Wednesday, 24 September 2014

The Below Average SportBLOG #3 - Mark HOWLS his sporting views!

Following on from Joe's column on this very blog, I thought and with some encouragement from helmsman Peter, I would contribute my own ramblings. This will be different to my own blog's musings, but will try to encompass a wider look at sports other than hockey......wait there are sports other than HOCKEY......I hear you cry! There are, as it turns out! The Angry Budgie will continue to cover the Manchester Phoenix in depth, while this page offers the chance to freestyle a little! 

Phoenix Thoughts....... 

'But first let me take a....'oh wait wrong thing, let`s kick off this new wide ranging sporting view with a look at the Phoenix! I know, I know, but you have to kick off with something you know well! At the time of writing we have had the first weekend of regular season hockey in the EPL and the early EPL table does not mean a great deal with only two games in the books. So, I wanted to talk a little about the Phoenix so far, including the War of the Roses series against the Steeldogs too. 

If you visit the Phoenix forums you will have seen a certain amount of wailing and gnashing of teeth over the series loss to the Steeldogs. Some fans seeing the Phoenix lack of desire/effort and the club treating the weekend as a pre-season warm up, as an affront to them spending money to watch the games. I fully support a fans right to an opinion and the right to voice it, you pay your money after all. All I would question, is that those fans expectations going into the series. These were two games, yes against a rival, which were PRE-SEASON!!! The fans should know, the way the Phoenix structure their season, is to have the team come together the week before and so the War of the Roses games are their first time together and have only had some players arrive in the country a few days before. 

This is in stark contrast to Sheffield who, by the time the puck dropped in Sheffield Friday night, had already played 4 games! My fellow fans need to realise that and unless the Phoenix change their budgets or Pre-season plans, we will always come into the WOTR undercooked when compared to Sheffield. The weekend for me, has always been about enjoying hockey again after a long summer and Yes, of course I'd rather we won the bowl but, it's not the end of the world. It's nice seeing Sheffield celebrate something! ;) In the end though, the fans always have a choice, you are not forced to fork out your hard earned money to attend, if they don't like how the Phoenix approach the weekend? Don't attend! It really is as simple as that! 

The defence of the EPL title began with a trip to the Bracknell Bees and the visit of the Swindon Wildcats. The away trip to Bracknell was a good one for the Phoenix, as they came back up North with a win. The home game versus Swindon was very entertaining it has to be said. The performance was hugely improved to that against Sheffield and it certainly showed what a difference a good week of training can do! Phoenix dominated the 1st and 2nd periods,while Swindon controlled the third and OT.  I do hate losing on penalty shots, but Swindon were just better! They worked Fone well in the shootout and deservedly won the extra point! My take away`s from the game were, that the Phoenix looked good and will improve more too, with their fitness improving and will be able to take the game for the full 60 mins. Swindon will, again, have to rely on their 1st line and Stevie Lyle in goal this season. As with that combination, it will give them a chance, but should a team shutdown their top line, then they will struggle! 

Are you Local? 

I live in Cheshire.....for some people that means i`m nailed on as a United or City supporter! For me, while I have red leanings for the UK's industrial birthplace teams, the team I really care about is the one where I live. Macclesfield Town or `The Silkmen`. They are long time members of League 2 and I moved to Macc while the club enjoyed their last full season in the football league. Now members of the Vanoraman Conference (catchy) the Silkmen have found their level, Much like the Phoenix, they exist at a level that is appropriate for their level of support. 

Last season the club struggled at times, both on and off the pitch. The riches of the premier league being a world away from local clubs in the lower divisions. There was a few points where the club came close to extinction, but all those behind the scenes, deserve a lot of credit for keeping the club going. 

This year, with a much smaller budget, many a Macc fan was predicting relegation. But the club and players are proving many people wrong so far, as with 9 games gone into the season, it sees Macc Town, having only lost one game so far and that was away to Chester,but remain unbeaten against teams in the top half of the table. It has been a fantastic start for Macc, who has seen many of the players this season having stood up and been counted. Luke Waterfall on loan from Scunthrope, has been a rock at the back, while regulars like Chris Holroyd and Waide Fairhurst, have scored crucial goals when needed for the Silkmen and with Manager John Askey installing a good team ethic into the side, it has made Macclesfield a better team all round! 

So plenty of reasons to be cheerful at the Moss Rose so far! 

Phoenix? No not that Phoenix! 

I`m betting 99% of people reading this blog and listening to the podcast, are Hockey fans. 99% of those 99%, will have an NHL team in addition to their hockey team in the UK. I am not different and what may make me different is, i`m a fan of a less 'trendy' team. Definitely when compared to my BASC (Below Average Sport Cast) fellows in the Rangers, who Peter and Joe support ! I am a Coyotes fan, latterly of the Phoenix variety, now of the Arizona variety! 

The 2013/14 season was, in the end, a bit of a disappointment on the Ice for the Coyotes. After having won their conference a few seasons ago and then not qualifying for the post season playoff, it was a big let down. Even allowing for the super competitive division, in which the Yotes find themselves, they still had a roster capable of extending their campaign into June, But it wasn't to be. Pleasingly though, the Coyotes enjoyed a great year off the Ice,with attendances going up, sponsorship moving up and the club enjoyed numerous sold out nights including selling out in the premium boxes etc...which led to a few record revenue games for the Yotes. The new ownership group saw them reaping the rewards of their hard work, after years of rudderless NHL ownership, the Coyotes now finally have a focus and direction on which to move ahead from. Off ice is improving too, with fans enjoying the new ownership and the on ice product will come of leaps and bounds, it will be also new kind of start too in the 2014/15 season, with the name change of the Arizona Coyotes being used from now and leads to exciting times for the men from the desert. 

Roster wise, there has been some turnover, with Popular Czech player Radim Vrbata heading towards 'The Great White North' as he joins the Vancouver Canucks and Mike Ribero, who never really clicked for the Coyotes, he has gone to the Predators in Nashville. Coming the opposite way is goaltender Devan Dubnyk ,as he`ll act as back up to Mike Smith. Joe Vitale joins from the Pittsburgh Penguins, Sam Gagner arrives after a deal was struck with the Tampa Bay Lightning and also saw a move for BJ Crombeen heading to the desert too. Max Domi son of former NHL star Tie, should see him stake a claim for a full roster spot on the team, in addition to a first round pick in British born Left Winger Brendan Perlini. Overall the Coyotes roster is looking good and is led of course, by the evergreen Shane Doan, who will icing in his 18th NHL season of his career.

Mark Woodcock is the founder of the Angry budgie Blog:

Saturday, 13 September 2014

The Below Average SportBLOG #2 -Peter Returns..kind of!

Greetings and Hello there and welcome to a new feature that we're going to coincide with the Podcast. Both me and Scuttsy will be doing columns to improve things (or at least try too), these will be just breakaway things and hopefully you'll enjoy reading our columns and our own unique takes on sporting events in the upcoming months.

Well my first column is coming from the beautiful country of Cyprus as I'm currently on a  family holiday enjoying the sights, food and ....oh yeah weather here too!
Prior to heading off on my holi-bobs I took in a couple of sporting events, the first of which was taking an interesting trip over the Pennines to the darkside for a Lancashire lad like me to Sheffield, YORKSHIRE! I went over to watch two matches in one place, as I went initially to go early to do some work for the Official Manchester Phoenix Podcast as the Sledge hockey team I've been covering over the summer played against the newly formed Sheffield Steelkings sledge side.

The Steelkings are as I said are a newly formed side that has had a friend of mine called Kim McGreal who has helped get the side off the ground along with others to see their plans become reality. Kim and I first met through the recent Sledge Hockey season,  where she was made the communications/Social Media manager for the British Sledge Hockey league.
To start with I was just kind of thrown in at the deep end without having much knowledge at all on the sport, apart from watching a bit of it on tv when the Socchi winter games were on back in February in the paralympics. I was asked late on by Ben Knight who hosts the Phoenix podcast, if I was able to travel down to Altrincham to do a podcast on the game. I was given some help around the sport by Graham Wilson who plays on the Phoenix sledge side and begged me to do it and help out at short notice.

So me being someone who is a good friend and mate ( or gullible! ) I agreed to do it and was told i would get help off two people in the know helping me out on the show. This of course never happened and I had to make it up on the fly with one of the people who was due to help me being drafted late on to go in goals for the visitors due to players unavailble for the game.
The game however saw me make a couple of new friends through the Podcast with me meeting Kim who was organising things out and doing tweets for the game as well.  After the game I interviewed Karl Nicholson from the Phoenix and Matthew Coleman from the Peterborough Phantoms side and became friends with them, both Karl and Kim have become my go to guys on things sledge hockey.

Well before I waffled on,  I mentioned I saw the Sledge hockey match at Ice Sheffield which took place prior to the traditional War of the Roses clash between the Manchester Phoenix and the Sheffield Steeldogs, but more on that later. The opening game of the night saw a good run out for both sides to which was a exhibition game and also saw the first ever game for the Steelkings, but Manchester used their experience to see them come out on top as worthy 3-0 winners with Steve Bradley netting his first goals for Phoenix and Karl Nicholson scoring the opener in the contest. To be fair to Sheffield, they had a bit of help with two players guesting from the Kingston Kestrels to boost the numbers and help them with confidence starting out. I wish Kim and the Steelkings luck for the future and progress well.

Moving to the main event of the evening, we saw the roses battle on ice between the white rose of Yorkshire against the Red rose of Lancashire as the Sheffield Steelpups... I MEAN Steeldogs took on the EPL Champions from last year the Manchester Phoenix, in the first leg of the War of the Roses cup.  Considering Sheffield had played about 6 games more than Manchester with friendlies in France and two against the mega rich Telford Tigers, who  you'd never have know who had the more games under their belt as both sides were equal and saw the Phoenix looking the better side in periods.
The first leg ended 3-3 with the visitors leading through a James Archer strike and then two quick goals in the third saw Steeldogs lead 2-1 as Lubomir Korhon and Jeff Legue netted in the space of 50 seconds in the opening minute, before Archer levelled at 2-2 and saw Phoenix retake the lead for 3-2. Phoenix looked like they would take a one goal lead back home, but an unfortunate error by Declan Ryan late the game saw the dogs tie it up thanks to Steve Duncombe and so sees the second leg all to play for in Altrincham with Manchester looking favourites you'd have to say.

Journeys there and back from Sheffield was eventful,  with the drive home with Ben Knight and Alex very interesting indeed, as all exits for leaving Yorkshire were closed off and so when we had to drive back through Huddersfield to take the longer route, we ask the i-pod for anything interesting about Huddersfield and the response from the phone was a crushing blow to the town's tourism as it replied "I don't have the capabilites to perform such a task!" in the word of Ben.. 'BOOM'.

The following day saw me and two friends travel to Eccles to watch the opening game of the new Aviva Premiership Rugby Union season,  where the hometown Sale Sharks took on big spending Bath Rugby club and saw me lose my rugby union virginity,  as I finally saw my first game ever live in person.

I really enjoyed the whole matchday experience as the friends that came had been to a game previously, but that was a Six Nations games between Scotland and Ireland up at Murrayfield. One of my friends Rachel is a huge Ulster fan and despite her being to more games than me,  it was me explaining the incidents to her and what was being called. The match it's self seemed to me and a two neutrals, that Sale got the very rough end of the stick in decisions by the match official, as I made a comment that he had driven up with Bath on the journey.

Despite the Sharks losing 29-20 at home at the AJ BELL STADIUM, the overall day was one of excitement and interest, as I'll certainly have to go back and watch another match there too.  Star man for me was the Bath fly-half and kicker George Ford in particular as kicked 7 out of 7, which was very impressive indeed.  I'll be honest to and say I'm not the most clued- up on union as I should be as I'm a casual fan, though I love the Internationals matches and Lions tours.

Last weekend also saw International football take over and the opening qualifers for Euro 2016, to which will take place in France in two years time. The games saw a mixture of results for our home nations sides, as England beat Switzerland 2-0 in Basel and the match was viewed as the toughest game in the entire group prior to kick off. Northern Ireland picked up an extremely rare away victory away, when they beat Bulgaria 2-1 to record their first away victory in four years for the men from Windsor Park. South of the border and the Republic of Ireland came from behind to beat a stubborn Georgia outfit 2-1 with Wales copying their style, as two goals from Gareth Bale, which included a stunning free kick to claim victory saw them overcome Andorra 2-1 themselves.

Scotland had the daunting task of facing the World champions of Germany in Dortmund on Sunday evening and saw the Scots take it to the Germans, falling agonisingly short of a famous draw with them, losing 2-1 with Thomas Müller scoring a brace in the game to claim victory. In a shock story Cyprus won 2-1 in Bosnia to see the Cypriots leading the group Wales are in, yet hardly anything has been mentioned or celebrated over here in Cyprus on tv or media.

There was some equally more shocking news coming out of England, as yes.. The English cricket side FINALLY beat India in a limited overs match by three runs, thanks mainly to Eoin Morgan and when I heard that news I nearly collapsed from shock!

That is your lot for my first blogging column, hopefully you enjoyed both our attempts and will encourage you to give us some feedback as we'd really appreciate it! Also I've got some new ideas in the pipeline for the Below average sportcast,  so stay tuned

Resident Failed Comedian

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Friday, 12 September 2014

Below Average SportsBLOG #1 and a half - While The Peter's Away

So with Peter away for 3 weeks he's let me write a podcast instead of recording this week, I'll try and keep it to the usual fashion as the show but this time I have creative control much to Peter's regret.

Now if all has gone to plan Peter's half of this should have gone up before this and all will be in order, if not then your going to know the end of something before the start but anyway I digress. Peter can count himself lucky he went on holiday as he missed the shock of the weekend as the Sheffield Steeldogs won the second leg of the War Of The Roses in Altrincham 6-1 on Sunday night, the tone was set in the first period as 2 goals from Jeff Legue and one from Lubomir Korhon gave the white rose side a lead they never surrendered. The Phoenix got a quick goal in the second period from the ever reliable Michal Psurny but the Sheffield added to their lead before the periods end from Korhon again and Craig Elliott to effectively send the Rose Bowl back to Sheffield for the third straight year with a period to play. Korhon completed his hat trick in the third period to wrap the game up and see the Steeldogs going back through the mountains the happier of the sides.

In other EPL challenge matches, Basingstoke and Guildford split their home and home series with the away side winning both times. On the Saturday night Guildford won in Basingstoke 3-2 on the back of 2 goals from new signing Owen Fussey and one from Tom Duggan, the Bison's goals came from Joe Rand and the evergreen Nicky Chinn. Bison returned the favour the following night 6-2 at the Spectrum on the back of a 5 point night from defenceman Kurt Reynolds. The Bracknell Bees swept the Swindon Wildcats in their series winning 3-2 both times, on Saturday at the Link Centre Ryan Watt came back to haunt his old side with 2 goals, Tom Annetts had an impressive evening stopping 44 of 46 shots faced. On the Sunday at the John Nike Complex the Bees struck again this time with goals from Matt Towalski, Scott Spearing and Pavel Strycek giving the Berkshire side the win in what was a more even game. Peterborough Phantoms lifted the Ashes again as they beat Milton Keynes Lightning over two legs both held at Peterborough ice rink, on Saturday night the Phantoms cruised to a 5-2 win on the back of a brace from Luke Ferrara and some solid net minding from Latvian import Janis Auzins.The next night the Phantoms won again this time in a closer affair 3-1, the nail being put in the coffin thanks to a empty net goal in the final minute.

Now the bit I wanted to talk about and its one I will probably carry on till the end, its the 6 things we learnt this week in the NFL, this time after its first week

 - Repeating a Super Bowl victory is difficult and hasn't been done in years, the Seahawks have a real chance of doing that this year with the return of Percy Harvin at Wide Receiver the Seahawks are more than just a run the ball team and with their star studded defence including the Legion Of Boom the Seahawks look set for a deep playoff run.

 - The Dallas Cowboys quarterback was lucky to still have a job at the end of last season and will be even luckier after his first week performance, he threw 3 interceptions in the first half which led to 21 San Francisco points in their 28-17 defeat to the Niners.

 - Apart from how terrible the Cowboys played the other teams in the division didn't fair much better. The Washington professional football team lost to a bad Houston team 17-6, the Philadelphia Eagles scraped a win in the end over the terrible Jacksonville Jaguars and the New York Giants looked horrendous in a heavy defeat to the Detroit Lions. The sad fact is the winner of the NFC East could in fact have a losing record come the end of December.

 - If you haven't seen this yet I implore you to watch it, as Pittsburgh Steelers kick returner Antonio Brown tried to hurdle Cleveland Browns punter Spencer Lanning but only ended up kicking him in the head in what is probably already the best play of the season.

 - Sometimes the schedule isn't nice first week and teams struggle, don't draw too much into this after one week, New England, Green Bay, Chicago, San Diego, Indianapolis and New Orleans are all at the bottom at the time of writing they will however not be there come the end of the season if anything 4 of them are likely to be division winners and all 6 are serious contenders to reach the playoffs.

 - NFL players don't have a great reputation at the best of times but this was not helped by Ray Rice knocking his then fiancée now wife unconscious in a lift in Atlantic City back in February, this is something that was dealt with badly with Rice originally only being suspended for 2 weeks but now with the actual video being released as been suspended indefinitely and released by the Baltimore Ravens. Rice will more than likely never play football again and will soon fade into insignificance.

So ends my first attempt at this, I'm sure it will get better in the coming weeks as it gets more and more planned and please if your reading this do listen to the show.... please we could do with the feedback

Joe Scutts
Alleged Swindon Correspondant

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Below Average Sport Cast Epi 22: Cricket troubles, PL round up and EPL previews


A QUACKING podcast number 22! With Peter Brads and Scuttsy discussing the state of England getting slaughtered by India, as well as Peter fuming over the Lancs t20 final.

Round up of the opening few weeks of the Premier League Football season, with some Transfer news featured.

Elite League pre-season and EPL season preview with both of us giving our pre season season standings.

Ball Hockey review of the SHEFFIELD CUP featuring the Shaw Millionaires, Could the Millionaires retain their Cup....find out??


p.s  Apologises for the audio during the cricket cutting out now and then.



Scuttsy blog:

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