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Showing posts from February, 2013

A sad day as Northern Ireland plays Alex Bruce

Wednesday was another dark day for international football in Northern Ireland.  Michael O’Neill’s side drew 0-0 with lowly Malta, a team made up of part-time players, meaning that the manager has yet to achieve a win, after 18 months in charge.
That’s not the reason, though, that it was a dark day for Northern Ireland football.  Managers come and go, players are capped and retire, lose form or fall out of favour; matches are played and sometimes the result is good while more often, particularly in friendly matches, it is bad. 
The only thing that should be constant is the honour of playing for one’s country.  The Irish Football Association can change the international coach, revitalise the playing panel, modify tactics, but the prestige attached to the award of an international cap, if it is diminished, cannot be recovered.
That’s why by far the most significant event on Wednesday evening was the selection of Alex Bruce and his participation in 70 minutes of a grim, lacklustre inter…

Lamenting USSR's break-up isn't 'rewriting history'

As an occasional newspaper columnist I understand the pressures of coming up with an instant opinion on something .... anything.  Still, an article in The Times today by Ben Macintyre is a particularly lame affair.  The premise is that Mussolini, Stalin and Hitler were very bad men and that Italy and Russia aren’t contrite enough about it, while Germany is.
In the round that’s a fairly un-startling observation, although it’s less clear what purpose this national self-flagellation that Macintyre wants to see would serve.  He hangs his argument on some fairly flimsy facts. Take this piece of evidence that ‘the rehabilitation of Stalin is also gathering pace’.
“Under Vladimir Putin’s government, a revised school curriculum describes him as a ‘competent manager’ whose actions were ‘entirely rational’”. 
Some of the best historians of Russia in the English language have already gone to quite some length to emphasise that Stalin’s purges were not the actions of a paranoid lunatic.  It’s p…