The Adventures of Mason and Will – England U17’s in the Algarve

England under 17's - Algarve Friendly tournament Feb 2012

I know this blog is usually reserved for my rants, but today dear readers, you have earned yourselves a respite, as I return from a fabulous trip along the coast from our home in Spain to Portugal’s Algarve, to watch England’s under 17’s football team tale party in the 35th friendly tournament, also featuring Portugal as host nation, France, and Holland.

Now, I’m patriotic, but there were two much more important reasons why we went. Derby County were fielding two of our Under 17 rising stars, Will Hughes and Mason Bennett.  Both lads have made first team appearances for the club, and it was a great to see them pulling on the National shirt.

The first game was against Portugal in the Estadio de Municipal da Bela Vista. It’s a strange place, sporting just the one stand, and seemingly located within a Portuguese housing estate. Despite the Algarve sunshine, it was decidedly chilly, as we experienced the fringe of the vicious weather blanketing much of Europe.  Mason Bennett started, with Will Hughes on the bench, and to be honest, Bennett struggled to impose himself in the first half, and was replaced at half time in a double substitution that saw Will Hughes take the field.  What struck me about Hughes was the accuracy of his passing, his willingness to chase the ball and his commitment in challenges, he impressed me immensely, as did the young Newcastle lad, Adam Campbell, he was a real handful.

Premium seating in the Estadio Bela Vista....

We ran out 2-1 winners, and I particularly loved the Portuguese announcer’s different take on the goals: the Portuguese one was met with “GOOOOOOOOOOOOAALLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!

POR -TU -GAL, POR-TU -GAL!”  -followed by some really dire euro-dance music until we were ready to re-start. When England scored he mumbled begrudgingly “goal, England”  Priceless!

The one serious threat to us in that game was one of Porto’s youngsters, who regularly took killer inswinging corners that threatened to punish us, and we seemed to keep conceding.

Game number two saw us facing Holland, at the Estadio Municipal in Loulè , and I found this a really great game. Will Hughes started, and immediately involved himself in the game, hungry for the ball and unerring with his passing once again. He got his just reward, scoring for England after 13 minutes in a game which also saw some great interplay between Forest’s Kieran Wallace and Villa’s Jordan Graham. Wallace showed enough good touches to suggest that, if his first mates at the city Ground don’t start clicking, he’ll be pushing for a place.  We conceded a penalty after about 18 minutes and were down to 10 men, following the fairly pointless sending -off of Callum Robinson. The team held fast though, with some resolute defending and as we headed deep into the second half we were holding the Dutch at 2-2.  We were on the verge of nicking it when we had a penalty of our own, but a great save from the keeper meant the honours were even.  Bennett had joined the fray at half-time and looked a lot sharper than in the first game.

Will Hughes defends the far post in the game against the Dutch

The third and final game took place in the grandly named Estadio Capitano Josino Costa, in Lagoa, which was a bit of a ramshackle place, but made up for it by having the photocopied teamsheets available in colour, no less.

Mason and Will both started this one, and the team looked organised, and clearly worked hard for each other. Mason had a couple of attempts but never quite got going in my opinion, though he showed a couple of touches to suggest he has much more to offer. Once again, though, Will Hughes did some great work in midfield, tracked back well, fought for the ball and distributed it well all over the pitch.  We came out worthy 2-1 winners, and won the tournament overall with 7 points, a good few days work.

It was also great to see the families of some of these lads out there supporting them, including the folks of Blades youngster George Willis, who despite the penalty, had a good game in goal against Holland.

The lads warm down after a great win against France

Standout players of the tournament for me were Hughes, Newcastle’s Campbell, West Ham’s Leo Chambers, Forest’s Wallace and Villa’s Graham.

Whatever goes wrong further up the ladder with our national team, on this viewing, John Peacock and his staff are doing a sterling job with this current crop of talented youngsters.

To see two Derby lads in this team filled me with pride, as did the sight of the whole squad singing the National Anthem.

606ers please note: Particularly gratifying was the further “anglification and ramification” of Mrs. MojacaRam, as she shouted for the English over her own French team, with the singularly bizarre cry of ‘allez Mason’!  My work here is done.

Kev Moore

Tevez, grow up, you pathetic South American git!

I almost wept with joy when I discovered that Carlos Tevez, the vertically and aesthetically challenged South American ‘footballer’ (when he can be bothered) was fined 1.5 million for refusing to play. This fine actually might hurt his criminally overflowing wallet, and is more than just a token gesture. But what does the little git do? Instead of sucking it up, growing a pair and taking it like a man, it appears he is now ‘considering suing’ his boss, Roberto Mancini.  Unbelievable. A petulant child in a (albeit diminutive) man’s body.

If I was Mancini, and if the Football world was suddenly overcome with an attack of common sense, I’d tell him to piss off back to Argentina, and mind the door didn’t whack him on the arse on the way out. Pathetic.

Kev Moore

The death of the beautiful game?

It transpires that many of the owners of our Premier League Football* clubs – Americans, Thais, Russians, Arabs and God know who else, are ‘keen’ on the Franchise model for football. Oooh, all very modern and forward thinking, efficient and PROFITABLE I hear the blinkered among you cry. Let me elucidate. What it really means is, these fat-cat bloated parasites from every goddamn corner of the world who come by their money by fair means or foul, who are currently wallowing in the shit-pit of money that is our top division want to ensure that THEIR teams always have their grubby little hands on the prize. Yep, that’s right – they’re considering abolishing relegation from the Premier League.

If such an unthinkable option is made reality, you can kiss goodbye to the last vestiges of a game that is barely able to call itself a sport anymore. You might as well walk into every Championship ground in the country with a scattergun and take out fans, chairmen and players alike, because ultimately, there will be no point in playing anymore.

Don’t these stupid corpulent pin-striped, cigar chomping bureaucratic ignoramus’ get it???? IT’S SUICIDE!!!!

But the game as we once knew it is dying, and has been for a long time. Many fans, myself included – who follow Championship teams, actually enjoy the division, because it’s still the closest thing to how Football used to be, but if there is no hope of advancement and the chance to get your hands on a piece of the big pie, what’s it all for?  Why should the ‘haves’ always be able to piss on the ‘have nots’ from a great height?   They may have been able to amass a fortune in their business world by back-stabbing, cheating, lying and shafting everybody and his grandmother. God knows how many starving Russians a certain London club’s success is built upon…..but we need to draw a line. And if the Man U’s, Chelsea’s & Man City’s of this world go for this, I say kick their arses all the way to Abu Dhabi and they can damn well play there. leave the REAL game to us. I’ll not shed a tear.


Kev Moore

* For the Americans amongst you, it’s played with a round ball and no body armour….