Thursday, July 27, 2006

A Complaint

I have justed wated about 2 hours trying to get links to the PAFC and Real official sites to work on the Kapfenberg piece below.

They don't. It's impossible.

What a load of crap!!

What's the bloody point of having a website and then making it hard for people to see it? Eh? Eh?

Pillocks. The pair of them. I'm disgusted.

There's stuff there if you can be arsed to look for it. Personally I wouldn't bother bit it's there and it's up to you.!!

Monday, July 24, 2006


Sometimes events just dictate what has to be done. The last week or so has just seen such a sequence of events. I'll tell the tale as best I can from the start.

$ started it off yonks back. Going to Austria, that is, for pre-season training. It's become almost de rigeur for our lads now as they get ready for the season to come. So despite the change in management at the club plans had already been made for a training camp in Austria again this season. So far nothing exciting enough to stir me or anybody else unless they are even sadder and more obsessive about Argyle than I am!!

Lady Luck is a strange bedfellow though and out of the blue the Real Madrid factor came into play. The early bird gets the worm and we had booked their favourite hotel and training complex!! Quite simply the precious Madrilenos just couldn't stay anywhere else and they had asked us to move. Negotiations followed. Money changed hands (a lot of money by all accounts - enough to pay for our entire trip and then some). A deal was struck; we relocated and a friendly was arranged. Wow!! It's the only word. Real Madrid!! Argyle fans everywhere gasped in disbelief and pinched fleshy parts of their bodies to see if it was true. It was. A date and venue were agreed. Kapfenberg would play hosts on July 21 st. 6 pm (local time) kick-off. This was, arguably, the greatest game in our history!! Santos, Pele and all, way back in'73 probably beat it, though. And it was only a friendly (that's enough common sense - there won't be anymore). Still damned exciting all the same.

An agonising period followed. Wistful hopes expressed to Mrs B about the game. "How wonderful it would be to go. Too expensive though. Too far. Work. What about the B-ling's swimming lesson on the Friday?" No I wasn't going. Accepted it without any fuss. Then fate's fickle finger pointed once more...About a week before the game Pasoti (see link on right hand side if you don't know what it is) was alive with talk about the game. "I'm flying to Graz, then getting a train to Kapfenberg and staying at...", "I'm flying to Munich and driving the rest" and so on. Plans being made by those able to go and envious glances being shot sideways by those of us who could not.

One night, quite late, I had read all the threads and was wondering whether to go to bed or not and there in the chatroom on Pasoti were 2 people. There are all sorts of weird relationships that spring up on messageboards between people that know each other anyway, people who have mutual friends and in some cases between total strangers. That was more or less the case here. Two fellas, John Vaughan and shaunysandello, were discussing the game. "Love to go". "Me too.""All the cheap flights are gone.""Train costs a fortune" and so on. John then piped up "I'd take my car. No problem. Don't want to go on my own and don't fancy all the driving. It'd be cheap too - work'd pay the fuel. Accomodation, the tunnel and supplies are all we would need to pay..."

Before you know it wives have been asked for and granted permission and 3 total strangers are off to Austria. John booked the Channel Tunnel and hotel. I booked tickets for the match. 8:30 am Thursday 20th July I would pick up Shauny and we'd meet John near Taunton and off we'd go!!

And so we did. It was hot. The weather was stifling.Inside the car the air conditioning kept it down to a fresh 22 C. Lovely. Low 30s outside. We made good time to the tunnel and there well before our booking and swapped to an earlier train. To be honest this was the worst part of the journey. It was damned hot on the train. Luckily it didn't take long and we were there. France. Belgium soon followed. Holland too apparently though we missed it. Germany next.

Afternoon turned to evening.

As we entered Germany we stopped for fuel near the border. We also planned to use the cashpoint and get some Euros. Disaster. Mastercard was knackered. Both of my intended sources of cash were Mastercard. John's didn't work either. "Must be the machine" we mused. Shrugged it off and drove on. Next stop the same thing. "Mastercard?" "That won't do nicely" (anybody remember the NTNOCN sketch?). Problems. No cash. I had already upset one German toilet attendant by not paying my 50 cents. " Je suis desollé m'sieur. Je n'ai pas de l'argent." He started to speak... "No habla Allemano". He gave up. Not being a linguist of any repute I had problems all weekend selecting the right language to converse in and the tiny snippets I have weren't really much use. The boys found it quite funny when I paid a tunnel toll in Austria and said a cheery "Grazie" to the booth operator!!

Night fell. The temperature outside dropped from around 35 C to a mere 29 C. The next stop supplied some Euros courtesy of Visa. Mastercard still knackered. (Don't they sponsor the Chanpions League? What's that all about then?) Caffeined up to the max on coffee and coca cola we pressed on. Frankfurt was about halfway from Calais to Krapfenburg. On towards Munich. Fatigue setting in. "Are we going to stop?" "Not yet. Nurnburg (Nuremburg) perhaps". Later: "Regensburg maybe".

I think the thing that kept us going was an electrical storm. Lightning flashed around us. The sky ripped apart by horizontal forked lightning. "Wow!! Look at that!!" Before we knew it we approached the Austrian border.

A couple of caffeine top-up stops along the way were quite funny. The roads had been relatively busy for the entire journey. There were lots and lots of Dutch vehicles heading towards Bavaria. The Rasthauses (service stations) were packed with trucks but funniest of all were the people. Some Dutch (I think) people were having a picnic at 4am!! People were sleeping everywhere. Some of them just lay on the grass verge. Some equipped with bedding. Some had camping mattresses. Most did not. We tried to park in one parking bay but there was a family laid out in it; all of them asleep!! Very odd. Still it was cheap and warm for them and entertaining and funny for us.

Wired on caffeine as we were we kept going. The sun rose shortly after we entered the first mountainous area in Austria. More coffee and coca cola. Now it seemed pointless to stop. We went through many tunnels and forged on ever deeper into Austria.

Eventually at long last we hit Kapfenberg. First impressions weren't great. The main drag through was singularly unimpressive. Clearly this was the Austrian equivalent of a one horse town. We found the hotel, the official supprters' coach was parked up there already, and thought we'd try our luck at booking in. We'd reserved rooms for that night after all. We were just a bit early!! 7 am to be precise. The trip had taken us about 14 hours from Calais and about 22 hours over all. Luckily they let us book in!! We went to bed at around 8 am. It was hot (again - or should that be still) I saw an Austrian weather report and they were predicting 34-37 C for the day!! A fitful 4 hours followed. The caffeine kept me awake but eventually I did grab some sleep then showered, shaved and shampooed, as it were.

What followed is all bit of a blur. Many beers were drunk. Many people met. We we wandered around Kapfenberg which seemed to be full of the Green Army and hardly anybody else. I found an internet café and transferred some money onto my Visa card. Sorted!! We found the Tourist Office to pick up our matchday tickets. More beers. Before we knew it it was time to head to the ground.

The bar by the ground had been commandeered by the Green Army. Much fun was had greeting the two teams as their coaches arrived. We got a wave from our lot. Real Madrid just looked bemused. As kick-off approached a storm seemed to be brewing. The sky had darkened and more forked lightning flashed around quite menacingly. It looked like it was going to pour with rain at any moment but it never really did and the storm passed.

I watched the game from the back of the stand along a bit from Messrs Murdoch and Errington for the local Plymouth press. Alongside me was an Austrian journalist's (that's him on the right) position which was unoccupied other than by his laptop. He was nowhere to be seen until just before the end. Wouldn't let me use his computer, the swine.

The game started with some ceremony. A band dressed in traditional costume marched around the pitch accompanying a rather massive hooded eagle. Very odd. I got talking to an Austrian fella called Lukas and he just said "it's normal" when I asked him about it. The teams lined up in International fashion and Real Madrid took the away team role and walked down the line of our lot and shook hands. No anthems though!!

I'll post links to match reports at the bottom of this so that you can read them if you want. They'll give you a better account of what happened than I can. I'll just say we had the first couple of speculative shots which were easily saved. Real had nearly all the possession and seemed content to just sit very deep and knock it from side to side a lot in the time honoured continental style. They were obviously the far better side but didn't really offer much in terms of ambition. Maybe because our boys wouldn't let 'em. The game itself was quite low key really.

Halftime came and we put out a new line up with only Superluke McCormick staying on. Wotton flattened one of theirs. Norris was brought down quite heavily. A little feeling came into the game. Towards the end Real were given a penalty. I couldn't see why but by all acounts it was for handball against Nalis and there were no complaints about it. Real scored and the match ended with Chadwick and one of theirs exchanging pleasantries before they were separated and afterwards there was an allegation of splitting which seemed totally out of place with the occasion. I don't know if they were true.

I hung around for a while at the end with Shauny who managed to get some autographs and amongst them he got Real's coach Capello which was quite a scoop. We had some more beers and headed back to the hotel in fairly steady rain (relief!!) where we'd been told the team was going to have it's post-match meal.

Sure enough they arrived. Disappointingly they didn't mix with any of the fans who were there and I'd guess out of a total of around 300 Argyle fans who had made the journey then about 50 or so were at the hotel. Holloway did mingle a bit though. He bought us all a drink and was happy to chat. "D'you prefer Ian, Mr Holloway or Ollie?" I asked him. (How sad is that? It was at the end of a long day and lots of beers. That's my excuse.) "Ollie's fine" he said.

A sub-plot to the entire day was the hunt for memorabilia. I ended up with a copy of the Press teamsheet. Shauny got his autographs. John got a poster advertising the game. These were highly sought after. The Real (ahem) McCoy was the huge banner advertising the game. This mysteriously appeared in the foyer of the hotel and ended up being signed by the entire Argyle party, I think. I wonder what happened to it after that?

The hotel bar shut much to our chagrin and we wandered into Kapfenberg's Altstadt (Old Town) to sample the nightlife. "Where d'you go in the evenings around here" I'd asked Lukas at he game. "Bruck-am-Mur by taxi" he replied. Not much going on so we had a beer in the only open bar we could find and toddled off back to the hotel for some desparately needed shuteye.

In the morning I awoke at about 7am. Thirsty and needing the loo. I got up and walked straight into the wall. "Still feeling the effects of the night before" thought I to myself (not much gets past me you know). Back to bed. I awoke again a bit later and went down to a breakfast (the other two didn't make it at all) of orange juice, cereal, orange juice, scrambled eggs, orange juice, bread rolls and ham, orange juice, bread rolls and cheese, orange juice, a peach and some orange juice. At the end I needed a cup of tea to round it off but there was none to be had so I had some orange juice. And then back to bed for an hour or so.

Got up showered, shaved paid up and we left the hotel at around 12:30m to come back.

Less traffic this time. Better speed was maintained. Not much to mention other than the fact that we saw this coach on the motorway in Germany and there was the most spectacular thunderstorm, complete with torrential rain, in Belgium.

Arrived at Calais well before our booked train and got onto an earlier one again. We missed out on Duty Frees because the shops at the terminal were all shut. This was probably the only let down for the entire journey. Back to England, down to Taunton, picked up my car and left John. Dropped Shauny off at his place and into bed at around 6:30 am Sunday morning. Kapfenberg to Plymouth in 17 hours!! John drove all the way which was a Herculean effort as far as I'm concerned and he has my thanks. I managed to stay with it most of the time although all that orange juice made me a bit sleepy in the Austrian bit!!

  • The Guardian

  • The WMN - A Night To Remember

  • The WMN - Spirited Argyle

  • The Herald - Let's Beat 'Em!!

  • The Herald - Spirited Argyle

  • The Herald - The Hills Were Alive

  • The Herald - Proud Ollie

  • BBC
  • Thursday, July 06, 2006

    Roger Waters

    Drove up to the in-laws' place in Bedford from Plymouth on Friday night. Missed all the football.

    On Saturday we left the B-Ling with his grandparents and Mrs B and I went to London for the day on the train. Arrived in The Smoke at about 11 am and went to Covent Garden, had a little wander about in the sunshine, had a very nice pasty, did a bit of shopping, had a pint of cider in a deliciously air-conditioned pub. "What next?" says she. "I like to pop into the Argyll Inn at Oxford Circus when I'm in the area" quoth I so off we went. A pint of Addlestones this time. Then off to Regent Street for a spot more shopping. Bedlam!! Unbeknownst to us it was Gay Pride day and every type of homosexual known to mankind was their to celebrate their... Um, well just to celebrate really. Great fun and quite an eye opener I can tell you. Especially the Gay S&M crew and the transgender people. Then there was the drag acts and lots more besides. Biggest cheer was for the Gay and Lesbian Ambulance Persons. Loud music from the floats and lots of whistle blowing. I never really believed before that some people wore sailor suits but they do. Believe me. I'm not sure where they were headed but there must have been one helluva party somewhere later that night and jooly good fun seemed to be had by all.

    Still boldy onward we went and arrived at Hyde Park for Roger Waters at the London Calling Festival just in time to get for Chris Difford's opening act. He ran through a selection of old Squeeze hits largely to mass disinterest of the the sun-baked throng that had gathered. A shame really. Great songs and they deserved better. "Have a nice Pinky Floydy sort day" said he. We intended to.

    Mrs B and I positioned ourselves so that she could watch the bands and I could watch the football - on a big screen which with no commentary was really quite weird. Luckily we had brought a walkman along so I had 5Live for the commentary. Break Co-Op (?) came and went without eliciting much reaction from me, Mrs B or anyone else. Starsilor Mrs B enjoyed. They were a bit louder and peed me off because I couldn't hear the commentary anymore. Texas were, well, dull. They themselves seemed more interested in the football (the penaties were on at this stage). An announcer came on and told us it was the hottest day of the year so far. The sweat trickled down by back in agreement. To be honest it was only once the game was over that I started to pay much attention to the festival. Beer was only £3 a pint which was a pleasant surprise. Pear cider was £3.50 and very refreshing it was too. The bars were very big with lots of staff and you got served quickly.

    We had an amble around and caught The Lightning Seeds on the second stage and they were pleasant enough. I've got a few of their CDs and I can't really say that gigs add much to them. The opposite if anything. A little saddened that we had missed Suzanne Vega ("well you did want to watch the match...") we made our way to the main stage, in earnest, for the first, and only, time. The searing heat had died down a little and a perfect British summer's evening followed. Prior to The Man himself coming on they were playing loads of Neil Young over the PA. Helpless, Needle and the Damage Done, Southern Man. I don't think I've ever seen such enthusiastic singing along to taped music before. Then the main event: Roger Waters. The show was broken up into 3 parts. To begin with there was a trot through Floyd's back catalogue. A couple of his own songs (which were new to me) near the end. Here's a song list (I think it's right) for those obsessives who might be interested: In The Flesh, Mother, Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Have A Cigar, Wish You Were, Here Gunner's Dream, Southampton Dock, Fletcher Memorial Home, Perfect Sense, Leaving Beirut, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun and Sheep What really stood out though was the passion of some of these songs. Especially the anti-war ones. Reg (or was it Rog?) spat out some of the lines and the images accompanying them no room for misunderstanding the vitriol and contempt as scathing line after scathing line was rammed home. To be honest I was more than a little surprised. I'd seen him solo before aeons ago and I had seen Floyd (minus Reg) but I had never seen this emotion before on either occasion. Neil Young is on record as saying he just recorded an anti-war album because nobody else out there was doing it. Well, Reg has breathed some fresh life into some old tunes and they sounded every bit as relevant today (well the other day) as they ever could have. Shock and awe? Not 'alf!! Then there was a short break. Every took the chance to relax. The sun was nealy gone and the temperature had dropped to about a relatively icy 85 F!! They came back on accompanied by Nick Mason this time (is half of Pink Floyd Pi Flo?) and they played The Dark Side Of The Moon in it's entirety. Stunning. The Great Gig In The Sky was the highlight for me. It was so beautiful it brought a tear to my eye. I'm not sure which of the backing singers it was but she was amazing. This section was also considerably louder than what had gone before. Reg must have counted the money from the £42.50 (+£5 booking fee) during the interval and bunged an extra 10 bob in the meter. I paid less for my tickets. The predominantly white, middle-aged and middle-class crowd sang along in rapturous unison (funnily enough everybody seemed to know the words to every song). The encore followed and they did: The Happiest Days of Our Lives, Another Brick In The Wall Pt. 2, Vera, Bring The Boys Back Home and Comfortably Numb. All the way through the universal themes of greed, money, oil and war were underlined again and again by the imagery on the screens flanking the stage and behind it. The lyrics to Leaving Beirut were screened and if anybody wants a taste of things then look 'em up. Just how the show will play in the States is anyone's guess. I can't see it being very popular in Texas. I wouldn't expect Bush or Blair to be a special guest, either. The other theme running through the whole show was Syd Barrett. He was there on numerous bits of film and the drugged-out magnificence of Comfortably Numb obviously stems from Syd Barrett's rather sad story/demise. The end.

    Well nearly. Just as our journey there was delayed and disrupted by Gay Pride then the journey home was beset by problems. The police had closed the nearest tube station and we had to walk to Victoria. After a day in the baking sun, trudging around a steaming London and drinking fruit-based alcoholic beverages it seemed a very long way. Indeed I've got some shocking blisters to prove it. Then London Transport proceded to shut just about every travel option for us to get back to St. Pancras. One of the many trains we got on was filled with boisterous and singing Frenchmen. "Brazil have lost, then" thought I - not much gets past me you know. When we eventually did get there St Pancras was shut so we had to walk back to Kings Cross Thameslink. Our troubles were over except for the fact that the next train didn't turn up. Stiil at around 2am we arrived back at base tired, hot, blistered and thirsty. Maybe I'm getting too old for this gigging lark. Still it was all worth it... "And when the band you're in Starts playing different tunes I'll see you on the Darkside Of the Moon"