Grande Vittoria

Siamo andati a Roma. Abbiamo guardato intorno. Cinquantamile tifosi Romanisti…e quattro mila fedeli Juventini. E li abbiamo battuti. Conquistata la terra dell’Olimpico.

Grande partita di tutta la squadra, con un punto di diamante come Diego. Due reti, tanti assist. Grande giocate. Fenomeno.

Altra rete di Felipe Melo, cuore indomabile della difesa bianconera. Grande prova.

Calcio samba, Calcio vincente. E siamo primi,

Juve, grazie di esistere!

Saturday football marathon

Sunday today, and it should be a day of rest. Unfortunately I have a mild cold that yesterday prevented me from enjoying what is about the only worthwhile day of the week. Saturday. So I turned to the TV set and the newly-restarted football leagues to watch the footy.

Things started rolling with the Formula1 qualifiers actually, but I managed to nod off during the last valid section for the top ten. Damn. Next up it was the Chelsea-Burnley match, which I did not elect to watch.

My favourites were on next. Tottenham against Birmingham. With the Spurs winning every match this year so far, it seemed to be a fair bet for an easy victory. At least on paper. What turned out to be had me and my daughter in tears right up to the very end.

A very tense (and domineering) first half performance ended goalless, and it looked as if the City Blues could easily hold on for a draw. That is, until Harry Redknapp unleashed Peter Crouch onto the field of play. The lanky forward showed the way to go and a number of chances started coming our way. Finally the deadlock was broken in the seventy-second minute. Crouch rose above the defence to power a header beyond Cooke’s reach. No more than Spurs deserved, and despite having a sore throat and all, our shouting was at fever pitch for the goal. Phew, what a relief!

But as a Spurs fan, one has to suffer, and suffer we did. Barely three minutes had passed, and the Blues were level. Another mix-up in defence, and Cudicini hesitated, before giving Birmingham an easy tap-in to score. 1-1. And we have to do it all over again. And this time in fifteen minutes.

Spurs not only did not manage to look too dangerous, but City had a glorious chance to win the match, but O’Connor managed to fluff the ball wide of the goal after a pass by Benitez.

On 88 minutes Jermain Defoe (who wasted innumerable chances) went to the ground injured and Russian international Roman Pavlyuchenko was drafted in to replace him. Still no go. The Russian giant barely touched the ball until the dying seconds.

94th minute and City were going forward, with ex-Spurs Steven Carr slipping on the ball. Tom Huddlestone nipped forward to take the ball off him, and pass it towards the Russian. Roman dribbled past two players before finding Aaron ‘Speedy Gonzales’ Lennon on the far left. The winger skipped nimbly past two defenders before allowing the ball to settle on his favourite right foot and slide it in beyond the reach of goalkeeper Cooke.

Ecstasy, Pure Joy, and of course much shouting at the last play of a match we thouroughly deserved to win. There we were, me, Roxy and Nunu, all jumping for joy, and my throat even more sore than before. Ah…the beauty of football. So exciting and unpredictable.

The next match was Man.Utd-Arsenal. That finished 2-1, with the Gunners feeling thoroughly peeved at the way they managed to lose a match they should have won easily. United are nothing without Cristiano Ronaldo, and trying to play Giggs in the same way as CR is such a wrong move. Suffice to say United won by a goal coming from a penalty and a ‘classic own goal’ by Arsenal defender Diaby…inexplicably, the defender, left alone, misjudged wildly his header, sending a bullet past team-mate Almunia in the Gunners goal.

The big match was then on at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in Italy. Two giants, Inter and Milan taking on each other in the ‘Derby della Madonnina’. Expectations ran high for this match, and things indicated it was going to be too close to call. As usual, Inter had no Italians in their side, while Milan had six. (In the two matches between English sides described above, there were barely ten … mostly in the Spurs squad!)

Anyway, back to the match. This was a whitewash. Inter dominated a hapless Milan from the start. Milan’s weak link this year is surely coach Leonardo. I never really fancied him as a player, let alone as a coach! He is so hopeless. Adding Kaka’s goodbye was then nothing short of disastrous. The scoreline? 4-0, with the first half finishing already 3-0 and Gattuso sent off for Milan. His injury hampered him and showed Leonardo’s inexperience in not preparing Seedorf for an immediate change. Between being injured and being substituted, a whole three minutes had passed. An eternity in football! Thus it was that following a late challenge on Sneijder , Gattuso was sent off! What a shambles.

Inter selected not to inflict too much injury to Milan, as they backed off their pace a bit, but managing to score again by Stankovic, who it seems, sees red every time he plays against Milan.

And now….I’m off to bed…AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAchoooo.

Damn that was good!

What a weekend it turned out!

Aaaaargh…Ten in the morning and I’m still feeling pretty stoned this morning. That’s what happens to people who still insist on partying at my age.

I slowly creak out of bed, before dumping some six bottles of beer into the loo via a complicated system known as peeing. what happened? A rocking weekend. That’s what. It all started on Friday evening. St.Maria band club in Ghaxaq splashed a fantastic sum of money (or so I heard) to bring the Queen Rhapsody UK tribute band to Malta. So me and the wife were at Ghaxaq by 8pm, in the hope of securing a place at the front. Nothing doing…it was already jam-packed.

Naturally there were a couple of supporting acts that went down really well. First off, one of my favourite Maltese bands, Myth, bashed out an acoustic set that showed the real talent this band has – preparation, stage presence, and musical realisation. And humility.

Yep. Dion is ever so humble in accepting praises for the band, or the songs they write. But it’s ever so true. Together with Karen, Patrick and Mark, they have been releasing songs like there’s no tomorrow. And perhaps not surprisingly, songs that have been taken well by a receptive Maltese audience. What’s more, they have been doing this for yonks!!!

Sometimes I wonder to what heights these guys would have gone had sponsorship money been available to them…

The second band to play was the ‘Joe Brown Band’. Let me tell you in a few words. These guys are pros. Real pros. First off they had Eleanor Cassar take up the singing duties, and I was gob-smacked at the power in this little lady’s voice. Absolutely amazing. Needless to say, most of the tracks were cover versions, but far from being easy, I would say doing a cover and doing it well is the epitome of perfection.

Eleanor also sang her Eurovision entry, and not for the first time, I wondered what made the people and jury vote for Chiara. Stupendous. Eleanor is another shy and humble girl away from the stage. When I talked to her about certain decisions, she shyly hung her head to the right and answered ‘I will try harder next time.’ No remorse or anger or cynical remarks. Another winner that I wish would have more air-time and sponsorship available…but where on earth does she hide that incredible voice in such a tiny frame?

Mark and Aldo of Lord Adder fame then took the stage, and the crowd went wild as they belted one rock tune after another…Smoke on the Water, Hotel California, You give love a bad name, and of course, something also from their favourites.. Beatles and CCR. I remember first seeing Lord Adder live way back in err… 1985 I guess….and like me, they never grew up! Absolutely great show. Obviously Joe Brown himself is nothing short of amazing. What a guy!

By this time the crowd had swelled to incredible proportions. There was simply no more space in the road and in the side streets. I had a great position….Exit Stage Left, and I could see clearly down to the bottom, and it was bedlam when Mark and Aldo sang Hotel California. Who hasn’t heard of this great track? So the Ghaxqin, together with a huge contingent of ‘outsiders’ sang with much gusto… awaiting the arrival of Rhapsody.

And the Queen tribute band were greeted with fireworks as they made their way on to the stage. The following ninety minutes were a frenzy of inimitable music as written by the great band themselves. Rhapsody were nothing short of jaw-dropping as they belted one hit after another. The Ghaxaq crowd literally exploded as song after song unfolded, everybody chanting with the chorus and generally having a great time. The singer’s ‘Viva Santa Maria’ then threw out a roar of epic proportions… I thought the band was technically very impressive. The bassist played with incredible gusto all round, and I feel he is the cornerstone of the guys, although in truth, nobody disappointed. The singer’s voice war remarkably close to the great one’s, and wisely kept from singing tones he could not reach. Maturity and professionalism.

The guys finished with ‘We are the champions’ naturally, and for the Santa Maria Band fans, this was the epitome of a great show, fireworks thundering in the sky above, people in their thousands chanting and holding their hands in the air. Spine-chilling. Finally it was time to take a bow, and with a gigantic ‘Viva Santa Maria’ banner held by the band, the crowd were whipped into a frenzy… this, my friends, is what ROCK music is all about.

An absolutely great evening! Thank you Ghaxaq! Viva Santa Maria!

Yep, so that was Friday…I think it was 2am by the time we arrived home!

SATURDAY evening.

What could be better than a rock festival. TWO rock festivals of course.

Around 8pm we left home to make our way to Ta’Qali National Park arena, where a feast of Rock and Metal was about to ensue. the guest stars this time? Nothing but ‘Kiss Forever Band’.

Unfortunately the time constraints we had did not enable us to listen to ‘The Red Labels’…damn. We started off by Estrella, a Scottish band I admit I had not heard of, but these guys are damn good! I enjoyed their show…I enjoyed it a lot. This band is a five-piece classic rock-blues band that has great stage impact. I am certainly going to look out for them!

Next up were our mighty FIRE!!! God I love this band. Up there with Myth as my all-time favourites. I don’t think I will waste too many scrapes and bows here. The guys know I admire their music a lot, as of course, do many more real hard-rock fans locally. Fire gave us their repertoire from their debut album ‘Ignite’, as well as tantalising fare from ‘Thrill Me’ , their new effort.

People, don’t take my word for it…just go and get this CD. Hehe…how many nights has Robert stayed up listening to this one as he produced it?

Next up were Reborn. I have to be brutally honest here. This band had grabbed my attention two years ago when we took part in the RockBAZE competition, and I seriously thought they would be in the top two. This time however, I thought they were disastrous. The brashness of the lead guitar made listening to what was being played nigh-on impossible. The sound was actually coming through as one indistinct lump. The covers the band played? Shockingly bad. For next time then.

Okay, then up to the main attraction, greeting the band with the now infamous ‘You wanted the best…you GOT the best….’ Only God knows how long I wondered if I ever would hear that live. The band in question is the Hungarian ‘Kiss Forever Band’… but damn me they are frikkin good.

A good tastes and selection of music was played for the now large-ish and VERY enthusiastic crowd…crowd pleasers, such as – I was made for Loving you , Detroit Rock City, Rock n’ Roll all night, Beth, Strutter, Firehouse, Love Gun, Cold Gin, Doctor of Love, Shout it out loud and a host of others…

This band has now visited its’ 21st country, Malta, and the fans here could not be happier that this Hungarian quartet has been here to play. I must admit to being superbly impressed…

Looking around me I could see pensioners, AND children, painted up as Space Ace, or the Cat, and it made me smile, at how the power of rock can bring people of all ages together. After all, the pensioners were still 20-something back then when KISS started playing. Fathers and mothers all painted up towing their now teenage offspring with them…also painted up.

I enjoyed myself supremely throughout the whole set…and we only arrived home at 3am… So no wonder I am stonked out! Anybody wanting the pics from the show are free to ask for them on the email above!