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Month: May 2008

Euro 2008 – Group B

Otherwise known as “The Group Of Internecine Rivalries” (by me at least), Group B is the group that probably offers the greatest chance of a host nation getting thrashed out of sight that you’ll ever see at the European Championships and, as if that wasn’t enough, the tournament favourites. Anyway, here’s the low-down on The Group Of Schnitzel (I just thought that up, in case you were wondering). Austria – What Are Expectations Like? Not high and, as with co-hosts Switzerland, there was a noisy campaign for them to resign their place before the the competition started. Indeed, this Austrian team might just be the worst ever to play in the finals of the European Championships. The thirty-one man training squad released last month by coach Josef Hickersberger had scored just 46 goals between them, and with just 8 goals scored by the six selected strikers. The best that they can realistically hope for is to not get thrashed out of sight in all three group matches. How Did Their Qualifying Campaign Go? They qualified automatically as hosts, and it’s a good job. They’re currently in 101st place in the FIFA rankings, sandwiched neatly between Algeria and Tanzania, and considerably below fellow Europeans such as Latvia, Iceland and Cyprus. What’s The Coach Like? Hickersberger was the coach of the Austrian team between 1987 and 1990, and qualified them for...

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A Home Away From Home

Sad and troubling news from South Yorkshire, where Rotherham United have conceded defeat in their attempts to stay at Millmoor, and will play for next season at least at the Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield. The club had been in negotiations with the Booth family (who own Millmoor) for the last few weeks, but have been unable to agree terms with the owners and will, therefore, be leaving their home for the last 101 years with immediate effect. There are plans in place with the local council to build a new community stadium within the town itself, but it will take a minimum of two or three years for the new stadium to be ready for use, so relocation seems to be the only option for them for the time being. Don Valley Stadium is five miles from Rotherham, in Sheffield. It is fortunate in some respects for the club that such a facility is relatively nearby. It is the biggest athletics stadium in England (with a capacity of 25,000), and is regularly used as a concert venue by rock bands. Whether it is suitable for League Two football is, however, a somewhat different question. Rotherham attracted crowds of in the region of 3-4,000 people for lehague matches last season, and the prospect of them rattling around Don Valley like peas in a tin can is a far from...

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Rising From The Ashes

During the mid to late 1990s, while the Premier League reaped the almost ridiculously ostentatious rewards of the Sky TV boom, supporters of many smaller clubs found themselves having to mobilise against a rash of asset stripping new club owners. Each protest brought its own stark images, be they the collecting tins outside Bootham Crescent as York City were run into the ground by Douglas Craig, the desperate pitch invasion at The Goldstone Ground after David Bellotti and Bill Archer sold Brighton’s stadium to developers and pocketed the money, or the black card protests at Selhurst Park after Wimbledon announced their move to Milton Keynes. Perhaps the most vivid and poignant images of the era, however, came from Doncaster Rovers’ Belle Vue. As the club tumbled out of the Football League in 1998, Doncaster’s supporters marched a coffin from the town centre to the stadium and, as The Last Post played, they performed the last rites for a club that seemed to be at death’s door itself. The key player in the collapse of Doncaster Rovers was businessman Ken Richardson. Richardson had previous – he had been at the centre of the “Flockton Grey” betting scandal of 1982, when an average racehorse running in a nondescript race at Leicester was swapped for what was, effectively, a “ringer”. Richardson and his trainer, Stephen Wiles, bet £20,000 on the fake horse,...

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England vs USA – Live!

Ah, international friendlies. I’m not altogether certain what the point of this evening’s match actually is. A week after Manchester United and Chelsea slugged out their Battle Royale in Moscow, England have to drag their sorry backsides out onto the (doubtlessly sodden) pitch at Wembley for a match against the USA. Of course, when the USA have beaten England before, it has been treated as a national disgrace. In 1950, Joe Gaetjens’ goal was enough to give the Americans a 1-0 win at Belo Horizonte in the World Cup. Skip forward forty-three years, and the haplessness of Graham Taylor’s time in charge was emphasised by a 2-0 defeat in Boston. Other than those two matches, England’s record against the Americans is pretty decent. Gary Lineker and Kerry Dixon (!) scored two each in a 5-0 England win in Los Angeles in 1985, and a young Alan Shearer scored both of England’s goals in a 2-0 win for them at Wembley in September 1994. The last time that the two sides met was on this day three years ago, when England won 2-1 in Chicago, thanks to two debut goals from Kieran Richardson (!!!). We live, I like to think, in an age in which the USA team is no more taken for granted. We could score cheap laughs at their atrocious past kit decisions, but I don’t think that...

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Something To Tide You Over

I thought about it briefly, and came to the conclusion that it was the only way forward – there will be a live commentary on the international friendly match between England and The United States Of America on here tonight. High excitement, indeed. To tide you over for the next hour, here are some links that have been brought to my attention over the last few days or so: – AEK Archives is a very good English language blog about the Greek giants, AEK Athens. – Inside Left will fill you in on everything that you need to know about Scottish football. – For Girls Who Can’t Do Football offers a feminine perspective on the game. – A New Habit is Rob’s replacement for smoking (I’m offering no promises on whether it will prove to be any better for him than the demon weed). – It’ll Be Off is a considerably overdue blog about FC United of Manchester, written by that old curmudgeon, Chris Taylor. Fingers crossed that he keeps it updated, this time. As ever, I would repeat my request for any links that you guys think deserve a place on here – stick them in the comments box and I’ll get straight on it. Also (and finally, for now), big things are afoot for after Euro 2008. If you think that you could (or would like to)...

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