Archive for the Calcio Category

Glory, glory! Red is the colour! Or maybe not.

Posted in Calcio, Strange phenomena, WhingeRantMoan on May 15, 2012 by Johnnie


Just what is it about a red shirt that gets glory seeking fans of non-local teams in such a lather? I ask this as a somewhat bewildered Scots observer of English football from an Irish perspective – if that doesn’t sound like codswallop.

I’ll try to explain what I mean, but perhaps my point was illustrated by the recent, bizarre goings on at Cardiff City. You might recall that Cardiff’s Malaysian owners seriously proposed to change the club’s first team colours from their traditional blue to red, alter their club crest, and change their nickname from The Bluebirds to The Red Dragons. Officially, the reasons given were to “demonstrate the symbolic fusion of Welsh and Asian cultures” – but, more interestingly (or sadly), the move seemed to be more about foreign marketability.

It seems to come down to some kind of psychology. Tradition dictates that Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal have been easier to sell overseas than blue counterparts Manchester City, Everton and Chelsea. Here in Ireland, I’ve come to describe this as the “Munsterpool United” mindset. Continue reading

Way to go, Delio!

Posted in Calcio, Heroes, Star "Style" on May 3, 2012 by Johnnie

So farewell, Delio Rossi.  After six months at the helm of my beloved Fiorentina, the frustration he, his players and all of us who shout for the Viola share, finally blew into violence when he took several swipes at insubordinate young forward Adem Ljajic in full view of the world. Today, he finds himself fired, by no means for the first time in his career – only this time, with a reputation that he’s as mad as cheese.

As the video shows, Ljajic deserved what he got, sarcastically applauding his gaffer’s decision to substitute him after half an hour, at a time when Fiorentina were 0-2 down to second-bottom club Novara. As it turned out, a 2-2 draw semi-vindicates Rossi’s decision, and the result leaves the Viola a point from Serie A safety with two games remaining – against fellow relegation candidates Lecce and Cagliari. Continue reading

England is (still) not Britain

Posted in Calcio, Disasters, New Stuff, Shopping, Star "Style" on September 3, 2010 by Johnnie

The arrogance of The English (formerly known as the England football team) and misguided opinion of their own importance continues to show it knows no boundaries or sense of perspective.  Not only have they launched a new and expensive football kit when their popularity is at an all-time low, and even their most stupidly die-hard fans are unlikely to want to buy it, they have returned to the preposterous idea that they are somehow “Britain” by once again manufacturing BLUE shorts.

It always struck me as being the height of imperial ignorance that The English wore blue, a colour which appears nowhere on their flag and has no other reason for appearing than its appearance on the British flag – which is, of course, courtesy of us Scots.  In a way it’s flattering that they’re so keen to include us but I, for one, really don’t wish to be involved.  Getting England to realise it’s not Britain is almost as hard as trying to convince America it’s not the World – but I’m sure we’ll carry on reminding them both. Continue reading

There will always be an England… tat merchant

Posted in Calcio, Pointless Nostalgia on June 30, 2010 by Johnnie

So there I was, working behind the counter in the Selfridges, Oxford Street branch of Our Price in the summer of 1990, filing away titles from our large selection of VHS tapes, when a well-to-do middle-aged lady gingerly approached the counter.

“I say,” she announced, by way of introduction.  “Do you have any Gezza videos?”

Being Scottish, and finding upper middle-class English accents repellent, I took a deliberate few seconds to process her question.  But I knew what she was after.  Gascoigne was everywhere.  Yes, he was a skillful (bordering on genius) footballer but his fame and infamy had spread into English pub and playground folklore because the chubby little Newcastle lad had burst out crying on the field during the 1990 World Cup semi-final in Italy after receiving a yellow card.

“Oh, you mean Paul Gascoigne?” I said.  “No, I’m afraid there’s nothing available at the moment.”

Ah, the golden age of VHS.  Even in the dark days before instant information, the public imagination about the possibilities and probabilities of video tape ran riot.  They automatically assumed that a video of any world event would be available in any shop, mere minutes after it had happened.  In fairness, a lot of very cheap and nasty football videos were produced around Italia 90.  I actually bought one: Italy – The World Cup Story.  Full to brimming with appalling voiceovers, a total lack of licenced footage and the final time I ever saw Roberto Baggio referred to as a Fiorentina player.  I watched it almost once.

I suggested to the upper-crust woman in Selfridges that, if it was cheap, pointless, quickly-produced tat in honour of England’s latest shit-for-brains hero she was after, she need only cross the road to the tacky souvenir stall, where she would discover a t-shirt bearing a photograph of “Gezza” (see above), under which was printed the tiresome old slogan “There Will Always Be An England”.  An attention-seeking, unintelligible footballer, bawling and blubbing into his shirt as an English icon?  What happened to the old traditional bulldog, I wondered?  The stiff upper lip?  Was this Geordie lad in mid tantrum really the fabled Best of British? Continue reading

Joachim Loew – Style God

Posted in Calcio, Star "Style" on June 29, 2010 by Johnnie

It’s been an odd World Cup.  I’ve wanted to write screeds about it but it’s outfoxed me at every level.  Through flowing, stinging tears, I typed furiously about the operatic tragedy that was Italy’s early exit but reading it back, I realised that I couldn’t separate my arias from my elbow.  I’ll leave that one for now.

There is, however, one aspect that has delighted me beyond words, and has become something I look forward to more and more as the rounds go on.  It is, of course, the excitement, the momentous, nail-biting anticipation, followed by the staggering, awe-inspiring revelation of what Germany manager Joachim Loew will be clad in.  Let me state for the record that this is not backhanded praise based on the fact that his skillful young squad humped and dumped The English* out of the tournament; let’s just look at the evidence:

So far, Loew has combined a beautiful, fitted black suit with a (shirtless) lightweight, blue v-neck jumper; next he looked resplendent in a tight black cardigan over a white, v-neck vest; then, in round 3 of the first phase, on a chilly night against Ghana, he warmed the bench with a glossy black greatcoat, worn over a crisp white shirt and finished with a grey, looped scarf.  The man truly is a style God.  It’s hard to believe that Italy coach Marcello Lippi remained stuck under layers of garish sports/leisurewear while a German rival was tanning his arse in the fashion stakes. Continue reading

Liverpoo-el literacy “ledgends”

Posted in Calcio, Favourite Publications, Food & Drink on December 11, 2009 by Johnnie

As Liverpoo-el fans who might form part of my friends and family will doubtless agree, I have not gloated once about Fiorentina’s glorious double victory over them in the Champions League group.  And nor will I; I’ll simply celebrate on my own – as Viola fans are a bit thin on the ground ’round my way, not the sort of side people here traditionally cherry-pick for vicarious glory. 

Nevertheless, it seems as good a time as any to remind people of this hugely embarrassing ad, which appeared in the Herald earlier this year. Continue reading

The Welch Squelch

Posted in Calcio, Grave News, TV on October 5, 2009 by Johnnie


First thing first: naturally, this blogger cannot contain his glee at Fiorentina’s marvellous 2-0 win over Liverpoo-el in their home Champions League encounter last week; witnessing the precocious talent of young Montenegro forward Stevan Jovetic come alive in front of Europe has put many, myself included, in mind of that young Viola star of two decades ago, Roberto Baggio.  Long may Jovetic blossom in Firenze – and for crying out loud, do not sell him to J******s at any cost.

Anyway, we might have had incredible young footballing talent 20 years ago, but thank Christ we didn’t have the eye-gouging, ear-bleeding awfulness that is TV3’s football coverage.  I won’t have a pop at the meedja’s Mr Versatile, Matt Cooper, whose presentation skills are not in doubt – even if his position as the channel’s Champions League frontman does somewhat put me in mind of the early days of Channel 5 in the UK, when they allowed horse racing’s Brough Scott to present their first live England football match, an occasion which, in turn, reminded me of one of those “In At The Deep End”-type programmes, where a bricklayer suddenly trains to be a stripper. Continue reading