December issue available now online and in store
Broadcasting: Football League live in Sweden | Piracy threatens TV deals | The new superstars of eSports
Haringey's racism walkout | Who were Coventry Sporting? | Potters Bar Town cash in | Changing times at Bournemouth | Climate crisis: can football adapt? | In praise of Bonnyrigg Rose | Six-a-side World Cup | Bulgaria's hooligan problem | Football literature: Barry Hines & BS Johnson | Focus on Jorge Leitão | Six-goal thriller at Nelson | Clubs in crisis | Daniel Stendel departs | Panini get stuck in | Bury fans regroup | Football street art in Leeds | Jamie Vardy makes his name
Scandi drama Broadcasting
Friday December 16, 1983, was a milestone in British TV history. Match of the Day broadcast a live game, between Manchester United and Tottenham, for the first time. By that point, however, English league and cup matches had been shown live in Scandinavia for over 14 years. The reason for the time lag was mainly the English clubs' concern about loss of audience revenue, but Swedish reporter Lars-Gunnar Bjorklund's groundbreaking ideas and bold approach also had a part to play.
Bournemouth 0-0 Norwich City Drab draw at Dean Court
It's ten years since I was last in Bournemouth, watching a penniless club go perilously close to being relegated from the Football League. Today they're nestled at the mid-point of the top flight, one year on from being declared the 28th richest club on earth. In a way, it feels like yesterday – how can a decade pass so much more quickly than 45 minutes on a cross-trainer? But really, that was another lifetime. Back then the world was a terrible place, but mostly in ways which made some kind of sense. We didn't know how lucky we were. Technology has enabled regression on a terrifying scale; the future's being hammered together from broken bits of the past. Everything is different now.
Brought to book Literature
Great football scenes in fiction are precious. Barry Hines, author of A Kestrel for a Knave, created one of the best – funny and sad in turns. It's the classic PE lesson, brought memorably to life in the film Kes. A struggling group of boys are being systematically bullied by bombastic PE teacher Mr Sugden, who insists on commentating, refereeing, penalty taking and, in his red and white kit, being Bobby Charlton – "Denis Law's in the wash this week". Neither Sugden nor the brutal Yorkshire weather, however, can fully knock the joy of the game out of the boys. What makes the scene so special? Authenticity. Hines was a PE teacher when he wrote the novel. He was also an extremely talented footballer, a dynamic right-half.
Haringey ladder Coles Park in the spotlight
If the minority of Yeovil Town fans who are alleged to have racially abused Haringey Borough players during the FA Cup fourth qualifiyng round tie at Coles Park thought nothing would come of it, they chose the wrong opponents. Borough, at the far end of White Hart Lane from a better-known club, are not like Dulwich Hamlet and Clapton CFC, who place anti-racist politics front and centre. But they have the ethnic mix usual on the London non-League scene, and a strong identification between team and fans. If one striking element of the events which unfolded after Haringey's players walked off in protest was the Yeovil club's response, described as "class and dignity" by Haringey chairman Aki Achillea, another was the reaction of the home fans, who stood pretty much as one to applaud as long-serving manager Tom Loizou took his team off.
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Swedish TV photo by TT News Agency; Bournemouth v Norwich City photo by David Bauckham; literature illustration by Gary Neill