LATEST EPISODE: TOP 10 2013-14

For the final time this season, Jon, Jason and Mike are here with a new podcast. In this episode they countdown the Top 10 things of the 2013-2014 season and talk to Ross Wilson, former Director of Football Operations at the club.

Email us: podcast@fromtherookeryend.com

Monday, 9 June 2014

LOVE LEIGHTON...

Reverend and the Makers Love Leighton...
Leighton Baines. he seems like a decent bloke, doesn't he? He's an excellent left back, he looks pretty cool, he seems nice in interviews and he applauds the fans when he goes to take a corner. Oh, and he's taken a guitar to Brazil with him. Full marks all round then, and that's why here at From the Rookery End, we're fully behind the "Love Leighton" campaign being run by our friends over at XFM. Our very own Mike will be sporting one of the t-shirts (modelled by reverend and the Makers above) in Sao Paulo, as we look to spread the Love Leighton word so keep your eyes peeled at the England games this summer and let us know if you spot him or one of the t-shirts (surely set to be the must have fashion accessory of the summer) in Brazil.

On a more serious note, Leighton Baines is the subject of Mike's latest piece for Goal.com and you can read it by clicking the link below. Let us know what you think!




Sunday, 8 June 2014

THE FINAL COUNTDOWN

A bit of research...
In a little over a week, I will be flying to Sao Paulo. It still feels slightly surreal to know that I'll be almost 6,000 miles away, but I can't wait and am starting to make my final preparations. IN playing against Honduras last night, England have completed their trio of warm-up games and the next time we see them in action will be when they step on the pitch in Manaus to take on Italy.

Before last night's game I wrote about what I hoped to take from the game, identifying four key areas that I feel if we get right, could set us on an exciting course. You can read the piece here, and make your own mind up as to whether Hodgson and his men delivered.

In the end, the Honduras game was something of a curate's egg. An aggressive Honduras coupled with a lengthy break because of an electrical storm gave it a bit of a nervy feel, and I'm sure that Roy Hodgson will have been disappointed with the way it panned out. That said, over the course of the three pre-tournament friendlies, I saw enough to suggest that the hype about the new generation of England player (Sterling, Barkley et al) was perhaps not too far from the mark. If anyone can propel what has been a traditionally average England team to the next level, it's these guys. You can read more of my thoughts by clicking on the image below.


Saturday, 7 June 2014

A FIRST TASTE OF ENGLAND...

Wembley says goodbye. For now...
I'll be honest. South Africa 2010 left me pretty depressed about the English national team. It was the worst showing at a tournament I can remember in a long time and that's saying something. The performances were disjointed and lacklustre, and quite frankly we'd have been better off staying at home all summer. Since then I've found it hard to get too excited about England.

I was tempted back to Wembley by a friend, and I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw, as an energetic England swept past Montenegro en route to qualification. I didn't know it yet, but with England's place in Brazil cemented - I was going to be following them.

One of my first assignments as Sony and Goal.com Fan Ambassador was to head to Wembley for the
I'm pretty sure this wasn't Nobby...
final friendly on home soil. The game was against Peru, a team in the midst of an appalling run of form, but one that will forever have a place in my heart thanks to: 1) Nolberto Solano, and 2) Their brilliant home kit. To top it all off, I was going to be sat in the press box.

As I entered the media entrance I had already convinced myself that my press pass wouldn't be there. "Hello. Who are you and where do you think you're going?" They'd ask. I was pretty sure that "Oh, Hi, I'm Mike and I do a Watford podcast" wasn't going to fool anyone. I needn't have worried - my pass was handed over and for one night only, I was a member of the England press pack.

Having gained entry to Wembley's inner sanctum, my first goal was to find food. I have seen enough Twitter posts from TalkSPORT's "Moose" to suggest that he was a big fan of fodder, and I wanted to get there before him. I did so and filled my face accordingly.

With dinner done, I could focus on the task in hand. My job was to get a feeling for what England fans felt about their national teams chances in Brazil, whilst also using the game to cast my eye over the new-look national side.

The game was played in a pretty raucous atmosphere, this was a Friday night and people had clearly come to enjoy themselves. As well as a decent level of noise, high spirited supporters took to making paper aeroplanes from the coloured card used to make the St George's flag display pre-kick off and one supporter ensured the biggest cheer of the night when they did this...


The game itself saw a functional performance from England, with Rooney and Sturridge perhaps understandably struggling to develop an understanding up front and the defence - a concern for many - holding firm for the most part. In truth there was little of the exciting attacking flat that I'd hoped to see after the naming of players like Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling in the squad, but in what was the first of three pre-tournament friendlies, I took comfort in the fact that this was little more than a glorified training session.

The thing that pleased me the most was a confirmation that England supporters know where we stand this time round. Of course we all hope that Roy Hodgson's men do well in Brazil, but for the first time in a long time, there is no expectation. That's not to say England fans are resigned to failure, instead choosing to be determined to enjoy and make the most the greatest show on earth.

Like my day in the press box, Brazil 2014 should be a lot of fun.



To read more about my Brazilian adventure, please visit the Sony One Stadium site by clicking here.