Harry Catterick – the straight man

October 24, 2014

“They say one of the key ingredients to many great double acts is the combination of different stage personas; every Morecambe needs his Wise, every Costello needs his Abbott, every Ball needs his Cannon – OK, maybe not that last one. The same principal can easily be applied to footballing spheres; striking partnerships with one flamboyant, crowd-pleasing protagonist and the other who does the hard, thankless yards or the managerial duo who often assume the good cop/bad cop roles for their players and the media – the obvious example being Peter Taylor’s straight man complimenting the often volatile, always charismatic Brian Clough.” The Football Pink


The Guardian view on Labour’s football reforms: Fans 1, Big Money 0

October 20, 2014

“As fans streamed into football grounds at the weekend for the resumption of domestic fixtures, it wasn’t hard to argue that the national sport is booming. The Premier League points to stadiums filled to 95%-plus capacity. A new round of TV deals will top the £5.5bn raised last time. Football is omnipresent, seeping into every corner of life. And yet a paradox grips the game. As player wages have rocketed, fans feel increasingly disenfranchised. Ticket prices in the top flight have risen 16% since 2011 alone, and a season ticket at Arsenal can now cost more than £2,000. Supporters are beginning to doubt whether they can afford their passion. They gaze longingly at Germany’s Bundesliga.” Guardian


Resting Sterling shows there is some common ground

October 17, 2014

“The most striking facet of the Hodgson Sterling kerfuffle of the last week is how what was essentially a matter between the two men was conflated into a club v country, England v Liverpool affair. Somewhere along the line, people seem to have confused the Sterling issue with Liverpool’s lingering displeasure at the handling of Daniel Sturridge by the England camp. The media must take a large part of the blame in this, being too quick to see it as an opportunity to stoke the enmity between Liverpool and Hodgson’s regime for the sake of some column inches and page views.” backpagefootball


Price of Football: 10 things we’ve learned from the BBC study

October 17, 2014

“BBC Sport’s fourth Price of Football study prompted a national debate about ticket prices, not to mention the sums clubs charge for pies and cups of tea. Football club owners, players, pundits and fans all had their say, but what did we learn? Here, we take a look at some of the key talking points.” BBC


Six recent things I’ve done for other people

October 10, 2014

“Here is a quick list of six recent articles I’ve had published elsewhere. From the language of football to the First World War, with a healthy dose of Southampton and some very personal, gonzo-style pieces for a new and brilliant site based in Ireland. I will be contributing more ‘flash features’ to The Upright, largely because I enjoy doing them and I really admire the bold editorial stance taken by the site, allowing people to write personal, reflective pieces that are not your standard sort of sports writing (but maybe should be more widely represented?). The False Nine piece is part of a series I want to develop for them, looking irreverently at the use of language in football.” Put Niels In Goal


Wayne Rooney can take England’s goals record but not the glory of his predecessors

October 8, 2014

“The Sir Bobby Charlton suite is the most luxurious room in the hotel currently occupied by England at St George’s Park albeit hardly the Ritz. The Gary Lineker pitch (No 11) is, contrary to expectation, more than two six-yard boxes. Yet nowhere at England’s training base is there any room or pitch named in tribute to Jimmy Greaves, the distinguished international lying third behind Lineker and Charlton as his country’s all-time goalscorer. Greaves’s photograph does hang alongside those of Lineker and Charlton on the walls of the corridors that Wayne Rooney will walk along on this morning, heading off out to Pitch 6, the main England practice area. Rooney will soon pass the fabled trio in the record books as well as the corridor, starting with Greaves possibly this week. His elevation will stir sadness as well as admiration. Rooney can equal the maths but not the history.” Telegraph . Henry Winter


Maracana Upset Brings Robson Breathing Space

October 6, 2014

“If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same… A Kipling today might have been tempted to add: You’ll be a successful football manager. For his words possess a sympathetic ring for England boss Bobby Robson. He took his battered, depleted England squad off to South America under round condemnation for the manner — rather than the size — of a 2-0 Wembley defeat by the Soviet Union. He returned with a balanced record of three games played, one won, one drawn and one lost. Respectable by any light. Doubly so in general, international opinion because of that 2-0 victory over Brazil in Rio de Janeiro. Yet critical echoes accompanied Robson and Co on the long flight home from Santiago because the ensuing displays and results against Uruguay and a dismal Chilean Olympic team didn’t match up to the expectations raised in Maracana.” In Bed With Maradona


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