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 […]
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.
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.
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.
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 or 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.
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!
The New York Yankees, Real Madrid, Boston Red Sox, the New Zealand All Blacks, Manchester United….these are all names that every sports fan dotes upon. They all represent the biggest and best of sport. The Harlem Globetrotters are mentioned along these great names. You may not know their story, but the name and their colours are emblazoned on every sports fans mind. But where did it all start?
The Harlem Globetrotters, an all black basketball team, were a manifestation of America’s segregation laws. All American sports were racially segregated up until the mid 20th century. In basketball specifically, racial segregation lasted until 1950 when the National Basketball Association (NBA) finally became racially integrated. Up until that time ‘Negro leagues’ existed; these leagues allowed black athletes to play sport while separated from white athletes. The best black players played for the Harlem Globetrotters.
Professional basketball caught on in the early 1920’s when towns established flamboyant teams that played to make money. Most of these teams, like the city they hail from, shared an ethnic identity. The Jews had a team in one city, the Irish had a team in another city and the Blacks had a team elsewhere. Teams really developed from within small, ethnic communities and as such each team represented wider cultural, political and religious values.
During the 1920’s the city of Chicago was experiencing a black renaissance. Jazz music was taking over the windy city, and dance halls were looking at new and exciting ways to entertain the crowd. Basketball was that new and exciting entertainment. The Savoy Big 5, a local team, was brought in to entertain the mass at the Savoy dance hall in Chicago. The team performed in exhibitions before dances. Unfortunately, this lasted less than a month so in 1928 the Savoy Big 5, led by player Tommy Brookins, re-formed under the name ‘Globe Trotters’ and toured the state of Illinois. Shortly after, a man called Abe Sapersteain became the manager and promoter of the ‘Globe trotters’. In 1929 Saperstein worked his magic; he created a brand that is now known the world over. Initially Saperstein named the team the ‘New York Globe Trotters’, he believed that by creating the impression that these athletes were from, what is considered, the greatest city on earth then he could book out local gigs. His ploy did not work due to racial tension in the mid west, so he turned to plan B. Abe Saperstein made a decision to name the team The Harlem Globetrotters. He chose the city of Harlem, in New York, because it was considered at the time as the epicentre of African-American culture. Saberstein wanted the world to know that his team were black. This avoided the shock when white people attended exhibitions.
In this day and age it is strange to imagine that people were so shocked to see black skin. But in the early 20th century in America, and in most Western countries, it was not common to see non-white people. In these early days the Harlem Globetrotters played in venues and cities that were all under the jurisdiction of the Jim Crow Laws. Racism in America was rife, and the players were susceptible to it every day.
On the court, the Harlem Globetrotters were revolutionary. They were doing things that had never been done. They were dunking the ball, creating plays, making trick shots – they were simply unstoppable. As black players the Harlem Globetrotters may not have had power off the court, but on it – sheesh! It was through this camaraderie and skill that the white spectators began to admire the black athletes. They simply made people laugh!
Reece “Goose” Tatum
Perhaps the greatest every Globetrotter!
Reece “Goose” Tatum was born in May 1921 in El Dorado, Arkansas. He is considered to be the original “clown prince”. He is recognised as the man who established the use of comedy in Globetrotter play and is best known for his own tremendous comedic routines, these routines made Tatum a cult figure in basketball.
Tatum created the ‘magic circle’, this was a warm-up routine inspired by a baseball warm-up called ‘pepper’. Tatum and the Globetrotters revolutionised the warm-up and decided to incorporate music to their own version of the routine. The ‘magic circle’ is now a tradition played out at every Globetrotter exhibition to date. The players warm-up to Brother Bones – Sweet Georgia Brown, and if you haven’t seen it please refer yourself to YouTube, worth a watch.
The Messi of Basketball.
At a time when basketball players rarely dribbled the ball, this kid was doing it 6 times a second. He could dribble standing up, sitting down, crouching, dancing – you name it! Opposition would quite literally fall at his feet.
It is really sad that due to the injustice of racial segregation throughout American policy and particularly in sport, that this magnificent talent never got to express his skills in the NBA.
1948: The Harlem Globetrotters vs Minneapolis Lakers
People began to be intrigued by the comparison between the white and black players. This was the game to end all speculation and put the rumour to bed, and show that the black players were not merely clowns of the game but that they had a real competitive edge.
The Minneapolis Lakers had won everything in their sights.
On the night, the Harlem Globetrotters left their class clown reputation behind. They walked out and played straight laced basketball, and won. In the dying seconds with the score tied 59 – 59, Ermer Robinson scored a basket. That night, 20,000 people within the stadium witnessed that the Harlem Globetrotters could play the best in the land and win.
The result sent a message to the nation, and to everyone involved in American sport, that black people and black players were here to stay. The victory echoed around the 50 states, and it was time to lift the segregation on sport.
Indeed it was a Harlem Globetrotter who would break the chains of racial segregation. Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton was the first African-American to play in the NBA. Clifton became a Harlem Globetrotter in 1947, and signed for the New York Knicks in 1950.
During the 1950’s the newly established National Basketball Assocation (NBA) struggled to draw crowds, unlike the Harlem Globetrotters who were selling out week by week. Due to the dwindling interest in NBA games the association asked the Globetrotters to open with an exhibition before official matches thinking this would help to draw crowds which it did, until the Harlem Globetrotters left the court and just like that the stadiums emptied.
Whilst the NBA was struggling to get its feet of the ground, the Harlem Globetrotters starred in two of their very own Hollywood movies. ‘The Harlem Globetrotters’ and ‘Go man go’ was enjoyed by thousands of new fans throughout the world. So in 1952 it was time to live up to the name and travel the globe.
The Harlem Globetrotters are now 90 years old. Tonight they will be in my home town Glasgow to celebrate what has been an astonishing sporting story.
I have mentioned only some of the key events that have sparked such an illustrious tenure in sport. I have mentioned but a few characters that have been fortunate enough to grace a Harlem jersey. Since 1952, the Harlem Globetrotters have entertained the masses with sporting prowess and comedy. They have travelled from Rome to Tokyo, London to Zurich, Balboa to Bratislava, Ostrava to Istanbul. It is remarkable to think that a group of black men and a Jewish manager, Abe Saperstein, in segregated and ethnically divided America could create a force so strong that it has reached every corner of the earth spreading sheer joy and laughter around the globe.
I am proud to be a small part of the 90th Anniversary celebrations tonight. Long live the Harlem Globetrotters and the good work they do.
Gender is difficult to categorise. Masculinity and femininity balance on a spectrum that ranges from one extreme to another, which can create confusion and uncertainty. Yet there are dominant representations of both masculinity and femininity expressed through mediated sport. These popular representations, conveyed through the dominant narrative, construct a binary definition of gender. Women are expected to behave in a feminine manner and men are expected to act in a masculine manner.
The dominant representation of masculinity defines men as being powerful, vigorous, assertive and courageous. Male athletes who achieve great success embody the dominant and popular understanding of masculinity. Male heroes within sport are worshipped for possessing these masculine traits. The athletes chosen to represent and reaffirm the dominant masculine ideology are typically white, middle class and heterosexual.
Femininity is defined in stark contrast to masculinity. A female sports person is “required to be both heroic – superior or exemplary in some way – and female – inferior by definition” (Thompson, 1997:397). Furthermore, female athletes are expected to express certain nurturing qualities which reaffirm the dominant narrative which portrays women as being protective, attentive, and tender, compassionate and unselfish. Female athletes who are chosen to represent hegemonic femininity are typically white, middle class and heterosexual.
Within both masculinity and femininity there are marginalised groups, who are excluded from the mainstream media and the popular narrative. These sub groups form a part of the individuals’ identity which is not fully accepted in society for a number of reasons. Additionally, these undesirable representations have been excluded from narrative and are perceived as ‘others’ and outsiders within society. As a result, these ‘others’ have been restricted in terms of participation, they have been misrepresented, deemed improper and stigmatized.
Stigmatized gender groups may include homosexuals, ethno religious identities, racial groups, class and people with a disability. Particular to men, stigmatized gender groups could also include “anti-sexist masculinities, men who don’t like sport, pacifist masculinities” (Whannel, 2002: 28). These marginalized groups are identified as being unalike and contrasting to the dominant gender ideology.
Modernized sport, which integrates standardised rules and specialisation, was created in Britain in the late 19th and early 20th century “by and for white, middle class men” in order to boast a dominant masculine ideology of innate primacy and supremacy, especially above women. Furthermore, sport has been used to instill the principles of hegemonic masculinity, whilst inflicting the stigmatized and marginalised sub groups to a silent existence. This dominance was, and continuous to be, a social construction.
At the present time, male sport is given precedence within the media, while female sport is given less attention. The disproportional media coverage manufactures a distinct divide between what women and men should and should not do. Importantly, the media appears to control and preserve the dominant masculine ideology by influencing the types of sport that each gender participates in.
The type of sport men and women participate in is important. It is important because each sport requires different bodily movements and different roles and responsibilities. Therefore to construct a popular narrative that describes gymnastics as a girl’s sport, would suggest that female athletes are better suited to individual sports that are elegant, technical, avoid contact and are aesthetically pleasing. Consequently this narrative, as well as encouraging women to participate, could deter men from taking part.
Mediated sport has constructed discriminatory and preferential coverage, which has resulted in a society dominated by patriarchy. The media, and the narratives it constructs, possesses the power to reaffirm the differences between masculinity and femininity within the realms of sport, moreover the media can belittle female athlete success and reaffirm hegemonic masculine ideology. The importance of this narrative is the construction of myth surrounding such sporting events and athletes, and the implications of these constructed symbols on gender identity. Narrative constructs an ideological discourse which seeks to either oppose or approve gender ideology. Fundamentally, the main purpose of mediated sport narrative is to nourish common and ill informed beliefs and identities relative to gender.
Narrative within mediated sport gives rise, predominantly, to a hegemonic masculine ideology that reinforces and re-imagines a society ruled by patriarchy. As a consequence of this constructed ideology gender differences and definitions of gender are difficult to locate. There is confusion within what it means to be masculine and what it means to be feminine, and importantly under what circumstances. What is known within this dominate imagined masculinity is that it is characterized within the media narrative as being white, heterosexual, aggressive and wealthy. Furthermore, it is perceived that masculinity is characterized in contrast to its significant other, femininity. Contrary to masculinity, femininity is characterized as being submissive and disproportionately delicate. Additionally within mediated sport female athletes are framed as sexual objects. Importantly, both gender ideologies display an explicit stance against homosexuality. It is almost forbidden within all media narrative. Furthermore, racial identities are restricted within the narrative upon the basis of the athlete being both successful and capable of financial gain. These assumptions created by the media narrative construct gender as a binary configuration, whereby an individual is either masculine or feminine. This is not the case. Especially while it remains unclear as to the definitions regarding both genders. What should be noted is that this is done within mediated sport in the most subtle of forms. The narrative is merely a product, and a re-submission, reproduced over time that constructs presumptions and imagined gender ideologies which lend to a chosen hegemonic power.
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Fan Ownership is one of footballs biggest talking points at the present time. With dwindling attendances, rising ticket prices and teams going bust left, right and centre it is surely time to take action!
In the season 2011/2012 the then Scottish Premier League experienced a collective loss of over £10 million. Only two of the 10 teams analysed within the PWC report calculated a profit. Since then British football fans witnessed the collapse of Hearts of Midlothian and Rangers Football Club, two of Scotlands biggest names. During the football seasons from 2009 – 2014 Scottish footballs’ top tier has experience a loss of almost £40 million. Scottish Football has generated substantial losses in contrast to the other European football leagues. There have been similar cases of financial loss in England with regards to Leeds United, Portsmouth, Hereford, Wrexham and most recently Bolton Wanderers.
There are clearly problems with the ownership models largely in use at this current stage. The predominant models are split into two different types. There are ownership types; examples of this include benevolent family ownership and individual ownership, and there are company types; examples of this include public limited companies and private limited companies. These models share a common advantage towards either a single individual or a group of select individuals. There are obvious problems with the current models in place, therefore alternatives must be encouraged.
There are significant benefits to fan ownership. Fanatics, individuals who express a life long devotion to their club, and most supporters in broad terms provide stability and continuity in relation to financial backing. In most cases it is unlikely for a supporter to switch alliance to another club. Supporters, for the most part, remain constant. The benefit of this continuity is that the supporters are, for the most part, key investors in the company and have a significant impact on revenue. Supporters, and devoted fans, will not turn their back on their clubs. Private investors are known to let clubs, fans and communities down by mismanaging business; this is most notable in the case of Manchester United Football Club with the takeover of the Glazer family, similar cases have occurred at Liverpool and Rangers Football Clubs. To resolve this, supporters must be encouraged to own their clubs.
“Results don’t matter; I mean you’re always going to support
your football club no matter what.”
(Cork City fan, 2015)
Supporters influence their club massively. Even with the absence of fan ownership supporters engage in and influence all aspects of their club, including the clubs culture and identity. For most supporters the clubs stadium is the epicentre of their cultural expression and regional pride. It is within the realms of the football ground that supporters will express their undying support for their team. Importantly, the financial influence of the supporters comes predominantly from gate money. It is clear from a number of reports that supporters’ involvement is crucial to the financial gain of any football club. Supporters’ are fundamental to the process which allows football clubs to maximise their potential returns. The loyalty of supporters is often exploited to generate finance for the club. Merchandise is tailored to fan interests and supporters are given no choice but to pay extortionate ticket prices. This is not in the best interest of those who devote all their efforts to the club they love: the fans. There surely has to be a resolution.
A contemporary example of supporter mistreatment is the case of Leeds United Football club. The Yorkshire side have experienced financial plight for the worst part of 15 years. Despite having a unified Supporters Trust (Leeds Fans United), chairman and majority share holder Massimo Cellino has halted the supporters’ bid for their club. After agreeing to sell the club to the Leeds United Fans trust in October 2015, the controversial Chairman changed his mind a month later and withdrew his interest. The Leeds supporters were subjected to further financial and managerial mistreatment in early December 2015, when Cellino imposed a £5 increase in ticket price. This inflated price included a food voucher to be used at half time, which would be used as an incentive to encourage supporters to use the clubs catering facilities regardless of whether the loyal supporter wanted the half time pie or not. This incentive provides support for fan ownership in football. Leeds United is one case out of a multitude of others. Supporters and their clubs are experiencing a complete lack of communication and consultation. Supporters are being completely disregarded and ignored with regards to decisions that affect them. Importantly, the more fans continue to be excluded from ownership the more they become disenfranchised from their football clubs. To discourage the club from fan ownership is to discourage the club from gaining any form of stability and transparency.
“It’s now all about the football. It’s not even the case of like; I don’t go around the place saying ‘oh I run a football club’, because you know that’s not part of it.
But just for me as a fan, who’s gone through all the shite with bad owners, for me knowing that my club will never be in that situation again because its fan owned is fantastic.”
(Cork City fan, 2015)
There are certainly indications that fan ownership is met with a positive response from the majority of fans. In my opinion football will only be better when owned by its supporters. However there are certainly negatives amongst the positives. There is a huge question as to whether or not supporter associations can control, or at least affect, the power within the board room. Can the representative individual, or individuals, successfully engage in important decisions especially when these representatives are likely to be the ‘outsider’ on the board. Furthermore, supporter associations have even been accused of exploiting their own clubs by forming unfavourable alliances with board members who possess majority shares in order to strengthen their own authority. When instances like this have occurred it has naturally caused distrust amongst supporters, which has a negative effect on transparency and assurance.
However, there are too many positive examples of supporter ownership that greatly outweigh any such negatives. Hereford FC dropped out of the Football League through relegation in 2012 and since then the supporters were made to endure three seasons of financial mismanagement under two different owners in David Keyte, who refused to sell to the Hereford United Supporters Trust, and Tommy Agombar. Under Agombar’s rein Hereford was ejected from non league football due to large sums of debt and in December 2014 Hereford FC collapsed. Since 2015 under fan ownership, Hereford FC, have created a sustainable future attracting no fewer than 2,000 members, the club have acquired kit sponsorship and have even obtained possession of Edgar Street stadium, the ground the original club used since 1924. Fan ownership has brought sustainability, democracy, inclusion and continuity to the club. There are many examples of this positive change in the light of supporter ownership at other clubs, such as FC United of Manchester and Portsmouth FC, which is why I strongly believe supporters’ should be given the right to own their club.
FAN OWENRSHIP: THIS IS OUR TIME!
Majority ownership has led to the collapse of many British football clubs. Supporters’ loyalty and devotion to their clubs have been exploited by owners, and the common aspiration for success has been employed as a rational explanation for groundless, unreasonable and unmanageable economic abuse.
There are successful cases of fan ownership at both the bottom and top end of professional football. Importantly, there are far too many cases of bad ownership.
Football, is about community. British football must regain this sentiment. The supporters, the people who invest time and money into their club, should be the ones who own it and make decisions in regards to what is best for their club. A great man once said “Football without fans it nothing.”, and never have those words resonated more with football supporters than right now. Everyone who loves this game has a responsibility to take a good hard look at themselves and ask, ‘What am I doing to make a difference?’.
BBC Sport (2015a) ‘Massimo Cellino: Leeds chairman calls off plan to sell club to fans’, BBC Sport website http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/34721028 accessed on 7 December 2015
BBC Sport (2015b) ‘Hereford FC: New club to play in Midland Football League’, BBC Sport website http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/32740977 accessed on 8 December 2015
BBC Sport (2015c) ‘Hereford FC supporters crucial to future of phoenix club’, BBC Sport website http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/33500060 accessed on 8 December 2015
BBC Sport (2015d) ‘Hereford FC shirt sponsor deal agreed for new season’, BBC Sport website http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hereford-worcester-33067824 accessed on 8 December 2015
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Giulianotti, R. (2002) ‘Supporters, followers, fans, and flaneurs: a taxonomy of spectator identities in football’, Journal of Sport and Social Issues, Vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 25 – 46
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PWC (2013) Turbulent times ahead: Scottish Premier League Football, The University of Stirling website https://succeed.stir.ac.uk/webapps/blackboard/execute/content/file?cmd=view&content_id=_712403_1&course_id=_10330_1 accessed on 2 December 2015
Szymanski, S. (2015) Money and football: A soccernomics guide, Nation Books, New York
The Guardian (2015) ‘Leeds fans up in arms at imposition of £5 pie tax in South Stand, The Guradian website http://www.theguardian.com/football/2015/dec/02/leeds-united-pie-tax-massimo-cellino accessed on 7 December 2015
The Independent (2015) ‘Massimo Cellino will not sell Leeds United until next year’, The Independent website http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/live-match-centre/championship/massimo-cellino-will-not-sell-leeds-united-until-next-year-a6743241.html accessed on 7 December 2015
The Scottish Government (2015) Consultation on Supporter Involvement in Scottish Football Clubs, The Scottish Government website http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0048/00486130.pdf accessed on 2 December 2015
The Telegraph (2015) ‘Leeds United’s pie tax is an abuse of supporters’ loyalty’, The Telegraph website http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/leeds-united/12032063/Leeds-Uniteds-pie-tax-is-an-abuse-of-supporters-loyalty.html accessed on 7 December 2015
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Working Group Report (2015) Supporter Involvement in Football Clubs, The Scottish Government website http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0046/00469245.pdf accessed on 2 December 2015
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Copa90 (2015) Cork City FC – The Rise of the Rebel Army, YouTube website https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9t-Iq-2uiTU accessed on 19 January 2016
First of all, for anyone living in the Glasgow area a visit to the Braehead Arena to watch the Clan is a must! The atmosphere is electric (at times!) and friendly (always!), it is a great spectacle of sport and one which I highly recommend you go and see.
THE CHALLENGE CUP QF
The game began in typical Clan fashion, lights out; the arena is coated in darkness as the spotlights circle around the expectant fans, over the tannoy the crowd is psyched by the familiar sound of Escala by Palladio which explodes into the Joker and the Thiefs popular Wolfmother track, the fans are excited, the hands and are going and the Clan enter the arena one by one, each player is given a heroes welcome onto the ice. Truly a spectacular scene to behold, and the game hasn’t even kicked off yet (pucked off – not sure if that’s quite correct)
To set the scene, the Clan are a goal down having lost 5 – 4 to the Nottingham Panthers in the first leg of the Challenge Cup Quarter Final. This was a dramatic affair in itself. The Clan showed great determination at the National Ice Centre to come back from 4 – 0 down to keep their cup run alive. Although they finished the game with a 5 – 4 defeat, they left Nottingham optimistic that they could overturn the one goal deficit on home soil (ice). The scoreboard at the Braehead Arena displayed Clan 0 – 1 Panthers. The pressure was on, the stage was set, time for the face off.
THE FIRST PERIOD
The Clan started the game looking very sharp, and the crowd was right behind their Purple Army. Braeheads positive start was rewarded with an early goal for number 16 Chris Bruton. An early equaliser had the crowd buzzing! It seemed like this could be the Clans night, but the Panthers had other ideas and with 6 minutes left to play in the 1st period the Panthers scored to take the lead at 2 – 1. Nottingham struck again, 2 minutes later, to pile on the Clans misery; two goals in the 1st period, 3 – 1 up going into the first break – devastation for the Clan. There was a missed opportunity in the final minutes of the 1st period when the Clan failed to capitalise on an important power play when the Panthers number 45, Steve Lee, served a 2 minute penalty.
To summarise, it was a great start by the Braehead Clan but they found themselves on the back foot for much of the 1st period. It’s not quite mission impossible yet though, they did come back from being 4 – 0 down in the first leg.
THE SECOND PERIOD
It was a rather uninspiring 2nd period. The first bit of excitement came with 9 minutes to play when the Panthers Steven Lee found himself in the sin bin for the second time of the evening. This was an opportunity for the Clan to claim a goal back but they were unsuccessful in gaining from the advantage. With 5 minutes remaining in the period the Clans number 6, Scott Aarssenn, was made to serve a penalty leaving Braehead with 5 men on the ice.
There was some entertainment towards the end of the 2nd period when a controversial ricochet helped the puck land at the heel of the netminder (that’s the guy in the goals) who hadn’t a clue it had crept up behind him. The crowd gasped and were instantly relieved when the puck was directed far away from the goal mouth. One move and it could have gone horribly wrong for netminder, Travis Fullerton.
Shortly after this incident the Panthers further increased their lead with their third goal of the night. The goal scorer was King of the Sin Bin, Steven Lee. The Braehead fans were put through the mill towards the dying minutes of the 2nd period; 4 – 1 down and 5 men on the field as Chris Bruton was made to serve a penalty – things were not looking good. Alas, the Clan endured and their number 5 Ben Davies gave us a laugh and entertained the crowd with his terrific left peg after he lost his stick to the ice. Good effort from Davies who continued to defend despite the fact his stick lay flat on the ground.
The laughter didn’t last long, and in the final minute of the 2nd period the Panthers secured their fourth goal of the night taking a 5 – 1 lead.
As one Clan fan put it, “Time to wake up!”
Overall, a timid and uninspiring display from the Purple Army.
THE THIRD PERIOD
Despite a strong start, the home side lost another goal at the hands of the ruthless Nottingham Panthers. Their fifth of the evening and the score was 6 – 1. The home fans remained in good spirit, and continued to chant for their beloved Purple Army in spite of the disastrous result.
The Clans pattern of play was far more direct and aggressive in the final period. But it was too little, too late for Braehead. Still, they soldiered on and continued to entertain the fans.
CLAN GOAL!!! Number 49, Brendan Brooks! Restoring some faith to the Clan crowd! The score was now 6 – 2.
CLAN GOAL!!! With seconds remaining the Clan score their third goal of the match. Captain Keith Matt gets his first and the last goal of the match. The game finished 6 – 3.
If only Braehead started as they finished. It wasn’t to be, but what a terrific night!
THE PURPLE ARMY
I have been to the Braehead Arena on many occasions, and it never fails to impress me. Crowd attendance is magnificent, the chants are great, the people are friendly and the camaraderie is second to none, as is the entertainment. Even with tonight’s dreadful defeat, consequently leading to cup elimination, it was yet again an outstanding night.
This truly is one of Glasgow’s greatest weekly events. Please get yourself along, I promise you’ll be hookeed!
PS. You can have a wee drink at the game! (If you’re 18 and over of course)
Johanna Konta has continued her remarkable run of form and has reached the semi finals of the Australian Open by beating China’s Zhang Shuia.
Andy Murray also had success in the quarter finals beating David Ferrer, to reach his 6th Australian Open semi final.
It has taken 39 years for two Britons to reach this stage of the competition. Sue Barker (semi finalist) and John Lloyd (runners up) were the last British tennis players to do so.
Good Luck Andy and Jo!
SD Eibar was founded on the 1st January 1940. Formed by the merger of Deportivo Gallo and Unión Deportiva Eibarresa, the club was originally known as Eibar Fútbol Club, before changing to Sociedad Deportiva Eibar. The city of Eibar has a relatively small population of 27,000 (even Airdrie has a bigger population).
In 2014 SD Eibar, the Spanish football side affiliated to the autonomous Basque region, gained back to back promotion from Segunda B to the Liga Adelante to the promised lands of La Liga in a matter of two years (1 of only 6 teams to achieve the mighty feat).
The club at this time were met with a monumental challenge and faced imminent demotion back to the Segunda B, if they were unable to produce the necessary €1,724,272 to stay in the top flight. To the Eibar faithful and Eskozia la Brava (Scotland the Brave), this was simply unacceptable.
Eskozia la Brava
This SD Eibar supporters group was formed in 2001, when the Basque side were competing in the Segunda B.
The head of the supporters group, Joseba Combarro, spoke with Copa90 in 2015 and stated his adoration for Scotland saying:
“It’s a country where we admire their passionate support and the colour and the atmosphere that they bring to the ground. But the most important thing whether you win or lose, there’s always time for the post match activities.”
I think the Eibar fans appreciate that we Scots love a good drink!
Eskozia la Brava have taken Scotland to their hearts, and have extended their love to one Scottish team in particular, the Glasgow Celtic.
SD Eibar invited the Hoops to their home ground, Ipurua Stadium, in July 2015 to celebrate the clubs 75th anniversary. Despite receiving an absolute hammering, Eskozia la Brava and the supporters of Eibar cannot get enough of Scotland. The Eibar supporters have taken in the fitbaw’ at Hampden Park, Tynecastle, Easter Road, Ibrox and Celtic Park.
SD Eibars’ connection to Caledonia originated after a trip to watch the Scots play rugby at Murrayfield in Edinburgh. John Stewart, the piper invited to the 2014 promotion celebration in Eibar, explained the connection to the Sunday Post:
“They loved the way the Scots continued to support their team even though they were losing. In Spain it’s very different. If a team is 1-0 down, the fans tend to get on their backs. The guys from Eibar came home with a new way of supporting their team and with some souvenirs of Scotland kilts and ginger ‘See You Jimmy’ wigs!”
This trip changed the identity of the small town club. Now, etched into the very fabric of the Armeros (Gunners) are proud Scottish traditions and values. The Eskozia la Brava group bleeds tartan, and as such the SD Eibar fans where depending on their Scottish friends to correct an injustice by raising the money to lawfully compete in the Spanish La Liga.
Defiende al Eibar (Defend Eibar)
The supporters sent out an SOS when their club faced administrative demotion to Segunda B in 2014. The clubs, and its supporters, launched a huge social media campaign. Essentially, Eibar attempted to raise €1.7 million through selling club shares at the minimum price of €50. The campaign successfully saw the clubs shareholder count rise from 1,800, based in Eibar alone, to 10,000 in 69 different countries worldwide, raising the necessary funds and then some. Through the social media campaign the proud club had raised a budget of €16m.
SD Eibar are competing in their second season in La Liga and are currently sitting 8th in the table, merely a single point away from a Europa League spot. This astonishing little club has shocked the world! And its supporters are proudly at the forefront of this incredible story.
Alba gu bràth. Eibar gu bràth. On yerself Eibar!