Category: Latest

World Cup Magic: 1978 – Ticker-Tape & Tartan Travesty

Although I watched the 1974 World Cup finals as an eight-year-old recently converted to football, 1978 is the earliest tournament I properly remember. And I was the only one among the football fans at our rugby-playing school who tipped hosts Argentina to win. For the second World Cup finals in succession, the Anglophile British media had to pretend to support Scotland. While Scotland indulged in English-style hype that they could actually win the competition – despite warnings from a dismal Home International Championships immediately before manager Ally MacLeod’s side travelled to Argentina. Although Scotland beat European champions Czechoslovakia to qualify, European victory in South America was still a fanciful notion. However, International football analysis was still taught at the Corporal Jones school of foreigners not liking “it up them.” So the idea persisted that gap-toothed striker Joe Jordan could terrify opposition defences by little more than smiling at them. International football TV coverage in 1978 was blighted by poor sound and pictures. But many of my generation thought the fuzzy images and commentaries added to the atmosphere, making “foreign” crowds sound louder and more volatile. And Argentina 1978 added… ticker-tape. If we’d seen ticker-tape at all it was from footage of triumphal parades through American city streets by military or sporting heroes, showers of the stuff emerging from the skyscrapers which flanked them.  Yes, it was American. And a...

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On Coventry City, Cardiff City & Hull City’s Winter Of Discontent

There are three football clubs at which the Christmas period may well prove to be a period of reflection. The circumstances that have engulfed these three clubs over the last few weeks and months have come to act as something of a barometer for the state of professional football in this country at the moment. None of them are sufficiently insignificant as clubs to be easy to sweep under the carpet – two of them, for goodness’ sake, are in the Premier League – and the behaviour of their owners have heaped shame on what used to be a game, as well as causing thousands to start reconsidering whether this “game” is even worth bothering with any more. It used to occasionally be said that, over the course of your lifetime, you were statistically less likely to change your bank than you were to change your husband and wife. I’m not entirely sure whether this situation is still the same but I’d say with a degree of certainty that, even in the footloose and fancy-free twenty-century, when we’re all encouraged to treat every interaction in our personal lives as consumers, that we’re still less likely to change our football team over the course of our lifetimes than just about any other aspect of our lives. It’s only through this prism of attachment and self-identification can the decisions of those...

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Death or Perth Glory: Player power and the sacking of Alistair Edwards

The season of goodwill has never extended into football and the anti-Santa has struck with predictable timing, handing out the sack no manager wanted. Andre Villas-Boas, Steve Clarke and Gianfranco Zola have all suffered various forms of defenestration in the run up to Christmas, some easier to predict than others. However, on further shores from the Premier League, one of the more curious and unexpected sackings has come at Perth Glory, where coach Alistair Edwards has been given the boot less than a year into a three year contract. For once, league position had very little to do with...

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A Wet Saturday Afternoon In Brighton

There fall some days when you know, you can just feel, that this isn’t going to be your day. Saturday lunchtime in Brighton town centre has started with a little light Christmas shopping accompanied with the slowly dawning realisation that no, I hadn’t bought the tickets that said I would for that afternoon’s Championship match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Huddersfield Town that I promised I would. The days of just being able to pitch up at matches and pay to get in are long gone, of course. It’s the Saturday before Christmas and tickets are available. It’s just a matter of how to get hold of them which starts to become something of an issue. I stand around in the club’s town centre shop while the staff busy themselves by contriving to do everything but engage with me, and five minutes after this I find myself in a bizarre conversation with an assistant at the Portakabin which now sits outside Brighton railway station on match-days, at which I have apparently misinterpreted a sign on the counter that says “Tickets On Sale” on the – perhaps naive, perhaps stupid – assumption that such a sign would mean that I could buy tickets from there. I can’t, said the girl behind the counter with a look of complete bemusement at the very concept that I could float such an...

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Rangers: Winners & Losers From Another AGM

The wretched soap opera which has been based in Govan in West Glasgow for so many years now has come to a potentially seminal episode. Rangers International Football Club PLC held its first Annual General Meeting (AGM) after the company, which runs the new Rangers FC, posted losses of approximately an arm and a leg during its first year of trading; gargantuan losses for a Scottish fourth-tier football club with regular home gates of 45,000+ and all the more inexcusable given the financial circumstances which required the club’s formation. The last AGM of “Rangers” shareholders, in 2009, was a chapter in a standard tale of financial mismanagement. The then-manager Walter Smith had said that Lloyds Banking Group were effectively running debt-laden Rangers. And this was manifested in the presence of one Donald Muir on the Rangers PLC board. Disaffected shareholders overwhelmingly voted Muir off on a show of hands. But this wasn’t the “right result” for the Ibrox powers-that-be. So the result was declared “uncertain” from the top table and put to a “card vote” in the style of supposedly archaic trade union block votes; whereupon majority shareholder David Murray’s block vote of 90 million-ish made the result less “uncertain.” It was much the same outcome in 2013, in that the will of the people (which Rangers fans claim “we are”) were thwarted by the card votes of RIFC’s...

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