Saturday, June 30, 2007

Shirts for 2007/08: Reading (away / 2nd)

Something a bit different for you today in the form of Reading's new away shirt for the 2007/2008 Premier League season:

Just as last season, Reading's kit is made by Puma but this time they've gone for a two-tone-grey affair to sport on their travels away from home. It'll cost you somewhere in the region of £38.00 and it's available to pre-order now via the Reading website.

I rather like this one for all it's battleship hues, but what do you make of it? As ever, we're dying to find out, so leave us a comment or take part in our online poll...


The final results were as follows:

Excellent: 21 (22%)
Good: 21 (22%)
OK: 14 (15%)
Poor: 15 (16%)
Terrible: 24 (25%)


Friday, June 29, 2007

The Friday List of Little or No Consequence #18

A good team on paper
11 Amusingly-Titled British Football Fanzines, Past and Present

1. One-Nil Down, Two-One Up - Arsenal
2. Tired And Weary - Birmingham City
3. 4,000 Holes - Blackburn Rovers
4. And Smith Must Score - Brighton & Hove Albion
5. Addickted - Charlton Athletic
6. Interesting Very Interesting - Derby County
7. There's Only One F In Fulham - Fulham
8. Brian Moore's Head Looks Uncannily Like The London Planetarium - Gillingham
9. To Elland Back - Leeds United
10. Sick In The Basin - Partick Thistle
11. 53 Miles West Of Venus - Preston North End

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Caption Competition

We all love a 'Caption Competition' don't we?

Don't we?

Well, we will soon find out I guess.

Our first picture comes courtesy of the British monsoon season and Sheffield Wednesday Football Club :

Here's my effort : 'Sheffield Wednesday consider bringing on their sub.'

Top that - I'm sure you can.

Monday, June 25, 2007

European League Round-Up (Part 2)

We continue our journey around the lesser highlighted leagues of Europe to find out what's happened and what's happening at club level. First stop:


The very first Greek Super League effectively came to an end back in April when Olympiakos had accumulated enough points not to be caught by eventual runners-up AEK Athens. The gap was nine points when the season ended in May, so Olympiakos enter the group stage of the Champions League next season while AEK start from the third qualifying round.

Panathinaikos, Aris and Panionios finished in the next three league places so they qualify for the 2007/08 UEFA Cup and they'll be joined by AE Larissa who won the Greek Cup with a 2-1 win over Panathinaikos.

Taking their place in the Intertoto Cup will be OFI Crete who finished 7th in the league, but at the wrong end of the table Kerkira, Aigaleo and Ionikos all finished in the bottom three. Their places next season will be taken by Asteras Tripolis, Levadiakos and Veria who come up from B' Ethniki.

Finally, many people expected Olympiakos' star signing Rivaldo to be this season's top goalscorer, but with 17 goals he finished one short of the total gained by Nikos Lyberopoulos of AEK Athens.


PSV seemed to be coasting to another Eredivisie title during the first half of the 2006/07 season and were eleven points clear of the chasing pack after 20 games, but they took their foot off the gas and allowed AZ and Ajax to make a challenge. Such was PSV's fall from grace that when the final game of the season arrived, they, along with AZ and PSV were level on points - PSV now third in the table on goal difference.

Amazingly, leaders AZ lost 3-2 to Exelcsior Rotterdam, while PSV's 5-1 win over Vitesse gave them the goal advantage to leap over Ajax (who won 2-0 in their last match) and AZ to reclaim top spot and win the title.

All that means PSV enter the Champions League next season for the third time running while runners-up Ajax get the chance to enter via the third qualifying round. AZ, FC Twente, Griningen and Heerenveen will all play UEFA Cup football in 2007/08. FC Utrecht won their play-off for an Intertoto Cup spot, denying Vitesse while at the bottom, Den Haag were relegated automatically to the Eerste Divisie. Going down via the play-offs were Waalwijk and replacing them were De Graafschap (Eerste Divisie champions) and VVV Venlo.

This season's top goalscorer in the Eredivisie by twelve clear goals was Afonso Alves, the Brazilian playing for Heerenveen. His 34 goals easily eclipsed Danny Koevermans (AZ) and Blaise N'Kufo (FC Twente) who both finished the season with twenty-two.


The Tippeligaen (Premier Division) is currently in full swing and leading the way after 12 games is Stabæk on 25 points, followed by Brann on 23 and Lillestrøm and Viking on 21.

Stabæk went top at the weekend with a 1-0 away win over Tromso while Brann lost their place at the top after losing 3-1 away to Viking. Lillestrøm stayed in the top four with a 1-0 win over IK Start.

In the battle of the bottom two, Odd Grenland beat Sandefjord 4-0 at home to leave their opponents propping up the table on just nine points. Next up for Sandefjord is a tough home game against Lillestrøm next Sunday. Leaders Stabæk play sixth-place Stromsgodset while Brann host Tromso and Viking travel to Valerenga.


A close three-horse race resulted in Porto taking a second successive league title by one point ahead of Cup of Portugal winners Sporting Lisbon, who in turn finished one point ahead of third-placed Benfica.

Porto and Sporting go straight through to the group stages of the Champions League next season while Benfica will have to get their via the qualifying round.

Some seventeen points behind the Benfica were Sporting Braga on 50 points, closely followed by Belenenses and Paços de Ferreira. All three qualify for the 2007/08 UEFA Cup.

União de Leiria enter the Intertoto Cup while for Beira-Mar and Desportivo das Aves the Liga de Honra awaits after they finished in the bottom two places of the new 16-team BWIN Liga.

The top goalscorers were anything but prolific this season with Simão Sabrosa of Benfica heading the field on 10 goals. Hélder Postiga of Porto finished as runner-up with nine goals while José Pedro of Belenenses was one behind on eight.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Friday List of Little or No Consequence #17

Footy Movies
10 Feature Films That Feature Soccer

1. Fever Pitch
2. Goal
3. Shaolin Soccer
4. Escape to Victory
5. Bend It Like Beckham
6. Das Wunder von Bern
7. There's Only One Jimmy Grimble
8. When Saturday Comes
9. Maradona - La Mano di Dio
10. Once In A Lifetime

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Ah yes, I remember it well (kind of...)

This time last year, the 2006 FIFA World Cup was well underway. The final round of group matches were being played and football fans around the planet were enjoying the exciting goals that were being scored from seemingly all parts of the pitch.

Amazing to think that a year has passed since all the action in Germany was taking place, isn't it? So many memories we now have of the colour and the spectacle as nation upon nation entered the field of footballing battle.

I do, however, have a confession to make. I don't really remember all that much about it.

Now before you ask - no I didn't spend much of June and July 2006 in a drunken state. I am not and have never been dependent on a copious alcoholic intake.

The real reason why my memory of the last World Cup is incredibly patchy may lie in the fact that my wife-to-be (as she was then) was due to give birth to our baby daughter within a matter of weeks. To say that our minds were on other things is an understatement. There were hospital appointments to be booked, nappies to be bought, a nursery to be furnished… so much to do in so little time.

It's fair to say that this would explain why my mind wasn't completely on the World Cup. I feel a bit of a fraud, quite frankly. As a child I would soak up every World Cup Finals that ever took place with a passion. I'd study the statistics of every match, watch every game on TV, analyse every team line-up - a passion that lasted me well into adulthood - and yet here I stand today looking decidedly vague when someone talks to me about the last minute victory by Italy over Australia in the quarter-finals or Ghana's impressive 2-0 win over the Czech Republic in Round 1.

My good friend Smart told me at the time that this was arguably one of the best World Cups ever. Lots of great goals, great games, great teams, yet I remember feeling decidedly lukewarm about it back then. I know now that he was right - largely because I recently purchased a DVD showing all the goals of the tournament. There was all the evidence I needed: excited, roaring crowds in attendance for every match, long-range shots and intricate team passing leading to goals of every kind… did someone steal my mind last summer while I wasn’t looking?

All I can say is 'thank heaven for DVDs'. At least now all those distant images in my head of the things that happened have been brought back clearly into focus. It really was a great tournament and one which many of us will look back on with a warm feeling. I just wished I'd known that the first time around…

Do you have a blind spot in your World Cup memory collection? Can you remember where you were for specific World Cup games of the past? Leave us a comment and tell us all about it!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Shirts for 2007/08: Arsenal (away / 2nd)

Just for a change, today's new Premier League shirt for the 2007/08 season is not made by Umbro. Instead it's Nike's latest offering that Arsenal will be wearing for the majority of their upcoming away games...

As you can see, it's white. Nothing wrong with that, you might think, but it appears to have turned a few heads in North London - not least by the Tottenham Hotspur fans who claim their most ardent rivals are now wearing the same colour as them.

Personally, I feel such teasing is inconsequential. It's actually a pleasant change to see Arsenal wearing a 2nd shirt that isn't yellow or blue (good though they've been on many occasions) and it looks even better when married up with the redcurrant shorts (that's the colour, not the material they're made from).

Yes this is the new Arsenal away shirt made by Nike to honour Herbert Chapman, manager of The Gunners between 1925 and 1934. Chapman was seen as an innovator on all levels and is widely acknowledged as being the man who laid the foundations that made Arsenal one of the biggest clubs in the world today.

The shirt is currently available to pre-order from the Arsenal website and will go on sale from July 5th, priced £40.00.

All of which leaves us with one question: what do you think of it? Cast your vote below or leave us a comment - we'd love to hear what you think.


The final results were as follows:

Excellent: 98 (45%)
Good: 49 (23%)
OK: 27 (13%)
Poor: 17 (8%)
Terrible: 25 (12%)


Monday, June 18, 2007

The state of play for England

Written by Kedge

Following the draw with Brazil in a friendly to welcome the team back to the spiritual home of football and a win in the Euro 2008 qualifier in Estonia, what have we learnt about England?

Or maybe more to the point, what has been confirmed?

1. Our defence still tends to lose concentration in the final minutes of the game.
2. David Beckham can put the ball on a sixpence.
3. Joe Cole is very one-footed.
4. The left side is still England's big problem area.
5. Cole, Lampard, Gerrard, and Beckham do not gel as a midfield unit.
6. We still pick too many players on reputation rather than form.
7. We still play too many players out of position just to fit them in the side.

But we must have learnt something, surely? Well, if we didn’t know these already, we do now:

1. Robinson’s reflexes are good, but he sometimes flaps at crosses.
2. Joe Cole has perfected the 'step-over'… unfortunately no one is fooled by it.
3. Our midfield don't push up enough when our defence has the ball.
4. We need someone who can cross the ball from the left (i.e. a left-footer).
5. Alan Smith is not an international centre forward.
6. We need to find some new, young, very good players from somewhere.

Let's hope England start getting it right soon. It might be too late for 2008, but this dilemma needs to be solved ready for the 2010 World Cup campaign.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

CONCACAF Gold Cup 2007 Update

Owing to the frequent references to Guadeloupe on many recent posts (and we have Chris 'B Squad' to thank for that), I thought it wise to put them into context by giving you an update on the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Group A

This year's tournament for North and Central American countries is being held in the United States (as it almost always has been since 1991) and was kicked off on June 6th with the first two games of Group A; Costa Rica v Canada and Guadeloupe v Haiti.

Both games were played at Miami's Orange Bowl and in the first Canada earned a shock 2-1 win over last year's World Cup finalists thanks to two goals from Julian Deguzman after Walter Centeno had put the Costa Rican's in front on 56 minutes.

The following match saw Guadeloupe - now adopted as SPAOTP's favourite non-FIFA-registered team - pick up their first ever Gold Cup point with a 1-1 draw against Haiti. Cedrick Fiston was the man who put his name in the record books as the Guadeloupeans' first Gold Cup scorer after Mones Chery had put Haiti in front with a penalty in the first half.

Three days later, Guadeloupe were to out-shock Canada who had hoped to secure qualification through to the quarter-finals with a second win. The Caribbean side took the lead on 10 minutes when captain Jocelyn Angloma (one-time winger for France in the 1990's) chipped Canadian keeper Greg Sutton from 35 yards out.

Canada equalised in the 31st minute when Ali Gerba despatched an easy chance but Gaudeloupe were not to be beaten and six minutes later David Fleurival restored the lead at 2-1. The Canadians were left reeling and despite much pressure for the rest of the match it was Guadeloupe who all but secured their quarter-final place.

Later on June 9th, Costa Rica met Haiti, neither of whom had won their first match but as it turned out neither were to win this one either. In an intense and physcial match, the far more experienced Costa Ricans finally took the lead when Walter Centeno got his second of the tournament on 62 minutes but Haiti pulled one back nine minutes later through Boucicaut and that's the way it ended - 1-1.

Costa Rica were looking at an early flight home having gained just one point from a possible six and had to beat Guadeloupe in their final game to stand any chance of reaching the quarter-finals. When they met on June 11th, the Costa Ricans were in luck. That man Walter Centeno scored again in the thirteenth minute and it proved to be the only goal of the match.

With Guadeloupe now wondering if they'd qualify, all eyes turned to the last game of the group as Canada took on Haiti. The islanders had to win if they were to go through to the next round while Canada were looking for at least a draw. In a dull game, it was the Canadians who cruised to victory thanks to a Dwayne De Rosario brace in the 30th and 35th minutes and with that Haiti were out of the competition.

Canada had secured top spot in the group with six points but Costa Rica snatched second on goal difference ahead of Guadeloupe. In this year's Gold Cup, only two of the three third-placed teams would go through. Would Guadeloupe be one of them?

Group B

Group B was seen as the strongest of all three groups and so it proved to be as the United States began proceedings on June 7th with a nervy 1-0 win over Guatemala in Los Angeles. Clint Dempsey scored from close range to get the only goal of the game enabling the hosts to carry on from where they left off at the end of the 2005 tournament which they won.

Later in the day, Trinidad and Tobago (finalists at the 2006 World Cup) were given the dubious task of beating a strengthening El Salvador team at the Home Center Depot. Despite a well-taken early free kick from Silvio Spann to put T&T in front, El Salvador battled back with a goal near the end of each half from Ramon Sanchez and Dennis Alas to win the tie 2-1.

Next for El Salvador was a match against beaten Guatemala on June 9th. In an aggressive encounter, the form book was thrown out the window as Jose Contreras struck with a 69th minute volley to put both teams level on three points in the group. Not necessarily good news for El Salvador whose last game was to be against the United States...

The hosts had no such worries as they faced an unsettled Trinidad and Tobago team later in the day. A win would send them through to the quarter-finals and almost certainly end their opponents' chance of doing the same.

This time the form book did account for something. In front of a sell-out crowd, a much-changed American team cruised past the weak Trinidadians thanks to a 29th minute tap-in from Brian Ching and a 54th minute tap-in from Eddie Johnson. It was all too easy for the USA, though arguably not for their 'keeper Kasey Keller who struggled to find something to do for much of the match.

Despite knowing they'd qualified for the next round, the hosts didn't take their foot off the gas for their final group game against El Salvador. Goals rained in on the Salvadorian goal and more were avoided only because of the woodwork as DaMarcus Beasley scored two and Landon Donovan and Taylor Twellman picked up a goal each. The USA deservedly finished up group winners with a 4-0 win which only left one question remaining: Could anyone stop the Americans winning this tournament?

Meanwhile, Guatemala were in the fortunate position of knowing that a point against Trinidad and Tobago would be enough to take second place in the group. In a tough-fought battle, Guatemala gained an early advantage as Trinidad had Dwayne Jack sent off for violent conduct after 29 minutes.

Guatemala should have been in the ascendancy but struggled to overcome their awkward opponents until Carlos Ruiz finished off a well-worked move to give his side the lead in the 83rd minute. Even then, however, it wasn't 'game over' as just two minutes later Errol McFarlane rose to head home a high ball into the penalty area which ensued the game would finish a draw, 1-1.

The result was good enough for Guatemala who joined the USA in the quarter finals, but for third-placed El Salvador and last-placed Trinidad and Tobago there would be no such silver lining. Group B was said to be tough at the start, and the experts had been proved right.

Group C

June 8th saw the start of play in Group C and in the first game Panama put in a spirited performance to beat Honduras 3-2 while the second match at the Giants Stadium, New Jersey, saw Mexico win 2-1 having been a goal down against Cuba.

Reynier Alcantara smashed the ball past Mexican goalkeeper
Guillermo Ochoa in the 22nd minute but just when Hugo Sanchez's first game in charge as coach was starting to look like an embarrassing one, Jared Borgetti equalised with a header sixteen minutes later.

Eleven minutes into the second half, Mexico took the lead when
Nery Castillo followed up to put the ball in after a shot from Jose Fonseca was spilled by the 'keeper. Cuba had to little to offer by way of a comeback and could have even have conceded a third late on but the score remained 2-1 to Mexico.

Two days later, a tournament which was already getting a reputation for throwing up surprises created another when Mexico lost 2-1 to Honduras. Blanco scored from a penalty to put the Mexicans 1-0 up after 29 minutes and everything seemed to be going according to plan for the rest of the half, but Honduras came out a different side for the second.

In the 57th minute, Carlo Costly, currently playing his club football in Poland, scored an equaliser and at the end of normal time he added a second to hand Mexico a rare Gold Cup defeat to leave both teams on three points from two matches.

Later in the day, Panama continued their unbeaten run with a 2-2 draw against a much-improved Cuba side to leave the group wide open going into the final round of games on June 13th.

The action for the last two Group C games switched to the Reliant Stadium, Houston where Cuba, almost certainly without a chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals faced a Honduras side playing in front of many of their own fans.

It was to be a retched night for the Cubans as Carlos Pavon went goal-crazy for Honduras. He scored in the 3rd, 12th, 42nd and 53rd minute to become only the third player ever to score four goals in a Gold Cup match and to make matters worse Amado Guevara added a fifth in the 90th minute to seal a 5-0 victory for the Hondurans.

They could rest safe in the knowledge that they'd secured at least second spot in the group but if Mexico avoided defeat against Panama, they'd finish top.

The Mexicans dominated the first half but couldn't find a goal thanks to some largely wayward shooting but on the hour mark Carlos Salcido headed in from a corner and the deadlock was broken. Panama fought back desperately looking for an equaliser but none came. Mexico won by a single goal and that was enough to take second place in the group on goal difference behind Honduras. For Panama, they had the satisfaction of being one of the best third-placed teams so they, too, entered the quarter finals.


Well the action began yesterday in explosive style as Canada won their game against Guatemala 3-0. Some familiar faces ended up on the scoresheet as the Canadians proved too powerful for a static Guatemalan side. Dwayne De Rosario opened the scoring in the 17th minute by tapping in a shot from Ali Gerba, but it was then Gerba himself who added two of his own in the 33rd and 44th minutes. Canada wound down the clock in the second half, making sure of their first semi-final appearance in the Gold Cup since 2002.

In the second quarter-final, the USA struggled to overcome Panama but they gained advantage in the 60th minute when Landon Donovan was hauled down by Carlos Rivera who converted the resulting penalty.

Two minutes later, Carlos Bocanegra doubled the lead when he scored from a DaMarcus Beasley free kick and the game was all but over despite a Blas Perez pulling a goal back late on for Panama.

So the USA earn their place in the semi-finals where they'll play Canada in what looks to be a mouth-watering tie. The remaining two quarter-finals are due to take place later today (June 17th) where Mexico will face Costa Rica and Honduras take on the minnows from Guadeloupe.

If you're waiting for some predictions from me, I'm afraid you won't get any. I've already come to the conclusion that this exciting tournament has been anything but predictable, so it's probably best to just sit back and watch the action unfold.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Friday List of Little or No Consequence #16

New football federations on the block
15 Most Recent Countries To Form a Football Association / Federation

1. Georgia (1990)
2. Anguillla (1990)
3. Moldova (1990)
4. South Africa (1991)
5. Ukraine (1991)
6. Armenia (1992)
7. Azerbaijan (1992)
8. Turkmenistan (1992)
9. Kyrgyzstan (1992)
10. US Virgin Islands (1992)
11. Slovakia (1993)
12. Andorra (1994)
13. Montserrat (1994)
14. Turks and Caicos Islands (1996)
15. Timor-Leste (2002)

* Source:

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Premier League 2007/08 - Fixture announcement

The English Premier League have announced the fixtures for the 2007/08 season. Unfortunately we're not permitted to show them on the site without a license, but full details are now available from the Premier League website at:

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Shirts for 2007/08: West Ham United (home)

A chance now to see the new 2007/08 home shirt for West Ham United, as created by Umbro...

Umbro's domination of the Premiership football market continues apace, taking over in this instance from Reebok while the Hammers' old shirt sponsors JobServe are now replaced with XL, an Icelandic airline company.

The shirt is officially launched on June 16th but you can pre-order it via the West Ham website should you feel the need to do so. Price: £39.99.

Speaking as a West Ham fan, I must be honest when I say that this is rather disappointing, but then I've said that about most of the other Umbro kits we've seen lately, so it must be just an Umbro thing.

What I dislike about it is it's too fussy. Too much going on, too many colours in all the wrong places and too many bloody Umbro logos everywhere. I feel like this could have been a really good design, but somewhere something went wrong.

Well that's just my opinion, but what do you think? Another in a long line of Umbro successes or another in a long line of Umbro failures? Leave us a comment or cast a vote using the facility below...


The final results were as follows:

Excellent: 60 (31%)
Good: 48 (25%)
OK: 34 (18%)
Poor: 23 (12%)
Terrible: 26 (14%)


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

European League Round-Up (Part 1)

Here at Some People Are On The Pitch, we like to think that everyone deserves a few minutes in the spotlight and our round-up of what's going on around Europe is no exception.

So here's part one of our check to see what happened or is happening in those countries where the words 'Cristiano' and 'Ronaldo' are about as important as Elton John's comb and shampoo.


The T-Mobile Bundesliga season ended on May 20th with Red Bull Salzburg romping home to a 19-point victory over SV Ried. Giovanni Trapattoni's side had actually sewn up the championship with five games remaining, such was their grip on the ten-team league, so they now take their place in the second qualifying round of next season's Champions League.

SV Ried and SV Mattersburg finished second and third in the Austrian Bundesliga so they'll go into the hat for the 2007/08 UEFA Cup, while Rapid Vienna in fourth enter the Intertoto Cup. Austria Vienna were the Austrian Cup winners this season, so they'll be in the first qualifying round for next season's UEFA Cup, while at the other end of the table Grazer accumulated just six points from a possible 108 and were duly relegated. They'll be replaced next season by LASK Linz who won the Red Zak Erste Liga.

Top scorer for the season was German Alexander Zickler of Red Bull Salzburg with 22 goals, eight ahead of runner-up Leonardo Da Silva, the Brazilian playing for SC Rheindorf Altach.


Anderlecht were crowned Jupiler League champions for the second successive season on May 19th, but they ended up finishing only five points ahead of runners-up Genk. Both teams enter next season's Champions League - Anderlecht in the third qualifying round, Genk in the second.

Standard Liege finished third and qualify for a place in the UEFA Cup next season while Gent snatched a place in the Intertoto Cup ahead of Charleroi in fifth by virtue of having won more games.

Club Brugge (Belgian Cup winners) and Zulte Waregem - competitors in this season's UEFA Cup - both missed out on a European spot, while at the bottom Lierse dramatically avoided automatic relegation on the last day of the season, climbing above Beveren to send them down.

Lierse, finishing 17th out of the eighteen teams, then entered a four-team play off group with Royal Antwerp, Mechelen and Kortrijk but could only finish second to Mechelen. Lierse therefore drop into the Second Division while Mechelen join champions Verbroedering Dender in the Jupiler League for 2007/08.

Top goalscorer this season was François Sterchele of Germinal Beerschot with 21 goals, one ahead of Patrick Ogunsoto of Westerlo and Mohammed Tchité of Anderlecht.


It was business as usual for Copenhagen as they won their second league title on-the-trot, seven points clear of second-placed Midtjylland. Copenhagen go into the second qualifying round of next year's Champions League while Midtjylland enter the first qualifying round of the UEFA Cup.

Aalborg were third, thereby securing a place in the second round of the Intertoto Cup 2007/08 but Brondby, who this season took part in the Champions League, miss out by finishing sixth.

Relegated this time around were Vejle and Silkeborg who will next season be replaced by Lyngby and Aarhus, promoted as champions and runners-up respectively of the Danish First Division.

Top of the goalscoring tree in the Danish Superliga this season was Rade Prica of Aalborg with 19 goals. The Swede got one more than Morten Nordstrand of Nordsjælland who finished second.


The Finns league season started in April and runs until October, so the Veikkausliiga is still going on as we speak. At the moment, defending champions Tampere United lead the table with six wins and a draw from their first eight games. FC Haka are three points behind on sixteen and Turun Palloseura are two points further behind in third.

Currently lying fourteenth and last are local rivals Vaasan Palloseura who are yet to pick up a point from their opening seven games while last year's promoted teams, FC Viikingit and AC Oulu have both made a steady start, occupying mid-table positions as things stand.

SPAOTP's favourite Finnish team ever, FC KooTeePee, are struggling a little at present. They lost their last game 2-1 at home to FC Haka and are in eleventh position with just seven points from a possible twenty-one. Next up for them is (what should be) an easier match at home to VPS Vaasa, currently next to bottom, on Thursday.

More updates from all four corners of Europe very soon...

Monday, June 11, 2007

New Badge Alert (kind of...) - Derby County

Well looky here - another new Premier League club badge... well, sort of.

Not really a new badge in the truest sense of the word, but instead a new interpretation of an old badge courtesy of Derby County.

Replacing this, we now have this...

Out goes the gold ribbon below the ram and in its place comes a double-circle featuring the full name of Billy Davies' newly-promoted team.

The badge will appear on Derby County's new Adidas kit which is launched next month, but in the meantime, how do we feel about it? Myself, I think the circle looks a lot better than the ribbon, but the lettering looks a little bit, well, 'seventies-ish'. That being the case, I think it might look a bit old-fashioned before long, but we'll see.

Perhaps the real question to ask here (particularly to any Derby fans dropping by) is whether you prefer the circular badge, the ribbon badge or the badge which preceded them both which had just the plain old ram and nothing else? Speaking for myself, I'd go for the latter of those three but this one seems harmless enough.

Let us know what you think. Does it give you that ram-bo feeling or does it leave you a little (ahem) sheepish?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The hand of "Oh my god not AGAIN..."

After being touted as the 'New Maradona', scoring a goal to compare to the mazey 1986 World Cup goal by Diego himself (see here), young Lionel Messi has gone one step further in his quest to emulate the great Argentinian.

Last night, in the crucial La Liga match against Espanyol, he scored this goal...

Now if Messi can put on 10 stone in weight whilst becoming a drug addict, then he will have achieved his aim somewhat quicker than expected, in our opinion.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Shirts for 2007/08: Birmingham City (home)

OK, I know what you're going to say: "Not ANOTHER Umbro shirt...?!?" Well, yes, but if you're of the same opinion as me, it might actually be one you'll like quite a lot. With a warm welcome back to the Premier League to Birmingham City, witness their new home shirt for the coming season:

Now you'll excuse the picture but there aren't that many that capture all of the shirt's features in a satisfactory way, so let me guide you through them all.

First of all let me consult my Umbro checklist here... Diamonds on the shoulders - check, manufacturers logo on the sleeves - check, strange fragment of patterned fabric running down the sides - check... Ooh look! It's the old 'penguin' design again!

Yes, Birmingham City (for those of you that aren't aware) generally sport plain blue shirts under normal circumstances, but back in 1971 a new design was born which incorporated a wide strip of white down the middle 'Ajax-style'. It became known as 'The Penguin' for obvious reasons and forever became synonymous with an era when some of the Birmingham City's legends wore it, such as Bob Latchford and Trevor Francis.

The Penguin was resurrected in the 1997/98 season by Pony but this is the first time we've seen it since, and if I do say so myself it looks rather fetching. If you want to buy it, visit the Birmingham City website where it's available to pre-order, but let's face it, where's the fun in that? What you really want to do is either praise it to high heaven or damn it all the way to oblivion...

Want to know the most effective way? Leave us a comment or cast your vote below! We know a lot of you in the Birmingham area visit our site, so tell us what you think and make yourselves known!


The final results were as follows:

Excellent: 37 (37%)
Good: 23 (23%)
OK: 14 (14%)
Poor: 5 (5%)
Terrible: 20 (20%)


The Friday List of Little or No Consequence #15

Euro Hotshots
19 Players Who Have Scored Four Goals Or More In European Championship Finals Matches

1. Milan Baroš (Czech Republic) - 5 goals
2. Dennis Bergkamp (Netherlands) - 4 goals
3. Dragan Džajić (Yugoslavia) - 4 goals
4. Nuno Gomes (Portugal) - 5 goals
5. Thierry Henry (France) - 4 goals
6. Jürgen Klinsmann (Germany) - 5 goals
7. Patrick Kluivert (Netherlands) - 6 goals
8. Henrik Larsson (Sweden) - 4 goals
9. Savo Milošević (Serbia) - 4 goals
10. Dieter Müller (Germany) - 4 goals
11. Gerd Müller (Germany) - 4 goals
12. Michel Platini (France) - 9 goals
13. Wayne Rooney (England) - 4 goals
14. Alan Shearer (England) - 7 goals
15. Vladimír Šmicer (Czech Republic) - 4 goals
16. Marco van Basten (Netherlands) - 5 goals
17. Ruud van Nistelrooy (Netherlands) - 4 goals
18. Rudi Völler (Germany) - 4 goals
19. Zinedine Zidane (France) - 4 goals

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Kick Off

As a younger football fan, football was my life. If I wasnt over the park playing it (badly), I was watching it or reading about it.

At the same time, computers were also a big part of my life, and when the two subjects met, I was in heaven. [Football and computers - my, how I have changed...]

Having played football games all my life - from the days of owning a Commodore 64 to modern day handheld and console - there is still only one game that holds so many good memories for me - 'Kick Off'.

Released in 1989, the game was born from a programmer, Dino Dini, trying to emulate a ball bouncing off walls. Before you know it, a pitch was added, then goals, then...

To be honest, it was quite a crude and simple game in many ways, yet highly playable and a game I played to death. Any free time I had would be spent playing, often into the early hours of the morning.

Hours of 'research' on the team formations to establish which suited my playing 'style' the best resulted in me opting for the 5-3-2 system. Naturally I would be using it in an attacking sense, more of a 3-5-2.

A transparent radar at the top of the screen showed the position of the players using simple blue or red dots, which moved around like bugs on your computer monitor.
Mini-leagues were created - and won. Goals were piling in by the dozen, teams were being crushed. It was carnage out there.

Then just when there was a chance that Kick-Off was 'beaten', Dino Dini had a brainwave. A touch of genius.

Aftertouch of genius

'Kick-off 2' had several enhancements over the original. You could now 'tweak' a few more options within the game - such as change kits and colours, referee leniency, pitch types, wind speed.

The most important addition to the game was an option called 'Aftertouch', an option that gave 'Kick Off' an new lease of live.

As the name suggests 'Aftertouch' was the ability to change the direction of the ball slightly once it had left your players foot - swerving it to the left or right.

Now you could play curved passes, curl free-kicks and corners, and the best yet, curve a shot into the bottom corner of the goal. Such a simple feature, but it injected new life into the gameplay.

You could also save your best goals to disk. Scored a corker and want to gloat to your friends? Not a problem anymore!

A mini league and cup was set up with a few friends and a few computer teams which resulted in us crammed into the room taking turns in playing our fixtures. Playing the computer teams was ok, but nothing like playing against a friend - especially if you won.

'Kick Off' has since been released on the PC with emulation software but I have never felt the need to download it. Plundering the past only destroys good memories - I like my memories as they are.

Some devotees of the game are still playing it, and believe it or not, there is a Kick Off 2 World Cup taking place in Rome this November.

Compared to todays games such as Pro Evolution Soccer (which I also enjoy), 'Kick Off' may have been a very crude and primitive ancestor - but it was a hugely enjoyable and playable one.

Euro 2008 Qualifiers - Quick Preview

Tonight sees yet more Euro 2008 qualifiers taking place, so if you want to know who's playing who and what's at stake for each match, check out our handy 2-minute guide to all the action…

Group A

Who's playing?
Armenia v Poland
Finland v Belgium
Kazakhstan v Azerbaijan

What do I need to know?
Poland could extend their lead over Portugal at the top of the group to a whopping eight points if they win. Finland will join Portugal and Serbia on 14 points if they win.

Group B

Who's playing?
France v Georgia
Lithuania v Italy
Faroe Islands v Scotland

What do I need to know?
If France beat Georgia, they'll go five points clear at the top. If Italy beat Lithuania, they'll go top by one clear point. If Scotland win by a high margin and France lose by a large margin, Scotland will go top. Chances are, France, Italy and Scotland will all win which will result in France staying top, Italy staying second and Scotland will leapfrog Ukraine to go third.

Group C

Who's playing?
Greece v Moldova
Bosnia-Herzegovina v Malta
Norway v Hungary

What do I need to know?
Greece are likely to beat bottom-placed Moldova which will take them five points clear of 2nd-place Turkey. If fourth-place Norway beat Hungary, they'll swap places with Bosnia-Herzegovina in third. Bosnia are going nowhere even if they win.

Group D

Who's playing?
Germany v Slovakia

What do I need to know?
Germany will go five points clear of the Czech Republic at the top of the group if they beat Slovakia, which we expect them to.

Group E

Who's playing?
Croatia v Russia
Andorra v Israel
Estonia v England

What do I need to know?
The top four are all in action today, separated by five points. If Croatia and Russia draw and Israel beat Andorra by four goals, Israel should go top. Whoever wins out of Croatia and Russia will top the group. England need to win by about three to stand any chance of even going third.

Group F

Who's playing?
Sweden v Iceland
Liechtenstein v Spain
Latvia v Denmark

What do I need to know?
Northern Ireland get the night off , but that could allow Sweden to go top if they beat Iceland. If Sweden slip up and Spain win, Spain will go top. Quite frankly, it looks like Northern Ireland will wake up tomorrow morning in third place.

Group G

Who's playing?
Romania v Slovenia
Bulgaria v Belarus
Luxembourg v Albania

What do I need to know?
Romania are level on points with Holland at the top of the group, so a win against next-to-bottom Slovenia will create some breathing space. If Romania slip up and Bulgaria beat Belarus, the Romanians will go top.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Shirts for 2007/08: Wigan Athletic (home)

As a special treat for all the fine folk of Wigan who went to the trouble of posting a comment on one of our recent articles, here's the home shirt to be worn by the Latics in 2007/08.

As you can see, Wigan have dropped JJB as their kit manufacturer of choice but retained them as shirt sponsor. The kit is now made by Umbro and has the current styling we've seen on other kits by that company (see Everton home shirt for details). If you want to buy the shirt, it'll be on sale from June 14th and will cost £35.00.

It looks pretty much OK to me if not ground-breaking in its imagination. As you'll notice, the club has reverted to the blue and white stripes used when they arrived in the Premiership two years ago, so the traditionalists should at least be satisfied. What do you think about it, though? Worth paying out for or just another new design?

Let us know by leaving us a comment or by voting in our poll below...


The final results were as follows:

Excellent: 16 (23%)
Good: 17 (24%)
OK: 22 (31%)
Poor: 8 (11%)
Terrible: 8 (11%)


Lies, lies and more damned lies...

There's this fella I know - early thirties, West Ham supporter (not that that's relevant). Seems like he knows a lot about football and he does, but there's one curious thing about him. He does like to dwell in the world of football gossip.

Luckily for him, he has plenty of sources to plunder when satiating his daily appetite for lightweight speculation. One website for West Ham fans he visits is chock-full of people posting messages like: "I have it on good authority that West Ham will next week sign [insert player name here]..."

This is usually backed up with a following sentence that claims the aforementioned player was seen in a pub situated within a 25-mile radius of the stadium or was spotted playing golf at a club in the same week as the manager was sighted there.

But for him and others like him, there are alternative options for further supplies of inane speculation, namely British tabloid newspapers. If The Sun says Hartlepool United are about to buy Cristiano Ronaldo for £75 million, then who's to argue?

But in the UK we've been used to seeing that kind of insubstantial tittle-tattle for decades so why get so irritated about it?

Well it seems that even the most austere and reliable of news services are also now pandering to the fantasists by devoting part of their output to this so-called 'insider knowledge'. I speak mainly of the BBC, for they also now have a special section of their website and digital text pages devoted to the deluded, the dreamer and the gossip-monger alike.

All of which leads me to think that it's a sad day when supposedly trustworthy news organisations apply such a high profile to material which anyone could write. Go on, have a go yourself right now. It's very easy. First, choose a football team. Now choose a well-known player. Finally, choose a popular location for people to meet socially. All you need to do now is link them together in a sentence or two which infers you know something that others might want to hear.

Here's my effort:

I can confirm that Arsenal are about to sign Andriy Shevchenko. My best mate's wife saw him waiting at a bus stop in North London. Expect to hear an announcement from Arsenal soon…

That's all it takes to create football gossip. Do you believe what I've just written? No? No, I didn't think you would. Unfortunately there are thousands of people who probably do, and that's why they need to be treated with nothing but disdain. There's no point speculating about untruths, and if any news service is worth its salt it won't report them either. So stick to the facts, lads. You'll earn a lot more respect if you do.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Shirts for 2007/08: Fulham (home)

Today we bring news of a new four-year kit deal for Fulham who have switched contracts from French company Airness to Nike (and no bad thing as far as we're concerned).

It means we can now banish to a dark corner of our souls the the image of Fulham's shirts from last season which featured more black than a Marilyn Manson convention, and replace it with this sparkly-clean white offering instead:

(Please note: In the interests of public safety and to ensure impartial participation in the online vote that follows, Jimmy Bullard's face has been deliberately obscured.)

We rather like this one as it's the kind of unfussy, crisp sort of look that is now becoming the vogue amongst many clubs. It's apparently a modern version of the all-white shirt first worn by Fulham back in 1903 and will be available to buy next month.

Meantime, we need to know what you think of it. Will it be the runaway success so far enjoyed by Tottenham's new home shirt, or will it split you down the middle like Man City's new home shirt?

Cast your votes now please...


The final results were as follows:

Excellent: 56 (41%)
Good: 37 (27%)
OK: 18 (13%)
Poor: 10 (7%)
Terrible: 14 (10%)


Friday, June 01, 2007

Time to sit down and be counted...

If the Carlos Tevez affair is responsible for one thing, it's the slanging match which has since erupted between the fans of all those clubs involved.

Followers of Wigan Athletic, Sheffield United et al pointed the finger at West Ham claiming they'd cheated on the rest of the Premier League, and in return West Ham fans turned to Wigan with suggestions that they're a small club not fit for purpose in the top flight.

And what's the reasoning behind that particular argument? Well let's just say it appears to be a lack of support on the part of the Wigan fans. It doesn't take the most well-honed observation skills to notice that the JJB Stadium is somewhat underfilled on any given matchday, and perhaps we shouldn't be surprised by that.

Wigan has traditionally been a rugby town most notably fielding strong teams in the League code for the last hundred years or more. Wigan Athletic Football Club only became a fully-fledged League team in 1978, and by the time that happened, few seemed willing to devote themselves to a life following the round ball game. The trend for scarce supporting of the local football team was therefore set for many years to come.

Yet after nearly three decades floundering in the lower divisions of the English game, Wigan finally reached the top flight in 2005 and this was seen as the best chance ever to attract more supporters to the club. Sadly, attendance figures struggled to reach any ambitious targets that may have been set, despite the recently-built JJB Stadium being a modern and attractive home venue.

So just how did Wigan compare to other clubs when it came to filling up their stadium during the 2006/2007 Premier League season? As ever, we at Some People Are On The Pitch decided to crunch those all-important numbers to find out...*

First of all, let's consider stadia capacity in the Premier League. Old Trafford and the Emirates Stadium are at the top of the list and rather admirably they were over 99% full throughout last season. So if Man United and Arsenal were able to fill huge stadia with capacities of 60,000 to 80,000, surely it should be easy to do the same with a stadium containing around 20,000 seats, right?

Right - if you're Watford, Portsmouth, Fulham or Reading. Wrong, however, if you're Wigan. Their stadium is, capacity-wise, the fifth smallest in the Premier League at 25,138, yet over the whole of the last season it was only ever 72.2% full. Not particularly impressive, it has to be said.

Somewhat surprising is that Wigan's stadium wasn't the emptiest overall. That goes to Blackburn's Ewood Park which, despite having a capacity of 31,154, was only 68.2% full all season.

At the other end of the scale, a special mention should go to Sheffield United who, prior to relegation, kept their 30,000-seater stadium over 99.4% full this year. And that's really where we come back to our original point.

For some, a club that has a strong, loyal following can earn great respect regardless of how big it is. It can be forgiven the occasional grumble when things aren't going so well because you know the support and love of its fans will carry it through in the end.

Looking at the graph above, however, you're left with the feeling that out of Sheffield United and Wigan, perhaps the wrong team were relegated. They may have had Neil Warnock as manager, but at least Sheffield United could earn great respect from the devoted following of its huge army of fans.

* Source: Football365

The Friday List of Little or No Consequence #14

The way we were...
8 English Football Club Badges That Are No Longer In Use

1. Aston Villa

2. Reading

3. Leeds United

4. Derby County

5. Tottenham Hotspur

6. Manchester City

7. Sunderland

8. Wigan Athletic


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