Thursday, December 31, 2009

Well it's soon going to be goodbye 2009, hello a new decade.

As all publications have that unwritten must do rule, it's time for us to look back and give a personal review of the year.

It's been a year of achievement for AFTN, if not our teams. Finally getting a blog going, growing the website and forum, being part of an award winning matchday programme and soon to launch our Canadian sister website, it's been a busy time.

For our beloved teams, it hasn't been so good.

East Fife have struggled and show no signs of stopping this for the foreseeable future.

Hope had been high at the start of last season of building on the success of our first Championship in 60 years. By the start of this year we'd soon realised that it wasn't going to be built upon and in fact all the good work of the previous season looked like being undone. We lost our Chairman and with it his money and the money of his contacts, we lost our manager who was playing terrible football, we lost all hope of promotion or even reaching the playoffs. It was a shambles.

A new manager and new younger faces on the pitch couldn't stop the slide and the horrible inconsistancy of our performances week in, week out is driving fans mad.

As we leave a bad year, we can only hope the new one will bring out the best in the team and we're not left in a relegation dogfight, or worse still, back in the basement. The other nightmare scenario is that we are the only Fife team not to be in Division One next season.

On the other side of the pond, Vancouver Whitecaps had inconsistancy themselves. Poor results and infighting left them struggling to make the playoffs, or that's how it looked midseason. An amazing turnaround and some amazing games saw them reach their second successive Championship game but back to back Championships couldn;t be returned and it was all left a bit flat come the season end.

Now, facing the uncertainty of what League they'll play in next season, looking back on the Caps season is still overshadowed by Frog-gate, aka the Canadian Championship debacle, but let's save that for tomorrow.

Scotland failed to impress on the national stage and another World Cup will pass us by. I'm starting to forget what it's like to follow them in a worldwide tournament. The Scottish game needs taken by the scruff of the neck and rebuilt from the bottom up. Whether that will happen or not under new boss Craig Levein is anyone's guess.

So that's our personal take on 2009 summed up. Depressing to read, more depressing to type! It's not a year we'll miss, so let's just sweep it under the carper and wait for the bells to hopefully ring in a cracking decade of joy and success.

Happy New Year everyone.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

With Craig Levein now officially instilled as the new Scotland manager, it didn't take long for the cockroaches to come scuttling out from their dark places (Ibrox as others may know it) and seek to reignite their international careers.

You could have put a lot of money on Kris Boyd having a change of heart and making himself available once again to play for Scotland.

Having fallen out with previous boss Craig Burley over the time he was spending on the bench, Boyd threw a strop, took his ball home with him and announced his retirement from the international scene that barely knew he was even there.

Has he matured now? Is there any guarantee he won't do it again if Levein keeps him on the bench?

Know one knows, not even Boyd himself. His game has certainly matured. Five goals in a game, becoming the SPL's all time top scorer and some assured performances of late. Has he matured himself as a man?

There's no denying that the Scotland national team badly need some top class strikers. Is Boyd really that though? He hadn't done it for Scotland before and he's hardly set the heather alight for Rangers in Europe.

Should we forgive and forget and not just cut our nose off to spite our face?

Out of the three disgraced players (the other horrible Huns being Allan McGregor and Barry Ferguson), Boyd is the only one I would grudgingly welcome back. The others can go to hell and stay there for letting their country and their fans down.

If Boyd can show the maturity to not run away again if he is kept on the bench or doesn't like decisions made, then I'm for giving him a second chance. If he blows it, then it will be him who will look back on his career in years to come full of regret.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

This evening's Premiership basement battle between Bolton Wanderers and Hull City, in particular the second half, was actually a game which lived up to that oft used phrase of a pulsating game.

The Tigers fightback from two goals down to claim a valuable point was great entertainment and much better than the top four battle between Aston Villa and Liverpool that was also on this evening.

When Hull went two down, it looked like Phil Brown may be facing questions surrounding his future once more, but after their ferocious comeback, and some key decisions gone awry, Gary Megson is now looking favourite to be the next Premiership manager to face the chop.

If Hull can manage to stay up for another season against the odds, it will be a tremendous achievement and if they can just get the talismanic Jimmy Bullard fit and keep him that way, then I'd completely back them to do this.

With so much at stake and so many teams still looking like realistic contenders for the drop if they string a run of poor results together, the rest of the 2009/2010 season is sure to serve up week after week of games like this from those at the bottom end of the table. It could be the tightest and most exciting finish yet and I can't wait!

Monday, December 28, 2009

If you have the Christmas and New Year period off work or school, then the feast of football on your TV screen is a joy to behold.

Maybe it's the blanket coverage of games, but this year seems to have non stop action for the armchair couch potato. Couple this with the darts being on as well and well, it's hard to really leave the house.

I guess this makes it hard for fans that want to attend games but can't be dragged away from their TV screens. Bad for the clubs, bad for you health!

With the Premiership, Championship and SPL all being delicately poised as well then it's just added to the excitement and the enjoyment in the games on offer.

To me, that's Christmas. Games galore, other sports galore, festive specials of fave shows likes Soccer AM and Soccer Saturday and too much munching away on snacks and chocolate.

Thanks heavens I have a dog so that I have to be forced to go out that front door before the first week of January!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

This season's English Premiership is one of the best so far in terms of teams with a realistic chance of the title, finishing in the top four and avoiding relegation.

At the top end of the table, Chelsea's stuttering of late has probably made it a three horse title race between themselves, Man United and Arsenal.

In years gone by, Arsenal would have easily been the team that would have had my support to land the title. This season though, their whining, arguing, hassling of refs and cheating and diving escapades have totally switched me off them. No matter how skillful the likes of Fabregas might be, I've had my fill of them.

To my mind they are now no better on the pitch than Chelski in all the negative stuff they bring to the English game.

With Man United being, well, Man United, it would be great to have a title contender to finally support that don't make your blood boil.

Moneybags City are a non starter and their recent behaviour with Mark Hughes cemented that fact. I just can't bring myself to cheer for Spurs either and my hatred of Liverpool dates back to the late 70's when everyone at my school were gloryhunters and wore the red colours, when West Ham were, and always will be, my English team.

That only leaves Aston Villa and thankfully I have no irrational hatred of them that I can bring to mind, so that's my choice of top teams in England to root for this season.

They may not have a chance of landing the actual title right now, but if they can break into that top four Champions League spot then I'll be raising my glass to them come May.

Maybe one day, in what currently seems like the very distant future, I can cheer on my own claret and blue team of choice to be that team to make it into the Champions League and there'll be bubbles blowing everywhere in the process.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

With the festive football programme in Scotland decimated by the weather, we thought we'd turn our thoughts to bygone days, when matches were commonplace on Christmas Day itself, not just Boxing Day and New Year's Day.

If you were to think of football matches at Christmas, unless you are of a certain age, then you'd just think of the Boxing Day games. If pushed to Christmas Day matches you may just think of the famous World War One kickabout in 1915, Paul McCartney, Pipes of Peace and all that.

As we said though, matches on December 25th were commonplace up to I think the late 1970's for East Fife anyway. If Christmas Day fell on a Saturday then the Fife were in action.

"The Bayview", the East Fife programme, produced some cracking covers for the Christmas and New Year games in the 1970's. If you pick up a copy of the programme for East Fife's recently postponed match against Brechin on December 19th, you can see a selection of them that we put together.

One of our particular favourites came from the match against Motherwell on Christmas Day 1971. The cover is to the left. 4,119 fans turned out to watch a 1-1 draw that day, putting aside their turkey and crackers for 90 minutes of Black and Gold Christmas entertainment.

Terrible really for the players and the fans looking back and you'd hope that that would be unthinkabke nowadays. Although the NFL did have a game yesterday which is what got us thinking about all this in the first place.

With the way things are going mind you, I wouldn't be surprised if at some point in the not too distant future, we get at least one Premiership game on Christmas Day.

Friday, December 25, 2009

AFTN would like to wish all our readers a very Merry Christmas and happy holidays.

Hopefully you all got some great football related gifts and had a great time.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

In a way it's a godsend, but East Fife's 2009 was brought to a footballing end today when an early postponement of their boxing day match at Arbroath has left us with no game now till January 2nd 2010.

If the weather keeps up the way it is, the chance of this match going ahead may also be slim, which would leave the Fife with an unexpected one month winter break and it may have come at the perfect time.

Sure we could have built on the 3-0 demolition at Dumbarton two weeks ago but the way the games have been going we need to regroup and make sure that 2010 doesn't become a relegation year.

This year's festive calendar was a shocker anyway. Two away games, one them miles away at Peterhead was not what would be at the top, middle or anywhere not at the bottom of fans wishlists.

How the SFL can hand any club two away games in these financially tight times is a mystery. Every Club should have been guaranteed at least one potentially bumper holiday crowd.

As it's turned out no one seems to be getting anything but it's still a point of principal.

Let's hope the players have a great time this holiday season and come back fully refreshed next and raring to give their all for those black and gold jerseys.

They've no excuses now!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

We've not been a fan of Mark Hughes during his time at Man City.

He came across at times as arrogant and a bit if a bully in his dealings with things like the Joleon Lescott transfer.

It was fun to see the moneybags of City "struggle" and record draw after draw.

That said, his sacking on Saturday night was shocking.

He's moved the team forward. He's built a squad that will realistically take time to gel and the rewards could be seen next season, not this. In recent games, possibly defence apart, they were looking like they could be a strong force to be reckoned with and serious top four contenders.

There were always going to be rumours about his tenure but to be sacked just after securing a hard fought win and for his replacement to have been lined up to take over right away is a disgrace.

It's one of the things that's wrong with the game today. There's little patience. Instant rewards have to be seen for the huge financial investment these guys are putting in and that isn't always possible.

The pressure on huge must have been immense. You can only imagine how he must have felt on Saturday pre, during and post match.

It's no way to treat a human being never mind a football manager.

Who'd really want to manage in the top flight these days. It can only shorten their lives!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The announcement of Craig Levein as the new Scotland boss is imminent.

Once the financial settlement with Dundee United has been agreed, Levein will take the reigns as national team boss before Christmas.

It's mixed emotions from us here at AFTN. On the one hand we do recognise that he is one of the more successful of the younger crop of Scottish managers at the moment and he has done excellent work at Dundee United. On the other, we still remember him as the tosser he was when he managed Cowdenbeath in the late 90s and his team's cheating performances against us.

He's not a man that most of the East Fife fans hold any esteem for whatsoever. Maybe we should forget the past and move on, but it's hard. To many it is a case of once a wanker, always a wanker.

Taking all of that out of the equation and trying to look at it from a balanced perspective, we still have to question his appointment.

He failed miserably in the only "big team" job he has had, whilst at Leicester City. He is also young and ambitious and the danger is always going to be there that he does what Walter Smith and Alex McLeish have done before him and leave the national team in the lurch when the lure of club football and the big bucks come a calling.

He does the have the ability and capacity to shake things up in the Scottish game though and that can only be good. He has never been afraid to speak his mind in the past and if he can continue to do this and take the Scottish game by the scruff of the neck that it needs then he may grudgingly earn our support.

AFTN personally has wanted Hearts to fail when he was there and Dundee United to fail at the present moment. It will be hard to back a Scotland team that he leads but we're going to have to try and put that behind us for the success of the national team is all that is important in all of this.

He better succeed and not leave the team in limbo, for if he does we'll be right at the front of the queue clambering for his resignation. In the meantime, welcome to the job Craig!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Whether you're still looking for that Christmas gift for your football loving friend, want to give some hints for a present for yourself or are looking for a way to spend some of your Christmas gift cash, then one book which is deserving of a place in your post Christmas bookshelf this year is the latest from that staple of football magazines, When Saturday Comes - "Up Front - WSC Covers From Two Decades That Changed Football".

The sensible way to start a magazine is to collect a few people with some of the relevant skills: writing, editing, photography, design, marketing, accounts. When Saturday Comes did not begin the sensible way. Instead, they decided the crisis facing football was so deep, and what they had to say so urgent, that they should publish first and acquire the skills later. "Up Front" is proof of this and we say that in a good way!

The book brings together nearly 100 WSC covers from 1986 to 2009, allowing you to trace a monumental period in the history of the game with the help of Maxwell, Thatcher, Venables, Pelé, Maradona and a number of mascots.

Magazine covers, especially those of fanzine style publications like WSC, are vital to draw the casual reader in and then hook them for longevity once they see the contents inside. WSC has always managed to do this with wit and satire to the fore.

We at AFTN always tried to do something similar in our printed fanzine days, but barring a few occasions (our John McCarthy hostage cover being our particular, and I know a few readers, fave), we never quite reached the humourous heights of When Saturday Comes.

"Up Front" is an excellent 100 page WSC book of cover art and costs 6.99. For those of you in the UK, you can pick a copy up at WH Smith. If you want to avoid the crowds or live outside of the UK, then you can pick up a copy at the When Saturday Comes website HERE.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Whilst watching yesterday's Premiership match between Arsenal and Hull, the subject for today's blog leapt out at me - or maybe I should say leapt out of the goal.

One of my (many!) bugbears in football at the moment is the rule surrounding goalkeepers and penalties.

Penalty kicks have changed so much since I started watching football. It's great that the goalie can move around on the goal-line more now. It's not so great that the kicker can stop his run-up now.

The rule that the goalkeeper has to stay on his line is the rule causing me to shout at my tv screen or matchday official the most these days though.

It's not the rule itself. That I wholeheartedly agree in, as where does the movement off the line end otherwise? No, the problem I have is with the linesman, assistant linesman, clueless man who can't seem to see what's going on in front of him, call him what you wish.

How many times do we see the replay of a penalty kick which the keeper has saved and the keeper is way off his line, with the lino looking on just a few feet away from the action? How difficult is it to spot?

It really drives me crazy and yesterday's spot kick by Arsenal at the Emirates was yet another example.

What is the point in having that rule, and having someone particularly watching out for it, if it's not going to be enforced EVERY time?

You then have a situation, like in today's match at Upton Park between West Ham and Chelsea, where encroachment into the box by the attacking players causes a penalty to be bizarrely taken three times (don't even get me start on whether it was in fact a Chelski penalty!).

Refs pick up on this, admittedly rarely, which is harder to spot and doesn't really make much difference as to whether the kick is converted or not, but the thing that can with a goalie just gets glibly ignored.

So come on linos use your eyes and stop this farce now.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

I think it's the Irish comedian Ed Byrne that has a routine about Alanis Morisette's song Ironic and about how someone needs to tell her the actual meaning of the word as she goes on to list one non ironic thing after another.

I just always think about that whenever someone says, or I think, that something's ironic.

Why am I going on about this? Well something ironic did happen today with East Fife's match with Brechin City.

The Club proudly announced on AFTN at 10.12am that the game at Bayview was definitely on after the groundstaff had passed the pitch playable.

As game after game in Scotland was called off, we were left as the only game on in the Second Division. A prospect which meant a win would see us move into 5th and we could possibly move into the play off positions by the end of the year.

Then came the bombshell at 1.25pm on AFTN that the game was called off by the referee, despite both teams, management and directors deeming the pitch perfectly playable.

East Fife then proceeded to play a practice match in which the ball seemed to be running with no problem.

The late call off obviously was a pisser for the Brechin fans who had made the semi-long journey down in not the best of weather and their main bus was nearly at the ground when the postponement was announced.

Thankfully fans check AFTN regularly as all the media outlets still had the game as being on an hour later. So we do provide a service apart from being a home to the moaners!

The irony in all this was that our AFTN Blog in today's programme was all about how annoying and frustrating late call offs and abandonments were for the fans and how things need to be seriously done to prevent such incidents happening with the amazing frequency that they still do.

Maybe someone should have let the referee read the programme before inspecting the pitch.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Some weeks a story comes along that has you chortling away for days. This week was one of those weeks and made for our Friday Fun feature.

The story comes out of Peru and features footballer Carlos "Kukin" Flores, who was caught running naked through the streets by Peruvian police.

The midfielder, who plays for Inti Gas Deportes, told police that he was being chased by a ghost and trying to evade it. He eventually admitted that this was not the case and that he had been "engaging with dirty ladies".

The lie was invented to try and deceive his wife! She didn't believe him!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

For me, the big joy of this season's English Premiership has been watching Burnley.

The passion on the pitch, on the touchline and in the stands is uplifting, motivational and and inspiration to fans of unfashionable teams everywhere.

I had the chance to take in Burnley v Aston Villa last month and was really torn between that and going to Cumbernauld to see East Fife play Clyde. As crazy as I'm sure many of you will think I am, I chose the latter. Hey, the Fife are my team and my soul, you can't miss that!

I hope to take in a game at Burnley sometime soon though. The atmosphere at Turf Moor is electric.

The founder members of the English Leagues deserve all the plaudits they've been earning and getting this season. I still remember how close they came to dropping out of the leagues altogether a few years back.

The turnaround has been tremendous and in Owen Coyle they surely have a Scotland national team manager of the future (shame it can't be now!).

If we could bottle what they have there right now (even with the dodgy away form), I buy a ton and sent it up Bayview way.

Last night's game against Arsenal was a cracker. They weren't afraid to attack their so called bigger opponents. Let's hope they avoid the drop and are staples in the Premiership for many seasons to come.

Would be nice when I do eventualy make my trip to Turf Moor!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I like when the English Premiership has midweek fixtures. I dunno why but they just seem more exciting. Maybe it's because there's not that mass of television coverage we were going on about yesterday.

This week's action didn't disappoint on the whole.

Just when it looked like Chelsea were human after all and could be pegged back, they and Man United seem to have now made it back into a two horse race.

The other two Champions League spots are going to make for what looks like one of the most exciting Premiership seasons for many a year.

Who knows how that one is going to pan out.

At the other end though, I have serious fears now for my West Ham. It's looking grimmer by the week. They have the players that shouldn't see them relegated but someone maybe needs to get them to believe that.

The Bolton defeat was hard to watch, hard to stomach. That was a must win game this early in the season. The fact that they didn't, coupled with the way they lost it, makes the next month vital or it could be season over already.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Whilst reading some old East Fife programmes from the 70's and 80's, it tickled me to read about the excitement generated by the fact that the forthcoming Scotland international was to be broadcast on TV or the disappointment when it was announced that due to contractual problems no live coverage would be on the goggle box.

In these days of over saturation and wall to wall blanket coverage of seemingly every league around the world, it's easy to forget that it wasn't always like that.

I remember growing up in Scotland when we just had the three TV channels to choose from. Seeing any football on my small screen was a joy and something to be looked forward to, along with the chance to sit down and spend some time with my grandad.

The commentary was shocking looking back. The coverage not just as bad, but not far off. No instant replays from half a dozen angles back then.

It really was exciting when you found out that the Scotland international was going to be shown live.

Now we're jaded. We put the game on in the background and that's if we even watch it at all. Maybe this week's Uruguayan match up isn't exciting us. We can always download the highlights later or watch East Fife's highlights on our team's website.

Times have changed for the better for sure but sometimes I do feel they've gone that little bit too far. I wonder what my grandad would make of it all.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Over the last couple of weeks we've had a humourous look at some of the unwritten rules of the game (see Blog posts Here and Here).

Whereas these rules are funny, sometimes verging on the ridiculous, so are some of the actual rules we have in the game today.

With the Canadian Football (throwball) League welcoming rule change suggestions from fans each year, and often implementing some, it's a shame FIFA don't do the same.

We could go on ad nauseum about goal-line technology, extra officials, extra time changes, dissent, diving etc etc.

The one that's really got our goat for the last few seasons though is that of being booked for celebrating.

It's ridiculous - plain and simple.

I can understand a player being booked if his celebration involves inciting the opposition fans, ala Adebayor earlier this season, but when a player is just enjoying his goal moment with his own supporters then give the guy a break.

So what if he's whipped his shirt off? So what if he's being hugged by the crowd?

What's wrong with showing joy and raw emotion? I guess you'd need to ask FIFA.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

With so many foreign footballers in the Uk these days and so many with maybe not the best English, this was bound to happen sometime.

Having lived near Dundee, this is a mild accent for him to try and understand. Good luck to him trying to get by!


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Match Report: Dumbarton v East Fife (Scottish Div 2)

It's getting a bit boring now. Whether you want to describe it as a rollercoaster of a season or a bit stop/start, it's just hard to try and make it seem interesting and different every week.

East Fife recorded a 3-0 win today, with a fine performance and the last two terrible games are nearly a distant memory - until the next loss I'm sure.

The win keeps East Fife third bottom but only three points of the last playoff spot in fourth.

Dumbarton hasn't proved to be a particulalry happy hunting ground for East Fife for years now. Both their previous ground of Boghead and their current Strathclyde Homes Stadium has far too unhappy memories for me than I care to share and that includes the heavy handed security we've had to endure at the latter.

Today though, the only thing that looked like it might stop the Fife juggernaut was the fog, but thankfully it didn't get too dense before we dispatched the Sons with what was a pretty controlled and assured performance.

Fife boss Stevie Crawford wasn't afriad to ring the changes with new signing Steven Campbell and one month Dundee United loan signing Keith Watson coming in to shore up the defence. With another loanee, Mark Ridgers returing to Hearts (where he was on the bench today), Michael Brown returned between the sticks and the defensive changes seemed to do the trick with the first clean sheet for a few weeks.

Watson, in particular, looked sharp and he linked up well with Lloyd Young after 37 minutes to make the first goal, gleefully dispatched by the ever reliable Paul McManus to give the Fife a deserved half time lead.

Jonny Smart got his name back on the Fife scoresheet eight minutes into the second half to double the Fife advantage with the goal of the afternoon, a spectacular overhead kick.

It took until the last minute for East Fife to add a third but it was worth the wait, with David Muir putting away Paul Sludden's dangerous cross.

The result was the pre Christmas cheer that the Fife faithful were looking for, but it's important that we build on this and not continue with our win one, lose one season so far.

We're still in both a promising position and a mess! That's going to be the league till May I think. To be honest, I'm just looking for avoiding relegation. I don't want us to go up as we're not in a position as a Club to handle this and it would be an unmitigated disaster and actually destroy all the work that's been getting done with youth and trying to get the numbers back up.

We'll just have to see where we go to now though. This time next week it might be all doom and gloom again, so we should really enjoy this result to the fullest!

C'mon the Fife.

FINAL SCORE: Dumbarton 0 - 3 East Fife

Friday, December 11, 2009

Two weeks ago we featured the "Unwritten Rules Of The Game" thread that has been featured on the AFTN Forum.

Here's some other contributions from our Forum guys...

- Ibrox will always start to empty after about 75 minutes, win lose or draw.
(Must be for the long bus/ferry journeys back home.)

- From a throw in, players must throw the ball high in the air and forward usually with a 40-60 chance of winning/retaining possession - instead of just throwing it 5 yards back to the feet of a teammate and taking it from there.

- Corners must be 'in-swingers' and must never swing out to meet the attackers oncoming head to maximise power and also to make it more diffiult for the opposition's defence to get a touch on the ball.

- Most foul throws must be ignored or not acted upon by referees in the modern game.

- Linesman must not adhere to the 'whole ball must be over the line to be out' rule.

- A player running up to take a penalty must be a signal for all players standing outside the area to run forward well into the box by the time the penalty taker strikes the ball.

- A free kick wall must rarely be 10 actual yards back from the ball.

- Teams who have been unsuccessful in launching the ball forward and not getting on the end of any of them for the majority of a game must think that this can't be the case, are simply unlucky and must keep doing this for rest of the 90 minutes regardless.

- When a player breaks both his opponents legs in a tackle from behind the referee must award a direct free kick unless the guilty player immediately points at the ball and blatantly lies that he touched the ball first.

- If the ball strikes a player and goes out for a throw in, the player must either:
a) raise their left arm
b) attempt to take the resultant throw in
c) make a verbal claim to linesman or referee that the throw in should be awarded in his favour.

- When taking a corner the player must place the ball just outside the quadrent,toget that critical 1/4 inch advantage.

- No player may ever take a free kick without first touching the ball with their hands. Even if it has been placed in exactly the right place, they need to pick it up and put it back down before they are allowed to kick it (keepers do this even if their side is losing in injury time- the defender puts the ball down and instead of just kicking the f*cking thing, they pick it up, put it straight back down, then punt it forwards)

- Substitute goalkeepers must wear their gloves whilst sitting on the bench, despite the fact their chances of getting on are relatively miniscule.

- Both playing and substitute goalkeepers must keep their gloves on when collecting medals at a cup final, thereby minimising the risk of dropping any silverware

- When commentating on a game you must stick with what you said even if slo mo proves otherwise

- Predominantly left footed players have a cultured left foot, you never hear of a cultured right foot though

- If the ball is nearing the goal-line and rolling out for a bye kick, defenders have the right to inflict greivious bodily harm on any opponent within 5 yards of the ball.These same defenders can also obstruct sunlight from reaching the planet if the opponent has any chance of getting near to the ball!

- If the ball strikes you on the hand anywhere on the pitch, it is always a free kick. But if you are inside your own penalty area, it has to have been deliberate, otherwise the award of a penalty is deemed 'harsh'

Keep them coming...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

No one quite does drama off the football pitch these days like the South Americans.

Check out the action below from a crunch last game of the season relegation decider between Coritiba and Fluminense.

With just a point seperating the two sides, defeat for either would see them getting relegated to Brazil's Serie B - which would be a disaster for a world famous club like Fluminense.

The 1-1 draw that was played out spared their blushes but left the home side fans raging and relegated in their centenary year.

The scenes that followed are amazing to watch on a number of counts. There's the seeming lack of police numbers initially against a very large and hostile crowd, the officials getting involved, the ferocity of the hooliganism and the amazing fact (from what I could glean from translating the You Tube page) that no one seems to have been arrested!

Roll on the World Cup there in 2014! Never going to be a dull moment!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The number of abandoned ties throughout the UK in recent weeks has been surprisingly growing.

Whether it be for waterlogged pitches, snow or fog, to have your team's match abandoned at any point during the 90 minutes is a tough call to stomach, especially if you've travelled significantly to get there - not to mention if your team is winning!

The row rumbling on between Dundee United and Rangers at the moment, over their abandoned game on November 1st, has seen a rise in the verbal hostilities but has left both sets of fans stuck in the middle.

The game was rightly abandoned at half time, with the pitch in a shocking state and the ball not moving freely. At the time, there were little complaints, even though Rangers were winning 1-0.

With the match now being played again next Tuesday, and taking on increased significance in the SPL standings, the big question now is whether fans at the original game should be asked to shell out again to watch the second attempt at playing the match.

Dundee United are charging half price admission, to cover the administration costs of putting the match back on (costs such as policing, stewarding and other matchday staff). Rangers are adamant that the original agreement was that if fans held on to their original ticket stubs they would get in free.

This is a claim that United refute and they went a stage further and described Rangers Chief Executive Michael Bain's comments about the issue as "disgraceful".

You can see both sides of the argument. Clubs these days are cash starved and policing costs in particular can be crippling to some clubs. On the other hand, fans are equally cash starved in these recession hit times, especially coming up to Christmas, and those having to travel to Tannadice for a second time are already out of pocket for additional travelling expenses.

There is no easy solution and we feel that by charging half price admission then you have the best compromise available. For all Rangers huffing and puffing and what feels like token gestures and a stance to please their fans, it would have been interesting to see what the Glasgow side would have done in the same circumstances.

United will probably still take a hit as there is unlikely to be a capacity attendance and the fans will at least save a little, but as usual, the fans are caught in the crossfire and will still be out of pocket by the end of it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

With four of the UEFA Champions League groups wrapping up their action today, the tie of the round before kick off, proved to be the tie of the round after it as well.

Any match up involving heavyweights Juventus and Bayern Munich promises to throw up something special, but when you add the winner takes group advancement scenario into account, it was a mouthwatering prospect.

The Germans produced one of the performances of the tournament so far to trounce their Italian hosts 4-1, with a dominant second half performance in particular taking them through.

It was a joy to watch some free flowing, end to end action in the competition and it was also good for the tournament to see at least one Italian side eliminated.

We were facing the proposition of four Italian, three English and three Spanish sides making up the final 16. Losing one from that mix doesn't exactly shake things up drastically but at least it helps and who knows, maybe by this time tomorrow we might have lost another if Rubin Kazan can pull off a shock win.

We can but hope.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The World Cup draw and the resultant chinwagging aftermath hasn't even had time to die down but already the new strips for next year's World Cup are being released.

There's a good selection of some HERE. It's not been confirmed that these are definitely the strips to be worn in South Africa but it's certainly looking more than likely.

Of those already on display, the German one is really smart, but my favourite by a country mile is the Russian one.

Pity they won't be at the finals come June now, but maybe we can stand the chance of picking some tops up pretty cheap.

When you look at all of these wonderful new concoctions, it does make you wonder why Scotland seem to come out with some hideous creations most of the time.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

This season is shaping up to be the best SPL season ever.

The Hibs and Dundee United challenge is still going strong and if United can win their game in hand against Rangers then we will have an unbelievable situation of two points seperating the top four.

It's what we've all been wanting for years, serious challengers to the old firm, and it's important for the game that they can keep it going into the new year.

The bottom six is also tights as a gnat's chuff. There's five points between them and if Falkirk can string any sort of results together then the split will be fascinating.

That said, Falkirk certainly look to be the weakest side of all in the league.

With all the bad news and terrible performances we've seen in the Scottish game of late, this is the season we need to instill some sort of pride in our national sport. The rugger boys have already been making calls in the press for their funny shaped balls to take over.

The Hamilton-Hearts game today was full of passion and fire both on and off the pitch. More of the same please. Right up till May.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

East Fife stayed third bottom of the Scottish Second Division today and two points of the bottom spot after a truly woeful performance against Alloa Athletic today.

Alloa ran out 2-0 winners but a missed penalty and some excellent saves from Mark Ridgers kept the scoreline down in an afternoon to forget for the Fifers.

Coming after last week's Scottish Cup defeat to the official worst league side in Scotland, the fans expected the team to come out and make a statement.

They did that but not what we were looking for.

The midfield is non existant with no one seemingly able to take the game by the scruff of the neck, the defence is all over the place and lacking stability and Paul Sludden is clearly out of his depth and not the strike partner the hard working and long suffering Paul McManus is desperately needing.

If these performances don't turn around soon then the team is destined for a return to the division we spent so long trying to get out of with no real hope of getting back out of it any time soon.

Depressing times.

Friday, December 4, 2009

I don't know why I thought it would be any different. Every four years I look forward to the World Cup draw and every four years I forget it's like watching paint dry and stretched out for much longer than it needs to be.

Today's draw in South Africa lacked any real drama, fireworks or razzamatazz. No real complaints from me re the latter, as you don't need that anyway. We just want to see the matchups as soon as possible.

As usual, I found myself drifting away and only really paying full attention when it came to finalising the final pot.

As for the actual details of the draw itself, well I'm sure the journalists will be pleased to have something they are already referring to as a "group of death" in Group G. It didn't take them long to christen it that after the draw was complete, but Brazil should be comfortable qualifiers and I would say any group with North Korea in it can't exactly be called a difficult group. Sure it will be an interesting battle between Portugal and the Ivory Coast for the second qualifying spot but that's the case in pretty much all of the groups - there's pretty much a standout favourite and two others battling for that second place.

In my opinion, the real group of death is Group D. I can really see Germany struggling to get out of that if Australia, Ghana and one of my tips as the dark horses, Ghana, all play to their strengths.

The rest of the groups hardly excite.

England look to have a piss easy group again, although their second round match up against the second place team from Group D could be an interesting one for them. I was really pleased when they got the USA, as that was what I felt to be the toughest for them from that pot. It could all have been so different for them if the Ivory Coast had been stuck in their Group C instead of going to Brazil's group, due to the bizarre geographical stipulations FIFA had imposed.

I was going to be cheering on Slovenia anyway due to AFTNs ties with them in the past. Moreso now!

The hosts have a chance to make it through, and keep local interest going, if they play like they did in the Confederation Cup in the summer, but South Africa v Mexico isn't the most glamourous tournament opener we've ever had.

With Scotland's lack of qualification becoming a regular occurance these days, we've become pretty used to picking other teams to cheer on.

We've always been taken with watching Cameroon and once again they'll be getting our support, along with the Aussies and Kiwis and Slovenia and yeah we'll say it, anyone that plays England.

The anticipation of the week's build up to the draw wasn't repaid with what was the result. I'm sure we can expect the odd shock, the odd defensive boring performance by the South Americans and eastern European qualifiers and the usual names to go into the last 16.

By the looks of what we have so far, that seems to be when next year's tournament will really kick off and start to generate some excitement. All the same, I still can't wait for it to start.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

When FIFA announced their seedings and pots for tomorrow’s World Cup draw, it was both pretty much unexpected but equally disappointing at the same time.

The top 8 seeded teams are a little surprising, with England ousting France as a seed. In saying that, both are former winners but England’s qualification campaign was tremendous whereas France’s was full of despair and controversies. I’m

I’m not against seeding the top eight, as past performances in the tournament and qualifying should be rewarded, but by seeding the rest of the teams it takes away from some interesting encounters that could be thrown up and diminishes the chances of some of the lesser nations to advance.

I’d much prefer to see a free for all for the remaining 24 teams.

Lumping the African and South American teams together does certainly make it tougher for the remaining European sides, something FIFA no doubt would be keen to happen to keep the rest of the world’s delegates happy.

Putting Asia, Oceania and Concacaf together will no doubt throw up at least one “group of death”, with whoever ends up with the US or Mexico in their group.

These groupings though deprive us of some potentially great matches and upsets. Sadly there’ll be no North Korea-USA match up for a billion audience at home, at least not in this round, and no North-South Korean hostilities either.

It should still be an interesting draw though and hopefully the pot separation won’t take away from some genuinely tough groups and some cracking tight matches to look forward to.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

It's all about Fifa this week it seems!

The governing body announced today that they had decided against the use of extra officials at next year's World Cup.

Although disappointing, there were encouraging signs that Fifa do acknowledge that something has to be done to help officiating in the game and soon.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter had discussed the matter with the executive committee and although they turned down the introduction of extra officials or the use of technology just now, Blatter commented after the meeting that "the committee was of the opinion that we are at a crossroads. Where shall we go with refereeing in the future?".

Further research is felt to be needed before rushing into any decision and a full inquiry will be undertaken.

I'm all for this as long as they come up with the right conclusions and recommendations at the end of it.

It may come too late for South Africa next June but if they can get something, anything better in place sooner rather than later then perhaps we can actually start talking about the real action on the pitch for a change.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

In a follow up to yesterday's blog, FIFA and Sepp Blatter rejected Ireland's request to be added as the 33rd team in next year's World Cup Finals.

Not really a big surprise there (did anyone really think they would seriously consider it?) but the Irish have been left fuming at how FIFA handled the announcement of their request, indicating that they made them a laughing stock.

With the way things have gone with this debacle, it's hard to see who the real laughing stocks are but FIFA certainly haven't covered themselves in any glory with it all.

Whether this will be the end of it or whether the Irish will look to the courts now is anybody's guess. In light of how FIFA have been dealing with Chile after one of their domestic clubs (Rangers) were going to take the Chilean FA to court over their recent demotion, Ireland would be advised to steer well clear of such actions.

Chile were threatened with being kicked out of the World Cup if court cases were started as FIFA frown on such things (how they felt when Livingston went to court with the SFA in the summer we don't know).

It's alright having FIFA as the governing body of football but apparently they see themselves as the all conquering lawmakers. The question now should be, who should govern FIFA?

Monday, November 30, 2009

With the excitement building for Friday's World Cup draw, the Irish controversy around their defeat to France is still rumbling on and has taken on a new and unexpected twist.

The Irish FA have asked Fifa to allow them to take their place in South Africa as an extra side.

Surprisingly, Fifa haven't discounted their plea altogether and will decide whether they will grant the Irish their wish by referring the matter to the executive committee, presumably before Friday's draw!

Furthermore, Fifa have stated that if they were to consider Ireland's request, they would also have to look at the plight of Costa Rica, who lost out in their playoff to Uruguay thanks to a controversial offside goal.

So are Fifa really going to seriously consider the Irish request or are they hoping that so much of the furore will have died down by now that they can dismiss it and no one, apart from the Irish, will really care?

It's hard to see how such a request could be processed at such a late stage of proceedings. How would the administration of it all work? The tv coverage, the fixture dates, what group could they be placed into? Why should team be penalised by having five teams in a group? Can they add two more to bring it up to 36 and let Scotland in just for the hell of it?!!

The whole thing has become an embarrassment. At least Fifa's announcement that they will be considering using goal-line technology and extra officials in South Africa may go some way to helping prevent some of the future controversies the game will throw up, but until we get television replays, there will still always be something for us to get all worked up about!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

We've gone on before about how the Scottish Cup just doesn't compare in excitement, glamour and romance to that of it's English counterpart.

It was good to see the non league sides holding their own in yesterday's games though. None of them were disgraced and there's 5 going in with the big boys for the fourth round draw.

Top marks has to go to Junior side Irvine Meadow though who won 1-0, and by all accounts dominated proceedings, against Second Division side Arbroath.

The other Junior side remaining, Auchinleck Talbot, were unlucky to go down to another Second Division side in Stirling Albion. The 2-1 loss being even harder to take when the hit the post in the closing minutes.

Wick Academy just failed to hold on against Brechin City, drawing 4-4 after being 4-2 up.

With the Second and Third Divisions being relatively tight this season and this season's Cup games being close as well, it could re-open the debate amongst some to try and get some pyramid system going in Scotland.

It's been mentioned and dismissed but there's very little to choose between a lot of non league sides and their league opponents.

If it gets some of the deadwood out of the game as well then all the better.

Although ask me that again next time we're languishing at the bottom of the Third Division.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Match Report: East Fife v Montrose (Scottish Cup 3rd Round)

East Fife crashed out of the Scottish Cup at the first time of asking today after a truly woeful performance against Montrose at Links Park.

So often giantkillers and the producers of shock results themselves over the years, East Fife succumbed to one of the round's shocks themselves when they lost 2-1 to a team who sit bottom of the Scottish Third Division and who are without a League win all season.

And to be brutally frank, Montrose totally deserved their victory and could and should have won by more.

If the Gable Endies could have taken their chances, or been boosted bu greater confidence in front of goal, then they would have had a comfortable lead by half time.

East Fife started the stronger but after the first ten minutes were hardly at the races. Goalmouth scrambles, the crossbar and poor finishing kept the scores somehow level at the interval and we all expected the Fife to come out all guns blazing after the bollocking they would surely have got at half time.

To be fair to them, they did come out better and made most of the early running in the half, but Montrose kept up the breakaways and counter attacks to show they were still very much up for the Cup shock.

It really came as no surprise when they took the lead after 57 minutes.

Bobby Linn gave the ball away and Paul Watson, who had hit the bar in the first half, took the full opportunity to run onto to Mark Ridgers and drill the ball home.

The goal seemed to jerk East Fife into life and Jamie McCunnie crashed the ball off the bar.

It only took four minutes for the higher division Fifers to get back to parity when Paul McManus swivelled to volley the ball high into the net from a corner.

Surely this would be the spark we were wanting to drive the Fife into the next round.

Not to be though as East Fife had the better possession but Montrose the better chances for the rest of the match.

The Fife defence seemed all at sea on several occasions, guilty of ball watching at times and our midfield weren't part of it all as it was just punt, punt, punt up to McManus in the corner.

Montrose should have wrapped the game up well before the 88th minute but it was another defensive slip that did the damage and John Gemmell hit home after a great cut across goal from Montrose sub Nicol.

The goal cued wild celebrations on the Links Park terracing and rightly so.

East Fife still hold their record of never losing to a non league side in the Cup, but bottom of the bottom league in Scotland doesn't come any closer.

For the Fife it's that good old league concentration now, but the defence needs to tighten up considerably and the long ball has to stop.

Paul Sludden has shown me nothing in the last two games to get excited about and we desperately need some help for the hardworking Shagger.

I've also never seen so many messages getting conveyed from the touchline, with players seemingly over all afternoon and four people deciding what message to give.

If we don't start turning things round soon, this is going to turn into a nightmare season to forget and we'll find outrselves back in the basement we spent so long trying to get out of.

C'mon the Fife

FINAL SCORE: Montrose 2 - 1 East Fife

ATT: 509

Friday, November 27, 2009

It's Friday Fun time again and thanks to KotS for finding this elsewhere and posting it on the AFTN forum...

All totally nicked from a thread on another team's website...

Two or more players should always dispute who will take a free kick, even after spending an entire week working out the fact on the training ground.

A goalkeeper must tap his post with his boot before taking a goal kick.

The referee must only blow for full time when the ball is in mid-air after a long goal kick.

man utd get a few mins extra time if they could do with it

European nights at Anfield are always "special"

When free kicks for offsides are taken and the taker moves the ball further forward than where the linesman is directing him with his flag, the linesman invariably just gives up and let's the taker take it from where he's put the ball down.

'Top teams' 'run down the clock', lesser teams 'waste time'.

When the ref is counting out the ten yards for a free kick a player must tap the ball forward to get closer to the goal regardless of the fact it'll be easier to get over the wall if you rolled it back a bit

Immediately before the ball is kicked off, both players in the centre circle must touch their genitalia while walking on the spot.
NB: this process may only be deviated from by clearing one's nose. In this case, the free hand MUST be placed on the genitalia.

One of the two players kicking off must stand in the opposition half, despite this clearly being against the laws of the game.

Any manager facing lower-league opposition in a cup game must describe the team he is facing as “well organised”.

When water bottles are thrown on to the pitch while a teammate is receiving treatment, players must always squirt some out on to the grass before taking a sip.

Everyone can encroach when a penalty kick is taken.

Got others? Add them to the thread on the AFTN forum HERE

Thursday, November 26, 2009

In one of the least surprising managerial casualties from this season, Paul Hart has been relieved of his role as Portsmouth boss and replaced by Avram Grant.

No matter how much Pompey would deny it, something just stinks about the whole thing.

Grant was recently installed as that delightful Director of Football at the club.

The role of Director of Football has always puzzled me. What exactly does it mean? What exactly does it entail? And more importantly, how much does it eat into what a football manager should be doing himself in his day to day job?

Obviously every Club is different, but one thing that does seem constant is that managers soon face extra scrutiny once such a role has been created and filled at clubs.

The question is always there - who is really running the side and picking the team and making all the key decisions?

The role just seems farcical and puts extra pressure on what is already a very pressure filled position. Sure it's fair enough having a senior and experienced figure in the game helping out the new guy, but isn't that what the assistant manager's job has been historically used for? (Stevie Kirk bringing on board Dave Clarke as his assistant for example).

Whether Hart had what it took to be a successful Premiership manager is a seperate debate altogether and whilst Directors of Football continue to thrive in the game, we'll have a lot of others like him this season and beyond.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Faced with a free Tuesday evening in London what would you do? Go see Arsenal in the Champions League against Standard Liege? Charlton perhaps taking on Bristol Rovers in the Championship?

For me, there was only one match to go to last night and that was AFC Wimbledon taking on Ebbsfleet United in the Blue Square Premier.

I've followed the ups and down of Wimbledon since they joined the Football League Division 4 in 1977. Still have some programmes from their first season of league football.

The horrible goings on which led to a club (not THE club) moving to Milton Keynes and the subsequent rebirth of the Club as AFC Wimbledon, has been both sad and a joy to witness. The rise of the new team has been an inspiration to supporters of all crisis hit clubs throughout the country.

It was great to finally take in my first AFC Wimbledon match.

What a cracking wee set up they've got along there at Kingsmeadow. It was proper football in proper surroundings, just how the game should be watched. Add in a 3-0 victory for the Wombles and it was a fantastic night.

They've got themselves a fantastic ground in Cherry Red Records Stadium. Three sides of covered terracing and a stand, very sufficient and packed to the rafters by the 2,942 people that were there last night.

It was great dodging between the heads to see the action once again. You could even nip out for a pint at the bar at half time.

Only really disappointment for me was that there were no pies in the tea bar, but I could live with that!

Something else I could certainly live with is going to watch Wimbledon every week. Ok, it's maybe not the greatest football you're ever going to see in the world but it's what I love and how I love it.

If I ever find myself living in London for a spell, I know where my footballing home will be.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Scotland's reputation in Europe took another pounding tonight as Rangers crashed out of the Champions League and also lost out on an Europa Cup spot as well.

With Celtic pretty much assured of missing out on the later stages of that competition themselves, Scotland's teams European adventures are over for another year.

With all the other abject failures this season, perhaps the SFA will finally realise that it's just not the Scotland boss they need to give some serious thinking into taking the game forward in the country.

It really is all getting a bit embarrassing now.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The MLS Championship game was played last night and in an on the whole entertaining affair, Los Angeles Galaxy and Real Salt Lake fought out a 1-1 draw after extra time, with the men from Utah claiming the title on 5-4 penatlies.

Having failed with England three times on the major stage with penalty shoot outs, Becks can now add another loss to his memories.

It was a great win for Real Salt Lake, a team I know a lot of East Fife took an interest in after Kenny Deuchar moved to play with them last season.

The game was played in front of a fantastic crowd of 46,011 at Seattle's Qwest Field. When you see games like this, along with the big name friendlies the SOunders attracted this season, it makes your mouth water at what is in store if you're a Vancouver Whitecaps fan.

With BC Place having the big capacity, the 2011 MLS Championship game is likely ot be getting played in Vancouver.

The day will be an amazing spectacle for the fans (the Sounders fans had the game included in their season ticket package), no matter who is in the final. If the Caps could make it there, then it would be all the sweeter.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

This afternoon's 9-1 demolition of Wigan by Spurs was startling on many counts, none more so than if it hadn't been for some shocking finishing and some fantastic saves from Chris Kirkland it could have easily been double that score or even over twenty!

Just finished watching the highlights on Match of the Day and wow, what a rout.

As a fan you dream of days like that. A day when everything goes right (although not everything in this case as we've already mentioned!) and the ball hitting the back of the net again and again.

I can only imagine what the joy must have been of the East Fife fans that witnessed that record 13-2 victory against Edinburgh City all those moons ago.

To get nine goals in a top class league match these days though is phenomenal and it was great so see Spurs not easing up either.

I never get how in ice hockey it's frowned upon if you keep racking up the score. The same in kids football where they end the match and start a second one to keep scores down.

I'm sure the Spurs fans will be glad that it doesn't happen in football and will be enjoying every minute and every goal of that victory tonight.

One day maybe I'll get to see 9 goals by East Fife. Maybe next Saturday could be that day!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Match Report: Clyde v East Fife (Scottish 2nd Division)

East Fife came through their basement six pointer with flying colours today, but they could have made it a lot easier on themselves than they did.

Going into the match knowing that a defeat would see them propping up the league, they really went for it from the off and Paul McManus was rewarded for his tenacity after 9 minutes when he coolly ran into the box and as the Fife support were yelling for him to shoot, he rounded Clyde goalie Calum Reidford and slotted home.

East Fife then went on to dominate proceeding but apart from a spell of pressure just before and just after the goal, they started to sit back and not really threaten to add to their lead.

With so many lost leads and late goals conceded, the Fife faithful were wary of the same old story being played out. The fears weren't eased when Clyde came out for the second half all guns blazing and had chance after chance before finally levelling when East Fife's Mark Staunton was adjudged to have fouled Steven Howarth in the box. Up stepped Willie Sawyers to convert the penalty and tie things up with 35 minutes of the game still remaining.

As Clyde continued to launch assaults on the Fife goal, it looked like it was all happening again but slowly East Fife got back into the game and soon retook charge of the possession and chances.

And it was up to Shagger to double his and the Fife's tally when he netted from close range with 68 minutes on the clock. After that Clyde were a spent force and Bobby Linn finished a great spell of black and gold possession when he finished off a fine solo effort by firing in low from 14 yards out, with then minutes remaining.

It was the Linn of old, with the ball at his feet as he went on a mazy and a fine finish and the goal should give him some of his confidence back.

There were some fine performances on display for the Fife, with Paul McManus' workrate being phenomenal, even if his finishing lets him down from time to time.

East Fife shouldn't have let Clyde back in to the game after dominating for so long but full play to Clyde for coming out fired up for the second half and catching us cold.

The Bully Wee fans are a patient lot though. They have a very poor side and as East Fife were knocking the ball around Brazilian style at one point in the second half, with backheel passes and showboats, you couldn't help but think that if that was Clyde doing it to us the boos would be ringing down from the Fife support.

The boos and the oh so familiar chants of "Brown Must Go" did come and after the game long suffering Clyde boss John Brown was finally shown the door at Broadwood.

For East Fife, they now have the week off from League duty to face the woeful and winless Montrose at Links Park in the Scottish Cup next Saturday. If they can play the way they did today, but take some more chances, then the Gable Endies could find themselves on the end of a drubbing next Saturday and that's just the boost that East Fife could do with for the remainder of this very tight season.

C'mon The Fife!

FINAL SCORE: Clyde 1 - 3 East Fife

Friday, November 20, 2009

*** For some reason, yesterday's blog didn't post, so we'll fix this and get it reposted asap. In the meantime, here's today's blog...***

The row over Ireland's controversial World Cup exit has rumbled on today, with all the major players having something to say and a few other unwelcome noses being stuck in as well.

Unsurprisingly FIFA have announced that there will be now way that the France-Ireland game will be replayed.

As much as I would like it to be played again, it would be a very dangerous precedent to set, as we mentioned yesterday.

I wouldn't expect this to be the end of it though. The FAI are still furious about what happened and I'm sure they'll be looking to see what legal action they can invoke, although again I would see this as doomed to failure.

I'm not sure what court would be willing to open a huge can of worms by ruling against FIFA, especially after a day like today where nearly 200 European matches are being looked into for match fixing. They can't all be replayed!

In a big surprise, and in a move that smacks to me of trying to salvage his reputation, especially in England, Thierry Henry has come out and said that he feels the only fair thing would be to replay the match.

Interesting that this announcement was made after FIFA made theirs to say that this would be in no way be possible. I don't doubt for a minute that this is genuinely how he feels, but it is no way going to make any difference for the Irish.

Perhaps the most surprising comments on all of this came from former Irish international Roy Keane who basically told the Irish to get over it and stop whining that they usually do, even going as far as to suggest that the players should have finished it long before that incident (which is true) and have nothing to complain about.

Nothing like the backing from one of your own. Which this was.

You still feel for Ireland in all this but there is no apparent route to fix this for them sadly and next year's finals in South Africa will be decidely worse off for their fans not being there.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ok, so it's the biggest story out there at the moment and everyone's commented on it, so we're not going to be any different!

Ireland's controversial extra time defeat to France in yesterday's World Cup playoff qualifier is going to be in the headlines for many days to come I would think and rightly so.

Cheating has been a big talking point in recent seasons. Diving, embellishments, match fixing, we thought that would be pretty much about it. Then along comes Thierry Henry to do a Maradona and handle France through to South Africa.

The Irish are quite right to be furios but their calls for the match to be replayed will fall on deaf ears.

FIFA can't go down this road for fear of future mayhem and backdated claims. Where would it all end.

France deserve to be punished but my favoured option of just kicking them out of the tournament isn't likely to happen either.

I've always been a fan of Thierry Henry. I think he's a class player and there's still rumours around that he will be pulling on a Vancouver Whitecaps jersey for their inaugural 2011 season. That thought had excited me before, but after what happened I don't want to see him anywhere near a Whitecaps jersey.

Henry's reputation will now be tarnished, no matter what apologies will no doubt be forthcoming after the event. He could have put matters right on the night if he was that bothered by it.

Ireland will be as angry that they didn't kill the French hopes off long before extra time as much as with the handballs that led to the winning goal. They could and should have been the runaway victors on the night.

Sadly, they're now left to think what might have been, wallow in anger towards Henry and everyone will have to live with the fact that cheats do win. It's a sad fact of life these days.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Finding myself as an exile two years ago, it gave me a whole new perspective in following my team.

All the little things you take for granted. Being able to read about them in the papers. Being close to all the gossip and action. The smell of pies and bovril. The banter. The cameraderie. Being there to cheer them on at home and most importantly away.

I'm heading back to Fife tonight and included in my brief trip will be two East Fife matches.

Clyde away on Saturday is a real six pointer already at this stage of the season. A loss will see us bottom of the League.

The following week it's Montrose away in our first game in this season's Scottish Cup. A trip to oh so familiar surroundings to face a team struggling more than we are just now.

Neither are really matches you would travel thousands of miles home for. Neither are what I hoped for when I booked my trip.

But you know what? I don't care. It's the chance for me to see my team for the first time in 19 months and no matter what the outcomes, I wouldn't swap it for the world.

C'mon the Fife!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It wasn't exactly a shock when the SFA announcement the parting of company with Scotland boss George Burley yesterday.

Saturday's embarrassing 3-0 defeat by Wales was the final straw for many.

Burley's days are now over and it's not a happy period to look back on, so let's just quickly move on.

Maybe not too quickly though as it is vital that the next man given the task of managing Scotland is the right decision to take us forward in the coming years.

As we've said before in this blog, we're happy if we miss out on the Euros in 2012 (well maybe not happy but we can accept it) if we can see some development and a base for a team that will take us to the 2014 World Cup and beyond.

There are a number of young players out there who seem like they could be coming through in the next few years. It's important that we get the right manager to bring them up to full international standard.

All the usual suspects are being bandied around. Even Walter Smith is being mooted for a return, but this would be a backward step to go with someone that left the national team in the lurch to return to the lure of Club football.

The SFA need to take time to make the right decision. At the moment, I have no idea who to even suggest that this could be. I'm perfectly happy for it to be a non Scottish manager (Guus Hiddink anyone?).

All I do know is that this is a vital decision. The wrong one could send the national team into a freefall that it will take a very long time to recover from.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Not for the first time in recent seasons, East Fife fans were faced with a Club v Country clash on Saturday afternoon. Should we spend our hard earned cash watching our beloved East Fife or stay at home to watch the Scotland game live on Sky or even make a long trip to Wales to cheer on Scotland, in what was a pretty pointless friendly exercise at this stage of the season?

To some this will have been a no brainer. Club will always come first and why would you spend all that time and money to just go and watch a meaningless friendly between two depleted squads?

To others, country and following the Tartan Army on their travels will always be the winner.

Why should we have to choose though? And why is it always the lower league Scottish football fans that are penalised for supporting their local team and giving them a vital source of income?

On occasions, unlike Saturday, kick off times are either moved forward or delayed to the Sunday, both of which are more of an inconvenience to the fans than a valid solution and it’s no help at all to the fans that want to actually physically attend both matches.

Some fans will even have been happy to have an excuse not to come out in the cold and watch the Fife, in what’s been an up and down season so far and that’s what becomes worrying.

We’ve debated this point often on AFTN over the years. Why do regular faces start to disappear from Bayview? What is it that turns them away from being regulars in the Fife faithful and what is it they find to do instead? And why is it easier to find other things to do than to follow your team these days for many?

The football authorities shouldn’t be giving the more fair-weather fans this get out clause and the chance to not go and support their team. Surely everyone connected with the game should be trying to do everything to increase regular attendances? Clashing any Scottish League club fixture with an international does not do this.

So many of the lower league Clubs, including the Fife’s opponents on Saturday Stirling Albion, face serious money worries this season and every pound they can bring in through attendance, food and anything else on a match day is vital for many teams. For the football authorities to have yet another clash like this, eating into this possible money, is disappointing.

The fans have made their feelings well known many times before regarding this matter, but it just seems to fall on deaf ears. You’re left wondering if anyone in authority actually does care about us lower league sides and supporters.

You have to believe they do, but it’s just another issue, in what is becoming a very long list of things this season, that adds to the calls for a complete overhaul about how Scottish football is currently run at all levels.

As it turned out, both games were painful. Scotland were embarrassed and the Fife were hurt by yet another late loss. Even with that, I’d still say that those that made the decision to head to Bayview on Saturday were the ones that made the right decision. It’s just a shame they had a choice to make in the first place.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Yesterday's four European World Cup qualifiers maybe didn't quite set the heather alight with their action on the pitch, but they have certainly set up four intriguing second legs on Wednesday.

As we discussed before (see Blog of October 20th), the unfairness of UEFA's seeding is basically trying to secure some big names don't miss the big show.

Thankfully it might not turn out that way.

Portugal may well rue only taking a one goal lead into a hostile Bosnian stadium. If Bosnia can tie things up at any stage of the proceedings, I tip their fanactical and loud support to carry them through.

I'll still be rooting for Slovenia and taking only a one goal deficit back from Russia, including that vital away goal, gives them a great chance of qualifying and will be one of my teams to support in South Africa next year if they do.

Ireland have their work cut out now. They had so many chances in yesterday's game that they deserved to be going into the second leg with a lead and not facing a game of chase. Like it always is though, and as East Fife know to their peril so far this season, chances count for nothing if you don't convert them.

If ever that fighting Irish spirit was needed it was now and if they just play the way they did yesterday then they can restore some Celtic pride that Scotland seemed to do their best to evaporate.

The last tie between Ukraine and Greece could still go either way, but your have to feel that the Greeks have blown their chance to progress.

All in all, thankfully no blow outs and a cracking case of four do or die matches midweek.

Should be exciting as hell. It feels like the World Cup has started already!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

It was more last minute heartbreak for East Fife today, when Martin Grehan scored for Stirling Albion in injury time at Bayview.

The goal gave Stirling a 2-1 victory in a match which East Fife dominated in the early stages and confirmed the visitors spot as joint League leaders.

Paul McManus gave the Fife the lead on 21 minutes after loan signing Paul Sludden did well to disposses Adny Gibson to set up the chance.

With the pressure and the chances East Fife created, they should have been out of site by half time. Sadly they weren't and Stirling made us pay.

Five minutes after the restart David O'Brien fired home the equaliser and although it was an entertaining game and the Fife were dreadfully unlucky to lose so late yet again, it felt like an inevitable conclusion.

The defeat leaves East Fife thirteen points behind the top two but more worryingly two points of the automatic relegation spot in second bottom place. The knives are already out from some with regards to Stevie Crawford's position as manager.

Being able to take in the next two games personally, I'll reserve my own judgement and comments untik after that.

The promising signs are that we played well, didn't get/take the breaks and were unlucky once again. Surely our luck must change some time soon.

Those that did watch the game left disheartened but at least they didn't have to suffer by watching the Scotland national team who played at the same time.

Yes, we're already at that stage of the season where we're grasping any straws of comfort going.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The death of German international Robert Enke on Tuesday stunned football when the sad news came out that he had taken his own life by stepping in front of an oncoming train.

Enke had been suffering from depression since 2003 and had suffered the agony of losing his daughter in 2006 to a rare heart decision. Most that knew him would not have known his suffering as he tried to keep his mental illness out of the public eye.

Suicide is always a shocking experience to those that are left behind. When former Fife player Paul McGrillen took his own life in August (see Blog of August 3rd), it was a stunning shock to all that knew him and knew of him.

Enke's death just made me think about how much abuse we give certain players on the pitch. I'm sure I'm not alone in admitting guilt in this respect.

When we're dishing out the abuse, we never stop to think if it really is just trying to get under the player's skin or whether he may be truly hurt, disturbed and mentally unsettled by what is being said. We don't know what kind of mental anguish or problems they may be facing in their private life, for it is just that - private.

Earlier this season, the abuse meted out to East Fife goalie Michael Brown was pretty bad at times. It later came out that he was going through a very trying time off the pitch due to family illness. I'm sure the abuse didn't help.

Some may argue that if a player feels that he is ready to play, pulls on that jersey and takes to the pitch, then all is fair. Players like Enke clearly wanted to play to help take his mind off these other things. It was his escape to the harsh realities he faced at home and which finally pushed him over the edge.

Perhaps next time, before we all abuse a certain player, maybe we should take a step back and think how we would react if we were on the other end of such abuse. I know it'll make me think twice about certain things in the future.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

We've been going on about how this has been pretty much a rollercoaster season for East Fife so far. It's been hard to know at times whether we're going to see a Fife side battling it out for the promotion playoffs or the relegation ones.

After last Saturday's game though, i think a lot of fans will have realised that it's looking worryingly like the latter.

There is something just not clicking with the team just now. Whether the blame for that cane be laid at the door of gaffer Stevie Crawford, I don;t think we can honestly say yet.

Stevie said at Monday's AGM that there is a fine line between success and failure in the Scottish Second Division this season and he's spot on.

We could and should have won the game on Saturday. Instead we ended up on the wrong end of a 2-1 defeat, with a Peterhead goal that never crossed the line. Them's the breaks and them's the ones we're not seeing much of so far this season.

It's also the kind of decisions that can drain a team that's already low on confidence completely.

With Shaun Fagan and Jonny Smart now both sitting out multi match bans for their actions on the pitch (five and three games respectively), our top goalkeeper and a key experienced defender out long term injured and the young players just not making the breakthrough we all hoped, East Fife haven't had their troubles to seek so far this term.

Now with the joint League leaders Stirling Albion coming to visit on Saturday, if we ever needed to get out that lucky white heather, then I'd say it's now before we sink too deep into the potential relegation mire.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Two weeks ago we covered Spanish third tier side Alcorcon's amazing 4-0 victory over Real Madrid in a second round, first leg match up in the Copa del Rey (see Blog on October 28th).

With the second leg to come at the Bernabeu we said that you could be sure that Real Madrid wouldn't make the same mistakes again.

Well they didn't, but they still only managed to win 1-0 despite fielding a strong side including Kaka.

Alcorcon were solid throughout and advanced 4-1, whilst the Madrid fans were clearly irate, booed their team off the park and called for the head of boss Manuel Pellegrini.

For the money that Real spent over the summer it's nice to see them get their comeuppance in any competition going. It's good for football and great for the fans of the smaller, less financially liquid sides.

Pellegrini has already had that dreaded vote of confidence that he will be at the helm to the end of the season, no matter how the side fare in La Liga and the Champions League.

They're already struggling a little in the latter and in the former they're trailing Barcelona by a point after the first ten games. With form of three win in their last eight games the pressure is going to mount quickly on Pellegrini.

As for Alcorcon, well it's like a fairy tale for them and full marks to the Real fans for giving them a standing ovation at the end of the game.

It's moments like this that fill your heart with joy.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Now before the East Fife fans reading this sit down and expect to read a commentary about Saturday's match and the Fife's future for the remainder of the season, don't worry, it's got nothing to do with this. That will come soon.

No the title of today's blog is for the diving cheats that are everywhere it seems in today's game.

Yesterday's English Premiership match between Liverpool and Birmingham City at Anfield was one to remember, not for the goals or the goalmouth action, but for the actions of David Ngog in blatantly diving to win Liverpool a penalty and what was to prove to be the equalising goal.

I think the Blues Lee Carsley, who had been adjudge to have made the "tackle", summed it up best when he commented after the match that it was an "embarrassing case of cheating".

I've been a big fan of Ngog this season. He's looked good when I've seen him turn out for Liverpool. He clearly has the skill and doesn't need this as part of his game.

Steven Gerrard, who is meant to be an ambassador for the English game (incidents in nightclubs apart), was also at it later in the match when he clearly embelished a challenge in the box and performed pretty much a bellyflop which the referee was having no part of. No booking though either.

How many times are players going to get away with this? The FA will probably review it, they may attempt to ban Ngog (ala UEFA with Eduardo) but then the appeal will throw it all out with the "dangerous precedent to set" line coming out once again.

Fines or player bans are not the way forward though. The only way that Clubs will actively try to stamp out this behaviour is for them themselves to be punished via point deductions.

Birmingham have just lost out on what could be two very crucial points come the end of the season. Why should Liverpool get off scot free for cheating?

Monday, November 9, 2009

The second leg of the MLS first round playoff match up between Seattle Sounders and Houston Dynamo took place yesterday at the Texas side's Robertson Stadium.

The first leg was a cracker, despite finishing goalless (see Blog of October 30th) and rekindled some interest in the MLS from us this season.

With things tentatively poised, it was a slightly more cagey second game, but nonetheless still entertaining in another goalless 90 minute encounter. Brian Ching ended up scoring the only goal of the two legs, five minutes into extra time, to send Houston through and end Seattle's inaugural season.

As we explained in previous Blog posts, MLS action hasn't been on the TVs much at AFTN Towers in recent years, but the first leg, and especially the wonderful atmosphere the Sounders fans created for the whole ninety minutes, made us wonder if we should perhaps be more open minded about just how good the MLS was and how professional Major League Soccer really was. Maybe it is a proper football league after all. Then we saw the pitch.

It wasn't quite as good an atmosphere generated by the Dynamo fans but they certainly put on a great effort and still impressed, complimenting the action on the pitch well.

But all that pales into insignificance because of their shocking pitch - fake, bare, covered in sand and the worst crime of all, still with college throwball markings including big red endzone wording.

Now in an ideal world there would be no groundsharing with other sports. That is what the MLS ideally want - soccer specific stadiums. It's what Houston are also ultimately aiming for. For now though they share the University of Houston campus facilities with the Cougars throwballers.

The end result is a disgraceful pitch to play a vital playoff game on, in front of a live continentwide television audience (although if we're being honest the NFL games on at the same time were commanding many more viewers, but those that were left were the real football fans).

It's not just us that think it was shocking, Seattle's Freddie Ljungberg commented in his Blog:

"Arrived in Houston and have just been training at the stadium and noticed that they have the American football lines on the pitch. I think it is an absolute disgrace that the League allows this! They had it once before in New England and I didn’t have a clue where I was because you use the line and midfield line to know where you are on the pitch. When lines are everywhere you don't know when to shoot or do anything - it is a massive problem!"

Well put Freddie.

The Cougars didn't even have a home match yesterday and it was in that state, but were allowed to practice on the pitch according to the commentators. WTF?

You expect to see these kind of bush league facilities in something like the college football circuit or the USL Division 2 and PDL Leagues. Hell, you can even just about tolerate it with some of the newer USL1 sides in the less popular markets, but not for what is meant to be North America's premier league.

If the MLS wants to be a professional league and thought of as such by fans outwith the North American continent (although I doubt this is really a pressing concern for the insular League and some of their more insular fans), they need to make sure that showcase games like this aren't played in such conditions.

They take enough franchise money from the teams they admit (and Houston joined the League in 2006 so it's not as if they haven't had time to sort things out) and they hold Big Brother style control in a number of other less significant issues, so why not insist that the lines and markings are removed completely? Other clubs do it and the technology is there to do it.

I know it's a fear amongst some Vancouver Whitecaps fans that this is something which we will face come 2011, when we're sharing BC Place with the CFL's BC Lions.

The difference I see it though is that with true football people behind the Whitecaps they wouldn't let such embarrassing shambles happen. Would they?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Today's clash between England's big two promised so much, as it has so many times before. On many of these occasions of expectation, you're left a little disappointed and that was the case for the first 75 minutes this afternoon.

The last 15 minutes, plus stoppage time, were great, fiery and ready to explode into chaos at any point it felt. If only both teams had decided to light that fire in their belly just that little bit earlier.

We shouldn't be surprised when they fail to deliver. So much at stake, blah blah blah. Rooney mouthing "twelve men" to the camera as he walked off the pitch no doubt being the viewpoint United will hold from proceedings.

Chelsea's one goal victory is probably what the Premiership wasn't needing. With a five point lead (although Arsenal do have a game in hand) and already playing like Champions with goals galore and seemingly plenty of depth, the second half of the season may be even less exciting at the top end of the table than it usually is.

It's hard to like Chelsea, or more particularly their players, at the moment. All the playacting, besieging of refs and constant whining make them a pretty loathsome bunch at present.

Today's game was one of England's showpiece matches. For the money you'd spend watching what was mostly boring action, I'm glad I'm a small team supporter and not subjected to "big league" action live every week. Not only is it cheaper, it's a lot more fulfilling to my mind.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Women's football just has no appeal to me. It's not me being all chauvinistic. I'm just stating facts. I find it boring, comical and lacking of skill and I know about such things. I have spent over 25 years watching East Fife after all.

Vancouver Whitecaps season ticket package includes free admission to all the Whitecaps Ladies games, which involves several double headers. To date, I haven't been along to one in my two seasons as a season ticket holder so far and never saw any East Fife Ladies games.

Some of you will already have seen the footage below, but if we were to get all women's games to turn into catfights like this, then I think many of us would be queuing up to get into women's matches:

The main girl in question is Elizabeth Lambert of New Mexico University. I won't make the obvious PMT gag, but she's certainly a player not to mess with, as many of Brigham Young University's team have found out the hard way.

She has apparently been banned indefinitely by her side but amazingly escaped the actual match without punishment. She has some serious issues to sort out.

East Fife's Shaun Fagan wasn't available for comment.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Well we mentioned we were going to do it (see Blog of October 26th) and now we have.

We've put our case forward for resurrecting Bayview Park from the ashes to Danny Baker to see if it makes his 20 grounds to be allowed in his totalitarian state on his 5 Live show.

You'll have to tune into tomorrow's show to see if he reads out the email and if he does, will we get success?!

Of course there is a good chance that the email won't make it onto the show, as most of the pleas for saving the grounds have been done by phone so far but the time difference rules out us being able to do this unfortunately.

If we don't make it on, we'll tell you what reasons we finally gave next week.

Another downside for us is that Dundee's Dens Park made the cut last week due to the wonky stand along the touchline. It now sits safe alongside Brechin's Glebe Park, so whether another lower league east coast ground can make it in is probably not likely.

But hey, we tried and it's been great fun, as is the whole show. What's the worst that can happen? They demolish the demolition!

So tune in to 5 Live tomorrow morning from 9am to 11am or catch the podcast later on the BBC site HERE.

And if nothing else, you'll spend an enjoyable two hours listening to some great banter and with Ross Noble being one of the guests tomorrow, what more could you want?!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Glasgow Rangers Football Club are the shame of Scotland. They have been for a long time and the reason's as to why is a long list.

The behaviour of their fans has been in question for some time and UEFA have been keeping a careful watch on their exploits, especially around their bigoted songbook.

Scotland's travelling football fans have built up a longstanding and proud reputation around the world, in competitions involving both clubs and country. That reputation is for enjoying themselves, but peacefully.

I would say in this respect that it could be argued that a lot of the drunkeness and the actions that go with it tarnish this reputation a little and perhaps too many of us view our behaviour abroad with a bit of rose tinted spectacles.

The general view is that hooliganism, of the kind that used to blight English clubs on their travels, has never been a problem for Scots fans.

All that changed of course with the disgusting behaviour of Rangers fans in Manchester for the UEFA Cup final in May 2008. Watching the footage and reading the reports was both sickening and embarrassing as a Scottish football supporter.

Despite the Club's best efforts to stamp out the sectarian songs and prevent more violence following their travelling fans, it seems like it's a case of the proverbial old dogs with tricks.

Last night saw some ugly scenes at the Ghencea Stadium in Bucharest where Rangers were taking on Unirea Urziceni in the Champions League.

Gers fans battled with stewards at half time and TV footage shows them involved in many scuffles and destroying seats in the stadium, with stewards retaliating to the provocation by spraying the fans at close range with CS gas.

The troubles were deemed to be serious enough for an announcement to be made that the game faced being abandoned if the situation didn't get back under control.

Not surprisingly UEFA reacted today by charging Rangers with improper conduct by their supporters.

Rangers response is to blame other factors, but the pictures speak for themselves. Whatever factors it doesn't merit the actions of the fans. One factor being mentioned is the lack of open turnstiles. Having faced that myself on more than one occasion (East Fife Scottish Cup tie at Dunfermline instantly springing to mind), I can honestly say that I never felt like fighting with the stewards or police as a result.

Rangers fans are an embarrassment to the Scottish game and we hope that UEFA throw the book at them. Hopefully not just financially either.

I'm sure a fine will be what follows. They may even order the Club to prevent fans travelling to away matches, which is always an impossible task to police. The only real action that may discourage the fans from this behaviour and hopefully get the decent Rangers fans (I'm sure there are some out there who follow the club solely for footballing reasons) to police themselves will be a ban from European competition.

It may take away my pleasure in seeing them make fools of themselves on the European stage but at least it'll also save the embarrassment of seeing the pictures beamed worldwide of what people think is a typical example of a Scottish football supporter.
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