You Tube Video Sharing.

Just started messing around with You tube the online Video Upload/Sharing service. Not really sure what I am going to do with it but here is the newly created Jungle Dome Belize Video Channel

With some funny video from MTV Wildboyz. Plus Video from us, including the Howler Monkey Riding the Dog and Kayaking

Wembley here we come - Memories of West Bromwich Albions Play Off Final in 1992/93

I was off to Wembley just a few months after my loan move from Newcastle United to West Bromwich Albion. These were the heady Days of life at WBA as we surged to the promotion play off finals against Port Vale. For me it was a roller coaster ride of thrill after thrill, and I couldn’t have written a better story after my arrival from Newcastle United.

Kevin Keegan had left me in the reserves at Newcastle United, giving me no opportunities to play in his team that was marching towards promotion in Division 1. So when the chance to join my old boss Ossie Ardiles at West Bromwich Albion came along I snapped it up. I could not have imagined the start of my career (see my previous post) going so well.

I scored 9 goals in 11 games as myself and Bob Taylor blasted in goal after goal to lead our march to the play off finals. We brushed Swansea aside in an epic 2 game semi final. The second game at home was a classic match with rain pouring down and 2 sides totally committed to victory and the chance to run out at Wembley in the final. I remember sliding in to score a goal in one of the most competitive matches I have ever played in. Tackles were flying in, players getting sent off but in the end we won the game and the semi-final. The crowd at the Hawthorns stormed the pitch after the final whistle and I made it back to the dressing room with just my boots and underwear on. Some lucky fan got a pair of stinky socks for their troubles!!

Life was very good during this period. My fitness levels had improved significantly since my arrival in the midlands and I was now playing to my potential, in a team that was creating numerous chances for the strikers. We had ridiculous goal scoring celebrations, parties to celebrate each victory, relaxed training sessions every day, reflecting Ossie Ardiles’ easy going nature.

I made some great friends during this time including Daryl Burgess, Darren Bradley, Mickey Mellon and Kwame Ampadu. 4 players who were also having a great time in a rejuvenated Albion side.

Training sessions during the last few weeks of the season had become a lot of fun, especially for the attacking players in Ossies team. Ossie loved to play little keep ball “circles” and Keith Burkinshaw often had to stop Ossies games so we could start the proper training session. They made a good partnership with Keith’s stern, serious outlook on the game, making sure the team was organized and prepared as opposed to Ossies more carefree attitude. Naturally I enjoyed working with Ossies more relaxed approach.

Preparations were underway for our Wembley Final against Port Vale. This was serious stuff. The winners would be promoted into Division 1; the losers would get to keep their memories of a day out at Wembley, the nations stadium.

I had been to Wembley before as a spectator but arriving at the stadium in the coach as one of the players was, well, surreal. Souvenir stalls, fans everywhere, hotdog stalls, the vibrant colours of the team flags all around us was just breathtaking. Our fans dominated the stadium and its surroundings. Some estimates suggested that we had 40,000 of the 55,000 fans in the stadium. (Thanks to the WBA Fans Forum for spotting my error). As you can imagine this gave us a real boost.

Driving into the stadium was also a very unusual experience. The big gate swung open and then the clamour and chaos of the Wembley walkways was behind us, as suddenly we were inside the tunnel, now surrounded by reporters who were all trying to get a sound bite for their papers. I didn’t really know what to expect, once inside. Gold paths, ivory bath taps, opulence everywhere!! Sounds stupid but you just don’t know what to expect when you enter the stadium. Actually the changing rooms and surrounding area were spacious but not very much different to other stadiums I had played at. Of course it was only when you entered the pitch that the heart started to jump a beat.

Wembley looks huge from the inside, We walked the field in our terrible Wembley suits, many of the players had got their trousers mixed up, so the trousers were an inch too long or and inch too short.

We soaked up the atmosphere. I even found my brother, Ian and friends, who although they were not Albion fans, had painted their faces with the Albion colours. They came down to the front of the stands and I chatted with them for a long while. I think they were having a great day too.

For me the game was the culmination of a tremendous period at West Brom. The field was immaculate, I felt very strong and we played some good football against a dogged Port Vale side. It took us a long time to break them down and the turning point was Port Vales main defender being sent off for a foul on my strike partner.

We scored not long after this and it was yours truly who opened the account for West Brom. Twisting like an eel, I directed a soft header into the corner of the net. WOW. Scoring at Wembley. Off I ran to the corner flag to dance my little jig, and celebrate like crazy with the team. My god. You have never had Adrenaline pumping like this unless you’ve hit a home run or sky dived from an aeroplane. The hard part was “coming down” again to cool my head and carry on the game. I did cool down as did the team and we went on to score another 2 goals and coast to victory.

The rest of the day was all a bit blurry after this. We celebrated, we talked to reporters in the tunnel, we did laps of honour, we celebrated some more, we got changed eventually, we watched the stadium empty out, we celebrated a bit more and eventually I got to see my friends and family outside the stadium. Champagne was aboard the bus and I headed back to the midlands to complete the season in style with a night out to celebrate a bit more.

One more thing was left to do and that was our open top bus ride around Smethwick and a final celebration at the Civic Centre. I sang and danced on the balcony and enjoyed myself as much that day as I did at Wembley. The season was over and we were now looking forward to the summer break and a shot at Division 1 next year. Of course Ossie Ardiles took the steam out of the end of season celebrations by leaving the club to take over at his beloved Tottenham. But who cared. We were still loving every minute of our promotion success and even the loss of our manager was something we could surely deal with.

Even if it meant joining the West Bromwich Albion Manager lottery. Over the next 5 years we slowly lost all the momentum of this glorious season, changing managers every year, sometimes more often. This was my biggest disappointment of my time at West Brom, in that we were never capable of building on the smallest scraps of success. But that’s another story…….

Read the rest of my story on "How To Become a Professional Footballer"

Part 1 - From Ashill To Arsenal
Part 2 - From Kettering to Newcastle United
Part 3 - To the Toon (NUFC)
Part 4 - Life with Kevin Keegan
Part 5 - Goodbye Newcastle United, hello the Baggies

Jaden Foundation - Childrens Charity in Belize

My wife Simone runs the Jaden Foundation Educational project in Belize, and she is now in the 3rd year of raising funds to provide financial assistance to children seeking a primary and secondary school education. For this year, 2006/2007, at todays date, 25 children who would otherwise not have had an education have received books and school uniforms. Many Thanks to all who have supported this cause.

About the Jaden Foundation

The Jaden Foundation is a non-profit, non-faith based organization aimed at improving the lives of Belizean children through education, vocational training and scholarships.

100% of the donated money goes to the children and the educational projects.

For more information or to donate visit the Jaden Foundation, or email Simone.

5 Years since 9/11

We moved to Belize 5 years ago today. Of course that coincides with the horrendous events in New York City, that has changed the world that we now live in.

I am no longer immersed in the media of the UK, but now feast on the news of the US which today (September 11th 2006) is subjected to the political shenanigans of it’s politicians trying to score political points on the back of the 9/11 tragedy.

We are all guilty of believing that our governments know what they are doing. That our politicians know their jobs. That our parents knew how to raise us as children. That our bosses at work know what’s good for us and that they know the way to proceed in their businesses. That our religious leaders are divinely inspired and know what they are talking about.

We are all guilty of handing over control of our lives to a 3rd party who we put our trust in and we are all continually let down by leaders who abuse their positions in power. We do not ask questions because we assume that someone else has done this for us. We assume that in government, checks are put in place to stop the abuse of power crazy leaders like George Bush and Saddam Hussein. We are wrong.

In Belize politicians of the government are continually sucking cash out of the country, . The local people have no idea that the Social Security funds that belong to them have been squandered by lawless politicians, that their government plays ping pong with the local Telecoms’ company BTL, which owns the monopoly on the Telecommunications business in Belize. For the cash benefit of a privileged few. That government cash funds and land set up to inspire local business and individuals to prosper are handed out to friends and family like free tickets to a concert.

Today, September 11th 2006, George Bush made another of his speeches for peace in his relentless way, referring to Iraq again and again on a day that had nothing to do with the Iraq war. Yet the American public has been hoodwinked into believing that the Iraq war is directly linked to the war on terror and the 9/11 attacks.

The American public has been badly let down by its government as has the British Public. Bush continually tells us that he wants peace before spending the majority of his speeches talking about war!!! I think a peace loving person would probably spend his time talking about making alliances, friends, relationships with other countries and not devoting the majority of his Christian inspired life fighting wars. As “Pink” recently sung, Bush has come “a long way since whisky and cocaine”.

I repeat again for anyone who does not understand what happened “There has been no provable connection between the former Iraqi regime and the 9/11 attacks”

And lets be real about this. If there was a connection, the US government would have moved heaven and earth to have found it and justify their war in Iraq.

So what the hell are the US/UK forces doing there?

We assume that our leaders know what’s best for us even when Israel bombs the crap out of Lebanon. All of the sane people of the world demand an immediate ceasefire. Apart from the US and the UK governments.

I do not know what inspires Tony Blair. But George Bush wears his faith on his sleeve. He insistently tells the world that he knows best. That he knows what these fanatical terrorists are going to do, if we don’t stop them. He tells his American public that the US has to bring the fight to the terrorists because him and his warmongers in the Pentagon know best. And the people all assume that their government does know best.

How does he know whats good for America? How does he know what these terrorists are going to do next? Is he a mind reader? If he knows what these terrorists are going to do why didn't he stop the attacks in the first place.

We live in a crazy world where peoples’ perceptions of reality are manipulated so easily by media and by governments. Fanaticism or extremism or addiction or any other way you want to describe something just doesn’t work. We all need a healthy balance in life. We do not need our addictions or fanatical beliefs. So lets hope that the Muslim extremism and hatred for the West can be kept in check and eradicated. Lets hope that Bin Laden can be caught and tried for his crimes. Lets hope that George Bush can be caught and tried for his war crimes. And lets hope that after 1,000s of years of fighting we can finally learn to live together in a world that benefits us all.

And that our competitive tendencies and primitive tribal urges can be satisfied on the field of sport and not on the field of war.

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