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An interview with Graeme Obree (Nov 2009)

17 Jul

 

Graeme Obree has been expanding his horizons since he first got on a bike aged 6. The 44 year old continues to do so today but as an author.

The former world champion cyclist has got off the saddle for good, competitively at least. Obree was famous for building bicycles himself from anything he could lay his hands on, and broke the world time trial record on a bike made from washing machine parts. Graeme believes this part of his life is behind him now after the bike he built for a time trial this year was not suitable for his trial;

“I was lucky enough to make a career from a hobby. We all get to the point in our lives where we put these things behind us and go do grown up things”

Not only did Graeme make a career out of a hobby, it made him into a celebrity in some regards. The press were tripping over each other to write about the eccentric Scot building his bicycles from washing machines. Obree is grateful for the fuss the media made over him as surprisingly it earned him a lot of respect within the community. He was thrown into the public eye unexpectedly but very soon was being seen as an innovator and not an eccentric. However, like much of Graeme’s life the ups always bring their downs;

“The more media attention I got the harder it became to find sponsorship. Nobody wanted to be associated with a media figure, because cycling was so rife with substance abuse.”

Despite it being commonplace in the sport at the time, Obree says with great pride that he never used any performance enhancing drugs. A fact which he says makes his achievements even sweeter.

In recent years, since his time in the sport ended his life has been detailed in his autobiography, ‘The Flying Scotsman’ which was also made into a critically successful film. In the autobiography Obree said he had to be as candid and open as possible, and he undeniably was. He writes in great detail about the depression he struggled with for many years and his suicide attempts. Graeme believes this was his greatest achievement to date;

“My film has become almost a mental health awareness film of sorts now and the book too, I hear from so many people who writing to me and approach me at charity events saying “Thanks for being so honest”. I get guys coming to me and telling me about their struggles with depression, anxiety whatever before their wives, husbands or anyone else. The fact that I’m able to help people through my experiences is as big a thrill, if not bigger, than anything I ever got from cycling.”

Graeme speaks very passionately about this, as it is clearly a subject close to his heart. Having been diagnosed with severe bipolar disorder in 1991, and struggling with depression and suicide attempts, he believes he is at the other end now and as a result of the feedback on his autobiography is now writing full time.

“I intend to use the little bit of fame I have for a positive good. I’m working on a book at the moment called “A Survivors Guide” it’s about working hard and the day to day struggle people with depression will face, guarding their equilibrium.”

Writing is his new passion and Graeme believes it is one of the reasons he is coping so well with his past issues now.

“I find myself getting up in the morning and going for a pint of milk and all I think of is what’s going in the next chapter, what’s going to be the next paragraph. Whereas I used to get up in the morning and decide whether it was worth even getting out my bed.”

Clearly writing has been beneficial for Graeme, and hopefully other people can benefit from this too. Despite his troubled past, Obree has not lost his sense of humour;

“My life has just been totally ironic. I went to school and hated P.E, Metal work and English. Christ, I used to spend whole days building bikes and training for my cycling and now I spend nearly every hour of the day writing my book. “

Graeme Obree was revolutionary in the world of cycling at the time, and he deserves to have as much luck as an author. He says he only has on regret in his career. “I never did a bloody washing machine ad!”

 

 

 

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A movie a week for a year

17 Jan

So, I’m TERRIBLE for not having seen movies that it feels like everyone has. When people reference films in my company I meet them with blank stares and vacant expressions. Sick of hearing “You’ve never seen….?!” I’m attempting to watch a movie a week, films that I really should have seen at the age of 22 or films that are generally considered as being ‘classics’ or iconic. Here’s my list; leave me your thoughts and suggestions!

  1. The Godfather
  2. Inglorious Basterds
  3. Fight Club
  4. The Godfather 2
  5. Rambo
  6. Rocky
  7. Taxi Driver
  8. Raging Bull
  9. The Royal Tennenbaums
  10. Apocalypse Now
  11. Rainman
  12. North by Northwest
  13. American Beauty
  14. Once upon a time in America
  15. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
  16. Star Wars
  17. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  18. Oldboy
  19. The Usual Suspects
  20. This Is Spinal Tap
  21. Psycho
  22. The Big Lebowski
  23. Heat
  24. Terminator 2
  25. Alien
  26. Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid
  27. Citizen Kane
  28. Kramer vs Kramer
  29. Bladerunner
  30. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  31. Midnight Express
  32. Point Break
  33. It’s a Wonderful Life
  34. Ghostbusters
  35. Dirty Harry
  36. Tootsie
  37. The Bridge on the River Kwai
  38. Unforgiven
  39. Badlands
  40. Pan’s Labyrinth
  41. Lost In Translation
  42. The Last of the Mohicans
  43. The Italian Job
  44. Withnail and I
  45. One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest
  46. All The Presidents Men
  47. The Untouchables
  48. Mad Max
  49. Carlito’s Way
  50. Layer Cake
  51. Sin City
  52. Downfall

Additions:

Some more movies that have been recommended to me or given to me as part of my education. Will be watched in due course.

The Last Waltz
The Prestige
Zulu
The Deer Hunter
Seabiscuit
Swingers

EURO 2012 – Betting Preview

14 May

By Robert McCracken

The football season – for the most part – is over. So then is the season of the ridiculous accumulator and crazy scorecast. But fear not bookie bashers! Euro 2012 is on the horizon and it brings with it some tasty little bets, here’s an early look at some of the best ones out there.

©uefa.com 1998-2012. All rights reserved.

WHO IS GOING TO WIN?

Let’s look at the obvious ones first.

Spain:

The Spanish will be looking to defend their title. A feat which no nation has ever achieved, but the Spanish are probably set up better than most to manage it. A squad full of winners at club and international level – they have the mentality. The question is, can the Barca contingent shake the fatigue of a long season for one last push?

SPAIN 5/2 TO WIN

Germany:

So many people are tipping the Germans for this one, and it’s no wonder. Their top division continues to go from strength to strength and is continually producing some of the brightest talents in Europe. It has been a long while since Germany lifted a trophy, possibly too long for a team who perform so well in the big competitions.  Is this their year?

GERMANY 3/1 TO WIN

Holland:

World Cup finalists and a team of undoubted skill. A left back problem beckons for the Dutch – leaving a weakness in an already questionable defence. However a front line with Robin van Persie, Klass Jan Huntelaar and Arjen Robben involved in the mix looks dangerous. If Sneijder can re-capture his form from their last tournament then Oranje could be in the mix.

HOLLAND 7/1 TO WIN

The outsiders:

Italy:

The Italians love going into a tournament as underdogs. Look at the 2006 World Cup. Their defence leaked 2 goals in 10 qualifying games and Cesare Prandelli has balanced the experience in the side with young players like SuperMario. Pirlo has performed majestically all season as Juventus claimed the Scudetto, he’s in his his best form for many a season, can he carry it over to the Euro’s and make this his swan song? Italy need goals however and therein lies the rub, no Rossi, Casanno still struggling, can Balotelli provide goals?

ITALY TO WIN 14/1

France:

It’s been a while since we saw France as a force, but they are getting back to that status under Laurent Blanc. Like Italy, they are striking a nice balance between youth and experience. A plethora of attacking talent in Benzema, Ribery, Gourcuff, Remy and Valbuena could help fire France all the way. France struggle for leadership on the pitch and squeezed into the finals through a play-off but don’t write them off.

FRANCE TO WIN 12/1

GROUP WINNERS:

GROUP A:  Poland, Russia, Greece, Czech Republic.

The Poles will be buoyed by playing in front of their home crowd and have some real quality up front.

Russia are settling in well with a fantastic defensive spine to the squad. They weren’t prolific in qualifying but look strong.

Greece are the side we recognise from 2004. Defensive, ugly and impossible to pronounce.

Czech Republic. Who? Should be Scotland that are there. (I’m not bitter)

WINNERS: RUSSIA (11/8)

RUNNERS UP: POLAND (5/6)

GROUP B:  Holland, Germany, Portugal, Denmark

The Dutch will be in the mix for the latter stages, they ooze ablity.

Germany are so heavily fancied. Strength in every department and fluid, Jochim Low has the Germans going from strength to strength.

Portugal are forever the bridesmaid, never the bride. Their best chance was in 2004, and despite some real quality in the side this is a tough group for them.

The Danes qualified well, pipping Portugal to win group h, but this is such a strong group I think they’ll struggle.

WINNERS: GERMANY (11/10)

RUNNERS UP: HOLLAND (1/2)

GROUP C: Spain, Italy, Croatia, Ireland

Spain arrive in Poland and Ukraine to defend their title and have a raft or creative, quick thinking players. They need no introduction.  Qualified at a canter and will qualify as winners from this group too.

Italy will be written off by many but performed well in qualifying  and will get through this group – possibly a step below Spain in quality though.

Croatia have plenty of players Premier League fans will be familiar with and they have plenty of talent too. Look no further than Luka Modric. And with Eduardo, Jelavic, Olic and Klasnic making up their strikers – there’s goals there. Outside package for this group at 7/4 to qualify.

Ireland have galvanised well under Trapattoni who will have them marshalled well for this, their first Euro’s appearance since 1988. They lack the quality of Spain/Italy but this tournament loves an underdog.

WINNERS: SPAIN (8/15)

RUNNERS UP: ITALY (8/13)

GROUP D: Ukraine, England, France, Sweden

Co-hosts Ukraine will look to be spurred on by the home crowd. They still have Schevchenko in the squad, and to me that points at a lack of options.

England have a new manager and new ideas, depending on how they settle together this could be an interesting tournament. Potential last roll of the dice for some players. They are 6/4 to drop out in the group stages. England are 1/2 to qualify and 13/8 to win their group.

France are striking a balance in the squad and Laurant Blanc is forming them into the nation they once were not so long ago. Favourable group for them.

Sweden, a bogey team for England somewhat and they look quite creative. Zlatan goes into this group in good form too.

WINNERS: FRANCE (13/8)

RUNNERS UP: SWEDEN (no, not England) (7/4)

Group Winners Accumulator: 19.07/1

Group Forecast Accumulator: 605.37/1

GOLDEN BOOT:

An absolute smorgasbord of quality goal scoring talent awaits at this tournament. Robin van Persie, Klass Jan Huntelaar, Karim Benzema, Ibrahimovic all arrive in hot form for their clubs.  But as Milan Baros showed in 2004 sometimes the unexpected players can pop up too.

Here’s a run-down of some of the best:

Klass Jan Huntelaar: top scorer in qualifying with 12 goals and a poacher of the highest quality. If the Dutch do well, he should too. (16/1)

Karim Benzema: An excellent season at Madrid, should be interesting to see how he fares in this one. France love to have a shot and Benzema will be in the mix for the French. (16/1)

Robin van Persie: Astonishing form for Arsenal in what has been RVP’s best season for a while. His role for the Dutch is somewhat different but if he plays out wide instead of Kuyt there’s no reason he can’t be in with a shout. (8/1)

Mario Gomez: The talismanic Bayern man is one of Europe’s hottest strikers and will be a huge player for the Germans this year. (8/1)

Miroslav Klose: Low is a big fan of Klose and he’s had a good season with Lazio. Some excellent supply in the German team, the old man might just do it yet. (14/1)

OUTSIDERS:

Nikica Jelavic: A superb few months for Everton will no doubt have caught Slaven Bilic’s eye. They’ve got a tough group but they do have quality – if they can sneak through then Jelavic might just be worth a look. (50/1)

Sebastian Giovinco: The Parma man has had a good season and has shone in a league amongst stars like Lavezzi and Ibrahimovic. Italy need a striker and if Prandelli decides to give Giovinco a shot, then who knows? (66/1)

Fernando Torres: I feel his odds are probably a bit short. Though he is a confidence player and right now he seems to have plenty. (16/1)

ALL ODDS ARE FROM BET365 AND WERE CORRECT AT TIME OF PUBLISHING

Robert McCracken -robertmccracken91@gmail.com – Twitter: @rmccracken91

From the pedal to the pen

30 Nov

Graeme Obree goes from record breaking cyclist, to mental-health author

BY Robert McCracken

Graeme Obree has been opening new horizons since he first got on a bike aged 6. The 44 year old continues to do so today but as an author.

The former world champion cyclist has got off the saddle for good, competitively at least. Obree was famous for building bicycles himself from anything he could lay his hands on, and broke the world time trial record on a bike made from washing machine parts. Graeme believes this part of his life is behind him now after the bike he built for a time trial this year was not suitable for his trial;

“I was lucky enough to make a career from a hobby. We all get to the point in our lives where we put these things behind us and go do grown up things”

Not only did Graeme make a career out of a hobby, it made him into a celebrity in some regards. The press were tripping over each other to write about the eccentric Scot building his bicycles from washing machines. Obree is grateful for the fuss the media made over him as surprisingly it earned him a lot of respect within the community. He was thrown into the public eye unexpectedly but very soon was being seen as an innovator and not an eccentric. However, like much of Graeme’s life the ups always bring their downs;

“The more media attention I got the harder it became to find sponsorship. Nobody wanted to be associated with a media figure, because cycling was so rife with substance abuse.”

Despite it being commonplace in the sport at the time, Obree says with great pride that he never used any performance enhancing drugs. A fact which he says makes his achievements even sweeter.

In recent years, since his time in the sport ended his life has been detailed in his autobiography, ‘The Flying Scotsman’ which was also made into a critically successful film. In the autobiography Obree said he had to be as candid and open as possible, and he undeniably was. He writes in great detail about the depression he struggled with for many years and his suicide attempts. Graeme believes this was his greatest achievement to date;

“My film has become almost a mental health awareness film of sorts now and the book too, I hear from so many people who writing to me and approach me at charity events saying “Thanks for being so honest”. I get guys coming to me and telling me about their struggles with depression, anxiety whatever before their wives, husbands or anyone else. The fact that I’m able to help people through my experiences is as big a thrill, if not bigger, than anything I ever got from cycling.”

Graeme speaks very passionately about this, as it is clearly a subject close to his heart. Having been diagnosed with severe bipolar disorder in 1991, and struggling with depression and suicide attempts, he believes he is at the other end now and as a result of the feedback on his autobiography is now writing full time.

“I intend to use the little bit of fame I have for a positive good. I’m working on a book at the moment called “A Survivors Guide” it’s about working hard and the day to day struggle people with depression will face, guarding their equilibrium.”

Writing is his new passion and Graeme believes it is one of the reasons he is coping so well with his past issues now.

“I find myself getting up in the morning and going for a pint of milk and all I think of is what’s going in the next chapter, what’s going to be the next paragraph. Whereas I used to waken up in the morning and decide whether it was worth even getting out my bed.”

Clearly writing has been beneficial for Graeme, and hopefully other people can benefit from this too. Despite his troubled past, Obree has not lost his sense of humour;

“My life has just been totally ironic. I went to school and hated P.E, Metal work and English. Christ, I used to spend whole days building bikes and training for my cycling and now I spend nearly every hour of the day writing my book. “

Graeme Obree was revolutionary in the world of cycling at the time, and he deserves to have as much luck as an author. He says he only has on regret in his career. “I never did a bloody washing machine ad!”

Scottish Cup 4th Round draw

22 Nov

Scottish Cup 4th Round Draw

ABERDEEN V EAST FIFE
DUNDEE UNITED V ROSS COUNTY
QUEEN OF THE SOUTH V BRECHIN CITY/ANNAN ATHLETIC
MONTROSE V DUNFERMLINE ATHLETIC
GREENOCK MORTON V AIRDRIE UNITED/BEITH JUNIORS
FALKIRK V PARTICK THISTLE
BERWICK RANGERS V CELTIC
EAST STIRLING V BUCKIE THISTLE
RANGERS V KILMARNOCK
HIBERNIAN V AYR UNITED
STENHOUSMUIR/THREAVE ROVERS V STRANRAER
HAMILTON ACADEMICAL V ALLOA ATHLETIC
ST MIRREN V PETERHEAD
INVERNESS CALEDONIAN THISTLE V ELGIN CITY
DUNDEE V MOTHERWELL
HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN V ST JOHNSTONE

European Footballer of the Year

26 Oct

Who is your winner of the Ballon d’Or? and why?