ever, is regarded as maybe the best goalkeeper who ever played.

Continue reading Back in the USSR! Soviet soccer at the Pele Museum

Pele Museum, Lugansk – Музей Пеле


Yes there really IS a Pele Museum in Lugansk.

Lugansk is in Ukraine. Twenty miles from the Russian border,  it  is the easternmost major city in the country and has about 500,000 inhabitants. 

There is a Pele museum in Santos, where Pele played for the local team, which is about 7,000 miles away from Lugansk.  I hope to visit the Santos museum later this year. 

Continue reading Pele Museum, Lugansk – Музей Пеле

Aber 1 Bala 3

photo (27)At last, nearly 30 years after leaving  the place, time to finally watch a match at Aberystwyth Town FC.

Previously the football club was the scene of student discos and the chief memory was of Simple Minds‘ Lovesong always blaring out at some point in the night.

This match never met those heights and was not a wonderful spectacle for the 300 or so who turned up.

But, as in the eighties, there were plenty of off-pitch highlights. The clubhouse is a treasure trove of pictures and heartfelt love for a club.

Was a bit surprised there were no photos or reports of games played by Chelsea up here in the eighties. They were regular visitors I seem to remember.

Charles in action for Leeds
Charles in action for Leeds

But that was more than made up for by the John Charles lounge, which is, in effect, a part of the clubhouse adorned with terrific pictures of the legend in action, without quite clarifying why they were there. Presumably Charles DID play at some point for Aber on his travels. And even if he didn’t, so what, he deserves this sort of tribute.

Welsh Premier League is a huge contrast now with the English. Just before kick-off an Aber urchin on the terrace quizzed one of the players: “What number are you?”

“16,” he replied.

“Are you any good?”

Well he came on as sub later but by then the cause was lost.

A comedy own goal gave Aber the lead, Bala’s keeper saving well only  for Tony Davies to unwittingly knock the rebound over his own line, for an unlikely lead.

Bala bounced back with as Davies netted an overhead kick from as the keeper was unable to fist away a superb corner.

Charles scores v England at Wembley
Charles scores v England at Wembley

Second-half saw Bala seal the win with goals from Hunt and Brown. 3-1 was about right on the right and a miserable evening was compounded for Aber when Matty Collins went off with a broken shoulder.

Incidental highlights included seeing a Welsh international on the field – Mark Jones for Bala. The sight of ex-Hereford Kenny Lunt, for the visitors, was also a surpise. For Aber it was good see the famous Welsh surname Cadwallader in the team line-up. And a stirringly named Glyndwr Hughes in the home team line-up.

That Pele gets everywhere
That Pele gets everywhere