Day: March 13, 2011

From College Football To A-League Glory

What have Chichester City, Swindon Supermarine, the Brisbane Roar  and a rural agricultural college in the Gloucestershire countryside got in common? It’s a fairly obscure bit of trivia, which helps chart the footballing career of defender Matt Smith, who went from the County League title with Chichester to winning the A-League Grand Final with the Brisbane Roar, via a state league title with Palm Beach, a league title with Swindon Supermarine, a BUSA title with Hartpury College and the 2007 World Uni Championships. Not a bad career trajectory for a young man who just four years ago was at Cirencester Town, playing in front of crowds of around 150 as the Centurions battled to stay in the Southern Premier League (they stayed up by default thanks to Hayes & Yeading merging.) On Sunday he was part of the Roar side who fought back from 2-0 down with two goals in the final minutes of extra time, before beating Central Coast Mariners on penalties to lift the club’s first Grand Final victory, the crowd at the Suncorp Stadium was a 52,000 sell out. But speak to the down-to-earth 28-year-old and he will credit much of his success to the years he spent studying in the UK and the influence of the staff at a little known college, which is quietly gaining a reputation for its football academy. Smith studied for...

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Match Of The Week 2: Stoke City 2-1 West Ham United

Seriousness versus frivolity. Aesthetics versus the dour practicality of not having the money to be able to spend on the very best players in the world. It has felt this season as if there is a new schism opening up in football. It now feels as if there is a type of football that is artistically, technically and, dare we say it, morally superior to all others. At the one end of the spectrum, the “tiki-taka” style played by Barcelona and Arsenal has come to be regarded by some as the artistic apex of football tactics. At the other end of it, for some people, are Stoke City. Never mind the fact that Stoke City are almost one hundred and fifty years old and have never appeared in an FA Cup final – they haven’t even reached the semi-finals of it in almost forty years. Never mind that Stoke have one major trophy – the 1972 League Cup – to show for their century and a half not out. Never mind, even, that Stoke City battled their way into the Premier League against most odds and have stayed there against even greater ones. Stoke City have become an anti-idea, a counterpoint to the sophisticates, a stick with which to beat those on limited resources for ruining their view. Much of this is on account of Rory Delap’s ICBM-esque throws...

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