Football myths

Cameron Carter exposes the myth behind the idea that playing away from home is more difficult and comes up with a few possible solutions

Because it clearly isn’t. What is the immense problem in taking a luxury coach 80 miles down the road to a carefully groomed pitch and playing to the same level as you play at home? Why, year after year, are experienced clubs full of world-class players happy to come away with a point? Think about your reaction as a fan. Should your team lose 1-0 away, it is simply a case of puffing out the cheeks and nodding ruefully. Should they lose at home, however, it is out on the streets with us and we have learned the chairman’s name to say out loud

Simon Edwards explains how promotion from and relegation to the Conference is not an improvement for the Football League 

The prevailing view of relegation to the Conference from the Nationwide League is that it provides an opportunity for a struggling club to rebuild both on and off the field, and ev­ent­ually return to the fold in rude health. This has always been bunkum. The overall benefits have been negligible.

Gary Sprake was the weak link of Don Revie's all-conquering Leeds United. Nonsense, says John Tandy

It’s almost as though the sniggers are a part of the name. In a verdict of history as unfair as any since Canute it seems that Gary Sprake will always be The Keeper Who Made Mistakes. When you ask for the evidence, they’ll tell you that in December 1967 he threw the ball into his own net against Liverpool. And in the 1970 FA Cup final he let Peter Houseman’s shot go under his body. And... well, that’s about it, really.

Mike Woitalla explains why the NASL wasn't an elephants' graveyard

The depiction of the North America Soccer League as a circus of geriatric home escapees lives on – especially in the British press, which can’t mention the NASL without ridiculing it. Alas, even WSC has bought into this one. A recent review of the biography of Giorgio Chinaglia, the Welsh-raised Italian World Cup striker who came to New York at 29 and scored 193 goals in eight years, said: “The world’s stars descended on the US to play on astroturf, wear garish strips and generally make fools of themselves while topping up their retirement funds.”

Players in the "old days" knew how to behave, unlike the overpaid prima-donnas of today. Not at all, says Steve Field

Think of an example of boisterous, drunken or oafish behaviour on the part of a highly-paid football personality. It might be Peter Beagrie’s Great Escape re-enactment in a hotel foyer, Brian Law’s hijack of a West Midlands Travel single-decker, Stan Collymore doing just about any­thing. The alleged misdemeanour could be sex­ual (Pleat, Shilton), financial (Macari, Venables), addiction-related or violent (too many to men­tion). Whatever, you can be sure of one thing. Within hours of the story breaking, pundits will be queuing up to proclaim that such a thing would never have happened in The Old Days.

Replica kits not a rip-off, opines Neil Wills

Whoops! How did this one end up here? It’s clearly not a myth at all. The fans are being fleeced – even those most equine of horse’s mouths, Messrs Shepherd and Hall, admitted as much. Questions have been asked in parliament, for good­ness’ sake, and usually nothing short of a tragedy will make politicians side with football fans. It’s a simple truth: supporters are being asked to fork out between 40 and 50 quid for something that costs about a fiver to produce. It’s the kind of thing that gives rip-offs a bad name.

Goals and wins are what the game's about. So hit it long, says Matt Nation

There must be thousands of people throughout the world whose favourite sporting event is the 25-kilometre walk. They could probably sit you down and explain the whole shebang of pacing techniques, ball-heel rolling and the inability of those participants who have been disqualified to leave the course without having to be clubbed into submission by stewards.

Only in the caricatured land of football is the King's Road thought of as trendy, argues Harry Pearson. Are you reading Mrs Karembeu?

Planet Football is a peculiar place, an alternative Earth where nothing ever changes and the hopelessly inaccurate can become the truth simply by repetition. This is a world where all Frenchmen are urbane, the whole of Brazil is a beach, no one relishes a trip to Turf Moor in January and everything north of Hadrian’s Wall is in Scotland. (How lucky Alf Ramsey was, by the way, that the Charlton boys chose to turn their backs on their native land and opt instead for England; and why don’t Newcastle United play in their own country, I wonder.)

Hamish McDougall exposes the myth that England lack decent southpaws, arguing that Kevin Keegan ignores the available options – to dire consequences

The word “quality” is an optional extra in this Myth’s wording, as some commentators have suggested that a whole generation of footballers use their left foot merely to stand on. The Times suggested just such a thing recently when championing the 3-5-2 system, insisting that playing wing-backs “negates the necessity to find two left-sided players”.

Nobody else cares about the 'world's biggest cup final', discovers globetrotting Chris Fyfe

If you tell a lie often enough it becomes the truth. In the days when World of Sport and Grandstand both covered the FA Cup final, Frank Bough and Dickie Davies told us that two billion people were watching the game live. We believed them.

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