All posts by Andy Todd

The Sound of Football: Cove Rangers/Berwick Rangers (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

Cowdenbeath

Nickname: The Blue Brazil

Ground: Central Park

Stadium Capacity: 4,309

Song: The Coo (Cow) Song

Cowdenbeath’s nickname is the Blue Brazil. It’s an unusual name, and its origin can be traced back to a Scottish Cup tie against Stranraer.

Usually, Cowdenbeath plays in blue strips. Typically, it’s known more for hitting and hoofing than step-overs and intricate passing. However, according to fans at the match, the team that day was playing some “silky stuff“. One fan was so impressed he shouted out, “C’mon the silky blues“. Another shouted out “C’mon the super blues” before a third added “C’MON THE BLUE BRAZIL!” A stunned silence followed – earth-shattering hyperbole can do that to a stadium – along with a 3 – 1 victory, and the nickname’s stuck ever since.

Cowdenbeath was formed in 1880 by James and John Pollock, who had one claim to fame: they had the only football in Cowdenbeath. As the official history notes: the brothers were originally from Ayrshire, on the west coast of Scotland, and had learnt to play football there. When they moved to Cowdenbeath on the east coast, they discovered no one played football. Their mother went to Glasgow to buy them a ball, so they could keep playing.

The official history of Cowdenbeath records that her son Davie said in 1952:

Mither decided that we’d got tae hae a ba’ so she went tae Glesgae and brocht ane back. That ba’ was really the start o’ footba’ here.”

(Mother decided that’s we had to have a ball, so she went to Glasgow and brought one back. That ball was really the start of football here.)

Sadly, Mrs Pollock didn’t also bring another part of their Ayrshire heritage: classic poetry. The most famous son of Ayr is Robbie Burns, Scotland’s national poet. Instead, Cowdenbeath fans sing a song based on Scotland’s other national poet, William Topaz McGonagall, considered the worst poet in the world.

McGonagall was born in 1825 and wrote almost 200 poems, all of them awful. He was such a poor poet; audiences would throw rotten fish at him as he performed. But, despite dying penniless in 1902, his poems have become celebrated, if not for the right reasons.

At Cowdenbeath, in Central Park, fans sing one poem in particular – ‘The Coo Song’ (The Cow Song).

There was a coo, on yonder hill.

There was a coo, on yonder hill.

It’s not there, it must’ve shifted.

There was a coo on yonder hill.

(Source: terrace chant)

Robbie Burns, it is not.

It’s worth noting that William McGonagall was a teetotaller and a great supporter of the temperance movement. Robbie Burns loved drinking. So, if you want to write poetry, better order a double.

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The number one cause of injuries: stupidity (Andrew)

At the end of last year, I lost my drone. I was flying it near a dam, trying to fly it along the main pipe and up to the falling water off the dam sluice when I received a warning that I was running low on battery. I checked the battery and it said I had 3 mins flight time left. I thought that was plenty of time to continue for another shot and then fly it back to me. I was wrong. 90 seconds later the drone screen flashed red, the drone began it’s automatic descent to land and I tried desperately to work out where in the moor it might be so I could run over and collect it. 30 minutes later and after much trampling of heather, I found it. I should never have ignored the warning. I was an idiot. I was lucky to find it. But I was still an idiot.

Most injuries are the same. We might not have a red warning light but most times, when we look back, we might as well have, as the warning lights will have been flashing.

At Christmas, I fell off my bike. This is the third time I’ve fallen off in five years. Even worse, two of the times happened at the same place. To fall off one’s bike in one place is an accident, to fall off one’s bike in exactly the same place and in exactly the same conditions is no longer an accident, it’s a trip to a consultant to get my head examined as I must have knocked all the sense out of it when I landed on it the first time!

I was in Carron Valley, it was cold, there was frost and ice on the road, and, despite falling here four years ago, I still tried to cycle when figure skating was the better option. I managed to get around 100m before I wobbled. That was my warning light. I continued. Two seconds later, I fell and banged my head on the road. What an idiot!

With other injuries, I can see the warning signs clearly, with hindsight. A cracked rib from trying to leap across a river when I should have turned round and returned home. I only continued because I hate running out and back. So, instead, I ran out and walked back… clutching my rib.

Snapping an ankle ligament? The warning sign was there. I was 35 and playing fives football. Playing football after 35 is a warning sign in itself. You don’t need any more warning of impending injury than a desire to wear a replica football top while shouting “I’m free! I’m free!”.

The signs are always there. If you want to avoid injury, just be less stupid.

The Sound of Football: Cove Rangers/Berwick Rangers (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

Cove Rangers/Berwick Rangers

Nickname: The Wee Rangers

Ground: Balmoral Stadium

Stadium Capacity: 2600

Song: None!

We’ve tried fan forums (couldn’t find one), emailed supporters (no one answered), checked fan chant websites (all listed ‘zero songs’), and we’ve begged online for leads, but we’ve drawn a blank. Cove Rangers, one of Scotland’s newest clubs, having joined the league in 2018 after a 7 – 0 aggregate playoff victory against Berwick Rangers, has no songs. Please let us know if you know a Cove Rangers fan or have ever heard them sing. Instead, let’s look at the team they replaced: Berwick Rangers, though their musical legacy is not much stronger. 

Berwick Rovers was one of the few clubs in the SPFL that neither played music when the team walked out or after the team scored, and we’re indebted to the Berwick Supporters Trust for confirming that there’s no official song for Berwick Rangers, saving many hours looking for pieces that don’t exist.

It’s not surprising that Berwick Rangers has no official song when you learn that its hometown of Berwick-upon-Tweed is still at war with Russia – or, at least, it is, according to local legend and its unique position near the border between Scotland and England.

Berwick-upon-Tweed is located in England, just two and a half miles from the border with Scotland, yet, Berwick Rangers play in the Scottish Professional Football League. A discrepancy came about due to a lack of local English teams to play against, leading to it facing teams in the Scottish borders instead.

The fact that Berwick-upon-Tweed is in England meant Berwick Rangers was the only team in the Scottish leagues required to implement the Taylor report in 1989, which followed the Hillsborough disaster. The report required all clubs in England & Wales to have all-seated stadiums. As Berwick-upon-Tweed is an English town, the club had to comply even though Rovers play in Scotland.

The town has had an equally confusing history, being, at times, either English or Scottish depending on where the border between the two countries was drawn. The Treaty of Everlasting Peace (between Scotland and England in 1502) stated that Berwick-upon-Tweed was ‘of England’ but not ‘in England’. This led to Berwick-upon-Tweed being mentioned separately from Scotland and England in Acts of Parliament. A separation that led to its continuing war with Russia.

In 1853, Britain’s declared war against Russia. The declaration referred to England, Scotland and Berwick-upon-Tweed. However, the 1856 Treaty of Paris that ended hostilities never mentioned Berwick-upon-Tweed. Because Berwick-upon-Tweed wasn’t mentioned, locals say that the market town of 25,000 people must still be at war with Russia as it never declared a ceasefire. And, as we know what Russia thinks of musicians, following its treatment of Pussy Riot, perhaps Berwick Rangers is playing it safe and not choosing any music in case it offends Vladimir Putin, and he decides to invade?

Berwick does have unofficial songs. Berwick supporter Michael Smyth provided us with lyrics to two songs that celebrate the club’s stadium and surrounding streets. We include both songs below. In the first song, “The Grove” and “The Harrow” are pubs that flank Shielfield Park. While, in the second, the reference to “Shielfield Road” is a bit of artistic licence – Berwick’s ground is actually off Shielfied Terrace. Perhaps this is an attempt to confuse Vladamir Putin if he ever restarts hostilities?

To the tune of Molly Malone:

In Berwick’s fair city

Where the girls are so s***y

I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone

As she wheeled her wheelbarrow

From The Grove to The Harrow

Shouting B-E-R-W-I-C-K

BERWICK

(Source: unknown)

To the tune of Blaydon Races (see Newcastle United)

Aw me lads, you ought tae see them gannin’

Gannin’ along the Shieifield Road

Just as we were stannin’

All the lads and lasses there

See their smilin’ faces

Gannin’ alang the Shielfield Road

… Tae see the BERWICK RANGERS!”

(Source: unknown)

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Hyrox Glasgow Race Report 2023 Part 2 (Andrew)

How many sports are too many sports? Some people take part in just one sport. Some might try two and take part in a duathlon. Others will take part in three and enter a triathlon. After that, you’re in the realm of pentathlons, heptathlons and decathlons. But once you get more than three, you also get a rest between events, so was Jessica Ennis a true multi-sport athlete? She had her feet up for half the day! 🙂

And does a heptathlon have seven events or six? You run both the 200m and the 800m and in duathlon you also run twice (along with a bike ride) but it only counts as two events. If you repeat an event, even at a different distance, is it not the same event?

I ask this because Hyrox has either 16 events or 9. There are eight 1km runs between eight other events. Does each run count as a separate event or is it just one? Is Hyrox a novathlon or a sedecimthlon? I’m going with novathlon, just ’cause it sounds cooler (and is easier to pronounce)!

1km Run

First run was straightforward. It was two laps of the halls and the route was marked with fast and slow lanes to help separate people. But, it never really mattered as there was plenty of room to run at my own pace. The fact there were two laps gives plenty of opportunities for spectators to see you. And at this point, admire your fast and sleek running style.

1km Ski (on Concept2 SkiErg)

Each station is marked with a large easy to spot number so it’s easy to find where you need to go. The machines are set at ‘6’ but you can change this as long as you do it before you start and not halfway through. I’d never used a SkiErg before so, rather than, you know, practice, I just watched a YouTube video instead and tried to remember how it showed how to use the machine. There is also machines in the practice area before the start so you have a go there too in case you’ve forgotten to watch the video.

1km Run

Back out and I realise there’s a large screen showing the names of everyone on the track as they pass. The screen helpfully tells you what event you’re doing next and whether you’re on lap 1 or 2.

50m Sled Push (150kg)

I was dreading this one. I had no idea whether I could push 150kg. I hadn’t practiced (which you can take as read now for all the other events too!) and had only watched a video to see the technique required. This was a struggle.

1km Run

Rubbery legs now before…

50m Sled Pull (120kg)

I didn’t watch the video for this one! Whoops! You have rope to pull and a small box marked on the ground to stand in. I thought you couldn’t move in the box so struggled to pull the sled without moving my feet. I was leaning back to try and use my weight to help but it was a tough challenge to complete the first 12.5m pull until Iain TwinBikeRun, who was in the next lane, told me I could move me feet. After that it was a lot easier to pull as I could walk backwards through the box.

1km Run

Jelly legs now before…

80m Burpee Broad Jump

What the blimey! I have never burpeed (is this a word?) before. I saw it on a video and thought it looked easy. How wrong I was! You have to lie on the ground, stand back up. Jump. Repeat. If felt like I wasn’t moving at all. Every time I laydown, I didn’t want to get back up. Awful. Though one of the judges said “nice technique” which was good to hear especially as Iain TwinBikeRun was sent back twice for getting it wrong. What a berk-ee!

1km Run

Hallelujah. At least I’m not burpee-ing (is this also a word?).

1km Row (on Concept2 Rower)

I’ve used a rowing machine many times and 1km is straightforward. This was the closest I got to a rest.

1km Run

By this point I realised that I was one of the faster runners. I’m not fast but there was definitely more gym competitors than runners on the course.

200m Kettle Bells Farmers Carry (24kg)

This was tough on the shoulders but not too bad. The main thing here is to make sure to use lots of chalk on your hands to stop any sweat on the handles as any sweat makes the kettle bells harder to carry.

1km Run

Second last run and I was feeling okay as I’d not used my legs for a while.

100m Sandbag Lunges (12kg)

So, let’s destroy those legs with alternate lunges while carrying a sandbag. Again, not a difficult task once you get into a rhythm but you do feel it when you get to…

1km Run

The final run. Legs gubbed but at least it’s the last one.

100 reps Wall Balls (6kg)

Before you face the misery of throwing a ball against a high target 100 plus times. I say ‘plus’ because if you don’t hit the right target then the throw doesn’t count. I found this out as I was keeping track of the numbers along with the judge (who has a number clicker to keep track) and I counted 20 and he had 18. By the time I was at 90 he was at 80 and I’m sure I threw the ball 110 times before he said I’d complete the 100.

This is a tough end to the race. The 100 balls seem to go on forever and I only got through this one as Iain TwinBikeRun said “remember to ask for the box” when we entered the station. The box is a handy seat that you sit on before standing and throwing. The box ensure that you squat down correctly. You can squat without the box but why would you give up a handy seat to rest on too??!?! 🙂

About halfway through, my judge said “you’re 10 ahead of your brother, you’re not going to let him win, are you?”. I wasn’t so I made sure to keep ahead so I could be first to the…

Finish line

A proper ramp. A congratulations and a banana. What more do you need for a finish?

Overall

I enjoyed this one. The variety keeps it entertaining. The venue is big enough to ensure there’s no bunching on either the run or at any of the stations, and small enough to make it easy for spectators to keep up with the action.

Hyrox Glasgow Race Report 2023 – Part 1 (Andrew)

It’s said the triathlon was invented as a sport when three sailors, one a strong swimmer, another a strong runner and a third, a strong cyclist, devised a race in which they would all evenly compete against each other.

Hyrox is also a multi-sport race but unlike triathlon it has three times as many sports – nine to triathlon’s three. Unlike triathlon it was designed to be a multi-sport rather than a result of a drunken naval bet. Though it would make a great story if it had started after nine people got into an argument over who was best.

But what are the events? And how does it compare to triathlon?

Last month, TwinBikeRun entered the Glasgow edition of Hydrox and this is my report.

What is Hyrox?

It’s a multi-sport event which takes place indoors in an arena. The sports are:

1km Run

1km Ski (on Concept2 SkiErg)

1km Run

50m Sled Push (102kg – 202kg*)

1km Run

50m Sled Pull (78kg – 153kg*)

1km Run

80m Burpee Broad Jump

1km Run

1km Row (on Concept2 Rower)

1km Run

200m Kettle Bells Farmers Carry (16kg – 32kg*)

1km Run

100m Sandbag Lunges (10kg – 30kg*)

1km Run

100 / 75* reps Wall Balls (4kg – 9kg*)

* weights (and reps for wall balls) vary by category

(And, which, if you’re counting, is 16 events, however as you run eight time I’ve included it as one sport when I said there were nine sports to race.)

What was registration like?

Very straightforward. You’re sent a QR code in advance. Registration only took a few minutes and you’re given a chip timer, an athlete band and band for your bag to store in the bag drop. Spectators can also register and pay to enter too. Though at ÂŁ11.50 your spectators may want you to put on a show to justify the high cost!

How do you get ready?

The course was set up in one of the halls of the Scottish Exhibition Centre. It was easy to access and everything was signposted – except for the changing rooms, as there wasn’t any!

This is your first challenge: where to change when there’s no changing room. I asked a steward and he pointed me to the largest toilet, which was fine, if unconventional. I didn’t expect my first challenge of Hyrox would be to change from jeans to shorts in a toilet cubicle.

How’s the start?

Before you start there’s a warm up area with exercise bikes and machines and weights to replicate every event. This was useful as I’d not practiced any of the events beforehand. I was worried that I would struggle on the sled push and pull. I thought I might even struggle to move it, never mind complete it. But, having a practice, I realised that while it was tough, it wasn’t going to be impossible. It gave me some confidence that I wasn’t starting something I wouldn’t be able to finish.

10 minutes before your start time you get access to the start pen. Loud music and inspirational videos play on TV screens. A number of men take their t-shirts off and strip to the waist. Why? I have no idea. But, Hyrox does seem to attract a large minority of competitors who race in just their shorts. I think they don’t have a full kit because they struggled in the loo to get changed. That can be the only explanation…

A 10 minute countdown ends and we’re off!

What’s it like for spectators?

Mrs TwinBikeRun had a pram with her and was able to get around most of the stations very easily. There was a couple that were difficult to access because of the way they were set out in the arena but most were easy to access and easy to see me. I thought it was great that she was always able to get a spot beside us but she said there was no secret to that: she said: “Who else would want to stand beside you?”

And she was right, the stations are spaced out so that not only does every competitor have their own space, but so do the spectators as each spectator is only watching one person too.

What’s the event like?

I’ll cover that next week. Let’s just say that there’s a reason Hercules stopped at 12 tasks. He was knackered. But while we had nine sports, there were 16 tasks and even Hercules would have had second thoughts of completing that many.

Part 2 next week

The Sound of Football: Coventry 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

Coventry City

Nickname: The Sky Blues

Ground: Ricoh Arena (subject to dispute and games in 2019/20 were played at St Andrews, Birmingham)

Stadium Capacity: 32,604

Song: The Sky Blue Song

Cinderella is the proverbial rags to riches story, but Coventry City must be one of the ugly sisters as it’s suffered the reverse – a riches to rags story.

The club spent 34 consecutive seasons in the topflight before relegation in 2001. It was a founding member of the Premier League but has since stumbled from one financial problem to another, culminating in further relegation. It suffered through administration, and due to a dispute with its stadium owners, the club even started 2013/14 playing its home games in Northampton rather than in the Ricoh Arena in Coventry after being locked out of its ground.

It’s been a long time since the success of the ‘The Sky-Blue Revolution’ of the 1960s when the legendary Jimmy Hill became manager.

Jimmy has had every job possible in football except professional WAG. He was a player, union leader, coach, manager, director, chairman, television executive, presenter, analyst and match official. His first managerial role was at Coventry, where he orchestrated the Sky Blue Revolution. He changed the home kit’s colours to sky blue, coined the nickname the ‘Sky Blues’, and penned the club’s song ‘The Sky Blue Song’. Dulux doesn’t do football, but if they did…

‘The Sky Blue song’ was written in 1962 by Jimmy and director John Camkin. It was launched at a home game with Colchester, but the match was abandoned at halftime because of fog. Hill had the words printed in the match programme – a new invention by… you guessed it, Jimmy Hill.

The song is still sung today. In 2012 to celebrate its 50th-anniversary, members of the Coventry squad from the original Colchester game went onto the pitch at halftime and sang it with the fans.

To celebrate his achievements, a seven-foot bronze statue of Jimmy was unveiled at the stadium after ÂŁ100k was raised by fans.

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TwinBikeRun 2022 (Andrew)

A decent year for the site as we clocked over 11K visitors again. There was a clear drop this year from last but that was largely due to a decrease in searches for open water swimming after a boom last year in people looking for information about local lochs. 

Hello to our visitors from nearly 2000 visitors from around the world.

And an extra special hello to those single visitors from Uruguay to Jordan:

And many thanks to all who visited the site, read a blog, left a comment, clicked a link, watched a video or bought the book.

My Year (Andrew)

My ‘A race’ this year was going to be ‘Baby Celtman’ aka Celtman Solo 10.5. However, as Iain Twinbike Run qualified for the full Celtman itself, and Baby Celtman being the following week, I could only go to Applecross once and supported his race instead. So, my main race this year involved me sitting in a car having a snooze while waiting for Iain TwinBikeRun to finish swimming. And how did I get on? I can honestly say I smashed it. Just look at the genius move of bringing a pillow with me to make my snooze even more comfortable. If supporting was a race, then I was a gold medal winner. 

For actual running, biking and swimming, I had a back up goal of trying to run a bit faster this year. I’d noticed my average times were creeping down and I wanted to try and push a bit faster. By the end of the year I was running around 30 seconds faster a mile than the start. I’d like to say there was a dedicated training programme to achieve this but it mostly involved finishing work at 5 and having to be home by 540 as that’s when our nanny finished. There’s nothing like having to avoid paying overtime to make you run faster. 

Overall, a decent year that reflected two things. One, a one year old in the house which meant I was very restricted about anything longer than an hour. Two, a broken rib and then COVID to finish the year so Oct to Dec was patchy as I had to avoid pressure on my rib and then anything which set off a cough for a couple of weeks. 

Next year, ‘Baby Celtman’ is the goal again and I’m looking forward to being back in Applecoss, even if I have to be there with a bike and running kit and not a comfy pillow. 

The Sound of Football: Colchester United (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

Colchester United

Nickname: The U’s

Ground: Weston Homes Community Stadium

Stadium Capacity: 10,105

Song: Up The U’s

If you are interested in alternative music, then one name will immediately come to mind: Steve Lamacq.

Steve’s tireless championing of new music on his long-running shows on Radio 1 and Radio 6 Music has delivered the first UK radio exposure for Oasis, Coldplay, and every guitar band who’s emerged on the UK alternative music scene in the last 20 years. In-between attending hundreds of gigs each year, Steve has another love: Colchester FC. On 23 January 2006, he combined both passions by playing the team’s anthem ‘Up the U’s’ on Radio 1’s Evening Session.

The song is ironic: Colchester is the setting for the famous nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty. During the English Civil War, a sniper known as Humpty Dumpty, due to his large size, sat in the belfry of a church (Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall.) He was shot down (Humpty Dumpty had a great fall) and, shortly after, the town was overrun by Parliamentarians (all the king’s horses and all the king’s men/couldn’t put Humpty together again), which is why, instead of singing ‘Up the U’s, an appropriate fairy tale ending for Colchester would find them falling down the divisions.

The club has had moderate success. With a population of just over 100k, it has punched above its weight and regularly features in the top half of League 1. Its greatest achievement was a victory over Don Revie’s all-conquering Leeds United side of the 1970s. A result that put all of the Colchester players involved into the club’s player hall of fame.

The club anthem is ‘Up the U’s’, and Colchester based punk band Special Duties has recorded the song twice.

Special Duties was originally called X-pelled, but they switched names when a box of badges with “Special Duties” printed on them ‘came into their possession’. Allegedly the badges were stolen from a local Colchester school. They changed their name to fit the badges rather than print more badges with X-Pelled written on them.

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