FootballOpinion

Squawka – From the Football League to the Premiership

In another thing I wrote which was published today, writing for Squawka I took a look at the best players to step up from the Football League to the Premiership this season.

I took a look at the five best, breaking down their performances – Aston Villa and Southampton players feature heavily.

550px-Football_League_Awards.svg by Angelus                   Taken from Wikimedia Commons

Click here to read Top Five Best Newcomers to the Premier League

FootballOpinion

Bias In Wales

In English football, there are a number of Welsh teams competing within the English football leagues. This came about essentially because there aren’t enough professional teams for a fully professional Welsh league to be sustainable. So, for a century, Welsh and English teams have intermingled.

There is a strange detail to this – though they compete in the English leagues, when their players are disciplined, the Welsh teams are punished by the Football Association of Wales, rather than the English FA.

Recently, this has led to a conflict of interests, with a Wrexham player having a ban rescinded, allowing him to compete in the Conference playoff semi-finals.

This is what Wales looks like from space... if you squint really hard.
This is what Wales looks like from space… if you squint really hard.

I’ve written about this for BornOffside.

Click here to read Time to End Welsh Independence

FootballOpinion

A Dramatic Day to Come in Leagues One and Two

It’s a bit late in the week, but I’ve covered the events in Leagues One and Two.

This is what cool looks like

Barnet have played their last game at Underhill, home of the famous sloping pitch; Portsmouth have been deducted points this season rather than next, despite already being relegated; Scunthorpe are all but relegated, for the second time in three years; Coventry City FC are – I’m sorry if I don’t seem to be taking it seriously, just laughably villainous.

I’ve also written about the teams still with something to play for on the last round of league matches this weekend.

Click here to read The Lower League Week – Preparing for the Showdown

Review

Wahlberg!

Writing for the Ann Arbor Review of Books, I’ve reviewed a trio of Mark Wahlberg films ahead of what’s sure to be his greatest work yet, the Michael Bay directed weightlifter crime comedy Pain & Gain.

I’ve watched and reviewed The Other Guys, Ted, and Boogie Nights – three films I’d not previously seen. All in all, I was pleasantly surprised – though still with a few reservations.

Either it's raining, or he's got dandruff on his jacket.
Either it’s raining, or he’s got dandruff on his jacket.

I only used one ‘Marky Mark’ reference, which I would claim is a sign of restraint, but the truth is that I’m only very vaguely aware he was in New Kids on the Block

Click here to read Marathon Man: Mark Wahlberg

FootballOpinion

Pools are Going Down; I’ve Written for We Are Going Up

I’ve been a bit busy writing for a few sites over recent days. First up is a piece I wrote for We Are Going Up – basically a look back across Hartlepool United’s awful, awful season.

It’s been a season when Pools have set a new club record for games without a win, a new club record for least amount of goals scored by the top scorer, and have lost by 5 goals on 4 occasions.

On the plus side, I still think the ground looks awesome.
On the plus side, I still think the ground looks awesome.

Click here to read Thank God It’s Nearly Over

FootballOpinion

Squawka – Young Player of the Year

On Friday, nominations for the PFA Player of the Year award, and PFA Young Player of the Year award were announced – the winners will be announced at an event on April 29th.

Writing for Squawka in an article published yesterday, I’ve looked at what the Squawka Performance Scores have to say on the Premier League’s top young players, and looked deeper at Squawka’s statistical breakdowns, to see what else the stats have to say about the quality and style of the top 5 players.

Eden Hazard taking on Norwich defenders, while storing nuts in his cheeks.
Eden Hazard taking on Norwich defenders, while storing nuts in his cheeks.

The Squawka Top 5 young players has some of the same players the PFA members have nominated, but some that have been overlooked – this includes one tidy but not eye-catching player I like, who wasn’t nominated. More importantly, there’s no place for Danny Welbeck in the top 5, which I’d argue makes my/Squawka’s list more legitimate than the PFA’s.

Click here to read Squawka’s YPOTY Shortlist

Egotism, Read My Fiction

I’m Creating my own Universe

This is going to be just about the geekiest post I’ve written on the blog, so feel free to mock me in the comments. I won’t be offended if you do.

Despite the majority of my writing in the last year and a half being on other subjects (football, television, film and book reviews, analysis and rants mainly) my ultimate aim as a writer is to be a professional writer of fiction.
I prefer the blank canvas, the ability to create my own characters and tell my own stories, to the non-fiction writing I’ve mainly wrote and linked to in the year and a half writing this blog.

I’ve mentioned previously that I’ve got a lot of half-started fiction, things I started with a huge sense of ambition, excited about what I could do, and then more or less gave up, convinced that my story, for whatever reason, didn’t work.

It’s for that reason that I’ve started writing fan-fiction, using characters taken fro the Marvel Comics universe. (Though my interpretations of the characters are mainly  based on those that have appeared in the recent films and 1990s cartoons.) Essentially, the idea is that, by using characters and scenarios created by others, I’ll have guidelines of sorts.

Either this Spider-Man's a woman, or the spider-bite had a very strange side-effect.
Either this Spider-Man’s a woman, or the spider-bite had a very strange side-effect.

For instance, in the early chapters of what I’ve been writing, I felt like I wasn’t quite capturing the personality of Peter Parker the way I wanted. I was able to look up some old episodes online, to have a definite idea of how I wanted the character to speak – the sense of both humility and sarcasm. (My favourite version of the character is the one in the 90s cartoon series. While Toby McGuire and Andrew Garfield’s performances are decent, both are a little too geeky for me.)

Nothing is created in a vacuum – every writer who’s ever lifted a pen has been inspired by something. There’s a space opera short story concept I’ve picked up and abandoned many times over the years. Essentially what I thought for this would be the moral metaphors of Star Trek, in a darker and grimier world, more like Alien or Battlestar Galactica.
I’ve a hero that I wanted to be similar but different to common ideas of how a dynamic leader should behave… and it’s difficult working out the precise characterisation.

But with fanfiction, there’s something to consult, something solid that’s been made, to look at as an example of how a particular character should behave, what their home should look like, the kind of stories that work with that character.
My first plan was an episode by episode rewrite of Star Trek Voyager, which seems to have been a slightly ambitious idea.
My second project, which I think is more sensible, is to write a series of 500 – 1000 word chapters telling stories of Marvel Comics superheroes. (Spiderman, the X-Men and The Avengers are some of Marvel’s more popular characters, if you’re not aware which is which.)

I’m not a big comic reader – in fact the only Marvel comic I think I’ve ever bought was a Spiderman comic where he fought a guy on gigantic stripey stilts. For some reason I fail to comprehend, that villain hasn’t made it into the movies yet.
But I’m a fan of the movies, and grew up watching the 90s Spiderman, X-Men and Fantastic Four cartoon series.
What’s more, looking around various wikipedias – the Marvel Wiki, and of course, Wikipedia itself – it’s fascinating to see different incarnations of the same characters, the different ways the same stories have been told. Thousands of years ago, people will have gathered around campfires, reinterpretting and reimagining cool stories they’ve heard before, and I think comic stories are the modern equivalent of this.

I’ve started adding my own contributions to this continual reimagining.
Early chapters of The Marvel Universe are now up at Fanfiction.net, where I’ve been telling three stories across different time periods – the stories of Spiderman and The Hulk’s origins, and Nick Fury’s early days in SHIELD.

Hulk angry! Hulk smash!
Hulk angry! Hulk smash!

I’m using the fanfiction essentially as a way of getting myself into motion, getting myself to write, to stay in motion and keep my instincts sharp. I’ve written recently about a story I’ve submitted for publication, and I don’t think I’d have written that if it weren’t for the fanfiction.

As I said, I’ve started putting chapters up at Fanfiction.net. I’ve enjoyed writing it, and you may enjoy reading it. Stranger things have happened…

Click here to read The Marvel Universe: Phase One: Standing Alone