Author (Football + Beautiful Mind Game)

The new version of my book The Beautiful Mind Game (How to use football to score more work/life goals) Action Replay edition is now out.

Intro over, here’s the BLOG…

“Allow me to beat myself up -it’ll save you the trouble”. 8 October 2013 

It seems that the ongoing arguments about whether Spurs fans can/should call themselves the ‘Y ‘word will continue unresolved for the time being.

My intention here is to keep as objective as possible and add some new thoughts.

For a well written and brief outline, I have taken this from the Daily Telegraph

‘The arrest occurred at half-time of the 3-0 defeat against West Ham United at White Hart Lane and had followed pre-match warnings that supporters could face criminal action for continuing to use the word.

 

Hundreds of Tottenham Hotspur fans had defied those warnings, however, and loudly chanted “Yiddos”, “Jermain Defoe, he’s a Yiddo” and “We’ll sing what we want” throughout the match. This prompted chants back of “racists” from West Ham supporters, who themselves had been warned that they would face action for using the word ‘Yid’. Chief superintendent Mick Johnson, the match commander, had said before the fixture that “racism and offensive language have no place in football”.

 

Tottenham have a strong Jewish following and the club’s fans have been on the receiving end of anti-Semitic abuse from opposition supporters for many years, including during the corresponding fixture against West Ham last year.

 

In an act of defiance, many Spurs fans started using the word “Yid” themselves, and chants of “Yids”, “Yid Army” and “Yiddos” have been regularly sung at matches for years without the threat of arrest.

 

A Met spokesman said that officers had been speaking about the issue with fans on their way into the stadium on Sunday and later confirmed that there had been an arrest. The supporter, who was in the stadium’s East Stand, was held on suspicion of committing a section-five public order offence. Police are continuing to review footage of the match and it remains possible that further arrests will be made.

Although West Ham supporters were not obviously heard using the word ‘Yid’, some did briefly sing: “We won’t say his name, he’s coming for you.” This was followed by: “Same old West Ham, taking the —-.” At the same fixture last year, some West Ham fans had sung “Hitler’s coming for you”.

 

David Cameron entered the debate last month when he said that Spurs fans who use the word ‘Yid’ should not face prosecution. The Prime Minister told The Jewish Chronicle: “There’s a difference between Spurs fans self-describing themselves as Yids and someone calling someone a Yid as an insult. You have to be motivated by hate. Hate speech should be prosecuted – but only when it’s motivated by hate.”

In his pre-match warning, Chief Supt Johnson had said: “This topic has been debated at length but our position is clear: racism and offensive language have no place in football or indeed in society.

“Those supporters who engage in such behaviour should be under no illusion that they may be committing an offence and may be liable to a warning or be arrested.”

West Ham owners David Gold and David Sullivan had both appealed to their supporters before the match on Sunday not to make offensive chants. Gold is Jewish and he had outlined his own personal experiences of the Second World War and the hurt that can still be caused by anti-Semitic remarks.’

 

 

Over the last fortnight I have been reading various reports on the subject and each time I have contemplated this issue my memory was teased by a concept that didn’t fully disclose itself until today. It’s what Sigmund Freud called (English translation notwithstanding) the Death Drive. The idea is that the human psyche contains an impulse and subconscious self-destructing instinct that longs for death.

Freud proposed the concept after seeing the terrible mass deaths of the 1st World War. He discussed the (male) human need to get involved in his own and/or his group’s act of auto-destruction.  Freud described a ‘death drive’ as being so powerful that it can frequently supersede his (more famous) Pleasure Principle (the one that includes the pursuit of pleasure, harmony and progress).

This connects to another Freudian concept, that of self-hatred (or self loathing.) It brings to mind a scene in a film (either Chaplin or Woody Allen – please tell me who) where the protagonist placates the bully by offering to beat himself up – to save the bully the trouble.

My thought is that some of these supporters (and it’s by no means all of them) are dealing with years of constant insult by reacting in a gallows humour style. The fact that it is now annoying both the authorities and Jewish supporters of other teams (West Ham included) is only a ‘good’ thing as it adds some kind of power to the behaviour. It’s a bit like a six year old boy turning to whack his four year old sister on the head after he’s been smacked for swearing or bolting his food. ‘Your fault’ he opines, ‘You knew I’d get into trouble’.

Having vented this psycho theory, some of my less objective Arsenal supporting acquaintances have suggested that the Spurs fans are beating themselves up because it’s the only way to endure years of on-the-pitch frustration. However, that really is not my point.

My insistence is that ALL fans of ALL teams feel frustrated most of the time; it’s just that on this occasion a section of Tottenham supporters have been seeking attention and are lapping it up. The column inches on the front page are worth something it even if it means stimulating racism and value-laden / contaminated language that perpetuates the Pogrom.

Old Romantic coaching 2 October 2013

In September 1976 I left Britain for the start of my gap year. The plan was to spend a few months working in an hotel in Zurich, do some globe trotting and return to the UK the following autumn to begin a degree in economics and business.

The experience was somewhat desolate for several reasons. One of these was the fairly quick realisation that I was heading in a wrong direction. The clients in my hotel were business people that were by and large, brash, successful, rude, male and in suits. I didn’t like them. Coupled with this work-place backdrop was the fact that I was lonely. I won’t go into all that right now (I’m saving it for the autobiography) but one way to alleviate the after-hours solitude was by reading.

A colleague had recommended a second-hand book shop which was a short walk from where I lived in Stampfenbachstrasse. He told me that every few weeks the porter would take a case load of books left by clients and sold them to the old lady owner. If I went there I’d find loads of English books at very cheap prices. He was right. I found salvation in the pages of great Americans such Hemingway, Steinbeck Salinger and Max Shulman. The owner became very used to seeing me twice, even three times a week. I’d buy a book for three francs and days later would sell it back for two. Not good economics, but excellent for my hitherto paltry knowledge of literature.

After a while this bookshop became my private library. The lady, who had noticed I was returning the books in good condition, offered me the opportunity to simply borrow them. Now it was her sense of economics that was faltering but I suppose looking back at it, she noted my anguished aura and wanted to be kind. Whether it was the lady’s good nature or the bookish escape coupled with the magnet of the arts, I knew I could not pursue my studies in economics and business. It had to be something greater.

A year later I was more comfortably ensconced in a degree course in Literature. I was taking a module in the History of Ideas. Subtitled ‘the history of science in civilisation,’ it was a fascinating insight into science for people that cannot add up too well. I remember that one of the lecturers talked about how in the late fifties the writer CP Snow wrote about the two cultures and how in the Oxbridge professors’ dining rooms the science and the arts dons sat at separate tables for years on end and never spoke to each other. They supposedly all thought the others were beneath them. Apparently Snow initially thought the arts boys bore more guilt and had an unjustifiably privileged place in education. As an arts student I however was only too happy to subscribe to the Art = Good, Science = Dumb camp.

Even within my major subject of English Literature I found myself siding with the romantic poets and their emphasising intuition over reason and the natural over the urban. I did this in art too. I decided, almost as a point of honour, to sign up to the Baudelaire ‘thing’ that romanticism was right as it was a sense of feeling as opposed to being situated in either the selection of subject or in an exact truth. (To be honest I found this by exploring a Marc Bolan line about ‘Baudelaire hair’).

The point was that throughout my developing years I had a deep sense that feeling, intuition, holistic perspective and empathy were of greater importance than reason and logic. This was undoubtedly because I had low confidence in my own ability to do the logical science type things but also because I directly associated science, and economics with the fore mentioned surly businessmen and saw no reason to change my mind.

And so to the present.

For the last eleven years I have been involved in coaching and training. It started off quite well but as more people joined the game and the recession arrived, work for all of us has become harder to gain.

I have also noticed a distinct effort to apply scientific rationales to these skills involved in what I consider a cynical attempt to turn an art into a science because the latter is currently considered to be more ‘sensible’. I even withdrew my membership from an organisation that took me three years to join because I was getting tired of their journals becoming filled with white PhD style papers that were boring, stuffy, lengthy and pompous.

My belief is that coaching is like Romantic poetry. It is pastoral inasmuch as it works at ground level. It really does not need convoluted linguistic terminology (i.e. long words) nor does the coach need hundreds of hours of catalogued contact (which by the way, I do have!) A coach is somebody who is born with the capacity to listen effectively and to guide with the slightest and most naturalistic of nudges. If you want to gain a doctorate, become a psychotherapist, psychiatrist or an anything else that the rest of us find hard to spell. If you want to be a coach – just do it, quietly.

I was really heartened to read an excellent article in the IfL’s InTuition Magazine by Jim Douglas, FIfL.  InTuition Issue 14 Autumn 2013 ifl.ac.uk He explains that by using what he calls a ‘Coaching Approach’ assessors and teachers by combining a holistic over view with emotional intelligence and intuition (that word again), can support learners much more effectively than by using a wholly didactic approach. He uses terms like ‘motivations’ and ‘feelings’ and proves that an atomistic approach is inefficient and inaccurate.

Please read it, it makes much more sense than any review I could ever produce.

WINDOW SHUT, BULLYING OVER.

It seems that the football transfer window, which shut twenty three hours ago is just an excuse for the bullies to flex their muscle. It’s a time when terms like ‘Selling Club’ are applied to perceived weaklings and ‘Buying Club’ applied to the bullies ‘I like your player, I’m going to take him from you. or else.’

Arsenal tried a few weeks ago to ‘snatch’ (tabloid terminology)  a top player from Liverpool. The subtext as I saw it, was that they were saying ‘ We have more money than you, we have a better stadium and more valuable real estate and we’re going to take what is currently yours. You were once great and now you’re faded’. The sentiment was perhaps not too far from the mark, but the tactic failed and backfired rather badly.

Manchester United, have today been chastised in the press for failing to buy all the players they allegedly wanted and are being written off (highly prematurely) as failures and no-hopers. All this because despite being champions who have kept their Premiership winning squad, they have not widely augmented. In fact MUFC did essentially bully another club into selling a valued player, but because they didn’t take Fellaini from a direct contender have not been seen to have been aggressive enough.

This in my opinion, is all wrong.

The values of the game haven been turned on their head. I don’t believe it’s the money per se, it’s the fact that football clubs are expected to roll the lucre into a kosh and smack their peers around the head with it until they relinquish what is precious.

This is a seasonal reminder of when as a six-year old I turned up school with a newly strung conker (horse chestnut) ready to do battle and another chap (Barry S –  I still remember his name:( )  grabbed it from me, threw it to the floor and crushed it with his heel. Apparently this was quite legitimate. Legit it may have been, but it certainly wasn’t fair.

I don’t think top-level Football will ever be fair again. The bullying has gone too far and as I’ve written so many times, it’s a tribal thing that cannot be reversed. It will always be of great interest to me and a cause of misery/joy/relief forever. it will also remain tainted. Forever.

VOTE! 

FALSE STARTS?

The 2013-2014 Season in the English Premiership is all but nine days old and the other Euro leagues somewhat younger.

The oddest thing is that very few of the participants actually know who their teams even are. This is all because the so-called ‘transfer window’ is still open meaning that for another week millions of Euros are sitting in bank accounts not knowing where they’ll end up (except in the cases of the two fortunate Spanish giants who simply dip into the German supported EU slush fund when they want to spend big. Everyone else has to pretend to be accountable {except for the Middle Eastern oil mongers’ off shore havens known as Man City, Monaco & PSG…}

And as the money sits waiting, so do players, supporters (remember them?) and the hapless coaches who still do not know who they’ll be coaching from 2nd September.

Football has an annual seasonal calender that commences in August and lasts until May. The only other occupation that readily comes to mind that has annual start/stop dates is that of academia. The scholastic calendar pratically mirrors that of Soccer but there the similarity ends (for the time being).

I cannot imagine a head teacher allowing students to turn up without having pre-selected his/her staff. Obviously ‘subs’ are allowed during the year for maternity/illness cover but to begin from the beginning without knowing your team is just silly.

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