Ireland and Poland renew friendship that has brought fond memories for blazers

March 28, 2015

“Jackie Carey is said to have written in his official report to the FAI on the game between Ireland and Poland in Katowice in May 1958 that it was ‘fitting that our association should be the first to resume international games with this predominantly Catholic country.’ This curious observation raises a couple of points. The first is: What on earth was the team ‘manager’ on about? The Poles had been back in international football for a decade by the time the game took place and their first post-war attempt to qualify for a World Cup, which included a 2-1 win over the Soviet Union in front of 93,000 in the same stadium where Ireland played, had only ended the previous year with a play-off defeat by the same opponents in ‘neutral’ East Germany.” Irish Times


Eight Bells: Football on Television

March 28, 2015

“1. Football at the Arsenal (1937). Exactly how much effort the BBC put into television during the medium’s infant years is a moot point. Take the opening day of their regular service, on Monday, 2 November 1936. At 3pm, the curtain went up for pompous welcoming speeches by various BBC grandees, blowhards and windbags. After a whopping 25 minutes of programming, the station paused for its first interval. Another 35 minutes and it was time for closedown, followed by large G&Ts all round, then a siesta. Thanks, BBC, you pissed-up shower of indolent toffs!” The Blizzard


Euro 2016: Crucial week for UK & Ireland teams on road to France

March 24, 2015

“England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland all return to international action this week – and all have realistic hopes of qualifying for Euro 2016. The five nations have never qualified for the same major international tournament before but, after a four-month break, they can all enhance their prospects of reaching next summer’s tournament in France with positive results. Why is there such hope? For a start, the finals has been expanded from 16 to 24 teams. But a solid start from all five sides to their qualification groups has also offered encouragement. Could it finally be that Wales and Northern Ireland play in their first European Championship? Can Scotland compete in a first major tournament since 1998? This week’s matches will represent the midway point in qualifying, so just how realistic is the prospect of all five making it through to France?” BBC


Golden goal: Paolo Di Canio for West Ham v Wimbledon (2000)

March 22, 2015

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“If you came here looking for a brief recap of Paul Weiland’s 2006 film, Sixty Six, then you are in luck. The story of a Jewish boy whose Shabbos spirit was dampened by his barmitzvah tragically falling on the same day as the World Cup final between England and West Germany in 1966 (spoiler alert: England win in controversial circumstances) was a niche topic that was met with mixed reviews, but it struck a resounding chord with me.” Guardian (Video)


The British influence on the Bernabeu – where it all began

March 16, 2015

“Real Madrid are, without doubt, a club with the most illustrious of histories in world football. Nothing confirms this more than the capturing of the long-coveted 10th European title in their history in 2014, lauded amongst Madridistas as ‘La Decima’. But, where do we come in all this? How can we savour just a small slice of this wonderful story for ourselves? Despite being the most Spanish of clubs, Los Blancos have had numerous British players litter their amazing history. Ask any knowledgeable football fan to name some of those players and they will rightly list names including David Beckham, Michael Owen, Gareth Bale and, possibly, Laurie Cunningham. While there have been varying degrees of success amongst those who have left these shores, Bale – the most recent export – has had a prolific first season and a half at the Bernabeu, including scoring the decisive goal helping to secure La Decima in Lisbon in 2014.” Football Pink


When they mattered: Ipswich Town’s brighter days

March 16, 2015

“Ah, Ipswich! Famous for, well, not much. Being the 42nd largest urban area in the UK? Birthplace of Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellor Thomas Wolsey, extreme metal band Cradle of Filth vocalist Dani Filth, and 1980s pop prancer Nik Kershaw? Home of the world’s first commercially powered lawnmower, built in 1902? Winner of the Cleanest Town in England award in 2007?” Soccer Gods (Video)


The four levels of local derby significance, from must-watch to objectively terrible

March 6, 2015

“For the second time in a week, rivals Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion are set for a West Midlands Derby, with Saturday’s FA Cup quarterfinal at Villa Park coming on the heels of Tuesday’s Premier League match in Birmingham. Surprisingly for what was effectively a ‘relegation six-pointer’ and a local derby, Villa’s home ground was not even close to being full in midweek. Local rivalries, with their often unique histories of animus, usually carry an added level of intrigue that separate them from other fixtures on the calendar, but as we saw while West Brom came up short in the dying seconds on Tuesday (thanks, Ben Foster!), not all derbies are created equal.” Soccer Gods


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