Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Northern Leagues United

Some of the players for July 9th, including Metro Radio's Joe Daunt (3rd left) and Richard Mason of the Northern Echo (2nd from the right).

The Northern Leagues United Poster.

Northern Leagues United: Training

Helped by a pair of brand new running shoes and my first pair of football boots since I was twelve years old (and doesn't that show every time I kick the ball?), I've stepped up my training regime to try and get in shape before July 9th. Twenty minutes (or ten kilometres) on an exercise bike in the morning followed by a 3.2 mile run later the same day. I'm averaging twenty-seven minutes for the run; if I don't go out, I do another five kilometres on the exercise bike instead.

Our first proper training session took place at Northern League side Whickham, whose captain gave up an evening to watch us run in and out of posts before trying (and mostly failing) to cross or shoot accurately. "What do you fancy doing?" he asked. We looked blank. "I dunno, something with the ball?"

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Grassroots International: Northern Leagues United

Full details on July 9th's Northern Leagues United event are now online here. If you can't make it to Birtley on the day, there's also some information on how you can still get involved.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Northern Leagues United

I'm still not sure what possessed me to say 'Yes', but on July 9th, sometime between the hours of 1 and 3pm, I'll be turning out in an 11-a-side game in aid of Birtley Town's ground fund and Cobaltore Onagawa, the Japanese community football team whose town was devastated by the tsunami.

Training started last night with a thirty-five minute run along Sandhaven Beach - unwisely at high tide - and halfway along the coastal path to Souter Lighthouse. The game itself - between Football Writers and Northern League Fans - takes place at 1pm on Birtley Town's pitch and is followed by a pre-season friendly between the home side and Ryton and Crawcrook Albion. Admission is £3 adults and just a quid for concessions.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Yes to AV

After a lot of toing and froing it was the last-minute opinion polls that finally made up my mind. 68% plan to vote no, says this morning's Guardian. Whether you agree with AV or not, a resounding defeat is likely to put voting reform off the political agenda for another generation, and saddle us with a first past the post system that gave Margaret Thatcher the leverage to smash the trade unions and Blair a sufficient majority to invade Iraq. As the Daily Mail puts it:

The referendum comes as academic analysis revealed coalition governments would be three times more likely under AV than the present system – and Margaret Thatcher would not have won a majority in 1979.

Sounds ok to me.

I'm voting yes to AV because I want proportional representation. There's something deeply wrong with a system in which the votes of people in 100-odd marginal constituencies matter more than those in the remaining 500 (and if you don't believe me, just look at how the Tories spent Ashcroft's cash). Don't let bullshit like this stand in your way.