The 1986 CGFL Preview

The Year of the Tiger Edition

February 14, 2010





2010 is the Year of the Tiger which in the Chinese Zodiac describes as being rebellious, colorful, powerful, passionate, daring, impulsive, vigorous, stimulating, sincere, affectionate, humanitarian, unpredictable and generous.  Tigers can be restless, reckless, impatient, quick-tempered, obstinate, selfish, aggressive, and unpredictable. Interestingly, CNY coincides with Valentine’s Day so hopefully the good side of any of you who are Tigers will come out!


What does that have to do with the 1986 CGFL preview? Does it mean that the Woodbine Tigers will rebound from 9-7 and have a fantastic season?


Sadly, it does not as you will see.  I noticed that the description above did not include the term “winners”!


Coincidentally, 1986 was also the “Year of the Tiger” and, hopefully, those words will describe your team in the season that will soon commence.  Surely that word “humanitarian” is a bit out of place?


In this preview we have the following material for your consideration: NFL 1986; a bit of CGFL history (our 15th season!); the year 1986; 1986 predictions; and interspersed are some personal observations from the year since (like 1971-1972 for you OAFL crossovers) it was one of interest for my family and me. 


1985 was the “Year of the Ox” which was celebrated by Calvin B winning his first championship: well done!   This is the zodiac description for an “Ox”: dependable, calm, methodical, born leader, patient, hardworking, ambitious, conventional, steady, modest, logical, resolute, and tenacious.


Clearly that describes the ascent of Carolina to the top of the league.  Since taking over in 1981, the elder Berrier has had this record:

·         1981: 4 wins

·         1982: 3

·         1983: 7

·         1984: 5

·         1985: 15


That turnaround of +10 wins from 1984 is pretty spectacular as is the run through the playoffs beating last year’s champ, Canton, by 6 and a tough Ohio squad by 4.


Last year’s playoff win over Willamette continued a steak of fairly large margins: Canton by +30 in 1984 and USA by 30 in 1983.  The last close game was the nail biter won by Willamette over Gate City by 7 in 1982.  Nonetheless, congrats to Calvin and Allen for both making the big game! I will present some interesting data (I think) about our 15 year playoff history at the end of this report. 


However, that was then and we are ready to move forward to 1986.


Nebraska had a good season going until November 23rd , 1985 when Oklahoma rolled into Lincoln.  In the annual battle of highly ranked teams #5 OU led #2 NU by 27-0 until we scored on an improbable interception with 26 seconds left.  Sigh, a final of 27-7 wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.  This led to a January 1 date with Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl.


On January 1, we watched the game from our home in New Jersey.  Happily the Huskers led 14-3 at the half and received the kickoff to start the 3rd quarter.  Sadly there are 2 halves to a football game.  What a debacle!  We fumbled twice and had a blocked punt and Michigan scored 24 unanswered points.  Freshman QB Steve Taylor scored with 2:29 to play to cut it to 27-23 but that was all she wrote.  Another bowl loss and the year had just started.


Not to worry as the Lowrey family was off on a big adventure: I had been given a job as the bank’s head of HR for Asia Pacific!  So on January 3rd we were off to Hawaii for some R&R.  On the morning of the 8th we landed at the old Hong Kong Kai Tak Airport.  That airport was a thriller as the preferred landing route was over the apartment blocks in Kowloon. You literally “dropped” between the buildings and could see people doing their thing (whatever it was) inside!  You then went into an open space and landed before hitting the water or the buildings on the other side of the harbor.    If the weather was a bit off it was like a roller coaster! One particularly harrowing flight was during the beginning of a typhoon rolling in from the Philippines.  That plane rocked and appeared very close to the buildings.  When we landed the plane erupted in clapping for the pilot! 


Is there a more fun city than Hong Kong?  Personally I don’t think so.  The whole dynamic of it is so unique and even unlike other “East meets West” cities like Singapore for example.  Since I am off to HK on Saturday (Feb 6) for a combination pleasure/business trip here’s a brief primer on my favorite city.


File:Kellet Island and Victoria City.jpg



Above is a public domain photo of Kellet Island and Victoria City (HK) from the 19th century.  The geography in HK is very dramatic with the various harbors including the main one and the mountains.  Many islands surround and you can visit for interesting restaurants. 


In these days (1986) HK was still a British Crown Colony on lease from the Chinese.  The mainland known as Kowloon and the New Territory (not all that far but sounds way out and very rugged-it is topography wise but not backwards by any means) and, of course, the famous Hong Kong island.  Quick fact: the three most densely populated islands in the world are HK, Macau and Singapore. 


busy street scene at night, with lit advertising panels


Here is a typical HK street scene in Central-very crowded, noisy but it still amazingly works well. 


HK had come to the British in 1860 after the Chinese lost the Second Opium War.  In 1898 the British “negotiated” a 99 year lease which expires in 1997.  It was an interesting time because June 30, 1997 was viewed as a “doomsday” since many people (understandably) were concerned about their freedoms (they should be) and their way of life.


During this time the British judicial system was in full usage; now it remains but with some twists.  Trials were just like those you see on TV with the stuffy judge wearing a wig.  My wife, Diana, was called to be a juror from the expat pool and was empanelled on an assault case (these teenage gang members had robbed an expat couple out for a walk and some heaving “necking” and it all got out of hand-a very ugly case).  During the juror questioning the defense asked Diana of her  profession.  She replied “expat wife” and the judge laughed and said “I think, my dear, he means your professional vocation”.  She then says “Registered Nurse” (embarrassed beyond belief of course) and the defense challenges.  The Judge then says something to the effect that her “two professions” make her imminently qualified and she sat on the jury.  The trial last 2 days and all were found guilty and sentenced to 20 years prison and labor.  One can imagine how that worked out for them.


To give you a flavor of business life in the 1980’s a friend of mine once said to me “when I come back in the next life I want to come back as an expat wife”.  It was a pretty good deal especially by today’s standards.  At that time no work permits would be granted per se so there was lots of time for shopping, tennis, and general fooling around-like hours of tennis at the old American Club (now gone) and some charity work mixed in.  Coupled with the fact we had inherited a full time live in maid with the job I am sure you get the picture. 


Besides the judiciary, the British had begun a rudimentary form of self-rule by the time we arrived forming a “Legislative Council” which, naturally, enraged the Chinese authorities in Beijing.  What was interesting about it was that the British hadn’t much cared about home rule until a year or two before 1986!  You might have seen that 6 respected LegCo members recently resigned in protest of the eroding of freedoms!  One thing about Hong Kong people: they won’t go quietly especially when the Big Brother starts to reign them in. 


However, “1997” was all in the future and to be decided at a later date.  We had selected an apartment about ¾ of the way up the mountain in a place called “Garden Terrace” which comprised two blocks.  (Later the movie “Tai Pan” with Pierce Brosnan was filmed outside-the landslide scene.  Interestingly, I worked with an American guy in Singapore who lived just up the hill from us at the same time.  Pierce used his apartment as “his” in the movie!).


Here is a picture of Garden Terrace:



Garden Terrace was built in 1983 and began renting in 1984 with two towers.  GT was 38 stories and since it was on the side of a mountain appears much taller (like many of the blocks).  There are 2 apartments on each floor both with 4 bedroom 3 ½ bathroom.  They were huge.


Incredibly, we still use some of the furniture we had built during that period (yes you could get items custom built quite cheaply).  Rent was HKD 20,000 (divide by 7.8 to get USD).  I looked at a real estate office in HK for this report and saw a similar apartment for lease at HKD 89,000 (over US$11,000!).  Flats came with a maid’s room and our maid’s daughter came to live with her as well after being mistreated by her employer.  Cosy. 


These were the days I must say.  There was no internet but we bought our first computer (a home brew made in a Hong Kong back alley) with early computer war games.  I had bought the APBA DOS game and it worked!  Odd I am still using the windows version in 2 leagues 24 years later. 


Truly the “east meets west” features were the most interesting.  There were many British expats as well as Americans and others. It is the mixing of the cultures that creates that special Hong Kong feeling in my mind. 


Of course the other element is the topography and the sights.  The scenery there is very dramatic for one of the world’s largest cities.  In 1986 the pollution wasn’t as bad as now (from the wind blowing from the economic zone just over the border for the New Territory) but on a clear day this is about as good as it gets:


panorama: looking down on a city of skyscrapers, land mass in the distance separated by a body of water                                                                           GT

View from Victoria Peak towards Kowloon and the New Territories.  Garden Terrace is below on the left and marked as “GT” for your reference. Cool isn’t it?


Hong Kong has it all even to this day (Even though it is far more “antiseptic” now than then): a very diverse cultural mix; restaurants; shopping; and lots of history and a “free enterprise” attitude that has minimal rules and is designed to make money.  HK is all about money and the shops in Central attest to the affluence and wealth.


There is no better-nor cheaper-ride that the Hong Kong Ferry from Kowloon to HK.  It is fantastic.  Of course in the name of progress they have torn down the old terminal and built a new one: yuck (they have also eliminated the fishing boats and narrowed the harbor).  Luckily you can still get a flavor of the old one in the Wan Chai District terminal.  And yes that is the area of “Susie Wong”. 


double-decker ferry boat in harbour with tall buildings in background


Here you can see the iconic Star Ferry on a crossing to Kowloon. 


One of my favorite places is the Princes Building in the Central district.  On my last weekend I again visited the shop called Picture This.  I have been going there for a number of years and this is their new location.  They have an eclectic mix of first editions, movie posters, antique maps and pictures.  Last August, they had just purchased the archives of a famous photographer and digitized his photographs.  These photos were all taken in the 1960’s and showed iconic images of Hong Kong.  So I bought several for my Christmas gifts and all were received quite well.  My kids still speak of Hong Kong as “home” just to give you an idea of the experience value.


If you want to see the photos and the like,  please visit:


The copy of the photograph I bought my daughter is featured on the main page: “Cheongsams” by Yau Leung (deceased).   Update: I was just there and bought my son two “antique” movie posters from Steve McQueen’s “Bullitt”. 


I strong suggest a visit to HK if you can and the buzz starts at the airport!


I watched the Super Bowl at a bar with a breakfast buffet and sat with two HK locals.  These guys were very knowledgeable about the game (one was from Mainland China so his English wasn’t so good). We were sitting there and they starting talking Cantonese and then snuck in the words “onside kick”!  It was a good game and I thought a lot about Peyton’s luck or lack thereof.  When they were down 31-17 and inside the 10 I saw that draw play coming and thought: it rarely works for me and it didn’t for the Colts either.  Throw the ball!




Say So Long to Joe


        Joe Theismann was a pain in my side for a number of seasons and was on the international broadcast for last Sunday’s Super Bowl telecast (honestly for a guy who played for a long time and successfully can he be more wrong in his predictions?  At one point even the people in the bar said “The announcer was wrong”!  Right, he is often wrong!).

        Last year I chronicled the end was near as Joe was ignominiously severed from Midway and Novo Bojovic, an obscure Michigan State kicker, was picked up!

        Joe was a long time CGFL player and long time NFL’er as well.  In 1985 Theismann ended is career with Ft Mill suffering (deservedly) through a 1-15 campaign.  Joe was 137-255-1438 3 TD and a whopping 17 INT’s for a miserable 46.5 QBR.  Say it ain’t so!

        Two other personal favorites are also coming close to the end.  Vince Ferragamo also played (valiantly) for Ft Mill and was 69-127-885 3/9 and 54.7.  Kenny Anderson, one of the greatest CGFL players ever, returned to Houston and recorded a paltry 17-43-246 2 TD/2 INT season and a 55.0 QBR.

        Joe may be gone but the Woodbine and Houston faithful will have a chance for proper send offs for their long time QB’s. Both are back with their original clubs once again.   

        Hopefully, it will not be as bad as it was for my favorite QB growing up.  I’m sure you all have seen this:

        That was truly the end for YA. 


The NFL in 1986


        In 1985 the Bears had rolled to the title with mediocre quarterbacking but with the rushing of Walter Payton.  Oh, they had a little defense to go along with Walter.


        When I think of the answer to the question of “which teams had the best ever defenses in the NFL” I immediately think of the ’85 Bears, the ’63 Bears, the mid-70’s Steelers, the late 60’s Vikings and Rams, the early 70’s Skins and more recently the Ravens


        How good were these Bears? Answer: Dominating.


        Here are some average categories in comparison to Chicago:


         Points: 345 is the NFL average versus 198 for Chicago.


        Yards: 5171 versus 4135


        Yards per play: 5.0 versus 4.4


        Passing TD: 21.4 versus 16


        Passing INT: 21.5 versus 34


        Sacks: 47 versus 64


        Net Yards per Attempt: 5.8 versus 4.8


        Quarterback Rating: 70.7 versus 51.2 (Incredible!)


        Defensive MVP: Mike Singletary, LB, Chicago


        It is really no wonder they blew out the Patriots in the Super Bowl. 


        As I was beginning to put together this preview I wondered about 1985 stats and why didn’t the Bears repeat?


        I was somewhat shocked to find out their stats in 1986 were better and more dominating than 1985.  However, that year’s Super Bowl winners, the New York Giants, were right in the mix with them.  Plus the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year went to Lawrence Taylor, LB who basically redefined the position (See “The Blind Side”).  Additionally, the Giants had superior quarterback play.  Here are some comparisons:



NFL 1986

New York Giants

Chicago Bears









Yards per play




Passing TD




Passing INT








Net Yards/Attempt







49.9 (!!!)

Rushing Avg/Att




All statistics are team averages except the Giants/Bears TD/INT.


        As you can see from the above measures the Giants were a very imposing unit.  However, the Bears were better in every category and compare very favorably to the 85 unit.  It is interesting that 1986 represents a cross over period when passing TD’s finally exceeded passing interceptions.  (Note: I plan on doing a bit more research into it from a CGFL point of view but not sure I can complete it in time for this publication. Sorry I did not get it done!)


        I decided to explore a bit further and looked at the 1986 playoffs.


        On January 3, 1987 the Bears met the Redskins for the right to play for the NFC championship.  The Bears lost 27-13 and the story of the game was turnovers and a margin of -3 (Washington 1; Chicago 4). 


        The key was “who” was at quarterback.  For the Skins it was Jay Schroeder who was the heir to Joe Theismann.  For the Bears it was NFL rookie- Doug Flutie.  Their stat lines could not have been different:


·         Schroeder: 15-32-184 2 TD/1 INT

·         Flutie:        11-31-134 1 TD/2 INT


Having escaped playing the Bears suffocating defense, the Giants waltzed to the Super Bowl.  In that game, on the back of a dynamic performance by Phil Simms (22-25-268 3 TD/0 INT) the Giants rallied from a 10-9 halftime deficit to win 39-20 over the John Elway led Denver Broncos.


As I mentioned before 1986 is a turning point year when passing became less “vertical” and more precise due to wider adoption of the “West Coast Offense”.  You can see from above that TD’s finally exceeded INT’s albeit by a very slight margin. 


Luck or Skill?


“I wasn’t lucky, I deserved it.”
Margaret Thatcher


        As many of you know we just built a house outside of Las Vegas.  We are not big gamblers but do visit occasionally so Diana can slot and I wager a bit on sports- both football and baseball.  Anyone who has been to LV knows there are a lot of Asian visitors.


        Although a generalization, it is well known the Asians are big gamblers and that Chinese people are right at the top of the list. I did just learn Korea Air has a direct Seoul-LV flight so maybe I am wrong.


        Last December 26th, we ate at some high brow French restaurant my daughter selected (she watches all these celebrity Chef shows which are very popular) and we were the only non-Asian patrons!  I am sure they weren’t in Las Vegas just for the food! 


        Gambling is defined as a “risky undertaking” where winning or losing to a great extent depends on chance or luck. Sure it is skill when you pick out those football winners (I hit 9 out 10 last XMAS including getting 4 points and the Huskers over the hapless Arizona.)


        “Luck” according to Webster’s is defined as “fortune, good or ill; chance”.  As you can see Maggie didn’t share that view at least in that quote and neither do we as coaches when it goes our way. 


        Thinking about the CGFL season in 1985 and poor luck I thought about some of the great plays in my memory:   “The Immaculate Reception” comes to mind; incredible lucky I think.  The ball Matt Davison of Nebraska caught in 1997 in the Missouri game that sent it to OT was another.  Or that “Music City Miracle” game is another incredible finish with bit o luck for sure.


 Then there is the “Hail Mary” passing play: Luck or Skill?


        On December 28, 1975 only 24 seconds remained in the playoff game in Minnesota between the Vikings and Cowboys.  The Vikes led 14-10 and had just about sealed the deal.  We know how it came out, frankly pretty lucky, but very spectacular.  Staubach rolled out and heaved it to Drew Pearson who caught the ball on his hip and walked into the end zone.  The extra point was good and the Cowboys won 17-14.  Staubach said “"I closed my eyes and said a Hail Mary”. Hence, the term “Hail Mary” came into football lexicon.


        This brings us back to Doug Flutie (who at this writing is still waiting to be drafted and he will-he did by Houston).  According to Wikipedia here is the situation which for many of you is very familiar (maybe not Will):

        After the original Hail Mary by Roger Staubach, another Hail Mary pass came in a 1984 game between Boston College and Miami (FL). With just 6 seconds left on the clock, BC quarterback Doug Flutie threw what was by then called a Hail Mary pass, which succeeded primarily because Miami's secondary stood on the goal line to keep the receivers in front of them, and failed to cover a post route being run by Gerard Phelan. Miami's defense was based on the assumption that Flutie would be unable to throw the ball as far as the end zone, but Flutie hit Phelan in stride against a flatfooted defense a yard deep in the end zone. A connecting road in Natick, where Flutie played for the high school, has been named "Flutie Pass".

Flutie had replaced an injured Jim McMahon for that 1986 Bear playoff game.  Jim had his own “Flutie” moment even before Flutie:

 Additionally, in the 1980 Holiday Bowl, commonly known as the "Miracle Bowl" by BYU fans, BYU quarterback Jim McMahon successfully completed a Hail Mary pass as time expired to defeat SMU.

            Jesse and I often write to each other about a real life sporting event and compare it to simulation.  Several years ago one of the posters on the Action Board was distressed that he (or someone else?) lost on a last play pass to a receiver who went about 80 yards against a prevent defense and lost (this is the gist of it as I might not have the detail exactly).  Of course when it happens in real life it is a sensational play, but in simulation it “can never happen as it is too unrealistic”! Really?

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

Seneca, Roman Philosopher

        So what happens when there is a bit of skill mixed in and teams are prepared for a certain situation? Here indeed is a play that has been often discussed but I had never “experienced”. 

        In week 6 of the 1985 season, Philadelphia (3-2) comes to Woodbine (2-3) as 1 point favorites.  Dave Krieg is the QB for Philly and Mark Malone for the Tigers.

        Woodbine jumps out to a 10 point lead in the first on a Wilder 21 yard run and a FG after a Barry Krauss INT.  Early in the second quarter Woodbine (after getting back a fumble) goes up 17-0 on a Malone to Fryar TD which holds up to halftime.  This is just like the old Tigers coasting to a win! Not so fast my friends as Lee says. 

        Late in the 3rd quarter Mark Moseley hits a FG and it is now 20-0.  Laughing in the stands now as it will take 3 TD’s for Philly to win.

        Alas, the old Tigers of the past several years had defenses that were “daring” and “aggressive” (see Tiger definition at the beginning!).  These Tigers are more like Tabby cats.

        Philly starts the long road back by Krieg’s big pass and catch by Brian Brennan who is Flutie’s ex-WR from Boston College.  Ironic!  3 plays later they score and it is 20-7. 

        Starting the 4th Woodbine goes 3 and out when on 3rd and 4 and being “daring” Fryar loses 4 on a WR reverse. 

        12 plays later Philly scores and with 8:07 to go it is 20-14. Uh oh.

        Woodbine tries to become more “aggressive” by throwing on 2 of 3 downs but 3 and out. Fans are restless.

        A punt of 38 yards combined with a return of 12 sets Philly up on the Woodbine 47.    The drive stalls at the Tiger 4.  Facing 4th and 4 Krieg’s pass is incomplete to Brennan with just 3:06 to go!

        Woodbine goes 3 and out and Philly takes over again at the Tiger 49 with 1:35 to go.  The sequence is incomplete, complete for 8, incomplete and now 4th and 2.  RB Herman Hunter is stuffed for a loss of -1!  The Tigers take over at their 41 with 1:08.  Steve Fuller comes in for plays of -1, -1, and -1.  We now are at the 0:30 second mark. 

        Philadelphia’s WR Karl Powe catches it out of bounds and a gain of 22 after a punt and return set them up at their 17. 

        Here is the last play of the game:

        1 10 own 49  0:00 Phi Krieg-Brennan 51/TD  4WR  Hail/SG/PBK          3-1 dZ Prevent            21-20

                Yes that is correct: A completed “Hail Mary” from Krieg to the BC receiver Greg Brennan for a 51 yard TD and with extra point a huge and improbable win for Philly. I would say this is very similar to the famous Flutie throw from 1984 described in Wikipedia:

        After the original Hail Mary by Roger Staubach, another Hail Mary pass came in a 1984 game between Boston College and Miami (FL). With just 6 seconds left on the clock, BC quarterback Doug Flutie threw what was by then called a Hail Mary pass, which succeeded primarily because Miami's secondary stood on the goal line to keep the receivers in front of them, and failed to cover a post route being run by Gerard Phelan.  Miami's defense was based on the assumption that Flutie would be unable to throw the ball as far as the end zone, but Flutie hit Phelan in stride against a flatfooted defense a yard deep in the end zone. A connecting road in Natick, where Flutie played for the high school, has been named "Flutie Pass".

            Clearly the Tiger attributes of being “generous” and “humanitarian” were on display along with being inept and flatfooted.

Back to 1986

        Here is a short review of the events of 1986.  Again, it bears repeating how “far out” one felt in the Far East at that time.  When you were slung across the world you were surely a day behind (or more).  TV was very limited and the news was primarily of British origin.  Newspapers were shipped out from the UK on the overnight flights and arrived a day after they were published.  Yes we had the “International Herald Tribune” but even though published by the Washington Post (in France) it had a European slant at that time.  We listened to the BBC on the radio live but TV reports were taped.  We had no cable per se but, thankfully, we did live in the VCR days and the boot leg movies  gave one access to all of it.  Ok the quality suffered sometimes.  Sure we had phones but many times you couldn’t get through to the US or, worse, couldn’t hear all that well when you did connect.  And it was very expensive.  So you would “call home” about once every month and then talk for just a few minutes.  Naturally you got calls from work many times in the wee hours when people would say “what time is it over there”.  Movies were late in coming from either of the UK or the US so we joined the French Film Society (trying to broaden our horizons).  Those were good.  Given that the bookshops were filled with British imports (Remember Penguin books?) I began to branch out and discovered some very interesting British writers. 

1986 was designated by the UN as “The Year of Peace”.  One wonders why the go to the effort of naming a year like this with a war raging in Afghanistan.

With that as an introduction here is the review with something of a  UK spin to it:


14th Actress Donna Reed passes away.  She was from Denison, Iowa which is about 40 miles from where I grew up.  Everyone loved Donna in south west Iowa and watched her avidly on TV in the 70’s.

19 First computer virus, Brain, spreads (albeit limited since the internet is not widely used).

23rd   The first inductions for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame includes Buddy Holly who died in a plane crash in Iowa.

28 US Space Shuttle, The Challenger, disintegrates killing all 7 crew including Christina McAuliffe, the first woman in space. This was difficult to watch.


2 Anita Colby murdered in Australia (very sensational case).

7 “Baby Doc” Duvalier leaves Haiti ending 38 years of rule by that family.  They were not humanitarians.

9 Halley’s Comet reaches closest point to the sun on its 2nd visit to the solar system in the 20th Century.  We bought a special telescope and should have been able to see it on our terrace.  Alas, it was very cloudy in Hong Kong and our apartment was just at the cloud line for Victoria Peak. We did go to the Peak a few nights later for the show.

25 Marcos rule ended in the Philippines!  Two days before the employees had been trapped in the office and called me in Japan.  I could hear gunfire over the phone.  They wanted to know if they could leave the office!  I told them “stay inside”.  They did for 12 hours with no food or water.   Later that year we visit Manila and went to the Palace. Yes Imelda had a lot of shoes.  Interesting place is Manila.

28 Diana’s Birthday celebration and we choose a recognized Hong Kong restaurant named “Louis’ Steak House” on Gloucester Road.  Last August I decided to go there as well!  They have been there a long time.  Here is a review from the Trip Advisor website:

“been here twice once in April and just a couple of days ago, the quality of the steaks are very good, it's fun to see the server prepare the Caesar Salad dressing and toss the salad as well and preparing the dessert Baked Alaska right in front of you, another old style dessert crepe suzette (crepe with the Cointeau Liqueur sauce) is lovely……” (My comment: I generally agree although it is a bit worn and still pricey.  HK like all Asian cities has had a huge influx of Western restaurants especially American, French and Italian.  I went there because we had not gone back since 1986!)

        We learned the next day (or 2 later?) that Olof Palme, Swedish Prime Minister, had been gunned down in Stockholm!  Palme had been educated at Kenyon College (Ohio) and wrote his thesis on the UAW and was a big fan of Walter Reuther their famed boss.  He was a vocal critic of American foreign policy and once visited Castro in Cuba (apparently he did not discuss individual freedom with Comrade Fidel).   Here is the Wikipedia description of this odd case:

        Olof Palme could often be seen without any bodyguard protection and the night of his murder was one such occasion. Walking home from a cinema with his wife Lisbet Palme on the central Stockholm Street Sveavägen, close to midnight on February 28, 1986, the couple was attacked by an assassin. Palme was fatally shot in the back at close range 23:21 CET. A second shot wounded Lisbet Palme. The crime remains unsolved and has been a national trauma. Security had never until then been a major issue.

Police said that a taxi-driver used his mobile radio to raise the alarm. Two young girls sitting in a car close to the scene of the shooting also tried to help the prime minister. He was rushed to hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival at 00:06 CET the next day. Mrs Palme's wound was treated and she recovered.

Two years after the event, Christer Pettersson—a small-time criminal and drug addict—was arrested, tried and convicted for Palme's murder. Pettersson's conviction was later overturned on appeal to the Svea Court of Appeal, and a number of alternative theories as to who carried out the murder have since been proposed.

            As I mentioned in the just published OAFL preview I have been on a binge reading Swedish crime novels including the Millennium Trilogy.  The Walander is also very good and written by Henning Mankell.  I discovered a new author (Ake Edwardsson) while in HK and will get more of his soon-very good!  Of course in these stories the good Swedes always get their man.  Real life is different and the Palme killing was an odd case.   (They reference it in these books.)


One of the biggest singles- “West End Girls” by The Pet Shop Boys- was released and immediately shot to #1. I was at Sloane Square last October and learned that my favorite hangout was being converted to an office building. It was sort of sad to mark the passing of the “Sloane Rangers”-the original west end girls.

9th Challenger wreckage recovered and remains of the crew found.

26th Kurt Waldheim-a candidate for President of Austria-is accused of being involved in Nazi war crimes (He had been a patient of my wife at a hospital in New York City when he was head of the UN.). 

28th Singer Lady Ga Ga is born. 

30th Actor James Cagney dies.  He was a classic tough guy.  


3rd Model Colleen Rooney is born (A quiz question: who is Collen’s famous husband? I am sure Paul King knows!).

5th Berlin disco bombing kills 3 and injures 230.  Libya is fingered for the attack.  Regan is not pleased and decides a course of action (no UN motions for Ron). 

8th Felix “the King” Hernandez is born in Venezuela.  Luckily he gets out of that "magic Kingdom" to play baseball in the US. 

14th Simone de Beauvoir French Actress dies.

15th US fighter jets attack Libya killing 15.  Gaddafi escapes but his adopted 15 month old daughter is killed and 2 sons are injured.  Our “allies” in Europe (France, Spain and Italy) deny fly over rights.  It is later found out that Gaddafi escaped being fore warned by Bettino Craxi-the Prime Minister of Italy!

26th Chernobyl nuclear disaster occurs in the Ukraine. People wonder will the wind blow it our way. Broderick Crawford dies-of Highway Patrol TV series fame among other things.

29th Roger Clemens strikes out 20 batters in major league game.


10th Tommy Lee marries Heather Locklear.  Videos are in Tommy’s future.

16th Actress Megan Fox is born (quite a looker).

19th The album “So” is released by Peter Gabriel.  One of the best songs on this album is “Sledgehammer”.  When we returned to the US music videos were the rage and this is one of the best.  My daughter loved it.  Have you seen it?

31st World Cup begins in Mexico (well “when in Rome” you have to do what the locals do.  In HK the big sporting events are either soccer related or the Hong Kong Sevens- a form of rugby. The tourney is usually played around Easter and is quite a party-always a streaker or two.).    In other culture news, the album “From Luxury to Heartache” is launched by the group known as “Culture Club”.  Here is what I found odd about this note. Yesterday (several days ago now) at a meeting of executives to review my project there were 3 Americans and a Canadian. Somehow the chit chat got around to “culture” and someone made a reference to the group and their songs. Younger people at the meeting look puzzled. Not me as I’m working on this preview!

Also, in a retro moment, “Cocker” is released by Joe Cocker who sang at Woodstock in 1969. 


6th Rafael Nadal is born.  He plays tennis and especially well on clay.

8th Kurt Waldheim elected President of Austria!

22nd The infamous “Hand of God” goal scored by Maradona and Argentina defeats England in the quarter finals.  This is cheating and there are no replays.  We just had a similar episode as France beat Ireland in this year’s World Cup qualifier when Henry Thierry scored a hand goal-which he later admitted.  He is a spokesperson for Gillette.  You have seen the ad: Henry, Roger Federer, and Tiger Woods!  This loss ranked right up there for the Brits with the 1950 loss to the US.  Similarly, the US plays England in their first games of the tourney coming up.  It is the one we apparently won’t see in Singapore except by computer subscription.  It is a long story. Sweet if we win though.

23rd The first e-mail program invented by Eric Thomas. Question: Should Thomas be a hero or goat?

29th Argentina beats West Germany 3-2 to win the World Cup. 

30th The album “True Blue” is released by Madonna. In 1996 I was on a trip from Australia and stayed at the then Hyatt Carlton Tower in Knightsbridge.  One day there was quite a crowd and one shady looking character with a guitar was standing (with a “bobby” by him) about 100 yards away.  I asked the doorman and he said “Madonna is staying here.  The guy with the cop is banned from being closer due to a stalking order”!  A day later I get in the elevator and there she is!  I say hi and she says hi (she has 2 body guards) and she says “are you an American”?  I say yes.  I tell her “I still think “True Blue” was her best.”  She smiles.


7th This event caused a huge stir.  2 drug smugglers from Australia were hanged in Malaysia.  Two member nations of the Commonwealth acting this way: not good form.  Newsflash: about 10 days ago 2 drug dealers sentenced to be hanged. 

28th Estate Agent (real estate broker to us) Suzy Lamplugh, age 25, disappears outside a Fulham (West London) flat.  Two people believed they saw her arguing with a male and then getting into a car.  She was finally declared dead in 1994. 


19th Picasso’s “Weeping Woman” recovered in a locker at the Spencer Street Station in Melbourne, Australia. I have never understood art theft.  By that I mean with all the security around these exhibitions and these crooks still get away with it.  One of the most audacious recent ones was a couple of years ago in Switzerland.  I assume the paintings are now housed in some warm weather villa or in Japan (rumored to be a final destination for much stolen art as well as China).

21st Sprinter Usain Bolt-World’s Fastest Man-is born.  I still have lingering suspicions.  Do you?

26th Actor Ted Baxter passes away.  He was very funny on “The Mary Tyler Moore” show.


4th Hank Greenburg, baseball slugger, passes away.

5th Pan Am Flight 73 takes off from Mumbai and lands in Karachi en route to Frankfurt and then New York.  At the stop in Karachi (I never understood this odd route) it was taken over by 4 Abu Nidal terrorists (recall Carlos the “Jackal”?).  It turns out that on this afternoon  our country manager for India appeared in my office with the shocking news of this hijack and that his son was on board.  So we decide to return-together-to India and see what transpires.  Luckily my visa was still valid from an earlier trip.  On the way over I am thinking “what happens if his son doesn’t make it”?  Clearly they don’t give you this tip in HR 101, 202, or in a 303 graduate level course.  We get off the plane 5 ½ hours later at 2:30 AM body time.  We go by taxi to central Mumbai which is about 25 miles away (then it was open country but now nothing but city) and during this trip the country manager indicates he has decided his son is dead.  He is on the verge of being uncontrollable. There is nothing I can say to him.  We finally get to the Taj Mahal Hotel (the one that was subject to the terrorist attack a couple of years ago) which is also the Pan Am headquarters in town.  Showtime!  We get inside and quickly find out that President Zia of Pakistan has ordered an assault on the plane.  Success! He killed all the attackers but also got quite a few of the passengers.  Basically there was no way he was letting them fly out of Pakistan.  Bad news: passenger casualties.  Uh oh.  Now we have to walk down the corridor and find out if the manager’s son is one of the names!  Believe me: this was traumatic.  I was holding onto his arm and he was swooning-I thought he would faint and what happens “if”?  Joy: the son was ok and in the house of our Pakistan country manager!  Whew! I immediately went to the BA counter and got on a plane to get out and back to Hong Kong. No sleep until the plane but ecstatic nonethless.

6th Abu Nidal kills 22 at an Istanbul synagogue.

7th Miami meets San Diego in the season opener in California.  In a memorable game with 7 TD passes between Fouts and Marino the Chargers win 50-28.  Miami lost 4 fumbles. 

14th The LA Raiders visit Washington and get beat 10-6.  Down 6-3 in the 4th the Skins get a George Rodgers TD and a Mark Moseley FG to win.  Marc Wilson has 3 INT’s for the Raiders.

15th Nothing screams the 80’s more than Cyndi Lauper who releases “True Colors”. 

21st Miami visits the New York Jets in an always entertaining game.  In OT the Jets win 51-45.  There were 10 TD passes and 3 INT’s in the game.  Marino threw for 448 with 6/2; O’Brien threw for 479 and 4/1.  O’Brien’s TD to Wesley Walker from 43 out wins it!

28th Pittsburgh visits Houston and wins 22-16 in OT.  Mark Malone wasn’t so good going 10-31-161 with 1 TD/1 INT.  Moon was worse: 22-42-133 1/1.  Abercrombie’s TD from the 3 won it.

In a bonus game, Minnesota beats Green Bay 42-7.  Obviously, these are not the kind of games I look for to present to you.  This is the last NFL game of Vince Ferragamo who is now in Green Bay.  Vince was 12-23-163 with 1 TD/1 INT.  Compared to the QB garbage you are going to read about this is nigh on super star status.  He gets cut as Green Bay commits to Randy Wright.  So long Vince and good luck in Real Estate in California.  (Vince will be appearing with Tom Osborne later this month at the Nebraska Alumni gathering.  I met him a couple of years ago when we played USC and got whacked 28-10.)  His NFL career ends with a 70.1 QB rating and the only Nebraska QB to appear and start in the Super Bowl (1979). 


5th New York Giants visit St Louis and win 13-6.  Joe Morris TD in the 3rd quarter is the margin of victory.  Simms was awful: 8-24-104; Lomax was better but 1 INT ruined it.  There were 18 penalties in the game.

9th News Corp-run by Adelaide based Rupert Murdoch-completes the purchase of Metromedia Group thereby launching Fox Broadcasting Group. I will bet none of realized the import of this transaction at the time.

11th Regan and Gorbachev meet at Reykjavik, Iceland.  Remember the famous scene where Ron takes Gorby for a walk jus the two of them?  Our State Department had a fit.  He knew what he was doing for sure.

13th In MNF, Pittsburgh was at Ciny and lost 24-22.  Pitt is now 1-5 while Cincy is 4-2.  Brister at QB for Pitt and was a paltry 12-33-191 with 0/0.  Boomer threw for 2 TD’s but 1 pick.

19th SD-after winning vs Miami opening day- is winless!  They visit arch rival KC and in a wild one lose again 42-41.  Mark Herrmann tossed a TD to make it close.  Dan Fouts started but threw 3 INT’s (age?).  In a bonus game we had a tie between San Francisco and Atlanta with a 10-10 score. 

21st The “Pearls of Passion” is the first album released by a Swedish rock duo called Roxette. Interesting what you get into when living outside the US. 

25th Actor Forrest Tucker of “F Troop” passes away.

26th Buses are deregulated in the UK except for Greater London and Northern Ireland. Trains come later.

26th Later in the day, on the other side of the pond, Atlanta went to visit the Rams in LA.  This is truly a bizarre game.  Rams lead 7-0 on a Mark Jones 22 yard INT TD.  Later, Eric Dickerson throws a TD pass to Drew Hill!  Down by 14 the Falcons get close on a 65 yard James Britt fumble recover TD.  Rams win 14-7.  The game featured 3 turnovers by the Falcons and 5 by the Rams. There was truly awful QB play in this game as you can imagine.  Let me show you.  David Archer ex-Iowa State QB (and now a Wolverine!) was 11-22-53 0/1.  Not to be outdone Steve Dils (!) was 7-16-92 0/2.  Do you wonder why Dickerson threw a TD pass?

27th I am in New York City for an annual HR meeting.  This is game 7 of the World Series.  In a true moment of bad “luck” the Red Sox had game 6 won and the Series with it except for that ball hit to 1b Bill Buckner.  Mets win! City goes wild. Earlier in the day the London Stock Exchange had their “Big Bang” which deregulated fixed commissions on stock purchases.  Stock trading hasn’t been the same since.


2nd KC visits SD.  Recall the earlier game at 42-41 KC? Incredibly Kansas City wins 24-23!  KC got 17 points in the 4th quarter to pull it out.  Bill Kenny (Eastern) threw for 287 and 2 TD’s.  Who is now at QB for SD?  Not Fouts.  Not Herrmann.  Nope it is the memorable Tom Flick.  This is one of the worst performances I can recall: 4-17-42 yards and 1 TD/4 INT.  To salvage something, Flick did run for a TD.  (Bonus Flick note: In 73 career throws he threw 2 TD’s and 8 INT’s.  This means after this game he has 67 throws left only 1 of which is going to be a TD!)

9th Here’s a game you would not predict in a zillion years.  SD is 1-8 and playing the 8-1 Denver Broncos.  Flick is at QB vs Elway.  Flick is again pretty bad: 16-22-130 0 TD/1 INT.  Remarkably Elway is worse: 13-31-196 and 0 TD/3 INT.  It’s all FG’s and SD wins 9-3. This is luck.

16th Chicago (8-2) visits Atlanta (5-4-1).  Bears are down by 10 late.  Mike Tomczak throws a TD with Butler XP.  Later, a Butler FG wins it 13-10.  Hard to match some of the awful QB play this season.  Tomczak is 9-22-203 0/2.  Our man, Archer, is 5-12-44 with 0/0.  His “bookend” QB mate is Turk Schonert: 5-12-36 but 0/3!  3 INT’s in 12 throws!  Combined that is 10-24-80 yards and 3 INT’s! 

18th Manchester police announce they will launch a search for two children missing for the past 20 years.  The famous “Moors Murderers” (Ian Brady and Myra Hindley) had confessed to these killings.  Here is a picture of this wonderful duo:

I recall seeing this picture in the press.  They look guilty for goodness sakes! Of course we get the full dose and recital of these heinous crimes.  It went on for days. According to Wikipedia here is the final act:

        Described by the press as "the most evil woman in Britain", Hindley made several appeals against her life sentence, claiming she was a reformed woman and no longer a danger to society, but she was never released. She died in 2002, aged 60. Brady was declared criminally insane in 1985, since when he has been confined in the high-security Ashworth Hospital. He has made it clear that he never wants to be released, and has repeatedly asked that he be allowed to die.

The murders, reported in almost every English-language newspaper in the world, were the result of what Malcolm MacCulloch, professor of forensic psychiatry at Cardiff University, called a "concatenation of circumstances", which brought together a "young woman with a tough personality, taught to hand out and receive violence from an early age" and a "sexually sadistic psychopath".

Here is the link to read more about these two horrific characters:

23rd In what turns out to be a Super Bowl preview, Denver (9-2) visits the Giants (9-2) for a huge regular season showdown.  George Martin returns an errant Elway throw 78 yards for a TD.  Giants win 19-16.  Elway is 29-47-336 with 0/2.

Earlier this “day” I get up at 5:30 and (splurge) to call my best friend and ex-college roommate.  Nebraska is up on Oklahoma at the half 10-7.  I can’t sleep and call later to learn we are leading (in Lincoln) 17-7.  This is sweet.  I call back again later.  Sooners are driving and just down 17-10 now.  They score on a Keith Jackson TD so a tie at 17.  Incredible.  The Sooners force 3 and out.  Holloway throws a 41 yard pass (the guy can’t throw) to Jackson and there is 9 seconds left.  Lasher’s 31 yard FG gives Sooners a 13 point 4th quarter comeback.  “Sooner Magic” strikes again.  Magic and luck are in the same pot.

26th The film “The Mosquito Coast” is released starring Harrison Ford and featuring British actress Helen Mirren.  The movie is based on the novel of the same name by Paul Theroux.  He also wrote the infamous novel about brothels in Singapore (banned!) and a wonderful travel book titled “The Great Railway Train Bazaar” (now has a sequel where he did the trip again!).  Mirren is a big favorite of mine and she starred in the “Prime Suspect” series as a UK police detective.  She was great as the moll in “The Long Good Friday”.  There was that awful movie she was in titled “The Thief, the Cook…” and so on which I almost walked out on.  I stayed to the bitter end. Horrible in spite of Helen.

29th Actor Cary Grant passes away.  Who can forget him with Eva Marie Saint in “North by Northwest”?  This was really good stuff.

30th Houston (3-9) comes to Cleveland (8-4) in a tough divisional game.  In OT, Mark Moseley’s FG wins it for Cleveland 13-10.  Yes you read that correctly: Mark Moseley is now with Cleveland not Washington.  I predict that Woodbine will be drafting a kicker for the first time since 1972 in the 1987 season.  More pitiful QB play to report (can they be worse or unlucky?).  Moon was 5-23-68 with 4 INT’s!  The aptly named Oliver Luck came on and was better 12-15-112 1TD/2 INT.  Also quite appropriate for this whole preview was how Cleveland scored: Kosar to Brennan (he is always in the right place)! 


7th There are lot of interesting ones today to report.  For instance the hapless Chargers went to Houston and won 27-0!  But that is not the big news. The Colts (0-13) go to Atlanta to visit the Falcons (6-6-1).  You know weird stuff is going to happen to the Falcons.  This is no exception.  At the start of the 4th, not surprisingly, they lead 20-14.  Ali Haji-Sheikh kicks a FG for a seemingly insurmountable 23-14 lead.  You know what is coming.  At QB is the sole survivor, Gary Hogeboom, who throws a 2 yard TD pass so 23-21.  Clearly unlucky or just plain bad, Eugene Daniel of the Colts BLOCKS a PUNT and SCORES!  Whoo hoo Colts win 28-23.  Interestingly,  the QB play is reasonable by 2 veterans.  Gary is 15-29-167 with 2 TD/3 INT and he won!  Turk Schonert was 17-28-222 with 2TD/0!  Turk should have won!  He did not. 

This bonus game is especially relevant for those of you in the OAFL.  For reference I reported in a similar format a game between St Louis and Philly that ended in a 6-6 tie with some of the worst QB play I have found.  Yes they are at it again.  It is a 3-3 tie at the end of the first half.  In the 4th it heats up as Randall Cunningham scores on a 2 yard run so 10-3 Philly.  Not to be outdone St Louis scores on a Lomax to Roy “Jetstream” Green from 48 yards out.  XP makes it 10-10.  No one scores in the extra period-how fitting.  Just like 1972 before OT! Lomax threw for 390 and Randall threw for 147. 

14th The long and very good career of Kenny Anderson comes to a close in a 34-3 loss to Cleveland.  Anderson to Kreider for 17 is the finale. Anderson finishes with a 91-81 W/L record as a starter and a 81.9 QB Rating.  His TD/INT record was good: 197-160.  Good Luck Kenny. (Personal note when I had him: I wish that last pass vs Midway had been complete! C’est la vie! Or was it unlucky? Nope: it was a great defensive call by Bruce).

21st Chicago (13-2) came to Dallas to visit the disappointing Cowboys (7-8) but who can finish at .500.  In a game with 11 turnovers and, surprise, awful QB play, one team has to win: Chicago by 24-10.  Actually it was worse as Dallas trailed in the 4th 24-0.  We had a trio of woe for Chicago: Flutie was 8-14-152 2/1; Tomczak 1-6-21 0/1; and Steve Fuller 0-2-0 0/1.  Clearly Flutie is the man for the playoffs as McMahon is hurt.  Steve Pelleur was the starter for Dallas and went 14-28-173 1/1 while Reggie Collier (gosh the memories) was 4-9-44 0/2. 

25th Christmas Day finds us in Hong Kong for us. We are flying to Hawaii tomorrow for some R&R and fun.  We still laugh about this episode. I fall asleep watching TV.  The lights are all off and I ran into the door and have to go to the Emergency Room at the hospital down the road. The nurse clearly believes there has been some domestic violence or I was drunk. Honestly, it was bad luck. We leave on the 26th and have Christmas Day once again in Honolulu.

The Year of Culture

Here are some films I liked:

·         “52 Pickup” based on Elmore Leonard’s novel (he is great!)

·         “9 ½ Weeks” was made when Mickey Rourke was still “ok” unlike his current weird state.  There is a steamy scene with Kim Basinger that is on the uncut version.  They had to do away with some of the scenes to get an R in those days. Bryan Ferry has a song on the sound track. I won’t repeat all of this (for my OAFL crossovers) but I discovered Ferry-as a solo act- in 1986 while on a trip to Japan.

·         “Blue Velvet”: A totally weird David Lynch film.

·         “Castaway” with Amanda Donohoe and Oliver Reed. I have to say Amanda (then 23) was a pretty hot lady. Speaking of which, we now have Granada TV from the UK in Singapore.  They show older TV series such as “Prime Suspect” with Helen Mirren and a series from 2004-2006 called “Murder City”.  Set in Manchester (odd to me), the star of this detective series (and similar to Mirren’s character) is none other than Amanda Donahoe!  I must say at then vintage 45ish she still looks pretty reasonable to me!  (Note: She recently returned to the UK from LA after burning out on some series.  She is apparently attached to a “toy boy”.  This scenario is oddly similar to the episode of “Murder City” I watched just last night!)

·         “The Color of Money” with Paul Newman is based on the book by Walter Tevis.  Of course this is a sequel to “The Hustler” which is the Jackie Gleason movie. The books are good and I’ve read them both.

·         “Crocodile Dundee “: this also happened in real life in Australia recently.

·         “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” is a classic. I think I read there might be a remake. Hard to beat the original.

·         “The Hitcher” with Jennifer Jason Leigh. I found this scary and don’t usually prefer this genre.

·         “Hoosiers”: classic. I read in TMQ on ESPN Page 2 how many football championships are awarded by states.  It used to be great in Iowa: one boys and girls tournament each. Period.  When my school made the state (finally) it was huge.  We got beat by Bruce Kimm the ex-catcher in the major leagues in the 80’s who came from Norway but in Iowa.

·         “Jean de Florette”, a French film, won their best picture awards and we saw it at the French School.  It starred Yves Montand, Daniel Auteuil, Gerard Depardiu and his wife, Elisabeth.  This is quite a cast.  Auteil starred in the 2005 mystery/thriller titled “Cache’” which I had to watch twice to fully get the twist at the end.  It is on DVD and good.  They made a sequel to “Jean de Florette” which wasn’t so good.

·         “Manhunter” starred William Peterson and was very good.

·         “Manon des Sources” (French) starring Yves Montand and Emmanuelle Beart.  Beart married Daniel Auteuil in 1993 and they were divorced in 1998.  Auteuil also starred in another obtuse but really good movie titled in English “Mysterious Crime”.  It also featured a very eye catching French lady named Anna Mouglalis.  This movie is more difficult to find but quite good also. Yes there is a plot besides staring at her. She is now a fashion model for Chanel and deservedly so! (See her movie “Novo” which is similar to “Memento” and the shocking “Irreversible” since all 3 are told backwards)

·         “The Morning After” was a Sydney Lumet thriller starring Jane Fonda (To the disappointment of many she did come back from North Viet Nam. OK maybe not to Ted Turner’s disappointment.)

·         “The Mission” was a British film that won their “Palme d’Or”.

·         And last but not least the British Film “Sid and Nancy” which was a depressing rendition of their relationship.  It ended badly at the Chelsea Hotel on West 23rd Street in NYC some time earlier.

Here are some books I liked then and still do now:

·         “The Old Devils” by Kingsley Amis which won the British Booker Prize (basically best book).

·         “The Moronic Inferno and other Visits to America” by Martin Amis. Yes father and son who can be the British style of biting and cynical and funny all in one.

·         “Whirlwind” by James Clavell who also wrote “Tai Pan” (chronicles the famous Jardine Fleming Group in HK).

·         “Sharpe’s Regiment” by Bernard Cornwell (good series of British historical fiction)

·         “The Sportswriter” by Richard Ford.

·         WP Kinsella wrote “The Fence Post Chronicles”.  We know him as writing “Field of Dreams” and “Shoeless Joe” novels. My parents gave me autographed copies.

·         John Le Carre’ wrote “A Perfect Spy”. Of course the all time classic is “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold”.

·         “The Bourne Supremacy” by Robert Ludlum. Maybe this series should be put into movie form? Let’s see, who could be the lead?

·         “Taming a Seahorse” by Robert B Parker who recently passed away in January.

·         And last but not least I discovered my favorite author-British- named Ruth Rendell who wrote “Live Flesh” in 1986 which won the Gold Dagger Award as best mystery novel.  She has 3 genres: police procedurals, her own name, and a pseudonym-Barbara Vine.  I think one of her best is long out of print although I still have it: “The Face of Trespass” published in 1974.  She can really write. The Vine novels started in 1986 with “A Dark Adapted Eye”.  Vine’s books are more creepy and “topically edgy” (again usually told from a man’s point of view) than her other psychological novels.  I finally met her at a Harrod’s book signing in 1996: very cool lady who is now 79. I marvel at how she writes all the dialogue and it is so “now” (Example: in her latest novel one of the down and outs “wears a hoodie and low slunk jeans”. I can’t imagine my 86 year old mother knows a “hoodie” by that name. If you read “Live Flesh” you will be pretty shocked at the end.)

Celebrating the 15th Year of the CGFL!

With the conclusion of the 1985 season we have now completed 15 seasons!  As I have noted in the past we have several coaches who have been there for all of them: Jesse who has been a great Commissioner; Tom Meade of Cedarhurst; Calvin Opheim of Canton; Allen Nelson of Willamette; and me from Woodbine.  Carl Phillips joined in 1972 while Rich Anderson (Part 1) joined in 1973.  Frank DiNola came in 1975 along with Paul King (Part 1).  I won’t detail them all but those are the old timers with at least 10 seasons. 

And a warm welcome back to Phil Preston!  This makes 3 returnees to the league which is all pretty cool (I should have recognized Mr. King and Mr. Anderson in previous editions.)

Here is a summary of the best regular season teams (ties broken by net point margin) and how they fared in the playoffs:


Team (Record)





Duluth (13-1)

David Gray

Lost to Cedarhurst (Meade) in NFC Champ 37-10

Duluth had a point difference per game of 25.8/7.9 on defense!


Willamette (14-0)



Lost to Cedarhurst (Meade) 38-17 in SB II.

Major upset as a wild card gets the win over a team that had 24.3/7.4 defense!


Houston (14-0)

Jesse Elicker

Beat Ft Lauderdale 37-6 in SB III.

Runs the table winning vs Tampa 41-34 (Anderson) and knocking Willamette out.


Canton (14-0)

Calvin Opheim

Lost to Houston 15-3 in SB IV.

Running the table trois! Houston only gave up 97 points.


Canton (14-0)

Calvin Opheim

Beat Willamette 27-10 in SB V.

Four in a row! Canton scored 572 versus 186 or 27.6 point difference.


Canton (13-1)

Calvin Opheim

Canton beats Corleone (Preston) 27-14

Although they lost 1 they scored 621. Survived wildcard Gate City 34-30.


Green Country (13-1)

Randy Ragsdale

Nashua (Hogan) was the wild card and they beat GC 30-24.

SB VII: Nashua beat Houston 20-17.  Technically another upset.


Houston (14-2)

Jesse Elicker

Lost to Iron Mtn (Phillips) in SB VIII 43-7.

IM was 12-4 and had best points versus with 223.


Ohio (16-0)

Steve Zucchero

Steve’s 2nd season results in a sweep but lost to WC Nashua 36-14.

Houston (14-2) beats wild card Iron Mtn 25-14 in SB IX to avenge 78 loss.


Ft Mill (14-2)

Rich Anderson

Ft Mill beats Houston 35-3 to win SB X.

There were 3 teams with 14-2 records including FM, Houston and E Texas.


E Texas (14-2)

Crawford Davis

E Texas has to beat Willamette and Houston only to lose to IM 23-20.

This is a bit of an upset since IM was 11-5 with margin of 0.6 while E Texas had 16.6.


Willamette (15-1)

Allen Nelson

Gate City (F Costello) was also 15-1 but Willamette prevails in SB XII by 20-13.

Point margin:

Willamette 22.6

Gate City 22.1


Ohio (15-1)

Steve Zuccchero

IM once again wins in an upset by 23-14.

USA beats IM 45-15 in SB XIII.


Canton (16-0)

Calvin Opheim

Canton beats Midway 30-0.

Canton scored 502; beat Ohio (14-2) 26-14.


Carolina (15-1)

Calvin Berrier

Carolina beats Willamette 42-21.

Midway was also 15-1 but lost to Willamette 13-3 in AFC Championship

Interestingly six of fifteen seasons have had a regular season undefeated team.  Additionally, the top 15 teams in the league had a combined record of 214-12!  I could these games as SB “upsets”: 1971, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1981, and 1983.  This means 7 out of 15 seasons the “Best Team” did not win.  This is not a total surprise because in real life it happens often.

It would be remiss not to mention the Canton run of 37 straight regular season wins starting from 1974.  The streak was stopped by Jersey in week 10 of 1976 by a score of 35-31.  It will be nigh on impossible for someone to challenge this mark. 

Top 10 Best Playoff Games (not SB games/not named above):





Willamette 19 Waikiki 17

They had close games during the regular season. 


Ft Lauderdale 37 Iron Mtn 34

IM had 2 ties in 73.


Willamette 14 USA 13

USA 9-5 with 12.1 point differential.


Houston 24 Ole Miss 21 (2 OT)

First OT playoff game in CGFL history and there were 2 of them. Actually this is our only OT game.


Cancun 24 Baltimore 23

They were close during the season.


IM 17 Cancun 9

IM then beat Nashua 13-6 to go to SB.


Ft Mill 27 Cedarhurst 21

Another upset in this competitive division. FM was WC and couldn’t beat IM the following week in NFC game.


USA 23 Willamette 21

USA eventually wins but this was the decisive game in the AFC.


Midway 24 Woodbine 22

I came close but a 4th down pass was perfectly played to my offensive call.


Carolina 20 Canton 14

These teams were close all year.

“Luck never gives, it only lends.”

Swedish Proverb

        Let’s look at a game where one team was unlucky at the end but the result came out “right” for the winner: The classic 2 OT thriller between Houston and Ole Miss in 1976 is one of the best games in the 15 year history-and luck (or lack of it) did play a role. It was “really” played on October 18th, 2003. 

        Houston comes in at 11-3 and the AFC Division Champ (+9.5 point differential) while Ole Miss finished second at 10-4 (+3.2) so Houston (see below) has about a 9.5 home field advantage.  This is not so out of whack given the scores during the regular season.  In Week 3 Houston went to Ole Miss and won 30-24; in Week 8 Ole Miss went to Houston and lost 27-16.  So in two games Houston had a 17 point margin or 8.5 per game.  This game would be different.

        With Joe Theismann (ugh) at the helm Ole Miss scored on their first drive with Walter Payton’s 9 yard TD.  With Kenny Anderson at the helm for Houston their drive stalled out.  Later in the period Cullen Bryant’s punt return of 17 set up the Oilers.  They capitalize and Carmichael scored for 7-7 tie. 

        In the 2nd Theismann was intercepted at the Houston 10! Regardless they later get the ball back and Payton’s stunning 58 yard run makes it 14-7. 

        In the 3rd, Houston takes the opening kickoff and scores as Anderson hits 4 passes in a row and Lawrence McCutcheon’s TD makes it 14-14. With 1:32 left Theismann hits Joiner for 32 which set up a 19 yard John Cappelletti TD and a 21-14 lead.

        At 12:28 of the 4th, Theismann is sacked for -9 by Gary Burley to take the Rebs out of field goal range.  Taking over on their own 18, Houston gets some big running and a clutch 3rd and 1 Anderson to Gant 29 yard pass play.  With 7:26 Anderson has his 2nd TD pass this time to Ken Burrough for 8 yards.  XP is good so 21-21. 

        OM gets a huge Duriel Harris 41 yard return.  Payton and Cappelletti combine for 22 yards.  Facing 3rd and 11 at the Houston 40 Theismann goes back to pass again and is sacked, again, by Burley.  Houston has to punt.  Ole Miss moves to the Houston 47 and faces 3rd and 2 with 0:55.  Yep you got it.  Joe is back to pass and sacked again this time by Barnes!

        4th and 5 at the 50 Houston rushes and BLOCKS THE PUNT!  Houston has it at the OM 44 with 39 seconds.  Anderson to William White for 17!  27 seconds but Anderson sacked by Harvey Martin back to the 33.  Incomplete.  Incomplete.  4th and 16 from the 33 on comes reliable K Jim Bakken.  Nope.  Bad luck. No good.  OT.

        Sadly the pbp is truncated but they play one quarter to no avail.  Houston then takes it in OT #2 and gets a long drive culminating in Bakken’s 21 yard FG and a thrilling 3 point win.

Other playoff games of note:

1971: Hudson Valley 55 vs. Waikiki 17

1972: San Antonio 47 vs. Rhinelander 37

1977: Houston 35 vs. Ole Miss 10 (No OT this time)

        E Texas 30 vs. New York 20 (NY was vacant)

1978: Houston 32 Woodbine 0 (First playoff shutout)

        New York 42 East Texas 34 (NY had a coach)

1981: Houston 29 vs. Hudson Valley 29 (an upset)

1982: Cedarhurst 31 vs. Ohio 27

        Gate City 21 vs. Cedarhurst 19

        Willamette 54 vs. Blacksburg 13

        Midway 41 vs. USA 17

1985: Ohio 21 vs. Cedarhurst 20

UPSETS: Luck, Skill or Both?

“The only thing about luck is that it will change.”

Bret Harte, American Author (1836-1902)

        I decided to find out how many upsets (luck or skill) have happened in our playoffs.  Surely we have had some but how can one tell.  I attempted in the previous section to give you a flavor of what games I picked out that looked “good”.  You can do a quick comparison of the games I selected a few days ago and those from today (February 11). 

        In this section I go about it a bit more objectively to try to find out who had the luck or skill to win a game that the numbers say was an upset.

        I developed several spreadsheets that charted the results of all playoff games during our 15 year history (117 games).  I then analyzed by road versus home (one form of upset) and then against a “spread”.  The spread margin was defined as the difference between the home minus road points per game margin (a net number) plus 3.0 (which is the usual added line for home field advantage).  I then looked at who should have won versus the HFA point number.  In theory, the team with the best point’s margin should win especially if at home (with our home field advantage built in except for the Super Bowl).  Please note that this is far as I got since the next step (figuring out who had strength of schedule advantage is too difficult and time consuming).  I used this method because a recent stats article was sent to me that indicated that the net of point’s margin has a correlation of .68.  Of course we all know in one game anything can happen that tilts the game to a team that might not have the talent: an inopportune fumble or INT – or a negative turnover margin, a lucky play (See Philly vs. Woodbine), or a defensive score. All of these things play a part in moving that .68 closer to 1.0 as we know.  Plus, coaching does make a difference especially in football games. 

        Nonetheless, I felt my method is a reasonable proxy to analyze our results versus picking them out.

        The table below shows the games, season net point’s difference, home advantage (+3), the average scores per game and the difference to the spread. 



Point Diff

Home Adv


Visitor Pts

Home Pts


Vs Spread


Wild Card



























Super Bowl


















        As you can see from this (hopefully) interesting chart our best games are the conference round.  There is a narrow point differential and the final score difference is the lowest.  Overall 24% of our games have been won by the “dog”.  I found that % to be surprising for a lot of reasons.  My expectation when I started this was around 10-15% versus almost 25%. As you can see each category of game has about the same upset %.  I would note that although I was somewhat surprised about the lack of close games in our Super Bowl I shouldn’t have been.  Why? I looked at the NFL Super Bowl during the same period.  The best games in 15 years were 1978 (Pitt 35 Dallas 31) and 1981 (SF 26 Cincy 21).  I didn’t think another close game (1972: Miami 14 Washington 7) was really in doubt.  The average number of points and margin was the winners 27.7 and the losers 13.1!  Although that is about 12% less in scoring but the margin of 14.6 is almost double ours!

Thinking back on Maggie Thatcher’s quote of deserving the outcome I looked at the biggest games-luck/skill wise- in these categories.  Here are the results.

Wild Card Games

        We have had Wild Card games since our 1980 expansion season.  Thus, there are only 12 to analyze. Of our 3 upsets, 2 came in the first year and the last one in 1985.

        Upsets (dog margin in parens)

        80 Cedarhurst (-4.7) at Cancun: 21 to 15 final score.

        80 Woodbine (-2.6) at Willamette: 30-14

        85 Blacksburg (-13.7) at Wichita: 38-34

        Blacksburg was a huge dog due to a point’s margin of -5.4 (which makes this a pretty big upset).

Division Games

        Overall there are 60 of these or 4 match ups per year.  Since these include at least 12 wild cards the margins are higher than the wild card (makes sense since the #1 seed plays #4). 

        15 games have been upsets.  I won’t name them all here but here are four “really big” (as Ed Sullivan used to say) ones since they involve the road team favorites playing a home dog.

        Road Winners and Losers

        72 New York at Miami Valley (-6.4): NY 30-22

        77 Houston at Ole Miss (-5.9): Houston 35-10

        78 East Texas at New York (-1.5): New York 42-34

        83 Woodbine at Midway (-1.4): Midway 27-10

        Biggest Division Upset

        73 Ft Lauderdale (-13.2) at Gate City: Ft Lauderdale 31-19

        Best Upset Teams

        Iron Mountain: 3 wins

        Nashua: 2 wins

Conference Championships

        I always feel that these games (real or simulation) are the best and our numbers bear that out. Here are some highlights.

        Road Winners and Losers

        Only 3 games of the 60 to report here!

        71 New York at Hudson Valley (-1.2): NY wins 36-16

        77 Nashua at Cancun (-5.5): Nashua wins 44-20

        81 Ft. Mill at Iron Mountain (-13.0): IM wins 35-17

        Upsets (Not including IM above game)

        71 Cedarhurst (-11.1) at Duluth 37-14

        72 Cedarhurst (-9.0) at Ft Lauderdale 23-10

        73 Ft Lauderdale (-6.1) at Iron Mountain 37-34

        84 Midway (-4.8) at Woodbine 24-22 (see Anderson comment!)

        85 Willamette (-4.1) at Midway 13-3      

        Biggest Division Upset

        Lots of candidates but looking at the numbers the widest margin is the Cedarhurst versus Duluth game oddly happening in our first season.  Please notice that Tom’s Cedarhurst club show up twice on this list and in both years won the championship.  As Maggie said…..


        I noted earlier that we had a run or routs in our games but there have been several upsets and our best game ever occurred in the SB.

        The Four Super Bowl Upsets

        1972: Cedarhurst (-14.9) vs. Willamette: Cedarhurst 38-17

        1977: Nashua (-4.6) at Houston: 20-17

        1978: Iron Mountain (-8.3) at Houston: 43-7

1981: Iron Mountain (-16.0) at East Texas: 23-20

The Best Super Bowl Games (i.e. the “closest” to spread)

1971: New York (-1.6) versus Cedarhurst: Cedarhurst 20-10

1982: Gate City (-0.5) versus Willamette: 20-13

Clearly our 1982 game is the best one for the closeness of the line and the final score.  Both teams had outstanding seasons at 15-1.  Both teams were their conference #1 seeds for the tournament.  Check out the closeness of point margin: Gate City 22.1 and Willamette 22.6.  Gate City’s only loss came at the hands of the Willamette team (on the road they lost 27-17).  Willamette lost, in some dripping irony, to Cedarhurst also on the road in a heavy rain by 22-20.

Here are some highlights (actual game played on October 9, 2007).

QB for Gate City is Dan Fouts.  He gets hot late in the first quarter and finds Henry Marshall for 3 big pass plays.  The drive succeeds at 2:35 to go with Franco Harris scoring from 2 yards out. 

Willamette, QB is Joe Montana, escapes a possible turnover on a Montana recovery but still has to punt.  From the 35, GC throws an INT. This leads to points and a 26 yard Anderson FG at 12:55 in the 2nd quarter.  Later on the Wolves drive to the Gate City 12 and Anderson kicks a FG for a 7-6 deficit. 

      Late in the first half, Gate City starts from their 45.  Franco Harris runs tough and it culminates in a Leahy FG for 7-6 lead at the half. 

      At 11:36 of the 3rd Montana throws an INT to Jeff Fisher and Gate City is set up at the Wolves 13 yard line.  3rd and 5 from the 8 incomplete.  From the 28, bad luck, Leahy MISSES! 

      Willamette a long drive featuring Freeman McNeil.  On 3rd and 5 at the GC 42, the late Joe Delaney takes a pitch outside and gets 13.  Later at 3rd and 1 from the 20 at 6:11 of the 3rd, McNeil is stuffed -1.  FG Anderson from the 22: oh the bad luck comes again-NO GOOD! 

      Does Gate City feel lucky now? Yes!  A drive goes from the 22 down to the Wolves 6 as we start the 4th.  This time from 21 out Leahy does not miss and Gate City leads 13-6! There is 14:09 left.

        Montana now senses the moment and hits 5 in a row to the Gate City 9.  Now two incompletes sets up 3rd and 9 at the 9 with 11:14 to go.  Montana to TE Casper 9 yard TD and with the XP it is 13-13.

        At 7:30 the Wolves escape again as McNeil fumbles but recovered.  A couple of plays later Montana to Watson 20 yard TD and it is now 20-13. 

        Fouts is not done but now the clock is running out at 3:28.  Facing 4th and inches at their own 23, Pete Johnson gets 8!  Now Fouts to Marshall for 15!  Disaster-or bad luck-Fouts is sacked and fumbles.

        Gate City gets the ball back with 7 seconds.  Since they are on their 20 they go long and S Mark Murphy intercepts. 

        This was a great game. 

Coaches Standings:

Each year I have updated the coach’s ledger for the originals plus Carl who is from Year 2.

1.   Allen Nelson 151-75-0

2.   Jesse Elicker 141-85-0

3.   Calvin Opheim 131-94-1

4.   Carl Phillips 118-92-2

5.   Jay Lowrey 118-107-1

6.   Tom Meade 117-109


Predictions for 1986 from a “Mystery Guest”

        In some of these previews I present “mystery mocks” done by coaches who wish to remain anonymous. Similarly I got some predictions from a coach who will remain behind the curtain.  Here are his predictions solely edited by me so if there is an error it is mine.


        East: Philadelphia has a good OL; Dickerson, and impact players on defense.

        Central: A weaker division and Ft Mill will rebound from a 1-15 season to have a huge turnaround. Does a number one pick help? Yes! Please thank Jim Kelly.

        West: Through the 80’s this division has been pretty weak but not in 1986.  Canton is thin on depth but should win the division back.


        East: Willamette has a tradition of excellence and should win again.  Wichita is coming on (see upset loss in 1985 playoffs) and is the “dark horse”.

        Central: Now a strong division from top to bottom similar to their NFC West cousins.  The Blacksburg club could be the CGFL’s best: like father like son?

        West: Eastern has made all the right moves and their draft picks indicate “going for it”.  However, Mr. Anonymous picks Houston to again be division champ. This won’t be the year of the Tiger in Woodbine and Midway is a few marbles short (my comment). 


NFC Wild Cards are New Jersey and pick one between Ohio, Carolina and Baltimore

AFC Wild Cards are Eastern and Wichita but Birmingham could surprise. 

Super Bowl

Philadelphia versus Blacksburg with no winner selected! This would be interesting and I say to will: watch out for that Hail Mary lucky pass!

Bonus Prediction

        QB Gale Gilbert was in our recent draft.  He had his NFL debut in 1984 and had starred at Cal during his college career.  I predict his wife/he will have a son.  He will grow up and be a Texas High School star at QB just like the old man.  I predict his son will be summoned-unexpectedly-in the National Championship game and be asked to try and win for the Longhorns.  He will look bad then get stabilized and be better.  Sadly the team fails.  Gilbert’s future looks bright. I predict on October 16, 2010 his team will be undefeated in the morning but had a “1” in the L column  after coming to Lincoln.  (They were so lucky that 1 second got put back on the clock!)

The Central Escalator

        When we lived in Hong Kong virtually every Sunday night we would tumble (almost literally) down the mountain to a small area in Central called Lan Kwai Fong.  Here was the California Tower which housed on the ground floor the “California” burger bar and restaurant.  The kids loved it and Mrs Expat (the maid is off on Sunday) did not have to explore the kitchen.  In those days if you walked “west” you quickly ran out of this small enclave of restaurants, bars and nightclubs.  Not today.  This area west of Lan Kwai Fong is known as “SoHo” (like New York City) and is home to a variety of fantastic restaurants and upscale shops.  My favorite place is Las Pampas which specializes in Argentine steak.  If you go please reserve in advance! 

        One of the new features that has definitely contributed to the development of this entire area is the Central Escalator.  That’s right: a escalator from the base of Central up the mountain!  The proposal came into being in 1987 and was originally designed to ease congestion.  Like many government projections that hasn’t turned out and another commission suggested in 1996 that the escalator was a “White Elephant”.  Maybe so but in the 20 years since we lived there the growth has been explosive and I contend it is a direct result of the CE. 

        Here is a picture:

        You can see how steep it is going up and with the stairs to the right.

        Elgin Street is one of my favorites with some great restaurants (Asian and Western) and here is the entrance:

And a final-and very famous- word on being lucky ……or not….

“This here’s a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and it can blow your head clean off.  Now you must ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well do you, punk?”

Clint Eastwood

“Dirty Harry”

I am sure there won’t be that kind of drama in our 1986 season but I do hope all of you get lucky.

New Year’s Greetings

I got a card from an art gallery I have done business with in the past (google “Diana Francis Night Hunter” to see my Tiger painting).  Here is their greeting:

        2010 ushers in the Lunar New Year of the Golden Tiger

Celebrated as Assertive and Swift, a Focused and Strategic animal, the Tiger symbolizes Power, Optimism, and Seizes Opportunities

So on the 14th have a great Valentine’s Day and

Gong Xi Fa Cai: The Year of the Tiger (but sadly not the Woodbine version)!!!!!!!!!!

Answer to Quiz Question: Colleen Rooney is married to Wayne Rooney of Manchester United.  My best friend’s daughter is her publicist.  Paul: get it right?

The Prime Minister of Singapore made his annual pre-Chinese New Year address and, once again, urged people to make babies.  The population rate is in serious decline here.  Of course we have the scenario of the “Year of the Tiger” at play which he mentioned prominently?  Why?  Well as you see from the Year of the Tiger descriptions we are talking about a powerful and aggressive creature.  Chinese lore is that a child might take on those characteristics (so birth rates declined the last Tiger Year here by 7%).  But here is the best part.  Since Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day coincide on the 14th there should be a huge upsurge in marriages today in China, Singapore and HK.   However, there is a huge decline due to the Tiger Year.  As you can quickly see men believe that marrying will create a situation where the wife is in charge!  Truly weird because they should realize it makes no difference! 

And in simulation news the Woodbine Tigers have announced that Vince Ferragamo will start versus the Houston Oilers in the CGFL opener! 

Check out the salary report for the league.  It demonstrates why Phil Preston and I are on the “Rod Woodson Watch”.

Good luck! Jay Singapore February 14, 2010