Writing

Football Writing

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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Ireland: Playing Off Again

It was a typical Ireland/Denmark affair. Tight, tense. Whatever free-flowing football fell through the cracks was played by one side. The other defended at some midway point between desperately and heroically, nicking a goal and a point from one of their few forays...

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#mourINho

Life comes at you fast. This time yesterday, time was trundling along very much in the way that it has so far throughout this relatively drab season so far, from Tottenham Hotspur. The rumour mill was circulating, because the team is in fourteenth place in the Premier...

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#POCHOUT

So the axe has swung at White Hart Lane, then, and for those amongst us who support Tottenham Hotspur, as much as we can do is to hope amongst hopes that it swung as part of a greater plan to refresh the club from top to bottom. There is no supporting evidence that...

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The Tamplin Circus Rolls Into Romford

He was never likely to be away for very long. When it comes down to it, Glenn Tamplin just loves the limelight too much. Tamplin finally walked away from Billericay Town in September after yet another row behind the scenes at the National League South club. On this...

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Rangers Tax Case: More Shite Scottish Journalism

Followers of the old Rangers’ financial woes got early warnings of the current “post-truth” political world; where politicians proclaim “two-plus-two-is-seven” and their own “tribes” deny it was ever four. The “Rangers” or “Big Tax Case” (BTC) has provided mountains...

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Euro 2020 Qualifiers: England vs Montenegro

How appropriate, that the England men's team's thousandth match should have come about with such rancour in the background. In football, as in every other walk of life, there's high partisanship in the air, and there's anger just about everywhere. It feels as though...

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The FA Cup First Round: Macclesfield Town vs Kingstonian

“That was weird.” If there was a consensus among Kingstonian’s 255 supporters at Macclesfield Town on Sunday, watching us thump a Macclesfield youth team/loanee combo four-nothing, this was it. I was thinking it (with an added, ahem, ‘emphatic pronoun’ beginning with...

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The FA Cup First Round: Harrogate Town vs Portsmouth

Something fundamental is changing within football, and its quiet disappearance is barely remarked upon. Artificial pitches are changing the non-league game. Slowly but surely, the mud is drying up. Harrogate on a wet Monday evening like this in November would have...

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Saracens & The Shaming of Scottish Football Governance

On Tuesday, Premiership Rugby Limited (PRL) announced that their reigning champions Saracens face heavy sanctions for breaking the competition’s salary-cap regulations in each of the last three seasons. The general reaction of England’s sports media was approving,...

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Bury FC: The Aftermath, Part V

Increasingly, it feels as though we live in a society in which to apologise is no longer considered an act of common courtesy, and more one of weakness. Politicians and other figures in the public eye frequently contort and mangle the English language in the pursuit...

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Celtic: “Illicit” Banners & Legitimate Causes

Celtic supporters group the Green Brigade has done this before. Turning shameful, punitive reactions to their protests into a shaming force for good. In September 2016, Celtic were fined €10,000 (£8,615 at the time) after fans flew Palestinian flags in support of...

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On Mud, Limbs, & Authenticity

There's a reasonable chance that you'll already have seen the footage by now. A soaking wet afternoon in Cornwall, deep into stoppage-time, and Falmouth Town were still a goal down at home to Longlevens when a long clearance and a goalkeeper with a fairly severe case...

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Bury FC: The Aftermath, Part IV

There is a striking irony at the heart of Bury Football Club, and the way in which its affairs have been handled since the club was expelled from the Football League at the start of September. Steve Dale, who continues to own its carcass, seems considerably more...

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Celtic’s Welcome “Illicit Banners”

Another week, another ‘curious’ opinion from Scotland’s football media. Not about football itself this time. But the apparently fraught issue of condemning fascism directly to fascism’s face. Fraught because such condemnation of violent thugs might ‘provoke’ violent...

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Football, Dementia & All Of Us

In amongst the blizzard of stories concerning VAR, the undulating crises of various clubs, and all the other froth with which the football media busies itself, a major, major story is broadly being ignored. It's a story with ramifications that could completely change...

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Drifting Away From The Premier League

Another weekend, another round of fresh controversies. It long ago started to feel as though the implementation of Video Assistant Refereeing was that modern professional football is dictated by two wholly contradictory impulses. On the one hand, we have spent much of...

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Southampton’s Pathetic Fallacy

By the time that Andre Marriner blew the full-time whistle at St Mary's Stadium last night, Southampton had undergone a desolate and appalling evening. The final whistle as an act of mercy, putting them out of their misery. The wind had spent the previous couple of...

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The FA and The EFL’s Day Out at Parliament

Nobody from the Football Association or the EFL should have really have been surprised by the fact that they were given a hard time in parliament yesterday afternoon. The DCMS has met before to discuss the shortcomings of football governance in this country before,...

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Solidarity with Haringey

Hidden in plain sight in the narrative of the fallout from last week's match between Bulgaria and England was the fundamental truth that England also needs to get its house in order over racism as well. The pre-match comments of those who have since resigned their...

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Ireland: It’s Worse They’re Getting

It was a shock to hear it. And an aftershock to hear it on national telly. Ireland would have qualified for Euro 2020, with a game to spare (and before a demonstrably superior England team), had they beaten Switzerland in Geneva on Tuesday night. This would surely...

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This is (and isn’t) England: 2019

Nothing quite unites this country like a foreigner being racist. The scenes beamed back from Sofia last night were so grotesque as to be almost cartoonish. The stickers with swastikas on them. The monkey noises. The balaclava helmets. It's true to say that the end of...

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Bury FC: The Aftermath, Part III

So, earlier on this afternoon we posted a piece on what has been going on at Bury since the club was expelled from the Football League at the start of September. It didn't take long for events to overtake us, though. The club was due at the High Court in London on...

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Bury FC: The Aftermath, Part II

The patient has been laying comatose for six weeks now, but even now attempts to revive it remain ongoing. In two days time we'll have a better idea of whether Bury Football Club can be revived in its current incarnation. The club faces a hearing over a winding up...

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Iran, Hassan Al-Araibi & Scotland’s Silly Season

A couple of football-related news stories, covered in these pages, were news again last week. Mark Murphy wrote about them then. By god, he’s going to write about them again now. Oh…and its silly season in Scotland. But that is hardly news, is it? Women at Iranian...

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Football’s Silly Season

International breaks are rapidly becoming football's equivalent to silly season. Without a glut of Premier League and EFL football to report on over the course of the break, newspapers and social media desperately need to fill their pages with football-related...

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