A wonderful series of articles that explores and examines lower league football in various countires across the world. Featured so far have been Portugal, Denmark, Japan, Holland, France & Italy. [theseventytwo.com]
Legendary comic Norman Wisdom on the failings of British football
Here’s something that gets those nostalgic juices flowing. In the 1958/59 edition of Charles Buchan’s Soccer Gift Book funny man Norman Wisdom is interviewed and suggests that just like the continental sides British clubs & the home international sides should attack, attack, attack. Just like those magical Magyars did at Wembley in 1953 who despite tactical advice from George Raynor did just that and walloped England 6-3.
As we near the end of the year there’s a veritable profusion of posts in the footballing blogosphere giving out awards and naming the best blogs. So in the spirit of the season here’s our very own ‘awards’ because frankly it’d be rude not to. Without further ado these are the ten blogs that I’ve been checking out on a regular basis this year and who I feel are deserving of a mention & a congratulatory pat on the back. Ladies & gentlemen I give you, in reverse alphabetical order, the footysphere top ten football blogs of 2010.
Wigan Athletic and The Herefordshire Senior Cup Final of 1972
Yes you read the title right that proud Lancastrian club Wigan Athletic once took part in the Herefordshire Senior Cup. It’s only 140 miles down the M6 from Wigan to Hereford so something of a local derby? Clearly it is for here’s the proof that Wigan did indeed compete for the Herefordshire FA’s premier cup competition.
The Debenhams Cup was a minor English cup competition played for during the late seventies. It took place two seasons only in 1977 and 1978 and was contested by the two teams who progressed the furthest from the first round proper of the FA Cup. Therefore only third and fourth division clubs and non-league survivors of the earlier qualifying rounds were eligible.
How did the competition come about? Debenhams, a large British retailer, were wanting to get involved with football through some sort of sponsorship deal and they put their idea of a sponsored competition for the smaller less glamorous clubs involved in the FA Cup to FA secretary Ted Croker. He liked the idea and the fact it only added two games to the fixture list and so added an item to a FA Council meeting agenda. This was approved pending agreement from the Football League which was promptly given and so the competition got the green light just prior to the FA Cup first round games of the 76/77 season. This was the first time a sponsor had been associated with the FA Cup.
Footysphere hasn’t been nominated for any awards. They didn’t asked us to talk about their awards, how 2010 had turned out for us, our future plans or who we would vote for in the awards. Here’s the interview we didn’t give:
I’ve previously written a few words about Sheffield United football legend Jimmy Hagan here on footysphere. More recently he’s been the subject of an excellent article on Les Rosbifs. Notwithstanding his amazing managerial record the one thing that stands out about his career for me is his fabulous scoring record for England in the wartime & victory Internationals held between 1939 and 1946. He managed to bag 13 goals in 16 appearances and wondering whether this was the best strike rate achieved by any England player during this period I began to have a look into these unofficial international matches & the players who represented their country.
It’s nearly forty years since the United Kingdom’s entry into the European Community. Britain joined the Common Market on 1st January 1973 and a series of events called a Fanfare for Europe were arranged to mark this. Amongst these was a showpiece international football match at Wembley Stadium featuring some of the finest footballers from the nine member states.
“The Southern Professional Floodlit Cup is a defunct English football competition played for in the late fifties from 55/56 to 59/60 and was a knock-out trophy that served as a pre-cursor to the Football League Cup.”—
Post updated to include more information on the participants. see link below
A few shots of Maltby Main’s Muglet Lane ground. Taken on a visit to watch the Northern Counties East League Premier Division fixture with Hallam FC. The home side won a very poor game by two goals to nil. A result that leaves Hallam second bottom of the league.
“Trawling through Twitter in search of something wise, funny or illuminating written by a football player is like dredging Lake Windermere in search of that half-pence coin you threw off the side of a pleasure boat for good luck while you were on holiday in 1973.”—
Recently I’ve become an enthusiastic convert to the non-league football scene in England. In the last few weeks I’ve seen games at Bradford Park Avenue, Dinnington Town, Market Drayton Town and Sheffield FC and very refreshing it’s been too. The non-league matchday experience is so very different to what I’m used to following league football. Yesterday 2nd October I’d decided to continue my non-league odyssey by visiting Handsworth FC of the Northern Counties East League. However late morning I got a phone call from a friend who was unable to attend the Sheffield United v Watford Championship fixture at Bramall Lane. He offered me his match ticket for free. Being a tight Yorkshireman I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to watch my beloved Blades for nowt so graciously accepted his kind offer and put off a visit to Olivers Mount for another time.
Off I went to Beautiful Downtown Bramall Lane for my first visit of the season. Caught the train into Sheffield and popped into the Sheffield Tap for lovely pint of local brew Wild Swan. A wonderful white gold pale ale which according to it’s description on the Thornbridge Brewery website has aromas of light bitter lemon with a hint of herb and subtle spiciness. Hmmm not sure about that but a quick pint turned into two turned into three. I could have stayed in the boozer suppin’ that gorgeous beer all afternoon but I had a match to go to so just about managed to drag myself away.
Given my predilection for the more nostalgic side of football I have been enjoying in recent weeks the offerings on twitter of @retrombm. They have been presenting for our enjoyment a constant stream of videos featuring pre-premiership games from seasons gone by. All these classic matches got me thinking about the first games of football I can remember watching. I’ve wrote previously about the Sheffield United v Arsenal FA Cup game of 1978 which was the first ever live game I went to but now I’m gonna take a trip down memory lane and revisit the first game I can remember watching on the telly as a young lad not long out of short trousers.
Support #nonleagueday on 04/09/10 and go watch your local non-league side. There are no Premiership or Championship fixtures due to the international matches so why not take in a game at your local non-league club. There are a number of games you can choose from in and around the South Yorkshire area.
AFC Emley v Hemsworth Miners Welfare - FA Vase
Armthorpe Welfare v Farsley AFC - NCEL Premier
Buxton v Nantwich Town - Evo-Stick Premier
Dinnington Town v Wigan Robin Park - FA Vase
Frickley Athletic v Marine - Evo-Stick Premier
Handsworth v Barton Town Old Boys - NCEL Division 1
Maltby Main v Ashton Town - FA Vase
Parkgate v Congleton Town - FA Vase
Rossington Main v Yorkshire Amateur - NCEL Division 1
Stocksbridge Park Steels v Ashton Utd - Evo-Stick Premier
Worksop Town v Bradford Park Avenue - Evo-Stick Premier
There’s a some beautiful old football footage on the Imperial War Museum website. Three clips are available. The first is silent footage of an Arsenal v Chelsea game in 1917 whilst the second is a newsreel item on women’s football in 1918.
The third clip is of a wartime international played between England and Scotland at Wembley Stadium in 1944. Eighty thousand including the King, Queen and Princess Elizabeth turned out to watch the game. The commentator announced in his clipped tones ..
”.. most of the Londoners here at Wembley Stadium had spent a stormy night with the Luftwaffe; but it would take more than a few hundred nazi bombers to keep a Londoner from the big match ..”
then went on to say ..
" .. the noise made by London’s anti-aircraft guns the night before was nothing compared to the hullabaloo that went up when England scored .."
as England ran out 6-2 winners. The England scorers were Jimmy Hagan (2), Horatio Carter, Tommy Lawton, Joe Mercer and an own goal by Macaulay. Jock Dodds scored the two Scotland goals.
Hagan, Carter & Lawton were the three outstanding English goalscorers in the wartime period. Sheffield United’s Hagan netted thirteen times in sixteen appearances, Carter of Sunderland hit eighteen in seventeen games and Chelsea legend Tommy Lawton managed a magnificent twenty-four goals in twenty-three wartime appearances for England.
Football in the USA has a long and illustrious history that can be traced back to the 1860’s. Pothunting.com celebrates this tradition with a range of cool shirts celebrating some famous old clubs from the annals of US soccer history.
Football: The First Hundred Years - The Untold Story
This book by Adrian Harvey is required reading for anyone with an interest in the development of association football. Forget the established wisdom that it was the public schools that brought the game to the masses. This book demonstrates that their role in the creation of modern football has been greatly exaggerated. It’s a must read.
Comments by Joe Cole about Liverpool being the biggest club in England have prompted an article on the Newcastle United Supporters Trust website asking the question What is a big club?
Some geezer from Coventry University called Simon Chadwick was interviewed by Radio 5 and offered some criteria that could be used to determine exactly which clubs are big. One notion he mentioned was that of a sleeping giant and offered the examples of Cardiff City, Leeds United and Southampton. Is he right can any of these three clubs be considered sleeping giants and are there others?
So who are the sleeping giants of English football? First up we have to define what a sleeping giant is. For starters the term suggests the club is currently out of sorts and is not reaching heights it once did. They’re no longer playing at the pinnacle of English football, in the top flight, instead floundering in the Championship or lower.
Next up the club must have an illustrious history and this has got to mean it has something in the trophy cabinet. We’re not talking about a few divisional trophies or minor cups here. For a club to be considered a sleeping giant I would say it’s got to have some major domestic honours and the only two really worth winning are the league title and the FA Cup. Indeed a sleeping giant must have won both these honours at some point in their history.
So for the first part of our analysis we will only look at clubs that are currently outside the Premiership and who have won both the English top flight title and the FA Cup. Here they are ranked by the number of trophies won ..
So on the basis of past glories are these ten clubs the sleeping giants of English football. They’ve all won the league title and the FA Cup. Well we can add an extra level of definition to find just who are the true sleeping giants of the game in England. We’ve already determined that a club must have some major honours under it’s belt but what about crowds and attendances. Ask anyone what constitutes a big club and they’ll always mention those that get the highest crowds.
So it’s fair to have a think about pulling power when considering which clubs are sleeping giants. Only twenty-eight English clubs have ever attracted crowds over fifty thousand. Of the ten clubs above only six have ever attracted crowds in excess of fifty thousand ..
What about consistency when it comes to attracting large numbers through the turnstiles? Which of the six clubs above are amongst the top twenty supported clubs when ranked on historical average attendance? We are left with ..
So then these three Yorkshire clubs by the definitions we have used are the sleeping giants of the English game. All are outside the Premiership, all feature amongst the twenty most succesful clubs in English football and all three are historically amongst the top twenty supported clubs in the land.
Now why don’t we have a look to see just how long it is since each of these three clubs has won anything. So when ranked by years since winning either the league title or the FA cup we are left with ..
Sheffield United - FA Cup in 1925
Sheffield Wednesday - FA Cup in 1935
Leeds United - League title in 1992
There we have it then the Blades are positively catatonic going eighty-five years since winning anything of note. The Owls are comatose with seventy-five years since bagging one of the big two trophies though they did win the League Cup in 1991. Whilst Leeds have been snoozing for quite some time now. Just how much longer will they all remain in slumber?
Who do you think are the sleeping giants of English football? Leave a comment below.