What has happened to England’s international support?

August 7, 2015

“Back in the 90s, when Britpop ruled the country, there was a charge of fantastic patriotism. Optimism was placed in a youthful, hopeful Tony Blair, my beloved Liverpool were embarking on a bout of abstinence-based detox of all things silver and support for England’s national team was riding the wave of an Italia 90 based revival. This often took ‘swarms’ (cough, cough) of Brits halfway across the world to watch their national team beat Macedonia, only to trek back again, and straight into work the next day. People, it was safe to say, were loving watching England.” backpagefootball

Phoenix from the flames: How do you resurrect a football club?

July 14, 2015

Bradford Park Avenue in action during a Division Three North match against Wrexham in 1955
“The lower reaches of English football are littered with clubs reborn from the ashes of previous incarnations. Maidstone, Bradford Park Avenue, Scarborough, Halifax, Chester, Darlington and Rushden & Diamonds are among those to have risen, phoenix-like, from the flames of their earlier demise. Hereford – responsible for one of the great FA Cup giant-killing acts, but wound up last December – are the latest former Football League club to begin the journey back from oblivion. Five months after they set alarm bells ringing – literally – when they were handed the keys to their ground, Hereford return home to Edgar Street on Saturday with a pre-season friendly against celebrated fan-owned non-league outfit FC United of Manchester.” BBC (Video)

The Ugly Game – How football lost its magic and what it could learn from the NFL

July 9, 2015

“Martin Calladine is a disillusioned football fan who is going over to the ugly game that is American football. On his way out he offers observations on the differences between the two sports in 20 loosely connected short essays. He is an intelligent consumer of the sports, rather than a business insider or supporter activist, and brings some interesting perspectives to bear on the current failings of football. But The Ugly Game is not even a wish list, let alone a manifesto for change. There is no rigour in the 
comparisons; he uses the Premier League, English football and football in general interchangeably. The hugely differing structures and contexts that surround the NFL and Premier League are ignored. Calladine has a desirable destination in mind but no means of direction towards it.” WSC

Piece for TheSecretFootballer.com: Five lessons the Premier League could learn from the NFL
“In the United States, you can buy almost anything. Anything that is but the Super Bowl. Because, remarkably, the National Football League (NFL) is a sport where the worst team still gets the first pick of the best players. A sport where the amount that clubs can spend is tightly controlled to prevent billionaires buying success. A sport where TV income is shared equally, where there’s no prize money for winning the Super Bowl and where smaller clubs can hold on to their star players. For the growing band of British NFL fans, then, the game offers not just an exhilarating sporting spectacle but a vivid reminder of where English football has gone wrong. Here’s five lessons – of many – that the Premier League could learn from the NFL …” The Ugly Game

amazon – The Ugly Game

Missing Lions: The true cost of English football’s class divide

July 5, 2015

Eton schoolboys gather to watch The Wall Game.
“Class and football is inseparable as far as England is concerned. No other nation outside of the British Isles seems to hold the same pretensions and stresses over the social strata that its footballers and football supporters belong to, or appear to belong to, as England does. Though the late-19th Century public schools may have moulded and codified its laws, and helped spread the sport across the world through the networks of the empire and enterprise, it is unquestionably the game of the working class. Urbanisation and industrialisation brought people together like never before to learn, play and grow football into a national pastime, and ultimately a cultural phenomenon in its own right. But where did all the public school boys go after the masses ran away with their rule book?” Squawka

From pitch to page – a brief account of the history of football fiction

July 2, 2015

“‘The author of the best books written about English culture since the War’… reads the blurb on the cover of John King’s landmark 1996 novel ‘The Football Factory’, a rampaging yarn about a gang of miscreant Chelsea supporters strutting their stuff around a succession of English cities and football stadiums and offering an uncompromising portrayal of the dark motivation of the archetypal English ‘hoolifan’. It’s a bold assessment of a bold novel, offered by King’s contemporary and fellow Jonathan Cape stablemate, Scottish novelist Irvine Welsh. The ‘Trainspotting’ author has himself occasionally wondered onto the football fiction turf, most notably in ‘Maribou Stork Nightmares’, when protagonist Roy Strang is assessed for his ‘casual’ credentials by a group of fellow Hibs supporters on a train to Motherwell.” backpagefootball

How Football Shaped The Clash’s Greatest Album

June 27, 2015

“In 1979 the Clash wrote and recorded London Calling, the double album that was their finest artistic statement. Not released in the U.S. until January 1980, it would be hailed 10 years later by Rolling Stone as ‘the album of the decade.’ When they started work on their masterpiece, the Clash were at a low point. Having dismissed their original manager, Bernie Rhodes, and his temporary successor, the group had no one to fall back on but themselves. And it was football, as much as their supremely able songwriting abilities, that pulled them into the mental form necessary for writing and recording the album.” 8 By 8

England face tall task to beat Slovenia’s goalkeeper Samir Handanovic

June 13, 2015

“Jan Oblak performed heroics when Benfica drew 0-0 away to Juventus in the second leg of the Europa League semi-final last season. He projects a confidence that makes him appear taller than his 6ft 1in. He secured a move to Atlético Madrid at the age of 21 as the long-term replacement to Thibaut Courtois and, although he has largely played second fiddle to Miguel Ángel Moyà this season, Oblak is widely regarded as one of the best young goalkeepers in the world. He even shares a surname with probably the greatest Slovenian footballer ever, Branko Oblak, but he is some way from becoming the first choice for his country and is unlikely to face England in their Euro 2016 qualifier in Ljubljana on Sunday. It’s a joke as old as international football itself: if we’re being kind to Josip Ilicic, Slovenia probably have three top-class players; two of them are goalkeepers.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


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