Voters faced many questions
20 September ~ So the scare stories about Berwick Rangers queuing for hours at border posts to keep playing in the SPFL can stop. Fifty-five per cent of voters in Scotland have said they want to stay in the UK. But did football affect the result of the referendum? Did Scotland’s favourite pastime tip the balance away from independence? Westminster’s big hitters might have felt that the kilted Scotland fans proudly frolicking in Trafalgar Square’s fountain before the England friendly last August confirmed their casual assumptions about Scottish identity and Yes voters’ motivations.
But you need a hole for it to work.
October issue available online and in stores
The new WSC is out now, dispatched on the day of order from the WSC shop
- Fans protest ticket prices
- Can standing return?
- Broadcasting special: MOTD at 50
- Brazil goes backwards
- Shildon v Crook – FA Cup starts here
- Where are the black managers?
12 September ~ Apparently one cannot say Holland anymore. It is The Netherlands everywhere these days. No matter. The Go Ahead Eagles are represented by the Go Ahead Eagle, an eagle elevated among his peers through his commitment to working towards The Body Beautiful. Read more
Rangers, Britain & Scottish independence
The editors of Born Under A Union Flag have taken on an ambitious task: to quantify Rangers fans' relationship not only with Scotland but the United Kingdom as a whole. A difficult terrain to map, as historically the club has been considered the team of a union that may be dissolving. That Rangers are in this position as a Unionist team in a country falling out of love with the UK is due to a particular set of circumstances which occurred at the turn of the last century, when a challenger was sought for a successful team of immigrants. The fanbase of this new champion just happened to be drawn from the Catholic-free zone of the Govan shipyards. Read more
FC St Pauli
It is often held to be one of the unwritten rules governing the life of a football fan that your allegiance, once chosen, remains unchanged. However many now feel priced out of what used to be an affordable form of popular entertainment, while any sort of supporter activism is seen by the clubs as a threat to the sanitised matchday experience. Only very few such people, however, have taken as radical a course of action as Nick Davidson, the author of the first English-language book about FC St Pauli. Read more
11 September ~ Extra photos by Colin McPherson from the Shot! feature of WSC 332, where Berwick Rangers beat East Stirlingshire 5-0 at Shielfield Park in Scottish League Two on August 23, 2014. Berwick lies inside the border of England yet they play in the Scottish leagues, causing an interesting sense of identity for their supporters.
The teams that shaped our obsession
My Favourite Year, the 1993 anthology co-published by WSC and edited by Nick Hornby, celebrated like never before the obscure, personal details of how supporters become smitten. Superficially Falling for Football seems little more than an equivalent for the Twitter generation, those for whom Chris Waddle and inflatable bananas represent earliest memories. The bloggers deserve a wider audience, though, and talented writers and editors such as Rob Langham (The Two Unfortunates) and Ian King (Twohundredpercent) have forced complacent broadsheets to up their game. Read more
by Roy McFarland and Will Price
Following a home defeat to Reading and a couple of beers, the young Tranmere Rovers defender Roy McFarland goes to bed. A couple of hours later he is woken up by his mum with the news that "there's two men downstairs to see you, Roy, and one of them is Brian Clough". The other, of course, is Derby County assistant Peter Taylor. As McFarland enters the kitchen in his striped pyjamas, "looking like a convict", he finds that Clough has managed to charm Mr and Mrs McFarland, and the deal is already halfway done. Read more
The Gaz Metan Stadium in Medias, Romania, is the 7,814-capacity riverside home of Gaz Metan Medias of the Liga I. Their best finish was seventh in 2010-11, while the Black Wolves were Romanian Cup runners-up in 1951.
September 4, 1976, Division One
4 September ~ Two recent League champions (Leeds in 1974, Derby in 1972 and 1975) had started the season with high expectations, but poor results – both were winless after three games. Leeds manager Jimmy Armfield says in his programme notes that the two goals conceded in the home game against West Brom "were what I termed sloppy goals by First Division standards even allowing for the fact that they were both well taken by Albion". Doesn't this cut right to the crux of one of football's centric philosophical questions? Did West Brom score twice because they were good, or because Leeds allowed them to be good? Are goals the result of good play by the scoring team, or poor play by the defending team?
“Big” clubs not popular
September 19 ~ Since 1997 we have been measuring, via the WSC survey, readers’ liking or disliking of 24 clubs ranging in size from Cowdenbeath to Real Madrid. We have posed the same question of the same list of clubs in 1997,1999, 2004 and 2014, merely asking for a tick in either the like or dislike column or leaving blank if no opinion either way. You have probably waited long enough to find out what, if anything, we have learned. The 24 clubs can be reasonably divided into two equal groups of clubs with "international” or “local" appeal.
Harry Wilson now country's youngest full international
18 September ~ As Wales fans are well aware, the eternal problem for small football nations is strength in depth. You might be blessed with an abundance of talented midfielders but lack any suitable centre-backs. Maybe you can cobble together a solid side, but when injuries and suspensions kick in, the understudies are not up to scratch. If that is not bad enough, holding on to your best youngsters is now becoming a constant battle.
Colour not heavily used as home shirt
17 September ~ In 2014-15, yellow away strips are rife. Carlisle, Barnsley, Coventry, Southend and Plymouth Argyle – every league corner of England suddenly has a yellow change shirt. Did kit manufacturers anticipate a Brazil triumph this summer? Perhaps they're designed to confuse opponents by melding with the hi-viz jackets of police and stewards. What's certain is their popularity confirms the dearth of yellow home strips in England's top four divisions.
Lucky to survive World Cup
16 September ~ After an absurd start to the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign – a 1-0 home defeat to Albania, 60 places below Portugal in the FIFA rankings – the national team coach Paulo Bento and the Portuguese football federation (FPF) ended a four-year relationship that was supposed to last for another two years. Bento stepped in to replace Carlos Queiroz in 2010 when qualification for Euro 2012 was looking uncertain. He got the team to Poland/Ukraine via the play-offs and saw them through to the semi-finals, where they lost to eventual winners Spain on penalties.
Owner’s questionable claims
15 September ~ Although the stand-off between Assem Allam and Hull City supporters has existed for over a year now, tonight's game against West Ham United, in front of the Sky cameras, is likely to feature the first instance of supporters calling for the owner to go. At a one-man press conference this week, Allam reopened a series of old wounds that proved he had learned nothing, heard nothing and still cares for nothing to do with his club's history, and the reaction has been fierce. It remains a strange relationship.
Striker died at the age of 43
14 September ~ I got a late-night text from a fellow Charlton fan on Tuesday to say they'd heard that David Whyte had died. I found no confirmation on his Wikipedia page and went to sleep hoping that it hadn't happened. Around 11am the next day, the club put out their official announcement of Whyte's death. Tributes quickly came in on Twitter. Stan Collymore said: "Just heard of the death of David Whyte, a team-mate at Palace. Devastating news, a very sad loss." Meanwhile Mark Bright added: "Very saddened to hear my former team mate has died. Such silky skills and a dry sense of humour."
Blackpool manager and chairman in dispute
13 September ~ Last weekend the murmurs coming out of Bloomfield Road seemed to strongly suggest that José Riga would be leaving Blackpool after only five league games in charge, to be replaced by Owen Coyle. For one reason or another, the Coyle deal fell through and attention then turned to Burton Albion's Gary Rowett, who met with chairman Karl Oyston on Tuesday before deciding against a move to the seaside. Since then, silence has descended. Despite being so publicly undermined, Riga has continued to take training this week and no communication has been forthcoming from the club.
Garry Monk latest successful manager
13 September ~ Tipped for relegation by some before the start of the season, Swansea City go into today's match at Chelsea in second place on goal difference behind their opponents. Garry Monk, winner of the Premier League Manager of the Month for August, is the latest in a shrewd line of managerial appointments. While Roberto Martínez and Brendan Rodgers are the obvious successes, previous managers Kenny Jackett, Paulo Souza and Michael Laudrup have all contributed to Swansea's progress. Key to his appointment is that Monk has been a player under each with the lessons learned apparently paying off.
Owner Massimo Cellino quick to fire coaches
12 September ~ Earlier this week, the Football League's chief executive Shaun Harvey (who happens to be an ex-employee of Leeds) called for the Italian authorities to reveal the full written judgement of the tax evasion conviction of the club's owner Massimo Cellino earlier this year. Meanwhile, a replacement for former coach Dave Hockaday still hasn't been found. The former Forest Green manager was unceremoniously sacked just six games into the new season and the only surprise to fans was that he lasted that long.