Category: Latest

A Decade On, Boston’s Rehabilitation Nears Its End

You can still find the plans on the internet, lurking out there hidden with all the other forgotten, abandoned detritus. There are images, architectural conceptions. There’s a picture of the plans being delivered, folder by folder, to the local council. I have a copy of the blueprints somewhere, gathering dust in a long forgotten heap of paperwork in a drawer I haven’t ventured into for years. It is all that remains of Boston United’s aborted stadium plan of nearly a decade ago, a plan that would have seen Boston United move to a new ground on a cabbage field two miles out of town in the Boardsides area and the town’s second team, Boston Town of the United Counties League, flytipped down the appropriately-named Cuckoo’s Land, where the residents simply didn’t want them. It was all for property development, of course. Jon Sotnick was chairman of the club and of Lavaflow, the consortium that owned the club. Everyone seemed to have their fingers in the Lavaflow pie, including the then-manager Steve Evans. York Street, Boston’s home since forever, had always been eyed enviously by property moguls. First by supermarket chains and, when that sector outgrew the footprint afforded by the compact ground, those in the luxury flat market. Similarly, Tattershall Road, Town’s quaint little ground, occupied land just ripe for sixty-odd houses with a broom cupboard for a ‘third...

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Villas-Boas vs The World. And Martin Samuel.

It was around the time that Man City rattled in their fifth goal last Sunday that a billion snarky armchair enthusiasts reached for their smartphones to riff on Erik Thorstvedt’s assertion that Spurs, in flogging Gareth Bale to Real Madrid’s marketing team, had ‘sold Elvis and bought The Beatles’. Hands a’tremblin’ with the excitement of injecting the internet with a hit of wit from a syringe marked ‘FUNNY’, and desperate to see Spurs’ title-chasing  pretensions unceremoniously bludgeoned to death, the smirking know-it-alls went for it. The Beatles! As if! Villas Boas, it was clear, had not bought John, Paul, George and that other twat. Nope, he’d landed himself with…. oooh, let’s see now… Steps. ZING! Or… S Club 7! The Monkees! BOSH! That that, David Baddiel! Take that, humour! Personally, I went for Little Mix. It was either that or Gay Dad, but, obviously, I got it wrong. The Twitter mob decided ages go that, since the fat one in Little Mix who wasn’t fat anyway isn’t fat any more even though she wasn’t fat in the first place, Little Mix are the total opposite of Spurs and awesomeballs after all. Gah! After the laughter had subsided to a rolling boil, the world awoke to news that, despite having been entrusted with job of rebuilding Spurs in the post-Bale era, Villas-Boas was, incredibly, TEETERING on the BRINK of the...

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Andre Villa Boas Reaches Deep Stall Speed

There is no disguising what happened to Tottenham Hotspur at The City of Manchester Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Spurs’ defeat at the hands of a Manchester City team that has otherwise blown hot and cold a little this season was as comprehensive as any in the Premier League this season, and it’s not impossible to see both the result and the performance as having something of a symbolic feel to it. From the very start of this season, Andre Villa Boas’ team has had the air of one riding its luck about it. Wins have had a tendency to be by a single goal, which hints at the thin margins between victory and defeat at the rarefied altitude at the top of the Premier League, whilst defeats have had a crushing feel to them. A narrow loss to Arsenal before it became apparent that Arsene Wenger’s fine tuning had built a team capable of seriously challenging for the league title. A three-nil defeat in the derby that isn’t a derby except it is a derby against West Ham United. Another home loss, this time against the sporadic basket cases of Newcastle United. And then, of course, there was last Sunday’s calamity. In an ideal world, perhaps, it might have been possible to write the Manchester City defeat off as a bad day at the office against an outstanding opposition...

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“Soft Power” Goes To Richard Scudamore’s Head

“Gawd, doesn’t he go on?” I thought as I watched Premier League CEO Richard Scudamore’s latest performance in front of a parliamentary sub-committee.I place no inverted commas around performance, as Scudamore’s overbearing contribution to last week’s session of the House of Lords Select Committee on Soft Power & the UK’s influence was just that. And despite there being three witnesses, Scudamore spoke for 50 of the session’s 79 minutes. There was an obvious anomaly in the English Premier League chief addressing a committee examining “the use of soft power in furthering the United Kingdom’s global influence & interests” and “expected to consider whether the league can be still be described as a British institution.” That said, the EPL is a considerable source of “soft power.” This is a  American-born concept – shock! – born in Harvard University in the early 1990s and defined as “a persuasive approach to international relations, typically using economic or cultural influences.”   Any deeper analysis would turn to psychobabble within seconds. But according to a 2012 survey by “global affairs lifestyle magazine” Monocle, the UK bests the world at using soft power – although the survey’s proximity to the London Olympics probably influenced that result. The committee chairman, Lord Howell of Guildford, was as obsequious to Scudamore as any previous parliamentarians. He happily cited the English league’s role “in promoting British culture, influence and values around...

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Bundesliga Week 13: Bayern Win The Big One

The Bavarian themed basement pub in London last Saturday evening was so packed that people were sitting on the stairs outside the entrance looking through the doorway in order to get a glimpse of the Borussia Dortmund v Bayern Munich match. Locals said that they had never known the place to be this busy and it’s a measure of how highly anticipated the fixture was that people were prepared to stand cheek by jowl with complete strangers just to watch a game down the pub on German TV. The silly thing was that the game was also on UK TV and there were a couple of nearby sports bars where you could have watched the game in comfort. But then, as my friend said at the time, “Where’s the fun in that?” The game itself ended 3-0 to Bayern although Dortmund were not as bad as that. Their greatest crime was that they were profligate, something they have been guilty of in their previous defeats this season. In fairness, Bayern keeper, Manuel Neuer, did have some saves to make however Marco Reus and particularly Robert Lewandowski had good chances to score but failed. The opening goal came from the returning villain, Mario Götze who elected not to celebrate in front of his old home crowd, despite the fact that his insides must have been exploding. Despite going a goal...

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