mcgillianaire: (Changing Guard London)
"Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London.
No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life;
for there is in London all that life can afford."

~ Samuel Johnson ~

On Thursday morning I fly to DC, drawing to a close over nine years in the UK. It seems fitting for such an occasion to delve into the memory bank and recollect how things have changed since I first moved here on a sunny May morning in 2007...

  • Tony Blair was still PM, Ming Campbell was Lib Dem leader and Ken Livingstone Mayor of London.
  • A woman had yet to serve as Britain's Home Secretary.
  • It was legal to smoke in pubs.
  • £1 was worth nearly $2.
  • Kate and Wills had just broken up.
  • Waterloo Station was still the Eurostar terminus.
  • Free newspapers thelondonpaper and London Lite were still in production and you had to pay for The Evening Standard.
  • Steve McClaren was England's football manager and the national team had yet to play at the new Wembley.
  • Portsmouth FC, now in the fourth tier, had just finished 9th in the Premier League.
  • Mourinho was Abramovich's only managerial appointment.
  • There was no equal prize money at Wimbledon between men and women.
  • The Digital Switchover had yet to begin.
  • Britain's Got Talent, Outnumbered, Would I Lie To You & Only Connect hadn't aired; Parkinson & Grange Hill were still on.
  • The iPhone hadn't been released yet.
  • Spain hadn't won a football World Cup or European Championships since 1964.
  • Pep Guardiola had yet to manage Barcelona and therefore hadn't won any of his 15 major trophies to date.
  • Djokovic had not won a Grand Slam yet, Nadal just 3 and there was only one British appearance in a final since 1977.
  • Myspace was the most popular social network, Twitter was just a year old (with fewer than 700,000 users) & Facebook had 20 million active users (it's now over a billion).
  • Justin Bieber hadn't been 'discovered' yet, Lady Gaga hadn't released her first album and Taylor Swift was still unheard of despite having released her first album.
  • Jennifer Lawrence had not acted in a film yet.
  • And finally, a little-known African American senator from Illinois had just announced his candidacy to the US presidency.

I hope I return to Blighty 21 months from now. I'm sure the time will fly. But my life has not quite gone according to plan until now, so who knows what the future holds. What I do know is that my lifelong love affair with The Great Wen and all things British will never diminish. So long Great Britain and its great people, thank you for all the wonderful memories.

Signing out for the last time on this side of the pond (for now), this is That Bloke in the Big Smoke.
mcgillianaire: (Football player)
After 29 league games last season, Leicester City had just 19 points and marked nearly four months at the bottom of the Premier League table. If a new season had started immediately after that and included this season's matches, they would have 66 points from 31 matches. To put it in some perspective, this is a list of EPL teams since 1995/96* with the most points after 31 matches. The team in () was the eventual league champion, when different from the leader after 31 matches:

2014/15 - Chelsea            - 73 pts
2013/14 - Chelsea            - 69 pts (Manchester City)
2012/13 - Manchester United  - 77 pts
2011/12 - Manchester United  - 76 pts (Manchester City)
2010/11 - Manchester United  - 66 pts
2009/10 - Manchester United  - 69 pts (Chelsea)
2008/09 - Manchester United  - 71 pts
2007/08 - Manchester United  - 73 pts
2006/07 - Manchester United  - 78 pts
2005/06 - Chelsea            - 78 pts
2004/05 - Chelsea            - 80 pts
2003/04 - Arsenal            - 77 pts
2002/03 - Arsenal            - 66 pts (Manchester United)
2001/02 - Manchester United  - 64 pts (Arsenal)
2000/01 - Manchester United  - 70 pts
1999/00 - Manchester United  - 70 pts
1998/99 - Manchester United  - 64 pts
1997/98 - Arsenal            - 63 pts
1996/97 - Manchester United  - 63 pts
1995/96 - Manchester United**- 64 pts

** Newcastle United also had 64 pts

Addendum

Jan. 14th, 2016 10:15 pm
mcgillianaire: (Football player)
In my excitement to evaluate Leicester City's potential achievement, I forgot to mention a couple other aspects of this season's Premier League that has equally confounded expectations and added to the merriment. The first is the almost mirror-like collapse by defending champions Chelsea and the other is the welcome return of unpredictable results for practically every match, including the ones involving the usual top teams (though perhaps excluding Aston Villa). Long may it continue!
mcgillianaire: (Football player)
It's been a wee while since I made an entry about O Joga Bonito, but this season's English Premier League has earned it. I can't remember the last time when we were so far into a season (Gameweek 21 out of 38) and a team like Leicester City were still contending for the title. However unlikely it may still seem, the neutral in me wants them to go all the way. It would certainly surpass any achievement since the Premier League began (1992/93) and possibly eclipse the achievements of both Leeds United in 1991/92 and Aston Villa in 1980/81, because of their existing pedigree in English football. Of course, Blackburn Rovers won the title in 1994/95 under Dalglish, but they also had pedigree and their triumph was aided in no small part by owner Jack Walker's millions - the prescient precursor to the business model's successful replication by Chelsea and then Manchester City. No, we'd have to go back to Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest - a fellow Midlands club - in 1977/78 to find the most recent equivalent accomplishment. Back then, The Reds won the league title immediately following promotion from the old Division Two - an extremely rare achievement in itself - and they remain the only club in Europe to have won more European Cups than league titles (2-to-1). I suppose even if The Foxes don't conquer the summit of English football, they'd take a place in the top four and entry into next season's Champions League. Even that would be an outstandingly incredible achievement. Goodness knows how excruciatingly frustrating it's been as a Liverpool fan aiming to achieve just that in the past half a dozen seasons. As another famous Scot might muse: Football, bloody hell!1

1 Bill Shankly quoted in the subject, Sir Alex Ferguson in the entry.
mcgillianaire: (Changing Guard London)
...I arrived in London to settle here permanently. The photos below were taken on the night and subsequent morning of that memorable journey. It was my first flight to Blighty in three years - and I only stayed a night on that occasion - so this was actually my first proper visit in nearly four years. I was over the moon, making childhood dreams come true and all that jazz.


With mum at check-in in Muscat (then Seeb) International Airport. Dad had a separate flight that night to attend a conference in Italy. I think my sis was still in India. You can see bits of my Liverpool jersey that I was wearing in honour of the Champions League Final that was taking place as we were flying towards the Continent. The Mighty Reds were taking on The Rossoneri (AC Milan) in Athens. The pilot was kind enough to give us two score updates along the way. Unfortunately, we lost 2-1.

Read more... )
mcgillianaire: (LFC Liverbird)
As you know, my three favourite sports are cricket, football and tennis. It's been an eventful week for all three and the teams/sportsmen that I support. It started with Liverpool's victory away at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge last Sunday, continued with Roger Federer's demolition of Rafael Nadal during the week and subsequent unbeaten run to his 100th professional tournament final, 70th career title overall and record-breaking 6th ATP World Tour Finals success. In between, there were two close finishes in the Test cricket matches between South Africa/Australia and India/West Indies. Neither of the teams which I wanted to win succeeded, but both matches were a fantastic advert for the game's longer version. Then to cap off the eventful week, Liverpool became only the second club in this season's Premier League to take points off leaders Manchester City, in a game we really should've won. Not a bad way to lead myself into starting a new temp job tomorrow morning!
mcgillianaire: (Football player)


Earlier today I tweeted about a unique solution the Turkish Football Federation had applied to punish Fenerbahçe for a pitch invasion during a pre-season friendly. Instead of the usual alternative of playing matches behind closed doors in front of an empty stadium, they decided to bar men altogether and open up the gates free of charge to only women, and children below the age of 12. And guess what? 41,000 women and children filled the stadium to capacity for the Istanbul-based club's Super Liga match against Manisaspor. The match ended 1-1. In future I'd like all football associations to apply the same punishment. It's great to see a stadium full of passionate female football fans, even if it sounded a bit like a Bieber concert.
mcgillianaire: (Default)
I wish there was a job that existed along the lines of "Professional Sport Armchair Spectator" because not only would I be very good at it, but I'd also bring two decades worth of extensive work experience. It occurred to me that in the past ten days, I have been smothered with at least one match/race of all the sports and teams which I follow and/or love. Starting with cricket, India and England have been in action, in football both England and Liverpool have flattered to deceive (as usual), Federer's lost at the US Open, Usain Bolt got disqualified from one race, won another and helped set a world record in a third, while the Rugby World Cup got underway and Sebastian Vettel won yet another Formula One race. Sportsgasmic!
mcgillianaire: (Football player)
I became aware of this a few years ago but most people still think it is. I was reminded of it while watching the latest edition of the newly-instituted, web-only Match of the Day 3 programme on Monday mornings, which featured as its guest the British-based American goalkeeper, Brad Friedel. Neither he nor Lee Dixon (a regular analyst and former England international) were aware of soccer's true origins. Therefore I reckon it's important to spread the word across the length and breadth of this country and beyond. Many Britons (and I've noticed it's not just those who follow the sport!) are quick to dismiss any use of the term soccer as an Americanism, as though it were a dirty word. But as Wikipedia amply demonstrates, this misnomer couldn't be further from the truth. Soccer is well and truly British. In fact it was widely used by the mainstream media until at least the 1970s, but quite what happened after that is somewhat of a mystery. Although interestingly enough, according to the Hansard archives, the use of the term soccer by MPs has increased in recent decades (even as football remains the most popular term in Parliament, the media and certainly amongst the hoi polloi)!

EDIT: It's worth pointing out that according to Hansard, the earliest mention of football in Parliament was in 1824, while the earliest mention of soccer (and rugger) was in 1927.

(Note: Even if you don't like MotD or football in general, that programme is worth watching alone for what is possibly the "best" own goal ever scored... by who else but Lee Dixon himself!)
mcgillianaire: (Football player)


Just over a week after the riots ended in the capital, visiting Leeds United fans had a few things to say to their London-based West Ham opponents in light of recent events. The Championship league match ended 2-2.
mcgillianaire: (Football player)

The Fiyapı İnönü Stadium is the home to the second oldest football club in Turkey and is located very close to our hotel.
mcgillianaire: (Football player)

The English Cellar Alehouse in Providence, Rhode Island - conveniently located in the middle of Brown University's campus on Angell Street.
mcgillianaire: (Default)

  • 07:35:39: RT @dafnalinzer: MT @yochiNJ Military source tells me #Seals built full-scale mockup of #bin Ladin compound, spent weeks practicing raid ...
  • 07:47:14: RT @ReallyVirtual Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event). << The IT consultant who unwittingly live-tweeted the raid!
  • 07:57:30: RT @Chobr: BBC reporter says 'very unique' on @r4Today. A sad day...
  • 08:44:44: ‎"Everybody knew he was in Pak except the Pak authorities who were in denial." -Ahmed Rashid, Pakistani journalist on @BBCr4today
  • 08:45:02: RT @tomscott: Bin Laden's dead; some Americans party in the streets. I was thinking "not classy, USA" — then I remembered what's planned ...
  • 08:47:53: RT @CulturalSnow: Super quick Osama Downfall video http://youtu.be/u8A2unABbtA
  • 08:49:16: RT @simonpegg: There's a slight sense in the more sensationalist media that the world just completed a particularly tricky video game.
  • 08:59:04: Checked Google Earth. Most recent images of area around Pak Milit Acad are from Jun 2005 & Mar 2001. Hmm... #obl #osamabinladen #abbotabad
  • 09:00:45: @CulturalSnow Dude, in the immortal words of Richard Keys - your tweets/RTs this morning have smashed it. Thanks for the entertainment.
  • 09:08:51: RT @dannynic: Waiting for Huw Edwards to tell us all about Osama's outfit....
  • 09:13:16: RT @LFCZA: Rumours of Bin Laden being caught whilst wearing his Arsenal shirt remain unfounded.
  • 09:23:29: "Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles." -Proverbs 24:17 (New American Standard Bible)
  • 09:27:37: @ReallyVirtual Read your tweets - v.interesting! Wondered how long you've been in A'bad and if was the 1st time you heard a milit op there?
  • 09:28:30: RT @largeburrito: In the early hours, US special forces attacked a house in Pakistan and destroyed Donald Trump's Presidential campaign.
  • 09:29:05: @pappubahry It's reducing by the dozen every minute so I'll live in hope. :)
  • 09:29:37: @pappubahry Oh and it's back up again. I guess I'll ask him in a few weeks time if he's still online!
  • 09:30:25: RT @suellewellyn: RT @kenyanpundit RT @itsthiz: Obama is now America's hero. Just last week he had to prove he was even American.
  • 09:34:09: RT @LSEpublicevents Expert Anatol Lieven talks about Pakistan at LSE on 9/5 http://bit.ly/gCNpnU ("Pakistan: A Hard Country") #obl
  • 09:42:10: "Coincidentally or not, Panetta was promoted at end of last week, from CIA head to become the next sec of defence." (http://bit.ly/mKiVKT)
  • 09:50:18: The Pakistani High Commissioner is the most deluded man in Britain. Not surprised but still sickening to hear his ilk spew filth. #bbc5live
  • 10:04:03: @pappubahry I never realised there were so many versions of the Bible. I'd like to pick up a copy. Recommend any in particular?
  • 10:08:31: @pappubahry Thanks. Have you read it in its entirety? Do you still read/refer from it?
  • 10:16:53: RT @tweetminster: Twitter first with news of Osama bin Laden's death via ex-Bush staffer @keithurbahn http://bit.ly/jRM0vn - The Guardian
  • 17:21:41: Can't blame him but Obama had that "I'm the man" look just now. First Trump, now Bin Laden. Two slam dunks in a good week at the office.
  • 17:54:31: All these references to the good Lord above on #bbcradio4 are making me feel just a little bit ill. #obl
  • 18:12:33: "USA! USA!" is the wrong response - http://shar.es/Hvvd3 -- Couldn't word it better myself. Death is not something to be celebrated. #obl
  • 18:25:50: RT @nytgraphics: Map and diagram of the compound where Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad http://nyti.ms/mCHHFw
  • 18:26:04: RT @ogleearth: CIA confirms location of Bin Laden compound, releases aerial imagery (scroll to end of article) | Ogle Earth http://bit.l ...
  • 18:29:53: RT @LondonHistorian: Handy article in the Indy about UK place names. http://ind.pn/k0rIfg
  • 20:35:43: @pappubahry Interested in any of the these? http://bbc.in/ihR07w http://bit.ly/jyUX9x http://bbc.in/mgxsSZ http://bbc.in/kba9lQ Can upload.
  • 20:48:15: @pappubahry Also have http://bbc.in/j7TVTy http://bbc.in/mgkF7B http://bbc.in/iTjvSo http://bbc.in/jypYlH (except ep1) http://bbc.in/iwqOFm
  • 22:52:19: Great to see The Canaries back in the Premier League next season. Let's be 'aving you!!! #norwichcityfc #ncfc #championship
  • 23:00:52: RT @maproomblog: I've updated the Bin Laden compound post with additional links. http://t.co/u4w59eo
  • 23:03:34: So you're in a Norman church. How do you know it's Norman? http://bbc.in/jGZuAR (pdf)
  • 23:05:51: Can't believe Hazel Irvine is trending but I must admit, it was an insensitive question to ask and worsened only by John Higgins's reaction.
  • 23:06:58: RT @geoeye: New @GeoEye High Resolution Imagery Released of Abbottabad, Pakistan (a walled compound) http://bit.ly/kPbIi6

Tweets copied by twittinesis.com

mcgillianaire: (Football player)
They are the funniest I've ever come across. No country as a whole has a better set of creatively titled teams.

27 de Mayo (27 May)
31 de Octubre (31 October)
Alemán (Germany)
Always Ready
Bolivar (formerly known as Atletico Bolívar Literario Musical or Athletic Bolivar Literary Musical)
Atlético Ciclón (Athletic Cyclone)
Club Social, Cultural y Deportivo Blooming (Club Social, Cultural & Sporting Blooming)
Deportivo Ferroviario (Rail Sports)
Destroyers
Estudiantes del Oriente (Students of the East)
Jorge Wilstermann (a Bolivian aviator)
Fraternidad Tigres (Tiger Brotherhood)
Regatas Flamenco (Flamenco Racing)
Santos de Belén (Bethlehem Saints)
The Strongest

Click here for a full list on Wikipedia.
mcgillianaire: (Changing Guard London)
Last night was the deadline to enter the ballot for obtaining tickets at next year's event. My dad, sis and I have applied for tickets to the Opening Ceremony, Badminton Semifinals, Men's 100m Final (includes Men's 100m Semis, Women's Triple Jump Final, Men's Hammer Throw Final, Men's 400m Final, Women's 400m Final and Men's 3000m Steeplechase Final) and the Women's Individual All-Around Artistic Gymnastics Final. I have also made a separate application with a couple mates for tickets to the Men's Football Final at Wembley and a Ground Pass to the Tennis First-Round at Wimbledon. I doubt we'll get it all but I'll take anything! I just can't wait for it! :)
mcgillianaire: (LFC Liverbird)
Last night I watched what was probably the game of the season and surprisingly, it didn't involve either Real Madrid, Barcelona or both, even though they were also in action together. It's not easy picking one game out of half a dozen humdingers, Arsenal featuring in at least three of them. But last night was special because I watched it in a pub packed with fans from both sides not far from where the game was actually played. And it was a study of contrasts, as one side went into the ascendency followed immediately by the other. The game ebbed and flowed until Spurs came back from a two-goal deficit to secure a draw against the mighty Arsenal. A bad result for both teams but perhaps more damaging for Arsenal as they seek to end their six-year silverware drought. There's a better chance Spurs will qualify for next season's European Cup. And most hope they do.

Meanwhile, Liverpool remain rooted to sixth which will probably deny them any European football next season for the first time since 1999/00. That's thanks to Birmingham City winning the League Cup and only one of the top five clubs making the final of the FA Cup. However there is an outside chance we could sneak through to the Europa League, if Manchester City win the FA Cup but get pipped to fourth place in the league by Spurs and we finish sixth. That would be harsh on Stoke City who have qualified for their first ever FA Cup Final in their 148 year-old history. And if we don't watch out, the Blue Shite are just 2 points behind us. COME ON YOU REDS!

In the other half of the table, the bottom eight clubs are separated by a mere six points. There may only be five or six games left this season, but it's all to play for! A fitting finale to an exciting Premier League campaign!
mcgillianaire: (LFC Liverbird)

(Click on the pic to read about the Hillsborough Disaster)
mcgillianaire: (Football player)
Earlier today Mohamed Bin Hammam (of Qatar) confirmed he would be challenging incumbent FIFA president Sepp Blatter at the scheduled upcoming presidency election on 1 June. He made the announcement in Kuala Lumpur where he was attending the 4th Asian Football Confederation Conference on Science and Football Medicine. As it happens my dad is also attending the conference and just before Bin Hammam made official his bid for the presidency, he delivered a speech at the conference. Dad was quite impressed with the chap's polished performance. The previous conference was held in Oman in 2005 which my dad helped organise, while the first two editions were held in Japan and Malaysia. Dad enjoys these conferences because of the practical application of the issues considered. For instance in 2005 they discussed the effect of fasting during the month of Ramadan on players and the use of MRIs to determine the real age of players before tournaments. This year he took particular interest in the presentation by a large delegation of Swiss and Kiwi sports medicine specialists from a well-known orthopaedic hospital in Qatar on the effect of playing football in an extreme environment. Given that Qatar will be hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup during the summer when temperatures will regularly exceed 45°C (113°F), it is worth noting that the specialists suggested matches could be called off once temperatures exceeded 33 or 34 degrees itself. Which means one of two things. Either the climate-controlled stadiums HAVE to be developed or the World Cup has to be moved to the winter. There is no alternative. Fills you up with hope, doesn't it? The other interesting presentation was on the contribution of medical science to the development of straight red card offences in football such as the tackle from behind in 1998 and the elbow in the face in 2007. Tomorrow he will be attending an interesting session on stem cell research in football medicine. Other events include hands-on clinical workshops on genetic applications, muscle/cartilage tissue repair, the continuing issue of "age doping" and the role of Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Injection Therapy*.

Surprisingly, this is my dad's first visit to Malaysia since our family trip in 1989! I say that because he has travelled extensively in the region, particularly to Thailand and Hong Kong. The only countries he hasn't visited in the region are Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. However he's loving being back in Malaysia, with its rich mix of the local Bahasa people and culture, ancient Sanskrit influences, Tamils, Chinese and moderate Islam. He liked the fact that he could easily buy booze in a local market, even though it's a Muslim-majority nation. The food? Exquisite. And unlike Sri Lanka, their Tamils speak the way we do in India. Malaysia, truly Asia indeed.

(* Platelet Rich Plasma also known as PRP is a new field in Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine, using your own blood (Autologous) for healing muscle, tendon and ligament injury.)
mcgillianaire: (LFC Liverbird)

My first appearance at Ruse Bar in Borough (near London Bridge) - a Liverpool supporters boozer thanks to the landlord who's a fan.

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