Monthly Archives: March, 2015

“In football, unlike bullfighting, there is no death. In football no one dies; no one gets killed.” The tragic story of Andres Escobar.

Andres escobar - Colombia's ‘El Caballero del Futbol’ (the Gentleman of Football)

Andres Escobar – Colombia’s ‘El Caballero del Futbol’ (the Gentleman of Football)

Nacional Medellin defender and Colombia international Andres Escobar Saldariaga was once asked by Gonzalo Medina, a compatriot and journalist why he liked football. In an answer that proved to be chillingly inaccurate, the articulate Escobar replied that, “This sport illustrates the close relationship between life and the game. In football, unlike bullfighting, there is no death. In football no one dies; no one gets killed. It’s more about the fun of it, about enjoying.”

On 23rd June 1994, during the World Cup tournament in the USA, Escobar was playing for the highly-fancied Colombians against the hosts in their second group game. Following a qualifying tournament of 26 matches wherein they had been beaten on only a single occasion, culminating in a glorious 5-0 victory against Argentina in Buenos Aires, Francisco Maturana’s squad had even been tipped by the great Pele as genuine contenders to win the tournament. After losing their initial encounter to a Gheorghe Hagi-inspired Romania, the South Americans were strongly fancied to win and get their campaign back on track. Continue reading →

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So, what’s in a name?

 

Exeter City Football Club's nickname is one of the most exotic in football

Exeter City Football Club’s nickname is one of the most exotic in football

Some clubs have long histories, others’ are much shorter, but each is unique, and often speaks of the history of the area where they are based. Much the same is true of certain popular names or nicknames bestowed on clubs or areas of their stadium. The ‘Spion Kop’ at Anfield and the ‘Holte End’ at Villa Park are examples. With regard to clubs themselves, nicknames often relate to industries within their areas, hence Northampton Town are known as ‘The Cobblers’ due to the shoemaking industry there. Walsall are ‘The Saddlers’ as the leather industry was prominent in the area, Blackpool being ‘The Seasiders’ for obvious reasons. One nickname that always intrigued me however was that of Exeter City being known as ‘The Grecians.’ I’d heard a few theories about how the name may have originated, but thought the definitive way to find out was to ask the club. Continue reading →

Brass or silver? Take your pick!

Blogs, on most subjects, tend to be full of the writer espousing his theories on the issues of the day, and I guess that’s particularly true with football articles, where everyone has an opinion. So, this time, I thought I’d take a different track and ask a few questions instead, whilst at the same time requesting a few changes of headgear!

Firstly, here’s a question with a complicated, or perhaps more accurately, a diverse set of answers. ‘What’s more important to a football club, money or glory, profits or pots, brass or silverware?’ If you’re reading this – and I hope you are, otherwise I’m simply talking to myself – you’re probably a fan of a particular club and will have opted for the latter of the options in each of the three queries offered. Now however, just for a lark, take off your fan’s hat, and instead don the headgear of a club owner, or a CEO having to answer to an owner. To further illustrate the picture, let’s imagine the owner in question isn’t a Sheikh Mansoor or Roman  Abramovich who bought clubs merely to indulge rather expensive hobbies. So, with your new hat on, let’s consider the question again. I know what you’re thinking. Winning trophies creates more wealth, therefore you can have both. Ah, you see, this is why I framed the question as I did. For clarity however, I’m going to rephrase it slightly. As an owner or a CEO having to report to an owner, would you rather have made £3million profit and won the Carling Cup, or £8million, and finished with an empty trophy cabinet? Come on, now. We all know the answer if we’re being honest don’t we?

Is money rather than glory the aspiration of the modern football club?

Is money rather than glory the aspiration of the modern football club?

Continue reading →

Heroes of the beautiful game – Peter Osgood.

Peter Osgood, king of Stamford Bridge was my boyhood idol.

Peter Osgood, king of Stamford Bridge was my boyhood idol.

A while ago, I was invited to submit a guest article to the ‘grumpyoldfan’ website looking at a Hero of Youth. Here’s what I came up with:

I know this may make me sound like some curmudgeonly old moaner, locked into the past but casting my mind back around five decades or so, there was of course no computer games and kids’ TV lasted for a mere hour before the six o’clock news. Plus, if you had no interest in ‘sticky-back plastic’ or empty washing-up liquid bottles, such things could be of limited interest anyway. There was therefore little else to do other than go outside and play with a ball. Cricket in the summer – well sometimes, but overwhelmingly, football. Continue reading →

Is frustrated Wenger really lowering his sights to the Europa League?

Was it merely the effect of losing to Monaco, or would Arsene Wenger really prefer a run at the Europa League?

Was it merely the effect of losing to Monaco, or would Arsene Wenger really prefer a run at the Europa League?

Nobody likes losing and, as with banging your head against a brick wall, the best thing you can say about it, is that it’s nice when it stops. Like some love-lorn teenage boy returning yet again from the bright lights of the coolest disco in town without having landed a dance with the best-looking girls, Arsene Wenger now appears to be lowering his sights from the Champions League, to the Europa League, the school disco of European club football. Perhaps Arsenal could be belle of the ball there. Some may call it a realistic assessment, Arsenal fans may well have a different description for it. Continue reading →

Game of Throw-Ins

Look out. Incoming!

Look out. Incoming!

It may seem like a relatively new phenomenon, but it’s not really, perhaps entering the norm when once it was deemed to be solely the modus operandi of adherents to the more muscular and robust approach to football, eschewed and sneered at by self-appointed sophisticates. No, not the professiona Continue reading →

Birmingham City fans still singing the Blues

Being the second city's second team is no fun for Birmingham City fans.

Being the second city’s second team is no fun for Birmingham City fans.

In a city with at least two football teams, there always seem to be one that’s dominant, and one that has a constant struggle to get out from under the shadow of it’s neighbour. On Merseyside, Liverpool have for long periods held dominance over Everton, whilst the Toffees have had only brief episodes when they could call themselves the top dogs. The usual way was Reds on top. Continue reading →

So, who is the best striker in Europe at the moment?

Europe's most  in-form striker, but who is he?

Europe’s most in-form striker, but who is he?

OK, here’s a quick quiz question. Name the striker with the best goal-scoring record this calendar year – and I’ll give you five guesses. Cristiano Ronaldo, you say. No. What about Messi. Well, no. He’s scored most goals, but his goals per game ratio is far inferior. Aguero? Nope. Costa. Nope. last guess. What about Ibrahimovich then? Er, no. I’m afraid not. I know what you’re thinking, but no, this isn’t a trick. I’m not looking for the name of a player from the third division of the Albanian league. This guy plys his trade in the Bundesliga, but he doesn’t play for Bayern Munich. Give up Currently, Europe’s most prolific striker plays for Wolfsburg and goes by the name of Bas Dost. Continue reading →

Randy Lerner’s costly lesson with Premier League football.

Lerner was apparently a fan of Aston Villa before he purchased the club.

Lerner was apparently a fan of Aston Villa before he purchased the club.

Having Birmingham City as cross-city rivals, with all the ownership trials and tribulations they have endured over the years since jailed money-launderer Carson Yeung took over the club, it would be a task of Herculean proportions for Aston Villa to paint themselves as the crisis club of the country’s second city. The former European champions and almost the epitome of that hackneyed old phrase ‘a sleeping giant’ of a club appear however, resolutely keen to have a bash at it. Continue reading →