Showing posts from 2020

Scotland's Football Brigadoon: Cowdenbeath FC | @AlexRockSport

Part of a series of Scottish football history articles written for us by RockSport Radio presenter Alex Horsburgh, today we look at Fife-based, Cowdenbeath FC (a place he was born and bred):

Late 1976... Elton John is at the peak of his musical powers. He's just written the hit 'Philadelphia Freedom' for Billie Jean King's tennis team (the Philadelphia Freedoms) in return for tennis lessons from the US superstar and Wimbledon favourite, and he's been a chart regular since his 1970 breakthrough hit 'Your Song' which coincided with Cowdenbeath last playing in Scotland's top division. 

He's also shown his loyalty to his beloved Watford Football Club, by becoming Chairman and largely (along with manager Graham Taylor) being responsible for starting their rise through the four divisions of the English top flight, which culminated in a top five finish in Division One and an FA Cup final in the early 1980s.

Elton is in Edinburgh on another sell out tour, an…

Red Star over Hong Kong | @TimHHartley

‘He’s not bad that Billy is he?’ said my new football friend Joe. ‘Pushes forward well for a centre half.’ The blue flag of Hong Kong Football Club fluttered in the spring sunshine above the Happy Valley racecourse, the home of H.K.F.C. Next to it flew the red flag of China, a reminder, if it were necessary, that although it may be a ‘Special Administrative Region,’ this former British colony is now very much part of the People’s Republic.

The People’s leader, Xi Jinping said so at the 19th communist party congress. His personal doctrine has been enshrined in the country’s constitution. Alongside ‘reform’ there was to be, ‘an emphasis on the implementation of ‘one country two systems’ and the reunification of the motherland – a clear reference to nationalist Taiwan and of course Hong Kong.
Within days of his speech Mr Xi extended the law on disrespecting the national anthem to Hong Kong. Since the pro-democracy protests of 2014 football fans here have booed the Chinese anthem, ‘March …

The Merseyside Derby: Duncan and the ‘Dogs of War’

It’s just over 25 years since a Monday night Merseyside derby immortalised Duncan Ferguson and unleashed the ‘dogs of war’.

Preparations for a game between Liverpool and Everton can take many forms. Given the scale and evolving nature of the coronavirus outbreak, it's unlikely that the forthcoming derby - when or if it takes place - will witness the usual pre-match clichés. Revenge for a Curtis Jones wonderstrike seems less of a priority when a global pandemic is at your doorstep.

Whatever the nature of Carlo Ancelotti and Jürgen Klopp's planning, it’s unlikely either will be encouraging their players to emulate Duncan Ferguson’s approach to his first match against Liverpool, just over 25 years ago. The fixture fell on a Monday night, giving the Scotsman - who was facing a court case after being charged for an alleged assault while on probation - a free weekend.

‘Out on the lash’

Unfortunately, ‘free’ is a slightly inaccurate description of how Ferguson’s days off panned ou…

The Khaki Cup Final: Sheffield Utd vs Chelsea, 1915

By the summer of 1915, the First World War had caused an unthinkable amount of destruction and despair. Despite an initially positive reaction from across Europe, as war was declared, it soon became clear that this one was different. August 1914 saw the Football League in England continue as usual. After all, it seemed that a war on the continent was no reason to alter daily lives and routines and football was to remain. 
It was widely said that the War would be over by Christmas with British soldiers returning home victorious once more. Unfortunately, as winter set in and military tactics on both sides became alarmingly outdated, a new style of warfare was to begin. Dug into the trenches in Flanders, it seemed that an end to the conflict was nowhere in sight. Still, football remained a major highlight to the lives of many. Most will have heard the stories of Christmas Truce football matches (or kickabouts) in 1914. Debated, though they are, what is an intriguing thought is that the o…

The Anglo-Scottish Cup: When Little England Met Big Scotland

Chesterfield FC have fallen on difficult times in the last few years and are now part of the English non-league football scene. Despite this, many supporters of lower league UK football would say they still have the potential to be one of the biggest clubs outside the top two tiers of the English game. It might surprise many football fans, in Scotland in particular, to discover that the greatest day in the club’s history is still regarded by many of their supporters as the day they saw off Rangers in the final season of a now defunct cross-border tournament.

The Texaco Cup of the early 1970s was the first attempt to establish a ‘British Cup’ after frequent discussion concerning such a tournament becoming a permanent fixture in the football calendar. Calls were increased during the 1960’s when Celtic met Liverpool, Morton took on Chelsea [and lost heavily in the Fairs Cup] and Spurs and Wolves played Rangers. Adding weight to the arguement was the still popular Home Nations Championship…

Football and the past as an indicator of modern day trends | By @MoreThanAGame66

As an Arsenal (something I often say as a disclaimer), I was saddened to hear the news of the closure of The George on Holloway Road. Although I lived near the stadium some years ago, my rent meant attending a match was too expensive, but an ‘Arsenal’ pub I could attend. The pub was rammed match days but less so on other days. This has not been uncommon at Arsenal. Other pubs of note that Arsenal fans have frequented have also closed in recent years including The Bailey (now a high end chicken shop - surely an oxymoron?) and The Herbert Chapman pub became ‘Filthy’s’ which has since closed. "So what" I hear you say? A recent press release stated that British pubs are closing at a rate of two a day. But, I was interested in the new variant of ‘the pub’. The restaurant which attaches itself to a football team or a period of football. The two restaurants I was interested in were The Piebury Corner, which has two restaurants now. One on the Holloway Road and one near Kings Cross…

The Forgotten Brilliance of Michael Ballack

Sometimes lost in this crazy sport of football are the players who showed very brightly, but weren’t world class players. German midfielder Michael Ballack played at the top level for most of his career, but there hasn’t been much run deep on him. Why would such a great player not have so much written about him in this age of longform writing? He played for so many good to great clubs. 
Maybe it was because Michael was hard to figure out in many ways. We tend to define players by characteristics we can put into flowery prose. David Beckham while a very good player could be one of the more overhyped players to come out of this generation of players. Sure we had Zinedine Zidane who was a little bit of everything put into one of the most well rounded players of all time. Roy Keane, was one of the last great hardmen allowed in the sport.

That being said, he competed against a small number of midfield greats, very few of which were able to play all the roles that Michael was asked to do. Ba…

The Competition That Paid For A Stand - The Short History of the Ford Sporting League

There are many short-lived competitions throughout the history of the English leagues. The Watney Cup, the Simod (later Zenith Data Systems) Cup, the Football League Group Cup and the Football League Super Cup for example (the stature and regard for the latter epitomised by the alleged team talk given by Howard Kendall to his Everton team prior to playing Norwich City: “What a waste of time this is – out you go.”). 

During the 1970/71 season a new competition was formulated incorporating all 92 of the clubs across the top 4 divisions. The emphasis was on goals and fair play with every team on an even footing to take home the end-of-season top prize of £50,000 (factoring for inflation about £785,000 in today’s terms) and the runners-up took a cool £30,000 (£471,000).

In addition, the best cumulative team score each calendar month bagged £2,500 (£39,250). It was agreed that the winnings were to be used solely on ‘spectator benefits’ such as ground improvements (seating, floodlights or ter…

Netherlands vs Brazil: A World Cup Rivalry

The third place play off at the World Cup is often seen as an afterthought, a meaningless game before the much awaited final. The 2014 edition however was different, especially for the Brazilians. After being utterly humiliated on their home turf by Germany 7-1 in the semi-final (which overtook the Brazil v Uruguay match at the 1950 finals as the biggest shock in the history of Brazilian football) Brazil had a point to prove. The Dutch on the other hand had been unlucky to be defeated by Argentina on penalties in the other semi-final and wanted to end the World Cup on a high. What followed was a relatively straightforward 3-0 win for the Netherlands, the Brazilians seemed to give up after the second goal was scored and it was an easy game for the Dutch to see out. This was a World Cup full of contrasting records for the two teams, Brazil had conceded the most goals by any team since the 1986 finals, whereas the Dutch had secured a consecutive top three finish at the tournament and wer…

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Football is more than just a game. Over the past 150 years it has become a source of identity, conflict and debate for all who follow and play it. It has reached the farthest corners of the globe and boasts more players and supporters than any other sport. Football's Fifty Most Important Moments charts the illustrious, colourful and often tragic history of football, uncovering the sport's most significant and staggering moments. Starting in Victorian England with the 1857 introduction of modern football, we journey through 160 years of incredible events to the modern day, where new and innovative ideas are changing the game. Since its creation, football has been shaped by the actions of teams, supporters and of course remarkable individuals on and off the pitch. Whether through mass spectatorship at the 1923 'White Horse Final' or the infamous 'Hand of God' in 1986, football has never failed to amaze and inspire. Learn about its evolut…