Even modern 3G has its flaws
30 October ~ Visit your nearest artificial pitch on any given night and chances are you will find a grassroots team using it. Not everyone has fond memories of them though. It wasn’t unusual for away teams to be on the wrong side of big scores on the plastic pitches at Kenilworth Road, Boundary Park, and Loftus Road during the 1980s and 1990s. Luton Town, Oldham Athletic and Queens Park Rangers all reached domestic cup finals while playing on Astroturf.
30 October ~ Miss happened while playing against Atalanta
30 October ~ The summerhouse played an important part in 19th and 20th century Macedonian culture. The most famous fictional detective from Macedonia, Bogdan Adrijan Illianovic Petkov (known simply to his wife, friends and colleagues as Bogdan Adrijan Illianovic) begins his first case as a detective when he encounters a body in a summerhouse. Petkov’s special idiosyncrasy is a partiality for urinating outdoors, hence he is the first at a house party to find the victim. Read more
26 October ~ Leeds United's defeat of Oldham, through an own goal by Brian Kilcline, put them top of Division One for the first time since their last League title in 1973-74. They then swapped places with Manchester United a few times until April when their rivals lost three games in a row. The last of these, a 2-0 defeat at Liverpool in the penultimate fixture, was decisive. Leeds' 3-2 win at Sheffield United on the same day made them the last Division One champions as the Premier League launched the following season.
20 October ~ You can never write off FIFA president Sepp Blatter – he is a man with great ideas. By Tim Bradford.
November issue available online and in stores
The new WSC is out now, available from all good newsagents or dispatched on the day of order from the WSC shop.
- New approach at Aston Villa
- Scotland: independence and football
- Third party ownership debate
- Threat of technology
- When players wear glasses
- In praise of the FA Vase
17 October ~ Newcastle Utd will be hoping to get their first win of the Premier League season this weekend when they host Leicester City at St James’ Park. In 1989-90 the two teams were in the second tier, with Leicester mid-table but newly relegated Newcastle, managed by Jim Smith and fielding the prolific strike partnership of Micky Quinn and Mark McGhee, pushing for an immediate return to Division One. In a thrilling game Newcastle missed a penalty as the visitors, featuring Gary McAllister and Kevin Campbell, took a 4-2 lead. Eventually the home team won out, with McGhee completing the comeback with a neat turn and shot. Newcastle went on to finish third, losing out in the play-offs to Sunderland. When the two teams next met, at Filbert Street the following season, the scoreline was again 5-4 but to Leicester.
The story of Billy Meredith
If you had to choose one player to encapsulate the Edwardian football world, you would be hard pressed to do better than Billy Meredith. In an extraordinary career, which ended in 1924 FA Cup semi-final defeat at the age of 49, the celebrated Welsh winger was central to many of the era's key moments. He scored the winner for Manchester City in the 1904 FA Cup final, then won the League with Manchester United in 1908 and 1911, and claimed another Cup winner's medal in 1909. He was with United when Old Trafford opened in 1910, and back with City when they moved to Maine Road in 1923. Read more
by Kevin Sheedy
Paul McGrath and Tony Cascarino's autobiographies are renowned as two of the most caustic and revealing footballing books in recent times. Their former Republic of Ireland international team-mate Kevin Sheedy has written his life story now but anyone expecting soul searching in the same vein as Back From The Brink or Full Time is likely to be disappointed. Sheedy's story is told in a fashion that could most politely be described as "breezy". From a youngster at Hereford to a bit-part player at Liverpool before becoming a key part in the all-conquering Everton side of the mid-1980s – then rounding off his playing career at Newcastle United and Blackpool – it's all dealt with in the same cheery, almost matter-of-fact fashion. Read more
£5 off to WSC readers
WSC contributor Simon Inglis has launched the latest book in his Played in Britain series. Played in London charts the spaces, buildings and sports that have shaped London’s cultural and urban landscape for centuries. Beautifully illustrated with original photographs and detailed maps, the book is based on over ten years of in-depth research. There is an extensive chapter on football and even if your team isn’t based in the capital you’ve probably watched them there.
Lakeside Stadium is the 12,000-capacity home of South Melbourne, who play in the top level of the Victorian league system, one step below the A-League. The ground was built on the old site of the Lake Oval, which was used for Australian rules football. However, in 1995 South Melbourne were forced out of their old Middle Park ground because of the construction of the Melbourne Grand Prix circuit, and Lakeside was built as their new home. In 2008 the ground underwent another major redevelopment to accommodate an athletics track and make it the centre of the Victorian Institute of Sport.
“Streetwise” Accies top of Premiership
29 October ~ Those who believe clubs should work within their means might find Saturday’s Scottish headlines darkly symbolic. Hours after it was revealed that Newcastle owner Mike Ashley was bankrolling Rangers, Hamilton Academical – thrifty, modest and focused on their community – lost their clean-sheet record and second game of the season, at Dundee. However, Accies remain top of the Premiership while Rangers struggle to escape the second tier. Those expecting Hamilton’s bubble to burst might anticipate confirmation from Wednesday’s League Cup quarter-final at Aberdeen. But Accies thrive on low expectations.
First Ligue 1 club to field six under-21s
28 October ~ The starting line-up that Lens named at Toulouse in Ligue 1 last Friday night contained four 19-year-olds and two 20-year-olds. By doing so, the Sang et Or (blood and golds) became the first Ligue 1 club to field half-a-dozen players aged under 21 since Montpellier in 2003. Lens’ youth and inexperience made their 2-0 victory all the more impressive. In goal, Valentin Belon (19) was making his first-team debut. Six-foot-six-inch central defender Abdoul Ba (20) was making his first start. So was centre-forward Baptiste Guillaume, whose build and gait occasionally recall Tony Cascarino in his 1980s Millwall pomp.
Right-wing party pay for hoarding
27 October ~ Conference Premier side Kidderminster Harriers attracted unwanted attention last week after agreeing to advertise the local UKIP Wyre Forest branch on a hoarding at their Aggborough ground. The decision has reportedly led to the resignation of the Kidderminster Harriers Independent Supporters Trust's press officer and a number of sponsors and supporters considering a boycott. In response, the club released a statement stressing they were politically neutral, had commercial links with other parties and “regard the support from UKIP locally in exactly the same way”.
Mackems must move on from Southampton
25 October ~ A week ago, Sunderland were in unfamiliar territory. Following the calamitous start to last term and the defensive frailties that plagued the team, Gus Poyet’s men now appeared rather sound at the back. Having conceded a mere seven goals in as many opening games, only last Saturday’s opponents Southampton boasted a better record. How things change. As will need little recounting, Sunderland promptly shipped eight without reply, their joint-heaviest ever defeat.
Visit high-flying Shrewsbury today
25 October ~ When Portsmouth turn up at fifth-placed Shrewsbury tomorrow, travelling fans will be wondering about the team’s formation as much as their form. After a promising start propelled Andy Awford’s newly debt-free Pompey charges among the League Two front runners early on, things have rather stalled of late. The midweek 3-2 victory over Stevenage brought much-needed relief; a first win in six league outings delivering on the promise of a response from Awford after a dispiritingly shot-shy showing at Bury last weekend.
Manager has changed previous focus on youth
24 October ~ A year ago this weekend, Bristol City won at Carlisle. It was their first league victory of the season and took the club off the bottom of the League One table. It was actually their first league win in 22 attempts, spread across seven months, two seasons and two divisions. By the end of November, Sean O’Driscoll had been dismissed as manager. This weekend Bristol City travel to Barnsley having not been defeated in 14 league outings so far this season, the unbeaten run stretches to 20 league games as the side have not lost since the end of March.
UEFA’s second competition is more interesting
23 October ~ Roma v Bayern Munich on Tuesday was largely how UEFA imagined it when streamlining three European knockout tournaments into two midweek leagues: the world’s best players cutting loose in a showpiece stadium, in a glamorous city, surrounded by 65,000 fans paying top prices; one of a series of games televised live across the continent over two nights to maximise broadcasting revenue, electronic pitch-side hoardings advertising a coterie of high-end sponsors.
Football Supporters Europe initiative
23 October ~ Football Supporters Europe (FSE) have launched a campaign asking fans to donate their old shirts and other clothing to help refugees from conflict regions. The initiative is called “Second Fan Shirt” and they are looking for shirts, scarves, blankets, training clothes, hats and many other items which are no longer of use to supporters but could make a difference to the lives of refugees around the world. FSE are also looking for people to help organise the collection of these items locally. The Football Supporters Federation have more information on how you can help.
Party release details of new policies
22 October ~ Labour have released details of how they intend to implement their proposals for fan power in football. Jon Cruddas, co-ordinator of the Labour Party Policy Review, says that the process would involve passing new laws which would make it legally enforceable that the supporters’ trust would be able to appoint members of their club’s board of directors. They would also use an umbrella body to make sure the supporters’ trusts themselves were properly run, while offering training to fans before they take up positions on the board. More details of Labour’s plans can be found here.