Posts Tagged ‘ FA Cup ’

Walking Through the Storm, Ken Kendra

Walking Through The Storm: Watching the 2015-16 Liverpool Football Club season at the North American pubs their clubs call home

Ken Kendra is the founder of Raleigh Reds, the Official Liverpool Supporters Club in Raleigh, NC and traveled around the States during the 2015/16 season to follow the Reds, meet fellow fans and write a book. The result is Walking Through the Storm.

The book is several things: a series of match recaps, an assembly of memories and stories, and a look into the life of a fan and supporter group organizer. Liverpool’s season was not boring with a managerial change, frustrating results and two cup finals. The account of the second leg against Borussia Dortmund is quite good which feeds into the trips down memory lane for both the author and the fans he meets along the way. From the most recent fan to the lifelong supporter, everyone has a story to tell. Finally, the Official Liverpool Supporter Group (OLSC) covers the entire US and the book gives insights into not only match days around the country and the fellowship created by gathering to watch games week after week but also into local drinking laws and how to start a local chapter.

The book is an easy read and a must read if you a Liverpool fan, especially in America. If you’re not a Liverpool fan, still worth the read as Ken recaps the season and recounts stories that every fan can relate to.

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For more book review, check out my Recommended Reading page.

Manchester United Change/Third Shirts 2001/02

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Manchester United entered the 2001/02 season as the three time defending Premier League Champions but Sir Alex was already in the process of building his next team. The club added Ruud van Nistelrooy, who scored 36 goals in his first season and would go on to even bigger things the following year, Juan Sebastián Verón and Laurent Blanc with Jaap Stam leaving during the summer and Jesper Blomqvist, Denis Irwin, Ronny Johnsen, Raimond van der Gouw, Dwight Yorke, and Andy Cole gone from the club by the following season.

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Another league title was not on the cards as poor results in November and December saw the Red Devils in ninth. Results would turn around but Arsenal would eventually win the league and the Double with Manchester United finishing third behind Liverpool.

Bayer Laverkusen's Oliver Neuville

No joy was found in the cups either as Manchester United lost to Arsenal in the Third Round of the League Cup and to Middlesbrough in the Fourth Round of the FA Cup. Bayer Leverkusen knocked out Sir Alex’s men in the Semi-Finals of the Champions League on away goals.

Of note this season were two notable comebacks.

Manchester United overturned a 3-0 deficit away at Spurs in the league.

The Red Devils also rescued a Third Round FA Cup tie at Villa Park with a remarkable three goals in the final 15 minutes to advance 3-2.

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The change and third shirts for this season produced an interesting choice from kit manufacturers Umbro. Per Historical Football Kits:

United were one of the leading clubs that attracted considerable criticism for exploiting the replica kit market and in 2001, Umbro came up wih a novel response, creating the first reversible shirt. These were white on one side and metallic gold when turned inside out, so supporters had both away and third shirts in one purchase. The players had separate white and gold sets which were not reversible.

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The change shirt saw a white chest with black sleeves and panels down the torso. Narrow white trim accent the sleeve from the armpit to the cuff. The shirt used a V neck with a collar, and gold trim was used on the collar and chest. White shorts and socks were used when needed and kept the design element around the rib cage going down most of the shorts.

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Gold had not used for Manchester United’s kits previously and has not used since, with the yellow shirts of the early 70s being the closest in color. The gold change shirt was in essence a reversed out version of the white shirt, with the same collar, a narrow black band on the sleeves going all the way to the collar, and the black shorts and socks were the same as the change strip. This kit was only worn three times during the season, twice at Arsenal and for United’s away game to Olympiakos in the Champions League.

Besides the design, there are also little touches all over the shirt. Let’s start with the badge, with black replacing the red background of the standard badge and gold instead of yellow for the lettering and trim.

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Above the badge is the commemorative mark for the 100th anniversary of the name change from Newton Heath to Manchester United.

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The inside neck has another mark to celebrate 100 years along with the Umbro wordmark.

centenary-screen-printOn the front of the shirt is hologram which signifies the authenticity of the shirt, while on the back hem of the change shirt is an element that Umbro used during the early 2000s–the kit life span.

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time-stamp

(images courtesy of pryoboy blog)

Everything on the white side is embroidered while the gold side uses screen printing.
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While the shirt is heavy due to it being reversible, this is one of my favorites, particularly the white change shirt. The celebratory basis for the shirt is significant as well and glad I pulled the trigger on the long sleeve version all those years ago.

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Resources for this post:

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Check out more posts on kits from clubs and countries around the world on the Strip Club page. And yes. It’s safe for work.

Red or Dead

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Having enjoyed the Damned United so much, this book was on my to read list, and the focus of the Howler Book Club prompted me to pick up a copy.

As a fan of the game, I knew the name of Shankly and of the great Liverpool teams of the 70s adn 80s but not too much more than that. The book educated me on Liverpool in the 1960s, and how Shankly took over a team in the Second Division and built the foundation for the all-conquering side of Paisley. His tenets of hard work, pass and move and team spirit, as well as an intense connection with the fans from both himself and the players were strong elements of the book.

Red or Dead is quite long, coming in at over 700 pages. I got the book in hardcover and it’s pretty hefty. A relatively quick read, the narrator moves the reader through season after season, with short chapters covering pockets of time before the narrator moves on. The style is striking with the repetition of elements (line ups, household chores, pre-season, etc) used through the book. The choice of first person and these repetitive passages are interesting and consume the reader as Liverpool consumes the character of Shankly.

The manager works and works and works and then abruptly leaves. Not knowing the story, I was shocked as Shankly left the club on the verge of immortality. I actually enjoyed the post-Liverpool section more. I felt the narrator was more insightful, more reflective, more philosophical than the manager who was grinding every day, thinking about the next opponent, the next trophy. The continued involvement in the game and the community and the relationships with other clubs was another striking feature of the man’s legacy.

Not sure how to recommend this. If you’re a Liverpool fan, definitely read it. If you’re a soccer nerd, definitely read it. If you neither of those, you might enjoy another book better.

ATL Gooners

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SoccerNomad podcast: ATL Gooners

Some of the Atlanta Gooners came on the SoccerNomad podcast to talk about the Supporters Group and the club. From the 2016 Summer Tour to Highbury to the classic Manchester United/Arsenal games of the late 90s/early 2000s to kits, we covered a lot of ground and had a great conversation.

Find out more about the group on their various platforms:

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Learn more about Arsenal Football Club from the following resources:

Books

  • Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby
  • Invincible by Amy Lawrence
  • Addicted by Tony Adams

Blogs

SoccerNomad Blog posts on Arsenal

Arsenal America Supporter Groups

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Thanks for listening! You can also subscribe via iTunes and please leave a rating and review. Follow me on twitter @austinlong1974.

Liverpool Away Shirt 1998/99

 

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In the late 90s Liverpool were on a run of four consecutive top four finishes, but a good start to the 1998/99 season soon dissipated and December saw the Reds in 12th. They would eventually finish 7th and outside the European places. The Reds didn’t find much success in the cups, losing at the second hurdle in both the League and FA Cups. Spurs eliminated Liverpool from the League Cup and Liverpool’s encounter with Manchester United at the end of January has gone down in United folklore, with the Red Devils turning the match around in the dying minutes on their way to the Treble. Celta Vigo knocked out Liverpool in the Third Round of the UEFA Cup.

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The following season, Liverpool began to reshape the squad and finished 4th. After a poor start to the season, the Reds had a stretch from October to April where they only lost twice in the league. There was no cup glory as Southampton beat Liverpool at the Dell in the Third Round of the League Cup and Blackburn sent LFC packing in the Fourth Round of the FA Cup.

evans-houllierThis was an era of transition for the club, as Roy Evans left in November of 1998 to be replaced by Gérard Houllier, who would stay with the club for almost six years. The playing staff turned over as well with McAteer and Harkness leaving in 1998, followed by McManaman, Jones, and Ince in 1999. Berger, Song, Friedel, Heskey, Hyypiä, Henchoz and Hamann came in to lead the club forward.

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LFC Change Kit 1892-1896

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LFC Change Kit for Ajax match in 1966

As for the kit, white was the color of LFC’s first away strip and was used almost exclusively until the 1980s, with the exception being a red yoke kit in the early 1900s and vertically striped shirts used from 1911-1921. Yellow was introduced as a third shirt in the 1960s and eventually added to the change strip palette in 1982. After almost a ten year absence the white change shirt reappeared for the 1998/99 season. The kit would be rolled over as a third strip for the following season.

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LFC Change Kit 1998/99 and Third Kit 1999/00

The strip was manufactured by Reebok, who had the contract from 1996 to 2006 and featured a white shirt, black shorts and white socks, pretty much the standard template from the 1930s to the 1980s. The shirt was very clean with red bands edged in black down the sleeves and a white overlapped v-neck collar with black and red trim. The shorts continued the red band and the white socks had a hint of red and black on the turnovers and featured a red Reebok logo on the shin. I also found an all white version in my research which echoed the change strip from 1985/86.

Also of note was the club badge. There are several great sources on the history of the Liverpool badge (Design Football and Ajjam is a Red) and this particular shirt had the badge inside of a large oval. The club returned to more of a shield in following incarnations.

As a Manchester United fan, you may be wondering why I had a shirt from the most hated of rivals. A friend of mine picked it up at TJ Maxx and gave it to me not knowing football history. This was the only Reebok jersey I ever owned, and it was light and breathable. I actually kind of liked it but eventually the shirt was given to Goodwill as to not tarnish my United collection.

Let me know what you think about the shirt. If you’re a Liverpool fan, chime in about memories from those years.

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Special thanks

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Read the rest of my Strip Club posts here and follow me on twitter @austinlong1974.

Invincible: Inside Arsenal’s Unbeaten 2003-2004 Season

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Invincible: Inside Arsenal’s Unbeaten 2003-2004 Season, Amy Lawrence

The unbeaten league season from Arsenal during the 2003/04 season was a truly remarkable achievement by a remarkable group of players, and Amy Lawrence’s book did an amazing job of capturing that season. She utilized two things that help structure and add depth to the book.

One, she put not only that season but Arsenal Football Club into context. The Gunners were a much different organization in the years following the remarkable league championships of 1989 and 1991 and the transition from George Graham’s 1-0 to the Arsenal to Arsene Wenger’s continental, artistic Arsenal is quite the story. Wenger changed the identity of the club and Lawrence highlighted some of the elements of that change. Plus that season was part of a bigger Arsenal story. The Double of 2002 was followed by a disappointing campaign which left the players, staff and fans unsatisfied and the club looked to push on.

Two, Lawrence used an interesting approach to her book. Rather than a strict pattern of each game and result in chronological order, she identified key attributes of the team and explored the development and impact of leadership, culture, and so on. Players and staff were open with their memories and reflections from that time period and these gave real insight into the mood and environment of a team on a mission. The book ends with an extended one and one interview with Wenger and a recap of what happened to the players in the following ten years. The Wenger interview was particularly compelling due to his philosophy toward management and the game.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a quick read due to the quality of the writing, the insight and the appreciation of the Invincible season. Full access to the team and club gave this book a intimacy that would have been severely lacking had it just been a recap of the 2003/04 season. Worth a read whether you’re a Gunner or not.

ATL Spurs

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ATL Spurs podcast

Matt Gragg, Vice President of ATL Spurs, and I talked about Tottenham Hotspur on the latest SoccerNomad podcast. From the formation of the club to the origins of the Supporters Group to the big win against City to kits and the new stadium, we discussed a lot about the Lilywhites. If you have love Spurs or want to experience a great game day atmosphere, join ATL Spurs at Meehan’s Atlantic Station.

Find out more about the group at their website and on twitter (@ATLSpurs). Look them on facebook as well.

My post on the 2000/01 Spurs away kit can be found here on the SoccerNomad blog.tottenham_hotspur_2000-2001-change

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Thanks for listening! You can also subscribe via iTunes and please leave a rating and review. Follow me on twitter @austinlong1974.