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…

Brimful of cash: Why the FA Cup is vital for non-league clubs

BELIEVE it or not, there are still many people who do not realise that local non-league clubs play in the same competition as Manchester United, Tottenham and Liverpool. The fact that a succession of qualifying rounds are over by late October, long before the game’s aristocracy even think about the prospect of new year cup-ties, only fuels the mild surprise that Ragbag Rovers from the … Continue reading Brimful of cash: Why the FA Cup is vital for non-league clubs

The Non-League 100: Peterborough United of the ’50s – perhaps the best?

IN the 1960-61 season, Peterborough United won the Football League fourth division in style, 28 victories from 46 games, 134 goals scored with centre forward Terry Bly netting 52. Peterborough were in their first season after being elected to the league with 35 votes, a total beaten only by Oldham Athletic who secured 39. Gateshead dropped out of the league after winning just 18. “Posh” … Continue reading The Non-League 100: Peterborough United of the ’50s – perhaps the best?

FA Cup – still important, but no longer the national focus

THE poor old FA Cup can’t win no matter who turns up in the final. We become all nostalgic about the days when “Association Football Football Challenge Cup Final” used to appear in diaries as an “Important Date”. We long for the time when the BBC and ITV began their coverage of the final almost at the crack of dawn and newspapers had four-page supplements … Continue reading FA Cup – still important, but no longer the national focus

Brocton v Deeping: “It’s time to put in practice what you’ve dreamed about”*

IT IS not often that a matchday starts with a brief encounter with two 1970s pop music icons, but bumping into Russell and Ron Mael, AKA Sparks, was how Game of the People’s trip to Brocton versus Deeping Rangers got underway. St. Pancras International is often a good place to do a bit of celebrity watching and as I walked through the station, I bumped … Continue reading Brocton v Deeping: “It’s time to put in practice what you’ve dreamed about”*