All posts by Andy Todd

Outdoor Swim Review: The White Loch Revisited 2022 (Andrew)

I’ve covered the White Loch before – see here – and for parking see this previous review. For 2022, I’d add that you should check which route you plan to use to drive to the White Loch. There’s a lot of road work in the south side including on the main roads at Giffnock and Newton Mearns (including access to the A77). On Saturday, there was a diversion in place which required an extra 25 minute drive so factor that into your plans before you go.

Water Quality

In previous years, I’ve mentioned that you might feel a slight sliminess after you swim. This is due to peat and nothing to be alarmed about even if you might feel like the Creature of the White Loch Lagoon when you come out of the water. Currently, the water is clear and I felt clean when I came out of the water.

Last year the loch was ‘closed’ due to a blue-green algae infestation. This can occur after a long period of warm weather. Check out the Southside Swimmers Facebook group for the latest updates to confirm if the loch is safe to swim.

Swim Quality

Excellent location for different lenghts of swims. If you just want a dip then a paddle round the entrance is nice and shallow. If you want to complete a full lap then it will be around 1000 – 1200 metres. You can aim for the opposite bank at 4, then a bright and obvious life buoy post at 2 then a wind turbine at 3 before coming back to the start.

I’m told that some people experience a slight pull in the water around the dam at 1 so keep away from it.

Other people

At least one person every time I’ve been. If it’s been sunny then I’ve seen 10 people here, including swimmers, paddle boarders, a canoe – and one dog swimming laps after it’s owner. It’s a busy place.

Overall

A great spot for a swim – but also a very well known one so expect to see other people particularly at weekends, evenings and if the weather is warm and sunny.

The Sound of Football: Bristol City (Andrew)

Every fortnight we cover the best and worst football songs from every club in the UK from our book ‘The Sound Of Football: Every Club, Every Song’. You can buy it here

Bristol City

Nickname: The Robins

Ground: Ashton Gate

Stadium Capacity: 21,804

Song: One For The Bristol City

Most teams have just one song. Bristol City has two: one that celebrates the club and one that celebrates the fan’s favourite drink – cider.

Bristol City is one of two football league clubs in Bristol; the other is Bristol Rovers. Although the clubs are rivals, they have rarely played each other as they’ve seldom played in the same division. The last time they played each other in the league was in 2001 – and the less said about the last time they met in a cup, the better. That was in 2013 in the first round of the Johnston’s Paint Trophy. The match was overshadowed by a pitch invasion that left 50 arrested, many police officers injured, and a result that no one remembers as every supporter has, your honour, a cast-iron alibi that they were somewhere else that day…

Bristol’s the sixth biggest city in England, but the two sides have always underachieved. During seven years from 2006, there wasn’t a single weekend in which both football teams and the city’s only other team (a rugby side) all won a game. It should not be a surprise that when City do win a match, they like to celebrate with a drink and a drinking song – ‘Drink Up Thee Zyder’ by the Wurzels.

The Wurzels were originally known as Adge Cutler and The Wurzels until Adge was killed in a car crash. The other band members recorded under their shortened name and had several hits. Their songs have a unique style because they’re all sung in an exaggerated West Country accent, even though one of the Wurzels was Scottish.

The club plays in red shirts, giving them their original nickname ‘The Garabaldians’, on account of the red shirts worn by the followers of the Italian revolutionary Garibaldi. This makes them the second club linked to Italian revolutionaries after Nottingham Forrest.

With a red shirt on the player’s chests, Bristol City is now known as The Robins, and you can hear ‘When the Red, Red Robin (Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along)’ at Ashton Gate.

The club’s second song is ‘One For The Bristol City’ (described on the single sleeve as ‘the official Bristol City FC song’).

‘One For The Bristol City’ was also recorded by The Wurzels and was released in 1977, the year after Bristol City had been promoted to the first division. The song is based on the Wurzel’s 1976 single ‘Morning Glory’.

The song was re-recorded by the Wurzels and re-issued to celebrate The Robins’ promotion from the First Division to the Championship in 2007. It charted at number 66. Although it didn’t crack the Top 40, it was a huge achievement for the band as it was the first time they had two songs in the charts in the same year since 1976. Earlier in the year, they also charted with ‘I Am A Cider Drinker’, which they had re-recorded with DJ Tony Blackburn to raise money for charity.

Buy the Sound of Football from Amazon.

Outdoor Swim Review: Bayble Pier 2022 (Andrew)

We’ve reviewed Bayble Beach before. You can find the reviews here and here so this review is more a warning than a review.

The beach is beside a working pier and when I arrived there was a tractor pulling a boat out into the surf. I waited a few minutes while the boat was floated and the fishermen (a grandfather, father and young son) left before I waded out into the water. The board quickly skirted the pier and left my sight. I thought I had the water to myself and started to swim only to find, a few minutes later, the boat came back.

“Well that was rubbish!” I heard the sound son say over the unmistakeable sound of something mechanical broken.

I stayed next to the pier while they grounded the boat and the father jumped out to get the tractor to pull it up to the beach.

And all I could think was “I should have worn a tow float!”

I’d started swimming in a spot I knew well, one that I knew was safe as it was near high tide on a calm day and I didn’t think to wear a two float. I was wrong. Even in the safest spots, something can change. An empty ocean can suddenly be filled by an anguished shout and next you see, a broken boat is bearing down on you.

So, for this review, I repeat everything Iain said about how great a location this is for a swim and I only add what should be an obvious plea: always wear a tow float when swimming outdoors!

The Sound of Football: Brighton (Andrew)

Every fortnight we cover the best and worst football songs from every club in the UK from our book ‘The Sound Of Football: Every Club, Every Song’. You can buy it here

Brighton & Hove Albion

Nickname: The Seagulls

Ground: American Express Community Stadium

Stadium Capacity: 27,500

Song: Where Seagulls Fly

In 1983, Brighton met Manchester United in the final of the FA Cup. Both United and Brighton played in the First Division. However, while United finished third, Brighton had already been relegated when the teams met in the final.

With only a couple of minutes left to play, the score was 2 – 2. Brighton attacked. Its Scottish striker, Gordon Smith, found himself one on one with United’s keeper. Gordon took a touch to steady himself – and it seemed inevitable that he’d smash it home – but he scuffed his shot, and the keeper saved it.

Before Smith shot, the BBC commentator Peter Jones said the now immortal line: “…and Smith must score!”.

Which was unfair. It was late in the game, Gordon Smith was tired, and it wasn’t the easiest opportunity. Yet it proved to be Brighton’s final chance, and the game finished 2 – 2. The match was replayed, and United won 4 – 0.

The FA Cup final inspired local Brighton songwriter Johnny Wakelin to write ‘Where Seagulls Fly’.

Brighton got its nickname ‘The Seagulls’ after a match against its rivals Crystal Palace. The Crystal Palace supporters started chanting, ‘Eagles, Eagles’ (Crystal Palace’s nickname). A group of Brighton & Hove Albion fans responded with a chant of ‘Seagulls, Seagulls’. The name stuck, and, in 1977, the club crest was changed to a white seagull.

‘Where Seagulls Fly’ was not Wakelin’s first sporting song. He’d had a minor hit in the ’70s with a homage to boxer Muhammad Ali. His song ‘Black Superman (Muhammad Ali)’ reached number seven in the UK Singles Chart and spent six months in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. Muhammed Ali, however, disapproved of the song and shunned it completely.

The B-Side to ‘Where Eagles Fly’ has an unusual honour: it was, we believe, the first football rap, five years before Liverpool, John Barnes and ‘The Anfield Rap’. It was ‘The Goldstone Rap’, and we recommend checking it out on YouTube. While it can’t in any way be called a good song, it can at least be described as a non-racist song, unlike the Anfield Rap.

If you go on a bus tour of Liverpool, you will visit the city’s modernist Catholic Cathedral. A tee-pee-shaped building also makes an excellent impression of Dumbledore’s hat. And if you listen to the recorded bus tour, just after you are informed that the four bells on the Cathedral are named John, Paul, George and Ringo, the tour guide will tell you that the Cathedral is known locally as ‘Paddy’s Wigwam’. But if you think that reference is racist, you can rest assured, it is not. If it were racist, would Liverpool FC use it in the lyrics of the Anfield Rap when they sing?

Don’t forget us Paddies

And me the Great Dane

And I’m from London mate so watch your game

(Source: Gainford, Johnston, Derek B and Byker)

But that’s not their only crime against race. Quite clearly, the songwriter had never met an Irishman. As the squad later sing:

We’re Ireland lads

Och-aye the noo

(Source: Gainford, Johnston, Derek B and Byker)

Och-aye the noo?! The only ‘Irishman’ to ever say “och-aye the noo” was former James Bond and Edinburgh born milkman Sean ‘I don’t do accents’ Connery in mawkish leprechaun fantasy Darby O’Gill & The Little People. Awful – except for John Barnes.

But if lyrics in football songs can be challenging, Brighton has a supporter who can help them. If Brighton ever reach the FA Cup final again, it could ask local supporter and superstar DJ Norman’ Fatboy Slim’ Cook to record a new song. Although Norman Cook has said he hates football records, he does mix football and music. In October 2004, the FA permitted him to change Brighton’s stadium’s name to Palookaville Stadium for one match only to publicise the release of his album Palookaville. 

Buy the Sound of Football from Amazon.

Not The Seven Hills Of Edinburgh Challenge (Andrew)

I don’t know much about Edinburgh. It was Iain TwinBikeRun’s city. I lived in Glasgow, he lived in Edinburgh. Together we divided up Scotland like a giant game of Monopoly.

So, when Iain asked if I wanted to try the Seven Hills of Edinburgh Challenge – a run to summit the seven hills that make up Edinburgh – I asked how long would it take. He said about two to two and half hours. I asked how many miles it would be. He said about 12. And I said, “hell yeah, let’s do it!”

(I might not have said “hell yeah” as I’m not American, but I was excited.)

There was only one problem. The run is no where near 12 miles. We had ran 16 miles and still not reached the sixth and toughest hill, Arthur’s Seat. We’d also been running for nearly three hours and still had another 45 minutes to go. I had no choice but to say “see ya, sucker!” and run back to the start.

So, instead of the Seven Hills of Edinburgh Challenge, I ran the Seven Hills of Edinburgh Minus Arthur’s Seat Challenge and I learned an important lesson: never trust Iain TwinBikeRun’s directions. I should have known better, I should have read this, where he admits to running eight hills because he got the route wrong. In future, I should always check the route I’m running before I run it.

The Sound of Football: Brentford (Andrew)

Every fortnight we cover the best and worst football songs from every club in the UK from our book ‘The Sound Of Football: Every Club, Every Song’. You can buy it here

Brentford

Nickname: The Bees

Ground: Griffin Park

Stadium Capacity: 12,763

Song: Hey Jude

Did Rod Stewart play for Brentford? We know that his first love was football, closely followed by blondes and platform shoes. On his hit song, ‘You’re In My Heart (The Final Acclaim),’ he compared one of his conquests with the best team he’d ever seen. Better even than Manchester United or his beloved Celtic. Was Rod talking about Brentford?

For years, the press would write that Rod had played for The Bees as a young man. But, in 1995, he finally confessed he’d never played at Griffin Park. He’d only had a trial as a schoolboy. We think we can now assume that Brentford was not the best team he’d ever seen.

One man believes Brentford was the best team he’s ever seen, and that’s ex-player Lloyd Owusu.

Owusu joined Brentford from non-league Slough in 1998 and immediately made an impact, helping the team to promotion. He finished top scorer with an impressive 22 goals. Over the next few years, he continued to feature prominently and became a fan’s favourite due to his ‘raise the roof` goal celebrations

Although Owusu left the club briefly, he returned in 2005 for a second spell. The fans welcomed his return, and one in particular – Status Quo bassist John ‘Rhino` Edwards – even created a tribute song, ‘Owusu The One And Only, in his honour.

Brentford’s club song is ‘Hey Jude’ by the Beatles, played at every home game. For the chorus, the fans sing:

Laaa Laaa Laaa La-la-la Laaa

La-la-la Laaa Brentford

Laaa Laaa Laaa La-la-la Laaa

La-la-la Laaa Brentford

(Source: fan chant)

There are two theories why the fans sing Hey Jude. The first is that a woman named Jude in the 1960s dumped a Brentford player, and the club played the song to remind him of her. The second theory is more straightforward – and more plausible – it was simply started by supporters who spotted that the chants of “Hey Jude” could be easily swapped with “Brent-ford“.

‘Hey Jude’ is one of The Beatles’ greatest songs, but drummer Ringo Starr almost didn’t play on it. The band was ready to record the track, but Ringo went to the toilet before they started. The rest of the band didn’t notice he had gone. He heard Paul McCartney singing and ran back in time to hit his drums right on cue.

John Lennon may have once said that Ringo wasn’t “even the best drummer in The Beatles“, but Ringo knew, like all great drummers, that timing is everything.

Buy the Sound of Football from Amazon.