22 August ~ “No one wants to see extra time.” Late into this month’s Community Shield match, Manchester United and Leicester City locked at 1-1, Radio 5 Live co-commentator Danny Mills expressed relief the game would go straight to penalties. Listening in my car as a vaguely interested neutral, I instinctively agreed. Mills then followed up by claiming all drawn knockout games should go straight to a shootout because, really, there had only been a few decent periods of extra time ever played – in any competition. I almost crashed.
20 August ~ Following an Ipswich v Norwich derby, the Suffolk police usually release a statement to the local press giving the (often surprisingly low) number of people who have been arrested at the game. This Sunday’s fixture carries the unusual possibility that one of those having their collar felt may be the owner of the home club.
19 August ~ For us Southampton fans, games with Manchester United conjure up images of Bobby Stokes scoring at Wembley; David Beckham and Ryan Giggs rendered powerless in grey jerseys at the Dell; and proving that win was no fluke by putting six past them the following season.
18 August ~ Two days after Britain formally joined the European Economic Community (EEC) on January 1, 1973, a Wembley crowd of 36,500 watched an international friendly. The teams were “The Three”, comprising the home nations and fellow Common Market newcomers Ireland and Denmark, and “The Six”, from existing EEC nations Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy, West Germany and France.
12 August ~ “The arrival of manager Claudio Ranieri doesn’t seem to be the most reassuring,” wrote Leicester City fan Simon Tyers in WSC’s 2015-16 season guide last summer. “I’m still confident we’ll survive… but probably with someone else at the helm.” He wasn’t alone, with the Foxes averaging 17th position among the rest of the Premier League contributors’ forecasts.
10 August ~ Nation states are the result of wars, intrigues, marriage, propaganda, blackmail, lies and deception," wrote former German cabinet minister Norbert Blum in the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper yesterday in a column headed Nationalism Equals Idiocy.
8 August ~ Last week I went to a football match in which nothing was won or lost, the pace was slow and the flow stilted by 13 substitutions. I’ve seen Burnley before. I’ve watched Rangers for decades. And I’ve attended more friendlies than most fans would think advisable in one lifetime. But when the post denied Burnley the chance to go 3-0 up after just 23 minutes I realised it could become the biggest defeat I’d ever seen my team suffer and that, consequently, I cared deeply about this match.
6 August ~ The start of 2016-17 can't come soon enough for Oldham Athletic fans like me. Last season ended on something approaching a high. From near certainties for relegation, the return of John Sheridan as manager kickstarted a remarkable recovery that saw us survive for another season in League One.
5 August ~ For the first time ever, Bundesliga 2 hosts a higher number of former national champions than the top division. Tonight, Kaiserslautern and Hannover 96 contest the inaugural match of the new season. A pairing like that wouldn't look out of the place in the Bundesliga given that those two sides share no less than six national championships between them. Indeed, preceding the set-up of the Bundesliga, Kaiserslautern and Hannover met in the 1954 national final, the rank outsiders from the north thumping their more illustrious opponents 5-1.
4 August ~ “Clap, clap, clap, clap… Fish!” is still reverberating around my head a couple of months after Grimsby’s play-off final victory and return to the Football League. It doesn’t seem over six years since I wrote about going to work past the street named after Mariners legend Jackie Bestall and how he would be turning in his grave as we slipped into non-League. There is a whole generation of Grimsby fans (my own boys included) who had never experienced promotion, only relegation.