Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Football and the Super League

As news of Project Big Picture broke recently, EFL chairman Rick Parry tried to calm down the understandable fears that the so-called Big Six - don't get me started on that - are basically trying to increase their power in the game. "They care about the pyramid. This will come out, the truth will come out, their passion for the pyramid will come out." Stop laughing at the back.

Timing is everything. At a time when a lot of EFL clubs are desperately trying to make ends meet, the promise of money from this proposal will undoubtedly be backed by many. It's almost as if those behind the scheme are taking advantage of a global pandemic to try and place their greedy hands on the steering wheel of the sport.

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Golden goals: Graeme Sharp (1984)

Every sports team needs that belief-affirming victory, the win that makes them feel like they belong. For England's rugby union squad, the backs to the wall win in New Zealand in June 2003 was a vital step along the path to World Cup glory. In 2005, that nail-biting win at Edgbaston saved a summer and made Ashes heroes out of those involved.

Football has produced a few examples of this. Manchester United edging past Sheffield Wednesday during Fergie Time in 1993; Arsenal winning at the same ground in 1998; Chelsea finally defeating Arsenal in the 2004 Champions League quarter final.

Sunday, 27 September 2020

1988/89 League Cup: Liverpool v Arsenal

When the draw was made for the third round of the 1988/89 Littlewoods Cup, it was not difficult to spot the standout tie. Champions Liverpool, winners of the League Cup four times in the 1980s, were paired with a resurgent Arsenal, in a repeat of the 1987 final that George Graham's team had famously won

Thursday, 24 September 2020

1984: The curious case of John Abrahams

As England clinched an unlikely win in the second one day international of their recent series against Australia, an interesting opinion was expressed by a number of experts: Should Eoin Morgan have been handed the man of the match award due to his superb captaincy skills displayed at the back end of the Australian innings?

Sometimes a captain leads by example - Gerrard at Istanbul, Beckham against Greece in 2001, Atherton at Johannesburg in 1995 - yet in the case of Morgan at Old Trafford, it was his ability as a tactician that attracted praise. The idea of a captain earning the player of the match due to their leadership display is an interesting concept.

Inevitably perhaps, the name of John Abrahams cropped up as soon as this subject arose. In fairness to Morgan, he had top scored in England's innings. But this certainly did not apply in the curious case involving Lancashire skipper Abrahams in the 1984 Benson and Hedges Cup final. Even now, it is a decision that leaves you scratching your head.

Thursday, 17 September 2020

1986/87: Manchester United v Chelsea

Throughout the elongated 2019/20 Premier League season there seemed to be four words that were never far away from live reports, match commentary and social media updates: penalty to Manchester United. Awarded a record 14 penalties for a Premier League campaign - I've put feelers out to try and see if this is an all-time top-flight record - people will no doubt be scrambling to get Bruno Fernandes into their Fantasy Football teams.

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Golden goals: Mark Hughes (1985)

The rising star of Mark Hughes showed no signs of fading as the 1984/85 season progressed. Establishing himself as a Manchester United regular, the Welsh forward scored 24 goals in all competitions, as he helped the club win the FA Cup. Awarded the PFA Young Player of the Year, Hughes had gained recognition for his aggressive and committed style.

Monday, 24 August 2020

1982: Iceland v England

England are about to take on Iceland in the UEFA Nations League. The first time the two countries met was under unusual circumstances.

As the World Cup finals neared in May 1982, England manager Ron Greenwood named a squad of 30 players from which he was expected to choose his final 22 for the tournament in Spain. A further ten players were placed on a standby list, yet realistically none of these players were expected to feature in the preparation matches prior to England's first World Cup finals appearance since 1970.