Saturday, 26 December 2009
A gripping spectacle is always guaranteed whenever the local rivals meet, often attracting some of the biggest crowds in the Ryman League.
And there'll be all to play for, with only four points separating the two sides and with Carshalton looking to follow up their 5-0 demolition of Northwood in the FA Trophy.
Sutton Utd - Form
Sutton currently find themselves placed just outside the playoff berths in 9th, having endured an inconsistent campaign thus far.
Most recently, the Us enjoyed a 1-0 win in the Surrey Senior Cup away to league counterparts Tooting & Mitcham, thanks to a goal from autumn signing Charlie Taylor.
In a game which the Us largely dominated, Paul Doswells team would have been disappointed they didnt score more, having essentially played a 4-2-4 formation and with Tooting down to ten men in the 2nd half.
Sutton's most recent league result, was a dogged 1-1 draw to highflying Kingstonian, albeit following two straight defeats at the hands of Tooting and Hornchurch.
Arguably Sutton's high point of the season so far, has come in the FA Cup, where they tenaciously fought their way to the 1st round proper, before succumbing to Hereford United 2-0.
Carshalton meanwhile, have gone four games without a league win, but a convincing win over Northwood in the FA Trophy would have helped boost morale.
Sutton Utd - Players to watch
Kevin Scriven - An experienced goalkeeper who was a part of the Havant & Waterlooville team that played at Anfield in the FA Cup last year.
Sam Gargan - Sutton United's leading goalscorer, formerly of Brighton & Hove Albion.
Matt Hann - A dynamic right winger, who has football league experience with Peterborough United.
Steve Watts - An experienced striker, who has made over 100 football league appearances. Currently making his way back to full fitness.
-Haven't won in the league since November.
-The Robins have also only won once on their travels in their past six away games.
-Will host Sutton United for the return fixture to Colston Avenue, just eight days after this encounter.
-Have the 2nd highest average home attendance record in the league, behind Dartford, of 560.
- But they've only picked up one win in their past six home matches.
- They have the fourth best defence in the division, based on goals conceded.
The Key Battles
If there is one glaring weakness of Sutton United then it is their lack of firepower up front. So much so, that Sutton boss Paul Doswell admits this: "Talking to the supporters after the game I think they realise that were playing some decent football but that the results have been frustrating. And rather like last season I think if we had a Bobby Traynor or a Richard Jolly, someone to guarantee you twenty goals a season, then we'd be fine," he said after their 1-0 win over Tooting.
Stirker Charlie Taylor was signed from Grays in a bid to cure Sutton's goal scoring troubles and itll be interesting to see how he copes against the likes of Carshalton's Joe Dolan and David Ray.
Meanwhile for the Robins, Richard Jolly and Craig Faulconbridge will be hoping their partnership continues to flourish, having netted 22 goals between them so far this campaign.
Wednesday, 9 December 2009
Monday, 30 November 2009
Sunday, 8 November 2009
Sunday, 1 November 2009
This story "The death of Polaroid" is a piece by business correspondent Jim Boulden. My contributions included - researching the piece, helping on the shoot and securing the interview of the polaroid user.
It aired on Quest Means Business:
Thursday, 29 October 2009
Well now is your chance to find out! Send your questions to Emmanuel Adebayor now, as part of CNN International's renowned sports coverage.
Click on the link below:
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
It’s a Saturday afternoon in 1981 and on ITV’s World of Sport Big Daddy is about to grapple with his arch-nemesis Giant Haystacks. All the family, including the grandparents, are gathered around the TV to witness the ensuing spectacle with millions of others across the UK. What they saw was a true clash of the titans and one where Big Daddy would claim a famous victory.
It was this weekly battle of good and evil that captivated a nation for over thirty years. For families and the working man, this was the staple diet of television viewing. Placed in the schedules at 4pm every Saturday, in order to fill time prior to the football final scores, it quickly became a British institution.
GOOD VS EVIL
National treasures, and indeed villains, such as Mick McManus, Adrian Street, Mark Rocco and the mysterious masked Kendo Nagasaki, were born. Coupled with the enigmatic commentary of Ken Walton, suddenly this was a winning formula. When these stars came to your local town, you could be sure that your local civic hall would rapidly fill up in a flash.
Mal Mason was in the industry at the time, as a referee in the ring and also driver to one of the stars of the time Jackie “Mr TV” Pallo. “It was absolutely fabulous of course. Now it is phoning and asking for a job, then it was phoning and asking if you could have a night off. We would be working seven nights a week and in the summer you would be at a holiday camp during the day and then a show at night. TV created British superstars, it created national heroes and also around the world and it did this long before WWE.”
BEHIND THE SCENES
The secret to this success was largely down to the organisation behind the scenes thanks to Joint Promotions and in London the Dale Martin Promotion. Split up regionally all over the UK, during the 60’s the company was running over 4,000 shows a year and some cities even had a weekly event. So why exactly was it so popular?
Alan Bamber, founder of www.wrestlingheritage.co.uk, links the success down to boxing’s popularity. “Boxing was really in its heyday in the 50’s and 60’s, so wrestling based itself around it and grabbed an audience. It was mainly a working class sport. Tickets were cheap, all the family could get involved and it was an outlet.”
Wrestling’s television success in the UK may well be remembered for its heyday in the 1960’s but in reality audiences across the country for their live shows began to slowly decline towards the end of that decade. Local shows were cut back and future stars were prevented from coming through the ranks. With the same names of Pallo, McManus and Kellet continuously topping the bill, the public stayed away.
WHO’S THE DADDY?
In 1975, Max Crabtree picked up the reigns of Joint Promotions as he set about to unveil the next star of British wrestling to the world. The result was the birth of a legend, in the form of “Big Daddy.” A six foot two ex-bodybuilder, well into his forties and weighing around 26 stone with a 64-inch chest, Big Daddy (real name Shirley Crabtree) was hardly an archetypal athlete. Hulk Hogan he certainly wasn’t. Having seemingly quit the sport in 1960, Crabtree had been out of work for 15 years until lured out of retirement by his brother; newly appointed promoter Max.
Despite his apparent lack of conditioning, the public lapped it up. Adored by senior citizens and kids alike, Big Daddy was the new face of British wrestling. He defeated virtually all opponents who came before him, normally with the thorough use of his infamous “belly splash.” His feuds with Mick McManus, Giant Haystacks and his notorious unmasking match with Kendo Nagasaki brought in the ratings and breathed new life into the sport. As his popularity grew so did UK wrestling as a whole. He even had brief foray in children’s television, and in 1982 was due to front the replacement show for Tiswas but he withdrew at the last minute for unknown reasons.
The Big Daddy craze appeared at first to do the trick for the industry. There was genuine interest once again, but it was only a short-term success. The shows were now being targeted primarily at children, interested in the Big Daddy character, while the older audience began to become unhappy.
A LONG GOODBYE
The beginning of the end of the World of Sport era of British wrestling came in 1985. ITV controller of sport Greg Dyke had to drop a sport from the programme and his choice came between snooker, darts and wrestling. Unfortunately for the Crabtrees, it was wrestling which was dropped. It was his decision, which caused irreversible damage.
One wrestler who had enjoyed exposure on World of Sport, was Eddie “The Amazing Kung Fu” Hamill. He feels that Dyke misjudged the market. “Greg Dyke pulled the plug on wrestling on TV because for a start, he didn’t like wrestling, to him it was neither a sport or entertainment. He thought the only people that watched it were old grey haired OAPs and that it did not appeal to the younger generation, which was rubbish, as even today, I still get fan mail from people who watched me when they were kids.”
Meanwhile the influx of American wrestling could also have played its part. Phil Allely, is a wrestling correspondent for The Sun. “I think it may not have been taken seriously as a legitimate sport. It takes someone to have the interest in it and it didn’t have the following or the backing at the time. Wrestlemania was taking off and that’s when we started having these big muscular guys like Hulk Hogan appearing, it was different.” Indeed Wrestlemania began in 1985 the same year British wrestling was dropped from World of Sport.
THE ‘FAKE’ DEBATE
The major debate though which surrounded wrestling was the issue of the legitimacy of the sport. Arguably one reason for wrestling’s success was that the majority of those watching thought they were seeing a real fight. The debate constantly raged within the crowds about whether it was fixed, while newspapers tried to expose the industry. The credibility of wrestling was dealt a major blow when Jackie Pallo revealed in 1985 in his autobiography that all his fights were fixed. In the same year, The Sun also got in on the act, with Tommy ‘Banger’ Walsh exposing that he used to cut his face to please “blood thirsty” fans. Only a few months later, Greg Dyke had made his decision.
When the television coverage had gone British wrestling began to decline. As we moved into the 1990’s, the Crabtree’s retired, including Big Daddy and the rest of the World of Sport stars soon joined them. The US promotions of World Championship Wrestling and World Wrestling Entertainment quickly began to boom and British wrestling appeared to be long forgotten.
RETURN OF THE RING?
So as we pass over 20 years since British wrestling was last on our screens, can it ever return? The Sun’s pro wrestling correspondent Rob McNichol believes that a TV route might be too big a task. “TV is a ‘lookist’ medium. If the setup doesn’t look right, then of course you are going to discriminate. If I were a UK promoter I would just concentrate on being a solid base for these young wrestlers to develop and hopefully break into the big time.”
The Amazing Kung Fu, also fears it can’t return. “It was great to be part of the wrestling in the 70s and 80s. I wish I could go back to those fabulous times, I really miss them. The good old days of World of Sport have gone, never to return. They’re gone but not forgotten”.
There may though be some cause for optimism. Fast forward through to the present and the industry seems to be enjoying somewhat of a resurgence. With the WWE and now Total Non-stop Action wrestling, touring in the UK twice a year, the interest in the British form has picked up as well. After a tough period in the 90’s more promotions than ever are in business and importantly attracting the crowds. One of the market leaders is All Star Promotions, which is now the biggest promotion in Europe.
Friday, 18 September 2009
The Spitfires have been top of division all season, and secured their 1st division status after drawing with Leicestershire at New Road.
Robert Key’s men ensured they only spent a sole season in the competition’s lower tier, having been relegated from the 1st division in the 07-08 season.
Kent overcame the disappointment of missing out on the 20/20 cup, with comprehensive wins against Northamptonshire and local rivals Surrey.
They are also in contention for promotion in the one-day format too, currently lying in third position of the 2nd Division of the Natwest Pro40, just one place short of automatic qualification.
Having enjoyed a four match winning run at the start of the competition, they have since suffered two straight defeats at the hands of Lancashire and Warwickshire, with one match remaining.
Sunday, 13 September 2009
The story (such as there is one) pivots around the fighting force of the 'Joes' (pumped up versions of masculinity) and their bid to protect to world from evil.
Well in truth the narrative doesn't get more complicated than that, and in a nutshell that is the fundamental problem.
The plot is so basic, that you don't feel emotionally invested in the film, and when a 'twist' does come, its signposted so obviously that its not surprising in the slightest.
The script is also a total dog's dinner. All the characters sound the same and are two dimensional, while there are numerous cringeworthy one liners which fall well short of the comedic barrier.
Further disappointment comes from virtually all the main perfromances, where seemingly everyone has a dodgy accent.
Christopher Eccleston (although an excellent Doctor Who) is a Brit playing a Scot (with disastrous consequences) while Jonathon Pryce (another Brit) is the US President yet has an English accent.
Sienna Millar runs around scantilly clad for no reason whatsoever, Channing Tatum and Marlon Wayans were as wooden as they come, while the CGI was used so heavily it became irritating to watch.
Thankfully I'm not the only one of this opinion, with the average score currently on IMDB only 6 out of 10, a low score for such a high-profile blockbuster.
What's not so thankful is that there's a sequel rumoured...
Verdict: Rubbish of the highest order that will make you want to tear your own hair out while watching it 3/10
Monday, 17 August 2009
The Fairtrade Foundation granted the award based on the University’s commitment to promoting Fairtrade products and policies around the campus.
The foundation highlighted the range of Fairtrade products on sale in the SU shop and the two Fairtrade coffee shops - in Weymouth House and outside the library - as its particular
BU’s Environmental Officer Amanda Williams said: “The progress over the past two years has been incredible and this is thanks to the co-operation of so many people at the University, including the Students Union, the Catering Manager from Scolarest and the Staff Common Room.
“This award is just the beginning. To maintain our status, the University must continue to develop in this area and report to the Fairtrade Foundation on an annual basis.”
Examples of Fairtrade products on campus include cotton-hooded tops in the SU shop and Fairtrade fruit sold in the refectory.
The Fairtrade foundation was set-up to ensure third world and disadvantaged producers of goods are not exploited.
Published in The Wire - www.bwire.co.uk
Monday, 3 August 2009
The event’s aim is to engage the local community with the church’s activities and showcase its role within the area.
Pastor Malcolm Newman said: “This is an ideal opportunity for the church to open it’s doors to the local community, for them to see round the building and enjoy some fellowship in the process.”
The event will run from 1.30pm to 5pm and the entrance is through the main doors of the church.
Cream teas will also be on offer between 2pm to 4.30pm
Wednesday, 29 July 2009
Thanks to seven wins out of a possible ten, Kent topped the Southern division and booked their place in the quarterfinals, with guaranteed home advantage.
The 2007 winners and last year’s runner’s up, racked up home and away victories against Hampshire, Middlesex and local rivals Surrey as they cruised into the knockout phase.
Their latest victory came at Beckenham, where got the better of a beleaguered Surrey side by 16 runs.
Meanwhile in the four day format, it was fundamental for Kent to get off to a good start, with the heartache of relegation from the LV County Championship top flight last year undoubtedly still in their minds.
And that’s exactly what they did, thanks to two victories and two draws in their first four encounters.
The pick of their wins came at Chelmsford with a crushing defeat of Essex by 192 runs.
But when Essex made the return trip to Beckenham they would exact revenge and inflict upon Kent their first defeat of their 2009 division two campaign. They currently lie in fourth position with a game in hand.
However, in the Friends Provident Trophy, a fifty over competition, Kent were to enjoy less success after being eliminated in the group stages.
After opening the tournament with a heavy defeat at the hands of Somerset, the Spitfires then set themselves up nicely with three victories in a row.
Off spinner James Tredwell took 6-27 as Kent overcame Middlesex by six wickets, before opener Joe Denly amassed an unbeaten 97 to record an impressive win over Scotland.
Their third victory was largely thanks to former South African International Justin Kemp who’s quick-fire 45 from 52 balls guided Kent home against Warwickshire.
From thereon, the Spitfires couldn’t live up to their high standards and suffered three losses and a draw to miss out on qualification for the knockout stages.
Published in Bromley Life Magazine
The Brown Caps, who currently hold a mix of youth and experience within their squad, have enjoyed their most success in the four-day LV County Championship, where they currently lie 2nd in Division two.
After opening with a rain-affected draw against Gloucestershire at The Brit Oval and a disappointing loss to Derbyshire, Mark Butcher’s side have since remained on a four match unbeaten run.
The highlight of their season came in the form of an away win against Northamptonshire.
Surrey won by an innings and 95 runs after racking up a formidable total of 530, largely thanks to ex-England international Usman Afzaal’s 204 not out.
But despite being well placed for promotion back to the top tier, Surrey’s one-day form has been far from encouraging by comparison.
In the Friends Provident Trophy, a 50 Over competition, they slumped to five defeats in their eight group matches.
Flashes of brilliance were present though, especially in their emphatic 164 run win over Gloucestershire, which included a century from Mark Ramprakash.
But the consistency required to qualify for the knockout stages ultimately eluded them, unceremoniously finishing last in their division.
Their 20/20 campaign has been similarly tough, with only three wins from their ten matches in the southern division.
The inaugural 20/20 champions in 2003, the Brown Caps lost their final group game in a local derby against Kent at Beckenham.
They will be hoping their one-day form improves significantly ahead of the Natwest Pro40 competition, which begins later this month.
Published in Croydon Life Magazine
Thursday, 9 July 2009
The new technique has already helped surgeons at Bournemouth hospital to identify a potentially life threatening blood clot in a patient.
Geologist Nick Petford came across the idea when analysing how meteorites formed and the way in which liquid metal flowed within them.
Using image based modelling the meteorite was replaced by the heart, while the small cracks in the rock were replaced by the veins. Human blood then took the form of the liquid metal.
"If you have an image and you know fluid flows in it, you can solve the fluid flow for that specific geometry," said pro vice-chancellor Petford.
An MRI scan at Bournemouth hospital revealed a trapped flow of blood within the patient’s heart, but surgeons were unclear as to its whereabouts.
When the modelling software was implemented, led by Petford, the method correctly identified the location of the blood clot.
Although the technique is still in it’s formative stages, it could become commonplace within the industry in the future.
"The next step is to get funding to expand on the project. It could be good for a PHD student to take on."
Tuesday, 30 June 2009
Professor Adrian Newton, from the school of Conservation Sciences, will lead the project that will seek to prevent the extinction of 44 species of fruit and nut trees.
The university hopes to assist in sustaining the harvesting of fruit, nuts and crops, as well as combat deforestation.
"We need to understand the needs of the local people. We need to involve them, train them and if they are willing then they can take ownership. We don’t want to completely protect the forests, as these communities survive from them. This is their livelihood," added Newton.
With work underway, the project is set for completion in April 2012.
Monday, 15 June 2009
It’s been a common theme for British urban artists. Release an album or two in the UK, enjoy moderate success, but then jump ship, fly to America for the lucrative urban market, enjoy impressive results before returning firmly in the spotlight. Now though one artist is hoping to prove that that doesn’t need to be the case, as she attempts to break the mould and show that you don’t have to fly to America to be a success. And her name is Melodic Janelle.
The 21-year old R&B and gospel singer, hails from South London, and is looking to break into the public’s consciousness when her album Best Kept Secret is released in May. Until now, Janelle has enjoyed a steadily increasing amount of success. Indeed if her career path was plotted on a graph, then it would read as a progressive upward curve, peaking towards the crunch day in May. “At the moment we’re aiming to release the EP for then. We’re just looking to get something out there, and letting people know that I’m here.”
Janelle’s position is akin to thousands of other unsigned urban artists up and down the UK. A part of a generation brought up in a technological era of Channel U and Myspace, everyone and anyone nowadays can have their five minutes in the limelight if they want it. This is certainly a group of artists who are fighting to be heard. Is it any surprise then that British urban musicians are flying to America to broaden their careers?
Last year, in terms of urban music undoubtedly belonged to Estelle. But her success only came after becoming the latest artist from the UK to join the US market. Before she made the trip, Estelle was better known as a prolific rapper, but only achieved lukewarm success in the mainstream charts, with her album 18th day peaking at 35th in the UK album charts in 2004. Once in the US however, and after a collaboration with a certain Kanye West on single “American Boy”, the result was a Grammy award winning song that would top the UK charts for four weeks. And she is not the first to do this either. Natasha Beddingfield, Lemar and Joss Stone have followed suit, while in the past Sade and Floetry have made the jump as well.
For Janelle though, despite the potential fruits that the US has to offer, her priorities firmly lie with Britain. “I don’t think you have to go to America to make it. The British scene is strong, it could always be better, but people are making the breach. Tinchy Stryder, Sway, K.I.G are all doing it so it can be done.” Michelle Adabra, from www.britishhiphop.co.uk, feels that it’s the problems inherent in the UK industry, which cause artists to do this. “There are countless artists that have done what Estelle has. They often have to release in America first because no one has given them of a chance here. Race is still an underlying issue here. Urban artists are signed to major labels and they are still not being given enough attention. The scene in America is bigger, they have special urban charts as there is more demand and generally people have more time for you.”
Janelle faces a difficult journey then, into an industry which appears to be struggling to be accepted as mainstream nor to match its American counterparts. The Brit Awards looked to be celebrating urban music when it introduced the urban music category in 2003 but only four years later unceremoniously dropped the gong from the event. Even at this year’s ceremony, urban music was severely underrepresented, with Estelle being the only urban artist performing live on the night. There are though still some positive signs with urban radio station BBC 1Extra now firmly established in the mainstream media and with the Music Of Black Origin music awards in its 14th year, urban artists are now well represented in the public domain.
Janelle can also take heart from the media exposure unsigned artists like herself are receiving. While the main players at the peak of the industry up and leave to the US, the British unsigned scene is strong and competition to attract the attention of record labels is as fierce as ever. Fiona McKinson is a freelance music journalist, believes that unsigned acts have never been in a stronger position, “The strength comes in being proactive. Once these unsigned acts make enough noise, the mainstream major players want to get a slice of the action. Increasingly, unsigned acts are learning to play the game. It’s quite a strong position in that it is almost cool to be unsigned as the media clamour to capitalise on the appeal of the next big thing. It’s almost like championing the underdog – the X Factor philosophy.”
While the unsigned are now becoming empowered, the inevitable comparison of the British urban scene to America, threatens to undermine the industry. McKinson, adds “Many fans of urban music here still look at UK talent as a poor relation, to the US, and for various reason won’t give British accents on an R&B song or rap, a chance. But with grime, bass line or jungle before that, British fans had something to claim as their own and be proud of. It’s a big sticking point.”
Determined to stay in Britain and avoid being enticed by the American market, Janelle needs to stand out from a highly competitive field of artists. And the signs are encouraging. Few of her rivals are likely to have a CV or passion for the industry as strong as hers. Having sung all her life in her local church, it was when Janelle was 14 she was discovered by well renowned gospel singer Noel Robinson, who has played with Chaka Khan, East 17 and Mica Paris amongst others. “It’s been a blessing to work with Noel really, as he was the one who told me to believe in myself and that I can do this. Sometimes it’s the people behind the scenes that do the most.”
Another potential perk of the US, so attractive to budding British performers, is the connections with major industry contacts. For Janelle though, things have been going well in this department already, having teamed up with an impressive array of stars. The stand out of which is MOBO award nominated reggae star Watchman. She’s also performed in some stellar venues to boot with the world famous Jazz Café, the Brixton Academy and The Bob Marley Tribute restaurant in Florida all take pride of place in her experiences. But despite these top venues, it’s her performance at a small festival, which means the most to her. “Performing at Stonebridge carnival in south London every year was incredible. I would go back and people would be singing my songs, it was amazing.”
Janelle could also take another path into the industry, albeit a risky one, which many have used before with mixed success. It’s so hit and miss in fact, that artists seem to fall into two camps, there are those that embrace the route and others who firmly shun it in favour of going alone. The bone of contention is reality television and shows like the X factor. Interestingly Janelle agrees with those who avoid the reality TV journey, although with Leona Lewis and Alexandra Burke (who both have R&B roots and incidentally now in the US) winning the last two contests it can be appealing at times. “It is certainly tempting, but I know that I’m a sing songwriter as well, and if you don’t get far enough then record companies don’t have respect for you. You are just another X Factor contestant. It is more beneficial to graft from day one, and if you do and stick at it, then you’ll get respect and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
So as Janelle prepares for a busy few months ahead, what is the future of the industry she is trying to enter? Kwaku, editor of www.britishblackmusic.co.uk, believes there is every reason to be optimistic. “There will always be a British urban music sector. The level to which it is exposed or sustains careers of artists will depend on their will and us as consumers to support their musical activities. On the underground, there's definitely an expansion due to mix CD releases, free downloads, streaming, showcases and open mic nights, so things are improving all the time.”
It seems then that new artists such as Melodic Janelle, who are on the cusp of breaking into the industry are now in a stronger position than ever to be fully heard.
And she may not have to get on a flight to the US to do it either.
Thursday, 12 March 2009
Tuesday, 10 March 2009
What do you get when you cross golf with frisbee? Well if you had to answer, it is likely to be close to disc golf. Played in the UK for over 20 years, the sport is rapidly expanding all over the country and it could take place in a future Olympics. Matthew Kiernan went to Lloyd Park in Croydon to find out more.
"It’s a deer feeder isn’t it?" one woman asks as she approaches the pod like metal structure from across the park. "No it’s not, it is a booster cable for television signals," suggests another, prodding it like an alien habitat from Close Encounters. Such conversations have become commonplace across the country, as puzzled onlookers attempt to discover what these multiple steel constructions truly are. The answer of course is that it’s a disc golf target…obviously. Welcome to the world of disc golf.
A sport of US origin, disc golf has formally been in existence for nearly 50 years. A game full of flying discs and metal caged targets, the sport has been steadily growing here in the UK over the last few decades and now London has its very own course. So what is like to play?
The rules are simple. It’s basically just like golf, except instead of flagged pins as targets you have metal cages to aim at, and you use round plastic discs instead of a set of clubs. There are different types of discs too, with "drivers", "approach discs" and "putters." Again like golf, there are 18 holes each with a par difficulty level and plenty of hazards to guard the targets such as trees, hills and brambles.
Quite a change then from what I'm used to. As an experienced weekend golf hacker, who churns up courses on a weekly basis it was with some trepidation I met the Croydon Disc Golf club on a Sunday morning for their weekly practice. The reason for my apprehension is that its golfing counterpart has such a staunch upper class air about it. If you are not of a high standard, you are generally looked down upon and that can be quite intimidating for a beginner. As enjoyable as it is, to me it just seems to be about what clubs you have, having the right dress code and acting with the correct etiquette, and that's even before you've started.
With disc golf though, things couldn't be more different. There's no dress code to speak of, I'm sharing some discs from my group and everyone appears to be more relaxed than on a golf course; certainly ideal for a beginner like me.
Needless to say, despite these initial fears being calmed, there's the quite fundamental problem of me having never thrown a Frisbee since childhood. Surely they'll all just laugh at my inept lack of skill? And surely I'll just be holding them up during the round? The fact it's raining, near freezing and blowing a gale doesn't help settle my nerves ahead of my inaugural round. Why is this a good idea again?
We begin with a quick lesson, courtesy of Richard Wood, the chairman of the club. "So have you ever played disc golf before?" he asks.
"Er no..." I reply.
"Have you ever played Ultimate Frisbee before?"
"Er no...," fully expecting him to banish me from the course before we've even started.
"Great! A real novice then," he smiles and the lesson continues.
It’s this welcoming, ‘open to all’ attitude, which is definitely the most attractive things about the sport. Anyone of any age can go along and give it a go. I haven't touched a Frisbee since I was a kid, and yet these experienced guys, who happen to be brilliant, are prepared to let me join them.
As the lesson continues, I learn that the perfect technique involves standing side on to the target, followed by a run up, before a full 180-degree side on arm rotation to the release. In order to assist with the technique, I’m told it’s akin to flicking a towel at another school kid in the PE changing rooms. Sadly I was the regular recipient of such an act in my youth rather than the instigator, so such an analogy is lost on me.
With the imagery not working, the first hole understandably goes horribly wrong. After seeing my more technically versed partners produce perfectly curved attempts to within metres of the target, mine isn't worthy of comparison. With the wind bordering almost upon gale force proportions and the rain continuously beating down, my disc heads high and left, 45 degrees to where I'm standing to be precise, and into the adjacent playground.
"Don't worry it'll get better," say the others. Personally I'm not so sure...
Still at least I can take solace from the fact that I’m not the only one going through this as the sport itself is now steadily on the up in the UK. There are now nine British courses available and a year-long British tour of events to compete in. Croydon’s course is the newest of these and is the first of its kind in London. "It is not a massively serious game," explains Richard Wood. "You can make it serious if you want to, but generally speaking its people getting out there enjoying the fresh air, enjoying the social side of things and having fun." Another major plus point is that it is really cheap to play. You only need three discs to start off with, which will cost about £15-£20 and it’s free to play a round, which you can do at any time of the year. In these difficult economic times, it’s certainly a credit crunch beating sport to say the least.
Despite these clear benefits though, attracting new members to the sport has been a challenge. "Attracting local interest into actually playing is very difficult. We’re a small club and have 20 members, but in the long term we hope to have 100 plus members regularly playing and just get the game more widely known." With a substantial number of local Croydon schools having already having been trained and are teaching the sport; this looks like a strong contender for the national curriculum.
Back on the course, and things aren’t going well. We’ve just finished the front nine and I’ve just been informed things are about to get harder. Thus far, my wayward throwing has ensured I’ve spent more time out of bounds in the bushes than on the course itself. To hear things are about to get worse isn’t exactly appetising.
As we approach the 10th hole, I reflect upon my previous perceptions of the sport and how staggeringly different they are from reality. I thought you’d just stand a couple of feet away from the target, throw the disc in with little fuss and repeat 18 times and it would all be over within half an hour. How hard can that be? But halfway through, I’ve spent the last 90 minutes throwing a disc about 10 metres on average and been attacked by every type of bramble the park can throw at me when attempting to retrieve my wayward discs. I’m also about 50 over par (that’s not good if you are asking) and despite the best efforts of my colleagues showing little signs of improvement. I now find myself staring blankly at the traversing downhill tenth hole, with the tiny target a spec on the landscape, and it happens to be flanked by holly bushes and brambles and guarded front on by trees and puddles. Brilliant…
But just as I was about to give up something amazing happened. After what felt like a lifetime, I finally produced an effort that resembled a throw close to my playing colleagues. This was much to the delight of my mentor for the morning Jerry, who has been valiantly attempting to keep my spirits up during the round. "Now we’re getting somewhere," he says excitedly. For the first time today I actually believe he’s right and suddenly the remainder of the round doesn’t look so daunting.
So with team GB conquering all sports before them, could disc golf become their latest event in which they excel in 2012? Er…well… no, as the line up for the London Games has already been decided. It may well be included in the future however, and with notoriously physical sports like chess and darts being Olympic demonstration events in the past, Britain might be topping the podium yet. There is even a petition running to get disc golf into the 2016 Olympics with over 1400 signatures. Andy Cotgreave of the British Disc Golf Association isn’t so sure it can get there though. "Any sport has the potential to be an Olympic sport, but it involves a lot of politics and money and it’s all about the International Olympic Committee’s preferences. I don’t think we’ll see disc golf in the Olympics for the next 40 to 50 years." At least you’ll have time to train for the2060 Games then. But although its place in the Olympics may be far away, Cotgreave feels there are more pressing challenges ahead for the sport. "Disc golf is steadily growing. Quarry Park and Croydon have opened up recently and have been doing a great job, but in terms of disc sports we’re definitely in the shadow of Ultimate Frisbee. There used to be a steady flow of players changing from ultimate frisbee to disc golf as they got older, but that’s not happening as much any more. We’ve just got to keep spreading the word."
Meanwhile back on the course, we’ve just finished the 18th and I must say I’m absolutely shattered. Both physically (there were about ten hills too many for my puny legs) and surprisingly mentally as well. The concentration level needed on every shot is phenomenal. One slight lapse or slip of the fingers and the disc will simply fly in the wrong direction or worse still, not go anywhere at all, in my case! I’m now on first name terms with every bramble Lloyd Park has to throw at me. It makes the skill of my playing partners even more impressive. Match this with their enthusiasm in abundance for the sport and welcoming attitude to new players and it makes for a winning combination. So despite being soaked through from torrential rain and shivering from head to toe, this reporter is certainly converted.
And with such committed and welcoming players involved in the sport already, I’m sure I won’t be the last either.
For more information about Croydon Disc Golf visit http://www.croydondiscgolf.com/
Sunday, 1 March 2009
He was also able to analyse the footprints using a digital laser scanner to create 3D images in order to determine their age.
Monday, 23 February 2009
Thursday, 19 February 2009
Lets start with the positives, and the majority of the live performances were brilliant. The Kings of Leon were excellent, Duffy was pitch perfect and Take That stand out although I strongly suspect they mimed. There were, sadly, some exceptions (I'm looking at you Ting Tings and Estelle), but on the whole these were the highlights of the evening.
Unfortunately the rest seemed just too tacky to be taken seriously as the highlight of the British music year.
Kylie and co generally did a good job of hosting. But some crash and burn one liners and constant unnecessary references to Craig David often let them down.
Meanwhile how the presenters of the awards were chosen is mysterious to say the least. They were either incredibly famous (and more importantly music related) or personalities who simply looked lost and out of place.
Joe Calzaghe, a true sporting great, couldn't even remember what award he was presenting when being interviewed backstage, Jamie Cullum looked utterly dour while presenting Best British Male, and actor Nic Frost came out and said he didn't like live music...and then presented the Best Live Act award. At least guys like Sir Tom Jones and Lionel Richie were around to pick up the pieces.
The worst kind of crash and burn television though was the horrifically awful backstage segment sfronted by Ferne Cotton. I know you've got to fill time during these things, but this left a lot to be desired. Flanked by a plastic foliage and backed by a tacky caravan, Ferne's interviewing technique consistently came up short, a typical segment went as follows:
FC: How are you?
FC: Are you having a good night?
Ask open ended questions and you might get longer answers! Surely she does this all the time on her radio show and at places like Glastonbury?
All in all though, it was a solid live show, but let down by the chaos and just about everything else that was going on around it.
Verdict: 6 out of 10
Monday, 16 February 2009
The British University Championships in Sheffield represent the pinnacle of varsity sport. With over 24 sports taking place and over 5,000 athletes involved in competing, the stakes couldn’t be higher. Matthew Kiernan caught up with one of Bournemouth’s top medal prospects, Canadian heptathlete Jillian Drouin.
To fight to the finish and never give up. That’s the attitude of Jillian Drouin, Bournemouth’s highly rated multi-eventer. Last year proved to be the Canadian’s best season of her career, but after also simultaneously facing the anguish of missing out on qualification for the Beijing Olympics by the smallest of margins, she almost walked away from the sport altogether. Now though Drouin is back stronger than ever, and has London 2012 firmly in her sights, and hopes that the Indoor Championships in Sheffield later this month, is the first step to her achieving her Olympic dream.
Drouin has already enjoyed unprecedented success in varsity athletics, across the Atlantic in her native Canada. While representing Syracuse College she won back to back Eastern Universities titles in the heptathlon in 2007-8. In the process, she also recorded an Olympic B qualifying standard of 5,890 points, agonisingly close to the A standard 6,000 mark needed to automatically qualify for Beijing. Unfortunately for Drouin, she would ultimately just miss out on selection.
“At the time, it was a big disappointment”, said the 21 year-old. “But it was also a big jump up in points, and it was a real improvement for me, so I’ve got to be happy.” Such optimism is pleasing to see after what could have been a potentially fatal blow and cause some athletes to leave the sport completely. Not Jillian though. Despite not being at the Games and having to watch fellow countrywoman Jessica Zelinka power to 5th place in the heptathlon, Drouin is now targeting London in three years time. “My goal is definitely 2012. I want to reach for it. It was tough not being in China, but now I’m more determined than ever to get there.”
Having arrived in Bournemouth in September to pursue a chiropractic career at the Anglo European Chiropractic College at Lansdowne, Drouin took a cautious approach when returning to training. “I took three months off in the autumn, to settle down, get my studies in order and adjust to living in a new country. But it was also to recover after such a demanding
season. The heptathlon is so demanding, you can only ever do three or four competitions a year.”
Things also haven’t been easy in terms of re-locating. New students are almost always accustomed to swapping cities to move here to Bournemouth; Drouin though also had to swap continents. But while some may miss the traditional home comforts like television and home cooking, Drouin misses something else, namely her political activism. “I do miss being active like I was at Syracuse. Obviously there was a lot going on with George Bush was President, as a lot of people disagreed with what he was doing. But I still keep up with the latest while here.”
Now though the Canadian is fully settled. Having based herself at Kings Park athletics stadium in Boscombe, training has been going well and is injury free. During her three-month break she has also been part of the university basketball team, who currently lie in third place in their division one conference. “It was tough starting up again, but I’ve been steadily getting back into it and things have been going well. Competing in multi-events is so different and your always prone to injuries, so that was part of the reason for why for not committing to 2012 right away, as it takes a lot of work and commitment to get there.”
This is an important factor. Britain’s number one decathlete Dean Macey retired last year after battling with injuries for over a decade. Olympic heptathlon champion Carolina Kluft is now just concentrating on single disciplines because of injury worries. With a history of tendonitis and previous sprained ankles already in her career, Drouin may also follow suit. “I have thought about stopping heptathlon and specialising in high jump. Its certainly my fav
ourite event and enjoy the most. I started out as a high jumper before switching to multi-events so to return to it is always a possibility.” For now though, the heptathlon will continue to be Drouin’s event of choice.
With no multi-events available at the BUCS Championships in Sheffield, Drouin will be having a busy time over the two-day event, as she’ll be competing in no less than five events; the 60 metres, 60m hurdles, high jump, long jump and shot putt. But ever the professional, she’s not fazed at the challenge before her. “For indoor competition it’s always hard to predict. You always look to peak for the outdoor season and use the indoors as a comparison. At this time of the year, I would just like to be in decent shape. Obviously I’m going to try and win as many of the events as possible. I’ll just be happy if I’m at the same level that I was last summer.”
With such confidence and self-belief, it would be hard to bet against her.
The BUCS Championships will be held in Sheffield between the 11th-15th March. The indoor athletics will be held over the weekend.
Note: This is set to be published in Spring edition of The Wire and on www.bwire.co.uk
Photos taken by Jeff Chui and Rich Predoncelli
Tuesday, 10 February 2009
Now though the social networking site is causing a furore on campus at Bournemouth University after an official motion for a blanket campus ban is set for discussion at the latest Union General Meeting.
The debate is likely to be a fierce one, after all, this is the site that provides the staple diet of student's daily lives.
I for one, think this could be the ideal opportunity to rid Facebook from the campus for good as its largely counter productive for being available.
At the end of the day, we've all been there. With a few hours in hand between lectures, you need to find a computer to work on an essay or tackle some group work.
The likelihood is that you'll be unsuccessful in finding one available, especially in the peak hours from 10am-2pm.
Most people put this down to the lack of PC's on campus as a whole. A valid point. But what is even more frustrating is the sheer volume of students that aren't even doing work, but updating their status or messing around looking at drunken photos from the previous night.
If you ban this possibility altogether then this would surely put off people from dossing around and actually encourage them to do some work! Goodness forbid. Its not as if we're University students or anything...
The problem is also in classrooms of course. I can recall numerous occassions when a workshop in a computer room has had to be halted because a lecturer has had to tell people to exit the site.
Despite this though, a blanket ban is not the right way forward. Manchester University may have gone down this route, but Bournemouth shouldn't follow suit.
There are students who don't have Internet access at home and solely rely upon the use of the Internet on campus. It wouldn't be right to remove this access.
What Bournemouth should do is have dedicated Facebook computers. How about banning it from the library (a place of work after all?) and making it solely available in the Open Access Centre?
Or how about banning it from classrooms (where the problem persists) and keeping it available everywhere else?
Its a complicated issue, and one that is sure to reach boiling point when the UGM on Thursday comes around.
Friday, 30 January 2009
Thursday, 22 January 2009
It's an over used expression of course, but in this case it does it justice.
Barack Obama's Presidential inauguration was a truly remarkable for all concerned and the vast majority of Americans, and indeed the world, believe this is the start of something truly special.
The aura around him is astounding to say the least.
But for me, this occasion's significance was brought home while walking through the Bournemouth University campus in order to catch a bus.
What I witnessed, literally stopped me in my tracks.
In the Atrium (a walkway to lecture theatres), a plasma screen (usually containing gratuitous advertising) was actually broadcasting Obama's inauguration and around it were 30 students, stood intently, hanging on his every word.
This is without a doubt, the first time in two and a half years since being at the Uni, I've felt that my peers have wholeheartedly engaged with politics and actually shown a genuine interest in what's happening in the political world around them.
Now this isn't to say I haven't met some top quality thinkers and really kind people while here. Not at all. This is isn't have a bash at BU time. In fact I've met them in abundance.
But there just seems to be more emphasis on what happened last night when everyone was hammered, or when we're next going out, rather than questions like "did you see the news this morning?"
Still if Obama's inauguration can force 30 students, from what I would argue is a largely politically apathetic Uni (controversial I know...) then surely there's hope for this generation and BU students yet.
But as the speech drew to a close and as I walked away, my illusions were quickly shattered when I overheard a bloke say "so why is this so important then?"
Some things never change...
Wednesday, 14 January 2009
Deadlines are mounting, the overdraft is beginning to bite and of course time is allthewhile rapidly disappearing into the ether.
Such New Year blues are probably not helped then, with today's new research that students graduating this summer are to do so in the worst job environment in over two decades.
The top 100 graduate recruiters in the country are cutting back on recruiting students by 17% and most positions for 2009 on graduate schemes have already been filled due to increased demand.
Investment banking opportunities have also declined by 44%.
Just what we need to hear...
On a personal level, this all hit home on Monday when Deputy Editor of the Bournemouth Daily Echo Nick Perkins visited our University to deliver a careers talk.
He recalled that Peter Kay once described comedy as being all about timing. Unfortunately as students we could have timed our course a bit better.
Still, one crumb of comfort in such a depressing economic climate is that at least those lucky few who do break into the industry will be the ones who truly want to achieve in journalism.
They'll be the ones who'll work for free, write to every editor in the land, apply for every job going and prepare to jump ship and re-locate in order to succeed.
I for one aspire to be a part of this category.
There certainly won't be any easy jobs in this climate.
Perkins ended his talk by amusingly describing budding multi-media trained reporters as the industry's "garlic bread" and more employable as a result due to more diverse range of skills.
As a multi-media journalist set to graduate in May, one can only hope he is right.
Tuesday, 13 January 2009
But with journalists being named one of the three biggest industries to have been affected by the current economy, that ambition may well be some way off when this budding reporter graduates in May.
So when, Gordon Brown said he was about to unveil a new scheme set to help soon to be graduates like myself, it was with much anticipation I tuned in to listen to what the PM had to say.
On reflection, it wasn't worth the effort.
An estimated 300,000 students are set to graduate this summer into the worst economic crisis since the depression of the 1930's.
Something, obviously, needs to be done and you have to applaud the PM for at least recognising that the issue exists. But that's about the only positive you can take from this scheme which leaves a lot to be desired.
The idea is for highly respected employers, such as Microsoft and Barclays, to take on 3,500 graduates for a 3 month internship this summer. This will be funded by the government.
This is bizarre on so many levels.
Firstly, where's the money going to come from? Surely the debt of this country is great enough already.
Then there's the fact that only 3,500 students will be awarded places on these schemes. Its a drop in the ocean in comparison to the bigger picture, what about the rest of the new graduates?
Of course, even if you do gain admission to one of these internships then you are only going to be there three months and then you're just going to be shown the door, and you'll have the same problem as before only three months down the line.
The thinking behind this is that its supposed to make graduates appear more employable, but isn't paying £3,000 a year for your degree supposed to do that in the first place?
At least Brown is trying, but the embattled PM is only putting up a short term solution here in a time which needs long term planning for the future.
The lack of which, in fact, got us into this mess in the first place...