Buenos Dias de Cordoba!
August 1, 2010

Buenos Dias de Cordoba, Espana!

It’s been a hectic few days.

Wednesday: I visited my Dad in Nottinghamshire. Following lunch in our favourite local, the Horse and Groom at Linby, I spent the evening at the City Ground watching Forest take on top French side, Olympique Lyonnais, in a pre-season friendly. Not surprisingly they lost 3-1, however there was no shame given that Lyon were Champions’ League semi finalists last year & beat Real Madrid in the quarters!

When Gemma lived in Lyon, for a year during her university course, I had the opportunity to visit La  Stade Gerland and have subsequently always followed OL’s results. This has coincided with a phenomenal run of three consecutive French Championship titles and the last two seasons as runners-up!

Two of their goals last night were scored by Bafetimbi Gomis (right), a 13 million pound striker who has earned the nicname Baby Drogba. He certainly looks a hot prospect to me and I think we’ll hear more of him in the future!

They also fielded Hugo Lloris (goalkeeper), Jeremy Toulalan (midfield/defence), Jimmy Briand (winger) – all French internationals -and Michel Bastos who appeared five times for Brazil at this summer’s World Cup!       

Thursday: Having stayed overnight in Papplewick I made my annual pilgrimage to the Trent Bridge cricket ground (just across the road from the City Ground!), spending the day in the upper tier of the splendid Radcliffe Road Stand, watching the opening day of the 1st England v Pakistan Test Match.

Having chosen to bat England wobbled against the Pakistan seam attack, losing four wickets for 118 if memory serves! However a splendid maiden Test century from Eoin Morgan (which has probably earned him a place in this winter’s Ashes squad), ably supported by Paul Collingwood, saw England reach 331-4 by the close.

Subsequent text messages, received here in Spain, suggest that Pakistan were on the way to being bowled out cheaply in reply & I guess it could all be over by the time I return to the UK on Monday.

Friday: Chris & I were up at 4.00 am and away to Birmingham Airport for a 6.30 am flight to Malaga from where we took the high-speed AVE train to Cordoba (50 minutes).

We are staying at the Hotel Cordoba Center which I have previously used on a school European project visit. It’s ideally situated, 5 minutes walk from the station and it takes 15-20 minutes down into the old town.

Yesterday we visited the splendid Mezquita, a 16th century christian cathedral built in the heart of an 8th century mosque – an amazing combination of architectural styles and juxtaposition of religions.There are more than 850 columns of granite, jasper and marble supporting the roof which create a stunning visual effect.     

Today it was the palace of the Christian Kings (Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos) built in the 14th century and where Ferdinand and Isabel stayed during their campaign to conquer the moors and take Granada. There are also Roman mosaics, excavated nearby,and  lovely gardens with fountains and ponds.

In between the sight-seeing Chris has been enjoying a few rays on the roof top sun terrace. It’s at least 40 degrees C at the moment. We’ve also enjoyed some excellent tapas, a few local Cruzcampo beers and the odd bottle of local wine.

My 30 minutes are up now so posting ready or not – adios, hasta luego!

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Time to stand up and be counted!
June 23, 2010

90 minutes to kick off!

If you don’t know or understand what all the fuss is about now would be good time to head for Tesco, you should have the place pretty much to yourself.

The country is about to grind to a halt. For 90 minutes the revival of the national economy will take second place to the revival of the national football team. Even DC announced, in PM’s Questions, that he is hoping to catch the second half.

Will the flag of St George will still be flying over the House of Commons at 5.00pm – we’ll see! Ridiculously, if we put in a half decent performance today and win, the trials and tribulations of earlier this week will no doubt be replaced by a cautious optimism that we could still lift the trophy. Crazier thing have happened – just look at the English cricket team!

Yesterday they saw off the Aussies in yet another assured one day performance, Eoin Morgan leading the way with a fine century. There was a time, not long ago, when we could not buy a victory in the short form of cricket and the likely outcome of any  match against the Aussies was a ‘no brainer’.

In the space of twelve months, the English cricket team has wrested back the Ashes, lifted the World T20 trophy, after hammering the Aussies in the final, and are currently 1-0 up in the one day (50 over game) series. 

I’m looking forward to seeing more of the same, tomorrow, when I visit Cardiff for the second day-night match. I don’t want to put my foot in it and spoil our chances but are the Aussies, for so long seemingly invincible, fast becoming our whipping boys?  Even Johnno’s rugby team sneaked a win down under at the weekend. Come to think of it, it’s a pity we aren’t playing the Aussies this afternoon instead of Slovenia!      

‘Nothing builds confidence like success‘, ‘success breeds success’ and ‘winning becomes a habit’ are well-worn sporting clichés because they tend to be true. It is being amply demonstrated by the England cricket team right now.

To quote another cliché, ‘you don’t become a bad player/team overnight’. England are ranked 8th in the world by FIFA. They are playing a Slovenian team ranked 27th. Nothing but a stirring display full of pride, passion, and no little skill, resulting in a victory for England, will do this afternoon. It’s what the nation needs, deserves and expects.  And while I’m in cliché mode: ‘there are no more excuses’, ‘the time has come to stand up and be counted’ and ‘don’t leave the tournament wondering what if………..’       

30 minutes to kick off!!!

It’s time to play ‘3 Lions’, grab a beer, dust down the vuvuzela and steady the nerves.

COME ON ENGLAND!  It’s Coming Home, it’s coming home, it’s coming, football’s coming home………..