Arcticterntalk.org

The blog of a travelling psychiatrist and football lover. Who happens to be a halfway decent photographer. Takes a cynical view of the world

Wandering Around In Wolverhampton. A day out at Molineux.What is it like for away fans? And Hoffman was 15/2 to score the first goal. Wolves 3 Brentford 1


Lets start with the game. This was not a classic at all. The first half was low tempo and there were  serious indications that 0-0 might suit this game. The second half revolved around Brentford essentially giving three goals away. The first and most important one was an error by josh McCeachran giving the ball away and Wolves run 65 yards and score. The second one Daniel Bentley will be dissapointed not to have a free kick, and the last one when Brentford were chasing an equaliser was a typical last minute breakaway goal. This was never a 3-1 game and in fact 1-1 might have been a fair reflection of the play. Brentford were not at their best today and the midfield contributed little either creatively nor goal wise. The Brentford goal however was a beauty, a shot from Kalkai that was unstoppable. Wolves were not that great and seemed to be auditioning to be a mid-table side. The crowd of 20,000 contained 631 Bees who made a decent amount of noise.

The referee was abysmal. all 20,000 spectators were agreed on that one. He failed to see a clear Wolves handball in the penalty area that I saw from maybe 75 yards away. The linesman too. I despair about officials these days.

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Molineux is a decent ground and the fans/stewards a friendly bunch. The cost of 30£ though was at the steep end, though not as much as the 43£ being charged today by Sheffield Wednesday. The ground is on the edge of town and essentially in the University campus area, surrounded by university buildings and flats. An ASDA completes the splendour. This is a real city ground. Parking is easy enough and £5 will buy you a parking space in one of the local car wash sites and decent travel advice would be to enter the city via the M54 so taking the long way round. The club strive to keep their young fans happy and there was a small fair ongoing in the car park area of the ground which contained amongst other things the smallest Nando’s in the world. Other unusual sights included a barbers shop as part of the ground. Does any other club have a barbers shop integral in the ground?

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Inside the ground it is clear that this ground has and can accommodate premiership football. Four decent size stands and away fans are unusually given the lower tier of one the stands that run pitchside, so get a decent view. My only quibble is the huge area between the pitch and the stand that allowed a large wide grass strip where stewards sat on chairs, or in one mans case, slept in his chair.

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So a good day out, little pricey but a ground well worth seeing. Lastly 21 Bet might want to have a re-think about both the odds and the plaeys they lay odds against. I almost choked on the prospect that the odds of forst scorer were equal almost for Hogan, who was playing, and Hoffmann who was not even on the bench. Curiouser and curiouser.

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Where from here for County Championship Cricket? September 2016


Over the last few days something strange has been happening. The media generally and Sky TV has been eulogising over the climax to the season that results in three counties entering the last of their 16 games with the possibility of being champions. At the bottom end of the table one of three counties will achieve relegation. Sky has also at the last minute decided to televise the key game Middlesex v Yorkshire.  All this is quite unusual. The norm is a few words in newspapers with the scores. Has there been a sea change? Sadly not. 


The reality is that county cricket is a 4 day game played often in front of only hundreds of spectators. Most of them termed members essentially but buy a season ticket. Most of the games are played midweek when younger folks work and the average age of spectators is realistically over 40 and sometimes over 60. The cost of county cricket is also growing. The memberships cost around £200-250 and cover the 8 home matches and seasonally a variable number of limited overs games but not the lucrative T20. This contrasts with a season ticket cost for Championship football of around £350. A days ticket costs around 15-20£ and at some venues parking adds to that. At Arundel for example which is almost inaccessible without a car, parking is 10£ for non-members. 


There are rafts of problems and reasons why grounds are invariably empty other than cost. The weather often does play havoc with games turning them into lotteries with many days play lost. Umpires take the players off for minimal bad light. This irritates spectators who have little other option than to sit there . Food options in many grounds are limited and expensive. 

The cricket quality is often poor and sometimes not reaching good club standard. Many games do not last anything like 4 days. Inept batting collapses are the norm in division two and seen too often in division one.  The best players do not play as ECB often dictates they cannot even when not playing for their counties. Cricket fans tuning into Sky would have noted that arguably Yorkshire’s best cricketers, Bairstow and Root , were not playing for ludicrous reasons. Many counties keep young players for up to 5-10 years before deeming them not good enough. This results in a slow and poor throughput of potentially the really good youngsters out there. Bad performances seem tolerated for too long again resulting in poor cricket. One needs only to look at the batting this season for Sussex for these points to be clear. Some players don’t seem to want or be able to put in strong county performances when having been on the fringe or discarded by England. 

Cricket by its very nature played over 4 days can sometimes be a boring and abrasive game. Watching 90 overs at 3 runs an over is rarely thrilling. But it is part of the game. 

What should we do ? These are my suggestions and based partly on my personal reasons for hardly watching Sussex even as a member. 

  1. Reduce the entrance costs. Free entry for everyone under 18 and all students of any age and unemployed. Aim to have much fuller grounds and hence create an atmosphere generating more excitement . Give tickets away selectively 
  2. Play games over weekends and bank holidays
  3. Remove points for a draw. It is astounding to see how few games are actually won even by the champions 
  4. Be more ruthless with players. County cricket should not be full of average and poor players. Some fitness levels as professional sportsmen give cause for concern as do some players BMI. This can give the erroneous impression of farce
  5. Have 5 days set aside for games even though the aim is 4 days. This will reduce the impact weather has on results which is often in a season around a third of games
  6. Increase the general interaction between the players , umpires and the spectators. For example have a short 30 minute session of Q/A after each days play.  For all spectators to ask questions 
  7. Ensure that the top players do play where possible 
  8. Ensure play when possible . Reduce the breaks for bad light or rain and when they happen speed up resumptions. Some of the delays are medieval. 

These things may not be enough to salvage countycricket but they will help. 

Let’s return to Middlesex v Yorkshire. What have we seen? The ECB refusing to sanction Root and Bairstow to play. Crazy. A Yorkshire spinner Rashid asking not to play for barely credible reasons as a professional sportsman. At the most exciting moment of the game in the afternoon time when Yorkshire required a single run to effectively maintain their chance of winning the title , the umpires took the players off for bad light. Goodness. Some fairly poor batting from both sides with a few exceptions. Some dreadful fielding with over 10 dropped catches in 2-3 days. A ground that was mostly empty devoid of hardly any atmosphere excepting the MCC members in the pavilion who did turn out in numbers.

 Cricket could have done far worse than give free admission to all for this game instead of viewing totally empty stands ( the best ones were not even open to the public. Why not? ) 


Let’s hope things change but frankly I might be copying and pasting most of my thoughts again in2017 and maybe in 2020. 

Cricket can be Black And White


Images sometime convey more power and meaning when in black and white. Whether this is a random thing or a feeling that one is being transported back to another century I am unsure. 00004828

Carshalton Athletic FC Move To Second in Ryman South .An incredible victory 10-0 versus Godalming Town. A little more about the story of the game.


Godalming were doomed from the first 5 minutes when they were 3-0 down and it was always how many goals were Carshalton going to score. In truth the teams were classes apart. Not many teams could have lived with the free flowing football and the movement displayed last night. The finishing was sublime. There will be far better match reports than this but this was a game to really enjoy and wonder how far this team can go.

Clearly 10-0 victory says it all really. No sendings off, no goalkeeper injuries, just ten good goals. to their credit Godalming kept going till the end and a few minutes before the end looked certain to score but even then the Carshalton defence were battling away to keep a clean sheet and cleared the ball off the line.

00006041The fans enjoyed this game however the Godalming manager looked downcast all game and resigned this morning.

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Andy Hunt. Godalming manager looks on in dismay. 

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This maybe sums up Godalming’s night. Two of their own players crash into each other and neither get anywhere near the ball. 

Some of the action from Carshalton 10 Godalming 0


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Somehow Ricky Korboa managed to score a superb goal from this rather unusual angle

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This time a Tommy Bradford goal

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Yet another goal

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Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake


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Have you ever seen a Coconut used as a pillow? Only at a Sri Lankan cricket game could this happen.


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Football Statistics Can Sometimes Mislead. Brentford 5 Preston 0 is an example 


Each day the papers are full of statistics and some sometimes partially make sense. But if one were to view the statistics from the Brentford 5 Preston 0 game yesterday how many fans would seriously have guessed that score? 

Statistics can never be a substitute for watching a game. The quality of a single save such as Daniel Bentley made when it was 1-0 to Brentford cannot be captured in pure numbers. The statistics fail to measure the two very different halves to the game nor the four very different quarters of the game. 

At Brentford we have mulled over the stats issue now for a few years and mostly we can now agree that football reality is more accurate than football by numbers. 

Even a metric like the number of shots in a game can mislead as shots in the critical part of the game are not weighted more than those in the dying minutes. The same old debate of quality and quantity. 

Brentford 5 Preston 0 . How far can this side go? Even the stewards are relaxed 


As games go this was not a 5-0’drubbing. The first half was fairly low tempo and fairly even. Preston managed to miss the chances they had whilst Hogan scored his chance clinically . 

The second half was a different affair and Preston were well on top and creating chances for the first 15 minutes. When Harlee Dean scored our second Preston capitulated and 5-0 fairly reflected the last 25 minutes play.  Even the stewards took things easy . 


Hogan scored a decent hat trick with clinical finishing. The defence was solid. Colin played maybe his best game for Bees. Any concerns? None at all other than Bjelland hobbling off 10 minutes after a heavy challenge though Barbet slotted into left back perfectly. 

All the substitutions today played a part in the game and the signs were also encouraging from Kalkai. 


The main positive though has to be the team performance. Dean Smith has a settled side and it shows. Everyone knows their roles. 

Bees fans will be happy with this win and the quality of the football just keeps getting better. 

It is going to be an interesting year in the division. Newcastle managed to contrive a 2-0 home defeat against Wolves whilst Barnsley went down at home 1-2 versus Resding. This is a wide open league this season. How far can Bees go? 

My only concern today is the awful gridlock traffic around Kew Bridge. That does need to improve.  Lastly what a poor referee Keith Stroud is. I say this annually  but today he looked like he had shrunk in the wash and resembled a small hobbit. Does he have the most irritating smile in the world? Probably …. 

Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUE) and Harm. The solution is obvious for Sportsmen and Doctors in Asthma and ADHD


Matt Dickinson , the chief sports writer in The Times, writes an excellent article today 16/9/16 regaring TUEs. Essentially the article reads that more athletes than ever are being granted TUEs and there is a healthy degree of scepticism as to the likelihood that a large proprotion are actually essential. All fair points. However the real debate is why is the medical evidence to support a TUE is not more solid? This is the clear missing factor.

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As a doctor I would be looking at many illness features before offering an opinion or report. Firstly if an athlete is only requesting TUE rarely, why? The types of illness cited mostly here by Matt Dickinson are long term and in general terms stable over a few months, notably asthma and ADHD. It would be a hard hearted person to determine that an asthmatic, and most cases of asthma ( not all though) develop in childhood and early adolescence, cannot compete in sport due to the need for medication. It also needs to be said upfront that asthma does kill people annually and regularly, it can be a very serious illness. Stopping medication is rarely a safe nor sensible thing to do, so to be allowed to continue medication when in competition is essential and medically necessary. And this is the point. Medication usage is generally stable. So TUEs when granted should refect the regular need for a medication over months. Competition is intense sure, but also so is training. Exertion levels are not likely to vary enormously. A TUE should never for example allow a medication to be started just prior to competition. In simple terms, the asthma medication carries on as normal. To be convinced to start a new medication, steroid for example, there needs to be serious evidence of a deterioration in asthma that would not just have occurred overnight. Hence the intermittent usage of Kenalog (triamcinolone) for example could only be entertained on a strictly seasonal basis if hayfever symptoms had been  prominent annually at that time of the year. It requires some explanation why Bradley Wiggins took only 3 injections of Triamcinolone June 2011, June 2012 and April 2013, if these medical facts are indeed correct. They may not be. It would also be interesting to entertain the spcific pollens giving the allergy.

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For ADHD it is much the same. The diagnosis of ADHD is made generally with a history of symptoms that have been present in certain well prescribed patterns for many years. Adults diagnosed with ADHD must have shown evidence of long standing symptoms present since before 12 years old. The need to treat ADHD generally does not differ markedly over a period of time, in that the likelihood that a treatment needs commencing immediatley prior to an event is minimal. Treatment needs tend to be stable. Stopping ADHD treatment is not a good thing either.

Lastly Matt Dickinson points out that ADHD is relatively common in adults, he cites 4-6% of the adult population, which is a little high, maybe 3-4% is probably correct using the updated DSM-5 diagnostic criteria. But his scepticism about Major League Baseball players having ADHD in 10% of cases might be unfounded. ADHD is more common in sportsmen as many of the illness facets tend to be helpful in sport provided they are harnessed appropriately. Thus 10% is not an unreasonable estimate, though no thorough research seems to have been done on this. Creativity, hyperactivity and hyperfocus are features of ADHD and as such gymnasts like Simone Biles as an example may do well despite having ADHD. They too however need treatment. Impulsivity is the one feature of ADHD that does often get sportsmen into trouble. Lastly an interesting recent medical finding is that asthma is far more common in those with ADHD than the general population. The reason is not clear.

00005945So where should the scepticism come in? Firstly any sudden TUE prior to a competition needs a full investigation and critical analysis. Secondly any TUE where there is an unexpected and changed medication need, especially if intermittent, needs again careful analysis. If sportsmen are using TUEs as legal loopholes then it is the duty of doctors to stop this happening, and thats far easier than many imagine.

 

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