Category Archives: Sport

Premier league 20/21 season starts tomorrow!

Flat Screen Television
Sadly we are going to have to get used to this view in order to get our fix of Premier League football.

Sometimes it feels like just the other day when the final ball was kicked of the 19-20 season. It was a beautiful day when Jack Grealish scored the important goal to keep my favourite team Aston Villa in the Premier League. But as we know life moves on very quickly and new challenges and adventures are always forming around us. Tomorrow is just that, with the start of the new Premier League season kicking off at 12:30 pm with a match between Fulham and Arsenal.

Right now there will be no fans inside stadiums at this elite level and I can see it being like this for a while. I think it is safe to say that football (at any level really) is simply not the same without its fans. This is a topic I feel strongly about and have mentioned previously on my blog. But I also believe that the true die-hard fans of football will be grateful that we can pull together any kind of football in these difficult times. It is not the way we would like it, but it is the way it has to be for now. What we MUST appreciate is the effort that has gone into making the return of football feasible, such as the extensive cleaning measures and safety precautions that are occurring.

I for one am incredibly grateful that football is back, in any kind of capacity. It is possible to enjoy non-league football around England which is great, but it also feels great to have another Premier League season kicking off. I will be watching closely and hoping that my team Aston Villa can continue to stay in the Premier League after our first campaign back there last season. We have made two positive signings I feel and I am excited to see who else we can add before the transfer window shuts.

Seeing all of these signings and more occur, I have become even more excited for the season opener tomorrow. I wanted to take things into my own hands and act as the manager for these exciting athletes. So for the first time in many many years, I have decided to register a team for Fantasy Football. For those that you do not know what it is, you basically pick a team of 15 players for a combined price of £100m. You then earn points for how well a player performs in real life. It is a great way to connect with the game whilst competing against friends and family!

I invite you all to join my free Premier League Fantasy Football league Just click this link and follow the steps https://fantasy.premierleague.com/leagues/auto-join/280yfc

Are you looking forward to the new Premier League season? What team do you support? Who is in your Fantasy Football team?



Is football returning too soon?

This is a very popular debate amongst many football and sports fans alike. The Belarusian Premier League started and has continued as normal, despite Belarus experiencing just under 900 new cases of Covid-19 per day. Meanwhile, in a country with 0 deaths and 0 active cases, the Faroe Islands are underway (as of 9th May) with their football season. The big talking point, however, lies in the English Premier League and the German Bundesliga, as two of the worlds most-watched leagues worldwide.

Covid-free Faroe football kicks off in rare spotlight
Empty stadium in Faroe Islands

The Bundesliga seems all set for its return on 16th May after a two-month absence, with nine matchdays left for fans all around the world who are looking for a good standard of football. The season appears to conclude on June 27th, a month later than planned. Not only is this a time constraint but also a health risk to the players. It seems to me that the restrictions don’t apply to athletes, which is frustrating as they are people too with their own lives. Not only does this feel like they are being forced to put on a show or amuse us in a tough time, but they are putting themselves and their families at risk to do so.

The Bundesliga Is Back! German Football To Restart On May 16
Borussia Dortmund

I read an article a few weeks ago (that I cannot find now but this article lists similar guidelines – https://futaa.com/article/206764/bundesliga-keen-on-finishing-season-lays-down-strict-measures) that explained all the different restrictions and guidelines for a safe return of the Bundesliga. As much as I love football and I am excited about its eventual return, I couldn’t help but think “Is this really too much?”. It shouldn’t have to be this difficult. If we are needing to put this many restrictions on it, then perhaps we are forcing it too soon. 

It is becoming a joke now in my opinion. It is impossible to socially distance in a sport that requires players to be compact, and tackle… Maybe we need masks or stilts for our players? It’s preposterous. I cannot imagine even Virgil van Dijk successfully stopping anyone in stilts! Cricket has been much more professional in my opinion, with the ECB (English Cricket Board’s) decision to put its national sport on the back burner for a bit, whilst the situation calms down. I find this interesting as cricket itself is one of the easiest sports to social distance – both in the crowd and on the pitch. Because of this, I find it difficult to understand when people are fighting for the return of football, especially when the game requires so much more contact and in closer proximity. 

Liverpool come up with genius way of getting around new wall ...
A free kick with football players bunched together.

I feel that we are not ready for the return of football in either of these countries, and I am still shocked that the Belarusian Premier League has continued – especially with the presence of fans. I don’t know any other leagues or countries that have taken this approach. Most are sacrificing their fans to play behind closed doors, but this is not what sports are about… Football is a release for many people from the stress of everyday life and is just not the same watching on a screen. I will, however, be tuning into the Bundesliga as and when I can, because despite my personal views on this situation, I miss football a lot and life without football is very strange.

Meanwhile, many teams themselves strive on their home support of their fans. Playing to empty stadiums should be a rare punishment, not a regular occurrence just to see out the season. It is not an ideal situation and there probably isn’t an ideal solution. But for me, it is preposterous to continue like this and instead leagues should be postponed until there are no new cases. Football is my love, my passion… But it is not worth infecting others for our entertainment. We are strong and independent: we can find our own ways to entertain ourselves for now.

Andres Iniesta sits alone in empty stadium until 1am - CNN

Getting your sport fix!?

It feels very strange discussing sport right now, what with its importance currently being minuscule in today’s testing times. But for a lot of people, it is significantly important as it holds the key to many different things… things that are required more than ever right now. This includes structure, community and most importantly a distraction. What would our week be without looking forward to a 3 pm Saturday football game? I guess that is the pain of what we as sports aficionados are facing right now. Whilst the social network and friendships of others may evolve and survive around sporting fixtures. So my advice is to you is to not let anyone downplay or challenge the significance of sport. Sure, there are more important things in the world right now. But, its unique way of bringing people together is undisputed and thankfully there are still some ways to enjoy a range of sports.

I will discuss some sports that are available still and how it is possible to watch them. Please do share what else you have found in regards to this, within the comment section.

Belarus FA chief defends games going ahead: 'There is no critical ...

Football – My personal favourite right now is what I like to call the new ‘BPL’ … the Belarusian Premier League. It is probably the most recognised league right now, with matches still being played with fans in attendance. I have probably watched 4 or 5 games in full right now thanks to websites such as Bet365 (you must have £5 in your account) and Hesgoal. The standard may well be the best of what is available to the world right now but is far from the heights of the Barclays Premier League. I have placed small bets on the games just to keep myself interested in some way, as it is difficult to maintain interest in the full ninety minutes – especially when you are not supporting a team. However, @bpl_english has created a short quiz that decides a Belarusian team for you to support based on the answers you give.

I got Dinamo Brest. Who did you get?

Perhaps Belarusian football is not your thing? Or you need a greater fix? Other fixtures are going on right now in Tajikistan (the only active league in Central Asia) and now Taiwan’s 2020 season has started too (behind closed doors). Also, Burundi and Nicaragua have seen football in recent times, with all these countries taking different standpoints to the rest of the world, where football cancellation has become the norm.

Other sports

The best place I use to find fixtures is Bet365 as they have a clear schedule of what fixtures there are and what you can bet on. Sadly not everything you can bet on is viewable, but it is still interesting to assess what is still being played around the world. Something I see that is popular and prevalent on there is Russian Table Tennis, and interestingly I have not tried this as I usually play a lot of table tennis. This is something I will have to give a go I think. Russian, as well as Latvian tennis players, appear to be active, but these occasions appear much rarer and less obvious than the football.

Meanwhile, e-sports a more modern concept appears to be getting a lot more attention… with opportunities to bet available on Bet365. I have no idea if was available before, I guess not… as to me, it seems strange. But whatever you have to do to keep sane and healthy am I right? I for sure am missing my cricket fix and I have found nowhere in the world where it is being played. I will have to watch an e sports version!

Let me know how you are coping with the lack of sport and what you have been watched instead!

A weekend of Football

I watched a host of fixtures this weekend (16th & 17th March 2019), such as Leeds United vs Sheffield United, Wolves vs Manchester United and Aston Villa Ladies vs West Ham Women. But nothing compares to getting off that couch and away from the television screen, to truly spectate an event. This weekend those two games for me were Aston Villa vs Middlesbrough and St Johns vs Northside.

Aston Villa 3-0 Middlesbrough

Copyright @JackGrealish1

In this infuential fixture in the promotion play off race Villa came out with an important 3 nil win. Goals from El Ghazi, McGinn and Adomah sealed three points to ensure the Lions roared their way into 6th place. Whilst Middlesborough are on a slippery slope, as they just about hold 5th place and have a game in hand.

El Ghazi opened the scoring for the home side inside 28 minutes. A through diagonal pass from starman McGinn carved open the Boro defence. El Ghazi’s left footed finish across the face the goal, proved too much for former Birmigham City goalkeeper Darren Randolph. The second goal came on the stroke of half time, as many strolled off for their half time pie and beer. A wonderful team move started by Neil Taylor and converted by McGinn meant Boro had to overcome a two goal deficit in the second half.

The second half was much like the home game against Derby, where chances were few and far between. Tammy Abraham came into light later on in the second half and more chances came about, but not clinical enough. The only goal of the second half was a tap in for substitute Albert Adomah, after Randolph fumbled a feeble effort from returning man Keinan Davis. The final whistle blew soon enough and the claret and blue faithful are now unbeaten in six, after winning their last four.

St Johns 7-0 Northside

St Johns keeper taking a kick.

Again a very convincing win for the home side, this time in the Baylis Cup. This Sunday League fixture brought all kinds of weather, from wind and rain to sunshine. Believe it or not the game was much more even to start with as away side had their own chances. Silly me who arrived a few minutes late however, did not realise St Johns had took an early lead. St Johns went into their brief half time break with a 3 nil lead, after two strikes beat the keeper down to his right.

The game continued in similar vain with goals coming thick and fast for the home team in the second half. The 4th goal left the defence frustrated, with a beautiful lobbed effort. The 5th goal was a tap in after save parried straight to the feet of a pouncing player. A comical trip from a chasing defender allowed a surging run down the left flank to continue with ease. A weak cross was put into the six yard box yet an own goal was conceded. The game concluded at 7-0 after an outstanding, picturesque volley (Imagine Grealish vs Derby and you have a pretty good idea!) was scored from a corner.

Football hooliganism: What can be done to reduce its prevalence?

On 10th March 2019 in a football match between local rivals Birmingham City and Aston Villa, a Birmingham City fan encroached onto the St Andrews pitch. He headed for Aston Villa talisman and captain Jack Grealish with malicious intent, targetting him with a potentially jaw breaking punch. The hostility in a derby match like this was expected, with Birmingham midfielder Kieftenbeld being booked inside 4 minutes for a rash tackle on Grealish. The hostility should never result to violence and hooliganism, or any athlete fearing for their own safety.

Image result for jack grealish
Grealish being targetted by the spectator, who has now been arrested according to West Midlands Police.

Thankfully the instrumental player of the claret and blue faithful was well enough to continue, later scoring the only goal of the game in the 67th minute. After starting with a horrific scare it soon became a day to remember, as he has now scored in both league fixtures against the Blues this season. It was also the Englishmans 2nd appearance as Villa captain, being a boyhood dream to lead out his favourite club.

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Jack Grealish celebrating after his goal led Villa to a one nil win over bitter rivals Birmingham City.

Some would say karma caught up with Birmingham City after the antics of one individual, whom they’ve now issued a life time ban to. The standard reaction to football hooliganism generally involves arrests and bans, but is this alone enough to combat such a prevalent issue? Gary Neville (@GNev2) calls out for a points deduction or a stadium ban for 10 games, to act as a deterrent. In my opinion it is difficult to punish an entire football club for the actions of one person, but something must be done so horrific issues like this can be eridicated.

The individual won’t be stepping foot into St Andrews again but who is to blame? Should individuals be educated further? Potentially through explaining the serious reprecussions they could be faced with. Or could those in charge of security be more protecting? We do not have fences in the stadia to block pitch access, with fans safety a priority. Stewards are in place in their numbers for derby matches particularly, to guard the pitch and monitor crowds. Although when issues of pitch invasions are a persistent issue, should safety concerns be revisited?

I’m interested to hear your views. This kind of reckless behaviour can not be tolerated on a sports field or anywhere in society. Do comment your views and opinions on the matter of football hooliganism, and how you think the safety of players can be improved.