Recardo McDowell memorial legends match

Two legends teams

December the third saw two motley crews of clearly out of shape, past it, ex footballers turn up to contest the inaugural Seymour Legends vs Crow Legends football match in memory of Recardo McDowell and to raise some money for Eva and her charities.

As the two teams got ready to play it was very clear the theme from both sets of play was “holy moley, can I really do 90”? Looking around the dressing room it seemed likely that rarely on a pitch has there been such a dearth of energy and pace since that episode of Father Ted with the octogenarian priest football tournament.

Two legends teams

Two legends teams

All these fear disappeared in a frantic opening in which both sides rolled back the years with a fast and furious first five minutes in which the Crow started with the upper hand. Not long into the match the Crow turned the creaking Seymour defence with a quick counter attack. Through on goal the Crow striker put the homeside 1-0 up with a little dink over the onrushing Chris “The Cat” Hayman.

Howls of (admittedly out of breath) protest came from the Seymour defenders that surely, surely there was more than a hint of offside, the Seymour lino Glynn sheepishly had to admit he hadn’t seen due to him admiring the nearby Buzzard. Seymour Legends manager and fullback for the day had to angrily admonish Glynn. It was you see a Red Kite, and not a Buzzard that had caused the distraction. The rematch prep will surely see Glynn sent for emergency Ornithological and Offside training!

After the initial rush though, and in response to going one down the Seymour legends started exhibiting a bit of control and brains. Matt “The Yak” Travis combined being both an immovable object and an irresistible force, holding off players, charging with forward with the momentum of a herd of stampeding bovines and using an unexpected (at least from this reporter) degree of finesse and skill in his through balls.

With Trav being the physical focal point of the attack most of the chances were falling to Simon Dowell who had some severe gravitational challenges in the first half. Si’s frequent meetings with the astroturf were monumentally unimpressive to the ref, who waved play on, and waved Si up.

With Seymour stalwarts Dan Billings, and John Tremblett starting to boss the midfield a few more chances started to come the Seymour’s way. Though shooting boots, and judgement of a few players seemed to have been left in the dressing room.

Eventually after a really good move from the Seymour Stevie P got the leveller that had been coming for a while.

A really good and even first half that had ebbed and flowed came to a halt.

At the start of the second half Seymour legends started well, Ian Curran, buoyed by Tony McDowell believing he looked just like Trem, started marauding forward from right back. Mark Tinsun forgot he was a rugby player doing a job and started playing like a Baresie esque Libero moving into the base of midfield and creating the space for the Seymour’s actual footballers to get space. Trem, Stevie P, Dan all linked up in a great move to create a chance that even on an off day Simon Dowell couldn’t miss, and with his powerful header from in the 6 yard box the Seymour went up in the game for the first time.

Then, in what would be very familiar to anyone who remember the legends when they were just the Seymour team, panic started setting in. The two former managers on the left flank, Ralph Ferrett and Jon Lake started to look every one of their near 100 years of combined age on the left flank. Missed passes started happening, missed runner and panicky clearances.

With renewed vigour the Crow started coming on strong, the Crow had a couple of corners in a row after a mistake by Ralph. And on the second corner some missed clearances in midfield the Crow via a deflected shot were able to level things.

Richard Channing then rolled back the years to take on his familiar Gunnery Sergeant Hartman persona to berate the Seymour into settling down. Rich and Mark started taking turns with intelligent marauding into midfield and the Seymour started taking control again.

Shortly after Ralph tried to relive his Butt Park hey day with a couple of air shot missed volleys the Seymour put together a good move, working the ball through the middle for Simon Dowell to calmly finish for his second of the game and the Seymour were 3-2 up.

At this point Jon Lake had to come off and Glynn Fulfit stopped his bird watching to come on for only his second appearance for the Seymour. Glynn had long held onto his record of ten minutes played, and two goals scored for the Seymour previously, a minutes to goal record better than Messi for Barca. Shortly after coming on, and through some tenacious tackling Glynn found himself beyond all the Crow’s defender, and his surprisingly decent cross to Trav was agonisingly just beyond him on the penalty spot.

Shortly after this after some good work down the right Dan Billings got the goal of the game with an absolute thunderbastard of a shot into the top corner and the Seymour were 4-2 up.

It was at this point that the lack of substitutes really started to tell. Ralph turned his ankle and the already injured Jon Lake had to replace him for the last 12 minutes. Everyone was getting tired and it was time for Chris the Cat, and Rich Channing to step up and try and shepherd the Seymour to victory.

Chris had to make several great saves at full stretch, and Ian and Rich were making last ditch tackles to keep the Seymour up ahead. But eventually the Crow got through on a break and and scored a good low finish at the near post to make it 4-3.

As the match due to it’s close tempers started to fray a little. The Crow’s Vinny, their (according to the rest of the team) entirely self declared best player was in constant dialogue with Ralph on the line about the intricacies of the offside law. By this stage in proceedings the standard of the banter was much greater than the standard of the football!

The Crow threw the kitchen sink at the Seymour for the last 5 minutes but to no avail. The whistle went final score 4-3 to the Seymour Legends!

Matt Travis deservedly picked up the man of the match gong. But it was truly a team performance. Especially as there were so many non footballers on the pitch for the Seymour. Well played to everyone.

So that leave the Seymour legends with a 100% record after two games; and sets things up nicely for the rematch when the Crow will be coming on tour to play in Plymouth in the new year.

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05. December 2016 by Ralph Ferrett
Categories: Sport | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Letting agency fee crackdown

So I posted this link from Medium user James Plunkett about the new policy on letting agents charges, which led to some discussion and I thought I work up one of my responses into a blog post.

So, like a stopped clock being right twice a day, I do occasionally agree with something the Tory Government do, and I very much welcome the policy around restricting the ability of letting agencies to charge fees.

Now I think it goes without saying that this sort of stuff is just rearranging deckchairs on the titanic. And that the only real solution to our housing crisis is to embark on a large scale program of building affordable housing for ordinary people to rent, or buy at reasonable prices, in the places where the housing is needed. However the perfect should never be the enemy of the merely better, and this policy does I think makes things better, albeit by a very small increment.

I posted the link from the first paragraph and my friend Lynn commented, perfectly reasonably, that she felt it would make little difference because the cost of these fees would just be passed onto the landlords, who would in turn pass them onto tenants.

I however think that this is wrong on a few grounds. Firstly, as the original piece argues, that tenants seldom make these fee’s a price consideration meaning there is little in the way of competition for agencies on the basis of fees they charge to tenant, and certainly chimes with my experience of renting through agencies. It is always an added cost I didn’t expect when deciding on the house.

Secondly because I rather suspect that most landlords have very little understanding of, or interest in the fees the agency charges the “other side”. There is likely to be little visibility of this. Furthermore for your average landlord I expect that punitive fee structures to potential tenants is likely to be something of which they would active disapprove of. Given that it might put of potential tenants and make it harder for their property to be let.

Because neither tenants nor landlords are giving much thought to agency fees for tenants then letting agencies have few checks and balances on ever inflating their fee structure. Something that has clearly been happening. The fee structures are utterly obscene, (and don’t get me started on guarantors, my hellish experience with my step daughter, a letting agency and an utterly ridiculous guarantor agreement is probably a topic for a whole other blog/rant!).

So anyway back on topic, if landlords start factoring the exorbitant fees agencies currently charge tenants, then their properties will go much less quickly than those that don’t as potential tenants will be less likely to view them because of the higher rental costs. And I am sure it goes without saying that one thing all potential tenants pay most attention too is the headline rent figure.

And more than that whilst renters are likely to be price conscious about the monthly rent first and foremost (with fees at best an afterthought) landlords considering who to use will be very conscious of any and all charges and fees payable by them that the agencies want to charge them.

This should create deflationary pressures of letting agents fees for tenants. Which is a market working as it should and a good thing.

Also it is pretty outrageous that agencies charge from both ends. At the end of the day they are providing a service to the landlord, in some respects I think it is a conflict of interest when agencies are making money off both the landlord AND the tenant. Heck in football they banned agents working for both player and club for exactly this reason.

I get that it isn’t unreasonable that the variable cost on a per potential tenant such as a pre contract credit check might legitimately be the responsibility of the prospective tenant… Though the rip off charges that agencies use to do this needs to be reigned in. A credit check costs about £15-£25 quid on the open market. The referencing fee I got charged by the agency for my flat was £175 quid! I’d suggest that if this remains the responsibility of the tenant then tenants ought to be able to shop around for cheaper referencing.

But the majority of the fees, paid once, are really part of the service that agencies are offering to the landlord. And it is only right that it should be the landlord that pays this. And therefore not inflating these costs for a quick buck will actually form part of how agencies make a competitive offer to potential landlord clients.

One of the many problems with private renting for relative poor working class working schmucks like me is that private letting is the wild west. There is virtually no regulation, everything in the deck is stacked against you (and I realise it can often be difficult for amatuer private landlords too, but that is a different topic).

Agencies get away with what they can.  Most of the time when private tenants are moving it is out of necessity, most of my moves have been due to the place that I was currently living in being no longer available. Then you are over a barrel, if the clock is ticking to homelessness one isn’t really in a position to get picky about fees.

Anything that levels the playing field a little for tenants is a good thing if you ask me. This move is baby steps, but it is better than nothing.

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01. December 2016 by Ralph Ferrett
Categories: Activism | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Marvel films and bad guys.

So I went to see Dr Strange last night. I have to say I enjoyed it without thinking it was great. A solidly mid ranking MCU film if you ask me. I’m not particularly familiar with the character so I didn’t have a lot of preconceptions.

I struggled a bit with just how unlikable Steve Strange was. I realise that was evidently the point. Arrogant selfish man becomes hero….. Blah blah blah. But he just didn’t seem to have any redeeming features whatsoever. And his conversion just seemed tacked on to me. Without giving a spoiler warning at this point there didn’t seem to be anything real about why Steve changed.

<aside> I frequently this these days. I moan like hell when films are too long (who really wants to sit in a cinema for more than three hours?) but I often complain about these sort of films being rushed. Particularly the “origin” stories. I wonder if this is a symptom of the rise of high quality long form TV storytelling. The HBO and AMC type shows just have so much more time to tell their stories and establish characters that film often feels overly rushed to me know </aside>

Having said that the film looked great, glad to see they found a use for the leftover CGI from Inception! I laughed quite frequently, and the magic side of things didn’t feel out of place in the context of the MCU. And despite just moaning about the lack of time, the pace of the film otherwise felt just about right.

If you like your comic book films, then I’m sure you will at least enjoy this one even if you don’t feel the need to rave about it.

But the purpose of this blog is to talk about the villains, so from here on in THAR BE SPOILERS. You have been warned if you haven’t see the film that I might give away the occasional plot detail (though only things relating to the backstory of the villain, of which there isn’t a great deal!).

It has long been a problem for the MCU films that whilst many of the protagonists are interesting and layered characters, the villains are almost universally bland and onenote.

Only Loki has actually lit up any of the MCU films. Loki is great, and I struggle to understand why they don’t follow the process. So with Loki we got a few things when they established the character.

  1. We got to see him not as a villain. The character was initially established as someone with whom we could have sympathy.
  2. He was fun, charismatic, interesting. Even once he started being bad you actually enjoyed his time on screen.
  3. He had some legitimate grievance. I mean I’m not saying that he reacted appropriately but between being the clearly less favoured “second son”, and then finding out he was the stolen hostage of what he thought was his family’s enemies mean you can kinda see why he had the hump.

Understanding his grievance, and being able to empathise with him meant what he goes on to do in the rest of film, and the MCU, everything he does has more meaning. It also means he feels like a real character and part of a living breathing universe.

Contrast this with…. Erm… two seconds while I Google this…. “Kaecilius” apparently. Having watched the film I still have no idea really why he was so cross. He wanted to live forever or something.

I certainly have no idea we he had followers, he seemed totally charisma free; not inspiring in any way whatsoever. As far as I can remember I’m not sure that any of his acolytes even had a line in the film.

Nothing established him, or his reasons for turning bad. The stakes therefore were pretty much meaningless. He could easily have been the generic non descript villains form Guardians of the Galaxy, or Thor 2, and it would not have made the slightest bit of difference to the plot or how the film panned out.

A little bit of time to establish who he was, why he had gone bad would have made the stakes in the film that much greater. Also I think we were clearly supposed to be drawing some parallels between Kaecilius (who looks a bit like Tim Minchin on stage I thought!)  and Steve. But because we didn’t see any of his fall, or the reasons for it that whole element fell flat.

I didn’t care in anyway about Kaecilius, didn’t understand why he was mad, didn’t know what his goal or plot was, didn’t see any proper connection between him and the protagonist. He was just a cardboard placeholder to move the plot on.

And because of this the films was ultimately weak and forgettable, albeit fun and pleasant to watch.

Trouble is most of the above could be written almost word for word and all of the villains in the MCU. It is the biggest weakness in almost all of them. And it does mean I often get a little bored even though I am a huge fan boi.

I wonder as well if it is any coincidence that it was Kenneth Brannagh who directed the only actually good MCU villain. A bit of shakespearean pathos is what they could all do with.

The best villains, in film, books, comics or games, are ones you understand. Or ones that somehow reflect the protagonist. Batman and the Joker are two sides of the same coin. Ditto Holmes and Moriarty. The villains have some depth, some shades of grey. Pantomime villains with no motivation just are not fun or interesting.

Kaecilius should have been a dark reflection of what Strange could have become. Strange should have sympathised with him before realising he was wrong and in rejecting that he then does become the hero.

Basically the MCU has to make the villains feel as real as the heroes, otherwise what the heroes do will feel ultimately meaningless. I’ll still watch them, but if they keep churning out identikit boring unimaginative villains like Kaecilius, Ronan, Malakith etc I’ll keep finding them pretty average and forgettable.

I want better.

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12. November 2016 by Ralph Ferrett
Categories: Comics, Films TV & Video Games | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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