I’m somewhat glad that we’re through with the European Championships for a while. It’s too much football and not enough football at the same time. If you missed all of it this week, you’ll be able to catch it all on Saturday, on “Football Focus”. The next couple of days will give us all a few days to catch our collective breath, so I thought that now would be as good a time as any to catch up on my football picks from the internet. First and foremost, I should apologise to anybody that doesn’t appear on the list below – there are plenty of excellent sites and blogs that won’t be listed below because, to be honest, there are too many to list. I’ve also left out links related to specific clubs. These are in no particular order, and are all taken from the links section on the right (with a couple of exceptions).
Culture Of Soccer: So, you think that Americans can’t write intelligently about football, hmm? Wrong, and “Culture Of Soccer” is proof of that. The American perspective on the world game is an interesting one, and deserves more attention that it gets. MLS is an intriguing league – far more egalitarian in its structure than the major European league – and I will attempt to post something about it before its season starts. Highly recommended.
The Subbuteo Page: I mentioned this page in here a long, long time ago, but it’s more than worth a reminder. These days with kids, of course, it’s all Pro Evolution and knifing each other, but long ago, it was all about accumulating bits of plastic and trying to assemble something that looked like the Bernabau in your loft. The sheer breadth of equipment made by the various companies that have manufactured it are staggering, and if you can’t waste an afternoon looking at this and cooing, I’m fairly certain that you haven’t got a soul.
Goalkeepers Are Different: Brian Glanville said it first and, my word, he was right. Goalkeepers are different. This site isn’t updated half as regularly as I’d like, but the custodians of the nets deserve their own page, and this is as good as there is on the subject. The Quirky Facts page alone contains enough useless information to render you friendless after just a couple of nights in the pub, and this is the highest praise that I could give.
Historical Kits: If, like me, you are obsessed with the paraphenalia and minutae of football, this should be in your list of bookmarks. You have to do quite a bit of delving to get you to the things that make you nod your head sagely whilst stroking your imaginary beard, but it’s more than worth it. Also, there are a few blanks, so have a look for your favourite team and you might even be able to help them out, if you’re that way inclined. An invaluable resource, as they say in the trade.
101 Great Goals: This site hardly even needs any introduction from me. 101 Great Goals has all the important goals, lovingly prepared and shoved onto YouTube, and usually available barely twenty-four hours after the end of the match.
Hobo Tread: Here’s a small confession for you: Hobo Tread is, more than anything else, responsible for making me go to random non-league football matches over the last few months. If I feel as if I should go to a football match on the Saturday but suspect that I won’t much feel like getting out of bed, I have a read of it and suddenly I’m in the mood. It also allows me the fantasy that I am doing something worthwhile, rather than merely being one step away from having a bobble hat and a mug of Bovril.
Some People Are On The Pitch: Do you ever get the feeling that you’re looking at yourself in a parallel universe? I get that feeling when I read “Some People Are On The Pitch”, only the people in this parallel universe have more and better ideas than me. And they’re better writers. But it’s not like I’m jealous or anything.
Spangly Princess: Okay, so it’s not completely about football, but this blog is well written enough to justify your regular attention. If you’re looking for confirmation on this subject, check the archives for her articles on the crowd violence at the Catania-Palermo match earlier this year. It was good enough to get her published in “When Saturday Comes”, no less.
If This Is Football: I’ve left my favourite until last, actually. Written by an ex-Brightonian now living in America, it offers the sort of insight that only someone that has experienced the culture of the game in two completely different countries can give. A mixture of culture, politics and players with ridiculous hair – in other words, everything that this blog aspires to be. If you bookmark only one site as a result of this article (and I have the distinct feeling that I’m going to lose what few readers I have as a result of this piece), it should be this one.
And that’s your lot. As ever, I’m on the lookout for more good football links to put on the right-hand side of this page, so feel free to put your own suggestions in the comments. I like to think that I’m democratic, if nothing else.