I have spent much of my life trying to increase the number of people playing lacrosse. It has never been an easy task though I suppose that the fact that there is still Lacrosse played in UK is some sort achievement.
Over the years I have come the conclusion that growing the numbers involved in sport is not that simple.
In the 1970s the boom sport was squash and a multi sports club that wanted to expand its membership built some squash courts. To join a squash club like Bowdon CC you went on a waiting list and when you eventually were given membership getting a court booking was a challenge. 50 years later squash clubs are an endangered species! Those that are surviving are struggling with squash courts being put any other possible use except squash!
Only a few years ago the membership of a golf club was gold and you had to hand over a considerable amount of cash to be accepted as a member. For several years golf membership has been in decline.
For many years the Mersey courses –Northenden, Didsbury, Sale, and Chorlton were the jewels in the crown. My father was heavily involved at Chorlton serving on many club committees so to me it was a great shock to hear that to all intents and purposes Chorlton had closed.
The iconic club house in the historic Barlow Hall, a Tudor masterpiece, is certainly closed but whether the course is still open to play I am not sure.
In my lifetime I have never heard of a golf club closing.
I have just watched the President of Sinn Fein being interviewed on TV on the Irish situation. You could not help but feel that she was almost smiling with a sense of triumph. It is as clear as the nose on my face that the likelihood of a united Ireland has never been stronger. In my view it is inevitable and probably a good thing.
I have just had a conversation with one of my daughter Anna’s friends who is a teacher in Northern Ireland. She is very angry about Brexit and in particular what it is doing to Ireland. She is firmly of the opinion that there will be a united Ireland in the next 10 years and that that situation will bring about a renewal sectarian violence. The English government does not give a toss.
The ultimate irony is that the party which is going to destroy the union is the Conservative and Unionist Party. The ultimate oxymoron. (I think a Tory is an Irish bandit)
Theresa May and her government have shown that they have no clue as to how the EU works and just as surely they have no grasp of the politics of Northern Ireland or of the views of Scotland. The Northern Ireland secretary is a incompetent politician who has no feel for the Ireland problem. With both these countries being vehemently pro EU we must accept that Brexit is very much an England issue. If Brexit takes place then the Union is finished which I am not sure is progress though it probably is.
MEN’S HOME INTERNATIONALS
A Home International Tournament is a welcome addition to the calendar though I am slightly puzzled by the thinking behind England fielding what I presume was a Development squad. To lose to both Scotland and Wales is an indication as the progress that these two counties have made in the nearly 30 years since a Scottish team first took the field. However, England losing to Scotland and Wales is a complete disgrace.
I am unsure as to where the organisation of the Men’s national squads is. I understood that a new men’s national coach was in place though if that is the case then I am not sure what input he had in the Home Internationals. Certainly not a positive one.
The U19 squad seems to have a very strong coaching team in place. I suspect that we are in a place where this coaching team is superior to the team coaching the Men’s senior squads. In such a case I would be interested to know what the reporting structure is - if there is one.
OLD TRAFFORD –THEATRE OF NIGHTMARES!!
The opening of the new Tottenham Hotspur stadium has raised the bar in the standard of grounds where great clubs play.
Other clubs from all over Europe are putting in place plans for significant upgrades to their stadia with Real Madrid and Barcelona leading the way.
In the Premier League recent years have seen Arsenal’s Emirate Stadium rivalling any in Europe.
At the Commonwealth Games in 2002 you knew that Manchester City were about to move into a ground which was superior in everything but size to Old Trafford.
Old Trafford is still be some way the biggest club ground in the country with the North Stand holding more people than many Premiership grounds (Bournemouth, Brighton, Fulham). The South Stand (the Bobby Charlton Stand – the one you never see because that is where the TV cameras are!) has never had any money spent on it for 45 years and looks its age. United claim that expanding the stand is technically impossible because of the need to span a railway line. What they actually mean is too expensive and deflects the club from its prime function which is to act as a cash cow for the absentee owners, the Glazier family.
On big nights, like this Wednesday v Barca, the atmosphere in OT is electric and cannot be replicated at any other ground. The Etihad atmosphere reflects the lukewarm nature of the city fans.
Rumours are that OT has rodent infestation which probably says it all. The club owns huge swathes of land surrounding the stadium but the reluctantly formed women’s and the men’s junior teams play somewhere called Leigh (Wigan) Sports Village which it is difficult to associate with United.
When you see the growth of the gates for women’s football in Europe and the professionalisation of the Women’s game in England then there is a obvious need for suitable venues and certainly United could do a lot worse than replicate what City have done with their Academy Stadium next to the Etihad.
United are being out thought and out operated at every turn by their noisy neighbours!
At every turn City are winning the competition on and off the field. Pep even has one of the best restaurants in town. Tast on King Street is a real recommendation.
DANGERS OF LESS REGULATION
The Trump government and the Brexit Tories make a case for less regulation to allow free market economics to flourish.
It is an argument made to justify moving outside the regulatory framework of the EU and for the reducing of state intervention in US.
If you think outside the EU box you will realise that many of the protections which are now taken for granted emanate from the EU and have been introduced with the full support of the UK. The full horror of Brexit is brought home when you realise the crass stupidity of Leave and the effect that it could have on the rights of ordinary people aka as the Leavers. It is a real exercise in self harm.
Recently there have been two disastrous crashes involving Boeing planes. Boeing are desperately trying to attribute the crashes to pilot error but as time goes by it becomes more obvious that the problem is design issues at Boeing and the failure of the FAA to properly regulate the industry, mainly because of the policies of Trump to reduce state “interference”.
In 2018 American Airlines placed indicative orders for 260 Airbus planes – an enormous order, particularly for an airline who had traditionally been a Boeing customer. The Airbus was an enormously attractive option for commercial airlines bringing much vaunted advantages in economy with much superior general performance.
Trump is claiming that the success of Airbus is due to illegal support by the EU and introduced tariffs against EU goods. EU will retaliate with tariffs against American goods such as Harley Davidson, Whiskey.
Boeing were put in a real spot in that to produce a genuine competitor to Airbus would take them 10 years or even more so they decided on taking short cuts and attaching heavier though more efficient engines to one of their existing airframes. The result was a plane which was generally OK but that under certain circumstances behaved erratically and could not be brought under pilot control.
It is becoming increasingly evident that the Boeing planes were fatally flawed and that their shortcomings have produced two catastrophic crashes. Boeing fleets are grounded all over the world and it is difficult to see how this situation can be changed in the near future as the Boeing planes are clearly killers.
The regulatory systems of the EU has in years gone by been comparable to that of the FAA in the US. However, in recent years the Trump government has reduced the role of the FAA and increased the role of the plane manufacturers –rather like having them mark their own homework.
Boeing basically cut corners to remain competitive and to protect their share price. They crossed their fingers and hoped but in the process killed hundreds of people.
DESTRUCTION OF POLITICAL PARTIES
You do not have to be a rocket scientist to realise that our politics are a broken flush.
Fundamentally we are a two party state with Tory and Labour parties generally going to be forming a government. Has that situation changed? We are in a political breakdown where no parties enjoy the confidence of the electorate. We are in a position where the confidence in the political system is at rock bottom. We are bereft of a competent government and also have a completely ineffective opposition. Where this takes us I am not sure but it certainly puts large question marks against the future of our party based, first past the post democracy.
The future of the Tory party must be very questionable. They must take the majority of the blame for the current collapse of effective government and when you look at the list of possible candidates to take over as the new Prime Minister you know we are in a terrible place.
If we were in normal times then we could reasonably expect a vigorous opposition to be presenting alternative strategies. Instead we have Jeremy Corbyn with his political prejudices and, it seems to me, his lack of intelligence and understanding.
It is time to call for change to our first past the post system for a proportional representation one. For many people, even UKIP voters, the lack representation they receive in Parliament does not give them a voice for their views. The Greens single MP does not truly represent the country’s views.
For other countries, particularly in Europe, Proportional Representation seems to work well. I think a “strong” government tends to open the door to extremism and lack of representation to those who occupy the middle ground.
One of the iconic current politicians is New Zealand’s Jacinda Arden who is the product of a coalition government. It does not always work as we know to our cost and you can end up with David Cameron and Nick Clegg, but nothing can be as bad as the terrible shower we currently have.
The more I think about the problem the more I am convinced that Labour and Tory parties are past their sell by dates as they do not represent the real views of majority of the country. The ERG and The Corbyn supporters represent extreme views of their parties and certainly not those of the majority of the electorate.
BREXIT THE END GAME OR JUST THE START OF PROLONGED PAIN?
Anyone with an iota of intelligence knows that Brexit is a disaster. There is however, a view that once we leave we will be in the sunny uplands and the land of Unicorns.
The reality is that our problems are probably only just beginning.
I have just read a booklet (85 small pages!) by Ivan Rodgers, the former Ambassador to the EU. The book is called “The 9 Lessons of Brexit”. Although it is probably too late to be a help it is a lucid analysis of the detail of Brexit. A recommended read and it doesn’t take long.
The conclusions are straight forward.
No-one in Government has a clue as to how the EU work and even worse there is no-one in any of the political parties who does.
We have had a Minister who has since the Referendum, been responsible for negotiating trade deals who, according to Rodgers would not recognise a trade deal if he found one in his soup.
Negotiating leaving the EU was for some time the responsibility David Davies who is generally accepted as being lazy and as thick as the proverbial “merde”.
At least Theresa May had the sense to move Davies. Unfortunately, she took on the role herself and has proved to be one of the worst negotiators ever as well as being a terrible PM.
The “negotiations” proper have not yet started and they will probably take the best part of a decade if past examples are anything to go by.
The UK economy is highly reliant on the Services and Financial sectors which are disintegrating before our eyes. We are told that one of the reason people voted to leave was to protect our farming and fishing industries. Our services sector accounts for nearly 80% of GDP whilst the farming and fishing industries combined account for less that 1%.
Services have rarely been a part of any trade deal but it would seem that for UK they must be, though if you are a bank, or investment company it would seem to me that you could save yourself a heap of hassle by relocating your operations to Europe. (Apparently it is now standard practice for City based business to have a clause in employee contracts saying they would be willing to relocate to EU.)
In future negotiation the UK will never be able to favour fishing and farming over finance so will have to use these areas as bargaining chips in any negotiation.
It is obvious that fishing is finished and that farming will only be able to continue on a reduced scale.
Hot off the press is the news that we are heading for an extension to the whole Brexit process. One can hope that an extension may perhaps lead to a further extension and we will escape the influence of the lunatic leavers and end up with by far the best deal on offer and remain permanently in the EU.