Day: April 16, 2012

Ashley Young Is But The Tip Of The Iceberg In Footballs Culture Of Cheating

So, Ashley Young took a tumble for Manchester United against Aston Villa yesterday afternoon and now the whole man and his or her dog is up in arms about it. It was the second week in a row that Young had been up to such antics, with a swan dive against Queens Park Rangers last weekend earning Queens Park Rangers’ Shaun Derry a red card and, just as yesterday, setting the Premier League’s champions-elect for another comfortable home win.  While several trees have already been felled for the discussion over the minutae of Young’s melodramatics, though – was it a penalty or not, do these things really “even themselves out over the course of a season” or not, and so on – few seem to be asking the altogether more realistic question of whether it is possible to expect modern footballers to play the game with any moral compass whatsoever. The truth of the matter is that the dice have been loaded since the game first turned professional in the latter years of the nineteenth cetury. The corinthian values of the public school-educated guardians of football’s first guardians fell by the wayside many years ago and cheating – or seeking to cheat – on the pitch is a phenomenon that is as old as the game itself. What has changed is that when referees make mistakes, those mistakes are...

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Smash & Grab! Bristol Rovers – The Warboys & Bannister Years

It is now almost forty years since Bristol Rovers ran up one of the most remarkable unbeaten runs in the entire history of the Football League, and their attack at the time was one of the most feared around. Here’s Paul Caulfield on a team that is fondly remembered by its supporters, and the strikers that took them to promotion from the Third Division. The 1973-74 season belonged to Leeds United. Their twenty-nine match unbeaten run eclipsed all others in the top flight and finally brought the title to football’s nearly men. But bubbling under were Bristol Rovers, on a record-breaking thirty-two game run of their own, thanks to two of the League’s sharpest strikers; Alan Warboys and Bruce Bannister. Their goals made Rovers early promotion favourites in Division Three and by November they were second in the table behind Oldham Athletic. Their next fixture was an awkward trip to Brighton, under the newly-installed Brian Clough, on the first of December. The following day, Clough chatted with Brian Moore on The Big Match in calm, measured tones – his slightly forced smile only hinting at the atmosphere in the Brighton dressing room the day before, after a disastrous 8-2 defeat. Seven goals from the ‘Smash and Grab’ duo of Warboys and Bannister produced a perfect storm that blew Albion away. Shortly before, Bristol Rovers’ marketing team had used the...

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Successful Marketing At Needham: Andy Ollerenshaw Meets Needham Market FC

As this season winds towards its end, one small town in Suffolk’s football club is continuing its upward trajectory. Needham Market FC are in the play-off places in the Ryman League Division One North, only sixteen years after they were still competing in the amateur Suffolk & Ipswich League. Andy Ollerenshaw went to see what they’re getting so right there at the moment. As the 2011-12 season reaches its climax, news of football clubs battling for continued existence still grab the headlines. From Glasgow Rangers to Northwich Victoria, Portsmouth to Port Vale, there’s a sad acceptance that there will always be a ‘club in crisis’ story loitering just around the next corner. Many clubs, who fail to heed the blindingly obvious lessons learned through witnessing bedfellows wither and die, plough on regardless. It is therefore refreshing, every now and then, to stumble across a club quietly going about its business the right way, with its collective feet firmly planted in a huge bucket of realism. Needham Market is an old wool combing town in the heart of Suffolk and has a quintessential rural feel to it. The town’s football club play at Bloomfields, a ground bordered by farmland, allotments and houses that mark the western limits of the town. Needham Market Football Club was formed in 1919 and as recently as 1996 were playing county football in the Suffolk...

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