Archived entries for Home

Euro 2012: Semi-finals

With the complacent standard of punditry we have all become accustomed to from him, ahead of England’s quarter-final against Italy, Alan Hansen said Mario Balotelli hadn’t achieved anything in the game yet. At the age of 21 he has actually already been a member of four league title winning squads in addition to being being part of squads that have won the Champions League, the FA Cup, and the Coppa Italia. And in the first forty-five minutes of the semi-final against Germany on Thursday he did more on an International stage than Hansen did in a lifetime. Continue reading…

GB Football Team: Selection

As David Beckham reveals he hasn’t been selected to play for Team GB in the London 2012 games, Tom Bodell names the 18 he would now pick if he was Manager in his latest piece on the subject for The Substantive.

With the London Games now less than one month away the excitement is clearly mounting. The tickets which I successfully applied for, synchronised swimming & dressage (the excitement is palpable in my household), have arrived and Team GB selectors are making and breaking the dreams of those who have been working towards London 2012 for any number of years.

One group of athletes that hasn’t been confirmed yet is Stuart Pearce’s Team GB football squad. Hope Powell announced her women’s squad 48 hours ago but as yet there is nothing more than newspaper speculation over the identity of the 18 included.

As I sit down to write this piece, David Beckham has just announced he has not made the cut. The general consensus is however that Welsh pair Craig Bellamy and Ryan Giggs constitute two-thirds Team GB’s ‘over-age’ quota and that Manchester City right-back Micah Richards has been included also. Would they make my 18 though? Here goes… Continue reading…

Olympics: Internationalism

Mark Perryman returns back from the Ukraine following England’s exit on penalties against Italy, and considers how national identity and internationalism co-mingles in sport, and will continue to do so at London 2012.

David Hemery burning his way round the track to victory in the 400m hurdles, Mexico 1968. Mary Peters defying gravity as she hauls her frame over the high jump bar to lift pentathlon Gold in Munich, 1972. David Wilkie winning in the pool, Montreal 1976. Coe and Ovett enjoying 1500m and 800m glory, Moscow 1980. Decathlete Daley Thompson acting the golden cheeky chappy, Los Angeles 1984. Great Britain beating Germany in the men’s hockey final, Seoul 1988. Christie and Gunnell triumphant on the track at Barcelona 1992. Steve Redgrave promising he’d never be seen near a boat again after winning his fourth straight Gold with Matthew Pinsent at Atlanta 1996, before doing precisely that to win his fifth and final Gold, once more with Pinsent, at Sydney 2000. Kelly Holmes grabbing an eye-popping 800m and 1500m golden double against all the odds in 2004. Hoy, Pendleton, Adlington and Ohuruogu leading Team GB’s Gold medal charge to fourth in the Beijing 2008 Medals Table. Continue reading…

Arthur Rowe

An extract from ‘Arthur Rowe’, the latest in the Spurs Shots series of ebooks by Martin Cloake and Adam Powley, gives a flavour of the man who quietly brought an early version of Total Football to England, in N17. 

When the great managers of football are listed these days, Arthur Rowe rarely gets a mention. He comes from an age of football that predates television’s grip on the game, from an age where personality had not yet elbowed its way to the fore. True, the game was a mass obsession and Rowe was revered in his time. But he seems to have slipped from the collective memory. If the absence of mass media and the cult of the sporting personality is to blame for this, how come Stanley Matthews and Nat Lofthouse are still names that could trip off the lips of the most cursory student of football? Maybe it is because players have greater status in the collective consciousness than managers. But if this is so, how can the status of Herbert Chapman and Stan Cullis be explained? Rowe was never a man to court the limelight or make extravagant claims for what he did. Like the greatest of the greats, he genuinely saw what he did as simply the best way to do the job. And he got on with it with the minimum of fuss as if it was the most natural thing in the world. Which to him it was.

Not only was Rowe a great manager in the English game, he was a great manager for the English game. Because arguably, without Rowe the English game would have stayed constrained and oblivious inside its self-satisfied cocoon of assumed superiority for far longer than it did. And maybe Rowe is not afforded the status he deserves because the game does not fully understand what it is he did. Continue reading…

Euro 2012 – Quarter-Finals

There was something a bit unsettling in the build-up to England’s Quarter-Final against Italy on all the rolling news channels, with the first team being spoken about as if they had won some competition on the back of cereal packet and were just lucky to be there. Getting out of an average group was being treated as a major achievement and the attitude continued into the TV commentary of the game as the Italians took control after the first half-an-hour, going on to produce stats that gave them 68% of the ball over 120 minutes, with England having less possession than the Republic of Ireland did against the same opposition last week.

Both in perception and performance, it is a steep decline from previous England exits in penalty-shoot outs in 1990, 1996 and 1998 when excellent displays against major footballing forces, Germany and Argentina, led to far greater disappointment. Those three tournaments are a reminder that for all the faults with English football, it is entirely possible to have a first team national squad that should be able to compete at the highest level. The FIFA World Rankings have long been laughable, but England didn’t even pretend to show a positivity of a team ranked 6th in the World and 4th in Europe against an Italian team (12th in the World) that is nothing more than decent, and who now qualify for the semi-final with only one win, against Ireland, from their four matches so far. Continue reading…

Olympics/Euro 2012: Complete Control

In this summer of Euro 2012 and the London Olympics, both dominated by product sponsors, Mark Perryman points to a third, major sporting event with less emphasis on corporate control and more on popular participation.

Modern sport isn’t simply a contest between teams or individuals. It is also increasingly an arena which corporate power seeks to exploit. During this summer of major sporting events it’s clear that the governing bodies behind the European football finals and the Olympic Games are following a strikingly similar agenda, one shaped by drive of business to make money out of people’s love for sport. That generally starts with top-down control.

Here are two examples from Euro 2012, from where I’m writing: Continue reading…

Euro 2012 – Phase 3

Sixteen years ago at half-time of the England’s second Euro’96 group game against Scotland, then BBC pundit Jimmy Hill laid into Paul Gascoigne with the relish of as starved lion feasting on his prey; the tendency of scapegoating the nation’s most talented player existed before Gascoigne, as Glenn Hoddle experienced throughout the eighties, and is one that continues now, as a half-time glance at Twitter during Tuesday night game against the Ukraine showed. Gascoigne spectacularly proved his critics wrong within minutes at Wembley, while Wayne Rooney more routinely also justified his place with a well-timed run to get the only goal in England’s 1-0 win against this year’s co-hosts.

Some suggested Rooney shouldn’t be included in the squad because of his two-match suspension, others said he should start on the bench on Tuesday, and after a goalless first-half, in which he missed the best chance of the game, some were calling for him to be substituted at the break. Rooney is of course vital to this England side, a unit that lacks creativity and guile and has less match-winners than past England squads. Both to improve his match-sharpness, and improve England’s pattern of play, it was common sense Rooney started against Ukraine, with the ambition for the team to progress as far as possible. Continue reading…

Sparks, Bush Hall (13 June 2012)

A brisk walk from Shepherd’s Bush and down the Uxbridge Road, Bush Hall has had a bit of a renaissance over the last few years. A renovated Edwardian dance hall, it’s been host to quite a few intimate gigs by well known acts and tonight it was the turn of Sparks. Continue reading…

England Euro 2012 – Being There

Ignoring the scare stories, Aaron D’Silva got his first taste of England playing away in a major tournament by travelling to the Ukraine for the Group D opener against France. He writes about his experience for The Substantive.

On the evening of the 28th May Sol Campbell warned that if England fans were to travel to Poland and Ukraine for this summer’s European Championships they would risk coming back home in coffins due to claims of entrenched racism and violence. On the afternoon of the 11th of June, hours before England’s opening game, thousands of patriotic fans stood in and outside the Golden Lion Pub, Lenin Sq, Donetsk, basked in glorious 32 degree sunshine, sipping a 75p Ukrainian beer and in jubilant voice, screaming ‘ We’ll do what we want’, in relation to the ex-England player’s claims. A definitive reminder that what you see is not always what you get when travelling away in Europe for football. Continue reading…

Euro 2012 – Phase 2

While the quality has sometimes been variable in this summer’s European Championships Finals there has been excitement throughout with England’s win over Sweden last night perhaps the most thrilling of all so far. The Swedes looked poor in the first-half and England were well deserved of their one-nil lead going into the break, which came from an excellent goal from Andy Carroll that must rank as one of the best headed goals in any European Championship Finals.

But the Swedes came out energised in the second-half, playing a much more up-tempo game and all over England like a rash, with the realisation they needed something out of the match to have a chance from progressing from an average group. Four minutes into the second-half Olof Mellberg beat Joe Hart perhaps a bit too easily when he responded the quickest from a loose ball following a free-kick Carroll conceded just outside the England box, before adding a second with a powerful header of his own, turning the game on its head in ten minutes. Supposedly well-organized, England had been undone by two-set-pieces. Continue reading…



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