Tag Archives: Football Culture

Groundtastic: A Guide To Football Grounds

Bo’ness United photo courtesy of 100 Grounds Club

I find that along with the classic matches football has to offer, I am intrigued by the culture that goes along with the club’s history, the city that supported the club, and of course the grounds that the club played their matches on. I touched upon Edgar Road, where Hereford United pulled off the 3rd Round replay upset of Newcastle United in an article last week and now I’ve come upon a magazine/ website that celebrates the rich history of the football ground. Groundtastic, The Football Grounds Magazine takes you there. Founded in 1995 by Vince Taylor, Jon Weaver and Paul Claydon, the quarterly magazine hit the shelves in March of that year. It since has blossomed into the premier football ground magazine.

“ Quite obviously a labour of love…the research is incredible and the photographs that accompany each article are superb ”- Yeovil Towne Program

From it’s humble beginnings as a photo copied magazine for the first six issues and moving on to a proper printed magazine, Groundtastic has grown from football’s answer to a punk ‘zine right into a glossy coffee table magazine in your parlor. With a circulation in the upwards of 1,500 (and growing), this labor of love fills the niche to football ground enthusiasts all over the world. We here at (aet) send out a huge Salute! to the lads over at Groundtastic. Not only are they taking a risk by putting out a glossy, virtually advert free, 80+ magazine about of all things, football grounds (which we think is the nuts), they do it with great pride and respect to the history of this game. Now if my local news stand would just carry it.

More information on Groundtastic.

(aet)

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Southampton FC: 1976 FA Cup Winners

Today we salute the 1976 FA Cup winners Southampton FC, who would rise to the occasion and in another example of a David vs. Goliath match, without the bible of course. In front of a crowd of 100K, United would put a massive amount of pressure on the Saints’ keeper Ian Turner. An early crossed shot by midfielder Steve Coppell saw Turner bobble the ball, a sure goal, only to be saved when two Red Devils hesitated to put the ball home. Gordon Hill went on the attack at what looked like a smashing lob, until Turner snatched the ball away and denied Hill and United what looked to be the go ahead goal. This gave the Saints a small kick in the pants they needed, as they regrouped and were able to finish out the first half with out going down a goal or more to United

“ Why do the goals all seem to come when you’ve nipped off to the loo? ”- Jasper Carrott, singer, in his song Cup Final, on the ’76 SFC FA Cup goal

It was Southampton who would come out in the second half but couldn’t find the back of the net as Mick Channon and David Peach came close. However, it was Man U who squandered the best chance of the match so far, when Sammy McIlroy’s header hit the woodwork. A close call for the Saints led to each club attacking several times, but managing not to put the ball in the back of the old onion bag. It wasn’t until the game was thought to be heading to extra time, when Bobby Stokes took off past the defense and scored. MU thought he was offside, but it was later shown through the replay that Stokes had timed his run perfectly, and on that run was able to place the ball extremely well into an unreachable corner of the net past United keeper Alex Stepney. It was this day that the Saints went marching into Wembley, beat the giants known as Manchester United, and rode that double tide back to Southampton with a trophy in the front of their bus, and medals around their neck. This of course, and a nod from the Queen herself. A huge shock in the world of football and a first piece of silverware for Southampton.

We hate Nottingham Forest
We hate Liverpool too
We hate Manchester Utd
But Southampton we love you

Southampton FC v. Manchester United 1976 FA Cup Final

Southampton Return Home After Winning the FA Cup

(aet)

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The Anfield Rap

I’m wondering what this rap would be like today with Suarez, Andy Carroll, Craig Bellamy, Stevie G, and Pepe Reina chiming in? If I had anything to do with it, it would have a line sung by Andy Carroll that went:

“I came to the Reds,
the gaffer I thank,
but Newcastle have the last laugh,
I haven’t done shite,
and they have £35m in the bank!”

Come on Andy, get it together.

The best part of the video is King Kenny making his arm move like he’s scratching a record. Brilliant.

(aet)

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A Highbury Match Missed, A Lifelong Friendship Begins

In 2000, I was an American Liverpool supporter who had never been to London. Imagine my delight when my room mate let me know that he had a connection for tickets for a match in London. In fact, the tickets were to be for a Liverpool match, and they were playing Arsenal at Highbury. It was the time when the best deals you could get on airfare were through Cheap Tickets, before the online search and compare sites, and a time when you could get $99 each way. This put you in London for about $250. With a free place to crash, London was going to be a dream. Tickets bought, bags packed and off to the aiport we went. Richard Branson did a bang up job of getting us to Heathrow in one piece, not to mention style. As my friend went through customs with his UK passport, I stood in line for the first time, eager to meet our ride. When asked why I was coming into the country I replied: “To see a match at Highbury”. “Who do you support?” the security officer asked me. I started to sweat a bit, thinking, he heard me say Highbury, so he expects me to say the Gunners, but if I don’t, there is no way I’ll be allowed in England. I said the truth, “Liverpool”, and without even looking at me, he stamped my passport and sarcastically said “best of luck with that”. I was in, welcome to Old Blighty. Shortly I was stuffed into a back of a three door Volvo hatchback with the luggage as our host, a giant of a man named Lindsay sped from the airport back to his flat in Islington. The Big Man, as he was called, was a lorry driver, part time boxer and doorman for clubs all around London. He was excited to have some friends from America (at least one, as my roomie had lived in London for quite a long time), and I was excited to talk football, get a tour of the city, and eventually see a live Premiership match.

“ Who do you support?” the security officer asked me. I started to sweat a bit, thinking, he heard me say Highbury, so he expects me to say the Gunners, but if I don’t, there is no way I’ll be allowed in England. ”

We did some sight seeing, ate kebabs, and did some shopping. It seems that while we were shopping, I reached for my ATM card. It wasn’t there. Unbeknownst to me, I had left it in the Bank machine back in the States before I got on the plane. Here I was in London, only a small amount of money, no credit card. A panic sunk in. Imagine my mood when we were eventually informed that the ticket connection had fell through. I was shattered. As we approached Highbury on match day, I was optimistic that we would get three tickets. The walk up to the stadium was unlike anything I had ever experienced in American sports. There was a buzz in the air, people were drinking pints on the street, football chants were all around, to me it was sheer madness. I loved it. We stopped for a quick bite, a fish and chips shop where I ordered and I quote “haddock and chips please” (I must have sounded like such a tourist) from an Asian woman with a thick Cockney accent. My reward was the best fish and chips I had ever had, served up nicely in newspaper. I was again in heaven. As I got closer Highbury with my friends, the excitement grew bigger and bigger, but was soon crushed at the enormous price for tickets to get into the stadium. We tried scalpers, but that was even worse. We were relegated to watch the match, in, of all places, an Arsenal pub. I was informed not to get too excited during the game, rather to watch it quietly, and exchange some glances back and forth to my friend who supported Liverpool. At least I get to watch the match with an English commentator (how thrilling it was back then), and Liverpool squeaked out a one nil victory when Stevie G had a sublime pass (pass of the year?) to Titi Camara and he finished past David Seamen. Match over, but that’s not the end of the story.

Fast forward eleven years later, visits by both parties on both sides of the Atlantic, endless telephone banter about football, and I can say without a doubt that The Big Man is one of my best friends. I taught him about some American sports. He said he wanted to pick a baseball team, I replied it couldn’t choose the Yankees. He chose the Mets, a team I equated with Portsmouth. We both got a laugh. He taught me about the beautiful game, sent me newspaper clippings from every football headline, Football Weekly, and the official Liverpool magazine, as well as football collectibles you can’t get here. Swapsies on footy stickers?. A Chelsea supporter who could tell you about the Headhunters, firm rivalries and 80’s hooliganism as easy as he could write poetry and wax poetic about Jack Kerouac and world affairs. His greeting on weekly phone calls of ” ‘ello mate” and a good bye message of “Stay lucky son” and “Up the Blues” was a sound I have grown to love, and look forward to. While in London last time I was there, we visited every football ground we could, took a tour of Stanford Bridge (a stadium he had never taken a tour of as a Blues supporter), and sat close to the pitch on a raw November day at the Valley, as Charlton put a thumping on MK Dons. I was excited to see their manager, the great player, now gaffer Paul Ince. He was a figure I had only seen on Sky Sports News, and while we stuffed our faces with Curried Chicken Pasties, the rain fell down and The Big Man lamented: “This is a perfect day to play football”. I couldn’t agree more.

You see, football is more than just a game, it’s life. I’ve grown to appreciate English football, the English approach to the game, and the cheeky culture that goes with it. The Big Man and I may not see each other but only once a year, but when we do, it’s like it was yesterday. Two football supporters who not only support different clubs, but support and respect the game. As I look back to my first trip to London, I may have missed that match at Highbury that day in 2000, but I gained one of the best people I could call my friend. That’s well worth the price of admission I didn’t pay. Stay Lucky.

(aet)

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A Life Changing Game

When I was a child, I played soccer. My coach was a hard as nails Scotsman called Malcolm Maw. He spoke with a thick Scottish accent, and named the team the Rovers. I played center half back for two years, had a NY Cosmos pennant on my wall and loved wearing my orange and black kit traveling all over South Jersey to play. Then, I made a decision that I regret to this day. I stopped playing. I have no idea why, but I got caught up with what most American boys in the 1970’s got caught up in: skateboarding, baseball, basketball, BMX bike riding, and video games. I had a friend who tried to get me back into it and of course I refused, choosing to follow other sports, or just not want to deal with it at all. It wasn’t until my late 20’s when I was a bit more refined, so to speak, that I got back into the beautiful game, it’s colorful and storied history, and gave up on any other sports I was ever into. I’m just simply not interested in anything other than football. I completely agree with the great Bill Shankly when he said: “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.” I’ve made so many friends all over the world through football, a kinship that can be attributed through who you support, who you don’t support, or the banter that arises from last night’s match. I’ve met strangers on planes, trains, the subway and on the street who, when seeing my scarf, track top or jersey have struck up a conversation, or even have gone as far to start an argument about a penalty kick they thought was undeserved from the last time their club played my club. In my whole life, I’ve never felt so connected to a sport and the people who support it.

“ Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that. ”-Bill Shankly

My love of the beautiful game has brought me to Scotland, where I saw my first live match when Celtic took on Dundee, to London, where I was suprised I couldn’t get a stadium tour in every stadium (large and small except Chelsea) I went to. I have been back and forth through the United States to watch and support the game I love. I’ve taken my knocks from friends who thought football was a waste of time, said it wasn’t a real sport or draw for fans, and much to their chagrin I pointed out it’s the most popular sport in the world. I spoke up to so called supporters who liked the “tops the guys wear” on clubs like Man United (IMHO the NY Yankees of the Premiership) and debated why they should do their homework on a team before they just chose the most popular one. I’ve played Premier League Fantasy League for so many years that when I talk about it, the people I had worked with looked at me like I was Rafi from the FX series League. I can specifically remember when Fox Soccer Channel was Fox Sports Net, you only got sporadic games to watch, and had to actually pay to get into a place like Nevada Smith’s in NYC to watch a match on Setanta. Locally, however, I had gone to a struggling “Irish Pub” that broadcast EPL matches. I did it primarily to find some kindred spirits to watch the match with, but to quench my thirst for football all together, even if I had to go alone. As I walked in with my scarf to watch the only match on, Arsenal v. Bolton (neither of my clubs), I saw two construction workers having a Bud Light at 11am while they screamed at the tv: “Turn this girl’s sport off!”. It didn’t matter that 6 foot something Sol Campbell ran up and down the pitch gracefully for 90+ minutes without even getting tired, a feat not many athletes in American football can claim. Quietly, I watched the end of the match, finished my shepard’s pie, and looked at the owner. This guy was a beaten man, realizing that he had to switch to the NFL because the EPL wasn’t going to cut it. He just raised his hands as if to say “what can I do?”. That place didn’t last, but my interest in football did, and I went where ever I had to to get my fix. I was just happy that I could be a part of what I felt was an underground cult of people who were into a movement against the norm. Plus, it was the most exciting sport I had ever watched: the long ball, hard challenges, great defense, and unbelievable passing and goals. My mind was made up, football from now on.

I was also introduced to the England National team in the beginning of my interest in football. My room mate was a Northern Irish lad who got me into the often exciting, mostly dreadful (but altogether addicting) England National team and (a team called everyone’s second favorite team, but my first) Liverpool. I was told I couldn’t switch clubs, that’s the way it goes. I stuck with that. I didn’t bother to get into the USMNT then, as I was introduced to England first. When I supported them (England) as an American (but still pulled for the US) during the last World Cup, I had to endure a ridiculous amount of stick at my local pub. “Country first”, as my mate Fulham Dave would say. While I know it struck people as odd, for me, it wasn’t odd. I was introduced to football through England, and those words that my friend told me about not switching teams stuck. I have since grown to also love USA football, Clint Dempsey, Landy Cakes, Tim Howard, the National team and the MLS, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out why I was getting a bunch of flack from people who would never get up and be at the pub (I’d never seen about 95% of these people) for a 7:05 kick off in the snow on a Saturday morning, while two bottom of the table clubs fought to stay up, but would surely put on a USA cowboy hat and scream for a team they knew not one player on. At least I supported the sport! I was the bloke who was there every Saturday and Sunday for Premiership matches, no matter who was playing, and I was wondering why these Johnny Come Lately’s were stepping into my clubhouse stirring the pot? I did and still do stand my ground, and consider myself a huge supporter of the game (no matter who is on the pitch). I do support my local club (New York Redbull), have had season tickets for the last five years, and will continue to preserve the culture and history of not just a sport they call the beautiful game, but what I call a life changing game.

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