Sep 232011

As much as I enjoy following the fortunes of Stoke City, some games fill me with a feeling of dread as to the outcome.

One of those games occurs tomorrow when the Potters take on Manchester United at the Britannia Stadium.

In the course of the past few weeks, I have seen Manchester United several times on the Fox Soccer Channel. At the moment, United seem unplayable. They demolished Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea and routed Bolton Wanderers 5-0 away from home.

In their five Premier League games so far this season, United have scored 21 goals and conceded four.

Now, you can probably understand my feeling of dread.

Factor in Stoke City’s 120 minutes of football in Tuesday night’s third round Carling Cup tie against Tottenham Hotspur, and given that many of the same players will take the field against United, and my fears are far from being unfounded.

However, as Jimmy Greaves used to say – It’s a funny old game.

United will start out as favourites to win — bookmakers William Hill has United 8/15 to win; 3/1 for a draw; and 5/1 for a Stoke win – but it is still eleven men against eleven men and a lot can happen out there on the pitch.

One thing is certain. Stoke City will give 100 per cent. The matches against Manchester United are always viewed as a derby game. I think it stems from Stoke City having ex-United player Dennis Viollet when they returned to the old First Division in 1963. A year later they acquired Maurice Setters from United.

The rivalry between the two clubs has always been intense. Older Stoke fans like me will remember those famous victories in 1971 and 1972 in the League Cup and FA Cup respectively, when Stoke knocked out Manchester United boasting players such as Best, Law and Charlton.

So despite the bookmakers’ odds, a Stoke win can be achieved. Here’s hoping.

And to take my mind off it all, here are a few photographs captured last Saturday in downtown Jacksonville.

Ricoh GRD III. ©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.


Ricoh GRD III. ©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.


Ricoh GRD III. ©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.

The B&W conversions used Silver Efex Pro in Photoshop CS3.

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May 302011

The Jacksonville Jazz Festival took place at the weekend. In previous years, I have been eager to seen at least one of the acts on each of the three days of the festival’s duration. It wasn’t the case this year.

The only performer of note that aroused my interest was legendary keyboard player Herbie Hancock, who appeared last night.

In some ways, it was no bad thing. Saturday night was reserved for the European Champions League Final between Manchester United and Barcelona. Live coverage of the final was not available to me. I had to wait until the Fox Soccer Channel showed the match at 8:00pm.

In order to keep a sense of live action, I stayed away from the computer all afternoon. In fact, I visited St Marys, Georgia, and knew there was little chance of bumping into someone who would reveal the score. There are some advantages to America not being a soccer nation in the full sense of the term.

Barcelona’s display was sublime. For any team to reduce the cream of English football to little better than a pub side was a remarkable feat. The slick passing by the Spanish side at times left me open mouthed in amazement. Barcelona play my kind of football and in Lionel Messi they have the supreme exponent of the beautiful game.

TV pundits talk of Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney being a world-class player. If that is the case, then Messi is from another galaxy, where Rooney would be lucky to clean Messi’s boots. Call me unpatriotic if you wish but I get tired of English pundits bigging up the Premier League and Premier League players. The proof of how far the English game lags behind its continental counterparts was there for all to see on Saturday.

I did not fare as well in seeing Herbie Hancock. A large crowd had gathered in front of the main stage of the festival. Standing 300 yards from the stage, Hancock was going to cut a rather diminutive figure in terms of his physical presence.

I moved to the back stage area and saw the great man from about 60 yards but the sound was understandably terrible. I said to my wife, we might just as well have stayed at home at listened to one of his CDs.

We ventured towards the stage at Hemming Plaza and caught the last few numbers of Guitarzzz, featuring Chuck Leob, Chieli Minucci and Paul Jackson Jr. I make no claim to being a jazz aficionado, so these names meant absolutely nothing to me but their set was an absolute delight to witness.

My photographic exploits were confined to shots of the various food vendors. Until sufficient people help support this site by ordering goods from Amazon, through the link on this web site, a camera or lens capable of shooting performers on stage is going to remain on my wish list for a long time.

Hemming Plaza, Jacksonville, Florida. ©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.


Laura Street, Jacksonville, Florida. ©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Finally we headed to The Landing for dinner and, in passing, caught a few moments of the closing number by Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band. It is not often you get to see a big band jazz these days, so thanks to Gordon for keeping the flame alive. Another time and I would have stopped to listen but hunger is a powerful force. I was starving. Music may be the food of love but the Big Phat Band wasn’t going to fill my stomach.

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