Category: Latest

Hull City Supporters Make Their Voices Heard

Football clubs have always, in the main, been run as fiefdoms. From the late Victorian era and the likes of John Houlding at Liverpool through to his obvious descendents, such as Doug Ellis and Ken Bates, there has always been an element of ‘my way or the highway’ about club owners, but in the twenty-first century, when we demand greater transparency, in particular with regard to clubs being run for the benefit of their supporters, examples of true autocracy have a tendency to look all the more jarring. Indeed, perhaps the only thing more jarring than this is the sight of those who accept the edicts of those who are richers and betters – which seems destined to become this century’s equivalent of ‘elders and betters’ – without question. Over the last couple of seasons, this sort of absolute rule has made something of a return in professional football after a few years on the wane, most notably at Cardiff City, where an entire soap opera could be based upon a combination of what we know for sure and conjecture which doesn’t sound as ridiculous as it should do. There remains a protest at Cardiff City, of course, against the debasement of the club’s identity and about the increasingly freakish rumours concerning the actions those running the club, but the sheer white noise that comes with merely being in...

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O’Neill & Keane – The Dream Team?

Adrian Chiles looked pleased as he was introducing ITV’s Champions League coverage in San Sebastian on Tuesday, stood alongside Ireland’s new management team, Martin O’Neill and assistant Roy Keane. He was even confident/brave enough to liken them to “Laurel and Hardy,” with Keane stood well within arms-reach (Lee Dixon offered “dumb and dumber”, which was braver/dafter still). Chiles will almost certainly be bidding a farewell of sorts to charmless pundit Keane, now that the Corkman has decided that being Ireland’s assistant manager is a better bet than watching England scuff their way through qualifying campaigns. Keane will, of course, show the commitment to his new role that he’s so publicly and combatively demanded of others in Ireland’s set-up. So Keane will not emulate Gordon Strachan, who currently combines ITV punditry with managing Scotland. Unless Keane is some sort of hypocrite. And anyone reading Keane: My Autobiography, written about a 30-year-old Keane, while Roy was raging about “how many books (Ferguson) has written now” will know that he doesn’t do hypocrisy. To some of us, Keane as Ireland’s number two (a description with more than one meaning) is a price worth paying for O’Neill becoming Ireland’s number one. The actual price that the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) have paid is another matter, of course. Giovanni Trapattoni and Marco Tardelli’s contracts were negotiated in 2008 at the fag-end of Ireland’s...

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The I-Spy Book Of The FA Cup First Round

The weekend of the First Round of the FA Cup is a familiar enough date in the football calendar to have spawned any number of tropes to have sprung over the years. Every year, the same narrative is written, one of plucky minnows and giants such as, say, Burton Albion or Fleetwood Town. Now, we here at 200% are as guilty of indulging in this as anybody else, but we feel that this qualifies us to introduce this fun game* with some fantastic prizes to be won**, so tighten the lid on your thermos flasks, put that magazine about diesel rolling stock of the 1970s down for a moment, and come join us for our game of FA Cup First Round I-Spy. *Game probably not that much fun. **There are no prizes, unless you count the grudging admiration of your peers, and you may not even receive that. Oversized Tin Foil FA Cup: Footballers are usually understood to be unlikely to trouble Mensa too much, but the PFA can at least console itself with the knowledge that, so far as we are aware, there are no recorded instances of a player mistaking an oversized tin foil FA Cup for the real thing and supposing that his team has been given a bye to a final which is inexplicably being held in Stevenage rather than at Wembley. The tin foil...

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The FIFA Under-17 World Cup: The Semi-Finals

So. Hello, then, a Mexico/Nigeria Under-17 World Cup final. This engaging tournament is back almost where it started after three weeks of football largely and refreshingly free of cynicism and, at least in my case, predictability. Mexico and Nigeria, who met on the tournament’s third day, were worthy and ultimately convincing winners of two entertaining semi-finals which followed similar patterns – lively first halves, scrappy third quarters and fractionally flattering victory margins. Three-nil was harsh on both Argentina and Sweden, although it was far easier to feel sympathy for the latter. Argentina had only ten men for an hour after Joaquin Ibanez surfed Mexico’s Omar Govea’s left leg – described by fifa.com as a “two-studded tackle,” which was as wide of the mark as a Cote D’Ivoire shot. And while they were sufficiently tactically astute to make the second half a contest, despite being two-nil down at the break, they should have been down to nine men even by the time Ibanez slid into view. The holders of ticket number 20 won the worldwide “in what minute will Lucio Compagnucci get booked” sweepstake (you could have thrown ticket number 46 back in the drum). But the combative Argentine midfielder ought to have seen red for what replays revealed to be a forearm smash into Ulises Jaimes’ face. And he ought to have seen red again when he used Mexican...

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FA Cup First Round Week: “Might We Run Into Rupert The Bear In Shortwood?”

Some phrases, it seems, stick with you for life. In the August 1990 edition of When Saturday Comes, Newport County supporter Phil Tanner posed the above question in relation to the death of his football club and its rebirth in the Hellenic League, travelling around the southern and western outposts of the non-league game, playing clubs of which he and the vast majority of his fellow supporters had never heard. Phil probably didn’t run into Rupert during his club’s spell playing football at that level – quite asides from any other considerations, the aforementioned fictional ursine one lived in Nutwood rather than Shortwood – but almost a quarter of a century on from that mischievous question being posed  one of the club’s that Newport played that season will make national headlines. The Wood, as Shortwood United is nicknamed, will emerge from the forest that is the nether regions of the non-league pyramid to make its debut in the First Round of the FA Cup, live on the television, against Port Vale. Shortwood United ply their trade in Division One South & West of the Southern Football League, a level of football as far removed from the Football League as a club playing in the Conference South is from the Premier League. Founded in 1900, the club joined the Gloucestershire County League in 1975, getting promoted into the Hellenic League...

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