Clubs

Coventry are one of the moving spirits of the Phoenix League. Neville Hadsley believes their frenzied activity masks panic about their own financial position

It’s always struck me that the acting career of the Kemp brothers from Spandau Ballet was limited by the fact that there weren’t enough up-to-no-good twins around to portray. Once you’ve done the Krays, who else is there? Step forward Geoffrey Richmond and Bryan Rich­ardson. True, they are not twins. Also true they are up­standing citizens, rather than criminal gang lead­ers. But they do have a certain physical resemblance – too many good meals in decent restaurants, one sus­pects – and they are also the joint architects of a rather rum scheme.

David Montrose remembers West Ham United's 1985-86 season

August, 1985: the omens were ominous. West Ham had ended the previous season just clear of relegation, and Paul Allen, Hammer of the Year, had since de­camped to Spurs under freedom of contract – a tren­chant vote of no-confidence. Few thought jockey-sized Mark Ward, ex-Oldham, would prove an adequate suc­cessor. The acquisition of St Mirren’s Frank Mc­Aven­nie, meanwhile, aroused more mystification than an­­ticipation. Who? Even his position was uncertain. Striker, midfielder?

Phil Ball remembers Grimsby Town's 1979-80 season

There’s pleasure in purgatory. Thus speaks the Grims­by Town supporter, a strange creature stuck out in the wilds of north-east Lincolnshire, miles from any­where, in a cut-off place with a cut-off mentality to boot. If you are handed the burden of following this club from an early age, you very soon learn that you are likely to spend the rest of your life having the piss taken out of you, a curious state of affairs which nevertheless hardens you and makes you all the more determined to face things out – to go into the world, as Val Doonican might have put it, walking straight and looking at your adversaries in the eye.

Roger Titford remembers Reading's 1994-95 season

Reading have only spent 11 seasons out of the lower divisions since we joined the League in 1920. For ten of those 11 seasons our main preoccupation was to stop falling back into the lower divisions. For one season alone we walked with the giants and might have re­placed someone like Aston Villa or Everton in the Prem­iership. It was 1994-95 and Reading went fam­ously from “2-0 up and a penalty” to lose to Bolton in the play-off final.

Steve Parish remembers Manchester City's 1967-68 season

Nineteen sixty-eight was my last year at school. A-level revision had to be fitted in around the end to Manchester City’s best postwar season, when they played ten matches in six weeks. The run-in began with an am­a­z­ing night at Old Trafford when George Best scor­ed first but City cruised into top gear and beat title rivals Uni­ted 3-1. I’ve still got the little reel-to-reel tape, recorded off the radio, of a Radio 4 documentary called More Than A Game, with vox pop interviews before, during and after the match, and roars, singing and cheers throughout.

Dave Espley looks at Stockport County as Andy Kilner departs and Carlton Palmer gets his first taste of management

In what might seem to an outsider to be one of the least surprising sackings of the season, Stockport County dispensed with the services of Andy Kilner the Monday after a 4-0 home de­feat by Millwall on October 27. What is per­haps surprising, however, is that the County chairman Brendan Elwood was still insisting to all and sundry on the Saturday night that Kil­ner’s job was safe. Granted, chairmen do that as a matter of course and, as we all know, votes of confidence usually precede a sacking as inevitably as night follows day, but in El­wood’s case, he genuinely meant it.

Dianne Millen looks at Aberdeen's hopes to move to a new stadium and complex as part of Scotland's bid to host the Euro 2008 Championships

Aberdonians of a certain age can remember the glory days. Not the hot Eighties nights un­der Fergie when even the likes of Bayern Mun­ich were sent home from Pittodrie to think again, but further back yet, to the Fifties and Sixties. In those pre-wage inflation days, an ordinary league game against Hibs or Dundee United would see the official 40,000-odd cap­acity swelled by a good few hundred who never touched a turnstile – clinging to the roof of the Main Stand, maybe, or even perched peril­ously on the newly installed, state-of-the-art floodlights.

Two writes debate whether clubs are treated unfairly by national associations

Yes ~
In light of the current battle between the major European clubs and the French and Australian federations over players being released for November’s friendly in Mel­bourne, the uneasy agreement that has exist­ed for a century between countries and clubs may be close to severing. Arsène Wen­ger and FFF president Claude Sim­onet seem set to be the chief protagonists in this dispute.

When Man Utd went to Turin and beat Juventus in the 1999 Champions League semi, you had to admire them. No really, you did. Well, Cris Freddi did anyway

In the last minute of the first leg at Old Trafford, Un­ited’s chances of reaching the European Cup final for the first time since 1968 seemed just about over. With Zinedine Zidane paralysing them in midfield, Juventus might have led by more than 1-0. Then an injury-time goal by Ryan Giggs snatched a draw, but still left an Alp to climb. History didn’t help. United hadn’t won any of their seven previous matches in Italy, losing all four in Turin – and Juve hadn’t lost at home to an Eng­lish club since Paul Vaessen’s unlikely winner for Ars­enal in 1980. After ten minutes Juventus led 2-0 and you could have named your own odds.

While the media spotlight was firmly fixated on the September 11 attacks, Swansea City acted swiftly and promptly to replace manager John Hollins. Huw Richards reports on the smooth transiton amidst financial uncertainty

If Swansea City chairman Mike Lewis wanted to minimise publicity for the sacking of John Hollins and Alan Curtis he could hardly have timed it better. The rest of the world was, of course, preoccupied by the previous day’s events in New York when Hollins and Curtis were fired on Sep­tember 12.

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