January issue available now online and in store
The new WSC is out now, available from all good newsagents or to order from the WSC shop.
Football & betting special: The game's gambling problem | Clubs with offshore owners | Heyday of the football pools
West Brom bouncing back | Doncaster record breaker | The other clubs in Hamburg | A devotion to Oldham | Cost of success at Fulham | Will sin-bins work? | New Barcelona film | Fans under fire at Luton | Manchester City's trust fund | Aldershot's travails | Elaborate International send-offs | Netherlands' equal opportunities | Crowd policing pressures | Terrible pitches mean terrible football | Ethnic Hungarians cause stir in Romania | Stars of Bethlehem rise in US | Rivals rise in Paris | All-Bristol title challenge
West Bromwich Albion 4 Leeds United 1 Baggies bouncing back
Everyone’s heard of West Bromwich, but not many could tell you much about it. Like Croydon or Salford but a quarter the size, it’s a mole on the lip of a huge conurbation, keen to assert its own identity but never quite able to do it. To locals, this is the door between Birmingham’s urban sophistication and the beer-swilling, parsnip-chewing badlands of the Black Country. To the rest of the world, it’s known for one thing only. More than once, when travelling abroad, people have pointed to the birthplace on my passport and smiled: “Ahh, West Bromwich Albion!” The Baggies, by default, are the face of the place. And you know, you could do worse.
Taking a punt Betting in football
Sports betting is a multi-billion-pound industry with football accounting for 70 per cent of the market. There’s a good chance your own team has a betting company emblazoned on their shirts. There’s an even better one that they play in a league or cup tournament sponsored by one of the major bookies. Even if you can brush that away, there’s no getting away from the in-your-face advertising from betting firms during TV half-time breaks. When stats are then quoted about the rise in problem gambling and addiction – the Gambling Commission has said 430,000 people in Britain are problem gamblers, with a further two million at risk of becoming one – denying the cause-and-effect can become hard to defend.
Copa a load of that James Coppinger at Doncaster
It’s difficult to imagine Doncaster Rovers without James Coppinger, who has been an all but permanent fixture in the side throughout his long stay. A new stadium, several managers, a cup win, promotions, relegations, joy and despair – Coppinger has experienced it all with one club. From the golden era of continuity and enterprising progress under Sean O’Driscoll to a complete abandonment of those principles, which resulted in a fractious dressing room and a swift decline. For better or worse, it’s rarely been dull.
Public dissent Sin-bin trials
A Saturday lunchtime in November and the rain is falling hard in the Cardiff City Stadium. Referee Martin Atkinson stands a few metres away as Brighton midfielder Dale Stephens dives into a second tackle, this time completely missing the ball. When Atkinson whistles and then reaches for the inevitable red card, the visiting team’s captain, Lewis Dunk, can be seen swearing angrily by the Sky viewers watching in close-up. Atkinson doesn’t appear to notice, the commentators don’t consider it unusual enough to mention it and the game just carries on. Broadcaster Jacqui Oatley shared the clip on Twitter a few days later asking, understandably, how this typical Premier League behaviour looks to impressionable young fans and contrasting it with the FA’s Respect programme, now ten years old. She inevitably gets a lot of “respect” back as replies into her feed.
WSC is the only nationally available independent football magazine in the UK, and you can get it monthly for a very reasonable £3.75. You should be able to find a copy in your local newsagent, otherwise outlets that stock WSC include WH Smith, mainline train stations plus selected Tescos. If you're having trouble finding the magazine, you could do one of the following:
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West Brom photo by Colin McPherson, gambling illustration by Gary Neill