Wednesday, 18 November 2009

I met the man behind Stirling Albion fan's take over bid, to talk about Oasis...

'Buystirlingalbion' is a campaign launched by supporters of the 'Binos' (also known by some as the 'Yo Yos' - on account of their frequent leaps between the Scottish leagues) to buy the club from Chairman Peter McKenzine. Created in May of this year, the trust aims at taking the club, currently sliding into financial obsess and putting back in the hands of the community from where it first started.

Supporters can pledge £40 for a say in the future of their beloved side. This donation allows them to cast votes on how the club should be run for a more sustainable financial future. Similar to the mould of non-league Ebbsfleet United (bought through the website,, decisions will be made democratically, however, the footballing side of things will be left to Allan Moore, who under his guidance, has seen Stirling at the right end of the Scottish League 2.

Fronted by Paul Goodwin, the trust had a six figure bid club rejected by chairman McKenzie just 2 months ago, despite having had the club up for sale for 7 years. Paul Goodwin of the trust came and met with me on the Air 3 Sport Show. To hear the interview just head over to and go to listen again.

Paul comes from an incredible marketing background and we spoke at length about the bid and it's current situation. Since the original bid was rejected, a new timeframe for the bid's completion has been put in place for the end of this current footballing campaign (next May). Amongst other topics of conversation regarding the bid was Cristiano Ronald's donation, the fluctuations in value in case of promotion and what new projects were being introduced to speed up the take over process.

We eventually moved onto the topic of music and such which led to the incredible story that whilst head of marketing at HMV, Paul almost completely manufactured the Oasis v Blur rivalry through the fabrication of leaked stories. In an attempt to recreate the Stones v Beatles war of the 60s and 70s, Paul and his HMV colleagues masterminded a fictional furor which captivated most of Britain and epitomized the Britpop era of the 90s.

He also gave me a free 'Buy Stirling Albion' key ring :) - head to the website now to hear the interview.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

The night I met a Zambian National Hero

It was a strange strange situation when I first heard of Lyson Zulu. When out on placement in Zambia, I met Sally Pandor, the national football manager. He sold me the last official Zambian football shirt in Lusaka and we had a photo together, it was good times.

I later learnt whilst I was in Zambia, the national team, also known as the Chipolopolo (translating as the 'Bullets' from Nanja to English), would be part-taking in a friendly game against fellow Africans London. So whilst I, Johnny English, was in Zambia writing about sport, the Zambian national team traded places. I'm sure at the time of arranging the friendly it seemed like a good idea. In between international qualifiers against Egypt, Algeria and Rwanda, a chance to have a look over the first team selection would have proved beneficial.

What happens wasn't foreseen was an inability for the majority Zambian national team to actually get to London, due to a lack of passports, which is usually a problem let's be honest. After this realization, panic spread across the Zambian management team and in a desperate attempt to field a team, called up many Zambians already residing within Britain, cue Lyson Zulu.

This is where it becomes all very interesting. Lyson Zulu is currently on a scholarship at Loughborough, having already attended Bath University. He was offered a chance to shine at Bath having impressed their students during their time on the IDEALs Project (the project through which I too went across to Africa). He was a peer leader at EduSport, the non-government organization I was writing during my placement. I therefore was required to write a news article about the man himself which is on the EduSport website and can be seen here.

Despite the situations in which he gained his called up, the amount of pride that a product of Kalingalinga (one of the placements students carried out their sport's coaching during the project) gained a cap for the Zambian National Team was insurmountable.

Then, last night at the Stirling Zambian Fundraising Ceilidh, who should I meet, but Lyson himself who had made the trip up from Loughborough. Probably the nicest guy in the entire world, we quickly got into conversation once I mentioned I had written an article about him for the EduSport website. Both being men, the conversation quickly led onto the topic of football and his call up.

"I was very surprised to get a call up, it was the proudest moment of my life. Despite the call up, I wasn't really expecting to a game and perhaps only play the last 10/15 minutes of the match. However, during the warm up, the coach said he liked the looks of me and less than 15 minutes before kick off, was told I was starting".

"I was playing as a lone striker in a 4-5-1 formation which is a very hard position to play and requires a lot of hard work. Although we lost, it was still amazing experience, especially to be playing in London".

Leyton Orient's home ground 'Brisbane Road' does seem one of the last football grounds in the world you'd find a 4-1 win for Ghana over the minnows of Zambia, but never the less, it was a fine setting for Lyson Zulu's proudest moment who has since become something of a national hero in the eyes of everyone how acknowledges his moment.

Friday, 12 June 2009

The Rise Of British Cinema

The rise of the American Multiplex under Thatcher’s reign coincided, or perhaps for a more accurate description, triggered, the demise of British Cinema, a once hugely prominent and influential figure in world wide film production. While Hollywood continues to rise in productivity, everyone else seems to be sinking into unsustainable financial mire of film production investment; a common trend since the creation of the Marshall Plan back in 1945 following the economic crisis within Britain post World War Two.

But I believe there are many reasons to be a cheerful Brit as even in these dark times, there has never been a lack of talent or potential. Although in prior times Britain has been stereotypically known for more dour socially realistic productions and ‘Costume Dramas’ than for light hearted entertainment, there has been a change in the wind and more ‘feel good films’ have been capturing the hearts of cinema goers including Danny Boyle’s ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ adaption which gained both critical and commercial success, indicating potentially promising signs for a resurgent Britain and while it’s hard to claim them truly ‘British’, runaway productions in the form of James Bond and Harry Potter franchises continue to reap financial rewards.

While it is much more financially risky for British Production Companies to ‘gamble’ on a film with unknown talent and a considerably ‘different’ script, the UK Film Council will fund UK productions with £8million for more established directors on top of the £5million it invests in new and upcoming innovative film makers, which in respect is hardly anything compared to the bill of a US production, is still government financed and a massive benefit and opportunity to film makers across the country.

But the real potential lies in the talent Britain has always held which could be gradually combined with the upcoming talent. For instance, ‘The Dark Knight’, the fourth highest grossing film of all time and already heralded as a modern great was directed by Christopher Nolan, who unknown to most, was born and lived in London for early stages of his life before moving to America. The fact he is yet to reach the age of forty promises endless potential for years to come. Likewise, fellow modern directors also stamp British talent within America with ‘The Bourne Supermacy/Ultimatium’ director Paul Greengrass illustrating this. Meanwhile, Shane Meadows is an example of a home grown talent whom continues to produce quality productions on small scale budgets for British audiences such as Somers Town and This Is England while there is hardly a lack of prolific actors starring in films on either side of the Atlantic with Daniel Craig, James McAvoy, Gerald Butler, Keria Knightly, Orlando Bloom and Paul Bettany fine examples of such.

In conclusion, it’s fair to state that these are potentially promising times for the UK in terms of productions and while it will be a long time before there will be competition with US films in the Cinema Screening schedules, a gradual and steady approach could see the continuation and extension to the golden crop of British Film Making.