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21 August 2012

Charlton 2 Leicester 1

I lived in Leicester for a while between school and university, working for a firm who provided lighting for outdoor events. I would travel the country in a really clapped-out van, installing naff lanterns in marquees, and occasionally feeling the surge of 240 volts through my fingertips.Yes, mes enfants, that's what a gap year used to be like. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed my time there. It was, after all, the first flat of my own, and consequently Leicester has always had a special place in my heart. Such a special place that I've never been back.

Even before then, I remember a League Cup (in the days when it was called the League Cup) match in the 70s, when Second Division Charlton (in the days before they were plucky) beat First Division Leicester City (in the days when First Division clubs took the League Cup seriously). I've such a bad memory for fooball that I'm amazed I remember this, but it seemed like a huge victory at the time.

I think I might remember tonight's game, too. It was a terrific game, the total opposite of so many games in League One, where the visiting team had a very simple agenda of not conceding a goal. Leicester were fantastic - quick, clever and adventurous - and the legendary neutral observer would have to say they deserved at least three points. But in the first half they were wayward in their finishing - Ben Hamer didn't have a save to make - and in the second half Charlton relied on a mixture of luck and guts to keep them out.

So the first half ended with Charlton 2-0 up. I may have omitted a few details. You can get a proper match report on the badly-fonted Charlton website. The important thing is that Yann Kermorgant scored. Actually that's less important than BWP's goal, the kind of chance he'd have missed last season by thinking too much. Yann's goal mattered much more to the Leicester fans, who seem to think he has deliberately scuppered their every chance of promotion for the last 500 years. They probably think Kermorgant is an old Nottingham name.

The second half started with two Leicester substitutions, a clear sign that they weren't giving up. And mon dieu they weren't. They racked up the speed of their play even more, and at times the Charlton midfield looked like an Englishman trapped at lunchtime on the central reservation of Madrid's orbital motorway (bewildered, scared and hungry). But luck and guts were enough, and Charlton ended the evening in 3rd position with 4 points from 2 games, easily as good as anyone could have hoped.

And it was good to see Paul Konchesky back at the Valley. He's another former player who has never seemed quite so good since he left (I still agree with Curbishley that he was better as a midfielder). A small section of the crowd booed him. Shame on them! I suspect they're too young to remember what an honest, hard-working player he was, and the big ol' skinhead had a great game.

So my unlikely love affair with Leicester is rekindled - I hope they do well, and think they will. And my love affair with football - I admit I flirted with other sports recently - is back on.

Sadly, I don't think many games will match tonight's for tension and enjoyment, but it looks like this season is going to be enthralling.


11 August 2012

Something else Carol Vorderman's to blame for

There's a man (I've never caught his name) who does commentary on boxing for the BBC who has an amazing knack of talking in the worst kind of sporting jargon completely spontaneously. He says things that would look astonishingly pompous if you read them in an article ("Murgatroyd fulfills his destiny and writes a new chapter in the history of the noble art"), so they are stunningly overblown in simultaneous commentary. This is just my opinion.

Then there's Garry Herbert, who commentates on rowing. He knows his stuff, but even more than any other commentator, he gets caught up in patriotic emotion so strongly that he becomes incoherent, and you may not even notice that the British team have come a poor but plucky fifth, while someone else - who cares who else?- has produced a blistering, record-breaking performance. This is just my opinion.

And then there's Paul Dickenson, on the athletic field events. He's just got a really ugly, jarring voice, which I can't stand. This is just my opinion.

Hold on a minute, these are all men. Or are they? According to Des Lynam they must all be women. He makes it sound so definite: "I have come to the conclusion [like some kind of scientist] that the female voice is not so attractive for actual commentating [and I have the stats to prove it]."

Oh, Des, you were rubbish as a Countdown presenter but otherwise we all love you, so why do you spout such rubbish? Of course you're allowed to not like women's voices, but that's something about you, not about women's voices. So I think what you mean is "I have come to the conclusion that I find women's voices not so attractive, sometimes grating. But this is just my opinion. I worked with Carol Vorderman for a year. You try doing that without becoming a misogynist." If you'd said that, we'd find it in our hearts to pity and forgive you.

And while we're talking about commentators, I have to add - it can't be said often enough - that Mark Lawrenson shouldn't be allowed near a microphone again. This is not just my opinion, it is hard scientific fact.