Writing

Writing

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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Macclesfield Town: Plus ça Change

It's only been a few weeks since one member of the EFL was expelled from the league whilst another hung by a thread before finally tying up its loose ends. It was a story that came to dominate media headlines, and the way in which it was presented, as an emotional...

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We Need To Talk About Tottenham

What's surprising, in some respects, is how quickly it feels as though it has unravelled. For the last couple of years, the joke was precisely that Tottenham Hotspur hadn't changed. Their inertia in the transfer market over the course of three windows was, depending...

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Manchester United: The Song Remains The Same

The most notable aspect of the current stagnation of Manchester United is how serene so much of it has felt. The howls of anguish haven't been particularly piercing, and the calls for the manager's head have been fairly muted. The poisonous atmosphere that descends...

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The Best Start To a Season Since…

Autumn's here, and that means that Gavin Saxton has something that he rather needs to get off his chest. Winter is coming. The geese have arrived, the nights are closing in, it's getting colder, and ... the "best/worst start to a season" season is in full swing. This...

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Football On The Telly – Why Britain Needs A (Joe) Brolly

In their Euro ’88 review, When Saturday Comes (WSC) magazine lamented BBC commentator Barry Davies’ mid-tournament switch to cover the Wimbledon tennis. Davies would become a broadcasting fixture in SW19. But at the time, WSC considered him “relegated to covering the...

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Registration Rules: The “Magic” Of The FA Cup

My team, Isthmian League Premier Kingstonian, beat Eastern Counties League Division One March Town United three-nil in the FA Cup second qualifying round, last Wednesday, thereby confirming what in recent years was but a rumour at Kingstonian, that the Cup is “still...

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Sahar Khodayari: The Death of the “Blue Girl”

I recently re-watched Ken Burns’ and Lynn Novick’s seminal ten-part series ‘The Vietnam War.’ And I watched episode two in horror at the 1963 footage of South Vietnamese Buddhist monks burning themselves to death (“self-immolating”) in desperate protest at the...

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Some (Delayed) Thoughts On The International Break

With his sight recovered after a recent operation, Mark Murphy took a look at various football goings-on across the international break. They were not all sights for his recently sore eye. Ireland We do not “live in interesting times” but barmy...

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Fitba Week: Eyes Down For The Tunnocks Caramel Wafer Cup

It's international break weekend, and at this time of the season it's not difficult to see why supporters with no particular dog in the international fight would be a little peeved at all of this. The new league season is barely a few weeks old, but with...

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Fitba Week: When Estonia Didn’t Turn Up

It's an experience with which many Sunday morning footballers will already be familiar. You turn up for a match, only to find that the opposition have decided, for whatever reason, not to turn up at all. It's frustrating - quite asides from anything else,...

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Fitba Week: The Ghosts of Cathkin Park

First of all, welcome to Fitba Week, here on 200%. We're giving this week over to the game north of the border, and we're kicking off today with a tour of one of the game's most unique landmarks. Cathkin Park, the former home of the extremely former Third...

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Bury FC: The Aftermath, Part I

At twenty-seven minutes past three this afternoon, a ripple of applause will be audible across matches the length and breadth of the country. It's been twenty-seven years since a Football League club last dropped out of the competition, before...

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Bolton Wanderers: Salvation & New Horizons

If anybody should ever be looking for a fresh take on the thriller-writing genre, they could do worse than look to Paul Appleton, the administrator who finally confirmed last night that the takeover of Bolton Wanderers had been completed and...

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Buried

It's over, then. After 124 years of unbroken membership, a press release late last night confirmed what had become increasingly clear throughout the day. There was no plan worthy of the name that could rescue Bury Football Club. Throughout the day there...

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English Football’s Judgement Day

It's Tuesday afternoon, and there are now a couple of hours left. For the supporters of two football clubs just six miles apart in the North-West of England, today is a day that might just come to define who they are for the rest of their...

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Bolton Wanderers: From Bad To Worse

The news, such as it was, was unlikely to come as too much of a surprise to those who have been following the disastrous states of both Bolton Wanderers and Bury for some time, but the way in which it was presented was still something of a...

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Bury: The Final Countdown?

At the exact time of writing, I'm sitting on a hard plastic chair in a ward in East Surrey hospital. Mum fell a couple of weeks ago. She broke her elbow, but they haven't been able to operate on it because she's too weak for anaesthetic, but they can't...

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900,000 Holes In Bury, Lancashire

This should be a shaming week for football in England. A country that loves the idea of its rich football heritage is set to lose at least one - and still quite possibly two - of its traditional football clubs, and nobody is doing anything about it but...

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Premier League Review: Contro-VAR-sy©®™

After an opening weekend that almost felt like a false start, Video Assistant Refereeing properly arrived in the Premier League. There was irony and there was pathos. There was jeering and there was cheering. And there remains that nagging suspicion in the...

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Bolton Wanderers: See You Next… Tuesday?

So the headlines were pretty clear. In court on Wednesday, the injunction brought by Laurence Bassini blocking the sale of Bolton Wanderers to Football Ventures was adjourned until the 2nd of September, clearing the way for the sale to finally go through....

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On Non-League Football, Peace, Quiet & Gratitude

It's five and twenty past seven in the evening when I walk through the front door. I'm on a flying visit, following a long day, but I can't walk past the top of my road without saying goodnight to my boys, even though this means that I'll be cutting it...

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Football League Review: One Game Per Division

It's a bit early in the season to be drawing too many conclusions about each division of the EFL, so this weekend here are some brief dispatches from a match in each of them. Charlton Athletic 3-1 Stoke CityTwo matches into the new season is very soon to...

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