The Ugly Game book available now!

I’m really pleased to announce that a book based on this blog is now available. Buy it now!


It has the same format – essays comparing different aspects of the NFL and English football – but is substantially expanded, updated and revised. Buy it now or read a sample chapter.

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17. “I’m going all in with Andy Impey.”- Nostalgia, club ownership and the rules of the Ian Culverhouse game.

Because there’s stability of ownership.

Nostalgia is form of psychic defence mechanism: the inexorable attachment to the mistaken belief that things in the past were better gives us mental shelter from the awfulness of the present. Thanks to the internet – where all new technologies are pioneered by pornography, popularised by hipsters and then polluted with presenile reminiscence by the middle-aged public – nostalgia is better than it’s ever been. For football fans, in whom nostalgia rises to the level of a mental disorder, it’s doubly so.

And thank God, because without it I’d have to care about Alan Pardew nearly headbutting someone. I’d have to have an opinion about the remarkable success of the Southampton youth academy. I’d have to give real thought to Demba Ba. And why would I want to do that when I could be thinking about Ian Culverhouse?

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7. “It just gets everybody to slow down… open their mind.”

Because they don’t pretend racism is someone else’s problem.

Racism, like Luis Suarez’s dental chart, is an ugly thing – and one that, like Gary Lineker’s tenure on Match of the Day, seems remarkably and unwelcomely persistent. In recent years, there’s been such a focus on racism on the pitch that attention has drifted, like Titus Bramble’s concentration late in the game, away from racism in the boardroom.

So here’s something to remember when next an FA spokesman, reading from a prepared statement, reasserts his organisation’s commitment to rid the game of racism: there are more black men sitting in the House of Lords than there are managing English football teams.

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