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

Ireland versus England – The quest for footballing approval

June 4, 2015

“Relationships can be tricky at the best of times. Even when they’re over feelings can remain, passions linger, doubts about whether breaking up was the right decision can cloud one’s judgement. The unhealthiest of relationships can provoke these reactions and much as we like to think we’ve moved on and we’re being the bigger person we still crave attention; a reaction from our former partner. Much of recent Irish history, and almost all of our football history has lived out this type of conflict with our spurned partners England. Identifying ourselves as our own strong, confident, distinct individual nation while also being constantly obsessed with either getting one over on the English (Euro 88!) or craving their attention and approval to give validation to our actions.” backpagefootball

Britain’s “other” national team: Ellan Vannin

June 2, 2015

“The four national teams of the United Kingdom are supposedly England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Each with its own FIFA affiliated side, these nations have spanned generations and produced some wonderful footballers, and in the case of England have even won the FIFA World Cup, triumphing by a margin of 4-2 over West Germany in 1966 – a fond memory to those who witnessed that historic match.” Football Pink

Football League season review: Watford and how it all worked out in the end

May 22, 2015

East Stand Dave Peters (2).jpg-pwrt2
“ASHLEY GREB leaves no stone unturned as he pores over Watford’s ever-eventful Championship promotion season, final day paradoxical feelings and a manager missing his lightsaber. Returning home from walking the dog – early on Monday morning – outside our expatriate abode stood two ambulances; lights still on, their engines still purring. With a headstrong schnauzer pulling on his lead, I froze. Gazing through the worm hole; our shared drive formed the backdrop as efficient medical professionals busied themselves, practically on autopilot. Fixated on the scene, I wracked my brain for the correct words to use. What should I ask? What could I even say? Emergencies of this ilk weren’t exactly what Sir Keith Joseph had us cover in German O level.” Football Pink

Talent Radar Player Rankings: Top 10 Young Forwards in 2014/15

May 16, 2015

“In the past two weeks, we’ve updated our Talent Radar player rankings in the Goalkeepers, Defenders and Midfielders section. We’re now left with this season’s final issue of the Forward Rankings. It’s common tendency that players playing up front attract the most attention, from both fans and clubs. Many of the names on this list will be the subject of transfer speculation in the coming months. We’re going to leave any kind of speculation surrounding these players out of this and give you an unbiased judgement of how the players have done this past season to let you know the reason for the hype around them.” Outside of the Boot

5 Premier League Clubs Stuck in Relegation Battle

May 12, 2015

“The moment that Chelsea wrapped up the Premier League title in England, interest switched to the race to the bottom. The grim reality of the world’s richest soccer league is that only Chelsea, Manchester City and possibly Arsenal had the players and the means to win it this season. Two-thirds of the rest of the clubs played in fear of relegation to the Championship, one league below.” NY Times

Póg Mo Goal Magazine – Issue 2 Pre-Order

May 3, 2015

“Póg Mo Goal is a new Irish football magazine focused on considered design and great quality writing from around the world. Issue 2 is now available for pre-order and will ship in a few weeks’ time. The magazine features writers, photographers and illustrators from Ireland and around the globe, including Hong Kong, USA, Brazil, Australia, The Netherlands, France, Italy and the UK. It includes Johnny Hynes of LFC magazine asking does style matter in football or is it just winning at all costs that counts. How Robbie Keane conquered America, the GAA’s ban on foreign games and famous games and events in the ‘Home of Irish Football’ Dalymount Park. David Villa’s brief cameo in the A League and the impact of the City Football group on the Australian domestic game. The Eritrean national team transplanted to the Dutch country-side. Rafael Esquer’s Studio Alfalfa reveal the inspiration behind the crest design of one of MLS’ newest franchises New York City FC. Typographer Sander Neijnens examines shirt number design. Specially commissioned pieces by illustrators Samuel Byrnes, Planning Unit, Geo Law, Ruben Gerard and more.” Póg Mo Goal

Why Newcastle United’s relegation should be a collective aspiration

May 3, 2015

“Newcastle United’s defeat to Leicester City taught us nothing we didn’t already know; they are a directionless football team with no redeeming qualities and, since the turn of the year, they have tumbled apathetically down the Premier League table. In one respect, they remain in control of their own destiny. Superficially they are well-placed to avoid relegation but, in all likelihood, they will have to rely on the ineptitude of those below them if they are to remain a Premier League side. Three games remain, but the chances of them picking up points from any of them seem remote.” Squawka

The Ibrox Disaster 1902 – A National Tragedy

May 3, 2015

“At half past one on Saturday, 5th April 1902, James Smith and John McLelland set off from the north of Glasgow for the big match, Scotland against England at Ibrox. After a hard working week, the football would be a welcome escape. John was the younger cousin of James’s wife, Elizabeth. He worked as a warehouse porter in the hat department of the wholesalers Arthur & Co. and at the age of 25, was still single and living in Duke Street in the east end of the city.” Football Pink

The persisting fall of English soccer’s Donald Sterling

April 29, 2015

“It would be an exaggeration to claim that for a few years, Wigan Athletic was English soccer’s favorite underdog tale. But it was certainly one of the nation’s favorite artificially-flavored upstarts. Dave Whelan was the kind of owner fans of small clubs fantasize about. Hartlepool, Grimsby, Exeter: they’d all have loved a man like him in charge. Because until he arrived, Wigan was smaller than even those microscopic specks on England’s soccer’s map.” Socccer Gods

Premier League and Football League: Ups and downs

April 27, 2015

“The top three teams qualify for the Champions League group stage, with the fourth-placed team entering the preceding play-off round. English clubs have three places in the Europa League – for the FA Cup winners, Capital One Cup winners and fifth-placed Premier League side.” BBC

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

“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

Tottenham never gets the fairy tale, but Pochettino, Eriksen and Kane are on the verge of rewriting that book

February 8, 2015

“We’ve all seen this terrible romantic comedy. Girl meets handsome, rich, charming guy and falls head over heels in love. Handsome charming guy turns out to be a raging douchenozzle. Through the pain of heartbreak, girl realizes that her real prince was her previously friend-zoned, not totally un-handsome buddy/neighbor/classmate with the heart of gold. Girl lives happily enough ever after. Meh. It’s always packaged as a fairy tale, but it’s bullshit. Unfortunately for fans of Tottenham Hotspur, they’re a bit like the girl in this movie: always getting a taste of the dream; always, eventually forced to settle for ‘good enough’.” Soccer Gods

Bojan: Stoke City’s Defense Against the Dark Arts

January 22, 2015

“No matter how accomplished, no matter how creative, a certain type of foreign player must answer a question when he crosses the English Channel. ‘Can you do it on a wet Tuesday night at Stoke?’ The fact that Spanish playmaker Bojan Krkic Perez is currently ‘doing it’ at Stoke—creating goals—tells us a lot about the state of English soccer. To explain: It is Stoke in this question and not, say, Newcastle or Aston Villa. Manager Tony Pulis led Stoke to the Premier League in 2008, but promotion didn’t mean Pulis suddenly had time for false nines and triple stepovers. Stoke had a strategy, and it worked.” 8by8

100 Best Young Players to Watch in 2015 | Midfielders 10 – 1

December 26, 2014

“Hakan Calhanoglu grew up in Mannheim of Germany, before moving on to Karlsruhe, Hamburg and Leverkusen while getting called up to the Turkish National team in 2013. An attacking midfielder by trade, Hakan’s style and elegance on the ball has seen him sought out by some of the world’s best. Mini-Analysis: Operating behind the striker or across the midfield, Calhanoglu’s style of play is easy on the eye. A mainstay in the Hamburg team that narrowly escaped relegation last season saw him bag 11 goals and assist 4 in 32 games.” Outside of the Boot

Analysis: Danny Welbeck’s Excellent Movement Hugely Beneficial for England

November 17, 2014

“Danny Welbeck continued his superb form for England by bagging another brace, this time against Slovenia. Incredibly, this now means he’s recorded five goals in his last four matches for the Three Lions. The subtle variations in movement by the Arsenal man proved to be the catalyst that allowed him, and his teammates, to achieve so much positive work. These movements included swift switches with Wayne Rooney (England’s left-sided centre forward) from his right-sided centre forward position, which worked well to ensure the Slovenian defence were kept busy.” Licence to Roam

Clyne, Callejon and Talisca get their chance at international level

November 17, 2014

England v Slovenia - EURO 2016 Qualifier
“In the aftermath of the World Cup, with national teams beginning a new, four-year cycle, there have been plenty of debutants for major nations recently. Here are three players who were hoping to earn their first caps this week and how they might influence the play of their respective national teams, should they become regulars.” ESPN – Michael Cox

Slovenia’s Srecko Katanec is back and still prickly before England game

November 14, 2014

“Gwangju, 2 June 2002. Slovenia were 1-0 down to Spain in their first ever World Cup match when, after 63 minutes, Srecko Katanec took off Zlatko Zahovic for Milenko Acimovic. What followed has become Slovenian football’s equivalent of the Zapruder footage, a clip replayed endlessly on television in search of a meaning. Zahovic walked from the pitch, slapped hands with Acimovic, and then, out of focus in the background, kicked out at a bottle of water. Somewhere in those three or four seconds, the first golden age of Slovenian football came to an end.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Checking In on Europe’s World Cup Heavyweights: What’s New in the Old World?

November 14, 2014

“… But guess what? We’ve got another international break on our hands, so there’s no club soccer until next weekend. And since it’s the last such intermission of the year, let’s check in with your favorite European World Cup squads as they’re about to put a bow on 2014.” Grantland

Vela, Tevez, crucial qualifiers headline 2014’s last international window

November 12, 2014

“The final international fixture window of 2014 features the long-awaited international return of some household names, crucial qualifiers on multiple continents and handfuls of intriguing friendlies. Here are 10 things to watch over the next week…” SI – Jonathan Wilson

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

The Oldest Footballer in England

October 3, 2014

“Meet Dickie Borthwick. He’s approaching 79, and still plays football. Beyond the immediate desire to want to kick around with him, this short film by Alex Knowles & James Callum focuses on a man who has been fortunate enough to share his whole life with the game. They made the film with the intent to dispel the myth that ‘old people are past it’ and instead introduce us to inspirational people with invaluable insight, exceptional passion, a never-ending supply of wonderful stories and a thirst for life that refuses to fade.” A Football Report (Video)

Brazil is having its ‘England’ moment

September 28, 2014

“This year was not the first time that England flopped in a World Cup in Brazil. The fall was even harder in 1950, when making its debut in the competition, England also failed to make it out of the group stage, this time going down 1-0 to United States, still one of the most remarkable results in World Cup history. Great winger Stanley Matthews was not selected for that game, and watched horrified from the stands. He was much more impressed by a trip to the newly built Maracana stadium to watch the hosts in action.” The World Game – Tim Vickery

Supporting Coventry City: An Emotional Investment

September 21, 2014

“The more out of hand the marriage between the Premier League and Sky has become, the more I’ve followed Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea et al with an acute sense of alienation. I’m captivated by Premier League football, but it feels distant and remote. If money is limitless and winning every game is a basic expectation, where, as a supporter, do you find joy and exultation? It all seems so routine, the hype machine so hollow and formulaic. I don’t believe in a hierarchy of fandom, but increasingly I feel that those of us following football outside of the Premier League’s top six or seven operate in a separate sphere, where a degree of perspective remains and regularly visiting football stadiums is still viable.” The Inside Left (Video)

Can Jack Wilshere profit for England where Gerrard and Henderson lost?

September 15, 2014

jack wilshere
“There is an unhelpful idealism about international football, or at least about the way England approach international football. Everybody has their favourite to promote, the key creator who cannot be left out, the grand scheme that will secure success, and the result is often a terrible mish-mash – a team designed, if not by committee, then certainly with so many voices at play that a manager’s thinking can become clouded.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Roy of the Rovers celebrates 60 years – football’s comic-book role model

September 8, 2014

“It is a phrase embedded in the game’s vernacular, a character from a bygone age and a team that, somehow, overcame the odds on a weekly basis. Sixty years ago Roy of the Rovers was first published as a comic strip – six decades since Roy Race’s golden locks and debonair charm first enraptured youngsters and adults alike to evoke dreams of glory and unlikely tales of sporting bravura. … Say the words Roy Race and Melchester Rovers to someone of a certain generation and the eyes mist up, a reflective pause follows before a wistful smile. To many those names represent childhood, escapism and sheer joy – the weekly ritual of buying a comic, reading in rapid time before poring over the same pages again and again until the next edition hit the shelves.” Guardian, Guardian: Roy of the Rovers and other classic comics return to newsstands

Wayne Rooney looks a source of slight sadness as his powers desert him

September 6, 2014

“Top-level footballers often tend to generate a very specific kind of emotion. In happier times this is a simple sense of joy at seeing them capering about in pursuit of a ball. Dwight Yorke for example – even in the later years when you half expected to look down and notice he was out there running around in a leotard and a pair of plimsolls – always managed to make the basic act of playing football seem unavoidably hilarious. Similarly, the sight of David Beckham scurrying about in an England shirt like a doomed, faithful cartoon horse tended to inspire above all a desire to burst into brave, hot husky tears of moon-faced joy.” Guardian

Idiot Ruins Game? Brief Interviews With Not-So-Hideous Pitch Invaders

September 4, 2014

“When you see someone running on the field during a sporting event, you probably think, That will never be me. Announcers shake their heads so vigorously it produces an audible rustling of their collars. The word ‘idiot’ gets tossed around a lot — ‘idiot on the field’ is often the phrase of choice. In fact, the Great American Idiot, Homer Simpson, ran onto the field once: The headline read ‘Idiot Ruins Game.’ It seems like there have been a lot of these idiots recently. There was Jordan Dunn, the man who took the free kick in West Ham’s opening match against Tottenham.” Grantland (Video)

The Racist, Homophobic, Xenophobic Text-Message Scandal Rocking English Football

August 24, 2014

“A few days ago, the contents of two letters sent to the English Football Association — detailing offensive text messages between Malcolm ‘Malky’ Mackay and Crystal Palace executive Iain Moody — hit the news. The inflammatory nature of the texts throws Crystal Palace’s already rocky season into a chaotic jumble and threatens the future employment prospects of Mackay and Moody. It is a ragged and roiling shit show. So, let’s talk about it.” Grantland

Match of the Day: 50 years of broadcasting celebration

August 21, 2014

Match of the Day’s five main presenters from 1964 to the present day
“The BBC will celebrate 50 years of its iconic football television show Match of the Day with a special programme on Friday at 22:35 BST on BBC One. Packed with classic archive material, it charts the evolution of football’s most famous programme and features new contributions from a host of footballing glitterati, including Jose Mourinho, Ryan Giggs, Thierry Henry, Gary Lineker, Wayne Rooney, Des Lynam and Alan Hansen. As part of the celebrations, legendary commentator Barry Davies will make a one-off special return for the Crystal Palace v West Ham match.” BBC

Premier League Preview: What now for Southampton after mass exodus?

August 13, 2014

“There is a danger that Southampton will come to stand as a fable for modern football: this is what happens if you dare to dream. Fly too close to the sun, start talking – even in private as Nicola Cortese, the former executive chairman apparently did – of qualifying for the Champions League, and your best players will be plucked away, leaving you to plummet to earth. Perhaps the money Southampton has raised from its summer of sales will be wisely reinvested, perhaps in five years the sense of panic this offseason has induced will seem absurd, but even if that is the case, there is a horrible feeling of loss. Clubs have held fire sales in the past, of course, offloading players to stay afloat after relegation, the departure of a sugar daddy or some other financial catastrophe.” SI

When the Circus Came To Nottingham

August 13, 2014

“We all remember where we were when the circus came to town. That is, when Sven-Göran Eriksson came to Notts County, his long Swedish overcoat swishing through the corridors of Meadow Lane, lured by the promise of cash that was never actually there. I was at a pre-season friendly in Arnold as Notts beat a local non-league team 7-0, with Chinese whispers buzzing around the huge crowd that stood below a beautiful summer sunset. The strangest month of our lives was becoming even more of an intoxicating dream. A few weeks earlier I’d become the editor of Notts County Mad, a club website and messageboard that held the same quirkiness of any other lower league forum. I wasn’t up to much, having spent the previous few months largely asleep after quitting sixth form because they seemed to expect that I might actually do the odd piece of work. When the former editor offered me the chance to take on the role I was pretty grateful for just having something to whittle away the hours.” In Bed With Maradina

The Premier League is back and so is its race problem

August 9, 2014

“Football in England has a race problem. And it’s not the one you’re probably thinking of. The recent high profile cases involving racial abuse on the pitch by Luis Suarez and John Terry were disturbing, and not handled impressively by the English FA and Premier League authorities, but such incidents are notable largely by their rarity. In the stands, there has been no replication of the vile behavior of some supporters in Italy and Spain that have led to stadium closures and (paltry) fines for racist chanting. English football’s race problem is in the dugout.” Fusion

Soccer in Oblivion

August 7, 2014

“The first cylinders of German chlorine gas were released on Allied soldiers during the Second Battle of Ypres, in northwestern Belgium, on April 22, 1915. The soldiers were Algerian and Moroccan, colonial forces fighting for France. The Germans — this is how sophisticated chemical weapons were in the first year of World War I — used the wind as their delivery mechanism; they simply opened several thousand containers of the poison and let the breeze convey it toward the enemy. When combined with water, chlorine gas turns to acid. If you inhale it, first you smell pineapple, then your lungs burn away from the inside. If it gets in your eyes — well, you can imagine. It’s heavier than air, so at Ypres a dense yellow fog of it settled in the French trenches. The soldiers crawled out onto the field to escape the gas. The field was being strafed with German machine gun fire.” Grantland

Sami Hyypia: ‘If you are tough that doesn’t mean you can’t play football’

August 7, 2014

“‘When you move somewhere it is important you get to know the area,’ Sami Hyypia says as he confirms that he recently visited the Lord Nelson Inn, a pub located near Brighton’s North Laine area renowned for serving locally brewed real ale. He was spotted there by a group of the town’s sports reporters and the hope for Hyypia is that they will largely be writing good things about him in the coming months. Appointed Brighton manager on a three-year contract in June, the spotlight well and truly falls on the towering, blond Finn on Saturday when his side take on Sheffield Wednesday at the Amex Stadium.” Guardian

World War One: Sporting stories of bravery recalled 100 years on

August 5, 2014

Heart of Midlothian started the 1914-1915 season with a 2-0 victory over Celtic after giving their all.
“They were the sporting stars of yesteryear. Captains, team-mates, local heroes. Many of them went from the playing field to the battlefields of World War One, never to return. Monday marks the 100th anniversary of Britain’s declaration of war on Germany. It was at 23:00 on 4 August 1914 that Britain entered into one of the costliest conflicts in history, and the fighting continued until 11 November 1918. Here, BBC Sport recalls some notable stories – from whole teams who joined the armed forces to a modern-day international inspired by his ancestors’ wartime deeds.” BBC

Hearts, the team that went to war for Britain
“On 4 August 1914, Britain declared war on Germany. Eleven days later a full house at Tynecastle cheered Heart of Midlothian to victory over Celtic, the defending champions beaten by the young pretenders of the Scottish game. War seemed a long way off on that summer’s afternoon; somewhere for a foreign field, not the football field.” Independent

The Post-Mortem: World Cup 2014 – England

July 21, 2014

“The Breakdown. This was not a tournament to remember for England. A miserly one point from three games was England’s lowest-ever return in a World Cup group stage and this was the first World Cup that England have been eliminated from at the group stage since 1958. Valiant defeat to Italy (2-1) gave way to a gut-wrenching late defeat to Uruguay (again, 2-1). So by the time Roy Hodgson’s team took to the field for their last game against Costa Rica, they were out – Los Ticos’ 1-0 win over Italy sealing England’s fate without a ball being kicked. Joe Hart was already back home sat on his settee while his ‘we all know it will go down to penalties’ adverts continued to run on our TV screens and Daniel Sturridge was back in time to replicate his own pre-tournament advert, order a six inch chicken teriyaki Subway, find a TV and watch the real teams contest the World Cup knockout stages. All in all, a pretty meek, dispiriting World Cup.” Just Football – England

Part I – Portugal, Part II – Italy, Part III – Ivory Coast, Part IV – Brazil, Part V – Spain

World Cup 2014: Tony Pulis – a Premier League manager in Brazil

July 19, 2014

“From watching how teams trained to seeing how they set up tactically, I learned a lot from my time in Brazil and it was a trip I will never forget. Plenty of players caught my eye too, although I did not go to the World Cup expecting to discover any amazing new talents. There just aren’t any unknown gems at major tournaments anymore. There were still some players I liked there that I didn’t know a lot about, however. For example, the Dutch side did well with a lot of young players who are still based in the Netherlands, which is not always the case with their international team. And there were players from some of the South American sides who are based in Spain who impressed me too.” BBC

Brazil’s World Cup Was Never Simple, Always Irresistible

July 19, 2014

“They had a soccer tournament, and the best team won. If only the 2014 World Cup in Brazil were as simple as that. Let’s look backward—before Germany’s extra-time victory over Argentina in the final, before the host country’s agonizing, indelible 7-1 loss in the semifinals, before the individual greatness of Lionel Messi, Miroslav Klose, James Rodríguez, Neymar Jr. and Tim Howard. Before 20,000 fans jammed Grant Park in Chicago to watch the U.S. team. Before Luis Suárez launched his infamous incisors. Let’s go back to the beginning, to the original idea: a World Cup in Brazil.” WSJ

Exeter City return to Brazil one hundred years after special trip

July 18, 2014

“It almost seems unthinkable that a century of samba football was borne out of a bunch of Devon boys, a misjudged skinny dip and a pair of knocked-out teeth. How Exeter City, who finished just five points outside the League Two relegation places in 2014, helped form the first ever Brazilian side is little known, to those in both South America or south-west England. But it all happened when, en route home from their 1914 pre-season tour of Argentina, the Grecians stopped off in Brazil, after Nottingham Forest and Southampton turned down requests to make the trip.” BBC

World Cup retrospective

July 17, 2014

“Well that was fun, wasn’t it? Previous World Cups have kind of come and gone from my consciousness: I was 8 for Italia ’90 and have very little recollection of it at all; I remember snatches from USA ’94, largely a grudging admiration for Taffarel; France ’98, a blur of blue and enormous jealousy that my sister was in Paris on a French exchange for the final; Japan and South Korea ’02, drunkenly going to first year university exams having watched games that started at 7, and manically cheering Senegal as my sweepstake team, especially after that win; and Germany ’10, revelling in that Spanish team. But, having started to write about football and, more importantly in many ways, become part of a community who talk and think about football, this is the first World Cup where I’ve really inhaled it, really been carried by the highs and lows of such a glorious celebration of football. So I thought I’d do a quick look-back. A good place to start would be the piece I did in The Football Pink: Issue 4 – The World Cup Edition, which was a group-by-group preview. And boy did I get some things wrong.” Put Niels In Goal

amazon: The Football Pink: Issue 4 – The World Cup Edition [Kindle Edition] $1.50, amazon: £0.97

World Cup 2014: BBC pundits pick their best moments in Brazil

July 17, 2014

“After 32 days, 64 games and 171 goals, there was only one winner. Germany are the new world champions after grabbing the glory at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The tournament will be remembered for its exciting games and spectacular goals but also some of the biggest shocks of recent times, with the hosts Brazil and defending champions Spain both suffering humiliating defeats. England, meanwhile, only lasted eight days and two games before being eliminated. BBC Sport’s TV and radio football presenters and pundits look back on the action and choose their best goal, best player and most memorable moment of the tournament, before considering how far away England are from being contenders.” BBC

2014 FIFA World Cup Awards: Best Player, Best Young Player, Best XI and many more

July 17, 2014

“With the World Cup drawn to a close, many are left disappointed while others celebrate their achievements. Germany won the World Cup, but many other individuals & teams left admirers in their wake. While FIFA gave out it’s individual honours with Messi the choice for Golden Ball particularly bewildering football enthusiasts. We at Outside of the Boot thought long & hard before deciding our choices which might just be a bit more fair & rational than FIFA’s choices! There are some surprises, and also occasions where the hipsters may not be pleased. Nevertheless, here are the best performers at the World Cup divided into Primary Awards, Talent Radar Awards and Secondary Awards.” Outside of the Boot

Die Größte Show Der Welt

July 17, 2014

“It’s staring at me, that wallchart. It’s a little bit frayed and crumpled now since the move back from Greece and after finding its way around Jesse’s sticky fingers and teething gums. Since Sunday, I haven’t been able to summon the requisite will to complete the final vacant space. The one that states that Germany beat Argentina, one-nil, AET. It’s the finality that daunts me; the knowledge that once complete it becomes a historical artefact, no more a tantalising map of an unknown future. All those games, all those goals, all those hours. Gone forever.” Dispatches From A Football Sofa

World Cup 2014: How might England line up for Russia 2018?

July 16, 2014

“As the World Cup drew to its conclusion amid the colour and splendour of the Maracana in Rio, England’s brief and undistinguished contribution to Brazil’s World Cup did not even merit a footnote. Blink and you would have missed them. Months of preparation amounted to defeats by Italy and Uruguay in the space of six days before England manager Roy Hodgson and his squad were making the plans for the flight home. When the story of Brazil 2014 is told, it will be a tale of ambitious attacking football, Luis Suarez’s bite and the World Cup semi-final carnage inflicted on the host in a 7-1 loss to Germany that will be revisited as long as the tournament is staged. England? Move along. Nothing to see here.” BBC