Clubs

Visits to exotic climes are nothing new for English clubs. Simon Hart charts a trailblazing trip a century ago

"The pioneers of football in foreign lands.” It sounds like a slogan dreamed up by some Premier League executive bent on selling the “39th game”. In fact these were the words of Everton director EA Bainbridge describing the ground breaking tour of Argentina and Uruguay jointly undertaken 100 years ago by his club and Tottenham Hotspur. The duo made history by facing off in Buenos Aires in the first  match played between two professional teams in Latin America.

Huw Richards responds to Roberto Martinez's departure as manager of Swansea

 In WSC 269 I suggested that Swansea fans “would not swap Roberto Martínez for anyone”. It was incontestably true when written, but by the time of publication anyone reading Swans websites could reasonably have assumed that the club had instead been managed by somebody called Judas. Some of that abuse came from the traditional inability of many fans to grasp that, whatever a club is to them, it is an employer to a player or manager. It also, though, reflected what Martínez had come to mean to Swansea.

Charlton have gone from being a well-run Premier League club to an institution defined by calamitous mismanagement on and off the pitch. Mick Collins examines a cautionary tale

After two relegations in three years, Charlton fans have become used to looking for silver linings, however hard they’ve been to locate. Of very limited consolation, though, has been the ease with which we can now start a footballing conversation. No matter how remote the setting, a mention of your allegiance to anyone with even the vaguest of interest in the game, brings a guaranteed response: “What’s gone wrong at The Valley, then?”

Darlington’s time in administration may be over but the town’s community has suffered longer-term harm, says Thom Kennedy

After a miserable period in administration, optimism is seeping back to League Two Darlington. However, while rebuilding within the club is moving along rapidly, the manner of the club’s exit from administration remains a source of discomfort.

Barcelona’s defeat of Manchester United was considered a victory for good in the press. But is it really so simple, asks Ashley Shaw

So good triumphed over evil in football’s version of the moral maze. Fan-owned Barcelona, the club that proclaims itself as mes que un club (more than a club), Catalonia’s national team, won the European Cup at a canter by beating privately-owned, debt-saddled Manchester United where the ticket prices make your eyes water and the PR spin-cycle is always on high.

Andrew Turton reports on how Cardiff City’s move from Ninian Park began a battle for some slightly odd memorabilia

There were many who thought it would never happen, but this summer, Cardiff City move to their new home. A new stadium had been talked about for years, but Sam Hammam made it a priority on becoming chairman in 2000. Ironically, it was Hammam’s involvement that proved to be a stumbling block with the local authority after he fell out with council leader Rodney Berman, whom he was said to have persistently insulted at one of their many meetings. There was also some concern that Hammam would “do a Wimbledon” once he’d been handed the land. This had been given to the club on a dirt-cheap 999-year lease, which allowed them to sell on the leases to retail groups, including M&S, Costco and Asda. This provided most of the finance to build the new stadium. It was only when Hammam left the club three years ago that progress was made.

Love for your club is not always blind. For a fan of Brighton the excitement of the future stirs up worries of the past while a West Ham fan finds his fellow supporters are turning him cold

On May 19, I had the shock of seeing the name of my club, Brighton, used in the same sentence as “Abramovich” – without apparent irony. It came in the Guardian headline: “Brighton finds its own Abramovich with £80m loan”; the man being Tony Bloom, an “internet gambling entrepreneur”.

Harry Pearson ponders whether there really is a collective football sensibility in the north-east and concludes that there probably isn’t

A dozen or so years ago I was sitting on a plane at Brussels airport. Our departure had been slightly delayed to allow passengers from a connecting flight to join us. Eventually they arrived and marched down the aisle to the rear of ­standard class, an elderly couple trailing the scent of sun tan oil and eau de cologne. Nothing unusual in that except that on closer inspection the pair turned out to be Newcastle United chairman Sir John Hall and his wife, Lady May.

A Yorkshire MEP is campaigning for an investigation into the 1973 Cup-Winners Cup final. Matthew Barker wonders why

The 1973 European Cup-Winners Cup final wasn’t, by all accounts, a great game. Leeds United and Milan kicked chunks out of each other in a typically brutal early-Seventies footballing culture-clash, played in a torrential downpour in Salonika. Luciano Chiarugi scored the only goal from a third-minute free-kick ­(indirect, claim Leeds), with the Italians happy to defend deep in a catenaccio master class under the tutelage of Nereo Rocco. Don R­evie’s team had three penalty claims waved away by Greek referee ­Christos Michas, while Norman Hunter was sent off. It was, as Italian newspaper Il ­Manifesto recently put it, “a disaster from beginning to end ... a night of rain and rage”, with a disgruntled local crowd pelting Milan’s players with missiles as they attempted to celebrate their win.

When Ebbsfleet were bought by 32,000 fans last February it was heralded as real-life fantasy football. A year on membership has fallen dramatically. Gary Andrews ponders the future

It’s unlikely any champagne corks would have popped at the headquarters of MyFootballClub.co.uk (MyFC) on the anniversary of their takeover of Conference side Ebbsfleet United. For a start, they probably wouldn’t have been able to afford it given their membership – and with it the cash that kept the project going – had just dropped from 32,000 to under 10,000.

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