Cherries flying high in Championship
17 April ~ A run of just one loss in 11 games has seen Bournemouth just two points from a play-off place in the Championship. Despite Neil Warnock suggesting on the Football League Show that the Cherries had run out of steam after their disappointing 1-1 draw away at Yeovil last Saturday, fans are still hopeful that the team will prove him wrong. A bottom-half finish clear of relegation was the target at the season's start but the fantastic form since beating fellow Championship new boys Doncaster 5-0 on March 1 has seen Bournemouth rocket up the table.
17 April ~ Leaders for most of the season, West Brom had clinched their first and to date only title a week before with victory over Bradford Park Avenue. Officially the team didn't have a manager – secretary Fred Everiss was in charge, aided by chairman William Bassett who had played in the Albion side that won the 1888 FA Cup. The champions featured six international players including wing-half and captain Jesse "Peerless" Pennington who won 25 England caps and striker Fred Morris, the league's top scorer with a then-record 37 goals.
16 April ~ Several countries have launched official songs for the World Cup. Here's Mexico's. You'll understand why it has more "dislikes" than "likes".
May issue available in stores and online
The new WSC is out now, in all good newsagents or dispatched on the day of order from the WSC shop.
- The Messi phenomenon
- Fans unite over Hillsborough
- Bayern: a problem for Germany?
- World Cup shirt frenzy in Brazil
- Players must stop not celebrating
- Newport County's revival
by John McDermott
In many ways John McDermott's book is the archetypal lower-league autobiography. You have contractual wrangles and several relegations shot through with moments of glory, laddish hijinks on pre-season tours of Scandinavia, a touching sense of wonder when the player crosses paths with his contemporaries from the Premier League and transcription from interview tapes with a minimum of editorial effort. Rather than leave for a new club every chapter, though, McDermott spends all of his 21-year, 750-match career with Grimsby Town. Read more
The Justin Fashanu story
How much is there left to say about a man of whom so much has already been said? This biography of Justin Fashanu will certainly not be the last. The sleeve notes of Nick Baker's Forbidden Forward promise more detail than ever before and to identify "those who are to blame for his untimely death". Read more
by Keith Gillespie
The advance publicity for, and newspaper serialisation of, Keith Gillespie's autobiography concentrated heavily on his prodigious gambling habit. Given that Gillespie estimates he squandered around £7 million over the course of his career this is understandable, but How Not To Be A Football Millionaire is much more than a tale of beaten dockets. To his credit, Gillespie refuses to wallow in self-pity or to portray himself as a particularly likeable man. Read more
by Willie Morgan
If the purpose of this book were to rid Willie Morgan of the image of being George Best's doppelganger, it sets about it in a strange fashion. Behind the main picture on the cover, faint background images show Morgan at various stages of his life from babe to footballer but, inexplicably, the only other person amid these images is Best, Morgan's late 1960s and early 1970s fellow winger at Manchester United. On the inside back flap, there is a picture of Morgan in a United strip… along with Best. Read more
Notable kits of yesteryear
10 April ~ Barnet began their second spell in the League by topping the table after a month but then failed to win in League Two until Halloween weekend. Their only successes during this spell came in knock-out competitions, including victories over Bristol City and Plymouth that saw Paul Fairclough's side draw Manchester United away in the Carling Cup. The club tried to make the most of the publicity by launching this limited-edition commemorative shirt.
8 April ~ Charlton paid for 5,000 fans to travel to Forest for what would have been a title celebration had they won and Manchester City lost. The championship was wrapped up two weeks later, although they failed to win any of their last seven games. Charlton's goal at Forest was scored by Andy Hunt who was the division's top scorer with 24, one ahead of Man City's Shaun Goater. Hunt's team-mates included Scott Parker and Chris Powell, recently sacked as Charlton boss.
The Weserstadion is the 42,500-capacity home of Werder Bremen in Germany. The stadium is situated on the north bank of the Weser River and surrounded by parkland but was turned down as a host venue for the 2006 World Cup.
Conference demands change
16 April ~ Football, according to David Goldblatt, the author of The Ball Is Round, has to bear the weight of ethical visions of what the world might be like. Talk about "the beautiful game" is loose and hackneyed, because no one who watches Bristol Rovers every week would pretend that football always looks that way. Goldblatt is more concerned with the potential for beauty and for that, football urgently needs profound and far-reaching reforms, as he said when he delivered the keynote address last week at Hofstra University’s intriguing conference on Soccer as the Beautiful Game: Football’s Artistry, Identity and Politics.
5pm is too late
15 April ~ The Magic of the Cup – we're all feeling it in Hull. Progress to the final for the first time in the club's long and less than illustrious history hasn't been easy, and such is the lack of respect the competition has had for us over our lifespans, we've expected it to end at every hurdle. But now we're in the final. Of course, with that comes an array of logistical, practical and financial strains. The FA has decreed that just 25,000 tickets will go to the two clubs. This has left indignant Arsenal fans asking why 20,000 of their own season passholders can't attend the game.
Retirement is difficult
14 April ~ I was bringing in the shopping on a Saturday afternoon in the rain when I heard someone cry out in pain. This was followed by lots of angry shouting and several blasts of a whistle. There was no mistaking the sound – it was a football match, sent on the breeze from the football fields of the local school. Standing on my driveway, with several carrier bags of shopping in each hand, I was catapulted into the action. I could picture the victim. No doubt a winger – often passengers in poor conditions, shinpads the size of tape cassettes, framed high up his shin by several layers of electrical tape wrapped around his socks.
Second semi-final, 4.07pm
13 April ~ Sheffield United head to Wembley today for their fourth FA Cup semi-final in recent times. The three previous matches have seen slim margins of defeat. There was a devastating 2-1 extra-time loss in the all-Sheffield semi-final of 1993 and 1-0 defeats at Old Trafford to Newcastle in 1998 and Arsenal five years later, both when the Blades were a Championship side. In the last 40 years, 41 clubs have played in a major cup final and that number will increase by one today whether it is the Blades or opponents Hull City.
Gradual overhaul pays dividends
12 April ~ Seven points clear of fourth place with just five games to go, even Rochdale manager Keith Hill has started to talk about promotion. For most of a remarkably successful season Hill has urged caution as his young squad competes with what he describes as the “money teams” in League Two. Now he reckons that two more wins will be enough. Getting one of those wins at Mansfield today won’t be easy. The Stags were on a terrible run when they lost 3-0 at Spotland on Boxing Day but they have only lost four of 19 games since and still have an outside chance of reaching the play-offs.
Hughton had lost support
12 April ~ Chris Hughton’s 22-month reign as Norwich City manager ended in acrimony but, the national media aside, there have been few dissenting voices. Hughton exceeded expectations in his first season as successor to Paul Lambert, steering the team to 11th despite a playing style that divided opinion early on. Last summer his brief was to strengthen the squad in readiness for a challenge for the top ten. To do it the board gave him £26 million to spend and, in short, he blew it.
11 April ~ There can't be many European cities with three dedicated football stadiums each with an all-seated capacity of over 50,000. If there are they will be in countries with far greater populations than Scotland. There has been historic lobbying against the need for a national stadium, Hampden, when Glasgow also has Ibrox and Celtic Park, all serving a nation of five million. Yet this weekend's Scottish Cup semi-finals would have you believe the SFA actually requires a fourth major football venue. All it took was the Commonwealth Games arriving in Glasgow and Rangers reaching the last four.
Keeper encroachment unpunished
10 April ~ In their 32nd Serie A game of the season on April 5, Inter became the last team to be awarded a penalty, their first in the league since May 8 last year. And when they got one it was actually no more obvious than a lot that they should probably have been awarded before. They join Atalanta, who have had one penalty in 39 league games, as the teams who have had the fewest spot kicks so far this season. And of course having waited for so long, Inter failed to take advantage of the kick, which would almost certainly have given them a 3-2 win over Bologna if they had scored.
League leaders have away goal
9 April ~ That tonight’s Champions League quarter-final second leg between Atlético Madrid and Barcelona is too close to call really is extraordinary. Last week’s first leg at the Camp Nou was a tight game, with Barça as expected having lots of the ball but Atlético making the best chances and then going ahead through Diego Ribas’s 35-yard strike. As the visitors tired some gaps finally began to open up, and Barça deservedly equalised when Neymar converted a superb Andrés Iniesta through-ball. That meant the two clubs have drawn in each of their four meetings this season.