Summer Lovin’

So… the World Cup is over and done with, and the close season is finally, finally, upon us, right? Well… wrong. Looking through my newspaper yesterday, I noted that the club season, in the form of The Intertoto Cup, had already started. The Champions League also starts tonight. Meanwhile, a cursory glance at many clubs’ websites show that the pre-season friendlies start soon – I saw a gaggle of Brighton fans at the railway station on Saturday lunchtime, on their way to Ryman League side Worthing for the day. In other words, there is no close-season period any more. Of course, we all laugh at the Intertoto Cup. Partly, it’s the name: the competition actually came about to satisfy the requirements of the Swiss equivalent of the pools, The Toto, but you can’t help put think of “Rosanna” and Judy Garland’s pet dog. Partly it’s because there is no one winning team. It started in 1961 (Ajax were the first winners, fact fans), but from 1967 to 1994 there were no overall winners at all – just a load of meaningless group stages that didn’t go anywhere. Even up to last season, there were three winners every year. This year, there are eleven UEFA Cup places up for grabs. In other words, there are eleven “winners”. Mostly though, it’s the fact that you know, deep down inside, that the...

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