Adam Bird


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Thursday, 22 May 2008

10 Conclusions from Yesterday's European Cup Final

After yesterdays post looking ahead towards last night's European Cup Final I thought it would be only fair to keep the same format in summarising the event.

1) I would not like to be John Terry this morning. Good job I am not a betting man! I would have bet big money on him scoring as he walked up to that penalty spot. He was distraught after that, and you can hardly blame him. The 2008 European Cup, ten years down the line will be remembered for John Terry's miss if anything else.
2) Ronaldo confirmed that he is an arrogant muppet. Just what the hell was he doing with his penalty kick? If anyone deserved to be in John Terry's shoes last night it was him for the way he ran, stopped, jiggled and missed his penalty.
3) I must have had a premonition about Drogba, deserved to go. Shame it wasn't earlier. For a man of his size and stature he doesn't half throw himself about easy.
4) Manchester United should have been out of sight by half time.
5) Chelsea should have won it after ninety minutes.
6) Both teams were even during extra time.
7) The future looks good for Manchester United, will they have to wait so long before they win the trophy again?
8) Whereas Chelsea, could be an interesting summer. New manager, players leaving - will wait and see.
9) It was a much improved spectacle compared to the FA Cup final last year. Thank You.
10) But there was still too much hype and it was never going to live up to that.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

10 Wishes for Tonights Champion League Final

Tonight sees the very first European Cup final featuring two english sides in what is quite possibly the most overhyped game ever in the history of football. Yes, it is good that two english sides are playing, but does anyone remember last years FA Cup final, which was quite possibly the most boring game ever?

Here are ten things that I hope to see in tonights game:

1) Chelsea lose
2) Drogba gets sent off in the first minute and walks off crying
3) That I am still awake before the end of the first half
4) Ronaldo takes his premier league form onto the 'big stage'
5) There is more than one goal
6) The winning goal is scored by Englishman
7) Someone mentions that 'massive' Chelsea couldn't sell all their tickets
8) It doesn't go to extra time and penalties (except if it is a 4-4 draw)
9) If Chelsea win there is a blackout so we don't get to see the celebrations
10) Avram Grant and Alex Ferguson have a punch up on the touchline

Monday, 19 May 2008

A Big Day at Little Silver

It seems as if we have been catching up for lost time. No sooner had we announced our engagement just a month later we have booked a venue and set a date for our 'Big Day'. We will be getting married at the Little Silver Country Hotel on September 11th 2010 at 2pm!

During the saga that was my proposal of marriage I assumed that Stephanie would want to get married abroad, a European destination such as Cyprus, Greece or Turkey. I had actually told people when asked that this would be the plan! It surprised me therefore that she wanted a slightly more traditional wedding at home surrounded by her nearest and dearest.

In the week that followed our proposal I hit Google with vengeance and our postman seriously considered retirement due to bad back having been forced to deliver brochure upon brochure advertising wedding venues across the UK and Ireland! Admittedly I did go overboard looking at stately homes and medieval castles fit for people with larger budgets than ourselves.

Even so, we were shocked that even the more humble venues charged extortionate prices and we sweated slightly that our proposed 2010 date may be set back to 2020 just to accommodate the prices that they were charging!

Still, we figured that we had time on our hands and with Stephanie bringing in some extra money from Slimming World our task should be a little easier in meeting a budget that is achievable for the pair of us, even if it is at the expense of what the Slimming World role was originally for - more time off work and more time at home with Oliver.

Stephanie had the unenviable task of filtering through my mountain of brochures, looking through and selecting the ones that appealed to her, ready for us to make arrangements to view.

Over the course of four weekends in May we would be visiting four venues, appointments set up randomly with no order or preference. Having visited Salomons in Tonbridge Wells and admired the building and the grounds, which were spectacular, set upon a hill with a view over the South Downs. We decided that it wasn't really for us as the room set up was complicated and people would be here there and everywhere, when ideally we want people all in the same room and cutting shapes on the dance floor!

Last weekend we visited Little Silver Country Hotel, and from the brochure we both admitted on the journey down that we had high expectations. We were on our own this time, without Steph's parents, but we had Oliver with us, which proved to be a blessing, as on arrival we were met by a gentlemen who introduced himself as Oliver and the first 'sign' was illuminated.

Having been given the grand tour and shown wedding photo albums as to other people day at the Little Silver it was clear to me that this was the place that Stephanie wanted to get married. Seeing her getting misty eyed in the bridal suite and lumpy throaty in the main reception hall I figured that she was quite impressed!

As Oliver, the proprietor busied himself with putting together some estimates for us to take away and look over Stephanie and I had a brief conversation that reaffirmed both of our thoughts, which were that the place ticked all of our boxes and that this was the place that Stephanie wants to get married.

We both felt that the venue offered homely comfort, and that although it is a hotel it offers us the exclusivity we wanted. The Kent Hall, where our wedding breakfast will be held (and ceremony in case of inclement weather) offers a unique setting in it's octagonal shape, and bar within the same room layout. Being a family run enterprise and the first impressions we got from Oliver were highly impressionable with sensible advice and 'nothing is too much effort' attitude.

Both Will and Reaso told us that we will know when we go somewhere whether or not it is the 'right' place, and both their words rang true. It was confirmed to both of us yesterday as we visited Chilstern Park Hotel and a Ramada Hotel on the outskirts of Leeds that we were making the right choice. Both venues yesterday were lovely in there own right, but, like Solomons, there were question marks over certain things - questions that the Little Silver had all the answers to.

With our minds made up, Stephanie called the Little Silver this morning and confirmed our date. It may be a long way off yet, but it is a lot closer than Stephanie would have thought just five weeks ago!

My wedding blog updates will probably fall quiet over the next year or so as we save and plan. No doubt come 2010 they will be frequent and be full of nervous anticipation! We hope to see you there!

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Monstrosity of the South

A little while ago I read about an idea about placing an "icon" on top of the hill as you head down Swanscombe Cutting entitled "Angel of the South". Today, my fears which were highlighted at the time became reality as the five shortlisted designs where revealed.

It is quite clear that the whole pretentious idea is flawed, and that none of the designs, which I have listed below are in fitting with the local community, not on any level; culturally, aesthetically, historically, artfully - the list is endless.

Am I being a little harsh? Judge for yourself.

1) Christopher Le Brun

This design from Christopher Le Brun looks like a huge satellite dish which has been crashed into by a huge bird, which is stuck with it's arse hanging out of the ground!

2) Daniel Buren

The Far East or Gravesend, where would this look more appropriate? I cannot see it remaining shiny contemporary white for too long. Some lad from Swanscombe with a spray can will see to that!

3) Mark Wallinger

Mark Wallinger has hit closest to the historical nature of Kent with a huge horse, but I cannot keep wondering if it will be 100% anatomically accurate.

4) Rachel Whiteread

I have looked and looked and looked at this, and still don't get it. The sculpture is going to be on top of the hill. Why the hell build another one on top of that?

5) Richard Deacon

If your familiar with the bottom of Swanscombe Cutting you will know that the area is surrounded by electricity pylons. Why the hell would you want to stick another one that looks like it is scrunched up in pain with severe stomach cramps.

Having a look at a user poll on Kent Online it looks like I am not to only one who has taken to a dislike of these five designs. I am hopeful, but not confident that someone somewhere will see some sense and pull the plug from this crazy idea as soon as possible!

There is also a short video on the BBC where you can see all five designs in all there "splendor"!

Please leave a comment on this post - am I being harsh, do we have anyway of stopping this plan from happening, or at least proposing something in fitting with the local area?

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Full Circle

The current football season is drawing to a close with the lucky supporters of those teams in the playoffs anticipation promotion glory, or in the case of Manchester United, Chelsea, Portsmouth and Cardiff City the chance to see their teams winning some silverware.

Unfortunately, for us Gillingham fans we have a long three months ahead of us as we deal with the ignominy of relegation back to the 'basement' division of League Two. The commercial people within the FA may have rebranded the names of the leagues in an attempt to make them sound more appealing, but as supporters there is no fooling us as we look forward to playing the likes of Morecombe, Accrington Stanley, Macclesfield Town and Grimsby.

When Paul Scally took over the club back in the spring of 1995 nobody would have predicted the wonderful journey and realms of success that we would be given over the next ten years. An immediate promotion to League One (although it wasn't called that then), glorious cup runs, including a quarter final in the FA Cup, a promotion playoff final against Manchester City where soul destroying heartbreak was replaced 12 months later at the same venue with jubilation of promotion to the Championship against Wigan Athletic.

Our Championship stay lasted for 5 seasons, where for the first three we finished higher year on year before the decline set in leading to relegation in perhaps unlucky circumstances, as Eugene Bopp scored the goal of his life to set us on our descendency against Nottingham Forest.

Our return to League One was only meant to be a temporary measure as a return back to the Championship was predicted by the supporters. The stay has indeed been short, but our exit from the league has been through the plug hole rather than the stars.

Relegation is always difficult to swallow, but this year, particularly since relegation became a possibility has been a tough one. The season started terribly with 5 defeats out of five, and one point at home was followed by yet another defeat, seeing the resignation of Ronnie Jepson as first team coach. A search was on for yet another Messiah to lead the Gillingham resurrection, but took longer than many supporters would have liked.

Finally, Mark Stimson and former Gillingham goalkeeper Scott Barrett were given the reins and a mission to ensure survival come May. Ultimately they failed that particular goal, but despite that, there are I believe, glimmers of hope for the future, as the foundations of a side capable of winning an immediate return to League One are evident - providing of course we can keep the nucleus of the side together.

When things go wrong, fingers are pointed, and to me, this perhaps has been the hardest element of this season for me. Certain sections of the Gills faithful have been calling for Paul Scally's head and demanding his resignation. Internet message forums and Facebook groups have been set up in an attempt to gather a body of supporters together in attempt to rid the club of the man that kept the club alive in the first place.

There is no smoke without fire and there deserves to be some criticism and questions pointed towards Mr Scally, which he needs to answer as solidly and honestly as possible. The lack of transparency and counter comments from Mr Scally back to the supporters hasn't been, shall I say very diplomatic, but there has been some obscene and rather profane comments written by supporters which doesn't lend well to the cause in which they are aiming to fight.

The split between the club and certain sections of the supporters is possibly unrepairable at the moment, and I don't see how this can be repaired other than honest, straight forward dialogue between the two parties, and all the time that the team continues to flounder, and sink the worse this divide will get.

Having the success we have had has increased the expectation among supporters. Especially those people who fell in love with the club when we were at our historic peak. They believe that to be the norm and believe that is our rightful place. History shows that we are and always have been a bottom two division club, flirting with the edges of the Championship and only ever getting there once. Now that we have returned back to the basement we need to rebuild and start over again, avoid where possible the mistakes of the past few years, and indeed those mistakes that saw us nearly lose our league place totally in the early 90's.

I myself am quite looking forward to next season. Back to the league in which I fell in love with the Gills, back to the footballing backwaters. Although I won't be able to make as many away games as I would like, I hope to visit Accrington Stanley and those grounds close by at Barnet and Dagenham & Redbridge, grounds I have not visited. If we have a successful season next year it will be all the sweeter.

Further relegation is a scenario that I don't particularly want to contemplate, as it would surely mean the end of the Gillingham Football Club as we know it. But like I say, the foundations on the pitch are there and the models of other clubs are there for us to follow.

Walsall, Swindon, Luton, Brighton, Southend and many more clubs, have gone up the leagues in quick succession, hit a plateau and plummeted down the other side just as quickly, rebuilt and done it all over again. As a supporter of a lower league club you need to be in it for the long ride, and like a good roller coaster you cannot get off when you hit the top, but have to ride it out to the end.
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