Category: Latest

England Shoot Blanks In Kiev

Repeat the mantra after me. It’s a results-based business. It’s a results-based business. Roy Hodgson must be thanking his lucky stars that this is the case this evening after England misplaced, mistimed and misadventured their way to a goalless draw in Kiev this evening, a result that does leave their qualification for next summer’s World Cup finals in Brazil – although how much reassurance this may offer England supporters who watch this match through the gaps between their fingers may come to depend upon whether a factory reset can be applied to this rag tag assortment of journeymen and ne’er-do-wells in order to get them to learn the basics of the game all over again within the next couple of months. It’s not about a sense of inflated expectation, this, by the way. You have to be pushing fifty years old in order to remember an England team that came some way towards being world class – and, before any angries of Tunbridge Wells start licking ther lips and sharpening their pencils, England were the fourth best team at the worst World Cup finals of all in 1990 and went through distinct phases of riding their luck on home ground in the European Championships six years later – so there aren’t many of us under a certain age who have had any just cause to get ideas above our...

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Non-League Day 2013: Lewes FC Are Caught By The Fuzz

As the pleasingly basic scoreboard tucked away near one corner of the pitch ticked over ninety minutes at The Dripping Pan on Saturday afternoon, there was a hint of quiet satisfaction in the air. Leading by two goals to nil and with the home defence having seldom been threatened all afternoon, it looked just about certain that the biggest Ryman League crowd of the afternoon, some 788 people, was going to retire to the bar happy with a comfortable win against the limited if obdurate opposition that the Metropolitan Police, lower table opposition of no discernable ambition, were offering. This, however, is Lewes Football Club, and scripts around here are seldom kept to for very long. The rest of the afternoon had been pleasingly routine. The cost of it may have risen somewhat in recent years and there is little question that the current generation of players that come through in the middle ranks of English football – of which the Ryman League Premier Division is probably just about the bottom level – are more generic those that preceded them, but there is a comfortingly timeless quality to non-league football. The pint before the match. The moment which hits about twenty minutes after kick-off when you realise that absolutely nothing has happened so far. The agonising choice over whether to head for the bar before the referee blows his...

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Non-League Week: The Shaun Tuck Case Reaches An Inevitable Conclusion

In the end, it turned out that he just couldn’t keep his thoughts to himself. When the now former Witton Albion striker Shaun Tuck was imprisoned for three months in July – he served half of the sentence – for offences under the Communications Act over grotesquely offensive tweets that the player sent in the aftermath of the horrific incident that occurred outside Woolwich Barracks earlier this year. It had been a surprise to some that Witton Albion opted to retain the player’s registration, but the Northern Premier League club made the decision that the player deserved a second chance, and so it was that he returned to the pitch for them – predictably enough, with a goal – earlier this season when he returned from the substitute’s bench against Kings Lynn Town last Saturday. It was, perhaps, predictable that his next match should have been away against the club whose supporters had been the loudest in criticising him since he made his original comments, FC United of Manchester. On the night of the match, however, Tuck wasn’t on the team-sheet and FC United won by a comfortable scoreline of three goals to one. It has since come to light why this was. It turned out that Tuck had been busy at a keyboard again, this time on Facebook, with some interesting opinions on FC United of Manchester, prior...

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In Praise Of The Older Footballer

As you get older, one of the many things that you start to realise that you hadn’t done before is that there comes a point when you start to become older than the footballers that you watch kicking a ball around of a Saturday afternoon. It shouldn’t surprise you to realiseĀ  that by the time you hit your mid-thirties you’re older than ninety-five per cent of those appearing on Match Of The Day of a Saturday night, but it does, and from that moment on it isn’t long before that ninety-five per cent has become more or less one hundred per cent, and those few years really do not take very long to pass. Last night, apropos nothing in particular, I was reminded of the continuing playing career of goalkeeper Paul Bastock, who, at some time before eleven o’clock, tweeted that he had to be up early in the morning to play football for St Albans City in the Southern League Premier Division. Bastock reached his fortieth birthday in May 2010, and to still be playing semi-professional football more than three years later is a rare achievement and, moreover, as soon as I noted this particular achievement on Twitter myself, a couple of people replied to me to suggest that his ongoing place in the first team is no fluke. Bastock “is like a fine wine, if anything he...

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The Friday Cartoon: England Win The 2022 World Cup

As some of you will already be aware, the chairman of the Football Association, Greg Dyke, has targeted the 2022 World Cup as his aim for English football, even if that means spending nothing on grassroots football in the intervening years and there are no English footballers by that time apart from one who remains in London Zoo, idly kicking a football around a pen on his own while he waits to die. We here at 200% share Greg’s optimism, so our resident cartoonist has been looking into his crystal ball to establish how England will definitely win the...

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