A CHIN-STROKING professor, trying to explain the typical extra-curricular activities of British people, once remarked that in any group of 100 men, around 50% spent much of their free time watching “association” football. He went on to explain that for many of these people, the game of football was, to a certain degree, the replacement for some of the conventional life-defining moments that people go … Continue reading The football condition: Devotion, delusion, distraction… deserving?
ACADEMICS somewhere in the world are probably debating right now whether football has replaced religion as a defining element of society. To some people, football is the prominent feature of their life, the opium that drags them away from the mundane. The importance of the game, to those who have little else to lift their lives, was highlighted in the press a year or so … Continue reading Manchester United, the religious argument
REAL MADRID completed a hat-trick of European Cup wins in 1958, but they had to work hard for the top prize in a gruelling final with AC Milan in Brussels. In doing so, Real also completed the double of domestic league title and European Cup for the second successive season. Nevertheless, football historians have always wondered if Real would still have been crowned champions of … Continue reading Europe’s Champions: 1957-58 Real Madrid
FOOTBALL fans consider the club stadium as an extension of their personal space. They go misty-eyed when they talk about the terraces they once stood on, the end of the ground they occupied and they stick very close to a long-established ritual of going to the match. The stadium is “home”, integral to the club’s image, identity and culture. Any attempt to relocate often meets … Continue reading New stadiums for old – reinventing a club
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
FOR THOSE of us accustomed to seeing Paris St. Germain galloping away with Ligue 1, the start to 2016-17 has been interesting. PSG, shorn of the charismatic Zlatan, have struggled to find their feet under Unai Emery and the current leaders are Nice. Although the team from the Cote D’Azur may be unfamiliar league leaders, there’s a very recognisable striker who is helping Le Aiglons … Continue reading Nice for Nice, but for how long?
HITCHIN TOWN and Weymouth lock horns this weekend, almost 40 years after the two clubs met in the FA Cup first round in a long-running saga that lasted four games. Such runs are a thing of the past as the endurance factor has been replaced by the “wham, bam, thank you ma’am” of the penalty shoot-out. Nevertheless, the quartet of games and the outcome remain … Continue reading The spirit of ’76 lives on for Hitchin and Weymouth
FIFA’s LATEST attempt at making the World Cup so huge that qualifying competitions will soon be rendered unnecessary could be the death knell for the one-time blue riband sporting event. The World Cup is already a diminished product, thanks to the politics, the rise of the UEFA Champions League and the obese format of 32 countries. But now the plan is for a 48-team competition, 300% larger than the classic … Continue reading 48 crash…FIFA pursue more quantity over quality
WARSAW is a city that is still haunted by the past – in many ways. Arguably no other city suffered as much as Poland’s capital during World War Two and around 80% of its buildings lay in ruins in 1945. An astonishing 90% of Poland’s Jews were killed in the holocaust – some three million people. In fact, Poland lost 20% of its entire population … Continue reading Warszawa – a long way from low
AFTER a disappointing week in Fishponds Road, Hitchin couldn’t have asked for a better chance to re-engage with their public. It was, after all, “youth day” at the club – one of the laudable initiatives the club has being running for the past few years in order to connect with the broader community. There were queues in Fishponds Road, something you don’t normally associate with … Continue reading Getting over Monday Night Fever
ONE OF the big success stories of the 21st century in European football has been the rise of Atlético Madrid, who are currently ranked number four in UEFA’s team rankings. Los Rojiblancos are poised to relocate to a new stadium, Estadio La Peineta, for the 2017-18 season. The capacity will eventually be just under 74,000 – somewhat more than their current home. The move will … Continue reading Challenging the behemoths – the welcome rise of Atléti
THE TROUBLE with most football grounds is you cannot get a true perspective of what they really look like unless you fly over them. Many stadiums are located in areas where you cannot take a step back and admire the structure. Admittedly, today’s new grounds have to work hard to differentiate themselves from each other, but there are some that will stand up well to … Continue reading Hertha’s haunting home: Olympiastadion