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LaticsPete

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    David Eyres

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  1. Forgotten Nations Chris Deeley Pitch Publishing 2019 Softback 224pp £12.99 The match between Padania and Szekely Land had not, I admit, registered on my football radar. I’ll happily look at match stats from any non-league competition you want to put in front of me, but these teams I could tell you nothing about. Mea culpa probably as this game determined 3/4th places in CONIFA World Football Cup in 2018. Explanations are needed straight away. Last year the Confederation of Independent Football Associations, made up of “international” teams unable to join FIFA, held their third world tournament in the Greater London area. There are ten criteria for joining CONIFA, although a potential member only has to meet one to join. Hence there is a large disparity in the origins and composition of the teams in it. Padania as a region is based in Italy’s Po Valley and is the creation of the Lega Nord, the right-wing Italian political party. The Szekely Land team is based on ethnic Hungarians located in Romania. It, of course, is not to be confused with the Hungarian minority teams from Slovakia, Serbia, or Ukraine. Currently there are 58 members of CONIFA, geographically spread across the globe. The 16 who made it to the 2018 World Football Cup each had interesting journeys to get there, in some cases literally in others in terms of creation and organisation. The very nature of the CONIFA criteria make it possible for teams that can be said to have an agreed geographic location to play teams of exiles, or from somewhat hypothetical boundaries. No matter who there’s always an element of political controversy attached. The very fact that they aren’t teams from countries recognised by FIFA, nor by the UN as a self-governing territory, begs the question “Why are they in that situation?”. The Chagos Islands, in the Pacific, is a territory from which all Chagossians were removed by the UK in order for it to be leased to the USA as a military base. Northern Cyprus is just that, the area in the north of the island that’s only recognised by Turkey as a nation state. Cascadia stretches from British Columbia in Canada to all or bits of nine US states. It’s a concept that is increasingly being adopted by white survivalist groups. So, it’s all a political minefield but one that seems to operate relatively harmoniously on the football field. The author describes the backgrounds to the origin of several of the teams, who comprise their players, their supporters at the tournament, and does so in a clear, if individual, manner. Sometimes it feels as if he’s writing for a non-football reader, however there’s a wealth of information that will hold the attention of football supporters. Bubbling along underneath the mainstream of FIFA, UEFA et al, CONIFA is an interesting and brave concept. Maybe its criteria are too wide and the potential for political causes to hijack it is there, but currently the positives of Padania meeting up with Szekilians outweigh that. By the way, the former won 5-4 on penalties.
  2. The EFL is a members club, just like the Premier League. It is perfectly understandable for it to minimise the number of existing members leaving, hence only one relegated from Lg2. The National League clubs aren’t adversely affected either.
  3. So maybe they're picking up some/all of his wages ?
  4. Classic Scottish hard man. He and Frizz were a tough double act.
  5. When Footballers Were Skint Jon Henderson Biteback Publishing 2019 Softback, 308pp, £9.99 Was it a halcyon era when footballers weren’t allowed to earn above a certain amount, travelled on buses, and had virtually no say in where their next place of work was going to be? In a hen, for many players, it’s the norm to live in gated estates, drive several cars, and choose which club they will sign for, then it can certainly seem like it. Much of football now would be unrecognisable to those who played (or watched) it 40, 50 years or more ago. Has the change altered the very nature of the game and the relationships between the various groups within it? Is it that by returning to the past we are on, as the author suggests, “a journey in search of the soul of football”? The book is dedicated to Jimmy Hill, who as Chairman of the Professional Footballer’s’ Association, led the overthrow of the maximum wage (then £20 per week) in 1961. In force since 1901 (originally £4) it was a cushion for directors who could rest easy in the knowledge that players were unlikely to want to move clubs for financial gain. Of course, not every player achieved this maximum, and most were on reduced wages out of season, having to take temporary jobs whether it was labouring, decorating or whatever else was available. There is little bitterness about such a situation amongst the 23 former players the author interviewed. There seems to be an acceptance that expectations were lower and therefore less resentment is shown. Many footballers came from hard backgrounds, growing up in the 1930s and 40s, with job opportunities that were hard manual work. Pre-war many footballers were miners and the chance to play professional football, above ground even if for lower pay, was not to be turned down. Even later, in the 50s, Tommy Banks, Bolton and England full back, knew that he’d have earned more down the pit in Wigan. The stories that are told by the players range from signing on to finishing their careers. Long before club academies and agents, lads came to the attention of clubs in circuitous ways. Don Ratcliffe (Crewe, Middlesbrough, Darlington, Stoke) was spotted playing in the street by a shopkeeper and recommended. Tony McNamara (Everton) was spotted in the Catholic Young Men’s Society League and Bill Leivers, later of Manchester City, got a trial with Chesterfield partly because the club’s groundsman went to the same church. Many continued with another job as well as playing football. Tom Finney was famous as a plumber, Cliff Jones (Swansea and Spurs) finished a five-year apprenticeship as a sheet-metal worker, whilst Dave Whelan (Blackburn) took up as a market stall trader when he was injured. A financial and work environment such as this, allied to the experiences many underwent in the war, ensured that footballers were generally grounded in the communities in which they lived and played. They shopped, travelled, and drank locally, and tended to marry local girls. Football was the main entertainment for thousands of those whom lived nearby, accessible both in terms of location and cost. People didn’t have cars, there wasn’t a vast array of real or virtual leisure opportunities, and hence players of the town club were intrinsically part of the focus of the community. The links are no longer there for many, football and footballers have a different relationship with many of us. Even away from the gilded palaces of the Premier League many players are only associated with a club for short contracts or loans. The soul may not have completely gone but this excellent piece of sporting and social history writing certainly tells of its radical change.
  6. You can make out the part construction of the Main Stand in the background of this team shot of 1913/14 http://t
  7. Conor Ripley saved a penalty from Tom Eaves.
  8. The “new South Stand” as it then was built in 1913. It had 2222 seats. Apparently the terracing in front had 22 steps and had a capacity of 5200.
  9. That’s what happens when there’s a vacuum.
  10. Have you never looked at anything to do with the history of the club (or indeed of football)? Such a lack of knowledge makes any of your comments on present day activity pretty flimsy.
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