MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : WORLD SOCCER – APRIL 1996

Alexi Lalas, one of the more recognisable US footballers, is the cover star of World Soccer, as Major League Soccer, the national league of the United States, is about to launch.

The creation of a national league was a condition for USA hosting the 1994 World Cup.

Lalas got a move to Serie A after the 1994 World Cup, and was one of the headline signings as the league was about to launch, signing for New England Revolution.

Four pages get dedicated to the launch, with a team by team preview, with most of the players being American, including players such as John Harkes and Roy Wegerle, returning from Europe.

Kier Radnedge, the editor, uses his column to pay tribute to the recently deceased Bob Paisley and Helmut Schoen, and suggesting that the signing of Faustino Asprilla might derail Newcastle’s title bid, similar to how signing Rodney Marsh did for Manchester City in the 1970s.

Japan and South Korea are battling to host the 2002 World Cup, with the decisive vote coming up on 1st June. Eventually, both countries would co-host the tournament.

Radnedge also writes about Pay Per View football, stating that it is inevitable in English football. It eventually happened in 1999, as a one-off, when Oxford United played Sunderland (followed later that season by Colchester United v Manchester City), before becoming a regular occurrence from the 2001-2002 season, with the launch of dedicated channel, Premiership Plus.

In news, Manchester United signed Britain’s biggest kit deal, with Umbro, believed to be around a total of £40m until 2002.

South Africa fans at the recent African Cup Of Nations have been honouring defender Mark Fish by taking fish to matches.

Ahead of Euro 96, Kier Radnedge interviews Spain manager Javier Clemente, where he declines to answer if he intends to call-up Barcelona’s Dutch born but Spain eligible Jordi Cruyff, and declares England as favourites for Euro 96, but that the standard of club football in England has decline in the past decade.

Faustino Asprilla, who also appears on the cover, gets a double page profile.

World Soccer gives two pages to the recent Bosman Ruling, which has seen various clubs offer stars long-term contracts to protect their transfer value.

In Iberia, Atletico Madrid are aiming to win their first La Liga title since 1977, while a moustached Carlos Queroz has been sacked by Sporting Lisbon.

Oliver Bierhoff, just broke into the Germany squad, gets a profile. Little did he know, he would be Germany’s hero at Wembley three months later.

In Northern Ireland, Crusaders are on course to win the Irish League title. They didn’t, Portadown did. Bangor were struggling to avoid relegation, while the national team have arranged friendlies against Norway, Sweden and Germany.

Across the border, there are rumours that the League Of Ireland is planning to move to Summer Football.

Sami Hyypia, who attracted interest from Oldham Athletic, has moved to Willem II in Holland.

Brian Glanville uses his column to criticise UEFA’s proposals to allowing some countries to have more than one club competing in the European Cup.

On the final page, there is a feature called “Soccer Cities”, profiling football in a different city. This edition, was Glasgow.

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UEFA 101 CLUB – UPDATE

It’s been a year, and the opening rounds of European competition are drawn tomorrow, with Irish League teams joining the action, so it’s a good time to update my pursuit to complete a rather pointless list.

You may have noticed the new title – further research has indicated that 101 clubs, not 100 have played in a European Final. It’s not my fault, I was basing it on the When Saturday Comes article that inspired it, which at the time of writing said 99 clubs had reached a European Final, with the next one being the 100th.

Turns out, there had already been 100 clubs. Since you ask, the honour belongs to Fulham.

So, what is the UEFA 101 Club? Well, 101 clubs have played in the final of one of European football’s three competitions (European Cup, European Cup Winners Cup, UEFA Cup) and there are people who try to see every team play live in person.

I’m doing it just for fun, but if I win the lottery, I might start taking it a bit more seriously.

Living in Northern Ireland, you’d think it would be hard trying to see some of these clubs, but tomorrow’s draw could see some clubs who’ve had greater European nights visiting Northern Ireland. It did last year.

In the European Cup, Cliftonville could have a rematch with Celtic. No use to me, as i’ve already ticked Celtic off my list.

Other possible opponents for Cliftonville include : Steau Bucharest, Dinamo Zagreb (already ticked off my list), Partizan Belgrade and Slovan Bratislava.

Frustratingly, Red Star Belgrade won’t be in the competition due to being thrown out due to Financial Fair Play. I would have loved to have seen them in the flesh, even though they’re now a shadow of their 1991 team, the mystique remains.

If they get drawn against Steau Bucharest, I might be tempted to go.

If Cliftonville get through, they could potentially face Red Bull Salzburg, Malmo or Dinamo Tblisi.

In the UEFA Cup, Linfield being seeded means they won’t be facing any members of the club, but there are opportunities for Crusaders and Glenavon.

By the way, i’m hoping the draw sends Linfield to Broughton (or Airbus UK, if you prefer)

Crusaders or Glenavon could face IFK Gothenborg, Aberdeen or Ferencvaros.

If any of the Irish League teams progress to the next round, there are no member clubs joining at that stage. Plenty of big clubs in the 3rd Round though.

This time last year, I was on 29 clubs, but I am on 31 clubs now, having added Dundee United and Everton to my list. I’ve applied for a ticket to the European Super Cup Final in Cardiff. If I get a ticket, that’ll be Sevilla ticked off the list. I’ve already got Real Madrid.

My list in full :

Team (Year first seen)

Aberdeen (2011)
Ajax Amsterdam (2012)
Arsenal (2003)
AS Roma (2007)
Aston Villa (1993)
Atletico Madrid (2011)
Barcelona (2011)
Benfica (2000)
Brimingham City (2010)
Celtic (2009)
Chelsea (1997)
Dinamo Zagreb (2008)
Dundee United (2013)
Everton (2014)
FC Porto (2011)
Feyenoord (1999)
Fulham (2001)
Leeds United (1993)
Liverpool (1994)
Manchester City (2000)
Manchester United (1993)
Marseille (1992)
Middlesbrough (1995)
Newcastle United (1993)
Nottingham Forest (1996)
Rangers (2002)
Real Madrid (2003)
SC Braga (2011)
Tottenham Hotspur (2010)
West Ham United (1997)
Wolverhampton Wanderers (2010)

THE UEFA 100 CLUB – UPDATED

You may remember a blog on here in September 2010 about something that was then known as “The UEFA 99 Club” based on an article in When Saturday Comes.

Basically, it was one man’s crusade to watch every team who had played in either the European Cup, European Cup Winner’s Cup and UEFA Cup, in the flesh.

Since the article was written SC Braga reached the UEFA Cup Final, so it is now known as The UEFA 100 Club. Obviously, when a club reaches a European Final for the first time, it will become the 101 Club, 102 Club, and so forth.

Living in Northern Ireland, you may think it will be hard to see teams, but if this season’s European draws were kinder, I could have added some. Cliftonville were drawn with Celtic, but i’ve already seen Celtic. Other potential opponents for Cliftonville were Dinamo Tblisi, Dinamo Zagreb (already seen …… twice), Steaua Bucharest, Partizan Belgrade and Slovan Bratislava.

For Linfield, Glentoran and Crusaders, potential UEFA Cup opponents included Malmo and Videoton. If Glentoran had beaten KR last night, they would have played Standard Liege. I might have been tempted along to add them to my list, cheering on Standard Liege, of course.

Linfield’s potential 2nd Round opponents included IFK Gothenborg and Red Star Belgrade.

Regular readers will know that I travel to Edinburgh every August. While i’m there, Hibs play Dundee United, so I can tick them off, a milestone one at that, as it would take me to 30.

In February, i’m thinking of heading to London for a weekend. While i’m there, Everton play Tottenham at White Hart Lane, so I might try and get a ticket for that one. Amazingly, in 20 years of travelling to Old Trafford 2-3 times a year, i’ve never seen Everton.

So, currently, i’m on 29, hopefully at least 31 by the end of the season. Here’s my full list.

Team (Year first seen)

Aberdeen (2011)
Ajax Amsterdam (2012)
Arsenal (2003)
AS Roma (2007)
Aston Villa (1993)
Atletico Madrid (2011)
Barcelona (2011)
Benfica (2000)
Brimingham City (2010)
Celtic (2009)
Chelsea (1997)
Dinamo Zagreb (2008)
FC Porto (2011)
Feyenoord (1999)
Fulham (2001)
Leeds United (1993)
Liverpool (1994)
Manchester City (2000)
Manchester United (1993)
Marseille (1992)
Middlesbrough (1995)
Newcastle United (1993)
Nottingham Forest (1996)
Rangers (2002)
Real Madrid (2003)
SC Braga (2011)
Tottenham Hotspur (2010)
West Ham United (1997)
Wolverhampton Wanderers (2010)

PHOTO OF THE SEASON : 2010-2011

Apologies for the crap headline, but it was fated against me.

I’d hoped for “Newry to Nou Camp” but didn’t have any pictures from Newry on the list. For the same reason, “Ballymena to Barcelona” was canned.

Hope you enjoyed my month by month round-up of the football season just past, so I just thought i’d create a shortlist of my favourites, and allow people to vote in them.

I did something similar last season, and the winner was a picture of Windsor Park in the snow, while a picture of Michael Owen celebrating a goal came in second.

There a no pictures of snow or Michael Owen in this compilation, so enjoy, and feel free to vote.

For what it’s worth, my two main favourites are the pictures of Steven Douglas and Jim Ervin. It’s not that I have a throw-in fetish, but the composition just works.

Douglas at Dungannon

This came on the second Saturday of the Irish League season. Dungannon is a ground which is friendly to amateur photographers, so I was hopeful of getting a good shot.

Linfield got a throw where I was based, and play was stopped as a Dungannon player required treatment for an injury.

As Douglas waited, I siezed the opportunity to make the most of the framing, and this was the result.

Berbatov

Technically speaking, it’s not the greatest photo ever taken, but it’s just the emotion of it and people’s reaction which makes my love it.

This is what it feels when United score against Liverpool

Seaview Corner Flag

Got a similar photo at Richmond Park last season, so took the opportunity during a break in play at a game at Seaview to try likewise.

Again, I love the composition.

Corner Kick

Linfield, 2-1 down and chasing an equaliser, have a corner kick late on. I was quite close to the pitch and the composition just worked.

It was actually a productive phototaking day for me, pity about the result.

Burger Queue

January saw me visit Solitude for the first time. At half-time, I went around these new surroundings to get photos, and saw this queue, which was composed beautifully with the fog in the background, and it just worked.

Nou Camp

Like Solitude, I visited the Nou Camp for the first time this season, and went snap happy.

This was my favourite of all the portrait shots I took.

Charlie Adam

A few days after Barcelona, I was in Dublin for the Northern Ireland match against Scotland.

Aviva Stadium is kind to amateur photography, even if some of the views are dreadful.

The only attacking action I saw in front of me was when Scotland were on the attack in the first-half, where I took the opportunity to snap Charlie Adam as he took a corner.

Free-Kick

Tension builds as Northern Ireland have a free-kick against Slovenia in a Euro 2012 Qualifier.

For me, the composition just works.

Jim Ervin Throw

A frustrating evening of phototaking but the right result, the opposite of my previous visit.

I just love this photo of Jim Ervin.

Supervisor

Using people as props, I managed to snap Linfield fans watching their team’s match against Glentoran at The Oval.

Depressingly, it also shows the low attendance by this fixture’s standards that day.

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : FEBRUARY

Like in December/January, I attended a match at a stadium for the first time. A lot more grand than Suffolk Road and Solitude, but Nou Camp and Aviva Stadium.

In February, I also visited Estadio El Prat, home of La Liga side Espanyol.

I visited Barcelona for a weekend in February and absolutely loved it. I’d booked it primarily for a break, but did keep an eye on the football fixtures, and managed to get a ticket for Barcelona v Atletico Madrid on my arrival.

If I do visit Barcelona again, i’d like to do it the other way around, and go to an Espanyol match, and do the tour of the Nou Camp.

Nou Camp was great, a fantastic fixture of both modern and old features.

A few days later, I visited Aviva Stadium in Dublin for the Northern Ireland v Scotland match.

The match, as a 3-0 defeat suggests, was dreadful, and it didn’t help being placed in awful seats with people standing at the side of the pitch blocking your view.

Thankfully, I managed to make use of some spare seats and managed to get some decent photos.

Barcelona

Northern Ireland v Scotland

Linfield v Dunmurry Rec

Glenavon v Linfield

I HAD THIS PERFECT DREAM ……

As work colleagues and Twitter followers will have been long aware, I was in Barcelona the past weekend on a short break.

Last year, I took a short break over the first weekend in February in Manchester, and wanted to do the same this year, as something exciting to look forward to over the winter months.

I decided that I didn’t want to go to mainland UK, but instead to go to mainland Europe, and then I had the idea of going somewhere with a top class football team, and try to get to a match, but not to make a football match the focal point of the trip.

I narrowed the options down to Munich and Barcelona, before eventually settling on Barcelona, to be in the city for a few days around the time they play Atletico Madrid.

The airline I booked with cancelled their flights from Belfast during the winter months, but did give me the option of changing my departure of Dublin, which I took, despite the fact I would leaving Belfast in the wee small hours ahead of an early morning flight.

Having done some prior research, I headed to the Tourist Information Office in the airport to get a ticket for the match, which was one less thing to worry about, as I set about getting checked in.

As soon as I checked in and left my bags in the room, I set about exploring the city, blindly, with no tourist maps.

I find that the best way to get lost in a city is to, erm, get lost in a city.

What struck me most was how much love there is for Street Art in Barcelona. Where there was free wallspace, or a shutter, there would be something drawn or spraypainted on to it.

Regular readers will know how much I love Street Art.

I checked out the Marina on the Thursday. Beautiful place and very photographable, or just good if you want to laze about and watch the world pass by.

I managed to find the Nou Camp by fluke, partly because I got the wrong metro stop to the one I was staying at.

Despite it being teatime on a Thursday and a non-matchday, it was rammed with tourists and people just wanting to see one of the world’s most iconic football stadiums.

After a double-digit sleep on Thursday night, I headed to Estadi Cornella-El Prat, home of the city’s other La Liga side Espanyol, where I got a guided tour of the stadium, taking in the stands, press room and changing rooms, where a symbolic space is left for former player Dani Jarque, who died in 2009.

A memorial of shirts and flowers is place in one of the stands, and plans are in place to place the shirt Andres Iniesta wore after scoring in the 2010 World Cup Final, and he subsequently donated to the club.

The remainder of Friday, and early on Saturday was spent exploring the lively Las Ramblas area of the city centre, full of life and activity.

At about 5pm on the Saturday, I decided to head over to Nou Camp for the game between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, which kicked-off at 10pm local time.

There was me thinking that Linfield playing Setanta Cup matches at 5.30pm on a Saturday was odd.

I headed into the stadium and checked out my seat, three rows back in the second tier, unbelievable. It was great for amateur photography of portrait shots, rather than actual match action.

Barcelona won the match 3-0 with a hat-trick from Lionel Messi. Stating the obvious, but he is rather good. He was playing for fun at times, showing off as if was having a kickabout in the street.

Sunday was a lazy day, mostly spent watching football on TV and lazing at the marina before heading home on the Monday morning.

An excellent weekend well spent, and was well worth having as February’s STLFTEM.

Farewell Barcelona. If God is willing, we will meet again ……….. someday.

Photo Album

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