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Saturday, 5 November 2011

Six Months is Far too long!!!

I am really sorry for those of you who have checked out this Blog in the past few months to see how Rainham 84 have done, or indeed what we as a family have been up to and seen nothing.

As I explained to my Uncle this afternoon, work just got in the way!!! Apologies! It has not been updated. But today it will be and for very good reason.

My lovely cousin has come over the pond to say hello to her folks and the timing could not have been better. Not only is it a weekend with my two lovely wee ones, but there were no football matches to be watched, no horses to be ridden and ballet for Louise was early doors.

So off to Essex we trotted.

The outcome was better than we could have hoped for. We knew we were going to have to ask for directions when we got close, but to hear Auntie Jean on loudspeaker sounding just like Nanny Pat, sent Louise into total confusion!!! Well Louise just could not wait to get to their house. Then having Uncle Archie come down the stairs to meet and greet us, Louise could not believe Grandad Donald had a younger brother. So confusing for her, bless.

It is never a great afternoon for young ones to have to sit and listen to their relatives talk about the past and days of old. But to be fair, Harvey and Mathilda sat and drank in the fact that they were meeting genuine friends and family, who we really should see more of. For no other reason than we all have the most stupid sense of humour running through our veins thanks to a certain Grandpa Perth.

Well once Uncle Archie got the Lego out, Louise was away. Suddenly the Essex lodgings belonged to our wee three year old.

Seeing Helen and Linda after so much time was just superb. The fact we have not met up for over a decade and yet just clicked together like it had been yesterday, speaks volumes for family ties.

I hope my fire works that I set off tonight shone bright in Essex for Archie, Jean and Linda to see from Kent. If the fireworks did not get that far, I hope they know the warm feeling from meeting close family will glow for an awful long long time!!!

Two started out as Mackays, only one remains!!!
Well better head off to bed now, Rainham 84 have a game tomorrow at 10.00am and I better had report back on it, good or bad!

What a great day.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Sunday Morning Footie (VIII) - Medway Turncoats

A home fixture against bottom of the league, surely a relaxing watch for the Rainham 84 faithful?

Warm up?... There was little else to do this morning than that! 2 Degrees and a biting wind, how cold? Even the local wildlife had shed all their feathers on the pitch....
There was a certain degree of expectancy about today, the league position of the opponents belied their actual ability. Our boys thought with a bit of guile and effort, a win would come their way. They did not reckon on the resistance that Cobham would put up.

The game started off with a massive amount of unforced errors on both sides. To the naked eye, the teams seemed to merge into one. Passes went from one side to the other, the engine was not firing on all cylinders.

After ten or so minutes, on walked the Gaffer from Rainham. What could possibly be the need for this unscheduled interruption?

The game was at stalemate, the weather was freezing. But no one was injured and despite the cold weather, surely we could not be calling it off just because we had not managed to put five past our lowly opposition after ten minutes?

Your intrepid reporter was looking for inspiration for his blog. None was forthcoming. The lines on the pitch, crazy though they were, could not give me any one liners. Wait long enough and it will surely come along. The boys started to remove their tops. Many a time I have been forced to play 'skins' in training and thankfully this was not one of those times for the lads.

The colours of the two sides were indeed clashing and the gaffer had seen sense to do the decent thing and get our boys to turn their tops inside out. This was a bit of a saving grace for our lad Harvey, as his number had long since fallen foul of the tumble dryer. Bit of a saving grace for this blog, hence the title!

For once, the phrase Turncoat was a charitable one. We were the home team and did not need to make such a generous gesture. But the slightly off coloured red with black flashing's, made for a rather fetching kit. Note to powers that be, next season, maybe we should go for the style whole heartedly?

The required effect was achieved. Our passing game was suddenly found once again. But half time came and stalemate prevailed.

Second half only saw a more defiant approach from the opposition. But the pressure from Rainham eventually told, with a cracking 20 yard drive from our midfielder.

Instead of moving on to a comfortable win, we saw out the remainder of the game with good defensive work from all concerned. With the way the wind was chilling the faithful support, we were all glad to hear the final whistle and the three points that came with it. Back to winning ways and a good effort all round. From both our lads and a hard working Cobham side that deserved every credit for their effort and good sportsmanship.

Procul Harlem would have been proud of this 'whiter shade of pale'

As the season moves to it's close, Rainham are starting to look to the next one. Harvey got his chance to move slightly forward and he knows it will take time to grow into the more advanced position he was offered today. But his touch and poise will serve him well, where ever he ends up.

Good win today, but I think warmer attire is required for the watching public if this global warming decides to wait a few more years to take hold. Brrrrrrrrr.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Sunday Morning Footie (VII) - Punching above your weight

Sunday morning, an away trip to the team at the top of the league, it was always going to be a battle.

The sun may have been shining, but it was seven degrees above freezing and the wind made it a lot colder.....
The boys knew today was not going to be easy, our friends in Gravesend have had a great season and with good cause. They are a well drilled bunch, with size and results on their side. It was like heading to Old Trafford, knowing that any points gained would have to be hard earned.

Before any further observations are made about today, we have to spare a thought for the havoc that has been laid down at the feet of the people in Christchurch, New Zealand. It puts everything that could have happened today in a real sharp perspective. Please take a second to read my fellow blogger Adrian's recent postings and experiences. My thoughts and my best wishes are with them today and for the harsh times that they now face. http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fkiwiscots.blogspot.com%2F2011%2F02%2Fpeople-behind-number.html&h=fe9e9 Have a read and spare a thought.

We travelled to Gravesend today with a certain degree of optimism. We gave them a run for their money at our place and today we could flex our muscles and see how far we have come as a team. Boy did we do that!

For the first ten minutes, we showed what hard effort and steel can do. Despite our lack of height, when compared to their considerable advantage, Rainham 84 showed a togetherness and willingness to compete that I have never seen in a team so young.

Every boy on our side got stuck in and followed the orders barked so well directed from the Gaffer. Our boy Harvey continued the good form he has been showing all season and put a lump in the throat of his Dad watching from the sidelines. He broke up a skillful move from the opposition and instead of hoofing the ball forward, went past three or four and set up a move that resulted in 84 taking a well deserved lead. I am glad I was standing away from the touchline, cause what I said was passionate, but unrepeatable! The finish from our Centre Forward was just sublime.

However there was always the sense that this top of the league bunch could cause us problems and with a swift break and cross, they finished with an accuracy that would have knocked the stuffing out of most. But yet again our boys stuck to their task and half time came with honours even.

The second half started in the same vein as the first. 84's passing and skill was being tested by the oppositions greater physical prowess. However we were a match for them. Every step of the way.

I honestly thought I was watching a Football match. But the referee obviously thought he was refereeing a Basketball game. I need say no more other than, you blind, stupid, daft, idiotic, fool, please spend your Sunday Mornings in bed, never ref another game in your life, do us all a favour and sell your kit at a Sunday Morning boot fair. He got a big decision hugely wrong. The blind guy walking his dog next to me saw the hand ball that led to their second goal. I hate making excuses for losing, but lose we did and to be honest, the guy in black did for the boys. It spoilt it so much for everyone. It is easy for me to say watching from the sidelines. A trip to spec savers for the ref would really not have saved the day.

I really can not praise Rainham 84 enough for the way they played today. From Keeper to Centre Forward, they played their hearts out. They deserved better care from the man in the middle. However I reckon they learned a lot today. For 40 minutes, they stood toe to toe with the Man Utd of our division. They gave away a lot in height, but matched them every step of the way in passion and beat them in the ability stakes.

There is no 'I' in team. When the lads stand together and work as a unit, they are amazing. I watched Gillingham play Bury the other week. What a bag of poo that was. Rainham 84 genuinely serve up a better fare, than that bunch of well paid individuals. I hope the boys realise that together they will beat 'top of the league' opponents on another day. On their own, well the Xbox will be their only friend.

Let us hope that Christchurch gets some respite and the good people in that part of the world get a chance to put their lives back together. Some things in life really are just not fair.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Losing your wife and gaining a stunner!!!

Mummy, this ship is sinking!!!!
Living down here in Kent, near the Medway, we all get used to being near water and rivers. There is always a possibility that one day, poler ice caps may melt and we will all be flooded. Realistically never in our or our grand kids lifetime will this happen, but with our impending move to St Mary's Island, it comes back into my mind.

Much as I love our wee abode near Priestfields, my wife reminds me that whilst we can not sell our property in Orpington and we are still faced with renting, a move might be wise to ease the cost of rental.

So off we go again, the pleasures of having post redirected and notifying all and sundry of our move will take place. I hasten to add at this point, my beloved takes care of all of this in a heartbeat and I am left to get on with work. BFGW has nothing on us.

Today marks the second year of our marriage. Along with my birthday last year, any proper celebration has been scuppered thanks to our wonderful wee daughter and the germs she inherits from nursery. Chicken pox we reckon this time.

So tonight, with my gorgeous wife tucked up in bed with Whisky, Honey and Lemon (the actual products and not some Lesbian fantasy formed in the minds of you more perverse reading this) I am left to muse the passing of two eventful years with Alice.

All I can think about is what we have lost together. 8 stone to be precise! A whole person!

I would have been happy if nothing had changed. Anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting Alice will know what a lucky chap I truly am.

But change has happened for the both of us and two years on, we are different looking people.

Can we go and have lunch and show my new hairdo off now, please!!!!!

I can not believe I am married to the same lassie that I wed on our lovely day two years ago in Gretna, all her hard work to get in shape has really paid off. Honestly, I have vetted all our milkmen and window cleaners just to be sure!!!

Because of circumstance, many close friends and family were not around on the day itself. But everyone who felt they missed out, was in our hearts that day. The champagne secretly sent was certainly in our belly's!

I am a lucky chap, I truly am blessed with three amazing children and a stunning wife.

 And her looks, they are just a bonus.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Sunday Morning Footie (VI) - White Lines, (don't don't do it.)

Robbie Fowler - eat your heart out!!!
Thankfully, I have had a day on the road to Macclesfield and back to ponder this post. Oh so much to say in the heat of the moment, but I have had eight hours on the road including one lucrative meeting to contemplate my Musing's tonight.

Let us get the harsh stat out of the way. We lost 4-1, out of the Cup and a few bruised hearts. But that is only the start of the Sunday morning shenanigan's.

To get a game on at the Howard School our coaches have long emphasised the importance of parents turning up early to assist in getting, to what is to all intents and purposes a public pitch, the playing field clear of all debris and fit to play. On Sunday the majority of the parents let our boys down. It was a cold morning and I, along with a lot of other Mums and Dads, sat in the car to keep warm.

At 10.25, I started to wrap up against the elements only to see our boys coming toward the cars. Surely the game could not be called off. No, their Manager had complained that pitch markings were so poor that the game could  not take place unless the white lines were brought up to scratch.

What followed was a pure comedy and not a funny one at that. Our Gaffer was seen on his mobile, organising a line marker for him to pick up, when he really should have been free to motivate and get our boys prepared. Had I got off my warm and comfortable backside, I could have been doing that for him. But no, I had gotten lazy and fallen into the habit of just turning up and watching our boys reap the rewards of his and the team's efforts. Just stand on the touchline and relax in the glory of their performance, not this time. Lesson learned.

When any team loses, it is human nature to look for any cheap excuse to blame for the loss. But this one is geniune. Despite the difference in leagues, there was nothing out there this morning to separate the two teams. Except perhaps the loss of our coach for half an hour before kick off. Preparation is crucial to any team, no matter what level. This morning, thanks to the devious opposition manager, ours was done for.

So kick off we did, almost an hour late. A scrappy goal, saw them one nil up. Ironically our Keeper tried in vain to keep it off the line. Yes, that freshly marked line!

But once again, Rainham showed what experts they were becoming at set pieces and another great and brave header from one of the less tall lads on the field, saw us draw level. Great finish.

The second half saw very little between the two teams. Just a couple of more clinical finishes, thanks to puberty coming early to a few of their players, saw us fall to 4-1 down. But the lads still did not fold. They competed well and saw off the opposition's greater physical prowess. On another day, it could have been so different. This is where the little things do matter.

Harvey put in a steady and forceful performance at the heart of defence. His presence at set pieces definitely contributed to the goal. As his confidence grows, along with his overall mobility, teams like Cliffe will become easier to control. He was rewarded with yet another MOTM performance, but took no pleasure in overseeing defeat.

Keeping warm, when he should have been kicking Cliffe butts.....!
The omens were against Rainham 84 today. The good thing was, none of the boys complained, they just got on with it. Harvey came off the pitch at the end, with that horrible look in his eye that he has when he loses and said 'no one seemed to care today'. I disagree. I think all the boys cared, as usual. Perhaps we need to look further about who really cared this morning. I for one will hold my hand up and say, I could have done more. Harvey sensed a lack of care. But it was not from the boys. Parents like me need to look long and hard at themselves and say, 'what else could I have done to make my lad have a better day'. I know what I should have done and I know I will endeavour to assist where I can from now on.

But we also must keep things in perspective. Football is a very special game in the hearts of the Mackay's and a lot of other families out there too. When the enjoyment of competition gets squeezed out of it by over zealous and pedantic individuals, it is hard to take any pleasure from it. I would have typed that even if we had won today.

However whilst on the point of rules, one bit of humour did come from the tense atmosphere created by Cliffe. When you are handed the flag to run the line, you must try your best to remain impartial. No coaching whilst running the line. Their linesman had previous. He did it last season and again today. One might say cheating! It did not go unnoticed and a bit of crowd trouble ensued. Don't you just love football!!!

Next week we are faced with the tough task of playing the top of our league. We must put today behind us, focus on the good things we do and get back to winning ways. We will, with a little help from all those involved.

And a little word to our ref, in the wise words of Grandmaster Flash in the future, 'it's as hard as hell to fight it, don't buy it'!

Monday, 7 February 2011

Sunday Morning Footie (V) - Playing away from home....

Windy day in Kent, was always going to cause problems.
Correct kit, check, boots, check, drink bottle, check, breakfast, check, water proof jacket, check, directions, check, so head in the right place to win today, check. Man of the Match Trophy, erm Dad have you got it.... eh no. 25 mile round trip to get it before kick off, check.

So your dedicated reporter missed what went on in the warm up, but what ever it was it carried itself onto the pitch. The game started off ok, Rainham 84 had all the skills and ability. Bottom of the table opponents, surely this was a walk in the park? However Cobham forgot to read the script. With their first meaningful attack, they carved 84 open and the boys were 1-0 down.

No panic, despite our lack of effort, the better passing and directness of Rainham saw them up 2-1 and cruising into the second half.

Then our boy Harvey decided to write himself into this weekend's musings. A long punt from Cobham looked for all the world to be going no where. Harvey decided to shepherd it out, only to be undone by the hard graft of Cobham. 2-2 and into half time. No words were exchanged between Father and Son at half time, he knew it was a mess, I needed to say nothing.

Stalemate followed and it looked for all the possession that Rainham had, they were going to let three points just slip away. Oh no. Harvey had other ideas. Hurting from his error in the first half, he still did not let his head drop. He pulled his socks up, got on with the job in hand, and trundled up for a corner.

An excellent delivery from the corner was met bravely by the Captain and was placed far enough away from the Keeper to make it 3-2. The relief from the crowd was measurable and the smile on Harvey's face was wide. There is nothing quite like seeing your boy score a goal, especially with his head. Nice one son!

The belief and effort then seemed to flood back into the boys. Cobham were done for and the last 15 minutes were all Rainham. 4-2 and then 5-2 followed.

On paper, a great away win for the lads. But we all knew differently at the end. We got out of jail. They say, if you play badly and still win, you are doing something right. We did that today, because as a unit, playing together and working together, Rainham are a match for any team in Kent. But when they let their high standards drop, it can all fall apart. As the Gaffer said at the end, it could have gone either way at 2-2.

I know some might say, it is 'only' Sunday morning footie. But when these lads get it right, it is better than anything I pay those scam merchants at Sky to watch each month. It means something to see them smile and also to see them win. When the effort dips and it looks like a result is heading the wrong way, it actually hurts. Because of the effort and work put in on those freezing cold and windy nights at training, the result came our way today, even if they were playing on auto pilot.

Next time Rainham 84 play away from home, they have to be more switched on for sure, or they will get caught out. Onwards and upwards!

The Gaffer rallying the boys.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Mote Park Fun

It is windy here in Kent, not a lot to do, but with the Scottish blood in the kids, let's go to the park!!!

Any second now, weeeeeeeee!
Louise was feeling under the weather, but she just wanted to slide one more time!!!!

Honest Dad, there is no string attached!

Harvey kept himself warm, by trying to prove that Centre Backs do have some skill. His ball skills would make even Colin Hendry blush.

Who is that skinny woman scaring me! lol!

Mathilda still loves climbing high and jumping around, she has no fear! But Louise was not feeling too good today, so it all got cut short. Harvey wanted to focus on tomorrow's game so Mathilda and Dad had a good chance to have a Daddy and Daughter meal out.

Dad, we can not eat all this!!!
It was lovely being able to take my eldest daughter out for dinner, I am sure any Dads out there with daughters know what I mean. They took ages to serve us for our desert,  but Mathilda just sat, quietly and without complaint. She did enjoy it when it came though! It was just a lovely evening. It is so much fun taking Mathilda out for dinner, she is such good company. Here is to lots more Daddy and Daughter days out.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Sunday Morning Footie (IV) - After the Lord Mayor's Show

Rainham 84 auditioning for their roles in the latest series of Glee....
After the outstanding effort made last week, this morning was always in danger of falling into the trap of becoming the let down of After the Lord Mayor's Show. The morning had been cold, but the sun was trying it's best to come out and give a bit of warmth to the hardy souls on the touchline. Pitch conditions could not be better, slightly firm but taking a stud and quite slick.

Roles had been reversed from last week, the opponents had only ten men. However no one told the lads, in case they switched off and thought they had the game won before they had kicked a ball. It was hard enough to stop them thinking it was easy, because we were back to the normal eleven.

Rainham 84 focused on the job in hand and move into gear right from the get go. Instead of being hungover from last weeks efforts, they carried right on from where they left off. Good passing, backed up by strong challenges and quick thinking, was rewarded by rapping the opponents crossbar with a fierce drive. It was only a matter of time.

By holding their shape well and clever individual moves, Rainham 84 ended with a rasping finish that was worthy of a place on Soccer AM. Take a bow son, take a bow. (Well that is what Andy Gray would have said if he had not been sacked!) One Nil to the boys in red.

Rainham moved up through the gears once again and were rewarded by a tidy long range effort from our holding midfielder. Along with the rest of the lads, his positional awareness paid the dividends it deserved and Rainham looked comfortable at 2-0.

The second half showed a real improvement from the opposition. They had obviously been given a real talking to at half time and on another day, with perhaps a full compliment of players, they would have proved a stern test of our resolve. But despite their best efforts, they rarely troubled our stalwart defence and our Keeper did well to keep himself warm throughout the 60 minutes.

Now the main reason for this blog is so that Harvey's far flung relatives can get an update on his and his teammates progress. I try not to single him out too much, because I do not want it to go to his head and I guess other parents might read this too. Plus with the kind mention for the blog in the newsletter this week, it is more than certain that this does get a wider audience than just the Mackay Clan. However praise should be given where praise is due. Harvey has been placed in a position this season he really did not like but, along with his coach, I have been telling him he is quite good at it.

Today, as his MOTM trophy proves, he is doing more than just stopping the opposition. I can only think of once where he actually just hoofed it clear today. In fact there was one pass that I think went unnoticed by the crowd on the far side, but I got a great view from the other side of the pitch.With the outside of his right boot, he bent an inch perfect ball into the path of our tireless left winger that was worthy of a far higher stage than a humble Sunday morning contest.

With minutes left on the clock, he took the ball out of defence, beat three or four of their lads and unselfishly laid it off to his team mate. There was a big part of me thinking, head down son, go on yersell!!! Seeing as I was running the line, I suppose actually shouting this was perhaps not in the spirit of sportsmanship. I really must keep it shut, but it is so hard! One very proud Dad indeed.

Harvey's Nanny and Grandad had made the 200 mile round trip to see him this morning. They could see the improvement that the lads have made under the guidance of Martin and his assistants. Dad had been working yesterday as a scout for Swansea FC. So you could argue that the lads were being watched by a Championship Scout. For him to see the improvements the lads had made, well that is praise indeed.

Harvey was rewarded for a mature and steady performance at the heart of defence. Good job, well done Son.

But most important of all, do you know one of the best things to see today? The smiles on the faces of the lads after a job well done. Something that is helped by winning of course. It is a good habit and one I hope the boys get addicted to for years to come.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Sunday Morning Footie (III) 'Up for The Cup!!!'

Cold, five degrees with a biting in your face wind.

Harvey was really looking forward to this game, we had a small training session the day before, where I basically bullied him for twenty minutes to get him used to knocking 16 stone men over. The workout was good, but the washing machine did not take kindly to all that mud from the field being flushed through it.

We got there slightly early to sharpen up passing, but as soon as we got out of the car we realised this might have been a mistake, it was freezing. Thankfully there were a few other plucky early arrivals, so Harvey trotted off to have a kick about, Dad headed back to the warmth of the car until nearer kick off.

When I got back to the allocated parents section, Harvey was holding his hands up and shouting ten, ten, ten at me. I am thinking, great the managers have seen sense and are only playing ten minutes each way. Nope, no such luck, Harvey was telling me they only had ten men. Thanks to injuries and illness, we were down to the bare bones. The opposition did not seem to notice, one of their parents actually said, you look like you have more than us out there. I put them right but realised why it looked like this. Our lads were working their socks off because of the lack of numbers. The opposition also stuck to their usual formation, as although we did not have anyone upfront, they still kept five at the back. So glad they could not count.

After ten  minutes of hard graft and some good passing, a break through. Our centre forward who had been in his sick bed, decided to give it a go. For ten minutes we saw how much better Rainham 84 actually were with a full compliment. But after running around bravely, our lad gave up the ghost and took the wise course of action to get home to wrap up warm.

However being back to ten men only made the boys work harder. Some of the effort that was being made was incredible. 50/50 60/40 and in one case an 80/20 challenges came Rainham 84's way. They were just so much more up for it, surely this would pay off. It is a rare thing to say in a game 10 v 11 that the 11's best player was their Keeper. He was stopping everything and anything the boys could throw at him.

Our Keeper was not taking his own kicks today, which was strange. I asked his Dad if his son was alright. He too had been in his sick bed, back was hurting and he could not bend down. Could we get any more depleted? Eh, yes. After another slick attack by Rainham 84, we suffered another injury and the lad had to come off. Surely with nine men and a crocked Keeper the game was up?

But no, we kept pushing on and looked the more likely to score. Our wonderful physio and bosses wife, managed to patch up our wounded lad and get him back on the field. Word was spreading on the terraces that extra time meant another ten minutes each way. That mattered on a couple of fronts. I could no longer feel my face and the lads had been a few players down for the normal time, extra time was just sheer punishment for the lads who had worked so hard.

First half of extra time came and went. This had penalties written all over it. However Rainham 84 forgot to read the script and after some excellent build up play, Rainham 84 had a tap in. Well it should have been a tap in, but the lad tried his hardest to sky it and it smashed in courtesy of the underside of the crossbar. Five minutes to go, is this going to be a case of hanging on in.

Nope. Another fine break and then some individual skill that put their brave Keeper for once on his backside, Rainham 84 finished them off with a great second. 2 - 0 to Rainham and on to the next round of the Cup.

Harvey, pleased with his team's hard work today. Did what he had to do, no heriocs, just a steady job, well done.
Take nothing away from the opponents today, they were a tough bunch who tried their best. But Rainham 84 worked their socks off and to be fair, played some excellent passing football. To a man, all 11, erm 10 and sometimes 9 made all the parents and coaching staff proud to have been there. The cold did not matter all that much any more. Although the team talk was the fastest we have had in a while. Oh and Harvey and I managed to sprint back to the warmth of the car.

I read somewhere in the press this week that West Ham were after Martin O'Neill. Now I can understand why, but he has a job to do here at Rainham 84, so they can clear off.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Sunday Morning Footie (II)

Downhill slope, wind blowing across but down the hill too, made for a game of two halves....
Another early start and an away trip to a team we had a close fought battle with at the start of the season. Some of the boys had a problem finding the venue, so preparations were put under a lot of pressure from the start. With the lads kicking uphill and against the wind in the first half, keeping the score down in the first half was important, especially knowing how keenly matched these two teams were.

The opposition started off the better today, the slope and wind being a major factor. A couple of really tidy finishes from their boys meant that we headed into the break with the familiar scoreline of Three One down. The battering we took in the first half seemed to have knocked some of the stuffing out of our lads and their confidence in their abilities had vanished from sight. However the gusting wind and superb kicking from our keeper forced our lads to come out of their shell.

Suddenly we looked like the team we all know we can be. Attack followed attack and surely it would only be a matter of time. Three Two came in due course, then a post and bar got smacked. Should have been Four Three to the boys, but that is your luck in this game some times.

From their only attack of the second half, the opposition finished off their counter very well. Four Two down and a mountian to climb.

Then, an unsual thing happened away from home. A very soft penalty. But there was nothing soft about our finish. Top right corner, an adult keeper would not have got to it. Four Three, surely with all this possession and domination, we should win?

Not to be, despite all the best efforts of the team. On another day, we could have had Six, just not today. Overall though the boys showed great effort, and real determination not to lose. But lose they did and I am sure that with another game under their belts, with another session on Friday, they will improve and get back to their unbeaten run that was going so well before the weather came and messed things up. Although it was a hard fought loss today, one thing stood out a mile, not a single Rainham 84 head dropped. They gave their all and in truth battered the opposition for the entire second half. Onwards and upwards.....

Mixing Business with Pleasure

As most of you who know me, my job takes me to the North West from Kent almost every week. Normally this involves either a very very early start and an incredibly late late finish (did you know the Dartford crossing is free after ten pm!), or some Travelodge doing what Travelodge do well. Cheap and cheap.

However this time it could be different. Mum and Dad live en route and Alice does not start her new job until Monday. So if we set off late Thursday, we could stop over and I could get up at a more civilised hour from theirs, to my day packed with meetings from St Helens to Manchester.

Oh and then there is the small matter of Louise being able to run the legs off of Nanny and Grandad!

I love my pony tails Mummy!
 To say my day went well is an understatement. I made all my appointments in good time, just a bit late for the last one and even for a Friday, traffic was kind. However my day appears not to be half the fun that the rest of the guys had back at Nanny and Grandad's. Louise has a whole new bag of stickers and a magazine to boot. Alice had her last little break from the norm and chance to relax, before the beginning of her new job next Monday. Louise even tried out a new hairstyle, that she seems most pleased with.

However from now on, these trips will have to be planned with military precision. I supposed being married to an Ex Wren, that will be no problem what so ever!!!

A Busman's Holiday if ever there was one.

What do New Zealand, California, Australia, France, Portugal, Italy, Spain, South Africa and basically most of South America have in common? They all do make a damned fine wine from time to time. I may have mentioned this a few times, but I am what is known as an Arch Angel for Nakedwines.com an online wine company like no other. I promised myself to not use this little blog for the endorsement of any product, however these guys and gals are an exception.
These New Zealand wine guys don't half have big odd shaped balls?
I was sent a few invites prior to Xmas about up coming tastings for Arch Angels to attend and then went and forgot all about them. I then got a wee reminder from Head Office, took a days holiday from the bump and grind that is Au Insurance Services and headed off to the home of English cricket, Lords, for the London Annual Trade Tasting of New Zealand wine.

It was not until I was on the train there that I suddenly thought, I could really do with one of my fellow bloggers here to help with a numerous number of points. Like the lingo, the geography oh and the small matter of some 1000 different wines to taste! Adrian I am sure would have risen to the challenge, just the small matter of being half the world away prevented me from having an able assistant. No more about New Zealand really needs to be said, I will leave that up to Adrian and suggest you read his blog at kiwiscots.blogspot.com He gives a far better flavour to the country than I could even begin to attempt.
Far better than watching cricket, Lord's once again gets put to a better use.
 Now I have been to a few of these events in the past, the Portuguese and Argentinian tastings were at the very same venue. I have learned that basically, you have to spit and not swallow if you fancy keeping your legs and getting home in one piece. However I make an exception to this rule and that is, when you come across a gem, have a good old drink whilst you can, it is for free after all!!!

After around 40 odd sips and spits, some nice chat and some rather dull and boring chat, it happened.

You see I had been informed by the really helpful Sam at Nakedwines.com Head Office, that I was supposed to find wines that do not have a UK distribution, good price thus making good value for money and obviously taste better than average. The minute I tried this Trinity Hill Homage Syrah Hawke's Bay 2007 I thought, boy if this makes the site I am going to have to ask the wife to increase our monthly subscription. It was heaven in a glass. It was on a self tasting table so I could not believe that the whole room was not standing beside and trying this wee number. It must be keenly priced. I checked the brochure. Not one to use modern text speak but, OMG! It's RRP, £70.00 a bottle!!!

A couple or three glasses of it later, I got back into the swing of tasting some of the more reasonably priced numbers and for those of you out there that like a glass or two, my top three were

Red - apart from the above mentioned there was also Te Awa Pinotage Hawke's Bay 2007 £12.00
White - Stoneleigh Chardonnay Marlborough 2009 £7.99
Rose - Framingham F - Series Montepulciano Roasato Marlborough 2010 £11.49

I have details of suppliers here in the UK, but I am sure if you Google the name, you can find someone who is selling them in a good wine retailer near you!

All in all, another great day out, experiencing wines that I would not have given a second glance at before and despite the rumblings of a bit of a wine head the next day, a worthwhile experience for sure.

I am going to type up full notes on all 43 wines tried and tested last week and send over to Sam at Nakedwines.com  Please let me know if you want a full copy of the tasting notes, name of winery, guide price and distributor details.

Sunday Morning Footie

View from Car Park over the Rainham 84 home ground at Howard School, Rainham, Kent.
9th of January 2011 and after over a month of a lay off without kicking a ball in anger, Rainham 84 were back at it in the cup, for their first game of the year. Despite an indoor session and a delayed Saturday morning training session, the boys were long over due a game in anger. What with the Xmas excesses and the fact they were up against one of the best teams in Medway, the omens did not look good.

After ten minutes, not only did the omens not look good, but the scoreline looked pretty poor too. Two Nil down and hardly out of the traps, this was going to be one long and cold morning up at the Howard school. However a couple of flashes of brilliance, some of the old passing clicked in and the boys started to look like their old selves again.

Just as the lads mustered up a head of steam, a sucker punch and Three Nil down. One of the plus points of this cup game was the knowledge that there is the John Lees Cup if you get knocked out. Works on the same sort of idea as the Champions League and Europa League here in Europe.

However the boys were starting to play with more confidence, they got out of their own half with some style on a couple of occasions and they were given their just reward with a goal before half time. Despite the difference in leagues and the supposed status of the opposition, Rainham were standing their own.

Second half finished Nil Nil, so if you can ever take something out of defeat, was the fact that it was a good run out after such a long lay off. The boys held top opposition for a full 30 minutes and Harvey got his just reward and recognition for his heroics in central defence.

Rainham could easily have been hammered here this morning, but no, they kept at it and showed some good old fighting spirit, that will stand them in good stead for the rest of this season.

Central Defender and current Captain of Rainham 84, Harvey Mackay, modelling the new home kit.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Feeding Kids and Ducks

Last day of the year, so we all decided to go for a lunch out to save our overused kitchen from further abuse. The trick here in Kent is to get out early, especially when half the population will probably have the same idea as us. We headed for a place near Maidstone, Kent called the Malta Inn. It is a Beefeater, so you know what you are getting before you arrive.

We arrived to find the carpark almost deserted, apart from a few cars, the 11.45 arrival obviously did the trick. The only other worry was the wee chef that arrived, in minging whites. He parked in the Disabled Space, spat out his fag and trundled off to the kitchen. Nice. Maybe we might get more than we thought from this establishment after all. 

The place is a lovely open spaced restaurant/pub, right on the river bank and in summer is a great place for a Sunday afternoon out. In winter it is still popular as the view of the river is very relaxing, watching the boat traffic head up and down.

Dad, this is not going on your blog is it?

Louise was really excited about the crayons and colouring book, they still hold an attraction for Mathilda, as for Harvey, I think he is getting a bit too old for the things.

The food was good, the restaurant soon filled up, so we were glad we got there in good time. The couple behind Alice were hilarious. "Last time we were here the food was cold, so could you make sure it is warm this time" Now first of all, if I have a bad meal at a place and have had to complain, I rarely go back. Secondly, when the food arrived, you guessed it, it was cold and the chap had to send it back. Oops.

Now I have to say, we could not fault the place. The service was great, the river view superb and the food just fine. No complaints from the Mackays. Unlike the complainers behind Alice. I do not know why some people bother. I was waiting for them to get their video out, serial complainers!!!

Best bit of all, Alice had the sense to keep her bread from her starter to feed the ducks. Made Louise's day, although if she had actually hit a duck with the first lump she threw, she might have actually sunk the poor thing.

More bread please....

All in all, a great way to spend the last day of 2010. Here is to many more days out feeding the clan.