July issue available now online and in store
Football League review: Praise for Championship's top two | League One pulls in the crowds | Financial crisis hits League Two
Steve Clarke – the man for Scotland | Notts County's nightmare | Battle for the oldest club title | Salford City on the rise | The other clubs in Moscow | Ajax's short-lived revolution | What has happened at Bolton? | Focus on Lucas Radebe | French minnows rising fast | Still with us: Kidderminster | Manchester City's European exit
Upsetting the odds Season review 2018-19
“We’re in trouble here.” Those four words came about five minutes into Stoke City’s season, and as I turned to my brother at Elland Road, I didn’t just mean in that game. We’d been away from the Championship for ten years and had kept most of our supposedly best players. We’d got what we thought was a good manager and whatever people want to claim now about how they “saw it coming”, we were relishing the tag of pre-season favourites. Supporters and club, though, reckoned without one key fact. The rest of the Championship had players better suited to the league than we did. And they were fitter, stronger and more tactically aware.
Salford City 3 AFC Fylde 0 National League play-off final
Since the National League play-off final has been held at Wembley from 2012, its previous lowest attendance was the 16,306 crowd who saw Tranmere beat Boreham Wood last season. When the attendance is announced as 8,049 near the end of today’s game, there’s widespread amusement. Not at how it’s halved the unwanted record, but because there appear to be far fewer than 8,049 people here. As one of the vendors unsuccessfully trying to sell flags and scarves outside Wembley Park station to a desultory trickle of fans had put it earlier: “I knew it’d be shit today. But I didn’t think it’d be this bad.”
Established order Oldest clubs
When Notts County were relegated from League Two on the last day of the season they gave up more than their League status. They also lost their long-standing record as the oldest Football League club. The Magpies formed in 1862, a year before the laws of association football were written. Their relegation from the League came in their 157th year of existence. Now a dispute has arisen about who can claim County’s lost record.
Dutch courage Ajax's revolution
When Ajax arrived in the town of Doetinchem on May 8, 2016, their 34th Dutch championship was tantalisingly close. All they had to do was beat De Graafschap, a team already consigned to finishing second bottom and who had won one of their last six home matches. Victory for the visitors would ensure a fifth league trophy in six seasons for coach Frank de Boer, assuming rivals PSV didn’t bury PEC Zwolle under an avalanche of goals.
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Wembley photo by David Bauckham, Stoke photo by Colin McPherson