Month: May 2007

The Kop Final

As some of you may well be aware, I’m somewhat averse to any person or organisation that attempts to describe themselves as “The Heart & Soul Of Football”. One of the small pleasures of this season was watching Arsenal fans looking more and more crestfallen as their own brand of football looked toothless against mediocre opposition and they bailed out of all of the cup competitions meekly against competitions that they should, theoretically, have blown out of the water. In the space of a mere six or seven months, they went from being the all-knowing cognoscenti of English football to muttering darkly about this being a “transitional season” (the universal mantra of the under-achieving club). Over the last few weeks or so, however, a debate has been rumbling on over this matter regarding Liverpool, though, and the overall argument has risen a notch. At the centre of this debate are the fairly shameful scenes in Athens last week, coupled with the emergence of a group called “Reclaim The Kop”, whose stated aim is to, “Aim to promote the tradition values of The Kop, reignite the atmosphere and ensure [that] the “new”Anfield is not a soulless bowl”. This, you may think, is all well and good. Just a group of people trying to make sure that their home ground is an intimidating place to visit on a Saturday afternoon. Not...

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Birthday Birthday Birthday!

In all the excitement of the play-offs and the anniversary of Heysel, I forgot to mention that this little blog passed its first birthday on Monday. Time, I think, to thank you lot for bothering to read it. It has been, I have to say, quite a year. Your votes helped to send me, of course, to Japan (for which you will all have my eternal gratitude), and this place has turned up in some fairly unusual places – The Sun (and they even managed to mention what a massive geek I am) and The Guardian (no picture of that one, but I’ll dig it out at some point) amongst others, and I get an average of just over five thousand people reading this at some point each month. How rare. I would like to express my gratitude to everyone that links to and reads this place, but I would also be interested to know what you want more of and less of on here. I like to think that I try to cover stories that aren’t being covered elsewhere on here, and that will always be a feature of this particular site, but I’m always trying to think of ways in which to change this blog to suit you guys, so your input on this subject would be most welcome. Also, I’d like to take the opportunity to...

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I’m Really, Really Sorry…

…that I haven’t updated this place as much as I should have done over the last few days or so. I have been massively, massively busy, brain damaging myself in a wondrous variety of ways. Also, I’ve been struggling to think of very much to say that hasn’t been personally abusive about Ken Bates and, whilst 1000 words of virulent, virulent abuse towards him seems like a good idea, I can’t help but think that it might get me into some sort of trouble. I will put something up on here tomorrow evening, I promise. On the tiny off-chance that you’re looking for more nonsense that I write, you can find some here. Tonight, I have been mostly slating...

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The Best Of Times, The Worst Of Times

The 29th of May is a date that symbolizes the best and worst of what it means to be a football supporter. On the one hand, it’s the anniversary of one of European football’s most infamous disasters, but on the other it’s the anniversary of the fermentation of a revolt which would lead to one of one of the game’s great stories of rebirth – one which shows the potential of football supporters to reclaim their game from the people that want to take it away from them. There was something almost inevitable about the Heysel Stadium disaster, which occurred before the European Cup Final in 1985. Violence at matches involving English clubs had been increasingly exponentially for over a decade, and just two and a half weeks before the match, the Bradford Fire had shown up what could happen in a patently unsafe stadium, whilst the death of an innocent boy at a match between Birmingham City & Leeds United had demonstrated that hooliganism could be fatal. There are plenty enough articles about Heysel on the internet, so I’ll spare you all too much detail on that subject. The causes and aftermath, however, as well as the long term effects, warrant some closer inspection. Much has been made of events in Rome the year before, when Roma supporters attacked Liverpool supporters after the 1984 European Cup Final, and...

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…It Is Now

Whew. Finally. It’s all over. At Wembley this afternoon, Derby County beat West Bromwich Albion in the £200m play-off. In truth, West Brom were somewhat unfortunate – they had the majority of the play, even before Derby scored – but, over the course of the season, they thoroughly deserved their promotion. They sat in the top two or three for most of the season before being edged out Sunderland and Birmingham’s parachute payments. It’s a surprising improvement from a club that was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy just three or four years ago. Our non-English readers may be unaware that Derby were once a big club. They won the first post-war FA Cup final in 1946 against Charlton Athletic (a match which still occasionally pops up in pub quizzes as being “the Cup Final during which the ball burst”), but were no more than an average Second Division team by 1967, when they appointed Brian Clough and Peter Taylor as manager and assistant manager. Two years later, they were promoted back into the First Division and in 1972 caused one of the bigger surprises in the last half-century or so of English football when they won the League. Led up front by John O’Hare and with the former Spurs hatchet man Dave McKay at the centre of their defence, they saw off Leeds United in a tense battle...

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