Plymouth Argyle 2-0 Torquay United

Just back from Home Park, watching Torquay lose to Plymouth Argyle. It was a disappointing performance, one of a series recently, and summing up the season as a whole. The crowd were getting on Manager Alan Knill’s back towards the end and calling for him to be sacked, some of them, let’s say, extremely impolitely.

I’m not normally one to call for managers to get the chop, but there is very little sign of things improving at Plainmoor, and there are a number of decisions and tactical moves which leave me consistently perplexed, without any chance of them changing.

I’ve mentioned this before, but the 4-3-3 formation which so many teams down the leagues have copied from the Premier League is not as effective in League 2 due to the standard of player at this level. The way in which the wingers are inverted – with the right-footed player on the left and vice versa – makes the team extremely narrow,  reduces the amount of crosses into the box and stunts the fluid movement of attacks as players need to turn back onto their stronger foot to cross.

In the past two games, once behind, we have switched to 4-4-2 and brought Benyon on up front to partner Hawley, and he had an immediate impact, especially in setting up Hawley’s goal against Exeter and generally in holding the ball up.

There’s a bit of a mystery for me in midfield selection, too. Firstly, our central midfield is lacking a defensive quality – the player to sit in front of the back four. Mansell is industrious and has impressed when playing further forward (as shown with his mini goal glut a couple of years ago), but he is not a holding player. We have one. Damon Lathrope. But he has been sent on loan to Hereford.

Secondly, the repeated exclusion of probably our most talented player, Nathan Craig. I would think his inclusion essential if you are playing this 3 man midfield system, which requires neat passing. I think, in a 4-4-2, he could be even more vital if the team was allowed to play with more width. Ling and Taylor never liked to play him in the centre however, despite this clearly being the position where he dominated play, instead choosing to play him inexplicably on the right wing. Obviously something happened in the past which led to him being dropped, but that must surely be over now. Craig has made a number of sub appearances lately, but far too late to influence the game as he should be able to. Stick him in the middle, and build the team around him. 



Inverdale comments insulting? Yes. But it’s Sharapova who should be more offended

So a lot has been said about John Inverdale’s comments on Marion Bartoli after winning Wimbledon at the weekend. Inverdale’s comment was as follows:

“I just wonder if her dad, because he has obviously been the most influential person in her life, did say to her when she was 12, 13, 14 maybe, “listen, you are never going to be, you know, a looker. You are never going to be somebody like a (Maria) Sharapova, you’re never going to be 5ft 11in, you’re never going to be somebody with long legs, so you have to compensate for that.”

While people should be rightly upset that Inverdale is making disparaging comments about Bartoli’s appearance, the person who has really been maligned in this comment is Maria Sharapova. The insinuation is that Sharapova’s success has not come through the same level of hard work that Bartoli has had to put in. It takes no account that Sharapova left her homeland with her father at the age of 8 to move to America to train professionally, or the years of solid graft that led her to winning all four of the major Grand Slam events, or rise to World Number 1 or to 3rd on the all-time prize money list.

Sure, her looks and long legs may well have helped her make more from sponsorship deals, but just like Bartoli, the Williams sisters, Federer, Murray, Djokovic or Nadal, I sincerely doubt this was her goal growing up. Winning was, regardless of the immense sacrifices needed to do so.

And, by contrast, look at the career of Anna Kournikova, blessed with the same looks but not the same drive, focus or ability as Sharapova, and you see the difference. However good a sports star looks, it’s their passion, determination and ability which make them champions, and nothing else.

Anti-community attack needs community response

So the Islamic Centre in Muswell Hill that was burned down last night is about 3 roads away from my house. It’s one of the loveliest areas in London, and you can hardly imagine that it’s an area of deep intolerance and conflict.

It would be great if the local community can gather round and find a community venue for the Muslims to use, until their own centre is rebuilt. That would really show those responsible what the values of tolerance, friendship and citizenship are all about.

Where are the landmarks of the future?

Canary Wharf

Canary Wharf

I was in Canary Wharf today for a conference. I really like Canary Wharf. I love the steel and glass, the open space, the water. But as I went for a wander during the lunch break today it got me thinking that, as impressive as the architecture is, this most modern of areas of this most wonderful of cities does not have the public buildings where future history will be created.

Like other structures going up across London, such as The Shard and The Gherkin, its buildings are offices and retail developments, the wider public’s interaction with them limited to viewing platforms from which to see existing historic buildings and the urban sprawl below. It’s a struggle to see what historic events will happen at these spaces which will mean future generations will see them as central to the city’s folklore alongside places such as the Houses of Parliament, St Paul’s Cathedral or the Tower of London. They may be architectural marvels but they are functional, not foundation stones of our future history.

Where are the landmarks of the future?

Oppose my views? Fine, but don’t take it out on my family

So I wasn’t going to write about this, but in light of some of the things which have been said today around politics and the invasion into the privacy of politicians’ families, I thought I would bring it up and highlight that it permeates all levels of politics, right to the grass roots.

A few weeks ago, I got my first piece of hate mail, which I can only assume was as a cause of me being publicly very supportive of equal marriage. It was anonymous (typed on a typewriter – how archaic!) and put through my mother’s door addressed directly to her accusing me of being in a relationship with a well known local gay politician. It read:

“Congratulations to Glyn and [politician] on their ‘relationship’.”

So, firstly, to correct a couple of fun inaccuracies…

1) Er, I’m not gay
I can only assume the letter is worded as it is because the author thinks I must be gay if I support equal marriage. Er, no. I don’t support equal marriage out of self interest, I support it because it’s right. Although actually there is some self interest here, because marriage as it currently stands is devalued for me as my gay friends are prohibited from entering into an institution to which I am able. I do not wish to join a group to which my friends, peers and betters do not have the same access.

(Incidentally, I’m single because of sheer incompetence (lack of confidence?) with women. If I were gay, I’d be equally incompetent with men)

2) The insinuation that I might be gay doesn’t offend me
Because, seriously, what’s there to be offended about?

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Rugby Union clubs and their MPs

Yesterday Richard Morris pointed out on Twitter that only two Conservative MPs have a Premier League football team in their constituency. I had a few minutes spare so I thought I’d check out Rugby Union’s Aviva Premiership. Not quite the same result there:

Total scores are (out of 12 clubs): Conservatives 8, Lib Dems 2, Labour 2.

Here’s the detailed list below:

Bath: Lib Dem (Bath – Don Foster)
Exeter Chiefs: Conservative (East Devon – Hugo Swire)
Gloucester: Conservative (Gloucester – Richard Graham)
Harlequins: Lib Dem (Twickenham – Vince Cable)
Leicester Tigers: Labour (Leicester South – Jon Ashworth)
London irish: Conservative (Reading West – Alok Sharma)
London Wasps: Conservative (Wycombe – Steven Baker)
London Welsh: Conservative: (Richmond Park – Zac Goldsmith)
Northampton Saints: Conservative: (Northampton South – Brian Binley)
Sale Sharks: Labour (Wythenshawe and Sale East – Paul Goggins)
Saracens: Conservative (Watford – Richard Harrington)
Worcester Warriors: Conservative (Worcester – Robin Walker)

It should be noted that this is the location of their ground, and may not represent their fanbase. For instance, Exeter Chiefs’ ground is just in the Tory East Devon constituency, but its fanbase would be Exeter, which would be Labour.

Lib Dem Autumn Conference: Day 5

So, the final day of Autumn Conference this year. The final day is largely taken up by the party awards and the leader’s speech. In a funny twist I found myself sitting in the front row on the stage behind Nick Clegg for his speech (I’m writing this on the train home, so have yet to find myself on the TV)!

Leader’s Speech

I thought Nick did well. It was clearly a speech aimed at the viewing public rather than those sitting in the auditorium, but then Conference speeches always are. Really, it’s the classic case of “it’s the economy, stupid!”. It will of course be the key issue of the next General Election. But it was of good to see him point to green policies as an essential part of Lib Dem involvement in Government, and key to creating growth .

You do get a very different perspective of the speech from being behind and very close. When Clegg finished and went for the usual handshake with key Ministers, the mass of photographers was incredible, both in numbers and sheer aggression; almost trampling each other to get in the right place for the shot.


Earlier in the day, the Lib Dems passed three motions. The first, ‘Addressing Underprovision in Mental Health’, built on excellent work by now former Care Services Minister Paul Burstow, and was passed unanimously by the hall.

The second, an emergency motion (where members get to choose two from a list of four topical motions to be debated), saw members overwhelmingly vote in favour of calling on the Government to scrap Conservative plans to unnecessarily loosen planning laws.

This motion was brought by the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors (ALDC) and is a good example of how members or groups within the party can bring their own motions to challenge a leadership decision (or in this case Coalition partner’s) if they feel it incorrect. This also happened on Tuesday with the Secret Courts motion.

Thirdly, the members approved a new housing policy, drawn up by the policy working group over the last year, which called for, amongst other things, a house building programme to build 300,000 houses a year, give local authorities more powers to target rogue landlords, and promote longer tenancies to give renters more security.

Three very worthwhile motions, and three areas where Liberal ideals on localism and equality of opportunity can take a lead, although it was rightly pointed out that good work on mental health provision started under the last Government.

Back to work

So back to office work now, helping local constituents with personal problems. It’s satisfying and worthwhile work, but also good to approach it with the renewed wave of optimism and motivation which Conference always brings.