Krul Intentions

nearpostflick had the surely unique good fortune to see Tim Krul’s cephalopod-like performance against Tottenham this Sunday past, shimmering elusively across the draped supra-giant screen swaying in an inner-city pool hall. The few assembled patrons who could rouse themselves for a midday kick-off at a distantly restless White Hart Lane looked at each other agape in mounting incredulity as the perpetually-youthful Dutch gloveman performed wonders (as I believe we are obliged to describe his often routine, sometimes remarkable saves) to preserve tentatively resurgent, awkward step-family Newcastle United’s slender lead. It could be said that in promoting such optical interaction between total strangers watching his performance miles from the ground in a darkened room, Tim Krul has gone at least some way toward breaking down the barriers between individuals in our increasingly atomised society, and has in fact done more than many a misguided community initiative in combating the Western social ill of detached alienation. Give him some form of token UN ambassadorship, we say. Or at least we could all call him ‘Krulio’ for a bit. OK, let’s try that.


Be that as it may (and well done for getting this far, the one of you that might have. Appreciated). There were some characteristics in Krul’s performance which are common to all truly heroic goalkeeping shutouts. So from here, this rambling and idiosyncratic piece will slip from blunt, wilfully ignorant social commentary into some kind of sub-Guardian/Buzzfeed listicle, via this unwelcome detour into indulgent self-deconstruction. Enjoy!

  1. Saves with his feet. Ever seen a goalkeeper produce save after save without sticking out a foot to block the ball away or divert it, like an abrupt traffic policeman, around the post? No you haven’t. Shut up, you haven’t. Krul produced that kind of stop in abundance on Sunday. Cf. Ludek Miklosko, 1995; Jan Tomaszewski, whenever England play Poland, repeating ad nauseam on ITV and ingraining itself unhelpfully ever-further into each nation’s shared folk mythos.
  2. Huge congratulatory bundles from his defenders after each save. Tim Krul, quite apart from any extra-curricular post-match Jacuzzi action, now knows what it’s like to be embraced bodily by Mike Williamson. The rest of you can only wonder. Probably.
  3. A miraculous goal line clearance to augment the goalkeeper’s brilliance. As the ball spun towards the line deep into the second half, DVLA-botherer Cheik Tiote arrived from nowhere to steeple the ball into the stands, preventing a certain goal.
  4. A beatific visage. Krul greeted one save with a cheeky grin of near-disbelief, which augured of a healthy regard for the vagaries of the game. It was a smile that acknowledged the role of luck in his performance, fulsomely enjoyed the moment and at once understood that in a couple of weeks a tame back-header from Mathieu Debuchy could elude his grasp for the most calamitous own-goal of the season. For one brief moment, Tim Krul could see and comprehend time, space and the scope of all existence.
  5. An aura of invincibility. At some point in the second half Spurs accepted that they wouldn’t score, that Krulio had them beat. Of course this needn’t have been the case (their destiny was not preordained – and neither is yours; sorry, destiny fans) but the tragic absence of rigorous rationalists from the Tottenham first XI and bench led to a meek acceptance of what they perceived to be their ‘fate’. When will AVB stop selecting superstitious, horoscope-reading flat-earthers? When?! Only then will he be able to guide Spurs to the sunlit uplands of the top four.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It’s the annual return of nearpostflick – the only football blog that site analytics reveal is mostly visited by people Googling the phrase ‘big black horse’, thanks to a joke in a post from March 2012.

nearpostflick is also the only football blog that is now actively courting big black horse fans, and is openly re-using the phrase ‘big black horse’ in the hope that they will visit more often; even though they will find nothing here that will sate their awful desires. Sorry guys.

(nearpostflick tried actively courting people who wanted to read pretentious, ill-researched prose about various football tropes, but got more interest from the horse people. So the market has won.)


And now for something of no value

Hello, Flickers! Well I suppose we’re going to have to establish a premise for this entry. A children’s channel here in the UK went on a huge nostalgia kick ten days ago and broadcast two day’s schedules brimful with classic 1980s/90s programming. The cogs turn slowly here at NPF HQ, however, and your correspondent only realised yesterday that this event could be leveraged for slender comic pickings. So: children’s programming ‘reimagined’ to feature footballers and football-related people, phenomena and objects. You’re familiar with this kind of crappy filler so I won’t presume to insult your intelligence with further whimsical exposition.

1. Knightmare – Leon Knight describes all the derogatory misogynistic terms for women he knows, starting with the mildest

2. In The Night Garden, with Stan Collymore

3. Biker Groves – unemployed ex-Bounemouth supremo Paul Groves dons well-worn leathers and travels the north-east, fighting petty crime in suburban retail parks

4. Thundercats – top Black Cats John O’Shea and Michael Turner moonlight as thrill-seeking storm chasers

5. Powar Rangers – The Executive Director of Football Against Racism in Europe, Piara Powar, arrives at Ibrox to shake things up – with hilarious consequences

6. Mysterious Cities of Gold – something to do with West Ham’s David Gold. I’ve done no research

7. Round the Twist – Steve Round tries to stage a production of Lionel Bart’s Oliver Twist musical using Everton players. Leighton Baines is Oliver; David Moyes is Wild-Eyed London Vagrant #3

8. Finders Keepers – Neil Buchanan helps Manchester United raid the academies of small French clubs for promising youngsters in return for pitiful tribunal fees (not to be confused with Pedro Almodovar’s arthouse film Find Us Keepers, with Paolo Gazzaniga, Artur Boruc and The Other One)

9. I think this has gone a bit off-road, hasn’t it

10. Button Moon – Charlton Athletic custodian David Button shows his arse to a passing coachload of Japanese tourists

And, that’s it. Sorry for doing this, really.

Hope, part 32


Something got lost in the transmission again. Or perhaps it didn’t. Either way, England drew in Warsaw, a well-rehearsed historical inevitability which had Marx chuckling from beneath the sodden turves of Highgate cemetery. The Socratic wonder of the British sporting press has pecked out their diagnosis with trembling fingers: England don’t pass well enough. England don’t control possession well enough. England don’t show enough PASSION. What Is To Be Done?


It doesn’t matter.


England do as well as they should; Soccernomics taught us that. They just do it absently and joylessly. They’re accused of having no character; in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. They have several characters, each more frightened, venal and entitled than the last. They’re Don Birnam, self-aggrandising and deluded in their drunken post-victory state: denuded and self-loathing in sobriety and defeat. They’re Alexander Portnoy, driven by their baser instincts into acts which disgust in the cold light of day. They’re Svejk, without the knowing insolence.


There’s no poetry to England’s entropy. And it doesn’t matter, because nothing will ever change; or at least, not for a long time. A country which has made a bloody-minded point of refusing to learn from defeats and disappointments is only just recognising that its raw materials are dwindling, its approach is outmoded and its priorities are skewed. As the player pool becomes a brackish puddle, functional footballers are first-team regulars and middling prospects are cherished as the second coming of Charlton and Hoddle, England grimly cling on and hope that by the time they’ve caught up, the rest of the world isn’t playing a different game altogether.


Let’s just hit the big man early and see what happens.

Defibrillator, stat!

Near Post Flick swims back to a kind of consciousness. It can see a cornflower-blue sky stretching out before it, and tries to blink away the specks swirling in its vision. It’s odd, the specks seem to have wings and to swoop and plunge in elegant parabolas.

A voice. Strong, cold yet oddly guttural and glottal-stopped.


‘Do you quite fucking mind?’ Near Post Flick is awake now. Awake. Cold. Surprisingly, naked. And not too keen to further pursue voltage-nipple interface. Then suddenly, sharply, ‘What happened? Where am I?’

‘Well, Roy Hodgson got the England job,’ smiled his white-coated interlocutor, ‘and he secured them a creditable quarter-final finish after topping their group. It was football, after a sort, but hardly food for the soul. Unless you’re John Beck.’

‘Right.’ Near Post Flick felt warmth returning to its hands. ‘And?’

‘Well, Manchester City won the Premier League and Mancini then switched to a back three in pre-season purely to prove a point, United spent a ton of wad on Robin van Persie and Chelsea are transitioning into a sort of Ikea Barcelona. Also, this conceit is quite wearying, and I’m saying that as one of the two chief protagonists.’

‘Stop breaking the fourth wall. It’s so last year.’

‘Fuck off. I’m still carrying defibrillator pads.’


When NearPostFlick was young, and hadn’t heard of entropy, the heat death of the universe, Jean-Jacques Rousseau or Samantha Brick, we had the good fortune of playing in a Dorset-based Under-16s side which toured the country, knocking off wildly exuberant high-scoring wins against crack school outfits from across the land. As was the fashion for extravagantly gifted sides of the period, we were likened to the Sheffield United of Jan-Aage Fjortoft;  however we now see, with the benefit of experience, that we were more evocative of Hugo Meisl’s Austrian Wunderteam, with the easy nervelessness of a collective not labouring under the shadow of war, but who really wanted to get home in time for The Crystal Maze.

One frost-blighted morning we filed onto the team minibus, with its bursting upholstered seats and dusty floor, our breath misting about us as we discussed, through chattering teeth, the day’s opponents. We were on our way to play the renowned Wallsend Boys’ Club, the historic proving ground of the North East’s finest young footballers. As we sped north, we ran over our approach to the game once more with our coach, Mr Barton. I relished my role as the team’s Paul Rogers (with hindsight, of course, its Josef Smistik). In front of me, our Alan Cork/Matthias Sindelar – my friend, and favoured through-ball recipient Simon Calverston, a forward who had it all and – rumour had it – was being trailed by a slew of agents. He was a decent sort, though he didn’t really like The Crystal Maze and wondered why you never saw Richard O’Brien’s ‘Mumsy’.

We arrived a little late and there was barely a moment for a kick-in, let alone a full warm-up. The pitch was frozen solid and the local parents huddled around the touchline made us feel like we were being hemmed in for execution in a stadium at some dictator’s whim. As usual, we lined up in our asymmetric 4-3-3 with Simon at its apex, and I drifted out to the left channel looking for space and time. After a few minutes it was obvious we were out of our depth; the Wallsend boys had far superior technique and fitness, and would execute complex interchanges around us as we gasped in breathless admiration. Aftera quarter of an hour they were three ahead.

Our chief tormentor was a tall, elegant centre-forward whose relationship with the ball seemed almost symbiotic. He would draw it down from the air, bewitching it on his instep as a snake-charmer coaxes a python from its basket. And in a flash he would be gone – a pale ghost leaving vacuum in his wake, nimbly gliding beyond the desperately outstretched boots of mortals and impelling the ball into the net almost as a casual afterthought.

His name was Michael Carrick.

Of course, in those days he played up front to exploit his height – it would take visionary coaching to deploy his range of passing in a deep-lying playmaker role as he embarked on his professional career. That phase of his life was still to come – at this point he was a proto-van Basten and he was destroying us.

Then, from nowhere – perhaps after half an hour, though details blur in the retelling – we’d scrambled a goal. Our full-back, Dave Chisholm, flighted a speculative ball over the Wallsend back four. Necks craned to follow its trajectory as a freezing northern gust gathered the ball in its arms and carried it over the head of the startled keeper. We had our consolation goal.

But then a strange thing happened. The Wallsend boys seemed demoralised. We began to enjoy some possession, working small, tentative triangles in midfield unchallenged. When Simon attempted a speculative shot from eighteen yards which arced into the top left corner, their heads fell and our tails were up. Like a hyena happening across a stricken lion, we scented blood and saw our chance.

Then, disaster struck. A Wallsend player slipped, waif-like, past me as a short free-kick ran into his path in the box. As I stretched out a toe I knew it was the wrong decision. A catastrophic decision. Our momentum stopped in its tracks; the lion roused for one last mighty sweep of its paw. Carrick stepped up to take the penalty and  – if I recall correctly – complete a first-half hat-trick.

He smashed it over the bar.

Wallsend went to pieces. Carrick just didn’t want the ball any more and his team-mates – robbed of their totem, their bandiera, their Churchill – lost direction, like that bit where the Borg Queen dies in ‘Star Trek: First Contact’. A good pass was rolled into Carrick’s path. He didn’t chase it; he made to point plaintively at his feet, then looked bashfully at the floor. The best player on the pitch trotted about peripherally as we completed the most stunning comeback of our young lives, winning 6-4. We even conceded another penalty in injury time; Carrick passed it up and let his strike partner take it. Condensation streaked the windows of the minibus on our way home as we celebrated in near-disbelief. Those players were so superior to us it was embarrassing. But they didn’t have the character to make it count.

Now, that story about Michael Carrick isn’t true.

But I think what it tells us about him, is.



(Simon Calverston went on to appear as a contestant on the last series of ‘The Crystal Maze’ and preferred Ed Tudor-Pole.)

Lack of self-awareness doesn’t impair the radio star

Football as a basic unit is a pure thing, like springwater. It emerges from the wellspring of the pitch, chattering and bubbling with the force of its own naive, childlike enthusiasm. People play football! The ball rolls and flies about, propelled by their feet and heads! Goals are scored! A result is obtained! Pure, bottled-at-source football. Crisp and refreshing.

Of course, springwater is put through a filter to remove potentially toxic concentrations of minerals. Football goes through a filter too; people watch it and have opinions, and the simple, virginal game is pressed through them to emerge the other side. We’ll call this apparatus of opinions the Shit Filter.

The Shit Filter clouds and pollutes football and its grainy little turd fragments swill about in it. Journalist A has an ill-informed opinion on Player B’s performance: a little flake of shit breaks free and dances in the sparkling currents and eddies of Previously Pure Football. Suggestible Fan C ingests it and treats it with the reverence due the collected works of Jonathan Swift. So, the shit’s a little bit infectious. But most fans can think for themselves, football’s a big old reservoir and the atom of fecal matter is too small to take hold. No real harm done, in most cases. But some people are privileged enough to sit by the Shit Filter on a weekly basis, squatting over the opening with newspaper in hand.

We voluntarily chose to listen to a game on Radio 5 ‘Live’ the other night. And Alan Green was involved, pinching off his rancid torpedoes into the stream. ‘Hang on – criticising Alan Green?’, I hear you cry in scorn, ‘what a fucken n00b. Everyone’s done that, and more strogly than you’re about to’. Well, possibly. But this isn’t about his personal rows with managers, or even his inappropriate-uncle ventures into the minefield of racial politics (although dubbing the phrase ‘me no cheat’ over a discussion between Eric Djemba-Djemba and a referee is laying a pretty big fucking mine of your own and belly-flopping onto it while doused in petrol).

It’s just that – to NearPostFlick, at least – he’s a ball-achingly, sphincter-tighteningly, frontal lobe-wreckingly awful commentator. Some like his style of overlaying his own personality, trenchant views and prejudices onto a game. That’s fine. We don’t, but can see why people find it ‘colourful’. However, so much of this bluster, so many of these violent sighs of ‘awful’, ‘abysmal’ or the poetic ‘woeful’ (it’s like listening to football commentary scripted by Samuel Beckett) serve only to preserve the modesty of his lack of understanding of the modern game. His ‘controversial’ opinions are all the media tropes you read about in the red tops, Ctrl & V’d onto your taxpayer-funded airwaves. He seems to think almost every team in the league needs to ‘go direct’. He offers all the matchday insight of a salted slug yet repeatedly overpowers his co-commentator, who sits there cowed with Stockholm Syndrome. He doesn’t even seem to do the research that others do, relying for the most part on recollection. Football seems to be the vehicle that Alan Green has chosen for his self-promotion, and for us, he does not enhance it with his presence.

(But he did the commentary for Olympic Soccer on the Sega Saturn, I think. That was alright. ‘He got the man, not the ball!’ Ha! Brilliant. Remember that? Good fun, that was.)

Pictures > Words: Edinson Cavani

Every hipster’s second-favourite player (behind Javi Martinez, obviously), as imagined in pictorial form by @baconjamie. I think – no, I know that if Thomas Edison had survived to this day, no matter what his accomplishments this would be his proudest. ‘Egads*! I’m on NearPostFlick!’ he’d say. Shit, he’d be happy. Then he’d come for us on some kind of weird zombie physicist stalker quest, and we’d wake with his mouldering face looming over us pulled into a rictus of appreciation. It wouldn’t end well.

Anyway. Edinson Cavani. Better than Radamel Falcao? Not for us, but he has a hell of a barnet.

That damp cave looks a bit suggestive for us.

*Yeah. He’d say ‘Egads’.

All of our best wishes to Fabrice Muamba.

As we write this, Fabrice Muamba is said to be speaking and moving his limbs; the best news any of us have had in these anxious last few days. We’re praying, in a non-denominational way, that these reports are accurate and that the young man is on the mend. NPF isn’t qualified to talk about the cardiac health of sportsmen, and we’re sure the quality football media are better placed to talk about the tragic history embodied by Marc-Vivien Foe, Miklos Feher and Antonio Puerta, to name but three – and speculate on what more football can do to protect the people around whom the whole sport, profession, industry, whatever you want to call it, rotates.

So we’re just going to say: please recover Fabrice. We’re all rooting for you.

We do have views on how sections of the media have reported this young man’s plight. But we have nothing to add to this fairly perfect excoriation, from The Daisy Cutter.

Pictures > Words, #1 – Juan Mata

What’s that? You want to know how to ask somebody ‘what’s up?’ in a cheery, yet sub-Dolmio ad Italian stereotype accent? But you’ve been struck mute? And your writing hand is trapped in a cow? But you have access to MS Paint?

My, you have a very specific set of requirements. Lucky for you, @baconjamie’s given it some thought.