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.
4 August ~ “Right at the very top (of the bottom half of the table),” predicted Dundee United fan Ken Gall ahead of the 2015-16 Scottish Premiership season. He wasn’t the only one who didn’t see their relegation coming – the rest of the division’s contributors had United in seventh too. Yet manager Jackie McNamara was sacked by the end of September and they won just two matches before Christmas as they went down for the first time since 1995.
3 August ~ “With a takeover saga looming, a half-finished stand and rumours rife about matters financial, it isn’t the pre-season preparation Cobblers fans would have hoped for,” wrote Northampton Town fan Mark Pacan ahead of the 2015-16 League Two season, before predicting: “Best case scenario, play-offs. Worst case scenario, relegation and oblivion.”
2 August ~ “I’ll be pleasantly surprised if we make the play-offs,” said Wigan fan Ian Aspinall ahead of the 2015-16 League One season, after pointing to their high turnover of players, untried manager and the League’s youngest chairman. Ian must have been amazed, then, when his team were promoted as champions come May, top scorers in the league thanks in large part to the form of Will Grigg. It won’t as come as much of a shock to the other League One contributors, however, who had Wigan down as runners-up.