Big clubs devalue the FA Cup, because they can

AS USUAL, the FA Cup third round brought with it heated debate about the way Premier League clubs abuse the competition. If we are truly honest with ourselves, the FA Cup used to be so important because of a number of reasons, but these have largely become null and void in the modern game. Firstly, the FA Cup was the only game that the majority … Continue reading Big clubs devalue the FA Cup, because they can

Everton and Carlo Ancelotti – now the hard work begins

CARLO ANCELOTTI knew he wasn’t taking over a bulge bracket club when he agreed to join Everton, making him one of the most celebrated managers ever to walk into the Goodison Park hot-seat. At Anfield, in his first Merseyside side, the constantly raised eyebrow told you everything you needed to know: the three-times Champions League winner has a major task on his hands at Everton. … Continue reading Everton and Carlo Ancelotti – now the hard work begins

Despite the current era, Sexton’s Chelsea stand the test of time

IF Chelsea had not got off to a miserable start in 1969-70, they may well have gone much closer to winning the Football League instead of their first FA Cup. Not that the Cup was a consolation, because in 1970, it really meant something and for the Blues, it was their first ever FA Cup triumph. Until 2004-05, the team that overcame Leeds United over … Continue reading Despite the current era, Sexton’s Chelsea stand the test of time

The FA Cup: It all started with the Daily Mirror

THE FA CUP used to be VERY special. The final was listed as part of the social season in Letts diaries, a status that didn’t mean much to the man on the Highbury terrace, because “social calendar” meant the blazered types that turned up at major sporting events such as test matches, Ascot and Wimbledon without having too much interest in the sports themselves. The … Continue reading The FA Cup: It all started with the Daily Mirror

Haringey v Yeovil shows non-league has a racism problem

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

Forever blowing bubbles – West Ham’s mid-60s heroes

ON THE London Fenchurch Street railway line out to Essex there was a building that resembled a mill of some sort, alongside a canal. On the wall of this mill was scrawled, “West Ham United – World Cup winners 1966”. It may still be there today, but it’s doubtful given the amount of building and demolition that’s taken place in East London down the years. … Continue reading Forever blowing bubbles – West Ham’s mid-60s heroes

City and the dangerous pursuit of excellence

REMEMBER Leeds United in 1970? They were chasing a treble and ended with nothing. They finished in second place in the league, runners-up in the FA Cup final and lost in the “Battle of Britain” against Celtic over two legs in the European Cup semi-final. They were worn-out, heart-broken and stressed – above all, they were potless. Leeds had a relatively small squad with 12 … Continue reading City and the dangerous pursuit of excellence

When and where trophies are won

PRIOR to the 2018-19 season, the most successful Premier League team, in terms of domestic trophies won over the past decade, was Chelsea with eight wins. Just behind the Blues were the Manchester duo, City and United, with seven apiece. City have since drawn level with their League Cup victory earlier this season and in all probability, they will move ahead of Chelsea very soon. … Continue reading When and where trophies are won

March of the “amateurs”

A NOTE to the national media – football clubs that enter the FA Cup are not, mostly, “amateur” and they do pay their players hard cash. This oft-repeated and somewhat patronising term, used to describe non-league clubs when anyone wants to underline a story about the “butcher, baker, candlestick-maker” element of football outside the professional game, continues to be used when national media turn up … Continue reading March of the “amateurs”

London cooling? Not quite yet

IT MAY not be the most successful city across Europe, or the most productive in terms of league titles in the UK, but if you want to see top division action in the European Union’s capitals, London has the highest percentage of clubs among the leading leagues. There are six London clubs in the Premier League (Arsenal, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Tottenham and West Ham), … Continue reading London cooling? Not quite yet

When Hitchin first met “the little tin idol”

ON Sunday November 11, 2018, exactly 147 years after the club’s ancestors kicked-off the first FA Cup , Hitchin Town will play Solihull Moors in the first round of football’s oldest knockout competition. Hitchin Football Club, which dabbled with Rugby as well as Association, had been in existence since 1865 when the competition was inaugurated. A group of local worthies decided to form a football … Continue reading When Hitchin first met “the little tin idol”

FA Cup: Homage to the spot

AS EVER, a built-up game failed to deliver, but both Hitchin Town and Leatherhead left the field knowing they are still in the FA Cup and the prospect of a plum tie in round one was still possible. If Hitchin do end their 23-year wait for first round action, they may thank the heavens for the invention of the penalty spot. This blob of whitewash … Continue reading FA Cup: Homage to the spot

FA Cup: If only the public realised…

ASIDE from people who have an interest in non-league football, the FA Cup fourth qualifying round tie between Hitchin Town and Leatherhead will bypass most of the Hertfordshire market town of 35,000 or so people. Yet in a corner of Hitchin, actually in the heart of Hitchin, a cup-tie will take place that could, for the winners, open the door to fame and fortune – … Continue reading FA Cup: If only the public realised…