Day: May 31, 2010

My Favourite Former Country: Yugoslavia

In the second of his pieces for us, William Abbs ponders whether having a second team at international level is a worthwhile endeavour. When Fulham’s improbable run to the Europa League final had writers in The Times and The Guardian trumpeting Roy Hodgson’s charges as everybody’s second favourite team, I asked myself the following question: how does having a second favourite team work at international level? In the case of Fulham, they earned the backing of British neutrals by virtue of being a Premier League club in a European final. The British love an unlikely hero; when Fulham defeated the best that Europe could throw at them (within the parameters of the continent’s second-ranked club competition anyhow), the London club’s place in the public’s affections was assured. With a few notable exceptions, any side in the country would have received such goodwill under the circumstances. For fans of clubs with nothing left to play for at the end of the season, supporting a British side in a major final is a harmless way to hitch a lift aboard another’s glory. But what about supporting another country? Developing an affection for a national side other than one’s own is, if anything, a more enduring affair. During a major tournament, with so many games being televised in such a short space of time, watching a group of players perform magnificently over...

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World Cup Tales: Boycott! When Africa & Asia Said “Enough”, 1966

In England at least, the 1966 World Cup finals have been mythologised. To an extent, they have started to become the footballing equivalent of Arthurian legend – a set of values of Englishness that we either subscribe to or not. This is a shame, because the 1966 World Cup was a fascinating tournament and some of the most notable stories have slipped under the collective radar because of the suffocating over-presence of that “Russian” linesman, Argentinians chasing the referee around the pitch and all the other micro-stories that make up the occasionally muddied and contradictory narrative of England’s eventual win in that tournament. Amongst these is the story of a dispute that didn’t only have a direct, tangible affect on the 1966 tournament itself, but would also go on to have long-term ramifications for the entire FIFA organisation. Egypt became the first African nation to attempt qualification for the World Cup, in 1934 and 1954. As the game’s appealed continued to grow, however, there was a growing clamour from African and Asian nations to be involved in the World Cup finals, and the Asian Football Confederation was founded in 1954, with the Confederation of African Football following in 1957. The early rules for African and Asian countries were stringent, to say the least. For the 1958 World Cup, twelve Asian and African teams entered, but a FIFA rule stating...

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The Monday Morning Links Emporium

After a week long hiatus, The Monday Links Emporium is back, and this morning we feature something that will probably make you spit coffee out of your nose, some bizarre goings on at Kettering, a potted history of the World Cup for beginners and The Football Club That Ate Essex™. Don’t forget, we are always interested in any links that you find for this “prestigious” column – if you find anything that you think we would be interested in, feel free to drop us a line by email or stick it in the comments section here. – The Sunderland forum “Ready To Go”, in the spirit of office time-wasters world-wide, started a thread on the subject of recreating great football moments using MS Paint. The results were simply tremendous, and now there is a video compilation on YouTube. Cracking stuff, which will make you snort coffee out of your nose. – In 1992, When Saturday Comes ran an article by someone that gave the newly-merged Dagenham & Redbridge “Five Years. And that’s being generous.” Eighteen years on, the Daggers were promoted into League One at the weekend. Regardless of concerns about how the club came into existence, it’s an achievement that can’t be denied. Kudos, also, to WSC for reprinting a prediction that turned out to be so hopelessly wrong. – We’re finally starting to find out a little...

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