CLOTH CAP nostalgia is a popular pastime among football folk as inner cities continue to be purged of their old football stadiums, replaced by smart, antiseptic structures of white steel and plastic. Horse manure no longer squelches underfoot as fans tramp through the streets and past red brick houses, the mildly eccentric fan with a transistor radio clamped to his ear has long gone. Like … Continue reading Goodison Park – where games for the people are still played
TODAY, players’ nicknames lack imagination. There are no “Black pearls”, “Nijinskys”, “Maradonas of the Carpathians” or “Ghosts” (for the uninitiated, these players were: Eusebio, Colin Bell, Georgi Hagi and John White). In the 1960s, Alex Young of Everton was dubbed “The Golden Vision” – a near-celestial nickname. It was Tottenham Hotspur’s double-winning captain, Danny Blanchflower, that coined the phrase in tribute to Young. Ironically, it … Continue reading Everton and the “golden vision”
FOR YEARS, people have been selling non-league football as a civilised world, “real football for real people”, supported by the theory that this level of the game is one big happy family, a community motivated by the enjoyment of football in a malice-free environment. Just days after England’s players were subjected to racist comments and chanting in Bulgaria, Haringey Borough’s football team walked-off the pitch … Continue reading Haringey v Yeovil shows non-league has a racism problem
WHEN football people usually talk about “turnaround” it usually refers to on-pitch performance and perhaps a fight against relegation. In the case of AC Milan, the club that was once the most powerful in Europe is in danger of falling even further away from financial competitiveness. AC Milan, despite their vast support and their place in football’s pantheon, continue to be a heavyweight also-ran, struggling … Continue reading AC Milan remain on the sick list
WE ALL like to think that football is more than just 22-28 young men kicking an object around an oblong field – if only because it elevates our interest beyond obsession to something that is more deep and meaningful! Journalists fantasise, marketing and advertising folk commercialise, romantics eulogise and academics intellectualise the importance of the game. Most of all, the people running, playing and promoting … Continue reading Dressing up in costumes, playing silly games: The football experience
IT is not easy to warm to some of today’s footballers, especially those that find it hard to resist conspicuous consumerism or consider that with enormous wealth comes permission to misbehave. That aside, in an age where many of the sins of the past are being addressed, racism, anti-semitism, homophobia, sexism and other isms are, rightly, no longer tolerated. Once again, football has let itself … Continue reading Racism and bigotry – the disease that won’t go away
DERBY COUNTY’s golden age was between 1971-75, during which time, they won two Football League championships during an incredible time for a club very few people would call “fashionable”. The teams that Brian Clough and Peter Taylor built created a legacy that no Derby side has been able to live up to. Derby had some excellent players in every department of their two title-winning team: Kevin … Continue reading Roy McFarland and Colin Todd, the best defensive duo of the 1970s?
BARCELONA are closing in on their target of € 1 billion in revenues by 2020, a figure that will create a new record for the football industry and place them ahead of their peer group. With their Camp Nou stadium redevelopment and a commitment to technology and youth development, Barca’s ambition is very clear. The only dark cloud on the horizon is the eventual loss … Continue reading Yes, Barcelona are going for the one
MANCHESTER UNITED are going through what amounts to something of an identity crisis. The astonishingly high standards set during the Ferguson era meant that whatever followed him would be an anti-climax, but the club has made a series of poor judgement calls, partly in desperation to return to winning ways – and that means league titles – and partly because of the need to maintain … Continue reading CV-risky jobs: Managing an elite club
WE live in extremely troubled times, a confusing era where it often feels as though the lunatics have been handed the keys to the asylum. Powerful leaders that appear to behave like Bond villains, placard-waving crowds baying for blood, the re-emergence of anti-semitism, that most symbolic of prejudices, and bull-necked extremists spouting faux-nationalism and militaristic sentiments. Although we’re more than a decade on from the … Continue reading Cancel games and take the teams off – the only solution to combat racism
THE mid-1960s through to the 1970s was Celtic’s time in Scotland, Jock Stein’s side winning almost everything on offer. Before the tide turned in Glasgow, Rangers completed a memorable treble in 1963-64. Ibrox Park regulars would have found it hard to believe if anyone had told them, in 1964, that the Gers would not be crowned Scottish champions again for 11 long years. The Rangers … Continue reading Rangers 1963-64 – a final flourish for the 60s
WHEN Arsenal won the “double” in 1970-71, they received very little praise for their considerable efforts. Were it not for Charlie George’s messianic fall to the ground in the FA Cup final, Arsenal would be remembered for merely grinding-out results and out-slugging Leeds United’s relentless machine. But the seeds of Arsenal’s triumph were sown in three seasons leading up to 1970-71. From 1953, when Arsenal … Continue reading Arsenal 1968-70 – Relative calm before the storm
THE WALLS are starting to close in a little on Phil Neville as he faces his first mini-crisis as manager of England’s Women. After a poor run of results, Neville reacted badly to increased scrutiny of his methods by the media, lashing out at journalists and developing something of a siege mentality. Neville, according to Suzanne Wrack of The Guardian, just cannot take criticism. “Sometimes, … Continue reading Neville, Neville, how could they know?