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Month: July 2007

Gone But Not Forgotten (Part 1)

Yes, indeed – yet another occasional series, this one celebrating the clubs that we have loved and lost. Nowadays, relegation from the Football League is far from the end. As Carlisle United and Doncaster Rovers have demonstrated, it can even be the jolt that a complacent lower division club needs to spring back into life. Prior to the introduction of automatic promotion and relegation, however, it was more often than not a death sentence. Before 1987, the Football League had a system of re-election at the end of each season. The bottom four clubs in Division Four had to be voted back into the club, alongside any non-league clubs that wished to be considered for admittance. It was, perhaps unsurprisingly, a somewhat arbitrary process. Hartlepool United, for example, had to apply for re-election on a staggering eleven occasions, but were successful each time. Some clubs, however, were less fortunate – Gateshead applied just three times before being kicked out in 1960, without even having finished bottom of Division Four the previous season. As often as not, the clubs that were voted out ended up out of business. The notion of a football club, however – it’s spirit and soul – are somewhat more difficult to get rid of, and many of those that passed on have since re-formed and are playing somewhere further down the pyramid. It might seem...

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The End Of The Summer

To be absolutely honest, I ended up not watching too much of the Asian Cup. The bits and pieces that I did see, however, confirmed the following: that Australia aren’t half as good as they think they are are, that Japan and South Korea have both singularly failed to capitalise on their relative success at the 2002 World Cup, and that Iraq might, if they can prevent themselves from being used like a political football and develop further as a team, just about be good enough to turn themselves into something approaching a world class team. The final, against Saudi Arabia, was about one-sided as a 1-0 win could be. They completely dominated both halves of the match, having numerous chances to score before they finally did (thanks in no small part by some fairly horrendous goalkeeping by Saudi Arabia’s Al Mousailem, who completely misjudged a cross allowing Younis Mahmoud to score from close range). On the pitch, they were simply the best team in the tournament. They beat Australia in the qualifying stages and South Korea on penalty kicks in the semi-finals, on top of playing an experienced Saudi Arabian team in the final itself. They can’t have been deemed to have had an easy ride to trophy. Supporters of the Iraqi national football team have never had much to celebrate. The team’s mistreatment at the hands of...

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More Baker & Kelly

The interminably long summer is nearly over. The Scottish League season starts next weekend, and the rest of Europe’s will awaken from their slumber over the next weeks or so. This evening, however, we’re taking another trip back in time to the 9th of April 1998 with Baker & Kelly. I’ll probably stick another one up during the week, and there’ll be one on here every Sunday night. Let me know if you want them up more regularly. 11.30...

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Ducking The Issue

St Albans City, it has to be said, don’t really have any local rivals any more. Traditionally, going back years and years, their rivals were Hendon and Enfield, but these clubs both had other, bigger fish to fry, and Boreham Wood, whilst close geographically, were not similar enough in size and stature to form any sort of meaningful dislike for. In the early 1990s, though, this void was momentarily filled by Aylesbury United. Aylesbury had avoided The Saints’ radar, having spent the majority of their existence in the Southern League, whilst St Albans were perennial members of the Isthmian League. To everyone’s surprise, and after decades and decades of (at best) mediocrity, St Albans came out of the traps on fire at the start of the 1992-93 season and went to Aylesbury on Boxing Day 1992 unbeaten in the League since the start of October. Having gone a goal down early on in the match, they’d taken a 2-1 lead before Graham Westley scored twice in injury time to snatch a 3-2 win for Aylesbury, and The Saints tilt at the championship was never quite the same again. St Albans fans still sing songs about how much they hate them to this day. Aylesbury seemed, at that time, to have something of a charmed life. They’d experienced all the things that a non-league club would want in the previous...

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What’s In A Name?

What price would you put on the name of your club? I ask the question now because a bright spark at newly-promoted Conference club Farsley Celtic has decided that now is just the right time to consider changing the name of the 99 year-old Yorkshire club to “FC Leeds” or “Leeds Celtic”. “If we need to change our name to take us up another level from a crowd support point of view then that’s what we need to do”, said their chairman Andy Firbank. Presumably when he gets home tonight, he’ll be suggesting to his wife that she changes her name to Marilyn Monroe because it will make her more attractive. Of course, it could be that Mr Firbank has been considering this, and the fact that it has only become public at a time when Leeds United are teetering on the brink of closure. The alternative, however, is that Mr Firbank has got pupils the shape if dollar signs and thinks that he changes the name of his club, who are spending the coming season at the highest level that they have ever competed at, and, presumably, dresses them in white, he’ll pick up a couple of hundred of disgruntled former Elland Road regulars. It is the sort of viewpoint that you could only imagine coming from the chairman of a football club: “I’ve had a brilliant” idea....

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