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February issue available now online and in store

The new WSC is out now available from all good newsagents or to order now from the WSC shop with free UK delivery.

Inside
From Battiston to De Gea: Foul play controversies
Hallam FC: Second-oldest club on the up

Plus
When players were comedians | How to help colour blind fans | NFTs & football – a new scam? | Return of the boo boys | Her Game Too: Taking on sexism | Fixture overload complaints | West Didsbury & Chorlton v Cammell Laird | Clapton CFC's Women's FA Cup run | York City unsettled | FIFA's match data project | Cherry-picking the fan-led review | A Southend fan's special card | Unfulfilled objectives in South Africa | Focus on Alex Ferguson | The fleeting American Soccer League

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Acting class From real foul play to theatrics
For football watchers wearied by the theatrics which blemish today’s game, the Copa Libertadores final in Montevideo between Palmeiras and Flamengo on November 28 offered perhaps the ultimate occasion for a deep sigh and shake of the head. It came near the end when the Palmeiras matchwinner, Deyverson, flung himself to the ground in a display of mock agony after a nudge in the back... from the referee. It is a pity that Deyverson could not have been at the German Football Museum in Dortmund the following evening. There he would have heard a discussion about real foul play – and the peril attacking players once endured. The occasion was the launch of a book by German journalist Stephan Klemm titled Die Nacht von Sevilla  '82 ('The Night in Seville '82'). The book explores the 1982 World Cup semi-final between West Germany and France, a match which featured the competition’s first penalty shootout (after the Germans had retrieved a deficit in extra time) but remains best-known for an unpunished second-half challenge by German goalkeeper Harald Schumacher on Patrick Battiston, which left the Frenchman unconscious – and missing four teeth.

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Hallam 3-2 Brigg Town Bumper festive crowd at the world's oldest ground
Considering its importance in football history, the entrance to Hallam FC’s Sandygate ground could hardly be more unassuming. Situated in the leafy suburb of Crosspool, where Sheffield and the Peak District begin to merge, the spindly floodlights peeking out from behind a sandstone wall could be mistaken for any run-of-the-mill five-a-side venue, rather than the world’s oldest football ground. On the opposite side of the road the historic Plough Inn lies derelict, the subject of a familiar dispute between planners and local residents. The former want to replace it with flats, the latter to revive it as a community pub and celebrate its history, which campaigners claim includes being the site where some of the original Sheffield Rules – the foundation upon which the FA created the Laws of the Game – were drawn up. (Sheffield is full of such missed opportunities to celebrate its history; Sheffield FC, the world’s oldest club, don’t even play within the city’s borders.) It’s a gloomy sight on a dull December day but across the road, behind a wooden door flanked by a defibrillator kit, a small electronic sign displaying match details and a historic steel plaque, a revolution is underway that is more about enjoying the present than dwelling on the past.

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Eyes on the prize Kit clash problems for colour blind fans and players
It’s September 1980, and I’m making my debut for a team at university. I’m not very good, but historically have made up for a lack of technical ability with a decent level of fitness. We wander out to the pitch in our green and white stripes. My heart sinks. The opposition are in red and white stripes... and I’m colour blind. Forty-five minutes later I’m rightly substituted and never asked back, having spent the half unable to distinguish friend from foe. Colour blindness affects about one in 12 men and one in 200 women. This means that in a men’s match there are in theory likely to be a couple of players with this condition. In practice it is however rarely mentioned, because it can be seen as a weakness; it is misunderstood, and therefore becomes taboo.

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Chain reaction Her Game Too campaign
When a group of ardent fans came together a few months ago to launch a campaign to tackle sexism in the game, they had no idea where it might lead. They knew what had sparked them into action and that was the sexist abuse suffered by one of their number after posting a football opinion on Twitter. Initially cowed by the vitriol, Caz May reached out to fellow Bristol Rovers fan Lucy Ford and they teamed up with ten other female supporters to create Her Game Too. “We just wanted to highlight our experiences and get it out there,” says 25-year-old Ford. “It’s a conversation that needs to be had, but the reaction we got was beyond anything we could have imagined.” Launching on FA Cup final day with a punchy “pass the paper” style video, the 12 women, kitted out in their respective teams’ shirts, each held up a card displaying comments they had received. From the tired “it’s a man’s game” and “get back to the kitchen” to the intimidating “fancy a shag”, it was a powerful 60 seconds that resonated across the sport. “The response was crazy, the video got one million views in 24 hours on Twitter,” says Ford. “And 95 per cent of it was positive – girls getting in touch saying, ‘thanks and this is my story’, dads showing pictures of their daughters, clubs sharing it.”

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West Germany v France photo via Getty Images, Hallam v Brigg Town photo by Paul Thompson/WSC Photos, Liverpool v Manchester United photo via Getty Images, Her Game Too photo via Her Game Too

Availability

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