Writing

Football Writing

As Bad As Things Got: Tottenham Hotspur, 1977

It could hardly be said that Tottenham Hotspur were in uncharted territory, as the 1976/77 season drew to a close. The club spent all bar two of the twenty years from 1930 to 1950 in the Second Division, and their first Football League Championship in 1951 came at the...

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Celtic’s Nine-In-A-Row: “Which One, Son?”

Former Celtic manager Martin O’Neill once told new Nottingham Forest team-mate and ex-Celtic full-back Tommy Gemmell: “That was some goal in the European Cup final.” To which Gemmell replied “which one, son?” as he scored “some goal,” pinging one in from outside the...

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Match of the Past: In The Deep Midwinter, 19/01/1985

It's just another Saturday in January 1985, but with this being the past, the country is covered in a layer of snow and it's been an effort to get some matches on. Match Of The Day is focused on a First Division match between Chelsea and Arsenal, the only match in...

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Rangers’ Row About Nine-In-A-Row

On Monday, the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) board made the long-inevitable decisions to end its Premiership season and award clear leaders Celtic their ninth title in-a-row. The title was earned on the pitch, as second-placed Rangers were 13 points...

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As Bad As Things Got: Liverpool, 1959

There wasn't supposed to be much on in Worcester, that afternoon. The 15th of January 1959 was a Thursday, the city's early closing day, and under normal circumstances the city centre would have been very quiet. The FA Cup, however, had something to say about that....

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As Bad As Things Got: Derby County, 1984

It's time for a new series, here on 200%. As there's no football on at the moment, everybody's peering back into the past for stories from the days when it was safe to stand within six feet of another human being. Rather than eulogising, though, we're going to be...

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Southend United’s Groundhog Season

Even diehard fans of the film “Groundhog Day” would be watching events surrounding League One (for now) Southend United and thinking “Not AGAIN!” It is hard to know if on-or-off-field matters were worse during Blues’ season just suspended. They have long-needed...

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The Broadcasting Past is a Foreign Country

...they do things different there. The recent cessation of football has taken a lot of us into the game's archives, and for Dave Hearn, the style of the broadcasting has turned out as interesting as the football itself. This set him thinking about changes in our...

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Quiz Time: The 200% Top Fifty

So, every Wednesday night on our football Slack, we hold a quiz with fifty questions, and last night it was my turn to set the questions. The scores weren't particularly high, so I figured it would be fair to throw them open to the world. There are five rounds in...

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WatchAlong: Match of the Day – 7th January 1989

Good evening, lovelies, and welcome to another brief Covid-19 experiment. We've done the 50 greatest goal posts of all-time, tried to get our heads round what the football might look like when it comes back, and even introduced a new podcast series on old football...

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Scottish Football’s Season Finish, Part 2

So. Farewell. Then. Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) season, below the Premiership. The SPFL resolution to end the season finally passed almost exactly a week since it was proposed. But bitterness remains after the fraught vote process. Well, some anyway...

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The 50 Greatest Goalposts of All-Time: 10-1

It is time for (insert late 1980s pop metal) The Final Countdown. La creme de la creme. The cream of the crop. The ten greatest sets of goal posts of all-time. And it's been a wild ride to get here. There have been tears. There has been laughter (mostly of the manic...

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Newcastle United, The Premier League & The Moral Vacuum

Perhaps we just have to resign ourselves to the likelihood that we now live in an age in which morals and scruples are simply a matter of convenience that can be bent out of shape according to our whims and desires. Even if we allow ourselves the grim realisation that...

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The 50 Greatest Goalposts of All-Time: 20-11

Well, we're getting down towards the business end of this futile exercise in football nerdery now, and that means that the big guns will be starting to come out. I should remind you that none of these bar the top ten are being ranked, so please don't feel too offended...

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The 50 Greatest Goalposts of All-Time: 30-21

Another day, another collection of footballing ephemera of little to no consequence. It's time to grab a mug of cocoa, put on your slippers, and enjoy the third part of our series of the fifty greatest goalposts of all time. Some of you may have missed the first two...

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The 50 Greatest Goalposts of All-Time: 40-31

Yesterday we brought you part one of this series, on the 50 greatest goalposts and goal nets of all-time. This is, in many respects, a love story. We all connect to the game in different ways, some through statistics, some through kits, and others through the...

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The 50 Greatest Goalposts of All-Time: 50-41

No small part of the appeal of football rests in its ephemera. It isn't just about the matches, the results, and who wins the league titles and the cups. The game is just as much a cultural phenomenon as it is a sport, and most of us take at least a little something...

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A Week Is A Long Time In (Scottish Football) Politics

Last Wednesday, Scotland’s Professional Football League (SPFL) appeared to get things right-ish with their proposals to end their 2019/2020 season, as the Covid crisis diminished prospects of completing its fixtures. But, predictably, they mismanaged key issues. And...

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James McClean’s History Lesson

I laughed when I read it. Out loud. In a room on my own. The “Mallow News” twitter account captioned a still from Sunday night’s Queen’s Speech with the made-up quote “I’ve slept like a baby ever since I had Diana killed. What makes you think I give a shit about you?”...

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The Game That Forgot It Was A Game

When the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918 and 1919 first hit in January 1918, there was no professional football being played that was worthy of the name. The Football League and the Football Association had already incurred the wrath of the public and the media by...

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An Origin Story, In Three Parts

There was a time before, a moment when it happened, and a there's been a considerable amount of time since. Before Where we lived in Lower Edmonton when I was a small child, in the middle of the winter you could see the dim haze of the White Hart Lane floodlights in...

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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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