Through Ryu’s Lens: The Unseen Scotland

The game? Montrose vs Rangers in the Scottish 3rd division. It wasn’t sexy, it wasn’t a great occasion. But these away days for Rangers fans have become rather infamous, as the Scottish giants have been forced to travel to small venues since being relegated after going into financial administration. But despite a lack of a luxurious stadium, both clubs were still backed by their loyal supporters. In Ryu’s words: "Great atmosphere. Terrible match." The match ended as a 4-2 win for Rangers, so it couldn’t have been that bad (right?), but it’s probably fair enough.

Interact with Ryu on twitter @Toksuede and check his Flickr. Posted by Eric.

Neil Lennon’s champagne dreams with a Kool-Aid budget

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Sitting there in the dugout was hard enough. He’d rather be running with his players, doing anything but sitting. So Neil Lennon got up. But standing wasn’t helpful, either.  “I was up and down and up and down,” he told reporters. “I was trying to stay calm, but inside my stomach was churning.”

He was living the final defining moments and seconds of his managerial career, and they were horrible. The type of minutes you want to hasten, not savour. Five minutes of stoppage time stood in the way of his Celtic — and it is increasingly becoming his, the imprint of his success becoming more and more indelible in this most historical year, its 125th, for the club, and the next round of the Champions League.

So Lennon chewed his gum. “It’s taking a pounding,” said one commentator. But he needn’t have worried. Georgios Samaras did such a good job possessing the ball – hording it, really, as he had all game, in the farthest corner of the field that time ticked off harmlessly. And then the whistle blew. Lennon threw his arms in the air, but, being one of the most effusive managers in the game, he did not bellow or run rampantly or bawl. He was stoic.

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Celebrating Celtic’s 125th anniversary

To commemorate the history and heritage of Celtic FC, in particular the ‘Lisbon Lions’ who won the 1967 European Cup against Inter Milan in Portugal, Nike launched a kit to honour the club’s 125th anniversary. They kept the strip simple, but the hint of boldness is inspired by Celtic’s first derby against Rangers, a match globally known as the Old Firm derby. The current manager and former player Neil Lennon explores the club’s history in a video narrated by comedian and lifelong fan Billy Connolly. [DV]

An Open Letter From Me (A Scotsman) To England

Dear England,

I think it’s time we sat down and had a conversation but I’m too afraid to face you directly. The thought of millions of furious, misled eyes staring back at me while I sheepishly list all the things that I think are wrong with your national team chills me to the bone. I also know where it would end; with my limp corpse hanging from the Wembley arch.

That is why I’ve chosen to write you this letter. I want you to see what the rest of us see and until someone sits down and points it out to you, you’ll live forever in blissful ignorance. If you want that then by all means, turn away from this letter. Print it out and use its burning to ignite your wicker effigy of Roy Hodgson if you must.

I worry about you, England. 

It’s undoubtedly time to address the elephant in the room. An elephant wearing a kilt, sporran and with a massive saltire plastered across its hide like an SNP billboard. I’m Scottish. You remember us, of course.

We’re the ones who baulk with the indignation of a much better country every time a major tournament comes round and we’re not there. We’re the ones who claim to support, “whoever’s playing England” or arbitrarily pick a nation based on who has the nicest kit or where we once went on holiday. We’re the hypocrites who will happily take English players into our fold as long as their grandmother’s goldfish was bought in a pet shop in Linlithgow. The long and short is that we’re not very good.

Many English football fans believe that Scotland fans take an anti-English attitude because we hold a seven hundred year old grudge against King Edward I or because we’re jealous of the English Premier League’s quality. A sizable majority are like me; they trundle towards major tournaments wanting you to succeed. 

It’s of no real detriment to Scotland if you win the Euros. If anything, it improves the quality of the England squad and improves our squad by ensuring that we get the former U21s who languish in the international wilderness and qualify for Scotland by virtue of the “Granny Rule”.

Frankly, it’s not you; it’s your media.

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Breaking down Darren Fletcher’s fight against ulcerative colitis

By Brian Kazaara, a medical student who will be taking a closer look at the injuries that surround football for AFR

When we think about football injuries, it’s natural to associate the sport with injuries affecting the musculoskeletal system, particularly the leg, knee, thigh, foot, and ankle.  Rarely do we hear of players suffering from diseases in their digestive tract. Darren Fletcher is an exception.

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Beyond packed stadiums, there is a Forest Pitch

Interview with artist Craig Coulthard, the mind behind Forest Pitch, an event that will be part of the London 2012 Festival and Cultural Olympiad. Conducted by Eric Beard.

Succinct Briefing About Forest Pitch: A full size football pitch hidden deep within a commercial forest in the Scottish Borders. Trees that have been felled to make space for the pitch are being used to create goalposts, a shelter and other infrastructure on site, and the pitch is being made using recycled top soil from a local football ground. The heart of Forest Pitch is a day of sporting and cultural events that encapsulates the spirit of the modern Olympic movement. On the 21st of July, two amateur football matches (one between male teams and one between female teams) will be played on the pitch, complemented by a range of performances by local groups.

Spectators will be members of local communities and schools, the players’ families, and people involved in producing the event. A significant number of tickets will be made available to the general public. After the matches, the shelter will remain, the site will grow naturally, with some native planting introduced, and it will be publicly accessible for up to 60 years.

Now, on to the interview with Mr. Craig Coulthard…

Eric Beard: First of all, I have to ask where on earth did this idea come from?

Craig Coulthard: I guess like a lot of ideas, Forest Pitch was gradually revealed to me as different things I was interested in, and had experienced came together at the right time. The main roots of the idea spring from my childhood experience of playing football for a local team in what was then West Germany, deep in the middle of a wood, with a small changing room and a chapel nearby. Later, I played football at Cathkin Park in Glasgow, which was once Third Lanark’s ground. Now, as when I played there, the ground has large tall trees growing straight from the terracing. When I was 15 playing there, it was quite dream like and disconcerting. Later still, I had been travelling by plane from London to Edinburgh, and flew over the Borders. I was looking down at all the forestry, with its small tracks seemingly leading nowhere, and I was struck by how exciting it would be to come across a football pitch there, either walking to it, or seeing it from the sky.

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Much ado about nothing: James McCarthy and the story surrounding ‘fake Irishmen’

By Amy Quinn, writing from Dublin

James McCarthy. Hmm, that name rings a bell, doesn’t it? Wigan midfielder? Glaswegian? The guy on the receiving end of THAT infamous Wayne Rooney elbow? Yes! That James McCarthy. He may be better known for getting a face full of prime Scouse flesh but McCarthy has been hitting the headlines in Ireland for very different reasons as of late.

The Republic of Ireland - a nation full of people just about fed up with people telling them that they’re a quarter-Irish twice-removed on their Dad’s side or something or other along those lines - is often subjected to much debate when it comes to the tricky issue of the national side, and its profitable utilisation of the famed “Granny rule”. Compiling a starting eleven of players who were actually born and raised on the Emerald Isle is more difficult than you might expect. The spine of the team are thorough-breds - veterans such as captain Robbie Keane, Damien Duff, John O’Shea and Shay Given, as well as younger players like Kevin Doyle, Shane Long and the Hunt brothers. But in the national side’s history, there have been plenty of players from the neighbouring lands of Northern Ireland, Scotland and England declaring for Ireland. For many different reasons.

Some, arguably, choose to accept the Ireland call-up because they do not think they will recieve one for England. As Tony Cascarino - who qualified for Ireland through his mother’s adoption - admitted in his autobiography: “I didn’t qualify for Ireland. I was a fraud. A fake Irishman.”

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The Return of the King: Kenny Dalglish

A familiar face regains his crown, but is it too late to save the kingdom? by Amy Quinn.

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind at Liverpool Football Club. So much so, in fact, that at least six different drafts about where the club is at have been written by yours truly, only for the goalposts to be moved shortly after each one. From the lows of Wolves, to the cautious highs of Bolton, and swiftly back to the devestating depths of Blackburn - if last year, you thought Liverpool’s yo-yo form was bad, you had seen nothing yet.

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Linking Up: A goal that will make you believe in humanity, Didier Drogba treating malaria like a common cold, and more!

Who cares if it was against Everton’s reserves? Jay Emmanuel-Thomas scored a goal so good it will singlehandedly give you hope in humanity [NCNB

Why is this not a big deal? Cool Carlo, Drogba has malaria! [Pies]
Hibs and Hearts thrashed Celtic and Rangers last night. Well done, Edinburgh. That hasn’t been done since 1972. Times are changing (no they’re not) [The Offside]
An insider look at Owen Hargreaves’ anxiety attack [Dirty Tackle]
If Ashley Cole ever enters the music industry heads will roll [In The Stands]
The sprinklers went off during the West Ham-Birmingham match in what I’ve decided what was a top secret attempt to get Avram Grant to play sexy football [Off The Post]
The US MNT is heading back to South Africa with a different look [TYAC]
Bill Clinton is going to try and woo FIFA one last time with USA’s 2022 World Cup bid [The Original Winger]
Also… the end of the year is coming up and we would be oh so delighted if you could take a moment and nominate AFR as the “Best New Football Website” for the Soccerlens Awards! Thanks so much!

(Source: cheekychip)

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