Category: Sport

Quote of the Day: On how to be a football fan, Victorian style

I don’t often write about sport, but I couldn’t let this one pass me by. I was rummaging in amongst my small library of football books today, searching for a particular quote (which is actually a whole other blog post in itself. Probably), when I found this little gem.* Apparently taken from the 1897 edition of the club handbook, here’s some useful – if perhaps slightly patronising – advice on how to be a proper 19th century Spurs fan:

Hints to Spectators

Learn the rules well before criticising.

Respect the rulings of the referee and refrain from unseemly demonstrations so common on many football fields when decisions are unpalatable – the best of referees make mistakes.

Applaud good football impartially.

Don’t let a defeat discourage you. It is at this time that encouragement is most wanted by players.

Don’t express your disapproval of a player so that everyone can hear, it only upsets him and he loses confidence.

This season’s team will doubtless accomplish some fine performances. Don’t, in your enthusiasm, forget that there is such a thing as mistaken kindness where athletes in training are concerned.

Don’t stop at home when the team goes away; they want your support more than ever when on opponents’ grounds.

Let visitors go away with the impression that the Tottenham crowd are good sportsmen.

Whether at home or away don’t forget the ‘Tottenham whisper’.

It’s amazing how little some things change over the course of a century – quite a few of these ‘hints’ are still clearly recognisable as issues within the game as a whole, and rightly so in some cases! However, despite being a life-long Spurs fan, I have absolutely no idea what the ‘Tottenham whisper’ is. Can anyone enlighten me?

* Powley, Adam and Cloake, Martin – ‘The Spurs Miscellany’ (Vision Sports Publishing, London; 2007), p.116

The Most Ridiculous Names in Sport: Part One

More than ten years ago I began compiling a list of what can only be described as sportspeople with ridiculous names, after I discovered the existence of the gloriously-monikered footballer Jermaine McSporran (strangely enough, he’s not Scottish…). The list lay dormant for quite some time until my recent discovery of another footballer with a quite astonishingly ridiculous name – the Brazilian lower-league striker Creedence Clearwater Couto (see below for more on this chap).

Posting this discovery on Twitter led to a flood of quite brilliantly silly new names (and a few old favourites) from many of my followers – leaving me clinging to my desk, breathless with laughter, for the whole of one evening last month. God knows what the neighbours must have thought! As a result of all this social media fun and games, a number of people asked me to put together a complete list in one place (it ended up being two places: Part Two to follow!) – so here it is…

Goodies and baddies:

Eden Hazard is a cracking name,” correctly observes a Twitter correspondent, “Would make an excellent high-school superhero”. I concur (despite Hazard’s recent run-in with a ballboy), and would also suggest that the Chelsea and Belgium winger teams up in a superhero partnership with the ex-Swindon Town, Kilmarnock and St Johnstone player Danny Invincibile.

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‘Beastly fury and extreme violence’: Medieval Football (much like today, then)

An illustration of so-called "mob footbal...

An illustration of so-called "mob football", a variety of medieval football. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Much as I love the Beautiful Game, I’d be the first to admit that football has been driving me to furious distraction recently – and that’s nothing to do with events on the pitch. The English game has shown its nastiest, most venal and bigoted side in recent seasons; with racism, sexual violence and abject greed rearing their ugly heads in a sport that really should, you would think, know so much better than all that.

However, it is true to say that, in many ways, the avarice, violence and high profile scandals of the modern game that most fans find so infuriating (to put it mildly) are nothing new. Football has long been a controversial sport, as the 16th century diplomat and scholar Sir Thomas Elyot rather sniffily observed in his 1531 educational treatise, The Boke Named The Governour:

Football, wherein is nothing but beastly fury and extreme violence, whereof proceedeth hurt, and consequently rancour and malice do remain with them that be wounded.

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Guest Post: So Long, Samba Soccer?

As today is World Cup Final day, I thought it was about time for something football-related on Another Kind Of Mind. I’ve also been wanting to put up some guest posts from bloggers I like and admire – so why not combine the two? This fascinating post on the history of the Brazilian national side in the World Cup and the decline of their style of ‘samba soccer’ is the first of these guest posts, and has been written exclusively for me by my old friend and fellow blogger Martin Marshall. So, thanks to Martin for this intriguing post and I hope you all enjoy reading!

So, the 2010 World Cup is almost over and we are guaranteed new winners. Very soon now either The Netherlands will no longer be the best team never to win the World Cup or Spain will complete the job they began two years ago in proving that they are no longer football’s great underachievers.

Football changes, it’s an evolving sport, affected by innovations in tactics, training, sports science and nutrition, not to mention the socio-economic factors of rising player wages and changing participation models. Yet our attitudes to football often struggle to keep up with the pace of change. Rooted in clichés and stereotypes, we continue to hold certain expectations long after it should have been obvious that they are unrealistic and when, inevitably, they go unfulfilled we remain perpetually surprised.

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The Never-Ending Tennis Match

Now, I’m old enough to remember tennis before the Williams sisters began to dominate the women’s game. I’m old enough to remember Andre Agassi’s shockingly long hair and cycle shorts (shocking for tennis anyway). Hell, I’m even old enough to remember John McEnroe’s on-court tantrums.

But, in all my years of watching Wimbledon, I can’t remember anything like the epic first round match between America’s John Isner and the Frenchman Nicolas Mahut, which goes into its third day this afternoon. This seemingly never-ending match has been absolutely compelling viewing, and is breaking tennis records left, right and centre.

As of close of play last night, these were the record stats:

- Longest match in tennis history at 10 hours (the previous longest was 6 hours 33 minutes in the 2004 French Open)

- Most games at 163 (beating the record of 112 that has stood since Wimbledon 1969), with 118 of those in the fifth set so far.

- Longest final set at 7 hours 6 minutes, as of last night (this is already longer than the previous longest MATCH in its entirety!)

- Most aces served in one match and most aces served by one player (98 by Isner, closely followed by Mahut on 94).

- Both players have won only a single break point each, out of 877 total points played so far.

- Each player has burned approximately 6,900 calories so far (over three times the recommended calorie intake per day)

- Isner and Mahut even managed to break the scoreboard on court 18 and the Wimbledon website – the score was 59-59 and the board couldn’t cope with such unheard-of numbers (incidentally, I rather liked Charlie Brooker’s suggestion on Twitter that if they hit 60-all they should each take a shot of tequila before each serve!).

- The players must be exhausted, but it’s the BBC commentator Ronald McIntosh I really feel for. This epic match on court 18 was supposed to be a nice gentle one to ease McIntosh into his first ever TV commentary… but nobody could have predicted these events! Talk about a baptism of fire…

There are bound to be more unbelievable stats before the match finally ends – stay tuned for more slightly gobsmacking updates!

UPDATE: 16.51 - The match has finally ended! The eventual winner was John Isner, who won the final set 70-68 after a match that lasted eleven hours and five minutes and involved each player serving more than 100 aces. The All-England Club have given a special award to both players and to the umpire Mohamed Lahyani, in recognition of this remarkable match – and quite right too…

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Note to Thierry Henry: it’s football, not handball

Oh Thierry Henry, what did you have to go and do that for? You, of all people. Despite being a life-long Spurs supporter, I have always been a great fan of yours; you were one of those rare and special footballers it was always such a pleasure to watch, no matter which team you played for. One of those players who, despite all the greed and arrogance in modern football, made me remember why I fell in love with the Beautiful Game in the first place.

But then, in a crucial World Cup qualifier against the Republic of Ireland last week, you did a Maradona, and the poor old Republic unfairly went crashing out after neither referee nor linesmen spotted your blatant handball. And blatant it was too. Quite ridiculously so. You even compounded the offence with your comments after the game: “It was necessary to exploit what was exploitable”, you said, as if that somehow justified what was, without question, cheating. How could you?

However, Henry’s out-of-character double handball is not the first instance of blatant cheating in sport this year. In some cases, this cheating has just been childishly sad, as with the deliberate F1 crashes, while in others it has veered towards out-and-out fraud, as with the outrageous and notorious Harlequins ‘Bloodgate’ incident (and what with Quins being the rugby union side I support, this scandal made me particularly angry), and the recent Champions League match fixing arrests.

It is difficult to know how to remedy such examples of dishonesty, because if sportsmen and women – as with pretty much anyone else in any walk of life, unfortunately – think that there is the slightest possibility they might get away with it, they’ll try to do just that.

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Football Shorts – Part 2: Did Mystic Trickygirl’s predictions come true?

Don’t be daft….

Back in August, when the football season was still fresh and new and full of opportunity for your club (or something), I made a series of predictions about how the season would pan out. Problem is, I’m not the world’s greatest prognosticator, as you are about to see. I’m not Mystic Meg. In fact, I’m so bad at predictions that I’d make a drink-addled, third-rate, end-of-the pier crystal ball reader look as if she genuinely had the kind of second sight that laughs in the face of ‘tall, dark strangers’ and tweaks the noses of ‘mysterious admirers’, all the time while knowing where the bodies are buried. In a footballing sense, of course.

The truth of the matter is that I’m just a grumpy, cynically romantic, ever hopeful football fan – hopeful of one day actually getting it right, that is…

So let’s examine the evidence for my predictive incompetence, shall we?

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Football Shorts – Part 1: International Balls-ups

UPDATE: THERE WILL NOW BE HIGHLIGHTS OF UKRAINE V ENGLAND ON BBC1 TONIGHT (SATURDAY 10TH OCTOBER) – TUNE IN TO MATCH OF THE DAY AT 10.15PM.

An Occasional Series of Short(ish) Rants and Ramblings about the Beautiful Game

Part One:

Honestly. Who’d be an England fan? I ask (yet again) in all seriousness, as the latest installment in the long-running soap opera of supporting the national team rolls into town again late tomorrow afternoon. Or rather it doesn’t. Because, unless you are one of the (approximately) one million England fans who a) is prepared to actually fork out up to fifteen quid to watch the game on a tiny monitor, and b) has a fast enough internet connection, or c) is mad enough to pay the ticket prices demanded by the ‘selected’ Odeon cinemas who are showing the game, you won’t be watching the Ukraine v England World Cup qualifying match tomorrow; not even in the pub, which fact alone is enough to make me weep into my pint – if I wasn’t actually drinking a cup of tea instead.

For a change, this isn’t Sky depriving your average England fan of her fix of qualifying matches and friendlies, despite the oft-bemoaned fact that their sports packages (plus the equipment, plus installation…) are financially out reach for many. Tempting as it may be (and tempting as it always is), this is not an anti-Murdoch rant – for a change, ol’Rupey-baby isn’t responsible for this particular balls-up.

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