Day: June 23, 2012

Euro 2012: The Quarter-Finals – Spain 2-0 France

If Germany versus Greece or Portugal versus the Czech Republic didn’t quite scratch the itch after the end of the group stages of this summers European Championships, then this evenings blast of Saturday night fever from Donetsk surely must. Two heavyweights of international football – both of which have won back to back World Cups and European Championships over the course of the last decade and a half – squaring up to each other for the right to play Cristiano Ronaldo – sorry, Portugal – in the semi-finals of the competition. Yet neither of the two sides has been firing on all cylinders in this competition so far. Spain were held by Italy in their opening match and required a last minute goal to see off Croatia in their last, while France failed to beat a lack-lustre England side and then lost their final qualifying match against a Swedish side that had already been eliminated from the competition. In addition to this, there has been a degree of improvisation and confusion about the build-up to this match which is wholly out of keeping with for this stage of a tournament. Spain have opted, again, to play without a striker, while France, who have developed a habit for this sort of thing in recent years, have apparently been fighting amongst themselves again. Still, though, there is a sense of occasion...

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100 Owners: Number 93 – Bill Hiddelston (Third Lanark)

There is a curious paradox at the heart of the dynamic of a football club which always seems likely to attract a certain type of undesirable to the game. In terms of their financial position, most clubs live a hand to mouth existence, but many sit on one asset which has considerable value – their home ground. Because football in Britain developed in tandem with the industrial revolution, most football grounds used to be well-positioned. In an age before the widespread ownership of cars, they were often situated near to town centres and, in particular, railway stations, and this means that as real estate prices have increased over the years clubs that were fortunate (or, some may posit, unfortunate) enough to have their name on the deeds to their properties have frequently found themselves becoming an object desire for people that might have an interest in buying the clubs on a cheap, running them into the ground to the point of bankruptcy and then sell the ground – or, perhaps more relevantly, the land upon which it stands – and make a tidy profit. High profile examples of this in recent years have come at the likes of Brighton and Wrexham, but a little further back in the history books lays the story of an institution of Scottish football, one of the founder members of the Scottish Football League,...

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Steady Now, Jonathan: Pearce Shouts For England & Ronaldo

It has become the cheapest thing in football writing to criticise its television commentators. I almost feel like I’m cheating if I get cheap laughs out of an article on the foibles of Alan Green, Peter Drury et al… So, let’s get serious. This European Championship has seen the usual mix of poor research and inanity from the commentary boxes of both the BBC and ITV. The inanities have come at a much faster rate than I can ever remember. But, as I say, it is the usual stuff. When Craig Burley says he has to “rely on reputation” to comment about international footballers, you calm yourself by remembering that he’s only an ex-footballer, not a journalist… Then you also remember that he is supposed to BE a journalist. And whatever his insights into international football tournaments (he played, and scored, in Scotland’s 1998 World Cup finals campaign), they are no help if he can neither utilise that experience nor recognise Ukraine’s Oleksandr Aliyev other than by “reputation” (DVDs of how he got that reputation must be available to a national broadcaster like ITV). However, the performance of Jonathan Pearce and Martin Keown in Warsaw at the Czech Republic v. Portugal Euro 2012 quarter-final plumbed further depths of unprofessionalism. Instead of enhancing the viewers’ knowledge and enjoyment of the evening, the pair ruined the latter with their obsession with...

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