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Back To The Eighties: 1980/81, Part Twenty-Two – The FA Cup Quarter-Finals

It’s time for another break from league action, as we’re down to the last eight clubs in the 1980/81 FA Cup with seven clubs from the First Division and one from the Third Division plaing for a place in the semi-finals of the competition. First up, a quick mention of the match that is missing from the selection that we have. Nottingham Forest drew three-all at The City Ground against Ipswich Town and, although the replay was probably just about the last thing that an Ipswich team that was still competing on three fronts – in the FA Cup, the UEFA Cup and for the First Division Championship – needed, Bobby Robson’s team won the replay by a single goal at Portman Road the following week. Our first FA Cup final, then, is the match between Middlesbrough and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Ayresome Park. Wolves had earned a bit of a reputation as a cup team under manager John Barnwell, whilst Middlesbrough at that point had still never played in a major cup final. Second up is the match between Tottenham Hotspur and Exeter City, the Third Division club who had already knocked out Leicester City and Newcastle United in their most surprising of cup runs. Last up are the two matches played between Everton and Manchester City, which went to a replay at Maine Road after the two teams...

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The 2013 FIFA Under-17 World Cup: The Quarter-Finals

So. Farewell, then, a Brazil/Nigeria Under-17 World Cup final. As I predicted here, Mexico had next-to-no chance of beating Brazil. So they did. Just to spite me. And Eurosport’s Wayne Boyce was left almost tearfully lamenting the loss of “the dream final.” Boyce’s commentary colleague Tim Caple had breathlessly recommended to viewers of Sweden’s surprisingly entertaining 2-1 quarter-final win over Honduras that they stick around to watch “this Brazilian team” in action. And whilst there was always a nagging doubt that Caple was tempting fate, few outside Mexico’s fanbase gave their side an earthly. Bizarrely, given that it finished 11-10 after 24 spot-kicks, Mexico thoroughly deserved to win the penalty shoot-out – almost to the point of outclassing the Brazilians. The Selecao scuffed at least three of their successful efforts and found a previously undiscovered hole in Mexican keeper Raul Gudino’s gloves with two others. Mexico’s successful kicks, meanwhile, were either well placed shots or, in the case of Ulises Rivas when the shoot-out was 5-4 and he HAD to score, let Boyce unveil his surely pre-prepared “pop up with a Pannenka” line as Rivas chipped his spot-kick straight down the middle while Brazil keeper Marcos flew to his right. This in turn let Boyce’s co-commentator Stewart Robson bring out his “why don’t the keepers just stand still?” line. But when both keepers appeared too drained to do anything else...

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A Weekend In The Spotlight For Some Of Football’s Afterthoughts

Way back in the past, when social mobility for football clubs was, generally, if not quite absolutely, calcified by the FA’s distinction between amateurs and professionals (a state of affairs which lasted, somewhat extraordinarily, until 1974) or by the Football League’s insistence on re-election rather than meritocracy at the foot of its bottom rung (which clung on as a relic of a closed shop past until 1987), at least the difference between what constituted ‘league’ and ‘non-league’ was somewhat easier to define than it is nowadays. Every year, a bunch of amateurs would find themselves thrust unexpectedly into the limelight and granted the opportunity to bloody the nose of one of their supposed betters in the FA Cup, and every year, it seemed, somebody, somewhere would oblige. These days, however, the lines are somewhat more blurred. Cambridge United, for example, play their football in the Conference National, but as recently as 1991 they were a Second Division club giving Arsenal a hard time in the quarter-finals of this very competition. Another club playing at the same level, Wrexham, got to the same stage of the competition six years later. The line between between the professionals and the semi-professionals has become increasingly blurred over the years, to the extent that even Luton Town, another Conference club, beating Norwich City of the Premier League away from home last season didn’t raise...

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Back To The Eighties: 1980/81, Part Twenty-One: Brighton & Norwich Scrap At The Bottom

As February turned to March in 1981, the battle to avoid relegation to the Second Division was hotting up, with just two points seperating Brghton & Hove Albion, Norwich City and Leicester City at the bottom of the table. The big match of the weekend at the bottom of the table came from Carrow Road, and was between Norwich and Brighton. With ten games of the season to play, winning points was now critical at the bottom of the table. Our second match from the last day of February 1981 is brief highlights from the match between Manchester United and Leeds United at Old Trafford. The following week, meanwhile, saw the first legs of the quarter-finals of the big European competitions. So, first up out these matches is the match between Liverpool and CSKA Sofia from Anfield, and we follow this up with what looked like an extremely tricky trip for Ipswich Town to France to play Saint Etienne. It turned out to be a good week for the remaining English clubs in Europe. You can follow Twohundredpercent on Twitter by cicking...

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Thirty-Six & A Half Million Holes In The Accounts In Blackburn, Lancashire

At least, the supporters of Blackburn Rovers may choose to console themselves this evening, at least the team won yesterday afternoon. For the first time since the start of last month, Rovers have three points under their belt with a one-nil win against Middlesbrough being enough to lift the team to ninth place in the Football League Championship table. A repeat of last season’s battle to avoid relegation to League One seems highly unlikely to be repeated. If there was success on the pitch for the club yesterday afternoon, however, away from it the results couldn’t have offered a much starker contrast. While the team was playing yesterday afternoon, BBC Lancashire was reporting that Blackburn Rovers Football Club has posted the sort of financial results that send a chill down the spine. Some reasonable level of financial husbandry had been the one saving grace of the otherwise disastrous period of ownership of the Venkys group. In the year to the end of June 2012 the club reported a small operating profit of £4.5m, which we might have hoped would stand as an indication that the club at least had some sort of safety buffer in order to be able to cope with its relegation from the Premier League at the end of the 2011/12 season. A combination of being able to trade profitably and plump parachute payments from the...

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