I’m aware that England probably aren’t going to win the world cup. We’re probably going to fall short in some way. But today, we can dream.
As a Hartlepool and England fan, I don’t have much experience of winning things. But sometimes the experience of pursuing glory is its own reward.
In 2005 I felt frustration when Hartlepool lost a playoff final to Sheffield Wednesday, but also intense pride that my team had pushed a bigger, richer club so close.
In 1996 I was in tears as England lost to Germany. But looking back as an adult, I feel pride at the times when England were bold, and pushed the strongest, most well-drilled teams in world football so far.
News emerging over recent weeks have revealed that Hartlepool United have some major financial issues to overcome in the next few weeks. Ian King of TwoHundredPercent.net has a good summary of Hartlepool United’s situation. As a fan I’ve a few more things to add.
First of all, a bit of recent history. Going back years Pools were owned by IOR, an Aberdeen-based oil company who subsidised the club’s finances. The spending was never anywhere near as much as al Fayed at Fulham or Whelan at Wigan, who were in the lower leagues around the same time, but enough to help compete with Cardiff, Sheffield Wednesday, Bristol City etc.
IOR’s motives seemed to use Pools as corporate entertainment (showcasing their business skill in the process) and as a tax write-off (Pools made losses of around £1m a season under their leadership despite going up and down divisions, which seems too steady to be coincedental.) The impression grew over time that IOR had gotten bored of Pools, and were happy for us to tread water. There was disaffection with them long before they sold the club.
In November 2012 I wrote about the use of statistics in football, and the backlash against them, for the now defunct Bornoffside.net. You can read the article in its original context via the Wayback Machine, or by scrolling down. Some of my examples feel a bit dated, but otherwise I’d stand by what I wrote.
Over recent years, the use of statistics in sport has become increasingly common. Match of the Day and Sky Sports routinely present us with the basic stats at the end of matches – shots, shots on targets, fouls, etc. These stats are useful, insightful to a point. Even if you see the stats at the bottom of a print media match report, you can get a sense of how balanced the match was, whether the winners deserved their win.
Another quick Squawka link. Cardiff City Football Club have been a bit of a basket case in recent weeks. The chairman, Vincent Tan, while not sacking the manager, Malky Mackay himself, seems to have been pantomining a display of what ‘constructive dismissal’ looks like, briefing against him in the press, before growing bored with his performance art and sacking the manager outright.
One of the mad chairman’s more legitimate complaints was that Mackay overspent on summer recruitments. So, writing for Squawka, I’ve taken a statistical look at their summer signings.
And finally, published on the 27th, I took a look at three players who the Express reckon Manchester United are trying to sign – Borussia Dortmund’s Marco Reus, Atletico Madrid’s Koke, and Southampton’s Adam Lallana. (This is the piece I wrote when tipsy, which might be evident by the fact that one point I asked the reader “who do you think you’re looking at? Eh? Eh?”. Or maybe I got away with it.)
New today, the latest in the Lower League Week I write for BornOffside, covering the big events in League 1 and League 2. Stories include the FIFA regulation stopping Shaun Derry continuing as a player, the bad form of Peterborough, Crewe and Portsmouth, Gillingham losing in the FA Cup, and a really, really bad miss.
Another link, this time to something new. Published today on BornOffside, I’ve responded to Dietmar Hamann’s autobiography extract, published on Sunday in the Independent.
In it, Hamann compared Michael Ballack and Paul Gascoigne’s reactions to being booked in World Cup semi-finals, arguing that Gascoigne’s emotional reaction would see him becoming a national pariah rather than a hero… and that Gascoigne represents what’s wrong with English football.
However, I disagree with a lot of what Hamann said, and have written a response for BornOffside.
I’ve just completed writing the latest Lower League Week for BornOffside and, after filing it for editing, I realised I’ve not linked to last week’s edition.
The main stories are news and opinion of Swindon and Cheltenham being defeated in the FA Cup; Hartlepool’s excellent form; Gillinham appointing a permanent manager; Shaun Derry retiring from playing to focus on management; Port Vale banning their local paper from covering their matches; Carlisle taking released criminal Courtney Meppen-Walter on trial; and mascots solemnly observing minute’s silences while smiling gleefully.
I’ve not written here on the blog for a while, but my writing’s not totally ground to a halt.
Just published yesterday on Squawka is a look at the goalkeepers who’ve made the most goal-costing mistakes in the top leagues across Europe, with representation from Holland, Italy, Germany and France… as well as England’s very own Joe Hart, unfortunately.
England may not lead the world in much these days, but we still produce some of the world’s best comic performers.
My Lower League Week column has, over the past two years, become the premier weekly internet recap of events in Leagues One and Two written by a guy called David Stringer.
That is, unless the David Stringer who wrote The Insect Hotel has decided to branch out.
After not being able to find the time in a hectic last seven weeks (which I’ll blog about at some point soon) I’ve finally gotten back into the swing of things with a Lower League Weeks, published today at Bornoffside.
In it I cover Leyton Orient maintaining their position at the top of League One; Bristol City’s surprisingly enduring underachievement; a mass of sackings and replacements; and, more seriously, Tranmere player Joe Thompson’s battle with cancer.