Interview with Allyson Latta

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fantasies dashed

When fantasy turns to nightmare, one must ask themselves, why? Why do I do this to myself? At the start of every NFL season I say, Alexandra, just watch the games, don't bet on them, don't join a football pool, a fantasy league. On Sundays get up, crack open a beer, don your Colts toque, grab a bag of Louisiana hot sauce chips, and enjoy the next 12 hours of your life - relish in Sunday football. But no - I joined a fantasy league and as much as part of me enjoys it, the fact that I'm losing sucks. I hate to lose. Once in a while it's okay - weekly, no. That is why I don't play golf. If I can't be consistently good at something - forget it. Especially when the outcome is out of my hands. I can't call Lendale White and Santana Moss into my office and give them a talking to. I can't stand in front of Eli Manning. look him in the eye and shrug. I can't throttle my Tennessee defense when they lose points for my fantasy team Turf Dogs and I can't change bye weeks. So I ask you - why? Why do I subject myself to fantasy football? Because a pure sports enthusiast loves the goddamn challenge and if you like football, NFL style, you gotta enjoy a little bit of pain.

Speaking of pain - I can't tell you how disappointed I am that Canada's men's national soccer team did not qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Well, I can tell you how disappointed I am but you'll have to read it from my Toro column Sports Extras - here's the link -

Four days till Sunday - think I'll get a Proline!

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Little Guys

I think I'm getting the whole Fantasy football thing, then I'm thrown for a loop. I won my first two fantasy games, got cocky the second week and dropped a couple of players aiming to improve my running game. I picked up the much touted, but didn't do too much in week 3 - Darren Sproles. Also I grab a stalwart like the Giant's Derrick Ward. Good, I'm happy. Week three goes smoothly, but not great. I win, but another guy in my league gets more points than me. I have to learn to be happy beating my weekly opponent, but oh no, I want to be the best every week in the entire league. So now I've got the mentality of an NFL GM. It's not enough to win each week, you have to win the Super Bowl. So this week all my reliable point makers have a bye week. So in one week I lose four guys including my QB Eli Manning, my kicker Gostowski, Reggie Wayne and my back up QB Kitna - so I've got to drop a couple of players that I like to ensure I've got a kicker and a quarterback in my game this week. So what happens. I add Kerry Collins, okay, I know, I know, but the worst part is after I got two other new guys they went on the injury list - Mr Roscoe Parrish for one. So I ask you, now I've got two guys injured and practically a whole new team of guys I didn't really want but picked up due to the bye week sucking the life out of my team. This is hard man, no fantasy should be this stressful - then last night I watched the killer college game USC against Oregon and was blown away by Oregon's little RB Quincy Rodgers and I thought man, I can't wait to pick up that guy when he comes to the big leagues. It doesn't matter how big and strong you get, the little guys will get you everytime!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Reinstating Favre!

It only seems fitting that it's Brett Favre news that kicked my ass back into gear. A friend just emailed me to tell me that Favre has requested his reinstatement papers. Brett whatever for - you left in style, reflective of your great career, your whole persona. Everyone loves you Brett. Now I'm not so sure. I never thought I'd say this about the enigmatic Brett Favre - but dude, you're becoming a little annoying. For years you led up to the grand departure, now this. I thought and wrote about this in my Toro magazine Sports Extras column that it was the fans, the league that had contrived the rumour that you were thinking of returning. I thought it was the fans, the league that had trouble letting you go - but I am clearly wrong. You are having trouble letting go. Understandably. They say athletes go through the toughest time trying to retire and accepting retirement. My dad still has dreams about playing football, or soccer to you. He thinks about it all the time and he retired from playing professionally over thirty years ago. Look what retirement did to O.J. Simpson but you're a stand-up guy Brett. If anyone can handle retiring, I thought it would be you - you've handled everything on your plate - up until now!

Brett you left once - why go through it again. It's like getting back together with that person that you really know you should leave but feel bad for them, or out of habit or guilt stay. Then you'll have to go through the inevitability of breaking up again. Why put yourself, put us, through it again!! Say goodbye Brett - give it up gracefully - but man, give it up. We had all accepted it, you're opening a healed wound, brother and I'm not so sure any of us want to go through getting stitched up again. It's getting ugly Brett - its getting ugly!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Horseshoes and Asses

Well, if there's one thing I've learned about myself in the last couple of months - I do not have horseshoes up my ass. I have the best intentions, go with my gut, hope for the best and the things I believe most in, don't work out, in fact they have come dead last. Now, that sounds like I'm feeling sorry for myself but honestly, it is what it is. Take the Preakness, I was a nutcase that day. On fire with beliefs, intuition and for those of you who may have read my Preakness blog, the horse and jockey I believed in came out of the gate flying, and ended dead last. At that point, I was a self-admitted Big Brown skeptic. Yet, the minute I set eyes on him on Preakness day, I didn't doubt my gut, it just had a few new kicks in it. Big Brown won that race like nobodies business, and on that day - it wasn't mine. So he won me over and I had no doubt, no doubt, he would take the Belmont and be the 12th horse to win the Triple Crown.

I bought Proseco, rounded up my closest friends, called my folks to ensure they were aware of post time, I did my hair, hyperventilated and ultimately in less time than it takes to sneeze, it was all over and my no-doubt-prediction came, it's even too hard to say now, dead last! Unbelievable. What went wrong - I wrote about it maybe, put it out in the ether, when I should have kept my big mouth shut.

My other theory. Big Brown was ready. Although he did not look the same going into the race, his jockey didn't either. There was a definite change in both horse and jockey's demeanor pre-race. More pressure, sure, I imagine. So then Big Brown steps onto the dirt and his ears prick up, he regains his composure. Looks almost himself. Not bad going into the gate, a little hesitant, comes out of the gate like he just wants to go. "Let me go Kent, let me go. I don't want these ponies in front of me, clear my way buster, let me go. God damn it, let me go. I can do it. I can do it, just let me go, man"

And his jockey appeared to be holding him back. Who knows? We don't really know what's going on between horse and mount but it looked to me like he was struggling to hold his horse back, preserve his energy for the mile and a half race and yet Big Brown wanted to go. He wanted to win. So I'm figuring that when Kent said, okay Buddy, now, go, go." Big Brown said, "You know what, screw you!! I wanted to run right from the get go and now, now, when I'm all messed up you want juice. Forget it man. No way buster. I'm done." I have a feeling at that point his jockey had to do everything from stopping Big Brown from stopping dead in his tracks - on the track, pulling a Seabiscuit.

Communication between horse and rider is huge and I think something went awry in that department. I think Big Brown could have done it - easy. What I've learned, is to keep my mouth shut. Every time I pick a horse to win, they come last. So I'm not about to tell you who I think has the potential to win this Euro Cup. All I can say, I can't, I just can't.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Preakness Predictions

I've always had a passion for horses and thoroughbred horse racing. Unlike many young women my major influences growing up had four legs, manes and tails. Secretariat being my main inspiration - if I could be like him when I grew up - I'd have it made. The second I laid eyes on the likes of Smarty Jones, I was hooked, without even realizing he was a descendant of the grand Secretariat. It shone through. There's nothing brings tears to my eyes quicker than the sight of a stunning thoroughbred and when the horn sounds, the gate flies open and thundering hooves storm the air, I weep like a baby!Hence my excitement for The Preakness Stakes. My emotions are still tender after the Kentucky Derby's tragic outcome for the incredible filly Eight Belles and I'm not convinced that Big Brown will win this race.

My gut is going with Riley Tucker. Not just because Triple Crown Hall of Famer William I Mott is this horse's trainer -- he also trained one of my all time favs Cigar -- but because the jockey is Edgar Prado. I believe his emotions are tender too and he'll want to win this race not only for Riley Tucker but for his former mount Barbaro. So I think 30-1 is underestimating this duo. I hope they shock everyone. At least two spirits just might be guiding this baby.

Other beauties that have grabbed my attention and could give Big Brown a run for the money are:

Kentucky Bear - I love that he's trained by Canadian-based Reade Baker and maybe the marriage of young blood between colt and up-and-coming jockey Jamie Thierot might be a winning combination.

Gayego didn't have much of a chance in the Kentucky Derby but he certainly has a great trainer - Paulo Lobo - and jockey Mike Smith who road Giacomo to victory in the 2005 Kentucky Derby. I read this horse has an affinity for dirt, this could be his day to stir it up.

Icabad Crane, apart from being incredibly beautiful, has a frightening element of fire emanating from those eyes. His look is threatening enough, not to mention the jockey on his back is Jeremy Rose of Afleet Alex fame.

However, never count out the grey. Macho Again could prove superstition is not a bunch of...

Well Big Brown as incredible as you are - you are under the most pressure. You're lucky #7. Your jockey Kent Desormeaux must be feeling confident after your Kentucky Derby win. But I think the race will come down to how you're feeling today, to what side of the stall you woke up on.

After all, it's the mighty horse that decides what its going to do.

My money's on Riley Tucker.

See you at the races!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

An overdue farewell

For certain writers, and maybe not,the things that are closest to us take a little longer to write; call it the gestation period, the incubation period, whatever. Or maybe we need time to distance ourselves from things that really matter before writing them down so that the feeling doesn't leave us too soon. Recently, I was offered a job where I get to follow in my dad's footsteps, not on the pitch but to report on football like he did. I can utilize my writing skills and my love for football and exercise everything I've learned and admired about my dad's many talents, and my mum's because her views and memories of the football life are equally as brilliant. The thing is I couldn't wait to tell another really influential person in my life how excited I was about this new prospect. The day I was about to pick up the phone and call George Gross to tell him my news, my parents left a message that he had passed away. Mr Gross had always, always encouraged me and my writing endeavours and I couldn't wait to tell him of my new gig. I couldn't believe that he was gone. There are some people that you don't think will ever go, like Mr Gross, who are so enigmatic, vivacious,kind and positive. He lived his life to the fullest, was wonderful to be around, had an awesome attitude, sense of humour and was brilliant at his job - the best damn sports writer out there.

I'd just finished writing a blog entry about another family friend that had passed away, the late Johnny Haynes and it took me a while to write this entry knowing it was going to be of the same nature. I wanted to put forth how much my family appreciated and loved George Gross. Since the day we moved to this country, he was a true friend to our family, my dad, my mum and to me and our hearts go out to his lovely family. What do you say about a man that could say anything more eloquently than you, that lit up a room, made you smile, always, always made you feel good, encouraged you and whose work you admired. I guess all you can say is thank you and know that he is probably as amazing now as he always was. I'm sure a man like Mr George Gross, who knew any sport inside out, will be making the best of the next realm of things as much as he did this one.

Friday, February 29, 2008

The Maestro Reaches Out

and touches hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of loyal supporters. The other day, I came home to over 800 hits to my blog from Fulham supporters across the world. As far away as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Virginia, Brooklyn, Missouri, Austin and Houston, Texas, Ireland, California, Switzerland, Spain, Prague, the Bahamas and of course London, London, London... Brilliant. My folks always said that The Cottage, FFC, was a real family affair - and judging by the response to the Johnny Hayne's blog - that family is stronger than ever! I was amazed by some of the emails I received and by the great comments - thank you! To Dave from TOOFIF - that asked if he could use the posting in his fanzine There's Only One F in Fulham - by all means Dave, I'd be honored. I must clear one thing up for the supporter that asked about my brother - he's alive and well and living in California. Ironically, Fulham had just played Manchester United that day and after the game my dad drove the wrong way across Putney Bridge at full speed in a panic to get to my brother at the hospital! One of the comments that really struck me was from a Fulham supporter in California who said, "As a fan of the club and growing up in South-West London most of my life we sometimes idolised certain player's and most certainly hated other's....but......we never thought of them as family men or father's!!?? Our focus was totally on the pitch and that's where it ended." Being a daughter of a footballer, football's always been our life and our lifestyle and I never thought of that - poignant!

Writing about Johnny Haynes has sparked so many incredible memories for my folks and for me. It seems that those days at the Cottage, the fifties and sixties were an extremely special era in Fulham's history. My mum and dad were having a good laugh reminiscing about those great days then the frivolity sobered the moment I told them that Manchester United are heading to Craven Cottage tomorrow. "Wow," my Dad said. So I asked, "Dad, what would Johnny Haynes have said to you all before a game like that?" My mum laughed and said, "Did you even have team talks before a game?" Dad said, "A little bit." Then he said,"If it were now Johnny would say the same thing that he would have said to us, We know they're good but let's go out and prove that we can be good too! I asked if that's what their manager Beddie (Bedford Jezzard)would have said? Dad said, "No, Beddie wasn't as serious, he would have said, just go out and enjoy it!"

So Fulham that's got to be sage advice - just go out and enjoy it! Show United that you can be great too! Do it for the Maestro.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Let's Hear It For The Hometown Boy

I remember the day my dad Graham Leggat called to tell me that Johnny Haynes had died in a car crash. It was October 18th, 2005. I met Mr Haynes as a very young girl when my dad was still a professional footballer in England. He's one of those people from my past that always felt like family and he was a big part of our family. As was Fulham Football Club. My Mum and Dad loved Johnny, in the same way I've gathered that everyone who knew him personally, played with or against him or as a fan does. My dad played alongside him at Fulham and says, "Johnny was a wonderful all-round player and a captain that led from the front." When I ask what he was like as a friend Dad says, "loyal and concerned." He also added that he was a 'one club man' from game one. My mum Marilyn Leggat says that Johnny was greatly loved."He was prized and a big part of English football history, very special." She recalls, and it brings her to tears, an incident after a game at Craven Cottage that she had attended when she received a call that my brother, 4 yrs old at the time, had been struck by a car. Johnny immediately went to my mum's side to ask what was wrong and what could he do. Mum says, "He was so concerned that day. He was always so lovely and such a great player. He was low-key, not flashy. Those were the days! When men were men and football was football. And Craven Cottage always had such a great atmosphere. It was all about the club; the fans, the players and Johnny - Fulham was Johnny and Johnny was Fulham."

For those of you who don't know much about #10 Johnny Haynes, Fulham's greatest inside left, or midfielder as they call them today, he began as a young seventeen year old and became their gallant captain and the captain of England. His career spanned from 1954-1970, when he left Fulham for South Africa for a while. My Dad was his supportive colleague at Fulham but the very opposite when it came to their international meetings. My Dad remembers the 1956 England versus Scotland game at Hampden, it was his very first international cap. "I scored the opening goal for Scotland," he says. "Then in the last 3 minutes of overtime Johnny tied it up for England! It was devastating for the Scottish fans and for me."

When we heard that Fulham fans want to erect a statue for Johnny at Craven Cottage we were all for it. This would be a fitting tribute to 'The Maestro'. So jump on the band wagon you Cottagers and lets help do it!! There's a link to Fulham F.C. on this site. Drop them a line in support of this wonderful project.

That day, almost three years ago, when I heard that Johnny Haynes had died, I wept and dug through my precious chest of football treasures for the silver beer stein that was given to my Dad then passed onto me. I filled it with a cold brew and drank to one of the greatest players ever - engraved on its front it says, With Thanks from Johnny Haynes 28-4-1969.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Pro Bowl

I have an ongoing debate with pals over the significance of the Pro Bowl. A lot of the guys I talk to say that they have absolutely no interest in it. Yet, they can tell me everything about what they didn't like about last year's and the years before. In other words, despite their machismo, they watch it. Probably for the same reason I watch it, to see a bevy of great players, favourite players, having a laugh, and to take them in for one more afternoon before the long drought. So I pour out my sentimentality, drink it all in then wait for the next draft.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Poetic Justice

I felt very calm throughout the first half of yesterday's Superbowl. It was unpredictable, Brady was getting rattled by heart and soul, and Manning was unflinching. The last few minutes of the game, however, I was in an utter state of panic, head covered by my blanket, relying on Joe Buck and Troy Aikman to tell me what the hell was happening. Still, in my gut, I knew the Giants were going to win. Their defence went for the jugular and the team as a whole stopped at nothing to gain the win. I used to get so nervous watching Peyton Manning with his wizardry and unpredictable changing of the play at the line of scrimmage. It's always unnerving to watch a genius action. Like his brother, Eli was at times otherwordly. He exuded an incredible sense of calm throughout the game that prevented me from seeking refuge beneath the kitchen table and when he threw the final clincher to Plaxico Burress, it was such an incredible feeling of exaltation, like doves exploding from a balloon! Both teams fought like hell to the finish but the phoenix rose in the youngest Manning, heroically, within the entire team itself. Plaxico's tears said it all. It was such a beautiful game to watch - pure.

Congrats Giants!! You deserve it.

Monday, January 28, 2008


I'm not the type of person who gets bored. Although at times I do get lost. This Sunday was one of those times. I was lost. Jonesing for football. It was the first Sunday without the NFL and I didn't know what to do with myself, couldn't concentrate. Watched a bit of the Sheffield vs Man City soccer game, but I couldn't get into it. Even Tiger Woods' stellar final round didn't satisfy me. I missed my friends. It's funny how that's what they become those football players, friends.

To occupy myself in the evening, I opened a bottle of Australian Shiraz and watched the Actor's Guild Awards. Now, I stopped watching the Oscars along time ago because they make me ill. Last night's award show was actually quite refreshing. It was laid back, the actors were more natural, not so much bling and over-the-top makeup and gowns. They were more real, likable, funny and moving. There were some great actors recognized and given awards for commendable performances, and the speeches were brief and human-like. Javier Bardem and Daniel Day Lewis stole the stage. Lewis's moving homage to Heath Ledger silenced the entire room. I wondered if anyone was left breathing. It was very cool to see these celebrities in that light, especially these days when the idea of 'celebrity' is so out of control. Last night, I really felt that those awards were being given for art, not politics or mere looks. It wasn't football but it was dramatic and entertaining all the same!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

What's in a name?

That which we call a Manning, by any other name would play as sweet. Wow, last year Peyton, this year Eli - very cool. I was sorry to see the Colts get knocked out by the Chargers and good old Green Bay not make it further, but there is something extremely satisfying about the Giants making it to the Superbowl. They almost beat New England in the regular season. This is their chance to make up for that loss. Oh, sorry, guys, we meant to beat you last time. We just came back to get the job done right!!

From Bradshaw to Burress to Boss to Tynes to Strahan to Manning to Coughlin to Webster and his superb overtime interception and on and on - Congrats Giants! I wish Shockey was there to share that field with you on the big day. It will be sweet - make it Shakespearean!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Speaking of Being Speechless

One of the many things I've always loved about sports is that when all else fails it's a source for discussion. But I have to ask myself what the hell I'm doing wrong when all discourse has ceased in my recent blogs. When I was writing about soccer, people had something to say. It was good. Then I got all caught up in the NFL and I've had next to no comments on my entries, which is rather unsettling compared to the amount of hits I'm getting. So what am I doing wrong? A lot of people I know have told me that they wish I'd write about something else because they don't really get into sports. I tell them that I write about sports because I enjoy it and it's a great outlet for me being a creative writer and all. I write about sports on my blog because usually it conjures up response, discussion, debate, a good old tete-a-tete. But no.

Ah, who gives a shit. The beauty of these damn things is one can write about whatever the hell they want to write about and it kills me that Indy is out of the playoffs, really kills me. And yet to be completely honest, I must admit I'd rather they lost to an extremely strong and crafty Chargers than go up against New England again and lose. Not that I don't believe that Indy can beat New England which they have proven but in my loyal gut I had a feeling that this was not their year to do it again. Good Ol' Peyton took the Colts loss to the Chargers like the man that he is and didn't blame it on injuries because San Diego has injuries too, they just beat them.

Who knows now. I dreamt that New England lose their next game. I'd love to see the Giants go all the way. They truly look like they have what it takes to do so and I'm not just saying that because of the Manning element but my gut told me so. What do you all think - the millions of you out there who have a thing or two to say about the game!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


I'm attempting to understand who the hell the late night talk show hosts think they are. Especially when it's been driven home over the last couple of months that without their writers, they are nothing. And did anybody miss them anyway? All the hoopla made over them returning to late night is sickening. Now if the real talent, the writers were returning, that would be something worth celebrating. It's a sin that the real comics, the wizards of late night are left out on the street, still fighting for what they deserve. Especially when they've already proven that they're invaluable. So vain and desperate, Letterman and others devised deals, but if I were their writers, I'd tell them to stick it, and get the last laugh elsewhere. It's amazing how they take so much credit for other people's work. I'd love to see them attempt to go it alone, step up to the microphone, open their mouths and nothing comes out - speechless. But isn't it ironic that Jay Leno and Letterman's first guests tonight are politicians, kindred spirits, another sector of humanity that can't speak without a writer.