The Angry Budgie Live

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

A Few Random Things.....

As you may have seen from my past couple of posts, its summer time! Which means no hockey in the UK! So from now until September this blog may well see a few posts on some pretty random stuff!

That's not to say there is no hockey, we do still have the Stanley Cup Playoff's, which, at the time of posting is looking like it will be Pittsburgh v Detroit for the cup! This will at least satisfy my hockey cravings for the next month or so!

So looking ahead to the summer The Angry Budgie will be going on its travels again, for June is Download 2009 and for July its Blur at Hyde Park. There may well be another holiday before the season starts.

Anyway, tonight see's Manchester United take on Barcelona in the Champions League final, now im not a United fan but I will be hoping the Red Devils win the cup. Its nice to see Mancunian clubs have success!

A final thought, when the season roll's round again I will continue with my game by game reviews of the Phoenix home games in the EPL. I plan on doing the same period by period review, with an end verdict and guesstimate on attendance. I will also continue to include links to local media reviews and the Phoenix TV highlights. However if you, out there in reader land, have any recommendations/changes you wish to see feel free to contact The Angry Budgie's email address shown at the top of the blog!

So enjoy your evening, and keep supporting hockey!

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Do you remember?

This cracking advert from Honda......?

I dont care what you think, this was a class advert!

The Anrgy Budgie on Tour - Japan 2009

So those of you who know, my brother writes the World Wide Webishpere blog, which can be found in my links section to the right. He’s been out there for a good couple of years now and ive been lucky enough to go out and visit him on a number of occasions. This past trip was my 4th trip th the land of the rising sun. I will admit that prior to him going out there, Japan never really appeared on my radar of places to go and visit. However since he went out it gave me the excuse to go, and wow what an amazing country. I urge anyone, in the strongest possible terms, if you ever get the chance go to Japan, you wont be disappointed! If you are a regular reader of his blog you will know he came back to the UK, with his girlfriend – Yuko, for Christmas last year. By all accounts he and Yuko had a great time, except when it came time to go home. At this point Yuko became ill and was no able to travel, so another two weeks were spent in the UK. This meant Paul had used up pretty much all of his leave for this year. He did however have Golden Week, this is a grouping of public holidays that many Japanese companies will often allow their employees and extended break. So the scene was set, id go over to Japan to join Paul for a short break over Golden Week. So 4 days in Japan and 3 days travelling, this is what The Angry Budgie got up to over in the East.

The first full day in Japan was spent visiting Niigata, this is the largest city in the Niigata prefecture (Japanese version of a county) where Paul lives. So an hour’s car ride on the rather excellent Japanese motorway system saw us arrive in a rather warm Niigata. Its quite amazing how many cube shaped cars are on the roads in Japan. Along with 4x4 Nissan Micra’s and Honda Jazz’s! To be honest I don’t see the fascination, yes there small and economical but…’s a cube! About as aesthetically pleasing as a cinder block! While in Niigata we met up with Haruna who is one of Paul’s old workmates. Very nice lady and, as most Japanese women are, very small! We went for lunch at a Milan themed sports bar and had a rather nice Fired Chicken curry on rice dish! Yum yum! After that we had a leisurely walk, across the Agano River, to the Next 21 building. This afforded fantastic views of the city and the sea. Best thing – it was free! You could clearly see the Big Swan stadium and the mountains running down the spine of Japan. It was in Niigata that we managed to find someone with taste, a fellow Alfasti driving a lovely white Alfa Spider Veloce.

The second full day was spent at the beach in Kashiwazaki, many people don’t know Kashi has one but it’s a very nice sandy beach. Running from the Big Red Bridge and Lovers Point all the way up the coast to the Kashiwazaki Nuclear Power Plant! Not that, that should deter any potential swimmers! After a quick dash to the supermarket to buy essential snack provisions, we also picked up a bucket and spade, hey when on the beach etc…! Once at the beach we settled down to relax and have some fun! I proceeded to fill my time constructing my fist sand castle in many many years, and to be honest I was damn proud of my efforts! Paul did join in, in constructing various sand based things, but Yuko decided against it and sunbathed while playing with Gonta! We pretty much spent the whole afternoon/early evening at the beach. Only leaving as the sun had set and it started getting cold. None the less a good day was had! As evident by Gonta sticking his head out the car window (isn’t that the happiest our K9 friends can be?) and breaking wind on me! Thanks Gonta!

So to the last full day in Kashiwazaki, an early start today! One of Yuko’s friends, Yuko, was picking us up and taking us, with her daughters to a craft fair in Gunma prefecture. This involved a two hour car ride through some beautiful scenery, including an 11km tunnel! Once in Gunma prefecture it quickly became apparent what the main activity was. There were so many hotels and ski lifts! Not much snow, but obvious that once it came, this is where Japan came to ski! This craft fair was more like a craft village, it was a collection of house that all offered various traditional craft activities. We were there for the Washi paper making, this involved getting a wooden frame with a mesh base and sieving some gloopy stringy mixture through it. This would form the basis of the paper, you were then left to decorate the gloop as you saw fit. Once all done, the paper would be left to dry for a couple of days before it set. Once that activity was over we drove a couple of minutes further to the Glass making factory and museum near by. Bet you can’t guess what we did here! That’s right we had a go at making some glass! I chose to make a mug with dimples! So, in an intensely hot factory, doing something H+S would have a hernia over in this country, I was instructed in how to make a glass. It was so much fun, don’t know if it was due to my instructor speaking no English and me speaking no Japanese! But hey we did it! After all that we moved to a different room and Paul had a go at some sand blasting! Basically you choose your glass/mug, tape various shapes/words to it and blast it with a load of sand, leaving you with a glass with a frosted effect! Much fun!

Monday saw my last full day in Japan, after a leisurely morning spent having breakfast, catching up on some forum and Facebook activity and packing. Lunchtime came and we trundled off to Nagaoka to get my Shinkansen and Narita Express tickets. Those purchased we had some lunch and a quick wander through the streets of Nagaoka. Nice little town but did not get to see much of it! Time came to get my train, so farewell’s were said and bang on time the Shinkansen rolled in and whisked me off to Tokyo at 150mph. Managed to grab a few z’ds as my 16 car double deck train sped smoothly to Tokyo. Once in Tokyo I had half an hour to catch my NEX train to the airport and with it my hotel for the night. Now I know you may well know that trains in Japan are 99.99999% on time. Im pretty sure my NEX train was in that tiny majority that was late! Hey 4 minutes is late in Japan! Never the less within an hour and a half I was resting in my room at the Hilton Narita enjoying a lovely bacon cheeseburger! With over 20hours of flying the next day an early night was in order! So that was pretty much it really, Tuesday morning saw the first of my two flights to get home and they went off very nicely in the end! Only a quick visit to Japan but a good one none the less!

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Inaugural EPL Season - Signings So Far

So as we all know the Phoenix have moved to the EPL, seen by many a fan as a good thing and one that should help to ensure the long term survival of the club. To date the signings have included a mix of returnees and a few new faces to the league. From releases by the club it seems that most of the Brit positions, on the roster, have been filled. With import signings news to come soon!

So far the roster is shaping up rather nicely and has won warm approval from the Phoenix faithful. With the added bonus of Tony playing on for another season, this will tempt a few players to join the Phoenix. Its for this reason I think the Phoenix have done well to retain the services of Adam Walker and Luke Boothroyd. Both Brits could find a place on any EIHL roster.

So my plan for this post is to go through the team so far and offer my own opinion's on each player. Naturally you can make your own mind up, however it will be an exciting time when we all make our way to the Ice Dome for the first game!

So onto the team:

Goaltender – Steve Fone
A player who needs no introduction to Phoenix fans, and a player who will get the full weight of the fans support from the off. Already a bit of a legend for coming to help the Phoenix out on a couple of occasions, and putting some damn fine performances in to boot. A collective screech of joy could be heard when his signing was announced. Steve is already a well rounded goaltender, and he must be relishing his first season as an out right starter. If he plays his cards right he could well command an EIHL start soon. Naturally I hope he stays with the Phoenix and becomes a franchise player!

Goaltender – Adam Summerfield
A local lad who has spent the past few seasons as the Phoenix back up nettie. However when called upon Adam has coped well with his few minutes in EIHL action. Adam has all the necessaries to become a great net-minder, he just needs the ice time now. You never know he may well get that in the EPL!

Defenceman – Carl Graham
Carl had, you could argue, a career season in 08/09. Exposed to extended periods on the ice has helped Carl develop into a very capable D man. He reads the puck well, is not afraid to put his body about and rarely wastes the puck. With a loyal, and very vocal, support Carl will relish the season in the EPL, and his performances will come on as a result!

Defenceman – Luke Boothroyd
A shining star alongside DAB for the Phoenix in 08/09, a great season where he never looked outclassed. Even finding time to lay out Brad Voth! The Huddersfield native could easily have found a place in the EIHL for next season, so its a real coup for the Phoenix to retain his services. With the expected ice time for Luke next season, he could quickly become the Phoenix number 1 D man. The real development for Luke will to start generating a bit more offence. Not that I demand it, its probably the only thing really lacking from his game right now.

Defenceman – Joe Graham
A new face to the Phoenix, coming across from Nottingham this will be an interesting season for Joe. Also adds to the confusion for Andy being the second Graham on the roster. If The Cage Forum is to be believed the Phoenix have grabbed a decent player in Joe. One they are sad to have lost. There does seem to be a little confusion as to whether he is on a two way contract or not, I can only hope he isn't. The last thing we need is for Joe to up sticks and leave when the Panthers want him. Under Tony this young Brit defence-man will want a career year to help forge his case for a GB call up.

Forward – Adam Walker
Another cracking signing for the Phoenix, Adam had a great year in 08/09 and could have found an EIHL place. Adam has developed into a classy skillful forward, one who is also pretty darn good at taking penalty shots. Adam will want to become one the Phoenix leading forwards this year, and there is no reason why he cant!

Forward – Ben Wood
I will admit to not knowing much about Ben, other than the few times he iced for the Elite Phoenix squad I was not able to go to many ENL games. However from what I did see Ben does look to have all the ingredients of a decent forward. He is tall, skilful on the puck and a very good skater. He will love being on the same ice as Tony Hand all season, and, as with Carl and Adam Summerfield the extra ice time will do wonders for his development. One to watch for the future me thinks!

Forward – Tony Hand
Well the man needs no introduction, he may well have started to slow down. He is 41 after all! However his mind and hands are still as sharp as the day he got on the ice. He will relish the EPL, and the opposition players will not know what hit them. All I can say is, to all the other EPL fans out there your in for a treat!

Forward – Ian Bowie
Another exciting prospect for the Phoenix, Ian joins us from a d├ębut season in the EIHL for the Capitals. Playing on the same forward lines as Adam and Tony, Ian should develop well this season. Hopefully this exposure will help Ian turn into an exciting forward. I cant really comment much more than that as I dont know a lot about him!

So that's the roster so far.....well save for the Nottingham Evening Post revealing two further signings in Rob Lachowicz and James Neil! Ill leave you to go over and take a look at the Cage to form your own opinion on them!

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

The Phoenix to the EPL

So all the worrying about the future of the Phoenix has now been put to bed and the Phoenix will be competing in a ten team English Premier League next year. I will admit that I am a little disappointed not to be competing in the EIHL next season, but quite simply, I would happily sacrifice EIHL action for a long-term future for the Phoenix.

Lets face it from various reports coming out of the Phoenix the idea of a move to the EPL had been knocking round Phoenix HQ for a couple of months. It also seems that the agreements reached the Monday following the playoff finals weekend have not been kept. This was a corner stone for NM in keeping the Phoenix in the EIHL. So I can only assume he is not satisfied with the progress made.

Its also interesting reading the reaction to our departure from the EIHL from fans of the other EIHL clubs. In particular the Phoenix have come in for a bit of a hammering from the Panther fans for not ‘sticking it out’ like the Panthers did in their dark days! Quite frankly that is a ridiculous statement to make! For a start no Panther fan, or Phoenix fan for that matter, will ever know the financial in’s and out’s of the Phoenix balance sheet! They will also not know the projected revenue for the club. It is clear that the past two seasons have seen Neil sink a huge amount of personal money into the club to keep it going. Quite rightly he has decided this must stop, and the lower operating costs of the EPL seems to be right for the Phoenix.

After a period of half an hour being sad for the move, I have quickly moved on to excitement for the up-coming season. It represents a fresh slate for the Phoenix. Plus a chance to really connect the youth development at the club. Already demonstrated by a number of the ENL lads stepping up. (More on those signings will follow). It also has galvanised the Phoenix support, even on the train down to Nottingham for the recent finals weekend most fans were open to the idea of moving to the EPL. Now a casual glance at the forum will show that 99% of Phoenix fans are backing the club all the way.

I think this can come down to having one of the best owners in sports, to go along with an excellent back room staff and the great one at the helm. Manchester has always been run as a fan friendly club, so much so that during the 0809 EIHL season Phoenix fans gained a reputation as being some of the most loyal around. What most Phoenix fans recognise is the honesty in NM’s actions, and for that will stand up and salute him!

So with the Phoenix in the EPL, EIHL teams seemingly recruiting imports like its fashionable, it will be interesting to see how the wage cap holds! I give the EIHL one more season before it goes under! So the summer of 2010 could be another interesting one!

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Final Leg

...and were into the home stretch now, am blogging from the cool air conditioned Singapore Changi T3. Had my shower and a rather nice bacon cheese burger from Hard Rock Cafe!

All thats left now is a 14hour plane ride back to Manchester! Leaves at 5 to mid-night (Singapore Time) so will hopefully get a few hours of kip on the plane all being well!

When im back and rested ill do a quick tour review and maybe a picture to go with it! Then to the serious stuff, my own take on the Phoenix moving to the EPL!

Take care everyone!

Nearly There!

So TAB tour is nearly at an end, im currently blogging this on an Internet kiosk in Tokyo's Narita airport! Waiting for my shiny Singapore Airlines A380 to whisk me south!

Its been fun going on tour, and keeping in touch with all things Phoenix!

Ill be kicking over a few blog ideas on the plane home, then when im back in the UK ill get it posted!

Take care everyone!

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Just a quick note.... say im not neglecting the recent Phoenix news!

Being on-tour in Japan is limiting my opportunities to write posts for the blog. So as soon as im back ill be putting together a post concerning the Phoenix decision to move to the EPL!

Ill also have a look at reaction from the fans of certain EIHL clubs!

Should be an interesting summer!