Archived entries for European Football

Refugees are our Football Family

Refugees are our Football Family

Listeners to Radio 2 medium wave shortly after the 1989 FA Cup semi final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough kicked-off will remember reports of fans streaming on the pitch in large numbers. First hand evidence from those who told the truth that day said more and more fans came over the fence, despite being pushed back. It was obvious something was wrong and over 25 years later any rational thinking would question how it was for so long accepted that the fans weren’t offered sanctuary, rather than being penned in further.

That incident is a reasonable parallel to scenes that have featured on the news for months now. Refugees have been fleeing to mainland Europe in large numbers on a daily basis. We regularly hear of large groups dying, suffocating in lorries and drowning in the sea, while there is filming of survivors sleeping in railway stations and then walking for miles with children on their back. From the traffic jams in Kent to the pictures of toddlers washed up on the shore via footage of the displaced being in being imprisoned in coiled razor wire in Hungary, the clues have been there for a while now. And in the last few weeks some in the people’s game have stood up to offer a helping hand as we see a humanitarian crisis of an enormous proportion unfold on TV screens every night. Continue reading…

Glenn Hoddle: A Touch of Genius

Glenn Hoddle by Lilly Allen

As a player Glenn Hoddle was the greatest English talent of his generation and as a manager he advanced the national side tactically and technically, as no one else has done. Since, he has revived the careers of previously discarded youths and brings insight to the game when allowed to be given his head in punditry, as he notably was when England failed to qualify of the European Championships against Steve Mclaren against Croatia. A fifty minute programme on Sky Sports was always going to be hard to do justice to both the career and the man, let alone featuring all the wonderful goals, the dummies, the nutmegs and amazing passes that were managed to be captured by the cameras where they were actually at grounds, but A Touch of Genius is a good effort. Continue reading…

Favourite Worst Nightmare

A return for the Football Column with a brief piece to start the 2013-14 domestic season on the opening weekend of top flight football in England and Spain.

Whereas the 2011/12 season had drama to the end with Man City snatching victory from another humiliation and Chelsea’s anti-football playing out like a realistic depressing thriller on the main stage in Munich, the following 2012/13 season was an anti-climax, with only Wigan and Swansea winning the domestic cups in England, Bayern Munich’s dominance of Europe and consistent sensational individual performances by Gareth Bale standing out. Continue reading…

Confederations Cup: Semi Finals

Tom Bodell’s on the Confederations Cup semi-finals.

After two more thoroughly enjoyable matches of the this year’s Confederations Cup, we have our finalists: hosts Brazil and World and European Champions, Spain. This should be an excellent tussle between arguably the two most impressive sides at the tournament, even if it means staying up into the small hours of Monday to watch the game. Continue reading…

England U21s: Big Exit

Tom Bodell looks back at the aftermath of England’s poor showing at the European Championships in Israel.

The Under-21 European Championships in Israel might have provided some of the most uncomfortable viewing for England fans since the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, but they did at least serve one purpose: alleviating Stuart Pearce of his role as head coach. Continue reading…

Glory Nights: Basel April 2013

Two weeks ago Hull City fans travelled to Huddersfield in a “bubble” imposed by West Yorkshire Police, an act from an authority that demonizes football fans through the restriction of movement, not dissimilar to the aim of the Football Spectators Act proposed by the Thatcher Government, whose reputation is currently being reinvented by rose-tinted recollections in the popular press in the past week; the polar opposite, for those lucky enough to have the opportunity, is to travel independently following your football club in Europe, venturing freely in a new city, before later socializing and joining a wider community in the stadium.

Tottenham Hotspur’s trip to Basel this week was a trip typical of the exciting European nights told in Glory Nights: Wankdorf to Wembley, with ticketing complications, a less than linear journey, friendly locals, cultural highlights and of course, drama only sport can deliver.

The English Premier League table doesn’t lie but the final tables in both the 2005-06 and last season stretched credibility when Spurs finished below Arsenal twice, despite looking much the better side for most of both terms, technically assured and in control of games in 05/06 and fluent, expansive and at times breathtaking in the last campaign. Points dropped through late goals were punished by a final day illness in 2006 and tactical errors in the final straight in 2012 allowed a West Brom goalkeeping performance so bad it defies belief, to have the final say. Ultimately those league placings twice cost Spurs Champions League Football, but strange how things work out; while the luck hasn’t been apparent on the pitch Tottenham’s European draws since 2006 have included a fixture at Sevilla that coincided with the city’s Semma Santa Festival, a tie against Hearts during the Edinburgh Festival, journeys to Belgium and Germany when the Christmas markets stalls were out and a trip to Udinese at the best time of the year to visit nearby Venice.

Spurs fans have had some great cultural bonuses in the last few years and coinciding with the Europa League Quarter-Final second leg, the city of Basel is currently hosting a Picasso retrospective built exclusively from the city’s public and private collections. Who knew? In the Kunstmusuem (a venue best spelt rather than pronounced when asking for directions), the exhibition shows Picasso the young talent, the storyteller, the freedom fighter and the master through etchings, sketches, portraits and layered paintings that show his versatility in styles through the ages. Continue reading…

VSP’s 2012 Tottenham Hotspur Books

Ahead of Christmas, the independent sports publisher, Vision Sports Publishing have released a couple of books about Tottenham Hotspur that are tailor made for fans with an interest in immersing themselves in the history of the club.

The Glory Glory Nights by Martin Cloake and Adam Powley is a genuine thing of beauty. An update of a book that had press cuttings, brief match summaries and facts from every European tie up until English clubs were expelled from Europe in the mid-eighties, it now comprehensively covers the first fifty years of the club’s European exploits with stunning photographs, insightful interviews, and most importantly, context across six decades. Continue reading…

Cosmic Trigger Happy

What a strange club Chelsea are. Their whole history is defined by the nine-and-a-half years of their current owner, which now consists of nine managers and counting in which they have won a few trophies but few friends.

Roman Abramovich’s ambition has always been to align attractive football with European dominance. But his methods of aggressive headhunting have failed him. He brought in Peter Kenyon from Manchester United as a Chief Executive, poached Tottenham Hotspur’s Director of Football, Frank Arnesen, and later tried to buy Steven Gerrard, Thierry Henry and Rio Ferdinand, with a hostile approach that makes it highly probable he also went for Arsenal’s stadium before setting his sights on Earls Court. Continue reading…

Movers and Shakers

As last week’s Champions League game between Real Madrid and Manchester City opened up in the last quarter, ITV commentator Clive Tyldesley exclaimed “What’s he doing there?” as substitute full-back Paulo Zabaleta found himself in the six-yard box; Tyldesley’s been doing football at the highest level for decades now, with a spell at BBC television in between his second spell at ITV, but it seems he still hasn’t come to terms with the concept of passing and movement. Continue reading…

The Return

The new football season has entered quietly through the back door just seven weeks after the Final of European Championship, a tournament consuming at the time but now a distant memory in the shadow of an Olympics that brought a festival of sport to London as enjoyable as any in modern times. Every four years the Summer Olympics inspires in some-way, but sport of the highest quality played to capacity crowds in great venues with a captivated public took this summer’s Games to another level.

Following the success of Team GB is an unenviable task for the home nations’ national sides, and earlier in the week International teams played their annual August friendly games with the usual weaker squads, which as always provided little excitement. England’s pattern of play looked better in Berne in Italy than at any time so far under Roy Hodgson, with Michael Carrick, incredulously ignored in the summer, at the heart of a five-man midfield who actually looked comfortable in possession at times. Despite Hodgson’s semantics about both Carrick and tactics in his press conferences, maybe he has learnt from his mistakes.

In the first weekend of the English Premier League there was a quick glimpse of the entertainment sport as a spectacle brings as newly promoted Southampton briefly came from behind to take the lead at the Manchester City, cheering watching neutrals across the country tired of hearing City’s manager Roberto Mancini bemoaning the depth of his richly assembled squad after every game. Continue reading…



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