Category: Latest

The Republic of Ireland: International Football As Tragi-Comedy

Appearances can deceive greatly. On Sunday, I watched my team – who have had such a good start to the season that they are starting to becomeperennially known as “high-flying Kingstonian” – beat Ryman League strugglers Thamesmead Town by a largely expected margin of 4-1. The Thamesmead goalkeeper, the delightfully-named Bob Budd, was responsible for the score. The score not being 8-1 (EIGHT-BLOODY-ONE!!), that is. As I sub-edit the Non-League Paper’s Ryman League Premier Division page, not only am I responsible for all those crap headlines (“Bury buried,” “Rocks rocked” etc…) but I was also ready for Budd’s terrific display of shot-stopping. His name featured heavily in Mead match reports, and not just from Mead’s own NLP reporter. So his athletic tendency to get in the way of goalbound shots and headers was less disconcerting to me than to many other Ks fans who might have clocked a scruffily-attired keeper and thought, “no wonder they’re bottom,” although, it must be added that despite the combination of terrific goalkeeper and relegation candidature, Mead looked a mid-way decent side. Budd was dressed like a Ray Clemence tribute-act, as in the yellow-shirted keeper who shared England duties with Peter Shilton throughout the mid-to-late 1970s. Budd’s yellow shirt looked faded and fractionally too big for him, giving the unfair impression of a Sunday league goalkeeper. And I thought of Budd when I first...

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Back To The Eighties: 1980/81, Part Eight – West Ham United’s Revival Continues

“At a time when so many clubs are suffering from falling attendances West Ham can actually boast that average gates are higher at Upton Park this season,” says Match Of The Day’s commentator Alan Parry prior to West Ham United’s home Division Two match against struggling Grimsby Town on the eighth of November 1980, “and the loyalty of West Ham’s supporters is a reflection of the team’s success.” And well they might. The club had been relegated from the First Division at the end of the 1977/78 season, but despite not having been able to bounce straight back into the top flight, West Ham United won the FA Cup in 1980 against Arsenal thanks to a single headed goal from Trevor Brooking, and the club went into this match in second place in the table, just behind leaders Notts County. Our other two matches feature somewhat briefer highlights of two matches from the First Division. The cameras of Southern Television were at The Dell to see Southampton play Ipswich Town in what was probably the most entertaining single match of the entire weekend, while finally we have the chance to see a few minutes filmed footage of the match between Leicester City and a Manchester City side that was starting to settle following the appointment of John Bond, who had come into the club a few weeks later to...

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Spacemonkeygate: Or, How To Create An Omnishambles Within Twenty-Four Hours

If only, we might pause to reflect, he had used the name ‘Laika’ instead. At least that way around we might have been spared the acres and acres of coverage that we have been subjected to since around about half past ten last night. There is, in a perverse way, almost something comforting about something relating to the England national football team being plunged back into CRISIS via a combination of, depending on who you believe, anything up to three or four different sources. The previous twenty-four hours of relative serenity had all been most un-English, and at least we can probably all agree that, whether this is a non-story or not, at least abnormal service has been restored. The planets are back in alignment, or, to put it another way, the circus is back in town. To try – and merely typing these words is enough to make the heart simultaneously sink towards the stomach and leap to the throat – and make some sort of sense of this story, we should probably have a go at sorting the wheat from the chaff, because there’s a lot of white noise out there at the moment.. So, what probably does matter in terms of this story, and what probably doesn’t? Things That Probably Don’t Matter The joke itself wasn’t that funny: Well, it should be perfectly self-evident to anybody...

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The Elephant In The MadStad Boardroom

Reading Football Club was due to be purchased earlier this year, but two deadlines to make the payment to complete it have now been missed. Jon Keen has some questions for those in charge of the club. Whilst we’ve been enduring this international weekend without our own clubs playing football, it’s inevitable that talk amongst supporters turn to many other subjects. But amongst Reading supporters there’s one subject that’s very much to the fore, but which is meeting with a deafening silence from within the club.  This elephant in the room – or rather this elephant in the MadStad – is the unresolved situation regarding the ownership and financial situation at the club. Rumours have been rife since the news transpired recently that the final £20m payment from Thames Sports Investments (TSI) to Sir John Madejski for the remaining 49% of the football club has not been paid. This sum was initially due in March but was delayed then, when a new deadline of the end of September was announced. But that new deadline has now been and gone, leading to a plethora of discussion and speculation amongst supporters. The club’s terse response that “both parties are comfortable extending the deadline to finish the deal” has done very little to allay the fears of some supporters that all may not be well behind the scenes, financially. This spate of rumours...

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Back To The Eighties: 1980/81, Part Seven – Below The First Division

As a part of their contract with the Football League at a time during which the upper hand in terms of the governance of football was held by the game’s authorities rather than the broadcasters, both the BBC and ITV were compelled to cover matches from outside the top division throughout the course of the season. Of course, there was a tendency on their part to wish to cover the biggest matches at the most crucial stages of the season – although, notably, ITV covered the race for promotion from the Second Division in great details at the end of the 1982/83 season, most likely because Liverpool won the First Division title with a handful of matches to spare – but for regional ITV companies it was commonplace for a local club from outside the top flight to take the centre-stage on their weekly highlights programme. Over the course of the end of October and the start of November 1980, several lower divsion matches were featured on the television and this morning we bring you highlghts of three of them. First up is a match between two clubs that are now again regular fixtures in the Premier League, Chelsea and Newcastle United. Chelsea had been relegated from the First Division for the first time since the early 1960s at the end of the 1978/79 season in a state of...

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