Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Charlie Hipkin

Asked me to write this, so here I go. It's now been about two months since the big Aussie (who's actually English apparently) departed the motherland and headed back to Alcatraz's big brother. So, in this blog I'm gona try to recount some of the better times with him.
It makes sense to start at the start, so we'll begin with the first time we crossed paths. The big time cricket sensation that I am, in May last year I rocked up to play for Camberley third XI at a recreational ground behind a leisure centre in Woking. The team was a shambles - we were under the joint captaincy of Richard Faulkner and Nigel Crowdy, we had Ben Hill behind the stumps and had two people I'd never met before in the team. One of those people I didn't really speak to and never saw again, but the other was some big bloke who I'd been told I was sharing the new ball with.
So I went up to him and introduced myself and he said his name was Charlie. We spoke for a few minutes and then I asked, 'so how old are you? 25?'
'Nah mate, I'm 18,' came the response. I couldn't believe it, but there you go. Charlie got his first wicket fairly quickly, although as he's six foot three and hit the guy on the thigh pad, I'm not sure the decision of LBW was strictly correct. He also made 23 with the bat, but unfortunately for him, I was the hero of the day, taking four wickets and making 14 not out to save the game along with Iron Man Nige.
Later on in the season, during which time we'd struck up a good friendship, I was given the task of picking Charlie up on a Saturday morning before the day's games. So I turned up at whatever time in the morning to find him rather flustered. He trogged out of the building he was living in, dragging his bag with one hand and carrying his whites with the other. I can't remember the exact details, but essentially he'd only just taken his whites out of the washing machine, and hadn't had enough time to put them in the tumble drier. Absolutely sopping wet.
I had an idea. This idea meant the entire 30-minute journey back to the club from Windsor saw white garments flapping out of the windows of my car, in a desperate attempt to dry them on the wind. Sadly it had no effect. Charlie laid them out on the patio in the sun, but I don't think that worked either. Nothing worse than putting on wet clothes.
Another point in the season saw the game which Charlie is still recounting, and provides the rest of us with a specific line to remember him by. I wasn't at the game, however the goings on have been drummed into everyone so much that I sometimes think I can actually remember being there. I've no idea who Camberley were playing, or who won, or even how many runs Charlie scored, but I do know one thing.
"Mate...did you know that I hit four sixes and lost two balls?" Yes Charlie, I did know that, you told me earlier. And yesterday. And last week.
From that point on, no matter what was achieved by anyone, "Yeah but did you hit four sixes and lose two balls?" was the response. Superb banter.
Another thing that needs a quick mention happened in a game that was otherwise very disappointing and poor from a CCC perpective. Playing Staines and Laleham in the Development League, following a largely dismal batting performance, lit up only by Sam Holmes and Alex Boorman as far as I remember, we took to the field.
The point of interest came when I was fielding at fine leg and the ball came my way. I stopped it adequately enough, but my throw in to Charlie, who was keeping, was slightly undercooked. Charlie, in prime position behind the stumps ready to take the bails off if necessary, realised my throw wasn't going to reach him so took a step forward. Perfectly acceptable, you might think. Well, yes, apart from the fact that Charlie either forgot, or didn't realise, that he was behind the stumps. So, in attempting to move towards the ball, all the lumbering Aussie managed to do was boot the stumps, trip up and fall flat on his face. Cue howls of laughter from me and everyone else. A rare high point on an otherwise frustrating day.
Other highlights for me were going to watch Man Utd - Newcastle, and especially Aston Villa - Arsenal. The latter game was particularly good, although the day had an almost catastrophic subplot which just added to the banter. As we were cruising up the M40 at about 9am in preparation for a 1245 kick off in Birmingham, my car suddenly lost power. At first I thought it was cos I was driving on a snowy part of the road and the tyres had lost grip, but as I moved into the middle lane and still got no response, the realisation dawned on me. I'd run out of petrol.
As we pulled over onto the hard shoulder, I sat there in disbelief whilst Charlie pissed himself laughing. Luckily, for once in my life, we were considerably early, so even after the hour and a half delay, we still arrived in Birmingham an hour before kick off. Not so luckily, the ordeal cost £138. But even so, walking down the hard shoulder of the M40 in the snow with one of your best mates is a memorable experience. Then for the game to be as good as it was meant the day was a success.
Less of a success was going to Wembley to watch England play Montenegro. The less said about that the better I think, although Wembley is still awesome. Another good match was QPR - Watford, where the Hornets produced arguably their best display of the season against a previously unbeaten Rangers side.
Another special memory for me is when Sam and I went up to Watford to get the specially made shirt as Charlie's leaving present. Having already tried twice to get to Watford by myself, but failed due to weather and traffic conditions on the M25, finally getting the shirt just before Charlie caught the plane home was a relief. But the best was yet to come.
Sam and I had agreed to meet Charlie near where he lived for a quick drink and one last chat before he left, but little did he know that we had a surprise for him. Upon arrival, I hid round a corner with the shirt, while Sam bantered about how I'd had to go home. Just as Charlie approached, I stepped out, carefully holding the shirt so he'd only see the front of it when he took it off me.
The look on his face was one of pure joy, but it was nothing compared to when he turned it around. On the back read his famous line about hitting four sixes and losing two balls, carefully positioned so to look half-decent. It was clear Charlie was very happy with the present, which made sitting on the M25 for hours on end instantly worthwhile. The three of us proceeded to a nearby pub where we had a couple of drinks before a photo or two, and manhug and the goodbyes.
All that remains to be said is that we all cannot wait for your return mate, whenever that may be.

If anyone reads this and has any particular memories they want to relive, feel free to comment. No doubt I've forgotten something obvious.
Here are a few brief ones.
The day we bowled a team out for 59 and lost.

Getting in the car after the Man Utd - Newcastle game at 2215 and still sitting in traffic at 0100.
Being 73-6 chasing 177 to win, me due in at 9 and not getting a bat cos you and Dibs put on 104 to win the game.
Specialist third man.
I am massive.
I never drop outfield catches.
"Harry Stephens can't really have the best regard for me cos the first time he saw me play I let through shitloads of byes and was out first ball."

Anything and everything, pt II

Ok, well, those of you that know me will know that I like to do certain things differently. Whether that be my choice of footwear, my choice of pool cue case, or whatever. Another thing I like to do that's a little strange concerns fast food restaurant drive-thru sections. My mum would consider even going to a fast food restaurant strange in itself, but what I'm talking about is a little more adventurous than that.
There aren't too many different things that can be done in places like this, I suppose you could walk through pretending to be a car or something, but I've never done that. What I do, only when the time is right, is drive through in reverse. The looks on people's faces are hilarious, not that I look at them too often as I know what a complete retard I must look so I get all shy. It is pretty funny though, just sitting there staring straight at the car behind (technically in front) as they wonder what on earth is going on.
I'm not sure why I do it really, I don't like being the centre of attention or a show off, although some people might disagree there. I just like to brighten up people's day by doing something a bit different that will make people sit up and notice. No harm in that.
So anyway, the reason why I'm writing this is because a couple of weeks ago I tried this trick at the McDonald's drive-thru in Eastbourne. I'd done it there once before with Adam Toulson, and it worked without a hitch. The no-hoper working there even managed to crack a joke about how we should, "reverse to the next window to collect our order." Adam and I both laughed and on we moved.
But this time, things didn't go so well. I was with Adam again, as well Sean, Becky and Katherine. I'm not sure if any of the other three knew I'd ever done it before so they probably thought I was a total mug. It was about half seven on a Thursday evening, which meant pool league started in half an hour. Time was of the essence so the queue that had formed before we arrived wasn't what we needed. But there we sat, waiting, trying to avoid the inquisitive looks of the people in the car behind/in front of us.
Eventually we got to the order window and Adam wound down his passenger side window to start talking. This is where things started to get ugly. In addition to the usual amoeba who sits there taking your order, a person, who was clearly the big dog, stood there, stern-faced, ready to unload. I can't remember all of what he said exactly, but it was aggressive and something along the lines of, "We're not serving you, you've been acting recklessly, you could have hit another car."
Not really one to take something like this lying down, I told him what I thought, and was promptly told that the police would turn up if I didn't get off his property. Sadly, upon hearing that word, my guilty conscience kicked in, and I gave him one last barrage before moving away, with my metaphorical tail between my legs. If only I'd thought to say to him, "Ok sure, you call the police down here cos I'm sitting facing the wrong way, posing no threat to anyone. They'll laugh you out the town."
But no, instead I reversed out of the lane and thought to myself, "Wow, Sean, Becky and Katherine must think I'm a twat right now."
"So, what we gonna do now?" I asked. No one really seemed to know, so I went to the standard McDonald's in town, Sean and Adam got all our meals while the rest of us sat outside, and that was it. On we moved to pool, where we gave up a 5-2 lead to draw 5-5. Not a good night by all accounts.
On a brighter note, this past Sunday saw CCCFC's second ever win in the five-a-side league. Considering our first win came in our very first game, and this was our fifteenth game, it was long overdue. As seasons are seven games long, this game was the first game of our third season, so you could say it was timed very well as it puts us in a good position to kick on this season.
You could view it as a coincidence, or perhaps, more correctly, a mark of how bad a certain team is, that both our wins have come against the same team. They go by the name of Sons of Pitches, and they really do play like sons of, well you know. When we met a few months ago, we won 7-3, with myself scoring five and wasting a hatful more chances. We met again two weeks ago, towards the end of the second season, with the result this time being 6-6. Having been 4-1 up at half time, putting me in goal for the second half had a detrimental effect both defensively and offensively.
Clearly, defence in these games is at a premium. Well it was up until this weekend anyway. The return of Steve Hulks from uni coincided with a stark upturn in defensive capabilities. The experienced, talkative five-a-side veteran turned in a top class display, which, when combined with the legendary Cliff Stephens, provided the stability for me and Dom Peter to run free up top. Steve capped his display by adding two goals, one of which was clinically turned in on the half-volley from a tight angle, while Dom also added a brace. I scored the other goal, a superb team effort which featured at least one pass from every player. Bit of a poor effort from me on the goals front, but I spent most of my time on the floor having been hacked down if truth be told. I can remember getting crunched at least five times, but never mind.
So anyway, five goals for us, but how many did we concede? None. The first clean sheet in the history of CCCFC. Harry Stephens kept admirably and laid down the marker for whoever goes in goal this week. The 5-0 win put us top of the table, but only just, as this week sees us pitted against a team who won 5-1 last weekend, and who beat us 7-1 last season. Hopefully we can improve on that display given our new-found confidence. I feel the key lies with Mr Hulks.

FC Copenhagen v Chelsea

This is my match report written during the game and completed by the time the final whistle was blown. Word limit of 250, which is annoyingly small.

Chris Pike – Daily Mail. Tuesday, 22 February, 2011.
UEFA Champions League Last 16 First Leg. Parken Stadion.
FC Copenhagen (4-4-2):Wiland; Pospech, Jorgensen, Antonsson, Wendt (Bengtsson 76); Bolanos, Kvist, Claudemir, Gronkjaer (Zohore 87); Santin (Vingaard 46), Ndoye. Subs not used: Christensen, Kristensen, Hooiveld, Delaney.
Booked: Jorgensen, Pospech.
Chelsea (4-4-2): Cech; Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole; Ramires, Lampard, Essien, Malouda (Zhirkov 85); Anelka (Drogba 73), Torres (Kalou 90). Subs not used: Turnbull, Mikel, Ferreira, McEachran.
Booked: Torres, Malouda, Terry.
Referee: Bjorn Kuipers.
Nicolas Anelka scored twice as an impressive Chelsea got back to winning ways against weak opposition, relieving the pressure on manager Carlo Ancelotti.
The striker’s sixth and seventh goals in the competition this season capped a solid performance by the visitors, although Fernando Torres again failed to find the target. 
The Blues began brightly and a chance fell to Torres in the seventh minute, but his touch was heavy which allowed the keeper to block.
But the Spaniard, who hadn’t been on the winning side since his £50m arrival from Liverpool, continued to influence the game, creating chances for Anelka and Florent Malouda, before Anelka opened the scoring.
The Frenchman picked up a loose pass from former Chelsea midfielder Jesper Gronkjaer and lashed his shot past Copenhagen keeper Johan Wiland.
Copenhagen came into the match unbeaten in 16 home games in all competitions this season, but, having not played a competitive match since 7 December, their lack of sharpness was clear as the visitors dominated. 
Further chances fell to Torres, but he couldn’t break his duck as Didier Drogba watched on from the bench.
Ancelotti would have been satisfied at half time, his team in command over a side appearing in the knock-out stage of the competition for the first time.
The pattern was maintained in the second half, and Anelka doubled Chelsea’s lead, running on to a superb pass from Frank Lampard and finishing with aplomb.
It was a much-needed improvement by Chelsea, and despite Torres’ lack of a goal, Ancelotti will feel a lot more confident going into next Tuesday’s Premier League clash with Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.
Word count: 272.

Friday, 18 February 2011

A momentous night.

The three-point shot. A thing of beauty. A second's worth of time where the entire arena watches the orange Spalding as it floats towards the hoop. As with all sports, the game's elite make it look deceptively easy. The elite of the elite do, anyway. For the majority of the NBA, making three out of ten shots from beyond the arc would put them in the specialist category, meanwhile for the rest of the world, just catching the rim on one occasion would be enough to make you look like you know what you're doing. An incredibly difficult skill, and one especially difficult to master, perfect and keep going for years on end.
But when Ray Allen took the pass from Rajon Rondo in acres of space against the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, February 10th, everything seemed to fit. "It seemed like it was slow motion for me," said Allen in the postgame press conference, after breaking the all-time record for three-point shots made, with 2,561. "The minute we got the stop and Rondo got the ball, in my mind it was like, 'it's started', and I said to myself, 'this is it'. And then when Rondo took the ball up, I knew what he was thinking, we've seen it a thousand times, I know he knows where I am. So when I got the ball and let it go, I felt so good behind it, I knew it was good, I was like, 'This is money'."
It sure was, and as soon as the ball hit the net, the home crowd went bonkers. One more play was completed before a time out was taken, with the crowd still in raptures. Kobe Bryant, arguably the greatest player in the game today, gave Allen a fist bump, clearly recognising and acknowledging the enormity of the achievement. As Allen moved back towards the bench for the time out, he was hugged, high-fived and hand-shaken by every member of the Celtics' roster, coaching staff and backroom staff.
The PA announcer then whipped the crowd up by confirming what everyone knew, that Allen had broken Reggie Miller's record of all-time three-point shots. Miller was in the stadium commentating for ESPN, and Allen immediately went over to him, gave him a hug and exchanged a few words. He then moved on to his mum, who is an ever present at the Celtics' home games, and the rest of his family.
Miller was keen to point out Allen's qualities, not just on the court, but off the court in the community as well. "People come up to me and say: 'You've gotta be a little upset or bitter.' - Why? First of all, all records are made to be broken, but I'm just so happy for him because this is one of the best guys - he's so humble, he's so giving, he's a great family man, and I'm excited."
In relation to his selfless side, Allen is a leading ambassador of the NBA Cares scheme, which promotes basketball in the community for under-privileged children. Regarding his on-court success, Celtics' coach Doc Rivers has no doubt why Allen has been as successful as he has. "It's no coincidence why Ray Allen's a great shooter - he works on his shooting. Ray Allen takes more shots than anybody I've ever seen. So, it's a great example of a guy not resting on his greatness." Team mate and Celtic legend Paul Pierce agreed: "Ray's been doing that his whole career, and that's what's gonna make him a future Hall of Famer, and one of the greatest players that's ever gonna play this game."
Allen hit the record-breaking three in his 1,074th game, 315 less than Miller's total of 1,389 games. While that sounds impressive, remarkably, the two of them put up almost exactly the same amount of shots - 6,430 for Allen as opposed to 6,486 by Miller, giving Allen a success rate of 39.8%, fractionally better than Miller's 39.5%. To put Allen and Miller's totals in perpective, current Dallas Mavericks star Jason Kidd sits third on the list, with 1,762 three-point shots made - a whopping 800 fewer than both above him.
To become a master of any subject, sporting or otherwise, dedication is key. In addition to being one the fittest members of the team, Allen also arrives at the court, home or away, three-and-a-half hours prior to tip-off, and puts up shot after shot after shot. Malcolm Gladwell said in his book Outliers, to become an expert in any given field you need to practice for 10,000 hours. Allen could well have surpassed that amount purely in pre-game warming up, never mind actual training sessions on off-days and the matches themselves.
The amount of shots he must have put up is almost incomprehensible. In his 15th season, he's approaching 1,100 regular season games, plus 101 play-off games, shooting up to 300 shots in preparation for each one, plus the shots in those games, plus the shots he's taken in practice sessions, plus the shots he put up in all his years growing up before he came into the league. I couldn't even begin to estimate a number. One thing I can tell you, though, is that with Allen's work ethic and love of the game still solidly intact, even at 35, he'll be around the league for a good season or four yet.
With the game becoming more and more physical; more emphasis on defence and players being able to shoot through contact, Allen is a throwback. A shooter in its purest form. Just catch and shoot. All day long. With the league's best passer at his side, and Miller's mark of 2,560 now successfully leapfrogged, who can say where Ray's treys will end? Widely considered to be in his best season ever, Allen could have surpassed 3000 threes by the time he hangs up his stroke.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Half inched from someone else's blog. Wellllll feminine btw.

Ten things you want to say to ten different people right now:
Jamie - Robert Brown.
Callum - Robert Brown.
Charlie - Binter.
Adam - Youtube isn't your friend right now.
Sophie - I nicked your blog.
Laura - I love you.
Katherine - Stop messing around and just suck Jamie off.
Ewan - Keep banging out those tunes.
Sean - Fuck off.
Dom - It's me.

Nine things about me:
I can adapt to any situation.
I still see myself as a kid. Fuck growing up.
No matter what people, or my record, say, I AM a good driver.
Katherine gave me the choice of a life without food or a life without sport...I couldn't decide.
I love Laura.
Laziness will probably be the reason I don't achieve as much as I could.
I love an argument, especially about sport. I will win it; I will rip the other person to pieces, but that doesn't mean it's an attack on them.
Bad spelling, grammar and punctuation pisses me off. If you're completely inept, fine. But if you're not, and you try, but get it wrong, sort it out.
One last thing. Ermmm. I can throw a ball a long way.

Eight ways to win my heart:
Have a good sense of humour.
Be prepared to put up with my sense of humour 'cos it can be kinda personal at times, but I mean no harm.
Be intelligent.
Have an interest in interesting things, preferably sport.
I'd prefer it if you didn't look like a mong, but if you have to, then I suppose it's ok. I do like you, Adam Toulson, after all.
Listen to good music.
Talk. Nothing worse than awkward silences.
Show an interest.

Seven things that cross my mind a lot:
How did Boston get on?
How did United get on?
Is Laura ok?
Why am I so lazy?
WTF am I gona do with my life?
What's for tea?
I don't wana get out of bed.

Six things I wish I’d never done:
Missed various deadlines.
Got banned from driving.
Let laziness rule my life.
Played that shot every time I get out in a cricket match.
Make my parents lose faith in me.
Duno what else. I'm sure I've left something fairly obvious off the list, but never mind.

Five people that mean a lot (in no order whatsoever):
I know that's seven but what you gona do about it?

Four turn offs:
Thinking you're it.
Smelling bad.
Sounds bad but being thick.

Three turn ons:
Nice eyes.
Good body.
Sense of humour is essential.

Two smileys that describe my life right now:

One confession:
I'm a retard who isn't fulfilling his potential. Already fucked one year of Uni, if I don't sort myself out I'll do the same again. Hopefully I'll survive it and get into the police force. Once I get there, I'm scared as to how different my life will be.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Anything and everything, pt I

Well, having written about seven entries in a month, it's now been about seven weeks since I wrote one, so it's about time I put that right. Annoyingly there's nothing in particular for me to write about, so it's gona be a general ramble.
But where to start? Football I think. You may remember in one of my previous posts that our five-a-side team had one win under our belts. That was probably about ten weeks ago, and since then we've added a total of no wins to that tally. One game per week, countless goals scored, but sadly countless more conceded, most notably two weeks ago. As we all take it in turns to play in goal, the first half of this game saw me put the gloves on. I started off pretty well, making a couple of decent saves, one of which with my chest as I dived at the feet of an onrushing striker. We went one-nil up and it was all going relatively smoothly, until they equalised. Not too much I could have done about that one, 'twas a decent finish.
The second goal, however, was a slightly different story. To aid my team mates and give them an extra option, when playing in goal I like to come out of my area and act as a sweeper. Obviously when the opposition get the ball I rush back and take my proper position. With the score at one-all, and us on the attack, I thought all was safe for me to come out of my area, but we lost the ball and it was hoofed clear. The guy who hit it never looked at the goal, but it was coming my way. He'd hit it with a lot of curl, and it came to me on my right-hand side, but in a momentary lapse in concentration, I tried to control it with my left foot. God knows why, but how it cost us. I could only watch in despair as the ball flew past my foot and proceeded to roll into the net, brushing the post as it did so. Cue howls of laughter and celebration from the oppo, and looks of loathing and derision from my team mates. Well, at least that's what I'm assuming, I couldn't actually turn and face them for a good ten seconds.
'I almost stuck my foot out and stopped it myself,' said George, our number one fan, who was standing by the goal. I wouldn't have put it past him to be honest, but no, 2-1 down we were at half time. The second half saw the most unjust, unfair, totally unacceptable and shocking thing happen in the history of football. Or at least that's what Tom Green thought. The world's most talented player had to take over in goal. How could this be allowed, he must have thought. Well, put simply, 'cos everyone takes it in turns, that's how.
So, in he trudged, and out I bounced. The second half was barely 20 seconds old when a slightly odd period of play commenced. I had the ball, but not under full control. Running at the goal, a defender came in to block my path, and took a huge swipe at the ball. I'd seen it coming, so flipped the ball over his foot, and jumped out the way of his flailing leg. He made no contact with anything, but the ref gave a free kick anyway. The ref happened to be a woman of about 30 years, and this guy went mad at her. She duly sent him off, which caused even more uproar. He eventually left the pitch, then from the free kick, Sam played me in down the left, I took one touch and smashed it into the far corner with my left peg. One of my better goals, and very satisfying to celebrate in front of the freshly-sent off man.
Incessant pressure was applied, especially by Dom, who hit the post twice and missed a sitter, but we couldn't penetrate the line a third time. Two-two it finished.
Anyway, enough about football, spent a bit too much time on that. Time to talk about some pool. It's been a month of differing fortunes for the Nuthouse Nutters, featuring an 8-2 win, a 6-1 loss, an amazing 5-5 draw and a disappointing 5-5 draw. Add in singles and doubles tournaments and it's all been going down.
Let's start with the singles. Not really terrifically successful, it must be said, as the only people to advance to round two were Adam Toulson and Alex Irani, both due to withdrawals from the opponents. I could have won but lost, Ewan played his part in a see-saw battle which eventually resulted in the Bieber-styled not-so-typical Essex boy losing, Jamie played well but lost four scrappy frames and Callum withdrew. Not good. Doubles went slightly better from a personal point of view, with Jamie and me winning 4-2. We'll forget the fact that I played absolutely terribly and concentrate on the next round. Sadly the combinations of D. Mumbai and A. Gecko, and Callum and Ewan didn't fare so well.
Moving on to the league games, a few weeks ago saw us batter some shitters 8-2, everyone playing well and recording at least one win. But last Thursday saw us throw away a 5-2 lead and draw 5-5, which pissed me off to the max. On the contrary, just a day before that saw the complete polar opposite. Having already lost 6-1 in the cup that night, we played Arlington 1066, one of the top teams in the league. Against the odds we managed a 5-5 draw, which pleased both us and the Nuthouse A team, who are in a title battle with 1066.
Highlight of that night was undoubtedly provided by Callum, who held himself together under great pressure to beat Josh Connolly, arguably the best player in the league, who'd previously beaten Alex without giving him a shot. Next game is this Thursday against Nuthouse A. They beat us 9-1 last time out, so we need to put that right.
Part II coming up soon when I've thought of something to write about.