The Brass Donkey

Sports and culture writing from overenthusiastic man-child Nicol Hay.
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November 21, 2013 2:36 pm

This is not José Mourinho







Picture José Mourinho. Now let me guess what’s in your head. 

I think the José in your mind is raising his fists, celebrating another crushing of a weaker opponent. He is wearing a luxurious winter coat over a suit so finely tailored it would be impossible for any other man to wear it. Yes, his ego shines through – but it is backed up by the imperious display of towering athletes so devoted to his guidance that they perform unbelievable feats in roles they would otherwise consider beneath their skill. You love him, you hate him, he is indifferent. The José in your mind is in total control of a team and a club that expresses his personality completely.

Now look at the Stamford Bridge touchline. You see that man in the crumpled sportswear, peripheral to the game in front of him? The man with all of the rage, but none of the fire?

This is not José Mourinho.

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You can read the rest of this article at A Football Report, where football, culture and design get together and snuggle.

 
October 7, 2013 4:25 am

Super Sidekicks 3 - The Next Glory (Neo Geo)

Over on my videogames blog, I made some gifs that capture the spirit of football in a way that no game has managed since.

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August 24, 2013 4:10 am


ONE MORE GO - Episode Nine -  Listener Request Special!

Episode Nine - Alex Kidd in Miracle World (SMS) and Super Metroid (SNES)
One More Go features two Scottish men talking about videogames that meant a lot to them in the past, and how it feels to play them now.
We hand you the reins as Barry gets built-in and Nicol goes map in hand. Plus your almost-classic favourites!

Please enjoy our gifs of Alex Kidd and Metroid by clicking those links!

Download the episode (Direct Link | iTunes | RSS)

ONE MORE GO - Episode Nine - Listener Request Special!



Episode Nine - Alex Kidd in Miracle World (SMS) and Super Metroid (SNES)


One More Go features two Scottish men talking about videogames that meant a lot to them in the past, and how it feels to play them now.


We hand you the reins as Barry gets built-in and Nicol goes map in hand. Plus your almost-classic favourites!



Please enjoy our gifs of Alex Kidd and Metroid by clicking those links!



Download the episode (Direct Link | iTunes | RSS)

 
July 22, 2013 4:34 pm

The Summer of No One Gets What They Want

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Europe is enjoying a heat wave, the Confederations Cup was the greatest summer tournament since records began, and every club is spending money like Kanye in Mothercare. So why is the major theme of this transfer window one of crushing disappointment? 

All winter long, football fans yearn for the irritating formality of men kicking balls around pitches to get itself over with so the real business of paper talk, In The Know intrigue and opinion pieces on the inevitable economic collapse of football if something isn’t done about these bloated transfer fees can begin. All those boring Saturday afternoons spent wistfully staring past your inept right back’s attempts to play a pass and remember which colour his teammates are wearing at the same time are just counting down to the moment when the June-August bonanza drops a steaming dose of moneyed potential into your life.

And this summer, it’s been all for naught. Every major club made their careful plans, only to see them dashed.

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You can read the rest of this article, as well as many other better written ones, at A Football Report, where football, culture and design get together and snuggle.

 
July 16, 2013 2:29 pm
ONE MORE GO - Episode Eight

Episode Eight -  Zombies Ate My Neighbors (SNES/MD) and Mystical Ninja starring Goemon (N64)
One More Go features two Scottish men talking about videogames that meant a lot to them in the past, and how it feels to play them now.
Let the Konami love flow as Nicol tingles his spine and Barry jumps in a dungeon.

Please enjoy our gifs of Zombies and Goemon by clicking those links!

UPDATE - WE ARE A PAIR OF FANNIES It turns out the article we get very worked up about in this episode isn’t real. So… sorry about that?We’re idiots. But at least we’re entertaining idiots. 
Download the episode (Direct Link | iTunes | RSS)

ONE MORE GO - Episode Eight



Episode Eight - Zombies Ate My Neighbors (SNES/MD) and Mystical Ninja starring Goemon (N64)


One More Go features two Scottish men talking about videogames that meant a lot to them in the past, and how it feels to play them now.


Let the Konami love flow as Nicol tingles his spine and Barry jumps in a dungeon.



Please enjoy our gifs of Zombies and Goemon by clicking those links!



UPDATE - WE ARE A PAIR OF FANNIES
It turns out the article we get very worked up about in this episode isn’t real. So… sorry about that?

We’re idiots. But at least we’re entertaining idiots.

Download the episode (Direct Link | iTunes | RSS)

 
July 7, 2013 4:21 pm

Why Andy Murray and Scotland get along so well

 

 

Andy Murray won a match and a lot of Scottish people are very happy. If you think that’s absurd, you’re probably right – Murray’s just one guy who got where he is by working incredibly hard to maximise his natural gifts and being born in Scotland has about as much impact on his success as him being born right-handed. Twitter is not awash with people jabbing their thumbs at screen in a desperate attempt to clumsily communicate their pride that right-handed people finally got their spot on the world stage though.

 Scotland is a nation that is pretty into sport. Not playing it so much as drinking heavily in its vicinity, but we like it. And not a huge variety of sports either – the Scottish Sporting interest top ten pretty much runs as: 1) Football, 2) Football, 3) Football, 4) Rugby sometimes 5) Football, 6) Golf, 7) Football, 8) Tennis for two weeks a year, 9) Cycling if Chris Hoy flexes a thigh at us, 10) Football.

Our fervour for sport is completely out of whack with our general success at it, but completely in whack with our dwindling population and famously shitty public health record. Our golden years as a footballing nation were defined by glorious failure and dismal choking on the biggest stages – now we spend our days enjoying miserable failure and planning late-July trips to the small-to-medium sized stages.

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May 2, 2013 1:57 pm

You know, I think Barca will be fine

Football fans have a curious love for certainties – knowing that this player was definitely better than that one, that one club is clearly bigger than the other – that seems to be a product of the untidy nature of the game itself. Just about every other sport divides up into discreet bursts of action, regular points where the rulebook catches its breath and says ‘this part of the game is over, now this one can begin’. Not so football.

While even something as free flowing as basketball, for example, comes with a 24-second shot clock that turns a match into a series of incredibly detailed set pieces, football lends itself to a constant state of semi-anarchy where anything could happen at any time. Has your team just spent a relentless ten minutes dominating possession and pounding the opponent’s defence? Well, don’t let yourself blink too long, because three passes and awkward deflection off a shin-pad later you might find yourself a goal down without the cruel universe having the decency to let you know the paradigm was shifting while your eyelids were touching.

We’re forever trying to throw boundaries around this sport, little pieces of territory that easier to understand the more bite-sized we can make them. There’s a reason why that hateful phrase ‘in the Premier League era’ has such currency, and it’s not just because Sky dominate the game’s coverage and desperately hope that you’ll never remember a time when paying £500 a year to watch some games on TV was something only a crazy person would do.

So when something as monumental as the undisputed Best Club Side Ever get completely outclassed in a 4-0 drubbing, it’s understandable that people start preparing a new section in their mental History of Football Wikipedia article. Throw in a similarly epochal drubbing for Real Madrid in Dortmund the following evening and the transfer of power narratives are everywhere you look, begging to be written up then carved onto the tombstones of the First Great La Masia team, of Spain’s dominance of European football, of Revista de la Liga being a ratings-grabber on UK TV.

Except the era hasn’t ended…

You can read this article in full at The Football Ramble, an excellent website for an even excellenter podcast.

 
April 24, 2013 1:55 am

ONE MORE GO - Episode Six

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Episode Six - WarioWare, Inc (GBA) and Starfox 2 (SNES)


One More Go features two Scottish men talking about videogames that meant a lot to them in the past, and how it feels to play them now.


Nicol feeds his short attention span and Barry discovers the SNES’ lost last hurrah.

Download the episode (Direct LinkiTunes | RSS)

BONUS CONTENT AFTER THE JUMP: Enjoy Nicol’s battle-damaged DS!

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April 13, 2013 6:38 am

How do you stop Messi? We ask the experts

Barcelona were teetering, with only 30 minutes remaining to save their Champions League campaign after a lively Paris St Germain performance had left the Catalans looking shaky and bereft of ideas. In the end, it only took them 10 minutes to turn the tie around. 10 minutes and Lionel Messi.

Messi, as you may be aware, is a rather talented football player. So talented in fact, that despite having a hamstring as tight as James Brown’s rhythm section, he was still able to display enough pace and trickery to draw three PSG players in his jinky wake, before playing a ball that eventually found its way to an unmarked Pedro to score.

So if effectively removing one of Messi’s legs isn’t enough to stop him being a rampant footballing force – if he can single-handedly bamboozle a team put together at the cost of more than 20 contentious ex-Prime Minister’s funerals while nursing an injury that would cause most mortals to forego standing up, much less participation in elite athletic activity – then how can he ever be stopped?

That is the question we posed to a panel of the finest tactical minds in the land. These are their responses:

André Villas-Boas, Tottenham Hotspur coach

“First of all, Messi prefers to operate in the vacant territory created by the latency in recovery between the secondary and tertiary midfield stations. His lateral transference creates spatial dissonance in the personnel cycles that are such a basic part of pre-reactive defensive schemes in the high-block strategic configuration.

“Clearly then, the primary option is to have a rotational defensive responsibility assigned on a situational basis, with satellite programs designed to eliminate as many pass-selection recourses as possible. By working to channel Messi’s ludic circumstances into a pre-designated optimum alternative, you can maximise your opportunities to contextualise his influence, allowing the team’s functional side-outs to retrieve position and initiate a retro-incursive response.

“Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to explain that to Michael Dawson in terms that he will understand.”

(Villas-Boas leaves, carrying a glove puppet, a colouring book and the air of a man resigned to failure)

You can read this article in full at The Football Ramble, an excellent website for an even excellenter podcast.

 
March 31, 2013 7:25 am

McInnes could build on solid Brown foundations

He stabilised, because that’s what he does.

In December 2010, Craig ‘Safe Hands’ Brown rolled into an Aberdeen FC that found itself relegation-threatened and floundering, and he turned that malfunctioning unit into a steadfast lower-mid-table outfit. Craig Brown was never the guy you called for a tilt at glory – no silver-hungry oligarch would ever dial his number ahead of Mourinho’s when looking for someone to throw around a few hundred million petrodollars for his football plaything – but he was always dependable.

As a player, Derek McInnes was the midfield equivalent of a Craig Brown managerial tenure – not a superstar, but a reliable presence to be brought in when calmness and continuity was needed. The concrete, bland sense of security that Brown has embedded all around the Pittodrie foundation will be music to new boss McInnes’ ears.

McInnes’ short managerial career has seen two distinct eras at St Johnstone and Bristol City. At the former, he made a seamless transition from senior pro to gaffer when Owen Coyle was lured away by the bright lights of Burnley. Coyle had been carefully building a promotion-capable side for two years, providing an excellent platform that McInnes developed beautifully, completing the club’s return to the top flight and fashioning a staunch mid-table side, capable of pleasant football and the odd eye-catching result on a budget so tiny – even by SPL standards – that Peter Jackson could cast it as the lead in an epic fantasy trilogy.

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