November issue available now online and in store
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Covid-19 response: Cambridge's crowd experiment | Social distancing in the press box | Isthmian League kicks off
Women's football: World stars join the WSL | An England pioneer in Italy
Premier League power grab | What's wrong with FIFA games | 19th century football in colour | Argentina in lockdown | The decline of black boots | Happy return for Gareth Bale? | Everton's new Colombian fans | Crook Town's classic Millfield | The other clubs in Kiev | Non-League in limbo | England's first official tour | League chaos in Germany | Focus on Stefan Klos | Allsvenskan play-offs
Pilot study Crowd tests at League grounds
Rarely is the Abbey Stadium at the centre of the footballing universe, but it certainly felt that way on September 8 when Cambridge United became the first League club to welcome fans back to a match since the Covid-19 outbreak. That the match itself, the first of two planned trial fixtures, was an EFL Trophy tie against Fulham Under-21s presented a quandary for U's fans; attendances for Trophy games have been low in recent seasons amid the well-publicised concerns about the admittance of Premier League B teams such as Fulham into the competition, and as a result only 862 tickets were sold out of the 1,000 maximum capacity.
Enfield Town 4-1 Lewes Opening day of the Isthmian League
The people have spoken this very morning. For the fourth year running, chosen by more than a third of respondents, Lewes has been voted the best away trip in all four divisions of the Isthmian League. Little wonder, given an eccentric name – the Dripping Pan – and proximity to both a railway station and one of Britain’s great breweries. It follows the recent triumph of seeing their equal pay policy emulated at full England level. Yet the 32 Lewes fans who have trekked north as the Isthmian Premier and the rest of non-League levels three and four open 2020-21 may reflect that Enfield Town’s home has something they lack. It isn’t the name, alternately the dullest (Queen Elizabeth II Stadium) and one of the most engaging (Donkey Lane) in the Isthmian League, but a distinctive, defining physical feature. On three sides a tidy but routine non-League enclosure, with some cover under small canopies and the pitch circled by a running track, it breaks out on the fourth with a joyously uninhibited slice of 1930s Art Deco, more pavilion than grandstand.
Italian job When competitive women's football meant going abroad
Women’s football in England is now in a more prominent position than only a decade ago and its profile is considerably higher than it was in the 1970s. At the start of that decade the FA ban preventing women’s games from taking place on FA-approved grounds was still in place – it lasted for 50 years from 1921 – and teams such as Manchester Corinthians, established in 1949, continued to fight for their right to play on an equal footing with the men. The FA ban did not prevent Manchester Corinthians from playing exhibition games and in tournaments in South America, Africa and Europe, raising in excess of £250,000 for charitable causes. One Corinthians player was Janice Lyons, and she found a significant tournament in Reims in 1970 particularly inspiring.
Colour wheels The decline of black boots
Every now and then when I’m at a game, professional footballers or otherwise, someone will say: “I remember when all players on the field wore black boots.” The implication being those who still wear them are made of stronger stuff than today’s show ponies, who are obviously all far too concerned with what they’re wearing on their feet. I’ve always thought this was nonsense, as well as a little hypocritical. Well, apart from when Nicklas Bendtner first wore pink boots for Arsenal years ago – that was a bit much. But as it turns out, Bendtner was just ahead of the curve.
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