Paul McCarthy; that cup run and my Grandad.

Paul McCarthy

Sad news broke yesterday that ex Wycombe Wanderers centre back, Paul McCarthy, passed away of a suspected heart attack, aged just 45.

Born in Cork, McCarthy made 181 appearances for Brighton & Hove Albion before moving to Wycombe Wanderers where he will be remembered forever as a cult hero.

A decent centre back for the level in his own right but his real bragging rights were in “that cup run” of 2000/2001.

FA Cup

“Macca” passed away on the 20th February 2017 which is exactly 16 years since he scored the equaliser against Wimbledon at Selhurst Park to take the FA Cup 5th round replay to the most famous penalty shootout in Wycombe’s history, perhaps the cup’s history and for some even footballing history.

For Wycombe Wanderers, the 5th round of the FA Cup was extraordinary. Paul was instrumental in Wycombe getting this far.

A centre back that was not to be messed with, Paul popped up with an overhead kick in the 2nd round replay away against Millwall and Wycombe were into the 3rd round of the FA Cup – having never previously scored when reaching this round.

McCarthy scored in this game to and took the tie to a replay then scored another in the replay to setup tasty home tie against Wolves. Andy Rammell celebrating in the snow in front of the home end will live long in the memory as Wycombe’s enthusiasm and grit took them into the 5th round to setup a tie against Wimbledon.



I was 10 years old and had started to dream of a cup run. It was all anybody was talking about at school. Lunchtimes would be Wycombe vs Wimbledon then Wycombe vs Manchester United then Wycombe win the FA Cup final against Arsenal in the last minute thanks to any number of lads on the playground.

I remember taking my usual seat in between my Grandad and my Dad before kick off in the 5th round of the FA Cup and my Grandad passed me a traditional pre-match Wether’s Original and told me were going to make the quarter finals here, he had a good feeling. I was just worried about how many goals we would ship and how embarrassing it would be in school on Monday.

To my surprise – and everybody else’s – we forced a replay at Selhurst Park. What a bog that was. If ever there was a pitch not fit for a football match it was here.


A scrappy affair which resulted in not a lot of football being played but as Sam Parkin threw a stepover to fool the Wimbledon right back and Dannie Bulman scuffed his shot out of the mud, who was there to keep the dream alive? The big man himself, Paul McCarthy, has forced a penalty shootout against Wimbledon of Division 1.

No child should ever be a bag of nerves at 10 years old but I couldn’t keep it together. Paul McCarthy calmly score his penalty and then all of sudden, Martin Taylor the goalkeeper has scored as well. What on earth was going on here? I had never seen a goalkeeper take a penalty, we could be about to reach the FA Cup quarter final and its way past my bed time.

The final Wimbledon penalty was sent way over the bar and we’d done it. Thank you so much Paul McCarthy for stretching that little bit further and knocking that last goal in.

martin taylor.jpg

Quarter Final

It was Leicester City of the Premiership next and I was certain that the run was over. No way could my team beat a premier league team – we were battling to stay in the league, let alone beat them.

But at 10 years old, I couldn’t help but dream. Every time I saw my Grandad in run up to the game, we’d talk for hours: what if we did this and imagine if Paul McCarthy scores again.

My imagination was running wild but Grandad knew that this sort of thing would never happen again so he dreamt with me. I don’t think we finished one game of cards in the build up to the quarter finals but it really didn’t matter.

You know the story by now. We’d sold out the away end at Filbert Street and the atmosphere was electric. There was a live stream back to the big screen at Adams Park and the entire town was there. This was a big deal for little Wycombe.

Overlooked by most due to Roy Essandoh’s fairy tale ending header, Macca headed us into the lead at Leicester. Was I seeing things? Was this a dream?

Leicester equalised and it looked like another reply was on the cards until Bulman lobbed the ball into the box in injury time and Jamie Bates rose higher than ever to nod it across the box where none other the teletext kid, the website wonder, Roy Essandoh headed home the winner and there were absolute scenes at Filbert Street and Adams Park.

Villa Park

We lost the in the semi-final to Liverpool but gave a good account of ourselves and Keith Ryan’s goal in front of the Holte End at Villa park will forever be my favourite goal.

kweith ryan.jpgI couldn’t contain myself. I don’t think I did any school work or even took off my shin pads until I got on the coach to Villa Park. I remember vividly chattering away to my Grandad and reading the last few match programmes to him when I threw up out of sheer excitement. It’s strange what football can do to you.

We arrived in good time and had a wonder around the biggest stadium I had ever seen. Bear in mind, Wycombe held 10,000 and was never full, this was enormous. As we took our seats, my Grandad said I might need to stand up and he lifted me onto the seat.

Completely baffled as to why, I stood on that seat the entire game and lost my voice in the process. I needed a half time Wether’s as well as the pre-match Wether’s today. Looking back, we were all stood up, of course we were. This was the biggest game in the history of Wycombe Wanderers, you couldn’t sit down!

We lost 2-1 through Robbie Fowler and Emile Heskey but were not disgraced. The result was trivial. The cup run, the build-up, the coach trip, the endless chatter with my Grandad, the many outcomes of the playground football led up to the best day of my life.

I miss my Grandad dearly and I miss watching Wycombe with him and my Dad. Row H in the family stand, last three seats from the final walkway on the right will always be ours.

Thank you, Grandad, for letting me dream and thank you, Paul McCarthy, for fulfilling it.




Festive Racing Day 2 Preview

Off the back of such an emphatic win for Thistlecrack yesterday, it’s hard to see a more impressive horse over the festive period or in fact this season.

There is however the small matter of the Welsh National as well as a host of other tasty looking races as we look to build on the small loss yesterday. If you followed every tip then you will be down by less than your stake per race – all in all, not bad going.

We start with the 13.20 at Leopardstown with the might DOUVAN. Such a fine and mighty horse should romp home but at 2/9, there is not much value so each way punters should take a chance on Black Hercules.

Next is the money back special if second or third (Skybet all customers) at Chepstow in the 13.25 and it would be silly to place an each way bet here considering the offer. I’m opting for ROLLING DYLAN who impressed last time out and could kick start a great day for Richard Johnson.

A similar race is the 13.45 at Kemtpon with ALTIOR a ridiculous price at 1/7. A smart jumper and almost too impossible to catch on the ground, I can’t see Marracudja getting near even at his best.

The 14.20 at Kempton is the most intriguing race of the day. With only 4 horses, it looks like a 2 horse race between Special Tiara and SIRE DE GRUGY. The latter carries a whole chunk of weight but I think he is by far the superior horse in the field and can justify his rise.

We see the Welsh National at 14.40 at Chepstow with Native River the hot favourite. After impressing hugely in the Hennessey at Newbury last month, it’s hard to see anybody coming close on even terms but he is carrying a considerable penalty and I can see CAROL’S DESTRIER passing him on the run in. Skybet are paying 6 places for all customer so an each way stake is the more desirable bet for this race.

If you have any money left over, there’s a big field to choose from in the 15.00 at Leopardstown. I’ve opted for COLM’S DREAM after dominating in Ireland last season but we haven’t seen him since.

The final race of interest today is the 15.05 at Wetherby. Judging by the market, course winner APTERIX is correctly the favourite to be on.


Festive Racing Day 1 Preview

If you’re joining us off the back of my Cheltenham or Aintree posts from earlier in the year then welcome back. If you’re new to this forum then fingers crossed we do as well as the festivals.

We’ve clearly been good this year as we look forward to the reappearance of Jezki as well as Sire De Grugy, Djakadam and Altior in great form. We also have the likes of Faugheen, Douvan and the small matter of the Welsh National.

Tomorrow, we are treated to three races that – on paper – should be between two classes horses.

The 14.20 at Leopardstown sees the highly anticipated Min vs Identity Thief and the 14.40 at Kempton gives us Yanworth vs The New One. On recent form, ground, course and distance, these are both too tight to call so I’m going for reverse forecasts in both. There’s not a great deal of value here but I’d rather spend my money where I think I’m going to make a profit than chase an outsider and throw money away.

The race of the day is, without a doubt, the King George at Kempton at 15.15. Always a classic, this race is made even more intriguing with Colin Tizzard running Thistlecrack as well as the mighty Cue Card. In a field this small, I am opting for THISTLECRACK to make all and disappear into the distance but the safer bet here is Skybet’s enhanced price of Evens for the reverse forecast.

As for the remainder of the day, there is more than enough racing to pick a few winners.

We start at Wetherby with the 13.50. Without the 10lb raise, I would be backing Yala Enki to make all and hold on but the penalty and the wide open field has pointed me in the direction of value and I fancy ACTINPIECES to steal a place. Betfair are offering a free bet if our selection is the winner of this race so stake with them.

The 14.25 should be a simple affair with SOLOMON GRUNDY finding enough in the latter stages – but it’s never that simple is it?

Back in Ireland, the 14.00 at Limerick sees the impressive BELLSHILL take on lesser competition. Nambour has looked handy recently without winning but probably won’t have enough.

The 14.55 at Leopardstown is an interesting one with BALL D’ARC a massive favourite in my eyes but the market not yet agreeing. Dandridge could be feared if the ground suits. Another race where Betfair are giving out free bets if you back my selection and he comes home first.

Switching back to England, YUKON DELTA should outclass his rivals in the 15.05 at Huntingdon if on top form. I’d advise hanging around to see if he drifts to 4/1 for each way money.

My final selections of the day are COBRA DE MAI in the 15.30 at Market Rasen and LISHEEN PRINCE in the 15.45 at Kempton. With top jockeys booked for good trainers, the each way prices seem too generous to turn down.

As always, take advantage of any bookie offers for new accounts and keep and eye out for extra place bets.

We’ll have a look at the following day’s meetings tomorrow.

Good Luck and Merry Christmas.





Bad Website or No Website?

I have been toying with the idea of taking down my website this week.

It is not serving its purpose of being an online portfolio as the company I used have become unresponsive and I cannot upload any recent work.

My contact form is not currently working so I have no new enquiries coming into my inbox via my website and my photos have seemingly become too large to load efficiently overnight.

I recently blogged elsewhere about UX (User Experience) and how critical it was to get it right from day one. However, I seem to have been a little hypocritical in my own work. 

9-5, I work for IP Solutions and major focus is on best of breed products, delivering usability and driving user adoption. I am a product ambassador and make my feelings clear if I don’t think a product or device is usable or as user friendly as it needs to be. 

Only yesterday, I opened up a browser version of a softphone and was shocked by the poor experience. If I were a customer, I’d be inclined to never attempt to use it again. Needless to say, I’ve pushed for some further development there.

Humans are programmed to look at pretty, shiny things and there is nothing wrong with that. You walk past a shop window and you want the best looking shoes, not the cheapest. You buy a house and you want the one with the most bedrooms and the outdoor pool, not the shack with no central heating.

Moving back to my website, with my network of social media connections and industry contacts, it’s hard to qualify exactly what my website is offering for my freelance work so I have made the decision to take it down rather than to promote what is simply poor work.

My chances of obtaining recurring freelance work via my website are reduced by the inability of the company I used to maintain my website or even reply to my email. This is a clear cut example of “If you buy on price, you buy twice”. I whored out my website to the lowest bidder and have been bitten by poor craft and quite diabolical customer service and experience. 

I write content for other people’s websites and blogs but on reflection I wouldn’t want my content on their website if it looked like mine currently did. 

The purpose of the blog, however, is not to point out how bad my experience with Futiq Technologies was but to retire my website for now (unless anybody has some free time and would like to fix this mess) and focus on writing rather than flogging a dead horse.

The morale of my story/ experience should be quite clear. Buy on price and you buy twice – but that was obvious and I was a fool in the first place. User experience is key – and if you don’t like it yourself then how on earth do you expect to sell it?!

My Spotify Love Affair

It’s a decision we all have to make. Commit or run for the hills?

I have subscribed and unsubscribed to Spotify Premium so often that I genuinely don’t remember if I am currently a member or not. I can be on the tube and my music cuts out because I don’t have a playlist saved. Oh, darn, I cancelled that didn’t I?

Just Subscribe Already

So why not subscribe permanently? Yesterday, I noticed that I had not used Spotify for almost three months because I accidentally moved the app into another folder and had just been using my iPod. £30 well and truly down the drain.

On a long car journey when your CDs (remember those?) have exhausted the 6 CD changer, where do you turn? To your phone, of course. But you have no wifi in your car and the 3G is a bit dodgy on the M5. The perfect time to have invested your tenner per month into Spotify Premium.

However, as a technology enthusiast, I am always eager to find the latest app of any kind. I flirted with Apple Music but canned that after the free trial because it simply wasn’t Spotify. A bit like owning the Amazon phone a few years ago – it was nice to try it but just wasn’t as good as the real thing.

The state the obvious believers among us will be screaming “JUST PAY FOR IT” but what about the money conscious people out there? Not just the tight fisted but there are people that simply don’t like throwing money away.

Nobody Ever Got Rich Spending Money

Okay, so not exactly true but you get the idea. You wouldn’t buy something you knew you weren’t going to use. And that’s why subscription based software is so great. You can pick and choose when you want to be paying for a certain product. A wonderful way of being more frugal.

SaaS (Software as a Service) is a buzz word in the telecoms/technology/telephony industry at the moment and isn’t going anywhere. Who knew we were all pioneering this years ago with the likes of Spotify and friends?

Wikipedia describes SaaS as software licensing in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted. It is sometimes referred to as “on-demand software” SaaS is typically accessed by users using a thin client via a web browser.

This is all correct but a little unfriendly to the everyday man. Wouldn’t it be better if it read “A bit like your Spotify love affair, you know?”


The Voice Recognition Take Over

Ten years ago, I thought voice activation would only ever exist in sci-fi films. Today, we have Siri and Cortana on devices that we use daily. This is software built into our smartphones and laptops to improve ease of use and accessibility – your own virtual, personal assistant.

We use them somewhat infrequently. You have to speak clearly and precisely to send a text or open a webpage but for the most part they do actually work. This software is also used outside of our phones too, only recently I was in a lift where voice recognition was used to get you to your desired floor.

Where did it begin?

When Apple and Siri were first introduced, the reviews were generally indifferent. Often Siri wouldn’t recognise particular accents and it would typically take three or four attempts for it just to interpret “Hi, Siri”. But since its launch Siri has come on leaps and bounds, now supporting a total of 22 different languages. Plus Apple claim it can now recognise a whole host of regional dialects.

Cortana, Microsoft’s offering, is now two years old and seems to be learning from Siri’s experience – whilst the fact it is now available to download on iPhone shows there could be some competition between the two. In December 2015, Apple claimed “Siri has little to fear from Microsoft’s virtual assistant” but if there is no fear there why are they acknowledging Cortana by writing about it?

Voice recognition could transform account access

Recently I telephoned First Direct and was informed about their Voice ID Security verification tool that they are due to implement. This is meant to transform the way in which we access our accounts over the phone – no longer will be need to stipulate our password, Mothers maiden name and our date of birth.

Instead this system will recognise your voice and know that it is you, subsequently providing you access. But just how safe is this method? There surely must be issues of people having a similar voice, or perhaps your own voice being altered by illness or a sore throat – would this then restrict your access even when it truly is you?

But with First Direct promising that a digital voice “print” is much more secure than any of the current methods we use – it is surely only a matter of time before we discover just how successful it will be.

Skype Is The New Black

So we’re all familiar with Skype. When a family member moves to another country, you Skype them. When you watch any American film where someone has gone missing, they get in touch via Skype. Naturally then, we assume Skype is a consumer focused product that’s quite handy if you want to save money when calling abroad.

However, in recent years, we have adopted Skype as a business tool for IM (instant message) as some managers that have done business overseas seemed to favour it. But there was quite an obvious problem having all of your imported Facebook friends on your desktop in your open plan office as your team leader walked past.

Welcome to the market, Skype For Business.

Masquerading as Microsoft Lync for some years, Skype For Business has barged it’s way in and is now a critical component for any modern day business.

During a recent Polycom event in New York, “Workplace Of The Future”, was referenced no less than ten times and this wasn’t solely promoting the new range of conference and collaboration tools. Polycom have recognized that SfB (Skype for Business) cannot be ignored and is firmly here to stay. The Workplace Of The Future looks like huddle rooms and conference rooms kitted out with user friendly interfaces, high resolution cameras and 1080p HD screens – all fully integrated with Skype for Business.

Being late for a meeting with missing attendees is a thing of the past as you send your Skype meeting invite direct from Outlook (without the need for an integration license) and connect to the rest of your business via mobile, tablet, PC, conference phone, desk handset etc.

So what do I get with it?

The basic tools such as presence, directories, meet on demand, video calling, content sharing are all high end as standard and send a real message to competitors. But the most impressive function is the seemingly seamless integration with your telephony setup. Is it too loud in your office to conduct a call over Skype through your laptop mic? Switch to your desk phone with one click. Need to setup a white board session when you’re talking desk phone to mobile… no problem.

Polycom feature a key sentence in their sales collateral: Modern workforces are dynamic and mobile, and demand high productivity regardless of locations or devices they are on at the time. Now we all recognise Polycom as the market leader for voice handsets but they are making strides in the right direction by working hand in hand with SfB. Together, these two brands have created ground breaking user experiences in the video and collaboration world. The latest conference phone, RealPresence Trio, supports content sharing through SfB so well that you could be forgiven for calling it the Skype phone.

What next for Skype for Business?

Skype TX4 has just been introduced for broadcasting customers via the Skype blog and backs up the Polycom and Microsoft belief that SfB is here to stay. Skype TX4 allows the integration of multiple studio-grade Skype video calls into one broadcasting, on top of its already impressive ability to include a 300-million-user potential cast into “the studio workflow.” It’s a comfortable agreement that SfB is currently unparalleled so get deploying.

Aintree Festival Day 1

The Grand National is getting closer and every man and his dog (or horse) will be having a bet come this Saturday. However, there is lots of extremely competitive racing preceding it so let’s take a look at day 1.

As with Cheltenham, this is an incredibly tough event to pick so gamble wisely and take advantage of any offers the bookies are throwing out there such as Skybet’s money back if the favourite wins in the first race.

1.40 Manifesto Chase

The opener of the festival features 4 regularly placed horses. Sizing John is the current bookies favourite but has never gone this distance. Arzal is a good horse and should be in the frame but I think it’s between Garde La Victoire and L’AMI SERGE both currently at 7/2. Poor when falling, Garde La Victoire may be hampered by this and L’ami Serge finished very strongly on a shorter trip.

2.15 Anniversary Hurdle

Followers of my Cheltenham blog will be keen to get on Ivanovich Gorbatov after winning us a lot of money last month however the ground is not to suit and he has proven to only run well when the ground is in his favour. He had Apple’s Jade beaten easy last time out so I think this one is between FOOTPAD at 6/1 and Sceau Royal but I really can’t see Daryl Jacob opening with a double so we’re reliant on Ruby Walsh retaining his marvellous Cheltenham form in what is an extremely tough field.

2.50 Aintree Bowl

There’s a lot of good horses coming off the back of some very bad runs entered into the bowl this year. CUE CARD at 5/4 fell when looking well positioned last time out and looks the better of Djakadam and Don Poli. If you look outside of the big three from the Gold Cup, Saphir Du Rheu looks phenomenal value at 16/1.

3.25 Aintree Hurdle

ANNIE POWER looked phenomenal at Cheltenham and is the horse to beat however has been priced out of the market by large bets prior to the race and is now 1/2. My Tent Or Yours looked back to his best at Cheltenham but goes further than ever in this race but does offer value at 9/1.

4.05 Foxhunters Chase

This field is full of inconsistent horses bar ON THE FRINGE at 7/4. Should anything happen to the Cheltenham winner, this really could be anyone’s race.

4.40 Red Rum Handicap

Under normal circumstances, Dandridge looks the pick for this race but is carrying 8 pounds more than MINELLA PRESENT at 13/2 who we haven’t seen for some months but tends to provide his best racing off the back of a rest.


Day 3 proved fruitful yet again and followers would have topped up their pockets to the tune of another £90 per £10 staked on each selection.

The final day of Cheltenham is and always has been the toughest to call. Typically, the races with the smaller prize money therefore the lesser horses and the main event, the Gold Cup, with the best horses of the year competing for the biggest prize.

Today’s selections are picks rather than tips so my advice is stake no more than what you’ve won and don’t go chasing a big jackpot. Take advantage of the offers such as Skybet’s money back on the first race up to £25 the maybe spread the money back over the rest of the selections for the day.


Surprisingly Henderson only enters one horse into this race where he is the leading trainer. Barry Geraghty is top jockey when it comes to this race and so far has only ridden stinkers. IVANOVICH GORBATOV run poorly in his last outing and the ground should suit more today. This added with Geraghty’s calibre in this race and desire to win a race at the festival may see him over the line AT 13/2.


The County Hurdle is possibly the widest open race of the festival and realistically you’re looking for a place here. Blue Hell (10/1) looked very good on last outing but this may suit experienced horses round the track such as Cheltenian at 50/1 or HAWK HIGH at 25/1 but it really is anyone’s for the taking.


I really like Open Eagle and would usually back for a place but Fogarty rides for the first time and there are too many other good horses that put me off. Ruby Walsh has opted for LONG DOG instead and is on his usual form in the festival so each way money can’t be turned down. The battle for first should be between the two fancied horses Barters Hill and Shantou Village and both arrive in good form. Barters Hill hasn’t been beat and Richard Johnson has opted to ride Shantou Village so it really is too close to call.


All of the money in the build up to this race has rightfully been piled on DON COSSACK. He’s now into 9/4 which may put a few people off but his calibre and sheer size should see him home past the hot and cold Djakadam. Cue Card may have caught Vatour in the King George on Boxing Day but had Brian Cooper’s mount not fallen, I think he was clear.


Nina Carberry has a second chance to ride a festival winner on On The Fringe but hasn’t ridden him since May. In this race, I’m favouring PAINT THE CLOUDS at 6/1. Sam Waley-Cohen has taken over riding from AP McCoy perfectly.


It’s hard to see past the favourite in this race but Squouateur goes off at 7/2 and that’s not a price I’m likely to back. NABUCCO doesn’t have the benefit of Aiden Coleman on board but I still fancy a place at 28/1 form the horse who we haven’t seen yet this year.


Dresden hasn’t looked the same horse since his two wins before Christmas and this field is full of maybes and could haves. I fancy Richard Johnson to make all and hang on with BOLD HENRY at 28/1.


Day 2 started shaky but if you’ve followed each tip for the first 2 days, you’re currently looking at around 33/1 profit. So if you staked a total of £10 of each selection, you’re at least £300 up. If you’ve utilised the correct markets and offers, you’ve lowered your losses so have even more profit. And let’s just take another moment to get over Sprinter Sacre’s incredible run. Thousands have been won and lost on him and here was another rise in the emotional rollercoaster.

Thursday is an even tougher day than day 2 with some close fields to choose from.


This, for me, is a 4 horse race. The each way appeal is BLACK HERCULES at 11/2 although Ruby Walsh may be hampered by his fall at the last yesterday so I’ll be backing GARDE LA VICTOIRE at 4/1. Interestingly entered into this race rather than any on day 1 and has the leading jockey Richard Johnson on board.


If you pick the winner of this race, you’ve done well. No clear favourite in an open field. A little each way shout in both Our Kaempfer at 10/1 and OSCAR SAM at 18/1 with the latter getting my vote.


Betbright have paid out on VAUTOUR winning a different race at the festival despite not running it. Vautour’s owner owns Betbright so read what you like into that. He should romp home easily at 8/11 but JOSSES HILL loves a place if he doesn’t fall over and Nico De Boinville is hot property on board. Faller insurance is a must due to his history.


The World Hurdle is the main event today and attracts a fine field of horses. THISTLECRACK is the likely victor and you can get him at 7/1 by creating a new 888 Sport account. In a field this strong, it’s hard to pick a backup but AUT PTITS SOINS makes the most noise at 14/1.


Assuming Sam Twiston-Davies shows up, STILETTO looks a generous price at 9/1 with the remainder of the field lacking in form and the weights all over the place. Skybet are paying 5 places for this race for all customers.


A new race for this year so no history to go on. Limini hasn’t looked as convincing as a 4/5 price horse should for me and there is an incredible amount of winners in this field such as Actinpieces, Tara Flow, Bloody Mary and Tea In Transvaal. I’m opting for SMART TALK who has absolutely galloped to victory for me this season at 13/2.


The Kim Muir is anyone’s game. Past strong finishers such as Splash of Ginge, Alternatif and Grandad’s Horse all offer each way appeal but UPSWING takes the fancy of the bookies and if you have any money left, 9/1 is a good price.