AV40 – Celebrating Villa’s golden age

Work is progressing very well on the Aston Villa 40th Anniversary Tribute Book and the contributions from Dennis Mortimer and the members of the Championship winning squad from 1980/81 has been very much appreciated.

The response to the book has been very encouraging with over 300 pre-orders for the Collector’s Edition – personally signed by 11 players from the Championship winning squad – received in the first two weeks of our announcement.

The closing date for Match Day sponsorship pages and for names to be included on the Subscribers Tribute pages in the book has been extended to Friday 31 July 2020 –only 3 weeks away!

The official launch of the book – subject to Government Covid 19 restrictions – will be on Thursday 22 August 20 and further details will be available closer to the date.

To order your copy today go to https://av40tribute.com/

CFB View: What Manchester United need this summer

Liverpool – Champions of Europe – 2019. Liverpool – Champions of England – 2020.

Manchester United – Champions of Europe – 2008. Manchester United – Champions of England – 2013.

Those statements are damning on a club who are one of the biggest clubs in the world. United claim to have 659 million via Kantar – a market research company who assessed the clubs worldwide reach. To have their main rivals overtake them in such dramatic fashion is deeply concerning.

Replacing Sir Alex Ferguson was always going to be an incredibly difficult task as I and my others would acknowledge. Journalist Mark Ogden broke the story that Sir Alex was retiring in 2013 and since then he can’t believe just how the club have stumbled from year to year without ever looking like seriously challenging for the games biggest honours. Listen to Mark discuss the post Fergie years on CFB here – https://anchor.fm/footballcfb/episodes/Manchester-United-The-post-Sir-Alex-years-with—-Mark-Ogden-earrqt

The main concern many have for United including myself is the lack of concern that the hierarchy seem to have when watching the clubs biggest rivals – Man City and Liverpool – win the games biggest honours while United battle for ‘top 4’.

A club the size of Manchester United should never be content with just qualifying for champions league as in my view what’s the point of seeing qualification as a massive step forward if you have no chance or no real desire to compete and win it.

United have won the European Cup in 1968, 1999 and 2008.

For me to compete at the highest level United need to address three key positions in their starting 11 as well as improve the strength and depth in the squad as a whole. The positions that concern me at this moment in time are centre half, left back and right midfield.

Alessio Romagnoli

Firstly, a centre half is badly needed at the club as Harry Maguire needs a centre back partner with pace and composure on the ball to aid United in building from the back. Two players that would fit the bill for me would be Alessio Romagnoli of AC Milan or Nathan Akè of Bournemouth we both players are left footed, comfortable on the ball and would compliment Maguire far more than Lindelof does at this moment in time.

Alex Telles

Next up has to be a left back with pace and the courage to reach the byline and hit crosses for Martial and the clubs other forward players. Luke Shaw can still be a good squad player but for me United can’t challenge with him starting week in week out as he isn’t great with one to one battles and he just doesn’t have the pace required to be an elite fullback.

I recently interviewed Portuguese football expert Aaron Barton and he revealed that Porto may need to sell a few players at a reduced rate to raise finance due to the impact of the current pandemic. With that in mind I’d be placing a bid for Alex Telles. A Brazilian left back in his peak years with pace and ability to match he’d be a definite upgrade on Shaw.

Jadon Sancho

Last but by no means least, United simply have to address the right hand side of midfield and there can only be one man to fill that void: Jadon Sancho. Explosive pace and trickery, an eye for goal and a regular assist maker he would make this United side instantly improve and he simply has to be the priority for the club in this summer transfer window because if United want to compete again at the top level then signing players like Sancho, Telles and Romagnoli has to be the standard of player that Olè and his staff are targeting.

The club doesn’t have time for another Maguire or Bruno type saga. The time to act is now and failure to do so at all this summer would be nothing short of the board being criminally negligent in relation to the future of the club.

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In action recording at CFB HQ. Hopefully one day I can achieve my dream of working in broadcasting full time.

CFB View: In 2020 there is no excuse for clubs not fully integrating their Woman’s teams

The 2019 Scottish women’s World Cup side provided the nation with moments of sheer joy. From the successful qualification to almost 20,000 packing out Hampden for the friendly against Jamaica as well as the games at the World Cup themselves – they did our nation very proud.

Let me be honest and open. The game against Jamaica was the first woman’s football match I had attended. I won’t lie going through high school there was a toxic atmosphere towards the woman’s game and I was guilty of writing it off without even watching a game out of nothing but ignorance and unwillingness not to follow the crowd. I am ashamed of that in hindsight but it was the attitude I held at that time and I want to be open about that and admit that I’m ashamed of it in retrospect.

However, I have to say since attending the game at Hampden last year as part of my role in education I was mesmerised by the positive ball playing style of our national team and the skill and class of Erin Cuthbert and the rest of the team. I have since followed woman’s football with a keen interest and having spoken to Laura Montgomery at Glasgow City, it’s clear that there are great minds behind the clubs in the game.

However, it frustrates me that some clubs who have woman’s teams don’t fully integrate them into their structure and ensure that every side has full access to the clubs facilities – most notably the training ground. I’ve spoken to a range of people within the game across the U.K. and many express dismay at the lack of integration especially when it comes to the use of facilities.

It is 2020 and the lack of integration is unacceptable to me. Therefore, my proposal is very simple. I would call on the FA and the SFA to impose the following rule: for senior clubs to have a recognised woman’s team that can enter the top competitions in their respective countries then they must have fully integrated access into the facilities that the club has and be fully supported by the club financially and in terms of equal access.

As for me you can’t have a woman’s team in name alone. That simply isn’t good enough and isn’t progressive enough for the millions of woman and young girls out there who love the game and see football as a realistic career path.

Cynics will argue that the viewing figures and the interest isn’t there but in my view that’s due to a lack of coverage and the respect the game gets from certain elements of the media and from certain clubs hosting sides in name only.

This has to change and it has to change NOW. For the good of the game as a whole and crucially for the young girls who aspire to be the next Erin Cuthbert. Anything less is doing them and our nation a great disservice.

3 signings Manchester United should make this summer

Dale has joined CFB and will be producing new content in written form and in podcast form too.

As someone whose job consists of covering every bit of Manchester United news that makes the internet, every day I stumble across several players who are linked with a move to Old Trafford.

You realise some of these links are bullsh*t and you try to reach out to connected people to add some clarity to what fans are being fed. 

Trust me, it’s not easy in this age of social media. Any Twitter user can dress up their account to come across as an established journalist – but dig deep enough and you’ll quickly see if they are worth their salt.

I’m not claiming to have any insider knowledge writing this piece, but I wanted to send Callum an article to help with the launch of his exclusive show with Willie Morgan. 

I think this ties in nicely as we approach the transfer window in such uncertain times.

United would be doing well to sign three players this summer and I’m trying to be realistic. We need goals but even if we secure deals for the three players listed below, I don’t think the Reds are ready to challenge for the title yet – but we should run close.

Jadon Sancho

Prior to the pandemic, I was optimistic about United landing Sancho. Hopefully they’ve done enough work and the player is eager to join. If he kicks up a fuss or Dortmund lower their demands, the England international would give United a much needed spark from the right flank. Sancho will bring goals which make him a worthwhile investment at £80–100m.

Florentino Luis

United need a defensive midfielder and from what I’ve seen of Florentino, who is nicknamed ‘The Octopus’, he‘s full of energy. We have to be realistic and reports suggest the Portugal U-21 international could leave AC Milan for £20m – £100m less than his buyout clause (contract runs until 2024). He’s not as good as Atletico Madrid’s Thomas Party but he’s young, has lots it potential and Sancho is bound to take up a large chunk of the transfer kitty.

Jack Grealish 

If Aston Villa go down and Grealish is available at a massively reduced price to what we was reported earlier this year (£80m), it would be a shame to miss out. He’s quality and would help fill United’s attack with creativity. 

I’ve had to leave out of a centre-back but my reasoning is United have improved defensively this season, and I’m hoping Axel Tuanzebe can steer clear of injuries next season. He has been so unlucky and it’s frustrating to think he’d make a better partner for Harry Maguire than Víctor Lindelof.
Dale O’Donnell, Editor In Chief Stretty News and Strettycast host
Finalist for Best Club Content Creator @ The Football Blogging Awards 2019

5 players who could be on the move

This summer will see the transfer window become a buyers market rather than a sellers market. In that case who are the 5 players CFB thinks will be on the move?

1. Timo Werner – it’s only a matter of time before Timo Werner leaves Leipzig with the expectation that Chelsea have secured a deal to sign him. At £49 million he represents value for money compared to previous transfers such as £76 million for Kepa…

2. Jack Grealish – for me any deal for Grealish will depend on Villa’s premier league status. If they go down I have no doubts that Grealish will be sold to balance the books however given the current climate if they stay up, I think Villa might just get one more season from their talisman.

3. Jesse Lingard – the time has come for Lingard to move on from Manchester United. A move abroad would give him the fresh start he so desperately needs in light of negative media coverage in the U.K.

4. Jadon Sancho – if a club pay the £100 million that Dortmund want he’ll leave the club. For me Manchester United will pay this amount to ensure they don’t miss out on the player who is their top target.

5. Adam Lallana – A free agent at the end of the season for me a move to Leicester under Brendan Rodgers would make the most sense for both parties. I would be shocked if this move didn’t happen.

CFB announcement: An exclusive partnership with Los Angeles based BTP Media

Football CFB is delighted to announce a new distribution partnership with the Beyond The Pitch media network that will see Football CFB content reach a large North American audience.

The partnership will see co-promotion of Football CFB and BTP podcasts, exciting joint projects and exclusive content. Callum McFadden will also join BTP as one of the networks three hosts along with Phil Brown and Martin Wallwork.

The first joint project will be co-produced show called ‘The Global Football Show’ that will be co-hosted by Phil and Callum.

Football CFB founder Callum McFadden stated: “I am delighted to team up with Phil Brown and BTP media as not only will it allow CFB to reach an American audience but it will also enable both of us to produce unique content now and in the future.”

Beyond the Pitch founder Phil Brown added: “The growth of Football CFB in Europe has been meteoric and reminds me of the growth that BTP had in the US when we founded in 2010. Since then we have become an established and leading source of media in the US and Asia and to team up with a leading European content producer in CFB is very exciting.”

Check out all CFB content here – https://anchor.fm/footballCFB

Check out all BTP content here – https://soundcloud.com/btpmedia

CFB View: It’s time for the return of John Hughes

John Hughes joins CFB on Thursday.

John Hughes – Scottish Cup winning manager.

It’s scary how quickly football can forget. Yogi led Inverness to 3rd in the top flight of Scottish football, won the Scottish cup and got them into European qualifiers for the first time in their history. Yet at the moment he is out of work and has been for a few years now. That can’t be right in my opinion.

It all started for Hughes when he was appointed manager of Falkirk in 2003 (initially with Owen Coyle as co manager). During his six years in charge, he guided Falkirk to promotion to the SPL and established them in the top flight (a division the club hasn’t been since) and a Scottish Cup Final during his time in charge. He managed future stars Kasper Schmeichell, Tim Krul and Scott Arfield as well as managing players with big reputations such as Jackie McNamara, Neil McCann, Steven Pressley and of course Russell Latapy.

Then in 2009, he left Falkirk for his boyhood club Hibs and set about playing an exciting brand of attacking football that saw the club finish 4th in the SPL and qualify for Europe. However, an itchy trigger finger by Rod Petrie saw him leave the club by mutual consent after sixteen months.

Hughes was appointed manager of Livingston in February 2012, but left in November to take over at English club Hartlepool United before Hughes returned to SPL football when he was appointed manager of Inverness Caledonian Thistle in December 2013.

What he achieved at Inverness was nothing short of remarkable. He led the club to their first major silverware in May 2015 by winning the Scottish Cup (ironically against former club Falkirk), two top six finishes (including a 3rd place finish) and of course who could forget their first foray into European football. A job even more remarkable in my mind when you consider where Inverness are now in the Scottish Championship.

Sure, detractors of Hughes will point to his brief stint at Raith Rovers that resulted in the club being relegated to League One. However, when you consider the club hadn’t won a game since October by the time he arrived in February, he was hardly the disaster that certain elements of the media would have you believe.

What I admire about John is his style of football and his personality. He wants to play free flowing attacking football and loves to share in the joy of the beautiful game every time you hear him speak. That, in addition to his CV of success with Falkirk, Inverness and relative success at Hibs make him someone I think is more than deserving of a place in Scottish football. Clubs like St Johnstone wouldn’t go wrong by appointing John and only time will tell if he gets the return that he wants but in my view his time will come again. We need more managers like John Hughes in Scottish football if we want to watch expansive football and witness the technical development of the next generation.

My best 11: The best 11 in football history according to CFB

Who would be in the world’s best ever XI?

For me it took many hours and many days to think about who would get in mine.

After arguing with myself about the players that had to be in; here is the CFB best ever 11.

Who would be in your 11? Comment below 👇

My Top 10 Morton Heroes

1. Derek Lilley – a truly classy player. A joy to watch even in his twilight years. My dad’s favourite of the 90s as well!

2. Andy McLaren – standing in the cow shed with my dad watching him score directly from a corner was a true wow moment for me growing up. What a player!

3. Peter Weatherson – what a player! Goals from everywhere he played on the pitch and seeing him in the 9-1 game vs Forfar is one of my best days watching football.

4. Jim McAlister – a legend as a player and a legend as a person. Always has time for fans and I loved watching him as tricky winger with the number 11 shirt up to now as a central midfielder and the club captain. I hope he stays at the club long term in a coaching role.

5. Chris Millar – a legend of the club. Classy on the ball and to go to win the Scottish cup sums up his talent.

6. Chris Templeman – the goals against Kilmarnock are my favourite memory of going to Cappielow with dad. What a player when he was in the mood.

7. Alan Mahood – only got to see Alan when he was a veteran but boy could he play. Wish I got to watch him at his peak but what a player!

8. Stewart Greacen – what a captain and what a character! Mr Morton during his time with the club.

9. Scott Bannerman – controversial to put him in ahead of Alex Williams but he was my personal favourite and my first real Morton hero as a kid!

10. Michael Tidser – what a player. Technically superb and I just wish he had stayed at the club as I miss watching him week in week out at Cappielow.

My Top 10 Footballing Heroes

1. Henrik Larsson – the best player I’ve ever had the joy of watching over a prolonged period live. I cried my eyes out at his testimonial. What a career.

2. Matt Le Tissier – the most naturally gifted English player I’ve ever seen. When I played the game as a kid I tried to play like Matt with long passes being the thing my game was remembered for. They just don’t make them like him anymore.

3. Paul Scholes – the best passer of a ball I’ve ever seen live. Never made a bad pass. Dictated the tempo of games at the highest level. How United could do with a player like him today.

4. Cristiano Ronaldo – watching him develop through the years at United and then achieve what he has since United is just incredible. Messi is an incredible player too and arguably the best ever but I just loved watching United and Ronaldo in their pomp.

5. Zinedine Zidane – footballing perfection. Glided through games with ease regardless of opposition. Classy classy player.

6. Andreas Iniesta – technically a joy to watch. I am so happy he scored the winner in the World Cup final of 2010 as it couldn’t have happened to a more likeable player. The best central midfielder of my lifetime.

7. Shunsuke Nakamura – his free kicks were scarily good. Scored the winner against Man Utd at Celtic park on my 11th birthday which was one of the best nights of my life. Wow.

8. Dimitar Berbatov – The closed I’ve seen to Matt Le Tissier. Effortless, classy beyond belief and a joy to watch.

9. Roy Keane – whenever the word captain is mentioned Keane is the image that comes to mind. The ultimate premier league player in the early 2000’s and a great watch on tv as a pundit too.

10. Gary Neville – the best right back of the premier league era and the best pundit on tv covering football today. Gutted it never worked out for him in management but I see him as United’s chief executive one day.

The CFB view: it simply can’t be business as usual after this crisis.

‘Newcastle willing to pay Mauricio Pochettino £19 million per season’ according to Sky Sports.

Great money if you can get it. However, it has to be said whoever is leaking such information surely has to realise that at this moment such obscene wages and figures are not what the footballing public wants to hear.

Right now, thousands of people are dying in the UK and across the world due to the current pandemic including many frontline NHS workers. The same NHS workers who are VASTLY underpaid and under appreciated by those in the corridors of power.

That brings me to the crux of my point. Many football fans in the UK will work in the NHS, have used it in the past at a time of need or know someone working in the NHS. At this moment, they are risking their own lives to save the lives of others.

The appreciation from the public for them and their work as well as the work of other – in my opinion also undervalued – key workers such as carers, the men and woman who collect and empty our rubbish, retail staff in supermarkets, bus drivers, postmen and women, etc is now being appreciated as shown with the Thursday night clap of appreciation.

Furthermore, it is estimated that 4 million people may be unemployed in the aftermath of this unprecedented situation – I myself could very well be one of them to be honest. This is where football has to come in and set an example.

Sure, we all miss the joy and the thrill of attending football, admiring the skills of the worlds best and of course the sheer jubilation of watching our team score a goal but in light of the pain that this crisis has caused not only emotionally with the loss of loved ones but also financially; does football really think that the yellow tie culture of which club can spend – or in many cases WASTE – the most money is going to be as appealing as if once was? The answer is obvious, it simply won’t be.

We have watched our society revert to old school community values such as checking in on our neighbours, looking out for everyone and appreciating one another and the true heroes of our society.

Therefore, if football and those involved within it are as smart as they are portrayed to be, they’ll understand and realise that they too have a part to play in society once the game returns and that at this moment the obscene capitalist cash chase simply will put people off the game rather than attract them back to it as when this crisis is over things will never be the same again.

We have all had time to think about what we truly value in our lives and what we want to put right when this crisis is over. I just hope the powers at be within the game realise this and fully play their part rather then risk losing so many of the games biggest admirers by alienating them from the game they so dearly cherish.

Follow me on twitter @Football_CFB

Football: the beautiful game. What the game means to me in photos.

Football is the most amazing game in the world. To me it’s such a massive part of my life and it is my obsession. I just can’t get enough of the game whether that is the elite level, non league level or grassroots level.

Here is what the game means to me in photos.

It all started with jumpers for goalposts. Playing football with jumpers for goalposts with my cousin Jack.
From jumpers for goalposts to playing for various boys club teams: St Andrews, AKFC and Gourock United under the watchful eye of manager David Clark
Playing in the park or around my back garden everyday when when I played boys club was part of daily life
Going to Celtic park with my cousins and family friends and going to Cappielow with Dad was the upbringing I had.
I’ve been lucky to have been to Old Trafford many time over the years with my school on a trip, with dad, my friends and my fiancée Mary-Ann. Here is when I did the tour with a questionable haircut…
I love touring football stadiums and watching matches in new and different places whenever I can.

From playing the game, following the game as a fan, going on many stadium tour around the UK and now running my very own football podcast: Football CFB. Starting CFB has now given me the absolute privilege of interviewing those within football whom I greatly admire and even share a press box with them.

My dream is to work in football one day as I live and breathe the game. However, even if my dream somehow fades or fails then one thing is for sure: my love for the game will never wane as it’s the greatest the game in the world.

EXCLUSIVE: Rhyl Football Club on the brink – surely the football family can help in some way.

Football without the fans is nothing. The famous Jock Stein quote that resonates with every fan across any level in football.

Sadly due to the COVID-19, there is no football at the moment and when it returns there will be no fans there to watch (so the government warned today). Without vital match day income smaller clubs are unable to survive and in Wales one of the countries most successful clubs Rhyl Football Club are in grave danger due to this situation.

In a Football CFB exclusive I spoke senior members of the football club who told me exactly how stark the situation is for the club.

Rhyl Football Club is over 140 years old, they have played at the Belle Vue ground for over 100 years.
One of the most successful North Wales football clubs (winning (inc Welsh premier league winners 2003/4 and 2009/9), they have represented Welsh football in Europe 6 times lastly in 2009/10 playing FK Partizan.

Currently playing in tier 2 of the Welsh footballing pyramid, the club has a full boys academy and u19s team in addition to the mens first team alongside ladies and girls teams.

The club have 4 years left on the ground lease – rent commercially overpriced and increasing year on year as some similar clubs are paying peppercorn lease to their local councils of around £100 rent per year – Rhyl are paying nearly £24,000.

The clubs fixed costs don’t go away not including inflation and they are close to £5k without the variable running costs on top leading them to needing well over £100k for a full season and requiring £24k to guarantee the lease for a season up front.

The club have had only two competitive games in the last 10 weeks initially due to bad weather impacting income badly then the Coronavirus has given the club the perfect storm with no signs of income for potentially months yet.

The big issue for Rhyl is that they won’t be able to use the ground during the 6 weeks from what’s normally the end of the season mid April until the end of May when they they normally would host many fundraising events and tournaments at the ground on the pitch that fund a good chunk of the next season. This period in known commercially as the clubs ‘golden month’ as its when the club bring in the most money in the year.

To quote a senior members of the club ‘We always knew this issues with the ground was coming over the remaining 4 years left on the lease as we shared the issue with the ground and finances transparency in December at a supporter open meeting but….

The issue has been brought forward by the Coronavirus however we at the club are also really conscious that there has to be a priority focus on health and lives ahead of football.

We are also conscious that when football returns most games may be played behind closed doors and we will still have to incur costs to host them. Grants will support but will be no where near enough to the money we need, then on top there will be potential impacts to businesses who will reduce and threaten some or all of our much needed sponsorship, fundraising will become difficult and games may not start until September or later – so no guarantees at all on income during 2020 – we have to bills and rent to guarantee for 12 months now.

We have approached the Welsh Footballing Association who have told us they are not in a position to support or help us other than a small loan as long as could guarantee it, which would be difficult as we don’t own the ground or have anything to guarantee against.’

Another club source also stated that the Rhyl Fans Association have been amazing along with other volunteers in trying to raise funds – we must have the best supporters in North Wales and they are now accepting that they may have to consider a Phoenix club as the town is too big and footballing history too rich not to.

So far, the Club has received multiple enquiries from a number of parties interested in possible investment / sponsorship of the Club but these have either failed the required due diligence or fallen away when they realise there is nothing to invest in.

Worryingly, the club state that they are now at the end of the road unless there is something that comes out of the blue as they have to discuss and consider the unpalatable unthinkable option of entering liquidation.

The club told CFB that we will issue a further news release will be issued on any outcomes arising.

Football CFB in the community with Lady Alice and Moorfoot Primary Schools

I talked to Lady Alice Primary School and Moorfoot primary school pupils all about how to create a podcast, the skills needed for broadcasting and writing and the main message I had for the children was: Dare To Dream. Listen here – https://anchor.fm/footballCFB/episodes/Football-CFB-in-the-community-with-Lady-Alice-Primary-School-ebj9fp

As a primary school teacher, education and helping inspire the next generation is something that I do my best to do each and everyday in the classroom. I love teaching and working with children.

However, I must admit that never did I foresee that eight weeks into running Football CFB that I would be invited to local primary schools to talk to children about podcasting and developing the young workforce. Being invited to speak to children at Moorfoot primary in Gourock and Lady Alice primary in Greenock (where I also work) was an honour.

Speaking to the children at both Moorfoot and Lady Alice, I left incredibly impressed with their passion for football, podcasting and broadcasting.

The questions I was asked by the children of primaries 4, 5, 6 and 7 were well planned and articulated and I did my very best to answer every question that came my way.

The main message I had for the children of both schools was very simple: DARE TO DREAM.

The only person who can stop you achieving your dream is YOU. That’s something I’ve learned over the last few years first hand. I gave up my dream of working in sports media at 18 due to people saying I’d never make it and that I was wasting my time. I parked that dream never expecting to revisit it but revisit it is exactly what I’ve done – now at 24 – in the last few months by setting up my own football website, podcast and social media presence. 

I feel incredibly lucky to have been supported in my first 12 weeks by over 25,000 listeners and over 4 million people who have had an ‘impression’ of my content via twitter and my other social media platforms. My dream remains to work in sports media.

I started with 3 objectives. To have 300 followers by June, 500 by December and to appear on BBC Scotland’s Off The Ball by July 2021. The first two objectives have already been surpassed in just 8 weeks which utterly amazes me and I have one to go.

Off the Ball and talking to Stuart and Tam would be a dream for me and that brings me back to what I told each child I worked with this week: Dare To Dream because the only person who can stop you is you and trust me I don’t plan on waking up from this dream anytime soon.

Thank you to each and every one of you for listening to the podcast, supporting my articles and writing lovely emails supporting me and CFB. I do not take any of it for granted and I never will. Your support is inspiring and has helped me more than you’ll ever know. Thank you and remember Dare To Dream. 

All the best,

Callum.

Football CFB with… Steve Evans

Trust me DO NOT MISS THIS!

We discuss multiple promotion wins, working at @crawleytown, @OfficialRUFC, @LUFC, @mansfieldtownfc, @theposhofficial and now @TheGillsFC with some great stories told in Steve’s usual funny style.

A great man & a great guest!

Tune in here – https://anchor.fm/footballCFB/episodes/CFB-with—-Steve-Evans-ecqnv1

Fan Ownership in Football – The future of our game?

“Football without the fans is nothing.” – Jock Stein.

Morton fans celebrating a crucial goal – credit to @GBRphotos

Football without the fans is nothing. A statement that resonates with fans of the game all across the world. Forget TV money. Forget sponsorship deals. Forget the hyperbole of the transfer window and the fees that follow players and managers around. At the end of any given day, it is the fans that matter in our game. Without fans, there would be no game.

I recently wrote an article about the worry I had for many clubs in the UK out-with the Premier League’s financial monopoly. The examples I used to highlight my concern were Bury and Macclesfield.

Macclesfield Town football club founded in 1874. Bury Football Club founded in 1885. The Premier League founded in 1992.

Two historic footballing institutions: Macclesfield –  formed by volunteers enthused by both rugby and football in their town and Bury – formed local footballing enthusiasts with links to church football with the aim of creating clubs that a community could follow and support for generations to come. The other – The Premier League – a modern phenomenon founded by television executives and elite club chairman and chief executives with the aim of maximising financial rewards from television to aid the progression of the beautiful game.

Fast forward 145 years since the formation of Macclesfield, 134 years since the formation of Bury and 28 years since the dawn of the premier league and football has reached what feels like a cautionary time. 28 years in the premier league has 20 clubs within it who share the spoils of £5.14bn of income from television alone. The EFL on the other hand has just agreed a £595 million tv deal to be shared between 72 clubs over the next 5 years. With such a cataclysmic gulf in finance and marketability of EFL clubs compared to their fellow English – albeit world renowned Premier League – clubs, it is no real surprise that the reality and future for fans of football league clubs compared with those of the premier league paint a stark contrast.

Bury football club were expelled from the English football league due to financial complexities in 2019 and go into the new 2020/21 – whenever that will eventually be – having formed a phoenix club – Bury AFC – who are will play in the tenth tier of English football after applying to join North West Counties Football League. Meanwhile, Macclesfield plagued by financial worries in recent years languish towards the relegation zone in the Football League with concerns over what relegation could mean for them.

So what is the way forward for clubs well outside the elite and the holy grail of guaranteed millions even for finishing bottom? For me in the case of many clubs competing in the tiers below the elite the answer in has to be some form of fan ownership.

The two examples close to my heart are Chester Football Club and Greenock Morton Football Club.

Chester FC are fully fan owned by the fans group City Fans United. I am a part owner of the club through my membership of City Fans United as I like many other followers of Chester contribute at least £12 a year for membership of CFU which in turn grants us voting rights at the club, access to important board/club meetings and crucially a say in the day to day running and future of the football club.

To quote City Fans United “Chester Football Club is founded upon the Club motto, ‘Our City… Our Community… Our Club…’ Having a club that is a cornerstone of our community is of paramount importance. This not only includes working with local schools but also embracing the local footballing community and reaching out to the wider community.”

This sense of community has seen the club rise from the ashes of the old Chester City FC to become a sustainable club currently in National League North with aspirations of returning to the Football League in the years to come.

Greenock Morton on the other hand are not a fan owned club. However, that may change in the future due to the work of an independent fan-led group called ‘Morton Club Together’ that works in partnership with the football club. They formed in 2019 and their vision is ‘to contribute to the delivery of a viable, sustainable, successful Greenock Morton Football Club into the long term future, both on and off the park, for and with the Morton community.’

So far they’ve been a success in the sense that they’ve now got over 400 members contributing financially to back their vision and in partnership with the club they now contribute just over £7,000 per month to the clubs wage budget. This is something that has been acknowledged by the club on numerous occasions – namely in the case of new signings and contractual renewal agreements for players currently at the club – therefore, it is clear that the relationship between the club and MCT is strong and united.

Ultimately, the aim of MCT is to make fan ownership of Morton a reality. However, it may also – unintentionally – have shown another way in which football can became sustainable outside of the elite – through a hybrid ownership model.

Rather than have an all encompassing owner who runs the club on their terms, is a structure that fans can have a credible voice in as well as a financial stake in the way forward? Time will tell of course. However, it is my personal view that fans need to have far more of say in their football clubs whether that be through direct fan ownership, a hybrid model of both a benefactor working in partnership with a fans group or by having members of a supporters trust on the board with the duty of representing fans and reporting back to them on all key matters to ensure transparency in how their football club has been run.

What Chester Football Club means to me – Rio Doherty

Chester Football Club – Official Website

Chester FC means a lot, an awful lot to me. If you were to sink a knife into me then there would be quite a high chance that blue blood would trickle out, because Chester is truly my lifeblood.

Chester Football Club – Official Website » Ryan Lloyd rejoins on loan

It all started on a dreary, damp Novembers afternoon back in 2010 against Skelmersdale United, in what was our first season as a reformed club.

My dad, who has been a supporter since the early 1970’s, took me to my first game that day, and ever since then I have caught the bug of going every week. Winning 4-0 obviously was a major factor in that hook, even though we have experienced worse since. In resonance to my dad, I am jealous of him in a way because I often kick myself due to the fact I missed the good old days of the 70’s and 80’s. I really do wish I was around in those days because I often hear stories from him (and other fellow Chester supporters) about the famous five in the sixties, the night that little old Chester put the mighty Leeds United to the sword in our run to the semi finals of the League Cup in the mid-70’s, our promotion to the old Third Division, amongst a whole host of other memories.

Memories of Chester FC's Sealand Road stadium - Cheshire Live

The music was also brilliant in those times too, and that’s all I listen to nowadays as I can’t stand today’s modern day stuff at all. Also, I am very envious of our old Sealand Road home as of course I have the misfortune of not visiting there. To be honest I think our current ground is quite nice, but it’s the location that lets it down a lot.

Sealand Road | Chester City | Lost British Football Grounds
Deva Stadium - Wikipedia

Sealand Road was a lovely old-school ground close to the Deva heartland, and sadly there aren’t many of those knocking around now, especially with the likes of York City, Brentford, and Boston United all moving into new stadiums in the near future.

Anyway, enough about what could have been, and more about what has been. In 2015 I got given my first season ticket, and from then on I attended Chester matches more regularly. Funnily enough, my season ticket wasn’t put to much use as halfway through that campaign a steward offered me a role as a ball boy (where I got in for free anyway), which over the years certainly produced its moments.

Along with going to every home game I got dragged along to the odd away game too, with my first being a miserable 2-0 defeat at Tranmere Rovers on a humid Septembers afternoon. My second was some six months later in a huge relegation six pointer in Yorkshire (at Guiseley). On the subject of Yorkshire, I was all set to watch us play FC Halifax Town away in the FA Trophy a month earlier, but having just arrived into the town centre we had to divert back due to a very late postponement. That Guiseley game though had everything. In monsoon conditions, it certainly was a late Easter cracker as the goals lashed in, with Tom Shaw saving our blushes in the 92rd minute to keep our survival hopes alive by snatching a dramatic 3-3 draw.

Guiseley AFC 3 Chester FC 3: Dave Powell's verdict - Cheshire Live

From 2017 onwards I have gradually upped my away day tally, as ever since then I have only missed a handful of matches. From Barrow to Newquay, and from Gateshead to Torquay (and all points in between), I have been to an array of places that I otherwise probably would never hear of. You just can’t beat going to a random town 200 miles away to watch a game of football with your fellow mates or family, as that’s what it is all about. Meanwhile, in January 2018 I set-up my own YouTube channel which started off with me vlogging Chester FC matches, and I love it as I want to pursue a career in sports media when I am older. It started off with me just recording the games, but since then I now upload a match preview for every match, have compiled ‘Goal Of The Month’ competitions, and now do a ‘Chester FC Digest’ series where I talk about all things Chester.

Rio Doherty on Twitter: "It's matchday! @ChesterFC entertain ...

I don’t only do these videos for the benefit of myself though, because I also do it for the benefit of fellow Chester FC supporters, which is the perk of my relationship with them. Also, it enables exiles from far away to keep updated with our club and to sample what a matchday is like via the atmosphere, etc. Last January I parted ways with ball boying to allow me to sit back and watch the action from the terraces, but to also take up a new role as our club mascot, Lupus. Again, that brought its moments with a particular standout being at half time on a scorching August Bank Holiday Monday against Hereford FC. In front of our then-biggest crowd, it was only typical me for Lupus’ head to fly off from a football striking my head right in front of a packed Harry Mac, to frighten plenty of children alike. What a way to expose me as the mascot!

A few months ago I passed Lupus onto somebody else, although I still volunteer in our club shop for an hour on a matchday, in a role I have been doing since July 2018. I just love being a Chester supporter, volunteer, and a co-owner as I have had some fantastic memories in my ten years as a supporter, and have forged some brilliant connections with plenty of fellow supporters, volunteers, and players too! The beauty of supporting a lower league club is that you make friendships with people forever in an environment that you all have the same passion for, and as I touched on before the players also mix in too. Would you get players in the Premier League knowing your name off by heart? Absolutely not!

Chester FC Fans' Jury: Do the Blues have what it takes for ...

I have had one or two disagreements and tough moments with the odd person, but we all do and with us being very tight-knit we just get on with it and forget it in a hurry. I absolutely cannot wait to see what the future for Chester FC is, and I will firmly play a part in it, as well as many others, and can’t wait to be supporting and volunteering here for many decades to come.

We are a family, a blue and white one! Chester FC means a lot, an awful lot to me.

Chester Football Club – Official Website » WATCH | Swettenham ...

Football CFB – An honest reflection

Today is the first and only time I’ve ever felt like giving up on my dream once and for all. All I ever want to do with football CFB and as a person in life is help others and promote positivity. Football is my life and promoting #FootballForGood is what I love doing more than most things in life. My platform is a space for anyone involved within the game to talk about their experiences without worrying about being pigeonholed into a headline.

Today many see my actions in relation to helping out in my local community as selfish, self centred and an attempt at stealing a job. Anyone who knows me can testify that isn’t me and I would never wilfully intend to cause harm to others.

I started CFB as its my dream to work in football because it’s the game I’ve loved all my life and always will love. Whether the game is a Champions League final, a Lowland League title decider, a local boys club teams dead rubber fixture or a junior game I’ll be watching and I’ll be passionately wanting to see the best game possible.

The feedback so far from players, managers, fans, agents and followers has been absolutely incredible and you have no idea how much it means to me.

Photos

A message from a high profile club owner in the UK.
The support I’ve had from a high profile manager within the game. This means the world to me – more than you could ever know.

I have a very thick skin contrary to what you might think however there are certain sections of social media and the online community who never stop to think about the power of their words. Never stop to think about the mental well-being of others. To them it’s just banter, a charade, an expression of view behind an anonymous name. To those impacted it’s detrimentally mentally, it’s draining, it sends anxious thoughts into your mind that disturb you. Always the first to comment without knowing the full facts or intentions behind any given situation.

I don’t ask to be liked, I don’t ask to be followed, I don’t ask to even be tolerated in any great way, all I ask is to be respected. Mentally, I’ve had my ups and downs. I still struggle from time to time and on days like this I feel like the worst human being in the world. Utterly worthless and pointless if the truth be told.

For me, when you are asked a question about helping out in life, the automatic answer is to say yes. To see the good in an opportunity to help rather than the cynicism is what I’ve always done – always been guilty of doing you might throw back at me. Upon reflection, I can understand an element of that cynicism but I can assure you that anything I do in life is for the right reasons.

That’s not me claiming to be perfect or a saint. I am not. I’ve made mistakes – lots of them – and I’ll continue to make mistakes because I’m a human being. This year we witnessed the horribly sad passing of Caroline Flack. A woman who made mistakes like all of us have, a woman vilified without the chance to speak and tell her side of the story. A woman who decided the only way to deal with the pressure was to take her own life.

This started the #BeKind movement. Sadly, that movement lasted nothing more than a nanosecond as has been shown since and most recently when Prime Minister Boris Johnson was taken into intensive care. Let me be clear, I do not support Mr Johnson’s politics or his party – never have and never will – however on a human level I wish him, his pregnant partner Carrie and family my thoughts and prayers as I wish him well in making a full receiver from his illness. Common human decency should always prevail.

So please, rather than always seeing life in the cynical, cancel culture point of view try and be kind. You have no idea the weight that your words carry.

Life is wonderful, it’s full of joy, humour, more than a few idiosyncrasies and long way that continue. I love my girlfriend Mary-Ann, my friends, my family, my football teams, my associates charities, running CFB and life itself dearly. Please be kind and please try and see the good in what people are trying to achieve.

Stay safe, stay positive, look after one another and God bless the NHS staff, the cleaners, the delivery drives and everyone else working to ensure society can function. Those people are the real heroes in life and they deserve all the recognition in the world. Take care and be kind.

Callum.

The evolution of the football shirt number

Maradona

By Old School Football – @OSFShop

We delve in to the numbers game, when they first appeared and why the football shirt and the number on the back are now inextricably linked.

Numbers on football shirts were first worn in professional games in 1928 when Arsenal took on Sheffield Wednesday at Highbury. When first introduced the numbering was simply a 1 to 11 configuration representing the 2-3-5 formation of a players position on the pitch.

It wasn’t until the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland that football shirt numbers were worn for the duration of a competition, again using the traditional system with number 1 as the goalkeeper up to number 11 left midfield or wing.

Legend has it that the, at the time unknown, 17 year-old Brazilian, Pele was assigned his, now famous, number 10 by a FIFA administrator.  Just before the World Cup of 1958, when submitting their team, the Brazilian officials simply forgot to attach a number to each player, hence it was left to an administrator to do so.  This is also the reason why the goalkeeper, Gilmar was given the number 3

World Cup 1974 LogoGradually over the ensuing years the 1-11 format was abandoned. During the 1974 World Cup, Argentina decided to number their players alphabetically according to their surname with the exception of the goalkeepers who were given 1, 12 and 21.

This continued for two subsequent World Cups, however in 1978 the keeper was included in the alphabetical line up, hence the Argentinian goalkeeper, Ubaldo Fillol, wore number 12 in 1974, 5 in 1978 and 7 in 1982!  

MaradonaInterestingly this system was disrupted for one player during the 1982 World Cup when Diego Maradona who, alphabetically should have been wearing the number 12, but expressed his strong preference for the number 10!

But it was only at the start of the 1993/94 English Premier League season that squad numbers became the rule and with the ever changing formations creating new roles in football, numbering has become a more and more fluid affair ever since.

Although numbers can help referees and fans distinguish between players on the pitch, their evolution means that, in some cases they are now chosen to send a message or deliver a deeper meaning.

AppieOne example is the squad number 34 which has been adopted by Justin Kluivert, Philippe Sandler, Amin Younes and Kevin Diks in tribute to Appbelhak Nouri.

Nouri, a promising young Ajax player, collapsed during a pre-season friendly and was left with severe brain damage. His fellow teams mates now wear the number 34 at their new clubs to show their continued support for him.

Lucy Staniforth Wears Number 37 at Birmingham City FCLucy Staniforth the Birmingham City and England midfielder chose the number 37 in tribute to her brother, again a promising young player, who died after turning to drink and drugs to self-medicate when arthritis curtailed his football career.

Alvaro Morata, the Spanish forward, changed his number whilst at Chelsea from 9 to 29 when his twin boys were born on the 29th July.  Giafranco Buffon also elected to change his 77_retro_footballnumber.  Not without controversy, whilst at Parma he went from number 1 to number 88, said to signify four balls, to number 77, the year of his birth.

Tommy_oar_wearing_121Socceroos’, Tommy Oar was unable to choose his favoured 11 so plumped for 121 as it represented 11 x 11. 

And the desire to wear a certain number can impact heavily on the game. West Ham’s Paulo Futre refused to wear the number 

Paulo_Futre16 shirt he was handed and, when given an ultimatum by Harry Redknapp, he chose to leave before the match had even begun. Shortly afterwards lawyers were brought in to negotiate the number 10 and he got the number he wanted!

Then there are the ‘modifiers’, those players who choose a number but change it in some way to reflect another meaning.

Zamorano credit Dan_The_Football_Man @Dan_TFMIn the case of Zamorano’s shirt at Inter Milan this involved the use of a plus sign. Originally number 9 he gave this number up to Ronaldo and went for 18 instead but modified it with the addition of an addition! With this in place the 1+8 became 9 again.

Infamous keeper and vegan footballer, Carlos Roa, also chose to use a mathmatical symbol to convert his 13 in to a 1.3  Previously known for his strong, Seventh Day Adventist, religious beliefs, when asked about it Roa is said to have explained that the point, placed between the numbers 1 and 3, represents Jesus and the Most Holy Trinity.

Other number changes tend to involve one off events or publicity campaigns.

Steven Gerrard and James Beattie donned 08, during the Merseyside Derby of March 2006, to celebrate Liverpool being awarded the European Capital of Culture for 2008.

Usain_Bolt_9.58Brazilian international superstar, Neymar Jnr wore the numbers 100 and 200 to commemorate his 100th and 200th matches for Santos and Usain Bolt wears 9.58 – his 100 meter world record time – when he plays in the Unicef World XI for Soccer Aid matches.

Number_10Meanwhile some numbers are ‘retired’ by a football team to honour a particularly outstanding player such as the number 6 worn by West Ham’s Bobby Moore, the 14 shirt donned by Ajax’s Johan Cruyff and Paulo Maldini’s number 3 at AC Milan.  The same is true of the infamous 10, retired by Napoli, to respect the tremendous influence Maradona had on the club.   

Del Piero on the other hand, refused the Juventus board’s offer to retire his number 10 stating that “I’ve really had so much that I would never want it to be retired, this way, every child can dream one day of wearing it.”

With number 12 often being the number of the fans, some clubs, such as Portsmouth FC, Dynamo Kiev and Bayern Munich have even retired that in order to pay tribute to the loyalty of their followers.

In Spain however retired numbers are curtailed by the one to twenty-five rule, meaning that there’s only 25 for any squad to choose from.

You can customise your http://www.oldschoolfootball.co.uk retro, football T shirts with any number you wish by clicking the customising tab in the product listing. Choose a number, and a name if you wish, and just add to checkout.

And if you want to know more about the shirt numbers game take a look at www.squadnumbers.com   Dennis Hurley, a football shirt number enthusiast, has taken the subject to a whole new level with his rather niche but totally fascinating website.

Join the conversation on Twitter too.  Follow us @OSFshop and hear more about shirt numbers and follow @Football_CFB for truly unique football content.

Would you like to go back to the more traditional assignment or do you like the stories behind players numbers and why they choose them?

The World’s First Football Club

Sheffield FC

An article by Old School Football @OSFShop

On the 24th October 1857 the world’s first football club, Sheffield F.C. was created. The two founding members, William Prest and Nathanial Crestwick, team-mates at the local cricket club, were looking to stay fit during the winter months and football proved the perfect pursuit. Arsenal was founded 15 years later in 1886, with Manchester United created in 1878.

Sheffield F.C. joined the Football Association in 1863, but remained an amateur side when the FA allowed professional football in 1885. They reached the F.A. Cup quarter finals in 1874, 1876 and 1878 and were Football Association Amateur Cup Winners 1904 

Since 1999 Richard Tims has masterminded Sheffield Football Club’s revival, moving their home ground to the Coach and Horses Stadium in Dronfield. And in 2003 they founded a women’s team, something Man. Utd. only managed to make a priority this year!

In 2004, the club received the FIFA Order of Merit for their ‘historic importance and contribution’, an honour bestowed on only two clubs, with the other being Real Madrid. And in 2007, when the club celebrated their 150-year anniversary, Pele attended a non-league friendly against Inter-Milan.

They are currently playing in a non-league Senior Division with opponents like Cleethorpes Town and Ilkeston.

Many of the rules and innovations that the club implemented back in the 1800’s, including free kicks and corners, are still in use today.

Sheffield FC

Jonno and Bern: Far more than meets the eye of the documentary viewer – Life at Chester FC.

Image

Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley or Jonno and Bern as they are more commonly known. Two football managers – Co-managing Chester Football Club in the National League North – who are very well known to football fans the length and breadth of the UK due to their time in charge of Salford City owned by the Class of 92 and Peter Lim that saw them feature as part of a BBC prime time documentary followed by a multiple series follow up on Sky Sports.

However, there is far more to both men than all that you see on the Salford documentary series. However, before we get to that, how do they reflect of life in the limelight and how they were portrayed in that documentary?

Anthony Johnson summed up the documentary experience for CFB, “You’ve got Paul Scholes, Phil Neville, Gary Neville, Nicky Butt and Ryan Giggs stood over your shoulder. You’re in the limelight. You’re on BBC at prime time, there were cameras in our homes, speaking to our wives and kids and our mothers.

No one trains you for any of that. There’s no training. We don’t have PAs. There aren’t people who come round and say “don’t say this, you can’t say that.”

“I’m not saying there are any bad bits in the programme, but because of the type of characters we are, we provoke opinion so people come away and think a couple of aggressive bullies. Everyone that knows us and has worked with us knows that is not the case and that we take our roles very seriously and work as hard as we can to achieve success at every club we work at.”

Bernard Morley echoes this view and sums up the dilemma they faced at Salford due to the high profile nature of the owners and coverage the club received, “If we won leagues it’s because we had money and if we didn’t succeed it’s because we’re clueless.”

Both men are far from clueless as their record in management together has shown. The duo won three promotions in four years at Salford and had title-winning success at Ramsbottom United before that. Following their departure from Salford, interest in the pair was very high and they were linked with a host of clubs including Barrow, Chesterfield and Carlisle. However, the pair swiftly chose Chester Football Club as their next step being appointed just seven days after they left Salford.

So why did they choose Chester over a host of other clubs?

On the day of their appointment they both stated that, “We are an ambitious management team and whilst we know there are challenges ahead, we would not have taken the job if we didn’t believe that we could get Chester into a position of challenging for promotion.”

Crucially, they also stressed the importance of patience and realism from fans as they both fully acknowledge that it’ll take time to ensure that Chester – a fan owned club – can challenge for a return to the Football League in the future. Despite the call for patience, their passion and determination has not waned in the slightest in this new challenge. Anthony Johnson sums up the work rate of the pair and their determination to succeed, “We immerse ourselves in the football club, we’re massive on it. We don’t travel from Bury up to Chester and just have an hour there and then go home. We believe having sustained success comes from us buying into Chester and Chester buying into us.”

So far after just over 18 months in charge the pair continue to work hard to compete for promotion to the National League. In their first season – 18/19 – Chester finished the season in 9th place and just three points off the playoffs. A stop-start season in many ways but an education for both men in relation to the task at hand.

This season has been a different story with Club sitting comfortably in the playoff positions with games in hand over their nearest competitions. Unfortunately for both men and Chester as a club, due to the COVID-19 outbreak when and if the season resumes remains a mystery but you’d have to be a brave man or woman to bet against Chester competing in the playoffs for promotion under both men in the near future.

Their work across all levels of the club has not gone unnoticed either. Paul Bodman – Chester FC Board member and the club’s Commercial Director – explained the power of their impact. “When Jonno & Bern first became joint managers at Chester FC, I wasn’t sure what we would get, they had been the focal point of a TV documentary about their time at Salford.

What we got was totally committed, dedicated and driven managers who wanted success. They bought into the clubs fan ownership model and embraced everything the club was all about.

The last two years have been a building project to get the club promoted to the National League then challenge for a place in the Football League.
Their work ethic, honesty and leadership is a major reason why our club is going forward.

Added to all the above they are two of the friendliest people you could meet, always happy to chat to fans regardless of the result and to promote Chester FC in the best possible way. We are delighted and proud to have Jonno and Bern as our managers.”

Furthermore, both men are incredibly happy at Chester and the fans are incredibly happy with the job that they’ve done so far. This resulted in the pair signing new two years deals at the club that will take them until 2022 at least.

Upon putting pen to paper on their new deals they both had a rousing message for fans: “Stay with us. Our ambitions are limitless. Chester FC’s ceiling is as high as we want it to be. This isn’t a small little club punching above it’s weight, where we are right now is the absolute minimum. We believe where we can get to over the next two-and-a-half years is scary.”

To conclude, as stated in the title of this article there is far more to Jonno and Bern than meets the documentary viewers eye. They are both hardworking, family men with solid records in management and with momentum building at Chester; another promotion may just be around the corner.

Enjoy this article then check out the Football CFB twitter – @Football_CFB

Glory Hunter – A footballing fairy tale by Colin Burnett

Aldo wis never a supporter ae Leith Star and he wis never yin fur keepin his thoats oan the matter tae himsel. Then there wis me and Craig who huv followed thum religiously since we wur auld enough tae wipe oor ain erse. It didnae matter whether it wis pishin doon wae rain and no even the sight ae the four horsemen oan the horizon wid deter oor support fur the team. Nae doubt we wid still be there freezin oor baws off in the famous rid and white hoops ae the mighty Leith Star. Though that didnae stoap Aldo forever takin any opportunity he goat tae shite aw oor the team’s chances ae tastin victory. 

‘’That shower ae useless shite’’ he wid often say. ‘’Ah’m fuckin tellin yae no yin ae they eleven fannies wid even make the bench fur The Edinburgh Athletic Wheelchair Team’’

You’ve goat tae remember, likes. His open contempt fur the club and its players wis alweys said within earshot ae the boays oan the team. Especially, since the majority ae thum are local lads and they wid spend their weekends boozin doon at The Spiders Web, jist like everyboady else. But when yur talent’s bein cawed intae question by a six-fit two, coked up, steroid induced mountain. Then understandably, eh? That initial urge tae react becomes somewhat diluted. Jist oan Wednesday passed, eh? ah wis roond at Craig’s flat tae sort oot numbers fur the supporter’s buses. Fur oor big trip oor tae face the mighty Bonnyrigg Rose in the Scottish Cup. This game is huge fur us, likes. As the winner gits Clyde at haime in the nixt roond. And no only that, but the match will be televised live oan BBC Alba.

Soon as we ironed oot the details fur the buses. That’s when Aldo’s new foond love fur the team came up. Ah thoat this wid be a gid time tae git his thoats oan suttin that hus been nigglin awey at me lately. Everyboady kent this wisnae a love that wis gonnae stand the test ae time. But still, ah wise curious as tae what someboady else thoat.

‘’Craig’’ ah said. ‘’Kin ah ask yae suttin?’’

‘’Sure man, shoot?’’

‘’It’s jist, see how Aldo usually hates the Star sae much? Dae yae hink it’s just he lacks a bit ae community spirit? Or is he just a cunt? ’’

Craig paused fur a bit before answerin and ah could tell he wis geein the question some serious consideration. 

 ‘’Ah dunno, Dougie, man. Mean he did kick the shite oot ae Santa last year, eh?’’

Fur some unknown reason ah hud completely furgoat aboot this. It wis probably due tae the fact there’s been a thoosand incidents involvin Aldo since then.

 ‘’Aw, aye’’ ah telt him ‘’Refresh ma memory again? What wis that aw aboot?’’

‘’Suttin tae dae wae his HO,HO,HO bein too festive, mate’’ 

Ah jist stood there in the kitchen as ah tried tae process and understand why Aldo hud done what he did tae Santa. But nah, ah drew a blank. And ah couldnae quite git ma heid roond what hud happened. 

‘’Too fuckin festive?” ah said “but it wis Christmas? ’’ 

‘’Aye, ah ken, man” Craig says, sympathetically “but then again, Dougie. Aldo is a Muslim’’

‘’Aye” ah said “Ah huv fuckin noticed. But yae say that as if it should aw make fuckin sense noo. What the fuck hus bein Muslim goat tae day wae anyhing though?

‘’Well” Craig explains “Tae Aldo, Santa’s jist some fat fuck in a rid suit, eh? And it didnae help that yin ae his runner’s hud been pinched wae two oonce ae Ching’’

That wis aw the info ah needed. Suddenly it aw made fuckin sense tae me. Aldo didnae spread Santa acroass the street cos he wis actin too festive, at aw. It coulda been anyboady, eh? he wis simply littin oaff a wee bit ae steam. 

Ah mind the very moment Aldo went fae wishin a thoosand deaths oan The Stars players. Tae embracin thum as a bunch ae long loast brothers.  Although he wid oaften deny it. Aw ae his initial negatively taewards them stemed face the failed trial he hud when he wis a bairn. But it took the win against BSc Glasgow fur aw they year’s ae ill will tae supposedly disappear. 

Whether it’s a glorious victory or another hert breakin loass. Me and the rest ae the boays end up back at the Spiders Web. It’s a sortae tradition, Ken? And oan that particular day, aw the wey back fae Glasgow. Ah found massel dreamin ae the moment when ah’d set eyes oan Aldo. And the satisfaction and relish ah’d git in rubbin his puss in it. Ah made a conscious point ae gittin tae the boozer before everyboady else. Darted oaff the bus, so ah did, it wis practically a sprint. Ah wanted tae be the first cunt tae tell him aw aboot oor great triumph. Ah hud it aw planned oot in ma heid. Pure premeditated mind fuck. Make him hink the team hud went doon in calamity. Before ah revealed that we’d actually only gone and fuckin won. As soon as ah walked in a caught sight ae a familiar picture. Aldo proppes up against the bar. Whilst Auld Maggie wis stood behind it, busy pullin pints. The baith ae thum wur chattin awey tae each other and as soon as Aldo cloacked ma presence ah could tell ma depressed puss hud done jist the trick. Cos ah could see in his eyes and the wey he wis tryin no tae smirk that he wis jist readyin himsel tae start dishing oot his usual pish aboot how shite the team wur. 

He wis stood there aw smug and proud ae himsel. And ah kent right there and then that ah hud him oan a string. He wis basically foamin at the mooth, eh? Salivatin at the mere prospect ae wipin his erse wae oor dreams and aspirations ae liftin the Scottish Cup. 

 ‘’Loast did they?” He asked. Aw gleeful and confident that this wis jist another glorious failure fur the club. ‘’Useless Motherfuckers’’.

‘’Naw” ah telt him “We fuckin won!!’’ ah roared sae hard ma lungs felt as if they wur ready tae jist explode, there and then. Although this cunt still seemed unable tae accept ma gid news and didnae hink twice aboot expressin his doots

‘’Pish! ’’ he scoffed. ‘’ Fuck knows what yur smokin the day, Dougie. But be a pal and send some ma wey, eh? ’’

‘’Ah’m tellin yae, we won.” ah telt him. ” And if we beat Bonnyrigg Rose then the next yin will be televised here, live oan the BBC. They’re gonnae be at the game, n aw. Tae talk tae some ae the supporters if we win’’

It wisnae until maire and maire boady’s started tae pile in the boozer and the choruses ae ‘’Wur gonnae win the Cup!’’ rang oot. That the cunt looked as if he believed ah wis tellin the truth. He did seem startled wae aw the noise and a bit overwhelmed wae the sea ae rid and white he wis now faced wae. As he turned and faced firmly in ma direction it wis clear tae me his mind wis gone intae overdrive. Processin the possibilities ae the nixt roond. 

 ‘’The BBC yae say?’’ he asked. As his eyes began widening at the thoat ae gittin his five minutes ae fame oan the telly.

 ‘’Aye Aldo, its fuckin quality’’

‘’Sure is, Dougie son, sure is. Listen, ah’ve jist remembered ah’ve goat tae be somewhere’’ He shouted back at me as he made a hasty exit oot ae the pub withoot mutterin even as much as a ‘gidbye’. 

A gid oor passed by and there wis still nae sign ae him. Then, jist as everycunt hud seemed tae huv settled down. In he comes, chairgin through the doors. As if he’s John Wayne in yin ae those auld westerns who’s come tae save the toon fae destruction. It wisnae even his dramatic entrance that caught ma attention, either. It wis maire tae dae wae what he wis wearin. The cheeky bastard wis stood there, in centre ae the pub, dressed heid tae tae in the rid and white ae the mighty Star. Fuck knows where the cunt goat it fae, likes. But he even hud yin ae they big rid and white foam finger hings. Ken, like the yins yae see at American fitbaw games. Yae could huv heard a prin drop, ah’m tellin yae. Everyboady there seemed tae be frozen in a state ae shock. And the sense ae disbelief which contaminated the atmosphere grew stronger yince he began beltin oot the fans chant ae

‘’There’s only yin Leith Star!!’’

He went roond the hale room embracin anyboady he could find who wis also wearin a Leith Star strip. And he kept mutterin the same words, oor, and oor again ‘’Wur in this taegether, lads’’. Honestly, it wis fuckin ootrageous. And ah doot ah wisnae the only boay who wis observin him wae clenched fists. Fur we aw kent fine well what he wis up tae. Glory hunters are, efteraw, aw the same. Aldo wid only be aroond fur the gid times. He hud nae intention, whatsoever, in stickin aroond fur the bad. 

The big match wae Bonnyrigg Rose hus seemed tae arrive in nae time. Three supporters buses left fae the Web at aroond quarter tae two. Bonnyrigg is a wee workin class toon oan the ootskirts ae Edinburgh. Ah’ve heard a lot ae stories aboot these Bonnyrigg cunts but ah try no tae listen tae that sortae hing. Better jist judge fur masel when we git there. The bus hus been rockin fae the moment we departed and it’s only comin up fur the back ae two and everycunt is either half cut or coked up. Or, in Aldo’s case, a deadly combination ae baith. Efter he seeminly tires himsel oot wae aw his signin and questionable chants. He decides tae join me and Craig at the back ae the bus.

 ‘’Yae seen that film Groundhog Day?’’ he asks us. Aw ootae breath and pishin wae sweat.

 ‘’Aye’’ Craig sais. ‘’Bill Murray’s in it?’’

‘’Aye, that’s right’’ sais Aldo, who seems tae appreciate Craig’s knowledge ae the film.

‘’Murray’s awrite’’ sais Craig 

‘’Aye he is, but ah’m tryin tae make a point here. No discuss his fuckin actin credentials’’ 

‘’Aldo, calm doon man. Wur here tae enjoy oorsels’’ ah quickly remind him.

 ‘’Well’’ he sais. ‘’Ah wis watchin the hing oan the telly last night. And it goat me hinkin, eh? that boays like us are jist like him in the film. We wake up repeatin the same day. Oor and oor again. Wae the purpose ae makin some posh cunt rich’’. 

‘’That’s an interestin wey ae lookin at it, man’’ ah tell him.

‘’It’s the only wey tae fuckin look at it. Listen, the opium ae these posh cunts is the blood, sweat and tears ae the workin class. And the opium ae the workin class is anyhin that blanks oot the realisation ae kennin wur a mere slave tae the capitalist machine’’ 

Ah never hud Aldo doon as nae Karl Marx. But ah’ve goat tae admit it. Fur yince he seems tae be talkin sense. And that’s jist what’s scarin the fuckin life ootae me. As he appears tae make himsel comfy oan the seat he gestures fur us baith tae come closer. Before uncharacteristicly whisperin

 ‘’Lads, ah’ve goat gid news. Ah’ve takin care ae it’’ 

‘’Takin care ae what?’’ ah ask him 

‘’The fuckin match’’

Me and Craig gee each other a worried look. Efteraw, this is Aldo we’re dealin wae, and absolutely anyhing is possible 

Craig tries tae make a wee joke aboot the situation by indirectly askin him a serious question. 

‘’Yae didnae kidnap Bonnyrigg’s managers wife or suttin, did yae?’’

‘’Tell me yae never, Aldo’’ ah plead wae him. Cos ah wisnae sure whether tae laugh or phone Justine fur an alibi. 

‘’Of course, ah didnae kidnap the boays wife. Fur fuck sake, lads. What dae you pair ae miserable bastards take me fur?” 

“okay” ah tell him ‘’So, what huv yae done then, exactly?’’ 

‘’You’ll see fur yursels during the match” he tells us ” But trust me, you’ll no want tae miss this’’ as he hus a wee sinister laugh tae himsel.

Wae the colour fae Craigs puss quickly drainin awey and ma hert beginnin tae beat at an alarmin rate. It wis clear suttin wis tellin us baith that this is gontae be a long day. Regardless ae the actual result ae the match. We arrived at Bonnyrigg’s groond ‘New Dundas Park’ fur aroond quarter past two. The place wis situated behind some shitty lookin boozer cawed, ‘The Calderwood’. Jist as everyboady else oaff the bus makes their wey inside the stadium Aldo drags me and Craig inside the pub fur a wee pre-match pint. Fae how busy this shitehole is ah kin tell Bonnyrigg is oot in force tae cheer oan their team. Ah wis a bit hesitant aboot comin in here due tae the real possibility we might jist end up gittin oor heids tae play wae. Especially if Aldo decides tae cause yin ae his infamous scenes again. Fae the moment we walk in everyboady jist seems tae stoap what they’re daein tae hae a gid look at us. Aldo scans the room and the first words oot ae his mooth dinnae endear us tae the natives

‘’Fuck me’’ he sais. ‘’The only hing worth pullin in here is a pint. Grab a seat lads, ah’ll git the beers in’’

He goes and makes his wey through the crowded pub and doesnae seem tae gee a fuck that he’s left us starin back at a room fullae pusses who look as if their ready tae reach fur the nearest pitchfork. Wuv only been in here fur nae maire than twinty seconds and Aldo’s awready pissed off maist the cunts in the room. Even as me and Craig hastily try and find an empty table ah kin feel aw they glarin eyes bearin doon oan us.  Thankfully though, it’s no too long before ah cloack a few spare seats located near the karaoke machine. Me and Craig dart taewards them and wait fur Aldo tae return. The pair ae us hoapin tae fuck that nuttin kicks oaff. Cos ah widnae miss this match fur the birth ae ma firstborn. Five or so minutes later and he comes swagerrin along wae a welcomin sight ae three cauld beers in tow. No that either ae they two clowns are too bothered aboot a pint. The bastards dash tae the bog wae their big bag ae snow, leavin me aw oan ma lonesome. By the time they come the cloack doesnae seemed tae huv moved. And hings are aboot tae drag oan even maire. Ah notice a lassie standin at the Karaoke machine. She looks aboot oor age and even though she’s aw dolled up, the makeup clearly isnae workin. She soon starts tae belt oot a poor rendition ae Tina Turner’s ‘Simply The Best’ and ah kin tell wae the look oan his puss Aldo is jist waitin tae  say suttin cheeky. 

 ‘’Excuse me, pal?!’’ he shouts oor tae the barman, who is busy servin customers. 

 ‘’Aye, what is it?’’ the boay sais, in an impatient sortae wey 

‘’Please, dinnae start anyhing in here, Aldo’’ ah whisper tae him.

Fae Craig’s nervous demeanour ah kin tell he’s as worried as me aboot where this conversation might end up. We’re no like Aldo, we’re actually proper Leith Star supporters and this game is a big deal fur us. 

 ‘’Nuttin in particular, mate’’ Aldo tells the boay. ‘’It’s jist nice tae see yae gee yur local comedians a platform tae humiliate thumsels’’ as he nods in the direction ae the now mortified lassie who’d jist finished her song. 

 ‘’That’s ma wife, yae cheeky cunt!’’ the boay snaps.

‘’So, yae love her anywey?’’ Aldo remarks ‘’ Then that makes you a better man than me’’

This boay seems ready tae explode. Yae kin jist tell by the wey his puss hus turned pure rid that he’s a tickin time bomb. Ah kin sense wae the tension fillin up in the room that wuv clearly oot steyed oor welcome. So, ah dually signal fur the the lads tae drink up and lits git the fuck ootae there. It’s no long before wuv legged it oor tae the shabby lookin stadium behind the boozer and joined up wae the rest ae Leith Star’s faithful. Straight awey ah kin see that baith clubs are well supported. Probably aloat tae dae wae the telly cameras but the atmosphere in here is definitely that ae a big cup tie. The three ae us are stood right behind Bonnyrigg’s goals and their keeper looks maire like a cannonbaw wae legs than an actual fitbaw player. As we stand there freezin oor baws oaff in anticipation ae the referee blowin his openin whistle. What Aldo hud said earlier aboot fixin the result, suddenly comes floodin back intae ma mind. He did, at that moment, appear tae be in his best behaviour, likes. But, still, ah couldnae help but be fixated oan what the cunt hud meant.

The game started jist like a typical cup tie. Neither team wantin tae gee anyhing awey early oan. It wis a pretty borin affair, ken? Cagey n that. That is until Alan Smith, oor midfield dynamo, ootae naewhere bursts straight through oan goal. But composure somehow evades that useless bastard and his weak effort trickles intae the keepers airms. Me and the rest ae oor support dinnae hud it too much against him though. Or at least, no voicing it openly, but no Aldo, he’s hellbent oan geein poor Alan a right piece ae his mind

‘’Ma Granny coulda hit that baw harder ya fat usless cunt, git yur erse in gear!!’’

Efter that wee hertless remark, ah kin see that the real Aldo wis startin tae bubble up tae the surface.  

 ‘’Aldo, it’s still early days, man’’ ah tell him ‘’take it easy, will yae?’’ 

‘’Fuck that’’ he barks ‘’What ah telt you boays earlier, eh? That still stands. Ah’m winnin this match fur us’’

‘’Aye, what the fuck did you mean there, Aldo?’’ Craig asks, almost pleadin.

 ‘’Well, see uncle Fester oor there?’’ Aldo tells us, noaddin in the direction ae the plump, bald dafty, in the Bonnyrigg goals. 

‘’Aye, what aboot him?’’ ah ask

‘’Well’’ he explains ‘’lits jist say he’s aboot tae hear a few haime truths’’

Ah’m intrigued by this comment and bein the nosy bastard that ah um, ah decide tae investigate further

 ‘’What dae yae mean by that, Aldo?’’ 

He glares at us baith. ‘’Ken Three finger Louie?’’

 ‘’Aye’’ ah sais. ‘’His sister’s a doactur?’’

‘’ That’s right. So yae ken the cunt?’’

‘’ Well, it wid be some fuckin coincidence if it wisnae him. Ah mean how many cunts steyin in Leith are cawed ‘three finger Louie?’’

 ‘’Ah alweys wondered why he’s cawed three finger Louie?’’ Craig gushes

 ‘’Well, it’s cos he’s goat four fuckin fingers, ya thick cunt!!’’  bawls Aldo in a blind rage. 

 ‘’So, what aboot Louie then?’’ ah ask. 

‘’His cousins a private investigator and ah hired the boay tae dae some diggin intae these Bonnyrigg cunts. And that fanny oor their hus maire secrets than the royal faimily. Anywey, a grand well spent, ah thoat’’

‘’A grand? that’s very reasonable fur that sort ae hing. Ah alweys imagined it wid be dearer than that’’ sais Craig, who seemingly fails tae address the bigger question. Which is why hus this fuckin lunatic hired a PI in the first place’’.

 ‘’Ah thoatsae tae, a three wey split. It comes tae £349.48, caw it 350 fur cash’’ Aldo informs us. 

‘’ Caw it fuck aw’’ ah snap at him. ‘’ That’s against the fuckin law. Yae kin git done fur that sortae hing. Invasion ae privacy, or some pish, they caw it’’

‘’Invasion ae privacy? Laughs Aldo. ‘’You’re precious Dougie, yae really are. When that cunt pit oan that jersey he became public property. Dae yae want tae win or no?’’

 ‘’Well, of course ah want tae fuckin win, Aldo. But this is some shameless pish’’ 

Hinkin Craig will back me up oan this, ah gee him a wee glance. Tae ma surprise though ah cannae see any looks ae disgust, but insteed, he hus this expression that sais ‘why no?’ plastered acroass his puss.

 ‘’Dougie, lit’s no be too hasty here, eh?’’ he tells me ‘’A win’s a win, who gees a fuck how we git it. Cannae dae any herm, kin it?’’

Ken, suttin? This cunt is actually makin sense fur yince. It’s no like playin by the rules hus goat me anywhere before. This win wid set the the club up fur a gid few years tae come. And lit’s be honest. Huvin morals isnae what it’s aw cracked up tae be. Yae jist end up gittin fucked. This is why ah’ve decided tae gee Aldo a wee nod oan the unsuspectin goalkeeper. 

Aw Aldo does at the beginnin isnae exactly an act ae brutality. It’s aw mind games, eh? As he repeatedly roars in the keeper’s direction ‘’Pishwater! Pishwater!’’. 

Before the boay’s defences finally relinquish and he snaps ‘’Ma name’s Westwater, ya cheeky cunt’’ clearly demonstratin that Aldo’s awready in his heid.

 ‘’ Nae worries, pishwater, you’re the boss, man’’ Aldo casually tells him.

And it’s pretty obvious that by the wey he’s twitchin inside the boax. That Aldo’s words are gittin maire and maire annoyin. 

The game itsel hus started like a typical cup tie. Wae baith teams playin cautious. A quiet start that hus offered Aldo the opportunity tae step up his efforts tae brek this perr bastard. 

 ‘’Oi, Pishwatrer, fae what ah wis telt. Accordin tae yur last medical. You’re only yin fish supper fae a hert attack, that right, aye?’’ then he produces a crisp new twinty quid note fae his poacket and begins tae gently wave it in the air ‘’Ah actually saw a nice wee chippy acroass the road fae the boozer cawed, Pias. Take this, eh? and tell Mr Pia he’s tae gee yae the greasiest supper he hus. Tell him its oan Aldo’’. Still though, this cunt seems tae surprisingly retain his composure. But it’s no escaped ma attention the colour ae his skin hus went fae milky white, tae pure beetroot. A fact which does nuttin except gee me hope that Aldo’s plan might actually work. 

Ah’ll be the first tae admit it, likes. This game so far hus been nae ‘El Classico’ and Aldo will need tae pull suttin definitive oot ae the bag, sooner, rather than later. Especially since the keepers will change sides in the second half. And gone by the time oan ma watch suttin will need tae gee in the nixt twenty-five minutes. By the wey, Aldo’s personal attacks huv been gittin darker wae each passin minute. It’s pretty evident he’s cautious ae the time, tae. This fuckin lunatic hus went fae questionin the boay’s ‘true motives’ fur volunteerin tae coach bairns fitbaw. Tae implyin that his Victoria Cross winnin grandfaither wis actually a secret Nazi sympathiser. Yit the stubborn bastard still appears no quite ready tae bite back and by the wey Aldo’s pacin up and doon oan the side ae the pitch it’s clear he’s gittin agitated by the boay’s lack ae willingness no tae fold.

 ‘’Ah’m tired ae walkin oan eggshells wae this fanny’’ Aldo announces tae me and Craig. ‘’Time tae stoap bein merciful’’

‘’Eggshells?’’ ah giggle. ‘’Fur fuck sake, Aldo. Yae jist cawed him the Jimmy Savie ae Scottish fitbaw. Yae even tried tae pin an unsolved murder oan him fae five year ago. He’s no taken the bait, ah hink its oor noo’’.

Jist as the Star seem tae be buildin some momentum in the centre ae the park. It’s then that Aldo goes tae make yin last attempt tae git inside the keepers heid. 

 ‘’Pishwater!’’ he begins yelling again.  While the boay tries tae remain focused on Leith’s impendin attack.

‘’Ah wis sorry tae hear aboot yur daughter, Katie, is it?, Nae cunt imagines their wee lassie will grow up and sell their erse fur a poond ago tae dirty auld men. Jist fur a taste ae the broon stuff. Yae must be so proud, eh? fuckin Nickeledon’s faither ae the year, standin oor their’’

Fuckin hell, man. Oor forward, Andy Peters, is straight through oan goal. And the daft cunt hus hit a feeble shot which looks like a waste ae time.  But ken what, eh? it’s somehow managed tae roll under the goalies airms, Fuckin Yes! Naeboady kin deny Aldo took hings too far wae the boays daughter but it looks as if it’s done the trick cos there’s nae wey the boay shouldnae huv saved that yin. Oor supporters have come unglued and everyboady’s jumpin up and doon like dafties. The boay is stormin towards us as the referee blows his whistle tae signal the end ae the half and he looks pissed. 

 ‘’You’re fuckin deid, ya cunt!’’ he’s screamin as he points towards Aldo. ‘’Nae cunt talks aboot ma bairn like that!’’. 

Jist as he gits close tae the barrier where wur standin, a few ae the stewards stoap him, jist in time. Even wae three ae these cunts huddin the boay back it’s obvious they’re strugglin tae contain him.

‘’Me and you’’ He says, pointin at Aldo ‘’efter the match. Ah’ll fuckin end yae!’’ 

In typical Aldo fashion he doenae gee a fuck aboot the guy’s threats and if anyhing seems tae welcome thum.

‘’Yae promise, dae yae? sweetheart?’’ he sais sarcastically. A comment that only seems tae enrage the boay further.

Wuv only went and fuckin done it, eh? held oan fur a famous victory. Shite game, dinnae git me wrong, but who gees a fuck aboot the standard ae play.  Aldo’s masterplan tae fuck wae Bonnyrigg’s keeper hus proved tae be nuttin shoart ae a masterstroke. Oor supporters are walkin oan air right noo and every cunt is chantin ‘’Wur gonnae win the cup!’’. Craig’s made a quick run fur the bog and Aldo’s standin here amongst the fans, smug as yae like. As if he single handily won us the tie. Which, tae be fair tae him, isnae that far fae the truth. Of course, he’s went tae droap an E in celebration ae the win. But wae everybody jumpin aboot and aw the airms gittin flung, it’s been knoacked right oot his hand. 

‘’Fur fuck sake!’’ he roars. Before he collapses tae the groond tae search fur the hing.

‘’Jist leave the fuckin hing. The BBC should be here soon tae interview some ae us’’ ah tell him. 

‘’Bairns train here, yae dafty’’ he hisses at me. ‘’Did yae no notice that poster at the entrance? You kin be an irresponsible bastard sometimes, Dougie. Yae really kin’’.

Ah’m left absolutely dumbfoonded wae that response. ‘’Ah’m the irresponsible yin? You’re the bam who broat that shite intae the groond’’.

Maist ae the fans huv begun tae trickle oot ae the stadium. Aw ma fuckin god, eh? here comes Pishwater bargin his wey through the supporters and he looks as if he’s a madman oan a mission, headin straight oor wey. 

‘’Aldo, that boays comin’’ ah beg wae him. 

‘’Doesnae matter tae me Dougie, son. Yur still ma mate’’

‘’Eh?’’ ah sais ‘’Will yae look up!’’

He’s closin in oan us at lightnin speed. So, ah try tae bloack his path as Aldo’s still oblivious tae oor impendin problem. 

‘’Mate, it wis jist banter’’ ah tell him.

Withoot a moment’s hesitation he gees me a swift right hand. Which dually sends me tumblin tae concrete. 

Aw ma god, ma heid is bangin. Fuckin hell, how hard did that cunt hit me? Where the fuck um ah? is this that boozer fae earlier? It fuckin is, n aw.

There’s a wuman gone aboot collectin the empties.

‘’Excuse me love, where um ah?’’

 ‘’The Calderwood. Yur mates dumped yae in here.’’ 

That sounds jist like that pair ae miserable bastards, ah hink tae masel. Lookin at the corner ae the room ah notice suttin oan the telly. But it cannae be right, is that? Ah mean, is that Aldo? it fuckin is tae. 

‘’Kin yae turn that up please?’’ ah ask her, which the wuman kindly does.

Jim Spence is standin there wae Aldo. Who’s aw but booncin as he awaites tae be interviewed.

‘’Ah’m standin here wae a supporter who hus followed his team through the gid times and the bad. What’s yur name, sir?’’.

‘’Aldo’’ he answers, aw gleefully.

‘’Well, Aldo. Why don’t you tell me how proud you are of these players?. This is a great achievement fur yur club’’

‘’Aye, that’s right, Jim’’ Aldo tells him ‘’ We at The Star are yin big faimily, eh? Mean, ah’ve been a supporter ae the club since ah wis auld enough tae crawl. There’s nuttin like the feelin ae community spirit.  And kin ah tell ma missus suttin, who’s back at haime watchin?’’

‘’Sure’’

‘’We did it, baby! And you owe me ma hole when ah git back!’’ 

‘’ Apologies there, for the language, ladies and gentlemen. But forgetting that last remark for a moment. The party currently going on behind me does go to show that community spirit and football do certainly coincide as one. This is Jim Spence, reporting fur BBC Scotland. Back the guys in the studio’’. 

Ah’m loast fur words right noo. The absolute audacity. He jist goat interviewed by Jim fuckin spence! This hus goat tae be the maist surreal moment ae ma life. Aldo, ya dirty glory huntin bastard!

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What Kelty Hearts Means to me by Shaun Spedding

Back in 2017 when people asked what football team I supported I was always ready to follow up my response with an explanation of who they were and what league they play in. “I support Kelty Hearts, it’s my local team, we play in the 6th Tier of Scottish Football and it’s a tremendous team to follow” 

Supporting Kelty Hearts requires many things but first and foremost a resilient soul is required just to get by week to week. In the last 3 seasons alone we’ve seen our local team make the switch from a successful position in the East Region Juniors to the Scottish Football Pyramid, take their challenge for the EOSFL Title to the final day of the season, sign ex-Scotland captain Barry Ferguson as Manager and now guide us to within touching distance of SPFL League 2. 

Saturday is Football and I support Kelty Hearts for the Saturdays, same as every football fan out there, but why I support my local team like I do goes beyond those Football Saturdays for Saturdays only scratch the surface of why I support Kelty Hearts…

The weeknights are filled with 250+ youths who are out being active and participating in a team sport working towards their Saturday and Sunday mornings. They’re time for the under 20s and under 17s to continue their development as they work towards their Friday Nights and for the women’s game to continue to grow as they train for their Sunday games in the SWF Championship North. The over 35s train and the walking football teams play their game, all outside that big Saturday football game.

The Annual Calendar is filled with events raising money for local and nationwide charities, Club Chairman, Ian Thomson, most recently shaving his head in aid of Maggie’s Centre at Kirkcaldy’s Victoria Hospital and raising not only over £1,800 for the local organisation but awareness throughout the local community. The club has hosted Respiratory Courses in conjunction with Local Fire Services, Lung Cancer Screening days and most recently Food Collections for those in need throughout the Coronavirus outbreak.

The Community days throughout the year include an annual summer kids’ day at New Central Park which see’s kids from Kelty and beyond come along and spend the day enjoying the sunshine, games and entertainment. In the winter the community day see’s Santa make the trip down from the North Pole to see the children of Kelty and hand out presents.

Supporting Kelty Hearts comes with some tremendous highs, and some devastating lows (playing live on BBC comes instantly to mind), it can also come with a fair bit of stick, Gretna 2.0 is something you see thrown about regularly on social media and football forum. In the grand scheme of things the attention and focus put into Saturday’s pales in comparison to what the club has done for the village and it’s inhabitants (you’d be hard pushed to find many views differing from this throughout the community) and every bit the club puts into the community the community puts back into the club (you’d be hard pushed to find many views differing from this throughout the club),

Supporting Kelty Hearts isn’t just going along to New Central Park on a Saturday afternoon to watch the boys give everything for those three precious points, it’s not all about the pregame pints and half time pies, it’s not only reading the weekly programme and debating the team sheet, it’s not just cheering on the future stars on Friday Night or our Ladies on Sunday, it isn’t always hearing the hustle and bustle on weeknights as local school kids learn the art of the game, it’s not seeing the great work the club does for the community and it’s not just the friends and familiar faces you see when you’re there. Supporting Kelty Hearts is all of these things to the local community and to me.

Enjoy this article? Want to write for Football CFB? Get in touch at footballcfb@gmail.com

Football CFB on YouTube

Football CFB with… now on YOUTUBE

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I am working as hard as I possibly can to ensure that I produce unique football content in written form, podcast form and now in video format.

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My Morton Journey

Written by Gary Bradley – @GBRphotos

My Morton journey began way back in the later 70’s when a certain Mr Andrew Ritchie had just joined the Club. I was a fresh faced pupil of St Columba’s High in Gourock when my friend, Chris McLoone, invited me to go to a game.  I think it was against Montrose but I could be wrong.   I remember the atmosphere as I stood down the front of the shed and loved every minute of it.  

From that point onwards I was hooked, scarf was aqquired, songs learned and my life long affection for the Blue and white hoops had begun.

Throughout my school days I watched Morton all over Scotland, financed by my part time job in Prestos, where I packed shelves 3 evenings a week after school. In these early days my hero was Andy Ritchie, followed by Jim Holmes and Bobby Thompson. The night we beat Airdrie to win the League was a special special night. The fans sung long into the night as we looked forward to playing the big guns the following season.

There have been many ups and downs during my 40 odd years of following the club, highlights for me would be the affore mentioned Airdrie game, being top of the Premier League in 79 of course that game against Peterhead to win the 3rd Division (even though I only made the after match celebrations due to having to work}

Lowlights!   Seeing Bobby Thompson banned for so many games due to a certain Rangers player feigning injury in the Butt’ incident at Cappielow, Fearing Morton would die due to Hugh Scott destroying the club and the year we flung a huge lead away and the club being under that betting scandal.

Nowadays as I reach ‘bus pass’ age my love of the club has moved to being on the pitchside capturing the action as my love for Morton was mixed with my hobby of photography. This came about due to me not being able to afford to attend many games due to my role as a Carer (my partner Ann Marie has MS) and I wrote in to see if i could try capturing match images. Morton said yes and I have never looked back.

Its great seeing images I shot appearing on Morton’s website, program and social media and it helps to make me feel part of the club. I sometimes miss my ‘spot’ up in the cowshed, but being so close to the action brings a whole new perspective to my viewing (and a lot less sweary words). In my early days of this role I had to try and remember I could not have my ‘fan’ head on when it came to wanting to slag other clubs etc, Jonathan Mitchell had to remind me a few times due to my miss spelling of the word Mirren, was sure it had two d’s in the middle…

On a matchday I usually spent the first half concentrating on our defending half as its usually the attackers that get most coverage due to the goal scoring and celebrations etc, so i just love to capture the defenders doing what they do best. Second half I spend capturing the attacking action. ‘Watching’ the game through a lens is a challenge as you simply can not switch off for a second, as there is always something happening, off the ball incidents, fan or manager reactions etc.

After a game comes the longest part of my role.  Cutting down and editing my game images to get ready to submit to Morton or social media.  I have two Cameras and they each take ten shots per second, so as you can imagine thats a lot of images taken over 90 mins.

Average shoot for me is about 2000 images and it takes me a good few hours to sort out the best ones, but I really enjoy doing these edits because it lets me replay the match in my head and of course visually.

I also try to cover the Reserves at home and more recently I have started to cover the Morton Ladies when possible.

I have many favourite images from my time photographing Morton but my favourite is this one (attached) taken at Falkirk when we well and truly got our own back on Ray McKinnon. I just love the emotion of the faces, happiness shines out from everyone in the frameand for me it was just one of those precious moments which summed up what Morton means to me.

Gary Bradley. (GBR Photos).

The Psychology of Football Nostalgia

Written by Old School Football – @OSFShop

We’ve all witnessed the rise of retro in football over the past few years.

Whether it be a match-worn shirt or a replica retro piece, the proliferation of vintage charity shop finds or the effect of historical kits on the designs of new ones, there is no denying the influence nostalgia is having on the football apparel we’re wearing right now.

The beautifully minimalist, commemorative FA Cup shirt released by Chelsea recently sold out within 24 hours and when @The_Kitsman recently polled his Twitter followers on their shirt purchasing rationale, when it wasn’t the team they support, the results were resounding: of the 720 votes, 56% claimed ‘nostalgic and retro’ as their main motivation.

But what is it about the psychology of the past that keeps us so interested in the designs and badges of club history?

Colin French from the irreverent Half and Half Scarves podcast suggests that the shirts evoke memories we want to feel again “I do not support Manchester United but the kits, that they achieved those incredible things in, transcend the basic idea of a football kit and to me represent incredible victory on the biggest stage of them all.”

“When I see them I don’t just see a shirt, shorts and socks, I see those players winning the treble or the many, many league titles that they conquered, as I sat wide eyed witnessing it. I don’t even support that club but my history with the game ties me emotionally to them and the shirts that they wore” 

Is the retro shirt fulfilling our need to remember the past?

According to the dictionary definition nostalgia (noun) is ‘a sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the past’, however the word’s origin relates to the Greek for ‘homecoming’ and ‘pain’.

Originally, back in the 1600s, nostalgia was considered to be a debilitating, and possibly even fatal, mental disorder which was suggested to cause fever, loss of appetite, brain inflammation and even heart failure!

At the time it was specifically treated in relation to soldiers at war, some of whom were probably experiencing severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. One Russian General buried his troops alive as a lesson to others that nostalgia was to be stamped out if they were to succeed on the battlefield!

The medicalised view of the term appeared to change during the 1800s and it took on the more ruminating, bittersweet harking back that we are more familiar with today.

But what is it about a romanticised version of football past that encourages our love of the retro replicas and vintage shirts?

As a fan, I don’t just support my club in the moment of now, I have been part of it’s history, just as it has been a part of mine. I grew up with football; it defined my weekends as it still does today. Retro shirts from throughout my childhood activate a sense of happiness in me because I witnessed heroic players wearing them and I watched heroic teams playing in them,” says Colin

“Of course, age must play a large part in nostalgia. As I grow older, accumulate responsibility and the world around me changes, I have a strong hankering for the things of my youth….A Chelsea shirt from the 96/97 season will always remind me of one of the greatest days that I have ever experienced as a football fan, meaning I want to own it even now “

And psychologists would agree that we are most likely to remember with fondness, the football of our youth. 

Cognitive science tells us that after the age of 30 we begin to re-model the memories of our formative years, to look back on them with more affection than they, perhaps, deserve. It serves our mental health better to recall the good times rather than the bad, so this ability to bring out the proverbial ‘rose-coloured spectacles’ serves us well.

A phenomena known as the ‘reminiscence bump’ was indicated by a 1980s study, by Rubin & his colleagues, of what psychologists call ‘autobiographical memory’ – the memories of our life. Previous memory studies had shown that the farther away an event was for young student participants, the less likely it was to be remembered, however when the same test was conducted on older participants the findings revealed something very unusual: Yes they remembered things from their recent past the best but looking at all the data there was clearly also an increased recall for events right around their 20s!

A big ‘bump’ in the data suggested a significant recall of memories from young adulthood; a result that has been seen many times over in subsequent studies. It’s like we have some ‘flagship’ memories that our brains hold on to.

Colin Webster, the brains behind the fantastic football strategy board game Counter Attack, concurs that our memories of those formative years massively influence the shirts we want to own now “we hold a (sometimes mistaken) belief that times were better back in the day and the retro craze is in part driven by the memories we hold of the football teams and great moments we grew up with”

In this way the iconic, red, round-necked, England away shirt of 1966 is inextricably linked to someone’s memories that historical victory over West Germany. According to the experts if you witnessed that event in your youth, your brain’s storage of such victorious times, and in particular your amygdala’s role in it’s recall, will influence your love for the shirt’s design. Similarly a current love of Arsenal’s ‘bruised banana’ could well be traced back to a wistful longing for years gone by at Highbury.

Some organisations have harnessed the power of nostalgia to improve mental well-being in their communities. The Award winning Sporting Memories Foundation welcome isolated older people to meet once a week too share their memories and shared love of sport in order to combat loneliness, depression and dementia.

Following on from their successful Memories of 66 Project, The National Football Museum works in conjunction with the foundation to run free Sporting Memories Groups, fortnightly, to support the wellbeing of older people.

And Football Memories groups, organised by Alzheimer Scotland, also use the memories of football to improve the lives of Alzheimer sufferers, with The Scottish Football Museum marking their 10 year involvement in the project last year.

When the recollection isn’t pathological or linked to grief, much of the research suggests that nostalgic thoughts can really improve our mental state. Dr Clay Routledge says that that, after reminiscence, people rated significantly higher on self-esteem measures and indicated that life had more meaning, whilst Cheung and her colleagues (2013) found participants to be more generous and optimistic.

Professor Constantine Sedikides of Southampton University has studied the psychological benefits of reminiscence extensively over the years, concluding that our sentimental longing for the past, often triggered by feelings of negativity about the here and now, is a defence mechanism which helps us counter-act feelings of meaninglessness, and even depression, when the going is getting tough.

He and his colleagues have also discovered that when in that state of remembering we are more likely to reach out to strangers and be altruistic, so it appears that looking back on football’s past will actually strengthen our bonds with others. 

This may explain why our Twitter feed @OSFshop is filled with retro football chat and a belongingness that transcends football allegiances, individual circumstances and political views.


Sedikides
 suggests that this kind of reminiscent interaction can help to boost self-esteem, lift mood and improve our feelings of connectedness, both with others and with our past.

And so it may be worth remembering, as you browse www.classicshirts.com and the guilt starts to creep, that this hankering for all things retro is actually good for your soul.

Nostalgia connects us with the past and our fellow humans. It helps our mental health to reminisce about those times on the terraces when we were first introduced to the beautiful game, the shirts worn, the badges kissed, the pain and the glory. 

Colin French sums it up perfectly “Nostalgia is history. History is the glue to relationships. History is why I have a passion for retro football items.”

References

Cheung, W. Y., Wildschut, T., Sedikides, C., Hepper, E. G., Arndt, J., Vingerhoets, A. J. J. M. (2013). Back to the future: Nostalgia increases optimism. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 39, 1484-1496. 

Gluck, J., & Bluck, S. (2007). Looking back across the life span: A life story account of the reminiscence bump. Memory and Cognition, 35, 1928-1939.

Rubin DC, Wetzler SE, Nebes RD. Autobiographical memory across the adult lifespan. In: Rubin DC, editor. Autobiographical memory. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press; 1986. pp. 202–221. [Google Scholar]

The beautiful game – How can we encourage further growth of the game for the next generation?

By Callum McFadden – @football_cfb

This image brought back memories of why I fell in love with football

Football. A game involving two teams of 11 players, a football and two goalmouths. A simple game some may say but there is no doubt that it’s a beautiful game.

It’s by far the most popular sport on the planet with some estimates that 3.5 billion people call themselves fans and it’s a game that so many young boys and girls fall in love from at a young age – myself included.

I should state that when I’m talking about falling in love with the game, I’m not talking about the elite level of football with the multi millionaires and the sensationalised exposure that it receives. Yes watching the highest level of any sport helps grow interest and of course it did for me too but most growing up fall properly in love the game by playing it themselves.

Therefore, I’m talking about the game at grassroots level. Our game.

I captured this image last month in North Wales and it immediately took me back to my childhood.

Playing the game around my back garden with jumpers or bricks as goalposts pretending I was every team on my very own episode of Sportscene and Match Of The Day. Playing for hours on end without wanting to stop. Running home from school to get changed as quickly as possible and head straight to the local park – that is football for me.

Playing with my cousin Jack with jumpers for goalposts.

It’s how I fell in love with the game and it’s how I’ll always remember the game. My worry is that the raw passion for the game itself and playing for enjoyment is dwindling among young kids.

In the modern world, FIFA is a game that many young kids play and love (not that there is anything wrong with that) but in my experience as a teacher it seems to their main love of the game. YouTube is another wonderful platform but again it’s a platform that kids seemingly would rather watch football on than play the game themselves.

Now, this article is not a criticism of modern technology and a slight on the younger generation. It’s just an observation of how things have changed in my personal opinion.

Playing boys club football at Gourock was special.

The children I’ve taught over the last few years who love the game seem to only really play the game at boys club level or when a game is ‘organised’ which is good in some respects but sad in other ways for me. What I mean by this is the lack of spontaneity in the young generation to see the beauty and joy of playing at the local park or by using jumpers as goalposts and playing a random unorganised game with friends for the fun of it all saddens me.

Playing for my local boys club Gourock.

Of course I am not naive enough not to understand the causes of this. 24 hour news has shone a greater light on the dangers within society especially when the well-being of children is concerned and I can totally understand the reasons that parents don’t like sending their children out alone to local parks like they would have without questioning it only a decade or so ago.

So how can we as a society combat this?

The answer for me and many others within the game is build more indoor football facilities.

I recently spoke with Craig Brown and Robbie Crawford who both highlighted Iceland as the prime example of a country that is reaping the benefits of investing in indoor facilities and ensuring that football is safely accessible for children of all ages in this more cautious and considerate world. Craig argued that greater indoor facilities is a must to ensure children can play football in a safe environment in order to produce more top class players and a greater love of the game.

This view was backed up by Robbie – who having played in Iceland with FH has experienced this first hand – who backed Craig’s viewpoint up by emphasising that the standard of facilities that each team had was also used for the benefit of the local community. This was in his view a win-win situation as not only did the first team and academy set up have opportunities to develop but the local community also had the exact same opportunities to develop their love of football further too.

To conclude, football in my view is the greatest game in the world and it’s a game we especially here in Scotland should be looking to protect and further enhance and encourage to future generations. In my view, an investment in indoor facilities and making the game more affordable recreationally are two main ways that could do just that and should be done as soon as possible.

As for me, football can be a major force for good and the younger we can allow children and young people to see that and experience it for themselves the better.

Check out the football CFB podcast here for more unique football content like this – https://anchor.fm/footballCFB

Football CFB in the community: Working alongside local primary schools in Inverclyde

Interviewing Gerry McDade for a live special at Lady Alice Primary School

As a primary school teacher, education and helping inspire the next generation is something that I do my best to do each and everyday in the classroom. I love teaching and working with children.

However, I must admit that never did I foresee that eight weeks into running Football CFB that I would be invited to local primary schools to talk to children about podcasting and developing the young workforce. Being invited to speak to children at Moorfoot primary in Gourock and Lady Alice primary in Greenock (where I also work) was an honour.

Speaking to the children at both Moorfoot and Lady Alice, I left incredibly impressed with their passion for football, podcasting and broadcasting.

The questions I was asked by the children of primaries 4, 5, 6 and 7 were well planned and articulated and I did my very best to answer every question that came my way. I was also privileged to be joined in Lady Alice by Football writer, commentator and Greenock Morton media man Gerry McDade for a very special live episode of Football CFB with Lady Alice children were we discussed his experience of school, various roles that he’s held in the workplace and what it’s like to work in football. Gerry is a good friend and was an absolute joy to interview not just for me but the children also.

The main message I had for the children of both schools – a message echoed by Gerry too – was very simple: DARE TO DREAM.

The only person who can stop you achieving your dream is YOU. That’s something I’ve learned over the last few years first hand. I gave up my dream of working in sports media at 18 due to people saying I’d never make it and that I was wasting my time. I parked that dream never expecting to revisit it but revisit it is exactly what I’ve done – now at 24 – in the last few months by setting up my own football website, podcast and social media presence.

I feel incredibly lucky to have been supported in my first 8 weeks by over 10,500 listeners and over 1 million people who have had an ‘impression’ of my content via twitter and my other social media platforms. My dream remains to work in sports media.

I started with 3 objectives. To have 300 followers by June, 500 by December and to appear on BBC Scotland’s Off The Ball by July 2021. The first two objectives have already been surpassed in just 8 weeks which utterly amazes me and I have one to go.

Off the Ball and talking to Stuart and Tam would be a dream for me and that brings me back to what I told each child I worked with this week: Dare To Dream because the only person who can stop you is you and trust me I don’t plan on waking up from this dream anytime soon.

Thank you to each and every one of you for listening to the podcast, supporting my articles and writing lovely emails supporting me and CFB. I do not take any of it for granted and I never will. Your support is inspiring and has helped me more than you’ll ever know. Thank you and remember Dare To Dream.

All the best,

Callum.