Saturday 25 September 2010

AUSTRALIAN RULES FOOTBALL: The Grand Final 2010 - St.Kilda v Collingwood

It's that time of year.
The last Saturday in September marks the Grand Final that ends the Aussie Rules Footie season.
So, in the early hours of an UK morning while the rest of the country was busy sleeping I was sat in front of my TV with beef pie and a good supply of coffee.
The MCG stadium in Melborne, Australia was packed to the rafters with over 100,000 spectators.
And there had to be just as many again watching the game out on the streets.
INXS sang a medley of their hits and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra belted out the teams anthems. The atmosphere was electric.

What was about to happen was a repeat of the 1966 final when the Saints took the pennant from Collingwood Magpies by a single point.

Collingwood came out on fire. It took them just 24 seconds from the opening bounce off to score the first goal. They looked as though they had come out with that hunger to win.
In fact, their season form - after an initial defeat by St.Kilda - seemed, not only to mark themselves as finalist contenders, to indicate that this would be their year.
They had last lifted the cup back in 1990 - a feat that they appeared to achieve every twenty years.
By half time it could be reasonably assumed that they were heading towards victory.
St.Kilda, on the other hand, is one team that should not be written off. Just as it looks as though they are going down - they stage a comeback.
If the first half was all one way traffic then the second half was a lively demonstartion of St.Kilda's character.
Final quarter and it looked as though history was going to repeat itself.
St.Kilda 61 - Collingwood 60.
Just the one point in it.
Collingwood wasn't done.
They hit back with a goal and two behinds.
St.Kilda pulled the score back to one point.
Then in the dying seconds absolute drama as St.Kilda's captain kicked towards the open goal. Victory was in their grasp.
Nick Maxwell, Collingwood's capatain, chased the bouncing ball reaching out to just touch it with his fingertips.
Unbelievable - the six point goal had just been reduced to one point.
Final score at the klaxon - St.Kilda 68 Collingwood 68.
The first grand final draw since 1977.

So..........both teams have to do it all again next Saturday.

Monday 6 September 2010

SCOTT ANDREWS - The Afterblight Chronicles

Why does this happen?
I found a pretty good book 'Children's Crusade' by Scott Andrews in the local Waterstone's and sat down on the floor - well, they don't supply chairs - opened the book and started reading. Great opening chapter that set the scene and made me think a bit. It dawned on me that there was something that should come before and, sure enough, I was reading the third book of a trilogy. Had I looked at the back of the book I might have caught on sooner.
I just saw the title and thought that the book looked interesting.
Typical, books one and two were not on the shelves but the strength of that one opening chapter had me trawling the net for the other two books - 'School's Out' and 'Operation Motherland' - so, now I have the complete set.
Basics - There has been a plague that has swept the world and left those with O neg blood left alive (a play on Dave Wallis's 'Only Lovers Left Alive' there). I only make that allusion because in 'Only Lovers Left Alive' it was a teacher who committed suicide by throwing himself out of the classroom window and in 'School's Out' the headmaster commits suicide with a fistful of pills.
But there the similarity ends.
'School's Out' contains violence but while Dave Wallis's book gave the reader hope at the end - Scott Andrews shows us the hint that things could get worse before they get better.
In 'School's Out' the hero is 15 year old Lee Keegan and introduces the reader to the matron of the school, Jane Crowther. These two characters have a tandem role to play in 'Operation Motherland'. Lee celebrates his sixteenth birthday by crashing a plane, fighting for his life and facing execution - again. This time in Iraq as he searches for his father. Meanwhile, Jane fights to save the children in her school.
And Jane is still doing just that by the time I reach 'Children's Crusade'.
These post-apocalytic tales boast a strong story-line, real people in that they are not heroic - they break under pressure and torture - nor is any character there to make up the numbers.
All I know is that the author, Scott Andrews, was born in the London area back in 1971 - though I have a suspicion that he might live in my neck of the woods. He has written a guide to 'Farscape' and worked on Doctor Who and Highlander audio stories.
Also, he likes 'The Magnificent Seven'.
The Afterblight Chronicles are published by Abaddon Books and include the Scott Andrews novels and books by Paul Kane 'Arrowhead' and 'Broken Arrow' - and being ahead this time - 'Arrowland' due out later this year. 'Broken Arrow' contains a short story by Scott Andrews.
But the Paul Kane books will be reviewed at a later date - but if you fancy reading about Robin Hood taking on tanks and helicopter gunships then there is no need to wait.