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I couldn’t help recognising the scene in this photo from Saturday’s Guardian Review:-


It was illustrating an ensemble piece about various writers’ relationship with Europe.

The photo brought back memories of that wonderful trip we took down (and up) the River Douro from just that jetty in the picture and which I featured in this post:-

aBuildings 20 yacht  river bank

And this one:-

Porto Buildings from Bank of River Douro

Curiously an item on Reporting Scotland on Thursday? night about the trip of Rangers to Porto for a Europa League* game also showed scenes of the same jetty. Synchronicity.


Exit. (England 1-2 Iceland)

Euro 2016, Round of 16, Stade de Nice, 27/6/16.

It’s hard not to think that there’s some sort of karma about this result. After England voting to leave the EU (loosely referred to as Europe) its football team has just departed Europe unwillingly.

The commentator on ITV called it a humiliation and also used the word embarrassment. The unspoken assumption (though it was all but articulated) was that England should always be beating Iceland.

Well; to anyone who had watched Iceland’s group games this was no surprise. Iceland are supremely well organised, the players know what they’re supposed to be doing and play for the team and each other. They drew with Portugal and group winners Hungary and then beat Austria, well fancied before the tournament began. If that wasn’t sufficient warning as to what to expect what would be? Using words such as embarrassment and humiliation is extremely disrespectful to a group of players who work their socks off and have no little ability. I expect France will also find it hard to break them down in the next round.

Iceland know their limitations and strengths, and play to them; as a team. The same was true of Italy earlier in what was a magnificent team performance against Spain.

In this respect it is also hard to resist the temptation to remark that English football commentators have an inflated idea of the worth of their country’s footballers based on club performances. Just reflect, not one of those players is good enough to play for an overseas team. They appear effective at club level only because they are surrounded by foreign players who make them look good. And the clubs of the league they play in have not made too much of a splash in the so-called Champions League of late. (OK, Liverpool made the final of the Europa League this season but that was mostly due to foreigners, manager included.)

England’s most penetrative player tonight was an 18 year old who was only brought on to the pitch when it was far too late and has in any case not yet had the enthusiasm and any latent talent knocked out of him by unwarranted expectation.


Nerves are beginning to jangle as our play-off semi-final looms.

I’ll not be at the Rock tonight – the logistics were against me – but I hope that, at the very least, we haven’t already lost it before Saturday.

It’s 12-9 to Arbroath in our games so far this season (6-6 at the Rock) so a 0-0 draw is unlikely.

I’ll have the Europa League* final on the TV to take my mind off things, though.


Sporting Club Lisbon 2-1 Athletic Bilbao

Europa League (sic) Semi-final, first leg. Estádio José Alvalade, Lisbon, 19/4/12.

Not paint drying.

(Again, though, I only watched the second half.)

This was an object lesson on how a near miss can spur a team on and how an equalising goal changes a game. At 0-1 down Sporting looked out of it. At 1-1 they dominated, and scored another.

Should be interesting in Bilbao next week.

I see the other Europa League(sic) semi-final finished 2-4. That can’t have been boring either.

FC Porto 1-0 SC Braga

UEFA Europa League* Final, Dublin Arena (Aviva Stadium), 18/5/11.

Another disappointing final – as they so often are. Why do teams approach a one-off game as if they are going to get a second chance?

Okay, Braga managed to defeat Benfica in the semi-final by dint of not attacking very much but this was not a two-legged tie and they weren’t going to have home advantage for half of it. As it was they waited till they were one goal down before making any effort to attack.

In the second half they were more than able to hold Porto. Who knows? Had they gone at Porto from the start they might have got something from the game. If you’re going to lose anyway why not try to win instead?

It wasn’t much of an advert for the Europa League, which usually has more entertaining games than the utterly turgid Champions League the final of which, a week on Saturday, will in all probability be another dull watch.

*Like EUFA’s so-called Champions League this is another “league” which isn’t.

Rangers 0-1 Manchester United

Champions League,* Ibrox Stadium, 24/11/10

Paint could have watched this game dry.

What a (lack of) advert for the football tournament proclaimed to be the world’s best. Even better than the World Cup, forsooth.

I don’t normally bother with it, in televised club football I prefer Europa League – UEFA Cup as was – matches; but this was a Scotland-England contest. Or rather it was a seven-or-eight-plodding-Scots-plus-some-equally-plodding-mercenaries – bunch of overhighly-paid-mercenaries-made-to-look-pedestrian contest.

I’ve seen football that was more creative in the Scottish Third Division.

* So-called.

Atletico Madrid 1-1 Fulham (aet, 2-1)

Europa League Final, Hamburg Arena, 12/5/10

I thought this game was dominated by defensive organisation. There certainly weren’t many clear cut chances. Both first half goals were not so much created as slightly, or completely, fluked.

Fulham seemed to tire in extra time. I think the main problem though, like with Rangers a couple of seasons ago, was this was a one-off game with no home tie to bolster your chances and no ten-men-behind-the-ball in the away leg.

A fit Bobby Zamora (the way he’s been playing in this competition) might have made a difference but this one may have been just a game too far for Fulham.

It’s good that Atletico have eclipsed Real for once, though.

Atletico Madrid 1-0 Liverpool

Vicente Calderon Stadium, Madrid. 22/4/10.

For my sins, I suffered this game on TV. It was like watching paint dry.

It did provide, though, the spectacle of Atletico’s Tomáš UjfaluÅ¡i being a much more attack minded player than he seemed to be with Fiorentina.

Somehow I managed to miss the comedy goal.

Strangely, it was only Atletico’s second win in thirteen European games. They got to the semi-final via three draws in their Champions League group; and after that mainly on away goals.

Liverpool were poor, so doubtless will win handsomely at home.

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