Tag Archives: villains

6 Nations: Alex Goode says England are always pantomime villains

The Six Nations has so much history… but England are always the pantomime villains

By
Alex Goode

PUBLISHED:

01:57 GMT, 2 February 2013

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UPDATED:

01:57 GMT, 2 February 2013

This is my first appearance in the Six Nations and I’m very excited to be involved in it at last.

The tournament has so much history and for as long as I can remember England have been seen as pantomime villains.

Part of the tradition seems to be for pundits from other nations to talk about how much they dislike the English and accuse us of arrogance, and that has happened again this week. I’m not sure why but it occurs in lots of sports. In football, everyone wants to beat Manchester United, for example.

Breakthrough: Alex Goode is getting ready to play in his first Six Nations

Breakthrough: Alex Goode is getting ready to play in his first Six Nations

It often comes across as if all the passion in these games comes from the other side, not England. People talk about all this passion Scotland have, but the English are passionate too. When we play against the Scots, of course we want to beat them. We would hate to lose against them. It’s not something we ever want to deal with. It’s the same with every team we play against.

I don’t have hatred for any other countries, but I definitely hate losing. I would hate to be involved in a game that led to stories in years to come when people talk about a famous Scottish victory against England. That would wind me up.

No-one likes losing and that can be what produces the passion. I know that me and Owen (Farrell), for example, are extremely competitive, whether it’s in training or playing for Saracens or England. We both hate to lose. We want to be the best and that drives us to try to get to the top.

Preparation: Goode (right) trains with debutant Billy Twelvetrees ahead of the Six Nations opener against Scotland

Preparation: Goode (right) trains with debutant Billy Twelvetrees ahead of the Six Nations opener against Scotland

We needed a bit of passion to beat New Zealand. I just remember how loud the crowd was that day, and I have never been part of a team that was more fired up. That showed we can be a passionate people too. That win against New Zealand was great, but we can’t make too big a deal of it.

As players, we would rather there wasn’t such a fuss because we want that standard to be our norm. We can only achieve that if we bring the same level of intensity to our performance against Scotland – an intensity they will struggle to match.

I’m relieved that I recovered from a shoulder injury to play. I was out for more than a month and the first reaction from the boys was that I had become ‘big-time’ and didn’t fancy playing in winter. When I used to play with Thomas Castaignede at Saracens, he would come out on a wintry day and say: ‘No electricity. No electrics in Thomas. Thomas don’t train!’ Then he’d walk back inside. So the lads said that about me and how I have changed!

Famous: Goode impressed during England's 38-21 win over New Zealand

Famous: Goode impressed during England's 38-21 win over New Zealand

It was tough when I realised the injury was worse than expected. It knocked me a bit, then it was a race against time, putting the hours in. Luckily, I came through a game for Saracens to prove my fitness.

You know there are always going to be people pushing you for that shirt. I’d had to wait longer than most to get my shot, before I made my Test debut in South Africa last summer, so I didn’t want to let it go. A year ago, I wouldn’t have imagined starting a Calcutta Cup game at Twickenham, but now I’m raring to go.

We have gone from being underdogs against New Zealand to favourites for this game. Everyone expects us to win – pundits and the public, but Scotland are bouncing back from a bad loss and they’ve got new coaches in Scott Johnson and Dean Ryan and they’ll be fired up to impress, which makes them dangerous.

This will be a dog-fight, but I’m hopeful we can win.

Aston Villa 0 Tottenham 4 match report: xxx

Aston Villa 0 Tottenham 4: Bale's triple salvo crushes Villains' resistance

PUBLISHED:

19:22 GMT, 26 December 2012

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UPDATED:

19:22 GMT, 26 December 2012

Gareth Bale scored a second-half hat-trick as Tottenham moved up to fourth place in the Premier League after a dominant display at Villa Park.

The visitors had an amazing 16 efforts on target but they had to wait until the 57th minute to make the breakthrough when Jermain Defoe fired his shot past Guzman

Bale added a second four minutes later with a neat finish and the Welsh wizard added his second with a 73rd minute strike.

Bale completed his hat-trick from close range in the 84th minute.

Gareth Bale celebrates his goal against Villa

Handy: Gareth Bale celebrates his goal against Villa

Match facts

Latest Premier League table and results

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Jermain Defoe makes the breakthrough

Jermain Defoe makes the breakthrough

Happy days: Defoe celebrates his strike

Happy days: Defoe celebrates his strike

LEON McKENZIE BOOK SERIALISATION: When I was scoring against Manchester United, Manchester City and Everton, I never believed I"d be in prison…

LEON McKENZIE BOOK EXCLUSIVE: When I was scoring against United, City and Everton, I never believed I'd be in prison with paedophiles, murderers and rapistsPLUS: How the PFA let me down when I needed them most

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UPDATED:

12:35 GMT, 28 November 2012

Former Premier League striker Leon McKenzie has fought a long and gruelling battle with depression. Yesterday, in the first extract of an exclusive MailOnline serialisation of his new autobiography 'My Fight With Life', the former Premier League striker recounted the day he returned from training with Charlton Athletic and tried to take his own life. Today, McKenzie recalls being sent to prison for sending bogus letters in a bid to avoid speeding convictions…

I RETIRED FROM THE GAME FEELING SO EMPTY, YET I NEVER RECEIVED A CALL FROM THE PFA TO ASK IF I WAS OKAY…Scroll down to the bottom of the page to read how McKenzie felt let down by the PFA…

When Judge Bray passed sentence on me, I didn’t look back.

I could tell from the tears and the moans that my family were in pieces. I wanted to join them, but I had to be strong now.

I picked up the bag you’re told to prepare in case you get sent down and wandered down the stairs out the back of the court.

I was searched, handcuffed and sat down on a bench inside a container on the prison van that was going to take me to Woodhill Prison.

It is a category A facility where, me, a first-time driving offender, would be mixing with paedophiles, murderers, rapists and other hardcore villains.

I was told Woodhill was a very high
security ‘Close Supervision Centre’ for prisoners who are among the most
difficult and disruptive in the prison system.

I don’t know what those in the justice system had been told about me then. Maybe they had me confused with someone else.

But
basically I was a footballer not a criminal. There’s no way I deserved
to be banged up in prison and no way that I should be sent to such a
high security facility.

Scroll down for two video specials…

Prison break: Former Premier League goalscorer Leon McKenzie has battled depression throughout his career and he is lifting the lid in Sportsmail

Prison break: Former Premier League goalscorer Leon McKenzie has battled depression throughout his career and he is lifting the lid in Sportsmail

Leon McKenzie of Crystal Palace Wearing special T-shirt in 2000

Crystal Palace 3 vs 3 Stockport - Picture shows : Leon McKenzie of Crystal Palace scores's the first

The real deal: South London boy McKenzie laps up the notoriety in a special T-shirt at Palace in 2000 (left) and celebrates with a goal against Stockport (right)

Leon McKenzie arrives at Northampton Crown Court

Court date: McKenzie arrives at Northampton Crown Court hand in hand with wife Sofia in February this year. His friend Harvey (back left) attended in support

LEON McKENZIE:
My Fight With Life

Leon McKenzie: My Fight With Life

Click here to buy your copy now…Read yesterday's first exclusive extract: Nothing could stop me now. I raced back from training to my hotel room determined to kill myself… Click here…

The
guards at the court were sympathetic. The lady whose job it was to
explain what would now happen to me, said she couldn’t believe that I’d
been sent down.

Other wrong ‘uns sentenced that day piled on the prison van.

Some knew who I was. One knew I had made a record with my mate Harvey and started rapping to impress me.

It was a surreal moment listening to a criminal rapping on the way to prison, but it did make me laugh at least.

I’ve seen plenty of prison movies and walking into Woodhill for the first time felt like being in a film.

The residents were eyeing me up and down, checking me out. Convicts came out of their cells to have a look at the newbies.

Believe it or not some started chanting my name, not in a bad way, but like they were fans watching me play in a football match.

‘Leon, Leon, Leon’, they shouted. I didn’t know whether I was supposed to wave at them or just keep my head down.

But inside I was scared and I knew I couldn’t show it. Mentally I was preparing myself for this challenge and showing any sort of weakness was not an option if I was to survive.

I’d been verbally abused by one guy as I walked in for the first time. I clocked his face though and challenged him when I saw him in the gym later. He backed down, I gained some respect.

I was placed on suicide watch because of my background. I was left on my own in a cell with guards checking up on me every hour to make sure I was still breathing.

I felt the situation was completely
bizarre. The authorities clearly recognised I had a mental illness and
yet they still sent me to a facility that would test tougher minds than
mine.

The powers that be couldn’t have known it, but there was no danger of a second attempt to top myself though.

This was a massive challenge and I kept
thinking back to what life was like for me in the Bexleyheath hotel
room. I refused to cry this time, but right now, unlike a couple of
years earlier, looking to the future was actually an advantage.

Scroll down for video…

Boxer Clinton McKenzie, with his son Leon McKenzie, in the ring at the Bloomsbury Centre Hotel after he had beaten Steve Early in a British title fight.

Leon McKenzie, Norwich, looks dejected at the end NORWICH CITY Vs FULHAM... Barclays Premiership, Carrow Road, Norwich. Norwich City 0 Fulham 1

Glove affair: Young Leon in the ring to celebrate dad Clinton's British title win in 1982 (left) but joy turns to despair as McKenzie's Norwich lose 1-0 at Fulham (right)

SENT TO PRISON FOR SENDING BOGUS LETTERS

MailOnline news story – February 2012

Former Premier League striker Leon McKenzie (right) has been sent to prison for six months for sending bogus letters to avoid speeding convictions.

McKenzie was jailed at Northampton Crown Court after admitting six charges of attempting to dodge speeding fines between 2008 and 2010.

It comes after McKenzie revealed to Sportsmail in December that he attempted to commit suicide towards the end of his career after suffering from depression.

The 33-year-old (he is now 34) was sentenced after admitting sending the letters to Northamptonshire police.

The letters – that claimed to be from a fictional garage in London – said his car was off the road when he was caught speeding.

Claire Howell, prosecuting last year, said that each time McKenzie received a notice of intended prosecution, he sent a letter claiming mechanics were working on his car when it was flashed by speed cameras.

Judge Richard Bray said: 'A custodial sentence is necessary for this type of offence which strikes right at the heart of justice. It would completely send out the wrong message if I did not hand out a custodial sentence.'

When I was at my lowest, the future was the problem. Now it offered hope, if only I could survive the next three months.

I’d started helping Clarke Carlisle and the PFA with understanding and helping players suffering from depression and I’d made a record with Harvey to kick-start my music career, something that had appealed to me for years.

Sure, I was miserable and I was still finding it hard to fathom how some stupidity on my part over speeding fines had led me to this situation, but I was determined to stay positive mentally.

The screws told me Woodhill was a prison that once held Charles Bronson. Fred and Rose West had stayed, Ian Huntley had been an inmate and Myra Hindley had spent time in the women’s part.

Bronson apparently had to have six guards accompany him for a pee. He once broke free from his minders just so he could slap the governor in the face so, he clearly relished his reputation as being one of Britain’s hardest men.

Bronson described his time at Woodhill as a ‘living hell’. He slept on a concrete slab on the floor of a tiny room. His sole window was bullet proof.

Christ, if a nutter like him, who had spent most of his adult life behind bars, found it hard living at Woodhill, how on earth would a pretty footballer like me cope!

Hindley was the devil incarnate according to the screws. One stare from her made the hairs on the back of the neck stand to attention – she could terrify you without saying a word.

And here I was, Leon McKenzie, family man, following in their footsteps thanks to a lapse in judgement that hadn’t hurt anyone apart from me.

Sadly I wasn’t even Leon McKenzie any more. I was Prisoner A5818CL.

I was allowed three visitors a month. I was sentenced on a Wednesday and on the Saturday Sofia and Bruce Dyer, an old Crystal Palace team-mate and long-time friend, came to see me for a couple of hours and, while it was great that I had people who cared for me and loved me enough to want to come and visit me in this place, I didn’t let them come back.

I bid a tearful farewell to them both and resigned myself to solitude for the next couple of months.

At visiting times, the prisoners sit there at a table, wearing a bib over their tatty grey prison uniform, waiting for their visitors to come through the door. Emotionally I was wrecked by kids running in to see their prisoner father.

I didn’t want my kids to see me in a place like this. Prison was no place for me, never mind my children.

WATCH NOW – VIDEO: McKenzie's music video collaboration with MC Harvey…

Ball boy: McKenzie grabs the ball after scoring Norwich's first goal in the 3-2 defeat by Everton in 2004

Ball boy: McKenzie grabs the ball after scoring Norwich's first goal in the 3-2 defeat by Everton in 2004

LEON'S TYPICAL PRISON DAY

7am: Bang on the cell door meant time to get up, hand and face wash, teeth cleaning slip into my cleaner’s uniform.

7.30am-9.30am: Complete my cleaning jobs, serve breakfast to the other inmates. Take my breakfast to my cell.

9.30am-10.30am: Social time. Hang around the pool room, communal room for chat, games etc.

10.30am-noon: Locked up again.

Noon-1pm: Out to clean the cells ready for new arrivals.

1pm-3pm: Locked up again.

3pm-4pm: Out for exercise so off to the gym or a walk around the outside compound.

4pm-5pm: Locked up again.

5pm-6pm: Dinner.

6pm-7pm: Socialising in pool room, communal room.

7pm-7am: Locked up. Lights are allowed to be kept on in the cell all night. TV is available, but only five channels.

I locked myself away that night and refused to let anyone else visit, until Michael Duberry came in just before I was released.

Sofia told my younger kids that I was
away in London working on my music. I spoke to them on the phone
occasionally, but hearing my kids’ voices made me feel weak. No displays
of weakness were recommended in prison.

I missed my baby daughter’s first birthday which made me feel like s***. I was constantly in a sh***y mood. If anyone had confronted me physically that day I’d have fought them.

Reality kicked in the day after Sofia’s visit. My mindset had changed overnight and, even from time in a Category A prison, I had to take what positives I could from being here.

If I could get through this, I could get through anything, even away games at Millwall!

'Tough times don’t last, tough people do” is one of my favourite sayings. ‘Dubes’ reminded me of it in an e-mail he sent (EmailAPrisoner.com is a wonderful service!)

It was the perfect expression for prison and e-mails like this one from ‘Dubes’ kept me going inside.

‘Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.

‘That best describes both me and you.

‘We are good friends, that’s the word of others.

‘But we both know we would say we are brothers.

‘For me, you walked in when many others walked out.

‘Neither did you have to scream and shout.

‘How will we remember the year we just had

‘Be glad it’s over Will we be happy or sad

‘It’s all a lesson, I just hope we pass the test.

‘And if there is more of the same, I hope we can avoid the rest.

Myra Hindley

Charles Bronson

Notorious: Previous Woodhill inmates Myra Hindley (left) and Charles Bronson (right) had given the prison an intimidating air of menace before McKenzie was sent there

Leon McKenzie

‘You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice.

‘We are both stronger than we thought and I say that with a confident voice.’

Jason
Lee, Bruce Dyer, mum, Sofia, dad, Rebecca, Clarke Carlisle and my
cousin Damien all wrote to me as did Spoony, under his real name of
Jonathan Joseph.

Me and
Spoony have become really good friends since that time and like Dubes
said ‘many will walk out of your life, but the true friends will walk
in.’

I was offered a job as a cleaner which I readily accepted. I served food to the inmates. I had to keep my mind busy and active to get through this. I wrote a journal every day.

Anyway, hoovering earned you extra credits to use on the phone or for chocolate in the canteen so I was happy for once to be doing the household chores.

Believe me, they were huge perks especially as prison meals seemed to consist of starch, potatoes and fried stuff that would sit in your stomach for days.

My old Norwich chairman Delia Smith would have been appalled.

I worked hard at my new job. When I was scoring against Manchester United, Man City and Everton in Premier League football, I couldn’t have dreamt that I’d be happy mopping floors or serving s*** food a few years later, but strangely I was.

Darren Huckerby, a strike partner from my days with Norwich City, had always said I’d do the best job I possibly could whether I was sweeping roads or playing as a striker in the Premier League and he was right, although I’d gone to some extreme lengths to prove it!

I was moved to a slightly bigger cell with ‘MCKENZIE – CLEANER’ on the door.

Believe me that was a much sought after title inside, even by some of the hard men.

I got on great with Gary, Pete, Fletch and Ash, the other cleaners on my wing. We had our nicknames, Wayne was ‘Smokey’, Ash was ‘Jonny Vegas’, Pete was ‘Bert’ and I was ‘Superstar’.

LEON McKENZIE: My Fight With Life, Published by MacAnthonyMedia, priced 7.99. Click here to buy your copy now…I RETIRED FROM THE GAME FEELING SO LOST AND EMPTY, YET I NEVER RECEIVED A CALL FROM THE PFA TO ASK IF I WAS OKAY…

I am the living proof of what can happen to footballers who are not prepared for the end of their careers.

The death of Gary Speed brought the world’s gaze onto depression within football and to me it’s obvious that this is an area that the PFA, who are a very rich organisation, should become involved in financially.

I stayed silent after my own suicide attempt which was very wrong. Thank God I have had no relapses, but I was scared inside for a very long time.
In my opinion players should know they have someone to talk to about their problems no matter how serious they are or how embarrassing they think they are.

I didn’t have that luxury, but it’s a situation that has to change.

Now the PFA do some positive things and they say they have been working in these areas for some time.

They claim that only since Speed’s death have others tried to get involved in a more high profile way.

That’s untrue in my case as I had been lobbying the PFA before then. I admit it took Speed’s sad situation to make me speak out publicly about my suicide and my depression, but the PFA will hopefully note how well received my actions were.

I retired from the game feeling so lost and empty I needed support. Yet I never had a phone call from the PFA to ask if I was okay. I never had a phone call from the PFA asking if there was anything they could do for me.

It wouldn’t have taken a lot for someone to call and say: 'Leon we are sorry to hear about your attempted suicide, but if you need any help please call.'
I tempted sufferers out of the woodwork. The first step on the road to recovery is often admitting and confronting your problems and I have seen evidence of that from the players who contacted me after I went public.

The PFA issued a booklet on handling depression a couple of seasons ago. It was 36 pages long and was sent to all 4,000 current full-time professional footballers before Speed’s death and 50,000 ex-players after it.

It appears that the PFA were the ones that actually became more active after Speed’s death.

The advice was good, but is sending out a 36-page booklet with a few helpline numbers on it enough I don’t think so as so much more could have been done.

I suspect the PFA know that now. That’s why they decided to act so publicly when a high-profile former player, whose actions attracted attention all around the world, was lost.

My own view is that the PFA shouldn’t have waited until Speed passed away. They should have acted on the phone calls people like me were making.

VIDEO: McKenzie on his new autobiography…

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LEON McKENZIE: My Fight With Life, Published by MacAnthonyMedia, priced 7.99. Click here to buy your copy now…

Sebastian Vettel tries kung fu ahead of Chinese Grand Prix

Vettel goes kung fu fighting (and yes, he's fast as lightning) ahead of China showdown

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UPDATED:

16:37 GMT, 11 April 2012

Backmarkers beware: Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel has been limbering up for Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix with some Kung Fu fighting.

After calling Indian tail-ender Narain Karthikeyan a 'cucumber' following a clash at the last race in Malaysia, the Red Bull driver got down to work on Wednesday with palms outstretched and legs braced.

The 24-year-old was making a martial arts short film, 'Kung Fu Vettel: Drive of the Dragon', in a promotion for team partner and car manufacturer Infiniti alongside Chinese actress and model Celina Jade.

Don't mess: Sebastian Vettel (left) with Hollywood and martial arts actress Celina Jade (right) in Shanghai

Don't mess: Sebastian Vettel (left) with Hollywood and martial arts actress Celina Jade (right) in Shanghai

Jade, who starred recently alongside Russell Crowe in 'Man with the Iron Fists', taught the German some basic moves at the Shanghai film lot while the double champion gave her the benefit of his driving expertise at the nearby Tianma circuit.

Vettel showed some enthusiasm for his part, sending a roughly dressed local sprawling to the cobbles with a deft twist of the wrist.

One of the scenes in the film, to be released in May, involves the champion tying up one of the villains with a seat belt while reminding him of the importance of safety.

Movie star: Vettel was filming for martial arts short 'Kung Fu Vettel: Drive of the Dragon'

Movie star: Vettel was filming for martial arts short 'Kung Fu Vettel: Drive of the Dragon'

'I don't do Kung Fu to work out but it's something that I have always liked, the Bruce Lee movies,' he said. 'I could imagine in future to do a course or some classes.

'It's quite difficult to pick it up and there's a lot of things you have to remember. A lot of body control. There's a lot of similarities, making the right calls in the right moments and remembering a lot of things and doing what is important even under stress.'

Asked whether he might do a demonstration for HRT driver Karthikeyan, who called him a 'cry baby' and unprofessional after Sepang, Vettel grinned.

Tough guy: The two-time world champion from Germany leaves an opponent stricken on the ground

Tough guy: The two-time world champion from Germany leaves an opponent stricken on the ground

'No, no, no. We've calmed down,' he said after signing autographs for local fans including a bunch of excited girls wearing Afro wigs in the red, black and yellow colours of the German flag.

Jade said she had talked to Vettel mostly about balance and control, as well as some blocking.

'Some punching, a little bit of kicking,' she smiled. 'He's really fast at picking it up.

Unusual training methods: Vettel is warming up for the Chinese Grand Prix this weekend

Unusual training methods: Vettel is warming up for the Chinese Grand Prix this weekend

'It's funny, because one of the moves that we went through today is a deflecting move where you kind of go underneath somebody and you twist them like a steering wheel. So that's applicable.'

Vettel won 11 races last year with a record 15 poles but failed to win either of the two races so far or qualify on a front row dominated by McLaren. He is sixth overall.