Category: Latest

‘B’ Teams & Feeder Teams: Desecration As A Solution To A Problem That Doesn’t Exist

Perhaps this moment marks the final stages of a coup d’etat that started more than twenty years ago. With the Football Association preparing to examine the idea of allowing formal relationships between bigger clubs with “feeder clubs” lower down the league pyramid in England, there will be a fundamental change in English football which will benefit the clubs of the Premier League to the detriment of the entire remainder of the English league system, and should the Football Association, upon completion of this examination, conclude that it is a good idea to do so, then its role will change from being the ultimate custodian of the whole of English football to being, effectively, the people in charge of trying to give the national team a better chance of winning the World Cup. And nothing more. We’ve been here before, of course. At the time that the Premier League was being established, soothing, ameliorating noises were made by the biggest clubs in line with the FA’s failed Blueprint for the Future of Football. Yes, yes, yes, it was implied at that time, the creation of a new top division which keeps all of the television money will definitely benefit the England team. The FA wanted the number of clubs in the division reduced to eighteen clubs and for the new division to be governed by a committee including the FA...

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The VHS Vault: 101 Great Goals

Back in the day, of course, we weren’t spoiled for football coverage in the way that we are today. Each ITV region would show between one and three matches per week, and the BBC would send its cameras to two matches per week, and that was, broadly speaking your lot every weekend. Perhaps this is the reason why so many of the great goals of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s have become revered in the way that they have – this and the fact that great goals that were scored were so many pearls amongst swine. It’s not terribly uncommon to see people these days making comments, when watching matches of the past, along the lines of, “I don’t know how people could possibly have watched football in the olden days” – the sort of comment that probably deserves a post of its own on here – but on pitches with the consistency of rice pudding and using footballs that frequently took on many of the qualities of cannonballs after a drop of rain, that anybody actually could skip past two players and belt the ball into the top corner from twenty yards out starts to become something of a surprise in itself. As it was with television coverage, so it was with what was available to purchase in the shops. In the age of every match being recorded...

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The Antisemitism Genie Has Long Out Of The Bottle At White Hart Lane… And Elsewhere

You kind of knew that here was an accident waiting to happen as soon as David Cameron got involved in it all. Asked by the Jewish Chronicle what he thought of the FA’s statement last week, which reiterated its belief that the word “Yid” should not be used in any context at a football ground and warning that its use could amount to a criminal offence that would leave fans at risk of being banned and prosecuted, the Prime Minister responded by saying, “You have to think of the mens rea [a principle of law which suggests that “an act is not culpable unless the mind is guilty”]. There’s a difference between Spurs fans self-describing themselves as ‘Yids’ and someone calling someone a Yid as an insult. You have to be motivated by hate. Hate speech should be prosecuted – but only when it’s motivated by hate.” Spurs supporters have long self-identified as ‘Yids’, in no small part on account of the antisemitism that the club’s support has faced for many years. Anybody who has attended a match between Spurs and, say, Arsenal, Chelsea or West Ham United will be fully aware of how poisonous the atmosphere can become at these matches, and there is a long history of fairly appalling behaviour by rival supporters – the explicitly antisemitic attacks on Spurs supporters in Rome last year, for example...

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Jimmy Hill: Union Man, Visionary, Sky Blue Thinker – Part One

This Sunday, the cameras of Sky Sports will be at Sixfields, for the League One match between Coventry City and Sheffield United. A debate is currently going on amongst the supporters of the club over what would be the best way to protest this. The “Not One Penny More” movement has a difficult decision to make. Do they break their own boycott for one match to protest inside the stadium, where the television cameras will broadcast their rage to the nation? Or do they protest outside on the hill that overlooks the ground and run the risk of the cameras missing it altogether? Since the club first moved thirty-five miles from home to play in a different town, Coventry supporters have taken to calling this hill “Jimmy’s Hill”, after the man who not only redefined Coventry City Football Club, but who may also stake a claim for being the most important individual in the entire history of English football. Jimmy Hill’s career as a player ended in 1961 at the age of thirty-three, having started his career with Brentford before moving to Fulham, where he spent nine years from 1952 on. At the time that Hill’s playing career was coming to an end, the role of the professional footballer was very different to that which players enjoy in the twenty-first century. A maximum wage had first been introduced by...

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