Archived entries for Football

Time for Heroes

The two times England have reached the semi-finals of major tournaments since winning the World Cup in 1966, the Captain has not been greatly significant, as both teams were full of leaders.

In 1990, a squad that included Peter Shilton, Terry Butcher, Stuart Pearce, Steve McMahon and a young David Platt, was partly memorable for the amount of senior players, including Bryan Robson and Gary Linekar, who were involved in the change of tactical shape and selection after the first game in the tournament. The Euro ’96 squad selected by Terry Venables also included Pearce and Platt, as well as Gary Neville, Gareth Southgate, Tony Adams, Paul Ince, Teddy Sheringham and Alan Shearer – strong characters on the field and in the dressing room. Continue reading…

A Model of Indecisiveness

Mark Perryman is the author of Ingerland: Travels with a Football Nation and co-founder of and writes here exclusively for The Substantive on the current handling of John Terry.

The alleged racist abuse of Anton Ferdinand by John Terry took place at a game in October 2011. Almost two months later the CPS decide there is sufficient evidence for a case to answer. Another two months and finally the case came to court this week only for it to be announced that the trial will be delayed until after Euro 2012. Getting on for ten months after the alleged incident. Continue reading…


When Liverpool overcame Manchester United at Saturday lunchtime, completing a week in which they knocked both of the top two placed teams out of the domestic cups in a week, it highlighted the momentum cup competitions can bring. Just a week earlier Liverpool were abject against Bolton, which led their manager Kenny Dalglish to be unusually critical of his players in his post-match interviews.

On most occasions interviewing Dalglish seems to be a task that is on the same list as getting blood out of a stone and asking Jose Mourinho to accept defeat with grace. But Dalglish has not always been unfriendly with the media; in his heyday as a player he made several appearances on Question of Sport, when the requisite for being a football guest was to have an international cap rather than having once appeared on a panel show, as well as making a cameo appearance as himself in the Channel 4 Drama, Scully. Continue reading…

The Seldom Seen Kick

Vinnie Jones, currently appearing as the face of hands-only resuscitation, made a living in various ways, including as a hod carrier, a professional footballer, and an actor. Once in the public eye he cultivated an image as a ‘hard man’, a loose term which the British Heart Foundation are currently trying to use to their advantage, as Guy Ritchie previously did. Whether players whose own livelihoods were affected by Jones’ on-field butchery, such as the former England international Gary Stevens, are laughing along with the CPR ad, is doubtful. Continue reading…

Changing of the Guard

Last night the Milan derby was broadcast in the UK on ESPN. It is one of the great fixtures of any domestic calendar, and one of the analysts, Paul Ince, was perfectly correct when talking about the stunning atmosphere – the fireworks, the overcrowding in the stands, the lighting as the teams come out, and the intensity both on and off the pitch, live long in the memory of anyone who has ever attended that local derby in northern Italy. Continue reading…

Never Say Never Again

The news yesterday that Paul Scholes is coming out of retirement for Manchester United, as if he were Clark Kent regaining his powers in Superman II in order to save Earth from his arch enemies, is surprising and yet typically bizarre in week where Sol Campbell was considered a suitable cultural commentator on Channel 4 News and Alan Green discussed football on Women’s Hour. Continue reading…

(Walk on) Gilded Splinters

Every so often BBC2 make a few business programmes in one-off strands, broadcast in primetime slots; sometimes they are Money Programme Specials, occasionally features up on successful start-ups while others quite often look at past disasters of phenomenons. In the summer of 2011 they had an episode of one such programme, titled ‘Marketing Mess-ups’, presented by the bloke from the ‘Today Programme’ who has a worrying favourable bias towards monetarists and bankers.

Had that programme been commissioned just six months later from the date it was broadcast, the whole one-hour episode could have been devoted to Liverpool Football Club, whose PR strategy since Luiz Suarez was found guilty of racially abusing Patrice Evra on the field of play on 15 October 2011, appears to have been hijacked by Alan Partridge.

Continue reading…

The Ghost of White Hart Lane

The 2010-2011 English Football Season came to an end on a very hot afternoon in London, on Saturday 4th June, as an average England side came back from two-goals to draw a European Championship Qualifier at home to Switzerland in an early evening game at Wembley Stadium.

I wasn’t at Wembley that day, as I had been a week earlier, when I had a front-row view as Barcelona won the European Cup in style, playing an attacking passing-and-moving game; instead I watched England, playing a game barely recognisable to the one Barca played on the same pitch seven days earlier, in a pub in Stoke Newington.

Continue reading…

Mark Perryman’s Comment on John Terry

Mark Perryman is an England fan who has travelled both home abroad supporting the National team over the last fifteen years, and is one of the driving forces behind the successful ‘Raise The Flag’ campaign, where England fans hold up cards to make the cross of St George to the National Anthem at England games.

In the last 24 hours he has been interviewed on Radio 5, BBC News 24 and on the ITV News at Ten on the subject of John Terry captaincy in light of the criminal charges being brought against him.  Further to him giving his opinion there have now been postings on the Official England Supporters Forum, suggesting that it will be made impossible for him to attend England games.

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England v Spain 12 Nov 2011

Pattern of Play

Lessons From What’s Poor

I am not really into Horse Racing but when I was invited by a then work partner to a corporate day at Wetherby races, I made the effort to get into it. I studied the form guide in The Guardian’s racing pages on the train and bought myself a copy of The Racing Post. I started off well, spotting a bit of value in the first race, picking a winner in the second. In about the fourth race of the day there was a small field of five horses, with one clear favourite. It was already about half-a-mile clear of the rest of the field when it fell, and the sigh from the whole course was audible. That was the day I should have learned never to bet on a dead cert.

Continue reading…

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