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Day: June 18, 2011

The 2011 Women’s World Cup: Group D Preview

It’s now less than two weeks until the 2011 Women’s World Cup starts in Germany, and over the next couple of weeks we are taking the time to bring you a quick run-down of the teams that are taking part in another of the groups of this year’s competition. We have already presented Group A, Group B, and Group C. We conclude our previews with Group D, where possibly the best player in today’s game will play, and where another newcomer to the Finals hopes to leave its mark. Norway (Tournament Odds–16/1): Perhaps overlooked of late owing to Germany’s last two World Cup triumphs, along with die Nationalelf’s recent domination at the UEFA Championships, it might be forgotten that the Scandavians were the first nation to represent Europe at the upper echelons of the women’s game. A losing finalist in the first World Cup of 1991, the Norwegians recovered to earn the 1993 European crown  before claiming a World Cup of their own in the 1995 edition. That triumph might have been particularly sweet for the Gresshoppene considering it was won on the home soil of Sweden, which before that time had been a constant thorn in Norway’s paw. Further, the final victory came over a German squad that had usurped Norway’s status as the pre-eminent side in Europe. Needless to say, coach Eli Landsem’s squad land in Germany with a considerable chip on their shoulders and something to prove. Throughout qualification there...

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Videos Of The Week: The NASL Soccer Bowl Remembered

For adults of a certain age, it is a memory that may have become submerged under the weight of what we have seen since. In the late 1970s, though, British television viewers would get an occasional view of football from a parallel universe in the form of the North American Soccer League. Football in America was different, that much we know for certain. The teams were called “Cosmos”, “Strikers” or “Rowdies”, rather than City, United or Rangers. They often played matches on what looked like a green carpet rather than grass. They didn’t believe in drawn matches, and ended theirs with a shoot-out of the teams couldn’t be seperated beforehands. They lured some of the biggest names in world football with expansive cheque books. To the average impressionable eight year-old, it was a world of glitz and glamour some way removed from the rotting concrete steps and rusting fences of British football. From 1975 on, the closing act of the NASL season was the Soccer Bowl, which was the brainchild of NASL commissioner (and former Wales international) Phil Woosnam with American football’s Superbowl in mind, was played out as a single match conclusion to the season. The league’s decline started as long ago as 1980. Various factors contributed to this, including over-expansion, the eagerness of franchise-holders to pull out as soon as the going got tough and the decision...

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Those We Have Lost: Maine Road, Manchester City

And still they keep coming! The next in our Those We Have Lost series comes from David Mayor, who had misgivings about Manchester City leaving Maine Road, but is happy that the spirit of his club remains intact, at least in its support. We are still very much looking out for submissions on this subject, by the way. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a complete base of tributes, written by fans, to grounds that we have lost? If you are interested, there is a list of the clubs that we have already covered here – drop us a line if you would like to add your club. When Manchester City left Maine Road in 2003 it was a very different stadium to the one I had first stepped inside as a young child 17 years earlier. With a capacity of around 50,000, it was already starting to looking tired in 1986, but remained one of the largest in the country. The subsequent redevelopment of two sides over the next decade vastly reduced this to a medium-size, all-seater stadium, with its capacity nudged up to nearly 35,000 by the millennium after the addition of temporary stands in a couple of unsightly and empty corners. At this time it was a complete mismatch of four (or six, if we include the temporary structures) completely different looking stands from different eras....

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Those We Have Lost: Elm Park, Reading FC

The next in our series on the lost homes of British football comes from Reading, where Reading FC left Elm Park for The Madejski Stadium in 1998. Our thanks go to Rob Langham from the excellent The Two Unfortunates, for this story of the history and memories from Elm Park. We are still very much looking out for submissions on this subject, by the way. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a complete base of tributes, written by fans, to grounds that we have lost? If you are interested, there is a list of the clubs that we have already covered here – drop us a line if you would like to add your club. In the first edition of Simon Inglis’s seminal study of football stadia, The Football Grounds of England and Wales (later republished as The Football Grounds of Britain), he describes Elm Park as “perhaps the least interesting ground in the league”. By the second, and based largely on the judicious application of a lick or two of paint, he had revised this opinion. While there remain some that wish that time had stood still in football (and this is usually when they were twenty or thirty years younger than they are now), this doesn’t apply to all of us. For sure, among fans who are forced to choose between the pluses and minuses of the...

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A Deeply Flawed Solution: Rushden Out And Kettering In At Nene Park

It is the Annual General Meeting of the Southern Football League today, at which the ratification of the constitution of the league for next season will take place. One of the teams that is supposed to be starting the new season, however, Rushden & Diamonds, is now almost certainly not going be starting the new season at the end of a week that seems likely to change the face of football in Northamptonshire forever. This time last week, Rushden were expelled by the Football Conference. As big a blow as this might have been to the club, that was nothing in comparison with the High Court hearing during the week that was brought by one of the club’s (numerous) creditors. The result of that hearing – a twenty-one day adjournment – could be regarded as a no-score draw. It is understood that a take-over deal upon which the club’s survival was hanging was dependent on them being in the Blue Square Premier next season. With that now gone, the likelihood of someone stepping in and saving their club now seems remote, to extent that a supporters group set up to try and save the club has now switched its attention to founding aa new one instead. The club had appealed the Football Conference’s decision, but the chances of this appeal being upheld seem similarly unlikely. The league imposes tough...

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