Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Crap Football Songs
No 3: Ally's Tartan Army By Andy Cameron (1978)
It is perhaps an understatement to say that Scotland’s chances at the 1978 World Cup Finals in Argentina where hyped up by the Scottish Media and Ally McLeod the Scottish Manager. So confident were the Scots of success in South America that there was a bizarre send-off party at Hampden Park several weeks before the tournament kicked-off. The triumphalist parade around the pitch by the squad left the sporting world in no doubt as to who was going to lift the Trophy in Buenos Aires at the end of June.
Meanwhile, south of the border, the English where licking their wounds following elimination at the hands of Italy (on goal difference) in their qualifying group despite a 2-0 win over the Azzurri at Wembley. The Scots official World Cup Song, ‘Ally's Tartan Army’, quite happily reminded one and all of England’s failure with the line “England are nee going ‘cos they did nee qualify”.
Anyway, the hyperbole didn’t last beyond the first group game in Cordoba – a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Peru – and after a 1-1 draw with rank outsiders Iran (the Scot’s goal and own goal at that), that was pretty much that. Rumors of heavy drinking sessions in the Scot’s camp and the sending home of Willie Johnston following a failed FIFA dope test, just added to the misery.
Come the final group game the Scots needed a 4-1 win against the Netherlands to progress, and with an (almost) redeeming display and the goal of the tournament scored by Archie Gemmill they almost did it, settling in the end for a 3-2 win.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Revisited: Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg
Whilst in South Africa last year, a mate of mine went to watch a Super 14 rugby game at Ellis Park Stadium (in Johannesburg). He said it was great, he even had a front row seat behind the goal (for all of about £3.50!), the only drawback being the cheerleaders came and sat between him and the game (see photo). Nearly spoilt it but he said he managed to see what he wanted all the same!Ellis Park incidentally will host five group games, one second round game and one quarter-final of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, for which its capacity will be increased from its present capacity of 60,000 to 65,000.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Revisited: Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
During Wednesday night's Champions League Final in Moscow, a friend was showing his girlfriend the panorama he shot when Town played Torpedo Moscow at the Luzhniki in a UEFA Cup tie. Apparently she was impressed, but it was hard to tell as she was laughing at the near-empty stadium! (10,000 was the official attendance that night back in 2001 but the real number we suspect was well below that). Regarding Wednesday’s media coverage he said he heard a radio reporter in a segment from Red Square say how the Lenin mausoleum was near the "Fan Zone" (which had been sets up to keep the masses amused)! He may be wrong but he thinks that Lenin's mausoleum has been around a tad longer than some temporary structure, so he thought it would have been better to say how the Fan Zone was near Lenin's mausoleum rather than the other way around, but perhaps they were right - maybe the Fan Zone was the more important of the two!!
Saturday, May 10, 2008
FA Trophy Final
Ebbsfleet United 1 Torquay United 0
Standing halfway along Wembley Way (or Olympic Way as I believe it has been rechristened) watching Ebbsfleet and Torquay fans make their way to the new national stadium it was interesting to see the variety of Ebbsfleet/Gravesend & Northfleet shirts on display. Once I was over the momentary confusion caused by the Torquay replica shirts that is which, at first glance anyway, appeared to be emblazoned with the words SPANKWORLD, but on closer inspection actually carried the name SPARKWORLD the Devon club’s sponsor. Confusion caused, I should point out, by my failing eyesight rather than any bedroom predilections. But I digress.
There seemed to be some sort of street cred thing going on. The older your replica shirt/t-shirt the longer you had been a supporter of The Fleet, the more recent your shirt the more likely you were to be a Johnny (or Janet) come lately or a MyFootballClub.co.uk member. I fall into the middle category, my connection to the club being by virtue of my birth in Gravesend rather than the latter (although I decided not to opt for the offer from a colleague of a red shirt carrying the caption “I’m an Ebbsfleet Supporter and it didn’t cost me £35”). After all if just the regulars turned up they could have played the game at Wembley FC’s Vale Farm ground, so whatever their reasons for being at today’s game 25,000 Ebbsfleet fans is a pretty decent number in anyone’s book, easily outnumbering the Torquay fan’s in the 40,000 crowd.
I was quite taken with the new Wembley on my two visits last year (to the FA Vase and FA Cup Finals) and still am for that matter. Mrs ExtremeGroundhopping – attending today’s game mostly under sufferance as footie is not her thing at all – is not. She failed to be impressed with the place particularly given it’s well documented timetable and cost overruns. “£800M – you’re having a laugh”. Its not that she doesn’t care for stadia as she was most impressed with the Stade de France, Paris (visited October 2006) and in awe of the Olympic Stadium, Berlin (visited April 2007), but Wembley, arch and all, just didn’t press the right buttons. Never mind.
Sat in the upper tier today on the Royal Box Side, the view of the action was excellent, but one thing that became very obvious when the FA Trophy was presented to Fleet captain Paul McCarthy is that you can’t actually see the Royal Box from any of the seats in that part of the stadium (this was not the case at the old Wembley) because of the way top tier overhangs the two below it. You can watch proceedings on the screens at either end of the pitch, but that’s pretty much the same view that viewers would have had on SKY TV in the comfort of their living room, which is not quite the same thing. A mild annoyance I guess.
A bigger annoyance and not the fault of Wembley per see, is the length of the post match presentations. In the old days the players and match officials climbed the 39 steps up to the Royal Box, there were handshakes, the presentation of the Cup/Trophy/Vase and medals, both teams did a lap of honour (both sets of fan’s sportingly remaining behind for this) and that was that. Now there are 107 steps to be climbed (around half way up the players completely disappear from view behind an area of seating), the Cup/Trophy/Vase and medals are presented, down everyone trudges back to pitch level where the winners make their way to a platform. Here they cavort about while fireworks and ticker-tape are let fly in the background. By the time the lap of honour comes around a good twenty minutes has passed since the final whistle and the losing end of the stadium is unsurprisingly empty and the lap of honour becomes a half lap. But enough whingeing.
The Torquay fans may have been outnumbered but they certainly made themselves heard in the opening period of the game and their side may well have gone ahead very early on – D’Sane’s shot going just wide of the post. The Gulls certainly looked more purposeful in the first twenty minutes but Ebbsfleet gradually got the measure of the pitch and the opposition creating a number of moves that lead to long range shots from Stacy Long, Long again and Michael Bostwick. Then on the half hour mark Torquay ‘keeper Rice pulled down Luke Moore in the box – Penalty! But Chris McPhee’s low spot kick to Rice’s left was easily saved and with it Fleet’s chance of taking the lead.
But McPhee’s chance to atone for his miss would soon arrive. As half-time approached the ball was played out to the left wing and as Chris Todd tried to marshal the ball out for a goal kick John Akinde’s persistence paid off. He wrestled the ball away from the Gulls defender and hit a low firm cross into the six-yard box and McPhee was waiting to side foot the ball firmly into the Torquay net.
Chances for Ebbsfleet came and went after the break too. James Smith headed wide from a free-kick, a similar attempt was saved by Rice in the Torquay goal, the rebound being headed wide by Akinde, and Akinde was again close with a cross cum shot that flashed across the goal mouth. Torquay had their moments too, Sills headed straight into the arms of Fleet ‘keeper Cronin and later saw another header cleared off the line, while Benyon should really have levelled the scores but steered a free header wide of the post.
Three minutes of added time were announced to cat calls and whistles from the Red end of Wembley. Ebbsfleet wisely played keep ball deep into the Torquay half and then the final whistle blew on what had been an entertaining final and an amazing season for my home town club!
Cardiff v Portsmouth Tickets anyone?
On August 18th last year Ipswich fans Timm and Daryl went to the FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round tie between Cradley Town and Gedling Town and followed the winners of that and each subsequent game through to the next round. Fifteen games later – via Meir, Gedling, Stamford, Nuneaton, Chasetown, Bath, Port Vale, Hereford, Cardiff and Middlesbrough - they watched Cardiff City beat Barnsley at Wembley in the Semi’s as the Bluebirds booked their first Wembley FA Cup Final appearances for 81 years. Timm and Daryl would like to book their place under the Arch too but tickets for next Saturdays final between Cardiff and Portsmouth are proving to be a bit elusive. So, if you can help them out or know someone that can please get it touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, May 05, 2008
Wembley '78 Thirtieth Anniversary Parade
Thirty years ago on Saturday 6th May, 1978 Town lifted the FA Cup in front of 100,000 fans at Wembley Stadium. In celebration, the players and manager Sir Bobby Robson were reunited today (Bank Holiday Monday) to take an open-top bus parade through the centre of Ipswich following the route they took with the cup in a similar parade all those years ago.
As it did in '78 the journey ended at the Cornhill where the players were presented to a crowd some several thousand strong and Sir Bobby was granted the Freedom of Ipswich by the Mayor of the Borough Inga Lockington.
More pictures here.
Sunday, May 04, 2008
Ipswich Town 1 Hull City 0
Vital statistics: Admission by season ticket, match programme 3 pounds, attendance 28,233.
Match Number: 1437
Saturday, May 03, 2008
Soham Town Rangers 4 Needham Market 0
Ridgeons League Premier Division
Entry to Soham Town Rangers’ home on Julius Martin Lane is through a single turnstile in the north-west corner of the ground. To your immediate right is a tea bar beyond which is a covered standing area behind the Mere Side end goal. To your left is the two-storey club house which leads on to the grandstand, a stand that offers seating for around a hundred-and-fifty fans.
Beyond that is further covered standing which continues around the corner flag to the eastern goal line that has covered standing for the full width of the pitch. Indeed the only side of the ground that offers no cover (although this was not a problem today in the glorious weather that bathed Cambridgeshire) is the far touchline. The area beyond that is set to grass – and I would assume is used for training – and the lot is surrounded by a variety of well established trees.
All of this is well maintained, particularly the grandstand in which I sat on my last visit, and more than adequately coped with the 680 who watched today’s game, the Ridgeons League title decider between Soham Town Rangers and Needham Market (there's a panorama here).
As Champions Soham qualify for promotion to the next tier in the English football pyramid (level 4), Division One North of the Ryman League, and, although well beaten today, Needham Market as runners-up are hoping to follow them, although they will have to wait on a ruling from FA HQ in Soho Square next Friday before this is confirmed either way.
For Needham this was a game too far in a season in which they have been challenging for honours on all fronts. Semi-finalists in the FA Vase, winners of the Suffolk Premier Cup just over a week ago, and having reached the final of the Ridgeons League Cup to be played this coming Bank Holiday Monday, they have played more than their fair share of cup games.
This has left them playing catch-up with Soham over the past few months. A 2-2 draw at Downham Market during the week left them two points behind Soham in top spot with an inferior goal difference so it was win or bust today.
When Ranger’s Darren Jimson’s header was bundled home after 25 minutes you could see Needham heads drop and it was all over five minutes into the second period when Jimson put the home side two ahead.
Further goals from Callum Kearns (the second a fine strike from the edge of the penalty area) rounded off Soham’s win and gave them their first Championship title since they joined the league forty-five years ago. Two red cards, one for Needham’s Jones and one for Rangers’ Charles Libom (both in the second half) made little difference to the outcome.
Vital statistics: Admission 5 pounds, attendance 680.
Match Number: 1436
Friday, May 02, 2008
Crap Football Songs
No 2: Ipswich, Ipswich, Get That Goal By Ipswich Town FC (1978)
This weekend marks the 30th Anniversary of Ipswich Town's 1-0 victory over Arsenal at Wembley in the 1978 FA Cup Final. This will be the first of two or three posts over the weekend as I get all sentimental about one of Town's greatest triumphs and, it has to be said, a pretty good day out in London for yours truly. I start with the official FA Cup Final song from the boys in Blue. Enjoy!
a (mainly) pictorial account of one man's obsession with football stadia, floodlight pylon's and ipswich town football club
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Ground Visit RecordENGLAND
(Fitness First Stadium)
(Wicor Recreation Ground)
(King's Marsh Stadium)
(Alton (Bass) Sports Ground)
(Brantham Athletic Sports & Social Club)
Brighton & Hove Albion
Brighton & Hove Albion
(New Writtle Street)
(Chelmsford Sport & Athletics Centre)
(Saunders Honda Stadium)
Dagenham & Redbridge
Debenham Leisure Centre
(Brewers Green Lane)
(Rush Green Bowl)
Felixstowe & Walton United
Great Yarmouth Town
(Wellesley Recreation Ground)
Harwich & Parkeston
Havant & Waterlooville
(West Leigh Park)
(Glass World Stadium)
(Five Heads Park)
(SEH Sports Ground )
(The New Den)
(National Hockey Stadium)
Netley Central Sports
(Station Road Recreation Ground)
(St James' Park)
(Cricket Field Road)
Preston North End
Queens Park Rangers
Saffron Walden Town
(Raymond McEnhill Stadium)
Soham Town Rangers
(Julius Martin Lane)
St Albans City
(New Farm Road)
(Green Meadows Stadium)
(Stadium of Light)
(White Hart Lane)
United Services Portsmouth
(Vosper Thornycroft Sports Ground)
Walsham Le Willows
(Walsham Sports Club Ground)
West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
(King George V Playing Field )
(Denplan City Ground)
(St. Georges Lane)
Heart of Midlothian
(North Sydney Oval)
SW Wacker Innsbruck
(Constant Vanden Stock Stadium)
1. FC Koeln
1. FC Union Berlin
(Stadion An der Alten Försterei)
(Olympic Stadium, Amsterdam)
(GN Bouw Stadion)
(Abe Lenstra Stadium)
(Willem II Stadion)
(Gamla Ullevi (Old))
(Comiskey Park I)
Tampa Bay Rowdies
(Tampa Bay Stadium)