Thursday, 1 July 2010

Roy Hodgson - Dull, But Dynamic.

So it's Roy Hodgson is it? After all that longing for King Kenny to return, Liverpool get Roy Hodgson. With those last minute rumours about Capello, Liverpool get Roy Hodgson. And I don't think that's a bad thing. Not one bit.

The best metaphor I can come up with for Roy Hodgson, is that he's like an old whore. Leathery complexion, devastated eyes… No, not like that. What I mean is that he's been around a lot, and he's seen a lot of things. He's not as glamourous as the younger generation, and he's not willing to try as many radical things anymore, but boy, has he got experience!

There's already a little bit of whinging going on among kopites (just a bit). People are saying he's a hair-shirt manager, that Liverpool are admitting that they're not the best anymore. But that's the thing. Liverpool aren't the best anymore, and they need someone solid, reliable and sensible to help rebuild the ephemeral Anfield Way. There isn't anyone better at that, than Roy Hodgson.

Roy Hodgson has a lot in common with some top managers. He can get a huge amount of effort and teamwork out of players who didn't cost him much at all, just like Arsene Wenger. He's got a fantastic scouting network, just like the one that Alex Ferguson has developed over the years. And he understands the English game as well as Harry Redknapp, if not a bit better.

Furthermore, he lacks some of the serious faults that have hindered recent LFC managers. He won't let the team turn themselves into the Spice Boys, nor will he buy players simply because they meet the criteria of being young and French (you know who I'm talking about). But he isn't as much of a departure from Benitez as you may think.

Rafa was a very technical and calm manger. So is Roy. Rafa relied heavily on his scouts to bring in bargains. So does Roy. But all of that aside, the crucial difference is that whereas Rafa was incapable of operating without money, Hodgson can thrive in that situation.

I'm looking forward to this season now. It won't be full of silverware, but Liverpool might pick up a trophy before the end. There won't be any huge new signings, but there will be some promising youth team players coming through. There won't be high drama, but for the first time since Dalglish left, we might get some sensible soccer out of Liverpool, and that has to be the way forward. Until we get our own billionaire at the helm.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

RoboRef - How we need you now...

If you're a sci-fi fan like me, you'll be looking forward to the day when cyborgs stalk the earth. Well, a certain type of cyborg anyway. I'd prefer Bladerunner style Replicants to a legion of Arnies roaming around with shotguns and dark glasses. But, alas, this day is not quite nye. And, if you're a football fan, the current state of robot-less existence is a bit of a shitter.

Day two of the last 16 has seen two huge (and very bad) decisions made by humans that even the C3POs of the future wouldn't make. In England's game against Germany, Frank Lampard's strike DID cross the line (by a couple of feet probably - or a mile and a half depending on how drunk you were when you saw it) and Carlos Tevez WAS offside when he scored Argentina's opener against Mexico. You don't need to be a football fan to realise how big an impact these wrong decisions can have on a game, and you don't need prior knowledge of Asimov's laws of robotics to realise that, surely, technology is the answer.

We don't need cyborgs. Just a couple of cameras, and a micro-chip or two in the Jubilani ball (which, with any luck, would weigh it down a bit).

After Tevez struck, the Mexico players ran over to the linesman (the term referee's assistant is redundant because he's really not helping the referee in this situation) and began their protests. The referee dutifully ran over to break up this show of dissent, but then, to his horror, the goal was shown on the jumbo screen in the ground. Every fan, every player, and the hapless linesman saw it. Tevez was at least a yard offside. It took less than a minute for the replay to appear. Is that really breaking up the game? Would that 30 seconds really ruin football?

You can't blame linesmen completely. They are only human, and therefore it is their nature to err once or twice. But when the results can mean so much in the modern game (not just for fans or players, but also for global and national economies), surely 'he's only human' is a cry for technology to be introduced. And when every other major world sport, from American Football and Rugby to Tennis and Cricket have embraced technology, why must football continue with its stubborn, pointless and hard-headed rejection of it?

We have the technology, we can rebuild the reputation of football officials, and it won't cost $60,000,000 to do it. If Fifa asked, I bet Apple could make them an iLino with wifi an. And until it happens, we have to suffer these awful injustices. It makes one dream of Cylons. It really does.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Election Cartoons

Here are a few of the images I've doctored since the ConDem Nation started. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Letter To Nick Clegg

The following is a letter that I wrote on the 12th May 2010 and sent to Nick Clegg c/o Lib Dem Party HQ:

12 May 2010
Nick Clegg
Deputy Prime Minister
4 Cowley Street

Dear Mr Clegg,
I awoke today to find myself living in a nation where political beliefs have become a bargaining tool. They can be twisted, manipulated and forgotten entirely to suit those who seek power, as you yourself have proved over the last few days.

My political nature is progressive. My classical views range from ‘merely liberal’ (a phrase you ought to get used to under the whip of David Cameron) to socialist, to down right communist when the mood takes me. What's more, I vote in a constituency more blue than a blue veined, blue spotted very blue thing with added blue bits on it. In this constituency, the main rivals to the Conservatives, are your own party (or the party you now share ownership of with Mr Cameron - or has he given you to Sam Cam as a gift?) and so I voted for you. You may now consider this vote rescinded. You didn't win there anyway.

I will never be a Tory. As long as blood pumps through my body, for as long as the sun reaches the horizon each night and appears again the next day, I will not be BLUE! And yet, I find that my support of you, the praise I heaped on you after those debates, has, in admittedly small way, led to a Conservative majority with a progressive party as its pawn. How do you think that makes me feel?

Ok, so you got some concessions. A vote on the future manner of voting is something that I'm in favour of, and I welcome it. And stopping some of the Conservatives' more ridiculous cuts in public spending is welcomed too, but you could have stopped the whole lot as part of a majority opposition! But you are too much a coward for this You may argue that a stable government is good for the economy, but with George Osbourne as chancellor!? My only hope is that Vince Cable will show more backbone than you.

You settled for this just so that you could sit next to David Cameron, nod and smile like his pet, as he reintroduces fox hunting? Or when he proposes a new arsenal of weapons? Or the dropping of the human rights act? Or when he wants to leave the European Union? Will you clap and cheer for him on these fundamental issues, issues in the past so vitally important to you (apparently) and your party, though he need not even look in your direction?

Still, I must congratulate you on becoming Deputy Prime Minister. You are now allied to party favoured by, among others, Rupert Murdoch, Lord Ashcroft, Robert Mugabe, The Latvian Nazi Party, Polish Homophobes and Arnold Schwarzenegger. If you are happy cuddling up to such bedfellows, and as long as you get that nice seat next to Dave in the middle of the house, you should be very happy.

However, as you have begun this new administration on a sour note, I feel it only right that I should end this letter on one. I now have no protest vote in my constituency. Even if your referendum works out. For I will never vote Liberal again. Your shabby little grab for a morsel of power, betraying your ethics and the ideals of those who have followed you, have forever soured me against you and your yellow bird. Never has a political party had more apt a colour of identity.

Just remember though; Governing parties only lose popularity, and you are now allied with your closest rivals in many marginal constituencies. Their voters have long memories of glory days and they will mobilise more than we socialists and liberals will to get rid of you. When they heal, they will drop their crutch and your alliance will seem as though a bad dream to them, as you crawl, head down, in smaller numbers still back to your seats in opposition. I only hope that they are on the same side of the house too.

Yours, in pity, regret and disgust,
John R. Ashton M.A. (signed).

Friday, 26 February 2010


White water strolls by my window
Looking up at me with steady fascination
The trapped man in his clouds
Growing green with nature
As the world brings another person's day

Falling words lie stricken
As the white water whistles
A tuneless tune with no beat
That gulls and cars hover over in the wind
Below a coiled snake who turns

Transparency is dirtied and opaque
As the temperature drops
With the walking white water
Carrying its detritus on its shoulders
bulging with its efforts before the rain

No umbrellas float down river
But wheels trample and trumpet
On the other side of the world
Beyond the lazy white water
Cascading horizontally towards its peace

Full of oil but low on fuel
Hearing taps and jazz go out
Ongoing inevitability and structure
Makes me wish I could walk out
And stroll with the white water for a while

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Snow poem


Cascading almost in stop frame animation
The sherbet sheets softly fluff the world away
Under a clean canvas that drifts down
A thousand feathers pass my window in a minute
Drowning the warmth from the open pane
Tickling my nose in the delicate breeze
Barely lifeless as the flakes descend
Sending me into silly smiles I forgot I had
Thoughts of plastic sheets on abandoned golf courses
We pretend to be a bob sleigh team
Or all the snowmen born of my hand
Shrinking back with spring thaws
The day I walked on Dutch canals beneath the windmills
All those gloved hands and rosy cheeks
That stung in whispered winds or splashed water
Each brilliant moment defined by the falling snow
That gathers at the base of everything
And reaches up with comforting coldness
Hushing troubles with its beauty and all those memories