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Over 2 million people play football in the uk on a regular basis, and many more support their teams from the terraces. So why is football so popular? Firstly, unlike many aspects of life, the rules are uncomplicated. This allows people to pick up the games basic rules very easily. This allied with the minimal equipment requirements (football only) results in few barriers to entry when entering the world of football.
'The rules of soccer are very simple, basically it is this: if it moves, kick it. If it doesn't move, kick it until it does.' - Phil Woosnam
Football isn't just a physical game, mental and personality attributes are also required. Team work, leadership, determination, bravery, and passion are all evident on the field of play.
'Everything I know about morality and the obligations of men, I owe it to football.' - Albert Camus
The soap opera of the modern game is the theatre of choice for football fans. Where else can you see such varied characters, intense storylines, and edge of the seat action in real life?
'Football is the ballet of the masses.' - Dmitri Shostakovich
The affects of football are not just pitch bound. From childrens role models, to the mood of the nation, football affects society as a whole.
'In Latin America the border between soccer and politics is vague. There is a long list of governments that have fallen or been overthrown after the defeat of the national team.' - Luis Suarez
So with football shaping so many areas of life is it really just a game?
'Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I'm very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.' - Bill Shankly
It can be incredibly difficult to judge a beautiful football match, to some it is the ebb and flow of an English Premier League game, 90 minutes of breathless athleticism with some skill thrown in. To others it can be the cat and mouse of Italian football, where teams use strategy, nuance and no little cunning to outwit and beat their opponents. For others Spanish football with its tone set around pass and move produces the beautiful game, but who is right?
I have watched a lot of football over the last 30 years and think it impossible to tell you all of the greatest games, I can mention significant ones, for me these represent either games where the entire dynamic of the game may have evolved or gone backwards, or simply games where excitement and/or skill have simply drawn me into the game without memory of anything but that moment. I could have included more matches such as the wonderful 4-3 Newcastle v Liverpool game where Kevin Keegan's cavalier ideals were never more fully formed, or the utterly enthralling England v West Germany match in Italia 90, or Germany v Holland match in the same tournament, but for me these are the games which have for me possibly had an effect (I hope) on the way people believe football should be played.
These are my picks as the best games, but I accept this is entirely subjective and others may have their own views, which I would love to hear:
England 3 Hungary 6 1953
I have only watched this game on DVD, but have read so much about it, at the time, England with a team of renowned stars felt that they had some birthright to be the greatest football team in the world, whilst this was disproved with a shock 1-0 loss to the USA in 1950, that was still regarded as a shock result. This result however shook World football to the core, for Hungary to come to Wembley and not only outscore England but to outplay them with a system that was light years ahead of the industrial English tactics was a huge lesson to the world that tactics and skill can beat power and pace. The Hungarian team lined up in their famous formation with Nandor Hidegkuti playing in the hole between midfield and attack with the ferocious Ferenc Puskas up front. England had an excellent team, but had no idea how to stop the man in the hole and thus Hidegkuti ran the show creating and scoring goals for fun. The spectacle was a lesson for English football, the press and the English fans that good organisation and preparation were key. That there were 9 goals a raft of incredible performers and some stunning goals just added to the fun for all. For excellent performers like the brilliant English defender Billy Wright, this match would always leave an indelible stain on their reputation, but for England, one of the players who took such a hiding, Alf Ramsey, decided to use this organised strategy as his blueprint for the finest moment in English football, 1966.
France 1 Brazil 1 1986
This was a football match for lovers of the game, the beautiful Brazillians against the equally attractive French, for 90 minutes the teams passed, moved, Platini shimmied, Socrates planned his teams next move, Zico moved like a footballing ballerina whilst Tigana counteracted his skills perfectly, they played football perfectly but could not unlock the other team, despite a goal each, the game was eventually decided by penalties, a system much fairer than the toss of a coin, but more damaging to the player who eventually is forced to accept responsibility for his teams loss. France won the match on penalties knocking out a wonderfully flowing Brazil team and the last great team from that nation for at least 8 years. This was one of the last games where both teams offered creative abandon, with some defensive muscle and danced around each other beautifully for 120 minutes of captivating football.
Ajax 2 Inter Milan 0 - 1972
I chose this because again Ajax brought something new to football, the ideal of 'Total Football' something only a nation as naturally giving as the Dutch could provide, in essence the idea was that every player in the team was technically adept enough to cover their colleagues, therefore the defenders could attack and strikers play as the last man. In many ways the architect of this system was the astounding Johann Cruyff, but he was supported by wonderful players such as Horst Blankenburg a sweeper who could pass the ball 60 yards, or the dynamic Rudi Krol a defender who attacked like a winger. This team took on one of the most powerful football teams of the era, Internazionale of Milan in a show piece European Cup Final in 1972 and ran them ragged as the ephereal Cruyff scored twice and the team ran rings around their stronger opponents. This performance very much dictated how the dutch and to a lesser extent Barcelona would play into the future, this can be seen in current Barcelona Manager Pep Guardiola's style of management, as an acolyte of Cruyff's.
Liverpool 3 AC Milan 3 - 2005
One of the most extraordinary feats of football I have ever seen, at half time in the Champions league final, AC Milan were destroying Liverpool 3-0 with a threat of more to come, as Liverpool failed to deal with the silky Brazilian Kaka and the imperious Pirlo, they were picked off for fun and looked amateur as the wonderful Maldini scored in the first minute and then Chelsea reject Hernan Crespo got a double before half time. Coming out for the second half pushed by the introduction of German Didi Hammann to shackle Kaka, Steven Gerrard began to run the show, first scoring a wonderful goal, then pushing forward to create the chance for Smicer to score and finally winning the penalty which Alonso converted to make it 3-3, as the goals went in Milan's confidence disappeared and whilst they continued to press during normal and extra time, each miss or stop from Liverpool dented their confidence further until they were spent by penalties and watched helplessly as Liverpool proved that spirit and heart can sometimes overcome a technically superior foe. This was a game to show anyone who believes that footballers don't care anymore, whatever Gerrard's limitations in an England jersey, this performance was one of the most dynamic and incredible of any player in a Champions League final, ably supported by fine players such as Xabi Alonso and Jamie Carragher.
Barcelona 5 Real Madrid 0 - 2010
I mention this match as it was such a clear team performance, Barcelona have a team of outstanding individuals who perform with a team ethic, whilst Real have a wonderful coach and individuals but still perform as individuals. As the game began, the marvellous Messi ran between lines forcing defenders and midfielders to chase him, the incredible Xavi (My favourite footballer), controlled the game with 114 out of 117 passes completed, this statistic is incredible, but his interplay with his defence, midfield and attack meant that Barca controlled the game, his control and eye for an opportunity brought goals for himself and others, but with over 500 passes completed Barca won through technical and physical superiority, passing, moving, team players developing routes to goal from endless angles.
Xavi was ably assisted by the sublime Iniesta (is there any better midfield pairing on the planet) and the underrated Busquets, whilst they had the extraordinary Messi supporting the ultimate predator, David Villa, a player who knows where the goal is but is renowned in Spain for his humility as a team player.
The players of Real eventually realised the only way to get near their opponents was to foul and rough up the Barca players as an only option of slowing or disrupting their play, I enjoyed this as it was clear from the smile on Lionel Messi's face as Sergio Ramos was sent off for one too many scything challenges, that he knew, good football and teamwork had won out.
As Barcelona players moved between positions, strikers tackling, defenders attempting shots on goal, it showed what football can be and proved that a team can play with strong, positive ideals, be fast, strong and creative without being negative. It was a wonderful performance, the best i've seen in 20 years and challenged the rest of the world to follow their lead and catch up playing beautiful football. Guardiola is a wonderful manager and he adopted a really good team which he has made great. Mourinho was gracious in defeat and took it in good spirit accepting that this would now motivate him and his players to improve rather than believe the hype, perhaps we will see more games of this standard if Real are as good as their word.
All of these games are available to watch on DVD, I would implore you to watch a couple even to see how football has evolved technically and physically.
Review also on Helium
Football, from the world cup to a sunday league pub side, there exists a level from everyone to participate in, I would like to share my views about a club playing at Junior level in Scotland.
PLEASE NOTE: IN SCOTLAND JUNIOR FOOTBALL DENOTES NON LEAGUE FOOTBALL WHICH IS BELOW PROFESSIONAL ALTHOUGH THE PLAYERS ARE PAID AND A LEVEL ABOVE AMATUER)
Lugar Boswell Thistle Juniors http://www.lugarboswellthistle.com/
The team were formed in 1898 and play at Rosebank Park in the village of Lugar, they ply their trade in the Ayrshire District League, the third division.
This season they played a successful campaign and narrowly missed out on promotion by a goal difference of 4. Below is a list of the club's achievements to date:
Ayrshire First Division winners: 1954, 1956
Ayrshire Second Division winners: 1996, 2000
Ayrshire Cup: 1928, 1929
Ayrshire District Cup: 1930, 1949
Ayrshire League: 2003
This club are keeping football alive in their small local community by providing facilities for youth teams who use their excellent facilities free of charge and by developing youth football with these clubs so that the kids in the area have a focus and team to be proud of, Lugar were first with these ideas although other local teams are now following.
They are currently developing two under ten teams and are actively working with an under seventeen team, the under tens are very successful and haven't lost a game this year and the under seventeens are now training with Lugar first team for experience, the three teams are independant but the club is working very hard helping with their development. The 17's enjoy training with the first team and have been accepted and taken under the wings of some seasoned players and ex professionals.
Games are played on a Saturday afternoon to a gate which ranges between 50 and 200 people, the food and drinks prices beggar belief as you will be asked for £1 for a pie or a roll and sausage and 50p for a tea, entry to the park is £2.50 adult £1.50 Concession and Children free (£1.50 Cup Tie).
Lugar's playing surface is second to none at this level due to the dilligence of the ground person , the changing facilities are good and and the small committee keeps their head above water financially.
Football wise this level of the sport is a very entertaining spectacle with competative close games which are very physical in nature, there are no primadonas, no one on big money and practically no diving, just good honest surprisingly tallented football in its rawest form, this is football as it was intended, football for everyone, football that you can afford to go to with a family, enjoy and be thrilled.
The team's nickname is the Jaggy Bunnets in reference to their "12th man", the midges (Very small Flying insect which swarm in millions, around your head and plague the area due to the lush wooded setting which contains the park).
Take your family to see Junior/Non League football this weekend instead of watching the big boys, there's never any trouble, its much much more value for money and you will get so much more out of it than watching sanitised football on tv.
I will be there every saturday enjoying the special atmosphere, supporting this great club, kicking every ball and hoping that this year they will gain that elusive promotion.
I was born into a family of 6 other children, 3 of which are boys, 2 of which were big football fans, one a Liverpudlian and the other an Evertonian. My late father cared more for cricket but i will say no more about that!
Unless you live on Mars, you will know that Football is a game consisting of 22 players on a pitch, playing 11 for each team including a goal keeper, forwards, midfield players and defence. The team has its own coach and there is a referee and also linesmen . It is played over 90 minutes, 45 minutes each half. The aim of the game is to score into your opponents goal by using the feet only and of course, the team with the most goals wins the game.
Each team are also allowed substitutes, chosen by the manager, and they can replace existing players on the pitch, either due to injury, or simply because the manager needs to change a player who they feel needs to rest or is not performing as well as expected.
Players are shown a yellow card if they committ a foul, which can be for a number of reasons, such as a two footed tackle, hand ball, or just being rude and obnoxious to the referee. If they committ a second foul during the game, the referee can then send the player off the pitch after showing them a red card. The player cannot be replaced with another if they have been sent off which means that team would be short of a player for the remainder of the game. If a foul is bad enough, then a player can be send off directly with a red card, without firstly being shown a yellow. Hope you are keeping up with all this.
If a player is fouled in the boxed area around the goal then the referee can give the team that have received the foul, a penalty which involves a player placing the ball on a penalty spot and it is then him or her, versus the goal keeper. If the player beats the goal keeper, then this is a goal for them.
The season will also involve taking part in other games other than league games, such as FA Cup and also European Championships, if the team has been lucky enough to reach the dizzy heights of the table.
Since i was 5 years, i have supported Everton Football club, as one of my brothers insisted that someone else in the family would see the benefits of supporting the underdog in the city of Liverpool. I have never regretted this and remember my first game. The smell of coffee, hot dogs and cigarettes. I found it so overwhelming, sitting in a crowd of thousands of people, mostly males and hearing them shouting and swearing. I remember asking my brother what a certain swear word meant but never received an explanation. His answer was simply 'don't ever say that word'. My experiences of attending a match from a child with my brother, through to going with my best friend as a teenager were full of excitement, passion and enjoyment, as well as dissappointments.
A football seasons aim is to find a champion. As an example, the English Premiership consists of a number of teams who will play each other twice during the season, once at their home ground and once at the other teams home ground. If they win the game by scoring the most goals, they get 3 points, they get 2 for a draw and zero points if they lose. The team with the most points at the end of the season wins the title. However, if two teams finish on the same points, the team with the bigger goal average will win the title.
It seems i have always loved the beautiful game and although i don't attend every game, mainly due to cost, i visit my beloved Goodison Park as often as i can.
Football spans the world and it is a passion which lies within the blood of the most avid supporters, who will travel the planet to watch their team.
The game has changed over the years and now it seems that alot of teams struggle financially to keep their heads above water. The wages alone of the football players is enough to send any club spiralling into administration but still we love the game.
As i am writing this review, i am watching the lead up to the World Cup in South Africa and can't wait to watch Englands first game tomorrow night against the USA.
Football, wether you love or hate it, will always be a talking point on a Monday in work, after the weekends games, and at the local pubs and clubs on a Saturday night. It is a game for the masses, enjoyed the world over.
When i shuffle off my mortal coil, i want everyone to attend my funeral in their football colours and i want the crest of my team to be the flowers that accompany me.
Enjoy the World Cup and if you don't like football, then do go shopping. I personally will be sat with a wine and a quick heartbeat watching my country with pride. I am a woman, but football is in my blood and my soul and always will be.
I haven't always been a fan of football, but having been forced to watch numerous matches on TV by my boyfriend I've taken quite a liking for it, so much so that I regularly find myself checking the Sky Sports website for news and have the live score centre application on my iPhone! It's addictive!
My boyfriend is a Manchester United supporter, and through watching them play on a semi-regular basis I've started to find myself supporting them myself. I've even been to visit Old Trafford! However, my local team is Bristol Rovers so I've developed a mild allegiance to them too.
It's easy to see why people do love football. It's a great social activity, especially if you go to the pub to watch it or if you invite a few people around. Plus, some matches can be so gripping to watch that you just don't want them to end (e.g. the last Manchester derby)! The banter it inspires can be quite fun too!
I quite like watching the football these days, it's just a shame that it's on so often that I don't always have the time to watch it!
Football or as it is known to many the beautiful game is something that is amongst the most popular sports worldwide with an ever increasing number of fans from many countries including the likes of USA, Japan, India, China, etc thanks in no small part to the extensive television coverage of leagues, cups and matches from all over the world.
I always remember when I was younger playing football regularly with my mates and it being one of the best and most fun outdoor activities that was there and did not cost a fortune. Football gave me a great opportunity to socialise with my friends whilst also keeping fit and having great fun whilst doing this.
So what of the biggest known football...the Premier League? Well it is a league which in my opinion offers up amazing entertainment with the likes of the skillful teams there attempting to play attractive football (the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, etc) taking on some of the harder working but less attractive footballing sides (the likes of Burnley, Bolton, Wigan, etc) on a weekly basis. Money verses non, experience verses youth, skillful versus hard working. This league truly offers up a great mix of things that leaves you wanting more with the title challenge being interesting each year, the top four fight, the fight for europe, the battle against relegation and the fight to ensure you don't end up bottom all offered up each and every year with a tense and sometimes shocking outcome.
Football in general has seen some of the greatest spectacles in sporting history with the likes of the world cup final at Wembley, Scotlands win over the French, the amazing skills of Ronaldo throughout the 98 world cup only to have such a nightmare of a final. These and more make this game a truly superb and joyous thing that for many is more like a religion than simply a game but above all else it is something that has continued to bring in people from all walks of life and see them congregate in the same stadiums to see if their heroes can succeed.
With less and less areas remaining for children to play in our countries surely we must allow them the chance to have those great days like we did when we were young when us all of our mates took a cheap football and had a kick about on the parks...this is something that shaped who we are and should in my opinion have more importance in the society development that governments spend so much money on each and every year.
So it's the old age question which seems to rear it's head every week at the moment in football. Should video technology be introduced?
I know there are lot of people in favour of it and those against but I'm still not sure either way.
Obviously the biggest advantage of introducting video technology is that you can stop the game quickly and see for example if a ball went over the line, or a handball in a key area etc. The game could be stopped for just 30 seconds or so like they do in Ameriacan Football and review the play, so in that respect it would be very good.
However for me the practicallity of it all and bringing it in would be too complicated. Firstly, where do you draw the line? Is it just goals, or do you include handballs like the other day and offsides. If you do that then you are taking alot of power away from the officials who are there to spot these things.
Also, if you bring it in at the high level like in the premiership then this needs to be filtered down to all games as it wouldn't be fair and I don't know how you can do that really
In some cases like the case where Crystal Palace scored this season and the goal wasn't given then you should bring it in but you can't bring it in for everthing as it gets ridiculous
Also, one of the good things about football is that it flows and there are not many stoppages. If you start stopping the game for every little incident then it could get silly and too disrupted
You will never please everyone whether it's brought in or not, so I feel that bad decisions happen all the time and luck has a way of evening itself out even if I'm sure for Ireland at the moment it doesn't seem like that. There has to be some other way but not too sure right now what. The debate will go on
Not so long ago, pretty much anyone with a desire to, could become a football coach in the United Kingdom. Over the past few years this has all changed. At the top level, there are frequent stories about Manager A not being able to manage Club X because he doesn't have the relevant qualifications and badges. To me this seems a bit over the top when Manager A is an ex professional, possibly even an ex International, but when you take this philosophy down to the grass roots level and childrens football, it suddenly becomes massively relevant. It is vitally important that the right people are being left with our children on playing fields up and down the country every weekend and it is also vitally important that these people are teaching the children how to play football the right way instead of making them so scared to make a mistake that they fall out of love for the game.
I chose to run a junior football team in 2006. My son, along with several other children had just been told by his current club that he was not good enough for them and he would not be entered into the league the following season (he was 6 at the time). This angered the parents of the children in question and it was decided that we would all move en masse and that I would manage the team. Before this moment, I had no inclination to run a team, nor had I got any previous football management experience, so it was with trepidation that I agreed to do this.
The club we joined were fantastic and helped me get the team up and running. As the club were an FA Charter Standard club, all coaches needed to be qualified at the FA Level 1 or higher. The club paid for me to take this course which cost £80 back in 2006 and I had to attend 6 sessions in order to pass the course. The level 1 course concentrates mainly on mini soccer, a 7 aside game, played by children in the UK up to the age of 10. A lot of the emphasis on this course is based around the enjoyment of the game and the childrens wellbeing.
The level 1 courses tend to run about 4 or 5 times per year depending on demand. These always seem to take place at local schools so you should be able to find one in your area fairly easily. The course was made up of 4, 3 hour theory based sessions and 2, whole day practical sessions. The first 2 thoery sessions are designed to allow people to interact and familiarise themselves with the rest of the group. This is done by the leader setting an open ended question and the groups have to come up with solutions and outcomes to the question. These are then fed back to the entire group. These sessions were great for bonding which would be an essential attribute when it came to the practical days. The other 2 theory days were extremely important. Basic first aid training was given with the aid of mannequin dolls. This training was mainly about resuscitation and although, this is not widely appropriate to schoolboy football, with the amount of parents and grandparents on the sidelines, suddenly it becomes a very important skill to have. The final day of theory concentrates on Child Protection. The session taught us how to detect if a child was under threat from circumstances outside of the football pitch and how we should deal with children when they were in our care.
The First Aid and Child Protection modules had to be passed in order for us to have received the qualification. Both modules need refreshing every three years as new legislation and techniques are introduced.
The practical days took us all by surprise as to how energy sapping they were. On the first of these sessions, we were shown how to take a training session and then had to join in with the 15 drills that were being demonstrated. We were then put into small groups and had to plan and deliver one of these sessions with the other would be coaches as our target audience. This was great fun but involved a lot of hard work. At the end of this session, we were all given an individual drill which we would need to perform on our own the following week whilst being assessed by a County FA Assessor.
We needed to show evidence in our folder that this session was actually planned and not made up on the spot. This plan, as well as all the additional theory exercises we had to do in our own time would determine if we would pass the course or not.
Fortunately the pass rate on the Level 1 course is very high so unless you are someone who shouldn't be anywhere near children, the likelihood is that you will pass. A CRB check is done by the club in accordance with FA rules also just to confirm that you are suitable for this purpose.
Once you have acquired the Level 1 Qualification, you can opt to take the Level 2 which is a lot more intensive. This involves more classroom time and then a period of 6 months or so where you need to go away and gather evidence of coaching sessions you have taken to form your final portfolio. You then, like the Level 1 Course, need to perform a session in front of a County FA Assessor. This time however, the assessor is a lot stricter as they are looking for an almost perfect session.
For most people, level 2 is as far as they will ever need to go, however you can progress from here to Level 3, Level 2 Goalkeeping or branch out into physio or nutrition. If you are hoping to get a professional appointment then you probably would also consider taking the UEFA B course which is what most non-league managers are qualified to. These qualifications now run into the thousands of pounds to enrol on so they are not for the casual parks manager so I wont go into detail about them here.
I have since stepped down as team manager and have now become the clubs goalkeeping coach. In my three years running the team, the lessons I learnt during those 6 sessions have proved extremely valuable and a great help in giving 15 young lads the best experience of football I could possibly have done.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope it has inspired you to give it a go.
Are you sitting uncomfortably?
Then we'll begin.
Once upon a time there was a young boy named Peter who came from one of those made up European countries like Albania or Estonia or perhaps France.
Peter moved to Eng-er-land which is a small country nestling in between Wales, Scotland and the Isle of Wight.
Peter had to leave his native country due to a small incident involving 140,003 tonnes of concrete and his local police station and move to Eng-er-land to stay with his Grandfather.
One day as Peter was walking through a local park with his Grandfather he spotted a group of children playing a game that he was unfamiliar with.
'Whats that Grandad?' He asked.
'That,' said his Grandfather, with a smile 'is Association Football, the greatest game known to man. It's played by 2 teams of eleven and the aim is to kick the ball through the oppositions goal posts. Each time you do that your team gets a point known as a goal and the team with the most goals at the end of the game wins'
At that point there was a cheer from the group of children playing and several of them started hugging each other.
'What's that Grandad?' Asked Peter.
Grandfather quickly covered Peter's eyes. 'That my child is an abomination of the modern game. Someone has just scored a goal and rather than just accepting a nod of appreciation from his team and getting on with it he has decided to prance around and hug and dare I say, even kiss, his team-mates. In my day any palaver would have been the subject of much scorn.'
'Do lots of people play football Grandad?' asked Peter
'Yes, Peter, yes they do. There is an enormous league system set up here in Eng-er-land in which teams of a common skill level compete against each other. In theory the best teams compete against each other and the lesser teams play each other. The idea behind this is to make every game an even competition where either side could win. The teams all play each other twice over a season and get different points depending on whether they win, lose or draw the tie. At the end of the season the best teams move up a division and the worst ones move down a division. Sometimes this doesn't always work out. Stoke for example'
'What happens to the best teams in the top division' Grandad asked Peter
'They get to play in additional competitions that are funded by television and that suck the soul out of the game' said Grandad.
'Do any famous people play Football Grandad?' asked Peter
Grandad stopped and thought.
After a while he said 'Yes Peter. You know that Gordon Ramsey on the televison, he was allegedly quite a player before he decided to give up the gentlemans game for a life of shouting and swearing. Then there's Delia Smith. She used to captain Norwich until her team mates discovered in the changing rooms one day that she was female, having pawned her prosthetic penis the night before so she could buy a whiskey and soda. No one had a clue!Even to this day you can hear nostalgic chants of 'Delly man Boobs' amongst the Norwhich faithful.'
'Can I learn to play, Grandad?' asked Peter.
'Yes son, you can.'
Peter spend every weekend playing at his local park.
He started by playing on his own, dribbling a football around different obstacles and kicking it at targets on the wall of the local bakery.
He then asked to play with the big boys at the park. The big boys would only let him play in goals but he was still delighted to be able to join in.
Each week he would run to the park and wait patiently for 3 hours for the other boys to arrive, having been assured by them that the best goal keeping training was to stand in the cold, all alone and miserable. When they arrived they would kick balls at him, throw bricks and wellies at him, all so that he could practice.
One day Bernard Mathews, one of the bigger boys, tried to hit him with shaped turkey mince products. To escape Peter leapt up and hauled himself up onto the cross bar. From this position he found he could swing around and avoid Bernards blows.
He stayed there through out the game and managed to stop every attempt on goal. His team mates declared him a hero, gave him a new nick-name of Monkey and threw him in the canal to celebrate.
Two months passed and word got around that 'monkey' Peter was a top goalie. Mr Lemming-Stroker, the games master at his school invited him to play for the school team.
Peter was more than happy to join in, despite getting ridiculed for his football kit which at that time consisted of a Cliff Richard mask and a turquoise leotard and tried out for his school.
He got in but spent every game on the bench as the current goal-keeper 'Spider' Wankstain was truly excellent. Peter sat patiently on the bench and watched as his team advanced further and further through the local schools cup competition.
They got to the final!
The morning of the final came and Peter trudged along to school expecting to spend another 90 minutes sitting on the bench when he spotted 14 police cars racing by. He arrived at the school to discover that 'Spider' Wankstain had been chased away by the police. It transpired that 'Spider' was really a pseudonym and the under-12s goal keeper had in fact been Lord Lucan all along.
This meant that Peter would now get the chance to play in goal. Peter was ecstatic!
Peter had an amazing game and made 27 saves in the first half alone. However his team mates weren't having any success and the game remained tide at 0-0 until the 89th minute.
'Scrapper' Budweiser brought an opponent down in Peter's area and the referee blew for a penalty.
So it had come to this....
The final kick of the game would be a penalty. 'Inkpot' Maguffin against Peter.
'Oi, Monkey' shouted Scrapper Budweiser, 'if you don't save this penalty we'll break your f-in neck.'
'Yeah, you leotard freak, I'll bloody have you' Mr Lemming-Stroker chimed in.
The crowd held their breath.
Peter leapt up to the crossbar in preparation for the strike.
Inkpot started his run up....... And kicked the ball....
In the police reports that were filed after the match it is stated that 'Monkey' Peter was set upon by several of his supporters after failing to save the ball. It was recorded that he severed the right ear of master Budweiser and so badly damaged Mr Lemming-Strokers face that 'even his mother couldn't love him'. 6 other supporters were admitted to A & E with minor flesh wounds and Peter escaped. It was noted that had 3/4s of the local force not been chasing after Lord Lucan that 'monkey' Peter would now be in custody.
Peter's Grandad never saw him again.
Football, also known as Soccer, is a massive sport worldwide. The money involved with the game is absolutely breathtaking with the best players earning money £100k+ per week. Some of the hardest working Brits struggle to earn that in a year!!
It is a team sport where both teams field 11 players on a pitch approximately 100m x 70m although these can vary. It is mostly played on a grass pitch outdoors but sometimes it is known to be played on artificial tuf.
The object of the game is to put the ball in the oppositions goals which lie at opposite ends of the pitch. One for each team. Any part of the body except from the upperarm downwards can touch the ball and be used in play. The game has a regulation time of 90 minutes with 45 minutes per half. The team with the most goals at the end of the 90 minutes is the winner. In the event of a draw the teams are declared even.
Football is massive in some countries but not so well known in others. Countries with the biggest success and following include Brazil, Argentina, UK, Italy, France, Holland, Germany, Spain, Portugal and most developed Western countries.
It is a very strategic game and a game that can sometimes be fun to watch but at others very boring. It is a game that in the UK almost every boy in school has played it and enjoyed it.
When I think back to the very first memory I have what do you think it was? Well, no it wasn't football, it was being on a ferry in Greece with my mum holding me, I must have been nearly two years old. Why is this relevant you ask? Well, its not but it leads me to my next point, which is that my second earliest memory was kicking a football against my Nan's wall in her back garden, I must have been two or three years old at this point.
What I am trying to get at is most British males first or early memories involve football in one way or another. Whether it is kicking a ball, watching a match or even being lucky enough to visit a football ground to view a live game with a father or uncle. I apologise for being very gender specific there but this tends to be the case. Or maybe not, certainly not for me, as my love of the game stems from my Nana and her insistence on listening to every game on the wireless (radio for anyone under 18, not WiFi) whilst swooning over Neil Webb and Bryan Robson in her Manchester United calendar. So football isn't in fact gender specific, it isn't age specific, not race specific, it is beyond all of this and is much more, you might say an institution in British life, global life in fact. An institution which families are built upon, a common interest that allows areas to thrive and prosper whilst others are left behind, a reason for 10's of thousands of people to come together to share opinion, where no person is right or wrong as long as the team they support matches up with the person listening. So think hard and try to answer 'Yes' to the following question, 'Is football just a game?' The answer is you cannot, because to do so would be to fight against the hundred years of tradition and evidence that would suggest otherwise.
As earlier established, I was playing football from the tender age of three kicking the ball against a wall or playing with friends in the garden or in the park, using the now clichéd jumpers for goalposts, or even better one tree and one jumper for goal posts. Now and again labourers would be working nearby and on their day of rest, a Sunday, we would have two builders cones to use. Perfect. No better way to spend four hours running around getting absolutely filthy and working up the appetite for the burger and chips tea Mum would scramble together after a 12 hour shift. Fork down, plate clean, and BOOM, I was back playing again until the last light where inevitably my Mother would shout me in just as I reached the final of Wembley singles. My glorious moment ripped from me at the very last moment, the heartache. I prey for tomorrow where I vow I will finish what I had started, I would be the champion for that five minutes whilst we were setting up the next game. Who would be in net? Not me because I am the greatest player ever (for that five minutes on that small field). If I wasn't in the park I would spend hours on the front garden trying to learn a trick I had seen my hero do on TV, or I would simply run up and down with a ball over a distance of ten yards and keep shooting at the bushes whilst imagining an entirely fictitious league going in my head. I always won in case you were wondering.
The world cups would come by, the nation would hype England's chances, surely this year is our year, we have the best squad we have ever had, if god could choose a squad himself, it would surely be this one. Yet every time England would fall just short of expectation, the nation would grind to a halt for several hours, and then start up again. As a youngster watching though I would see a great save by David Seaman and for the next year whilst playing Wembley singles when I was unfortunate enough to be in the goal, in my head I would be him so it didn't matter that I hated it because I was the invincible David Seaman, I even drew my own tash (no I didn't, that would be too strange).
I have hopefully got you thinking back to your days in the park, counting 200 kick ups and the excitement the first time you managed 201 and with the overwhelming exhilaration you messed the 202nd one up so you'd start again, 1,2,3,4... The point so far is that since the invention of the game this childhood has been the same, albeit with slight variation, for millions of children the world over, no matter of wealth, education, colour of skin, religion, parents political views or other life circumstances. Football unites us as people.
Everything that I have wrote above is the very core of the game, it is the getting up on a cold Sunday morning, running around an icy field, going home to a hot bath, lying on the sofa on a Sunday night telling your family about how great the goal you scored was, whilst at the same time fighting with all your might against cramp in your calf. Till this day, this is a common part of my week, although I'm sorry too say the talk of goals have dried up and the talk of cramp has become more serious talk of not being able to move. I find myself wondering at this stage however, will my children or my grandchildren have the same feelings about football when they think back to their childhood. I am upset to say that I imagine they probably will not.
One silver lining to the current global financial climate I guess is that the fields that would surely be swallowed up by property developers have been given an extra few years. Once these go there will be nowhere to actually enjoy the bag of air we like to kick around, and the joy that has been known by millions the world over, will never be known to the generation living in a century's time. I walk past parks now though and it seems they are always empty, village greens are full of green grass where once a bold patch would feature where the goals would normally be placed, evidence that no joy has been had there for at least a summer gone by. Where is everyone? Maybe the government is right, maybe video games, computers, magazines, TV is creating a lazy nation. I for one refuse to believe this as for at least the past 25 years there have been other things we could be doing, but still we chose football.
At every level of football, in every game there lies one vital member of the game, perhaps more important than any individual player, a job that surely only the noblest, strongest of mind could do; this job is of course the referee. With the recent RESPECT campaign, the terrible treatment of these noblemen is under intense inspection and no player can now get away with saying anything other than words of agreement to them, for fear of reprisal from the powers that be. Although I somewhat agree with this campaign, no man should have to deal with the amount of abuse these men do. But I also believe this should work both ways, the referee can sometimes be wrong and as a player this can be the most frustrating thing in the world, so obviously tempers are going to rise. This is truer at grass routes football where some referees that turn up might as well be refereeing a golf game for the amount of football knowledge they have. These are the true heroes though, as these get the most amount of stick with the least amount of protection even at under-8 games where the can face horrible vicious insults from the children playing as well as the parents. Its no wonder that grass roots teams are folding left right and centre when they cant get referees, the parents cant coach for fear of being accused of something or without being police checked. So maybe the reason for the demise of football will be societal reasons, maybe the human race simply cant handle something so powerful. The old, 'its my ball so if I cant play I'm taking it in' scenario.
I see more and more every year that the foundations and morals of the game are being overstretched and torn, with money and not fun being the name of the game. We have foreign investors pumping money into the game with very little return, how long before these get bored and pull out to leave the once powerful football club in the middle of the investment to fall and collapse without so much as a glance back . Players that lived the childhood described above and have the same core memories of football that we do, are demanding 10's of thousands of pounds extra to extend a contract that still has 4 years to run, but who can blame them right? They are only doing the same as every other player in the game, the career is really short I and they can be put out of work with one bad challenge, but surely no man can justify even £10,000 a week no matter how short the career or risk of it ending short is. But then, if the money didn't go to the players it would go to the fat cats above, the ones that wear the suits and set the prices. That might be true but when ticket and merchandise prices are skyrocketing and pricing the normal working man whom the game actually belongs to out, it doesn't matter what is true, all that matters is that WE WANT OUR GAME BACK.
Well, here we go again and what an exciting season this promises to be. Yes, I know they say that every year but with Manchester City's money and Spurs ready to go from the off, the perfunctory top four is under pressure more than ever. It was the first time in thirty years that there were no drawn games on the opening weekend, a pointer to that exciting season.
Arsenals stunning opening day 6-1 victory at Everton and Villa's poor home defeat looked to have decided the top four already, if it was a normal season. But it's not and it will be intriguing, Mark Hughes critical opening day win already decisive for his and their confidence.
Its not cut and dried either at the top, United without Ronaldo and Tevez and Liverpool without Alonso and not so permanently fit Steven Gerard sure to tighten the top three up. The fact Shevchenko is still on Chelsea's books suggests they are not exactly investing either into winning the title.
= = = = = = My predictions = = = = = =
Only 8 points down last year and with just two defeats all season they can do it, if they can replace Alonso and if Gerard and Torres stay fit. They really only need find half those 8 points as a weakened Chelsea and United could come back to them. They were the closest they have been since Owen and Fowlers day and it would be great for the game if they did win. They still need that huge signing before the deadline though. Carragher is getting old and slow and Babel needs to be unleashed on the wing.
2nd Man United
Towards the end of last season it was give the ball to Ronaldo football that resulted in the poser taking lots of pot shots and United losing the Champions League final. This year without Tevez and Ronaldo they will be weakened, make no mistake, but their new 4-4-2 formation looked solid in the Charity Shield final. But everything depends on Rooney and if he gets injured or sent off it will be up to Owen and Berbatov, the latter in the Veron lazy master class and Owen injury proned and a somewhat strange Fergie signing. Where are the goals going to come from now two of the big four have gone?
The other significant in coming is the excellent Valencia from Wigan, via Ecuador. United are always slow starters and so won't be running away with anything.
Abromovich halved his fortune in the 'credit crunch' and hasn't bought significantly since. Drogba stays and his brace on opening day in the win over Hull means he means business under new manger Ancelotti. But they look predictable and stale and so expect those little troughs of bad form that the brilliant Morinhio seemed to avoid. Defensively they are strong over the season and now that Terry has announced he's staying I expect them to lead at Christmas.
I'm baffled why the media pick on Wenger for finishing fourth and only making the semi-finals of the Champions League. His football is amazing to watch and for his ability to bring through young players to save the club millions so to pay for the stadium quicker he should be lorded. When the Premiership finally imploded Arsenal will be the most secure and still standing.
The loss of Adebeyor, a seriously over-rated player, is no great thing and I'm sure Wenger has a new version harvested from West Africa in the academy or on the radar somewhere. Arsharvin looks amazing and any player who can score four goals at Anfield will do serious damage in the premiership. When Arsenal plays football no one can touch them, the fabulous Fabregas at the heart. But they don't like it up them, always Arsenals weakness when teams have the cheek to stop them playing.
= = = = = = = Champions League = = = = = = =
5th Man city
They won't win it first season, £100 million or not, but they will score tons of goals. What I don't get is why the Sheiks who bought one third of Barclay's shares at 83p and sold them for £2.20 would want to buy Manchester City? Buying five strikers and just one full back would suggest lop-sided nefarious reasons. The treatment room will be very busy with pretend injuries and broken egos that's for sure when those guys are dropped.
The opening day win over Blackburn, the last team to buy the championship, was already the biggest of the season for Mark Hughes, the scapegoat waiting to have his throat cut for the Halal feast if it goes pear-shaped early on. How he keeps those strikers happy is what management is all about.
Harry has a full season from the off and with a new familiar front line and his neat style of football deployed it should be fun at the Lane this season. The question now is will the owners settle for the Europa Cup or will they push on for the top four? Getting Crouch in would suggest not. Defensively Spurs have always been woeful in their haste to attack and so Harry must fix that quick, although it's great to see Gomez ending up a class act in goal.
The opening day freak crushing by Arsenal at Goodison was just that, the stupid decision to play Lescott who wants the Man City pay packet causing carnage in the defence. Once that's resolved they will settle down in the Europa cup places, their excellent midfield the best in the division for me. David Moyes has peaked with this club though and needs to move on to the bigger job he so deserves. But is he waiting for United?
8th Aston Villa
I think O'Neil blew it last season by not trying to win the UEFA Cup. He had his players too focused on a Champions League place they are not ready for and once they took a dive in the UEFA Cup they had to get that place, resulting in a dire collapse, which has continued preseason and in their opener in the Premiership.
The seem to be selling players too and not replacing Laursen and Gareth Barry with big money signings yet sends a message that their billionaire owner is not matching the other billionaire owners with a big spend. I'm sure O'Neil is trying to do a Brian Clough by turning around his style of players to do well but the likes of Heskey and Harewood won't win you anything.
Anyone who knows football knows Roy Hodgeson was manger of the season last year, Fulham just 12 minutes from relegation in 2008 and now in the Europa Cup finishing seventh last season. Their success was built on a consistent and rock solid back four last year and that's still in place, Schwarzer outstanding between the posts. With an industrious midfield they can control games and if they can find a star striker to partner Johnson then why not repeat their success. The huge problem is just this: what is the point of their success if they can never push for the champion's league, the paradox being success in the Europa Cup means the distraction of the said Europa cup to maintain their league place to get in the Europa Cup again!
10th Wigan Athletic
Steve Bruce has gone, taking with him his defensive style of play, his replacement in Martinez from Swansea City bringing in his beautiful fabled attacking football, resulting in an excellent first day win. But good players have left, Valencia to Man U, Palicios to Spurs, and their owner having to find hard cash to keep his JJB Sports Empire afloat in tough times. But it will be great footy to watch and with their opening win I expect them to be safe by March/April.
11th West Ham United
Half of the England team that played Holland last week were Hammers apprentices, this the Academy of Football, why they will do ok again this season. Nothings changed for West Ham ay ear later, Ashton injured and they still pass visiting teams into the ground at Upton Park, be it with average players. But what they do is play the game right and bring English players through and you can't say fairer than that and so deserve to be given a life's membership to the top league. Upson still wants the big money move but his replacement is knocking it around on Hackney Marshes right now. Their only issue is ownership, now run by the Icelandic government?
Bruce has made the move further up north and just one away from Newcastle United. I reckon Sunderland could be the surprise package this year and with Bents goals up front and Malbranque pulling the strings in the middle and Bruce sorting the back four they could get ten points more and even nudge fifty points.
13th Blackburn Rovers
Big Sam will keep them up but have to keep selling his most valuable players to keep the chairman happy. They have the smallest catchment area in the Premiership and so need to buy wisely. I do like their back four and they score from set pieces so that should be their best weapon. McCarthy and Roberts need help up front though. Start signing Sam!
14th Bolton Wanderers
Megson kept them up twice in a row and still the fans aren't happy. They have decent hard working players and Mark Davies looks a real find. The other Davies, Kevin, up front has goals in him but will need help from Diof. It could well be stopper supreme Jaskalinen who could keep them up.
15th Stoke City
Their method works and they will stay up comfortably again, hard work and the long ball to a very tall and muscular team settling them mid table. Their home team form is what they are all about and with Shawcross and Ade Faye at the back and their set piece delivery it should be fine. They may have to sell some of that defence but you feel there are cheaper guys out there that will fit into that model.
16th Birmingham City
Of the teams to come up of late Brum have bought well. Benitez looks good and the likes of the injured Espinoza will impress. They have not stuck with their core championship players like Burnley and Wolves have. Their only worry is the taxmen, their sexy chief exec Karen Brady arrested last year and still on bail.
17th Hull City
The ridiculous poser that is manager Phil Brown cocked up last season with his ludicrous on pitch bollocking and he knows that, not likely to repeat it. Giovanni will excel when the suns out and with players like Dawson and Turner fit at the back they have a chance. But they will have to do better than only 8 points in the last 45 to survive. Bullard and new signing Hunt being fit will be huge for them.
= = = = = = = = = = DOWN = = = = = = = = = =
18th Wolverhampton Wanderers
Its traditional for me to put two of the three to come up in the bottom three even though only one goes down every year but I think Hunt and Bullard will just squeeze two out. Eubanks-Blake has scored goals all the way up the pyramid but this is a new ball game and he looks another shoot on site (and over the bar) Heskey rather than Carlton Cole to me.
A dodgy owner has come in and the best players have been sold for nearly 50 million soon after, that still not enough to pay off the bad debts. What talent they have left will surely be shipped out soon and only the aging Krankjar and Distin are the quality. With Nugent up front your f***ed!
Hull City just stayed up after winning the play-offs but the Burnley model is not to so progressive. Celebrity fan Alistair Campbell could work his evil powers in the media to earn a point or two but I just can't see them breaking 25 points. Their win over Man United was already the highlight of the season, 36 cup ties to go. To put it into perspective the population of Burnley can fit into Old Trafford. When you have Ade Akinbiyi in your squad you are in serious trouble.
My bets are Sunderland at + 37 on the handicap betting, Liverpool for the title at 3-1 and Drogba top prem scorer at 8-1.
Where should I begin with Football. I am a huge fan of the game but also a person thats quite angry with it to. I support Manchester United and as a Manchester United fan I love the atmosphere youget from watching your team play. You don't get the same thrill fromany other sport. Thats what makes football so unique. It brings all different people together from different backgrounds and race and gets them supporting one thing and one thing only, your team.
Football is a great sport to play, watch and learn. The rules in themselves are easy and don't take to long to master. Unless your a women and your trying to tell her the offside rule then maybe it is difficult. Football was a essential part of my growing up. I remember playing for my local sunday team at a young age. It gave me a great sense of team spirit doing so and you really have a sense of team spirit whether you win or lose.
Football is a fun game but also a relatively cheap game to start playing all you need is a ball then you and yourmates can go over the park and have a kick about. I remeber doing this at the park and also at school lunchtimes. We use to use our bags and jumpers as goal posts and have agood kickabout.
Football is also great excerise, it works the leg muscles and its especially good on the heart.
My only problem with football is the amount professionals are paid to play. We are talking about mega money. No over sport pays as much as a footballer. Its not essentially the players wages I'm worried about but the fact that young kids who start playing football aren't thinking about the game but the money. Football is a sport and the sport should be appreciated and loved.
Football to me is the beautiful game that unites not only fans but also nations. the pure joy i get from watching any gifted player do his stuff is almost as good as sex. Even today with the multi- million pound wages being earned by certain players there are players that you can tell that the money is second and the football comes first. For instance David Beckam subsidised his own wages just so he could play in Europe. Who in the real world would pay an employer to employ them ?
I know we all complain about the huge wages they earn, but to be honest most of them would have still entered the game even if they had to find their own sponsors, or even if there was no professional league. This is proved by the number of Sunday league and pub sides in the UK.
Would you or I ever refuse to be paid thousands of pounds per week to do our job ? No i don't think so, so why blame the players all they are doing is taking the money that's being offered. The only way round this is for FIFA to enforce wage capping for all clubs, but they need to make sure that European and English clubs are all capping at the same rate.
Football has always excited me, made me happy and at times nearly reduced me to tears. I have to admit though that watching my own team, Chelsea, sometimes mean i do not enjoy the game as much as i should. The shear nervous state i get into if they are fighting for the equalizer or the winning goal in the last few minutes has me almost reaching for the Prozac.
I have first hand experience of the game uniting people of all races and nations. I used to work for an organisation that aided refugees and asylum seekers. I remember one evening when i was on duty we had a waiting room full with, Iraqis, Afghans, Africans and other nationalities. The BBC were showing a live England game and as soon as it started most of the males in the room pulled up their chairs closer to the TV. What sticks in my mind is that every time there was a free kick, or a goal scored they would look at each other and raise their arms in disbelief or jump up and shout when a goal was scored. They would then look at each other shrug and smile or just look to say what a great goal. They neither spoke or understood each others language, but they spoke the universal language of football.
Without football I don't know what I would do. I would find it difficult to hold meaningful conversation, I would feel lost and would have plenty of boring saturday afternoons.
I first became interested in football when I was a little lad and my Dad, being a geordie, dropped the hints that made me support Newcastle United. Since then I have took being a fan and turned it into an obsession. I find myself checking the internet for news whenever I can, talking about it consistently and wearing the shirt because I feel like it. And why? For the great moments that you share as a football fan.
We all know that in modern day football there is too much money in the game, players try to con the referee and the fans and there is less passion on the pitch. As a Newcastle fan I know all about players not caring and picking up big pay cheques whilst performing awful. Yet we still back them; foolish some would say. But I don't want to talk about the negatives of football.
This is why I love football.
The first Newcastle game that I can remember I went to was away to Fulham. We were 2-0 down after ten minutes and ended up winning 3-2 on a magical tuesday night with a Shearer brace. I remember the passion of the fans who took days off work and travelled a 600 mile round trip to watch their team play on a freezing November night. That is dedication and I loved it. Since that day I have travelled with the toon army and have lived through some painful moments. Losses at places like Charlton, Blackburn and Fulham have been made worthwhile by the few but brilliant highs. I can not describe the sheer ecstacy when a goal is scored and you find yourself going mental and hugging random strangers. I've been there for a 4-1 win at Spurs, 3-0 at Portsmouth, a draw at Stamford Bridge and Andy Carroll getting the first goal of the Shearer era and they are truly magical moments that makes the dedication worthwhile.
It's not just being a fan though. I love sticking the toon top on and going down the park, or to the local football centre for a nice competitive game with friends. I like to think of myself as a pacey hard man with a blistering shot and I seem to have slipped through the scouting net. The elation of a slide tackle, a bullet header, a chip over the keeper, a clearance off the line in the heat of battle is difficult to match.
I know football has it's problem and some people frown on football fans. But I love football and I love Newcastle United and wouldn't have it any other way.