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The Battle of Pottery Green

Thought I would re-produce a superb piece of football rhyme I wrote a few years ago about the mighty Lane Cove Football Club.

It is called The Battle of Pottery Green. The Prem Ones are our first division team and the Prem Threes are our third division team.



Another season passes by

Another football celebration

A year of hard fought battles

A year of relegation

The players grouped at the Longy

And the beer flowed from the tap

When a quiet comment was overheard

“The Prem One team is crap”


Well boy, there was no holding back

Young Giggsy, Jim and Co

Who got up and raced over

To the startled Rick Candido


“What the hell you talking about”

Said Giggsy in a huff

“I’ve seen you guys play once or twice

And it’s pretty awful stuff”


Well the arguments went on and on

With tempers getting frayed

When suddenly somebody said

“I think it’s time we played”


A vote was quickly taken

And the players they were keen

So they made their way down to

The famous Pottery Green



Read the rest...Collapse )


Football School - Lesson 3

Hello and welcome to the third and final part of Football School, proudly brought to you by the Lane Cove Football Club Coaching Development Hierarchy (eg Cotts)

Previous Football School entries are here:

Lesson 1

Lesson 2


Penalties look easy, but are often harder to execute. Think of Baggio, Southgate, Viduka and the entire Swiss team. But by following these simple steps, you’ll be banging them into the net in no time. 

The penalty taker is in a no win situation. You will be expected to score and the goalkeeper is not expected to save it. It is the only time a goalkeeper will be allowed to have the ball kicked at a soft pace right through their fingers. So the pressure is on you, and you will need to start a game of psychological warfare even before the ball is kicked.



Always place the ball confidently on the spot, staring the keeper right in the eyes. Even when you are walking back to take the kick, try and walk backwards whilst still giving the keeper the eagle eye. Try not to fall over at this stage, as you will lose any psychological advantage you may have gained up until this point.

David Beckham's latest ploy of thowing up on the ball before a free kick is also a good tactic to keep in mind at this stage. Some keepers in the lower grades will happily let the ball pass rather than risk getting vomit on their keeping top.



The Run up. This is another important part of the whole routine. If you are not careful this will give away your intentions of where you are going to kick the ball. Try running in a type of zig zag towards the ball. If done correctly this will not only confuse the keeper but also make him dizzy. This may result in the keeper falling over. Keep an eye on this, as you don't want him falling in the same direction of your penalty.



Now the vital one. The Penalty Kick. There are numerous options here.

  1. The blast
  2. The placed shot
  3. The straight at the keeper shot
  4. The 6 feet over the bar shot

Work out which one you think will work best. Work it out on the day and don’t worry about practicing any of these at training. Even teams like England don’t worry about trivial things like penalty taking, even when a World Cup is at stake. So take it from the experts and just do what feels right when you step up to the spot.

The Blast is the best method. Kick the ball as hard as you possibly can. The keepers job will be a lot harder even if he gets a hand to it, and let’s face it – it looks much better for the crowd. The only problem is that if you miss the penalty, your team mates will be angry that you didn’t go for the Placed shot, as if you are clearly not skillful enough for the Blast.

The Placed shot is also a very good method. In lower grade competitions you are confronted with many ‘large’ keepers, where agility is often not their best attribute. So placing the ball in the corner is always a good option. The only problem is that if you miss the penalty, your team mates will be angry that you didn’t go for the Blast shot, as if you are clearly not skillful enough for the Placed shot.

The Straight at the Keeper shot. For the reason mentioned above, this shot is not recommended in lower grade comps as it’s likely the keeper will not deviate from his central position even once the ball is kicked.

The 6 feet over the bar shot. Whilst I mentioned training is not necessary for penalties, it appears many players have not heeded this advice and have practiced the 6 Feet Over shot for many hours at training. This is a great technique, especially when you are 2 goals down with 15 minutes to go, because it fills the team with an even greater sense of determination to fight back and take a point.

Paje, East Coast Zanzibar

There's been a couple of instances on this journey when I think I've stumbled across heaven. Bath in the UK. Fritz-Walter Stadium in Kaiserslauten. Mylopolous beach & it's topless Swedish chicks in Ios.

But they are all pretenders. I have found heaven for sure this time and it is the east coast of Zanzibar.

This is probably what Bali would have been like in 1975. A laid back little collection of beach bungalows and bars along the most amazing beach I have ever seen.

My day is pretty simple here. There's copious amounts of lying about on the golden sands sleeping, reading or tapping along to the Cat Empire. Then at lunch time, I drag myself to a beachside restaurant for some freshly caught barramundi or king prawns or calamari. 

I might chat to a couple of local dudes about the state of African football for a while. If everyone here is going to South Africa in 2010 like they say they are, it will be one massive event. They are football mad here and very knowledgable about the game. 

Later in the evening, I'll venture over to Paje By  Night and sit in a hammock with a beer, play pool or chat with a couple of South Africans also on holiday over a Kilimanjaor or a Safari.

I spoke with a Massai dude today as I was walking out along the shallow reef. He was working in Zanzibar but will return home to his village to be chief, albeit when his father passes away. He already has three wives and when he becomes chief, he will be allowed up to 10. I tried to tell him that one wife was hard enough work, but he seemed to like the idea of More is Better!

He also had the finest array of bling in Africa, and was wearing sunglasses with the Adidas sticker in the bottom still proudly displayed, just to ensure everyone knew they were not cheap imitation sunglasses, but rather cheap imitation Adidas sunglasses.

Two days here is not long enough, but it's two days out of my whole life that I will remember without fail.

Another highlight was seeing a guy from Sweden who looked just like the bearded puppet hero in Team America.

I also see that I am getting a fair amout of press coverage by announcing Russell Crowe's and Danielle Spencer's second baby to the world media.

The new Tanzanian group Masai Vanilli were also on holiday in Zanzibar

Exciting African News!

Kids Excited by Home Made Death Trap!

Front page today of the Tanzanian newspaper called This Day......

Eight young lads, aged 12-14, from Arusha are building their own aircraft. It is made out of bamboo sticks, packaging foam and cardboard and is propelled by a motorbike engine (this is no shit, I've taken this straight from the newspaper). 

The plane is moving around on the ground 'like a car', and the boys are planning on taking it into the air next month. I have seen a picture of the plane and all I can say is "Good luck boys! No doubt you will soon be soaring with the pidgeons!"

The boys pull straws to determine who the first lucky pilot will be to fly the "Death Bird"

Cruising in Stone Town

Today was spent generally just cruising around Stone Town, through it's rustic (read run down) Arabic and African influenced architecture. Trawled through the maze of back streets with vendors either side, all offering 'special price'.

Sat on the beach for three hours and caught up on some sleep. It's a really interesting culture here, but the interest fades quickly when it's 5am and there's a muslim on a megaphone in the mosque across the road.

I had lunch at a restaurant called Mercury, inspired by Freddy Mercury who was born on Zanzibar all those years ago as Faroohk Bulsara. There was a biography on the menu which outlined Freddy's life right up to the late 60's and some of the minor bands we was in. Then it cuts to 1985 and Freddy's solo career. I can't remember any of Fred's solo classics and I also seem to recall he was in this other band as well.

Zanzibar are very proud of their favourite son, Freddy Mercury

You may recall from a previous entry that Ronaldinho has been voted the Footballer Who Most Looks Like Makybe Diva. However, he has many more years to catch up to Freddy, who held the record for 18 years unchallenged.


Makybe Diva and his famous friends

Sunset in Zanzibar

The whole reason I came to Africa was so I could go to Zanzibar. The safari stuff was an afterthought. I've wanted to come here since reading about the experiences of one of my favourite authors, Peter Moore. In his book 'Swahili for the Broken Hearted - From Cape Town to Cairo', he paints a picture so good that I couldn't not go. It's on the way home for World Cup Germany, and my last chance to soak up a few rays before catching the last of a cold Sydney winter.

Four others from the Gecko tour were also headed to the spice island. We jumped on the Precision Air flight from Arusha to Zanzibar, confident given the airline was awarded the Most Precise Airline Brand for the 8th year in a row.

We flew in over Stone Town and could see the palm trees swaying in the gentle breeze and 26 degree sunshine. I knew straight away I would like the place. The afternoon was spent drinking beers at a beachside bar in Stone Town, watching in incredible sunset. Beats the previous best of Santorini from 1998.

After that, we hit the Forodhani night markets. Here, fresh fish caught during the day is stacked on street stalls and cooked up fresh. Well to be honest, I have no idea if it's fresh or not. It looked fresh. But it could just as easily have been brought in on big lorry's with giant freezer cabinets on the back which also have a dazzling array of frozen chickens on it's shelves.

Anyway, we couldn't fit another thing in, all for less than the cost of a McValue meal back home.

Booty Time in Arusha

It was the last day of our tour today. Arusha is a fairly established town but none of the ATM's would let me withdraw money. I tried selling my body on the street to raise the US$250 needed for my trip to Zanzibar, but gave up after a couple of hours and only eight more dollars in my pocket. Luckily the rest of the tour group kicked in with some cheap loans.

At night, we hit a suburban nightclub. Our group of 12 people were the only mzungu's (white dudes) in the place. There was some magnificent booty on display. The family's of some of those women wouldn't need stable tables. You could gently rest your dinner plate and a glass of wine on some of those super-booty's. Maybe even the garlic bread too.

It was good to dance to some real African beats rather than the rubbish American crap they blare through the speakers on the Greek Islands. The atmosphere was a good one and we kicked on till the wee hours.

A couple of the guys on tour spent some time with some lovely local girls. It was not surprising - one of them could have been a supermodel. When someone reminded them however that one in five Africans have AIDS, the propositions suddenly seemed a lot less attractive.

The touts in Arusha are of the more persistent variety, like aussie blow flys at a Dubbo BBQ. The standard approach is 'Jambo' (hello) followed by "Where are you from?". When you answer 'Australia' there's the inevitable mention of a kangaroo and then a story about a brother/cousin/relative/dog who now lives there. Then there's the sell job.

Usually it's the same crappy pictures or a CD with 'The Best of African Music'.

I had heard of none of the songs on this CD, and did not see Toto's 'Africa' on there either. This is clearly the greatest African song of all time and hence the CD's claim of the Best of African Music is complete and utter bullshit.

Sign outside the Arusha nightclub

The Lion, The Witch & The Teacher

The Rukwa region in the heart of lion country in Tanzania is facing a severe shortage of teachers. According to the Tanzanian newspaper This Day, teachers are being scared away because of a fear of witchcraft in the area.

The Minister for Education, Mrs Lupembe, has tried to calm fears by saying "There is no witchcraft in Rukwa Region. We are very kind people, welcoming and humble. I therefore call on teachers for Rukwa to accept their postings joyously".

Mrs Lupembe has apparently asked the officials of Adelaide for help in attracting workers to the region. Adelaide suffers a similar problem whereby job seekers avoid the city due to the high numbers of Adelaide Crows supporters and serial killers.

Jumping with the Massai's

Engaruka is a traditional Masaii village in the middle of Dustville, Nowhere. Everyone was pretty shagged after almost two weeks on the road, but we all agreed this was a real highlight.

We were the only tourists in the area and got looked at as much by the Massai's as we looked at them. In the morning we got treated to the women masaii performing there famous jumping dance. In the evening, it was the guy's turn ,and the four blokes in the group all got invited up to our best kangaroo hops with the Masaii Tony Bartouciou Dance team.

This was a true cultural experience. A few years ago I went to Amantani Island on Lake Titicaca in Peru. The locals there were pleasant enough but they were clearly going throug the motions in the name of eco-tourism and the lure of the tourist dollar. They just looked bored. Or pissed off that we had it so much better, I'm not sure.

Here, the Masaii people still seem excited by us being there. They are always smiling and laughing. yes, the hard sell of bracelets is still there after the show is over, but's its it not as in your face as elsewhere around the world.

A highlight was a visit to the local Masaii school. 1000 kids and 13 teachers. An average of 100 kids per class. At recess, the kids go out and collect firewood which they have to take home with them. If they don't have any firewood, they don't eat. Three year old kids help out at their homes, collecting wood, or herding the animals. They're taught the discipline of hard work from an early age. I didn't see any Jimbaroo Centres anywhere.

Ngorongoro Crater

At 7am, 4WD's took us through the mist and down into the crater. It's 20km wide anda microcosm of Africa....heaps of animals, forests, grasslands and lakes. We got some super close up views of lions and a host of others. It was another top day of game spotting.

We're coming to the end of wildlife viewing now and we have seen a lot of animals. Enough to keep me going for a few years no doubt. I'm now looking forward to the beaches of Zanzibar.

There is dust in every nook and cranny. The closest I have come to a shower over the last few days is wiping myself down with a wet wipe.

I have thrown my giant Vitamin C tablets away after almost choking to death on one last night. Swallowing a whole orange would be easier.