Why the ‘greatest footballer in the world’ is buried in an Egyptian war cemetery

January 30, 2018

“England 1 Scotland 5. Saturday, 31 March 1928. Wembley. Att: 80,868. The spartan, light-coloured gravestone looks like any other in Fayid War Cemetery. Just one of hundreds arranged into formal, regimented rows on an incongruous patch of land on the western shore of Egypt’s Great Bitter Lake. There, at the mid point of the Suez Canal, lie men who died after serving in the Second World War. Men such as Major AS Jackson. The conflict was over by the time Jackson was killed on 15 November 1946. His end came after he lost control of a truck near his base in the Suez Zone, suffering serious head injuries. The 41-year-old died before he reached hospital. …” The Set Pieces

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An Englishman Abroad

January 26, 2018

“Thirty years ago this summer, Gary Lineker came to the end of a highly successful first season with Barcelona. Signed from Everton after his exploits with England at the 1986 World Cup, where he won the Golden Boot, he was an instant hit at Camp Nou, scoring a match-winning hat-trick against Real Madrid in the Clásico and finishing his first season with 21 goals. …” The Blizzard


“And Smith must score” – the worst misses are the ones that truly mattered

November 21, 2017

“20 November ~ Right, let me do a quick mention of famous televised misses, to make it look as if I’ve seen them all, then we’ll move on to missed chances that mattered, because that’s all I know about. On the screen, nobody missed a more open goal than Ronny Rosenthal, who hit the bar, or Roger Davies of Derby, who went past the keeper at Stamford Bridge, then knocked the ball past the post as he staggered after it. They’re probably on a video with all the others, accompanied by a They Think It’s All Over-type soundtrack. …” WSC (Video)


Romania 4 Yugoslavia 6: World Cup qualifier, Ghencea Stadium, Bucharest, 13 November 1977

November 17, 2017

“In his interview with Dragan Stojković in Issue Two of The Blizzard, Andrew McKirdy asked, “Serbian and Yugoslavian football has a history of drama and highs and lows. Do you think this reflects the Serbian psyche and do you think this is true of you?” Stojković is an intelligent man and a good talker, but his answer missed the point. He spoke about bad organisation, poor leadership, a refusal to take responsibility and the lack of a professional mindset, but he didn’t touch the painful truth. The history of drama and highs and lows derives to a large extent from a confused national psyche that leads it simultaneously to overestimate itself and to have an inferiority complex. …” The Blizzard


The greatest Irish team that didn’t qualify for the World Cup

October 27, 2017

“It was the qualifying campaign for the 1982 World Cup, and Ireland had been drawn in what you could call a ‘tough’ group with the Netherlands, France, Belgium, and Cyprus. The world’s media (and even certain sections of the Irish media) gave the footballing minnows no chance of qualification, and to a certain degree, they were right. Ireland would not qualify, but it had very little to do with the perceived lack of quality. …” Football Pink


The Best Soccer Teams in History to Miss Out on Qualifying for the World Cup

October 8, 2017


France, 1994
“As World Cup qualification reaches its final stages, a number of major nations find themselves in danger of missing out on Russia 2018. As Argentina, the Netherlands, Chile and Ghana struggle to make it, and with reigning African champion Cameroon already eliminated, we look back at the most shocking failures to qualify in World Cup history. …” SI – Jonathan Wilson


The best World Cup format–that FIFA would never consider

December 8, 2016

world-cup-trophy-format-wilson
“The World Cup might grow to 40 teams, or it might wind up with 48. It might be eight groups of five or four groups of 10, or there might be 16 seeds and a straight 32-team knockout round to get to join them in the format we have now. Or it might be 16 groups of three. Either way, the endless gigantism stimulated by FIFA presidential elections, as candidates promise more and more nations that they, too, can play in a World Cup, means that the competition will be even more bloated, even more unwieldy by then. Of course, this is 2026 we’re talking about, so there’s a significant chance global political elections by then will mean that by then, as George Orwell foresaw, it’s just three teams: Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia.” SI – Jonathan Wilson