Author: Ian

The Perverse Joy of Small Attendances

Perhaps this marks me out as the worst sort of rubber-necker, but there is something that I find strangely enjoyable about looking out for low attendances at football matches. Coming across one can invoke very strange feelings of surprise, concern, and very occasionally a smile dripping with schadenfreude. In modern times, this usually means looking to evening matches in the lower divisions. If you’re a non-league club who ground-shares and has an inconsequential cup match against a team with a small support on a Champions League night, you may well pass across my radar. It’s usually only fleeting, but...

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Under Pressure: On Stress & Football Management

If there’s one thing that we know about modern football above just about anything else, it’s that modern football matters. It’s a message that is relentlessly pushed at us, and the reasons for it are many and varied. The amount of money involved is most commonly cited as the root cause for this. Back in the days when many – if not most – financial transactions within the game came in the order of thousands, tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of pounds, there was less at stake. The supporters of the 1960s and 1970s simply didn’t discuss...

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Design Classics: The Adidas Tango

With the start of another football season comes another rash of new ball designs by various sporting manufacturers. Adhering to the apparent viewpoint that all publicity actually is good publicity, Nike have elected this season to go for a rather unlovely design called the Ordem V, which they have wrapped in different colours for La Liga, Serie A and the Premier League, with La Liga’s being in orange and yellow, Serie A’s in orange and purple, and the Premier League’s being at least an improvement upon last season’s quite monumentally dreadful luminous yellow, blue, purple and white, although it...

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Chaos Theory & Indirect Free-Kicks

I’ve been watching football for pushing forty years, now, and in spite of numerous serious challengers, there remains one question above all others to which I’ve never received a truly satisfying answer. It’s a question that touches upon refereeing consistency, my own personal baseness, and even the fundamental, existential matter of whether sport is, can, or even should be considered just another branch of the light entertainment industry, or whether it’s something other, that exists entirely within its own cultural bubble. And it’s a very simple question, as well: so, why aren’t more indirect free-kicks ever awarded inside the...

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A Brief History of Goalkeepers’ Gloves

In theory, a big part of the appeal of football as a game is its simplicity. All you really need to play is a ball (or something that can stand in for a ball) and, where possible, something that can be used as a goal. One doesn’t have to look very far, however, before the paraphernalia of football becomes apparent. Boots, Shin-pads. And for the goalkeepers amongst us, perhaps most significantly, there are gloves. There is, perhaps, a conversation to be held over the extent to which goalkeepers should even be allowed to wear gloves, if it could be...

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