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Day: March 8, 2012

European Championship Stories: 1988 – Revenge Is A Dish Best Served Cold

There can be few things more tiresome in international football than war analogies. Sometimes, however, they are inescapable and this can be no more true than in the case of European nations which once pitched up against each other on battlefields, only to find themselves facing off against their former allies or rivals for decades afterwards. In the case of the Dutch national team, the complex nature of its relationship with its neighbour – and former occupier – Germany has come to manifest itself through an occasional series of  gladiatorial matches between the two national sides. The Netherlands team has become so well-established in the latter stages of major tournaments in recent years that it is easy to forget that this wasn’t always the case. Although they won three consecutive bronze medals at the early Olympic Games, a lack of professionalism meant that increases in quality at the top level of the game left the Netherlands team behind. They did send a team to both the 1934 and 1938 World Cups, but they were knocked out in the First Round both times, by Switzerland and Czechoslovakia respectively. After the war, the team didn’t compete in the first two World Cups, which were held in Brazil and Switzerland, but football in the Netherlands was starting to change. Professionalism in football was legalised in the Netherlands in 1954 and a national league,...

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Fifty Years Ago: How Accrington Stanley Fell From The Football League

It is probably fair to say that 2012 hasn’t been the greatest year for British football clubs so far, financially speaking at least. Rangers, Portsmouth, Darlington and Port Vale all languish in administration and it is possible that others will join them. The language of the discussion of these clubs carries many tropes that are easily identifiable, but there is one that sends a cold chill down the spine of supporters more than any other: the possibility of a club failing to complete its fixtures. More than anything else, it is this possibility more than anything else which confirms a suspension of reality, and it is mercifully infrequent that it should ever come to pass. In recent years, the spectacle of a club folding in the middle of a season has been limited to non-league football, but it has happened in the Football League and this week marks the fiftieth anniversary of probably the most famous financial collapse of all. The sign outside The Crown Ground in Accrington welcomes visitors by identifying Accrington Stanley as “The Club That Wouldn’t Die”, but Accrington Stanley did die in the spring of 1966, havng been forced to resign its Football League in the most public way possible four years earlier. The club’s financial problems had been evident since the end of the previous year when the club had been put under a...

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