Writing

Football Writing

Impossible Choices

Of all the words to have hit unprecedented usage over the last few weeks or so, "unprecedented" itself must be somewhere close to the top of the list. These are remarkable and frightening times, and no-one at present quite knows when it will all be over. At present,...

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Self-Isolating With Football

We live in extraordinary times, in one of the worst possible ways. An entire nation is planing to hunker down. We don't even know how long for, but what we do know is that the normality of the football schedule has already disappeared from our lives and that, for all...

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Non League Football’s Crisis Management

“He was fuming!!” Variants on these words had already boomed out more than once across the office of the Non-League Paper (NLP) (available from all good newsagents every Sunday/Monday for £1.50). To misquote Rudyard Kipling: “If you can keep your head while all around...

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Scottish Football’s Abundance of Caution, At Last

Mercifully, an outbreak of common sense yesterday overtook the events and decisions which initially ‘inspired’ this “another bloody Murphy article moaning about Scottish football.” But, y’know, Scottish football decisions… Outbreaks of common sense spend way too much...

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Football vs Coronavirus: Without Precedent

The decisions taken on Friday were, in truth, the only ones that could be taken. There may or may not be widespread denial of the peril in which we find ourselves at the moment, but the truth is all around us, in Italy and Spain, France and Germany, all over the...

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The Scottish Premiership’s Split Personality

Scottish club football’s top-flight split this season will increasingly likely fall victim to efforts to contain the coronavirus. But Mark Murphy, you’ll not be shocked to learn, thinks it was another Scottish football brain fart anyway… The current Scottish...

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It’s Time To Stop The Football

If a tree falls in a forest and no-one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? It's a question as old as the hills, but it's worth asking it again, in view of the very strong likelihood that there will be no large crowds being permitted to assemble anywhere within...

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Accrington Stanley & Coventry City: Compare & Contrast

Last night, a tweet from Coventry City confirmed something quite interesting. For their forthcoming League One match at Accrington Stanley, Coventry have been allocated 2,250 tickets out of a capacity at The Crown Ground of 5,450. Or, to put it another way, around 40%...

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Liverpool Run Out Of Steam At The Vicarage

It wasn't that it happened that was the surprise. Liverpool have had enough wins this season when it felt as though their performance did not quite match the run of form they've happened across this season, while their run of wins since the winter break that Jurgen...

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James Keatings Falls Down

Daft decisions in Scottish football aren’t news. But two recent dafties contained outstanding crackpottery, from every available form of officialdom. On 16th February, Rangers’ one-nil win Livingston was littered with barmy officiating. So far, so Scottish...

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Harry Redknapp’s Sandbanks Summer: Richard The Third TV

The BBC can annoy me. Robbie Savage, for one thing. Mrs. Brown’s Boys for 94 other things. But the recent, government-organised anti-BBC campaign is disgraceful, even without its worryingly authoritarian tendencies. Especially as ITV commissions “Harry Redknapp’s...

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Celtic’s Peter Lawwell: A Man Divisive

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell could divide the proverbial empty room…and not just on the thorny issue of how much the 60-year-old accountant-by-profession resembles a youthful version of ex-Russian leader Boris Yeltsin. Chief and other senior executives in...

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Harry Gregg & What Heroism Looks Like

Football certainly loves its superlatives. They're thrown around with abandon, and it can feel at times that the rush to do so can even devalue the words themselves. Consider, for example, heroism. Each and every weekend, somebody or other will be described in such...

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Manchester City & The Contradictions of Financial Fair Play

On Friday, Manchester City were banned from the Champions League for two seasons and fined €30m Euros for breaching FFP regulations. This is, of course, a surface reading of it all. They weren't merely punished for breaching the regulations in the first place. They...

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Jim Traynor Melts Down

My 94,000th Scottish-football-media-is-appalling diatribe concerned their clueless manipulation of recent events involving Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos. This was called out by BBC Scotland’s Michael Stewart. And Stewart called James Traynor, to whom Rangers...

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The FAI Bail-Out

The FAI got its money just in time. Ireland’s beleaguered, cash-strapped football association agreed a financial deal with the Irish government, European football governing body Uefa and its main creditor, the Bank of Ireland, days before Ireland’s general election...

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Translate-Gate

Yep. “Translate-gate.” That’s what they are calling it. This week was already a bad week for Scottish football journalism, EVEN for Scottish football journalism. And after the BBC’s Michael Stewart called “media manipulation” on Monday’s Sky Sports (@ScotlandSky)...

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No-One Cares About Smaller Clubs Any More

It's been mis-remembered and mis-attributed over the years, but it rings such a bell with so many that, in many respects, it doesn't even matter whether it is any more. It is said that, when the former Tottenham Hotspur manager Keith Burkinshaw left White Hart Lane...

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Michael Stewart Calls The Media Out

On Monday, the day UK political journalists showed some long-overdue solidarity against an attack on their profession, there was a very long-overdue breach in the solidarity of Scotland’s football journalists against truth. When even the BBC News political editor...

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Barrow AFC’s Long Road Back

Another weekend, another win. On Saturday, Barrow AFC beat Torquay United by Two goals to one at Holker Street. They're now seven points clear at the top of the National League, with a game in hand on the teams below them, an just fourteen matches left to play....

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Oldham Athletic: From The Boundary To The Exit?

At the end of August, English football was fulsome in its tributes to Bury Football Club as that club slid from the Football League. There was so much hand-wringing that the sound of it drowned out everything else. Everybody, it seemed, wanted to write their emotional...

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Kris Boyd: Man of Straw

Why deceive? Just... why do it? These are as pertinent a couple of questions now as they’ve ever been. Unfortunately, the answer nowadays is “Why not?” It worked for Boris Johnson and Donald Trump, elected leaders of the United Kingdom and States respectively with...

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Dial Square FC: Revolution or Grift?

It is a truth universally acknowledged that, for much of the last decade, Arsenal supporters have been amongst the most disgruntled in the Premier League. It's common for those of us who support teams from outside the rarefied air that clubs of this size to complain...

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Kris Boyd’s Mentality

That sound you could hear as ten o’clock approached on Wednesday night was probably the disbelieving reactions to Manchester United’s latest travails. But in the background, there was also a collective “fcuk off” in response to Sky Sports pundit Kris Boyd’s latest...

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Birmingham City: New Year, New Blues

Another year, another possible points deduction for Football League (EFL) Championship strugglers Birmingham City. Deja-vu all over again. The Championship (FLC), English club football’s second tier and home to countless English Premier League (EPL) once-weres and...

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Gambling: A Perspective on Football’s Addiction

A mea culpa. Between 1997 and 2000, I was a part of the problem. I was a relief manager for a chain of betting shops covering other managers' days off during the week, because there has never been a betting shop manager who has found it easy to get Saturdays off. I...

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Corrupted Beyond Salvation

Some of you may have been aware that I have been out of the country for the last few days, and may have presumed this to be the reason why there hasn't been much going on around these parts since then. Well, that's not strictly true. I normally find a way to commit...

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Luton Town’s Grounds For Optimism

We may mourn the loss of the quirkiness of the English football stadium, as more and more of them are demolished to make way for shiny new replacements, but that doesn't mean that this shouldn't happen. Within the next couple of months, York City will leave Bootham...

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Sunderland: Another Fine Mess

Straw man building has become popular in recent times. People who control things have frequently seemed keen to blame people with no control over anything in order to deflect blame from their own shortcomings, and in an era during which social media rewards those who...

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Louie Theophanous: When Money Talks More Than Honesty

I’ve often cited, in these pages and elsewhere, a 2013 clip of the (sadly former) RTE Gaelic Football pundit Joe Brolly at his best; a razor-sharp, note-perfect excoriation of Ulster county Tyrone’s cynical fouling when protecting a lead late in games (search “Joe...

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The FAI & The Glasgow Derby – The Miserable Years

Fail-Ure It is bad enough for a football club to go bust. But an entire Football ASSOCIATION? Well, that prospect looms large, as the fall-out from the unravelling of John Delaney’s Football Association of Ireland (FAI) career continues. The FAI held their reconvened...

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Racism & Football’s New Balance

Sky Sports’ David Jones is, IMO, currently British telly’s best football presenter. Narrowly beating the Beeb’s Mark Chapman, who has restored Match of the Day 2 to its initial, Adrian Chiles-era glories Miles above the rest. And possibly the best since James...

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The FAI: John Delaney’s Donkeys Exposed

There is a theory that John Delaney’s finally-ended reign at the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) had two distinct sections. That he, like Ireland itself, flourished as the ‘Celtic Tiger’ economy flourished, only, like Ireland itself, to recklessly overspend and...

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To AFTV Or Not To AFTV, That Is The Question

It says something for the low quality of football on offer at Goodison Park yesterday lunchtime that the one of the biggest talking points in its wake has turned out to be singing anti-AFTV songs by travelling Arsenal supporters during the match. AFTV is, of course,...

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Martin Peters: 1943-2019

Ten years ahead of his time, they said. Sir Alf did, first. A midfielder with a ghostly presence on the pitch, able to drift into goal-scoring positions without drawing any attention to himself. An elegant footballer, at a time when elegance was neither encouraged nor...

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The EFL Roll Their Dungeons & Dragons Dice

There comes a point at which the brain just starts to shut down. For a while, it can be tempting to go down the conspiracy theory route, picking apart the themes and patterns like The Da Vinci Code, trying to look for logic where it doesn't exist. But ultimately, when...

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Bury: The Darkest Hour Is Just Before Dawn

Tomorrow morning, the smoking crater that is Bury Football Club will be back in the High Court in London. On the 4th December, the latest in a series of adjournments to a winding up order that should really be a tap into an open goal was waved through, this time...

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The Premier League: Arsenal vs Manchester City

The Premier League continues to be Liverpool vs The Rest, and it's already become a bit of a one-sided contest. Chelsea lost for the fourth time in the last five matches yesterday, at home against Bournemouth. Manchester United huffed and puffed their way to a home...

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Celtic’s Ten-In-a-Row

“It was like Dunkirk,” said a fellow Kingstonian fan, old enough to remember Dunkirk as a news story. In September 1985, Ks won an Isthmian League Premier Division game at Worthing, 1-0. They scored on four minutes and got near Worthing’s goal TWICE more all evening,...

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The Premier League: West Ham United vs Arsenal

We're not even at the half-way stage yet, but already it's been a rollercoaster of a ride. West Ham United's season has resembled an attraction at Alton Towers. Their season couldn't have started much worse than it did, with a 5-0 home defeat at the hands of...

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Further Miserable Macclesfield Machinations

“Smiles all round in today’s session as the lads prepare for their next fixtures.” So said the Twitter timeline of Macclesfield Town FC, “the Silkmen,” at 2.07pm on Tuesday. However, it could have been a timeline from a parallel universe. For this was retweeted from...

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Wimbledon: What Price Founding Principles?

It's an age old dilemma, if truth be told. What is the true price of your principles? There are two sides to the current questions facing AFC Wimbledon, following the confirmation that there is a funding shortfall of £11m relating to the construction of their new...

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Up a Creek: The Premier League on Amazon

Some people have got a funny idea of what the word "competition" means. The issue of private monopolies within the media is very real, and that the European Union chose to get involved wasn't that much of a surprise. The target of their ire, however, misplaced. In...

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Arsenal: Empty Seats & Echoes

Perhaps the problem turned out to be that the scene wasn't that unusual any more. The reported attendance at The Emirates Stadium for Arsenal's Europa League match against Eintracht Frankfurt last night was 49,419, but there could be no masking the truth, on this...

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Amar Out: The Alkadhis & Macclesfield Town

Mark Murphy takes a LONG look (sorry) at Amar Alkadhi’s long, slightly complex history of majority share ownership at Macclesfield Town, and why he (Alkadhi) is wanted out now. On November 14th, the Football League (EFL) charged Macclesfield Town with “misconduct” for...

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The Premier League: Aston Villa vs Newcastle United

If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot with a Jose Mourinho-shaped sole stamping on a human face - forever. Mourinho does make you think, though. He is, he tells us (and the record books demonstrate, albeit more scarcely of late), a "winner." I mean, it...

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Taison & Ukraine’s Racist Enablers

This week, Uefa fined Celtic €15,000 for their fans calling fascists fascists, which was set to be the crackpot decision of the football week. It would have been of any normal football week, especially when Lazio were fined €5,000 LESS for their fans BEING fascists....

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