61 fouls – the story of triumph over an ideology

IN NOVEMBER 1934, England met World Champions Italy in London in a game that has forever been known as “The Battle of Highbury”. This tag was no accident, however, for whatever was going to happen on that gloomy afternoon in North London, a football match was always going to become a theatre of war. On the road to war Europe in the 1930s was an … Continue reading 61 fouls – the story of triumph over an ideology

Valencia v Chelsea: Mild magnificence in the Mestalla

IT WAS one of those nights that explained why the UEFA Champions League can be so marvellously captivating. Valencia hosted Chelsea amid the soaring shabby chic splendour of the Mestalla stadium, 43,000 spectators perched on the precipice, bathed in the glow of floodlights sitting behind them, illuminating the orange, red and green cauldron below. No wonder they call it one of the most scary stadiums … Continue reading Valencia v Chelsea: Mild magnificence in the Mestalla

Flamengo and the act of the unlikely

THE UNLOVED FIFA Club World Cup now has its cast intact and in all probability, it will culminate in a final involving Liverpool and Flamengo. With a minute or two remaining of the Copa Libertadores final in Lima, you would not have put a single Sol on the Brazilians winning what had been a relatively underwhelming game. River Plate, the holders, were leading by their … Continue reading Flamengo and the act of the unlikely

The big six in a time of disruption

LIVERPOOL are top of the Premier by a substantial margin and the odds are they will win the Premier League for the first time and lift the Koppites’ first title since 1990. Six or seven years ago, that would have seemed a fairly unlikely scenario as Liverpool had – temporarily – moved out of the elite bracket. Jürgen Klopp was hired to bring the good … Continue reading The big six in a time of disruption

Why we all should treasure football’s urban roots

FOOTBALL is a sport that flourished during the industrial revolution, especially the professional game, so naturally, stadiums sprung up in red-bricked back streets, on the fringes of mill towns and close to mines, factories and railways. The vision of the working class community trudging to the game, flat caps screwed onto heads, turned-up collar and woollen scarf protecting the supporters from the elements, is one … Continue reading Why we all should treasure football’s urban roots

Opium for the masses – the cost of Premier addiction

IF football is a supply and demand industry in England, then on first glance it appears to be working. Crowds in the Premier League are at their highest level since the 1950s and some clubs have waiting lists for season tickets that stretch back years and years. True, there is an argument that “modern football” is pricing people, notably the traditional working-class out of the … Continue reading Opium for the masses – the cost of Premier addiction

Tottenham’s frustration forces a change of ethos

TOTTENHAM Hotspur were supposed to be different, a club that didn’t follow the zeitgeist of football as a rich-man’s plaything. Spurs were committed to developing players, providing the hub of the Southgate project, and they resisted the temptation of throwing money around. They had also kept faith with a coveted manager that was popular, played football in keeping with the club’s rich heritage of purist … Continue reading Tottenham’s frustration forces a change of ethos

Manchester City’s “decade of hard work” closes the gap

MANCHESTER CITY’s historic 2018-19 season has not only been reflected in a trophy-packed boardroom, it has helped to deliver record revenues for the treble-winning Cityzens. City’s revenues totalled £ 535 million, the second successive season in which the club broke the half billion mark. In 2018-19, revenues rose by 7% while expenses dropped by 18%.  City generated a profit of £ 10.1 million, just short … Continue reading Manchester City’s “decade of hard work” closes the gap

Manchester United’s malaise hits the bank balance

SIX YEARS on from the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United have become rich under-achievers. After all, this is the world’s wealthiest club bar one or two, with one billion fans but they are absent from the competition that was created for their like – the UEFA Champions League. United have released their first quarter results this week and although their revenues are more … Continue reading Manchester United’s malaise hits the bank balance

Gods in sky blue – the 1930 Uruguayans

URUGUAY has long struggled to live up to its football heritage, but then any country of just  three and a half million people battles against huge odds to win major competitions, especially with far noisier and more acclaimed neighbours on their doorstep. Yet two Olympic titles and two World Cups, along with 15 Copa America titles, make Uruguay football’s most successful country in terms of … Continue reading Gods in sky blue – the 1930 Uruguayans

Will Leeds be the next member of the uber-rich?

IF ALL goes to plan, Leeds United should soon be benefitting from a big cash injection from Qatar Sports Investments (QSI), the people who have made Paris Saint-Germain one of Europe’s wealthiest and high-profile clubs. The news has had a mixed reception, Qatar’s human rights record has been pointed out, along with the morality of inflated investment in football as a tool to enhance reputations, … Continue reading Will Leeds be the next member of the uber-rich?

England’s 1,000 – it hasn’t always been grand

BBC RADIO FIVE has selected its all-time England XI and the results are, perhaps predictably, a little influenced by “presentism”. This is what makes the fun exercise of picking “best ever” teams somewhat flawed – the past is often so deeply buried that the merits of ancient players often get forgotten. You’ve also got to consider that different eras create contrasting styles of football and … Continue reading England’s 1,000 – it hasn’t always been grand

When Saturday Comes – why we should help the trailblazer

BACK in the 1980s, football was in a miserable place. Plagued by hooliganism, supporters taken for granted, falling crowds, a poor product on the pitch and dreadful spectating conditions. From catering to care, the industry was a second-rate pastime followed by people who were almost embarrassed to admit they watched football on a regular basis. What’s more the government didn’t like football and with each … Continue reading When Saturday Comes – why we should help the trailblazer