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Month: March 2008

With Deepest Sympathy

About a month ago, I went greyhound racing at the Coral Stadium, in Hove. We had the best seats in the place, in the stand overlooking the finishing line. We had a (passable but nothing special) three course meal, and were given seven £1 betting vouchers, so we didn’t have to spend our own money to have a bet if we didn’t want to. The bar was reasonably priced, and we had a very nice evening out. The cost? £15.95 per head. I was reminded of this when I saw the final score from White Hart Lane yesterday afternoon. This is the White Hart Lane in which you have to leave your seat five minutes before half-time if you want to get a drink and have the chance to drink it before the second half starts. Considering the amount of money that Tottenham supporters pay for this, I think they’re entitled to something more than a 4-1 home defeat by Kevin Keegan’s wretched, wretched Newcastle United, and I certainly think that they’re entitled to the half hearted, already on the beach or negotiating a move to a bigger club performance than they got from the players. This was the weekend that the Premier League season ended as a competition. Liverpool beat Everton 1-0 in a thrill-free Merseyside derby that more or less guaranteed them the fourth Champions League place,...

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Ghosts In The Machine

With a Wembley cup final to look forward to and an outside chance of making the Conference play-offs, you might be tempted to think that now is the best time to be a member of MyFootballClub, the website that purchased Conference club Ebbsfleet United and is now running the club. Cracks, however, are starting to appear in the united front that everyone was putting forward between those that want to get on with their real time game of Championship Manager and those that are starting to wonder whether having members of the public that may not have any idea about what they’re doing picking the team at this stage of the season might not necessarily be the wisest things that the club could do. Members of MyFC are about to vote on whether to pick the team, make suggestions to manager Liam Daish or let him just get on with it. This may seem surprising, considering that the whole project was marketed with picking the team as being a key element, but the following email was sent to all MyFC members last week by manager Liam Daish. It’s about five weeks since you took over Ebbsfleet United. And just 12 days ago your football club won an FA Trophy Semi Final to reach Wembley for the first time in its history. Not a bad start! Let’s all hope it’s...

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An Early April Fool’s Joke

Take a close look at the picture on the left. That man is John Batchelor, and you might just be hearing quite a lot about him over the next few weeks or months. The reason for this is fairly simple – John Batchelor has launched a take-over scheme for League Two club which might even replace the likes of the Thames Valley Royals, Fulham Park Rangers and Manstock County as the maddest ever dreamt up by a football club owner. John Batchelor hopes to buy League Two club Mansfield Town, and rename it “Harchester United”, after the fictional club featured in the Sky TV drama show, “Dream Team”. I have, on your behalf, checked, double-checked and triple-checked to ensure that this isn’t all an elaborate April Fool’s Day joke, but it would seem that it isn’t, and it raises serious issues over who exactly is there to look after prone football clubs, who are stony broke but in possession of something that is very valuable indeed – a place relatively near the top of the tree in English senior football. So, first of all, a brief history lesson. York City were, by the start of 2002, in a poor state. Their former chairman, the wretched Douglas Craig had been turned upon by a small minority of supporters at Bootham Crescent, and decided on a revenge that would almost bring...

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The Death Of An Icon

Some of you may have noticed the minute’s silence prior to the match between France and England on Wednesday night. This was to mark the death, at the age of 49, of Thierry Gilardi, France’s very own “Voice Of Football”. When Franck Ribery was booked for ripping of his shirt after scoring the only goal of the match, it was a tribute to Gilardi that was printed on the vest underneath it, and the praise in France for the former Canal Plus and TF1 man has been fulsome, to say the least. Ironically, Gilardi had only been with TF1 since 2004 – a short period of time in the life of the average commentator – but the reaction to it all seems to reveal a schism in attitudes towards the men on the television in this country and in France. In this country, we are almost duty bound to hate our football commentators. The broadcaster Danny Baker would often make mention of his father shouting “WE KNOW!” at the television every time John Motson opened his mouth, and I’ve been as guilty as the rest of us of throwing spit-inflected bile in the direction of the likes of Jonathan Pearce and Clive Tyldesley, safe in the knowledge that there will be no comeuppance for it. The truth of the matter is that we love to hate our commentators. The...

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France 1-0 England (And Other Trivialities)

So, another Wednesday and another week of international friendlies. I’m always somewhat confused over whether we’re supposed to care or not, and you had to at least be somewhat impressed by the marketing skills of the French Football Federation, who somehow managed to convince 80,000 Parisians that France vs England was some sort of major sporting event. Perhaps it said that it was a rugby match on the tickets. Or a recreation of The Battle Of Waterloo in which Napoleon won. I don’t mind the rounds of friendly matches too much, though there is a case for stating that FIFA doesn’t help itself with some of its scheduling. We’re a week or two away from the quarter finals of the European Cup and four to six weeks from the end of the club season. Could there be a more pointless time to schedule matches? If FIFA and the Big Clubs are facing up for some inevitable showdown, the battle for hearts and minds will be all-important, and FIFA should stop playing into the hands of the Big Clubs by putting on rosters of matches at ludicrous times of the year such as now. Still, the England players did their bit for that debate last night, by putting in a performance so dreadful that even I was wistfully recalling the last round of the European Cup. It’s almost as if...

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