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Waikato Stadium – Hamilton, New Zealand

7 Oct

Wales – 66

Fiji – 0

Rugby World Cup 2011 Pool D – October 2nd 2011

A semi guest post today. I’m writing about the game – which I saw early on Sunday morning. It was fabulous, and a real statement of intent laid down by Wales before the Rugby World Cup semi finals. After being in France last World Cup, it was humiliating when I returned to the hostel I was staying after Wales limped out of the World Cup 34-38 to Fiji. I saw this game as a apprehensive chance of revenge, beat Fiji and then go through to the quarter finals.

It was more than a win, it was a massacre. Wales played with huge confidence in the game to set up a quarter final clash with Ireland, and although it was great watching it on the telly, it would’ve been even better to watch this live.

Matty Mottram is an expat Colwyn Bay fan now living in New Zealand. He attended the game in New Zealand, he wrote this match report and took a few snaps in which you can see below.

Played at the Waikato Stadium in Hamilton, New Zealand, Wales V Fiji was the final group game with a quarter final place up for grabs…the Waikato stadium is the home of Waikato Rugby Union who play in the National Championship and counting All Blacks Richard Kahui, Sivi Sivivatu & Mils Muliana as current players, and one Warren Galtand has also pulled on the Red Yellow & Black of the “Mooloo Men” here in Dairy country! Also based at the stadium are The Chiefs, who play in the Tri Nation Super 15 competition.

The stadiums most famous moment came in 1981 when the Springboks were the visitors. Thank you Wikipedia! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waikato_Stadium#Notable_events

A typically Welsh day. It pissed it down!

You can follow Matty Mottram on Twitter, his username is @mattyseagull.

Vodafone VIP Formula 1 Experience – Deansgate, Manchester

29 Aug

Happy Bank Holiday Weekend everybody! This weekend, as well as watching Colwyn Bay vs Guiseley at Guiseley (we won’t talk too much about that!), I also attended the Vodafone VIP Formula 1 Experience, in Manchester.

For this event, they shut down a section of the city centre so very fast cars that smell and sound fantastic could drive incredibly fast down the streets in Manchester in what was the most blatant disregards for laws seen since the Riots. Leading the “racing” was former world champion Jenson Button, who races in McClaren Mercedes car, who are sponsored by Vodafone.

I headed down the day before the race to check out the setting up, in particular the Vodafone VIP Area which had fun things to do such as sit in a real F1 car, a driving simulator and Go Karting (which I never saw on, I suspect the weather was poor). The next day we (myself and @KattDandy) headed down to see the cars.

We arrived at the ungodly hour at 10am, 2 hours before the car runs began, to get ourself a decent spot, which was right near the end of the course. After 12, and a few cars had already passed down the course, we saw Jenson Button driving the McLaren MP4-12c high performance sports car. It was a nice car, a very nice car. Seeing it was incredible but not really special. Was great though seeing Jenson up close.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xXrDXg0RMU[/youtube]

After a quick (read an hour or so) turnaround we got to see the main event, Jenson Button driving the MP4-23 F1 Car. The noise was incredible! He drove past four times, producing a smell of rubber, a deafening noise and an adrenaline rush every single time he passed.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hlGcKCBlhc[/youtube]

After 4 runs, Jenson was treated to a little break before 3 more runs. We were lucky as we were passing the Vodafone VIP area when this was announced. As a Vodafone customer, I was let in to take a few more photos. Jenson’s last two runs were great, as he stalled a couple of times. He’s human, after all.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46CJG9R8Z-0[/youtube]

I must confess I’m not a huge petrolhead, I have only a passing interest in F1, and I loved it. Perfect way to spend a Bank Holiday afternoon!

Further Photos Are Available on The You’re Supposed To Be At Home Facebook Page.

The MCG – Hawthorn Hawks

2 Aug

Hawthorn Hawks – 99

St Kilda Saints – 69

Australian Football League – 15th May 2011

Rhys’ Note: This entry will be a little different as I must admit – I know very little about Aussie Rules Football. As such, I don’t really know what’s going on, so my usual witty captions will be missing. “Hurrah!”, I hear you shout. Anyway – this blog is by John Wilson of Twofromwales.com. You read about their experience at Thai Football, this is their experience at Australian Rules Football, in one of the most famous stadiums in the world, the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne, Australia.

Want to guest post on this blog? Click here to find out how you can write for us.

After a quick introduction into the rules of AFL, or Aussie Rules as I’ve always known it, when we first arrived in Perth, we both quickly got hooked on the sport and had to wait a further 6 weeks before we’d get to see a game in person.

The rules are pretty easy to understand while the concept is as simple as you’d expect from any competitive sport; out score your opponents. Either by scoring 6 points for a goal (kicking the ball between the centre posts) or a single point for a behind (the ball between the outer goals).

A scoring structure like this often leads to big swings in the game and plenty of high scoring and our first (and unfortunately only) game was no exception.  Watching the action from close to the pitch side at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), we saw one team straight from the off go on to take the first quarter with a 30 point advantage.

Unfortunately, it was St. Kilda that took the lead. Some sloppy ball handling and very few attacks on goal saw our adopted team for the day, the Hawthorne Hawks, fall far behind. If things weren’t to improve in the second quarter then it would have been very embarrassing for a team who on paper, should win this game every time and we’d probably not get invited back by our Hawthorne supporting friends in case we brought bad luck with us.

However, with the start of the second quarter and probably some monumental hair dryer treatment for the Hawks players by the coaching staff, we saw a very quick resurgence with the Hawks scoring some very quick goals to bring them back into the game and better still, taking the lead from St. Kilda.

This new found dominance continued into the remaining 2 quarters with the Hawks running away with the game, finishing up on 99 compared to St. Kilda’s 69.

More like Gaelic football than proper football, and not so much like rugby as we first expected, AFL has a very quick tempo to it and some incredibly athletic players. The speed at which they play and some of the crunching blocks they put in, it’s clear to see why it’s such a popular sport. Each quarter should last 20 minutes but because of the clock stopping on TV between goals & other dead ball situations but not in the ground, each quarter lasted a good half hour.

Entry was pretty reasonable, AUS $30 (roughly £20) gets you a ticket and you can choose your own seat. The first quarter we watched from the gods to get a grasp of the size of the place & the size of the playing surface. The remaining quarters we chose seats half a dozen rows back from the pitch, just off half way.

For cricket fans, the MCG probably won’t need much of an introduction. As a cricket ground, this is one of the places where the Ashes are played. An extremely modern ground with around 95,000 capacity, great facilities and plenty of history. And that’s about as much as I know.

As with everything Australian, it’s very relaxed, family oriented & alcohol is very much permitted (not that we could afford it mind, over £6 a pint???). At half time, there’s some kind of mini-AFL competition played by kids, which is quite funny to watch while munching on a real Australian Angus beef pie. Mmmmm, this northern boy loves a half time pie.

All in all, a very enjoyable game & a very watchable sport. The only negative compared to watching football was the lack of atmosphere. Perhaps it was this game, which was far from a sell out with only forty thousand people or so, but there didn’t seem much banter or rivalry from the fans which you expect from a football match.

It’s a hard one to decide who had the loudest fans as, much like rugby, both sets of fans are intermingled with a small cheer squad behind each goal for one of the teams. These cheer squads only really becoming vocal when their team scores. It was humorous though to hear the odd proper Aussie shout random abuse at his own team, never the opponents and his equally deep Aussie sounding child copying a few minutes later.

After watching the game, I think I decided quite quickly that this would be my new second sport (behind proper football) and if it’s on Sky when we get home, then I’ll watch it for sure, although my team would have to be Freemantle Dockers from Perth rather than Hawthorne, sorry guys.

Yankees Stadium – New York Yankees

4 Jul

New York Yankees – 0

Cleaveland Indians – 1

MLB American League – 14th June 2011

Football clubs in the UK looking to become corporate behemoths can take a lot (both good and bad) from the New York Yankees, the most famous brand associated with baseball. Over the course of the last century, the Yankees have dominated baseball, winning a record 27 World Series, 40 American League Pennants and have more players than anybody else in the Baseball Hall of Fame. As such, the franchise has become a corporate behemoth, with two club shops in Times Square, massive presence in and around the Bronx, and worldwide coverage. As I’m impressionable, it was drilled into me when I first attended the States to not watch the Yankees, but instead watch the Mets. $20 later and a fun afternoon which saw me convert myself into a New York Mets fan. However with my recent trip to New York coincided with the Mets playing away for 19 days straight, so I plucked up $40 and attended Yankee’s Stadium.

"Catch me at the X with OG at a Yankee game" - Yeah, in your face Jay Z

I arrived a couple of hours before the first pitch at 161St – Yankee’s Stadium (as the station was helpfully called), and embarked onto an impressive sight. Yankee’s Stadium is huge, and the entire community is set up around this baseball team. I walked up to the stadium, was directed to where to go to pick up my tickets, and then ushered into the gate. Everybody was friendly, saying “enjoy the game!”, so maybe it wasn’t as commercialised as I thought it was.

Wrong.

I had a look around the gift shop and purhcased my usual pin badge (of which there was many), and it immediately became my most expensive at $15. Put it this way, when I bought the one for Debrecen, I had to pay to get it shipped from Debrecen, as well as help fund a new run for the badges. It cost me the equivalent of $10. That was a Hungarian league club, this is the New York Yankees. Also I can see they cater for their new fans by being the first stadium I’ve been to that sold fruit. Fruit! It was surprisingly empty though.

Bit of a comedown from pie & peas.

I took my seat in the Grandstand. To get there I had to take a lift to the 4th tier of the stadium, and the reason why this stadium was called Yankee Stadium II. The first one only had 3 tiers, with their increased success, they worked out it would be cheaper to build a new stadium next door with an extra tier. I took my seat one row from the back, the price? $40. Rampant commercialism definitely a goer here.

Above us only Row Z....

I was hungry, so went to get a chicken tenders (basically posh chicken nuggets, equivalent to the KFC Crispy Strips) and chips, with a beer. After getting ID’ed (to which I elicited a response of “Damn, that’s a nice name!”. Yeah, she got a tip), the total price (without the tip) came to $25. So if you’re keeping score, the total price without even seeing a pitch thrown is currently $82 (the tip was $2). Compare that to the White Sox whereby we were around about the $60 mark, by the time the first pitch was thrown. But there we were on our 4th beer and had eaten a LOT more food.

Also, at the White Sox, we were entrenched well in right field, between home and first base. At the Yankees, I could only be one row worse off. So apologies for a lot of these pictures, as I’ve had to use an epic level of zoom not seen on anything but sniper rifles.

Restricted viewing a go-go

Anyway, onto the game, maybe it can redeem itself. The story going into the game was all about Derek Jeter. The lead off hitter was only 6 hits off 3,000 (hits – where you hit the ball and not get out), if he had a good game then who knows. Yankees were the much stronger side, having already beaten Cleaveland in their past 3 games, one more and they complete the sweep against them.

6 More

It started out well for the Yankees, getting out Cleaveland’s first three hitters without letting them score a run. Derek Jeter edged closer with hit 2,995, and the Yankees loaded all three bases, but couldn’t convert. The Yankees did seem to play a pressure style of game, going for bases loaded before hitting a home run or a few hits to get a few runs. This patient approach usually seems to work, but they were choking whenever they got to a decent scoring opportunity.

Without much of a shout of the score changing (with Cleaveland swinging and missing multiple times), I headed to the concessions stand for a hot dog (actually quite reasonable for $8), and in the process I missed the only action of the game, Cleaveland bringing in a runner to score one run.

You're just a Yank Jimmy Bullard....

I didn’t see what happened, but apparently a fielding mistake by Nick Swisher (who seemed to be the Yankees’ Jimmy Bullard) lead to Michael Brantley scoring a treble, which was brought in by Asdrubal Cabrera. From there the game seemed to crumble, with the Yankees not getting any more hits that I can remember in my expensively sozzled haze.

Swing and a miss. Again.

So after last call was made after the 7th innings (of which I wasn’t happy, the beer salesmen would rarely venture to your seat for beer, I couldn’t buy more than one at a time, and generally they were pretty unhelpful), I did something that I rarely – if ever – do.

I left the game early. Nothing was happening, and with 45,000 people heading to the exits, I wanted to get out of there before they found a way of sucking any more money out of me. I dodged the “Bank of America Yankee Credit Card” salespeople heading out.

Zzzzzzzz.......

Overall it was an odd experience at the Yankees Stadium. To be honest, I hated it. I enjoy baseball, so it wasn’t the game (though it was a dull game, but I’ve enjoyed 0-0 draws in my time). Was it that I was a Mets fan? Maybe, but baseball you don’t have the level of segregation of football. To be honest, it was more the bland experience. Most people in the stadium were either corporate or tourists (worked out in my unbelievably unscientific way of hearing the accents, the price of the tickets and general lack of Yankees tops), and the franchise (it’s not a team, nor club, it’s a franchise) seemed to find a way to fleece them for every penny.

Really?

I think I was a victim of daylight robbery, and – as the bible says “Thou Shalt Not Steal” – you can see where you can get the phrase that’s popular amongst baseball fans outside of the Bronx.

“Even Jesus Hates The Yankees”.

Richmond Coliseum, Richmond, VA – WWE Monday Night Raw

27 Jun

I arrived in Richmond, VA with trepidation. This was Real America, off the tourist trail with smiley faces for a dollar tip. It was also humid. Chicago was also heat stroke inducing, but this was something else. The reason for my visit to this part of the world was to see WWE Monday Night Raw. It was slightly off the beaten track, but as I was over in the states anyway, a day or two out of my schedule for a trip to the famous Richmond Coliseum was essential. Growing up it was always such a famous name that stood out from the sponsored arenas, furthermore it was a famous venue for non-WWF wrestling in the 1970’s and 80’s, with Ric Flair being one of the leading names. I arrived midday Sunday and explored the town.

You'll Never Walk Alone in Richmond

Unfortunately, Richmond isn’t really that much to shout about in terms of a town. It’s got a few museums dedicated to the Confederacy, but whilst I’m sure it’s a great place to live, it isn’t geared to tourists. Fantastic. With that said though I did find a bar owned by a Brit and a Liverpool fan. Inside this bar the roof was decorated with scarfs from obvious and less than obvious teams. Between the Liverpool, United, Arsenal, Barcelona and Lyon flags were Hartlepool United, Luton Town and FC United of Manchester scarf. I explained the playoff finals to the bar owner, who seemed genuinely interested – when I explained exacltly what playoffs were.

Are You Watching Manchester?

But yes, Sky Sports, good ales from proper glasses, great food and football. If you’re missing home and find yourself in Richmond, head to the Penny Lane Bar. Say the crazy Colwyn Bay fan sent you. After a beer & brisket sandwich lunch I headed back to the hotel to make my signs for the evening’s entertainment. The first sign was aimed at Zack Ryder, who’s satirical shot at Jersey Shore culture, who despite losing almost every match he’s been in recently is stupidly popular. My second sign was aimed at Mason Ryan, a kid from Gwynedd who is fluent in Welsh, and who I last saw in Llandudno‘s Extravaganza beating the living hell out of my mate (in the ring). Finally the last sign was aimed at Helen, who is the subject to a jokey hashtag amongst my mates.

Yes I know. I'm 27.

Unfortunately Helen had friends in high places and whilst a sign promoting one of the least promenant members of the roster and a borderline racist sign got through into the arena (I did have to explain what my Welsh sign said), my sign aimed at a friend wasn’t! Boo!

WWE Superstars

The show began with two matches taped for the international TV show WWE Superstars. The first match was between JTG and “The Masterpiece” Chris Masters. Interestingly both guys were considered “good guys”, which – if you read my previous post on TNA and how having good guys fighting good guys don’t work – you know I hate. However, JTG managed to get crowd to hate him, which worked well. Masters won with his Masterlock finishing move.

The second match featured Maryse and Melina against Kelly Kelly (one of the Maxim Top 100 women) and Gail Kim. Wrestling fans and Americans get bad rep for being rather stupid and low brow (a fact that me, a head of online marketing mate of mine, a doctor mate of mine and a lawyer mate of mine would strongly disagree with), but Gail Kim’s fans are not exactly numerous, but they make up for it with a combined high IQ with this wonderfully geeky sign.

Seriously my maths has gone downhill from my A-Levels. If somebody can please explain this, please pipe up in the comments!

Marvellous. Melina (who can do the splits), won with a split leg drop, which was a thing of beauty.

WWE Tough Enough

Onto WWE Tough Enough, which is WWE’s reality TV show where the winner wins a WWE contract. Unfortunately it’s not been on UK TV so had no idea what was going on. The two finalists – Andy (a straight edge boring individual, who’s big, and calls himself “The Silent Rage” like he’s a bloody ten year old), and Luke (a slightly obnoxious party boy), as well as the losing contestants were announced first, before the judges – Booker T (wrestling legend), Bill Demott (not quite as impressive but still good) and Trish Stratus (wrestling legend, and I would) we’re announced together. Leaving one judge left to announce, Stone Cold Steve Austin, probably one of my absolute favourites growing up, and I screamed like a schoolgirl at at Take That concert when the beer swilling redneck walked out on stage.

At this point, I was screaming like a schoolgirl.

This was known, what wasn’t known was that there was also an appearance from the WWE Chairman, long time Austin rival and the most powerful man in wrestling  – Vince McMahon. Marvellous!

After a brief back and forth action, and a few minutes of stalling about why each should win the contract (Andy stole one of The Rock’s lines, which Vince completely shot down) and Andy was eventually announced the winner, he was slapped in the face, and then dropped with the first Stone Cold Stunner of the night. With that, the show began.

WWE Monday Night Raw

The show began with Austin and Vince still in the ring, and were joined in the ring by the top bad guy at the moment, R-Truth. An amazing transformation from a rather dull good guy to a an interesting and rather shocking bad guy (he broke UK law by smoking openly on camera, for example), R-Truth has been a breath of fresh air. He wanted a title shot (and got it) which brought out another bad guy – The Miz. They argued back and forth until Alex Riley took exception to something The Miz said. Alex Riley has gone the other way, former Miz protege and bad guy, he has actually been getting some popularity. After aboout three words, John Cena – the guy in the WWE – came out to a rapturous reception. It’s easy to see why he’s popular, typical American GI Joe esque character. Doesn’t mean I like him.

Spot the individual who's "cool with da kidz" (or something)

Anyway, after a few minutes of back-and-forth talking, the main event was announced: R-Truth & The Miz vs John Cena & Alex Riley, with Stone Cold Steve Austin as the special guest referee.

Following the first two opening matches – Santino Marella beating Michael McGillicutty and Kelly Kelly & Beth Phoenix beating the Bella Twins, we were treated to the target of one of my signs – Mason Ryan, as he shadowed CM Punk in his match against Rey Mysterio.

Barri Griffiths, to give Mason Ryan his real name, is the first Welsh wrestler to be employed by the WWE. From a village in Gwynedd, I last saw him wrestle at Llandudno Extravaganza. After getting to know a few local wrestlers in the UK scene, I found out that the guy was cherry picked from a crowed, help trained by a couple of good friends of mine, and then picked up by the WWE.

Anyway, he then spoke to the crowd in Welsh, which was “translated” by CM Punk. Unfrotunately, Big Bad Barri was hoping that nobody in the 18,500 fans in attendance were Welsh speakers. This was bullshit, as what was said and what was translated were two different things. Unfortunately Mason didn’t resort to swearing heavily (which was the hallmark of WCW wrestler Berlym, who’s interviews in German were boredering on the obscene), but still it was noticeable by me.

Barri's Gonna Kill You

The match was probably the best of the night, with CM Punk and Rey Mysterio having a great feud and complimenting each other well. Rey Mysterio won with a splash from the top turnbuckle.

Next followed a throwaway segment featuring Alberto Del Rio who proceded to call The Big Show fat over and over again. The next moment made up for it – the first appearance on Monday Night Raw in 2011 for Zack Ryder.

Fuck him up, Ryder, fuck him up.

Zack Ryder has been a  long time wrestler for the WWE with an abysmal win/loss record (more losses than wins). His career was floundering and nobody cared. However, he since started a show on Youtube called Z! True Long Island Story, which has become a cult sensation. In it he whinges how bad his wrestling career’s going, mentioning how his dad prefers fellow wrestler John Morrison over him, and a shed loads of inside wrestling jokes. As such he has become rather popular, with more and more Zack Ryder signs at the arena. Richmond was no exception, as well as mine, there were at least 30 or 40 signs dedicated to him, more than his opponent, United States Heavyweight Champion Kofi Kingston.

Unfortunately, Ryder lost in under 3 minutes, but it’s a step in the right direction for Long Island’s favourite son, and his ever growing number of fans. Furthermore, on his Web Show, episode 17, 1:05 minutes in, I was featured. Woo woo woo etc.

Following that match, we got the returning Booker T in his first match since the WWE Royal Rumble in January. His opponent was Jack Swagger, and after a minute or two of action Booker T won by count out. Considering it was a match with a returning legend, it was short and not very well promoted. Still, seeing Booker T in action was a nice surprise.

Boom!

The final match was the match made earlier in the evening – John Cena & Alex Riley vs The Miz & R-Truth. There was a lot of stalling before actually fighting, often this is due to ad breaks in the US. It was then I realised just how good The Miz was. That boy had the crowd eating out of his hand. In the end after a short match, The Miz & R-Truth won be disqualification after Steve Austin got physically involved. A classic way to end the show, the fans watching on TV were disappointed that the good guys lost but the fans in the arena were sent home happy, after another round of stunners, beer drinking and the good guys saluting the crowd.

Overall, I really enjoyed my first live Raw. It dragged in places when there were breaks, but was glad to attend. I also got a great show, with Steve Austin, Vince McMahon, Booker T, Trish Stratus and – best of all – Zack Freaking Ryder making an appearance, I left the arena a happy bunny. Looking forward to doing it again in Liverpool with a couple of mates. I should be able to drink more then!