TFN editor James Dutton looks back at how the 2014 World Cup helped him at a time of personal loss…
I don’t know what I’d have done without the 2014 World Cup. I owe it a lot. I shouldn’t love it, I should hate it and the time in my life it represents. But I don’t, and all it reminds me of is the enduring power of sport and the unerring truth that the World Cup is the greatest show on earth. It first brought me joy as a 7-year-old. It still brings me joy as a 27-year-old. And four years ago it brought me back from my lowest ebb.
Did it really happen? Four years have passed, reality has had enough time to sink in and yet that irrepressible thought can never be shaken. Maybe it never happened.
It’s childish fantasy. I was there, I watched it happen. I can still see it now. I will never forget it. Woken early in the morning to be told ‘this is it’, and for that to really be it within a few tear-drenched minutes was a pit I never want to return to.
We were prepared for it. Some people are never fortunate enough to know the end is coming. Luck is hardly the right word in this scenario, but we were lucky to have the final few weeks to prepare for it, at home, the family all together. Continue reading
15 years after a 5-1 win over Germany in Munich, James Dutton looks back at the greatest result in England’s recent history and the lessons that have not been learned…
‘It’s Neville to Campbell, Campbell to Rio,
Rio to Scholesy, Scholesy-Gerrard,
Gerrard to Beckham, Beckham to Heskey,
Heskey to Owen, it’s a goal, 5-1!’
It is perhaps a sign of the times that Ant and Dec soundtracked the greatest moment of the English football team in the last 15 years. Ignoring the fact the lyrics are incorrect – Michael Owen did not score the fifth goal – ‘We’re on the Ball’ reflected the fresh optimism that had been injected into the national side at the start of the Sven-Goran Eriksson era.
It was England’s official song as they travelled half-way across the world to Japan and South Korea for the 2002 World Cup, a journey that had looked a remote fantasy when Kevin Keegan resigned in the Wembley toilets after a 1-0 defeat to the Germans in October 2000. Continue reading
Stephen Tudor of The Daisy Cutter profiles Fernandinho after two hit-and-miss seasons at Manchester City…
Thirty-four million quid was an awful lot of money to be shelling out for a box-to-box midfielder most Manchester City supporters were only familiar with from Champions League highlights, but a need for quality in that role trumped any financial consideration. The recently deposed champions were well-stocked with engine room functionality but fell noticeably short on urgency and general ferreting, someone my dad would call a ‘busy bugger’ with sufficient drive to squiggle over the predictable lines and break into the opposition area while having enough in his legs to make it back when the move broke down. A Yaya Toure, if you like, with the work-rate of a man without a hobby.
Fernandinho was precisely this player and more, and swiftly established himself as a fan’s favourite for playing exactly how we would if handed a shirt.
For his opening campaign he was everywhere, a one-man dynamo who additionally possessed the priceless ability to gauge exactly where a referee’s line in the sand was. Time and again we saw it, an early cruncher earning a warning followed by a series of mini-crunchers that tested the official’s tolerance but rarely resulted in a card. For such a tenacious, scrappy player it really is a gift. Continue reading
Liz Heade of Thinking Woman’s Football returns to The False Nine to give 10 reasons why England’s genetic makeup means they will never win another World Cup…
The last time England won the World Cup, they believed they were the best team in the world. They also thought they were the best in the world in 1970, but they had another think coming when they came up against a Brazil team with a justifiable claim to be called the best ever, and football was never the same again. So, apart from needing to believe you are the best in order to win at any sport, want to know nine more reasons why England won’t win another World Cup?
Food: Well-nourished English children don’t play football, at least not seriously. They play rugby or cricket, or they might take up athletics. Young bones formed by poor quality supermarket food, takeaways or frozen stuff cooked in microwaves don’t generally build world-beating athletes. Maybe England don’t need to go back to the roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, sausage and mash, bovril and beer diet that made Bobby Moore and his men the all-conquering specimens of the 60s, maybe they just need to get some well-nourished 21st century kids into academies, the kind with the bone density and stamina to survive the full four weeks of tournament football.
Weather: Look at the list of the seven other World Cup winners and ask yourself why there are no names there boasting a cold, wet, windy climate that discourages both summer great outdoors-ing and winter sporting equally. Fit, healthy, resilient kids need to be outside every day, playing in sunshine and snow, getting knocked about by bigger kids and learning how not to be knocked about tomorrow. Instead they grow pale and wan glued to Playstations in their bedrooms or stuck in cars on the way to an hour’s training on a plastic pitch – which is also ruining their skeletal development. Continue reading
Caribbean Football‘s Nathan Carr looks at St Kitts and Nevis’ World Cup qualifying preparation and speaks to two players, captain Atiba Harris and winger Zeph Thomas…
It’s that time again: when those smaller nations all over the world can dream of making it to global football’s showpiece event – the World Cup. The CONCACAF qualifying cycle for 2018 commences with the first round in March and will last for 33 months. One such team harbouring hopes of making it out of the first round and going onto have a successful campaign is St Kitts and Nevis.
Affectionately nicknamed as “The Sugar Boyz”, the Caribbean twin-island were drawn against the Turks & Caicos Islands in the confederation’s preliminary draw conducted in Miami in mid-January, which determined the region’s first and second rounds, while the other three phases will be decided later in July in St Petersburg. They will host the first leg in the capital Basseterre on Monday 23rd before travelling to Providenciales for the second leg three days later, and spirits are high among the camp ahead of the match-up.
The country’s captain Atiba Harris, currently contracted to FC Dallas in Major League Soccer said, “It’s always a great feeling surrounding the World Cup draw. I’m excited and looking forward to the start of the campaign. As a nation, we’ll love to go as far as possible but at this present time, our main focus is on doing well and getting a positive result against Turks & Caicos.” 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
Alex Stewart continues his look into language and football, and what the sport as a whole can learn from the USMNT…
The World Cup was a humdinger, wasn’t it? The James turn and volley, the beautifully unexpected performances of teams like Costa Rica and Algeria, that five one shellacking of the indolent Spanish, the heroics of hirsute Tim Howard. That last performance, which inflamed the hearts of American fans neutrals and alike, as he almost single-handedly kept the considerably-less-marauding-than-they-ought-to-have-been Belgians at bay (ok, as a keeper he used both hands and, indeed, his feet, but you know what I mean), similarly scorched Twitter: memes were born and heroics celebrated.
And many with the following appended: #USMNT — the United States Men’s National Team. A touch cumbersome, as social signposting goes, though, for the blood-and-thunder sports fans of the US, comfortingly pugnacious, even bellicose, more Special Forces unit designation than handy football acronym. And the abbreviation is a lot more interesting (and important) than simply be an easy way to navigate oneself towards another Howard stopping a meteorite Photoshop job. Continue reading