Day: November 17, 2010

Stevenage Do Us All A Favour

While last night’s FA Cup match between Woking and Brighton & Hove Albion had its fair share of drama, the real excitement of the evening came in Buckinghamshire at something called Stadium:MK, where Stevenage FC snatched a dramatic late equaliser and then won a penalty shoout-out to book a place in the Second Round of the competition and spared the rest of us the possibility of the “spectacle” of a match between AFC Wimbledon and the club that assumed a league place in 2004. The home side had taken the lead early in the second half before an equaliser deep into injury time brought the sides level. Extra-time could seperate them and it looked for a while as if a penalty shoot-out wouldn’t either, before Stevenage eventually grabbed it by a 7-6 scoreline. Over the last week and a half or so, Wimbledon supporters have been coming to terms with a tie that they may have found emotionally difficult, even if the rest of the media was willing it to happen. There came a marked recognition that they would have to play if both sides won their replays and this led to protracted discussion of how they, if they had to, should mark the occasion. Stevenage’s penalties last night, however, made all of this an irrelevance and they will now travel to Ebbsfleet United for their replay tomorrow night without...

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Portsmouth. Al-Faraj: Urban Spaceman Or Hidden Osmond Brother?

Wahey! I sort of got one right. At least the Spectator Business magazine sort of thinks so. Or at least Martin Lipton in the Daily Mirror sort of thinks so. From where I live on the very tip of South-West Greater London, the Spectator Business magazine has been about as elusive as…well…Ali Al-Faraj, so I’ve only just finished reading and inwardly digesting the, eek, eight-page feature on The disembowelling of Portsmouth Football Club and the “strange case of Ali Al Faraj.” When I said a year ago that I thought Al-Faraj belonged in the same column as the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah band’s famous “urban spaceman” (“…and here’s the twist… I-I don’t exist…”) I genuinely thought we were in “Fake Sheikh” territory and that the News of the World expose of the Premier League’s “fit and proper persons test” was just a weekend away. I was wrong. And in being wrong, I was giving too much credit to the press in this country. That was credit which remains unwarranted, if the reaction to the Spectator Business investigation is a guide. Take up of the story by the national press has been limited in the extreme. The Mirror got there first. It was a diary story for the ever-popular Charles Sale in the Mail – suggesting out-and-out fraud was to blame, rather than Premier League doziness. And Jim White in the...

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