Day: June 20, 2011

In Praise Of Mediocrity – A Video Special: Portsmouth FC, 1989/90

We could, if we lived in a vacuum in which we only communicated with the mass media, be forgiven for thinking that football is all about the winning, the glory and the silverware at the end of the season. For a good many football supporters, however, whole seasons can pass by without a hint of anything exciting happening whatsoever. So it was, then, that Portsmouth spent the 1989/90 season in the Second Division, barely troubling the top or the bottom of the table. Indeed, their end of season record hinted at an entire campaign of mists and mellow fruitlessness, although their supporters could be forgiven for being quietly pleased for an improvement on the previous season, when they finished just two places – albeit with a comfortable nine point cushion – above the relegation places and for the fact that they had overcome the worst of financial difficulties which had, not for the first time and certainly not for the last, threatened the existence of the club. [table id=2 /] Where, you may well be wondering, is this going? Well, sometimes, footballing tropes collide with such force that we cannot help but enjoy the moment. The season of very little happening – and you can usually spot the supporters of such clubs at the end of the season, exuding a zen-like calm coupled with absolute bafflement as to why...

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England’s Under-21s And An Uninspiring Future

How quickly we – or at least some people – forget. When England were not so much knocked out of the World Cup last summer by Germany as blasted to smithereens in the manner of the Death Star obliterating an unsuspecting planet, there was much caterwauling on the state of the national team, as if England’s tepid performance in the tournament overall had been a sudden bolt from the blue. England’s performance over four matches had been at best dismal, and they had reaped what they sowed against an effervescent young Germany team that was, in terms of tactics, technique and fitness, so far ahead of England that even the matter of Frank Lampard’s perfectly-executed lob that bounced a yard over the goal-line was not a major concerned. England, common consensus agreed, had been rumbled. There was the briefest of brief Indian summers in the form of two convincing wins against out of sorts Switzerland and Bulgaria, but since then England have returned well and truly to type. A limp, scrambled against a Wales side that is considerably less than the sum of its parts and a draw against Montenegro were little to shout about, friendly results were scarcely any improvement, and the recent 2-2 draw at Wembley against Switzerland was notable only for the fact that the team found any inner reserve from which to pull a draw...

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Ten Years Of Enfield Town

With the future of Supporters Direct still under threat, it is worth taking a moment to reflect upon an anniversary that will most likely go unremarked upon elsewhere, but is still an anniversary that has changed our perception of how football clubs can be run. Long before Chester FC or FC United of Manchester, before even AFC Wimbledon were formed, the first club set up in protest at the ownership of one individual took their first steps. Yet Enfield Town have become something of a footnote in the history of the supporters trust movement in Britain, yet their story demonstrates that the twin virtues of passion and patience can yield rewards of their own. Enfield FC were, by many standards, amongst the giants of non-league football. Eight times winners of the Isthmian League, twice winners of the Alliance Premier League (now the Blue Square Premier), twice winners of the FA Amateur Cup and the FA Trophy, and FA Cup giant-killers, this was a club with a sense of history and of expectation. The introduction of automatic promotion and relegation between the Football League and the Football Conference in 1987, however, hit the club hard and they were relegated in bottom place in 1990. Widely expected to make an immediate return to the league, they stalled in the Isthmian League, finishing in second, second, third and second place in the...

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