Category Archives: Entertainment & media

Join the 2017/18 Hot Press fantasy football.

It’s that time of year again. It’s time to channel your inner Guardiola and put together a team of champions for another edition of Fantasy Football.

Those of you who entered the league last year will automatically be entered in the league once who have your team set up. For any newcomers, the process is simple.

  1. Go here to the official website of the Premier League.
  2. Register with the site (it takes around a minute).
  3. Pick your players and once satisfied with your selection click on ‘confirm team’.
  4. Go to ‘join leagues’. We’re in a private league, so enter the code 2221486-524252 when prompted.
  5. Prepare for war.

Follow Rob Smith on Twitter (@robsmithireland)

Join the official Hot Press fantasy football.

That time of year again is upon us. Time to get cracking on the single most important part of pre-season – selecting your fantasy football team.

If you have already been in our league in previous years, you will automatically be put back in once you have selected your team. If you’re new, follow these simple instructions:

  1. Go here.
  2. Register (takes less than a minute), then select your team.
  3. Go to join leagues and enter code: 689593-190904

That’s it.

I didn’t do so well last year. While on paper my team looked flawless, in truth, they were rubbish. Select carefully and log in regularly. While Zlatan is £11.5 million, you’d expect him to play every match and score 30 goals this season because he is a superstar. But he might not. Then again he might. Oh, the decisions….

ibrapsg

Enjoy.

 

Follow Rob Smith on Twitter (@robsmithireland)

Join our EURO 2016 Fantasy Football.

Every two years, we football fans are treating to a summer festival of the beautiful game. Euro 2016 kicks off in a week from now, so here’s an opportunity for you to spend that week by carefully choosing your best eleven for the forthcoming tournament.

vardy

Here’s how you do it:

  • Go to UEFA.com and head for the fantasy football section here: http://eurofantasy.uefa.com/en
  • Register (takes less than a minute), then select fantasy 16. Pick your team and join our league using this code: 03092LBZ

And that’s it really. If you’re looking for ideas, I recently wrote about five players to definitely keep an eye on during the competition. But I’ve been wrong before.

Best of luck.

 

Follow Rob Smith on Twitter (@robsmithireland)

So you like football songs…?

I can only apologise for the shamelessness, but I am only about half sorry. Today I have released a record called “Bostero“, aimed at my Argentine audience – Boca Juniors fans to be precise.

No, it’s no World In Motion, nor is it ever going to be a Put ‘Em Under Pressure, but it is what it is. And before you say it, yes, I know it sounds a lot like The Clash. But that’s a good thing surely?

Listen to it (or if you feel compelled to purchase it), go here. Normal service for this blog resumes shortly.

11423334_10153363849214629_4643099660380926382_n

 

Follow Rob Smith on Twitter (@robsmithireland)

 

A quick word about football with…Richie Egan

The blog recently caught up with Richie Egan, leader of Dublin’s own Jape. We had a quick chat about his fondness for Liverpool and how Marouane Fellaini reminds him of Peter Crouch with an afro hairstyle.

Hi Richie. Crumlin’s other famous son, Philip Lynott was a staunch Man United fan. Which club did you support as a kid if any and why?

When I was younger I supported Liverpool. I didn’t really pay attention to football after I got into music but recently I got back into it thanks to my friend Niall from the Redneck Manifesto who is a Liverpool fan too. I suppose I still am really.

Have you ever caught a match while touring?

No, but I saw a match in Stockholm. Djurgården were playing. It was fun to watch a match in Sweden, they have these weird cheerleaders that sing to the crowd.

Amazing. What’s your earliest memory of football?

The goal against England in Euro ’88. I remember it was a sunny day and me and my Dad literally running around the house in Crumlin shouting our heads off.

Which players do you admire, and which do you dislike?

I like Bastian Schweinsteiger a lot. Arjen Robben I used to dislike, but I like him a lot now. Philippe Coutinho. I always liked Danny Wellbeck too. I don’t really hate any players but I do find Fellani quite a funny character, like Peter Crouch with a ‘fro.

Finally, and most grave of all enquiries. A Jape album to reach number one, or Ireland to win the Euros next summer?

Oh, I would defintely sacrifice that non existent number one spot in service to our country and the hi jinks what might happen on the Walkinstown roundabout if we won.

 

Jape play Vicar Street this Saturday. Tickets available here.

Follow Rob Smith on Twitter (@robsmithireland)

Join the official Hot Press fantasy football league

It’s that time of the year again when everyone is getting their fantasy football team in order and we are no different.

JS59698339

 

 

Those of you who entered last year (and there was a lot!), all you have to do is renew your team and you’ll automatically entered into the league.

For those who weren’t in the competition last year, but want to join us then here is what you must do:

  1. Go here to the official website of the Barclays Premier League.
  2. Register with the site (it takes around a minute).
  3. Pick your players and once satisfied with your selection click on ‘confirm team’.
  4. Go to ‘join leagues’. We’re in a private league, so enter the code 1386906-326979 when prompted.
  5. Let battle commence once more.

You may know exactly who you are going to select, but for those on the fence about their selection, here are a few of my tips:

Rickie Lambert is a good goal scorer, but last season he barely got a look in at Liverpool. It’s unlikely that this will be the case at West Brom. I reckon he’ll be a regular starter for Tony Pulis. At £6 million, he’d be superb for one of your three strikers, allowing you spend the extra cash elsewhere.

memphis

While not usually a big goal-scorer, Memphis Depay enjoyed his best ratio last season for PSV with 28 goals in 40 games in all competitions. Now at Manchester United, not only is he confident in finding the goal, but his incredible pace and touch will see him get a lot more assists for the likes of Wayne Rooney. A great addition for £8.5 million.

But it’s best I don’t give too many tips away. I am, after all, in the league too.

Good luck.

 

Follow Rob Smith on Twitter (@robsmithireland)

 

Dalymount Park to host an epic African Cup of Nations final party this weekend

Should you find yourself in need of a venue to watch the African Cup of Nations final this weekend, look no further than Phibsborough where Bohemians will be hosting a free shindig in their legendary ground Dalymount Park.

dalymountAERIAL

While Ivory Coast and Ghana battle it out in Bata, Bohs are ensuring punters are treating to free food, bar promotions and some DJ’s to accompany the action.

There’s not many places you’d get all that for free. Check out their Facebook page here.

ytoure

 

Follow Rob Smith on Twitter (@robsmithireland)

So Roy Keane is releasing a new autobiography

Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane‘s autobiography, titled “The Second Half”, will be released later this week and, perhaps unsurprisingly, it is not without a few interesting revelations.

One incident that sticks out is a bust-up between the Corkman and goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel in Hong Kong while on a pre-season tour in 1998. “There was drink involved,” Keane writes. 

“There’d been a little bit of tension between us over the years, for football reasons. Peter would come out shouting at players, and I felt sometimes he was playing up to the crowd: ‘Look at me!’ “He said: ‘I’ve had enough of you, It’s time we sorted this out.’ So I said ‘Okay’ and we had a fight. It felt like 10 minutes.”

keanebeard

“I woke up the next morning. I kind of vaguely remembered the fight. My hand was really sore and one of my fingers was bent backwards. The manager had a go at us as we were getting on the bus, and people were going on about a fight in the hotel the night before. It started coming back to me – the fight between me and Peter. Anyway, Peter had grabbed me, I’d head-butted him – we’d been fighting for ages.”

Former United striker Andy Cole wrote about this incident in 2011 and the article is worth visiting again.

Unsurprisingly Keane has no great love for former boss Sir Alex Ferguson. Keane famously left Man United in 2005 after some harsh words for his team-mates during an interview with MUTV which left Fergie furious. Keane explains in the new book that a fierce falling out on a pre-season training camp on the Algarve proved the final straw.

“He was just on my right shoulder; how I didn’t fucking hit him again – I was thinking, ‘The villa in Portugal, not treating me well in training – and he just used the word “loyalty” to me,’” said Keane about then-assistant manager Carlos Queiroz.

keanefergieepl

“I said, ‘Don’t you fucking talk to me about loyalty, Carlos. You left this club after 12 months a few years ago for the Real Madrid job. Don’t you dare question my loyalty. I had opportunities to go to Juventus and Bayern Munich.’ And while we’re at it we spoke about training downstairs. And were just on about mixing things up in training a bit.”

Keane went on to reveal that Ferguson soon stepped in, saying: “‘That’s enough. I’ve had enough of all this’,” which prompted the midfielder to round on his manager, replying: “You as well gaffer. We need fucking more from you. We need a bit more, gaffer. We’re slipping behind other teams.”

The Corkman also revealed that he had warned Sir Alex Ferguson against taking on the racehorse owner John Magnier and JP McManus in the Rock Of Gibraltar dispute that backfired on Manchester United and ultimately led to the Glazer family’s takeover.

Following his spectacular departure from United, Keane also revealed that he had the opportunity to join Spanish giants Real Madrid only to turn it down. 

keanomadrid

“I should have appreciated Real’s offer more. It was the most attractive challenge in front of me but I didn’t accept it,” Keane writes. “In hindsight, I should have said to myself: ‘Go, go to Spain, live there for a year and a half, learn the language, learn the culture” 

“I took a negative approach. The weather and the training might have given me another lease of life, another two years of playing. As much as anything else, it was fear that decided me – fear of the unknown.”

As for the infamous Alf-Inge Håland incident, Keano simply said “there are things I regret in my life and he is not one of them”. Gulp. 

The Second Half by Roy Keane and Roddy Doyle is out on Thursday.

Follow Rob Smith on Twitter (@robsmithireland)

One Night In Istanbul to hit the big screen

Liverpool FC have this week via their official You Tube channel released the trailer for One Night In Istanbul. The movie is based on Nicky Allt’s hugely popular play of the same name.

It follows four Liverpool fans on a trip to watch the Reds play AC Milan in the memorable and unpredictable 2005 Champions League Final in the Turkish capital.

Though it looks like only Liverpool fans would really enjoy it, it still appears to be some decent viewing. Check out the trailer below.

 

Follow Rob Smith on Twitter (@robsmithireland)

 

Join the official Hot Press fantasy football league

It’s August and normal service will be resuming very shortly and that means so will the fantasy football. Excited? We are.

434187_heroa

For those who were in the league last season, all you have to do is pick your team and once it’s confirmed, you will automatically re-join the Official Hot Press fantasy football league.

For those who weren’t in the competition last year, but want to join us then here is what you must do:

  1. Go here to the official website of the Barclays Premier League.
  2. Register with the site (it takes around a minute).
  3. Pick your players and once satisfied with your selection click on ‘confirm team’.
  4. Go to ‘join leagues’. We’re in a private league, so enter the code 1005834-239916 when prompted.
  5. Let battle commence.

Once more the good folk at Hot Press HQ will be dishing out some lovely prizes for the best managers in the league, so stay tuned for more info on that.

So any idea who you’re going to pick?

105559

Alexis Sanchez is causing a stir around North London. At £10.5 million, he’s pricey. But he’s guaranteed points surely? What about Chelsea new boy Cesc Fabregas. At £9 million that’s a steal for the former-Barcelona man. Though he’s got some stiff competition in the Blues’ midfield. Sergio Aguero is a hefty £12 million. But he’ll guarantee you points. Or will he? Seamus Coleman played out of his skin and earned a total score of 180 points last season. He’s £7 million. Can he repeat it?

Let’s find out.

 

Follow Rob Smith on Twitter (@robsmithireland

 

Join the official Hot Press World Cup fantasy football

So who is up for a World Cup edition of fantasy football then? I thought so. Here’s how to join the official Hot Press World Cup fantasy football league in just three easy steps:

  1. Click here to go the Fantasy Football section on FIFA.com
  2. You will need to register, but it takes a minute. (Or less if you sign in with Facebook.)
  3. Once you have registered, select your team and then click here and join the league by simply clicking “join league” once you get there.

And that’s all there is to it. The format is the same – €100 million to spend on players. Some of the best players are around the €8 m/€9 m mark. But I know what you’re thinking – this will be easy, right? Wrong! You will need to select far more substitutes than previously in the Premier League fantasy football. Then of course there are the injuries…

There will also be some prizes and bits and bobs up for grabs too.

torresireland

Follow Rob Smith on Twitter (@robsmithireland)

A quick word about football with…The Mighty Stef

The blog recently caught up with Stefan Murphy, leader of Dublin’s own The Mighty Stef. We had a quick chat about his fondness for Roy Keane, hatred for John Terry and why he is going to be a supporter of Borussia Mönchengladbach.

Hello, Stef. What was the first match you ever went to?

My Da played football right up into his 40’s. One of my earliest memories is going to see him play for Glenmore Celtic, his team in the late 70s early-80’s. I’ve probably have been to about 500 A.U.L. or Leinster Senior games by the age of ten which is also when I first went to the UK to see an English League fixture. It was Man Utd v Coventry and United were still managed by Ron Atkinson at the time. After the game we got to meet Paul McGrath. I can’t even remember the result.

2014-01-03 23.23.47

The mighty father: St Francis’ John Murphy in action against Bohemians in the 1990 FAI Cup semi-final

Which players do you admire most – past and present?

I’m a Liverpool fan since the age of about seven. Kenny Dalglish and John Aldridge were big childhood heroes. I also loved Jan Molby for his passing ability. Marco Tardelli for his celebration in the World Cup final in 1982. I have always been a major fan of Roy Keane. I seen him score against one of my Dad’s old teams, St Francis’, and he was 17 and playing for Cobh Ramblers at the time, just before he went to Nottingham Forest. I saw him make his debut for Ireland just a year later and simply admired him ever since. I find it hard to revere the players of the modern era in the same way but great to see Luis Suarez in a red shirt causing all sorts of trouble.

Which team or player you dislike the most?

Easy: Chelsea. John Terry.

You’ve toured a fair bit. Ever caught a game in strange town when on tour?

Sadly not. Ive tried many times, especially in Germany but its never worked out. I have made pilgrimages to Dortmund’s stadium and St. Pauli’s in Hamburg too but not on a match day. I have made a pact with a German promoter named Harald Haas that I would support Borussia Mönchengladbach as my German team of choice.

Finally, if you had to choose – a Mighty Stef album going to number one or Ireland winning a major tournament?

Nothing would mean more to me than Ireland winning the World Cup. If RTE could use one of our tunes as the closing montage to the coverage of said World Cup, that would make up for the disappointment of never getting to don the green shirt.

The Mighty Stef play Whelans on Friday 31st January. Tickets are €12.

Follow Rob Smith on Twitter (@robsmithireland) and be sure to check the blog out on Facebook.

What we learned from the Keane/Vieira doc

Did anyone catch the Keane/Vieira documentary during the week? My one-year-old didn’t wake and let me enjoy ITV4’s brilliant Keane and Vieira: Best of Enemies shown last Tuesday night.

It would be fair to say that Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira never really saw eye-to-eye when they met on the pitch. Off it, as this documentary shows, the two stars still will fight their corner when speaking of past conflicts at Old Trafford or Highbury. But there is an enormous respect between the two men. Though it wasn’t always that way. They are, in my view, very similar people.

keanevieira

The first thing that stood out when watching it is the pure bitterness Roy Keane has for former manager Sir Alex Ferguson (I can’t even imagine the Corkman using the “Sir” prefix when mentioning his former boss). At one point when the two were asked who was the best manager they’d ever played under, Vieira unsurprisingly said Arsene Wenger. Keane, regardless if he truly believes it himself or not, gave a more interesting answer:

Keane: “Without a doubt, Brian Clough”

Interviewer: “Not Sir Alex?”

Keane: “You asked me the question, I answered you!”

Yikes! It didn’t stop there. When asked to use one word to describe the former United gaffer, Ireland’s current no. 2 said “ruthless”. He also described the horrendous timing of the end of his tenure at Manchester United: no club lined up and being injured having put his body on the line for United. But he did say that Sir Alex thanked him for his eleven-and-a-half years at the club before adding “I had to remind him I’d been there for twelve-and-a-half”. No Christmas card for Fergie this year then, Roy?

With 21 red cards between them, the pair recall memories of when the atmosphere of a Manchester United v Arsenal fixture was incredibly hostile, which famously nearly blew up in the tunnel at Highbury back in February 2005. “You were picking on the weakest link!” Keane says of Vieira’s needling of Gary Neville. I wonder how Neville felt watching that.

keane-vieira-630x420

The two former-pros picked the best players they had ever played with for their respective clubs and then make a dream-team XI from players between the two sides. Friendly banter, if a little firm. Keane seems saddened to leave Ruud van Nistelrooy out while Vieira absolutely insisted that Robert Pires would be a far better addition than David Beckham on the right side of midfield. They settle with twelve men in the end: Peter Schmeichel, Lauren, Tony Adams, Jaap Stam, Ashley Cole/Denis Irwin (undecided with their left-back choice), Cristiano Ronaldo, Roy Keane, Patrick Vieira, Robert Pires, Thierry Henry and Eric Cantona.

In all, it was a fascinating documentary. And one I was surprised a character like Roy Keane would even agree to do. But it reminded us of the passion, the hostility, the ugly and the sheer brilliance between the two enemies on the pitch. “There is not the same kind of excitement,” Vieira says about today’s Arsenal and Man United meetings. “They are almost too nice to each other,” responds Keane. “There is almost too much respect for each other.”

What did you think? Follow Rob Smith on Twitter (@robsmithireland) and let us know.

We are 3!

Quick word, dear readers: this blog is now all grown-up and celebrating it’s third birthday this week. Thanks for your continued support and the feedback I receive from each post. You are all legends. Normal service resumes tomorrow.

PS – also celebrating his birthday today is Guus Hiddink. I’d like to think he’ll be celebrating it in style like this.

 

Follow Rob Smith on Twitter (@robsmithireland)

My top 5 football books

OK, so it’s not exactly holiday season, but that doesn’t stop us from buying a good book does it? Take a peek at my top 5 football books:

5. Mad For It: From Blackpool to Barcelona: Football’s Greatest Rivalries by Andy Mitten (2008)
This is an intriguing account of some of football’s biggest rivalries, written by the founder of the now legendary fanzine United We Stand, Andy Mitten. The Mancunian author has visited more grounds around the globe, covered more games and interviewed more fans and players than I have eaten hot dinners – he knows what he’s talking about. Everything from Buenos Aires’ tense derby to the boys from the black country battling it out is covered here. A fascinating read.

 

4. Barça: The Making Of The Greatest Team in the World by Graham Hunter (2012)
When I took this book on my honeymoon in Rome last year, I didn’t realise that I’d have a much harder job putting it down than finding my way around the Eternal City without a map. Hunter, who himself is based in the city of Barcelona, presents an incredible page-turner with this book. If you’ve ever watched the author on Revista De La Liga on  Sky Sports, then you’ll know his knowledge on Barça seems to never end and in this book and he captures absolutely all that knowledge of the club’s most successful era just brilliantly.

 

3. I Am The Secret Footballer by Anonymous (2012)
The Secret Footballer is, as you may already know, an anonymous footballer who has played at England’s top tier. Initally a columnist in The Guardian newspaper, his identity remains anonymous so that he can reveal some stories that only a player of his level could reveal and without fear. It’s an incredibly fascinating look at life inside the game. It’s funny, gritty, surprising and hugely enjoyable. For a very similar book, check out The Secret Player (2013). It’s the exact same idea (in fact the Secret Player has been writing his column for FourFourTwo before TSF wrote first his column for The Guardian). Both fascinating accounts but, in my view, I Am The Secret Footballer is just that bit better.

 

2. Yo Soy El Diego by Diego Maradona (2000)
Maradona, arguably the greatest footballer to ever kick a ball, led an extraordinary life on the pitch. And very much off it. Written by the Argentine genius in Havana, he documents plenty of major and minor events from his humble beginnings in Buenos Aires to playing with Boca Juniors and from his difficult time in Spain to reaching World Cup glory with his country in 1986. Life off the pitch for Diego, believe me, was just as fast as it was on it. Incredible story from the horse’s mouth as he remembers it.

 

1. Only A Game? The Diary of a Professional Footballer by Eamon Dunphy (1979)
Long before the Premier League, all-seater stadiums and Sky Sports, football was a gritty but beautiful game. In the 1970’s, it was a demanding game and Ireland’s most colourful character of journalism, Eamon Dunphy, documented his time with Millwall in the old second division during the 1974-75 season long before he was getting into arguments with Liam Brady on RTÉ. It’s a truly honest, witty and insightful look of a day-to-day life of a professional 1970’s footballer.

Honourable mentions must also go to Barça: A People’s Passion by Jimmy Burns (2001), A Life Too Short: The Tragedy of Robert Enke by Ronald Reng (2009), Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby (1992), The Damned United by David Peace (2006), Back from The Brink by Paul McGrath (2007), The Greatest Footballer you Never Saw: The Robin Friday Story by Paolo Hewitt and (bizarrely) Guigsy from Oasis (1998), Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football by David Winner (2001) and Full Time: The Secret Life of Tony Cascarino by Paul Kimmage (2005).

 

What good football books can you recommend? Let Rob Smith know on Twitter (@robsmithireland)