Tyne and Wear United in Need for Change

safc nufcThe North East seems to be living up to a rather harsh reputation as a cold and depressing place at the moment.  Certainly when it comes to the region’s Premier League football clubs there is little to shout about, as both languish in a mire of mediocrity, dragging their considerable fan-base further and further into anguish.  So why is it that in this, one of the most depressing of seasons in recent history, have managers of both clubs decided to use their own supporters understandably strong feeling towards their beloved clubs, as a reason to criticise and treat them with nothing but contempt?

Managers and owners at both Newcastle United and Sunderland have to learn to embrace supporter loyalty and ambition, not to use it as a stick to beat them with when times are tough. What I have witnessed over the past seven days shows that the desire for success on both Tyneside and Wearside, any success at all, is very much alive from two sets of supporters who are feeling increasingly disconnected from the clubs who have the ability to mould their day-to-day lives. Continue reading

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Ramsey delight as Poyet rues “typical” Sunderland

chris ramseyA clearly delighted Chris Ramsey hailed his Queens Park Rangers’ players and felt that they had given him the perfect leaving present, if their 2-0 win at Sunderland is to be his last game in temporary charge of the club.  Pre-match rumours circulated around Rangers’ owner Tony Fernandes commenting on Twitter that he had found his “dream manager” but Ramsey was happy to focus on the win on Wearside.

The win over the Black Cats was Rangers first away win of the season and they achieved it thanks to goals from Leroy Fer and Bobby Zamora.  That all meant that Ramsey had succeeded where former manager Harry Redknapp had failed but he deflected all credit on to his players, feeling they should take the credit.

“It is some way to go out and it was important for us that we stay close to the teams around us.  Whoever does come in can focus on building up that points tally.  I am sure it’s not just down to my magic wand, the players have to take the credit tonight and if you look at the players we have, we made six changes and they all did well.  I wouldn’t say it’s any fantastic or magic that I did, it’s really down to the players.” Continue reading

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Rangers finally claim elusive win on the road at the expense of Black Cats

Sunderland 0-2 QPR
Barclays Premier League
Tuesday 10th February 2015
Attendance: 39,077

QPRQueens Park Rangers finally ended their search for a Premier League away win as first half goals from Leroy Fer and Bobby Zamora ensured they made Sunderland pay for a meak display at the Stadium of Light.  The win ends a run that has lasted twelve games but it was reward for a gritty, determined and most of all confident display that would have delighted the R’s stand in Head Coach Chris Ramsey.

The two sides started the game in a manner that belied their recent form with the hosts struggling to keep possession and the visitors looking the more confident side on the ball.  The R’s forced a couple of early corners that led to nothing while the ever popular Joey Barton sent a twenty yard effort well over Costel Pantilimon’s crossbar, whilst receiving a chorus of boos as the home supporters reminding him of his spell with local rivals Newcastle United. Continue reading

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Finding a Light in the Midst of Darkness

SITCSClarkeFor a moment – just a moment, I promise – please stop what you are doing. Take yourself back to this morning when you woke up. The lights are off and you are in complete darkness, you open your eyes and can see nothing but darkness. There is a light switch somewhere but you can’t find it, the darkness envelopes you. That, in essence for me is the best feasible description of depression. There are days when you find that light switch and the world seems a far brighter place, however there are days when the darkness never lifts and lethargy and uncertainty cloud your every thought and action.

Now this time I want you to imagine you are a multi-millionaire Premier League footballer, perhaps you even play for your country. You’re about to wake up in a luxurious mansion, probably with a remarkably beautiful partner beside you. Your indoor pool has been heated up, your overpriced sports car has been cleaned and you have a game of golf planned for the afternoon, once training is finished. You open your eyes but the darkness is there. The light switch is nowhere to be found, darkness overcomes you. Depression prevails for the day but maybe tomorrow the switch will be found and things will be a little better. Continue reading

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Matic style has echoes of the past at Chelsea 

!cid_5840ea9f-a2fa-11e4-b840-002264c197e8_1_0The midfield destroyer, the hard-man, the water carrier, however you want you term it the role of a holding midfielder has changed remarkably in recent history.  That is not to say that the role has diminished in its importance to any team, if anything it could be argued that it is now one of the most vital positions for any manager to fill successfully.

The progression from the aggressive midfielder into a more cultured player who could not only win the ball but could also dictate his side’s style of play seems to have found it’s roots in France.  Didier Deschamps began the process and some would argue that his compatriot Claude Makelele perfected it to the extent where it became known as “The Makelele role”.  Indeed, the former Real Madrid star became a key part of Jose Mourinho’s machine like Chelsea outfit during the Portuguese manager’s first spell at the club. Continue reading

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FA Cup Rising from the Ashes

!cid_5B039D31-5427-42A3-8BE8-B907191736E6A shiny, much loved pot has emerged like a Phoenix from the Flames this year.  Bedecked in ribbons it has emerged from a flaming wreckage that still lays claim to the souls of other once loved trophies such as the League Cup, the UEFA Cup and….well I’m sure the Intertoto Cup is lying around somewhere too.  May this season be remembered as the year that the FA Cup threw off the Premier League imposed shackles.  Let this season be the year the FA Cup finally burst out from the money-laden shadows of the Champions League and reclaimed its place as a competition that is treasured the world over.

This was a decline that many claim began with Manchester United’s decision to relinquish their place in the competition some fifteen years ago.  However, in reality the rot set in three or four years before that with UEFA’S ridiculous idea to expand the Champions League to allow multiple clubs from countries to take part.  The decision claimed the life of the Cup Winners Cup and has pretty much left the UEFA Cup as beaten, bloodied, unloved mess, something it almost did to the FA Cup.
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Nearly twenty years of a virtual obsession

imageAs a child I like to think I was quite clever at school. Reports and parents evenings always went by without a hitch and I was in the top classes for most subjects. Thoughts were turning towards what subjects I would pick to do at GCSE based upon my ambitions to have a career in Sports Journalism. This was a key part of my life. However, my life was to be ruined by men such as Tommy Svindal Larson, Cherno Samba, Tonton Zola Moukoko and Ibrahima Bakayoko. Those five have a lot to answer for!

My concentration levels dipped at school almost as quickly as my results had and all because of one reason. Now depending on your upbringing I am guessing you already know what it is, yep that’s right, it’s Championship Manager or as it’s now known Football Manager. Continue reading

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Gone but never forgotten

article-1203407-05E7BB7B000005DC-165_468x354[1]There is a cold, hard faced and almost callous nature about modern-day football. A dog eat dog mentality where ethics and integrity are forgotten about in preference to getting the result that matters or sadly in more frequent cases the almighty pay packet. It seems only too right to spend some time today remembering a man who stood for everything that the modern-day game has forgotten especially given that today would mark the great man’s 80th birthday.

It’s easy to romanticise about past heroes given the cynical world we live in these days but when it comes to Sir Bobby Robson it would take a cold and bitter man not to get carried away when remembering the man who went from a pit village in County Durham to one of the most universally loved and respected characters in world football.

I only met Sir Bobby once and it was the briefest of brief meetings but that moment will live with me for the rest of my life and left an imprint on my psyche that no other person has been able to achieve. I’ve met some special people in my time. Genuine legends in the football world like Kevin Keegan and Sir Geoff Hurst but none of them were able to walk with the aura that Sir Bobby did. Continue reading

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The Imperious Gazza

Gazza NUFCBefore you carry on reading this I want to make it clear that what I am writing is most certainly not an obituary, it’s not even a plea.  If I’m honest I’m not entirely sure what it is I am typing other than me expressing my sadness and a little bit of anger at the situation one of my very first, in fact no make that my actual first ever football hero finds himself in right now.  Today I travelled down to Frickley to report on a game between Frickley Athletic and Blyth Spartans, the club that I am very honoured to be working at in the role of press officer.  It’s a job I love doing win, lose or draw, although admittedly it’s easier when there’s a win to report on.

Unfortunately today it was a loss I was reporting on but I was still on a high on the way back doing a job I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid, that coupled with Newcastle United’s marvellous 3-2 over Chelsea meant I was reasonably happy sitting in the house working on my match report.  Then I came across the news that Gazza has seemingly come off the wagon and is starting a fresh battle with alcoholism, reading that news meant my mood went flat. Continue reading

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First step on the long road to Justice….

Hillsborough+disaster[1]I remember standing as a six-year-old, in the function room at Newburn Leisure Centre after watching my Dad play for his works side. The TV was on but where there was a match meant to be taking place, there were scenes of utter devastation. Of football fans just like me and Dad being carried away from the stands on advertising boards and mass panic all around. Quite a lot for a six-year-old to take in but they were scenes that were left imprinted on my brain, much the same as anyone else reading this who experienced the scenes of Hillsborough in one way or another.

I worked out yesterday that I have attended well over five hundred football matches in my life at all levels of the game, most notably at St James’ Park, Newcastle. I’ve attended four semi-finals, three in the FA Cup and one in the UEFA Cup. Hand on heart I can say that not once has it crossed my mind that I would go to the match and never return to see my friends and family. However the sad reality is that the ninety-six Liverpool fans killed at Hillsborough went to support their team, just as I have done week in week out but were never to return. Continue reading

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