History

The Story of Diana Nyad: Another Wonder Woman

Last night I went to the movies with a couple of friends to watch the newly released Wonder Woman starring Gal Gadot. It was perfect! Wonder Woman spoke her mind, stood up to men, fought on the front-line, asked questions, made mistakes, lost battles, won battles, learned from mistakes, experienced failure, was relentless in pursuit of success, cracked jokes, had issues choosing an outfit and was generally everything that a woman can and should be. As a 20-something-year-old woman, I was inspired.

Here we are the following morning and a new story has came to my attention. This is the story of Diana Nyad, the woman who never gave up in pursuit of sporting greatness!

Whether you have a keen interest in sport and sporting achievement or not is truly irrelevant here. This one’s for everyone, and the world should know her story.

Diana Nyad came to the public eye last month following the publication of her award winning book, “Find a Way“. At the end of May this year her book picked up the top prize as the International Biography of the Year, and i’m not surprised; her story is triumphant.

Nyad is a swimmer by trade, and as a teenager the young Diana was introduced to the world of marathon swimming. She broke records; in her first-ever race she broke the women’s 10-mile record completing the feat in 4 hours and 22 minutes. She swam the Bay of Naples, without a wet-suit for some 28-miles!! It wouldn’t be me, but each to their own.

Despite the records Nyad’s dream was always to complete a swim from Cuba to Florida. The water was infested by dangerous sea creatures, including sharks and jelly-fish but she did it anyway. In fact, she did it five times!!

The swimmer made her first attempt as a 28-year old in 1978; she completed the journey at the fifth attempt as a 64-year old in 2013.

The first attempt was halted by strong winds and high swells, and after 42 hours covering 79 miles she was forced to retreat. A devastated Nyad, broken by her failure, never swam another stroke for thirty years.

33 years after her first attempt Nyad vowed, just days before her 62nd birthday, that she would have another go at the 110-mile crossing. She wished to “prove to other 60-year-olds that it is never too late to start your dreams.”

She failed.

Shoulder pain and asthma attacks meant the trip had to be abandoned once again.

This didn’t stop her.

A month later she was back in the water. But 41 hours into her journey the brave Nyad was forced to stop due to severe jellyfish stings.

Another one bites the dust.

Again, it wouldn’t stop her.

2012, the fourth attempt. The furthest she had ever ventured but again jellyfish and storms would stop her from crossing her finish line.

Many people would have stopped at the first hurdle, never mind the fourth, but there she was again; standing on the shores of Cuba ready to find a way.

And she did.

On the 2nd September 2013, Nyad reached the shores of Florida. As she stepped out of the water, exhausted and victorious, she gave the crowd awaiting her arrival a piece of advice:

“Never, ever give up…You’re never too old to chase your dreams”

It’s never too late, you’re never not ready.

Wonder Woman, as genuine as her representation was, doesn’t flip off horseback, knee-slide into Nazi’s and jump from buildings; or maybe she does. Maybe we can. But this Wonder Woman, another one, she swims across the Gulf of Mexico in shark-infested water. She does this five times until she succeeds.

Nyad’s story highlights exactly why sport is so important while simultaneously justifying the ways in which it can lose it’s importance.

It may be pertinent to say that we have become far too obsessed with material gain. Modern sport has become too focused on collecting as many golden nuggets as possible by the end of the quadrennial fair. But this obsession pulls funding from athletes who are trying, just as Nyad did, to achieve a dream. This obsession can be damaging. Not everyone will stand on a podium but everyone has a dream, and you can achieve it.

Nyad did not swim from Havanna to Key West for Olympic Gold, nor did she do so with the support or finance of a billion-dollar training programme. Rather she did it because she wanted to achieve a dream.

Sport is important because it pushes people beyond their limit. It brings out the best and worst human emotions and experiences. Experiences that bring us together. Lessons that we can learn. Losses that we must humbly accept, and victory that we must gratefully receive.

Sport has the ability to do this in a way that few other things in the world are capable of doing.

Similarly, if sport isn’t for you – find your dream, define success and achieve it.

Keep going until you find a way. Just as Nyad did.

Finding a way is universally applied to everyone, in every place, in every creed, in every colour, in every gender.

You keep going, you never give up and you are rewarded with a prize so enormous it can’t be bought. The prize of self-fulfillment. The only thing limiting you is your decision to give up.

It’s never too late, you’re never not ready. Believe in yourself.

ONES TO WATCH

 

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the best nicknames in football.

United, City, County, Rovers, Wanderers.

All of the above offer the run of the mill; nicknames which fail to tell the story of the proud community of football fanatics who support their respective clubs.

Few nicknames offer an insight into the behind the club badge. Of those that do, here are some of the best in Britain:

AYR UNITED

Founded: 1910 (106 years old)

Ground: Somerset Park (10,185)

League: Scottish Championship (currently 9th)

Nickname: The Honest Men

Ayr United’s nickname is taken from the famous Scottish poem ‘Tam o’Shanter’ written by Scottish bard and Ayrshire born, Robert Burns. Scotland’s national poet wrote a sweet anecdote to his native town in which he described the town as a haven of “honest men” and “bonnie lasses”. The poem, published in 1791, described the life of a man named Tam, who visits the local pub with friends and gets himself in a rather drunken state. Meanwhile Tam’s wife sits at home in anger at her husband’s immoral behavior. One night Tam rides back on his horse, Meg, and a stormy night it was. On his journey home Tam notices a glow from the local haunted church, and peeks through the window to see witches and warlocks dancing. There is even mention of the devil playing bagpipes. I think Rabbie Burns may also have been a bit pickled when he wrote his beloved poem. Long story short, Tam gets himself in a bit of bother and finds himself fleeing from the haunted creatures. The horse loses a tail, and Ayr United find some inspiration. The Honest Men stuck, and what a fine nickname it is.

“Auld Ayr, wham ne’er a town surpasses, for honest men and bonnie lasses”

What happened in 1910?

  1. Old Trafford opened (First game ended in a 4 – 3 defeat to Liverpool)
  2. Frenchman, Louis Paulhan completes London to Manchester air race in under 24 hours
  3. Terra Nova sets sail on Arctic expedition
  4. The Fowler Match, considered to be “the greatest cricket match of all time”, took place at Lord’s between Eton and Harrow
  5. 300 suffragettes clashed with police outside British parliament over Conciliation Bill

 

BURY FC

Founded: 1885 (131 years old)

Ground: Gigg Lane (11,840)

League: English League One (currently 20th)

Nickname: The Shakers

The Shakers, a truly unique and fantastic nickname! The name was coined back in 1892 by the then Chairman, J T Ingham. Prior to the Lancashire Cup Final in 1892, against what would be tough opposition in Everton, the Chairman put full faith in his team to come up trumps and defeat somewhat better opposition with this rather sharp remark:

“We shall shake ‘em, in fact, we are the Shakers’

Bury would go on to win the competition, after the Chairman’s rousing team-talk. The name stuck, and the Shakers would go on to Shake it Up in the 1900 and 1903 FA Cup final, were they won the famous old tournament on both occasions beating Southampton and Derby County respectively.

Vincit Omnia Industria or “work conquers all”.

PS. We love your nickname Bury FC!

What happened in 1885?

  1. Women were permitted to take the University of Oxford entrance exams for the first time
  2. We witnessed the largest margin of victory in a professional football match. Arbroath led Bon Accord by 36 goals to nil (it was 15 – 0 at half time)
  3. 29 kilometres away Dundee Harps were playing against Aberdeen Rovers in the Scottish Cup. The referee noted 37 goals but the club secretary suggested a miscount and noted 35 goals instead. The official score was recorded as 35 – 0.
  4. Millwall FC is founded (The Lions)
  5. The first flush toilet is demonstrated by Frederick Humpherson
  6. The first Dictionary of National Biography is published

 

COWDENBEATH FC

Founded: 1881 (135 years old)

Ground: Central Park (4,309)

League: Scottish League Two (currently 10th)

Nickname: The Blue Brazil

Another classic football nickname. There are a couple of fan theories as to why Cowdenbeath are called the Blue Brazil. One of the more obvious reasons is that their home jerseys are indeed blue. A popular theory is that the name provides a heavy dose of irony towards a football team that has never found much success. It has also been suggested that the name arose due to the club’s financial plight during the 80’s which was humorously compared to that of Brazil’s national debt. There is also a rather long winded story on fan website, http://www.thebluebrazil.co.uk, which suggests three Brazilians illegally played for Cowdenbeath on the last game of the season against Dunfermline in which Cowdenbeath won the game 11 – 1 with the three Brazilians claiming all the goals. The fan forum goes concludes, “The Cowdenbeath community hailed these 3 lads as heroes and as they didn’t know their names they were christened ‘The Blue Brazilians’.” It is rumorued that the Rio Trio left Scotland to play football in their native Brazil for then champions, Santos.

Have a read. (http://www.cowdenbeath.free-online.co.uk/fanzine/bluebrzl.htm)

So who knows!? But it is one of the best nicknames in football.

 

What happened in 1881?

  1. Andrew Watson of Queens Park Football Club captains Scotland to a 6 – 1 victory over England. He was the world’s first mixed race international association player. (Scottish/British Guianese background)
  2. Old Carthusians defeat the Old Etonians 3 – 0 in the FA Cup final at the Oval. This would be the last time the FA Cup was played between amateurs.
  3. The Natural History Museum opened in London
  4. Godalming, Surrey becomes the first town to have its streets lit by electric light
  5. Alexander Fleming was born

 

DUNDEE UNITED FC

Founded: 1909 (107 years old)

Ground: Tannadice (14,223)

League: Scottish Championship (currently 1st)

Nickname(s): The Arabs (The Tangerines and The Terrors)

Not a particularly exciting or thrilling nickname, however it is rather intriguing. Like Cowdenbeath there are rather a few fan theories. Again, one such theory provides a heavy dose of irony with many believing that, like Arsenal, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain who are funded by United Arab Emirates, that the Tangerines have come into a bit of money. Of course, not true but rather amusing. Another theory comes from a fan story that dates back to the 1962/63 season. According to legend this season offered a particularly cold winter and thus many matches were cancelled. The club attempted to thaw the ice with a tar-burning truck. Unfortunately, the truck caused damage to the grass and so to allow play to continue the club had no choice but to pour sand onto the field. The use of the sand and the desert like look it gave the ground was therefore the reason behind the unique nickname.

However, I’m not so sure how accurate or, indeed, true that story is. Maybe take that with a pinch of salt.

What happened in 1909?

  1. The National Old Age Pension scheme came into force
  2. The first film in colour was shown using Kinemacolor at the Palace Theatre in London
  3. The department store Selfridge’s was opened in London
  4. Manchester united won the FA Cup for the first time (Beat Bristol Rovers 1 – 0 at Crystal Palace)
  5. Matt Busby was born

 

SOME WORTHY MENTIONS

  • Peterborough United – The Posh
  • Hartlepool United – The Monkey Hangers
  • Everton FC – The Toffees
  • Clyde FC – The Bully Wee

 

European Glory: Steven Gerrard’s Retirement (Part 4)

The comeback to end all comebacks and Steven Gerrard, Captain Fantastic, was at the centre of it all!

No-one in football will ever forget that night in Istanbul. The Turkish capital was the site of mission impossible. Liverpool were trailing and Gerrard, leading by example, brought his team back to life to lift the European Cup for his boyhood club. It will go down in football folklore as one of the greatest European finals, and one of the most memorable comebacks in sport history.

On the 25th May 2005, Steven Gerrard and his team mates faced the biggest challenge of their careers. A first 45 minutes of football dominated by AC Milan, left Liverpool trailing by 3 goals to nil (3 – 0) at half-time.

Most of the Liverpool players went into the second half looking to salvage some pride and spare further embarrassment. But one player wasn’t ready to give up just yet. Steven Gerrard was the source of inspiration which led to European Glory, and Liverpool’s fifth European title.

On the 54th minute of the match, Gerrard leaped into the air and fired in a header from a Riise cross. His celebration; a war cry to the travelling Kop. NEVER SAY DIE!

56th minute, Smicer beats Dida with a long-range effort. One more goal, and it’s all tied up with time to spare.

60th minute; the equalizer. Gerrard is fouled by Gennaro Gattuso. Xavi Alonso from the penalty spot; a Dida save, a follow up shot, GOAL!

Over 6 minutes Liverpool, led by Steven Gerrard, had transformed an embarrassing European Final defeat into a real, nail biting contest. One which would be decided in a penalty shoot-out.

It went to the wire. Liverpool had scored 3 of the 4 penalties taken; Milan had only scored 2. The pressure lay with Ukrainian International Andriy Shevchenko. Only Jerzy Dudek stood in his way; and that he did! A penalty save from the Pole, and Liverpool were European Champions once more! 3 – 2 winners in the shoot-out. Mission Impossible: complete!

After an unbelievable European final, Gerrard had his hands on old Big Ears!

A humble player, Gerrard has always recognised the work of his team mates, his manager in Rafael Benitez and the Liverpool supporters for the victory in Istanbul. Gerrard himself has stated that his header, and Liverpool’s first goal, would not have been scored had Didi Hamman still been on the bench and if Riise hadn’t crossed the ball.

Winning the European Cup was a personal landmark for Gerrard. In doing so, he became the second youngest captain to lift the European Cup, aged 24. The youngest is, Frenchman, Didier Deschamps who won the European Cup in 1993 with Marseille.

His heroics on the night, brought unforgettable glory to his boyhood team. It will never be forgotten by the Liverpool faithful or neutral fans alike.

Steven Gerrard was the embodiment of the Kop on that magical night in Istanbul, and his legend will forever be engraved in football folklore.

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Fan Ownership: What’s the Problem?

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.

FINANCIAL MISMANAGEMENT

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)

HAPPIER TIMES

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?’.

 

 

References

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

Beech, J. (2010) ‘Finance in the football industry’, in S., Hamil and S., Chadwick (Eds.), Managing football: An international perspective, Butterworth Heinemann, Oxford.

Begbies Traynor (2015) Begbies Traynor Red Flag Alert Football Distress Report: Scottish Football League – March 2015, University of Stirling website https://succeed.stir.ac.uk/webapps/blackboard/execute/content/file?cmd=view&content_id=_712405_1&course_id=_10330_1 accessed on 3 December 2015

Fitzpatrick, C (2013) ‘The struggle for grassroots involvement in football club governance: experiences of a supporter-activist’, Soccer and Society, Vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 201 – 214.

FourFourTwo (2015) ‘“Come on both teams!” Westfields vs Hereford’, FourFourTwo. November 2015, pp. 60 – 64.

Garcia, B & Welford, J. (2015) ‘Supporters and football governance, from customers to stakeholders: A literature review and agenda for research’, Sport Management Review, Vol. 18, no. 4, pp. 517 – 528.

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

Kennedy, P. (2012a) ‘Supporters Direct and supporters’ governance of football: a model for Europe?’, Soccer and Society, Vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 409 – 425.

Kennedy, P & Kennedy, D. (2012) ‘Football supporters and the commercialisation of football: comparative responses across Europe’, Soccer and Society, Vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 327 – 340.

Kennedy, D. (2012b) ‘Football stadium relocation and the commodification of football: the case of Everton supporters and their adoption of the language of commerce’, Soccer and Society, Vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 341 – 358.

Margalit, A. (2009) ‘“You’ll Never Walk Alone”: On property, community, and football fans’, Theoretical Inquiries in Law, Vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 217-240.

Morrow, S. (2015) ‘Football finances’ in J., Goddard and P., Sloane (Eds) Handbook of the Economics of Football. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham.

Morrow, S. (2015) ‘Power and logics in Scottish football: the financial collapse of Rangers FC’, Sport, Business and Management: An International Journal, Vol. 5, No. 4, pp. 325 – 343.

Morrow, S. (2012) ‘The financial collapse of Rangers: lessons for the business of football’, Perspectives, Vol. 33, pp. 15-18.

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

 UEFA (2015) The European Club Footballing Landscape: Club licensing benchmarking report financial year 2014, The UEFA website http://www.uefa.org/MultimediaFiles/Download/Tech/uefaorg/General/02/29/65/84/2296584_DOWNLOAD.pdf accessed on 2 December 2015

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

Working Group Report (2014) Key Messaging Document – ownership and governance in Scottish Football, The Scottish Government website http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0045/00453211.pdf accessed on 2 December 2015

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

 

 

 

THE GREAT ESCAPE: Champions League Preview

Olympiakos v Arsenal, Wednesday 9th December (7.45pm KO)

 

Arsenal require a win against the Greek outfit this evening to progress through to the last 16 of the Champions League knock out stages.

 

Last night Manchester United crashed out of Europe’s elite football competition after a 3 – 2 away defeat to VfLWolfsburg. This sent shockwaves around Britain. How could a club of this stature be prematurely KO’d from the Champions League, a competition they won merely 7 years ago?

 

Will the Gunners suffer the same fate?

 

Arsenal can only qualify for the last 16 as Group F runners-up if they better Olympiakos 3-2 win at the Emirates.

 

A 1-0 or 2-1 win will not be enough. The Gunners require 3-2 or a higher score line to give them a better head-to-head record than their Greek rivals in the group.

 

With this score line, Arsenal would then finish above Olympiakos on overall goal difference.

 

The Stats

  • In Greece, Arsenal have drawn one and lost four of their last five games

 

  • The Gunners have won seven and lost four of their last 13 European away fixtures

 

  • Olympiakos are aiming to progress to the knock out stages of the Champions League for the second time in three seasons.

 

  • Olympiakos are currently unbeaten in six home Champions League ties against English opposition; winning five of those games

 

YOU GOTTA HAVE FAITH!!

 

There have been many great escapes in Champions League folklore, from which Arsenal can draw strength.

 

Here are some of the best.

 

FC PORTO 2003/2004

 

FC Porto after being crowned UEFA Cup winners in season 2002/2003 began their attack on the UEFA Champions League under the leadership of a young, Jose Mourinho.

 

The Portuguese side did not get off to a good start in their first group game against Partizan. Porto drew one all with the Serbians in their away fixture. There home leg against Real Madrid seen Jose Mourinho’s side hammered 3 – 1. All seemed lost, until the young Mourinho wielded his magic and defeated French side, Marseille in a double header (3 – 2 away then 1 – 0 at home). Porto would later go on to win 2 – 1 at home against Partizan and draw with Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu.

 

After the home defeat to Real Madrid left the Portugese side one point from two games all seemed lost. But eventually, Porto stormed through the competition taking a staggering 10 points from a possible 12.

 

Porto went on to reach the final in Germany, and were crowned the Champions of Europe defeating Monaco 3 – 0.

 

LIVERPOOL 2004/2005

 

In their opening group match Liverpool comfortably won 2 – 0 against Monaco. The Reds struggled to pick up points in Greece however, and Olympiakos finished them off with a 1 – 0 win. Liverpool again struggled to make the grade, and drew 0 – 0 at Anfield against Deportivo La Coruna. That meant Liverpool had only taken four points in three games.

 

In the return leg against Deportivo away, Liverpool won 1 – 0. However defeat at Monaco meant that Liverpool required a victory by two clear goals against Olympiakos (sound familiar?).

 

Liverpool initially went behind after a well worked Rivaldo free kick. This set piece set the stage for one of the most dramatic comebacks in Liverpool’s and Champions League history.

 

Liverpool scored two minutes after the game restarted through Florent Sinama-Pongolle. The second goal came from Neil Mellor who scored in the 81st minute. The Reds needed a goal, and who better to pop up and deliver it than Captain Fantastic himself – Steven George Gerrard.

 

25 yards out, dying minutes of the game, in front of the Kop and boom – GOAL!!

 

3 – 1 Liverpool.

 

Of course, if you know your history, the Reds later went on to produce arguably the greatest Champions League final ever. Does anyone remember the certain heroics of one Jerzy Dudek? Simply unforgettable.

 

WERDER BREMEN 2005/2006

 

The German side collected merely four points from five games during their Champions League campaign. Going into their final fixture against Greek side Panathinaikos they needed a victory, of four or more goals and Barcelona to beat Italian side Udinese. To summarise, they needed a miracle. And by God, did they get one.

 

The Germans battered Panathinaikos 5 – 1, they has done their bit. Barcelona however left it late to seal a victory over Udinese, scoring twice in the final 5 minutes of the match.

 

Bremen would later be knocked out by Juventus in the last 16 but they gave us a hell of moment to remember.

 

OLMPIAKOS V ARSENAL 2015/2016

 

Will there be another great escape?

 

Arsenal awaits their fate this evening. If they do drop out of the competition it will be the first time in 16 consecutive seasons.

 

The Gunners will have to progress without star striker Alexi Sanchez and midfielder Santi Carzola. Arsenal did secure a comfortable 3 – 1 at home against Sunderland at the weekend taking the London side to 2nd place in the Premier League. They will have to build on that confidence and their success in domestic competition to give them any sort of chance of completing the great escape.

 

“Que sera sera, whatever will be, will be.

The Future’s not ours to see. Que sera, sera!”

 

British Association Football

History comes to life today in Scotland and England as 4 teams battle it out to win their respective national football tournament. 

The Scottish Cup was first held in 1873.  The trophy presented to the winner of the competition is the oldest in association football and the oldest national trophy in the world. The first team to win the Scottish cup was Queen’s Park in March 1874.

The first ever Scottish cup game was won by Kilmarnock, who beat opposition Renton 2 – 0.

The most successful club in this competition is Celtic, who have won the worlds oldest trophy 36 times.

The Football Association Challenge Cup ( commonly known as the FA cup ) is the oldest association football tournament in the world. The inaugural tournament was held in 1971.

Arsenal were the winners of the 1971 tournament.

Arsenal and Manchester United are joint leaders of the record number of tournament wins. Both sides have 11 FA Cup wins to their name.

Congratulazioni Capri e buona fortuna!

SPORTS HISTORY MADE IN ITALY!!Capri 1909 serie A promotion 2015

A small town club called Capri FC 1909, formed in 2002, have gained promotion to Italy’s premier league, Serie A, over the course of 5 seasons.

The club was formed from the ruins of the original which was plagued with bankruptcy and financial mismanagement.

In the year 2010 the club played its football in the Italian fifth division to a capacity stadium of 4,144 which may cause the club some difficulties next season as Serie A rules state that a club must have a minimum capacity of 20,000.

Hopefully, special exemptions will be made in honour of this remarkable achievement.

…..

THE JOURNEY

At the end of the 2009-10 season, due to the numbers of teams in financial difficulty, the club was admitted into Lega Pro Seconda Divisione (Division 4).

In 2011, the club obtained its promotion to the Lega Pro Prima Divisione (Division 3).

Then in 2013, the club made further progressions to Seria B (Division 2). This of course was the clubs third promotion in just four seasons.

On April 28th 2015 the club reached the holy grail of Italian football and gained promotion to the Serie A where they will play the likes of Roma, Inter Milan and Juventus. Carpi confirmed their place in Serie A with four games remaining of the season after a goalless draw against Bari last night.

Capri has a relatively small budget, and a payroll that fails to exceed 3 million euros making what they have achieved, something of a miracle.

Despite this high achievement, manager Cristiano Giuntoli insists that the clubs philosophy will not change; Carpi will continue to focus on youth players, and will engage fans by utilizing home – grown players.

Congratulazioni Capri e buona fortuna!

BLAUGRANA – Messi, Suarez and Neymar score a century! (Viel Glück Bayern München)

HISTORY HAS BEEN MADE TONIGHT AT THE NOU CAMP!!!

After a 6 – 0 win over Getafe arguably one of the greatest strike forces of all time, dMSNespite their short time together, surpassed the 100 goal tally for the season.

Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar de Silver Santos Junior all scored tonight to reach the tally within 30 minutes of kick off.

Messi scored the opening goal from the penalty spot, and then Suarez doubled Barcelona’s lead on 25 minutes with a neat volley. Three minutes later Neymar joined the party, as the three amigos put on a show for the home crowd. Xavi scored the fourth goal on this his 501st appearance for his boyhood club.

Suarez scored his second just before half time, and the magnificent Lionel Messi ended proceedings with his second goal of the night. This victory leaves Barcelona leading the La Liga table 5 points ahead of rivals Real Madrid, who play on Wednesday night against Almeria. Barcelona look on course to regain their first La Liga title in three years.

MSN (Messi, Suarez, Neymar) have now scored a collective tally of 102 goals in all competition. This record has surpassed the previous 99 goal tally set by Samuel Eto’o, Thierry Henry and Lionel Messi during the 2008 – 2009 season.

Last season Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale came oh so close to beating the record set in 2008 with 97 goals, but unfortunately it was not enough and it will take something very special to beat the record 102 goals set by this exceptionally talented Blaugrana strikeforce.

102 goals and counting!

Viel Glück Bayern München! (Good luck Bayern Munich)

“WE COULD HAVE HAD TEN” – THE WEMBLEY WIZARDS, 1928

ON THIS DAY:

31st March 1928. Some 87 years ago, Scotland played England in the British Home Championship at a packed Wembley Stadium (80, 868).

Scotland in their previous two fixtures had lost 1 – 0 to Northern Ireland, and drew 2 – 2 with Wales. England also failed to get off to a successful start losing to both Northern Ireland and Wales.

Despite Scotland being a point ahead of the ‘Auld Enemy’, the Scots still feared they would finish bottom of the table facing the challenge of beating England, the previous winners of the British Home Championship, on home soil.

If the thought of facing the previous winners wasn’t fearful enough, the team selection certainly was. Left out of the 11 man squad were Davie Meiklejohn (Rangers FC, 409 app), Jimmy McGrory (Celtic FC, 378 app and 395 goals), Bob McPhail (Rangers FC – record of 230 goals only to be beaten by Ally McCoist in 1997) and Willie McStay (Celtic FC, 4 League titles and 3 Scottish Cups).

These players were considered as HOME SCOTS, players who were Scottish who played in the Scottish Football League.

The players that were favoured were the ANGLO SCOTS, Scottish players who played their football around other parts of Britain.

In place of the HOME SCOTS were 8 Football League players. One of which was Tom ‘Tiny’ Bradshaw who would be making his Scotland debut at Wembley against the famous Dixie Deans.

Dixie made 399 appearances for Everton, scoring 349 goals.

Scotland, inevitably, were deemed NO MATCH FOR ENGLAND!

That was until the rain.

Scotland’s captain, Jimmy McMullan, took his team for a talk the night before the game. He famously said:

“The President wants us to discuss football but you all know what’s expected of you tomorrow. All I’ve got to say is, go to your bed, put your head on your pillow and pray for rain.”

It did nae rain but it POURED!!

The rain was always going to favour the small Scots who could easily twist and turn away from the tall men of England.

3 minutes!! 3 minutes in and the Scots had taken the lead with an Alex Jackson header.

Just before half time and the Scots went 2 – 0 up through an Alex James left footed shot.

You wouldn’t believe what you were seeing.

This was never meant to happen. Every pundit in the world would have put their granny on England to win!

Even the Scottish fans! In fact some of them probably did.

Jackson grabbed his second on the 65th minute, as did James in the 74th minute, and Jackson rounded off the hat trick in the 85th.

England would end the game with a mere consolation goal.

The game would finish 5 – 1 to the Scots. The Wembley Wizards had been born.

Sadly this great team would never play together again and for Tony Bradshaw, despite keeping Everton’s son Dixie Deans at bay, it would be his only cap for Scotland.

These players will forever go down in history as giving one of Scottish Footballs greatest ever performances in the dark blue. It was one of thee most remarkable victories of its time, and 87 years on it remains one of the Scots best victories against England.

The 1928 Wembley Wizards:

Jack Harkness (Queens Park)
James Nelson (Cardiff City)
Tommy Law (Chelsea)
Jimmy Gibson (Aston Villa)
Tom Bradshaw (Bury)
Jimmy McMullan (Manchester City) CAPTAIN
Alex Jackson (Huddersfield Town)
James Dunn (Hibernian)
Hughie Gallagher (Newcastle United)
Alex James (Preston North End)
Alan Morton (Rangers FC)

REMEMBER THE NAME. REMEBER THE HEROES.

“Scotland, Bonnie Scotland – Forever”