Commentary Box: Why we grudgingly tolerate international breaks

NO MATTER how well Gareth Southgate’s team performs and how much good progress was made in the 2018 World Cup, many football fans still find international break weekends tedious and an unwelcome distraction. Southgate and his immediate predecessors got what England managers, going way back as far as Sir Alf Ramsey and Don Revie, wanted – a decent preparation period for important international matches. I … Continue reading Commentary Box: Why we grudgingly tolerate international breaks

12 games that shaped a football club: Chelsea

CERTAIN games can mould the history of a club. Chelsea have had many high points in recent years, but it is not just success that influences the culture of a club. These 12 games have all played their role in shaping the Blues. Of course, the list will prompt debate, but these have been selected for their overall importance to the club’s development, from the … Continue reading 12 games that shaped a football club: Chelsea

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

Club of the Month: Cray Valley Paper Mills

THE FA VASE final in May will be between Chertsey Town and Cray Valley Paper Mills. There’s not a Northern League team in sight! Chertsey have flown a lot higher in the past, but Cray Valley PM are not a club that many non-league fans will have come across. The name, for a start, harks back to the days of works teams and indeed, the … Continue reading Club of the Month: Cray Valley Paper Mills

An altogether civilised experience

YOU couldn’t really get two contrasting Wembley days: the FA Cup final, full of rabid supporters, followed by the low-key, low-octane event that is Non-League Finals Day. The latter has more in keeping with cricket or rugby in terms of the audience, but after experiencing 88,000 people struggling in and out of Wembley, the relative calm of the non-league showpiece was very welcoming. For the … Continue reading An altogether civilised experience

Football Media Watch: FA Cup blues and reds

WAS this the most expensive set of players to contest the FA Cup final? Quite possibly it was, with the combined market value of the 22 starting players amounting to € 1.2 billion according to CIES Football Observatory. Surely, then, we could expect something better than what was served up at Wembley? With Chelsea adopting a defensive style and United lacking adventure’ “Memorable it was … Continue reading Football Media Watch: FA Cup blues and reds

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

The lure of North v South in the Vase

THE FA Vase has been dominated by Northern League clubs for the past few years. And there’s a good reason for this – regardless of whether these teams are just simply of a higher quality than the rest of the Vase’s entrants, there’s a feeling at this level of the game that the Northern League belongs to a higher step. It’s a situation that the … Continue reading The lure of North v South in the Vase

Brian James, the man who built a road to Wembley

IT ALMOST went unnoticed in July, but Brian James, a respected journalist with the Mail and Sunday Times, passed away at the age of 87. A lot of people will not be familiar with James, but anyone who has been captivated by the road to Wembley stadium, or has followed competitions like the FA Cup and FA Vase from beginning to end, owes a little to … Continue reading Brian James, the man who built a road to Wembley

A clash of ethos at Wembley

ARSENAL AND CHELSEA face each other at Wembley on an afternoon that will crystallise the different approaches of two fierce London rivals. Arsenal would probably never hire the likes of Jose Mourinho or even Antonio Conte. Chelsea’s current owner would not tolerate the lack of sustained success at the Emirates for the past decade. It is doubtful if the Gunners would stop a game after … Continue reading A clash of ethos at Wembley

The Lazy Listicle: Five things Wembley could do better

There’s no doubt about it, the new Wembley is a better spectator experience than the old place, although we do miss the Empire charm of the Twin Towers. But there’s still a number of things that grate about the new stadium. The acoustics. Why do they fill the place with thumping noise? What’s wrong with listening to the crowd? There’s really no need for the … Continue reading The Lazy Listicle: Five things Wembley could do better

Great Reputations: West Ham 1963-66 – forever blowing bubbles

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 Great Reputations: West Ham 1963-66 – forever blowing bubbles