A damn good Mailbox, that. Send some more to firstname.lastname@example.org…
My most memorable opening day was…
It was Spurs first day back in the first division after a memorable(?) season in the second division. We were drawn away to Nottingham Forest the reigning champions. Instead of the fear and worry that would now confront a newly promoted side visiting the champions on the opening day, we went to the County Ground totally pumped. Just weeks before the start of the season we had signed the recent World Cup winners Osvaldo Ardiles and Ricardo Villa.
For the time, the hype surrounding the signings was incredible, as Scots and Irish players were about as ‘foreign’ as signings got back then. Three of us travelled in my mate’s Viva, as we reversed into our parking space at the town hall, the clutch cable went, and we were quoted a 3 hour wait for assistance. Being smart we said we would happily defer assistance until 5.30 if they’d guarantee it. We were in the ground just after 1pm for a 3pm kick off, and stood in the open terrace opposite the Trent End in blazing heat, getting burnt to a crisp.
My main recollection of the match was Villa’s equaliser which gained us a point. He collected the ball, advanced, and then curled it into the net from the edge of the area, sublime skill. Spurs played well against the side destined to win the European Cup at the end of the season. The traditional pessimism of my two mates was briefly replaced by optimism. The AA guy turned up at 5.30 and we limped home on a bit of a bodge job.
The ’Spursy’ element of the story relates to the 2nd match. I was temporarily working in Gloucester, and the 2nd round of matches was on the following Wednesday evening. I couldn’t get time off. Having heard me buzzing about the match on Monday & Tuesday, my boss mysteriously arranged a meeting in London for Wednesday afternoon, and decided he needed assistance. We drove up, and I paid for dinner.
The excitement was palpable, and the teams came out to a phenomenal ticker tape welcome that matched anything seen in Buenos Aires during the World Cup. It wasn’t just my two mates who had been bitten by the optimism virus. WHL was at fever pitch. 0-1 at half time, things got steadily worse, and we ended up losing 1-4.
It was a really long journey back to Gloucester, with the chuckling of my Scouser boss denying me the chance to sleep. I still have nightmares of the following weeks working with him after Spurs visited Anfield a couple of weeks later. 7-0 defeat for those who can’t remember, sadly I’ll never forget.
Jim French (Spurs since ’59) Herts
…Spurs don’t, generally, do well on the opening day and it’s generally best to forget about the early matches. Still, two such matches stick out from consecutive seasons, both involving trips to clubs from the north east.
In 2007, under cuddly Martin Jol, we travelled to Sunderland for the season’s early kick off. With an expensively reinforced squad that included £30 million spent over the summer on Younes Kaboul, Darren Bent and Gareth Bale, we were surely set to blow away the opposition… only to lose 1-0 to a Michael Chopra injury-time winner. That kicked off a run of 8 points from the first 12 games which brought about the end of BMJ and the installation of Juande Ramos, a ban on ketchup in the club canteen and a League Cup win – our last bit of silverware. A mixed season, to say the least.
In 2008, under un-cuddly Juande Ramos we travelled to Middlesbrough having lost our talismanic captain Robbie Keane to Liverpool over the summer but not to worry as we’d picked up David Bentley for £15 million, and his fellow newcomers Luka Modric and Giovanni dos Santos were rumoured to be quite the prospects, too. Surely with that much talent around – and Dimitar Berbatov hadn’t forced his way out of the club yet – then we couldn’t fail to beat a Boro side who’d go on to finish 19th, right? In fact, we lost 2-1, our goal an injury time own goal from Robert Huth, kicking off a run of just 2 points from 8 games which… But we all know the rest of that story.
This season we’re away on day one again, but it’s not in the north-east, so I’m hopeful for a settled season. Mind you, we have Palace after that, and when we last played them in August we ended the season with Tim Sherwood in charge…
…August 14 1993, Anfield. My first ever game and a season opener to boot. 2-0 winners over Sheffield Wednesday thanks to a brace from Nigel Clough on his debut. Carlton Palmer sent off and the Kop singing “where’s your Palmer gone” to the tune of Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep (who?).
A glorious sunny day and having a belated happy birthday message read out at half time by the legendary George Sephton. Amazing.
Carl (the attendance was 44,004. We were the four!) the Welsh
…On memorable opening days, it doesn’t get much worse than the 09-10 season for Norwich fans.
I’d been living abroad for a year and so had missed most of our terrible relegation from the Championship to League One, the lowest level our proud club had been at for years. Despite the drop I was excited to get back to Carrow Road for our opening game against Colchester. The club had done some seemingly impressive recruitment over the summer and we’d had a great preseason including a 3-2 victory over then Premier League side Wigan. Plus a season in League One could be fun- new teams to play, new grounds to visit, we might actually win a few games! The sense of optimism didn’t last long.
We fell behind when our debuting Australian goalkeeper came out, let a long ball go over his head and an obliging striker tapped home. Three minutes later he parried a shot straight to another striker partner and it was 2-0. Number three swiftly followed when a cross was somehow allowed to travel all the way to the far post and was bundled home. The shellshock in the crowd quickly turned to open hostility and when goal number 4 (a freekick our hapless Ozzie let go straight past him) went in a rather rotund fan and his son ran onto the pitch to throw their season tickets at manager Bryan Gunn. Remember this is less than 45 minutes into the first game of the season so they were throwing away another 22.5 home games…
By half time it was 5-0 and the ground was emptying. We pulled one back to mass ironic cheers but Colchester were not to be stopped and stuck a further two home. Me, my Dad and my Brother made it to 6-1 before we left so I have no idea what sounds greeted goal number 7.
From a personal perspective it was horrifying- I’d spent a year being unable to attend or even watch games (not many Championship games on TV in the States) and on that Sunday I’d strolled up to Carrow Road with a spring in my step, ready to cheer on my team again. All those good feelings were completely obliterated in the space of 30 minutes and by 75 I was gone.
The twist in the tale however was that this game turned out to be good for our club. Bryan Gunn was swiftly sacked and replaced with the man who masterminded Colchester’s victory that day, Paul Lambert (believe me he was great before Villa crushed his spirit); Michael Theoklitis (the debutant from down under) never played for us again; and by the time the season finished we had won the League comfortably. Two seasons after this crushing defeat we opened our first Premier League campaign in 6 years and went on to finish 12th,.
We can look back on it and laugh now but sometimes I still watch the highlights to remind me however sh*t we are, it could always be worse.
…Two memories for me. On my 14th birthday I was at Stamford bridge when Chelsea beat West Ham 4-2 when Mario Stanic scored that keepy up volley from miles out. What a day!
Randomly I was also at Selhurst Park a few years prior to it and was in the ground for the Beckham goal. Unfortunately we were making our way out and I missed the goal entirely. I couldn’t understand what was going on as all the man united fans down the other end were cheering and no one was in the Wimbledon half bar Neil Sullivan. Surely I can’t have been the only person who was at that game and missed the goal?
Don’t worry too much
I know, I know, I’m meant to be instantly excited the moment ridiculous rumours like this surface but. Oh. My. God.
If Griezmann signed for Arsenal I will cancel my appointment with the quack where I was trying to acquire some Viagra.
A player chant for each team
You asked for mails, so I hastily threw together this list of chants that, if they don’t already exist, damn well should do. One for each team in the PL next season, each with a tortuous player name pun.
Arsenal – Santiiii Cazorla, football at your feet (to the tune of The Beatles’ Lady Madonna)
Burnley – He’s Guðmundsson, He’s Guðmundsson, He’s alright (The Beatles – Here Comes The Sun)
Bournemouth – Ibe, Ibe, Baby (Vanilla Ice – Ice Ice Baby)
Chelsea – Ce…zar Azpilicueta (to the tune of Things Can Only Get Better, again)
Crystal Palace – My Speroni (The Knack – My Sharona)
Everton – Why don’t you come on over, Cleverly (The Zutons / Amy Winehouse – Valerie)
Hull City – Don’t call my name, don’t call my name, Diomande (Lady Gaga – Alejandro)
Leicester – Wake me up before N’Golo goes (bit late on this one, admittedly – Wham!)
Liverpool – Ings can only get better (D-Ream, Things can only get better)
Man City – Oh Fabian Delph (Celine Dion – All by myself)
Man Utd – What’s that coming over the hill, it’s Fosu-Mensah, Tim Fosu-Mensah (The Automatic – Monster)
Spurs – Lamela-mela-mela-OOH! (Summer Nights from Grease – maybe when he takes a run up for set plays?)
Stoke – Afellay ‘cross the Mersey
Sunderland – Itsey Bitsey Teeny Weeney Fellow Fabio Borini (Timmy Mallet)
Swansea – Angel Rangel, your face is a mess (David Bowie – Rebel Rebel)
West Brom – McManaman, do dooo do do do (The Muppets – mer-ner-mer-ner)
Middlesbrough – Halliday, celebrate (Madonna – Holiday)
Watford – Oh Deeney, doo-be-doo, I’m in love with you (Blondie – Denis Denis)
West Ham – Angeloooo Ogbonna (Lady Madonna again)
A few bits of reuse there, but at least I know that if this technology career goes kaput at any stage, I can always get a job as headline writer for The Sun. Or eat my own feet, it would be a close-run thing.
God I want the season to start now.
Al, Hull City
As the pieces start to move in the transfer market, I was starting to think about players who are surplus to requirements and should start looking elsewhere and could be available for a relative bargain:
Mata – Mourinho doesn’t like him and Man Utd have a better creative players (Michtryan) and players who will likely start ahead of him (Rooney, Ibra, Martial, Rashford, Carrick, Herrera etc.)
Costa – Batschuayi will probably start for Chelsea, meaning Costa is free to go. He is still a good striker but I wonder if his reputation now makes him an expensive risk
Ulloa – With Musa and Vardy, how many games is he likely to get? He would be a great player for mid-table teams
Matic – had a bad season, but clearly too good to benchwarm for Kante
City players – they have signed so many, I can’t be bothered to go one by one. But there have to be some there (not Bony, Mr Wenger)
Lucas/Can – One of them will stay, and one should go I imagine
Just off the top of my head anyway. On a side note, I am liking the look of Swansea’s business so far.
Rob A (can we sign a finishing coach if we aren’t going to sign a striker…, it counts) AFC
Top five leagues
Pedant alert: I’ve never really had the inclination to comment on Football365’s consistent references to “Europe’s top five leagues” on the basis that I presume your reference to the ‘top five’ is based on league revenue.
I presume it can’t be on attendances as the Champo would make the top 5 and I presume it can’t be on quality, otherwise Portugal would replace France in the top 5 (as Portugal has been ahead of France in the UEFA coefficients at season end from 2011 onwards).
Your analysis of the PL’s golden boot contenders was the straw that broke the camel’s back though. You made reference to Zlatan’s goal scoring record in “Europe’s top five leagues” – yet, it would make much more sense to assess someone’s scoring record based on quality of the league (i.e. UEFA coefficients) rather than revenue. Indeed, the way the Golden Shoe is calculated affirms this. So, last year, Zlatan, plying his trade in the French league, finished sixth, whilst Jonas of Benfica finished fourth, despite scoring four goals less.
To be fair, this is only a roundabout way of mentioning Jonas, possessor of the best footballing brain in Europe’s top five leagues.
(MC – It’s on this, I believe)
Sky Sports News: Is it news?
I have a question for the mailbox, what do they believe the main directive of Sky Sports News is? Is it an actual news channel, or an Sports entertainment program on Sky Sports with some news included. When I watch Goals on Sunday, I am comfortable knowing they are only going to show goals from leagues Sky Sports has the rights to, and promote the upcoming matches, but am I wrong to hold Sky Sports News in higher regard?
I have always assumed that SSN was a news channel, as it does calls itself a news channel, and you do get news from the channel but the more I think about it, the less I think it actually qualifies as one. I watch SSN for an hour or so each day to get my sports news, but am starting to disillusioned with the disparity of what they believe is significant news and what I believe is news, especially when they believe the Premier League launch is a bigger story than anything going on in Rio. It seems that if the sporting event doesn’t occur on in the Sky universe, then it doesn’t qualify as news.
I can understand why Sky Sports News prioritise the stories link to events/matches which are broadcast on Sky over other events, but I think ignoring the events completely goes too far. For example how much news did we hear about the Community Shield prior to the event in comparison to the beginning of the Championship season?
Even after the events Sky Sports News very rarely shows clips of other sporting events, no matter how significant if broadcast from a channel they are not affiliated with. BBC News, ITV News, and Sky News all do on a daily basis, and credit the source, so with Sky Sports News not doing do, must mean that Sky don’t see it as a news channel by not asking for the footage, or BBC/ITV/BT Sport don’t see it as a news channel by not letting them use their footage. Sports Centre, ESPN’s flagship sports news show gives coverage to sports and events that ESPN doesn’t have the rights to, so is it too much to have Sky Sports News do the same?
I know that despite all this, I will continue to watch Sky Sports News even it is a news channel about Sky Sports, rather than a Sports News Channel from Sky.
Mark in Manchester
I had a look to corroborate Brian’s statement that Liverpool are only playing 38 games this season (not including cup games) and lo and behold, he was right! But in researching this I also discovered something astounding. Below are a list of other teams that are only playing 38 games this season (not including cup games):
You heard it here first.
Rich (EXCLUSIVE) CCFC