Monday, 3 September 2012

My Premier League Team of the Week

Here is my Premier League Team of the Week see if you agree.

Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan - Aston Villa

Replaced Shay Given in the Villa goal for their trip to Newcastle on Sunday afternoon and took his chance well. There was absolutely nothing he could do about Ben Arfa's screamer of an equalizer and fundamentally he earned his side a point with a fine save from Cabaye's last minute free kick that had looked destined for the top corner. Commanded his area well throughout the game and has given Lambert a real selection headache when Given's form returns.

Left Back: Kieran Gibbs - Arsenal

If Gibbs can stay fit for an extended period of time, then Arsenal have unearthed Ashley Cole Mk.II. At Anfield on Sunday Gibbs not only thwarted any atttacking threat new loan signing Sahin posed, he also assisted in attacks, constantly bombing up and down the line and giving Glen Johnson a lot to think about. 

Centre Back: Thomas Vermaelan - Arsenal

Finally, a real leader at the back for Arsenal. Under the tutelage of new Assistant Manager Steve Bould, the Belgium is commanding the Arsenal defence in a way unseen in North London for a good few years. Pace, strength, good positional sense and a willingness to get forward, Arsenal's new captain has it all. Arsenal had not conceded a goal in their first two games of the season and Vermaelen helped to make that three on Sunday with numerous tackles including one timely clearance from inside the 6-yard box. 

Centre Back: Winston Reid - West Ham United

The New Zealand international scored and kept an albeit lackluster Fulham attack at bay as the Hammers took home all three points. Bursting onto the scene at the 2010 World Cup, Reid has had mixed fortunes since joining the East London club but now looks to have grown in stature with another solid display here. 

Right Back: Gareth McAuley- West Bromwich Albion

Baggie's defender helped maintain Albion's unbeaten start to the season whilst ending that of the Toffees. McAuley scored the second of West Brom's goal ten minutes from time with a powerful header having lost his marker. The Northern Ireland International has made a strong start to the season and deserves recognition for his efforts.

Centre Midfield: Paul Scholes - Manchester United

All the Monday papers are full of 'RVP the Hero' stories but the game at St. Mary's changed the minute the ginger maestro walked onto the pitch. RVP may have scored the goals but Scholes was the man pulling the puppet strings. His vision, awareness and accuracy are still second to none and as the Saints began to tire Scholes was able to find the gaps that allowed United to secure all three points. 

Centre Midfield: Santi Cazorla - Arsenal

The little spaniard has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water. Sunday's performance at Anfield, where Cazorla set up one and scored the other, went further to justifying Wenger's claims that Cazorla has the ability to become an Arsenal midfield magician. He has been the Gunners best performer so far this season and the only worry for Arsenal fans would be how long is it until Barcelona come calling?!

Left Midfield: Robert Snodgrass - Norwich City

Another player that has taken no time at all to settle into the top flight. On Saturday, Snodgrass was a constant thorn in Tottenham's side and got his reward with what was a technically brilliant half volley. Playing in a Norwich midfield made up of three Ex-Leeds players has made the Scot's adaptation to Norfolk life easier and his goal gave Norwich a deserved share of the spoils at The Lane.

Right Midfield: James Morrison - West Bromwich Albion

The midfielder is playing a pivotal role in Albion's storming start to the season scoring last weekend at Spurs and this week putting the shackles on the Everton midfield. Keeping Fellaini quiet was always going to be key if West Brom were going to get anything from the match and Morrison's hard work and determination certianly paid off as the Baggie's made it seven points from a possible nine. 

Centre Forward: Steven Fletcher - Sunderland

The Scot proves yet again that he has the much sought after natural ability to score goals in the toughest league in the world, especially with his head! Fletcher scored seven goals headers last season and scored another peach of a header on Saturday against Swansea having already opened his account for Sunderland with a sweeping left foot finish. According to manager O'Neil, Fletcher is not even fully match fit yet, he will be force to be reckoned with when he is. 

Centre Forward: Carlos Tevez - Manchester City

What a transformation from the little Argentinean! Tevez looks in great shape and has hit the ground running this season determined it seems to make up for last year's embarrassment. Tevez was instrumental in City overcoming QPR on Saturday evening and deserved his flukey last minute goal as reward for his hard work and running during the match. With Aguero out for the foreseeable furture and Balotelli undergoing laser eye-surgery there is a lot of pressure of Tevez to lead the line. He is doing it admirably and it is no surprise he was the most captained player in Fantasy Football this week!

Manager: Paul Lambert - Aston Villa

No win in the Premier League since March and no away win since Januray, Lambert has a tough task on his hands at Villa Park. However, Sunday's game at Newcastle finally gave Villa fans a glimmer of hope. Lambert made some big decisions, such as dropping goalkeeper Shay Given, and the team responded positively. He had his hands tied during the transfer window with relatively little money to spend and has assembled a young team. Sunday saw Villa finally playing Lambert's style and it was their best performance for a at least seven months. It is to his credit that Lambert looks to be rescuing Villa out of their decline.  

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Friday, 24 August 2012

Premier League Predictions

So I have decided that each week I will be doing predictions for the Premier League game over the weekend. Let’s see how I do!

Swansea v West Ham
Saturday K.O. 12:45pm Live on Sky Sports

Swansea and Michael Laudrap surprised everyone with the 5-0 thrashing they handed out to QPR last weekend whilst the Hammers got their season up and running with a 1-0 win at home to Aston Villa. This game sees West Ham’s first visit to the Liberty Stadium and I don’t think it will be a happy one. The Welsh club will be oozing with confidence after their opening result and in front of their home fans will be keen to put on a good show. West Ham have bought well with Matthew Jarvis signing this afternoon, but they haven’t had time to gel as a team yet. With Michu up from I think Swansea will edge this game and make it two wins from two.

Swansea 2-0 West Ham United

Aston Villa v Everton
Saturday K.O. 3pm

Aston Villa look set to endure a long hard season in my opinion. With Darren Bent they have firepower but with nothing to put the bullet in the gun I think they are going to struggle. Marouane Fellaini was totally unplayable against Manchester United and the Toffees seem determined this year to start well, something they have consistently struggled to do in seasons past. This fixture has away win written all over it and will see the pressure on Paul Lambert increase at this early stage of the season.

Aston Villa 0-1 Everton

Manchester United v Fulham
Saturday K.O. 3pm

Fulham victories at Old Trafford are such a rare event the South London club actually released a DVD of their last one!  This time around will be no different. Despite Fulham’s fantastic start to the season with their new look squad, a United squad angry at losing to Everton will be too much for them. I expect to see Robin Van Persie start his first game for the Red Devils and for the Dutchman and Rooney to create havoc; expect a lot of chat about how dangerous these two will be this season after the game. 

Manchester United 3-1 Fulham

Norwich City v Queens Park Rangers
Saturday K.O. 3pm

Funny how things pan out isn’t it? Both of these sides lost their opening game 5-0 and both will be looking to kick start their season at the second time of asking. Norwich are at home and I think this will give them the edge in what will be a high scoring game. Neither posses very good defensive lines and the game will be won on who takes their chances. Expect Grant Holt to grab his first goal of the season and I fancy a QPR player to see red at some point.

Norwich City 3-2 QPR

Southampton v Wigan Athletic
Saturday K.O. 3pm

A real acid test for the Saints this. After last weeks thrilling game with Manchester City, this game will go a long way to providing a glimpse of how Southampton will fair this season. These two wont be far away from each other all season in the league table and this game is a real chance for either side to grab three points. Southampton are still buzzing from being back in the top flight and with this being their first home game of the season I think they will be the victors. Wigan wont go down without a fight however, they know that a good start can see them finish the season comfortably for once, but Mr Ricky Lambert will be the difference.

Southampton 2-1 Wigan Athletic

Sunderland v Reading
Saturday K.O. 3pm

A contender for last slot on MOTD I think, both sides will be careful not to lose this one as they look to consolidate opening day draws. Reading have a lot to prove with most predicting them for the drop but they gave a fantastic account of themselves at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening and can take a lot of confidence from that. Manager McDermott said he didn’t know how to play for a draw; unless he finds that out quickly the Championship beckons. Sunderland have just welcomed Steven Fletcher into their ranks and he will be looking to make a good start to his Black Cat career. With Reading keeper Adam Federici looking deciedley dodgy in their first two games I think Flethcer will have something to celebrate; however Reading are playing without fear and I expect them to come away with a point.

Sunderland 1-1 Reading

Tottenham Hotspur v West Bromwich Albion
Saturday K.O. 3pm

A big test for AVB this. After WBA's superb victory over Liverpool they will be going into this game with their heads held high. Spurs lost at Newcastle but the score could have easily been reversed had the North London side taken more of their opportunities. A lot of White Hart Lane eyes will be on AVB in his first home game and anything other than a win will hear Harry Redknapp’s name being sung in some quarters. Spurs will win the game, but it wont be as a easy as they would like.

Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 WBA

Chelsea v Newcastle United
Saturday K.O. 5:30pm Live on ESPN

Last season Newcastle came to the Bridge and won 2-0 courtesy of two wonder goals from Papiss Cisse. This time the Toon Army might not have quite so much to shout about. Newcastle did well to beat Spurs last weekend with Demba Ba finding the back of the net with a fabulous finish. Chelsea have won both of their fixtures thus far and in Eden Hazard have uncovered a real game changer. If Torres, Mata and Hazard are all on form then Newcastle will be in real trouble. I think they will be and it will be 9 points from 9 for Di Matteo’s men.

Chelsea 2-0 Newcastle United

Stoke City v Arsenal
Sunday K.O. 1:30pm Live on Sky Sports

The Stoke faithful always enjoy the visit of Wenger’s men to the Britannia and dishing out their well known battling style of football. However, I think Arsenal are very well-equipped to deal with the aerial assault that so many times has been their downfall. Arsenal fans will learn a lot about their new signings Cazorla, Podolski and Giroud as they experience how tough this league can be, how they react could either make or break their career. Stoke started with a disappointing draw at Reading and I think they are there for the taking. I expect (and hope) Arsenal can snatch a much needed win here to kick start their season.

Stoke City 1-2 Arsenal

Liverpool v Manchester City
Sunday K.O. 4:00pm Live on Sky Sports

This Super Sunday could see things go from bad to worse on Merseyside for new manger Brendan Rogers. If City come and play the Reds off the park, which is a strong possibility, then Rogers will find himself under a big, bright spotlight. Even without Aguero, City will be too strong with Joe Allen being swallowed by the force that is Yaya Toure and Carlos Tevez proving too much for Skertel and Carragher.
Liverpool 0-2 Manchester City

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Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The Big Kick Off

The new Premier League Season kicks off on Saturday and I for one cannot wait. To get you all as excited as I am here is my list of the top five things to look forward to ahead of the new season.

1)   The Big Buys

This summer has seen the big clubs go against tradition and try to get their business done early on in the summer instead of waiting until Transfer Deadline Day to complete that all important deal-something that Sky Sports News Presenter Jim White will be most upset about. Podolski at Arsenal, Hazard at Chelsea, Kagawa at United and Vertoghen at Spurs. The big price tags now have to transfer into big performances. At least one will flop and at least one will become a new star, trying to guess which one will do what is our game!

2)   Under New Management

Six clubs go into the new campaign with a new boss at the helm; Brendan Rogers at Liverpool has spent most of the summer clearing out the deadwood from Kenny’s time and has bought well. It’s going to be very interesting seeing if Liverpool will adapt to his quick attacking passing style.

Rogers I feel is the new manager under the most pressure as the season gets underway. The pressure at Liverpool to get back amongst the big boys is huge and I hope that Rogers becomes a success on Merseyside because his style of play is a joy to watch and produces good football.  Di Matteo in his first full season at the Bridge also has a tough task. Despite winning the Champions league last season the pressure for success at Chelsea is huge and one poor season can see the exit door wide open, something Carlo Ancelotti knows that only too well.

AVB at Spurs has a second chance to prove himself in the Premier League. For whatever reason things didn’t work out at Chelsea but now is his chance to really show what he can do. Following Harry Redknapp however means a good start to the season is essential to keep the Spurs faithful on side. As for those in the lower half of the table, I think Chris Hughton will be fine at Norwich, good manger at a good club. I worry for Steve Clark at West Brom, a poor start could be very hard to recover from.

3)   The ‘Surprise Package’

Three seasons ago it was Hull, then Blackpool and last season it was Swansea, who will be this seasons surprise? The Surprise Package spend the first four months playing attacking football without any fear or respect for anyone collecting points away at the big teams whilst a raucous home crowd see mid-table teams easily swept aside. They are predicted the drop before term begins but see themselves safe by about mid-January (apologies Blackpool fans). Contenders this year include new boys Reading and Southampton; along with I think Wigan (honestly a good start with a few surprise wins could see a comfortable mid table finish) and Sunderland-Martin O’Neil knows how to run a good football club.

4)   The ‘Talking Point’

In previous seasons we have had overzealous goal celebrations, beach-ball goals, wild challenges and dodgy pre-match handshakes, what will this seasons talking point be? It’s a topic no one can predict but I cant wait to spend hours waffling on about whether or not his hairstyle put the keeper off or if the ball wasn’t exactly in the corner. An event will occur during a match that will stick around for the rest of the season. There is no saying what it might be, lets all hope for the return of the blonde streaker.

5)   The Title Challenge

After last season’s epic once-in-a-lifetime finale (Thank you Aguero), this campaign has a lot to live up to; I believe it’s got all the right ingredients. Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man City, United and Spurs all begin the season with the title in mind and its going to make for a fascinating battle. I think City start as favourites despite their lack of new signings, but anyone of those teams have the players and the manager to put together a title-winning season. Its going to make for a rip-roaring season, one that will enthral us for the next nine months and again go down to the last day. Coupled with the fight against relegation and the battle for the top four, this season is gearing up to be a belter.

Roll on 3pm Saturday. 

Arsenal: The Big Boys Fodder?

Arsenal, I love them. A Gooner for 14 years I’ve witnesssed history in the making  and discovered two Gods; a Mr A.Wenger and a Mr T.Henry. However in recent years, things have taken a turn for the worse. Arsenal are still producing fantastic, world-class players who are winning titles season in, season out. The only problem is, they aren’t winning these titles in North London.

Here is a list of players who have left Arsenal in the past 6 years and have gone on to win a major trophy within the next two years. Ready? Deep breath….Alexander Hleb, Thierry Henry, Ashley Cole, Kolo Toure, Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Adebayor, Gael Clichy, Samir Nasri, Cesc Fabregas and Mathieu Flamini.

I spend hours sitting and wondering what could’ve been had these players stayed, Arsenal would be world-beaters! Manchester City won the Premier League last season with three ex-Arsenal players on their books. With Van Persie now expressing his desire to leave and Theo Walcott stalling on signing a new deal, it seems history is again repeating itself. Why have we become a feeder club for the European big boys? Who is at fault?

The obvious fact is Arsenal have now not won a trophy for seven seasons, that is simply not good enough. Cup finals have come and gone, title challenges have risen and then faded, that elusive silverware has remained exactly that. These players know that their time at the top of the game is limited and they want to win trophies, to have something to show for their efforts. They put their faith in Wenger’s ideology and when it doesn’t work they lose their faith in the Frenchmen and move elsewhere. This leads me on to a rather worrying thought; despite all of his excellence, does our pragmatic leader lack the mental strength for the month of May?

For all his good work, whenever it comes to crunch time, does Wenger lose his bottle? The lack of a back up plan, the stubbornness to not just lob the kitchen sink at the goal and see what happens and his refusal to initiate a ‘Plan B’ are these the reasons for Arsenal’s failings. The man is a legend, what he has done for the club will never been equaled, but recently has he lost his nerve? Its been so long since he won a trophy I’m worried he is afraid to lose rather than looking to win.

Wenger is a top manager, good enough to recognize what is happening and this summer he has spent big money in an attempt to convince those at the club eyeing up the exit door that Arsenal will be trophy contenders this season.  Podolski, Cazorla and Giroud all add talent to the side if RVP does a ‘Rooney-esque’ U-turn and Theo signs on the dotted line, this season could really be a game changer for Arsenal.

We need to get rid of our current feeder club status, for too long with have provided other teams with the quality to win trophies. Lets keep hold of our firepower and see where it takes us.

In Wenger we trust.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Super Mario or Mad Mario?

Mario Balotelli, a 21-year old Italian footballer, signed for Manchester City F.C in August 2010 for a reported €22 million. Here began one of the most tumultuous stories of the Premier League era. Balotelli is a handful, in fact most definitely more than a handful, but is he worth the trouble?  Lets look at Mario’s achievements in the league so far and some of his mad moments, of which there are plenty to choose from, and discover whether he is a good thing for the Premier League or whether he is a becoming a bad influence on both the Premier League and young males living in England.

There is a good side to Balotelli that has earned him the nickname ‘Super Mario’. Balotelli is a strong, powerful forward, very direct with a great shot on him; occasionally he shows promising signs of becoming a very good footballer. He is one of those exciting, firecracker players everyone would love to have in their team, you never know what he is capable of doing next. 17 goals in 32 games this season along with a Premier League winners medal is by anyone’s standards a successful season. He played a pivitol role this summer with Italy, scoring three goals, including both in the 2-1 win over Germany in the Semi-Final, as the Azzurri reached the final. But all of his achievements are consistently over-shadowed by the way Balotelli carries himself both on and off the pitch.

On the pitch, Balotelli is Jekyll and Hyde. There are countless examples of this from last season. Against Liverpool in November, Balotelli entered the fray in the 65th minute before departing in the 83rd after 2 yellow cards for petty, blatant and unnecessary fouls; an almost identical incident to this occurred against Arsenal towards the end of the season, which could have cost City the title. Balotelli was also retrospectively banned for four games following a stamp on Tottenham’s Scott Parker that went unnoticed; naturally Balotelli was the match winner that day, scoring an injury time penalty.

It is these on field antics that taint Balotelli’s talent. Even as a substitute he cannot stay out of the headlines, reportedly using his iPad on the bench during an international match. If he wants to become the player many believe he can, he must lose a certain aspect of his unpredictability from his character; otherwise people will begin to lose faith in him. It’s not the on-field problems that are Balotelli’s biggest problem; it’s his erratic and irresponsible behavior off it that’s of most concern.

Here are a few tabloid stories about Balotelli that have emerged in the two years he has been living in Manchester-
  • ·      In March 2011, Balotelli was accused of throwing a dart at a Manchester City youth-team player for which he was fined £100,000.
  • ·      After crashing his car in the first few weeks of living in Manchester a policeman asked Balotelli why he was carrying £5000 cash on the passenger seat to which he replied ‘Because I am rich’.
  • ·      The night before the first Manchester Derby this season, Balotelli had to flee his house after fireworks were set off in his bathroom.
  • ·      In November 2010 Mario reportedly pulled into a petrol station and told everyone to fill their petrol tanks up, as he was going to pay for it.
  • ·      On New Years Eve 2011, Balotelli reportedly rounded up around 20 homeless people in Manchester and paid for them to stay in the Hilton Hotel in the city centre.

Under good football management, Balotelli can work on stamping out those ‘hot head’ moments on the pitch but away from football, the Italian youngster has no one to guide him. Living on his own in a foreign country without any rules to abide by, he has free reign to do what he wants and this he does. He needs to learn quickly how to deal with being a well-known face.

What Balotelli fails to grasp is that his behavior has knock on effects for those young football fans that view him as a hero, as someone to aspire to. They see him acting the fool and they think its cool. Admittedly after the firework incident he began working with the Manchester Police fronting a firework safety campaign but it almost seemed like a ‘tongue-in-cheek’ move by the young Italian. The message he is sending out to young football fans is a bad one; he is living life with no rules and to impressionable young fans, it looks like a lot of fun.

Is Balotelli good for the Premier League? In purely a football sense, yes he is. He is young and once he rids himself of his temper issues, he will be one of the most exciting footballers to watch. But, he has to address the way he lives outside of football; he must begin acting like a good ambassador for the sport, as someone to aspire to or else risk losing the faith many have placed in him. For one too many more stories like those above will put serious strain on his relationship with the British Public. We all love a controversial figure, but at some point the controversy has got to stop.

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Monday, 9 July 2012

Game, Set and Matched

In the immediate aftermath of the Australian Open this year, an interesting fact came to light.  Novak Djokovic, the 2012 men’s singles champion, spent close to 11 hours on court during his semi-final and final matches alone; Victoria Azarenka, the women’s champion, spent just over 10 hours on court in the entire tournament. Both Djokovic and Azarenka walked away with the same winners prize money of $2,300,000 AUS. It didn’t used to be this way; the Men's champion used to be paid more than the Ladie's champion at a Grand Slam event. Aside from the US Open, which has had equal pay for three decades now, the other three have only recently made the change, the Australian Open in 2000, Wimbledon and the French Open in 2007. Is this fair? Should they be paid the same?

It is the belief in some corners that equal pay is a discrepancy in tennis. Their argument is that if in a standard office environment, a man and a woman did considerably different hours of work, then they would not be paid the same for their efforts. They argue that men play the best of five sets and women the best of only three, if the women want equal pay they must play the best of five sets. Records show that the average men’s tennis set at Wimbledon takes 30 minutes longer to play than the average women’s. This results in the men’s champion having played on average 3½ hours more tennis than the women’s champion. It’s argued that if women want the same prize money as men, they should be prepared to play the same number of sets. If they did, this would provide Wimbledon, or any of the Grand Slams, with more advertising time for networks and sponsors, and it’s from this advertising time that Grand Slams make a large percentage of their revenue from which comes the prize fund; if the men are earning more of the prize fund in the first place by playing longer matches, surely they are eligible for a large cut of it at the end?

It is unacceptable to think women can be paid less than men for doing the same job. Sport or not, the widely accepted principle of equal pay in the workplace ought to be put into practice here too; these are professionals with jobs that should be treated like any other. Talk of longer play by men and the number of sets is totally irrelevant. The champion is the champion; they’ve beaten everyone in their field, and deserve full recognition.  At the end of the day, for these tennis players, the money is a bonus, they aren’t playing for money it is much more about recognition of their talents. Furthermore, elite sports are extremely high profile, and the rewards involved send out a message that the whole of society looks to. Thus, in having unequal prize funds, the organizers of some of our most popular events don’t just look down on women’s sports they look down on women.

Tennis is one of the most mentally tough sports to play. You are on your own out on that court, battling the mind in so many ways. Are you better than your opponent? How tired are you feeling? Are you good enough to win? The game is the same for both men and women, so therefore the pay should without doubt be the same. This nonsense of higher pay for men is talk from 40 years ago. Although all four Grand Slams are now equal pay, many tour events, in which both men and women play 3 set matches, still offer higher winners cheques for the men.  In order to stamp out any remaining advocates of unequal pay, these tour events should follow suit and adopt equal prize money as soon as possible and only then can this out of date debate be put to bed.

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Monday, 25 June 2012

From Albion to United, the reasons behind Football Clubs and their names

I thought this week I would comment on my favourite sport but instead of doing an article on how much I love Balotelli and his antics, I thought I’d use my, supposed, skills as a historian and delve into the history books to discover where football teams got their names from; why so many ‘Uniteds’, ‘Rovers’ and ‘Wanderers’? What is the story behind the suffix? Of course it would be too time consuming to go through each individual team and discuss the origin of their name, so I plan on taking the most popular suffixes of club names in Great Britain, plus a few anomalies, and hopefully providing some interesting insight into the history of football team names. Some are quite self-explanatory; Borough, City, County and Town shouldn’t leave too many of you guessing how they came up with these names!

Albion- E.G Brighton & Hove Albion, Burton Albion ,West Bromwich Albion
Albion is the oldest known name for Great Britain, today it is used more predominately as an alternative name to England. It was used heavily in poetry during the 19th century at a time when the word was very popular in Britain; West Brom were the first club to take up the suffix in the late 19th century before Brighton did at the turn of the century. Albion is very sentimental word for England in modern times and highlights why football teams use it as part of their name.

Athletic- Charlton, Oldham, Wigan
Has no actual connotations towards Athletics as a sport or as an Athletics club, but actually refers to a sense of fitness and strength derived from the Latin word Athletica.
Hotspur-Tottenham Hotspur
An anomaly in league football but I think there are one or two non-league football clubs that have taken to using Hotspur too. Tottenham got their name from a Mr Harry Hotspur, real name Henry Percy, who was the son of the first Earl of Northumberland. The Percy family owned large tracts of land in Tottenham during the 15th century and Henry himself was famed for his riding spurs and his
Cockfights in which he fitted his fighting cocks with spurs, hence why the Spurs crest features a cockerel.

Orient- Leyton Orient
This is another one of the anomalies of English football with only Leyton Orient using this particular suffix. Based in East London and founded in 1881 as Eagle Cricket Club, the name Orient came about in 1898 at the request of one of their players, Jack Dearing, who at the time also worked for the Orient Shipping Company. Due to the high level of shipping business in and around East London at the beginning of 20th century, the name seemed very apt and has stuck ever since.  Quite an interesting one this, as it has absolutely nothing to do with football but rather cementing the clubs place in a certain part of London.

Rangers- Glasgow Rangers, Queens Park Rangers
The word Ranger refers to people wandering in search of plunder; plunder in a football sense referring to glory and trophies. Queens Park Rangers epitomise the use of the suffix by having had 18 different home grounds in their 129-year history. Glasgow Rangers too, had 6 different home grounds in the first 20 years of their existence. Judging by their history, both of these clubs were correct in their choice of name.

Rovers- Blackburn Rovers, Bristol Rovers, Doncaster Rovers
Rovers, in a similar way to Rangers, refers to constant travelling in search of glories. Rover seems to have to connotations with pirates and sea-travel; 7 ships in the Royal Navy have been named Rover suggesting ‘Rovers’ travel great distances in search of their glories.

Wanderers- Bolton, Wolverhampton, Wycombe
Wanderers has two meaning its seems. The first refers to a nomadic existence, a case of perpetually wandering around, minus the romantic sentiment of Ranger or Rover. This is how Bolton got their name due to their nomadic nature at the beginning of their history; they played at a variety of different grounds for the first 30 years before moving to Burden Park in 1901. The Second meaning came from the first winners of the F.A Cup. In 1872, Wanderers F.C of South London, previously of East London, became the first winners of the F.A Cup and it Wolves and Wycombe took their name from the cup winners. After Wanderers’ victory, the word took on a rather romantic meaning referring to a group of travelling gentlemen who were playing the game for pleasure rather than solely to win.
Wednesday- Sheffield
The only football club in Britain with a day of the week in their name, the club was initially a Cricket Club named the Wednesday Cricket Club, before the members decided that they should play football during the winter months in order to keep fit. Sheffield Wednesday football club was founded on Wednesday 4th September 1867. The club included a lot of local butchers who had half-days on Wednesday and therefore would play both matches on the Wednesday. Very quickly it became obvious that the football side of the club was far more popular than the cricket and eventually football replaced the cricket as the main sport.

United- Manchester, Newcastle Leeds
Probably the most common suffix, outside of city and town, it quite literally means people have decided to unite together, what is interesting is how they became ‘united’. I decided to look at two of the most popular ‘Uniteds’ in England. In the case of Newcastle United, at the end of the 19th century, Newcastle West End were in serious financial trouble, whereas Newcastle East End has just become a professional team. Newcastle West End collapsed and effectively merged with East End, eventually uniting under one name, Newcastle United.  Manchester United, formerly known as Newton Heath, changed their name in 1902 when Newton Heath were ordered with a winding up order due to large un-paid debts. As a mark of the Fresh Start the club changed name to Manchester United, firstly to show solidarity after troubling times and secondly because the owner, manager and captain all thought Manchester United sounded much better than Manchester Celtic.

So there we have it, a quick overview of some of the most popular Football club names. The reason behind this entry was because I find it interesting how so many football team names have nothing to do with the sport whatsoever but are born out of a sense of community spirit and a need of belonging and a desire to win. It highlights how big a part football has had to play in communities across Great Britain throughout the years, how they have helped form community identities and even put certain areas of the country on the map. Hopefully, this has been as interesting to read as it was to research, maybe sometime I’ll have a look at football team nicknames.