Thursday, 25 October 2012



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Thursday, 6 September 2012

Replacing the skipper: The contenders to replace Andrew Strauss

To some, Andrew Strauss' retirement from all forms of cricket will come as a surprise, to others, it was a mere formality. The great leader and rejuvinator of English cricket has fought a long-serving cause to make England the best in the world. He achieved that feat, and as the captain. Strauss was a bastion of the game in which the sheer pride of the stereotypical Englishmen shone out in their thousands. 
His career in the game was one to admire, and his discipline on and off the field was a mere testament to how serious Strauss took his cricket. He was a winner, but a winner built on the success and improvement of the people around him.
The main question for coach Andy Flower and the ECB selectors now is....who should replace him as Alastair Cook's opening partner?
Many names have been thrown into the hat already but there are five players who really stand out. With Strauss's departure, along with doubts over Kevin Pietersen's international future, the time has come for England to build a future.

Joe Root
The 21-year-old Yorkshire prospect really has established himself as one of the Carnegie's main talents in the side this season. His career best 222* against Hampshire in July 2012 is a fine example of the talent Root truly possesses. Not only in the long form of the game but in the short-form, Root has proven to be a crucial cog in the Yorkshire machinery under disciplined coach Jason Gillespie. His part-time spin also proves to be a useful addition to their squad, and could his all-round abilities be what England need? Is Root ready for England? Yes he is but many may question his age and his inexperience. But England need a new era, and what a perfect time to install a player so young alongside the likes of Jonny Bairstow and James Taylor   for England. 

Sam Northeast
The Kent youngster had a hard start to the season being forced out of the side and dumped in the second XI, but his attitude and determination has proven to be a really force for Kent in all forms on the domestic scene this summer. Northeast is another young talent who really has the potential to go far, but it's rare to find a cricketer from Kent truly establish himself in the England squad. The most recent examples would be Geraint Jones who was part of that successful Ashes 2005 Test team, and Rob Key. James Tredwell has had glimpses in both the test and one-day side, but with Graeme Swann in the mould, it's hard to dislodge one of England's best ever spinners. Northeast should certainly be in the frame, but the selectors may want to see more from him on the county scene in the next year or two before making the move to include him in the squad.

Michael Carberry
Not one my ideal choices, but Carberry certainly is major contender to replace Strauss. Questions may be raised over his past illnesses and injuries, but the talent the Hampshire batsman holds is one similar to South Africa's Hashim Amla. Able to block out every ball, but with the pure power to be ever-so destructive. His batting style would certainly suit the rest of the players in the side, so it's impossible to write off Carberry, but the issue of fitness in a tough Andy Flower camp could be the tip of the iceberg for the Hampshire man. 

Jonathan Trott
Is he capable of opening, or is he better suited to the number three role? For me, number three is the best spot to have somebody of Trott's talents, but then it could be argued more stability and responsibility at the top could prove to be a superb spine of and England innings. Everybody knows the ability he holds within, and the number three spot is one he has made his own. Although the idea of Trott opening could prove successful, who would be the man to develop to become the new Trott at number three? 

Ian Bell
Again another established player in the England side, but with a look to the future, should England be looking to invest in a young star to be the new Andrew Strauss? Bell has opened before, and will open again, but having the talent of the Warwickshire man in the middle order is a valuable asset to the backbone of the batting order. His ability and focus is undeniable on the international scene, but is Bell too settled in that middle order, that a move to the top of the batting could destroy his form and hence destroy of the confidence of one of England's most stubborn stallions? My answer would be yes, but don't right off the idea of Bell to partner new captain Cook.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Rest In Peace Tom Maynard

I had just finished my lunch today in Doha, Qatar while working for Al Jazeera Sport when I discovered the tragic news that Surrey cricketer Tom Maynard had died. My initial reaction was one of complete shock and disbelief. Firstly because the hot prospect in domestic cricket had been taken from us at the age of 23, but mainly because for the past several months, I have been saying to a good friend of mine (who is a Surrey CCC fan) that Maynard is a fantastic talent and should be in the England squad without any second thought. I don’t know what it was, but every time I watched Maynard, I had this overwhelming sense of appreciation for the game. I love cricket, but when Maynard came to the crease, I became extremely excited by what he had to offer. As a Kent fan, there’s the stereotypical view that we should not like Surrey, and therefore we should not like any of their players, but I’m a realist and I look at cricket in the view of the benefit for the sport.

Tom Maynard was a fantastic cricketing talent. His technical ability was one many cricketers in the current domestic game can only imagine having. He was the classic British batsman. It was solid, straight bat, but the ability to cause some damage with a combination of fantastic strokeplay, and extravagant shots. Many of you may question my reason for writing this, but I had such an admiration for Maynard as soon as he burst onto the scene with Glamorgan, that his passing seems almost unreal. I can’t begin to understand the grief his family and close friends must be experiencing at this moment, and I’m not trying to. I react emotionally to any deaths which shock sport, with Espanyol’s Daniel Jarque and former Wales manager Gary Speed as examples.

Maynard death is a devastating story. Whatever the inquiries may unveil in the coming weeks, it’s important to remember that just under 12 hours before, Maynard had been playing what was his last ever professional cricket match. Nobody could have predicted what would happen. On Monday 18th June 2012, Tom Maynard was pronounced dead by the Metropolitan police after his body was found on train tracks at Wimbledon Park Station. It is believed Maynard was hit by a train, and possibly electrocuted before being hit. The sad part of this story is that Maynard was being chased by police after he was seen driving “erratically” in the early hours of Monday morning. A man fitting Tom’s description then got out the car and ran off on foot. Just over an hour later and his body had been found.

I think what makes his last game even more memorable for me was that it was against my home county Kent in a t20 on Sunday 17th June 2012. I had the absolute pleasure of chatting to Maynard on the boundary when he was at Glamorgan during a one-day game a couple of years ago, and he seemed like a lovely young man who really enjoyed every second he spent on the field of play. He played with a smile on his face. My greatest memory of him was last year though. Thursday 14th July 2011. It was Kent vs Surrey in the domestic t20 competition and Kent had the chance to ruin Surrey’s chances of qualifying. Kent won so I was a happy cricket fan, but there were two particular innings that really stood out for me that day. Jason Roy hit 53 and Tom Maynard scored 36 off 27 balls. I remember saying to my Surrey friend that day - “Maynard is going to be a big big player mate” – he certainly had the qualities. It wasn’t a titanic innings. But it was a well-constructed, exciting innings that really swung the balance of the match in Surrey’s favour at that time.

A young man had a fantastic future in domestic and international cricket ahead of him. It’s a shattering story of how quickly a life can be taken. Tom Maynard was 23, and gave domestic cricket in England a real purpose, along with many other cricketers. One of Maynard’s close friends and teammates Roy tweeted Cant believe im writing this. R.I.P Tom Maynard,one of my best friends.You will always be in my heart and will miss you so so much.

The sad part of all of this, is that we will now not know how far Tom could have excelled in the game, what more he could have offered to the cricket, and what impact he would have made when he made his England debut.
Words cannot begin to explain how or why this happened. It’s a tragically sad day for English cricket. I didn’t know you personally, but I certainly would have relished the opportunity to get to know you. You have really inspired me as one of the best domestic cricketers I have seen these past couple of years. Rest in Peace Tom Maynard and thank you for everything you gave to life, and to cricket. You will be missed by every cricket fan across the country. 

Friday, 1 June 2012

Magazine Journalism Critical Analysis

Gareth Messenger
BA (Hons) Year Three Journalism
The University of Winchester

For my first magazine spread of our module, I decided to interview convicted Darren Parnell about his extraordinary life and the encounters and problems he has faced upon his journey through humanity. It was a story that was both enthralling, and wretched, but Mr Parnell’s story is one that would suit the stereotypical view of a confessional. Although the story of Mr Parnell’s life has gone through all sort of barriers, it was easy to structure for the benefit of my spreads because all the events interacted well with the timeline and how I was asked my questions. The questions I asked were arranged suitably, specifically detailing every part of his life from his childhood to now.
During the interview I took notes and then transcribed the interview in full, writing every word quoted so I could formulate the basis of the spread and how I could present the story so it makes it look presentable and engaging to the readers.
Despite the strength and revelations of his story, Mr Parnell was more than happy to speak to me about all the issues in his life and even quotes in the spread “my philosophy in life is what’s done is done and worrying about it doesn’t change things”. This was a fantastic advantage to my approach and the angle I wanted to use in the piece. I decided to use Fireworks as the program most suitable to the creation of my first spread and in doing this I decided to use a plain white canvas for my confessional interview to put the focus on the story itself  and the pictures of Mr Parnell rather than the design. It is important in a confessional to understand every factor of the story in magazines, so I applied this same principle and kept the layout relatively simple but effective in terms of what it was offering in content. Magazines such as ‘Pick Me Up’ are a classic case of spreads I used as examples to structure my confessional interview with Mr Parnell.
While there was a lot of information to take from Mr Parnell, I wanted to focus on the two key moments of his life and emphasise how they have affected him. When writing the article I wanted to keep the idea of a confessional in mind, with the subject person talking to the readers rather than myself describing what has happened, so therefore, the majority of the piece was in the first person. Despite this, I decided the piece needed blurbs, or introductions, to reveal certain parts of the story. Because it is an intense tale and a lot of information, I wanted to introduce each part of the story which can enable the reader to break and gain an understanding of each part of Mr Parnell’s story for better readership. I wanted to use a quote as the headline because it is a fantastic headline which will immediately pull the readers in and gain their full attention wanting to read more. The headline of “I didn’t inflict the fatal wound that night!” is a fantastic line to head my piece and I felt this was necessary to gain the direct responsiveness to the piece. I also used a dark red colour as the headline to make it relevant to the headline with the words. Fatal wound would instigate blood so I wanted to use a dark red colour to intrigue the readers even more, and this goes for the quotes which break up the columns, because it adds an extra vibrancy to the canvas and mixes the design up in the style of a typical confessional. Following the structure, I knew this piece needed a beginning, middle and end, and decided to break the two separate life stories into two bits. I felt it was important to introduce Mr Parnell’s wife as an explainer of his accident because of his loss of memory of the incident, so I believe it was a worthy addition to the piece to bring in the memories of another party who could explain the story of Mr Parnell, who has no memory of his accident.
I wanted to end the piece on a high but summing up the overall confessional interview which I feel was done aptly with “I am happy with who I am and I’ll never know who I would have been if they hadn’t happened”
I believe my confessional interview worked extremely well, and even though more could have been done to make the presentation of the canvas that extra more appealing, I wanted to keep the entire structure readable and simple for the target audience and for the stereotype of a confessional layout. This all worked well and was done with a lot of care and attention to a stunning life story.
My second piece was originally going to be the profile of young musician who has recently been signed to Elton John’s record company ‘Rocket’ label. However, this was unattainable as her management were too late responding to me so I decided to use my own personal experiences to create a travel guide spread on Florida. Although Florida is a well-known and popular place, I wanted to use my own memories and experiences to design a new creative piece. I used more images in this canvas, using a picture taken from a previous holiday as the under laying canvas with the words “Central Florida” on a road sign and used the spread design of SBC Kiteboard Magazine with a picture of the canvas which can be found here -
Because we had no specifically focused on the structure of a feature piece within a magazine, I decided to be creative and combine the design of two magazine spreads and integrate them into one by still making the piece look presentable. I used - - a Musik Kursbericht layout as an idea to use images of four of the main attractions in Florida over the top of the under laying canvas, as I felt it would be a different piece to my first spread. Even though the images in the Kursbericht spread are on a white canvas, I wanted to amalgamate the idea of using two separate spreads into one.  And although it would have been nice to keep the design theme consistent with my first spread, I wanted to use more pictures to make the spread a striking piece. I feel the design itself has worked out well, because the main piece of the image canvas is intact and it allowed me annotate around the central words.
When it came to the text, I focused one by one on the individual places to go in Florida. I tried to engage with the reader so refrained by making it a personal account of my experiences and used the technique of getting the readers to go and find out for themselves. Although the travel guide would not be ideal for either of the magazines I have used as a design example, but it would work in any travel guide or travel magazines. With the pictures, I wanted to use a vibrant and engaging font and style to make the readers want to find out more by using my best pictures to grab their attention, then use the text to explain what there is to do in Florida, how to do it and why you should go to Florida.
More could have been done in terms of the layout, but I firmly believe the canvas as a whole is an ambitious and clever way of combining two spreads into one. The target readership would be for people who could afford to go on holiday and are looking for an exciting place to visit and Florida certainly provides that. My previous five weeks in the state were an advantage to designing and writing the guide because I knew a lot about the places and what they have to offer. To make the spread more relatable, I also inserted a “WELCOME TO…” text above “Central Florida” to make the readers feel like they were already there. Even though there was not much structure to the piece I wanted to make the spread visually appealing. It is different to the confessional with Mr Parnell because it uses a different approach to attracting the readers through pictures, whereas the confessional interview I used a quote to attain the interest.
Both spreads, although more could have been done to make them that extra more fetching, both deliver their piece well. I have used examples of styles to design my layout and focused specifically to what is important in both pieces. Words and text for the confessional, and pictures for the feature travel guide. 

Friday, 25 May 2012

Magazine Spread: Welcome to.....Central Florida

Magazine Spread: Confessional interview

LAND Documentary Final Edit

BA (Hons) Journalism Year Three


The Land project for Year Three journalism students was originally discussed between students and lecturers as being more focused on telling a story as this was a skill which played to the majority of our selected year's strengths. Although, enthralling imagery has been a crucial asset in the completion of this year's pieces, the idea of processing and telling a story across the entire project.
Our task was to produce a five minute documentary based on Maggie Holland's folk song “A Place called England”. The song itself refers specifically to the English countryside of hills and nature while realising the impact industrial action is having on the traditional view of English natural eyesores. My group consisted of Jake Gable, Karen Purnell and I and immediately we broke down the lyrics to the song to see which shots we could film and which locations would be most efficient for our piece. In the process of this we constructed a detailed, thorough and specific paper edit linking the rushes we would capture to the lyrics in the song and annotating the previously discussed locations so we would have an organised timetable of when were available to film. However, Chris explained that the idea was to not be too literal so we set about focusing our shots in other parts of the song using the music to good effect.

We first contacted Maggie Holland who agreed to let us film her sing the song. Despite the rights of the song now not belonging to her, we were cleared to proceed but we hit a stumbling block when we were informed she lived in Edinburgh which proved to be inconvenient as financially it would be a problem. To overcome this and after conversation with Chris, I decided to contact a university in Edinburgh to see if anybody would be available to film Maggie Holland singing “A Place Called England” but unfortunately nobody was willing to help so we then decided as a group to move onto finding a composer or folk singer to produce a new version of the song especially for our piece.

Even though I believed the sunrise shot as our opener to be an impressive viewer, I felt it was too stereotypical of nature and we had to think outside of the original and go for the more obscure rather than sticking to a shot that was used far too much during last year's coastlines projects.

During the actual construction and producing of our piece, because of certain issues there were a lot of dates were all members were unavailable at one time. I have been particularly critical of our lack of initiative to go out and film individually rather than waiting until we were all available. It was a process which slowed the production of our piece and all members of the group have accepted responsbility. In spite of this, we acted swiftly and became more efficient in filming in groups and both individually. I worked a lot on Winchester and the surrounding areas as I have a vast knowledge of the area, and especially St Pilgrims Walk and St Catherines Hill. I focused mainly on rivers and the effect water could have on our piece integrating around the lyrics. Tight shots of the water flowing down the stream, as well as 'gushing' shoots of the water flowing from breaks in the river were all included in the final piece. We incurred an issue with the filming of some shots, in particular Karen whose filming was done on a 4:3 ratio which was contradictory of the 16:9 wide-screen shots filmed by Jake and I. However, this was quickly amended in the rough edit.

I am particularly pleased with all the shots I filmed. I went to every location in Winchester, Portsmouth and elsewhere with a solid idea of what I specifically wanted to film, and even though there are a small minority of my rushes which I know could been far better, the majority of the shots I filmed were lovely images, but I have always been certain in my own ability to film quality shots with the equipment available to us.

When it came to the final edit, we had no luck with a production of the original song, so after Karen and I had a thorough conversation with Chris, we decided to use Ralph Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis as our theme song, mixing an original version of 16 minutes long down to five incorporating a combinations of beds, mixes, swells and beats which came out as a fantastic polished piece of music. To incorporate the lyrics of the original song we used particular designated lyrics from “A Place Called England” and used Jake as a narrator in sort of a poem format. The decision to use Jake was discussed and decided by Karen and I, as we decided Jake had  a soothing voice and pronunciated his words correctly with a valuable tone. We used Jake's narration in the piece as a starter to introduce the piece and then build up the repetition and frequency of the lyrics as we neared the climax of the song which all worked in tandem with the bed and proved fruitful in our final delivery. The shots which were unveiled were fantastic and worked really well with the music, and were the best shots we had filmed. We had decided to create the song and use the pictures to the song and worked that way instead of placing the pictures on the timeline first to then introduce the song on the edit.

My criticism of the piece is we had no spade digging in the dirt which visually would have been fantastic and could have been excellent for some natural sound. Another criticism is the group's time keeping when deciding when to film was originally poor but was quickly rectified and the system we introduced of localising areas to certain people worked extremely effectively. We probably needed at least another 15 minutes of raw footage to give us that extra variation, but the shots we had filmed in the process were up to a high quality standard.

The final edit itself is an interesting journey through the traditional England. The idea to use a train starting the piece makes us feel like we are on a journey and immediately engulfs the audience into seeing more. The end shot was a lovely gentle end to a traditionally classical song, and the night shot of the train is a superb contrast from England at the beginning of the day, to England at the end of a day. It was England. 

LAND Original Paper Edit


Film 1 – DUR: 18-20 minutes

Note that timings are only rough estimates at this moment, as are the locations because all can be discussed together. They are merely suggestions and options as to places that can be used to film. 
We can play around with the footage on location, different angles, shots, zoom, pull-focus to make it jazzed up.
Main focus is the song. Interviews are not necessary for our piece, otherwise it will conflict with the song. 
For the song, we must continue contact with Maggie Holland. If we cannot film her, see if she will willingly send us down a studio recorded version of the song to us. OR, film Edinburgh Napier university to see if Media students will film her on our behalf. 

Verse One

“I rode out one bright May morning, like a hero in a song,

Looking for a place called England, trying to find where I belong.

Couldn’t find the old flood meadow, nor the house that I once knew,

No sign of the little river, nor the garden where I grew.”

• Sunrise (sped up) on the horizon beyond hillside, obvious countryside 

OR This idea works well, long shot from top of St. Catherine’s Hill, seeing the sun rise. Film same shot that evening, seeing it go down. Speed it up in the edit.

Shot of Maggie Holland singing? Pictures? (Dependent on whether we meet) 
DUR: 6-10 secs

• Shot of St George Flag flying in the wind. (Perhaps we can find a way to combine the two...sunrise coming up with a St George flag in view.

• Fade sunrise shot into the next shot, little river.....trickling stream. Actuality of stream trickling – Obtain a feel for the river/stream. DUR: 6-10 secs. Possibly the River Itchen? Location: The John Donne walk? Have to be careful with fades, need to use them as sparingly as possible to maintain classy look. Perhaps a gradual fade in/out or cross dissolve from one scene to the next?

• A quaint house in the country next to a river, pan from the house to the stream/river.

Verse Two

“I saw town and I saw country, motorway and sink estate,

Landlord in his rolling acres, poor man still outside the gate.

Retail park and burger kingdom, prairie field and factory farm,

Run by men who think that England’s only a place to park their car.”

• Shot overlooking a town centre amongst some countryside, possibly St Catherine’s Hill, overlooking Winchester with hills and countryside in side. Zoom VISUAL. DUR: 10 secs 

• For ‘motorway’ lyric, film whilst in the car driving along a motorway stretch, speed it up, also there are several bridges overlooking the motorway that we can film from. May look good doing this at night with all the streetlights?

• Focus on people’s feet whilst they are walking through the high street.

• “Landlord in his rolling acres, poor man still outside the gate” – THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX. Need a farmer, or some kind of land owner. TRACTOR/COMBINE HARVESTER/PROPERTY DEVELOPER. DUR: 6secs 

• Fade, from landlord in his acres, to a retail park.....with a burger king. Then cross dissolve into prairie field, possibly film Sussex Prairies 
DUR: 10-12 secs. 

• A good shot would be of fuel emitting cars clogging up the countryside.

• Focusing on the stark difference between the quiet prairie fields and the smoggy factories.

Verse Three 

“But as the train pulled from the station, through the wastelands of despair,

From the corner of my eye, a brightness filled the smoky air.

Someone’s sown a patch of sunflowers, though the earth is sooty black,

Marigolds and a few tomatoes, right beside the railway track.”

• Steam railway-actuality of “CHOO CHOO”. Possibly Dymchurch Steam Railway in Kent. VISUAL – Train coming away from the station, into a field. Pulling out. DUR: 10secs 

• Following a train as it travels through the country. Maybe one person filming through the window of the train (permission needed) or find a location and film the train going past (similar to in the Railway Children when they sit and watch the trains go by)

• Think industrial places here. Coming into Reading from Winchester on the train or coming into Clapham Junction, all you see is terraced houses. Rows of them with smoking chimneys. Film this out of window on whilst on train to these destinations. Mid-shots. Perhaps out of focus, then pulling into focus slowly with the focusing ring on the lens, like a blurred picture becoming clear. Train slows down coming into these stations so this would be easy to film.

• Go into sunflowers VISUAL –Up close nice shots, Bees on sunflowers, real tight colour filled images – make it vibrant, extravagant. Street End Farm in Bishops Waltham grows sunflowers – BIG ones) DUR: 8-12 secs

• Same again with Marigolds and tomatoes – ALLOTMENTS 

• Get an allotment owner to dig up some tomatoes or plant some. Shots of them looking into distance with shovel on a hot spring/summer’s day. DUR: 5-8 secs 

• Railway track with Marigolds will be hard to find. Maybe just the marigolds shot fade with another shot of steam railway over top of one another so both are on screen but entwined with each other. DUR: 5-8 secs

Verse Four

“Down behind the terraced houses, in between the concrete towers,

There’s compost heaps and scarlet runners, secret gardens full of flowers.

Mehta grows her scented roses right beneath the big jet’s path

Bid a fortune for her garden, Eileen turns away and laughs.”

• Terraced houses and concrete towers. London towns.– Overview of terracing with building landmarks in Busy areas. The contrast between City and Countryside. LONDON. DUR: 4-6 secs 

• Compost heaps and Garden estates – Secret Garden – a relatively unknown place, such as Mottisfont Abbey Garden and Estate. DUR: 5 secs

• ROSES - Also, at Mottisfont Garden DUR: 4-6 secs

• “Big Jet” – fade a plane flying over St Catherines Hill over with the shots of roses? Eastleigh Airport-find the best location to get shots of planes taking off and landing. DUR: 4-5 secs

Verse Five

So rise up George and wake up Arthur, time to rouse you from your sleep.

Deck the horse with sea green ribbons, drag the old sword from the deep.

Hold the line for Dave and Daniel, as they tunnel through the clay,

Whilst the oak in all its glory, soaks up sun for one more day.

• Shot of old couple waking and leaving bed? Opens curtains, sun is shining in. For next verse, mid shots of farm yard area. Horses, stables etc. Try moreton-in marsh, Gloucestershire, or Millets Farm. 

“The Oak in all it’s glory” – shots inside a woods. Camera on floor, focusing up on oak trees, slow zoom or focus into close up shots seeing sun shine through the tops of the trees, peaking in through gaps in the light. – New Forest, Boxhill woods, or Corpse Wood up by Sarum Road? Another idea is to find a grand oak tree standing alone, looking regal in a field?

• Rise up George and Rise up Arthur....statues of them, similar to the statue of King Alfred in Winchester. If we do a worms eye shot looking up at them...make them look tall and regal.

• Clearly need to focus on the oak tree. Big, strong and mighty, with the sun shining behind it. 

Verse Six

Come all ye who grow in freedom, whatever the land that gave you birth,

There’s room for you, both root and branch, as long as you love the English earth.

Room for vole and room for orchid, room for all to grow and thrive,

Just less room for the fat land owner, on his ass in his four wheel drive.

• Opening line of this verse, baby being born/cradled in mother’s arms faded over image of the countryside. “English earth” – close up and actuality of soil, things being dug up with spade. Justaposition of farmers working hard and sweating compared to ‘city boys’ preferably shot of middle aged balding portly men stood talking in suits, laughing?

• This gives a very poignant message of how old, traditional country uprises against town, industries and factory. This is a very important part of the story and is going to need considerable planning to get the right emotions across.

Verse Seven

For England is not flag nor empire, it’s not money and it’s not blood.

It’s limestone gorge and granite fell, it’s Wealden clay and Severn mud.

It’s blackbird singing from the may tree, lark ascending through the scales,

Robin watching from your spade, and English earth beneath your nails.

• “England is not flag nor empire”-a regal castle, or perhaps Buckingham Palace, with flags flying. 

• Limestone gorge-Burrington (near Weston-super-Mare) beautiful cliffs with mountain goats.

• Severn mud-perhaps children squelching in welly boots in the mud (need permission)

• Blackbird singing in the may tree-ac tuality of birdsong

• English earth beneath your nails- people digging in their allotments, pulling vegetables out of the garden (another idea is vegetables being pulled out of the garden, then washed, cooked, and served for a family dinner? Maybe somewhere else in the song)

Verse Eight

So here’s two cheers for a place called England, sore abused but not yet dead,

A Mr. Harding sort of England, hanging in there by a thread.

Here’s two cheers for the crazy diggers, now their hour has come at last.

We shall sow the seeds they saved in common wealth and common land.

• This is the conclusion of the song. Really need to bring everything together for this ending.

• Idea of the diggers taking back their land from the industrialisation of the country.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Magazine Journalism Profile Writing Practice 16/02/2012

The turnaround from boy to man is a lightly used term, but in a sporting context, the meteoric rise of Alistair Cook is certainly a fine example of the phrase.
His international debut in 2006, aged just 21 seemed like just another call-up, but Cook had big boots to fill in the shape of Marcus Trescothick, England's long serving opening batsman. His call up to the senior side was preceded by an ECB Academy trip to the West Indies, and his impact on the side was certainly historic. Cook scored 60 and 104* against a strong India side in Nagpur, and being plunged into the depths of the Test arena at such a young age, it seemed the perfect replacement for the troubled Trescothick had come to the field.

Cook's stats are certainly on a mouth-watering sight. The youngest Englishman to reach the 1500, 2000, 3000, 4000 and 5000 test runs mark, and the only Englishman to reach 1000 test runs before his 22nd birthday. The batsman also holds the world record time for batting in a five test series – batting for 36 hours, and scoring 766 runs, in the 2010-11 Ashes series against Australia.

Cook's ravishing career as one of England's best found talents has also seen him come in for much criticism regarding his style. It was considered too slow during the a two-year period, and was consequently omitted from the Twenty20 squad to play Australia and the 2007 World Cup.
Despite contributing good scores in the long form of the game, the pressure for him to rediscover his touch was ever present. Cook saw himself left out of the Twenty20 and ODI squads to play South Africa and India, and rediscovering his form was imperative with the 2009 Ashes series on the horizon.

Despite criticism across the board, and pressure on his place in the team, the 2010-11 Ashes series in Australia was crucial to Cook's long-term placement in the Test side. His 235* in the second innings to salavage a draw for England was vital to the series, as England turned the tables on the Australians. His average of 127 for the five test series and being awarded man of the series for his 766 runs, (The second Englishman to ever reach that total in a series) turned a broken, struggling Cook into a world beater as England retained the prestigious urn on Australian soil.

His form in the Test matches has seen not just his recall to the ODI side, but his appointment as captain. And, how the responsibility has brushed off on him. His first series in charge of the one day side saw England record a 3-2 series win over Sri Lanka, and just this last week, England lead the current series against Pakistan 2-0. Centuries in both games from a certain Alistair Cook.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Hat-trick Number 14 for Ronaldo too much for Levante

So another day's work it seems for the managerial maestro Jose Mourinho, but the Portuguese boss will have Osasuna and his fellow countryman Cristiano Ronaldo for Real Madrid's TEN point lead at the top of La Liga this weekend, after Barcelona slipped up and the Madrilenos took full advantage, La Liga could well be finally returning to the Spanish capital for the 2011-12 season.

And, it is not surprising. Mourinho has managed to create a balance this season of fresh blood across the field, but more importantly has given his side a strength in depth in defensive positions. The additions of Fabio Coentrao, Raphael Varane and Hamit Altintop have added the extra cover Madrid needed, and they needed it desperately. Too many times they were left short from the injures to Carvalho and the suspensions for the ill-disciplined Sergio Ramos and Pepe.

Nuri Sahin in the midfield has proven to be a fine acquisition, and the signature of Jose Callejon from Espanyol surprised many in the summer, but many more have been surprised by the step he has made into such an advanced and highly expectant club.

Ronaldo's contribution is the pinnacle of Madrid's success, and his FOURTEETH, yes, and in numbers that is 14th, hat-trick for Real Madrid is the reason why they are flying high in Spain. Madrid saw off a stubborn and gritty Levante side at the Santiago Bernabeu last night with a 4-2 victory. Ronaldo's hat-trick and the fourth from Karim Benzema seeing Madrid through, despite the scores being level at one apiece at the interval.
This result will come as an added boost after champions Barcelona suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Osasuna on Saturday night.

Goals from Alexis Sanchez and youngster Cristian Tello were not enough for a weakened Barcelona, with Osasuna scoring three in front of their home fans. A double from Lekic, and the third from on-loan Athletico Madrid midfielder Raul Garcia. Pep Guardiola left Fabregas, Xavi and Iniesta on the bench with one eye on midweek's Champions' League tie against Bayer Leverkusen on the horizon. But, his naivity in the league has been Barcelona's downfall this season. Guardiola has moreorless admitted defeat in the race to defend his La Liga crown, and claims the focus is on another Champions' League trophy. But Madrid attacker Ronaldo still feels Barca are strong enough to bite back with a late charge.

16 games to go, and it's safe to say that La Liga is well set! Plenty of time for Barcelona to fight for what is currently theirs, but that time is also wasting away, and Guardiola must act quickly if his side are to compete for their championship. Madrid on the other have been playing superbly all season, and in complete Mourinho fashion. "The Special One" will want to end his career at Madrid on a high with serious talks of him leaving the capital in the summer. Ronaldo has been unstoppable this season and his 34 goals in 33 appearances prove that, but Madrid will need him better than ever if they are to continue their road to that first La Liga title in four years.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Gareth Messenger's Top 10 WINOL Non-League Footballers

Carrying on from my last blog on Europe's top 10 Young Footballers to look out for in 2012, this time I have diverted my attention to the lesser known, but nationally appreciated non-league and in particular Hampshire. Of course, I am only basing this on my evidence from WINOL and Sportsweek so the teams involved are AFC Totton, Basingstoke Town, Eastleigh and Winchester City, but Hampshire is home to many well sought after footballers from Football league clubs so let's go!

10. Jonathan Davies
At the age of just 20, Davies' creativity in the centre of midfield has been influential for an AFC Totton side on the march up the leagues. His two goals against Bradford Park Avenue in the FA Cup first round were just a sign of his quality and at this level, Davies is a dominant player in the Evo-Stick South.

9. Mike Green
Joined AFC Totton from Eastleigh, left Totton to join league side Port Vale, but is now back at Eastleigh. A strong, quick left sided player who usually finds himself in the back four, but his return to Eastleigh provided a welcome boost to a struggling Spitfires side. Experience at Port Vale and learning from football league players should pay dividends in his long-term career.

8. Michael Charles

Former Basingstoke and Woking striker Michael Charles (centre of picture) is an important and valuable player for Stuart Ritchie's AFC Totton side. Charles had an outstanding goalscoring record in the Zamaretto South and West league last season. His two goals in last season's Hampshire Senior Cup final against Sholing gave Totton as a whole an extra something to cheer about in a 3-1 win, just days after beating Sholing to the league title. Recent form has been unlike him, with Charles contemplating a loan move away from Totton.

7. Jamie Slabber
Key player for Eastleigh. Slabber's strength and goalscoring ability may him a huge threat for opponents and a vital player for Eastleigh. The former Grays striker had a fantastic season last year but a quiet start this year was the pinnacle for Eastleigh slump in form. His return to form and the arrival of creative midfielder Graeme Montgomery re-juvinated Slabber, and is still an ever-present figure at the Silverlake Stadium.

6. Leigh Mills 
The former Tottenham Hostpur defender was bought for £700k from Swindon Town at the age of just 16 with big things expected for the youngster. Successful loan spells at Gillingham and Brentford made him a target for lower fotball league sides, but his decision to quit professional football and join hometown club Winchester City, under the management of ex-Gills defender Guy Butters, have made him a dominant player in the Wessex League. He is a class above, but Mills' desire to enjoy his football seems settling at Winchester. A club on the up, and a player who should have been, but a player who is now happy nonetheless. Currently holds the captain's armaband at the Denplan, and his versaility to play anywhere in defence and midfield make him an important player in the Winchester side.

5. Graeme Montgomery
Former Aldershot winger Graeme Montgomery enjoyed a successful loan spell at Eastleigh earlier this season, and was later released by the Shots which prompted a permanent move to Ian Baird's side just hours later. An attacking, creative player who also has an eye for goal, and a very talented left boot on him. Changed and out-of-form Eastleigh's fortunes earlier this season.

4. Wes Daly
Former QPR midfielder Wes Daly has provided Basingstoke with a strong, competitive midfield battalion this season, and it's a season which sees them fighting for a play-off place. Frank Gray's young side has a terrific, yet surprising side to this season and even made the First Round of the FA Cup with an away tie against League One Brentford. Daly's contributions have been valuable for The Dragons, a hard-worker, an eye for a great pass, and scores goals. Great signing for Basingstoke but will they keep hold of him next season? Discipline is an issue though, with 10 yellow cards already this season.

3. Jamie White
Unexplainable form from this man. Even at the Wessex League level, nobody can stop this young striker, and the former Southampton forward has certainly made his mark this season. League side AFC Bournemouth have been highly interested in his services, and for a player who has overcome a huge number of career-threatning injuries including broken legs and ligament damage, White's decision to join Winchester is one which is going to boost his long-term praise in the game. Saints have also been linked with a move for their ex-striker, but I doubt White would want to move to a club with the likes of Rickie Lambert, Guly du Prado, Adam Lallana, Lee Barnard, David Connolly and now Billy Sharp standing in his way. Quiet start to his season but has been hot on form averaging TWO goals every game since October. Winchester City have accepted the fact they will lose him. Jamie finds himself at number three in my top 10 Hampshire WINOL players, and maybe his FOUR goals against Laverstock & Ford at the weekend have something to do with that?

2. Michael Gosney
Left footed attacking player Gosney used to ply his trade at Winchester, but they must be kicking themselves after seeing Gosney's meteoric rise in the non-league status. For a player who finds himself just in the Evo-Stick South at Winchester's local rivals AFC Totton, Gosney also works as a Calendar model and Chef at TGI Friday's. Not bad for a player who alerted Millwall and Championship side Brighton in the summer to his ability. Gosney's pace, skill, direct play and accuracy make him Totton's most important and dangerous player. Despite the spotlight being on youngster Stefan Brown during their televised FA Cup match with Bristol Rovers, Gosney's value to the side was not overlooked by the ITV cameras. His two goals and four assists in the 8-1 drubbing of Bradford Park Avenue in the first round of the Cup made his reputation well known, and his 14 goals in the Evo-Stick South this seasno makes him Totton's leading goalscoring, for the third year on the trot.  

1. Shaun McAuley

Now to the winner, and this is one that not many of the WINOL team would probably agree with, but having spent a lot of time filming at Basingstoke I've come to appreciate how important and how influential Shaun McAuley is for Frank Gray's side. His work ethic, his natural ability to pass a ball, and his impressive goalscoring tally make him a midfielder's dream at this level, and his goals have been vital to Basingstoke with Shaun scoring 11 goals in 29 appearances in all competitions. This making him top goalscorer at the club. Not bad for a centre-midfielder. Frank Gray picked him up in the summer following his release from local rivals Eastleigh, and his good relationship with Wes Daly, and fellow midfielder Stuart Lake on and off the field has provided Basingstoke with some strudy strength in the middle of the park. Hard to say what the future holds for Shaun. League football is a big step at the moment, but a fruitful career in the Blu Square Premier is certainly something that his ability can step to.