Ally Moncrieff looks at the importance of rivalries and knowing your enemies in the world of football…
You don’t need much to get a game of football started, a few willing participants, an open area and an object resembling a ball means you can partake in something that could be broadly recognised as the same sport played by Messi, Ronaldo et al. Its glorious simplicity is one of the things that makes football the greatest game in the world. Obviously once you start adding nets, kits, officials and so on that kickabout in the park becomes ever more like the real thing.
One thing is always going to be missing though, one little factor that takes football from great sport to great spectacle and that’s an enemy. Football without an enemy is just another hobby, another distraction from the mundanity of life. It needs the tribal ferocity that only true enemies can produce to elevate it to something grander, something more important.
All teams have a rival, a side they’d prefer to beat above all others irrespective of how it affects league position or cup progress. Not all though have an enemy. Continue reading
Ally Moncrief returns to The False Nine with an appreciation of headed goals…
Growing up in a part of the country where people take genuine pleasure in fighting, in the spirit of self-preservation you learn to recognise a few things and one of the earliest lessons is to avoid at all costs the lad that likes to stick the nut in (that means headbutting in case you didn’t know). Where a punch can be evaded and swiftly recovered from, a well-timed headbutt is going to hurt and continue to hurt. Now whilst violence is clearly not to be encouraged there is something awe-inspiring about these dispensers of broken noses, there is something unnatural and wild about a headbutt, it is out of the ordinary and is impossible to defend against.
The same can be said of football’s version of the headbutt, the slightly less violent, header.
Headers can be both brutal and beautiful, used as a means of attack or defense and are the great leveller of football. They are also sadly unfashionable these days, unloved and unadmired. Often referred to as ‘aerial duels’ in these days of Americanised phrases, that moniker may seem degrading to such a majestic act but in fact merely serves to reassert it’s greatness. The key word is ‘duel’ for there is nothing in football apart from a penalty where the game is reduced, however fleetingly, to a straight fight between two participants. One will win and one will lose, the very essence of the sport. Continue reading
Ally Moncrieff questions what it would take for football to cross the line, and whether in some cases it already has. Is it time to walk away?
You always hurt the one you love. Maybe that works in reverse as well.
For many of us there comes a time when it becomes clear the thing you do for fun, the thing you think you love is doing you great harm. Whether it’s the MDMA user seeing a picture of themselves ‘on it’—pupils the size of snooker balls with their jaw on the other side of the dance floor—or the gym rat waking up one day to find himself alone apart from his ‘guns’ and protein shake induced flatulence. These moments act as a mental jolt: a little shock to the system that allows us to take a step back and see our lives for what they really are. If we don’t like what we see then this is a chance to change our behaviour.
The question is will this moment of clarity ever arrive when it comes to football? At what point do we decide that enough is enough and that despite the joy that football brings us the corrosive effect it has on our morality is too high a price to pay? Continue reading
Ally Moncrieff is back with some more heartfelt football writing. This time on why football transfers need to make the right impression with fans…
‘We need a box to box midfielder’, ‘if we don’t sign a striker I’m not renewing my fucking season ticket’, ‘I’d swap members of my immediate family for a half decent centre back’. These are not uncommon utterances amongst football fans, a version of them may even have fallen from your own mouth, it’s understandable, you see an obvious problem with your football team and logic dictates there must be an obvious solution.
Everybody loves a new signing, their arrival is filled with nothing other than the promise of goals and glory. It’s worryingly easy to spend hours poring over the strengths and weaknesses of your new addition, YouTube videos and the rise of in depth blogging mean that before your next no.9 is pictured draped in the club colours, standing on the edge of the pitch you will already know that he has a tendency to drift into wide positions which can confuse the opposition defence but also leave the attack without a focal point, it’s the age of information and it pays to do your research. But one crucial attribute is almost always overlooked, the players likeability. Continue reading
Ally Moncrieff slams down his controller to tell the world what’s gone wrong with football games on his TFN debut…
In this world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes. If Benjamin Franklin had been around today he could have added ‘an annual update to the FIFA and PES series of football games’ to his most famous phrase. Not quite as profound maybe, but no less accurate.
The nature of certainty means that this year is no different, there will of course be a FIFA 15 and a PES 15. A quick glance through the early press releases and it is clear both franchises are offering variations on the same theme, that theme of course being increased realism. And herein lies the problem with modern football games.
The best games sell themselves as a form of escapism, that is the very essence of their appeal. It’s why the release of Grand Theft Auto has people queuing outside Game in the middle of the night and the release of Truck Simulator does not. The finest video game series of all is Nintendo’s Mario Bros, Mario and his brother Luigi are plumbers by trade, if instead of rescuing Princesses and warping down pipes in the Mushroom Kingdom the game concentrated on two overweight lads installing a combi boiler and piping the odd radiator, it’s hard to imagine it would have enjoyed quite the same level of success. Continue reading