The Football Ramble
Est 2007. The most entertaining voice in football

Everton FC: All About That Swag

31 July 2015


There’s an awful lot of clever going on at Everton lately.

Not so much on the pitch, admittedly - even diehard Toffees are still struggling to come to terms with last season’s debacle - but even the most steadfastly ‘traditional’  fan would have to admit that pride in one’s club is only partly derived from the game itself these days.

For a start, they’re at least trying to show a bit of stubbornness over John Stones’ virtually inevitable move to either Chelsea, or newly emerged suitor, Manchester United.


There’s the whole, ‘opening a club shop in Liverpool’s premier shopping precinct Liverpool One, and calling it Everton Two’ business.

line up

And now they’ve teamed up with Umbro and Marvel artist Will Sliney to produce this thoroughly immense ad for their third kit launch.

It almost makes you wish the Premier League would start issuing points for swagger.


Unless you’re a Spurs fan, obviously.


By Kelly Welles

Cristiano Ronaldo: Don’t Look Now

29 July 2015

Yes, alright. He’s an absolutely massive tart of the first order.

But if you could pull off this level of insouciant skill, you totally would.

And if you wouldn’t? Well, more fool you.


By Kelly Welles

Jose Mourinho: “I would love it if he shut his face…”

29 July 2015

At least Alex Ferguson waited until there was something to contest.

The former Manchester United manager set the industry standard for Mindgames 1.0 with his surgical deconstruction of Kevin Keegan’s spirit back in 1996, and while it could be argued that Keggles was an easy mark (being of a sensitive and emotional persuasion and probably still suffering a touch of gravel burn from that horrific crash in Superstars) most would agree that Ferguson’s work was a feat that has never been bettered in the field of football conflict.


Mindgames v2.0 is an entirely different beast. Having developed and beta tested it over the last few seasons, Jose Mourinho is now trailing his content, and first glimpses suggest it will be driving everyone who isn’t a diehard Chelsea fan to Keegan-esque heights of spluttering despair.

What’s special about v2.0 is that instead of using one massive, carefully timed and targeted blow resulting in a catastrophic and ultimately career defining meltdown, Jose plays the long game.

your club

Think of it like brain jenga.

He removes one brick.

Steps back. Contemplates the impact. Goes back in, removes another brick. Steps back, scratches his chin thoughtfully.


Before Arsene Wenger knows it, the entire foundation of his football philosophy has disappeared without trace and he finds himself in a heap on the floor at Lime Street Station.


But how to prevent this insidious, highly effective strategy from polluting everything? Call me a pessimist, but I think it’s too late for that. We’re already infected.

Yesterday I tweeted that Arsene shouldn’t rise to Jose’s thinly veiled digs, but this morning I found myself wondering whether in doing so, I was essentially just victim blaming.


I know. But this is how Mourinho works. He gets into your head. Makes you asks questions of yourself that you shouldn’t be asking. So the time you might otherwise spend doing something productive, like managing your football team or paying attention to pedestrians as you’re driving to work is wasted wondering whether to ignore the bully like your mum says or get all up in his face and let him play the wounded soldier for a bit. .

Given that he’s just issued a statement implying that Rafa Benitez is fat and his wife would be better employed sorting out his diet than commenting on her husband’s job, it’s increasingly clear that there are few, if any, strategies Mourinho won’t stoop in his quest to complete football with Chelsea.


We’ve got ten days to gather the energy and work out the button combination to issue a massive Hadouken in his general direction.

Otherwise it’s a pedal race with Wenger. And no one wants to see that.


By Kelly Welles

Philippe Mexes: Still not the most spectacular thing he’s done in a Milan shirt…

28 July 2015


On the volley, outside the area.


It’s almost worth forgiving him the cornrows.


If not the attempted murder of Stefano Mauri.


By Kelly Welles

Reuters: Do Not Adjust Your Text

27 July 2015

Reuters’ coverage of Manchester United’s 3-1 victory over Barcelona offers hope to all of us guilty of the occasional editorial ‘oversight’.

At the time of writing, the story, which states at the bottom that it has been edited to correct a factual error, is still maintaining that the third goal was scored by (Adnan) Jacuzzi.


Perhaps the writer had been enjoying the story of ‘Mike’ Smalling’s recent hot tub fire and got carried away?

Or maybe he’s the victim of awe inspiring autocorrect asshattery. Either way, his sub-editor should have picked it up.

That’s my failsafe excuse, and he’s welcome to it.


By Kelly Welles


H/T @PeoplesPerson_.

Ramble Round-Up: The War on Pards

27 July 2015


Optimism abounds oop the Arsenal, where fans watched the Wenger Boys lift the Emirates Cup for the first time in five years.

We could run through that whole ‘setting up your own competition to win some silverware then failing repeatedly’ business, but frankly battering Wenger for being the Premier League’s nearly man feels very 2014 (take note, Jose Mourinho), so let’s compliment them on what was a pretty brutal deconstruction of Lyon and resolve to nod agreeably every time an enthusiastic Arsenal fan tips them for the title.


While placing a sneaky side bet on them suffering a horrendous injury crisis from October onwards and finishing a tidy third, obviously.


Elsewhere, the redundancy of the free market mechanism in top tier football was neatly articulated by the aforementioned Special One, who followed a typically wilful statement accusing Chelsea’s rivals of trying to buy silverware with a debut for Falcao vs. PSG.

Last season, Falcao was an ineffectual Manchester United player; his ineptitude in front of goal only eclipsed (or possibly augmented, depending on whether you’re a season ticket holder or not) by Angel Di Maria’s ineptitude in delivering balls into the area.

That’s Angel Di Maria, who is rumoured to be the subject of a £46.5m bid from Paris St Germain.


Because working with Zlatan is precisely what a man suffering a crisis in confidence needs.


Exhibit ‘A’

Crystal Palace conceded two late goals to Sporting Lisbon and failed to lift the Cape Town Cup, which hopefully dented Alan Pardew’s ebullience off the back of some quite inspired signings.

Exhibit ‘B’

I’ve nothing against Palace per se, but even you Selhurst Park die hards have to concede that Angry Pardew (Exhibit B) is infinitely more tolerable that Hubristic Pardew (Exhibit A).


Oh, and while we’re in and around South London, here’s a message to Marouane Chamakh.


Take it off mate. It’s over.


By Kelly Welles


Images: Gallo Images via Getty

Soccer City: Back of the Net

24 July 2015

Oh god. It looks like a cross between Fighting Fantasy and Subbuteo.

We’re going to need you kids to fetch us some towels.


Y’see, you youths may have heard about Subbuteo.

You may even have watched a game at some hipster gathering designed to celebrate a bleak time in human evolution when inviting someone round to ‘play on the computer’ meant an afternoon of staring at a screen filled with this.


But could you ever know the sheer joy of spending literally days of your summer holiday hunched over the dining room table, bickering with your sibling or mate over the validity of a penalty shout, playing through the pain of a blackened fingernail and the agony of being on the cusp of an FA Cup Final victory, only for your striker to break off his base; the Subbuteo equivalent of an ACL injury with a terrible prognosis?

And don’t get me started on the time I’ve wasted on single-player roleplay gamebooks.


While the relevance of these pastimes is overshadowed by the laser lit behemoth that is modern gaming, the foundations of all are essentially the same. Strategy, chance, development and achievement are key components in any stimulating entertainment, which is why we see them in everything from Pong to Titanfall, GTA, The Warlock of Firetop Mountain and back again.

And why Soccer City, a Kickstarter project I was recently alerted to, looks so bloody interesting.

Developed by Gonzalo Rodrigo and Lisandro Nembrini, Soccer City is “a football turn-based board game that reproduces every possible action in a real football match” using cards, concepts, simulation and presumably fistfights on the touchline, although their Kickstarter page wisely chooses to overlook that inevitable outcome.

But don’t allow my facetious take to put you off.


These guys clearly understand the proclivities of the average football fan and appear to have developed a game that panders to every single one of them.

The aesthetic is pure football porn - from the laced leather ball on the box to the old school drawings on the player cards, and the explanation of the gameplay suggests Soccer City straddles that awkward line between overtly simplistic and bogged down in detail as fleet footedly as Cristiano Ronaldo approaching Joe Hart in the penalty area.

Given the outrageous geekery that manifests itself at every Football Ramble Live extravaganza (I’m allowed to say that because I’m the one extolling the virtues of books that required one to roll dice to progress) I can’t help but feel there’s going to be a lot of you interested in seeing this project come to fruition.

Get on over to their Kickstarter page and have a look at the loving yet forensic detail with which they describe every aspect of their game.

If it doesn’t get your index finger twitching, you’re probably not cut out for football at this level.


By Kelly Welles


Images via


The Football Ramble Summer Special - Now available to download!

23 July 2015

the beach
Why hit the beach when you can huddle around some microphones in a dark studio?

Despite recording close to 300-odd shows in the years since The Football Ramble was formed, Marcus, Jim, Luke and Pete decided to eschew a full summer break, instead opting to gather together this week and record a frankly quite chaotic summer special Ramble to tide you over until the new season starts.

Expect the usual frivolity as well as some absolutely remarkable games, courtesy of some wag’s creativity in and around the Ramble Wikipedia page, including Edgar Davids’ Daring Deals and Ronaldinho’s Party Train.

Interested? You bloomin’ better be.

Grab it for just £1.99 through PayPal here (iTunes to follow later).

The Football Ramble returns weekly from Tuesday 4th August and continues throughout the season.

Ramble Round-Up: Throwing Peanuts & Punches

23 July 2015


The old adage holds true. For every staggeringly beautiful hipster must-have shirt photo, there is an equal and opposite Youssouf Mulumbu in a Norwich City 3rd kit reaction photo.

Despite it only being 16 days, 2 hours, 30 minutes and 53 seconds to kick off (not that I’m counting), football is still very much on holiday.

And not that sedate kind of holiday where people engage in passive aggressive assertions of sun lounger tenancy and big plate shenanigans at the buffet, either.

I mean the kind of holiday that footballers have. Intravenous ingestion of Cristal on the flight, endless pool parties infused with sneaky fags and nubile ladywomen, social media scandal and a tiring tabloid backlash.


Why not have a lie down while I take you through it all?



Laughing at African players’ unreasonable age claims became a bit passe after the whole Joseph Minala business. Kanu’s playing ninety minutes in a stationary position is is one thing, but being suspected of shaving twenty-five years off your age?

That’s a level up moment in career management.

Chancel Mbemba Mangulu

Until yesterday, when reports re-emerged that Chancel Mbemba Mangulu is in the frame to shore up Newcastle United’s defence.

The Democratic Republic of Congo man has been on the Magpie radar for some time but was named among potential targets for this transfer window by a couple of media outlets.


The reason we care about this is not because Pete’s got hold of the website login details again, but because Mangalu was recently the subject of a FIFA investigation because his registration documents appeared to state he had 4 (FOUR) different birthdays, making him anything between an ‘experienced’ 27 and a ‘dynamic but potentially volatile’ 21.

Mike Ashley might want to take the additional admin costs into consideration before making a bid. 



Moving slightly to the left and up a bit on our map of Africa, we find ourselves in Gabon.

Despite the occasional divergence in opinion with the Spanish tax authorities, Lionel Messi seems to be a nice chap. This makes the fact that he has apparently offended the entire nation by “dressing like he was going to the zoo” when visiting, quite startling.


He wasn’t wearing one of his Ballon d’Or suits or anything.

He turned up for the flying visit, which he has denied being paid for, in shorts and a tee shirt; and, in a statement by President Ali Bongo Ondimba’s party he was described as looking “dirty, unshaven [with] his hands in his pockets, looking for peanuts to throw to them!”


We’re going to have to take Gabon off the map of prospective Football Ramble Live show locations.

Peanut throwing would be the least of their concerns.


Poor sartorial choices had negative consequences for another player recently too. This footage of Gonzalo Higuain, shirt open to medallion level, trilby jauntily balanced, ploughing his way through a crowd of onlookers, did the rounds yesterday.

Apparently he got offended when someone shouted “you cannot score penalties” after he refused to sign an autograph for them.

His record suggests he’d have developed a coping mechanism for that by now.



“Right, gentlemen. We’re here at Melbourne’s Vue De Monde restaurant, where head chef Shannon Bennett is going to show you how to make kangaroo loin with wild mushrooms and nasturtium leaf.


“Er… what now?”


Alright, let’s not take the piss. I’m sure it went really well in the end.


By Kelly Welles


David De Gea: Murked

22 July 2015

Good. Well, that’s cleared that up, then.


By Kelly Welles

Bayern Munich & The Sorting Plate

21 July 2015


Like the sorting hat, only for establishing who’s in GrownUpMan and who will spend the next season representing LadBantz.

See me in my office, Arjen Robben.


By Kelly Welles


H/T @davidjmcelroy

Paul Pogba: Thighmaster General

21 July 2015


You know how Cristiano Ronaldo started that really irritating thing of rolling his shorts up in training to show off his absurd but admittedly impressive quadriceps?


This picture from pre-season training appeared on Juve’s Instagram feed yesterday.


No wonder Real Madrid have reportedly cooled their interest in the midfielder. The leg press at Valdebebas is already heavily over-subscribed.

Your move, Cristiano.


By Kelly Welles

Sepp Blatter: Gold Digger

20 July 2015

Far be it from us to condone putting the wind up pensioners, if Sepp had resigned when he said he was going to, instead of waiting for the furore to die down and then calling a presser to announce his plans to ‘reform’ FIFA, none of this would have happened.

Just go, Sepp. Honestly, it’ll be less embarrassing for all of us in the long term.


By Kelly Welles

Ramble Round-Up: Your move!

20 July 2015


Until now, the transfer window has mercifully remained rather sedate.

Aside from the odd Fernando Torres/Andy Carroll fuelled spasm, it feels sometimes as though it’s deliberately refusing to indulge the feigned hysteria of Sky’s coverage.


And now that BT Sport have entered the competition, the spectacle has become some sort of Chariots of Fire inspired race for the line; Robbie Savage and Jim White in vests, bursting through a cloud of yellow smoke, chests straining to be the first to inform us that George Boyd has arrived at the Hull City training ground.

But Sky’s decision to drop the only part of their broadcasts worth watching has changed all that.

The Premier League has picked up the purple dildo and run with it.


Mere hours after the football equivalent of being dumped on the dancefloor and watching your partner leave in a taxi with Ashley Cole had reached its conclusion, Fabian Delph performed a Messi-esque change of direction, leaving Aston Villa flat on their backsides with no idea what just happened.

The midfielder, who issued a statement on the 11th July confirming his plans to stay at Aston Villa after reports of interest from Manchester City surfaced, signed a five year contract with the Sky Blues on Friday, sparking social media mayhem and questions as to whether Micah Richards is a double agent.


Apparently, the former City defender, who signed a four year contract with Villa back in June, “helped change [Delph’s] mind” over the move, claiming that Premier League runners up were “the best club in the world and he [Richards] had the time of his life [t]here.”


Way to endear yourself the home fans there, Micah!


This really made me miss Steve Gerrard and feel like he really still has something to contribute to a Liverpool side at a crucial point of Brendan Rodgers’ tenure.

Okay, a significant proportion of his performances last year made Rodgers’ decision to play him in a deeper role and the subsequent delay in renewing his contract look understandable, but…  that positional nous. The awareness off the ball. The ability to dictate play.

When viewed alongside some of the signings that arrived last term, I can’t help but wonder whether - if Rodgers had managed the situation a little better - Gerrard might still be able to dominate at the highest level and remain a defining player of the Premier League era for at least another season.

God knows how it makes you Liverpool fans feel.



We’re used to parting shots when players leave clubs, particularly when the relationship between the two has become a little fractious.


But Iker Casillas’ agent claiming that Real Madrid president Florentino Perez “doesn’t like black players” is less of a parting shot and more of a Howitzer blast straight through the front doors of the Bernabeu.

And in case Perez remained unclear on how Santos Marquez feels about his client’s former club, he didn’t leave it there. In an interview with AS, Marquez claimed that Cristiano Ronaldo’s image rights being sold to a company owned by Valencia president Peter Lim “suggests that Cristiano is planning to leave”, that Gareth Bale is favoured over other players and that former manager Vicente Del Bosque was sacked because he is unnattractive.


“Del Bosque won everything there [was] to win,” Marquez said, presumably while quaffing his twenty-third glass of Ribena that morning, “But what happened to him is what happened to me – he’s a not exactly a looker.”

“So Florentino brought in a handsome bloke [Carlos Queiroz] who almost ruined the team.”

Iker Casillas has yet to respond. But when he does, it’s going to be worth hearing.


By Kelly Welles


Images via,

Cristiano Ronaldo: Party of One

16 July 2015


There’s no ‘I’ in team.

There is, however, a bloody great ‘ME’.


By Kelly Welles

Rivaldo: A long term view

15 July 2015

Apparently Rivaldo is not content with his legacy being that dive in Brazil’s 2002 World Cup group match vs. Turkey.

In fact, he’s so keen to be remembered for something else, he’s developed a method for halting the aging process to allow him to continue playing until he’s done so.

The Mogi Mirim president completed the first stage of this challenge last night, scoring in the same game as his son Rivaldinho in their side’s 3-1 win over Macae.

Being 20, Rivaldinho is almost certainly being encouraged by his father to commence procreation duties, with a view to having a son who can play in the first team by the age of sixteen.


Assuming he can sustain a playing career until his early sixties, Rivaldo could then be the first player to score in the same game as his son and grandson, who will invariably be known as Rivaldinhoho.

Let’s see who has the last laugh then, shall we?


By Kelly Welles

Tottenham Hotspur: Dire Diary

15 July 2015


“Eric, we’ve got this really fun idea for social media.”

“What’s that?”

“Your name has some of the same letters in it as the word for personal journal, diary. So we’re going to change one, add one, make a laboured hashtag out of the result and have you sit in front of a camera answering questions in a format that was fairly tired ten years ago.



By Kelly Welles


H/T @CharlieTimms.

Ramble Round Up: Sideshow Sterling

13 July 2015

The question isn’t whether he’s worth it.

That’s just a distraction. Something to keep us occupied during the barren month of July when the clubs are showing off to new markets in Asia or the US or playing in tournaments no one cares about.


Or, if we’re going really get the cynicism train going, we could call it contrivance by certain media outlets to promote interest in a product we all consume anyway. Have you noted the date of the Liverpool vs. Manchester City fixture yet? It accompanies much of the Sterling transfer coverage this morning.

The far more relevant question in these sagas is whether a player can operate under the weight of expectation their sale price brings. And that, of course, is a matter that can’t be considered until they have a good couple of seasons under their belt, perhaps even more.

The current most expensive player in the world is Gareth Bale, sold by Spurs to Real Madrid two years ago for £86m.

His first season there, during which he won and scored this goal (above) generated sufficient excitement to make most conclude that maybe, yes he was.


Now? After a difficult second season which has seen him struggle to make an impact, become the subject of press speculation regarding his relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo and suffer the consequences of that speculation from the fans, it’s tough to know how that transfer will be viewed in years to come.

It could go either way.


But at least he had one good season. Fernando Torres would probably offer a substantial proportion of his personal wealth in exchange for the memory of a first season like that at Chelsea.

Andy Carroll might even consider cutting off his pony tail for a sniff of the form he showed himself capable of at Newcastle.

That said, football has proved itself more than capable of throwing the narrative arc to the wall in favour of a suspension of disbelief challenging twist.

Radamel Falcao may yet regain the use of his feet at Chelsea. Bastian Schweinsteiger might help Angel di Maria locate the point of his existence in a Manchester United trident of terror that hasn’t looked capable of piercing a balloon for periods since Ferguson moved upstairs.

Raheem Sterling might rejuvenate Pellegrini’s tired looking team. He might use the weight of our disapproval as ballast, battering through defences to create goals for himself and assists for what could be one of the most terrifying front lines in English football.

He could carry his form through to the national team, his new found confidence inspiring England to kick the habit of a great performance in qualification followed by an early tournament exit.

This time next year, we could all be lying in a ditch, recovering from the three days of hysteria that followed him scoring the winner in the EURO 2016 final.

However unlikely that scenario may be, it’s still within the bounds of possibility.

Feels odd that we’re all willing him to fail, doesn’t it?


By Kelly Welles

Aston Villa FC: We salute you

9 July 2015


When your manager is as eccentric as Tim Sherwood, you can either try to ignore it and maintain a poker face, or you can embrace it.


It’s fair to say that with their 2015/16 kit launch, Aston Villa have embraced it by running with the hashtag #SayItLikeSherwood, a nod and a wink to their illustrious leader’s habit of veering into the nonsensical within seconds of opening his mouth.


They’ve done well there.

If only because they’ve managed to find enough quotes to run a campaign without invoking cheese, win percentages or gilets.


Which couldn’t have been easy.


By Kelly Welles


Images via soccerbible.

Take a bow, son: The history of the Football Ramble website

3 July 2015


While it’s in our interests for you to think that emitting witty, well researched, informative football content is as effortless as it is sexy, it’s only fair on those who enable us to do it that we give them a shout out occasionally.

Not often, because then they might start wondering how come we get all the glamour and kudos that inevitably accompanies such sparkling talent and why they have to work in a dimly lit basement, but y’know.

We should acknowledge they exist at least once.


Step forward Matt Isherwood, who has been supplying the Football Ramble with a respectable web presence for a solid five years this summer, despite never having committed a crime worthy of such a sentence.

Initially starting out as a platform for the podcast, the Ramble site has been nursed through four wildly different incarnations before swerving to an untidy halt at the aesthetically pleasing yet wildly accessible web experience you’re currently having. 


You should read his article about it. Not only is it a really interesting snapshot of how football coverage has evolved on the internet since 2010, but there’s also visual evidence of the boys pre their PR manscaping.

Unmissable, Ruud,


By Kelly Welles

John Terry’s trophy cabinet photo if…

3 July 2015


...he had but an ounce of self-awareness.


By Kelly Welles

The Middlesbrough FC Award for the Biggest Misinterpretation of the term ‘Promotional’

2 July 2015

Marketing department still on holiday, are they?


By Kelly Welles


Big scores are BACK! (In Estonia)

1 July 2015


What’s the best thing about this scoreline from the Estonia Cup?

That Sander Roivassepp scored a triple hat-trick or that this wasn’t the widest margin between two team in the tournament... in June?

I’ve been thinking about it for ages and I still can’t decide.


By Kelly Welles


H/T @SkySportsNewsHQ

Pepe: Oh, cheers for that, Dad

30 June 2015

Pepe was a little boy once.

Take that in for a moment.


By Kelly Welles


H/T @umbro.

Ramble Round-Up: In Shorts

30 June 2015


If we needed any reassurance that being on holiday and ignoring football for a few weeks was the right thing to do, the Independent were good enough to provide it yesterday with this bit of ‘breaking news’.

Still, even though we’re having a lovely time frolicking on the beach with Pete’s incredible collection of inflatables, we’re prepared to acknowledge some interesting transfer shenanigans is occurring.


And you deserve to see it.



Good news for Liverpool fans, whose side will be virtually unrecognisable from the carcass that hauled itself to sixth place in the table last season.

The infamous Liverpool transfer committee, who spent most of last year shielding themselves from the heat of their poor decision making behind Brendan Rodgers, have already confirmed the signings of James Milner, Danny Ings, Roberto Firmino and Adam Bogdan, with Southampton’s Nathianel Clyne as pending as pending can be.


As for Sterling? Who the hell knows? But Paul Doyle’s article in the Guardian earlier this week calling for the wantaway balloon fiddler to be made captain was a startling development.

Even for an acknowledged Sterling sympathiser like me.



Meanwhile, reports from Italy claim that Arsenal Hall of Famer Gervinho’s proposed transfer to Abu Dhabi side Al Jazira has fallen through because he wanted his deal to include his own private beach and helicopter.

Not since it was claimed that Nani had a lifesize statue of himself in his own living room has a man’s hubris outweighed his talent to such an embarrassing degree.


Sergio Ramos has apparently told Real Madrid that he wants to leave them for Manchester United.

In what appears to be a move coordinated almost as well as Sergio’s wardrobe, Manchester United have put in a bid of £28.6m for the defender.


It looks as though David de Gea is destined to go the other way, with reports that the goalkeeper has requested his future be resolved by “next week” abounding this morning, but Manchester United fans shouldn’t be too depressed.

While The Ramos has never been caught stealing from a Tesco Express, his own history is littered with wild misunderstandings, mainly involving fashion.

He also has the trophy handling ability of Chunk from Goonies. Given that Manchester United will fancy themselves this season, how can that ever be a bad thing?


Petr Cech has signed for Arsenal.

It’s hard to see how this isn’t going to be brilliant for the Gunners and landing the former Chelsea goalkeeper represents a tremendous bit of business for Arsene Wenger, who has defined himself in recent years by who he hasn’t signed, rather than who he has.

Here’s a video of Cech drumming to Eye of the Tiger, which, if Wenger is as smug about this as the memes would suggest, should be the music playing over the PA system when Arsenal take to the Wembley pitch for the Community Shield.


Awesome though these are, they’re still not the best transfer I’ve seen so far this summer. This is.

It’s not recent, but it makes the ball on a plinth schtick look like £16m for Mario Balotelli.

Get it in that Prem. Stat.


By Kelly Welles

Sol Campbell: His definition… his definition is this

25 June 2015



the view or theory that the self is all that can be known to exist.


By Kelly Welles


H/T @tomwfootball

Meanwhile, in the Copa America…

25 June 2015

Uruguay crashed out against hosts Chile after having two men, including PSG striker Edinson Cavani, sent off. Cavani, who had been a doubt for the game after news broke that his father had been involved in an accident in which a motorcyclist was killed on Monday, received a second yellow for apparently slapping Gonzalo Jara.

Even more hilarious than Jara’s thespian-esque response to Cavani’s flick though, was this take on the events leading up to it from Kenya’s Daily Nation news service

“Camera footage… appeared to show Jara attempting to insert his finger into Cavani’s anus, prompting the Uruguay player’s reaction.”

The actual incident is nowhere near as vivid as the description, thankfully.

Or we’d all be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.


By Kelly Welles

Ramble Round-Up: Oh no you don’t

23 June 2015


Football, we haven’t forgotten you.

Just because we’re on our holidays doesn’t mean you can sneak through a bunch of stuff you’ve been holding back, hoping we’d be so drunk/incarcerated/immersed in adventures of sexual discovery and motorbikes that we wouldn’t notice.

Seriously. You thought you’d get away with this shit?


Self-awareness has never been a stumbling block for Diego Armando Maradona, so reports that he’s decided to hurl himself bodily at the increasingly wobbly FIFA Presidency platform should not have come as a surprise to any of us.

And let’s be honest, a hands on approach to problem solving coupled with a willingness to call in a favour or two to expedite a positive outcome are among the skill sets required for a job of this magnitude.


At this point it’s just a rumour. Or an impossible dream. We haven’t decided which.


“He’s what now?”

Speaking of distasteful behaviour, three Leicester City players who filmed themselves having relations and using racist language have been sacked by the club after an investigation.

Development squad players Tom Hopper, Adam Smith and James Pearson inadvertently brought new meaning to the term ‘goodwill tour’ when footage of their Thailand adventures was leaked to a daily newspaper, revealing far more about their predilections and personal hygiene habits than any of us wanted to see.

The incident was all the more embarrassing for manager Nigel Pearson, who is also a patron of anti-racism campaigners Kick It Out. That first meeting with son James must have been quite the spectacle.


England’s Women made history last night after coming from behind to win a knockout World Cup game for the first time.

The Lionesses beat Norway 2-1 after Steph Houghton and Lucy Bronze cancelled out Solveig Gulbrandsen’s 54th minute opener and will face hosts Canada in the quarter finals.

Lucy Bronze, eh? Right foot like a traction engine.

Meanwhile, the U21s left it late to wrest control of their own destiny against Sweden.

After defeat to Portugal in the opening group game had left them needing points to stay within reach of progressing to the knockout phase, Gareth Southgate’s team conspired to emulate the fortunes of the seniors with numerous missed chances and a lack of creativity leaving Harry Kane with little to work with.

Fortunately sub Jesse Lingard was able to take advantage of a poor clearance by AIK keeper Patrick Carlgren, smashing in off the volley on 85 minutes to put England second in the group on goal difference. They play fourth placed Italy on Wednesday.


Let’s not get into this whole mascot debate bandwagon.

You can’t criticise Partick Thistle for the fact that their new oversized fluff clad representative is a weird sun thing with legs and an expression you’d expect to see on someone who’s just fallen into a mincer when a dinosaur with a gun and a lion wearing a gilet re allowed to maraud without comment. 

Especially when there’s so much else to pick up on. Like what the hell is that on the Kingsford Capital rostrum thing the investor, the general manager and the artist are leaning against? A typo? An artistic splodge?

A desperate cry for help? We should be told.


joe hart

Oh come on. You’re just taking the piss now.

We’re going back to the boozer.


By Kelly Welles

Brendan Rodgers: Supermarket Sweep

16 June 2015


It comes to something when the biggest supermarket chain in the UK is having a sly dig at your transfer policy.


By Kelly Welles

Climate change: No Pete, you can’t chase it away with a hose

11 June 2015


Football and climate change tend to be fairly separate specialisms; a reality we’ve been more than happy to leave undisturbed to this point.

We can barely keep you abreast of developments in the Premier League, Football League, Europe, internationals, transfers and the Ever Expanding World of Alan Pardew as it is. The idea of having to be informed about polar ice shields, temperature shifts and rising sea levels as well is, quite frankly, beyond our collective intellectual capacities.

But it seems that climate change doesn’t feel the same way. It wants to get involved. It wants to interfere. Its moist nose is pressed firmly against the smeared window of Ramble HQ.


We’ve ushered it away. We’ve sent Pete out with a hose.

But it keeps coming back, yelling about how playing football in air conditioned domes under piloted clouds might be a reality soon, not just an abstract idea invented by a bunch of people awarded the right an entirely improbable World Cup.

We’re seeing games called off due to poor weather conditions more frequently. There’s talk of some leagues switching to summer seasons to minimise the impact of poor weather conditions on fixture schedules.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to ignore.


Well, fortunately for you, the continuing existence of the human race isn’t dependent on The Football Ramble getting our arses out of our comfy office chairs and taking action.

Other people, like the Climate Coalition, have been working on raising awareness about climate change and its impact on the lives of everyone across the world. Their latest initiative is a day of action in Westminster on 17th June.

Aside from the opportunity to learn more about climate change, attendees will have the opportunity to meet their MP and discuss what they’re doing to address an issue that might seem like an abstract, but is impinging on our daily lives, including our ability to enjoy sport, every day.

If you’re interested in attending The Climate Lobby, you can sign up and get more information here. It’s a really great cause and one we shouldn’t turn our backs on.

Let alone our hoses, Peter.


By Kelly Welles

The Football Ramble Live in Dublin! Tickets on sale now!

10 June 2015

The Football Ramble live at the Bloomsbury Theatre. People did turn up later, we promise.

The Football Ramble are heading across the Irish Sea to perform a live version of the show in Dublin on Thursday 30th July at the Laughter Lounge, and tickets are on sale now! That’s right, after several months of wrangling with the authorities over Pete’s worldwide air travel ban, the paperwork was finally completed and we are now delighted to confirm our appearance…

Expect all your usual Ramble favourites as well as a few surprises as the four reprobates pick over the finer points of the game with all the enthusiasm of a FIFA Executive Committee member at an all you can eat buffet.

See you there!


For press/media enquiries around the show please email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) Saving you from ‘Peak Ramble’

9 June 2015


You can’t always listen to the Football Ramble.

Alright, there are literally hundreds of episodes, but as someone who’s had to listen to more than her fair share of Luke, Pete, Jim and Marcus waffling on, I can confirm a state of ‘Peak Ramble’ can be achieved.

And surpassed.

Thankfully, have stepped in to prevent that from happening. Just register for a one month free trial to claim a free audio book and spend the off season listening to something vaguely sensible. Or not. There are over 100,000 titles to choose from so you’re bound to find something you like. The 30-day free trial means you can choose a free audiobook which is yours to keep whether or not you decide to cancel in the trial period.

And while I haven’t listened to them all, I’m reliably informed that none are narrated by current or previous Ramblers.

Worried because, like me, you’ve achieved ‘Peak Ramble’ and took advantage of a similar offer from Audible before?

Don’t be. They understand and if you trialled the service over 12 months ago, you can still get your hands on another audiobook for free.

You’d be a fool not to, quite honestly.


Sign up for a one month free trial and claim your free audio book at

Football Ramble! Live in London - now on iTunes…

8 June 2015

Hello! Pete here. Oh god, I literally don’t have the first idea how to put stuff on the website. How does Kelly do this again?

If I accidentally make the internet fart itself inside out and send all the bitcoins in the world to North Korea, I’m sorry.

So we recently went to the Bloomsbury Theatre in central London and told a load of tired old jokes about Avraham Grant. But we’ve managed to get it past those Apple-men and Apple-women so it’s now on iTunes. Grab it here:

Or if you’ve been watching Springwatch and you prefer Sendowl because it has the world ‘owl’ in it:

Thanks for reading! Wow, think I didn’t cock anything up! Yay me!

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Champions League Final: The Inflatables

8 June 2015

England’s ‘friendly’ vs. Republic of Ireland aside, it was nice to get back to the football after a couple of weeks spent nosing about in the turgid mess that is FIFA.

But, I suppose inevitably given the freshness of the FBI investigation and Sepp Blatter’s resignation, the legacy of a regime defined by conspicuous consumption and the acquisition of massive shiny things loomed over Berlin’s Olympiastadion, in the form of an enormous inflatable replica of the Champions League trophy.

Under the circumstances, it was a touch ironic.

After a frantic opening couple of minutes, which saw Barcelona’s centre backs defending so deep they were in danger of treading on an FBI investigator, a quite delicious sequence that epitomised the Barcelona way resulted in an Ivan Rakitic goal and Juventus were 1-0 down.


But huge credit must go to Allegri, whose side didn’t crumple under the weight of expectation that an early Barcelona goal usually brings. His side held onto their lifeline until Alvaro Morata equalised, prompting a social media surge that looked unimpeachable, at least until Luis Suarez restored Barcelona’s lead.

Neymar’s first and Barca’s third effectively broke the internet, the cordon around the pitch and the heart of every hipster who’d bet on Juve just because Barcelona’s dominance of world football is so passé.

Well, they better get used to it.


Because if the celebration photos are any evidence, there’s a new generation of genetically superior proponents of the Beautiful Game™ already practicing their trophy poses.

By Kelly Welles

Images via Instagram, Facebook .

Rafa Benitez: Looking back on the warm, comforting glow of ‘interim’

3 June 2015


If the Facebook comments of Real Madrid’s official Facebook page are any evidence, Rafa Benitez’ appointment as head coach has gone down a storm with fans.

Bet he’s dreaming of the title ‘Interim’ now.


By Kelly Welles

The Football Ramble Live: Give a little, get a lot

1 June 2015


Loads of you were there.


But for the unfortunate billions who, due to the seating constraints of the Bloomsbury Theatre, inadequate manipulation of the space-time continuum and/or your own ineptitude at the rather basic endeavour of being a human being, missed out on The Football Ramble Live on 22nd May 2015, here’s a link to the audio download.


It’s a mere £1.99 and since we’re ace, you can look at these marvellous photos of the overwhelming handsome that is The Football Ramble while you’re listening to it free, gratis and without extra charge.


Next thing you know, we’ll be giving actual (Monopoly) money away.


By Kelly Welles




Photos by Phil Sharp. Gent.

Jack Warner: Our eyes are watering

1 June 2015

Jack Warner has to be an elite undercover agent, working within FIFA to discredit them.

No one living in the 21st century can be so unaware of the media and satire as a functioning entity that they would use a story from The Onion as evidence that the USA launched its investigation into FIFA because it’s upset about losing the bid to host the World Cup in 2022.

Can they?


By Kelly Welles

FA Cup: Highlights, lowlights & everything in between

1 June 2015

Aston Villa’s fate was probably sealed when I checked their odds on a popular sports website, saw they were surprisingly generous and slapped a small wedge of my hard earned upon them.

Turns out these betting companies know what they’re talking about. Who knew?

In my defence, Mr Sherwood and his band of merry men seemed plucky enough before kick off but the size and swagger differential was soon painfully obvious; Arsenal ran Aston Villa ragged in the first half an hour with only unlikely hero Shay Given standing between them and an embarrassing early doors hammering.

Which they’ll remember vividly from their visit to Southampton.

The oldest man on the pitch could only do so much though, and when Theo Walcott smashed in Nacho Monreal’s pass on the half-volley, it was clear to even the most deluded punter that throwing further fundage on a staggering second half comeback was a fool’s errand.

At least I was right about something.

Alexis Sanchez’s twenty-five yard scorcher was a shoo-in for goal of the weekend right up until Lionel Messi laid waste to the Athletic Bilbao defence (bet Jerome Boateng was loving that) in the Copa del Rey final, while Per Mertesacker and Giroud heaped misery on a knackered and bewildered Villa side, who probably didn’t deserve the humiliation of conceding eleven goals in their last three games, but got it anyway.

All in all, it was a thoroughly classy display from Arsenal, and I was pleased they’d won, despite my losing money as a direct result.

Right up until the point where someone thought fit to hand Jack Wilshere a microphone, Chris Waddle peppered his appearance on BBC 606 with references to Arzenal and an Arzenal fan phoned in to state that having watched the game, he figured the best course of action was to sell Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud.

Then I was as deflated as Tim Sherwood again.


Although I would like to state for the record that my hair, although badly dyed, has never looked *quite* this bad.


By Kelly Welles

Warning: Contains graphic imagery

29 May 2015


The Washington Post has compiled this graphic illustrating the estimated number of World Cup worker fatalities in Qatar so far, compared with other major international sporting events

Yesterday, FIFA president Sepp Blatter stated that:

“many people hold me ultimately responsible for the actions and reputation of the global football community, whether it’s a decision for the hosting of a World Cup or a corruption scandal.”

“We, or I, cannot monitor everyone all of the time. If people are going to do wrong, they will also try to hide it.”


True enough, I suppose.

But hypothetically, refusing to acknowledge that all this took place on your watch, allowing yourself to be re-elected in an vote universally acknowledged to be a joke and remaining utterly, brazenly impervious to the stink of corruption rising around you could prove to be equally effective, couldn’t it?


By Kelly Welles

Swiss Police have arrested several top FIFA officials…

27 May 2015

At the press conference, their Head of Communications Walter De Gregorio be like:



By Kelly Welles



Weekend Highlights: And then we go and spoil it all…

26 May 2015


The curtain is down, people.

The Premier League season has drawn to a typically baffling conclusion, the final spots in the respective leagues have been filled and Delia Smith has got a bit ‘tired and emotional’ in the vicinity of a microphone.

Managers are dropping like flies, Herve Renard is back in club management and about as close to Ramble Towers as it’s possible to be while still technically in France and I am on the very precipice of two months of ‘light duties’ on the Ramble website.

It’s been ace.


And then we go and spoil all by doing something stupid like nicking a shirt off a kid. At Wembley. On the telly. Then putting it on gumtree, like no one is going to put two and two together.

Prompting a huge social media backlash, forcing the woman in question to delete her social media accounts because of a subsequent ‘campaign for justice’, which in these modern times seems to mean bullying someone until they beg for mercy.


Yes, if the events that unfolded after Jermaine Beckford scored a hat-trick against Swindon and chucked his shirt at a bunch of people have been accurately represented, it was an immensely shitty thing to do and the individual involved should know better.

But let’s not pretend it’s the most horrific thing we’ve ever seen and it’s our duty to hound the woman until her life is ruined and she can’t leave the house or go on the internet without fear of being abused.

We’re not the morality police. Far from it.

Have your say, for sure. But if you really love the game, a sustained campaign of bullying, trolling and threats in its name will do it significantly more reputational damage than one person acting like a dick, while the other 48,235 people in attendance had a marvellous day.

Just because she appeared to act like a five-year-old doesn’t mean you have to.


By Kelly Welles

Newcastle United: Good luck tonight, Peetles. You’ll need it

22 May 2015


Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse at Newcastle United, Uri Geller has reportedly offered to swoop in and “save the club from relegation”.

Ramble aficionados and old people will remember Uri as a chap who used to bend spoons on daytime TV, but his CV is not without football experience.

At EURO 96, Geller may or may not have used his psychic powers to move the ball on the penalty spot during England’s fixture vs. Scotland, while in 2001 he claims to have helped Newcastle end a run of 29 matches without a win by running round the Highbury pitch eleven times.


If that wasn’t amazing enough, during his tenure as director of Exeter City, he tipped up at St James Park with his great mate at Michael Jackson. No one really knows why.

If his offer is accepted and he is successful, it’s possible that Geller will be offered the position of manager on a full time basis, replacing the permanently befuddled John Carver.


Alright. That’s just me specualting. But answer me this. Would Newcastle United be be any more of a clown show than it currently is if he did?


By Kelly Welles

Dick Advocaat & the Purple Gloves of Doom

22 May 2015

He claimed he’d never cried over football before.

This view of the incident, presumably captured from a previously overlooked grassy knoll, offers an entirely different (and far more plausible) interpretation of Dick Advocaat’s behaviour on that fateful day.

Remember kids. You shouldn’t always believe what you read in the papers.


By Kelly Welles


H/T Rambler John Thorpe!

Xavi: Got ink

21 May 2015

Xavi Hernandez has just announced he will be leaving Barcelona at the end of the season for Qatari side Al Sadd.


Everyone knows what an astonishing career he’s had, but if you’re not a close follower of the office stationery market in Spain, the fact that he’s a great guy might have escaped you.


These pictures were taken back in 2010 as part of a promotional campaign for a friend’s cartridge company.

xavi world

That’s 2010. About three months after he’d won the World Cup.


By Kelly Welles

STOP! Is it Ramble FC?

21 May 2015


It has been announced this morning that AC Milan and Italy legend Paolo Maldini will be the co-owner of Miami FC, the twelfth franchise to be launched in the second tier of US soccer, NASL.


The team will reportedly “play its home games in one of the existing world-class stadiums of Miami,”, news which effectively gazumps David Beckham, whose plans to bring his own soccer franchise to the Miami area have been hindered by a failure to secure permission to build their own stadium.


Paolo Maldini. NASL. Gazumping D-Beck.

God, it’s like some sort of fantasy sequence from the early days of the Ramble, isn’t it?


Like Steve McClaren: Time Lord. Only sexy and without the crap Danny Dyer impressions.


By Kelly Welles

Matty Taylor: Tonight Matthew, I am Justin Timberlake!

18 May 2015


Well, sort of. Cock in a cup is the same principle as dick in a box, just a bit more budget.


By Kelly Welles


H/T @terry_nutkin, @thegirlsilver.

Weekend Highlights: Looking a bit thin

18 May 2015

The media came close to ruining it.

By the time Steven Gerrard’s final game at Anfield rolled around, most of us were so sick of the tributes it would have been quite easy to dismiss watching the game in favour of whatever hideous offering ITV wheels out at that time on a Saturday evening.


But perhaps because we know football well enough to understand that Alan Pardew might just have a little something up his sleeve to ruin Stevie G’s day (an invite to Crystals, perhaps?) we tuned in anyway and got a little tingly as we watched one of the faces of our age wave goodbye.

Oh, come on, you cynical bastards. It was a moment.


Gerrard has represented Liverpool for as long as most of us have been interested in football and love him or hate him, things will be different next season.

Like Ferguson before him, he represents something we might not ever see again; an unerring presence that characterises a club and a style of play.


As another club legend pointed out last week on the 20th anniversary of Blackburn Rovers lifting the title, modern football simply isn’t set up to accommodate this sort of thing anymore.

A one club player from the local area. A manager who survives long enough to lead a team to glory, then rebuild it and do it again. A ‘small’ club splashing the cash and booting the big boys off the infamous perch, however temporarily.

Big JT and his satirical genius are all we’ve got left, people. Bloody hell.



Joe Hart is confidently sporting what was formerly known in football circles as the Raheem Sterling.


I’ve long suspected that England’s No.1 has been increasing the volume of his bouffant to mask a little thinning, but the principle behind this thinking has always eluded me.

Surely you’d want to draw attention away from the offending follicles, not towards them?


No good can come of this, Joseph. Mark my words.


It was the A-League Grand Final on Saturday.

Melbourne Victory beat Sydney FC by three goals to nil, but no one cares about that and quite honestly, it wouldn’t have received the coverage it did if 84-year-old Football Federation Australia chairman Frank Lowy hadn’t plummeted head first off the stage during the trophy presentation.

Apparently he’s ok apart from some minor shoulder pain, which is lucky for Melbourne captain Mark Milligan, who stood about with a face like a stunned mullet as the scene unfolded, but I think I speak for everyone when I say,

Frank Lowy? Yeah, he’s had his fall”.


And while we’re on the subject of league wins, Barcelona secured the La Liga title with a 1-0 victory over Atletico.

They could now do the treble, which isn’t bad for a team universally agreed to be in crisis in January.

All Messi needs to do now is release a video of his son doing twenty sit ups and Cristiano will literally explode in a cloud of bronzer.


By Kelly Welles

Meanwhile, over at Sky Sports…

15 May 2015


Or perhaps a hog roast? Paintballing? Trip to Center Parcs?

Please. Let us know.


By Kelly Welles


Boca Juniors vs. River Plate: Live streaming

15 May 2015

The source of the pepper spray that burned and temporarily blinded several River Plate players and caused their game vs. Boca Juniors at the Bonbonera to be abandoned last night has yet to be established.

Some people reckon it was something to do with this guy, shown trying to burrow his way into the tunnel around the time of the incident by broadcaster Setanta.

Others suspect this drone dressed as a ghost, which was filmed flying across the pitch beforehand, was involved.


In fact, the only thing we can say for certain is that we’re really getting arsed off with people using football as therapy for their inadequacies and putting the lives and careers of players in danger,

Not to mention ruining it for the rest of us.


By Kelly Welles

Nigel Reo-Coker: Alan? Alan! ALAN? ALAN!!!!

14 May 2015


“[Pardew] is a fantastic manager to work with. I learned so much under him.

I had my best football education under him. If there is an opportunity to work with someone like that again, it’d be fantastic. It’d be an opportunity you’d have to take.”

Former West Ham midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker speaking to, seconds after confirming that he’d had no contact with Crystal Palace whatsoever.


By Kelly Welles


H/T @ChrisNeeFC.

Champions League: Meme fatigue

14 May 2015

So this was thrilling.

And not just for Jack White, who must have been overjoyed to hear Scudetto winners Juventus singing the riff from Seven Nation Army while celebrating reaching the Champions League final at the expense of Real Madrid.

jack white

He was bound to be watching.

The man’s a massive sports fan, as we all know.

You do realise that’s my destiny you just pissed all over?

Sadly, by the time the final rolls around on June 6th, the excitement will have eroded a little.

Within seconds of the final whistle blowing, even before Cristiano Ronaldo fled to the dugout for what was presumably the mother of all tantrums, social media commentators across the world were simultaneously hitting send on messages that included (but were not limited to) the words Suarez, Chiellini, bite, racist and handshake.

Actually, most were limited to those words, because it anyone had bothered to be a bit more creative, a thriling narrative could have been fashioned out of those loaded letter combinations.


And by a bit more creative, I don’t mean whipping out the MS Paint and sticking some vampire teeth on the already dentally abundant Luis Suarez.

This is the Champions League final, people. One of the biggest single football matches that happens in an increasingly competitive calender, and yet because of the nature of our information consumption, it’s increasingly being forced to fit inside messages of 140 characters or less.

There are so many narratives we could use to bring ourselves to the very edge of the football excitement precipice.

Buffon, Pirlo and Barzagli’s destiny.

The possibility of Luis Enrique responding in the best possible way to the critics who, just a few short months ago, were kicking his arse around the Nou Camp.


Cristiano Ronaldo’s face as first Lionel Messi and then Neymar score in the final to bounce him into third place in the Champions League top scorers competition, and then Messi snatches his Ballon d’Or back after an incredible season.

You’re excited about Luis Suarez facing Giorgio Chiellini and Patrice Evra? Really?

Do you actually like football?


By Kelly Welles

Chris Smalling: Flux Capacitor

13 May 2015

hot tub

Rumours that he deliberately spilt a radioactive energy drink on the controls because he thought it would turn into a time machine have not yet been confirmed by the club.


By Kelly Welles


H/T utdreport.

Steven Gerrard: Midfield engine

12 May 2015

Looks a bit more comfortable in that position, doesn’t he?

If only British Airways had replaced Brendan Rodgers at the end of last season. Things could have been so different.


By Kelly Welles

Arsene Wenger: Well, if you feel THAT strongly about it…

12 May 2015

“We were unlucky I think against a team who refused to play completely and just defended. We’ve scored plenty of goals until recently.”

“In the last two home games we didn’t score and that was frustrating when you have so much of the ball and play with such accuracy around the box.”

“They defended well. They came just to defend with four defenders and six midfielders, and they defended. That’s it.”

That’s Arsene Wenger, speaking after Arsenal’s 1-0 defeat to Swansea City at the Emirates last night.

You want exciting, attacking football, Arsene? Really?

Go and manage in League One. They’re bloody swimming in it down there.


By Kelly Welles

QPR: The statement formerly known as…

11 May 2015


... the Chairman deals with all that.


By Kelly Welles


H/T ‏@RobHarris.

Weekend Highlights: Arrested development

11 May 2015

This job has put me in a number of awkward positions, but writing a defence of Chelsea fans has to be the Inverted Locust of football writing.


Seriously, my muscles are screaming.

I’ve nothing against Chelsea per se, but even the bluest of the blue would agree that the actions of a minority have cast a dark shadow over the club’s reputation in recent months.

Not to mention the fact that since they’ve just arrived at the league title at a leisurely stroll, they require my support about as much as Jose Mourinho needs PR advice from John Carver.


But still.

If you’ve gently chided those Chelsea fans pictured holding ‘Caution: Steven Gerrard’ signs, it’s only right you should reserve equal disdain for the lad ‘imself for his petulant pout while lining up for Chelsea’s guard of honour.

Even if those signs were laminated, which, in a court of law, could be perceived as wilful provocation.

Yes, it was Gerrard’s last game at Stamford Bridge. Perhaps you could argue that as a player of his calibre deserves more respect on such an occasion.

But no player is bigger than the game. Chelsea have played an absolute blinder in performance terms this season, and as an elite professional, Stevie should be able to applaud their achievement without looking like he’s been told there’s no Phil Collins in the DJ’s record bag.


Personally, I think it’s all part of the pantomime. Going into a football stadium should be about leaving the responsibilities of being a grown up aside and letting go.

Not being racist, sexist, homophobic or a drunken, leery twat, you understand, but shouting and singing your heart out, surrending your emotions to a group of ill-equipped, overly moisturised men to toy with and ultimately crush.

Because on those rare occasion when they don’t, when they score in the final minute of the play-off final or to stay up, when you win the cup after being 3-0 at half-time, even if you’re a 6ft 5in bearded bald bloke with a beer belly and a van, you get to cry on telly and everyone loves you.

Don’t push it, mate.

In no other sphere of life is it ok to run onto some grass and grab a sweaty twenty year old boy’s shirt off his back and refuse to let go of it for three days, but you can in football.

It’s better than any feeling in the world. So good that all the purple prose in the world comes nowhere near describing it and rightly so.

If we’re going to have that moment, we’ve got to have laminated signs, ostriches, bedsheets, bitchface and chants taking the piss out of people who made a mistake.


Oh. And really short memories. They help too.


By Kelly Welles

Falling down is temporary. Class is permanent

8 May 2015


Posted on Jerome Boateng’s Instagram account an hour ago.

Smooth, yah?


By Kelly Welles

Nigel Pearson & John Carver: Mind games v2.0

7 May 2015

“Nigel, you’re a man who knows his way around a hostile press conference. What do you suggest I say to get them off my back, give me a bit of breathing space, y’know?”

“Try something like this:

“I still think I’m the best coach in the Premier League. That’s what I think. Now there’s nothing wrong with that, but I still do. If I have the right tools, I can do the job. I’m doing the job to the best of my ability at the moment and I’ll continue doing that for the next three weeks.”

“You know the press. They admire a man who exudes excessive, baffling levels of hubris, especially when they’re coming off the back of a run of defeats and facing a relegation dog fight with three games to go.”

“I know! I honestly didn’t think he’d fall for it either. Bird brain!”


By Kelly Welles

Champions League: “Nothing short of sensational.” And Messi wasn’t bad, either

7 May 2015

Forget the memes about the still inside out Jerome Boateng. Forget Jamie Redknapp’s joyously baffling analysis. The facetious and woefully misguided efforts to award or deny Lionel Messi the title of Greatest Player Ever.

Seriously, how you claim to be comparing like with like when football today is virtually unrecognisable compared to the version played by Pele or Maradona, Di Stefano or Best? 


Even comparing him to a contemporary like Cristiano Ronaldo is a fool’s errand; the vast differences in their physicality, style and approach is like trying to analyse the comparative importance of football and sex in your life. 

(You can decide for yourselves which player represents which essential element).

But as I said.

Forget all that. Summarising Messi’s performance against Bayern Munich last night and his contribution to the game of football as a whole might seem as impossible a task as keeping your feet (and your) dignity in the penalty area while he’s running at you but last night one man managed to capture the magic without invoking those trite analogies.


And that man was Mark ‘Stuck in the middle with you. Stealers Wheel’ Lawrenson.

I know.


As anyone who’s spent any time at all listening to the former Liverpool defender’s ill-informed waffle (or indeed the Football Ramble) will know that Lawro is one of the most insufferable pundits to trouble the unsympathetic contours of the Match of the Day sofa. 

Frequently criticised for his lack of enthusiasm and miserable delivery, Lawrenson often sounds like he’s been dragged into the studio under sufferance; his habit of leaving presenters hanging after petulant one word answers make him one of the few pundits to make watching or listening to football coverage a genuinely uncomfortable experience.

And yet last night, you couldn’t shut him up. Asked for his thoughts on BBC 5Live after the Messi inspired 3-0 victory, Lawrenson described the Argentine as “nothing short of sensational”.

Reader, he gushed. For ages. He eulogised. He sounded genuinely thrilled to have witnessed such an exhibition of football and, as someone who’s struggled through many of his bleak reviews of football matches, I can say, without caveat, that it was a wonderfully, gloriously infectious experience.

You want an accurate summation of Lionel Messi’s performance last night? Ok.

Lionel Messi made Mark Lawrenson sound like a man who loves football.

That, I think you’ll agree, is an incredible, unprecedented achievement.


By Kelly Welles

“You headbutt a girl and you’re labelled a prat, and that’s the game.”

6 May 2015

And to think we could have missed this if @ElFutlosofo hadn’t drawn my attention to it.

Deep breath, Ramblers.


According to reports in the Conneticut Post, University of Bridgeport midfielder Danielle Puddefoot attacked a team mate after her club failed to honour her at their end of season awards.

The newspaper states that, Puddefoot, who comes from Slough and used to play for Reading FC Women, was angered after a colleague picked up the coach’s player of the year prize and “head-butt[ed] Hailey Marquis before she was restrained by other players”.

Danielle Puddefoot. Almost certainly not wearing this hat when the alleged incident occurred.

The NY Daily News reports that Marquis “was treated at a local hospital for swelling on the right side of her face and two black eyes.

Puddefoot has been charged with third-degree assault and disorderly conduct.


Reports as to whether she then threw a shoe over the building in order to extend her delusions of winning have not yet been confirmed.


By Kelly Welles

Champions League: THIS IS JUVE!!!

6 May 2015



By Kelly Welles


Image via tumblr.

Weekend Highlights: Costume drama

5 May 2015


They reckon the Premier League is the “most envied league in the world” but honestly, unless you support one of the clubs floundering about in the relegation waters without armbands, why would you have given a crap about the top tier when there was so much mayhem going on in the Championship and beyond?

English football is virtually unique for its strength in depth; attendances outside the Premier League frequently usurping those of the major European countries’ equivalent leagues, but coverage of the Championship, Leagues 1 & 2 is scant compared to the big, shiny corporatised world of the top twenty.

It’s a crime. Or perhaps a blessing. You be the judge. 



Rotherham United boss and latest candidate for the vacant-since-Keysy-buggered-off-to-Doha post of Archbishop of Banterbury, Steve Evans, managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory on Saturday by arriving at Elland Road in this outfit.


He pledged to do so earlier in the season if Rotherham stayed up and after they were deducted points for fielding a player whose loan period had expired, it looked as though we’d be spared the sight. But a 2-1 victory over Reading last week secured safety and after rubbing Millwall’s relegated noses in his celabratory pink champagne, Evans arrived at Leeds United for the final game of the season in his beach garb, including sponsored sombrero.

At least someone in the marketing department has their finger on the pulse.

Less so human resources, it would seem



Also difficult to look at, but far more worthy of praise were the scenes that unfolded at Bloomfield Road.


Far be it from us to encourage pitch invasions, but Blackpool’s fans have had to put up with so much shit from the Oyston family (including Karl Oyston driving around the town with this number plate on display), it’s tough to feel anything other than sympathy for their cause.


What else are they supposed to do? Complaints on forums have resulted in multiple legal actions, boycotts ignored and planned demonstrations outside their ground pre-empted by spiteful strikes such as the removal of the Stan Mortensen statue.

It’s only logical that fans should try and force the Oystons’ hand; making the atmosphere so poisonous that have no alternative but to sell up and move on.

A challenge that Karl Oyston seems happy to accept, if this video taken during the protest is any evidence.


The amateur dramatics weren’t limited to the relegation places though.

With automatic promotion already secured by Bournemouth and Watford, all Derby County needed to do to earn a place in the play-offs was draw against Reading. Whether it was nerves or the spectre of Newcastle United hanging over manager Steve McLaren’s shoulders as some have speculated, the Rams were unable to capitalise on their early season form and conceded early, eventually capitulating 3-0 to Steve Clarke’s men.


Ironically, McLaren has this morning rejected an offer to fill John Carver’s clown shoes at Newcastle, with BBC Radio Derby reporting “he will not leave for Newcastle this summer” either.

Could the last person to leave St James’ Park turn out the lights, please?


By Kelly Welles

UPDATED! Kanu: How old?!

1 May 2015


Kanu’s real age has always been a source of speculation on the Ramble but has the internet sensation that’s sweeping the nation finally caught the big man out?

For the record, in 2008 when he scored the winning goal in the FA Cup Final for Portsmouth, his ‘official’ date of birth had him at 32.


Due to public demand, we also ran Lazio teenager Joseph Minala through the scanner.

It didn’t go well for him, either.


By Kelly Welles

The Clare Balding Show AKA The Sum of all Fears

30 April 2015

So if average home attendance at the Boleyn Ground is 34,860,

Liverpool welcome about 44,658 to Anfield for every home game,

and Bournemouth entertain 10.265 at Dene Court, Clare Balding has managed to evoke terror and/or anger in nearly 90,000 fans in less than three minutes of interview time.

Fair play, Clare. You’re nothing if not efficient.


You can see these interviews with Chris Eubank Snr, Chris Eubank Jnr and Harry Redknapp in full on the Clare Balding Show tonight at 7.30pm on BT Sport or tomorrow night at 10pm on BBC2.

Midweek Musings: Featuring “Birds”

30 April 2015

What are the dressing room walls like at the King Power?

We can only assume they’re sufficiently thin for Leicester City to have overheard Jose Mourinho’s half time impression of Roadrunner and become so bewildered they forgot to play in the second half, with boss Nigel Pearson still babbling on about big birds in his post match comments.

Alright, enough of the sarcasm.

Chelsea have done superbly this season, all but tying up the title with four games to play and with 34 year old John Terry putting in a shift that earned him a spot PFA Team of the Year alongside centreback bezzie Gary Cahill.

That said, the big man’s call for respect for his team still put me in mind of this scene from Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia when I saw it this morning.

It’s ok. If yesterday’s video showed us anything at all, it’s that Terry’s got a sense of humour.

You heard him.



They managed to smother the mighty Bas Dost, but ‘plucky’ Arminia Bielfeld’s fairytale cup fell victim to the wily ways of Die Wölfe last night.

Despite beating Hertha Berlin, Werder Bremen and Borussia Monchengladbach on their way to the semi-final, Wolfsburg took control early on, Maximilian Arnold scoring on eight and fifty-five minutes, bookending strikes from Luiz Gustavo and Ivan Perisic.


Dieter Hecking’s men now face Borussia Dortmund in the DFB Cup Final, meaning that Jurgen Klopp’s last game in charge will essentially be a decisive battle between wolves and bees.

Which feels sort of appropriate.


He’s only scored two goals in sixteen appearances for boyhood club Atletico Madrid, but now it seems that Fernando Torres has embraced the fact that his legacy won’t be quantity, but quality

The syncronicity with which those defenders drop. Almost like our collective jaw.


By Kelly Welles

Dear Didier…

29 April 2015

A video posted by didierdrogba (@didierdrogba) on

Thanks for posting this video entitled ‘Boring boring Chelsea’ to your Instagram account.

Unfortunately it doesn’t counter the argument that your team plays boring football. It merely tells us that you have no table manners.

Lots of love,



By Kelly Welles

Bayern Munich: They need a hero

29 April 2015

Pep Guardiola went all Incredible Hulk last night when Robert Lewandowski sustained a suspected broken jaw in Bayern Munich’s bizarre DFB Cup semi-final defeat to Borussia Dortmund.

Manuel Neuer, Mario Gotze, Xabi Alonso and Phillip Lahm all missed penalties after extra time failed to separate the two sides, the latter two slipping on the Allianz Arena turf.

The defeat puts paid to Bayern’s hopes of nabbing the treble and possibly even progressing any further in the Champions League after Lewandowski was caught in the face by Dortmund keeper Mitch Langerak and Arjen Robben and Thiago Alcantara suffered further injuries.


Watching Jurgen Klopp lead his team to an unlikely farewell final may have stung but it looks like the Bayern fans are well placed to retain their good humour, producing superhero homages to crocked Franck Ribery and the aforementioned Robben before kick off.


At this rate, it’s likely to be the duo’s most productive appearance at the ground before the end of the season.


By Kelly Welles

Kaka: And we thought he was such a nice boy

28 April 2015


140 characters or less, mate.


By Kelly Welles

The Fairy Tale of Bourne Mouth

28 April 2015

Every fairy tale worth its salt has a hideous troll hanging about spoiling the view and threatening to ruin the handsome Prince’s happy ending.

Bournemouth’s promotion to the Premier League is no different.

Even as Eddie Howe’s boyband face was screwing itself up with joy after his team secured the points necessary to pip Middlesbrough to the second automatic spot, Harry Redknapp was lurking in (and around) the Sky Sports studio, yapping on about what the team need to do to succeed next season.

Noted expert that he is.


He fancies this, doesn’t he? Bournemouth to struggle in the first half of the season, Howe is sacked and Harry swoops in, spends a shit load of cash on Sandro, Peter Crouch, Jermaine Defoe and Tal Ben Haim and leaves when he’s driven them back into the Championship.

Assuming his knee surgeon has deemed him fit for swooping and driving, of course.


By Kelly Welles

Algeria Championnat: Careful what you wish for

27 April 2015


Before the weekend, no one but the most terrifyingly bearded football hipster (yes, you) could name a single club in Algeria’s Championnat Premier Division.

Now, with four games to go and the potential for any one of the sixteen competing teams to win the league, you can’t move for people yapping on about it. But while most are using the story as a stick to beat the comparatively sedentary Premier League with, a quick drill down reveals that this might not be as thrilling as it first appears.

According to MC Oran striker Kamel Larbi, “Most of the teams defend a lot. Their first objective is not to concede goals. If they can win, it’s a bonus, but I feel the fear of conceding is stronger. Avoiding defeat can become an obsession, due to the pressure of the press and supporters. So there is less risk-taking and a lot of games end up in a draw.”

So what you’re essentially saying is that it’d be like watching Chelsea protecting a lead, only with every team at every game?

Hmm. Maybe things aren’t so bad here after all.


By Kelly Welles


H/T Soccerway.

Weekend Highlights: For whom the bells toll

27 April 2015


Word is, there’s an election in ten days.

As you know, we’re apolitical here at the Ramble, preferring to concentrate instead on grown men embarrassing themselves in a sporting context, but when the Prime Minister nefariously uses the sport to curry favour with we proles and then cocks it up, we’re literally forced to comment, Ruud.


Allegedly ardent Aston Villa fan David Cameron told the gathered masses during a speech on Saturday that:

”[Britain is a place] where you can support Man Utd, the Windies and Team GB all at the same time. Of course, I’d rather you supported West Ham.”

He’s obviously been ripped on social media, with many attributing the gaffe to the fact that the teams play in the same home colours, but let’s not be naive here, people.

Whatever you think of his politics, he’s not a stupid man.


A more far more sound (and way more imaginative/photoshoppable) explanation is that Cam isn’t that ideologically aligned to Tim Sherwood - a man who has inspired his team to a resurgence in form and popularity at a crucial stage of the season.

Cameron’s position in the polls prior to the election on May 7th is more akin to that being endured by Big Sam, who has simply used the forward propulsion gained from a decent start to drive his claret and blue contingent into the comfortable and uninspiring middle ground.

Despite this, people of every hue dislike him and the chances are, he’ll be binned once the games are over.


As for Sam, he’s never made a secret of the fact that he believes he should be dining at the top table. Maybe he was just aiming too low with Real Madrid or Inter and 10 Downing St is a natural next step.

He’d be brilliant at party conferences,  if nothing else.


Arsene, sort it out. You look like a bird in a bag.

You Arsenal fans had a bloody mare yesterday, didn’t you?

Not only did your boss fail to beat Mourinho for the first time ever, but your poorly thought out chant of ‘Boring boring Chelsea’ allowed Mr Hubris himself to dust off a zinger.


“I think boring is 10 years without a title - that’s boring. If you support a club and you wait, wait, wait for so many years without a Premier League title, then that’s boring.

At least make him work for it. Come on.



Still. At least you comfort yourselves with the notion that it was just a minor oversight brought on by the knowledge that Piers Morgan strides confidently among you.


You’re not an utter embarrassment to the sport as a whole like the people who responded to the PFA’s tweet about Leah Williamson like this:




By Kelly Welles


Thanks to @acegirlgail, @KellyCates.

Middlesbrough FC: Something for the weakened

24 April 2015

Ten point deduction, effective immediately.

And an extra five for that revolting, greasy battered thing he eats at the beginning and then ‘raps’ through, which Luke Moore reliably informs me is a ‘parmo’. (He knows way more about poisonous post beverage snacks than me.)

The Football Ramble.

Tough on promotion happy punters.

Tough on the causes of promotion happy punters.


By Kelly Welles

The FA Cup ticket allocation: FIFA-esque?

24 April 2015

You may laugh, but in a few years time, this will probably be true.


Vine borrowed from the unfeasibly kind and not just a little bit handsome @tylrwllsn.


By Kelly Welles


The writing’s on the wall. In crayon.

24 April 2015


Cheltenham Town FC are second bottom of League Two with two games remaining. They’ve won one game since Gary Johnson was appointed manager on 30th March, when he made the players sign this carefully drafted charter.

“They all signed it.” Johnson told local radio. “Some signed it and meant it, and some signed it and didn’t mean it.”

With that kind of insight available, it’s amazing to see them fighting for survival really, isn’t it?


By Kelly Welles


H/T @thegirlsilver.

Let us rejoice in Pep Guardiola’s trousers!

23 April 2015

On Wednesday morning, I had to explain to a non-football fan why a photo of a balding Spaniard with burst trousers was the lead photo in all the coverage of a Champions League match that began with the hosts 3-1 down and ended with them doing this.

To me, a seasoned observer of modern football (or, as some may call me, Part of the Problem), it was nothing unusual. Indeed, I’d mentally bookmarked the image for use in this very post, so I’m not going to criticise.

But in order to answer their question, I had to carefully consider something I do every day, claim to love and yet never think about.

Which is weird in itself.

Oh come on! I’d fit in perfectly!

Over the last few weeks I’ve expended a fair bit of prose bemoaning the influence of the media on the modern game.

Whether it’s critiques of the constant sniping at young players followed up by honking queries as to why they fail to meet expectation or the relentless pressure on the England team as a whole, it might feel like I’m just sniping at mainstream media outlets because I secretly desire a berth on the Sunday Supplement and they won’t answer my letters.

That said, some things were much more fun back in the old days.

You see, it’s always easier to build up a head of steam about an issue than find something positive to say. But while ruminating on my friend’s question, I realised there is something that I love and I wanted to share it with you.

Whether you like it or not.

The myth that’s sustained the footballing press for the last forty odd years is that writing about the game is a specialism. It’s not.

Football’s simplicity has made it the most popular game on the planet, that can be enjoyed by anyone with access to a vagely spherical object. If you have the capacity to grasp which team is which, what a goal is and the offside rule, you’re able to report on the points of interest.

Which goes some way to explaining how Richard Keys and Andy Gray have enjoyed such enduring success.


But I digress. 

The flow of information isn’t tightly controlled any more but disseminated by us all over social media and legitimised by mainstream networks and their demanding 24 hour rolling news.

Conventional coverage is nowhere near enough to sustain us and so gossip, hearsay and an intimate knowledge of player’s pecadillos all inform the narrative to the point where the fact that a team’s manager busting his trousers is a bigger story than a first half performance which rivalled that of the German national team vs. Brazil during the World Cup.


At face value, that sounds awful. And there are plenty of downsides, not least trolling, disinformation and utter crap making headlines.

But there’s something wildly liberating about having a voice and the ability to be heard. If a group is sufficiently organised, they can have a real impact on the running of their club, for example. Agendas and press hubris can be openly and sensibly critiqued.


And on a serious note, it’s hard to imagine the sickening lies that resulted in Liverpool fans taking the blame for the Hillsborough disaster being accepted as truth for a second if people had been tweeting their personal experiences.

I’ll still bitch about the pervasive, joy-exsanguinating media, I’m sure, but for now, while it’s sunny, let us rejoice in Pep Guardiola’s trousers. For they represent a new era in football that, if respected and handled with care, can have a brilliantly positive effect on the future of the game.

After all. If not for you lot demanding snarky remarks and smart arse observations woven into their coverage, the Football Ramble wouldn’t exist and I would be unemployable. wink


By Kelly Welles

It’s The Sun wot done it!

23 April 2015


There’s nothing…

ster finding a theme…


...and running with it, is there?


By Kelly Welles

No Keggie ‘Copter? Don’t make me sick!

21 April 2015

One merry Twitter punter called the boys out recently for failing to mention Kevin Keegan’s helicopter exit after his last game for Newcastle.

You’ve embarrassed yourself there, chap. During historic Rambles, they very rarely shut up about it.

But nevermind. It’s gives us the excuse to not only publish that magnificent scene again, but avail you of this one sent into us by Top Rambler Ian Hawkins, featuring our Keggles vomiting while driving around the Nürburgring.

One of the few of the great man’s embarrassments we haven’t covered in worrying detail.


By Kelly Welles

BREAKING NEWS: Lionel Messi is human!

21 April 2015

And not some sort of football robot machine of death.

You reckon Cristiano has this on a loop?




By Kelly Welles

Weekend Highlights: Don’t be a dick

20 April 2015


Someone’s always got to spoil it, haven’t they?

Scrolling through my timeline this morning, I was delighted to see almost universal support for Reading ‘keeper Adam Federici, whose mistake at Wembley cost his side a place in the FA Cup final.

And then this happens. Alright, it’s not an invitation for Federici to self-immolate, like those Sue Perkins received after she was erroneously linked to the Top Gear job, but it’s the same principle. An utter failure to grasp that the effects of social media are tangible on a human level.

And just because you can say something, it doesn’t mean you should.

Even Arsenal fans, who, given the trophy drought their side have experienced in recent years, value the opportunity as much as Liverpool (more on them later), have largely supported Federici. Mostly, I presume, because they’re football fans and would much rather see Arsenal beat Reading through skill and guile.

Not a bloke making a mistake in front of millions during the biggest game of his life.


In this case, the support for Federici has overwhelmed the few negative responses and with any luck he’ll be able to get over this and continue his career.

But while Perkins remains in absentia, we still have little to be proud of.


While we’re on a self-reflection tip, it’s only right we chuck a word or two of credit in the general direction of Tim Sherwood.

Sherwood has provided countless hours of lols with his gilet chucking ass hattery and win percentages, but he’s somehow defied the laws physics to turn a spluttering, sinking Villa side around and steer her into safer waters and an FA Cup final at the expense of Brendan’s tragedy of titanic proportions.

The once-thought-unsinkable fantasy of Steven Gerrard’s career came to a grinding halt against opposition that just a few months ago presented no threat whatsoever, and Liverpool fans are rightly shattered. 

With the most skilfull crew members reportedly contemplating abandoning ship, Brendan is going to have work pretty hard to get his own juggernaught on the right course again.


Speaking of unexpected collapses, World Football Phone-In’s very own legendinho Tim Vickery mentioned that Argentina’s Alejandro Sabella recently claimed to be in talks with Manchester City over the soon-to-be vacated management position.

It’s not a bad shout. Even the biggest clubs have to have fallback positions.


By Kelly Welles

Churchill & Blatter: More in common than you might think

17 April 2015


“Never was so much owed by so few to so many.”

Well, now you come to mention it...


By Kelly Welles

With apologies to The Sugarhill Gang…

17 April 2015

A new series of “sports-based comedy panel game” A League of Their Own starts in May.

I seriously suggest you go out.


By Kelly Welles

Ich bin ein Telegraph reporter…

16 April 2015


We don’t go to press conferences.

That’s mostly because we’re not a proper press outlet and we don’t often get invited, but another reason is that a wilful lack of organisation leaves us wide open to the possibility of setting out to live blog an important announcement involving a major European club and at the last minute finding out it’s all in German.


Thanks to the Telegraph and Ben Bloom in particular for reassuring us that hideous gaffes aren’t confined to hapless,ill-prepared buffoons like our good selves.


By Kelly Welles


H/T @_dangibson.

Champions League: Bite me

16 April 2015

Paris St Germain 1-3 Barcelona


Think what you like, but it’s a testament to Luis Suarez that he can generate more headlines through skill than a man who may or may not have bitten Mario Mandzukic in the same bundle of Champions League fixtures.


But while the former Liverpool striker basks in the glory of the brace that effectively ended PSG’s hopes of a Champions League semi-final place, Sideshow David Luiz will need all of his famous sense of humour to appreciate the memes the internet spewed forth seconds after his equally notorious defensive indiscipline was exploited for the second time in twelve minutes.

“I had to nutmeg Luiz twice because there was nothing else I could do.” Suarez said afterwards.

You could have taken a chunk out of his face, Luis. At least he’d have been able to look in a mirror this morning.


FC Porto 3-1 Bayern Munich

A man who’ll probably be doing little else is Ricardo Quaresma.

The Porto winger wouldn’t have been criticised for looking on in bewilderment as Manuel Neuer and Dante made early errors, but he capitalised on both, putting Porto 2-0 up after ten minutes and startling the hell out of those of us watching events unfold via score update apps.

It ended 3-1, leaving us with the tantalising prospect of an incredible Bayern fightback at the Allianz, or the slightly less tantalising prospect of Porto sticking ten men behind the ball for ninety minutes.



Atletico Madrid 0-0 Real Madrid


If tactical mindgames are a less enticing prospect to you than bloodshed and tarting about, you’d be better off getting your busy work done next Tuesday night, so you can devote your full attention to the second leg of this match on Wednesday.


The 0-0 scoreline not only presents us with a ‘competitive’ replay of last year’s final but the very real possibility of Mario Madzukic being beaten to death on live television. Or eaten.

Either works.


Juventus 1-0 Monaco

I refuse to comment on Juventus until Arturo Vidal sorts out his hair.

arturo kid

Seriously dude. This is not ok.


By Kelly Welles

Iain Dowie: That’s what Sky Sports do to ya!

15 April 2015

We knew Sky Sports was having a detrimental effect on football in this country but we had no idea their influence was so pervasive.

This guy’s got a masters degree in engineering, for crying out loud.


That said, at least we now have a plausible explanation for Jamie Redknapp.


By Kelly Welles


Charles N’Zogbia: STOP! HAMMER TIME!

14 April 2015



By Kelly Welles

Portsmouth FC: Return of the Slack (jowled manager)?

14 April 2015


There comes a point when supporting a football club becomes less of a vocation and more of a cruel and unusual punishment.

One wonders what crime Portsmouth fans could possibly have committed in order to earn this possibility from the cosmos, on top of all the other crap they’ve had to put up with in recent years.

Nah, you say. It’s just scaremongering by one of Portmouth’s news outlets.


Then you’re directed to the other runners and er…riders.


I reached out to our Portsmouth FC correspondent Luke Moore, but he was unavailable for comment.

He’s presumably on a flight to Bermuda.


By Kelly Welles


H/T @tylrwllsn.

Weekend Highlights: Hedging it

13 April 2015


It didn’t take long for Manchester United to become annoying again, did it?


There we were, all rejoicing in seeing the club who’ve dominated football in the Premier League era flounder about in the murk of mid-table, sack their manager, continue being awful under the auspices of a man whose tactical nous inspires nothing but awe in his fellow professionals, and then they go and put a run together that (at least mathematically) puts them in contention for the title.

It’s actually worse now, isn’t it? At least when they were dominant, we were used to it.

This feels like getting a glimpse of the sunshine only to have the trapdoor slammed shut on your head repeatedly to the sound of Simply Red’s ‘Fairground’.



Fear not though. There’s a race on in La Liga after Barcelona went 2-0 up and ended up drawing 2-2 with a sprightly Sevilla side whose unbeaten run at home now extends to thirty-two games

The first of Sevilla’s goals was scored byEver Banega, whose biggest claim to fame until this point was that he drove over himself at a petrol station.


One of the few feats in Spanish football that Cristiano Ronaldo is unlikely to emulate. He’ll have to make do with using his Twitter feed to shill his comfy, microfibre knickers.


If I wanted to be horribly unfair to Jon Parkin (who thankfully doesn’t shill pants on Twitter), I could say that the reason he went for this shot from just over the halfway line was that he couldn’t be arsed to run with the ball.

But then I’d be no different to certain pundits who dismissed Charlie Adam’s effort vs. Chelsea as a Goal of the Season contender because it was “long & straight”.

Where’s the joy (and dignity) in that?


NAC Breda manager Robery Maaskant made Tim Sherwood’s cagoule tossing antics look like the work of an amateur on Saturday evening, punching clean through his dugout after his side let a 2-0 lead slip against fellow relegation strugglers Dordrecht.


In other ‘breaking’ Breda news, former T4 presenter June Sarpong appears to be playing midfield for Breda.

That’s nice, isn’t it? I’ve been wondering what happened to June.


Speaking of handsy men with anger management issues, Samuel Eto’o nutmegged Philippe Mexes in the build-up to Roberto Soriano’s opening goal.


Has he not seen what happened last time Mexes lost his rag?


By Kelly Welles


Images via facebook.

Dion Dublin’s Dube-ilant Debut

13 April 2015


Five seconds into his ‘Homes Under The Hammer’ debut, Dion Dublin is already working the product placement angle.*

*He’s not. It’s a dastardly Photoshop gag. But if the BBC wasn’t a publicly funded organisation…


By Kelly Welles

From the inbox of Kelly Welles…

10 April 2015


... this arrived in my inbox earlier.

I honestly can’t remember whether I signed up for ‘Lady Fashion’ or ‘Schmucks’.

I should be more careful with this interweb business, really.


By Kelly Welles

England U19 Women: You couldn’t write this

10 April 2015

If I was commissioned to write a piece of fiction specifically designed to articulate the differences in perception between men’s and women’s football, I’d probably talk about the vast discrepancies in investment, media coverage and grass roots support.

I’d also probably mention Sepp’s infamous shorts remark, but only because, eleven years on, it still irritates me.

I certainly wouldn’t come up with a convoluted story about encroachment into the penalty area that resulted in the referee awarding an indirect free kick to the opposition instead of a retake, seconds before the end of a match.

It wouldn’t occur to me in a million years that any reader would buy the idea that a men’s game could end, then be ordered to restart in injury time five days later and the penalty to decide whether a team qualified for a European tournament be retaken.

Mostly because that would be totally unbelievable and my credibility (shush) as a writer would rightly be in tatters, wouldn’t it?


By Kelly Welles

Mario Balotelli: Get well soon

9 April 2015


The thermometer in a hot beverage to heat it up, the pained, weak expression.

Proof that we’re actually ill and not simply pulling a well deserved sickie is easy enough to fake, assuming you remember to not update your facebook page with pictures of yourself down the boozer later in the day.

In fact, the only confirmation that Mario was indeed too poorly to play in Liverpool’s FA Cup replay vs. Blackburn Rovers last night was that he hadn’t bothered to do his hair.

Poor bugger. He must be feeling like shit.


By Kelly Welles

Innocent Emeghara: By fair means or foul?

8 April 2015


Guilty by way of foul.

Next case, Olmes Garcia. Has anyone seen him?


By Kelly Welles


Screengrab by Stephen I. Tucker. Thanks Stephen!

To gilet or not to gilet? That is the question

8 April 2015

Whether it was a gilet or a coat appears to be a point of contention.

What is not in dispute is that this mascot is definitely, certainly, unarguably sporting a gilet.


Something died in football yesterday evening, people. Mourn its passing.


By Kelly Welles


Easter Weekend Highlights: Voyeur-check Szczesny & other disturbing pictures

7 April 2015


Benched since the smoking unpleasantness, it was always likely that Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was going to find something else to do in the showers.

Hanging about in your pants and socks with a camera though? Really? What will Arsene say?


Oh, never mind.



Being a football writer of sorts, I’ve given Cristiano’s Alaskan hat-trick against Granada a lot of thought.

My conclusion? He could have scored all nine and it still wouldn’t make me feel any better about this haircut.


It even startled Rémy Cabella, whose ‘do in the Wear/Tyne derby was brave to say the least.



Ezequiel Lavezzi. A popular figure on the Marseille football scene



Putting the utterly catastrophic timing aside for a second (seriously, does no-one involved have an advisor?) this has to be one of the most baffling product tie-ins football has ever produced.


And yes, I’m including the St Pauli toaster in that, too.


By Kelly Welles

Raheem Sterling: Short changed

7 April 2015

Listening to Raheem Sterling’s now infamous interview, one thing is clear. For a footballer of twenty reportedly earning about thirty grand a week, he sounds like a remarkably well-adjusted, sensible person.

The kind of kid we’d all love to have in our team. Committed, mature, and eager to play football without the distraction of a high profile contract negotiation and the inevitable press furore that would provoke.

Not here, you don’t, son.


If you read the media coverage of the interview with the BBC’s Natalie Pirks, rather than listening to it in full as I finally got round to doing on Friday, you probably believe Raheem Sterling’s assertion that he’s refusing to negotiate his contract because “he wants to focus on his game” is a tactic to alert ‘bigger’ clubs to his availability for the right price.

You might have shaken your head at the Machiavellian maneuvering of his agent Aidy Ward, and scoffed at how foolish he was to do the interview in the first place.


And that take on it may well be accurate.

But have any of the reporters and news outlets covering the story stopped to consider the possibility that Raheem Sterling might have been telling the truth? No, because that outcome is dull and conclusive. Not open to discussion or worse, further, wilder interpretation.


Come on, be honest, who’s not disappointed when the devious, feckless, frequently toothless protagonist passes the lie detector test on The Jeremy Kyle Show and proves he’s the kid’s dad?

It defeats the point of the whole sordid exercise.

Popular culture isn’t about the truth, it’s all about the narrative. At best, about getting the headline that generates the most sales, the most clicks, the most lather. At worst, having something to stick on that caterwauling front page that needs feeding every half an hour in these days of twenty-four hour news.

And that’s just the outlet.

For the writer it runs deeper. Finding that angle no one else has. Attracting the most attention so you’re spotted by the faces and yanked into the VIP area to be showered in champagne and the recognition you so richly deserve. Because otherwise, you’re just the same as every other fucker with a keyboard and an ambition.

I should know.


No one would give a rat’s arse, or indeed know anything about Sterling’s contract negotiations if the press hadn’t made a huge story out of it.

In much the same way as no-one would have questioned Sterling omission from the team to face Estonia back in October if we hadn’t been obsessing over every detail of Hodgson’s team for that Euro 2016 qualifier. As it was, the question was asked, and answered.


“He came to me and said: ‘Look I really am feeling a little tired,’” Hodgson told a press conference.

How was that honesty rewarded?

“How can a kid of nineteen possibly be tired?!” screamed the headlines, in a font usually reserved for impending nuclear attack. At the time, I found the question so ludicrous I was moved to write a piece about it for this very website.

The conclusion being that it we now live in an age where if anyone does anything that is perceived to be remotely unusual or different from accepted practice, the media go absolutely postal.


Despite the fact that Albert Einstein, senior football correspondent for The Daily Pillock, once defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

I read a book a few months ago about Aussie Rules football and the relationship between the clubs and media and how that influenced the public perception and development of the sport itself. Although the focus of the book (Night Games: Sex, Power and Sport by Anna Krien) was an allegation of rape on a female fan by a player, the book frequently cited the incestuous relationship between reporters and clubs as being an inhibiting factor in transparency and accountability of the sport.

The author concluded that, as fans of the game since boyhood, white, male journalists are thrilled to become part of the fabric of the game and this can, in turn, affect their impartiality.

supp use

Is it unreasonable to suggest that English football culture might suffer a similar malaise?

I don’t think so. Even putting aside a ‘jobs for the boys’ mentality that has been blamed by some for the game’s failure to limit incidents of racism, sexism and homophobia, this commitment to a particular way of doing things has to stem from somewhere.


In other words, we’ve become so used to the the media’s interpretation of events that we allow ourselves to be drawn into that narrative, regardless of whether it’s true, partially true or simply the fevered imaginings of some hack with a deadline to fulfill and an editor who thinks Malcolm Tucker is a bit soft in the delivery.

I’m very aware that I keep saying this. But while pretty much everyone else’s stock in trade remains “how shit are England?”, I plan to continue.

We, as fans who would collectively explode with the heat of a thousand suns if England were to lift a major trophy, need to remember that while a media narrative is entertaining, it’s not necessarily the only take on an issue. If there even is an issue. And it’s certainly not conducive to our players performing in major tournaments.

Let’s just take a breath before we start on Sterling for being a money-grabbing fancy dan, shall we? If nothing else, the kid seems to have a mind of his own.

We could at least do him the courtesy of the same thing if we want him to perform in a tournament for us.


By Kelly Welles


Images via koptalk, twitter.

The Magnificent Gorgie Boys: All Heart

2 April 2015


Just when you thought things couldn’t get any better for Marcus Speller’s Magnificent Gorgie Boys, it’s been announced that Hearts will wear a charity logo on their shirts when they return to top flight football next season.

The club, whose financial state under the auspices of Vladimir Romanov was neatly (if not altogether sensitively) summed up by the logo of controversial payday loan company Wonga being emblazoned across players’ chests as they trudged Championship-wards, will wear Save The Children’s logo next season after a deal was struck between owner Ann Budge and a group of Hearts supporting donors.


The group, who have chosen to remain anonymous, are reported to be making a seven figure donation that will be split between the club and the charity; money Hearts say “will be used to repair key infrastructure at Tynecastle Stadium and strengthen [the] academy programme.”


Budge said of the deal, “It demonstrates that - with a bit of lateral thinking - things can be done differently in football. We don’t have to be constrained by the statement that we hear all too often: ‘This is how things are done in football.’”

This really is tremendous news for football. And we’re saying this despite the fact that Spellsy’s gone all vain glorious.

Certainly not because of it.


By Kelly Welles

International Incidents: Pound Land!

1 April 2015

Italy 1-1 England


Alright, it wasn’t the scorching, free scoring romp we were all secretly hoping for after Harry Kane’s debut, but when you look at how we’ve treated those who came before him and the effect it’s had on their careers, it’s probably for the best that the Spurs prodigy can return to his club, play for the U21s and be relieved of the pressure being England’s Great Hope brings.

I know. This “patience will be rewarded” approach bores the shit out of me, too.

But not as much as the It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming! football’s coming home! ... oh, wait, we’ve failed to get out of the group stages one.


Israel 0-1 Belgium

Vincent Kompany got sent off in Belgium’s Maroune Fellaini-inspired victory over Israel.

Not for this though, surprisingly.


Portugal 0-2 Cape Verde

Cape Verde fans celebrate/look on with rising disbelief as their side beat Portugal in their own backyard.

Pete Donaldson was just out of shot.


Netherlands 2-0 Spain

Spain lost.

Del Bosque’s face in this picture goes some way to explain their success in recent years.

I mean, you wouldn’t want to piss him off, would you? If Victor Valdes is in goal for Manchester United on Saturday, we’ll know why.


Switzerland 1-1 USA


Instagram revolutionary and brief Barnsley botherer Brek Shea “pounded” one into the top corner last night In the USA’s 1-1 draw with Switzerland.

We love you, American cousins!


By Kelly Welles

Let’s see if we can get a couple of the lads…

1 April 2015

Given the resources at their disposal, you’d imagine that Manchester City could have come up with something a little better than their kit man in a ginger beard for April Fools’ Day.

Although, saying that… does anyone get the impression Bacary Sagna still doesn’t get it?


By Kelly Welles

20 Seconds In. AKA…

31 March 2015

... the startling moment when you realise that Dani Alves continuing to studiously ignore a media intrusion would have been the best course of action.


By Kelly Welles

Kevin Keegan says: Ooh, that’s a dig!

31 March 2015

“I had to make a decision on whether I wanted to stay at Liverpool after returning from my loan spell with Napoli and then Bayern approached me,” Pepe Reina has reportedly told German sports magazine, Kicker.

“It is not easy to join a club realising you will be a substitute. It was clear Manuel Neuer would be the No.1 at Bayern.

“But the prospects at Liverpool were not good for me. I preferred a move to a major club like Bayern over a spot on the bench at Liverpool.



By Kelly Welles