Category: Latest

Friday Night Fever – A League of Ireland Experience

There is plenty of debate over the relative standard of the various British football leagues, usually focusing on whether the Scottish or Welsh top-flight is “Championship” or “League One” standard. After an evening in the company of the League of Ireland (LOI) last month, my internal debate was whether I’d been watching “Championship” or “National League” standard RUGBY.  Two days after my LOI experience, my cousin’s husband John, a keen football fan, likened a League Cup tie he’d seen to “ninety minutes of kicking for touch,” before declaring the LOI “not for me.” I knew exactly what he meant. If there was a pass to be over-hit, then the two teams I watched over-hit it. And for the first half-hour at least, the referee’s assistants were getting better service than any strikers on show. John hadn’t named the teams he’d seen – largely to protect the innocent, I suspect. I won’t be so shy. Saint Patrick’s Athletic, from the West Dublin suburb of Inchicore, were hosting Athlone Town, from the very centre of Ireland. The LOI table half-explained the fare on offer, as Athlone were bottom of it – played nine, lost the lot. But St. Pats had no such excuse, as wins in their previous four games had taken them into the top three, in what one flag in a corner of the ground reminded me was their...

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Pushed Down The Pyramid: Why Premier League B Teams Can “B” Off

A few days ago I was pondering the inadvisability of both knee-jerk reactions and the tendency for media outlets to focus on one aspect of a particular story at the expense of the “bigger picture.” A few days later, I was guilty of both, in response to The FA Chairman’s England Commission report and its proposal to insert Premier League “B” teams into English club football’s pyramid system. My knee-jerk, narrowly-focused response was identical to Southend United fan Iain McIntosh’s, writing in the Anfield Wrap digital magazine: “**** off. Seriously, just **** off.” I was cursedly averse to the idea that the team I support, Kingstonian – still of the Ryman League after recent play-off failure (sob!), should be flung maybe 20 places down the pyramid to help the EPL out of one of its many holes. I realised such a reaction was ill-informed. I had not read the detailed proposals, or the rationale of FA Chairman Greg Dyke. After all, Dyke was, until he became FA chairman last July, non-executive chairman of League One (now Championship) Brentford (well done, them). He wouldn’t seek to push his old club down the pyramid without good reason, surely.  And having read the proposals and their rationale, my well-informed, thoughtful, if still narrowly-focused reaction is (as I suspect regular readers may have already guessed): “Iain McIntosh is absolutely right. **** off. Seriously,...

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Promotion Play-off Places – The Ryman Race

The EPL and La Liga may be going down to the proverbial “wire” but they’ve had nothing on the race to follow Wealdstone into the Conference South. Here, Mark Murphy offers a Kingstonian perspective on the titanic tussle to leave the Isthmian League behind… at least for a bit. It was a confusing text. Where there was usually a timeous score update from fellow Kingstonian fan Phil, I was reading words like “replacement,” “outfield” and “Cronin.” By the time I’d joined the jumble together, my football-watching world had changed. Kingstonian (Ks) were playing at recently-confirmed (and worthy) Ryman Isthmian...

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Rangers: Show Us The Deeds Of Novation

Test match cricket commentators are a little over-fond of saying that “the next session is crucial.” BUT… the “next session” in the “Rangers” saga looks very crucial indeed. There is no-one left to deny that Rangers desperately need money. And their early-April call for current season-ticket holders to renew said tickets by May 6th is Plan A for getting that money in before it is too late. In a direct response, South Africa-based ex-Rangers director Dave King renewed his call to said season-ticket holders not to renew unless or until they are granted security over Rangers’ main assets, Ibrox Stadium and the Auchenhowie training ground formerly known as Murray Park. In a very direct response to this direct response, the Rangers board, effectively, told King to go away and boil his head. In a very direct response to this very direct response… oh, you get the message… Meanwhile, The Rangers Football Club Limited (TRFCL) released their first annual accounts – to June 30th 2013. These garnered little attention, as the story they told was largely that of parent company Rangers International Football Club (RIFC), when their accounts for that period were published last October. However, one small chapter needed retelling and could…SHOULD help Rangers ease their current predicament. The RIFC board and King issued statements after their March 14th meeting, carrying differing but compatible interpretations of events. There appeared...

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David Moyes & The Cult Of The Football Manager

The axe, which had been glistening in the background at post-match press conferences for much of this season, finally made contact with David Moyes’ neck this morning. Moyes’ departure from Old Trafford was a most modern managerial sacking. Trailed on social media, the lead item on the lunchtime news this afternoon, and with considerable excitement – in some quarters, at least – over the effect that the decision had upon Manchester United’s value on the New York Stock Exchange, the removal of the club’s manager couldn’t really have happened at any point in the past. David Moyes – appointed in the summer of 2013, became a laughing stock throughout the course of the previous nine months, has been sacked before the final whistle has even blown on this season. To blame the manager, however, can sometimes feel like a reflex reaction, football’s emotional equivalent to the involuntary jerking of the knee upon it being tapped by a medical professional. Football managers have become larger than life in a near-literal sense, charged with the job of defending their players way past the point of anything like rationality whilst devising sophisticated tactical plans the likes of which Machiavelli would be proud. In an era during which personality has become everything, the modern Premier League football manager has become something far greater than the sum of his parts and Moyes found himself...

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