League Considering Shoot Out Bonus Points

Just typing that headline makes me feel queasy. It sounds so American and such a remarkably daft idea. For those of you who have been on Planet Zog for the past couple of days… here’s the story.

I’m hoping that it’s just an ill-judged Comic Relief mickey take and that on Friday night live on BBC 1, they’ll quote the URL’s of all the websites that ran the story across the bottom of the screen bringing me untold hits along with fame and fortune.

Unfortunately, I think that it’s actually a serious proposal.

Not surprisingly, the idea has been well and truly panned by those in the Football League – and even Neil Warnock waded in to tell Lord Mawhinney exactly what he should be focusing on. It’s absolutely no wonder that football is in the state that it is when this seems to be the most important topic on the agenda of the Football League and these ideas are being proposed by those at the very top.

How about fighting the FA / Premiership into giving up a bit of cash and making sure that clubs a lot lower down get some of the oodles of dosh that is so badly filtered at the moment? Or showing off to the Premiership about what a competitive top division they have and how football in this country would be truly great again if the Premiership had such equally matched teams?

The plan is nonsensical anyway. It wouldn’t encourage attacking football since teams could actually be rewarded more for playing negatively. I could just imagine a team coming to St Andrew’s and defending for its life whilst we do all the attacking… they nick a 0-0 and then beat us on penalties. They therefore take 2 points to our 1 regardless of the fact that we did all the attacking? It’s utter stupidity beyond words.

I remember being in Australia in 2004 when we nicked a 0-0 at Arsenal. My dad sent me the tape over so I could see how well we’d played to nullify the Gunners. I tried to explain what was fantastic to my Aussie relatives but they didn’t really get it… they’re used to games like Cricket, AFL and Rugby League where scores are nearly always high and boundaries, goals and tries are regular features. The idea of 90 minutes worth of sport with no winner was beyond comprehension. I thought it was superb. I sat, transfixed for ninety minutes whilst we threw ourselves in front of shots and chased the ball down like tigers, applauding enthusiastically each time we got a block in.

The draw is a great staple of the game and something that fans of other sports seem not to grasp. We revel in pinching a draw when a defeat was looking more likely and we often see a draw as a victory when the odds are stacked against us… in fact, some of our best results have been draws and the 2-2 up at Liverpool in our first season will always be a special memory.

I expect the decision to go with the majority on this one. Leave it the way it is and stop trying to ruin our game further.

Stanley Tests Positive

I know I’m a couple of days late with this one and I can’t really say anything about it that hasn’t been said elsewhere. But I didn’t want it to pass by without mentioning it. Three stories worth reading on the subject:

It’s a pity that Stan himself hasn’t been allowed to say anything on the subject.

I daresay that anyone who knows Stan or anyone he has represented would simply laugh in the face of this sort of thing. The idea of a player like Stan being a drugs cheat is simply laughable and his old team mates have obviously leapt to the defence of the Perth Glory player.

The problem in these situations is for those who don’t know – or haven’t bothered reading – the circumstances. Those who have just skimmed over headlines wouldn’t get that it’s simply a mix up with certificates and a genuine medical condition. The idea of Stan’s career potentially ending on a scandal like this is a disgrace for a man who has never let club nor country down.

In fact, he’s given more than perhaps anyone to the Australian cause over the years and I find it ludicrous that people such as Harry Kewell are the footballing stars of Australia when it’s players like Stan who did the donkey work in getting them to the World Cup in 2006 after so many failed attempts. It’s a crying shame that he didn’t get at least a substitute appearance in Germany last year.

I’m sure all this will be sorted out and Stan will be back playing for Perth Glory when the new season kicks off. I hope that he’s correctly found innocent and given a damn good apology by someone, whether it be his club, the FAA or the anti-doping agency. He’s clearly done as much as he could to get the TUE and I hope his upcoming case supports that and has him back on the field ASAP.

Stan made 222 appearances for Blues between 1999 and 2006. He scored eight goals and has also been capped 60 times by Australia.

Feeling Bored With Football

I am in a full on pessimistic period where Blues are concerned. I must admit that most interviews I see are met with a shrug of the shoulders and almost all quotes I treat with cynicism. The most enthusiasm I can muster at the moment is to do a daily news round-up, and even then, it’s a chore.

I want something exciting to happen. The transfer window is now shut (although the emergency loan window is open!) and we don’t exactly look like a team who are set to take a game by the scruff of the neck and have a go at someone. The manager seems content to play dull, negative tactics, the club are still happy to pinch every penny and overall, supporting Blues doesn’t seem like much fun anymore.

I had a conversation the other day with two fellow supporters. They both declared that the game is currently in the best state it’s ever been in. More people are watching, the choice of games to see is expanding, the players are better, the pitches are better, the facilities are better and it’s more exciting than it’s ever been.

Both supported Manchester United.

I tried to reason that perhaps they found it that way because they supported a big club and had chances to win trophies. I argued that for everyone who supported smaller clubs, it was a different sport. The one Manchester United fan didn’t really get it at all I don’t think. As far as he was concerned, the game’s got the biggest audience it’s ever had so therefore, it’s all gravy and I should be quiet because we’ve never won anything and nothing will change that – regardless of where the game’s going.

But that was my whole point. I don’t really have a problem with us not having won anything. I just want the chance to be able to win things. Only a very small number of clubs will ever be able to win anything again and so everyone else is already playing for a different prize to that small number of elite clubs.

The idea of playing Premiership football next season is, for me personally, not all that exciting. Sure it’ll be great to see the cream of the crop at St Andrew’s but scratching around for 8-10 wins a season and a good cup run – and being charged extortionate amounts to do so – seems unexciting and dull.

I’m feeling cynical about Blues – and football – at the moment and it’s hard to get motivated when the game seems to be moving away from where I want it to be. With each passing week I seem to be getting more interested in different sports – sports that seem to have more of a level playing field and, as a result, come across a lot more exciting and competitive.

What’s the point in 90% of clubs out there turning up any more? What’s the point in carrying on whining about this? I don’t even know what or why I’m typing any more!

I guess football clubs work on the principle that football fans aren’t like any other type of customer and will – regardless of how they’re treated – remain steadfastly loyal. From my own experience, this seems to be changing somewhat and fans of smaller clubs (and I include Birmingham City in that) are beginning to get turned off by the greed and unfairness of the game and its inner-workings.

I can’t comment on what the game was like twenty or thirty years ago. Maybe, as people have said to me, it’s just a natural shift in footballing power every ‘x’ amount of years and that I should get used to it and hope that one day, my club is part of that shift. My big worry is that if the game keeps going the way it is, we’ll never, ever see a natural shift in footballing power again.

I accept that certain clubs are much more likely to be bigger than others. It’s not as if I expect Rochdale to compete with Chelsea or Macclesfield to suddenly fire up the divisions and pose a threat to Liverpool. But it’d be nice to know that on day, another club like Wimbledon might come along and punch well above its weight for a prolonged period or that someday, a club will come out of nowhere to win the title.

People can try and convince me that the title race is exciting and the Premiership is the best and most exciting league in the world but all I see is:

1. Big club
2. Big club
3. Big club
4. Big club
5. – 20. Everyone else

I don’t care what order the big clubs finish in. Whether Chelsea add a trophy to their shelf or Manchester United do it again, it’s immaterial to me. And I suppose where all the little clubs finish is immaterial to the supporters of the big clubs. But I suppose the way I see it is that all clubs in the same division should be of roughly the same size and possibly the same ambition – therefore it’s not a ‘them’ and ‘us’ scenario. Right now that how I see it.

It was Watford boss Aidy Boothroyd who – going off the top of my head – said that Watford’s turnover was 4% of that of Manchester United. He compared it to Mohammed Ali boxing against Little Jimmy Crankie! And whilst it’s an amusing cartoon style animation in my head, the idea of two clubs so mismatched in size in the same division is truly a sad reflection of what I think football should ultimately be like.

Meh, out of love with the game at the moment and, as a reflection, this blog will probably be quite a depressing place to be at times over the next few months! I’m not sure if I have a warped view of what football is like or whether other supporters genuinely feel like I do. I know some do since I’ve spoken to them but overall, am I one of just a few moaners who’ll never be happy or part of a slowly building army who will eventually take the game and demand change?

Yours depressingly,

- Former die-hard ‘Nose and football fan, currently contemplating giving up caring so much.

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You have arrived at the archive site of the Birmingham City blog Joys & Sorrows. If you were looking for fresh, meaty stuff then this way, please.

This section of the site covers the blog portion of J&S from 26th April 2006 - when the site returned after a catastrophic hosting failure causing the loss of over 500 articles - to 28th April 2008 - when I decided to have a prolonged rest from the site.

Here, if it so takes your fancy, you can find every single article, totalling over 1,000, written by myself and many others over that two year period.

Unfortunately, the formatting on some of the posts is a little rough but since this is an archive, it doesn't matter too much. Nothing is unreadable although a great deal of the links will now, sadly, be broken. So internal Joys & Sorrows links will lead you to 404 errors.

I decided to archive them in this way because I wanted to start something fresh for the main part of the site. Hopefully you'll be able to see that up on the main portion of the site now.

Commenting for the archive section has obviously been switched off. You can flick around the archives by using the 'Find It' function in the middle column or the respective 'Categories' or 'Archives' headings in the sidebars

- Aff, 03/08/08.