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Manchester Popular culture Preview/review Sport

Court by the Buzz*: an afternoon with the Manchester Giants

I’ve only been to the basketball once in my life before (I know, shame.on.me.)

Started off low-key at the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn, with the Brooklyn Nets. I had no clue what was going on. Not entirely helped by being in the nosebleed section. See, I know basketball words.

One minute there was seemingly some basketball being played, next we were being alerted to the presence of a beaming Bill Clinton smiling and waving to us on the big screens (I could just about make him out in the arena – a tiny dot, waving his tiny dot hand), the next t-shirts being fired out of a sort of t-shirt gun at what appeared to be a frightening rate and speed, the next some rapping.

I mean it was all very exhilarating and exciting but anything could have been going down in that court, I only knew it was basketball because it said so on my ticket.

Mind, I did accomplish one of my finest purchases that day. A foam finger in all its glory.

And so when I was kindly invited to a basketball game last Sunday on home turf; that of the mighty Manchester Giants!

Told the game against Plymouth Raiders was a sell-out, with tip-off at 5pm (yes, tip-off! Think kick-off but with fewer feet), we arrived at George H Carnall Leisure Centre, Urmston, about 40 minutes early, assuming plenty of time to have our pick of the bleachers and seats. I had my eye on court-side – if it’s good enough for Jack Nicholson, it’s good enough for me.

Oh how naive I was. As we approached the sports hall, we could hear balls bouncing and beats ringing out from the sideline DJ and as we entered, it was clear that there was to be no court side for me today, no siree!

The atmosphere was electric and the players were still only warming up! As we found our way to the end of a row – not courtside yet not quite ‘nosebleed section’, the beauty of going to see your local team is that you don’t need to be courtside to be engaged with what’s going on.

A brief rundown of the rules (that I will pretend I already knew…

Basketball is played by two teams who score points by throwing a ball into an opposing team’s basket. The team with the most points are the winners.

Each team has a squad of 12, with 5 players on the court at any one time.

You can move the ball round by passing, tapping, throwing, rolling or dribbling.

The game consists of four quarters of 10 minutes each with a 15-minute break at half time. There are also two-minutes interval between the first and second periods, and between the third and fourth periods.

If the game is tied after the fourth period, it continues with an extra period of five minutes, then as many five-minute periods as are necessary to break the tie.

Points are scored for shooting the ball through the hoop – 2 points for a goal within the 3 point semi-circle and 3 points for goals scored from outside.

Free throws, taken from the free-throw line and awarded after a foul, are worth one point.

BBC Sport website

An immersive and seemingly collaborative experience, the MC (?) is on it throughout, helping to whip the fans into a frenzy, encouraging cries of

DE-FENCE, DE-FENCE, DE-FENCE

And of course…

GI-ANTS, GI-ANTS, GI-ANTS

I started off chanting to fit in with the crowd, ending up chanting because, reader, I was willing defence to block that shot (is that the correct terminology?), passionately wanting the Giants to get the ball in the net.

It really does get you.

And then I espied the merch. Was there a Manchester Giants branded foam finger?

Oh yes.

There was.

And it was pretty.

My Brooklyn Nets finger was all fine and dandy but the most miserable shade of grey you could imagine.

This finger was green, of course. Bright green. And it was mine.

I also pondered the many rubber ducks I could see on sale, but the finger was the thing, and I returned to my seat triumphant, noting the slightly tortured look on my face of my partner as he recalled the constant foam jabbing he endured on our last trip to the basketball.

Half-time came and did the action calm down? It did not and suddenly the abundance of rubber ducks became clear as what felt like hundreds starting whizzing past from every direction towards the centre of the court, launched by grinning children, teens, adults alike. What was this sudden onslaught? It was the ‘Chuck a Duck’ challenge, it transpired; closest duck to the centre got its thrower a signed ball!

At one point it seemed like there were as many people on the court as off, as local children and teens lined up to take part in a penalty shoot-out session.

As people returned to their seats and rubber ducks were swept away, it was time to return to the action proper.

Time flies when you’re having fun, as the whole adage goes and it really did feel like the second half flew just flew by as my eyes only momentarily left the court to check that my foam finger wasn’t intruding on someone’s personal space (only happened the once – my partner’s personal space does not count).

Excitingly, the fourth period ended on a draw and so time was played for one team to secure a win. On our feet, we cheered, whooped, chanted with all our might. Sadly it was not to be as Plymouth Raiders narrowly secured the win.

However, and forgive the cheese, we were all winners really (I know the Giants may argue that point), as we’d all enjoyed a brilliant Sunday afternoon.

It really is such an inclusive and immersive experience. And whilst some sporting events and fixtures can feel quite intimidating, I would recommend that parents especially considering getting your children into the game as it’s such a fun and exhilarating sport, and this is coming from a grown woman (yes, foam-finger withstanding – now I own two, I’m ready to set up as a Kenny Everett tribute act – google it..!).

A match report this was not in the sporting sense, but as a new experience and event, the Manchester Giants triumphed.

For details of fixtures and tickets, please visit https://www.manchestergiants.com/

* yes I’ve just been to see Supergrass at Victoria Warehouse

Categories
Events Manchester Popular culture preview Sport

News: Manchester Giants basketball – Final Six season ticket on sale now

I’ve been to a basketball game and I really enjoyed it.

A million ‘mehs’ sound out across the land by those who have been to a million games and don’t feel the need to advertise it.

The point is (and there is a point) that I had to go to Brooklyn to do so. And Bill Clinton was there. But that’s another story (it’ll be popping up in a blog post near you, though).

And whilst it’s not technically true that I had to go to Brooklyn to do so, I’m getting a second bite of the cherry a lot closer to home. Urmston to be exact, in the shape of the hugely popular Manchester Giants!

The Manchester Giants reclaimed their place in the professional British Basketball League (BBL) back in 2012/13 after a decade long absence, much to the delight of their large following.

Manchester leads the way, once again, (of course) as the city has the highest number of basketball players and enthusiasts thanks, in part, to a vibrant amateur scene.

Last season, the Giants enjoyed their most successful season since their return to the BBL, winning 19 games and reaching the semi-finals of both the BBL Cup and the BBL Trophy.

If you’re not already court-side a’la Jack Nicholson (see, I know the lingo), there’s a great opportunity to see what all the fuss is about.

The club has just launched their ‘Final Six Ticket’ which covers six of the remaining home games for the price of four.

Their next game is a classic Roses Derby (do love a war of the roses), on Sunday 16 February, against B.Braun Sheffield Sharks.

I’ll be there on Sunday 1 March to watch them thrash Plymouth, waving my huge foam finger (not a gross metaphor) in the air (I genuinely have one, I just need to do some creative Manchester ‘rebranding’).

I’ll let you know how I get on (and I might elaborate on Clinton).

To get your Final Six ticket, or indeed any other ticket to see the Manchester Giants in action, head to www.manchestergiants.com

Categories
Culture Manchester Marathon People Photography Popular culture Sport Travel Uncategorized

The Tram Tribes – a Manchester subculture. 

The Manchester Metrolink.

It has its knockers but I’m a fan and think, in general, it’s pretty good. Pretty good doesn’t include when it terminates early at Timperley or Navigation Road (Alty commuters, right?).

But as a service, it mostly works.


Whilst crowding and cancellations can drive you to the brink at times (or not, if the latter), what  you can’t blame Metrolink for is some of its dwellers. users. commuters. inhabitants. species of man (and woman and child).

We all know them.

Cause of many a passive aggressive eye roll and sigh on my part, to be fair, these tribes and types can sometimes also  serve as entertainment to and from work.

(None of the people in this picture fall into that category – it was just a nice crowd shot)

Metrolink recently ran a campaign aimed at trying to bring a touch of civility and respect amongst passengers, identifying and trying to tackle some of the main offensive behaviours.

This caught my eye for two reasons:

  • I was pleased that there was a glimmer of hope that the offending people would take note and stop doing what they’re doing; and
  • the campaign employed fridge magnets amongst the promotional materials which, if you were quick enough, you could find and take from (it was allowed) the back of tram seats – cue much excitement from me at half 6 in the morning – a disproportionate amount, you might say.

They were great and tackled lots of anti social behaviour such as people using their massively oversized bags to either take up the space of a small family, or take you out as they’re swung around the carriage.

And we all know the rowdys, the hammereds, the ‘fragrant’, the selfish space-hoggers.

However, the main three tram tribes which I have encountered and cause my resting heart rate to increase between 6 and 7am, and again between 4 and 5pm, are as follows:

*The Tram Monitor*

It was a cold day in December, when the tram was as crowded as a pavement outside Yard and Coop during one of their free chicken promotions, when you boarded at Brooklands, and started shouting at us all to move down as it’s

so unfair, oh it’s so unfair!

I should point out that since Altrincham three stops ago, us selfish standees had already become closely acquainted enough to identify the brand of each other’s fabric softener and, short of forming Greater Manchester’s answer to the Human Centipede, had nowhere else to go.

I should secondly point out that the declaration of things being

so unfair, just so unfair

were called out from her ample and, you might say, roomy space ON THE TRAM.

I’m also looking at you, couple on Manchester Marathon day, when you swanned on at Cornbrook having just addressed the assembled assortment of crammed in commuters 

Hey everyone, if you move down, it creates space and allows more people on

This revelation was bellowed from the platform as the doors were only just opening, everyone, not having had chance yet to create space.


(my fellow passengers exercising not only later that morning in the marathon, but also their restraint as we were lectured on basic physics by Tram Monitors)

*The Platform Strategist* 

Fair play, if you’re getting the Metrolink twice a day, five times a week, you cannot help but develop strategies, tactics and work rounds, if you want to survive (aka get on or even get a seat).

But there always extremists.

Yes we all know the classic platform points where you will find yourself opposite a door, once the tram rolls in (infrequent passengers who don’t? I’m sorry but to share this information here would incur the wrath of those who have spent years honing this knowledge. There has to be some privileges to being a frequent flyer). To be fair, I’ve done it myself and would probably put myself in this category to a point.

But you’re supposed to retain dignity. It’s got to be subtle. If there’s already somebody stood waiting in one of the golden spaces, suck it up. Stand near there. Know that you might not be first on, but will be perhaps second. Third. Fourth. But you’ve snoozed and so you’ve possibly losed. But there are those who are baying for blood and determined to gain an upper hand on this matter. And the ensuing behaviours are what I can’t deal with.

In fact here they are in list form:

  • the shoulder jostle, the elbow jostle, the basically any body part jostle. Back off.
  • platform creep – yes we can all see you shuffling forward to to the edge, trying to get a stronghold on matters.
  • side-eye. side-eye at fellow passengers to plan your next move, side-eye at the board to see how long you’ve got to get in prime position, side-eye down the tracks to see whether the prize is in sight. Basically side-eye full stop. Stop it.
  • the blocker stance as the tram arrives and the doors are in sight. Making yourself wide in order to achieve pole-position for when those pesky people in your way actually trying to get off the tram, despite your presence, finally leave and you can grab first prize in the getting on the tram awards.

Last and by no means, by any stretch of the imagination,

*The Tram Worker*

I do not mean the largely lovely people who work on or for Metrolink. 

I mean the cretin who sees the tram as an extension of their office and they don’t care who knows it. In fact they want you to know it. Via the medium of the telephone and the loud voice.

Yeah, so it’s me.

Yeah hi. Just checking in. Seeing how it’s going.

You’ll see how it’s going when you get to the office in 5 minutes.

Yeah, yeah, I mean going forward you’re going to need to drill down on that, dig deep, get a feel, flesh it out…

Meanwhile the rest of us are all considering how, going forward, we’d like to take that drill and your flesh, and find ourselves with a need  to then dig deep.

Too much? Imagine that in an over bearing loud voice when you’ve barely been awake 30 minutes.


(My ticket to sigh)

And then pity the person on the other end of the phone. And their fellow commuters. It’s a domino effect of terribleness that has the ability to spread across the Metrolink network at peaktime as rapidly as the news of a free chicken giveaway at Yard and Coop (what? I hear they’re notoriously popular).

However, as I alluded to in the intro of this rant/blogpost, there can be entertaining elements to these matters. Especially when you get to hear this from the person who’s been subjecting you to their work call for the last 6 stops…

Oh absolutely. Oh I concur.

Yeah, I mean, it’s all absolutely under control. Dan and I have been in a huddle, thrown some figures around, brainstormed the sh£t out of the proposal and the headline is, we’re so on it.

Yeah, see you at the office in 2 mins.

(Frantic dialling)

Yeah Dan? We’re f%ck*d mate.

So there we have it. I’m hoping by sharing (venting) I will learn to disengage from these lovelies and instead concentrate on the great sights of the even Greater Manchester from the Metrolink instead…


Categories
Celebrity Culture Football Manchester Photography Popular culture Preview/review Sport The Arts Theatre

the King’s Speech – ooh, ahh, an evening with Eric Cantona

Against an apt backdrop of much controversy and mirth, Eric Cantona brought his Evening with… show to The Lowry Theatre this week. 


Prior to taking my red husband (in football supporting terms, you understand, his blood pressure is normal) last night (Thurs 23 February) for his Valentine’s treat, we were treated to a cacophony (about 4) of reports about the catastrophe that was the Bournemouth show.

Auctions! Late Arrivals! Inappropriate Comedians!

…screamed the press, in the biggest  controversy since a footballer Kung fu kicked a man. 

Quicker than you can say trawlers (bet you thought I would go with seagulls didn’t you), reference was made to the Bournemouth Bloodbath in the opening moments by the (very good) local knowledge in-joke laden stand up, and there wasn’t an auction in sight.

Our tickets meant that not even my old reliable iPhone could take a non-blurry photo of the stage and the man (I’ll have you know that £55 applied to every seat – even ours in the Gods, so I definitely wasn’t in the cheap seats here), and so I  have a series of loud, shouty videos depicting hero-worship in all its glory.

He was everything you’d want him to be. The man basically gave good Cantona.

To sum up: great night – we laughed, we chanted and we collectively winced when, during a question on mental health support for retiring players, a woman shouted out 

Ere y’are, what did that ‘ooligan say to make you kick ‘im?!

Together with an oscar-worthy reenactment of the great quote itself and a couple of nuggets which included hearing of Cantona’s upcoming Chinese project (nothing involving £1 million weekly wages) and his love for Loach, worth the pennies.
All the deets 

 
Keegan, Trump, FIFA and Liverpool fans – best you swerve Sunday’s matinee.

C’est magnifique

Categories
Fitness Manchester Marathon Sport

The Greater Manchester Marathon (it’s not Snickers. Heathens) 2016

This was my third marathon. My hat trick.

There, any kind of remote feelings of wonderment towards me must end (only in this regard, of course, carry on for the other reasons).

My third as a spectator, bag looker afterer, next of kin, meerkat impersonator as I attempt to spot my partner in crime (the Rabid Mime) proud supporter and, it has to be said, worrier.

My first was the Greater Manchester Marathon 2013, my second the New York Marathon 2015, and this the third, the Greater Manchester Marathon 2016. 

My marathon (supporting) career resembles a kind of New York sandwich. Which would make it a Reuben.

The journey on the day begins with the actual journey. Early rise on a Sunday, on public transport with fellow runners and fellow supporters – do they feel as embarrassed as me to be in civvy clothing? Probably not as they are sure to be well adjusted and more self assured than myself.

None more so than the couple who swanned on at Cornbrook.

Hey everyone, if you move down it creates space and allows more people on!

This, revelation, mind, was bellowed as the doors were opening. Everyone, not having had a chance to create space. 

We then approach Trafford Bar.

Open the doors! Open the doors and let me off. This is the stop for the Marathon.

A kindly soul gently explains that they are best to get off at Old Trafford Cricket Club, that being, in actual fact, the closest to Old Trafford Cricket Club, the start of the race.

This was met with silence and a refusal by the couple to make eye contact with everyone.


Great weather was matched by a greater location for the race village; Old Trafford Cricket Club. Yes I know its full name includes its sponsor but I’m no corporate puppet, no siree.


I do understand that the baggage collection element of the ‘Manchester Marathon didn’t go brilliantly, but this didn’t affect this blogger and her charge, as this blogger also serves as supporter and packhorse at races.

As always, it was heartwarming (read ‘soul-destroying’) to see all these fit and sporty people, smiling, laughing, and milling right before running 26.2 miles.


It’s important to have a pre-arranged meeting place after any well-populated race. Where better than in the Pavilion with this view:


Goodbyes said, the runners make their way over to the Start Line whilst supporters plan their vantage points, consider how they’ll spend the next few hours, wonder if their phone batteries will last the course (me), where the nearest loo is (me), whether they’ll find somewhere to linger and write, that won’t judge me (see Foundation Coffee House post) .

Most of all, whether they’ll ever find themselves running a marathon (me and no).


After having the brilliant idea to go to the Costa Coffee down the road (did you know that it’s an actual drive-thru?! I’m still getting over my first visit to a McDonalds one, two years ago – what a seamless magical routine they have), I quickly discovered that pretty much everyone had the same idea.

And so it was to the 5 miles mark that I headed, right opposite the infamous Lou Macari’s Chip Shop. Here were lots of fervent supporters and whoopers and there I stood, and filmed, and photographed, and clapped, and managed to miss seeing my runner.

Come on! Hooray! Well done.

You get the general idea.


I and my fellow self-loathers did see plenty of other runners though and magnificent they all were. Two boys behind me made me smile as they listed the characters who were so far beating their dad…

Batman and Robin!

A gorilla!

118 men …

and

Wait for it

A man in a skirt!!!

yes, we’re looking at you man and indeed all men from Scotland.

Some hours later, the runners, they did run and emerged back at Old Trafford Cricket Ground tired, magnificent, happy and victorious.

Whilst this blogger and supporter got out of breath walking over to Salford Quays and back, these runners had been here, there, everywhere and essentially to Altrincham and back.

As I sat in the ground on our pre-arranged spot I was just considering whether a spot where my runner had to walk up steps, immediately after finishing, was wise. And so just as I was looking around for a plan B, up those steps he did appear.

With a personal best of

3.45.03

the Rabid Mime did become the Rapid Mime (brilliant, eh?).

And so another wonderful day for (Greater) Manchester as Mancunians joined with non-Mancunians who came from far and wide, to run, see South Manchester, achieve personal goals and raise money for charity in the

Greater Manchester Marathon 2016.

 

Final mention and word, however, must go to fellow supporters, little George, and his mother, as we were all leaving the race village…

George, you’ve pulled your pants up with tomato ketchup hands!

Congrats to all (especially George)!