Select Page

Month: March 2009

Review: The Damned United

I have been a little unwell over the last twenty-four hours so, in lieu of being able to write anything myself, I wrapped our usual cartoonist Ted Carter in mittens, a warm scarf and his favourite duffle coat, and sent him to the cinema to watch the film version of “David Peace’s novel, The Damned United”. He came back with this report and a drawing at the same time. With a bit of luck, normal service will resume tomorrow. David Peace described his 2006 book The Damned Utd “another fiction, based on another fact”.  Tom Hooper’s film The Damned United, out on general release last Friday, is probably best described as based on another fiction, based on another fact.  The 93 minute film is altogether brighter and breezier than the book, dealing much less with the psychological darkness or the beginnings of Clough’s slide into alcoholism and focusing instead on the Brian Clough of legend. In fact, it is most unhelpful to try and think of the film in terms of comparison to the book.  The film could not possibly hope to match the breadth or texture of Peace’s extraordinary text.  Rather than Raging Bull, then, this film is better described as Moby Dick – the story of Brian Clough’s all-encompassing, damaging, obsession with beating Don Revie and beating Leeds United.  To that end, it touches on certain aspects...

Read More

Match Of The Week: Peterborough United 2-0 Leicester City

It’s Saturday lunchtime and England are playing later on this afternoon, but you wouldn’t know it in Peterborough. The top two divisions don’t have matches scheduled so that England can parade around in their strange new shirts, so Peterborough United against Leicester City might just be the biggest club match being played in Europe today. It’s second against top in League One, a situation made possible by the late season collapse of the Milton Keynes franchise, who have slumped down the table in recent weeks. They have, in one of the few completely positive points of what has turned into a fairly dispiriting season, winning just one of their last eight matches, allowing Peterborough to catch them up and overhaul them. The lunchtime kick-off is on police advice after trouble in the town centre for Peterborough’s home match against Leeds United, but there seems little enmity between the supporters of the two clubs, a situation perhaps enhanced by the widespread hostility towards their nearest rivals, Leeds United, Millwall and Milton Keynes. As time has worn on this season, they have looked more and more like the teams most deserving of promotion. Peterborough have won eight of their last nine matches, while Leicester have been less consistent recently but have been at or near the top of the table for the whole of the season. In the press, the comparisons...

Read More

The Intractable Problem Of England Goalkeepers

When the concept of the Premier League was being sold to a sceptical (though, with the benefit of hindsight, not sceptical enough) public in the early 1990s, the benefit to the England team was pushed hard. Off the back of the national teams run to the 1990 World Cup semi-finals and the FA’s Blueprint For Football, the Premier League would be slimmed down to eighteen clubs with rest weeks for international matches. Of course, almost all of this was compromised. The clubs baulked at the idea of losing four home matches per season and a compromise of twenty clubs was eventually agreed (after starting with twenty-two clubs), and any pretence of symbiosis between the club and national games soon gave way to the near explicit hostility that exists between the two today. On the pitch, few forsaw the changes to the transfer market that would change the face of English club football forever. Bosman was a seismic shock to English football and has, in its own way, changed the game forever. Many clubs have hacked away at their scouting networks and youth academies – why spend large amounts of money bringing young English players through when you can sign something approaching the finished article from abroad? – and the majority of English players in the Premier League now inhabit the lower reaches of the division. For the England team,...

Read More

Kettering Town: Panic Averted

In the long lost days of election into the Football League, Kettering Town were regular unsuccessful applicants. Between 1900 and 1979, they applied for a place amongst the elite ninety-two on eighteen occasions and missed the cut on every single occasion. Since the introduction of automatic promotion and relegation in 1987, however, their chances to reach their holy grail have been few and far between. They knocked on the door of the Football Conference championship several times during the early 1990s and again in 1999, but have fallen upon more barren times over the last decade or so. Promotion from the Blue Square North last season seems to dramatically revitalised the Northamptonshire club. They had a run to the Fourth Round of the FA Cup and ran Fulham very close indeed before bowing out. In the Blue Square Premier, they are the highest placed of last years promoted teams and are doing better than either of last seasons relegated teams, Mansfield Town or Wrexham. At the time of writing, they are in eight place in the table, with games on hand on the teams immediately above them, and just five points behind fifth placed Kidderminster Harriers. So far, then, so good. The excitement of a tight run in for a play-off place awaits and, even if they fail to get promoted this season, they have a solid foundation upon...

Read More

Shit Shot Mungo: Episode 8

Is it that time of the week again already? In this week’s “Shit Shot Mungo”, the club starts to conspire to deliberately injure their goal-shy striker in order to give their new Japanese striker, a robot called “The Goalinator”, a game. If this doesn’t make any sense, you can see the previous episodes by clicking the category on the right hand side of this page. In the meantime, I’m off to fiddle with the code for the site this evening, so, if it starts looking a bit strange, that’s the reason. Click here to...

Read More