Unsporting Life


I’ve grown bored of hearing the footballing press belittling FC Nordsjælland this season before each Champions League Group Stage game. Lazy journalism, tired clichés and over use of Wikipedia have been the order of the day to explain who the Danish champions are. Whilst their appearance in the Group Stages owes as much to the poor showing of countries such as Scotland in previous European seasons as it does to the record of FC Copenhagen in the competition, they are there because they won their domestic league. They are the champions of their national league and quite rightly deserve a place in the Champions Cup – more so that 80% of other teams who didn’t earn the same honour.

Few gave them any hope of progressing. Even the Europa League was seen as a step to far. In truth the club themselves also shared this view but would still approach the campaign as a yardstick as to how far they had come in a short space of time. Nine years ago they made their European debut against FC Shirak in the old UEFA Cup. Four years ago they were back gain, even beating Queen of the South in the competition. Now they were ready to make their final bow at home in this years Champions League against Shakthar Donetsk, having already entertained Juventus and Chelsea.

Whilst the competition has given the players, fans and officials some great memories (and still with a visit to Stamford Bridge to come in two weeks time), their primary aim this season is to try to retain their SuperLiga title. With the long harsh winter already slowly descending on parts of Denmark, the club lays in second place, trailing the FCK machine by six points. Continue reading

Seven and the rampant tiger


I wasn’t the only person who threw myself head first into the Olympics and Paralympics, searching out daily availability for tickets and willing to see everything and anything.  Brian Parish, the brains behind the Daggers Diary went to almost an event a day.  One of these was the final of the 7-a-side football on the last day the Park was open.

After the excitement and drama of both the Olympic and Paralympic Games, arguably the best seven weeks of sports seen in this country draws to a close. Both events have created new heroes for the British sporting public to follow, admire and emulate, and after all of the fears about transport, security and almost everything else, I would say from what I have seen, that it seems to have gone fairly well.

From a British point of view, there have been new heroes created, some have re-enforced their higher status, and some have probably increased it. Expect an increase in the popularity of Bradley and Eleanor as babies names over the next year or so.

There were disappointments of course. The GB men’s football team suffered an entirely foreseeable exit on penalties, while the women’s team, having done the hard work by beating Brazil and topping their group, then blew their chance of a medal in the quarter final against Canada. Whether either GB side will appear again is a matter for much debate. Continue reading

A Euro odyssey


For months prior to the European Championships we kidded ourselves we weren’t interested in going. The relentless bad mouthing of social issues in Poland and Ukraine by the English media certainly put many potential fans off, as did the complexity in trying to work out travel arrangements. For once tickets for the matches were as easy to get as a winning hand at PartyCasino.

But then the tournament started and all we saw was mirth and (good) mayhem in the pictures from our friends via Facebook and Twitter. So we haven’t got any tales to tell from the tournament, the first European Championships we have missed since 1992, but we know a man who did go, and he was only too happy to write a report for us. It is a good lunchtime read and so we have prepared it as a pdf for you to read.

So without any further ado, let me introduce you to Vinny Goodfield, aka The Richmond Red, and his story of the ultimate jolly boys outing – euro 2012

Devaluing the Euros


After just over three weeks of football, the world’s second biggest football tournament has played out in front of our eyes in Poland and Ukraine. Sixteen of Europe’s best teams have competed in thirty nine games to determine who would win the Henri Delaunay and join the likes of France, Holland, Denmark, West Germany, Greece and Spain in being crowned the champions of European Football. A few weeks before the tournament the bookies suggested that you should look no further than 2008 champions Spain for the winner of the tournament and when Iker Casillas elbowed Platini out of the way to lift the trophy they proved that class and form were both well judged.

However, that is all due to change in four years time. UEFA President Michel Platini has deemed the current tournament not open and fair enough and is expanding it so that 24 teams, instead of the current 16 will compete for the cup when the fifteenth tournament kicks off in France in four years time.

Just like Amino Acids are the building blocks for protein, the European Championships are the building blocks for many a player’s career.  Back in 1988, Marco Van Basten became a household name in no small part due to his tormenting of the English defence; In 1996 Gazza re-confirmed his genius on the world stage and in 2008 David Villa secured his huge transfer to Barcelona. The 1988 tournament was expanded from eight teams to sixteen to avoid the situation of heavy weights such as England, West Germany and Holland would never miss out on qualification. With just 53 nations competing for fifteen qualifications spots (fourteen this year due to the joint-hosting from Poland and Ukraine), it takes a serious shock for anyone apart from Europe’s top ranked teams not to make the tournament.

Of course occasionally there are shocks. Back in Portugal in 2004 Latvia turned up having beaten Turkey in the play offs; in 2000 Slovenia surprised everyone by qualifying and then went on to make an appearance in the World Cup Finals in South Korea two years later, whilst in 2008 the absence of England from the tournament in Austria and Switzerland was seen as a major financial blow to the tournament organisers who had budgeted on tens of thousands of England fans making the trip over the Alps. Continue reading

Don’t fix what’s not broken


In ten weeks time our pain will be over.  Thanks to an invite from Supporters Direct, we will be taking part in the inaugural Supporters Direct Shield when we face fellow fan-owned club Fisher Athletic at Enfield Town’s Donkey Lane.   Seventy days.  Ten Saturdays without any Lewes games to look forward to.  It is more than possible that we will line up on that Sunday in July without actually knowing who our first opponents are (in whatever league it could be).  Fortunately we have the best tournament in the world to keep us happy for a few weeks slap bang in the middle.

The European Championships will fill our screens from mid June for early July and showcase the best talent in European football.  Oh, and England will be there too.  The reason why this is the best tournament is that the best teams are always there.  Every game means something, and can in theory go either way.  Just look at Group B – Portugal, Germany, Holland and Denmark.  There isn’t one weak team in the whole tournament, and that is what makes it so good to watch.  Obviously, after England have been eliminated in the Quarter Finals on penalties (whose turn is it this time?  My money is on Germany again), we can enjoy the continental skill of the best players in the world (bar Messi, is there anyone else we would want to see?) in the final stages while the stampede for Euro 2012 Final Tickets begins. Continue reading