Month: August 2006

Business As Usual

There was something reassuring about opening the papers in the pub yesterday afternoon to see three divisions’ worth of Football League results tucked away in the sports pages. Normal service has been resumed. This week, Premiership predictions, Nationwide Conference predictions, my favourite football kits ever and, ermmm, something else that I haven’t decided upon yet, but today I thought I’d just take a bit of a look back over the last weekend’s action. When I say “action”, I use the phrase figuratively, because there wasn’t a massive amount in the way of excitement going on south of the border. I got strangely sucked into watching Derby County get a well-deserved 2-2 with Southampton. It was the sort of result that really did neither team any favours, and, given the way he was released from his duties at Pride Park, I was expecting rather more George Burley-related fireworks, but it was nice to see Paul Peschisolido roll back the years with a late equalizer. He’s one of the few remaining professional footballers older than me, so there’s hope for me yet. Elsewhere in the First Division, Sunderland proved my pre-season prediction correct by contriving to throw away a one goal lead against Coventry City, and John Hartson (pictured above, using Eyal Bervokic’s head as a training ball for West Ham United several years ago) lifted West Bromwich Albion out of...

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Championship Managers

Eyes down for a full house. Ignoring for a moment the circus of the Premiership, the football season proper starts tomorrow. Out of deference to this, I’m sticking my neck on the line again with a complete set of predictions for this season’s Football League. God help me. Going into the new season, there are reasons to be cheerful and reasons to be depressed about the state of English league football. On the upside, the apocalyptic predictions of twenty or thirty League clubs going bust hasn’t come to pass. Crowds across the three divisions of the league have risen year-on-year, as Premiership crowds have tailed off. There are many possible reasons for this: more competition, lower prices, an increasing feeling of alienation towards the bigger clubs, who seem more interested in chasing the mythical foreign dorrar than maintaining their community links at home. Even the supposedly unbridgeable gap between Division One and the Premiership isn’t as big as people might think. All three of the teams relegated two years ago failed to get back up last season, and only one of the teams promoted into the Premiership went straight back down (although what team, Sunderland, did do it style). On the downside, the gulf between the top clubs and the rest has never been greater. The likes of Manchester United and Chelsea care little for anything other than the...

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Running Out Of Ideas

I probably give too much away on here. Whilst re-reading “Fever Pitch” for approximately the 12,000th time earlier today, I was reminded of a peculiar little tic of mine that manifests itself at football matches. It goes something like this: I have to be in the ground a good five minutes before kick-off. Not particularly to sample the pre-match atmosphere, or even to pick up a quick Bovril before it all kicks off. No. What intrigues me is the song that is played as the teams run out onto the pitch. At some grounds, as we’ll see, it’s positively inspired, whilst at others… less so. We all know of the ubiquity of “Simply The Best”, which was replaced, of course, by “Let Me Entertain You”. We also know of the dark humour to be had at some dismal Third Division ground, when a team in the middle of a twenty match run without a goal trot out with the look of lambs to the slaughter to the crackly strains of “We Are The Champions”. The songs that teams run out to range from the self-parodic (the last time I went to see Barnet, they emerged from the tunnel to “Tubthumping” – “I get knocked down but I get back up again” – by Chumbawumba), to the downright bizarre (see below). This is something of a top ten, though I...

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