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Day: May 5, 2011

The Twohundredpercent Play-Off Jamboree: Wrexham 0-3 Luton Town

The landscape of the lower divisions has, perhaps, changed more than we have noticed over the last couple of decades. Twenty years ago, Luton Town were in the First Division and had been there for some time, while Wrexham were finishing at the bottom of Division Four. Both teams were, arguably, a little lucky. Luton finished third from bottom in the table but stayed up because only two clubs were relegated that season, while Wrexham were saved because there was no relegation from the Football League because of the expansion of the league. Luton fell from the First Division as the Premier League was being sworn in. Wrexham surivived – and very occasionally prospered – before tumbling into the Blue Square Premier in 2008. Fast forward to the current day, and the two clubs finished the Blue Square Premier season just three points apart. Both fell from the Football League during the last decade, both in no small part due to financial mismanagement. Their supporters are part of a generation that spend their lives in a form of football purgatory. The Blue Square Premier is speckled with such clubs – former Football League clubs that may, to a lesser or greater extent, harbour a sense of grievance at their comparatively reduced current circumstances. If we look at the fixture list in the BSP every week throughout the season, there...

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Bates’ Caterwauling Doesn’t Disguise Questions That Should Be Answered

At least Ken Bates now knows who owns the club he’s chaired for the last half-decade, as he’ll have written their name on the cheque for the “undisclosed sum” which has bought him majority ownership of Leeds United. Unless, of course, he’s just put a blank cheque in an envelope, addressed it to “Leeds United’s beneficial owners, Cayman Islands, West Indies” and trusted that the local postie is better informed about the club’s owners than, well, the club themselves, apparently. There’s some sort of irony in the news of Bates’ “purchase” of 73% of Leeds coming out just as Leeds themselves all but came out of promotion play-off contention in this year’s championship. The greatest pressure exerted on Leeds United to become transparent about their ownership appeared to be that applied by Premier League chief Richard Scudamore’s threat to apply ownership transparency regulations to individuals, should Leeds have won promotion via this season’s play-offs. The “deal” for Bates’ company Outro – registered in the West Indies, oh surprise me do – was done on April 26th, at which point the Whites could still have pipped Nottingham Forest for sixth place. By the time Bates’ accession to the Leeds throne was in the public domain, Forest were all-but-mathematically sixth. And not even QPR suffering a 15-point deduction (to take a figure purely at random, as happened to Leeds themselves after...

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The Twohundredpercent Play-Off Jamboree: Chorley FC And The Evostik League Play-Offs

Chorley FC finished the season in third place in Division One North of the Evostik League, and the inimitable Mark Critchley was there to watch – if not exactly remember – their play-off semi-final against Curzon Ashton. Ever pondered over whether a cake can epitomise a whole town? If so, help yourself to psychiatry. If not, then cock your ear. Hundreds of years ago last Tuesday, one man took a region’s most celebrated moist delight, the Eccles cake, and thought he could improve upon it. If it ain’t broke, knick it. After all, every burgeoning entrepreneur can be afforded a swipe at success and swipe that man did – dusting the hallowed sugar coating off the top; unveiling it as his own ‘Fly Pie’ and somehow rendering that lump of viscous dough-smash even less palatable than it already was. That man, some say pioneer, was from the Lancashire town of Chorley and his sobering, denta-friendly revolution slab became known as ‘the Chorley cake’, available from all good patisseries and petrol stations to this very minute. Ever since then it seems the town has only followed his methods to the teaspoon. Chorley steals everything that’s sweet in life, and knocks the sugar off the top. From spending my childhood growing up there, I know that. And yet, vogue though it may be for guilt-laden, socio-economically comfortable sorts to exaggerate the...

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Mungo S03E38

It’s the end of the season which means today’s Mungo is the penultimate edition for a while at least, so be sure to drink it in. With Mungo incarcerated in the Tower of London for calling the future King of England a very bad thing in jest, Heart of Clachmaninshire’s hopes of avoiding relegation have received a major fillip. But Mungo McCrackas isn’t an easy man to keep down. Dotmund is cross with himself as he realises now this should have been the 38th and final edition of the season, because he thinks Game 39 is shit. Click for...

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Book Review: GB United, By Steve Menary

It is a story made current by the Olympic Games coming to London at the end of next summer, but for those of us whose sporting interest lies firmly with football, which remains an event more peripheral than its ubiquity in every other corner of the world of sport would suggest, Steve Menary’s new book, “GB United?” is something far more valuable; a history of the decline and fall of amateur football as seen through the prism of the Great Britain Olympic football team. It is a book which, in telling the story of this decline, hints at one of the less widely-reported identity crises that English football suffered, throughout the twentieth century. The bare bones of this decline can be seen in a simple charting of the fortunes of the team, which went from gold medallists at a canter in 1908 to dismal failures to qualify for the its last few tournaments, before eventually giving up the ghost when the FA abandoned the formal distinction between professional and amateur players in 1974. Menary does an outstanding job of painting a picture of the louche, lounge lizards of the turn of the century, the gentleman players that could flit from sport to sport because they could afford to. The opening chapters of the book are dominated by Vivian Woodward, the England international that played with distinction for Tottenham Hotspur...

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