Odds n ends

What with nothing much happening in Fulham-land, please indulge a little more notmuchness.

First, if you like fiction, why not try my friend Matthew’s collection of stories, “Washed Up”?  You can download it for free here.  Matthew sells books for a living so knows his onions, and how to write.

Also highly recommended if you’re in or around London is the Idler Academy.  The Idler has been an important and influential magazine for a long time (a new issue is out soon)  but now Tom and his people have branched out.  The Academy runs all kinds of interesting events, which I really must make an effort to attend at some point.

But for now I am happy to have visited the shop. Hade, Stanley and I were out and about in London on my day off yesterday and after deciding against London Zoo (heavy rain) elected to do Hamleys (which was okay but a bit OTT) and then the academy. With no obvious tube option at 5pm with a baby and buggy (we were at Oxford Circus) we hot-footed it to a bus stop, caught the number 23 to Westbourne Park, and made it round before closing time.  The shop has a nice line of books on a pleasing range of subjects, and we picked up a couple.

Then we wandered back towards Warwick Avenue tube via the Grand Union canal. It’s days like these that make London easy to love. We weren’t able to do what we’d originally planned, saved £40 (zoo ticket prices! Ow!) and had a better time just seeing new parts of the capital and whizzing around on the tube (it’s amazing what having a smiley baby can do for tube journeys).

Allen & Son: Squirrel Hunters.

The First Step(s)

The first step in this indeterminable Europa journey begins next in two Thursdays when the club travels to the Faroe Islands to take on NSÍ Runavík, who finished third in the Faroe Islands Premier League last year. As in, literally last year as they are currently 4th having played 12 matches in the 2011 Season.

Because Runavík’s stadium isn’t UEFA approved, they play at Tórsvøllur, which is also where the Faroe Islands national team play (and recently defeated Estonia). Lovely stadium that should be memorable for whomever is fortunate enough to take the trek.

Runavik’s home:

Where we’ll be:

Of 10 international matches, Runavík has won just once, in 2008. Also, one would assume that Runavík would be a totally homogenous, but they do sport a Hungarian goalkeeper András Gángó, a Sengalese midfielder Ismail Abdul Razak, a Georgian midfielder Mamuka Toronjadze, and a Cameroonian defender named Hugues Nanmi.

Our next opponents, if we beat Runavík, are Crusaders of Belfast, Northern Ireland. Believe it or not, but the Faroe Islands had a higher club coefficient than Northern Ireland in 2010. Nonetheless Crusaders finished second in the IFA Premiership, and have a pretty awesome nickname: “The Hatchetmen”. The club has won just once in 20 European Matches (over Zalgiris Vilnius of Lithuania in 1996), but managed to face Liverpool in the European Cup back in 1976.

The most interesting thing about this club is after years of debate they went from a membership-based organisation to a public limited company in 2009, which is noteworthy considering the IFA Premiership is semi-professional.

I so wish I could make a trek back to Belfast (best city in my trip ’round Ireland in 2006), but thankfully there’s a 3-part video series of Seaview Stadium. I suppose you could find a similar stadium in the Conference, but at least there’s different currency:

We should play a game of “Name that Lineup!” sometime later this week (seriously, I have no idea who will be our first XI), but until then feel free to add any interesting tidbits about each club you’ve found.

Blast from the past – Luton Town, October 1987

This is, believe it or not, a plastic match ticket, found by Dad recently while tidying up.  Dad used to take me to Kenilworth Road, Luton for a few seasons, the Sealy-Foster-Hill- Harford-Stein side.  We saw some great games on Luton’s infamous plastic pitch, always from the very front of the terrace, right behind the goal.  I loved it there, almost within touching distance of the goalkeeper, and any goals would nestle in Luton’s extremely stringy net right in front of us.  Thrilling. Funnily enough we were talking about how Liverpool never used to be able to beat Luton at Kenilworth Road, but here we have a ticket from a 1-0 Liverpool win (Gillespie).

I dug out Luton’s results from that season and the thing that stood out were the number of people who were going to games that year.   Have a look:

Date Opponent Venue Result Attendance Scorers
15-Aug-87 Derby County Away 0–1 17,204
18-Aug-87 Coventry City Home 0–1 9,380
22-Aug-87 West Ham United Home 2–2 8,073 Harford (2)
29-Aug-87 Chelsea Away 0–3 16,075
31-Aug-87 Arsenal Home 1–1 8,745 Wilson (pen)
05-Sep-87 Oxford United Away 5–2 6,804 Breacker, Harford, Hill, Nwajiobi, B. Stein
12-Sep-87 Everton Home 2–1 8,124 Hill, B. Stein
19-Sep-87 Charlton Athletic Away 0–1 5,002
26-Sep-87 Queens Park Rangers Away 0–2 11,175
03-Oct-87 Manchester United Home 1–1 9,137 Harford
10-Oct-87 Portsmouth Away 1–3 12,391 Harford (pen)
17-Oct-87 Wimbledon Home 2–0 7,018 B. Stein, Wilson
24-Oct-87 Liverpool Home 0–1 11,997
07-Nov-87 Newcastle United Home 4–0 7,638 Nwajiobi, B. Stein, M. Stein (2)
14-Nov-87 Sheffield Wednesday Away 2–0 16,960 Allinson, M. Stein
21-Nov-87 Tottenham Hotspur Home 2–0 10,091 Allinson (2)
05-Dec-87 Norwich City Home 1–2 7,002 B. Stein
12-Dec-87 Watford Away 1–0 12,152 Foster
18-Dec-87 Southampton Home 2–2 6,618 Harford, McDonough
26-Dec-87 Everton Away 0–2 32,128
28-Dec-87 Charlton Athletic Home 1–0 7,243 Wilson
01-Jan-88 Chelsea Home 3–0 8,018 Harford, B. Stein, M. Stein
02-Jan-88 West Ham United Away 1–1 16,716 M. Stein
16-Jan-88 Derby County Home 1–0 7,175 McDonough
06-Feb-88 Oxford United Home 7–4 8,063 Harford (2), McDonough, B.Stein, M.Stein (3)
13-Feb-88 Arsenal Away 1–2 22,612 M.Stein
05-Mar-88 Wimbledon Away 0–2 4,854
15-Mar-88 Coventry City Away 0–4 13,711
29-Mar-88 Portsmouth Home 4–1 6,740 B.Stein, M.Stein, Wilson, own goal
02-Apr-88 Newcastle United Away 0–4 20,752
05-Apr-88 Sheffield Wednesday Home 2–2 7,337 McDonough, B. Stein
12-Apr-88 Manchester United Away 0–3 28,830
19-Apr-88 Queens Park Rangers Home 2–1 6,735 Foster, Wilson (pen)
30-Apr-88 Norwich City Away 2–2 13,171 M. Stein, Wilson (pen)
02-May-88 Watford Home 2–1 10,409 Oldfield, Wilson (pen)
04-May-88 Tottenham Hotspur Away 1–2 15,437 Grimes
07-May-88 Southampton Away 1–1 12,722 Wilson
09-May-88 Liverpool Away 1–1 30,374 Oldfield
13-May-88 Nottingham Forest Home 1–1 9,108 Donaghy
15-May-88 Nottingham Forest Away 1–1 13,106 Oldfield

Hardly anyone.

Luton went to Wembley that season (an epic League Cup final – we were there), but were still struggling to attract more than 10,000 for home games.  But look at some of the away games, too: 16,000 at Stamford Bridge; 5,000 at Charlton; 28,000 at United.  And so on…

Why was this?  I know football then wasn’t the same as football now, but, well, isn’t this weird?  None of the thousands of people who go to games in the modren world are doing so because it’s the ‘done thing’, yet here they are, flocking to the grounds.  In 1987, in the top division, even the big clubs were topping out at 30,000.  It’s Luton Town, admittedly, but still. Weird.

Who what when how?

The fixtures are out at 9am.  I’ll be in training all day, so will miss all the excitement.  But feel free to discuss.  Does it look good?  What’s the run-in like?


Football finances: a better graph

My old boss Joel has reworked a wages/turnover/profit-loss diagram over at his blog.  It’s pretty good.  I’ll let Joel explain….

The takeouts from the chart are that club owners need very deep pockets to reach the top of the table; that outside the top six clubs there is no correlation between wage bill and league performance; and that the top clubs will have a lot of trouble complying with new financial regulations. Oh, and sometimes a graphic can be more attractive if it chooses to dress down.

I’m sure there’s room for improvement, but I’m pretty sure the black and white version is a step forwards.

Have a look.

Lunchtime Fight Club: London

This was taken at about 12:20 a couple of days ago.  Between the trees is a man, some kind of personal trainer, and a woman, wearing boxing gloves. She has presumably paid god knows what for the privilege of hitting him (he has his own gloves designed to absorb her punches) for half an hour, in front of half of London too (the park gets very busy).  Is she not self-concious?* Could she not just shadow box in her spare room at home?  The correct answer is “none of your business, to each their own” of course.  But I just don’t understand. 

*it’s like those people who go jogging on match days, then try to run against the flow through Bishop’s Park. A) stupid move and B) have you no shame, running around in all your tight gear past lots of football goers?

Anyway…. slow news day.