Clubs

Sectarian chanting in Glasgow is in decline, but new unpleasantries have emerged. Now, the target for some at Rangers is Jock Stein. Alex Anderson is ashamed of what some of his fellow fans sing

Initially, I thought the jaunty new chant I heard at Ibrox last winter was “Red, White, Blue! Red, White, Blue!”. It was only when it reached my section of the ground that I realised those three syllables were actually “Big Jock Knew”. The “Big Jock” is Jock Stein, arguably the greatest manager Britain has produced and the nemesis of Rangers’ post-war domination in Scotland. He is slanderously and ridiculously accused of “knowing” of and failing to report the instances of child abuse that occurred in the late Sixties and early Seventies at Celtic Boys Club – a feeder club established in 1966 which coaches boys from under-tens to late teens. A former coach, Jim Torbert, was eventually jailed in 1998 for having molested several boys over a seven-year period.

Manchester United proclaim their finances to be in excellent good health. Yet, as Ashley Shaw reports, with the Glazers’ debt and a stuttering global economy the figures simply don’t add up

Manchester United’s recent announcement of record profits fooled few in the media and has only reignited anti-Glazer feeling among supporters. Timed to capitalise on the feel-good factor at the club in the wake of a successful 18 months during which they regained the title and discovered they had within their ranks a genuinely world-class player, the press conference only succeeded in throwing up more questions than it answered.

Joyce Woolridge examines the events and publications marking the 50th anniversary of the tragic incident

As the 50th anniversary of the 1958 plane crash that killed 23 people, including eight Manchester United footballers, approached, the club announced that there would be a new memorial “both significant and easily accessible to all who visit the ground”. This deceptively bland statement nevertheless revealed the club’s anxiety to avoid potential controversy. Why the commemoration of the tragedy should be so fraught with difficulty lies partly in the past, in the continuing dispute about the ways in which victims of the crash were and still are treated. Also, Man Utd’s recent ownership history has left the club, in the eyes of its critics, unworthy to “own” or exploit the disaster’s memory commercially.

Ray Ranson's consortium ensured Coventry City avoided administration. Neville Hadsley reports

Coventry City have experienced last-gasp escapes plenty of times down the years so, by previous standards, surviving with just over half an hour to spare seemed rather comfortable. But that is how close the club came to extinction in December, when a takeover deal by the SISU consortium – headed by former Manchester City defender Ray Ranson – was finally sealed. Without the deal, administration would have been a certainty and a return to the old Third Division for the first time in more than half a century would have been more than a probability.

Just occasionally, a thumping win becomes a massacre. Ian Farrell looks back at the most recent time a League team posted double figures

Though the points were totting up nicely, Manchester City’s record of ten goals in their first eight games of this season was nevertheless an underwhelming and depressingly familiar return. When, at the start of November, Sunderland were then subjected to their regulation 1‑0 defeat – the sixth such home win at Eastlands – nostalgic fans couldn’t help thinking back almost exactly 20 years, to a time when a very different MCFC matched Sven-Göran Eriksson’s eight-match stats in 77 insane minutes.

Richard Barker recalls when a top-flight side last hit nine

When Manchester United entertained Ipswich Town at Old Trafford on March 4, 1995, there was little reason to expect much of a contest. Defending champions United were locked in a struggle with Blackburn Rovers at the top, while Ipswich were going hell-for-leather to clinch the bottom spot.

The only way appears to be down for Luton Town as they await an FA ruling, writes Neil Rose

It says much about lower-league football that the benefit in kind supposedly offered by Luton to encourage one player to re-sign was laying his patio and landscaping his garden at a cost of £7,000. It is also perhaps the only faintly amusing aspect of the FA’s record 55 charges over Luton’s transfer and loan dealings and contract renegotiations between 2004 and 2007. A bad week then got a lot worse when the club were put into administration for the third time in eight years.

Promotion to the top flight should be cause for celebration. But what if a club are simply not prepared for the task ahead? David Squires remembers when Swindon conceded 100 goals in a Premier League season

In 1993, Swindon Town reached the top flight of English football for the first time in their history. A dramatic 4‑3 victory in the play-off final against Leicester City led to scenes of wild jubilation, as supporters gleefully celebrated their team’s ascent to the Premier League – an uncharted land of squad numbers, fireworks and dancing girls.

Gretna’s fairytale rise is having an unhappy ending, with a calamitous debut season in the SPL. Neil Forsyth reports

Features on the current league position of a football team can be tinged with danger for monthly periodicals. In the case of Gretna, however, there is little risk involved. They are bottom of the SPL at the time of writing, they will be bottom when you read these words and it is looking increasingly likely they will be bottom when the campaign wraps up in distant May.

Northwich are hoping a takeover will save them, reports Michael Whalley

Neil Redfearn certainly knows how to pick a club in crisis. In the summer of 2006, he quit the manager’s chair at Scarborough as they lost their Conference place amid a host of financial woes. The former Barnsley and Bradford midfielder might have hoped for an easier ride when he pitched up at Northwich Victoria this summer. He didn’t get it. Nine Blue Square Premier matches brought eight defeats and a draw. So Redfearn packed his bags to find something less stressful to do.

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