Philosophy Football

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Philosophy Football ‘Eleven Great Thinkers Play it Deep’.

Written by Mark Perryman:   Published by Penguin Books 1997

Yet another Oxfam Book buy (£1.80) that has sat on my bookshelf for some time.

A small sized book with only 131 pages I thought would be a quick read. Nothing of the sort, this book sets 11 great philosophers, thinkers, writers, musicians in Mark’s eleven a side football team. Mark reviews, extends and fits their life skills and what they have contributed to world development into their imagined position in the team.

This sounds deep and highbrow  but mark gets lots of light hearted writing even into some of the very serious team members.

For me it was not an easy book to read as I wanted reference to the individuals values that I did not know but it certainly was worthwhile. Mark Perryman is the Co founder of Philosophy Football which as the book states “is a self styled sporting outfitters of intellectual distinction”. www,philosophyfootball,com

Mark has written other books and writes regularly on different topics as well as football.

One recent article ‘Null and Void’ points out that in this pandemic top flight football has shown up to be in the main just another business that is scrambling to keep the money-spinning show on the road. I fully sympathise with his article and will look out for more in the future.

Just look up ‘Null and Void’ Mark Perryman and it will come up first on the google list.

 

Football will be back.

Public Health is the prime consideration for when football resumes and we will have to wait for that day.

My first football love was St albans City and still a go to on their excellent twitter feed for their scores when they are playing. Over this lockdown period I have been following some fascinating articles about the history of football in St Albans by the club historian David Tavener. I hope that he collates his depth of knowledge and great writing style into a definitive history one day.

Over the VE Day weekend the twitter feed published a copy of the program for the first game played at Clarence Park since the ending of the Second World War which was not played until September 1st. Hopefully St Albans will be playing their first home game by September if it is safe.

 

 

st albans program

Looks like it was an exciting game but the notations on the program look as if the person watching was not too impressed.

Bowles

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Bowles’ written by Steve Bidmead and Published by Virgin Books Ltd 2002 as part of FourFourTwo Footballers series.

This was a nostalgic read capturing the era when characters not only filled the back pages but front as well of the press in general. Stan Bowles was the anti hero to some but a hero to many who saw him as one of their own. He has been termed a maverick by many which is defined in The Collins Dictionary 25th Oct 2016 as : a person of independent or unorthodox views….Over the subsequent course of time, the word has been used to describe people in both a positive and negative context. To me Stan was a postive person reflecting the lives of many of his time. He was also an amazingly talented footballer.

This book captures the time and with the help of Stan a look into his world.

Born in Manchester he first came to fame at Manchester City but a  not unusual fall out with another larger than life  character Malcolm Allison saw him leave and play for two northern clubs before he joined QPR in 1972 and set in motion a seven year stay that saw him idolised by the fans.

He was bought to replace Rodney Marsh, departed for Manchester City, whose number ten shirt no one wanted to wear. Marsh had become a cult figure at the club and I can testify to this having seen him dominate a game at Watford one evening. An injury on the far side of the pitch from the dugouts saw him leave the field, lean against the hoardings, chat to the fans for a few minutes, then signal to the referee to return and continue his masterclass.

Stan Bowles however was not fazed by his predecessors aura and soon became the fans darling due to his on and off field antics. As a player he would often receive the ball in the attacking half and be able to effortlessly jink or body swerve a defender and bend a ball with both sides of his right foot to produce a telling pass or shot. QPR  arguably had a golden era when Stan played for them.

Unfortunately his footballing abilities were overshadowed by his life off the pitch and this book captures this brilliantly.

Not to ruin the book I will list only two of his telling quotes and these only from the introduction, ‘I lost a half million quid on gambling, booze and women – the rest I wasted’ and ‘I was penniless again. I’d blown the lot on vodka and tonic, gambling and fags.Looking back, I think I overdid it on the tonic.’

If you can get a copy of this book sit back and enjoy a time when individualism was still above the team ethic and personal activities were not plastered across Social Media.

 

The phantom football season of 2019/20

Yes The Non-league season of 2019/20 should have ended yesterday with the final league games being played,  leaving only the play offs and Wembley finals to be concluded. There was no jubilation, celebration or despair as promotions, playoff spots and relegations were not decided. All games from step 3 and below have been deemed not to have taken place and the season became a mirage that certainly was there but disappeared in the world created by the Covid pandemic. There are still positions to be worked out in the National Leagues and perhaps some legal issues to be sorted on the way to a new season whenever that may start. Some mystics are predicting that Non-league games will not start until January 2021 but no one knows. My fear is that some teams will not survive the shutdown or the new normal to follow, a quote from John Betjeman seems apt: “It’s strange that those we miss the most/ Are those we took for granted.

However for me  the season was not a mirage and it gave me a great deal of fun, enjoyment, entertainment and chips.

It started for me on a very very wet Sunday afternoon in September at O N Chenecks in Northampton. The FA Cup qualifier was spoilt by the rain but it had the excitement and cut and thrust of this grand old competition.

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The stand out events of the season were:

Hearing two young men talking about their futures in the Athersley Recreation Club House eating my chips prior to an entertaining evening game.

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The excitement of the home supporters at Clay Cross as they sneaked a deserved cup win on a foggy November 5th. The fireworks were not just in the sky nearby.

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The A6 derby on Boxing day is always a goalfest and vocally supported. This is a Christmas highlight.

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Being warmly welcomed in the club house at Workington and seeing this club resurrecting itself from a disastrous few years.

My 70th Birthday celebrations that saw me visit Hellas Verona for a Serie A match on Sunday, Aston Villa’s league Cup semi-final win on Tuesday and finishing the week with a trip to Everton on the Saturday. Thank you to everyone who made this possible.

A trip to F.C. United (A must for all football fans) which really restored my faith in the future of Non-League football. They have so many ideas here that should be looked at by other clubs.

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But my best memory was a visit to Walthamstow FC where on a beautiful sunlit Saturday afternoon I was privileged to see a real community atmosphere of all sexes, ages and ethnicities enjoy their afternoons football. Keep it up Walthamstow I’m sure you will achieve your promotion next season.

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Of course I must mention the chips and that Shirebrook Town again won my chip league despite having a poor season on the pitch.

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I look forward to next season whenever it starts and have already started my list of must see games.

 

 

Footnote: The Lockdown has found many of us the time to tidy, computers, homes and gardens and I’m sure a few gems have been turned up. I have found the three bricks I was given by the demolition men as they tore down the old Holte End, an amazing reminder of some great times.

My son has some as well as some of the mosaic bricks from the old Lion emblem that used to adorn the stand that the Doug Ellis Stand replaced. I believe that the vandalism that wrecked the mosaic and the stained glass windows keeps haunting the Villa and they should be recreated in the new North Stand when it is finally built and the good times will then come back. I hope the current owners Mr Nassef Sawiris and Mr Wes Edens take note.

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brilliant orange

the neurotic genius of dutch football

brilliant orange : written by David Winner  : Published in 2000 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

This was another classic must read football book I found in an Oxfam bookshop for £2.50. It’s bright orange cover has sat there for too long enticing me to pick it up and now was a good opportunity.

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Firstly I must say that sometimes the football was incidental as David Winner educated me on Dutch history, culture, architecture, environment, people and much more and this enhances the background to the football.

This is an explanation of how ‘Total Football’ was born and developed from the 1950’s to the end of the millennium. The Netherlands had been considered a dull, efficient, practical country that changed in the 60’s with a vibrant youth culture, pioneering architects and a new flowing total football that encompassed individual skill with a team pattern that was to surprise and please the world.

Much is put on the shoulders of Johan Cruyff but the book explores his undoubted talent but also the flaws and the other key players who created the revolution.

Ajax are at the centre of the book with their amazing European Cup achievements in the early 1970’s when they won it three times and once again in the 1994/95 season under Louis van Gaal. There is also major analysis of why the National Team have not won the World Cup or beaten their major rival Germany when it seemed turning up was all that was needed. Is it arrogance, no killer instinct or are they are just nice people, the interviews with players and coaches give an in depth insight.

I won’t spoil it for you, but I will say I shouldn’t have left it on the to read pile for so long.

 

Easter Renewal

Football at Christmas and New Year is always welcomed as a distraction from eating and other festivities but for me it is the Easter fixtures that I look forward to. Often promotion or relegation is decided over the long weekend and those teams that you have been watching in the Non League pyramid who have played many less games due to postponements for bad weather and or long cup runs catch some up and you see if their many fixtures are too much or they are good enough to climb into a promotion or out of a relegation battle. You also say farewell to the season and look forward to the new.

This year we cannot look forward as we wait to see how and when this terrible pandemic leaves us. Already there are some teams who have disbanded and others will follow not able to financially survive. Are local football teams going the way of the local pub, post office, store and church, hopefully not and communities will realise their worth in providing, exercise, entertainment, competition, hope and dreams.

The new season when it arrives will surely be the toughest yet, not on the field but in the committee and boardrooms trying to balance the books with diminished sponsorship, advertising and maybe volunteers.

All is now dependant on the Premier League as to when or if they restart and finish this season and how they conduct themselves. Wrong moves could dent footballs place in our sporting psyche. Having pops at young footballers to give up 30% of their income seems cheap when as Gary Lineker said they are not asking this of all high earners. But the League and Clubs must conduct themselves with dignity and with a conscience if it is not to be perceived that everything was actioned for greed.

I hope next Easter that the message of renewal will once again be in our thoughts and also for a new football season.

How Steeple SinderbyWanderers won the F.A. Cup

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How Steeple Sinderby Wanderers won the F.A,Cup.

Written by J.L.Carr   v   First Published in 1975    This reprint 2005 by The Quince Tree Press-Bury St Edmunds

 

If you look at lists of Football books to read this invariably comes up. Unfortunately not true but a glorious way to indulge in football fantasy that you wished were true.

Todays F.A. Cup does not have the same cache of when the book was written, gone are the endless replays, the top teams not puting out full squads,  not being too upset when they go out in an early round and there seems fewer small team giant killing stories. Games are now clinically decide sometimes on penalties.

The glamour and fun have been taken away from the competition but it is there in full technicolour in this book. It is definitely a comedy novel but still almost believable.

From playing local football the team enter the F.A. Cup and progress through the many rounds to a final with Glasgow Rangers.

It’s the characters who are the stars, Alex Slingsby, Sid ‘the Shooting Star’ Swift, Monkey Tonk (son of a trapeze artist) the milkman turned goalkeeper, Mr Fangloss, Dr Kossuth, head teacher of the local school who is from Hungary and more. The interactions and the intricacies and depth of local village relationships are carefully woven into the story.

A quick read of 124 pages it will lift spirits at such an uncertain time.