Day: May 20, 2012

Match Of The Past: Chelsea

Football League play-off finals aside, the domestic season is now all-but over and last week saw the last of our non-league videos of the week. To fill the gap between now and the start of next season, though, we’re going to bring you some videos from the history of the game in England and who better to start with the new European champions, Chelsea? The arrival of Roman Abramovich at the club changed its fortunes perhaps forever, but supporting Chelsea hasn’t always been so glamorous. After winning the Football League championship in 1955 and spending much of the 1960s in the top half of the First Division, Chelsea spent much of the 1970s and 1980s in a state of disrepair and not far short of bankruptcy. Our first match this evening comes from the start of the 1975/76 season, and a trip from newly-promoted Carlisle United to Stamford Bridge. The two teams had been relegated from the First Division the year before and Chelsea would finish this season in eleventh place in the Second Division. The club was promoted at the end of the following season, and our second match is another home match from the middle of that promotion season, against Wolverhampton Wanderers. The club’s stay back in the top flight, however, was short-lived and in 1979 they were relegated back. This time it took them five seasons...

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The Dog Returns to the Pompey Manger.

You have to admire the stoicism of football fans. No matter how much the parameters of the game are manipulated to the advantage of those with little emotional investment in our clubs we continue to process through the turnstiles. We tolerate being frisked for lethal bottle tops and are directed to seats where we are ordered to sit down and play nice. The money we pay goes who-knows-where? Given the loose regulation of the business of the game and the range of people passed as fit and proper to own a club we are expected to improve the finances of anyone from arms dealers through owners of unregulated financial institutions to nice philanthropic gentlemen. Except we don’t get to choose. In some cases we don’t even know who they are – eh Ken? Its laissez-fair all the way to the bank or the insolvency courts. Like it or lump it.  So again at Pompey the return of the most reluctant  owner of a business since Basil Fawlty is welcomed by many with relief and the hope that this time the magic beans will take root and flourish. Maybe the dog will let a little more of the grain dribble out of the manger this time. How many times? Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me … fool me three times? Money for old rope....

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Match of the Weekend 4 – The Conference Playoff Final – York City 2 – 1 Luton Town

“We’re a Football League club, how good is that?” – Gary Mills’ reaction to York City’s return to the league was typically unshowy, embodying the calm, quiet way the Minstermen have gone about their season. There were no tears, no whoops of delight and not much in the way of a wild celebration, just an acknowledgement of how much it means for the club to win. It is almost ironic that the only fuss York City have caused this season came in the form of Matty Blair’s winning goal, which looked at least a yard offside. Mills’ response to the goal: “Was is offside? Who cares. It’s a goal and a huge goal. Mistakes happen all the time.” After Andre Gray fired Luton ahead with barely two minutes on the clock things didn’t look great for York. Gray, signed from Hinckley United in the Conference North, was there to collect Robbie Willmot’s flick, with the crossbar helping the ball over the line. Luton could’ve made it two with Alex Lawless and Adam Watkins both shooting wide. But with 15 minutes played the Minstermen began to take control. Top scorer Jason Walker tested Luton keeper Mark Tyler with a rasping shot, Tyler stretching to tip the ball over the bar. Their equaliser came when York took advantage of some lazy Luton defending, Chris Smith darting back and looping a cross...

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Match of the Weekend 3 – The Champions League Final – Bayern 1 Chelsea 1 (3-4 on penalties)

And so it finally came to pass. Nine years after Roman Abramovich arrived at Stamford Bridge and spent like no other owner before him, and Chelsea win the one prize that always eluded Roman’s riches. Ironically, this comes just a week after Sheik Mansour’s Manchester City won the league on even greater resources than Chelsea have been used to. Regardless of how the squad was assembled,Chelsea fought hard for the win, and did it in the toughest way possible – going behind seven minutes from time, conceding a penalty in extra time, and even missing their first penalty in a shootout they eventually won 4-3.   Both sides started the match with players missing through suspension. The absence of Branislav Ivanovic and John Terry weakened Chelsea’s defence, and presumably played a part in the selection at left midfield of Ryan Bertrand, making his Champions League debut. With David Luiz and Gary Cahill both lacking match practice – the Brazilian’s last game was against Tottenham Hotspur on April 14th – Ashley Cole would be expected to cover more defensive duties than normal, meaning that a more defensive left midfielder was needed to help Cole cope with Arjen Robben. The lack of Raul Meireles and Ramires also reduced the midfield options, but most would have expected Florent Malouda to start. Bayern had their own suspensions – Holger Badstuber and David Alaba...

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Match of the Weekend 2 – The Scottish Cup Final: Hibernian 1 Heart of Midlothian 5

Having waited 118 years for a second all-Edinburgh Final, the Scottish Cup final ended up being a disappointment for neutrals, and especially Hibernian fans, as Heart of Midlothian ran out comfortable 5-1 winners, for their eight victory in the competition, their third Cup win in fourteen years. It was a game overshadowed by controversy, especially concerning the decision at the start of the second half, which saw Hearts awarded a penalty and Hibernian reduced to ten men. With many fans considering this the biggest derby ever, the opening exchanges were relatively fast-paced, but with both sides avoiding too many risks. With it taking eight minutes before either side made it to the opposition penalty box, even then the Hibernian defence easily dealt with Danny Grainger’s freekick, although the clearance led to a crude challenge by 1998 Cup Final ballboy Ian Black on Leigh Griffiths. Replays suggested that Black’s jumping shoulder charge also saw him catchGriffithswith an elbow, and referee Craig Thomson shows a lot of leniency towards the Hearts’ number eight in his last game for the club. It takes twelve minutes before we even get a half-chance. Good work between Grainger and Rudi Skacel is almost broken up by a challenge by Jorge Claros, but as the Hibs defence switches off, Andrew Driver saves the ball from going out of play and delivers a cross that’s just too...

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