Monday, 25 May 2009


I would not usually lead my blog with a football story, but desperate times call for desperate measures. The demise of Newcastle United FC is a sorry tale which I have witnessed over the last few years, and their relegation to the Football League Championship on Sunday is a crying shame. Gone are the days of visiting Old Trafford, Anfield and Stamford Bridge - now the Toon Army will be heading to Plymouth, Peterborough and Scunthorpe. A mixture of poor management, poor ownership and poor signings have led to the fall of a once-mighty team that played some of the most entertaining football in the world at St James Park (pictured right).

One thing that has not changed is the support, which will always be maintained as one of the best in the country, although there were far too many people in pubs over the weekend who enjoyed the sight of thousands of Geordies crying into their black and white shirts. The challenge now for the Magpies is how they get out of this mess. I have always thought that relegation to the Championship could have many positive effects and perhaps mark the start of a new era, rather than the end. Hopefully it will enable them to cut out all of the rubbish that has been filling up squadlists for the last five seasons and bring in some players who actually want to wear the shirt.

It will be an interesting summer to see who goes, but can you really see Michael Owen, Obafemi Martins, Damien Duff, Joey Barton and Alan Smith staying? In fact, I can’t think of any player who would want to be playing in the Championship - it’s something that most of the squad have never experienced even in their earlier careers. So we may well see a clearout at St James’ Park, which while it may see us lose some quality, those so-called ‘top’ players have never got going all season so maybe it will be good riddance. I can’t imagine Owen would be too enthralled by the prospect of Blackpool on a rainy Tuesday night.

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I’ve always been one for suggesting the Church of England should distance itself from politics. But the Archbishops of Canterbury and York (pictured right) both said last week that people should not vote for the British National Party. Despite having a great deal of respect for both Archbishops, I am siding with Nick Griffin here (shock horror)! Whilst I would not vote for the BNP myself, I respect the rights of people to vote for the party, and do not think people should be told how to use their vote by the Church. Griffin said: “It's time the Church grew up and decided to sit down and talk with us about the issues that we're getting across to our supporters.”

Well said. Instead of just coming out and saying ‘don’t vote BNP’, why didn’t the Archbishops ask out Nick Griffin for lunch and discuss his politics and parties. I believe Jesus would invite someone into his house to talk, rather than openly rejecting them. Yes, the BNP are an extremist party, but they are human beings and deserve a chance to put forward their views in civilised discussion with the Church. Instead of telling the world what the Church is against, the leaders should start telling the world what it is for - “It's time the Church of England grew up,” says Griffin.

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The Apprentice really is starting to get interesting now. After the good riddance of cocky Irish lad Ben, the competition is hotting up now and it’s wide open. Kate (my tip at the start, pictured right) and Howard both seem to be ploughing through tasks with ease, and while Kate is the more pro-active of the two as Howard stays behind the scenes, they are both playing a good game.

Others like Lorraine and James, who seem to have escaped the boardroom far too many times, are now actually providing really good entertainment. This might make good television, but I’m not sure Sir Alan wants a jester in Amstrad. Then again Simon Ambrose was a pretty fun chap (remember the trampoline incident) and he won series three. I’m still sticking to Kate as the winner, but Katie looked like a dead-cert in series three and remember what happened to her... It’s going to be close and I’m loving it.