English Football Was Never Away

I have nothing against England reaching the final, or even winning Euro 2020, it’s all that “coming home” nonsense, or perhaps more accurately, illogical mawkishness, that I have little or no time for.

Looking at football more broadly, the English top flight has been consistently strong, and has become increasingly rich, so why diminish the status of English football by imagining it has been “away” and needs to “come home”?

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The Weaknesses of International Football

Euro 2020 has reached the knock out stage, but I still cannot get excited about it. The claim to be the best in Europe does not lie well with a tournament that is primarily a knock-out competition, at least for the more important later rounds, and is held once every four years.

Apart from seedings for the group stages, the ties in the knock-out phase are entirely the luck of the draw, and in a one-off game where winner takes all, anything can happen .

The same applies to the World Cup.

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Most Seasons in the English Second, Third and Fourth Tiers

With the promotion of Hartlepool United from the National League, two of the three clubs which have spent the most number of seasons in the fourth tier return there next season:

  • Rochdale, relegated from the third tier last season, will be spending their 49th season in the fourth tier (1959 to 1969, 1974 to 2010, 2012 to 2014, 2021 to 2022).
  • Hartlepool United will be spending their 47th season in the fourth tier (1958 to 1968, 1969 to 1991, 1994 to 2003, 2006 to 2007, 2013 to 2017, 2021 to 2022).
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Consecutive FA Cup Finals

Chelsea’s defeat in the final of the FA Cup this weekend is the ninth time that a club has lost back to back FA Cup Finals. The various occasions are as follows:

  • Old Etonians, 1875, 1876.
  • Queen’s Park, 1884, 1885.
  • West Bromwich Albion, 1886, 1887.
  • Derby County, 1898, 1899.
  • Newcastle United, 1905, 1906.
  • Manchester United, 1957, 1958.
  • Everton, 1985, 1986 (although they had won in 1984 to make it three finals in four years).
  • Newcastle United, 1998, 1999.
  • Chelsea, 2020, 2021.
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Spurs And The FA Cup Revisited (In A Year Ending with “1”)

In May 2001, I wrote:

A widespread belief, especially among Spurs fans, used to be that Spurs would win the FA Cup in a year ending with the digit “1”.  Spurs have won the FA Cup 8 times, of which 5 have been in years ending with “1”, namely, 1901, 1921, 1961, 1981 and 1991.  The other three wins were in 1967, 1962 and 1982.  Spurs’ one and only defeat in an FA Cup Final was in 1987.

Since Spurs were formed in 1882, in the years ending with “1” in which they have participated in the FA Cup, Spurs did not win in 1911, 1931, 1951, 1971 and 2001 (they did not participate in 1891 and there was no competition in 1941 due to World War II).  How about this – since they first participated in the FA Cup in the 1894-95 season, Spurs have won the FA Cup in years ending in “1” except where in the preceding year (the year ending with “0”):

Arsenal or Chelsea win the FA Cup; or

A Yorkshire club (other than Huddersfield Town) are the beaten finalists.

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Bournemouth, Tranmere Rovers, And The Letter “B”

AFC Bournemouth have just been promoted to the top tier of English football for the first time (since they joined the Football League in 1923). Tranmere Rovers have been relegated to the Conference, losing their place in the Football League for the first time since they first joined in 1921.

The two clubs were amongst a small number that had spent more than 5 seasons in the second tier without ever playing in the first tier:

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Years Ending With … Germany

So Germany have won the World Cup. Which means that, since the resumption of the World Cup after World War II, they have won every World Cup held in a year ending with the number “4”, except for 1994 (winning it in 1990 instead). Germany (or West Germany before re-unification) have won the World Cup in 1954 (in Switzerland), 1974 (in West Germany), 1990 (in Italy) and now 2014 (in Brazil).

Which brings me back back to an old superstition – Spurs winning the FA Cup in years ending with the number “1”:

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Englishness Of The Premier League (Or The Lack Of It)

On BBC News:

“Foreign footballers now appear in almost two thirds of minutes played in the Premier League ….

A BBC Sport study has calculated the total minutes played by each nationality in the English top flight, ….

English players made up the highest percentage of minutes played in the Premier League at 31.8% of the total, with French players second and Spanish third.”

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