Writing

Football Writing

The FA Cup Second Round: Spoilt for Choice

Like many, I continue to prefer the live experience to watching football on the television. Sometimes, though, life throws you lemons (or, more specifically two small children), and the television has to suffice. For a couple of years prior to the start of the...

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Football’s Uncomfortable Heading Conversation

The last couple of years have seen football trying to come to terms with the possibility of a horror that has been hiding in plain sight for as long as people have been playing the game. The recent deaths of Jack Charlton, Nobby Stiles and Maurice Setters, all of whom...

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The Steps & The Tiers

Those who had been locking forward to the ending of the national lockdown on the 2nd of December have been feeling somewhat disappointed, this last few days. The new regional tier system will be coming in at that point, and for much of the country, particularly across...

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Diego: The Greatest of Them All

There's a story about Diego Maradona that will one day be used as the opening scene for the biopic of his extraordinary life. Growing up in poverty in the slums of Villa Fiorito, a suburb of Buenos Aires about ten kilometres from the city centre, Diego was just a...

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Ireland: Staying Up, Staying Up, Staying Up

It was nil-nil. Because of course it was, And, yes, the result means that Ireland will be third, rather than second seeds in next week’s World Cup draw. But hey. Ireland avoided relegation into the third-tier of the Uefa Nations League with Wednesday’s draw with...

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The National League’s Uncivil War

Since the very beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak, more than eight months ago, most of our worst fears about how professional and semi-professional football would react to it all have been realised. Most clubs and leagues have proved themselves to be fundamentally...

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It’s a Shame About Ray

The 7th of September 1985 was a warm, late summer afternoon and White Hart Lane was in a cautiously celebratory mood. Spurs had finished the previous season in third place in the First Division and there'd been talk over the summer over whether they might even be able...

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Greg Clarke’s Multiple Car Pile-Up

The Football Association's involvement with the DCMS committee of MPs on Tuesday wasn't so much a car crash as a multiple car pile-up. The feeling that it would be this way had been building for the previous few weeks, since Rick Parry fronted up over Project Big...

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Non League : Safe To Start Again?

So. Farewell, then, Pitching In Isthmian Football League. Pitching out as England locks down until 2nd December to prevent the increasing spread of the coronavirus (Covid). A spread caused in part by regular, boisterous congregations in close proximity in...

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The Future is Bright, The Future is Tangerine Again

We all may be headed to hell in a handcart at the moment, but it's not bad news all the time. Since getting rid of the odious Oystons, Blackpool have been on the rise, and this hasn't even been that hampered by the pandemic. Here's Tom Johnson from Up The Mighty Pool...

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Reasons to be Cheerful, Parts 1, 2 & 3

The world feels a slightly different place, this morning. It's not perfect, it's most definitely not perfect, but it's a tiny glimmer of hope that perhaps we might not be headed straight for the darkest timeline after all. And whether by accident or by design, there...

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Wimbledon: A Long Way Home

Football makes great use of the word "home", but it seldom seems to consider what the word actually means. "Home" is more than a collection of buildings, and it's more than an investment opportunity. The word invites a sense of community and belonging, of something...

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Mo Lockdown, Mo Problems

Here we go again, then. The prime minister announced the return of the lockdown last night, four weeks during which the freedoms that we'd tentatively started to enjoy again over the course of the summer and the autumn will be washed away because, as happened earlier...

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Is The Bell Tolling For Southend United?

It says something for the state of Southend United over the last few years that it would be easy to become blasé about the winding up petitions issued against the club. Three of them were brought last season, while Southend also incurred a six point deduction from the...

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Non-League Football & The Cost of Living

There has been considerable talk over the last few months about bailouts for football clubs that are essentially unable to function as businesses because of crowd restrictions brought about by the current pandemic. At Step Three of the game - the top divisions of the...

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As Bad As Things Got: Manchester United, 5th May 1934

At a time when there is a concerted effort going on to preserve the currently biggest clubs at the top of the Premier League, it's probably worth taking a moment to remember that, even for the most successful of all, life hasn't always been days of wine and roses....

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Saving The Beautiful Game: Hitting The Right Notes

The failure of Project Big Picture has led to the appearance of a strange vacuum at the heart of English football. The FA are the ultimate arbiters, but the power associated with money rests with the Premier League, while the EFL acts as a feeder and its own...

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Ireland: Our Goals Will Come

OK. It’s a stretch. Especially after two nil-nil draws, a one-nil defeat, a major tournament exit and coronavirus (supposedly) going coronaviral through the squad. But I have hope for Ireland under new boss Stephen Kenny. I see similarities between two of my three...

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EFL Clubs & The Urgency of The Tax Trap

Since the collapse of Project Big Picture a couple of days ago, a vaccuum has appeared regarding what professional football in this country might look like in the future. The FA, who'd painted themselves as being the saviours of the soul of the game over the previous...

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Project Big Picture Becomes Project Long Grass

This particular house of cards only took the lightest of breezes to fall over sideways, then. Following a meeting of the Premier League this afternoon - at which fireworks, by all accounts, were expected, but never came - it was confirmed that Project Big Picture has...

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Macc Are Back

We should probably take our good news where we can get it, at the moment. There will be football in Macclesfield again. It had felt as though this story had run as far as it might. Macclesfield Town Football Club, founded in 1874, had been wound up at the High Court...

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Rick Parry & The Megaclubs: Best Buddies Forever

Credit where it's due, it's sly. A thin veneer of togetherness draped over the greatest power grab that association football has ever seen. But Project Big Picture, the now-leaked plans for how the longest-standing members of the Premier League intend to exchange...

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Football Without Fans Is… Fifteen Quid

Having the ability to read a room is important, these days. The social media era is littered with the battered and bruised bodies of both individuals and companies that have failed to do this, but even now, the slickest PR operations in the world can be fallible to...

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Ferran Soriano Was Right About One Thing

There has been a considerable amount of dunking on the Manchester City chief executive Ferran Soriano over his comments on Premier League B teams this week - not least on these very pages - and rightly so. If Soriano wanted to fill the stereotype of the amoral Premier...

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A Deluge of Blue Sky

It's been a lot to take in, this last few days, from the faintly ridiculous to the bordering upon Dr Evil. The life is slowly being squeezed of football below the Premier League at the moment, but nature abhors a vaccuum and so into its place has formed a miasma of...

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The Forthcoming Lower League Apocalypse

Such is the nature of a force majeure that criticism of those in charge of administering anything while it wreaks its havoc is usually tempered. At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, for example, the popularity of the prime minister received something of a boost...

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When VAR & Handball Collide

It would be funny, were it not for the fact that it is strangling the life out of the game, and even those amongst us of a Tottenham Hotspur should hardly begrudge rivals and onlookers their howling sgales of laughter at something so... Tottenham happening to...

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Football on Trial: Pinto, Al-Khelaifi & Valcke

The two sides of football’s corruption, ahem, ‘coin’ are currently on show (trial). On 4th September, in Portuguese capital Lisbon’s Central Criminal Court, the trial began of Rui Pinto, a 31-year-old, self-styled whistleblower and alleged computer hacker/blackmailer....

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Wrexham: The Gang Gets a New Member

If there's one thing that can be said for certain about the attempted buyout of Wrexham, it's that they weren't kidding when they were building it up. The Wrexham Supporters Trust had been trailing their release of the identities of the proposed buyers for a little...

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Sorry, But Lower Leagues Need Charity to Survive

It rather feels as though scales are falling from the eyes, at the moment. For the last few months, football has been staggering along, doing its best to act as though this was a temporary blip and that getting back to normal would somehow align with the start of the...

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Southwick & The Start of a Long Road Back

It's an unusual way to start a season, but necessity was the mother of invention on a park pitch on the south coast yesterday afternoon, as a battered and bruised football club picked itself up, puffed out its chest, and ran up a win to start their life in reduced...

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Wigan Athletic & Football’s Addiction to ‘Investment’

"Investment" is a very 21st century word, isn't it? There's a hint of the warm and fuzzy about it, calling to mind such phrases as "investing in the future." Investment offers a sense of security and support, of care and attention. It's the sort of word that you hear...

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Macclesfield Town: Thirteenth Time Unlucky

When the axe finally fell at the High Court in London this morning, it was over an amount of money that represented two things at the same time. The half million pounds that finally did for Macclesfield Town were, in the broader context of football's finances, a drop...

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The EFL Saturday: Business (Not) As Usual

The rictus grin of Colin Murray said it all. "Whatever lies ahead, we'll be here to bring you it all." Are you sure that's wise, Colin? EFL on Quest kicked off with a montage of the last twelve months. The faces of the crowds outside grounds sound of the crowd as last...

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Non-League Football’s New Normal

“They are partying in Wuhan and we’re doing this.” At least one non-league football fan was not pleased to see his club’s hand-sanitised volunteers in, mostly, club-badged masks, testing the new method of letting fans at Step 3 of English club football’s National...

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Jack Warner: (Still) At Large

It was familiar news. On 18th March 2020, the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) published a “superseding” indictment against various ‘personalities’ connected with world football’s governing body, Fifa. And there, at the bottom of the front-page list of 17...

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Southwick On The Ropes

For the football supporter, it's one of the most arresting sights on the railway line, west from Brighton towards Portsmouth and Southampton. About ten minutes out from Brighton, on the right hand side, is a football ground. The train rolls fairly slowy behind the...

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#AnnounceNewPodcastSeries

Hello everybody, and thank you for your patience. I know it's been a few days since I last had the opportunity to update this old place, but I hope that what I've been working on over the last couple of weeks should make up for that. I'm glad to confirm that I should...

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FIFA ‘Farce’ – Infantino Meeting His Match?

That Fifa president Gianni Infantino faces legal scrutiny over certain of his actions in office isn’t exactly news. The previous two Fifa presidents were corrupt as f**k for decades without proper sanction. Thus, cynical shoulder-shrugging is the commonest reaction to...

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Newcastle United’s Strange New Suitors

What, ultimately, is the value of something? Well, there are different ways of looking at it. A study by University of Liverpool Management School football finance expert Kieran Maguire earlier this year valued the clubs at £387m.  Newcastle United, however, are up...

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The Curious Case of The Champions League Quarter-Finals

Here's a fun statistic for you. This year's Champions League semi-finals will be the first to not feature any teams from England, Italy or Spain since the 1991 European Cup, when Red Star Belgrade, Olympique Marseille, Bayern Munich and Spartak Moscow were the last...

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As Bad As Things Got: Leeds United, 30th November 2008

In selecting particular events for this series, some clubs are easier than others. The lifespan of a football club contains inevitable highs and lows, and there are simply some clubs for whom the majority of their past has been about either chasing or winning...

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Scottish Football’s New Covid ‘C’ Word – Celtic

“You can’t legislate against stupidity” is an oft-used quote, oft-attributed to US politician (among many other things) Jesse Ventura. Scotland’s football authorities’ neck muscles must hurt from nodding in agreement after Celtic played host to the latest Covid-19...

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Stevenage’s Enormous Strokes of Luck

It's an ill wind, and all that. Has there been a luckier football club in 2021 so far than Stevenage? They were dismal beyond all comprehension last season, recording just three league wins from the 37 league matches played before the season was curtailed. With two...

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Non-League Football Will Die Without A Plan

The sudden collapse of Droyslden FC last week ignited a debate that has been broadly overlooked over the course of the last five months or so outside of non-league football circles. While it is clear that the lockdown had to happen in the first place, how exactly are...

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Scottish Football’s Covid (Head) Cases

Trying to find a usable ‘C-word’ for the last word of this piece’s title was difficult after reading the details of Aberdeen FC’s ‘Covid crisis.’ Maybe I’m a bit old-fashioned/over-expectant in my dismay at eight players from a professional top-flight football club...

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As Bad As Things Got: Queens Park Rangers, 22nd May 1963

Queens Park Rangers may well be truly embedded as the football club of Shepherds Bush, but over the years its owners have had something of a tendency to tinker with the club's home. Queens Park Rangers have always had itchy feet. They've played at more different home...

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The Parallel Lives of Bury

From the outside looking in, it all seems absolutely baffling. It's been almost exactly a year since Bury FC was expelled from the EFL, but even now those ultimately responsible for that expulsion are still trying to give CPR to an increasingly foul-smelling cadaver....

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