An Old International

Stamp(s) of Authority

It is a well known fact that East Germany was no footballing superpower. This is somewhat reflected in the absence of football on postal stamps, despite the GDR putting almost anything and anyone on a stamp.
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One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Initiating discussion is necessary, not though if the topic means a step or even two steps back as Oliver Bierhoff has proven with his remarks regarding Germany’s third division.

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Rudderless

After more than 10 games have been played this season, the international break offers a moment to take stock of FC Magdeburg’s season so far after being relegated at the end of last season. Read more →

Football, Democracy and all that: How to run football

Football is the game of the masses and it should be available for everybody for a reasonable fee either to play, to watch: in the stands or at home/in a pub. Period. This point needs no discussion. There is discussion necessary however, about the way football is being run by its owners. Football in England and Britain has always been a business: clubs have always been owned by pub landlords or industry men with very specific objectives.
The speech of the labour leader at a rally in Newcastle where he talks about football is in some ways difficult as it would mean to revolutionise soccer in England, particularly in the Premier League. As it stands, the majority of Premier League clubs, if not all 20 of them are owned by rich oil magnates from Russia, royal families from the Middle East or American investors. That Corbyn has chosen Newcastle to launch this broadside is of course pure campaigning: Newcastle United are the only club owned by a British businessman who employs people on zero hour contracts and whose ownership has never been positive. The relationship between owner and fans is bad to say the least.
The payment made by the Premier League of 100m per year to support grass roots football is peanuts in comparison with the money raked in via the broadcast deal with Sky and BT.
However, what Corbyn promotes here is the idea that clubs should be run democratically and in the interest of the common man, i.e. the way it was up to the mid-1960s. Until then football was considered the game of the masses and not seen as an important part of the entertainment industry. With rising wages and the arrival of the Premier League in 1992, this all changed of course.

If this is going to happen, Corbyn will be on a par with Thatcher whose reign left Britain a different state than it was before. Of her it is said that the changes she brought to Britain, if positive or not, resembled nothing but a revolution. Does Corbyn have the strength, let alone the nous to pull through such a move should he become prime minister?

Let’s look at the alternative to the current modell how clubs are run: Supporters Trusts. They work well but only up to a certain level. From League One upwards, money reigns and those organisations just don’t have the financial power; they never had. Moreover, the British way of business is to make money and to do so fast and with no second thoughts. Sustainability is a relative new concept that has not taken a hold in the mindset of many people.

Therefore, should Corbyn set football on his agenda and initiate change it will be with grerat fanfare from those who attend matches every Saturday, those people who follow their clubs through thick and thin and never give up hope. This will be almost a revolution if this happens.

Jatta for Germany?

For a month the football press and the fans were witnessing a debate that has many observers left shaking their heads. It went way beyond football and could have far reaching consequences not just for football but society as a whole. What has happened? Read more →

The Dunkirk Spirit

After an hiatus of more than four years, I went back to Stade Bauer to watch Red Star’s match against Dunkirk in the third division of the French football pyramid. There was little to sway me toward the home crowd who as usual were there in big numbers (more than 1000) and who supported their team loyally throughout the ninety minutes plus additional time.

Grip on the Game

The game started with either side holding back for about five minutes before dropping any restraint. It was Dunkirk who found their momentum quicker and more convincing and as a consequence they went ahead after just nine minutes. It was awful defending and way too easy. The Red Star supporters turned up the noise to push their team forward but it was to no avail and it took twenty minutes before they won a free kick on the left side from which Karamoko scored. From open play Red Star were harmless and that is the polite version. Throughout the first half they created one chance, maybe. Instead they were pinned back by Dunkirk who appeared to have a game plan and the players to apply this very plan. That the scores were level at half time was due to Dunkirk’s wastefulness and Red Star’s bluntness. The visitors were simply smarter with the ball, their moves quicker, more purposeful and thus better.

To the credit of the home supporters they never ceased singing despite their team letting them down quite brutally. How Red Star have so far inhabited place two in the table is beyond reason. They were too slow to go forward and too sloppy in defense to come out as winners of this contest.

Dunkirk holds a special place in British mythology as it was the place where the British Army was forced to retreat during the Second World War. Dunkirk showed exactly that spirit tonight: never giving up, always have a spare man to cover a comrade. That Dunkirk spirit carried them to victory and did so without much hassle.

In this form Red Star will struggle to keep their position this high up the table but will have to settle for a place mid-table.

Catering

In their last promotion season 2017/18 Red Star had no beer on offer. This has changed thankfully, though bthe waiting time for a pint are far from being ideal; in fact the service is slow and inefficient and that is an understatement. My own experience as a bar tender probably influence my judgement.

Summary

Whatever the holds in store, the ground will always keep its attraction. Where else do you see a whole pitch length stand watch getting overgrown with weeds with Sacré Cœur in the background? Whatever, there is still a season to be played and a lot can happen. Though what the home side have shown tonight must be considered an aberration and hopefully they get back on track rather sooner than later.

Some Rusty Old Game

While on holiday in the North-West of France I have discovered this old game of table football in a shed next to our accomodation. My son and I regularly engaged in matches which he almost exclusively won. My skills at this game were just as rusty as the set itself. I heavily relied on long balls surpassing the midfield, hoofing the ball from defense straight to the three strikers. Needless to say, these often missed the target while my son launched swift counter attacks to which my goal keeper reacted as if he was frozen: he did not move an iota. Passing movements were scarce, nor was there any hint of a tactical idea tangible. There was no shape in defense which made it easy for the opposition to score.

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This table set has seen many summers and winters. The floor, i.e. the pitch is bent and makes ball control in some areas of the pitch almost impossible. Some of the seven balls were not round but slightly egg-shaped. For the red team one cone for the goals was missing, so a game was won after only nine goals were scored. However, the bars have been well oiled as they made no noise while turning. Thankfully the shirt colours were recognisable: it was the Reds against the Blues. It was fun to play though at times tedious to be on the receiving end of proceedings. The number of games I won comes up to a possible five, maybe less. The total number of games was somewhere in the 30s or forties. In one way or another it resembled my own playing career: passionate but limited talent.

Not Acceptable

Sometimes it is difficult to imagine that we live in the 21 century and moreover in an open society. It appears some haven’t made the step towards an era that is defined by the free movement of people and goods. For some it appeared this step is not just a step but leap forward; so much so that it is just too much for them. Read more →

World Cup Review

This year’s Women’s World Cup was hoped to be the best ever. This is possibly what has been said and will be said about past and future tournaments. More accurately, a World Cup can give a glimpse into the state of the game. And there is still some work to do. This review will look into several aspects of the World Cup, covering a brief media analysis and several points that are necessary to mention. Read more →

Match 4/4: Sweden progress against Canada

The last of four matches at this world cup saw me attending a knock out game between Sweden and Canada, two of the wider circle of favourites in this year’s competition. Read more →