Archive for May, 2014

And so, we move into the business end of the tournament. There are four teams still standing (though Suarez’s teeth are offside).


8 July 2014

Semi-final 1:

GERMANY v URUGUAY, Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte, 21:00 2-1

wc14sticker502(Story of the game:

Suarez nets early, after throwing himself to the ground at a corner with no German defender within ten feet of him. He scores his penalty after poking the German ‘keeper in the eye. But Germany fight back after this early setback. Toni Kroos equalizes on the stroke of half-time and then Marco Reus scores the winner.

Afterwards, both are asked about rumours linking them with Old Trafford. Both are bemused, again, and ask whether they can talk about reaching the World Cup final instead. They reckon they’ve got the whole summer to string United along, Fabregas-style, before they sign new contracts with their respective clubs.)


9 July 2014

Semi-final 2:

ARGENTINA v SPAIN, Arena de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, 21:00 4-0

413(Story of the game:

Lionel Messi, the darling of Barcelona, denies the country in which he plays his football in the same way Maradona did in Italia ‘90. He scores four, and each one is a hammer-blow for the tika-taka style. It’s rather like Bayern, when they beat Barca 7-0 on aggregate in last year’s Champions League semi-final… Or like what Real Madrid did to Guardiola’s Bayern in this year’s Champions League.

Argentina are made slight favourites for a final which will be a repeat of 1986 and 1990.)


Bonus Round – Third-place match

12 July 2014

URUGUAY v SPAIN, Estadio Nacional, Brasilia, 21:00 1-0

278(Story of the game:

Suarez is so determined to be ‘the number 1 loser’ that he bites, spits, pinches, scratches, moans his way to secure a victory against a clearly-shattered Spain side who’ve now failed to defend their title at last.

Suarez scores the winner after sticking the ball up his shirt and running the length of the pitch with it. When he reaches the six-yard box, he pauses to remove the ball, and to heat-butt Iker Casillas in the Spanish goal. Then he throws the ball in the back of the net.

He celebrates by throwing a banana at a black face in the crowd.)

panini-america-2014-fifa-world-cup-brazil-sticker-teaser-20The second in my series of World Cup predos sees us through to the knockout stages of the competition, sadly without England, who’ve come home too soon, despite the express orders of Del Amitri… But Luis Suarez is dragging Uruguay through the tournament kicking and screaming, hosts Brazil remain, and Ronaldo and Messi are engaged in their own personal World Cup shoot-out for their respective countries…

Second round

28 June 2014

Second-round 1:

BRAZIL v NETHERLANDS, Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte, 17:00 1-1 (Brazil win 4-3 on pens)

33(Story of the game:

Van Gaal is down to just 11 players who’ll wear the shirt after more walk-outs. Full-back Alex Buttner gets a game. His big pal Van Persie comes back into the fold but misses the vital penalty, trying a ‘Panenka’ chip. Van Gaal says he is looking forward to working with a less volatile group of players at United. Rio Ferdinand criticizes the Dutch boss’s team selection on Twitter.)

28 June 2014

Second-round 2:

COLOMBIA v URUGUAY, Estadio do Maracana, Rio de Janeiro, 21:00 0-1

article-1291702-0A4DF706000005DC-274_306x423(Story of the game:

Suarez is embroiled in a Rijkaard-style spitting controversy in the first-half, but survives into the second, where he catches a Cavani cross and then dives rugby-league style for the goal-line to secure the winning try.)


29 June 2014

Second-round 3:

SPAIN v CROATIA, Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza, 17:00 1-0 (aet)

108(Story of the game:

Spain simply can’t score. They have 99% possession against an obdurate Croatia, but fail to have a single shot on target until, in extra time, Xavi tries to pick out Pedro by the corner flag and his searching ball takes a wicked deflection off a Croatian centre-back and crawls into the net.)


29 June 2014

Second-round 4:

ITALY v JAPAN, Arena Pernambuco, Recife, 21:00 2-0

335(Story of the game:

Mario Balotelli scores twice, but spoils it all by celebrating the second goal by attacking the advertising hoardings, Temuri Ketsbaia ‘bald Georgian nutter’ style, breaking all of his metatarsals in the process.)


30 June 2014

Second-round 5:

FRANCE v BOSNIA, Estadio Nacional, Brasilia, 17:00 2-1

377(Story of the game:

Karim Benzema and Samir Nasri give the French safe passage into the Quarter-Finals. Patrice Evra says he wants Uruguay next.)


30 June 2014

Second-round 6:

GERMANY v RUSSIA, Estadio Beira-Rio, Porto Alegre, 21:00 3-2

panini-sticker-deutschland-wm-2014(Story of the game:

Thomas Muller, Marco Reus and Toni Kroos all score for a rampant Germany. All three are asked after the game whether they intend to join Manchester United. They look bemused. Muller asks: “That Moyes isn’t still in charge there is he?”)


1 July 2014

Second-round 7:

ARGENTINA v ECUADOR, Arena de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, 17:00 4-1


Messi bags his second hat-trick in two games and celebrates with a simple shrug. Diego Maradona says he is still the best player that ever lived, despite Messi’s heroics.)


1 July 2014

Second-round 8:

BELGIUM v PORTUGAL, Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador, 21:00 0-0 (Belgium win 5-4 on pens)

cristiano-ronaldo-hairstyle-2014-6(Story of the game:

Ronaldo tries 90 shots and manages to hit post, bar, the ‘keeper, but can’t find the net. His penalty in the shoot-out tears the net out of the back of the goal, but Courtois saves Nani’s last-kick for the Portuguese and Portugal are out. Ronaldo cries.)



4 July 2014

Quarter-final 1:

FRANCE v GERMANY, Estadio do Maracana, Rio de Janeiro, 17:00 1-1 (Germany win 3-1 on pens)

505(Story of the game:

A fractious, ill-tempered game. France look like they’ve won it, but Thomas Muller provides a late, late show to take it to penalties.)


4 July 2014

Quarter-final 2:

BRAZIL v URUGUAY, Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza, 21:00 1-2 (aet)

suazrez(Story of the game:

Luis Suarez stamps on the referee in the first minute, but is allowed to stay on the field. Whistles follow his every touch of the ball, but he keeps his head down and, in a redemption song as good as the one which saw him go from biting racist to winner of the football writers’ player of the year, he scores the winner. With his teeth. A nation cries as hard as Ronaldo as the hosts are out.)


5 July 2014

Quarter-final 3:

ARGENTINA v BELGIUM, Estadio Nacional, Brasilia, 17:00 0-0 (Argentina win 5-3 on pens)

argentina-carlos-tevez-124-panini-south-africa-2010-fifa-world-cup-sticker-38785-p(Story of the game:

Carlos Tevez scores the winning penalty and lifts his Argentina jersey to reveal a tee-shirt emblazoned with the legend ‘YOU SHOULD HAVE SIGNED ME FERGIE’.)


5 July 2014

Quarter-final 4:

SPAIN v ITALY, Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador, 21:00 1-0 (aet)

119(Story of the game:

Spain pass the Italians to sleep. Italy, for whom talisman Balotelli is missing, simply don’t have it in them to get back in the game after an Iniesta goal early in extra time.)



And tune in here to read more of AJ Kirby’s sportswriting.

162800810_71d6b83d03_oWith just two weeks to go until the World Cup, folk are starting to get excited. Up and down the country England flags are draped outside windows, and stuck on cars. Panini stickers are flying off the shelves and school playgrounds reverberate to the beat of GOT! GOT! NEED! NEED! The media, which for months has been talking down England’s chances, has suddenly about-turned… We’re gonna win it.

_49659323_octopusIn order to calm everyone down, here’s something. I know exactly what will happen in Brazil. Paul the Octopus told me.So if you’re like me and can’t be arsed with it, here’s what will happen. Exactly what will happen:


Group A

12 June 2014

Brazil v Croatia, Arena de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, 21:00 (ITV) 1-0

13 June 2014

Mexico v Cameroon, Arena das Dunas, Natal, 17:00 (ITV) 1-1

17 June 2014

Brazil v Mexico, Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza, 20:00 (BBC) 2-1

18 June 2014

Cameroon v Croatia, Arena Amazonia, Manaus, 23:00 (ITV) 0-1

23 June 2014

Cameroon v Brazil, Estadio Nacional, Brasilia, 21:00 (ITV) 1-2

23 June 2014

Croatia v Mexico, Arena Pernambuco, Recife, 21:00 (ITV) 4-1

Final Group Standings:





JavierHernandez_PaniniSticker_2010(Story of the group:

Hernandez top scores for Mexico, scoring in each game.

In the big match against Brazil he succeeds in kicking the ball into his own face and then it bounces in to give them a shock lead, before Neymar et al rectify things.)



Group B

13 June 2014

Spain v Netherlands, Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador, 20:00 (BBC) 1-0

13 June 2014

Chile v Australia, Arena Pantanal, Cuiaba, 23:00 (ITV) 2-0

18 June 2014

Spain v Chile, Estadio do Maracana, Rio de Janeiro, 20:00 (BBC) 1-0

18 June 2014

Australia v Netherlands, Estadio Beira-Rio, Porto Alegre, 17:00 (ITV) 0-2

23 June 2014

Australia v Spain, Arena da Baixada, Curitiba, 17:00 (ITV) 0-3

23 June 2014

Netherlands v Chile, Arena de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, 17:00 (ITV) 3-2


Final Group Standings:





vangaal(Story of the group:

After defeat in their opening game, Van Gaal’s Dutch squad explode as tensions within the squad come to the fore. Van Persie and Robben are involved in a training ground bust-up and both sent home. Dirk Kuyt is an emergency call-up and scores 2 v Australia and then another brace to defeat Chile and drag the Oranje through to the knockout stages.)


Group C

14 June 2014

Colombia v Greece, Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte, 17:00 (BBC) 0-0

15 June 2014

Ivory Coast v Japan, Arena Pernambuco, Recife, 02:00 (ITV) 1-1

19 June 2014

Colombia v Ivory Coast, Estadio Nacional, Brasilia, 17:00 (BBC) 2-1

19 June 2014

Japan v Greece, Arena das Dunas, Natal, 23:00 (BBC) 1-0

24 June 2014

Japan v Colombia, Arena Pantanal, Cuiaba, 21:00 (BBC) 1-1

24 June 2014

Greece v Ivory Coast, Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza, 21:00 (BBC) 0-0


Final Group Standings:





parking-the-bus-21(Story of the group:

The group of boring-you to death. Few goals and very little excitement. Greece park 11 buses in each match, Yaya Toure is still clearly unfit for the Ivory Coast and they struggle. The good news is Colombia ‘fans’ manage not to shoot any of their full-backs for scoring own-goals, and Shinji Kagawa shines for Japan due to the fact tackling is not allowed in the World Cup.)


Group D – England (finally… and at last)

14 June 2014

Uruguay v Costa Rica, Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza, 20:00 (ITV) 3-0

chavstreet14 June 2014

Englandv Italy, Arena Amazonia, Manaus, 23:00 (BBC) 0-0

19 June 2014

Uruguay v England, Arena de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, 20:00 (ITV) 1-1

20 June 2014

Italy v Costa Rica, Arena Pernambuco, Recife, 17:00 (BBC) 4-0

24 June 2014

Italy v Uruguay, Arena das Dunas, Natal, 17:00 (ITV) 0-0

24 June 2014

Costa Rica v England, Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte, 17:00 (ITV) 1-3


Final Group Standings:





he-cheats-he-dives-he-hates-the-jackson-5-luis-suarez(Story of the group:

After 2 hard-fought draws in the opening fixtures England goes World Cup crazy, however Italy and Uruguay play out a 0-0 draw to qualify at the expense of ‘the Three Lions’. Suarez misses a penalty on purpose with 2 mins to go, after diving to win it in the first place. Over in Belo Horizonte, it is clear England won’t go down without a fight however. Rooney is sent off for punching the Costa Rican goalkeeper after his persistent time-wasting, and then blamed in all the papers for England’s early exit – there are effigies of him hung outside pubs in East London. This despite the fact that the single goal which sees England exit the competition – the one lost against Costa Rica – is a result of ANOTHER Gerrard slip which he spends the rest of the match trying to make-up for by shooting from goal-kicks.)


Group E

15 June 2014

Switzerland v Ecuador, Estadio Nacional, Brasilia, 17:00 (ITV) 1-1

15 June 2014

France v Honduras, Estadio Beira-Rio, Porto Alegre, 20:00 (BBC) 2-0

20 June 2014

Switzerland v France, Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador, 20:00 (ITV) 1-2

20 June 2014

Honduras v Ecuador, Arena da Baixada, Curitiba, 23:00 (ITV) 0-1

25 June 2014

Honduras v Switzerland, Arena Amazonia, Manaus, 21:00 (BBC) 0-0

25 June 2014

Ecuador v France, Estadio do Maracana, Rio de Janeiro, 21:00 (BBC) 1-2


Final Standings:





patriceevra_dxhtylxwpkpa1qpbdf9ed28fb(Story of the group:

Antonio Valencia shines for Ecuador before getting injured in the defeat to France, having been clattered by Evra. Evra claims he doesn’t care who France get in the next round as long as it’s Uruguay. He fancies putting Suarez out of the World Cup.)


Group F

15 June 2014

Argentina v Bosnia-Hercegovina, Estadio do Maracana, Rio de Janeiro, 23:00 (BBC) 2-1

16 June 2014

Iran v Nigeria, Arena da Baixada, Curitiba, 20:00 (BBC) 0-1

21 June 2014

Argentina v Iran, Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte, 17:00 (ITV) 3-1

21 June 2014

Nigeria v Bosnia-Hercegovina, Arena Pantanal, Cuiaba, 23:00 (BBC) 0-2

25 June 2014

Nigeria v Argentina, Estadio Beira-Rio, Porto Alegre, 17:00 (ITV) 3-3

25 June 2014

Bosnia-Hercegovina v Iran, Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador, 17:00 (ITV) 2-0


Final Group Standings:




IRAN – 0

messi(Story of the group:

Messi flatters to deceive for Argentina, before bagging a hat-trick in a topsy-turvy final group game against Nigeria.

For Bosnia, Edin Dzeko top-scores.)


Group G

16 June 2014

Germany v Portugal, Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador, 17:00 (ITV) 2-0

16 June 2014

Ghana v United States, Arena das Dunas, Natal, 23:00 (BBC) 0-1

21 June 2014

Germany v Ghana, Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza, 20:00 (BBC) 4-2

22 June 2014

United States v Portugal, Arena Amazonia, Manaus, 23:00 (BBC) 2-3

26 June 2014

United States v Germany, Arena Pernambuco, Recife, 17:00 (BBC) 0-3

26 June 2014

Portugal v Ghana, Estadio Nacional, Brasilia, 17:00 (BBC) 1-0


Final Group Standings:





206202(Story of the group:

Ronaldo sets the record for most shots by a single player in a World Cup game, refusing to pass to any of his teammates EVER. Especially Nani. Ronny cries as they lose their opener against Germany, but comes good against the USA, bagging the World Cup’s first hat-trick – this is later trumped by Messi’s ‘perfect’ hat-trick in another group. Germany breeze it, though Mesut Ozil is booed throughout.)


Group H

17 June 2014

Belgium v Algeria, Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte, 17:00 (ITV) 1-0

17 June 2014

Russia v South Korea, Arena Pantanal, Cuiaba, 23:00 (BBC) 2-1

22 June 2014

Belgium v Russia, Estadio do Maracana, Rio de Janeiro, 17:00 (BBC) 1-0

22 June 2014

South Korea v Algeria, Estadio Beira-Rio, Porto Alegre, 20:00 (ITV) 1-1

26 June 2014

South Korea v Belgium, Arena de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, 21:00 (ITV) 1-1

26 June 2014

Algeria v Russia, Arena da Baixada, Curitiba, 21:00 (ITV) 0-1


Final Group Standings:





576(Story of the group:

Fellaini stars for Belgium, bullying Algeria into submission in the manner he used to against United. Januzaj comes on as a late substitute in the final group game against South Korea and breezes past Park Ji Sung to bag the equaliser, prompting calls for him to have a starting-place.)



Or read more of my sportswriting here.


My short story, ‘I’d rather twist a precious paving slab than offend a supermarket’, has been accepted for publication in the next issue of Sein und Werden magazine.

The story was created using the random surrealism generator (example below) on the site, hence the ridiculous title.


For more on where you can read the story, watch this space.

…And is that a figure on top, I see?

Picture credit: Peter Garland


ILKLEY10‘Cow and Calf’, my gloomy, Yorkshire-set speculative fiction piece, is to be serialised on The State of the Arts website.

Picture left: Hangingstone Rocks, Ilkley Moor. Photographer: Alice Garland

Here’s the synopsis: ‘Cow and Calf’ is a supernatural tale of madness, motherhood, and revenge. Set on the wild Yorkshire moorland near Ilkley, it is the story of one mother’s desperate attempts to reconcile herself with the (ghostly) child who was taken from her many years ago. The Cow and Calf – also known as Hangingstone Rocks – are two monoliths of millstone grit which look out upon the seemingly idyllic town of Ilkley, a place which has stored up a wealth of terrible memories, particularly in its treatment of our less than fortunate mother, who returns to the rocks again and again in order to try and find a way back into the past, to the moment her child was taken away from her.


Wordland 4Wordland 4 (Whited Sepulchres), which is edited by the brilliant Terry Grimwood and features my short story ‘Snow Blind’, is now available in print and ebook formats.

You can purchase the print version of here:

And you can search for the ebook on Amazon.

Read more of my short fictions here: