The Super 8s – Here’s a radical thought.

Here’s a radical thought. Next year, keep the Super 8s but wipe out the points from the first 23 games of the season. Before the abuse starts, let me expand.

Maybe it is just me, but is most of the excitement and anticipation in the Super 8s currently centred on the Qualifiers? Obviously, the inclusion of the mighty Bulls will have something to do with it but there is more to it than that. There is something about wiping the slate clean and starting again at this stage. everything is possible. For very good reasons, the top teams got to carry the points over and continue with their league. But is it feasible that Hull and Catalans can pull back the six or eight point deficit on the 4th placed Huddersfield and reach the play-offs? They certainly started like they believed, with a stunning win over high flying Saints. Hull pushed Castleford very close; maybe every minute does count – but could we make it better?

Watching a game at the weekend, my wife asked why the top teams didn’t have the points wiped clean like the Qualifiers. I started to trot out the “rewarding teams for their performance over 23 weeks “ but, as she pointed out, that reward in the Qualifiers is a supposedly an advantage in the fixture list, more home games etc. Why not adopt the same for the top section? If the next seven games are simply a race to qualify for the top 4 do Leeds really need a seven point start over Castleford? Are we in danger of being like Formula 1 where the fastest cars start at the front. Surely more exciting if the fastest started at the back and used their skill and power to overtake?  While I am not talking about handicapping the likes of Leeds and Wigan, wiping the points clean could introduce that element of jeopardy that was talked about at the start of the season.

Is there a middle ground? What would the league table look like if the fixtures against the bottom four were removed? After all, this would give more weight to the teams that do well against the big boys, rather than racking up big wins against the lesser teams. I admit, I had a theory that Catalans would benefit from this move. They beat St Helens convincingly last week, and had big wins over Wigan and Warrington earlier in the season.

Super League - Perpignan, France - Home of the Catalans Dragons
Super League – Perpignan, France – Home of the Catalans Dragons

However, if I got my sums right, they would move up just one place, going above Hull if the table was based on matches against the other top 8 teams. Significantly, Wigan would leapfrog Leeds at the top of the table under this system. Saints and Huddersfiled would still make the top 4. But, hang on a minute, by stripping out matches against Hull KR, Salford, Widnes and Wakefield, two teams Hull and Castleford end up with only 14 fixtures as opposed to the others having 15. So, the magic weekend fixtures should be stripped out as well. As Wigan fans remember well, they walloped Leeds in Newcastle. Stripping this result would put the Rhinos back on top. In fact, the only positional change would be the Dragons moving above Hull on points difference. The gap between 4th and 5th would be bigger so, if its excitement we want this is not the way forward.

The table:

Played Won Drawn Lost Points Diff Points
Leeds

14

9

1

4

120

19

Wigan

14

9

0

5

32

18

St Helens

14

8

0

6

-10

16

Huddersfield

14

7

1

6

51

15

Castleford

14

6

0

8

-23

12

Warrington

14

5

0

9

-2

10

Catalans

14

5

0

9

-52

10

Hull

14

5

0

9

-78

10

In the space of a couple of days thinking about this I have basically turned 180 degrees. For next year, let’s keep the Super 8 concept but take it a stage further. Wipe the points at the end of the 23 games and have a straight race to the playoffs. Teams would still have the incentive to finish as high as possible to get the advantageous fixtures in the Super 8s. The better teams should still come through but the excitement would then match the Qualifiers. Every second would really count then. 

I told you it was radical. Do you agree?

facebooktwitterpinterestmailby feather

Soul Man 11

The latest edition of the Soul Man programme is available for streaming here:

Soul Man 11 by Roy Burgess on Mixcloud

The playlist:

It Only Happens (When I Look At You) Jackie Wilson
Gotta have your love The Sapphires
Never Had a Cream Come True Stevie Wonder
Funkytown (Single Version) Lipps Inc
Lonely Girl Annabelle Fox
Crazy Gnarls Barkley
I Can’t Turn You Loose Otis Redding
Oh Girl [*] Jay-Z/Raphael Saadiq
Don’t Tell Me I’m Crazy [#] The Fantastic Four
Giants Andreya Triana
Word Up Cameo
Shame Evelyn “Champagne” King
Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On Yvonne Fair
Can I Get a Witness Barbara Randolph
Help Me Al Wilson
I’ve Been Lonely for So Long Frederick Knight
You Don’t Know Where Your Interest Lies Dana Valery
Day By Day The Exceptions
(Win, Place or Show) She’s A Winner The Intruders

The downloads from Amazon:


facebooktwitterpinterestmailby feather

Soul Man 10

The latest Soul Man radio show is available here. The playlist is below and links to all of the downloads from Amazon. Follow me on Mixcloud.

Soul Man 10 by Roy Burgess on Mixcloud

Little Richard Great Gosh A’Mighty
Smokey Robinson & the Miracles I Don’t Blame You at All
Willie Tee Walkin’ Up A One Way Street
Isaac Hayes Theme from Shaft
Leon Bridges Lisa Sawyer
Eddie Kendricks Keep on Truckin’
James Fountain Seven Day Lover (7″ Mix)
The Pointer Sisters Yes We Can Can
Laura Greene Moonlight Music And You 
Ann Sexton You Got To Use What You Got
Yarbrough & Peoples Don’t Stop The Music
Jackson 5 I Want You Back
Johnnie Taylor Disco Lady
Chris Clark I Want to Go Back There Again
Bobby Byrd I know you got soul
Sam And Dave When Something Is Wrong with My Baby
A Taste Of Honey Boogie Oogie Oogie (7″ Single Edit)
Booker T. & the MG’s Soul Limbo

facebooktwitterpinterestmailby feather

Mission Impossible

Mission Impossible – how do you avoid the score before watching a recorded game?

For many years, in the interests of marital harmony, I have recorded the televised Rugby League matches rather than watch them live. That way, we enjoy a meal, have a drink, watch a film etc. I watch the game, oblivious to the score, the morning after. Result – everybody happy.

In the modern age, this is becoming increasingly difficult. In fact, to tie in with the new film it is almost Mission Impossible. (I bet the music is now going through your head!)

Back in the halcyon days before smart phones, iPads and 24×7 media the biggest danger was walking into the local pub. No matter how many people you told that you were avoiding the score there was always somebody who thought it was funny to tell you. As times changed we were more likely to find ourselves in restaurants but with the same outcome.

Football too

It’s not just a rugby league problem, football is just the same. In 1997, my employer at the time held a big IT conference in Stratford. A dinner was arranged on the Wednesday evening – nicely coinciding with England’s vital World Cup qualifier against Italy. No problem, we would skip the dinner and watch the game in the bar. The management got whiff of this and made the dinner mandatory. A compromise deal was struck with the hotel. They would video the game and show it in the bar from 10.30. A full radio blackout was agreed and policed by everybody. By 10.20 we were gathering in the makeshift stadium, drinks sorted and a nice atmosphere building. The first attempt at starting the video ended with a blank, grey screen. The room fell silent. Would the IT department be defeated by technology (again)? A second later, Alan Shearer appeared to a huge roar then blank again. In the silence that followed, an American voice from the corner, not one of our hundred strong group, said quite clearly “I don’t know why you’re bothering, England lose one to nothing.” The ensuing silence was so threatening that even Jack Bauer would have had a slight wee. Needless to say, the perpetrator left very quickly. The atmosphere fell flat and by the end of the inevitable defeat there were only half a dozen hardy souls left.

Technology

Of course, technology has moved on in the intervening years and made things far more tricky. Facebook, eMail and Twitter have to be avoided at all cost in the lag between the match kicking off and watching the final tackle. Other technology traps exist. The Sky+ box itself has a nasty habit of surprising me. Just as you press stop at the end of a film, the channel has inevitably changed to the match, just as Eddie Hemmings mentions the score. I am very quick when it comes to hitting the mute button but sometimes not quick enough.

The main BBC news mentions rugby league about as often as I drink Pimms- except when I am avoiding the score – so no news.

The episode that triggered this piece happened at 10.02pm on Friday, a few minutes after the hooter had gone at the semi final. A text message on my phone – could be important. Like an idiot I looked and it was those nice people at the RFL telling me that Leeds were in the cup final. As a Bulls fan that was a double whammy – our old enemy reaching the final and me knowing the result of one of the most eagerly awaited games of the season. I did watch the game after I had calmed down and it was worth it for the gem from Dave Woods in his commentary. “There is a rumour in Leeds that Superman wears Kallum Watkins pyjamas” – priceless.

Of course, the Super 8s start on Thursday. Once again I will be watching it delayed. I will be unplugged and not near the phone. Short of somebody hiring a plane to buzz Burgess Towers, dragging an 80ft banner behind it surely I am safe.

Burgess – Your mission, should you choose to accept it…

facebooktwitterpinterestmailby feather

The middle 8s and the salary cap

Ahead of the Middle 8s, is it fair that some clubs have almost double the salary cap to play with? Secondly – does it matter?

If we dismiss the possibility of Hull KR pulling off a stunning turnaround this weekend, the dust is now settled on the composition of the Middle 8. Rovers will be joined in a fight for survival by Widnes, Salford and Wakefield. Leigh, Bradford, Sheffield and Halifax join them in a bid for glory and promotion.

Whilst I applaud the concept I have to question whether there is a level playing field for this stage of the season. The obvious disparity is the salary cap. The Super League clubs theoretically have £1.825m to play with whilst the Championship cap is £1m. I say theoretically because income plays a part in the final calculation and many teams spend nowhere near the limit. However, having almost twice as much to play with must be a big advantage to those clubs – or is it?

All of the clubs involved have strengthened (or at least added to) their squads over recent weeks. None more so than Super League bottom club Wakefield. The Wildcats have made nine signings (assuming I can count that far). This would be a significant turnover in a squad over the winter. To do it mid-season is a huge gamble. As a Bulls fan, and I am sure the Centurions have been the same, the Wildcats have had a mental tick against them all season as the weak member of the herd, ready to be picked off in the battle for promotion. My heart sank a little when Brian Smith was announced as their new coach. We still have fond memories at Odsal of how Smith arrived and transformed the club ready for the Super League era. If anybody can rescue Wakefield it will be Smith but, is such a massive overhaul possible in the space of a few weeks? Rather than gamble everything on short term signings (something that licensing was brought in to eradicate from the game) would a couple of new faces and a solid plan for next season been a better approach?Changing the playing roster rapidly rarely works; ask Salford fans if you are in doubt. The more restrained approach of making a key signing may be a better strategy. Certainly Omari Caro has added some much needed pace to the Bulls back line and, if Warrington pull it off, Chris Sandow would be a huge boost to the Wolves.

Of course, signing players on short term deals at the end of a season is nothing new. The Bulls did it very successfully ten years ago, signing Adrian Morley once his Australian commitments were finished for the year, allowing him to add a Super League Grand Final win to his NRL success. I was uncomfortable at the time that the signing was somehow not fair but got over that when we beat Leeds at Old Trafford!

It is that question of fairness that nags away at me now. For the first time, the game is looking to crash together teams from different competitions, with different salary caps into a playoff system. I think it will be a tremendous spectacle for the sport but a more level playing field should be introduced. It is rare that football’s Premier League considers financial fairness but the transfer window is something that the RFL could adopt. My proposal would be that transfers and new player registrations are allowed up until the Magic Weekend. After that – you play with what you have, avoiding the temptation to gamble everything on end of season signings for the playoffs. If the first team squad isn’t producing the goods, try some younger faces from within the club. This would stop the instant fix of signing Aussies that are surplus to requirements at their clubs or the same old faces that regularly move at this time of year.

In summary, it is probably slightly unfair with two salary caps but the caps are there to protect the clubs from over reaching. Does it matter? My bet is that the teams moulded over a season by Leigh, Bradford and Sheffield will prove too good for a scratch team that have just met in the last couple of weeks.

There is one caveat to all of the above. I am writing this on Wednesday afternoon. I have just seen on Facebook that the Bulls are announcing two new signings this evening. If it turns out to be the Burgess twins or Semi Randrada and Shaun Johnson then all bets are off and fairness can take a hike! One thing is for sure, the Middle 8s will be a fascinating battle. Strap yourselves in – this is going to be exciting.

facebooktwitterpinterestmailby feather

Soul Man 8

Soul Man 8

Soul Man 8 by Roy Burgess on Mixcloud

 

All of the music on this show is available from Amazon. Just click the links.

Martha/The Vandellas – Dancing in the Street. Originally top 30 in 1964 but reached number 4 on re-ssue in 1969 – their biggest uk hit

David Ruffin – I Can’t Stop the Rain. From his final Motown album In My Stride in 1977 – not a UK hit.

Otis Redding – Hard To Handle. Number 15 in 68 – a year after the singer’s death 

Leon Bridges. River. From the debut album Coming Home. The album lives up to the hype.

Jim Gilstrap – Swing Your Daddy. Reached number 4 in the spring of 1975

Eddie Holland – Baby Shake. Famous as part of the songwriting team Holland Dozier Holland but 1963 solo single stands up to scrutiny!

Loleatta Holloway – Love Sensation. Written by Dan Hartman, number 1 dance song in the US but had to wait until sampled by Black Box for anything in the UK. The samples were never cleared legally and the original vocal had to be hurriedly re-recorded by Heather Small of M People. Black Box reached number 1 in 1989. The late Loleatta Holloway had several UK hits in the 90s

East Coast Connection – Summer In The Park Pt. 1

The Epitome Of Sound – You Don’t Love Me (7″ Mix) From 1968 -as featured in the film Northern Soul film

Shalamar – I Can Make You Feel Good. Number 7 in 1982

Sly And The Family Stone – Dance to the Music. Top 10 in summer of 68. This album only available on CD

Mary Wells – I’ll Be Available. From 1964 on Motown

Marvin Gaye – Can I Get a Witness. Written by Holland – Dozier – Holland

Tony Clarke – Landslide. Never a UK a hit.This album is only available on CD

The Third Degree – Mercy. From the outstanding new compilation album Modern Northern Soul,The Third Degree and their 2009 cover of Duffy’s Mercy

Rodger Collins – She’s Looking Good. From 1967

Smokey Robinson and the Miracles – I Second That Emotion. Big hit in 1967

O’JaysBack Stabbers

MFSBT.S.O.P. (The Sound Of Philadelphia

facebooktwitterpinterestmailby feather

My genius plan for the economy

My genius plan for the economy

The British economy is a complex thing!

At the end of April I blogged about my new project – refurbishing our apartment in Apperley Bridge ready for us to move in. Being project manager and customer has taught me many things about running projects (largely – don’t try being PM and customer at the same time). With this insight, I feel uniquely positioned to comment on a couple of recent news stories.

If news reports are to be believed, both the Palace of Westminster and Buckingham Palace are in desperate need of repairs. I say believed because my in depth research (a quick trawl of Google) reveals that the cost for the former could be £3bn (BBC and Telegraph), £6bn (Mirror), £7bn (ITV) or £7.1 bn (Telegraph again!). The Daily Mail quoted £3bn – they may have off-shored the work.

Palace of Westminster needs some attention
Palace of Westminster needs some attention

With the contacts made on this project (carpets supplied and fitted by Connaught Carpets), I reckon we could land the Westminster job for a lot less than £7bn but it could take a while as the painter has got several jobs booked already. Buckingham Palace is difficult to quote for as I am not sure what damage the dogs will have done.

In the build up to today’s budget there was a lot of talk about spreading any economic growth so that the north will benefit. Obviously, when government ministers talk about the north they mean the band between Islington and Watford. Being a Yorkshireman, I can see further than that. So, how about this for an alternative. Let’s move the whole lot – government and monarchy, to Yorkshire.

The benefits

The economic benefits alone should clinch the deal. Instead of spending £7bn repairing the Palace of Westminster, we could sell the whole lot to Disney. Given the cost of property round there, river views, access to trains etc.the site must be worth a bob or two. I would guess at £10bn flooding into the nation’s coffers. They could then pick up the tab for any repairs and we could insist on using local firms for the job. At that point we are at least £17bn in profit with all that income for the builders waiting to be taxed. But it doesn’t end there because, by moving all of the MPs to Yorkshire, the country would only be paying a fraction of the current levels of expenses to allow the rental of second homes. In fact, they could be integrated into large council estates. I dare say living in Gipton or Harehills would keep the Tories on their toes. The Lib Dems could rent a couple of terrace houses and all live together like The Beatles in Help!

Genius

Now, here’s the best bit. Where would the Houses of Parliament be? Obvious – The City Varieties in Leeds. It has a history of stand up comedy and dressing up in costumes.

City Varieties
City Varieties

The speaker could work in the style of the late Leonard Sachs, in fact, he already does. (Kids – ask your mum.) Now, the capacity is a bit low – less than 500 seats. However, the only time when they all turn up is the first day of term and the new boys can always stand on the stage. We could then tell them that it is tradition for the newcomers to sing a song and get the first round in at Whitelocks – genius. Within a couple of days we would be down to a dozen or so turning up for debates and these could be adjourned to the White Swan next door.

The PM’s audience with the Queen would be easy enough as we have a nice apartment for rent which would suit a semi retired couple nicely. It is all on one level so no need for a stair lift and, from the 18th floor you can look down on your kingdom easily enough (handy for the train and Harvey Nichs

too). The dogs could be a problem but I’m sure we could increase the bond and work something out.

An ideal vantage point to survey one's kingdom
An ideal vantage point to survey one’s kingdom

 

Downside

The only down side to the plan would be 650 MPs cluttering up the bars and restaurants of Leeds. Come to think of it – probably best to forget it and me and the boys will start the refurbishment a week on Monday (with a delay before we can start the painting of course).

 

facebooktwitterpinterestmailby feather

Why we should be wary of music streaming

Why we should be wary of music streaming services

Is it possible to have too much choice when it comes to music? Our old apartment had a room that was pretty much dedicated to wall to wall CDs. I remember standing, staring at the wall thinking something on the lines of “what the hell do I want to play?” My solution to this was something that Ruth always loved about me. OK, she thought it was mental but was prepared to put up with it. As the CDs were organised on shelves in alphabetical order (what do you mean weird – how else would you do it?), I started with he top shelf (let’s call it shelf one) and picked a CD. There were around 80 CDs on each shelf so there was always a choice depending on mood etc. but not too much so that you felt overwhelmed. The next choice came from shelf two and so it went. Result – contentment.

Since moving to a smaller, city centre apartment, the music is accessed from my Mac rather than physical CD or vinyl. However, I kept a virtual version of the CD racks, with content organised in shelves (OK, starting to sound peculiar now I am writing it down but it works). As a result, we (even though Ruth ignores the system when I am not around) listen to a decent mix of new music and stuff that could potentially have been forgotten.

Apple Music

I am not sure whether to be delighted or horrified at the thought of Apple Music, due to launch at the end of this month. The very glossy ads that are already building the hype, suggest that, for a £10 a month family subscription, I can access all the music in the world ever – brilliant! But, hang on minute. I suspect I have a reasonably big music collection (around 45,000 tracks and growing) and, without my fiendishly clever system, I would be totally overwhelmed and unable to choose. I am all for a challenge but putting 30 million tracks onto shelves (even virtual ones) is a bit much. However, all is not lost. The clever people at Apple have thought of this and will offer to select music for me. Err, isn’t that called a radio station? There seems to be plenty of those about for free, especially since the launch of Mixcloud, which I recommend highly (especially my shows!). But Apple have Beats 1 (erm, radio station again). They have Zane Lowe based in LA, somebody else in New York and another in London – OK, a radio station with three people choosing music from a catalogue of 30m songs.

Now, I am assuming I have missed the point here and everything will be wonderful. However, a word of caution. Your £10 per month will get you access to all of the music in the world ever. But, as we have seen already, there is nothing to stop individual artists pulling their music from the service. Taylor Swift has recently done exactly that by withdrawing from Spotify. With many other huge companies in the market (Deezer, Napster, Google, Amazon and Tidal to name a few) the market will be very competitive. What is to stop one of those companies signing the next big thing to an exclusive deal? Let’s say you like five bands. It is quite feasible that those five bands could sign to competing streaming companies. At that point, instead of £10 per month to access all of the music in the world ever, you are paying £50 per month.

It happened with TV sport

Couldn’t happen? It did in the world of televised sport. Twenty years ago I accepted into my heart that if I wanted to watch live sport on TV I had to subscribe to SkySports. A few years later, some bright spark politician decided that the market needed competition . As a result, if I want to watch all of the Premier league games I have to subscribe to Sky (which didn’t get cheaper) and BT. I also got rugby league coverage thrown in but now I get to pay for Premier Sports as well. It is great to have the choice – just bloody expensive.

Music streaming - Should we be wary?
Music streaming – Should we be wary?

I may sound like I am moaning. Probably because I am. I just feel that it is too easy to get manipulated by big business. After all, in the eighties they told me vinyl was dead, CDs were the perfect reproduction of the live music sound and the definition of modern living. Now CDs are dead and vinyl is making a comeback at around £25 for an album.

Maybe Apple could concentrate on working out why my devices keep dropping off the network rather than setting up radio stations.*

Footnote

*Several hours later I appear to have fixed the network problem. Apple may be innocent on this – looks like it was BT’s fault.

facebooktwitterpinterestmailby feather