WSC 362 out now


April issue available online

The new WSC is out now, available to order from the WSC shop. This month we take a look at the Fan TV boom and whether the mainstream media should be worried, while we also examine why the pitchforks are out for groundsmen and reminisce about stadiums with slopes. Should players be more political? Matthew Barker thinks they should, and Dave Phillips explains why Liverpool banning the Sun is so important all these years later.

Spotting stars at youth level | Duel at the top of League One | In praise of Scottish referees | The Spain-Ukraine transfer war | Power struggle in African football | King’s Lynn’s new ambition | Wroxham put on the red light | Sutton’s cash reward | Exeter in a Tis | East Stirlingshire’s new lease of life | clubs still failing disabled fans | St Mirren v TNS photo feature | Focus on Laurie Cunningham | Harry Pearson sees football everywhere | Jean-Pierre Papin booted out of Auxerre | Tension between Serbia and Kosovo | The first J-League

362 MOTM

Sheffield United 1 Scunthorpe United 1 League One promotion battle
In South Yorkshire this mid-February day offers up the first warm weather since the early rounds of the League Cup: with it breezes in the fans’ first hankering for signs of how this season’s outcomes might begin to take shape. In the Rutland Arms at noon, supporters begin their day with gleaming pints of Reet Pale, brewed just up the road in Neepsend. The red stripes of Sheffield United alternate with the blue and white of the Brighton fans stopping off for a livener en route to Barnsley, while amid the gathering anticipation Joy Division’s Shadowplay drones incongruously from the jukebox. It’s a small nexus in the fabulous tangle of unrecorded adventures we amount to every Saturday of the season. Buy here to read the full article

362 FanTV

Working the channels The rise of Fan TV
As well as subscribing to fan channels for their own club, it’s evident that a fair number of Arsenal supporters maintain a visual on what’s happening elsewhere in north London. Great news for Barnaby Slater and Rhys James over at Spurred On who, in a follow-up video to their 2016 end-of-season overview, read out their ten favourite trolls the piece elicited (“Shit Hart Lane? Surely Shite Hart Lane would have been better; at least it rhymes”). Nemeses’ petty and poorly executed insults aside, Slater himself relishes mocking the club he loves, most effectively in professionally produced song parodies; The Beautiful South’s Song For Whoever is remodelled to list international stars once rumoured to be joining Tottenham but who never showed, while a version of Amy Winehouse’s Rehab acknowledges the club’s lack of trophies and replaces the original’s mentions of soul singers with namechecks for Harry Kane and Daniel Levy. Buy here to read the full article

362 Underhill

Uneven contests Sloped pitches
My school pitch sloped steeply from one goal down to the halfway line, and then more sedately to the other goalmouth. As an 11-year-old unable to kick a ball much further than ten yards on the flat with a following wind I dreaded games lessons. It’s easy then for me to imagine the sense of foreboding felt by visiting teams as they saw the slope on grounds such as Barnet’s Underhill Stadium or Oxford’s Manor Ground for the first time. Although part of the folklore of the game, pitches with a slope are disappearing at all levels. Buy here to read the full article

362 Youth

Age concerns Youth and “reserve” games
My Dad refereed professional youth-team football and ran the line at reserves matches in the 1970s. I asked him how on earth he kept up with Millwall winger Gordon Hill in a Midweek League fixture at Brisbane Road, what teenage Luther Blissett was like for Watford and veteran Ron Atkinson for Cambridge. He could still recall the “difficult” task of refereeing Spurs youth captain Graeme Souness. In almost every team there was a future star. My work takes me in those same footsteps, to youth matches at glamorous places such as Luton and Southend, and spending midweek afternoons watching Orient, Watford or Charlton reserves. But I rarely leave thinking I have seen a Premier League player in waiting. Buy here to read the full article

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Sheffield United photo by Simon Gill, Fan TV illustration by Matt Littler, Barnet photo by Tony Davis, Youth football illustration by Adam Doughty