Category Archives: Ireland

A cricketing dream

Well, when I first saw an Ireland cricket team play live on TV in 2007, I still wasnt expecting this to happen 11 years down the line. Thats not to say that it was the first time I’d ever followed cricket scores for Ireland, as I’d been doing that for a few decades, generally fairly meaningless matches, other than perhaps the rivalry games with Scotland, and the odd knock out game against an English county, but otherwise its fair to say some of the teams they played were of the less than quality standard. Then, in March 2007, having qualified for the World Cup in the West Indies, they conjured up a tie against Zimbabwe, but its fair to say thats not the match anyone really remembers. No, thats the next one, when against all the odds, they beat Pakistan, and history was made. Another win in the second stage (Bangladesh), and the Irish legend was born. Fine, a few of those players werent actually born in Ireland, but if you’d ever accused any of them of not being Irish, well, it wouldnt have been a wise move!

In recent years, its been fair to say that 2 non test playing nations stood above the rest, Ireland, and Afghanistan. Its also equally fair to say thats no longer the case, because they are now test playing nations! Yes, last year, in their ‘wisdom’ the ICC promoted those 2 nations to test playing status. And for Ireland, tomorrow marks the start of that first test, at Malahide, against, yes, you’ve guessed it, Pakistan!

No, sadly, I wont be there. Given I’d already booked to leave for Seattle a week on Saturday, before the date was known, I probably wouldnt have been able to go anyway. Now, with a damaged back, and only able to work a 4 day week, I have no chance of going, regardless. And of course, the first 2 days of the game, I’ll be working. Indeed, Day 4, same thing. I’m pretty certain that unless there are weather issues, it probably wont reach Day 5, but we will see. But hopefully, Sunday, on Day 3, I get to see some on TV.

Next year, I hope to be able to see the team play a test match (holiday plans are currently congested this year), though who against, no idea? Sadly a few of the ‘golden era’ players will be gone by then, some of whom were young players on that memorable day in 2007. Ironically, Ed Joyce was at that tournament, for England!

But yes, tomorrow will be a special day, and even if my first focus tomorrow needs to be on my job, I’ll be wondering how they’re getting on, in my breaks. Not that I’ll be able to look, being a member of the 1% club who dont own, or want to own a smart phone, with internet connection! And yes, my heart will be in Malahide, even if my old body wont be!

Go you boys in Green, though of course they will be in white for a test match!

OK, video time. Most will know, but for those who dont, the Ireland Cricket team is a united team, covering both the Republic, and Northern Ireland. Thing is, that causes anthem issues lol, 2 different countries (or part of). I think this was first created for the united rugby team as an anthem, but the cricket team quickly picked up on it as well. This is the full length version, not the one sung at sporting events. So tomorrow, 11 men cricketers will answer the call for the first time in a test match! Why do I say that? Well, the women played one years ago, but so far, just the one!

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Where do I go from here?

Very strictly, the answer to that question, is wherever life takes me, I guess? But strictly, for 2018, assuming I live out the year, some things will happen, some things may happen, and some things almost certainly wont happen, but it would be fun if they did!

Anyway, lets be boringly practical first, things that will happen, assuming the life quotient of course. The biggest, and most obvious one to mention, is that I hit the big 60 next March. I know, who would ever have believed it? But yes, the body is definitely now giving me more than hints that its not as strong as it used to be, so… Hard to believe, that 25 years ago, when a woman hit 60, she retired from work! Now, with a longer life expectancy for everyone, and things, its another 6 years to go! Still, gives me chance to build up my pension, I guess, body permitting. Lets face it, I’ve already had to cut back to 4 days a week, and the back isnt likely to get better, only worse, so…?

The only other definite things at this point, are the fact that I will be heading to Seattle in May for 8 days (yes, already decided the back will be up to that, fingers crossed it stays that way once booked), though that will be the only US trip this year. Yes, thats one cutback due to the financial situation. I thought I might be able to pull it off this year, for the last time, the double trip, but no, now know its not going to happen! I have got a few thoughts for a break in September, but will only be a few days, and will only be in Europe. Well, unless the work syndicate wins the lottery lol! So yes, I’ll be using an airport wheelchair (or 5) in May again on that trip. Hopefully, all will be a little smoother than last time!

The other is, of course, working on a group on LGBT issues at work within our section of the Civil Service. First actual meeting is planned for some point in New Year, but location and date, TBA at present. Quite an honor, quite a challenge!

The maybe’s look trip related. I might try to get to Ireland, for at least some cricket this summer, though sadly it wont be that first Test match, as its literally the week before I go to Seattle. But other games are planned, so time, and finances permitting, it will be nice to meet old friends again, and maybe make a few new ones.

Hey, another maybe, I might write another story or two lol! I really ought to, I have a few ideas, but getting around to it, but yes, I’ll risk putting it on the maybe list, rather than the unlikely one! The other maybe, is my first ever ‘senior citizen’ pass. Yes, the Railway senior discount pass still is permitted from 60, so if I travel on the Railways in September, as I might, I’ll get one then!

The unlikely ones, but not impossible? Well, the first one obviously relates to performing, in an acting sense. I suspect a presentation style performance might be more likely, probably on LGBT issues, but I suspect that will be it. Lets face it, who’s going to want an actress who hasnt done anything much in years, and now has back issues, which means standing for long periods for a role, is nigh out of the question! But maybe, out there is a director/producer who wants to do something crazy, and then, well…?

Then we come to the silly stuff, that ‘could’ happen, but you can be sure wont. Winning a lottery jackpot (I know, theoretically, but me, win anything, dont think so!), getting abducted by aliens, turned into a robot, or regenerating (well, if Doctor Who can do it?) as a young(ish) Clara Johnson might all be fun, but none are going to happen, I think we can safely say!

Lets finish with a dramatic, stat based thing. Look back through early film history, and you find a lot of famous actresses who passed on at 60. Clara Bow is one that immediately comes to mind! Now its fair to say that health matters have improved nowadays, and I have never been a famous actress, so I’m probably safe, but… Still, hopefully we will be doing this in a years time!

The video tonight, isnt a proper one, but it fits the title, and yes, its the Carpenters, so just rolling with it. Just a nice song, that hopefully you can enjoy.

So, one blog to go for 2017, as its back to work tomorrow. Any ideas for something you’d love to hear about, either from this year, next year, or Clara Johnson’s era, feel free to suggest in comments

And then there were 12!

No, not admirers of my non existent good looks, before you ask! 😛 I’d be lucky if that was as high as 1.2, lets face it. No, the answer to that comment is test playing cricket nations, after 2 more were added very recently, Afghanistan, and yes, you’ve guessed it, Ireland! So, even without going to a cricket match in the interim, I’ve now seen 3 test playing teams live, at the ground, all in Belfast. The others? Bangladesh, when they played Ireland in a 1 day series in Belfast, and it has to be said, their fans were amazing. Oh, and Afghanistan, obviously. I have actually seen a very strong Australia B team too, and actually met Steve Smith, now Aussie captain!

Its fair to say that 10 years, and 4 months ago, you’d told me that I’d be waiting for Ireland to announce their first official test match, I would have laughed at you! Yes, I knew that in March 2007, they were going to play in the Cricket World Cup, and that I planned to watch them play, but I wasnt really expecting anything amazing. The rest of course, is history. A tie with Zimbabwe, then that amazing win over Pakistan, and a legend was born. And of course, 4 years later, that incredible win over England in India just added to everything.

Of course, in the meanwhile, they were dominating the Associates (less cricket playing nations) in a very big way. And then one country climbed rapidly up the rankings, to a point where they challenged Ireland in the shorter versions of the game, Afghanistan. Lets be honest, if the history of Ireland in that build up to glory period was troubled, it had, and still has nothing on Afghanistan’s! Afghanistan are (I believe?) still to play an international game in their own country, though hopefully, in time, it will happen. But fine, it might be some time lol!

And now, after last week’s announcement, both countries can, in theory at least, arrange test matches against those famous cricketing nations of the world! Will it happen, who knows? England have said they will play Ireland, and I suspect one of Afghanistan’s neighbours in the area will do the same for them, I hope so at least.

But no, not in my wildest dreams did I ever foresee this happening, 10 years ago. Hopefully I can get to that first test match in Ireland next year, work, and holiday allowance permitting. Just to say that I was there!

Oh, be grateful you got this, as my only other inspiration for tonight was political comment on another crazy Trump ruling, so…

Right, video time. This song is actually from 2005, it just doesnt look, or sound like it. It definitely has the feel of 70’s glam rock, and the lead singer, and her dress have an almost Harlowesque feel. So, for those who dont already know them (and should), this is Goldfrapp!

Keeping the peace

(Never thought I’d have to do this, and probably dont have to now, but given my role, let me just say any comments made here are purely my personal ones, and I would prefer, however hard, to keep all political comments out of any replies, should there be any)

Its fair to say that my Irish ancestry has an interesting background, though given both sides of my family moved to the UK at the start of the 20th Century, its too distant (by 1 generation on both sides) to apply for an Irish passport now, if I wanted to. Interesting? Well, my father was from Irish Catholic ancestry from Kerry, my mother from Irish Protestant roots from Offaly. Yes, somehow or other, a few generations later, in the UK, they got married, and the rest is history! Well, me, anyway! It means that my first 9 years (until my father left my mother) I was brought up as Catholic, before quickly going to Protestant roots once he was gone.

So to say that to me, the Troubles in Ireland was an even more complex issue than for most, would be putting it mildly. Lets not comment too much on that, as a view from either side, as my ancestry was from the South, anyway. By the time I first visited Northern Ireland (I was about 30 by then), my look at it would be from the Protestant side, its fair to say.

Eventually, in the 90’s, the peace process came to Northern Ireland. One of the figures behind that, was Martin McGuinness, of Sinn Fein, and IRA background. To say he had a shady background would be putting it mildly, but fine, some of the Democrats past wasnt a lot cleaner, but anyway… The rest is history, the 2 sides came together, and peace was born out of the troubles. Yes, its had a few less than perfect moments over the years, but we still have peace! Yes, as you’ve probably heard on the news everywhere, Martin McGuinness has just died, at 66.

Thankfully, I have nothing to forgive, or not forgive him for, as the case may be. Others have a less easy choice, and I can understand their views, whichever way they look at it. But lets just remember one thing, without him, the peace process may not have got started as soon, and even more innocent people may have lost their lives.

Its funny, I remember back in the ‘bad old days’ being whisked around the edge of Belfast, on the ring road, as no one wanted to go into the city. Now, several times, I’ve been to Belfast for cricket, and not seen any trouble. That, at least is something. The irony, the ground is at Stormont, not a long way from the parliament building!

Having said I wont get political, there is one song that relates strongly to the events of the troubles, so it was hard to ignore.

Test cricket, in Ireland, just maybe?

Well, yes, apart from an unmemorable (and wet) 18 overs or so against England, the Ireland cricket season starts on Tuesday, in a big way.

Why, because this time around, the winners of the Inter Continental Cup will get the opportunity to play Test Cricket…maybe! Why maybe, because the ICC change the goalposts, and the end results so often, that many are far from convinced that the rules now, and the rules in nearly 3 years time, when this series are over will be the same, hmm? But in theory, if Ireland win the cup again, we will be in a position to play test cricket. Fine? Lets leave it at that statement for now.

So, in Dublin, on Tuesday, Ireland begin their 4 day campaign against the UAE. I think the Irish weather may come as a shock to our visitors lol! Or hopefully it wont, just a decent, mild day, and nothing more. Its fair to say that no one would have imagined this, for Ireland, in cricket, 10 years ago! Indeed, who, back then, would have imagined that twice, in recent times, 10,000 people (or thereabouts) have been to an Ireland cricket match!

Later this summer, along with Scotland, they will host the qualifiers for the 20 over World Cup, to be held next year as well. And then, at the end of the summer, the World Cup champions, Australia are coming to Belfast for a 50 over match. And on past form, they will be a lot more friendly to media, and fans, than the English will ever seemingly be!

No, at this point, I have no idea if I will get across this summer, or not. Bit of a Catch 22 at present, without a job, I shouldnt be wasting money on jaunts like that, but equally, when I get one, it will be about a 6 week training period, which will kill off most of the international cricket season. So, ideally, my latest interview offers me a job tomorrow, starting on June 15, and I can look at flights to Dublin this week!

I know, I know, this is me, not going to happen, but…

Irish domestic cricket is still growing, for the better. Now, not only do we have an Inter region competition for the men, the ladies have a 3 team contest in its inaugural year. Due to current circumstances in ladies cricket, all 3 teams are based in the Dublin area, but its beginning to develop in other areas of the country, so in good time…

So yes, I hope that in a few years time, I will be at Ireland’s first test match, now wouldnt that be something?

The video, well, its one of the all time greats. And its what I seem to have in Irish cricket

And so as one year ends

Hopefully a new one begins tomorrow! Yes, as of midnight officially, and about 2.30 in the afternoon literally, I will be a year older, reaching the grand old age of 56. Not so long ago, that would have left me 4 years away from a Senior Citizens bus pass, but given they are changing all the rules, due to everyone living longer, it would seem its going to be 9 years now before I get one! Phew?

Yes, 56 years ago tomorrow, in a hospital, a baby was born, who grew up to be me! One change of name later, one change of gender later (at least, but more on that shortly), and I’m still going strong…of sorts! Two crocked knees, one less than perfect wrist, but despite all that, I’m still standing, and no, that isnt the video! 😛 Something far more silly, from my formative years, for that tonight.

Why do I say at least one gender change? Well, its because, around the time I was born, there were several thousand (at least) hermaphrodite babies born, with both sets of genitals. Yes, the drugs given to pregnant women back then were a delight, as one of the ones that followed soon after was Thalidomide, and we all know the consequences of that! Allegedly, doctors, with or without the guidance of parents (though I would imagine the latter) selected which gender the baby should remain, with all the consequences attached.

Now, I have no evidence I was one of those babies, the hospital I was born at was demolished in the mid 1960’s, so even if there are any records, they could be anywhere, besides which, it was probably all covered up anyway, as it was less of an obvious physical issue than Thalidomide victims would be. But, it seems a fair chance, especially given the undeveloped womb I have. But hey, I’ve survived it all this far, and hopefully will a few more years yet.

From a different perspective, something else ended today, the international career of an Irish rugby player, Brian O’Driscoll. What’s more, it ended in the perfect way, with Ireland winning the 6 Nations championship, though they did their best to throw it away, thats for sure! And a new event starts tomorrow, the 20 over cricket World Cup, with Ireland’s first game on Monday, a most apt date. Hopefully events of the same day, 7 years ago can be repeated. Funny, that started a few days earlier, against Zimbabwe, with a tie, and thats the team we are playing on Monday.

Oh, and for the one of you that might be wondering, that Cheltenham competition at work? Guess what, there were 4 prizes, and I came 5th! Ah well…

My birthday treat to myself, a few days break from work, not back now until next Saturday. 3 days off, 2 days holiday, and the fact they give you a day off for your birthday, add up to a 6 day break, even if my birthday break is only on Wednesday, due to the complications of Cheltenham! If nothing else, I should have a new hairstyle by the time I go back to work! And no, no decision made on the dress for tomorrow night yet, either.

So, as a 55 year old, I leave you with a very silly video, care of those wonderful Muppets. This song (not their version) was a hit when I was a teenager, ah well…

I’ll see you again, at 56!

I have a dream

Its funny, isnt it, if anyone had said 7 years ago that Ireland would play a cricket match in front of 10,000 people in their own country, I would have roared with laughter at the thought. At that stage, the vast majority of the team were part timers, and hardly ever beaten a major test playing nation in their lifetimes. Alright, apart from the sporadic cup matches against counties, and the annual game against Scotland that occasionally got mentioned in the papers over here, I barely knew anything about the cricket team myself, and I love the sport!

Then came 2007, and the World Cup. First that memorable tied match with Zimbabwe, then that even more amazing victory over Pakistan. Into the next stage they go, and a win against Bangladesh. Fine, that was the end of the glory for that tournament, but suddenly people started noticing Ireland had a cricket team.

But even so, at home, outside of the cricket strongholds, the crescendo was noted, but no flow developed, certainly not in terms of crowds at matches.

Yes, 4 years later, that was when the crescendo developed into tsunami like proportions. Ireland play the old enemy England, by now with a team with full time players, and not just those in county cricket. England get over 325 runs, Ireland are struggling to make it respectable at 111-5, then Kevin O’Brien takes over, and as they say, the rest is history!

I’m not yet claiming that Munster, and even more so, Connacht have forsaken GAA sports for cricket, but there is a lot more played there now, thats for sure. Give it a little while, and there might be more than Leinster and Ulster amongst the provinces strong in the cricket world. Yes, it will take a while, but we’re getting there.

Today, a match was played at Malahide, on the outskirts of Dublin, on a new ground created for our national side. It looked magnificent on TV, though I suspect the wonderful weather might have played a part in that. And fine, so far the stands and facilities are temporary, but one day soon, that might not be the case. And fine, we might have been a few short of the magical 10,000 figure today, but we got pretty close!

The captain, William Porterfield played a magnificent innings of 112. Another Irish born player topped even that, and the top bowler of the day with 4 wickets, were also Irish! Unfortunately the latter 2 were playing for the opposition, but such is life. Its not hard to see that if they’d played for their home nation, we’d have beaten England again, but ah well, things like this happen at the moment. We dared to dream when England were at 25-3, and 48-4 but Morgan and Bopara took the game away.

Why, because at this point in time, Ireland cant play test cricket. They have an ambition to do so by 2020, but in the meanwhile, it seems we will leak the odd player to the old enemy. Another enemy is time, a stalwart of Irish cricket today played his last game against a test nation before retirement, Trent Johnston. He has a few more games yet before the end of the year, but this was the last non associate match game.

We needed a domestic competition, so the ICC said, this year we started one. We needed a top class ground, we now have one. Lets just say that my dream is to see Ireland play a test match very soon, even sooner than 2020 if possible, so that the diaspora from our national side can cease.

The video, no idea why this came to mind

Expecting the unexpected

Thats fooled you, you’re never going to work out the video from that title without looking down this blog! 😛

So, the meaningful subject for tonight, you could say its work related, of a sort. Sport!

This weekend, in both versions of the rugby game, saw the start of a competition. In rugby league, generally more my sport, both the Superleague, and lower leagues got under way this weekend. Talking of lower leagues, I support the Keighley Cougars in the Championship, and they lost today, not even narrowly, 42-10! I gather from the forum they were as awful as the scoreline suggested, so lets leave it at that, and just hope they improve from here. However, my home town now, Huddersfield travelled last night to St Helens in the Superleague, and general conclusion was that there would be a comfortable winner. There was, 40-4 in fact, but not to the expected favourites, instead Huddersfield wiped them off the pitch! No, I’m not a big fan, but its a home town thing, so…

Rugby Union, I can really only get interested in international stuff, and that generally means the World Cup, and the 6 nations championship, and of course I support Ireland. Last season, any day I was working when they were playing, I wore green to work. To be honest, they were pretty awful. So yesterday, I wore a pink top to work, given I had no great expectations of a result away to Wales. So alright, when the phones calm down enough to look at the score, its 20-0 to Ireland! It ended up 30-22, whether because Wales fought back, they eased off the gas, or a combination of both, I have no idea. But yes, I enjoyed the victory.

Then today, France travelled to Italy, clearly with expectations of an easy victory, despite losing in Rome 2 years ago, the last time they were there. Hadnt learnt, started off very slowly, and Italy were soon 10-0 up. France righted the ship, and led 15-13 at half time. But then, instead of pushing on, and winning, they eased off. Soon after that, 23-15 to Italy! France only really woke up in the last 5 minutes, but it was too late, what a shame, not!

So next weekend, England come to Dublin, and though the winner wont have the title sewn up, it would put them in a pretty strong position. Go Ireland!

No, its not the Irish national anthem, or even Irelands Call tonight, its not that classy to be honest. But shall we say it sums up the Italian performance today, and leave it at that.

And yes, that is Noel Edmonds! facepalm moment lol

Good luck ladies, make us proud!

Quick word of warning, anyone expecting impartiality, and a lack of bias in this posting should probably go elsewhere now! The rest of you, pull on something green, and settle down for a quick read.

I’m sure if cricket is mentioned to most, then they think of men playing cricket, not women. Wrong, Irish women play as well, have had a pretty good summer, winning their division in the English county championship, and all that.

But this isnt about what happened during the summer, though it was pretty good all the same. Today, according to that wonderful Cricket Ireland website, the Ireland ladies cricket team left these shores, for the World Cup qualifiers starting next week in Bangladesh. 4 teams out of the 10 will qualify for the WC in 2013, so it isnt going to be easy, but all the same, I know they will do all us fans proud! Oh, and I know a couple of famous names of Irish male cricket (Jeremy Bray and Trent Johnston) will help to keep them in hand too.

A couple of the players have a famous surname in Irish cricket, that being Joyce, hopefully one or two might have heard of some chap named Ed, who is quite a handy batsman so I’m told! 😉 Still to see him live, as he had more important matters in hand when I was over in Belfast for the Namibia games, becoming a father! Belated congrats to him, should he by some miracle see this!

Quite the remarkable thing though, is the age of 2 of the players, and so talented at such a young age. Kim Garth is I believe still 16, Elena Tice incredibly is only 13, but both are totally deservedly in the squad. So yes, Ireland doesnt only produce fine young cricket men, but ladies as well! 🙂

Yes, I try to follow (of sorts) all Irish international cricket, as this posting shows. The men will get their time in the spotlight in the spring when they have a qualifying tournament for the 20 over World Cup later that year, I promise them that, again if any of them see this. Highly unlikely, but…

The video is not new, if anyone has anything relating to the current squad, I’d love a link, but in the meanwhile…this was posted last year, so I suspect many of the players are the same anyway.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHA9aiJRi6k

Have a safe trip to Bangladesh, have a wonderful, and hopefully successful time while you are there. Sadly I can only be with you in spirit at this time. Make us even more proud of you all, you know you can do it!

Samhain

Yes, I’ve taken this opportunity to show my Celtic roots, and not call it Halloween lol! And yes, I know strictly its tomorrow, but posting about it on a blog, late tomorrow evening, well it would take away some of the edge.

Sadly I’ve never been in Ireland on this magical night, nor indeed in the US, where Halloween seems to be far more of a great occasion than it ever is over here. I’m sure we might get one or two ‘callers’ tomorrow night, but doubt it will be any great number. As I commented on the last blog, this is a time of change in the year, as winter sets in, and darkness settles in around us so much earlier in the day.

I must admit it, the only time that Samhain has really struck home to me, was the one time that a friend, Sara, included it as the subject matter for a writing contest on one of the forums. I ended up writing a little time travel piece based around the occasion, one of those pieces I’m really proud of. Irony was, it never made the story archive, as the story was not ‘subject matter’ enough to do so, which was a bit of a shame. I cant tell you that subject matter though, just in case I shock some maiden aunt somewhere lol! Nor can I provide you with a link, as both forums its posted on, are member only. If anyone really wants to see it, then ask.

Sorry, no music video tonight, found a rather lengthy samhain blessings one, so I suggest you just take a small chunk and enjoy, not the whole 9 minutes or so. So with my own samhain (or however you name it) blessings for the 31st October

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gd4YBCP8wwc&feature=fvst