Thursday, 31 March 2011

The legacy, the myths & the future of the New York Cosmos.

The late 60's early 70's! What a fantastic generation for football fans all over the world, football was becoming a big business, T.V's became more affordable and television stations started to broadcast more & more games! The future was calling. During the 70's Britain's own cult footballing T.V program Match of the Day became the BBC's most watched program, with an average of 12 million people tuning in each week.... 

Pie & Mash with a cheeky cup of tea, with match of the day on the box it must of been heaven! 

We had some fantastic players playing their trade in England, The likes of Keegan, Best, Moore & of course Pat Jennings! Across the pond......The Americans for some unknown reason hadn't really taken that much interest in the world's most popular sport, they had been blinded by their own brand of 'football'. This was until the NASL had formed. 

In 1968 the two 'soccer' leagues in the States formed to create one ultimate league The NASL. The first winners of the league were Atlanta Chiefs. The NASL run from the 1968 season up until the 1984 seasonThe last winners of the title were Chicago Sting. The first few seasons of the NASL became a bit of a learning curve. 

After a few seasons, interest grew within the States & it was in the early 70's that a new iconic team was born.

The first signing The Cosmos made was in the shape of an Englishman named Gordon Bradley. Bradley moved to the States in 63 and was playing professionally for another New york team; New York Generals. Bradley was made player-coach on his arrival and worked miracles with the group of players he had @ his disposal. In only their second season in the NASL The Cosmos became Champions. Playing attractive football.
A chap who went by the name of Randy Horton was grabbing the headlines scoring for fun. The man from Bermuda was voted the leagues Most Valuable player during the 72 season. 

In 1975 New York Cosmos signed 'The Greatest Player' on the planet : Pele.
Pele was coming towards the end of his career, but this didn't stop the powers that run The Cosmos from offering the Brazilian a massive $1.4 million per year. *Thats a lot of Coffee! 

The Pelé deal was later described by Gavin Newsham, an English writer, as "the transfer coup of the century". His arrival turned the Cosmos from a "ragbag assembly of students, foreigners and part-timers" to a huge commercial presence. After hearing that the Brazilian's debut for New York was to be broadcast live on CBS,the club's groundsman decided to spray-paint the pitch green to disguise how little grass was on it. The match, against the Dallas Tornado, was broadcast to 22 countries and covered by more than 300 journalists from all over the world rumor has it that that NASA beamed the live event in to space just incase martians wanted to watch it.

@ the end of Pele's first season The Cosmos finished third. This was frowned upon by the owners, after all they had just gone out and brought "The Greatest Player in The World". After a cup of coffee and a few cookies Manager Bradley was given a pat on the back and sent on his way. The Cosmos turned to another English coach called Ken Furphy, in hope of silverware. 

For the start of 76 season Pelé had a new strike partner, Italian international Giorgio Chinaglia. In contrast to Pele & most of the overseas stars bought by NASL teams, Chinaglia was signed in his prime. 

Chinaglia went on to play for the Cosmos for the rest of his career, scoring a record number of goals and points not only for the Cosmos, but for the entire league. Scoring 242 goals in 254 games (including regular season and playoff competition.) 

After a bit of banter Bradley returned as coach for the 77 season in place of the dismissed Furphy, but was removed after half of the season to become the club's vice-president of player personnel. Former Italian international Eddie Firmani took over the hot seat. Pelé played his last professional match on 1 October 1977, in front of a capacity crowd @ Giants Stadium, In an exhibition match between New York and his former club Santos, Pelé appeared for both sides, playing one half for each. The Cosmos won the game 2–1.

The Cosmos decided to splash the cash again. Former Brazil captain Carlos Alberto was signed in 77 @ the same time as German legend Franz Beckenbauer. New York went on to win three out of the next four championships, in 77, 78 and 80, playing an attacking brand of football 'soccer' that was pleasing to the eye. 

The Decline of  the NASL

After the retirement of Pelé in 1977, much of the progress that American soccer had made during his stay was lost. The Americans felt that there was no star at the same level to replace him as the NASL's headline act. (How naive they were!) The attendances dropped during the 1980's. The sport's popularity fell and the media lost interest 'soccer' had once again been kicked to the curb. The deal with T.V broadcaster ABC to broadcast NASL matches was also lost in 1980, and the 1981 Soccer Bowl was only shown on 'tape' delay. All of the franchises quickly became unprofitable, and a salary cap enforced before the 1984 season only delayed the inevitable. The league folded at the end of 1984, following the loss of most of its franchises. Shocking really! 

The Cosmos had financial problems of their own, on top of those affecting the league in general. Much of the Cosmos' ability to attract the well-known overseas players it had acquired was due to the financial resources of parent company Warner Communications. In the early 1980s, Warner was the target of a hostile takeover bid by Australian media magnate Rupert Murdoch....... although this attempt did not succeed, Warner sold off several of its assets, among them Atari and Global Soccer, the subsidiary that operated the Cosmos. 

Chinaglia bought Global Soccer, and thus controlled the team. His group did not have the capital necessary to keep all of the players signed on expensive contracts by Warner, which resulted in many of the stars being sold. The club won its last title in 1982

The Second coming 

Since the original New York Cosmos club stopped competing in 1985, there have been frequent attempts to revive it! many of these attempts have failed to even make it past the drawing board, with American businessmen ending up in a starbucks located in downtown Manhattan trying to understand what the offside rule is...... 

Then In 2009 The Cosmos name and brand was sold to an English businessman and Spurs fan who goes by the name of Paul Kemsley. Whose group, fronted by Pelé and including many well-known soccer figures, announced a new team with the Cosmos' name in August 2010. 

As of January 2011, The Cosmos are attempting to re-write history. With Eric Cantona and Umbro onboard, could we see the likes of Beckham, Giggs & Owen wearing the famous Cosmos jersey? After all this is the second coming of a Footballing giant! 

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Lazy Sunday Afternoon......

 After finishing off another weekend of football by watching Brazil - who appeared to have a 12 year old boy playing & scoring for them beat Scotland, it's time to look back at a week that ended successfully for Fabio Capello after he adopted an unheard of formation by us here at 4-4-2 and comfortably beat the Welsh, its a results business after all and his handling of the captaincy is now all but forgotten.
The irony now of course is that after letting six players - amongst them Terry - go back to their clubs and not play on Tuesday against Ghana he now has to pick another captain for that game!

The topic of a Great Britain Football team at the London Olympics came up again with still a bit of confusion as to who will actually turn up and play! The Scottish & Irish FA are worried that by joining up with the rest of Great Britain it will put ideas into Sepp Blatter's head and will see the end of their national identity football wise. It had been decided that the English FA would take over running the team and basically put out an all English team, but individually if a player from any of the Home Nations were to be selected they could still decide to play off their own backs. All very confusing, it's bound to have a few more twists and turns before the big kick off, but let's hope they get it sorted, would be good to see a proper "Team GB" and players such as Gareth Bale is apparently keen to play.
Whatever happens though I feel a petition coming on, let's get the team playing in replica "Escape to Victory" kits!

Modern Football is Rubbish - Some Evidence.
Watched a documentary the other day about Bert Trautmann, he was born in Germany in 1923. As a kid he joined the Hitler Youth as many others did, then onto to the army fighting in World War II, was captured by the English, made a POW and brought to this country. After the war he decided to stay here, he went on of course to play in goal for Manchester City. Accepted there eventully but having to face abuse from fans at away grounds he turned people around with many fine performances. None more so than in the FA Cup Final of 1956, when having gone down at the feet of an advancing forward he suffered an injury, but suffering with what he thought was just a stiff neck carried on though in pain for the rest of the match, making more brave saves before the final whistle. It was only two days after, with a visit to the doctor's that Bert found out that he had in fact broken his neck.! He is the only footballer to be awarded Player of the Season, the OBE and the Iron Cross.
Fast foward to 2011, Mario Batolli is allergic to grass, can't put a bib on without help, wears a thing round his neck that makes you think it's broke......and today it was reported that he threw darts from a first floor window at a Manchester City trainee.........because he was bored! :(

Finally over at Qatar the latest bit of nonsense - apart from the fact that they got the World Cup gig in the first place - is 'Articficial Clouds'.
The good thing I guess about choosing such a rich country to host the world's biggest football competition is that they have the money to create these things....
Filled with helium and powered by the sun (probably wouldn't work in an English Summer then) they'll hover above the stadium filtering out harmful UV rays and cooling the temperatures "inside" on the pitch.....somehow?!
Only $500,000 each and could be interesting if the sun goes behind a real cloud during a match and the thing comes crashing out of the sky and lands on Adrian Chiles during some side of the pitch chit chat..........we live in hope!

Don't forget to keep checking back here for more news and views next week!

Thursday, 24 March 2011

The greatest free kick @ Wembley

During a cheeky tea break earlier today.... The Midweeker went in for a sliding tackle on the tea boy (Edison) and ended up covering the little lad all in hot tea! He then decided to bring up the subject of free kicks (as you do!) and so the question was asked "What's the greatest free kick ever to be scored @ Wembley?" 

So as Edison picked himself up of the floor..... The Midweeker started to flick through the archives. A short while later we all gathered around the 'it's a football thing table' & this is what we decided! 

The stand out free kick for us, well there was only ever gonna be one winner!

Gazza 1991 F.A Cup semi final Spurs v Arsenal 


Wednesday, 23 March 2011

International rescue

“We got a bit of a telling off at halftime. We came out and we were much, much better in the second half.”

What a difference a year makes! If we hit the rewind button to around a year ago, when things started to go a bit pete tong for J.T. His off the field antics cost him the captains armband for the country he had hoped to lead to world cup glory in South Africa. The media & reporters alike couldn't wait to lay in to J.T. Headlines that cut straight to the bone. J.T & England's form took a massive dive, a shocking world cup & uncharacteristic mistakes led to England and John Terry's early exit from the tournament. 

It was all FAB's fault screamed the media! Maybe they should of thought twice about laying into our captain leading up to a big tournament??

If we fast forward to the present day, passing as we go some shocking display's from our international team is it really a surprise to see John Terry back as England captain?

"I had the worst night's sleep ever," revealed a sheepish Terry
"I was pretty nervous, to be honest. Coming out today and having to deal with the questions and stuff like that was like the first day back at school.
"It is an intimidating thing, even though I have been in this position many times before."

Since Terry lost the armband England's performances have been questionable to say the least.  

The stats don't lie! Under J.T as captain England had played 28 games, they won 24 of them giving a win percentage of 85% 

During the last international the armband got passed about from player to player to player. It was shocking to see and i'm sure past greats such as Bobby Moore looked on from above in disgust. 

International rescue was needed and in our countries hour of need the armband has been returned to a player that gives 100% game after game..... Ok he may have a past, but we all make mistakes its called LIFE! 

So lets raise a cup of tea towards Terry & we can all look forward to a great championship in  2012............COME ON ENGLAND! 

Monday, 21 March 2011

You couldn't make it up........

So another week of football is over, but as always it's what happens off the pitch that is always more interesting.

First up at Craven Cottage home of course to Fulham. Now quite a few clubs up and down the country have erected statues to former players or managers who have been instrumental in their success. At Fulham they have honoured Johnny Haynes in this way, so who else would you choose of that same calibre to stand immortalised in all their glory?
Well, Michael Jackson.........obviously! Mohamed Al Fayed - the madder than a sack full of badgers Fulham chairman has decided that he wants to honour his friend by sticking a statue of him up along the banks of the Thames. Not sure if he'll be in full kit and boots and also no news as to whether Bubbles will be part of the in no way odd display!

 We also found out this week that Spurs have signed a new kit deal worth £10 million a season with American Sports Equipment Company Under Armour. What will be different about this kit is that using something called "E39" technology sensors under the shirts will be able to measure heart rate, performance & fitness, this will help the coaching staff during the game to assess the players and is also hoped this information will be used by television companies broadcasting the game.

Presumably there will be a button on Ledley King's shirt so that he can be turned off and then on again to get him going!

The main piece of news this week has been Fabio Capello's decision to give the Captain's armband for the England job back to John Terry. Terry was "sacked" of course because of his alleged off the field bed hopping with a former team mate's ex-girlfriend. Capello has now decided that Terry has served his punishment and with Rio Ferdinand out injured it was time for the Chelsea Captain to once again lead his country. It's not the fact that's he's back that should be the problem and you may not like John Terry the man, but it has been the treatment of Rio Ferdinand in this story, if we're to believe the newspapers then Mr Capello has gone about the whole business the wrong way. Maybe with his England contract running only up until the end of 2012 at the moment there's a feeling of inevitability that the Italian's reign will soon be over.

England XI with previous

David Seaman

Jonathan Woodgate            Tony Adams        Ashley Cole         Rio Ferdinand

                 Steven Gerrard         Kieron Dyer       David Beckham    Paul Merson

Wayne Rooney  Andy Carroll

If we were going to look into the lives of every player ever to pull on a shirt for the Three Lions we would struggle even more than we normally do to pick a starting eleven. The above team of players have all represented their country.

David Seaman - cheated on his first wife with a woman who was to become his second, left the second wife (and kids) with no explanation and shacked up with an ice skater!
Jonathan Woodgate - Convicted of affray and served 100 hours community service (was banned from International selection)
Tony Adams - During his battle with alcoholism was found to be 27 times over the drink drive limit when he crashed his car, was sentenced to four months imprisonment.
Ashley Cole - Numerous stories in newspapers of him cheating on his wife (the idiot!), sending lewd pictures of himself to girls via text, oh and shooting a work experience placement with an air rifle, though he claimed he didn't know that the rifle was loaded.
Rio Ferdinand - One year ban for drink driving. Four bans in total for Speeding. Failed to attend a drugs test and was fined £50,000 and banned from domestic & International football for eight months.
Steven Gerrard - Charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm & affray after a club DJ received a broken tooth & cuts to the forehead. Gerrard was eventually found not guilty.
Kieron Dyer - While on a lads holiday to Aya Napa along fellow young England Internationals who had not made the Euro 2000 squad, he was filmed having sex with a a number of women along with Rio Ferdinand & Frank Lampard.
Paul Merson -  Confessed in 1994 to being an Alcoholic and Cocaine Addict.
David Beckham -  Rumours of affairs with numerous women although married, the most infamous being Rebbecca Loos his one time personal assistant.
Wayne Rooney - Rumours and newspaper articles of Rooney seeing prostitutes have dated back to 2004 and came to a head again in September 2010.
Andy Carroll - Arrested and let off with a caution in 2008, charged with assault after a glass was smashed into a man's face. Allegedly broke former team mate Steven Taylor's jaw in a training ground bust up.

Robin Friday - The Greatest Player You Never Saw

While I was looking into football's "bad boys" I came across the story of Robin Friday, he was the subject of a book titled "The Greatest Player You Never Saw". He played his football for non league Hayes, Reading & Cardiff City. He never played for England and never played in the top flight. He was a highly talented player & goal scorer but he was the ultimate footballing rebel, wouldn't bow down to authority & lived by his own set of rules. When he started out for Hayes, there are stories of him being late for games because he was still in the pub,when he did get round to coming on he staggered around the pitch before scoring the winning goal. His goal for Reading against Tranmere was said to be one of the greatest ever seen. He terrorised guests at the team hotel by running about naked throwing snooker balls and darts around, he also reappeared the next morning still naked with a live swan he'd caught at the hotel's lake! He made a habit of kissing on duty Policemen after scoring and when he moved to Cardiff he was arrested on his first day for ticket evasion on the railway. His last professional game was against Brighton, Mark Lawrenson who would go on to play for Liverpool was marking him that day and Friday was getting more & more wound up by the close attention, he finally snapped and kicked Lawro in the face, upon receiving his inevitable red card he stormed off the pitch, broke into Brighton's dressing room and did a shit in Mark Lawrenson's kit bag. What a way to finish your career!

Bryan Robson - Captain Marvel

We were saddened this week to hear that former England Captain Bryan Robson is battling throat cancer. He undertook an operation to have a tumour removed and the surgeons are confident that the cancer is treatable. Always a fighter on the pitch we're sure that he will beat this too.
Everyone at 442 its a football thing also wish former Stoke City winger Terry Conroy a speedy recovery after undergoing emergency surgery.Conroy played 333 times for Stoke and scored their first goal in the two one League Cup victory over Chelsea in 1972.

They are both in our thoughts.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

The Team That Jack Built......

As today is St.Patricks day, a day when anyone of (or claiming to have) Irish descent necks a "few" pints of the black stuff (or usually today with the aid of some food colouring - green stuff) we thought (like those people you see with the Guinness hats on down the pub) we'd stumble up on to the bandwagon and celebrate but in a footballing way. We're looking back today at that Republic of Ireland team brought together under the leadership of Jack Charlton of  1988 to '94. A team that defied the critics and became every neutral's favourite International team. They upset some people and cause some upsets in their time and we're having a look at some of those players that helped make it possible.

Packie Bonner
That save against Romania
Patrick Joseph Bonner held the record for the most capped Republic of Ireland goalkeeper with 80 appearances up till 2007 and was part of the backbone of the team that saw them qualify for Euro '88, Italia '90,  and USA '94. The Republic of Ireland announced their arrival upon the International stage at Euro '88 where the team upset all the odds in beating England with Bonner on outstanding form keeping the oppositions strikers at bay. Under Jack Charlton the Irish team played to their strengths and when you have a player like Niall Quinn in your side you want someone who can deliver the ball into the opposition's half and cause as much mayhem as possible. Twice during the first round stage of Italia '90 Bonner delivered such a ball that led to firstly Kevin Sheedy's equaliser against England  and Niall Quinn's against the Dutch. He is probably best remembered though for his heroics in the second phase's penalty shoot out against much fancied Romania. Domestically he made all of his senior appearances for one club, Celtic and was the great Jock Stein's last signing for the club.

Paul McGrath
Born in London but given up for adoption shortly after, Paul McGrath spent much of his early life in various orphanages around Dublin. A one time sheet metal worker and security guard he was playing for League of Ireland club St. Patrick's Athletic when spotted by Manchester Utd. He played seven seasons at Old Trafford before a series of bust ups with Alex Ferguson saw him sold to Aston Villa, it was here that he continued to excel on the pitch and was thought by many fans to be the best player to pull on a Villa jersey. Although lacking in pace McGrath would use his strength and reading of the play during a game at the heart of defence. Internationally he was used initially as a defensive midfielder and eventually played 83 games scoring 8 goals, he played for 12 year in total for his country and every game of Italia '90 as well as bravely performing in USA '94 against Italy. Not a bad career for a player, who due to persistent knee injuries was unable to train, he is often regarded as the most influential player under Jack Charlton's era of management.
McGrath's autobiography, Back from the Brink also chronicles his battles with alcoholism and was the most successful Irish Sports book ever.

John Aldridge
The fourth official learnt of few new words of English that day
A highly prolific goal scorer, Aldridge struggled to get of the mark for ROI. Maybe this was down to the teams style of play, but Charlton had no problem with his work rate and performance for the side. It wasn't until his 20th International that he found the net against Tunisia in 1988. When Charlton actively went out and canvassed English clubs for players via the "Granny Rule" Aldridge jumped at the chance and also suggested his team mate at Oxford at the time Ray Houghton. Once Aldridge joined boyhood club Liverpool replacing Italy bound Kop Legend Ian Rush he really hit his stride and even when Rush returned to the side after an unhappy spell at Juventus the scoring still continued, defying the pundits who claimed that the two players couldn't play in the same team and be successful. A team player for the Republic he still went on to score nineteen goals in his sixty nine appearances. He'll be best remembered for a touchline altercation during USA '94, where coming on as a sub in the sweltering heat the fourth official wouldn't allow the striker to enter the field of play for a whole three minutes even though the player Aldridge was replacing was off the pitch and sat in the dugout! Once Aldridge did get on he scored a vital goal that helped his team get through to the second round thanks to goal difference.

Ray Houghton
Scottish born, but available to the Republic through an Irish Father.Houghton was typical of a Jack Charlton era player. When the search was made for any eligible players through birth, parentage or even grand parents, it seemed that anyone who had enjoyed a Guinness in the Temple Bar district of Dublin could play for the country! (*see also Tony Cascarino) But fair play to them, they tracked down some quality players who, obviously thought they stood more chance of International football through an adoptive country than their own, it's actually become the norm these days. Houghton of course deserves his place in Irish folk lore thanks to goals against England in Euro '88 & Italy at USA '94. He was a goal scoring midfielder who would have no doubt represented the country of his birth at some stage, but Scotland's loss was the Republic of Ireland's gain. His first cap for the country also came in Jack Charlton's first game in charge. Domestically he moved on from Oxford UtdHoughton won two League Titles & a couple of FA Cup just for good measure while at Anfield. Before moving to Aston Villa and teaming up with Paul McGrath winning the League Cup in the process. He eventually wound up his career at Stevenage Borough via Crystal Palace & Reading before heading onto TV punditry.

Jack Charlton
Jack Charlton's playing career really shouldn't need summarising but for this blog I will briefly. With younger brother Bobby taken on by Manchester Utd while Big Jack was doing his National Service he came fairly late into the game. After a career as a miner he had the choice of an interview with the Police Force or a trial game with Leeds Utd. Thankfully for Leeds & England Charlton ditched the chance to walk the beat and instead chose to marshall the last line of defence in the footballing world. After impressing in the Leeds side he gained his first England call up at the age of 30 on the brink of the 1966 World Cup. I'm really not going to tell you what happened in that tournament but he did go on to form a formidable defensive unit with England legend Bobby Moore. Domestically the following season he was named Footballer of The Year and won the League Cup with Leeds the year after that, which was swiftly followed by the League Title in 1969. In the FA Cup final the year after when Charlton had uncharacteristicaly given the ball away easily & set up Chelsea's winning goal he refused to collect his runner's up medal. Internationally, following England's exit from the Mexico World Cup of 1970 he & his brother asked not to be considered for the Three Lions ever again.
Once he hung up his boots in 1973 he was offered the Middlesborough job as his first taste of management and he duly got them promoted and was awarded Manager of The Year. After quitting that job he unsuccessfully applied for the England job! But  having failed to be selected he instead moved on to Sheffield Wednesday & the Newcastle before the Republic of Ireland came calling.
He inherited a squad of talented footballers including Liam Brady, Ronnie Whelan & Frank Stapleton but they had never qualified for a major tournament. After actively canvassing English Football clubs for any Irish related players he added to his squad and upset some Irish supporters in the process who thought that the International team should have more representation from the League of Ireland. He was once quoted as saying he was quite happy to pick a team of players from the Irish League as long as the fans were prepared for the team to never be successful.
After qualifying for Italia '90 and again proving to be a thorn in England's side following their win against them in Euro '88, the Irish got through to the quarter finals to be beaten by just one goal against Italy who would eventually finish third. This was after the squad had been granted an audience with the Pope where Jack admitted that he almost feel asleep!
Upon their arrival home in Dublin 500,000 fans lined the streets to greet them.They gained some revenge on Italy after qualifying for USA '94 and beating them in their opening game. It was after this tournament that Jack was awarded the Freedom of Dublin.
But after a stuttering qualifying run and a play off defeat to Holland ahead of Euro '96 Charlton resigned. They struggled management wise to replace him, before settling on ironically an Italian, Giovanni Trapattoni who now faces the challenge of bringing in new players to continue the legacy left by Big Jack.

*Tony Cascarino one time hair dresser with an Italian Dad and English Mum played for the Republic of Ireland through an Irish Grandmother, which he later revealed wasn't a blood relative!
The ROI team had used the "Granny Rule" all the way back as far as 1964, but it was Jack Charlton who used it more to his avantage and actively did so.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Urban myths..... classic moments & cup's of tea.

Football it's a funny old game........

We all love urban myths especially the ones that are passed down through generation & generation. Today we have a look back @ a few of the best urban myths & classic funny moments from our footballing heritage. *along with a few special quotes from the games greats.

"Rome wasn't built in a day. But I wasn't on that particular job." Brian Clough

"There's a dog on the pitch" Chile 1962. During England's World Cup game v Brazil a dog decides he hasn't got a good view from the stands! Fed up of not being able to see the match the dog has a little run about on the pitch, running passed players, stewards and a Charlton before coming face to face with Jimmy Greaves. Greaves picks the dog up and hands it over to the stewards...... only to find, that the little terror has p****d all down his shirt. Now modern day players wouldn't have to worry about this, they would simply be given a new shirt in a matter of seconds by the kit man..... Unfortunately for Greaves this was 1962 and you only had one shirt to last you the match. So for the remainder of the match Greaves was forced to wear the p****d stained shirt. Surprisingly @ the end of the game not one of the Brazilians wanted to swap shirts with the England striker!

"When Gazza was dribbling, he used to go through a minefield with his arm, a bit like you go through a supermarket." Sir Bobby Robson 

A personal favorite of mine is the story of the late Bobby Moore. Sombrero anyone? After trouble @ a jewellery shop which Moore was visiting with the misses, police decided to place the England captain under house arrest. This was of course during the 1970 world cup in Mexico. It turned out the Mexican police just wanted an autograph! 

"If you never concede a goal, you're going to win more games than you lose" Bobby Moore

During the filming of the cult classic football film Escape to Victory. Sylvester Stallone was offered the chance to put on the gloves for real and play a game for The Toffees! I bet Neville Southall thought his days @ Everton were numbered! Picture this... the two of them fighting it out in the ring for the number one spot @ Goodison Park? 

"In 1969 I gave up women and alcohol - it was the worst 20 minutes of my life" George Best

This classic video shows George Best in the twilight of his career.
Whilst playing for Fulham during a game against Hereford United (in which Fulham won with ease) Best & team mate Rodney Marsh thought they would  have a bit of a laugh. With the ball @ Marsh's feet Best decides to take the ball off of his team mate. A cheeky grin appears on Marsh's face as he chases after Best. As Marsh goes to regain possession Best simply takes the ball  around him like he wasn't there!  

Sir Alf Ramsey what a legend! Not many people know this but when Sir Alf was appointed England manager on the 25th October 1962. (taking over the hot seat on the 1st May 1963) Instead of playing down the chances of England becoming world champions, Sir Alf decided he would predict the future! Predicting that in 1966 England would win the world cup...... The press association & pundits alike decided to rip chunks out of Sir Alf! We all know how the story ended....... ENGLAND WORLD CUP WINNERS 1966

"Our best football will come against the right type of opposition - a team who come to play football, and not act as animals." Sir Alf Ramsey

Time for a cheeky cup of tea! The Midweeker is expected in the office in the next hour just before he pop's off to watch tonight's match involving Chelsea & F.C Copenhagen. 

Monday, 14 March 2011

That was the week that was.......

Yesterday saw Stoke City go through to their first FA Cup Semi Final since 1972, the win was set up by a goal from one of the last great old fashioned surname's in football Higginbottom, I think we need more of these surnames in the Premiership, perhaps with them we'll see a return to the glory days of football? More Higginbottoms and less Da Silva's that's what I say!

Speaking of the FA Cup, the team that Stoke will face are of course Bolton Wanderers, again a great old skool name this time for a football club! You can have your fill of United's & City's but we like team's with names that finish with a Wanderers, a Rovers, a North End or even a Hotspur. Wanderers give us this romantic image of a nomadic football team arriving into town like a bunch of desperadoes looking to play and defeat the evil multi-millionaire group of mercenaries that have made life a misery for the god fearing townsfolk....or this that just me?
And a bit of FA Cup trivia? Which team has won the FA Cup fives times (more than West Ham & Manchester City) including three times secession and  now no longer exists?*

 You were of course the outstanding candidate.....CLICK HERE

The above link will take you to a letter that's been doing the rounds this past week. We've all thought of doing it, a few seasons on Championship Manager, taking our local team to the top of the Premiership, winning back to back Champions League, not seeing daylight for weeks on end! And then, a club in the real world is looking for a new manager - "I'm gonna apply that's what I'll do", well that's exactly what one bloke did when Middlesborough needed a replacement for England bound Wally with the Brolly Steve McClaren.
It's all there, the application letter plus a very sporting reply from chairman Steve Gibson. I think more of us should try this!

Recognise this ball? One used in an historic victory over England's old enemy, no not 1966 and all that, but 1915. The First World War, during their time in the trenches and to raise spirits during the final push, English soldiers came up with the bizarre idea of dribbling footballs whilst going over the top at the Battle of Loos in France. A Commander rumbled their plot and shot five balls to stop them from being used but this one survived, the soldiers dribbled and passed it as bullets and shells exploded around them. 50,000 British lives were lost during the battle, but this ball serves as a reminder of those people who gave their all during the conflict and is on display at The London Irish Rifles regimental museum in Camberwell, South London.

And Finally.........
We've heard yet again that Jose Mourinho is ready to quit Spain and head "home" to England and the Premiership. Personally I like the bloke, he's been compared to Cloughie and while that's not a fair comment he certainly was a breath of fresh air upon his arrival at Chelsea and he had no problems going toe to toe with Alex Ferguson! But could he replace him? I'm thinking that like Cloughie & England Mourinho & Man Utd wouldn't quite work together. So maybe back to his first love Chelsea or possibly with Harry Redknapp again last week advertising his availability to The FA via his newspaper column (not a Spurs supporters favourite read) how about The Special One to White Hart Lane??

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Sunday, 13 March 2011

Cult Heroes

Our cult hero archives continue with the inclusion of one Mr Jonathan Woodgate. @ the age of only 31 its uncertain if Woodgate has got another season left in him. Plagued by injuries throughout his career, Woodgate has been restricted to only one appearance in the last year. A fantastic defender, who has played for some big big clubs in the footballing world. The likes of  Real Madrid, Leeds United, Newcastle United & Tottenham Hotspur.

Woodgate signed for Spurs for £7 million in January 2008 and became an instant cult hero @ The Lane with his match winning performance & goal against Chelsea in that seasons Carling cup final win. Since his arrival @ The Lane Woodgate has struggled with injuries but has still managed to make over 65 appearances for the North London team scoring 3 goals.

An England international Woodgate has 8 cap's to his name, although if it wasn't for injury & bad luck you could easily add another 50 to that 8. During his time @ Leeds Woody was tipped by many including Kevin Keegan to become a future England captain.

Woody's last appearance for Spurs came @ The San Siro. A game which has been labelled "Spurs greatest  performance of modern times". Spurs won the game 1-0 with a late Peter Crouch strike.

With his contract up @ the end of the season it's unclear what the future holds for this talented player.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Our top 5 defenders of all time!

The journey into work today highlights the night before. We all love a sliding tackle! Defenders can turn a game around with a crunching last ditch tackle or a goal line block! After last nights amazing defensive display by Champions league heroes Tottenham Hotspur, the first thing on our lips this morning as we entered the office was "who do we feel are the top 5 defenders of all time?" 

We stuck the kettle on and gathered around the table. We all had our own take on what makes a great defender, Modern day greats such as John Terry, Cannavaro, Puyol, Tony Adams, Jaap Stam, Jamie Carragher & Lucas Radebe all got a mention along with past greats such as Ruud Krol, Franco Baresi & Roberto Carlos. After hearing the pro's and con's of each player in question and after a silly amount of tea had been drunk we came to our verdict. 

The it's a football things top 5 defenders of all time.

In @ number 5: Brazil are known for producing fantastic forward thinking players, yet along the way they have also produced some gem's when it comes to defensive players. This player is an inspiration to so many players & people around the world today. Ironically he is best remembered for that amazing goal @ the 1970's world cup against Italy, which many consider (including me) the greatest goal to be scored @ a world cup. Over 50 appearances for Brazil including 8 goals.

 In @ number 5 is Carlos Alberto. 

We carry on the count down and @ number 4 we find a German Legend. This player has played in 5 world cups....Yes 5! and keeps a cool head when it comes to taking penalties *Just ask England fans! Part of the famous German team to lift the World Cup @ Italia 90. His career was decorated with medals! After a Ballon d'Or in 1990 he was Voted Fifa world player of the year in 1991. Domestic success included UFEA Cups & League titles during his time with Inter Milan & Bayern Munich. He also played 150 times for the German national team

In @ number 4 is Lothar Matthaus. 

With no time to spare we go straight in to our top 3! Now these next 3 players are legends in their own rights. @ Number 3 is an Italian superstar! Part of the famous Milan team of the 80's & 90's Playing 25 seasons @ The San Siro, As well as playing 126 times for the Italian national team. Many say he is the greatest number 3 ever and as a mark of respect AC Milan retired his number 3 shirt @ the end of his career. The number will only be used again if one of his sons makes the Milan senior side. During his career with Milan, winning medals was part of everyday life. Trophies included; 7 Serie A titles, 1 Coppa Italia, 5 European trophies, 5 UFEA super cups and a FIFA World club cup. 

In @ number 3 is Paolo Maldini 

2. The second German to make the top 5. Der Kaiser *(The Emperor) a fantastic reader of the game, some say the greatest German international ever. The only person to captain & then go on to manage his national team to World Cup success. Spending most of his career in Germany, most notably @ Bayern Munich. During the late 70's Der Kaiser had a  spell over in The United States @ New York Cosmos. During his domestic career he made over 587 appearances scoring 81 goals, Another player to win his fair share of medals, these included 5 Bundesliga titles (4 @ Munich & 1 @ Hamburg) 4 DFB Trophies, 3 European cups, UFEA cup winners cup, 3 NASL championships & 2 Trans-Atlantic cup championships. 

Internationally he represented Germany on 103 occasions. Winning the 72 European Championship & the 74 world cup. 

His personal achievements include 2 Ballon d'Or awards in 72 & 76, 4 x German footballer of the year awards & an NASL most valuable player award. 

In @ number 2 is Franz Beckenbauer 

So that brings us to our number 1. The player we feel is the best defender to have ever played the beautiful game. An icon to a country, an icon to the game. Pele describes him as the greatest defender he ever played against, and who are we to disagree with the Worlds greatest player! 

This West Ham icon went on to make 646 appearances for the Hammers, winning the FA cup in 64 & the European cup winners cup in 65.  In 1974 he moved to Fulham and went on to make 150 appearances for the London club. 

During a fantastic international career he won 108 Caps for his country, as well as being the only English captain to lift the World cup in 66. Ask any football fan who the greatest number 6 is..... and they will all say the same thing.

So in @ number 1 is the legend that is Bobby Moore. 

"Bobby Moore was the best defender in the history of the game" Franz Beckenbauer