Month: November 2016

Great Rivalries: the North-West Derby (Part 3)

Not your typical Derby, but surely this great rivalry is the most anticipated clash in English football. The two clubs are the most successful English teams in both domestic and European competition and between then they have won 38 league titles, 8 European Cups, 3 UEFA Cups, 4 UEFA Super Cups, 19 FA Cups, 12 League Cups, 1 FIFA Club World Cup, 1 Intercontinental Cup and 36 FA Community Shields.

Gerrard has travelled the 32 miles, along the M62, on 35 occasions to face his old enemy.  He has won 13, drawn 2 and lost 19 times against the Red Devils of Manchester. Gerrard shares the mantle as the top scorer in the North-West Derby with George Wall and Sandy Turnbull (both of Manchester United), and has scored 9 goals in this fierce rivalry.

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Gerrard’s most famous victories over Manchester United include the League Cup Final win in 2003, where Stevie scored the opening goal and Liverpool lifted the trophy winning 2 – 0 at the Millennium Stadium. Also included in the list of famous victories over Man U is the 4 – 1 thrashing at Old Trafford in 2009. Again, Gerrard was amongst the scorers that day. Some of you may remember Gerrard racing towards the corner flag, kissing the Liverpool badge then kissing the camera in celebration after hammering the ball into the net from the penalty spot to put Liverpool ahead in the first 45 after trailing a goal behind. Gerrard cheekily revisited the camera kissing celebration in 2014, when he scored two goals from two penalties winning the game 3 – 0 at Old Trafford.

Gerrard had some great days, and some terrific goals against Manchester United. Unfortunately, his last game against the Red Devils was tainted by his sending off, after only 38 seconds on the field. Gerrard replaced Adam Lallana at half time, and after moments on the field he was sent down the tunnel for stamping on, Manchester midfielder, Andre Herrera who had lunged in on Gerrard to win the ball. Not a good day for Captain Fantastic.

His first game against his bitter rivals didn’t end with much success either. Liverpool lost 3 – 2 on September 11th 1999 at Anfield against their bitter rivals. Gerrard had to wait over a year to get his first victory over Man Utd. In December 2000 Liverpool walked away as 1 – 0 winners at Old Trafford. He would have to wait a couple more months to score his first North-West Derby goal. On 31st March 2001 Gerrard got his just rewards and scored a long-range screamer at Anfield, when Liverpool bet the Red Devils 2 – 0.

 

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Gerrard had a passion for these games. They meant everything to his city, and to his family. Although he cannot boast the greatest success against his rivals, he always has fantastic memories of getting one over on them on several occasions. Gerrard perfectly summed up his passion for the North-West Derby in his autobiography:

“From Huyton to Melwood to Anfield, for more than twenty-six years, I had always felt compelled to show fire towards United. They were the enemy. You never rolled over against United. If they got one over you, you fought back. You went in harder, with just a little more crunch, just to let them know it really was personal. They did the same to us.” (Steven Gerrard, 2015)

There was rarely a dull moment in these fixtures and it will be weird not seeing the famous number 8 feature in future North-West Derbies, but we can always recall the best of the action and the man at the centre of it all….Steven Gerrard.

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Steven Gerrard’s Retirement (Part 2): The Merseyside Derby

In an interview with the Liverpool Echo, Gerrard stated that his hat-trick against Everton marking his 400th Premier League appearance was his favourite Anfield memory.

Gerrard had a real talent of terrorizing the Blues. In fact, he has scored 10 goals in the Merseyside Derby making him 4th in the list of all time Merseyside Derby goal scorers:

  1. Ian Rush (Liverpool) – 25
  2. Dixie Dean (Everton)- 19
  3. Alex Young (Everton) – 12
  4. Steven Gerrard (Liverpool) – 10

Arguably Gerrard’s most controversial Merseyside Derby was his sending off on 27th September 1999 at Anfield. Kevin Campbell, the Everton striker, had put the Blues ahead by scoring past Dutch keeper Sander Westerveld in the Kop end. Westerveld had gotten himself into more trouble in the second half exchanging blows with Everton striker, and Scouse boy, Francis Jeffers. Both players were naturally sent off in a complete moment of madness. Steven Gerrard completed the hattrick of red cards on the day. The red mist came over him and after only 47 seconds on the field he was sent off.

Steven recalled the incident in his autobiography. He described his disappointment at being left out of the starting XI and explained his game plan:

“just belt one of them. Fucking belt a Bluenose. Let Gerard (Houllier) know he is not dropping me for another derby. Ever.”

He shortly admitted that he was “a red card waiting to happen”. His temper had gotten the better of him, and instant regret followed when he ran up the tunnel. This wouldn’t be Stevie G’s last red card, nor would it be his quickest. A bit more on that in the next edition.

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The Merseyside Derby hasn’t been all doom and gloom for Stevie. In fact, it’s been rather successful.

Gerrard got off to a winning start in his first Merseyside Derby. On April 3rd 1999, The Reds eventually ran out as 3 – 2 winners at Anfield. On September 15, 2001 Gerrard finally got his name on the score sheet. He scored the equalizer as the Reds came back from being a goal down at Goodison to win the game 3 – 1. He made sure the Evertonians would remember the name for years to come as he celebrated his first Derby goal by pointing to the name on the back. Not the first time he’s done that against rival teams.

Gerrard picked up his first Merseyside Derby hat-trick on 13th March 2012. His hat-trick was the first in the Merseyside derby since Ian Rush at Goodison Park in 1982, and the first hat-trick at Anfield since 1935 when Fred Howe put four past Everton. Only four Liverpool players have managed the feat, and now 77 years on Gerrard joined the exclusive club. (Harry Chambers in 1922, Dick Forshaw in 1925, Harold Barton in 1933, Fred Howe 1935, Steven Gerrard 2012)

Gerrard’s derby delight was a sickening blow for Everton, and manager Davie Moyes, as it was the manager’s 10th season in charge of the Blues. His third goal, rattled in at the Kop End, was Liverpool’s 300th against their rivals in all competitions. This was the performance that the Reds were hoping for. Kenny Dalglish, the Liverpool manager on the day, had suffered a bad run of games. Liverpool were at crisis point, so who would step up and prove the doubters wrong but Captain Fantastic himself, Stevie G.

In Gerrard’s book, ‘Steven Gerrard: My Story’, he admits that “every Merseyside Derby generated fear in me”. Gerrard had a fear of losing against the Blues, especially at Anfield. He had only lost to Everton once at home (Anfield), and that was in 1999 after the sending off incident previosuly discussed.

Gerrard also has a great respect for his city rivals. He has often thanked the club for their support with the Hillsborough Inquest, and their charitable giving towards the Hillsborough Family Support Group. In his biography he wrote:

“It was easy to speak sincerely of my gratitude to Everton in regard to Hillsborough; their compassion had been sincere. We were united in grief and a desire for justice. Hillsborough, and the families of every single fan we lost, will always matter far more than the next derby.”

On 28th January 2014, the Reds recorded their biggest Premier League win over Everton winning 4 – 0 at Anfield. This was Liverpool’s biggest Merseyside Derby win at Anfield since 1972, and their biggest in the derby since 1982. Steven Gerrard got himself on the score sheet that day beating Everton centre back Alcaraz to the ball with a header in the box, after a Luis Suarez corner.

In Gerrard’s final season he looked set to steal the headlines. On 27th September 2014, in what was Gerrard’s final Merseyside Derby at Anfield, the captain found himself on the score sheet once more. His second half free-kick soared into the top corner past American International Tim Howard, only to be cancelled out by one of the best Premier League strikes of the season. Phil Jagielka’s incredible volley, described by Roberto Martinez as perhaps “the best strike I’ve ever seen”, stole the show from Gerrard who was minutes away from grabbing the headlines for scoring the winner in his final derby day at Anfield.

Gerrard didn’t get a victory in his last Merseyside Derby and had to settle for a rather drab nil-nil draw but he had some terrific moments in the Merseyside Derby, and no group of fans is more delighted about his retirement than the Evertonians. For many seasons, he was the symbol of their inadequacy. He was the suppressor of Goodison, always keeping the friendly neighbours in their place below the might of his Liverpool.

Nathalie Boy de la Tour creates history as the first woman President of the LFP — My Heart Beats Football

France loves making history when it comes to electing ‘the first woman’. Corinne Diacre was named the first female coach in France last year when she took charge of Ligue 2 team, Clermont Foot. Now, we have another first lady. Nathalie Boy de la Tour was elected president of the French Professional League (LFP) today […]

via Nathalie Boy de la Tour creates history as the first woman President of the LFP — My Heart Beats Football

Steven Gerrard’s Retirement

So, today’s the day. 24th November, 2016. Steven Gerrard, Captain Fantastic, retires from football.

Gerrard spent 17 years at Liverpool, making 710 appearances, scoring 186 goals and winning 9 trophies for the Reds. He ranks fourth in the table for most capped England players with 114 appearances.

The testimonies and career highlights have been all over social media, and we can do nothing but reminisce a fantastic career in football, as one of the greatest leaders on and off the field and one of the best, if not the best, midfielders of the last century retires from the game. 

No one will forget that Steven Gerrard FA Cup final against West Ham or his sizzling, “yaaa beauty!”  strike against Olympiakos in the Champions League or indeed his hattrick against Everton in 2012 or the famous comeback in the Champions League final which resulted in the young skipper lifting old big ears for Liverpool’s fifth European Cup success.

There are many phenomenal moments in Stevie’s career, but also some rather car crash episodes. The slip against Chelsea is his most recent catastrophic error which cost Liverpool a long awaited premier league trophy. His 47 second red card also springs to mind in the epilogue of Stevie’s worst moments. But there can be no doubt that the positives far out way the negatives.

A wonderful player and ‘the last of the dinosaurs’ with a style of football embodied by Wimbledon’s crazy gang, it is with a heavy heart that we must say goodbye to Stevie G.

Here is the first installment of our five-part special which pays homage to one of the best midfielders we have ever seen. A player who symbolized the old blood and thunder style of the British game, someone who time and time again came up with the goods. An iconic figure of the 21st Century, and one of the most decorated sports men who ever lived.

Premier League great, and Liverpool Legend….Steven Gerrard.

gerrard2_2167086k-everton-hatrick-jamie-carragher

 The Beginning

Steven Gerrard started his Liverpool career against Blackburn Rovers, on 29th November 1998, replacing Norwegian right back Vegard Heggem.          (Liverpool won 2 – 0 on the day)

French man, Gerard Houllier would be the one to give Stevie G his chance. Gerrard once described Houllier as “one of the nicest men in football”. He has cited the French man as a source of calmness on the day of his debut.

Gerrard didn’t see much action that day however he has since recalled a “safe touch” on the ball, a pass or two and a terrible cross that almost “sailed over the Centenary Stand”. Paul Ince was least delighted with Gerrard after this incident. gerrard-ince210104

In the early stages of his career, the young Gerrard was given the tough task of filling in for injured skipper Jamie Redknapp. In his first season as a red, Gerrard made 13 appearances but has admitted that he struggled out of position and was plagued by nerves.

A special moment for Gerrard was his first Liverpool goal. On 5th December 1999 against Sheffield Wednesday at Anfield Stevie went on a mazy run, he takes it past two then slots the ball into the bottom left hand corner before running to the fans and sliding on his stomach to celebrate what would be the first of many. Liverpool eventually won the game 4 – 1.

At this time, Gerrard had to watch on as the rivalry between Alex Ferguson (Manchester United) and Arsene Wenger (Arsenal) grew in intensity. Both teams fought tenaciously over the league, but it was Manchester United who enjoyed most of the spoils. In Gerrard’s debut season, he watched on as the Red Devils completed a unique treble by winning the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League, in that famous victory in Barcelona.

Gerard had to bide his time, and his first trophy came in February 2001 beating Birmingham City 5 – 4 on penalties, after a 1 – 1 draw, in the Football League Cup Final at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. A couple of months later in May, Gerrard would again lift silverware. This time he lifted the FA Cup after beating Arsenal 2 – 1 over the 90 minutes. Again, the stage of Gerrard’s silverware success was the Millennium Stadium in Wales. Michael Owen, a great friend of Gerrard’s, was awarded man of the match after his 2 goals in the last 10 minutes of the match sealed the deal, and brought the trophy back to Anfield. Four days after lifting the FA Cup, Gerrard would play in his first European Final….but we’ll get to that a bit later.

The early stages were bitter sweet for Gerrard. He had very few starts, relatively few appearances and a Merseyside derby to forget however there were glimmers of hope and his silverware success offered a glimpse of what was to come.

END OF PART ONE.

The Football Memories Project

 

 

Yesterday afternoon I visited the Football Memories exhibition at Hamilton Central Library. The project is coordinated by the Scottish Football Museum, Sports Heritage Scotland and Alzheimer’s Scotland who are working together to create a network of football memories which will help to fight the battle against dementia.

The Football Memories project was set up in 2008, and utilizes group discussions, still images, memorabilia, and short film clips about football to stimulate recall in people with Alzheimer’s. These group discussions are led by trained volunteers who spend time with dementia sufferers who have long admired the game of football. The volunteers share images, stories, and memorabilia from former players and favourite teams in the hope of triggering personal memories. The workshops aren’t exclusive to dementia sufferers, rather they are open to all, particularly those who may be lonely or isolated.

The project comes to life through its incredible volunteer work force and through the Football Memories website. The online source offers a comprehensive database of unique and personal stories from fans around the world. The long-term goal of the project is to eventually collate a book which gives access to an entire spectrum of personal, and inspired memories.

The volunteers coordinating the Football Memories clinics really put on a show! They have great enthusiasm and some fantastic stories to tell. The story telling is really something, and is great fun for any football fan. Whether you’re a Bully wee or a Hibee, there is something for everyone.

There are currently over 130 Memories groups in Scotland, and there is great access to these groups through social media. The Football Memories Scotland Facebook page is full of information, including contact details and website information, and gives an insight into some of the work that will be looked at within the group discussions.

Memories, of course, form a crucial part of our being. They allow us to perform behaviours, and communicate with loved ones. The purpose of the Football Memories project is to encourage those with dementia, or indeed any one suffering with some degree of memory recall, to boost self-confidence, morale, and self-esteem.

There is sadly no cure for dementia but the Football Memories clinics stimulate emotive feelings and memories, most of which are a reminder of happier, or indeed more youthful times in the sufferer’s life. Carers, and sufferers alike, have noted the positive impact the project has had on dementia sufferers, notably in their self-confidence and communication. Football Memories has offered the chance for people to re-connect with their healthy and happy mind, and in doing so has allowed the sufferer to re-connect with their family and friends who care for and love them.

I spent the afternoon browsing the memorabilia on show and as I walked around the room I found that the objects on display had a profound effect on me.  In my early twenties, addicted to technology, I found myself not looking down at my phone but rather I was engaged in a full-on football discussion with a gentleman who had attended the European Cup final at Hampden in 1960 between Real Madrid and Eintracht Frankfurt. Real Madrid won 7 – 3 in front of 127,000 spectators at our own national stadium. He even recalled being at both semi-final home and away legs when Rangers were beaten 12 – 4 on aggregate by the German side.  Now if I was hooked knowing maybe only one o1960_european_cup_finalr two of the Real Madrid players, you can imagine what someone with dementia might gain from having such an inspired conversation. The volunteer, a big Rangers fan, I believe his name was Billy (no joke!), was great fun and was telling story after story after story!

The Football Memories project is fun, informative, rich, enlightened, and pure dead brilliant! It really is for everyone. At its core, the principle of the project is to share and record some of the greatest football stories that have been experienced through the lives of dedicated football fans. To sit, listen and relax whilst engaged in a memory group or to talk, share and recall whilst in a memory group is truly a wonderful experience, it’s no wonder I walked out that room today feeling ten feet tall.

A marvelous project, coordinated by fantastic volunteers.

Please get involved. Join a group. Lead a group. Simply come along and listen, I promise you it is so worth the journey.

 

You can follow Football Memories on Twitter @FblMemories and on Facebook @FootballMemoriesScotland.

Please like, follow and share this tremendous project.

 

 

Reference

http://www.footballmemories.org.uk/content/get_involved/

https://www.facebook.com/pg/footballmemories/about/?ref=page_internal

https://twitter.com/FblMemories

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnkuDpUYodI

Futsal in Scotland: What’s the Problem?

Futsal, Futsala or Futebol de Salão, is a game played on a field the same size of a basketball court. It is played with a smaller sized ball (size 2 or 3), which is heavier in weight (roughly 465g) and has virtually no bounce. The game has been valorized for its ability to create an environment in which players will gain 600% more touches on the ball and has single handedly developed the ‘natural ability’ of some of the world’s best players. The truth is that there is nothing ‘natural’ about it! Futsal, its rules, pitch size, ball size, squad size etc etc etc has and will continue to create and nurture the best footballing talent in the world.

So why on earth are we not copying the formula of soccer success?

Tonight, England will take on Scotland in the World Cup Qualifiers and I couldn’t be any less excited if I tried! And I’m not the only one. Adrian Durham, football journalist and broadcaster, slammed the England national squad selection and felt Southgate’s choices were ‘unimpressive and underwhelming’. As a Scotland fan, of course my home nation, I would love to tell you how eager I am to watch the game but truly I couldn’t give two monkeys! Sure, an underdog story is on the cards but in reality tonight’s fixture only shows the poor quality of player that both nations have produced in the past two, maybe three, decades. Where is Denis Law, King Kenny Dalglish, Jimmy ‘Jinky’ Johnstone, Dave McKay, Billy Bremner, Jim Baxter and the list goes on!  Guys who could dribble a ball around 10 men in a telephone box! Where has it gone? There is no one in the England squad or the Scotland squad that excites me or entertains a crowd the way that those guys could, and it worries me and has done for years!

Fancy fields at Toryglen in Glasgow, the Orium in Edinburgh, St George’s Park just outside London and even the newly built Wembley Stadium haven’t produced or even witnessed players like the legends of old (auld) listed above. It’s sad. We spend our time and effort focusing on big budgets, and the need to fund this and the need to fund that when all that the single greatest footballing nation in the world are doing is sitting there with their thumbs up their arses as young boys and girls, of their own accord, grab a ball, create some make shift goals and play the game for the games sake! That single greatest footballing nation I am referring to is of course the mighty Canarinho, the Verde-Amarela, Pentacampeões…..The Brazilian National Football Team.

5 times World Champions. I’ll repeat that. 5 times World Champions.

We know how they’re doing it. I’ll repeat that. We know how they are doing it. But we appear to continue with the dull and utterly tedious notion that this formula cannot be repeated in Scotland. Why?

“We don’t get the right weather in Scotland”

“The kids are nae interested anymere!”

“It’s in the genes, you’ve either goat it or you’ve no!”

Pish!! How many times have you sat in a pub and heard this nonsense!

Jimmy Johnstone had it, Jim Baxter had it. In the month of June 1967, after winning the European cup, 100,000 fans at the Bernabéu Stadium stood and applauded the wee man, and couldn’t give a jot about Alfredo Di Stefano. Jimmy stole the show with an unforgettable performance that had even the Madrid supporters chanting “Olé!” throughout the game in appreciation of his marvelous flair and footwork.

Now I realise Jimmy was special, and I may be asking too much but we done it once, in fact we’ve produced these players time and time again, so why has production stopped?

In the same year Jimmy had the Bernabéu on its feet, Jim Baxter had Wembley Stadium up in arms. Baxter teased the newly crowned World Champions by keeping the ball in the air mid game before passing it on to Denis Law, who probably wondered if he was ever going to give the ball up. Now if any Scottish player was to replicate Baxter’s cheeky keepie uppy trick this evening I would be most willing to run down the pub to watch the game, but it simply won’t happen.

It’s like we’ve forgotten how to play, or indeed why we played in the first place and I believe Futsal holds the answers to our questions.

More contact time with the ball, keeping control of it in tighter, smaller spaces creating an environment in which decision making is the principle focus. The decisions you make in the game and the faster you can think is the only way you will out smart and beat your opponent. Neymar, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez, probably the four best players in the world right now, are all products of this small sided and simple game.

Now, Scotland has taken steps to introduce Futsal however there are still some problems. The Scottish Futsal League, founded in 1997, partnered with the Scottish FA to deliver an “Adult Futsal League structure within Scotland”. Now this is all well and good, and it is great that there are now almost 700 adults playing futsal in six leagues across Scotland however this won’t benefit our national team, or indeed our national league, in the long term. Kids are the future, and they are the ones who need to be participating in this sport if we are to develop any real future football prospects.

Give credit where credit is due, the Scottish FA have now implemented a six-hour Futsal coaching course, called ‘Introduction to Futsal’. The course is open to anyone over the age of 16 and will focus on theoretical background, including the rules and history of the sport, as well as covering the various practical techniques. Having this structure in place can only benefit our appreciation and involvement in Futsal, but is it enough? Hopefully this course will quickly develop, and with time I hope it can expand to create its own unique coaching pathway within the Scottish FA coaching structure. The good thing is that Futsal is growing in popularity and now has a place in Scottish sport but its popularity, structure and presence needs to be far greater if we are to achieve any success.

Another keen development to be admired is the set-up of the Scottish Youth Futsal Federation. The federation was founded in 2015 and was created to promote futsal in Scotland while supporting local, regional, national and, recently, international youth futsal events. The focus is on young footballers’ participation, specifically reaching out to boys and girls from U9s to U17s. During the month of September, the SYFF hosted the IFA Youth Futsal World Cup in Dundee at the Dundee International Sports Centre. This is a tremendous achievement and a huge step in the right direction. There is no doubt that young people are picking up a futsal and getting involved, but there is still more to be done. Most young players are involved at club level, and unfortunately we find that most of the time these young players will get less contact time with the ball because they are engaged in fitness sessions or SAQ, when right now at the early stages all young players need is touches of the baw (ball)!

It’s no secret that across Britain futsal has struggled to gain sponsorship and valuable financial structure however with the set-up of these organisations Scotland may just have got the leg up on the competition. Tennents’ Wellpark Brewery, a famous Glasgow brewing company, sponsors the Scottish National Futsal League and now the Scottish National Futsal Team, whilst additional support also comes from Spanish sports clothing manufacturer, Joma. Again, this shows the tremendous effort being made to develop futsal in Scotland and truly highlights the growing popularity of Scottish futsal.

I admire those who are trying to push Futsal in Scotland, because they are truly making a difference. To those who are running the Scottish Futsal League and growing the popularity of the sport, I commend you for doing what needs to be done. I strongly believe that Futsal is the answer to our problems. Not facilities or finance, just pure and simple game structure. Players need less time to think, and more time with the ball at their feet.

The success of Futsal in Scotland so far has been the organisation of the first-ever Scottish Futsal Cup, the implementation of the futsal specific coach education course, and the commitment to entering the Scotland National Futsal Team into the 2017 European Championships. These achievements highlight the work being done at all levels of the game, but we need to do so much more to gain the real, long term benefits of Futsal.

The real success, of course, would be the grand reopening of the production line that produced so many great Scottish footballers, that have been recognised the world over. It would be finding a player that can take on 2 or 3 players only to go back and take all of them on again and win. Just the way it used to be; now that would truly be a delight to see.

 

England v Scotland

World Cup Qualifier: Group F

11th November 2016

Kick off 7:45pm

 

Mon the Scotland!

Reference List 

http://braziliansoccerschools.co.uk/index.php

http://talksport.com/football/pathetic-state-affairs-listen-adrian-durhams-england-rant-drivetime-161107216426#wmb02JAZGHD4ggPV.99

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/get_involved/4197976.stm

http://www.scottishfa.co.uk/scottish_football.cfm?page=3970

http://www.scottishfa.co.uk/scottish_football.cfm?page=3498

http://www.scottishfa.co.uk/scottish_fa_news.cfm?page=1848&newsID=16266

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/sport/local-sport/futsal-scotland-make-history-win-7856962#sPIL1YRTZUelFi3a.97

http://www.youthfootballscotland.co.uk/component/k2/item/18949-futsal-world-cup-comes-to-scotland.html

http://www.scottishyouthfutsal.co.uk/aboutsyff/

http://www.fourfourtwo.com/performance/training/neymar-jr-futsal-street-football-and-tricks