Day: July 4, 2011

Brighton & Hove Albion Make A Statement Of Intent

What a difference twelve months makes. Although their new stadium at Falmer was already well under way this time last year, optimism surrounding Brighton & Hove Albion this time last year was cautious to say the least. The League One contenders looked tough, and one final year at Withdean, where a lack of atmosphere came as an unwanted free gift with the very design of the ground, made promotion feel like a stretch too far. Skip forward twelve months, and this feels like a club reborn. Promotion felt inevitable very early on, and the team didn’t just win the league title – they won it in style, the best team in the division by a comfortable distance. Manager Gus Poyet has established himself as a real contender for a lengthy and successful career. Falmer is now The American Express Community Stadium and has over 18,000 tickets already sold for the new season in a summer when predictions for season ticket sales elsewhere have fallen somewhere between sluggish and apocalyptic. Today, though, came the icing on the cake for supporters of the club with the news that the club has signed Craig Mackail-Smith from Peterborough United for a fee of £2.5 million which will likely rise to around £3.25 million with various add-ons. There are several strands to this signing which make it particularly notable. Firstly, there is the calibre...

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The 2011 Womens World Cup – Game Two Updates

A web of intrigue awaits in the last round of matches at the Women’s World Cup. Most of the quarter-finalists may already be known. But Germany’s stuttering start – caused partly (whisper it) by taliswomanic striker Birgit Printz being a non-event – leaves them needing to beat an impressive France to win Group A. Otherwise, Japan face England in Group B earlier on Tuesday with the winners possibly facing Germany in the quarters. A “tactically fascinating” battle methinks. England haven’t yet worked out whether to resemble the men’s team in 2006 (useless but winning) or 2010 (useless). And they fitted New Zealand coach John Herdman’s description of them as “rigid” and “predictable” to the letter in Dresden on Friday until Jill Scott’s well-fashioned equaliser. Striker Eniola Aluko largely snubbed the negative comments on Twitter after her profligate display against Mexico: “I responded to two people and I saw about 15 comments so there’s a lot of people I ignored too which takes a lot.” Unfortunately ignoring thirteen people took such a lot that she was disappointing again against New Zealand. But England deserved to win possibly the dirtiest-ever international football match without a booking. Germany’s 1-0 win over Nigeria was euphemistically labelled a “physical encounter” in official match reports, but even the vibrant (i.e. violent) Nigerians didn’t have a Katie Hoyle in their ranks, New Zealand’s livewire mix of...

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Down the Southern Road: Derbies and Gents

Regardless of where played, a proper derby stokes supporters’ passions, incites vitriol to be spewed irrationally, and at times can pluck raw nerves to a bleeding point. If today’s player, often unattached or deeply affiliated with a club  enough to identify with a rivalry match, actually buys in to this emotion and puts it into his play on the pitch, the results can run the gamut from being something of legend to looking brutish and petty. Whatever the outcome, the events of a derby day eventually become part of a running narrative in a club’s history, whether it is a Black Country Derby in the West Midlands, the Old Firm in Glasgow, or the Cairo Derby between Zamalek and Al-Ahly. While the Bayou Derby between Premier Development League clubs Baton Rouge and New Orleans lacks a similar maturation to those previously listed, the clubs and their supporters have done their best to foment a rivalry sufficient enough to actually be considered a derby. Regarding the teams, what once might have been a friendly rivalry for Deep South bragging rights resolved into something with a bit more edge to it beginning last campaign when new ownership set about remaking Baton Rouge from an also-ran in the PDL to a title contender. Dr. John Hamide, a New Orleans physician, purchased a stake in the Baton Rouge Capitals and, perhaps having seen...

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