What are England’s options without Harry Kane?

March 13, 2018

“It wasn’t just Spurs fans wincing at the sight of Harry Kane’s foot trapped underneath Asmir Begovic at the Vitality Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The World Cup is only three months away, and Gareth Southgate will have been devastated to see his star striker shake his head and trudge off the pitch, defeated by a third ankle injury in two seasons. …” Telegraph


Great Goals That Weren’t: Diego Maradona vs England (1980)

February 22, 2018

“Barry Davies said it best. Four minutes after Diego Maradona had broken the deadlock by punching the ball into England’s net in the quarter-finals of the 1986 World Cup, the Argentinian genius collected possession in his own half, dribbled past five opponents (including goalkeeper Peter Shilton) and gave his country a 2-0 lead which would prove unassailable. …” The Set Pieces (Video)

Aston Villa vs Birmingham City and the story of a football rivalry characterised by its glorious, gleeful pettiness

February 9, 2018

“Not many football fans outside Birmingham will have heard of Paul Tait, who enjoyed a long and yet largely undistinguished career in some of the more inglorious reaches of the Football League. And indeed, if you have heard of him at all, it is for one of his two notable claims to fame. In the 103rd minute of the Auto Windscreens Shield final in April 1995, Tait scored a glancing header to win the game for Birmingham against Carlisle: the first ever golden goal scored at Wembley Stadium. …” Independent (Video)


Different Class: Football, fashion and funk – the story of Laurie Cunningham

February 4, 2018

“English football history is not short of players who never fulfilled their potential – but few careers were so starkly affected by the world around them as Laurie Cunningham’s. Different Class opens with Enoch Powell’s infamous 1968 ‘rivers of blood’ speech decrying Commonwealth immigration – and you get much deeper political analysis than in most footballer biographies. Dermot Kavanagh, the sports picture editor at the Sunday Times, is even more interested in the north London fashion and music trends of the time – so there are eight pages dedicated to the ‘Gatsby Look’ (as modelled on the cover), and we learn the best place to buy speakers in late 1970s Islington. …” WSC, amazon


The Last Cup of Sorrow – the story of the Anglo-Italian Cup

January 30, 2018

“MATTHEW CRIST remembers a short-lived and short-loved relic of the 60s which was reincarnated for football’s boom time in the 90s but eventually fell foul of supporter apathy and violence both on and off the pitch. The arrival of the 1990s provided something of a watershed for English football. The national side had shone at Italia ‘90, club sides were once again able to compete in Europe after a five-year ban, and Channel 4’s live Italian football coverage beamed a host of new names and faces into our living rooms for the first time; not to mention the introduction of the Premier League, which promised us a whole new ball game. …” Football Pink


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


VAR: Willian ‘dive’, Iheanacho goal – how does the system work?

January 19, 2018

“The video assistant referee (VAR) trial in competitive English football has faced its first major controversy. The decision not to overturn Willian’s yellow card for diving and award a penalty to Chelsea in their FA Cup third-round replay against Norwich on Wednesday, led to Match of the Day pundit Alan Shearer calling the system a ‘shambles’. Just 24 hours earlier, the first VAR goal had been awarded – when Leicester’s Kelechi Iheanacho’s offside strike was overturned 67 seconds after originally being ruled out in their FA Cup win over Fleetwood. Then, the reaction was broadly positive. …” BBC (Video)