Category: Latest

Alan Dowson: A Manager To Remember

Yes… yes… Murphy’s on about bloody Kingstonian again. But this one’s important. No…really… It may not seem like much of a legacy, I grant you. But when Isthmian League Kingstonian played out a nothing final game of the 2011/12 season, it highlighted just how few such games there had been in manager Alan Dowson’s seven-and-a-bit years at Kingsmeadow, which came to an end last week. Seasoned Ks watchers used to often joke about games having “an end-of-season feel” to them…in mid-September. And it would often be all-too-true.  So for Dowson to virtually eliminate the concept was a huge achievement, alongside the fact that he left Kingstonian – on-field and off – in a demonstrably better state than that in which he found it. Dowson took over a team drifting in the lower-mid reaches of Ryman Division One South and left one which finished second in the Ryman Premier and, if kept together to any significant degree, will surely among the favourites for promotion from it next season. Superficially, that represents solid but unspectacular progress.  However, Dowson, and those he recruited to work with him, did more than that. He re-fashioned and rebuilt a sense of a proper football “club.” This had been lacking for years at Ks, for historical reasons with which I’ll not bore you here, and is something more tangible and important to football at our level....

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Rangers: Split Personalities

For an awkward few days in July 2012 there appeared to be two “Rangers” football clubs on the go. One was what is now called “emerging from administration” – by going into liquidation. And the other was seeking permission to play at Brechin City in the Scottish League Challenge Cup – permission granted by the Scottish Football Association creating an entirely new membership category, specially, and so far solely, for them. There appeared to be two Rangers on the go again last week. One was in court, claiming that their finances were secure and that fans’ threats to withhold season-ticket monies were not a “major concern.” The other was lambasting fans – in a club statement published during the court case – for “creating financial difficulty for Rangers” which could “only damage the club.” Rangers are currently the subject of a covert takeover bid – albeit one hidden in relatively plain sight – by South African-based businessman and lifelong fan, Dave King. King, however, does not want to pay market rate for Rangers, or any rate at all if possible. So he is using fans’ current discontent to deprive Rangers of much-needed season-ticket renewals income, unless or until “fans” receive security over Rangers’ Ibrox Stadium (initial demands for security over Rangers’ Murray Park training complex have been dropped, for reasons as yet unclear). The vehicle for this was to...

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Richard Scudamore vs Dave Boyle: Compare & Contrast

The communications were rude, offensive and ill-thought out. That they were made in an entirely personal capacity offered little or no excuse. A man in his position ought to have the basic judgement not to say such things while being in that position. He did not remain in that position for long. That last sentence tells you, of course, that the above is not about Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore. Not only because Scudamore remains in his position at the time of typing – despite the crude sexism in email correspondence exposed by the Mirror newspaper this weekend. But also because at the time of typing, he is likely to remain in position. No, it was a general view about the then Chief Executive of Supporters Direct (SD), Dave Boyle. On May 21 2011, Boyle was in celebratory mood, as AFC Wimbledon – a flagship example of SD’s work – gained promotion into the Football League, nine years after the very concept of the club was deemed “bad for football.” Via Twitter, he exacted a verbal revenge on two of the main characters in the Wimbledon saga – entrepreneur Pete Winkleman, who moved the old Wimbledon to Milton Keynes, and lawyer Raj Parker, one of the three-man FA panel who approved the move. And Boyle suggested “**** the bible, this is the greatest story ever told.” For reasons...

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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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