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Hull 1 - Chelsea 1. Absolutely awesome game that the crowd was well up for :-)

Chelsea are the league leaders. Hull remain in the bottom three even after this result, but make no mistake, it was epic.

To be honest, I'd had misgivings about dragging P along to this one, on a school night: aside from the 2hr round trip to do the school run (having left work early), since kick off's 7.45, the match doesn't end 'til about 9.30ish, and we weren't back at Castle Fox until 10. The school bus leaves at 7.55 from the Farm, so we had an early start this morning, too (since Mali had to be walked before we left).

All this I was mulling over on the drive back from school yesterday - get home, walk dog, rush food, get to stadium etc etc... but once we were actually there at the game, I knew it was the right decision to have made the effort. Hull were really up for it, and put in a massive effort, and when we went 1-0 up it was gratifying and welcome, but definitely not undeserved.

That they levelled was inevitable, but Hull maintained the pressure in an intense game, and as I said at the top, the crowd was awesome, making a ferocious din half the time that managed to shut up the (surprisingly large) travelling contingent in the North Stand.
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Hull hosted Wolves this afternoon, and P and I were there to watch the game under a clear sky, which meant it was pretty darned cold.

The Wolves supporters were quite a vocal lot, but we shut them up early doors with a goal on 11 minutes (or thereabouts). Unfortunately, we then conceded an awful own goal at the start of the second half, and although Hunt (our best player) scored from the spot after Altidore won us a penalty, Wolves levelled the score at 2-2 in a move that just had all of us in the stands expressing dismay before their player had made the shot - the move just had the look of cast iron inevitability stamped all over it.

1 point from a draw leaves us in 19th place, and in deep trouble. To be honest, I can't really see us escaping the drop to Championship football next season - it's going to require a fellow team to do us a favour (like Newcastle last year) to get us out of this fix - we're not strong enough to do it on our own...

Anyway, despite what was a disappointing result, it was still a good occasion; 24,000+ people all invested in the match generates quite an atmosphere, even in the cold.
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This was always going to be a tricky match to be present for as a spectator: I'm a season ticket holder for Hull City, but I've always supported Manchester United.

So when it came to today's match, I honestly wasn't sure which team I wanted to win - sporting allegiance isn't something you can choose, it's invested deep, such that although United winning matches doesn't normally register on the radar (United tend to win a lot), every time they lose it definitely stings.

As the match started out, I found it hard to tune out the subconscious willing of the team in red to score, and I was consciously having to hold back from applauding Giggs (there are many, many good players in United's squad, but Ryan Giggs is a legend amongst legends, and it's just a privilege to see him in person) and the like.

However, as the match wore on, my allegiance shifted until I was most definitely willing on our boys in the Black and Amber...

...unfortunately to little avail: we went down 1-3, despite scoring two goals (sadly, Dawson's was into the wrong net).

I will never understand why Phil Brown leaves his substitutions so late - 10 minutes to go doesn't really allow the new players much time to have an impact, and it's arguable that the match was waaaaaaaay beyond us by that point.

This result sees Hull now sitting 19th in the table, at the season's half-way point. The bottom three get relegated, and honestly, I hold out little hope that we'll be able to match last season's drop-dodging 17th place.

Epic

Nov. 26th, 2009 08:48 am
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It's a game of two halves, alright... )
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Today is one of those days where, from about lunchtime onwards, everything needs to run exactly to schedule if I'm going to achieve everything in time.

I've got my appraisal this afternoon, which is a little bit weird, because it's going to be with New Boss, who still doesn't really know what I do day to day, nor has he been in touch with Old Boss/Effectively Still Acting as Boss to find out said. Hmm.

Anyway, that's scheduled to end at 4pm. Which is fortunate, because I then need to pick P up from school, so that I can get the two of us back to Castle Fox to walk Mali, eat (speed dining FTW!), possibly take Mali out for Walk 3, and then amble across to the KC to watch Hull City take on the mighty Everton in what will be P's first evening match.

I've only been to one floodlit game before now, which had a less than optimal outcome for the Tigers, so I'm kinda hoping for better things tonight.

I'm currently reading Rachel Caine's second Morganville Vampires book, Dead Girls' Dance, which is... not quite as much fun as the first instalment, but is certainly readable. Proper review to follow on completion.
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So, yesterday's match saw Hull City take on Stoke, and at half-team the Tigers (for such are called Hull City) were 0-1 down, due to some awful defending on our part. We'd started brightly, and Jimmy Bullard (our star player who lasted all of 37 minutes last season before succumbing to a knee injury) was clearly exerting a positive influence on the side.

Nonetheless, at half-time I was texting to [livejournal.com profile] brundle that although I could see us scraping an equaliser, if Stoke got a second then that'd be it, game over.

Stoke have terrifically vocal away support, and they were on top form yesterday, what with some stirring renditions of 'You're getting sacked in the morning' and such like in the first half (Phil Brown, Hull's not universally-loved manager, has something of a metaphorical guillotine hanging over his head, given a really rather appalling run that covers most of the current calendar year).

However, in the second half, Hull equalised courtesy of Olofinjana, a former Stoke player himself, at which point the Hull faithfull broke into a rousing chorus of 'You're not singing any more' at the Stoke fans. And with the crowd well and truly up, the pendulum swung in the home side's favour.

At 1-1, with five minutes to go, and Hull clearly on top, I said to P that the match was going to end with us disappointed with 'only' a point, whereas at half-time I'd been thinking that if we'd been lucky, that was the most that we could have expected.

And then (deep breath) Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink scored in injury time, the crowd went wild and Hull secured a vital three points and moved out of the relegation zone.

The first half, despite some glimpses of promise, hadn't been that great, but the second half? That was epic :D
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Back at Castle Fox, briefly, before heading out to the KC Stadium to watch Hull take on the might Portsmouth in a six-pointer this afternoon.

Back from, this morning, a UN conference on Climate Change being held at the Guildhall. John Prescott, croquet-playing former Deputy Prime Minister, was due to be speaking at 12, but we got a call at about that time from his car (one of the notorious two Jags, no doubt) to say that he was mired in traffic on the motorway (so, evidently, some fair way off), and necessitates meant that I had to leave before our most honoured guest arrived.

Dianne Johnson, my current constituency MP was there to show her face... quite literally, as far as I could tell, in that she arrived, sat down and read a couple of papers before, but by the time I next looked across, she'd vanished. Ah, but She Was There, and that's the important thing to note, of course.

As for the conference itself, well, there were maybe 40 personages drawn from this fine city present. Most were, I feel, waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too optimistic about human nature, and weren't willing to follow through the implications of what they were suggestion in terms of its impacts upon day to day life for us all.

I make no bones about this; with world population projected to hit 9bn people by mid-century, conventional oil production most likely having peaked in 2005, and the impact of increasing water stress across different areas of the globe, lifestyles are going to have to change drastically. Climate Change ups the challenge of feeding those 9bn people without the aid of petrochemical fertilisers and weedkillers, without the oil-driven mechanisation of industrial farming, struggling with the diminishing resources of fossil aquifers...

It's singularly ironic, methinks, that the 'greens' are constantly pilloried for wanting to sacrifice 'lifestyle' for the sake of the planet. From my perspective, that assessment is fundamentally flawed: the 'greens' are, for want of a better description, attempting to wrest what elements of a sustainable lifestyle can be wrung from the mess that's coming - it's naked self-interest for humanity's sake. Don't worry about Earth - we can pretty much do what we want, and it'll endure regardless.

But this fragile project of civilisation that we've got going here? That's something else.

On the bright side, True Blood S1 arrived in today's post :-P

Slow start

Oct. 19th, 2009 08:30 am
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Kinda tired this morning, for no discernible reason. Ah well.

Have an exciting Change Feedback meeting to go to early on, where we get to tell our superiors what an excellent job they've managed of the restructuring that we're currently in the midst of (it must be the midst, since half of us haven't actually moved to the new accommodation yet).

Also, can't print, which means that I can't attempt the Monday Killer, which is disappointing, but Colleague H and I have plenty of other things to be tackling in the interim, so I'm sure we'll survive.

Hull City are away to Fulham this evening - hopefully Bullard should be making his first appearance for the first time since damaging his (known to be dodgy at the time) knee on his debut for us last season. There aren't really going to be any easy games for us this season, but we could really do with some kind of result...
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I managed to get online on Friday night from Castle Fox, but about five minutes' up-time was all that was available on Saturday before the connection died completely. Telephone line continues to mainly consist of static and yes, I know, I really need to get it seen to. But it won't be this week.

'sides, not spending evenings glued to the PC might not be a bad thing anyway.

P and I saw Hull City sweep aside the mighty Wigan in a crushing, I tell you, crushing 2-1 display of awesome. To be honest, it really didn't look as though Wigan had turned up - they didn't seem that interested in attacking our goal, but we were mightily glad of Geo's goal that put us two clear when Wigan got one back. Injury time was nerve-wracking, accompanied by a deafening howl of the home fans whistling for full-time to be called...

I finished The Reality Dysfunction )
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Hull City got thumped 4-0 at home last night by Everton in the Carling Cup. Which means that, in time-honoured fashion, we can argue that it's a blessing in disguise, since it allows us to 'concentrate on the league'.

Unfortunately, whilst this is undoubtedly true (we're currently lying 19th, purely by virtue of the fact that Portsmouth are woeful, we're just merely abject), 'concentrating on' and 'performing in' seem to be quite different things.

Still, the revival starts on Saturday. Where are we again? Oh, that's right. Liverpool. Away.

*ponders prospects for about seven nanoseconds*

OK then, mebbes the revival starts the week after...
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Hull City 1, Bolton Wanderers 0.

w00t!!!

In the second half, Jozy Altidore made his Hull debut, despite only having landed in the country a couple of days previously. With his first touch, he sends another new acquisition, Kamel Ghilas clear in the penalty area, and we're one up.

Anyway, the subject line refers to the semi-ironic chant that the crowd got going after this fantastic introduction in Altidore's honour: ordinarily, football chants are a lot more involved, and it is a near constant source of mirth on this side of the pond that the colonies haven't yet come up with a more inventive repertoire than 'USA! USA! USA!'

There is, indeed, a great Billy Connolly sketch* about football crowd chants, where he's describing how, as one, the crowd will all say something, complete with arm gestures and the like, and you never see anyone on the fringe sort of trying to keep up.

Wisdom of crowds, 'n all that.

Anyway, 'twas a good game, quoth I, from the safe perspective of 3 points, but in truth we were outplayed in the first half, and although we might have scored another two goals, the same could be said of Bolton. Three games in, three points on the board: it's generally reckoned that 40 points is assured safety, which, given that there are 38 games in the season, means that we need to average a little over a point a game. And that, in turn, means that we still need to pick up some momentum.

Typing this from work - am on call here from 9am to 3pm today. Then it's a mad dash home, whisk Mali 'round the Avenues before heading out again for a second viewing of HBP, this time with a work colleague who I'd promised to watch the film with (we've done the last few), but where events on either their part or mine have continually conspired to thwart whatever plans this mouse fox might lay.

* there are *lots* of great Billy Connolly sketches {"insist on Afghan melons", "about that carpet...", "Beware! Stingers!" and so on}
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...on the downside, Hull City 1, Tottenham Hotspur 5 was a bit of a chastening experience.

So, dutifully clad in this season's pin-stripe tigers' shirt, I took my seat in the upper tier of the West Stand, more or less in line with the penalty spot at the southern end of the ground, at 7:45pm yesterday evening. You could see across Hull to the Windmill off Oslo road - rather nice view.

Defoe got a hattrick - his final goal (and Spurs' fifth) was absolutely awesome. Watching the game live, rather than with the luxury of action replay/commentary or what not, is a different experience - things happen incredibly quickly, and you're sometimes (often!) left a little bemused by the ref's decisions. On occasion. Every now and then.

Hunt scored Hull's consolation - he looks pretty sharp, to be honest, and the fans all perked up at Giovanni's introduction, mid-way through the first half, too.

The second half started off very quietly, but gradually Spurs asserted themselves, and once they scored their third it was all over as a contest. Nonetheless, too frequently were we looking lethargic and uninterested - players would lose the ball upfield, and then stand around, artlessly, as Spurs pinged the ball around the pitch, edging towards our goal.

Ah well. Next match is Bolton, at home. P and I'll both be there for that one.
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My fantasy football team is called Have Cake, Eat Cake - last year's competition between the office proved a lot of fun, even if Comrade H did end up walking away with it by several hundred clear points. I finished a solid second.

Unfortunately, Teh Grauniad has chosen not to run a Fantasy Football League for the coming season (although they are planning something for the World Cup in 2010), so I'm investigating instead the 'official' Fantasy Premier League, but the interface is nowhere near as slick and polished as the Grauniad's incarnation.

Ah well...

May. 28th, 2009 07:18 am
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...no complaints about being beaten by a better side: Barcelona 2, Manchester United 0 in yesterday evening's Champions' League Final. I missed the first half, because I was collecting P from The Farm. The second half was slightly painful listening, given how obviously Barca were outplaying us.

I mentioned in yesterday's post that I'd added some fan control scripts to the Netbook - the difference is amazing: I wouldn't have said that the fan was loud in the first place (two of the four PCs in the office make a terrific racket), but a truly silent machine is bliss. Of course, there's the concern that by raising the fan's kick-in threshold, it may shorten the machine's life, so you need to factor that into your considerations if you're considering doing this hack, but Intel themselves rate the Atom up to 99°C, whereas I've got the fan programmed to kick in at 65°C, so hopefully it should be OK, and I won't end up with a lapfull of molten plastic...

I finished Fever Crumb, Philip Reeve's prequel to his Mortal Engines quartet. Parts of the story were just dazzling, and it's definitely a worthy addition to the series. I particularly loved the corruption of localities' names in the future: Pickled Eel Circus, Effing Forest, Hampsters Heath, 'bankmentside and so on. And of course the notion that London itself is bordered by the Orbital Moatway. Really really good stuff.

If you haven't read Mortal Engines, you should do so. Give it a chance, because yes, the set-up is mindblowingly surreal, but once you've accepted that framework, it's a spellbinding tale. And although, personally, I felt the story stalled in the telling, slightly, in the third instalment, the fourth volume (A Darkling Plain) proved an epic conclusion.
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The Guardian runs a Fantasy Football league each Premier season, and this past one saw a group of us in the office all sign up, and create our own mini-League.

It would be nice if modesty prevented me from saying that I placed a solid, respectable 2nd (out of 6), although I have to admit that Colleague H set up an unassailable lead early on, and just kept on edging ahead in the league week on week.

So, FWIW, Have Cake, Eat Cake managed to garner 4,375 points for the season. Nationally, that put me in 5,388th place (out of 91,000 entrants). Respectable for a first outing, but the 'Cake will be looking to improve in 09/10...
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Well, Hull City survived to fight another season in the Premier League. They did exactly enough, and no more, to escape relegation by a single point, but I doubt they can rely on being so fortunate in 12 months' time...

Fever Crumb is set before the advent of Municipal Darwinism proper, and, to date, absolutely rocks. Definitely recommended! :-)
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P and I have just come back from having watched Coraline at the cinema in town: we caught the early showing, which meant that the cinema was crowded - nearly eight people in! ;-P

Coraline wasn't quite what I expected, I must confess. I much prefer the book (as any true fan surely must), but did feel myself warming to the feel as the story unfurled. The opening sequence is well freaky! :D

I've finished Necropolis, book four of Anthony Horowitz' Power of Five series. I quite enjoyed the Hong Kong setting, having ambled around some of the locations myself, it made it a little easier to visualise. Overall, though, the tale did feel as though Horowitz was trying just a bit too hard on this one - nonetheless, I'm keen to find out what happens next with the gang.

I was in Tescos getting the shopping yesterday, and happened to notice a new Philip Reeve novel: Fever Crumb. Better still, it's a Mortal Engines novel, although I'm not clear whereabouts in the timeline it's going to sit. Still, Mortal Engines was an absolutely fantastic (in the proper sense of the word) world, and anything that expands upon the legend of Municipal Darwinism can only be a Good Thing, write very large.

And finally (cue Mood), just settling down to listen to Radio 5's coverage of the Premier League's final day relegation battle. The portents don't look good for Hull, I fear - could well be us playing Championship* football next season...

* note to the unschooled in football proper: Premiership is the topmost league, beneath which sit the Championship, then League One and then League Two in that order.
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Monday being a Bank Holiday, we have another three day weekend coming up ('cos May always gets two). So that is definitely for the good - I'm feeling pretty tired at the moment.

Sunday sees Hull City attempting to stay in the Premiership. If they win, they're safe. If they draw, and Newcastle don't win, they're safe. If they lose... at this point, we bring in Middlesbrough.

It is mathematically possible for Middlesbrough to escape the drop (even though they currently reside in 19th place), leapfrogging Hull in the process, or, if results go in another direction, it's not impossible that Sunderland will find themselves in that third relegation spot...

Pos Team Goal Diff Points
16Sunderland-1936
17Hull City-2435
18Newcastle United-1834
19Middlesbrough-2832
20 West Bromwich Albion -31 31


3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw. West Brom already relegated. Teams on equal points are ordered by goal difference

So, with the threat of relegation hanging over you on the final game of the season, the last team you want to play would probably be... Manchester United. And that, of course, is who Hull've got...

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