Snooker Legends

May 4, 2016

As I sat watching the 2016 Snooker World Championship Final (congratulations to Mark Selby – and Leicester City Football Club – what a time to be a Leicesterunian!), I thought back to my first visit to the World Championships with my dad, Alec Hickson, in 1973 (when I was 10 and my dad was 43 and the final was the best of 75 frames, played out over five days: Ray Reardon beat Eddie Charlton 38-32). In 1973 the tournament was sponsored by Park Drive, and it took place at the City Exhibition Hall in Manchester.IMAG2448

It was a crazy affair. No one was told to turn off their mobile phone (possibly because they hadn’t been invented) and only a few frames of the final were televised. My dad took me along in the early days of the tournament, Round 1, when there were loads of tables on the go, separated by partitions, and you could wander freely from table to table, just hanging around and watching before moving on to wherever the most shouts were coming from. And if you wanted a player’s autograph you just went up and asked; not at the end of the match, not even at the end of a frame as the referee re-racked, but as a player sat glumly sipping a pint and sucking a Park Drive, whilst his opponent did all the work at the table. Here’s the autographs I got in 1973.

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There’s Jackie Rea and Pat Houlihan (Pat won 9-2, but went on to lose 16-3  in the second round to Alex Higgins), Dennis Taylor and Cliff Thorburn (Thorburn won 9-8), John Dunning and David Taylor (Taylor – known as the Silver Fox many years before Phillip Schofield claimed the title – won 9-4), Jim Meadowcroft (who had a walkover since his opponent Kingsley Kennerley withdrew), Maurice Parkin and Warren Simpson (Simpson won 9-3), Bernard Bennett and David Greaves (Greaves won 9-8, before losing 16-1 to 59 year old Fred Davis), and Geoff Thompson and Graham Miles (Miles won 9-5). I collected autographs from 14 of the 16 players in the first round. The only ones I missed out on were Perrie Mans and Ron Gross. Maybe next year.

In 1974 the tournament was held at Belle Vue in Manchester. How lucky was I, at the ages of 10 and 11, to have the World Championship so close to home two years in a row! (In 1976 it went to Australia). More autograph pestering was in order.

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 And this time Perrie Mans was there. Also some of the big hitters; Fred Davis, Rex Williams, John Pulman, Eddie Charlton, John Spencer, Ray Reardon!

And, down at the bottom, another Charlton (not Eddie) was there as a spectator: Bobby Charlton!

But here, in close-up, is the star autograph:

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“Best wishes & good luck, to Simon Hickson from Alex Higgins”.

Well!

I was only 11. I blew it really, my once in a lifetime meeting with The Hurricane. He took time to talk to me. I remember him asking my name, and then I remember him saying “Hickson, it’s a bit like Higgins isn’t it”. And all I said back was “No”.

Things changed once it moved to Sheffield. We’d still go, me and my dad. I’d race home from school, he’d race home from Trafford Park where he worked at GEC, and we’d do the drive over Snake Pass to The Crucible. But you couldn’t get to the players anymore. The Crucible wasn’t some vast exhibition centre where you could come and go. The Crucible was a Theatre! But still, in the earlier sessions, there was a partition, and two tables in action. My dad (phoning to book tickets? Or applying by post? or Pigeon? This is a long time before computers) would always try and get us seats that straddled the partition, giving us the chance to watch two matches at once.

A little aside on the business of getting tickets: My dad once went to see a round robin match; six players taking it in turn to play each other. He got tickets for a match featuring John Spencer (three times World Champion; 69,71, and the first to win at The Crucible in 1977). He phoned up for the tickets and was told to pick them up at an address in Radcliffe. He drove out to the address and found himself at John Spencer’s house.

As I got older I started to play snooker more, and by the time I was at university, between 1980 and 1983, I was on a snooker team captained by my dad; Potters ‘B’, named after Potters Snooker Club above the Rialto in Salford, and ‘B’ for not being the ‘A’ team. I was away at Manchester University, but I’d see my dad once a week for our match. My dad was a strict but fair captain; three losses in a row and you’d lose your place, until the next team member lost three in a row. I spent a lot of time on the bench.

potters-001

Along with the Salford District Snooker League weekly games were the individual handicap tournaments and the doubles tournaments (in which I’d team up with my dad). In the 1982/83 season my dad made it to the semi-finals of the Individuals tournament, and for this he got a trophy. The trophies were presented at an end of season bash, where there’d be a bit of entertainment hosted by the unusually haired Mick Miller.

Mick Miller The Comedians

And the trophies would be presented by… well, this was a special year. A young lad turned up to present the trophies, same age as me. 21 years old, a year on from losing 15-16 to Alex Higgins in the 1982 World Championship semi-final.

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Yes. Jimmy White.IMAG2547

Jimmy White with my dad.

This was May 1983. Three months later, in early August 1983, at the age of 54, my dad died of a heart attack.

I’ll be 54 this August and, in memory of my dad, I’m going to run the 10k Great Manchester Run, raising money for the British Heart Foundation.

If you can, please sponsor me. In memory of a snooker legend.

Ask

February 20, 2016

“Ask me I won’t say no, how could I?”

I’m having a deja vu moment. I’m pretty sure I used this Smiths line for a blog post before. Most probably about the same thing. But I’m not going to check, because it’s just right. Ask. Always ask. What’s the worst thing that could happen?

We asked Rufus Hound if he would be in Episode 2 of STRANGENESS in SPACE. He said yes. As did Peter Guinness. Oh, and Carol Cleveland. You can hear them in Episode Two, Featherheads, here. And at the risk of just too much repetition have I told you, it’s free, so what have you got to lose? (Ok, about 24 minutes of your time, but if you feel it wasn’t worth it I will refund you the cost).

Last weekend we launched Episode 3, Step Back in Time. We asked Alexei Sayle if he’d be in it. You can hear the Episode here.

We are now funding Episode 4. It is called Pet Shock Boys. Our main guest will play a character called The PuppyMaster. Any more news would spoil it. But who could we ask to play The PuppyMaster?

I’d had someone in mind from the beginning, and when Sophie said she’d once worked with him on a Big Finish Dr Who audio drama, we just had to ask.

We didn’t hold out much hope. It can take a while to get an answer from an agent; and we do need a bit of luck on our side… all our eps are crowdfunded, all of our guests are paid the same. It helps a hell of a lot if they want to do it. If, indeed, they would enjoy doing it.

Things were silent for a while. And then Clare (our producer) received a succinct email that said “he’s in”.

So. Episode Four, Pet Shock Boys, will guest star Paterson Joseph as The PuppyMaster.

If you’re thinking ‘I don’t think I know him’, well, I bet you do. He’s a great actor. Here is is in one of his more well-known comedy roles:

I was thrilled when Paterson said yes. The last thing I watched him in was The Leftovers, where he played ‘Holy’ Wayne. If you haven’t seen it, do track it down. It’s amazing and moving and manages to be that rare thing; groundbreaking TV.

Paterson in Episode 4 is incredibly exciting, and I’m still getting over the shock of the yes! Ask!

Now I’m going to ask you folks to help us get it made. If you’re as excited as me at having Paterson Joseph take part, please help us fund this episode. We aren’t crowdfunding through Kickstarter (as we did to get STRANGENESS in SPACE off the ground in the first place). We’re crowdfunding it through our own website. Please take a look at our ‘shop‘ and see if anything takes your fancy. We have some new items now too! Episode 1 will be available on CD, remastered by our sound maestro Dave Palser, and also with lots of extras including remixes of the songs, interviews, bloopers etc. (I put etc. because they are all to be confirmed; but I promise you, you won’t be disappointed). We also have a new T-shirt bearing the logo of our (fake) sponsors Thorleigh’s. Dave designed this, and it’s lovely. Thank you Dave.

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And how did we get Dave to do these great sound designs, to make our logos, to help us way beyond we could have expected?

 

Something Sunday

November 29, 2015

It’s Something Sunday isn’t it. Yeah, it is. Something Sunday. Comes two days after Black Friday and the day after Shrug Saturday.

Something Sunday. The day before Cyber Monday. Two days before Tired Tuesday. Followed by What Wednesday, then Green Thursday, and then, a full week on from Black Friday, we have Just Friday, when all the magistrates use No Win No Fee claim forms as auxiliary toilet paper. Next Saturday is Next Saturday, when all branches of Next offer Same day Delivery, tomorrow. And then, we come full circle to the following Sunday which, at the moment, is flirting with calling itself Sallow Sunday; a day where all yellow gifts that have been left in sun-bleached windows over the summer will be sold off at bargain prices to the first customers who skin-tones match the product.

It’s difficult keeping up isn’t it? Do you remember the good old days when days just had a number, or a one-word name? Monday the 12th, or Wednesday the 29th… and so on. Do you remember? Think back. Do you remember when there was that Monday in your childhood that was just a Monday, any old bog-standard Monday, but what a great Monday it was? We all loved that Monday. I think it was Monday 16th July, 1979. What a Monday! Glorious. A Monday. With a number. 16.

The good old days.

And then came Saturday. Saturday 21st 1979. What an awful day. Mondays were never the same after that were they? Bob Geldof and his bloody pop song. Released on the 21st; completely buggering up the 23rd. So he didn’t like Mondays? He could have kept it to himself. But no, too late, he’d opened the floodgates. Blue Monday was next and the world was never the same.

And now here we are, on Something Sunday.

Let’s try and make the most of Something Sunday. Let’s try and make something positive out of the hell Geldof unleashed.

Let’s make Something Sunday something special. Let’s make it Strangeness Sunday.

Have I told you about STRANGENESS in SPACE?

(I know. I can hear you; “so that was his plan all along. To start off with some nonsense, some improvised rubbish, and then to slowly suck us all in only to bang on about his new thing.”

Yes. It was my plan. Sorry. Sorry Sunday.)

If you haven’t heard about STRANGENESS in SPACE, it’s a new audio sci-fi comedy me and Trev have done (done as in written, acted in etc) along with Sophie Aldred (Ace to Sylvester McCoy’s Dr Who). We’ve also had the most amazing special guests involved, including Doon Mackichan and Rufus Hound.

You can listen to Episodes 1 and 2 here. For free.

We’ve now written Episode 3, and the writing for Episode 4 is underway. We also have a great new special guest for Episode 3. Only the comedy legend that is Alexei Sayle! This is so exciting for us. It’s just amazing to be able to ask some of our favourite funny people and for them to actually say yes.

And the great thing is, because this project is crowd-funded, we have no suits hovering over us, telling us we can’t do this, we must do that. We are lucky enough to be able to do exactly as we want. And if we want Alexei Sayle in it, we ask and cross our fingers. And the great man said yes.

Crowd-funding made this happen. You all made this happen. It’s a great thing, and we’re all in it together. Tell me why, I do like crowd-funding.

But (oh, I know, there’s always a big but)…

We crowd-funded Eps 1 and 2 through Kickstarter. We went beyond our intended target enabling us to fund not one, but two episodes. But now we are on to Episodes 3 and 4 we need to raise the money ourselves and crowd-fund through our own website.

We’re getting there, but the sooner we can hit our target the sooner we can get our great cast back into the studio to record the next two episodes.

If you’ve enjoyed listening to STRANGENESS in SPACE please do take a look at our ‘shop’. We’ve lots of things in there costing from just a few pounds to… well… a few more. Anything bought in the shop goes straight towards our goal to fund the next episodes; to pay all the people who are working so hard on our behalf to get this made; our Production Team, our cast, all those helping behind the scenes. All these great people are working long and hard hours, and often for ridiculously favourable ‘mates rates’. I promise you, everything we spend is up there on that audio “screen”.

Here’s some of my favourites from the shop:

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This is our first set of STRANGENESS in SPACE badges. You can get the set for £6 including Postage and Packing (posted and packed by me or Clare, with a handwritten note too).

We liked these so much we had a second set made too… a little more in the know for ‘Mirthlings’ who’ve listened to the first two episodes.

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We’ve also got T-shirts, Beanie hats, Bags for Life. You can find our shop by clicking on this link.

Christmas is coming soon too. We have our own STRANGENESS “Merry Spacemas”card in the shop. It’s signed by me, Trev, Sophie, and Clare. It can be dedicated to whoever you choose. And we can post it to them for you, or we can post it to you.

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If you fancy helping us get the next episodes made but you don’t necessarily want us to post you anything, why not consider sponsoring a page of our script. Each page can be ‘commissioned’ by you. It will have your name at the top of the page for all the cast to see and we will also email you the script once it is released. This is limited to the number of pages in the script, and at the mo we have 11 left. You can be one of our page commissioners for £20 and you can do that by clicking on this link.

Ok. Enough I think. Enough trying to flog you stuff for today. Enough Something Sunday. You came here for a bit of fun, I reeled you in, and then I gave you the hard sell.

But… if you can help, please do. We are having so much fun getting STRANGENESS in SPACE made, and we can’t wait to be getting on with the next two episodes.

Happy Sunday everyone. And remember, tomorrow is Monday. Just Monday. But do watch out for the Cybermen.

 

 

Just walking

September 30, 2014

On Sunday I did some walking. And I was sort of paid for it. Crazy. You know that sponsoring thing, where people give money to a charity in return for you doing something arduous or stupid (like sitting in a bath full of lobsters or skipping up Ben Nevis)… well, I got away with raising a load of money for Alzheimer’s Society just by walking. Walking. Something I have to do anyway.

If it’s any consolation, I am a reluctant walker; I’m no fan. I look forward to the future when we all wear hover shoes, or have ball bearings for feet. Walking is overrated. Unless there’s a pub at the end of the walk.

So, me walking 10km, around a park! (I think parks are overrated too… well, not all parks. There’s some nice car parks around. Like this one:

Poor old Alf Roberts).

Back to the business. The walk I did was the Memory Walk. 10km around Victoria Park – I give in – it’s a lovely park. It’s about a mile from (appropriately) Mile End Road tube. So that’s another 2 miles I had to walk! Unsponsored too!

Once there, around the park we went. And it was a moving sight, to see all the folk with memory cards pinned to their backs; all the nans and grans and grandpas and mums and dads and friends who had been affected by this awful illness. I walked in memory of my wife’s Nan, May, and my friend Trev’s dad, Tudor.

And a huge thank you to all who supported me and so kindly and generously donated to Alzheimer’s Society. The final total raised, including the donations to the World Cup Tweepstake this July, is an incredible £2016.90. I hope I’ve managed to thank the Tweepstakers throughout the Tweepstake blog posts. And some of you Tweepstakers have been incredibly generous, donating again and again. To those who donated for the Memory Walk thank you thank you thank you. Thank you to:

Andy and Sarah, Beccy, Mel, Kevin, Allison, Louise, Debbie, Ivan, Gillian, Tim, Jason, Mary, Jane, Jenny, Jason, Andrea and Frank, Dave, Stuart, Elspeth, Jaq, Tom, Richard, Paul and Charlotte, Samantha, Tiggy, Rebecca, Angela, Mike, John, Sarah, Pete, Beth, Rachel, Jenny, Cecilia, Darren, Christian, Mo, Sam, Mark, Peter, Glenn, Lisa, James, Sarah, Trev, Dave, Richard, Sophie, and Paul.

A huge thank you. I take back all the cheap ‘jokes’ at the start of this post. x

Before the walk started I met Carrie Dunn, who walked on behalf of her Grandma. You can read her blog post about the event here.

And now, because I have finally found a way of getting the photos from my phone onto my computer, here’s a few snaps from the day.

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The Midwich Cuckoos

dog

the peleton

not sure if I'm at the front or back now

not the peleton

lost

lost

other charities are available

other charities are available

proof

proof

reward

reward

The football starts up again with the third place play-off, but is this a match anyone can get too excited about? Oh go on then, let’s do our best. Here we reluctantly go:

BRAZIL (@Mojorainbw)  v HOLLAND (@Braggovic)

9pm. ITV. Estadio Nacional de Brasilia in Brasilia. Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari is expected to make some changes for this match… ideally he’d be best off changing himself, and that may well come about within the next few days. Brazil’s captain, Thiago Silva, is back after his one match suspension, but will that be enough to help the team recover after their devastating 29-1 defeat at the hands of Germany. (Ok, I exaggerate, but not that much).

The Dutch coach, Louis van Gaal, sees the match as an irrelevance. He said: “There is only one award that counts and that is becoming world champions.” However, he also said: “The worst thing is that there is a chance you are going to lose twice in a row… And in a tournament in which you have played so marvellously well you go home as a loser.”

So, despite the irrelevance, both teams will no doubt find the idea of defeat unbearable. There’s only one option for this game and it won’t be pretty. It will be a 0-0 draw. And the same after extra time. And the same after penalties. The two teams, heartbroken in many different ways, will just keep on missing and missing and missing. There will be no goals. No celebrations. They will still be taking failed penalties when the next World Cup starts in 2018.

Still, chin up, and good game everyone.

Let’s end on a bit of fun. Who doesn’t love Lawineboys? Hell, they’re the Netherlands answer to Trev and Simon! Here they are eating raw fish and enjoying a drink or two as they sing Glass Omhoog (Voor Nederland):

To balance things out, here’s one for Brazil. It’s from Agridoce, a Brazilian folk duo also known as Pitty and Martin. Here they are singing, appropriately, The Smiths’ Please, Please, Please, Let me Get What I want. Though if they do, it won’t be the first time.

Unbelievable! Shocking! Have you all recovered? Everyone is asking the same question; How can Alan Hansen have such a good tan and such a white neck?

And how could the host nation, Brazil, be beaten by a bunch of Dennis the Menace lookalikes?

where's Gnasher?

where’s Gnasher?

Of course, we must be careful with our jokes here. It’s not out of the question that the Brazilian team will all be sentenced to a free week at the David Beckham Football Academy. But will it come in time for the third place play-off? And will Brazil even bother turning up?

If you didn’t see the game, or if you have missed the news, prepare yourself.

BRAZIL 1 GERMANY 7

The Brazil coach, Felipe Scolari, has described it as the “worst day” of his life, and that’s including the day he came third in a Gene Hackman lookalike contest and the day he caught Neymar drawing glasses and a moustache on his treasured 1964 Panini Pele card.

Some fools, and I’m one of them, will say it’s only a game. But let’s look at the bad statistics first: it’s Brazil’s biggest ever World Cup defeat; it’s their first competitive home defeat in 39 years; the last time there was a goal margin this big was in 1920 when they lost 6-0 to Uruguay, 94 years ago!; it took Brazil 51 minutes to even get a shot on target; it made children cry.

The good statistics (particularly if you are German): 3 goals in 179 seconds!; Miroslav Klose broke the World Cup scoring record; it’s the first time a team has scored 7 goals in a World Cup semi-final; 5 goals came in the first 29 minutes; it made children cry.

And it’s tears of happiness for @DarrenK73 (Germany) in the Tweepstake and just tears for @Mojorainbw (Brazil). Mo was picked at number 12 when I did the draw. Before knowing which team she would get she pledged £12 to Alzheimer’s Society for every round her team would get through. And, even though going out last night, she still donated £12! Darren has also continued to donate at every stage throughout the tournament, as well as other of you who didn’t make it quite this far. You have all helped make this a truly fantastic World Cup and World Cup Tweepstake.

So far you have all donated £1179.29 to Alzheimer’s Society. When I started this my plan, at first, was for it to be like an ordinary sweepstake where everyone gave, say, a tenner to be in it. That would have raised £320. I then realised I was in danger of falling foul of some gambling laws (and I don’t really want to encourage you all to gamble either) so instead I just asked for donations in return for some prizes and, hopefully, some fun. And look where we are now! Thank you.

And the prizes are coming in now, ready for distribution once the tournament has ended. How I will give what to whom I have no idea, but I hope you will all be happy with what you receive. Just this morning the postwoman delivered a tube with two fantastic prints by the funny people at Modern Toss. A big thank you to you. And, whoever gets this in the Tweepstake, be prepared to have big funny swear words on your living room wall.

And so to tonight’s game:

HOLLAND (@Braggovic)  v ARGENTINA (@joyfeed)

9pm. ITV. Arena de Sao Paulo in Sao Paulo. From a Tweepstake perspective this is one of those rare matches where both tweepstakers are men! Don’t be fooled by the ‘joy’ part, they’re the two Peters! But which Peter will prevail before going on to be beaten by Germany (only joking!)?

Van Persie has an upset tummy so he might be out, but Argentina have super striker Sergio Aguero back! This is Argentina’s first semi-final since 1990 (they won that one only to be beaten in the final by … Germany!) This is Holland’s third semi-final in the last four World Cups!

It’s a difficult one to call but I am going to predict:

Holland 7 Argentina 1 (or Holland 1 Argentina 7)

Here’s Sinead O’Connor singing Don’t Cry For Me Argentina on Dutch TV.

 

 

After a two day rest, here we go! Does that make me sound like a football type person? I hope so! Today the Quarter Finals start. The end is in sight folks. Four matches, then two, then one, then that’s that! (Not forgetting the daft game in between for third place; a sad match that really no one cares about except me; I’ll do my best).

Two matches today. First up:

FRANCE (@Zoleipar)  v GERMANY (@DarrenK37)

5pm. BBC. Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janiero. So, Joachim Low, the German coach, says all of his team have the flu. Is this a tactic? I’d like to say Didier Deschamps, the French coach, has come back and said all of his team have runny bottoms. But he hasn’t. Yet.

How to call this one, the clash of the European heavyweights? It’s going to be klose. Out of 26 meetings France have won 11 times, Germany 8, and 6 draws. But, here’s the thing; @DarrenK37 has not only donated a fortune to Alzheimer’s Society, he has also drank the national drink of his team (Weissbier und Riesling) throughout the tournament (even on days when there were no matches). His dedication to the cause is exemplary.

As for @Zoleipar, my wife, well… she’s been drinking Sauvignon Blanc… from New Zealand! I don’t even think she has donated yet! But then she did do the John Barnes rap from World In motion. It’s a start.

Darren’s dedication deserves rewarding. My prediction:

 

France 1 Germany 2

 

BRAZIL (@Mojorainbw)  v COLOMBIA (@SpiderMonkey987)

9pm ITV. Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza. From a European battle to the battle of two of the biggest South American teams. I have no clue! I mean, Brazil are the host nation; who wants them out? And yet Colombia have Burt Bacharach managing them:

Jose Pekerman says a little prayer

I can’t predict it. Penalties, that’s all I’m saying. Penalties and the most dramatic shoot-out so far. God give them strength. Talking of which, let’s end on a song as Jose Pekerman joins his good friend Elvis Costello.

The second round drew to a dramatic close yesterday, but then every day seems to be dramatic at the mo. Out of the eight matches played two have ended in penalties and three in Extra Time.

First up yesterday was Argentina v Switzerland with Argentina winning 1-0, scoring in the 118th minute, two minutes away from another penalty shoot-out! So Argentina and @joyfeed are into the quarter finals and Switzerland and @realandrewgreen are sadly heading home.

Then Belgium beat USA 2-1. After 105 minutes Belgium were 2-0 up. The USA fought back, getting a goal two minutes later but that was that and the Belgians and @hbnm1985 go through to face the Argentinians. USA and @Lynbown head home. A consolation (of sorts) for USA is that their goalkeeper, Tim Howard, made World Cup history by making the most saves ever in a single game (15).

15 saves in a day

15 saves in a day

Watch out for the film The Fist and the Footloose, the Tim Howard story. It’s bound to be made (just maybe, perhaps, with a better title). here’s a sneak preview:

vin diesel

cooking on diesel

And so we have a few days off! No football til Friday!

 

That’s why there’s been a big gap inbetween writing this, early this morning, and publishing it, now. And I’ve just had a pint. And now I have to have my tea. I will be on the ball again tomorrow, with a blog of sorts before we kick into the quarter finals on Friday.

Enjoy the break.

 

yesterday was the first day of the knockout stages. Who got knocked out and who stayed in? Lets see.

BRAZIL (@Mojorainbw) v CHILE (@dusted1969)

I predicted a 2-2 draw, that would remain 2-2 through extra time, and then Brazil would win on penalties. And I wasn’t far off. It was just 1-1 all the way and then penalties. And Brazil won 3-2!

Penalty shoot-outs aren’t the most popular of endings for die-hard football fans, but for the middling ones (such as myself) they provide great drama. It’s all there: Goals, saves, and (the most criminal act of all) just plain missing the goal (known as ‘doing a Diana’ after Diana Ross’s  miss at the opening of the 1994 World Cup).

But let’s not be too hard on her. I bet if we heard Neymar singing I’m Coming Out it wouldn’t be much cop. Though he does have the moves.

Non Direction

Non Direction

And so farewell to Chile and @dusted1969 and congratulations to @Mojorainbw and Brazil who will face the winner of the following game:

 

COLOMBIA (@SpiderMonkey987) v URUGUAY (@BottyB)

A clear win for Colombia and @SpiderMonkey987. Sorry Uruguay and @BottyB, but without Suarez you just lacked the… (oh, fill in your own cheap joke. I just can’t bring myself to type it).

2- 0 to Colombia with new star James Rodriguez getting both the goals. Suarez wasn’t allowed in the stadium to watch. Indeed he has been banned from watching on TV. Or opening his eyes. Or mouth. It is the harshest ban ever handed out by FIFA since Bobby Charlton was given a 6 month comb ban back in the 1960’s.

Suarez has put up a defence. in a statement to me, just given inside my own head, he said; “I didn’t bite him. I fell onto him and found a small piece of pork pie balanced on his shoulder. I thought it was unusual for a player of Chiellini’s stature to have a pork pie under his kit, but who, in the same position, would not take advantage of such a savoury treat. Of course it was the heat. There was no pork pie there. I was hallucinating. It was a simple mistake to make but now I am paying the price. Even as I speak to you now, in your own head, I am doing it with my eyes and my mouth shut, such is the severity of my punishment. People say, why don’t you say sorry? Well, what am I saying sorry for? Trying to eat a tasty pastry pie during the World Cup? Is that such a crime? This is then end of my statement to you. I hope the Tweepstake people will understand.”

Thank you Suarez for clearing that up and taking the time to speak to me in my own head.

Brazil will face Colombia in the Quarter Finals!

TODAY’S MATCHES

HOLLAND (@Braggovic) v MEXICO (@bluebox99)

5pm. ITV. Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza. Hmmm. Holland haven’t lost a game and now they have Van Persie back. And he’s supposed to be pretty, pretty good. Too close for me to call here so I’ll just have to go with the favourites:

Holland 2 Mexico 1

COSTA RICA (@jasonpettigrove)  v GREECE (@gingerdisco99)

9pm. ITV. Arena Pernambuco in Recife. This is the first ever meeting between these two teams, and the first time that Greece have ever reached the knockout stages. Costa Rica reached the last 16, only to then go out, in 1990. Costa Rica have been a surprise success of this tournament and I think that will continue:

Costa Rica 3 Greece 0

But you must know by now, my predictions are as valid as a Suarez statement.

If you know anyone who can help me reach my World Cup target of £1966 for Alzheimer’s Society please send them over in the direction of my Just Giving page. Thank you. Have a good day of football. x

 

 

A sad day for some #tweepstake2014 folk who are leaving the World Cup behind for at least another four years. But please stay with us in the Tweepstake; perhaps you can switch your allegiance to another team, if that’s not too much of a shock to your system.

As for prizes, everyone’s guaranteed one. At some point I will be coming after you for your addresses. However, in an attempt to keep you all interested I will leave sending prizes out until the competition is over. That way I can also include your team ranking in the entire tournament. So, even though you are out, you are in. Ok?

Here’s what happened yesterday:

AUSTRALIA (@zwanzig20) played SPAIN (NiicNok), purely for the hell of it, both teams already beyond hope. Australia have played well in this tournament (ok, they didn’t win a game, but they put up a fight) but Spain were determined to put on some kind of a show, having won the cup four years ago and now facing a tournament with no points. They won 3-0. Bye Spain. Bye Australia.

HOLLAND (@Braggovic) and CHILE (@dusted1969) fought for first and second place in their group. Holland won 2-0 going to the top of the group with three resounding wins and 9 points. Their last goal in the group stages was scored by Leroy Fer who, when not in the World Cup playing for Holland, plays for Norwich. Holland will face Mexico in the next round and Chile will face Brazil.

CAMEROON (@Arfablue), already out before this game, faced BRAZIL (@Mojorainbw). A win for Cameroon would have led to a very interesting group closure but, despite equalising in the 26th minute, they were eventually beaten 4-1 by Brazil. Bye Cameroon.

CROATIA (@LadyLisaCusack) played MEXICO (@bluebox99). Croatia had to win to stay in the competition. They lost 3-1. Bye Croatia.

TODAY’S MATCHES

Groups C and D come to a close today.

COSTA RICA (@jasonpettigrove) v ENGLAND (@Christian_N_Orr)

5pm. ITV. Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte. England are out of the tournament but will be playing a nearly new team (nine changes, including up and coming youngster Frank Lampard) to showcase our future! Out of the eight teams playing today England are the only ones guaranteed going home. Everything else is up for grabs. Costa Rica are safe, but will still be playing to get the win and secure top of the group. My prediction:

Costa Rica 3 England 2

 

ITALY (@pettittsa) v URUGUAY (@BottyB)

5pm. ITV. Estadio das Dunas in Natal. Uruguay are the slight underdogs. A win will put them through, but a draw will put Italy through on goal difference. My prediction:

Italy 3 Uruguay 3

 

JAPAN (@Superblouse) v COLOMBIA (@SpiderMonkey987)

9pm. BBC. Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba. Anything’s possible here should Japan beat Colombia. My prediction:

Japan 1 Colombia 3

 

GREECE (@gingerdisco99) v IVORY COAST (@jayscarblue)

9pm. BBC. Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza. And anything’s possible here should Greece beat Ivory Coast. My prediction:

Greece 0 Ivory Coast 2

Sorry to put a downer on things but I think Colombia will top the group and Ivory Coast will come second.

But let’s end on a more positive note. In honour of England’s last game in this World Cup here’s former England manager, Kevin Keegan, with his tribute to the team.