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Day: June 2, 2010

Dundee Count The Cost Of Failure

A trivia question for you to start with: name the nine cities to have produced more than one club to reach the European Cup (or Champions League) semi-finals. The full list is at the bottom, but I’ll give you a headstart by telling you which is the smallest such city – it’s Dundee, each of the city’s senior clubs having lost at that stage on one occasion.

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Mark Murphy’s Life Through The World Cup: Part One

I’m at the wrong age. This struck home when I had an idea for an article for this web-site about the 23-man line-up which could be constituted from the rejects of the other nations’ squads. But before I could tap in “Maradona’s a loony tune for leaving Esteban Cambiasso out”, I discovered that the, ulp, Daily Mail had already delivered on the plan. So, here’s me, in the prime of 44, already a reactionary. I was the wrong age in World Cup terms too, as a child of the seventies who watched Brazil and Jairzinho in the World Cup – but not the 1970 vintage, all “sheer delightful football” even when Pele was missing open goals. No, I got the 1974 “vintage” with rugby tackling centre-halves, Jairzinho with a microphone haircut which would have had him thrown out of the Stylistics for garishness and Rivelino straight from the set of a spaghetti western. I remember nothing of the second-half of the 1974 final, or anything very much of Holland’s total football throughout the tournament. For some reason, microphone hair-cuts lingered longer in the memory – Germany’s Paul Breitner, for instance, scoring a 35-yarder against Chile. At half-time in the final, though, I went into our back garden and tried to score a goal just like Germany’s Gerd Muller had, twisting in seven-and-a-half different directions before dribbling a shot into...

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World Cup Tales: Reflections Upon England In Italy, 1990

The concept of England having a high level of expectation at the time of a World Cup finals is a comparatively recent one. As recently as 1990, most adults could remember their two successive failures to qualify for the whole event and, once there, they only seldom lit the tournament up. In 1982, a good performance in the opening match against France was followed by an almost linear deterioration in performance, which ended in their elimination in the second group round after two goalless draws against West Germany and Spain. Much was made of the fact that they were eliminated, due to the peculiar tournament structure, unbeaten, but they only scored one goal in their final three matches. Four years later, Diego Maradona’s various antics overshadowed a slow start that saw them lose to Portugal and draw with Morocco before Gary Lineker’s goals breathed some life into them. Going into the 1990 World Cup finals, there was little for England supporters to be particularly optimistic about. Their performance at the 1988 European Championships had been abject and, while their final qualification group table for the trip to Italy looked comfortable, the four point gap between them in second place and Poland in third place was somewhat deceptive. A goalless draw in Chorzow against Poland had guaranteed their place, but defeat would likely have eliminated them. In addition to this, the...

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