Archive for February, 2012

TOP10TUESDAY – Must have IPhone App’s

Welcome to Top10Tuesday. Every week I look at a specific category and list my best 10.  For the first week I have looked at my favourite Iphone app’s that help me get through the sporting day.

 

 

LIVE SCORE

This is my go to app for all Football scores around the world.  Live score give you all the latest goals and cards from the majority of leagues around the globe, including England, Spain, Italy and Germany.  This app also covers NHL, Basketball, Tennis and Cricket.  A must for any fan of the round ball game.

ESPN ScoreCenter

The world’s leader in sports coverage gives you all the information you need on your favourite American sports.  Latest scores, breaking news and current standings keep you in the know.  The alert function can keep you up to date whether you follow Linsanity or Tebow.  The app covers many other sports, but when you think ESPN you think US sports.

NIKE+ GPS

Ok, I’m sticking my hand up to say I should use this app more often but it’s just not happening at the moment.  Nike have come up with an easy to use GPS combined with your own music, and a challenge yourself feature to help reach personal goals.  Hopefully I will be using this app more in the future.

OFFICIAL A-LEAGUE

Want to keep up with all the A-League action when you can’t get to the game, this app is the one.  League news, short video clips of the highlights and news from the week, a full list of squad statistics and up to date standings give A-League fans all they need.  You can even use the ‘my team’ feature to be across all your club news.

PGA TOUR

Golf fans are able to follow their favourite golfers on the World’s most popular tour.  Keep up to date with every tournament and keep track of the FedEx standings.  A very handy app for those who cannot watch all the action, as it gives you daily highlights and a comprehensive calendar of events.

NBA JAM

Hopefully most sports fans will remember this classic.  This won’t keep you up to date with any live scores, but will allow you to enjoy your downtime when waiting for the train.  Normally games find it hard to make the transition to the Iphone screen, but this bucks the trend.  So next time you have 10 minutes to, get aboard the NBA Jam train, and in no time you will be “On fire”.

HERALD-SUN SUPERCOACH

If you are an Aussie Rules fan it’s quite simple then, you need this app.  Choose your own squad of players invite your mates to your league and let the season roll on.  Points seem to be based on a formula more complicated than space travel but this app will let you keep across all the your trades.   If you want to establish bragging rights over your mates, this is a must need app.

AUSTRALIAN OPEN

You may only need this app for a few short weeks of the year, but if you’re a tennis fan this app will no doubt run your battery down.  This gives you an up to date court schedule, live scores, and saves you the hassle of trying to find scores when you are actually there.  Other majors have their apps but I have found the AusOpen ahead of them for the moment.

FOOTY LITE

Everything you need for an Aussie rules fan on the go.  This gives you up to date scores, player profiles and the all important ladder any time you need.  During the game this app gives you player stats during the match, and even has an Aussie rules glossary for those fans who are perhaps new to the game.

TWITTER

When all the above apps failure you, twitter gives you the best overview for all sports.  All you need to do is follow the right people, and read your feed.  Team line ups, live score updates, and venting fans make twitter compulsive viewing for sports fans.

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Can Victory Harry up and make Finals?

With five games remaining, and five points away from finals contention Melbourne Victory will play their most important game of the season tomorrow night against a resurgent Gold Coast unit.

Most will agree that Victory have found their form too late in the season, and will miss the finals action but while Harry Kewell is putting the ball in the back of the net finals can still be achieved.  Many criticised new manager Jim Magilton for subbing Kewell last week when salvaging a draw looked possible, but people need to understand Magilton is an experienced manager.

If the Victory is a serious finals contender they will need to win, and be convincing about it on Saturday night against the youthful Gold Coast team.  Backing up their midweek fixture Clive Palmer’s young starlets will find the going very tough against the likes of Kewell, Thompson Milligan & Hernandez.  Victory should win this match comfortably and keep their finals hopes alive.  Victory 3-1

Newcastle will be looking to gain ground on the top six in front of a home crowd against the disappointing Adelaide United.  Jeremy Brockie will need to continue his goal scoring form for the home team.  Adelaide, now out of finals contention will be looking for a much needed form reversal before they start their ACL campaign.  Draw 1-1

Sydney, like Victory have their season coming together at the right end of the year.  During the week Nick Carle and Brett Emerton were rewarded with Socceroos duties, and will be looking to continue the exciting week.  Sydney are coming up against a Wellington team coming off back to back losses.  Wellington will be looking towards a top four position for a choice home final, but will find the going far too tough against a Sydney team who could surprise a few teams in the upcoming weeks. Sydney 2-0

I’m tipping the Perth v Brisbane game to be a Grand final preview to the disappointment of Mariners fans.  Both these teams are playing great attacking football and are starting to his their straps at the right end of the season.  Perth have flown under the radar slightly this season, but have managed to put a few good wins together, managing 9 points from their last four games.  Ange has his Brisbane team up and firing and are clearly Championship favourites at this stage of the season.  Berisha is banging goals in for fun at the moment, and will help decide the next few months of A-League football.  Draw 2-2

Finally the last game of the week is Melbourne Heart and Central Coast.  The last time these clubs met the Mariners stole all three points in the last few minutes of the game.  Fred played a full game last week and looks to be over his injury, and Dugandzic will give a killer instinct upfront upon his return from Olyroos duties.  Mariners will be looking to extend their six point lead on the rest of the competition, and I’m afraid if you’re a heart fan that JVS finals dream may appear to be slipping away with another home loss.  Central Coast 2-1

This is my first weekly preview of the A-League action (a bit late I know).  Let @thehardsword know what you think about my predictions, and tell me how you think this week’s games will turn out.  Depending on how my predictions turn out, I might even be back next week with another preview.  Enjoy this weekend’s action.

Last Chance Saloon for Carney

Not many were surprised by Holger Osieck’s Socceroo squad today, except for the inclusion of left back David Carney.  With the match, essentially a dead rubber for Australian team many expected Holger to throw his support behind those plying their trade in the A-League.

Carney has been troubled by poor form compiled by an unlucky run of injuries but according to Osieck is worth one last chance.  Some Socceroo fans are an unforgiving bunch, holding Carney accountable for the Asian cup final loss against Japan.  Carney is trying to kick start his club career in the rich Uzbekistan league with Bunyodkor, so no one can blame any Aussie fan for not keeping tabs on his current form.

Sadly the Uzbek league has better potential for a player in his late 20’s still trying to maintain the status of full time footballer.  Holger is a smart manager and I fully trust him in his selection of Carney.

Mark Bresciano will make a welcome inclusion for the Socceroo fold when he returns after an 18 month absence.  The attacking midfielder is currently playing some great football in the United Arab Emirates.  I am looking forward to Bresciano teaming up with old team mate Harry Kewell who has hit some red hot form in the A-League of late.

Local boys Eric Paartalu, Michael Marrone and Matt Ryan have all been bought in for some Socceroo camp experiece, and I would be very surprised to see any of these players on Wednesday.  Sydney duo Nicky Carle and Brett Emerton have also been rewarded for solid performances this season.

Although Osieck could use this World Cup qualifier to blood new players, and see how they perform in the Socceroo strip, I believe an experienced line up will be chosen, as games at a national level are few and far between at the moment, at the final stage in qualification will be very difficult and vital to the status and success of football in the Country for years to come.

Full Australian squad

Mark Bresciano, Alex Brosque, Nick Carle, David Carney, Brett Emerton, Harry Kewell
Michael Marrone, Mark Milligan, Lucas Neill, Jade North, Sasa Ognenovski, Erik Paartalu, Matthew Ryan, Adam Sarota, Mark Schwarzer, Matthew Spiranovic, Archie Thompson, Michael Thwaite, James Troisi

Dear FIFA

As a proud Australian and avid football supporter I would once again like to apologise for the bringing the game and FIFA brand into disrepute.  I have spoken to the powers that be, and they have agreed to destroy all copies of the cartoon Kangaroo.  Yes it was a desperate attempt to steal the 2022 World Cup, but going up against the oil of Qatar was like Manchester City playing Kettering Town.

What is this all about you ask? Once again Football in Australia has been handed some mistimed bad news from FIFA.  The upcoming World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia has been pushed back 2 hours to a 9:30pm kickoff.  I understand the thinking behind the schedule change, it’s the last round robin game of Round 3 and a simultaneous kick off is required.  Saudi Arabia, Oman and Thailand are all fighting to keep their 2014 World Cup dreams alive.  Australia is safely through, and this is merely a practice match for Holger Osieck’s team.

My problem with FIFA is why they didn’t tell all hosting nations about the kick off time until recently.  The FFA has marketed the clash as a family friendly fixture at the premiere boutique football venue in the Country.  Now many young Socceroo fans will miss out on an opportunity to see their heroes, and the game could potentially be played in front of a Melbourne Heart sized crowd.  Football in Melbourne is becoming trendy again, kick started by the derbies played in the past two seasons.  This is once a setback to Australia’s sporting capital, and will no doubt present the anti football establishment another opportunity to sink the boots in.

If the FFA knew of FIFA’s scheduling move the match would have been played in the much ignored Perth market.  This would have given the Western Australian public a much needed glimpse of the Socceroos, and Melbourne wouldn’t have to host this farcical time slot.  Perth Glory is just starting to fire, and the match would have given them a chance to drum up some extra support just before their anticipated finals campaign.

If I know Melbournians, they will turn out to support their National team; FIFA’s decision won’t affect my attendance (I don’t have children).  The ones who miss out are the family’s, and those who live in Country areas.  A 9:30pm kickoff is not only bad for the game, but will detract from a fun family atmosphere those at the A-League have been striving so hard to build.

Time for AFL to make Conference Call

With the AFL preseason competition kicking off this week, no doubt there will be plenty of talk around the bars of the nation regarding how the fixture could be fairer for all clubs.

Until every team plays home and away the fixture will never be fair, we all know this will never happen.  So what is the solution.  With media rights at an all time peak the AFL would never think of reducing the amount of rounds played.   A fair system with 18 teams means 17 or 34 rounds, but these numbers simply don’t work for any parties involved.

Introducing a Conference system into the AFL would solve some of the many problems associated with the yearly fixturing, and would give all clubs an idea of who they play every year.

There would be no complicated American conference tables or wildcard playoffs.  The conference system is merely a fixturing tool to establish a consistent draw for all clubs.  All clubs will be broken into three sections of six clubs.  Clubs will play every club once, but will play home and away matches against the clubs in their section.  This will still produce a 22 match fixture, maintaining the same amount of matches per year.

Derby’s, Showdowns, Q clashes and the traditional Victorian clashes can still happen twice a year using the below conferences.

The Conferences

(A)    Carlton, Collingwood, Essendon, Fremantle, Richmond, West Coast

(B)     Brisbane, Gold Coast, Greater Western Sydney, North Melbourne, Sydney, Western Bulldogs

(C)     Adelaide, Geelong, Hawthorn, Melbourne, Port Adelaide, St Kilda

Conference A is the AFL cash cow.  Matches with traditional Victorian rivals, mixed in with the Western Derby and the opportunity of the proposed WA stadium to host sold out crowds with the more popular Victorian clubs.  The AFL will effectively use this conference to fund conference B.

Conference B is the weakest amongst the supported groups, but this was the only way I could see two interstate rivalries happening.  North Melbourne and Western Bulldog fans would be upset by their status, but this would stabilise the future of both clubs.

The third conference was the teams that were left over, to be honest but you would have the tradition Showdown clash, the Waverley rivalry, and the two oldest clubs.  Add the hottest rivalry of the last few years, Hawthorn and Geelong and you have some great clashes to look forward to every year (twice).

Some may argue that it would give some clubs an unfair advantage playing better clubs more often, but isn’t that what the draft and salary cap are for.  Some conferences would be stronger at times, but the finals system has no bearing on where you finish in your conference.

The conference system is merely an idea to add to further intrigue to our great game.  By no way do I want to see the game change dramatically as it has recently done with constant rule changes.  This is just a fixturing tool to gain some consistency in years to come.

New Sydney team would be Gold

Last week more people attended the Melbourne Derby, than have been through the turnstiles to watch the struggling Gold Coast United for the entire 2011/12 season.  On average, just over 3,600 energetic and committed fans turn out to watch the fledgling club.

There is speculation of FFA boss Ben Buckley sitting down with Gold Coast owner Clive Palmer to discuss a united Queensland team, playing in various locations.  I consider this a strange concept considering how much money and resources were used (and lost) for the North Queensland Fury.  Mr Buckley, stop flogging a dead horse.  There is only ONE location for the next A-League team to be located at that is Sydney.

Yes, we already have a team there.  No, crowds haven’t been great up in the harbour city but Sydneysiders will warm to the rivalry factor.  In the recently played Big Bash League (Cricket Australia’s domestic Twenty20 competition) the two biggest attendances were the Melbourne and Sydney derbies.  This is not a coincidence, but smart marketing by Cricket Australia.  The powers that be placed teams where they knew would succeed, and unlike the A-League who tried to spread its brand to all outreaches in Australia.

If there has been anything that Melbourne Heart have shown the A-League it is how to build a supporter base from scratch.  Sure Melbourne is a sporting marketers dream, but competing for the consumer dollar against the A-League’s most successful club, Melbourne Victory was always going to be tough.

The A-League needs to continue to work hard on engaging fans in Australia’s most populated city.  Sydney is the ideal choice for a fresh start for the Gold Coast team.  Sure it’s heartbreaking for the many fans of United, but people have spoken with their feet.  The people of the Gold Coast area don’t want to support a football team on a national level.

Many have accused the FFA of being to Sydeycentric (including myself), but if the A-League is to build and become financially successful we need two teams in Sydney.  We can look at introducing new teams to area such as Tasmania, Canberra, Northern Qld and Gold Coast when the league is bigger and more successful; but the league in their current state needs to move the Gold Coast team to Sydney.

Let’s not let this golden opportunity slip by us.

Wanted: 12th Man

What has happened to The Hawthorns, it’s hard enough to get up at 2am and watch the game from thousands of kilometres away, but when your own fans are booing the Albion boys it makes for a bitter pill to swallow.

Last year West Bromwich Albion overachieved, Odemwingie was firing them in from everywhere and we rode our luck with injuries.  We managed to steal a point at Old Trafford, record home wins over Liverpool, Everton & the Villa finishing 11th in the World’s toughest league.

This year fans had great expectations, and some were even European dreaming, instead of learning to shed the yo-yo tag.  Well guys after an impressive start we have hit a speed hump in our yellow brick road.  We will not be travelling to any fancy European destinations, but instead risk trips to Portsmouth, Millwall and Barnsley.

I can understand why fans feel disheartened, home losses to Wigan, Norwich (twice) & Swansea have not helped our 2011/12 campaign but we need to turn this around.  We need The Hawthorns turned back into the fortress that it can be.  Fans need to sing the praises of the Albion players from the terraces, and inject some much needed confidence into the players. 

Peter Odemwingie is the perfect example.  There are few better players that the Nigerian when he is on song, but Peter is a massive confidence player.  We need to get behind him and he will start putting balls in the back of the net.  Thomas and Dorrans have also come under fire from the fans this year; we need to get start backing the player group before our season heads down the Blackburn/Wigan path.

Sure every Albion supporter remembers ‘The Great Escape’ fondly, but we don’t have to risk it every season.  We need to cement our place in the Premier League for a few more seasons, build on our young talent and success financial front.

February could very well shape our season (Wolves away, Sunderland home).  Our home form of late is merely a road block and with our 12th man back the Baggies will be ‘Boing-Boinging’ for years to come in the Premier league.