Category Archives: Weekly Tribute
I understand my weekly tributes started off as a concept, where I promised to dedicate a post to a footballer every week, a footballer deserving of credit. Since then I have however went on more tangents than a geometry lesson, why stop a good thing? Following in the vain of tributes to ‘The Wire‘ and ‘The Football Factory‘, this week’s will again have sod all to do with the beautiful game, but a beautiful game franchise, Call of Duty.
It was 2007, I decided to spend my Christmas beans on an Xbox as it seemed like I was the only one in my entire year without one! I got it as part of a bundle, it had some game where you smack up a piñata, Forza Motorsport and best of all I thought Halo 3. Spot on I thought, get the Xbox Live in and give these fellas a lesson on Halo. It wasn’t till about a week later I realised no one was playing Halo but a game called Call of Duty 4. Everyone on my friend list was on it constantly. I had a sudden realisation I needed this game! Little was I to know this game would lead to a miniature addiction that took over my evenings for over two years, till my Xbox sadly blew up.
Starting off on Call of Duty 4 was amazing, but terribly difficult, so was learning the online language. It took about a week to realise what a noob or a camper was and much longer to know what on earth a spawn kill was or a juggernoob. It took me an age to figure out why I was such a horrible person, for using the perks, Martyrdom and the grenade launcher. Along with learning the language of Call of Duty online and the general unwritten rules of what’s considered fair play, adapting to online plays code of conduct was difficult. As a newcomer I was confronted with perhaps the most lawless place on the planet. Xbox Live makes Beirut seem tame.
Playing Xbox online is one hell of an experience and one not for the feint of heart. Every time you enter a game you hear some appalling language; racism, homophobia, sexism and xenophobia it appeared as a ‘noob’ anything was fair game including screaming at the highest pitch possible down the headset, something that happened alarmingly regularly.
So after about a month I was confident enough in the online world of Call of Duty, nothing shocked me and I knew all the rules. I wasn’t though very good at the game sadly, I regularly finished bottom of the leaderboards, due to a quite frankly suicidal style of play. My view was, biggest gun = most kills, like Will Smith in Men in Black 1 this assumption was fool hardy at best! I wasn’t enjoying playing online, getting a hiding from most of my secondary school, but I loved the banter COD offered. I gradually got pretty tasty at it after I dedicated more hours towards getting a positive kill death ratio than I did to getting A’s at A-Level.
Call of Duty 4 will also always to me be the greatest purely because it introduced me to online gaming. I probably spent more time on it then I should have but I still maintain now, as I did then, I’d rather play COD than watch repeats of Mock the Week on Dave.
From a social aspect no game will ever come close to COD for about six months everyone was on it and it dominated conversations between us in the common room. It wasn’t though the best COD experience for me.
The best COD experience for me, was World at War. Due to spending so much time honing my completely useless skills on COD 4 I hit the ground running on WAW. I was pretty decent, I only ever played ‘Free-For-All’, I only ever won and managed something I boast about to this day 911th in the world at that game mode and a completely pointless victory against the person second in the world.
After World at War I had sort of grown out of my obsession with COD, I was still bloody good, probably still am now but the magic had sadly gone. I got Modern Warfare 2 and Black OPs at 12pm on their release days mainly because I gave into the hype but neither satisfied the addiction I had for COD4 and WAW, I haven’t even bought the two latest ones.
Despite my belief that I have grown out of the franchise because I have other commitments and more important things to do, millions of grown adults still regularly go to war with each other everyday and I can’t say for certain I won’t again be one of them again. All I can say is you deserve this tribute, Infinity Ward and Treyarch, for making two of the best games ever as I’m sure millions of people with fond memories will agree.
Aidan Fulham (@AidanFulham)
During the last few weeks you may have noticed I’ve tried to broaden the scope of my Weekly Tribute’s and I hope you have enjoyed it but now let’s get back to my bread and butter, football. This weeks tribute goes to a player whose football career has run parallel to my own Michael Owen.
May 6th 1997, a baby-faced 17-year-old Michael Owen burst onto the scene with a goal against Wimbledon. Around that time a 6-year-old literally baby-faced me also burst into the football scene. Though we started at the same time, sadly that kind of ends the similarities in impact of myself and Michael. Where I scored hundreds impersonating Owen over the park, Owen scored hundreds in a career of triumph and tragedy.
Owen’s career though not over, promised so much and whilst delivered a lot, does pose the question, what might have been?
It’s no secret persistent injuries have affected Michael’s career and also sadly his legacy. In a career which has seen Michael represent three English giants, Manchester United, Liverpool and Newcastle. A world giant Real Madrid and also now Stoke. Michael should have no regrets, sadly upon leaving Liverpool his career never reached the same heights.
Michael’s glory days undoubtably came in the red of Liverpool, 118 goals in 216 games, his lightning pace and ice cool finishing allowed Michael as a young man to become Liverpool’s main striker, remarkable especially when considering it meant ousting the man Liverpool to this day call God, Robbie Fowler. Michael’s spell at Liverpool was also trophy laden, personal accolades flew in; two Premier League Golden Boots, PFA Young Player of the Year, European and World Player of the Year. From a team perspective Owen helped Liverpool to; The Uefa Cup, Charity Shield, European Super Cup, two League Cups and the FA Cup.
For a time Michael Owen was viewed as one of the world’s very best strikers, this earned him a move to Real Madrid. Owen’s spell in Madrid was one of mixed results but not as many will state a complete disaster. Owen managed a season at the Spanish giants scoring a credible 18 in 41 which is made more impressive by only starting 15 times.
It was after Real Madrid that Michael’s career slowly moved towards tragedy and sadly as of yet shows no real sign of moving back towards triumph. Owen moved to Newcastle from Madrid and received a heroes welcome at Saint James’s but he left Newcastle as a villain. In 4 years at Newcastle Owen spent a huge amount of time battling injuries. Despite this Michael managed to net 26 times in 71 games a credible amount for a striker but Michael’s time will not be remembered for this but will be remembered for relegation.
After his disastrous spell at Newcastle, Michael made a move that stunned football by signing for Manchester United fierce rivals of Liverpool. This surely placing Owen back at the top would allow Michael to return to triumph?
What followed at Manchester United was Michael Owen playing a bit part role featuring very fleetingly. Michael did manage to obtain a Premier League winners medal and secure a legendary United moment by scoring against title rivals Manchester City deep into extra time.
Michael Owen can now be seen winding down his career at Stoke. Looking through Owen’s career most players would kill for a career like that but not Michael he will feel like injuries have robbed him of what might have been.
In the early part of the Noughties, Owen looked a shoe in for the England all time goal scorers record. As it stands he looks to have finished just 9 short and finds himself in 4th, tragic as injuries all but retired Michael in 2008.
Owen deserves a tribute because many seem to have forgotten just how good he was in his prime, the amount he has achieved and stellar career despite injuries he has managed to achieve.
Aidan Fulham (@AidanFulham)
For this week’s Weekly Tribute I am going pay homage to the film that I felt made possibly the biggest cultural impact on my generation. The film that made the greatest impact on me and other somewhat impressionable teenagers of my age range was The Football Factory.
When Nick Love’s, The Football Factory was released in 2004 I would have been 14 years old and I find it fair to the say the film adaptation of John King’s novel had a fair influence on myself and my peers. Now I’m not attempting to make myself look like an expert on Football hooliganism but as someone who has attended football since the age of 8, which has included long amounts of time in the pubs of Fulham, I can say I had an amount of understanding of the casual culture but the influence of The Football Factory was so vast many people with no real connection to Football or casual culture began to take a huge interest in the sub-culture. The introduction of casual culture to mainstream British society is arguably the film’s lasting legacy.
The Football Factory was not a ground breaking film in terms of the subject matter it choose to represent, the hooligan genre of film had been done before and had a similar effect upon the society of the time which it shocked. In 1993 Gary Oldman became a star thanks to his appearance in the gruesome, The Firm which documents his efforts to unite firms from around the country to fight in an international alliance. What The Football Factory did do is open the gates for other films to expand on the genre since The Football Factory was released their have been a range of other hooligan films, off the top of my head; Green Street, Rise of the Footsoldiers, Away Dayz, The Rise of a White Collared Football Hooligan, Cass and The Firm (remake). The fact that The Football Factory allowed so many copy cat films to be produced illustrates the effect and popularity of The Football Factory.
Along with restarting a genre of films not explored for a decade, The Football Factory properly introduced us to actors who have gone on to be the corner stones of British movies since their breakout roles in The Football Factory actors including Danny Dyer and Tammer Hassan who went on to star together in Brit film classic The Business.
What The Football Factory did though to a certain extent was introduce the casual culture style of behaviour and dress back into mainstream culture its biggest achievement in my eyes was that it made it acceptable to be a geezer.
Along with its effect and popularity I would also like to pay tribute to the film in general for those that have yet to see it. Nick Love as ever does a great job in directing a thoroughly watchable film that has a great story with moments of comedy, heart-break and some memorable quotes. Much like I said with The Wire, The Football Factory is a must watch!
Aidan Fulham (@AidanFulham)
After a long hiatus, a Pep Guardiola style sabbatical if you will I am ready to return to my Weekly Tribute series. Those of you who have read my previous tributes may have noticed the recipients of a bit of love from me thus far have all been footballers, there’s no time like the present to change this trend, this weeks tribute will be dedicated to the greatest television series of all time, a true work of art, The Wire.
I remember the day I gave into the constant word of mouth hype regarding The Wire. After watching the first two episodes of season 1 it is fair to say I was less than convinced but I decided to give it another go the next day and I’m extremely glad I made that decision because what I discovered was a work of art. The Wire is no doubt a slow burner and for those of you yet to see the greatest show ever made, I urge you to give it at least a season before you even contemplate giving up on David Simons masterpiece.
So why is The Wire the greatest television show ever made? The first reason, just look at the critical praise the show has received, you would have to search long and hard to find someone critical of the show. Critics state the show should be held in as high an esteem as works of Dickens and Dostoevsky.
The second reason, the sheer scope of the show the themes it tackles are unmatched. Using Baltimore, Maryland as a microcosm for the whole of urban America the show uses each season to tackle a different theme including; the education system, the legal system, the press and politics. These themes underpin each season but throughout each episode other wider themes are dealt with including poverty, drug dependence, corruption, street code and many many others.
Thematically the broadness of what The Wire attempts to portray could have crippled the show. What makes The Wire so fantastic is that not only does it deal with such a range of issues it’s the way that it does deal with the issues. The way The Wire deals with the issues it presents is in an objective manner, at no point does The Wire judge the characters it depicts, whether the person is running for office or running drugs, unlike other television shows The Wire does not tell you when to think, what to think or indeed how to feel, it’s up to you as a viewer to reach your own conclusions.
The Wire’s authenticity also can not be matched, the show paints a real portrait of Baltimore and urban America as a whole. The stories it uses to shape the show are taken from real life and the way it presents them, the way the corners work and the procedures of the police are also taken from real life. The reason the show is so real is in part due to creator David Simon. Simon did an ethnography over a year on one of Baltimore’s most notorious corners taking in daily life this study spawned first an excellent book ‘The Corner: A Year on Baltimore’s Killing Streets’ and also the television show ‘The Corner’ a precursor to The Wire. The second reason for its authenticity is the series co-creator Ed Burns a former homicide detective from Baltimore.
The authenticity of The Wire does at times make the show quite difficult to watch, David Simon refuses to dumb down his work of art so it’s an easy watch, he wants his show to be authentic which is why for new viewers the show is notoriously difficult to get to grips with due to the complexity of Baltimore’s slang.
Finally the acting in the series makes The Wire the greatest television show ever. Due to the way the characters are wrote and also the incredible acting its impossible not to care for every character in show, as Freamon says in the show “All the pieces matter” and this is certainly true of The Wire. It’s impossible to watch the show and not feel an emotional connection to the characters portrayed in the show. My personal favourites are Bodie, Avon Barksdale, Cutty and of course McNulty.
If you haven’t already seen The Wire I urge you to pick up the box set and let it take over your life for a few months.
Aidan Fulham (@AidanFulham)
For this week’s Weekly Tribute I won’t be dedicating it to just one person like I have done in previous weeks, this week’s goes out to three lower league footballers who I believe deserve a tribute.
Today started with some shocking news, reading through my Twitter timeline a tweet from the Football Ramble truly stunned me. The news was that former Coventry, Sheffield United and Birmingham winger Peter Ndlovu was involved in a horror crash that has left the player in a serious but stable condition but claimed the life of his older brother Adam.
It goes without saying that everyone involved in this blog wishes Peter all the best.
The news did though get me thinking of what I was going to write about today. It’s well known I support Fulham and have done for many years, it was during my formative years that opposition players made the biggest impact on me. My formative years as a football fan involved watching Fulham in the lower leagues, so this post is dedicated to a few of the less well known players that made a HUGE impact on me.
Craig Hignett, I thought he was an amazing player whenever I saw him in the flesh. Craig lit up a few games at the Cottage, I mainly remember him for Blackburn, I was convinced he was way too good for the then Division 1. Craig had a reasonable career before and after I witnessed him playing for Blackburn. Prior to me witnessing the creative midfielder, Craig had notched up 150 games for Crewe before moving to the top table with Middlesbrough where he had 194 games in an eventful spell in Boro’s history. The following years saw Craig representing Aberdeen and Barnsley, in the Premier League before signing for Blackburn Rovers for £2.2 million. Craig helped Blackburn to the Premier League and also won a League Cup for the club. After his successful stint at Rovers Craig went on to play for numerous other clubs including Leicester, Leeds and Darlington.
Before Rory Delap there was Dave Challinor, the man scared me, his throws were unnatural. Challinor was a long throw expert who was representing Tranmere Rovers when I encountered his incredible arm. At one point Challinor had the world record for the longest throw in football, it was like a rocket, I have never seen anything like it. Whenever we played Tramere Challinor caused chaos with his throw ins. Challinor is a player I will always remember.
Lastly the player that I admired a lot during our lower league days was Wayne Allison, again a Tranmere player, I think my Dad took me to too many games against them! A real goal machine, a player that always scared me due to his goal scoring threat. Wayne had a respectable career prior to and after I witnessed him scoring over 200 goals for his clubs. A hugely respected lower league player, Wayne turned out for eight clubs playing 752 games in a long career he was a player I remember always scoring and always being old weirdly!
So that’s this week’s Weekly Tribute, three awesome lower league players I will never forget, hope you all enjoyed it pop back next week where the tribute will be festive.
Aidan Fulham (@AidanFulham)
Last week marked the beginning of my weekly tributes series, I started off by discussing my favourite ever Fulham player, Barry Hayles. As a man of Irish Catholic heritage I’ve also got a slight soft spot for Celtic. Seeing as I’m still beaming with happiness due to the Bhoys getting through a tough Champions League group and into the Champions League knockout stages for the first time since 2007-2008, I feel it is only fair to dedicate this weeks tribute to the one and only Henrik Larsson, a Parkhead hero.
I remember my first ever football shirt, it was a stinker, who can forget Celtic’s 97-98 away shirt, highlighter pen yellow and black. One man made it look cool and it wasn’t the seven-year old me or my Dad, it was the man on the back of my jersey, Larsson.
July 1997, the man who is now referred to by Celtic fans as the ‘King of Kings’ arrived at Parkhead for £650,000. After a slow start to life in Scotland, Henrik went on to net a respectable 18 goals in his debut season in Glasgow. Arguably the most important thing the Swede did in his first season was scoring the opener V Saint Johnstone on the final day of the campaign to bring the title back to Celtic Park and stop the all-conquering Rangers winning a record 9th title on the spin.
His second season in the SPL wasn’t as successful for The Bhoys, who finished runner-up in league and cup but it did mark the beginning of Henrik’s reign as a goal machine. 38 goals for the season marked the arrival of the man who was to go on and be one of Europe’s most feared strikers.
1999-2000, again started off in the right way for the dreadlocked Swede, who was well on his way to becoming a Celtic legend. Tragedy then struck for Larsson, a ginormous set back, a broken leg, broken in two places, Henrik’s career was on the line.
The way Henrik fought back from such a horrific injury within eight months is a major reason I’m writing a tribute to the Swede.
When Henrik did return, his trade mark dreadlocks were gone but his golden touch hadn’t. This was Henrik’s standout season. During this comeback season, Henrik won the European golden shoe for 35 league goals in 38 games and snatched 53 goals in all competitions.
Henrik’s fantastic season, which yielded the Golden Shoe, made Europe’s biggest clubs sit up and take notice. A combination of being loyal to his club and also the fact no one was willing to take a chance on a player who had scored goals in the prestige less SPL. These two factors meant Henrik spent his peak years in the SPL, despite it being clear to everyone in Scotland and Sweden Larsson was world-class.
During his seven years in Scotland, Henrik helped Celtic become competitive with Rangers once more, winning numerous league titles and domestic trophies. Larsson’s greatest achievement for The Hoops? Helping the Glasgow giants become a force in Europe once more, taking the Bhoys to a UEFA Cup final in Seville. Henrik Larsson will go down as Celtic’s greatest ever players due to his loyalty, personality and of course goals 242 in 315 matches.
The summer of 2004 saw Larsson finally leave Scotland. There was interest from all over Europe to obtain his signature, he chose to sign a one year deal with Catalan giants Barcelona. The first season in Spain did not go to plan for Larsson another serious injury meant his career had again stalled. Many expected his Barcelona adventure to be over when his one year contract had expired but Barca took up an option and Henrik was granted another chance at the Nou Camp.
Henrik Larsson, announced in January of his second season in Catalonia that he would be leaving the side at the end of the season. Larsson’s final game for Barcelona arguably bought Larsson’s finest hour. Larsson assisted both of Barcelona’s goals to see the side win the Champions League and also confirmed to the world how good a player Henrik Larsson has always been.
After his two seasons in Spain, Larsson made the decision to return home to Sweden. It shows the respect Larsson had earnt in football that faced with a shortage of strikers in 2007 Manchester United chose to loan the Swede for three months during the Swedish off-season. He made a huge impression at Old Trafford in his short spell and was granted a Premier League winners medal.
What makes Henrik one of my sporting heroes? Well the goals help and boy were there some! But there is more to Henrik than just goals, there is the man who persisted throughout his career getting to the very top of European football after years of hard graft over a distinguished period in the SPL. There is the man who fought back from two career threatening injures and there is the man who stayed true to his word keeping promises to his family.
A true hero and one of the best strikers of the last few decades, Henrik Larsson. As a man and as a footballer you would have to go a long way to find someone with a bad word to say about Henrik Larsson.
Aidan Fulham (@AidanFulham)
I’m going to commence a series of posts, each week I’m going to write a tribute to a sports person that has made a huge impression on me and I feel is deserving of a tribute. Today marks the start of this series.
As a child growing up one player always stood out to me from our Fulham side, there was always one player I tried to be when playing over the field or on the playground, untucking my shirt and running around like a man possessed, there was only one player I always wanted to be.
As a youngster growing up in North London most of my mates idolised Bergkamp, Ginola, Zola or Andy Cole for me there was only one choice of hero, he was Lambeth born Jamaica star Barry Hayles.
Barry is the one player I can remember, every one I attend matches with all agree on, who none of us have a bad word to say about. Which for us is rare, someone always has an opinion and something negative to say about every player we debate in the pub!
What made Barry such a role model for me? It was his never say die attitude, I’ve never seen a player before or after chase down the ball all the way to the by line on such a regular basis. Barry wasn’t one to give up on seemingly lost causes running around the pitch in his trade marked shirt untucked manner.
It took Barry a while to settle in South West London after joining the Cottagers for a then record fee from Bristol Rovers, opinion was split for a time on the Lambeth born hit man due to the amount of time it took him to settle at the Cottage. Settle he did though, going on to rack up over 200 appearances for the Cottagers in three divisions scoring 44 goals and helping himself to two champions winners medals.
Many thought Barry would struggle at the top table of English football but Barry took to the challenge like a duck to water. After being a large part of Fulham’s formidable Division 1 romp teaming up fantastically with Louis Boa Morte and Louis Saha. In arguably the greatest team to ever grace the First Division, Barry helped himself to over 20 goals and if it wasnt for Louis Saha he would have arguably got even more.
Once Barry did finally get to the Premier League the step up wasn’t too vast for the goal machine. Barry bagged himself 8 goals in 35 games in Fulham’s first ever Premier League season. It was in 2003 though that Hayles had his greatest Fulham moment netting 2 in a rare away win at Tottenham, this further cemented Barry’s place in Fulham folk law.
Barry’s greatest moments came as a Fulham player but he is far from a one club man. In 2004 Barry left London for a short spell at Sheffield United. An ill-fated spell where he didn’t manage a goal in 4 games for the Blades. A move back to London followed and it was a successful spell at Millwall. Barry’s next move was to Plymouth followed by a spell at Leicester City, Barry then moved along to Cheltenham Town followed by Truro City. He can now be found at the grand old age of 40 scoring goals for Saint Albans City.
Barry Hayles will always be remembered as my favorite Fulham player for his effort and commitment accompanied by a fine amount of goals. As a young kid watching him run his heart out bashing around against much taller defenders was always a pleasure to witness.
Aidan Fulham (@AidanFulham)