Friday, May 4, 2012

Friday List of Little or No Consequence #239

It's all about the 'in-play...'
The 9 Most Popular Results In FA Cup Final History*

1. 1-0 (42 times, last time in 2011)
2. 2-0 (23 times, last time in 2002)
3. 2-1 (21 times, last time in 2009)
4. 3-1 (13 times, last time in 1986)
5. 3-0 (9 times, last time in 2004)
6. 3-2 (8 times, last time in 1989)
7. 1-1 (7 times, last time in 1993)
8. 0-0 (4 times, last time in 2005)
9. 4-1 (4 times, last time in 1946)

(* includes results after 90 / 120 minutes and replays)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Weekend TV Preview: 4 - 6 May

Friday 4 May

19:05 Derry City v St Patrick's Athletic, Airtricity League, Premier Sports
The Irish league season is only nine games old. Derry are fifth with no wins in five. St Patricks are one place and five points ahead.
19:45 Blackpool v Birmingham City, Championship Play Off Semi Final 1st Leg, Sky Sports 1 / Sky Sports 1 HD
A quick look at the form book tells us... nothing at all. This is because play offs have a mind of their own and no one knows what's going to happen. That's why they're so much fun.

Saturday 5 May

12:45 Rangers v Motherwell, SPL, Sky Sports 4 / Sky Sports 4 HD
Motherwell have sealed third place which qualifies them for a Champions league qualifier by virtue of Rangers' administration not making them eligible for UEFA competition. So that's it I'm afraid. Nothing else to play for.
17:15 Chelsea v Liverpool, FA Cup Final, ITV1 / ITV1 HD / ESPN / ESPN HD / SKY 3D
It's more than just dewy eyed nostalgia that affronts people about the relegation of the FA Cup final to the 5:15 dead slot just before the end of the English League Season. Bumping the final to accommodate the all conquering Premier League undermines the competition and may affect its ability to raise revenue, in the future. This is in turn would affect the pot of prize money for progressing through the rounds. While that may be of little consequence to the big professional clubs, the money that non league clubs can make, even progressing through the preliminary rounds can transform their fortunes. The preliminary rounds may seem small beer to most football fans but for the clubs participating they are potentially very lucrative games. No other competition in England connects the elite with its grass roots, in this way, than the FA Cup. That's why the FA Cup matters and that's why its preeminence needs to be restored.
21:00 Barcelona v Espanyol, La Liga, Sky Sports 4 / Sky Sports 4 HD
The title is decided and the coach is on his way. Two weeks ago this city derby may have meant something. Not today though.
21:00 Granada v Real Madrid, La Liga, Sky Sports 4 / Sky Sports 4 HD
A win would guarantee Granada's survival in the League. It's possible that Real will be too busy fellating themselves to notice that there is a football match going on but do you want to take that chance?

Sunday 6 May

01:00 LA Galaxy v New York, Red Bulls, MLS, ESPN / ESPN HD
Harrison Energy Drink Concern featuring Thierry Henry travel to the Home Depot to meet an out of sorts Galaxy team. Red Bulls are two points behind a resurgent DC United in the Eastern Conference.
11:30 Siena v Parma, Serie A, ESPN / ESPN HD
Mid table, end of season fixture. 'Nuff said, stay in bed.
12:45 Dundee United v Celtic, SPL, Sky Sports 4 / Sky Sports 4 HD
We're down to the scrutlings of the Europa League qualifying spots here. It's a shame Sky can't be more flexible with their fixture choice as there is more fun to be had with this league at the bottom.
13:30 Newcastle United v Man City, Premier League, Sky Sports 1 / Sky Sports 1 HD / SKY 3D
Of course, Cisse scored goals like the one he netted against Chelsea every week for Freiburg. Newcastle are playing without fear at the right time of the season which makes them terrifying opponents for a Man City team who will be repeatedly reminding themselves that just because they've beaten United, they still haven't won the title. In some ways, this will be a tougher challenge that the game on Monday.
13:30 Cagliari v Juventus, Serie A, ESPN / ESPN HD
Only Lecce have beaten Cagliari at home in 2012 so the Old Lady has a tough task. Still, Juve have won the last four games on the road. If they get three points then it's down to Milan to deny them the Scudetto.
16:00 Man Utd v Swansea City, Premier League, Sky Sports 1 / Sky Sports 1 HD / SKY 3D
History tells us that United fight to the last so it will be a measure of our far they have fallen if they capitulate at home to the mighty Swans.
19:45 Inter Milan v AC Milan, Serie A, ESPN / ESPN HD
Bit of a Catch 22 situation for Inter. While winning will almost certainly deny their city rivals the title it will also hand the Scudetto to their even deadlier rivals, Juventus. The added complication is that they need the points in order to get into Europe themselves. Definitely a must see game and a fine way to end the weekend.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Sash Movement

Terry tries to articulate this thing he has for the sash?

The reason why the sash holds such fondness in the hearts of many a football fan goes back to one specific date: June 3rd 1978, Peru v Scotland. An arbitrary statement? Well yes but it’s my post so it’s my rules. The Peruvian kit worn by the conquerors of Scotland played on that fateful night in Argentina demonstrated to this earnest 10 year old that the sash was not solely the domain of Crystal Palace FC.

I rarely encounter anyone in my little football bubble who doesn’t enjoy a good sash on a kit. I can only assume that my bubble is tiny indeed and that beyond lies a simmering cauldron of mistrust for that diagonal line across the player’s chest. Otherwise we’d see more of them right?  English Football is a deeply conservative state. We are too fond of our stripes and single colour shirts. Sashes are rare on first team kits and tend to be worn away from home, if at all, or by upstart teams who want to set themselves apart... like Crystal Palace did in the late seventies.

Perhaps there is a distrust, here in England, of the sash on the grounds that they are too foreign. A little too Vasco da Gama or Rapid Vienna perhaps? OK for Jonny F but not robust enough for the hardy northern European who prefers the horizontal and the vertical. Diags are balls lobbed to the corner flag, not a stripe flashed across the torso.

In England, Manchester City recently sported the sash in 2009. Last season, Southampton, bravely adopted a single red one for their League 1 title winning season. An act of tremendous courage when you consider that failure to gain promotion would almost certainly have been pinned on the abandonment of their long established stripes and set back the sash movement for years*. Here was a rare example of a club adopting a sash as their home kit in England. Sadly, after one season, the kit was discarded, no doubt at the behest of more conservative, less visionary elements within the club.

Returning to the international football scene, sashes are even rarer. None of the major international nations adopt them with the honourable exception of Peru. However, among the upcoming Euro 2012 array of kits is these beauties:

That, fellow sash fetishists, is the Russian home and away kit and if you look at the second strip you can’t help but notice the glorious red and blue sash, reminiscent of an occasionally used by a certain south London club. The sash is a little more narrow than what we’re used to but already I’m constructing images in my mind’s eye of Andre Arshavin forlornly trying to evoke the spirit of Euro 2008 but gracelessly huffing and puffing across a Ukrainian field. I can’t wait!

*An interesting footnote is that in 1993. Southampton experimented in both vertical and diagonal stripes. The success of this design is hard to measure but it did result in some spectacular goals by Matt le Tissier