Getting the Third Degree

An opportunity to wallow in sentimentality as I recall the huge impact of the first 3 black players to play together for West Bromwich Albion in the seventies.
I had learnt again of Laurie Cunningham’s story from an ITV documentary (“First Among Equals – The Laurie Cunningham Story (2013)”) and I’m trying to get proof that I saw Cunningham play at the “game of the decade” (that never was) when Liverpool beat WBA at Anfield on 3rd February 1979, and when WBA beat Man U at The Hawthorns on 10th October 1979.
All dramatic portrayals of football suffer with trying to re-create the action, and from commentary to describe the action in superlatives. A shame that the play doesn’t use more of what the player said, or may have said, when describing goals and achievements.
And of course, a football fan spots things like Orient being referred to as Leyton Orient in the ’70s, when they weren’t.
Also some of the political points being made were not clear enough – was Roy Jenkins moving the 1976 Race Relations Act being celebrated, or ridiculed? What was the final scene trying to say? And perhaps the current point to be made is the lack of black managers in the top flights of football – and I remember Cyrille Regis complaining some years back when he couldn’t make a breakthrough.
But for those who don’t know the stories, this play is worth seeing.

Opening game of the season – repeats

Giles unexpectedly receives a pass from a free kick and, even more unexpectedly, blasts it from 30 yards into the top corner

Jimmy Sirrel, upon Notts County winning 1-0 at Aston Villa on the opening day of 1981-82, said to start the season, you want your first goal, your first point and your first win. He perhaps should have added your first clean sheet. Whatever, I’ve repeated the homily many times, and always think of him on the opening day. – which is too early (which I also always repeat).
Salop’s 1-0 win against promotion-fancied Portsmouth – who’d bought 2 of our players – is a great result.
But welcome to the word “streaky” a la football. Our on-loan-for-a-season full-back had never hit one like that before; all the match stats were against Salop (except the red card; and a last kick of the game that seemed a certain equaliser hit a crouching Portsmouth player and ballooned away.
The full-back actually said how their determination had been to defend.
My hunch – another season of struggle and of 54 points is the target – but hey, nice kit.

Unlucky but foul

Well, other than the forearm swipe in the 7th minute, the potential threat to not play after conceding a second goal, the crunching treading on an ankle with 60 seconds to go, oh, and a general violent approach that is so out of kilter to the conduct and appeal of World Cup ’19, I had some sympathy for Cameroon.

Cos they were unlucky. The back pass was one of horrible mis-judgements leaving the keeper in a dilemma, the subsequent point-blank free kick was gonna be stopped until the keeper pushed it around the far-post guard, England’s second goal. was the kind that used to be ruled as offside, and their disallowed goal was offside for the sake of the lower leg.

All on top of a grievance in the country’s footballing psyche burning since Italia ’90; England got 2 penalties in that quarter-final when they looked ready to fall 2-1. (And Gary Lineker did a piece for this evening’s broadcast basically admitting he’d dived for the second penalty.)
Remember too that England’s population is double theirs and our wealth per person is 17 times higher.

Tedious to hear BBC commentators whinge about the time taken to do VAR and the referee – if a side decide they are mounting a protest, patience (whilst they realise they have nowhere to go) is the only option.

and Phil Neville didn’t criticise the referee once.

From the Guardian – 
… but the referee, diplomatically, refrained from making those decisions due to genuine fears the match would descend into total anarchy. By the end she genuinely seemed to fear for her physical safety.
“The referee was trying to protect football by not giving the penalty or the sending-off at the end when Steph’s ankle was stamped on – I admire the referee unbelievably,” said Neville …

The Keeper

The “incredible true story” of Margaret Trautman, Bert Trautman, Margaret’s father, Sergeant Smythe, and all touched by the bravery and tragedy and hatred of living through the war.
Shown again on the 75th Anniversary of D-Day by Broadway, and the cinema knew what they were doing. Cos it is the most visible example of reconciliation between German and British people I’ve ever seen.
It is so much more than a football film. (Indeed the commentary of the Wembley final is the one thing the director gets badly wrong.)
I’d wanted to see it during its release in April, but elections got in the way.
It’s a great film and I’d say go see, but it’s gone.
(5 stars; e:5; s:5; p:4; wiki; Guardian – 3 stars; btw, truish rather than “true”.)

European Cup final 2019

Reminded of Tottenham Hotspur losing at Notts County in the League Cup badly in the Klinsmann / Sheringham era when their decisive cutting penetrating forward moves were rehearsed in the warm-up but in some kind of slow motion.
Ditto Liverpool last night.
Building repeatedly from 6 yards out, getting past 4 Liverpool players with passes to 30 yards out and then not finding each other in the next leap forward (typical culprits – Trippier, Alli, Son), or passing back to the keeper, cos it was till all too slow.
Just not sure what continental football made of this “all English” final, with most of the players getting ratings of 5 and 6, but it all seemed too ineffective; and lacking in glory.
The penalty award after 23 seconds was bizarre. I assumed VAR was going to overturn it – the ball hit the chest, leaving no time to react to a deflection, from a pass that had been going away from goal.
Tottenham had 62% of the possession, and many more shots on target, but the possession was never very penetrating and the efforts on target were soft.
Tottenham went into the final having lost 5 of their previous 8 games and 19 in the season throughout. They were nearly knocked out of the competition on 5 occasions. They were unlucky in some ways and cup football being what it is, they could have won.

Tottenham Glassjaws grasp privilege to lose in European Cup final

Liverpool came from 3-0 down to beat Barcelona at home in a European Cup semi-final and Tottenham Hotspur came from 3-0 down at half-time away to Ajax of Amsterdam to win on away goals in the 6th minute of added time.
Being English teams, both comebacks were declared to be about character. Especially since Arsenal and Chelsea won their semi-finals to create the first instance of all contenders in both European finals coming from one country – England.
Except, the teams are commendably international – perhaps Spurs having the most English internationals; none of the team managers are English and 2 of the clubs are foreign owned.
I’ve followed Tottenham since I was 7, first saw them when I was 9, and they became my 2nd preference when I was 11 and old enough to watch Salop on my own. I from time to time refer to Spurs as Tottenham Glassjaws and had resolved not to listen to the Ajax game cos I knew there was no point. So guess who I think will win the Liverpool final! (And I was at the 7-0 thrashing in 1978.)
So what to celebrate? That Deli flick, yes.
But that Liverpool corner. That I did hear, or kinda didn’t, cos the smug commentators, who were soon to point out that Barcelona defenders were sleeping, missed it as well.

A season of some glory

Pleased to see Salop have avoided relegation from League 1 with a point at Coventry.
Last season, we could have won promotion at Wembley against Rotherham – who got relegated back down again yesterday.
Meanwhile our manager left with 2 of our best players to Ipswich; he lasted a few months, but they have been relegated.
Meanwhile, we took the Macclesfield manager, who seemed to buy wisely, but failed to win matches, critiquing his own team selection every time. Decent guy, but he was replaced by the Wrexham manager, whose selection decisions could also be questioned, but some further smart signings and we had some amazing away games – wonderful memories of Stoke and Wolves.  
But some hopelessly poor motivated home setbacks such as Oxford last week.
But we’ve survived, and we’ve had a season of some glory and some memories.  
And when you’re 3rd tier – perhaps that’s what it’s about.

Nottingham Forest banners

Seven banners shown last night before the Derby County derby, showing 7 Nottingham heroes –
Brian Clough, Robin Hood, DH Lawrence, Alan Sillitoe, Helen Watts, Eric Irons and Ned Ludd.
Meanwhile there was another banner across the stand celebrating Garibaldi of the red shirts fame that inspired the founders of the football club and their choice of colours.
Quite a radical choice – and not including often cited Albert Ball, Jesse Boot, Paul Smith, and less often cited Peter Mansfield and Stuart Adamson.

Forest won the derby 1-0, fine, though it turns out my Mum’s Dad supported Derby County after he moved there from the Black Country before WWI.

BTW, as explained elsewhere on the site, Forest played at a 10,000 stadium called the Town Ground, being the Town Arms pub win the city side of the Trent Bridge – home of the first crossbars used in football.
When they chose to expand – at the end of the 19th Century, Nottingham was celebrating being made into a city, so it seemed obvious to call the new ground the City Ground.
Back then the city boundary took in part of what is now regarded as West Bridgford, and only became part of Rushcliffe when a land swap gave the city land to build Clifton estate as well as Wilford village and Ruddington Lane in (circa) 1954).