THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

As well as looking at sad stats for transfers and appearances, Jamie Rainbow takes in unofficial Stoke City and official Accrington Stanley

You get what you pay for, we’re often told. Not in the world of football you don’t, where, according to a site devoted to the transfer market, Transfer News, financial outlay bears little or – in the case of Newcastle – no relation to success. Since the inception of the Premier League in 1992, the three heaviest spending clubs have been Newcastle, Liverpool and Everton, none of whom currently show any signs of justifying their massive investments. 

In addition to all the concluded deals you will also find plenty of speculation here although, the site claims, due to the number of unfounded transfer rumours, only confirmed rumours are considered for publication. Some kind of first I suspect – a transfer speculation column with integrity.

Another useful feature is the section which explains the reasons for players retiring. Of these, perhaps the most interesting is Argentina’s keeper Carlos Roa, who quit because he believes the world will shortly come to an end; either that or a bid came in from Newcastle, which, for a footballer, more or less amounts to the same thing these days.

Sticking with the transfer theme, another site worth visiting is Soccerbase . Extending the subject of transfers to an almost frightening degree, it purports to contain a record of every transaction ever made. Furthermore, it also provides details of each player’s record while at a particular club. Throw in a facility which gives each club’s record against another and you’ve got a valuable cross-referencing tool.

The scale and ambition of the site is admirable, if a little daunting, but the sheer magnitude of producing such a database ultimately undermines it. In theory, one should be able to highlight a player and find out his full playing record. Inevitably, perhaps, given such a vast undertaking, it doesn’t always deliver. For example, conducting a brief search of Gary Lineker’s playing record, I was surprised to learn that he had only played once for Everton. However, if the creators can fill in the gaps, this has the potential to be a great site.

In marked contrast to the wealth of information offered by the transfer pages comes an unofficial Stoke City site. In fact, the site is notable for an absence of facts and figures. It’s more of a personal reminiscence illustrated by old programmes. There is some historical information but it’s anecdotal rather than factual, concentrating on the author’s earliest experiences of watching Stoke and even before that, as a child, hearing the roars of the crowd from his bedroom.

For pure nostalgia, though, head for the official Accrington Stanley site, which provides an interesting and opinionated account of the club’s expulsion from the Football League in 1962. The finger is pointed at certain individuals who exacerbated an already dire situation. Bob Lord, the then Burnley chairman, for example, offered to help the ailing club, but instead, according to the author, ended up “turning the knife in the wound”. The site does concede that there was widespread apathy within the town to the club’s fate – a fighting fund raised only £450, which even then was not a lot of money.

Inevitably, some bitter memories are evoked and there are worrying portents for many of today’s breadline clubs. When the official report detailing the club’s demise was published, it blamed “overspending on ground improvements at the very moment match receipts fell owing to poor performances on the pitch”.

From WSC 154 December 1999. What was happening this month

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