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27 August ~ If West Midlands football seems to struggle for attention in the face of the national media’s obsession with north-west and north-east clubs, West Bromwich Albion sometimes seem to be overlooked even in a local context. This was understandable 20 years ago, when Aston Villa were always at least one division higher, Wolves and Birmingham were loudly targeting promotion or expensive signings, and the most exciting news from The Hawthorns tended to be of the "Stacy Coldicott signs new one-year deal" variety. It is less so now that Albion are the region’s only top-flight club and in the midst of a takeover headed by Chinese businessman Guochuan Lai.
26 August ~ A recent ex-Burnley manager was never going to be in for an easy ride at local rivals Blackburn Rovers, so what Owen Coyle most needed to keep supporters on-side was a good start to the season. After a disastrous first game against Norwich in which they were 3-0 down within 30 minutes and the subsequent loss of the team’s two centre-halves (Grant Hanley sold to Newcastle, Shane Duffy who has just gone to Brighton having been suspended and fallen out with Coyle) the coach is already under serious pressure.
Runcorn Town 1 Runcorn Linnets 0, 26/12/2013, The Pavilions, North West Counties League Premier Division
22 August ~ “No one wants to see extra time.” Late into this month’s Community Shield match, Manchester United and Leicester City locked at 1-1, Radio 5 Live co-commentator Danny Mills expressed relief the game would go straight to penalties. Listening in my car as a vaguely interested neutral, I instinctively agreed. Mills then followed up by claiming all drawn knockout games should go straight to a shootout because, really, there had only been a few decent periods of extra time ever played – in any competition. I almost crashed.
20 August ~ Following an Ipswich v Norwich derby, the Suffolk police usually release a statement to the local press giving the (often surprisingly low) number of people who have been arrested at the game. This Sunday’s fixture carries the unusual possibility that one of those having their collar felt may be the owner of the home club.
19 August ~ For us Southampton fans, games with Manchester United conjure up images of Bobby Stokes scoring at Wembley; David Beckham and Ryan Giggs rendered powerless in grey jerseys at the Dell; and proving that win was no fluke by putting six past them the following season.
18 August ~ Two days after Britain formally joined the European Economic Community (EEC) on January 1, 1973, a Wembley crowd of 36,500 watched an international friendly. The teams were “The Three”, comprising the home nations and fellow Common Market newcomers Ireland and Denmark, and “The Six”, from existing EEC nations Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy, West Germany and France.
16 August ~ Blackburn Rovers fans have launched a petition demanding that the FA investigate the running of their club. Since the Indian poultry processing company Venky’s took over Rovers in November 2010 the club have gone from mid-table in the Premier League to bottom of the Championship. With reported debts now around £100 million, supporters have had enough of owners who they say refuse to communicate with either fans or staff.
15 August ~ Former Aston Villa striker Dalian Atkinson has reportedly died after being shot with a Taser by police in Telford. Atkinson, who was 48 years old, also played for Ipswich Town, Sheffield Wednesday, Real Sociedad and Fenerbahce. His brilliant solo goal for Aston Villa against Wimbledon on October 2, 1992 won Match of the Day’s Goal of the Season competition.