Archive for February, 2011

Ipswich Town 0 Portsmouth 2

26-02-2011: Ipswich Town 0 Portsmouth 2 (NPower Championship) Portman Road, Ipswich, Suffolk

Ipswich Town

The third game in a row where Town have completely dominated play before the break, failed to convert that domination into goals, and then been made to pay for it in the second half. Today we could easily have been three, four or even five up at the break had it not be for some plain bad luck and a certain amount of profligacy in front of goal. But never mind, at least its good to see the team playing the ‘Ipswich Way’ again – fast attractive football with lots of goal mouth action. We certainly had that a plenty in the first half and I must say I rather watch football played in that manner, even if it does end up in defeat, than grinding out wins and draws playing the way that RK seemed set on.

Town nemesis, the execrable Dave Nugent, put Pompey ahead and provided the assist for the second. Whether it was for former club PNE or for current club Portsmouth he’s scored on all bar one of his eight appearances at Portman Road, even scoring for the England U-21’s here a few years ago against Moldova. I think another three wins in our remaining thirteen games should see us safe from the threat of relegation, a ignominious fate that was looming like a dark cloud before Paul Jewell’s arrival in January. So his first target, of ensuring Championship football in Suffolk next season is almost met. From here on until May its very much a case of building the foundations for a promotion push next season, something that, with a few additions to the squad, should be well within the clubs grasp.

It was sad to hear before the match that Dean Richards had died aged just 36. Richards started his playing career at Bradford City (as a team mate of Town manager Paul Jewell) and went on to play for Wolverhampton Wanderers, Southampton, Tottenham and the England U-21’s. He may well have collected quite a few full caps for England too, had he not picked up so many injuries during his time at White Hart Lane. He was a pretty decent central defender to say the least and would also appear at the other end of the pitch to chip in with the odd goal or two. In an FA Cup tie between Town and Southampton back in 1999 he towered above Tony Mowbray to head home from 15 yards. Not often that Mogga was beaten aerially.

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Oh, to be a Duck

Oh, to be a Duck

Not that I need an excuse for a lunchtime walk but it was particularly pleasant temperature wise today (15 Celsius according to the Met Office) so a stroll around the duck pond in Chantry Park was in order. A few others were taking advantage of the bright sunshine to do likewise. The males ducks were somewhat frisky, a sign that spring is on its way perhaps. Apparently Male ducks can have an old boy that is up to 25 centimeters long, which is more than half of the body length of an average drake. Good news for the females I suppose. When breeding season is over, the ducks john thomas withers away and falls off, like the umbilical cord on a newborn baby. The old boy has done its job, and now the drake has better things to occupy his blood flow with!

Willy Roy appointed coach, On the brink

A Brief History of the Chicago Sting: Part 4

1979: At the end of the 1978 NASL season Willy Roy was appointed head coach. The Sting were on their way to becoming one of the best sides in the league and to insure continued success Roy brought in four new players who would all play their part in the franchises best season yet: Wim van Hanegem arrived from Dutch side AZ, Luigi Martini from SS Lazio, Thomas Sjoberg from Malmo FF along with former Feyenoord man Peter Ressell.

All number of club records were broken as the Sting scored 70 goals – Karl-Heinz Granitza weighing in with 20 – and the average home attendance increased to a respectable 8,000, 21,000 plus turning out at Wrigley Field to see the New York Cosmos defeated 3-1. The Fort Lauderdale Strikers were beaten in the first round of the playoffs (the Sting winning the best of three series by two wins to none) but the San Diego Sockers proved to be too strong for Chicago and booked a place at Soccer Bowl ’79 with a 2-0 win in California followed by a 1-0 victory at Wrigley Field.

1980: Phil Parkes, the former Wolverhampton Wanderers ‘keeper, became the Sting’s number 1, moving to Chicago from the Vancouver Whitecaps where he had played for the past three seasons and established himself as the NASL’s top glovesman. Also joining the Sting line-up were Ingo Peter (once of Borussia Dortmund) and Franz Mathieu, a Haitian defender, who joined from FC St. Pauli.

The Sting took the Central Division title with a 21-11 record, 16 of those wins coming in their first 19 games. Karl-Heinz Granitza was again leading marksman with 19 goals and 26 assists, while Arno Steffenhagen took second place with 15 strikes and 15 assists from midfield.

The 1980 campaign, and the 1980-81 Indoor Season that followed (the Sting’s first foray into the world of the indoor game), were major turning points as far as the Chicago public were concerned and the club started to attract large crowds on a regular basis. 26,468 saw the Sting take on the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Wrigley Field, 18,112 watched the Washington Diplomats home fixture, and two other matches drew crowds in excess of 16,000, while indoors 16,257 packed the Chicago Stadium for one game as the Sting’s reached – but lost – the NASL Championship finals.

Ipswich Town 1 Hull City 1

19-02-2011: Ipswich Town 1 Hull City 1 (NPower Championship) Portman Road, Ipswich, Suffolk

Ipswich Town

While it was disappointing not to have taken all three points from this game Town fans can take heart from a first half performance that was as good as any that we have seen at Portman Road for several years. While we are by no means Barcelona yet we certainly played the ball around with great confidence and in a manner that would never have been dreamt of under Roy Keane.

Paul Jewell has instilled a new belief and confidence in the players and the standard of the football played at times was of the highest order. New boy Andy Drury, whose last senior start was with Luton Town in the Conference earlier in the year slotted nicely into midfield and not once did he look out of place, while Lee Martin and Colin Healy (consigned to loan spells elsewhere under the previous regime) continue to put in revelatory performances.

Only downside was that we didn’t score from any of the dozen or so chances that were created in the first half. Jason Scotland took his goal extremely well in the second period and that looked to have secured Jewell’s third successive home win until Jay Simpson well taken goal in the closing stages levelled it up for Hull. “I’m gutted we’ve drawn the game, but I’m really pleased with the progress that the team is making,“ said Town’s boss post match, which probably echoed the sentiments of the majority of Ipswich fans heading away from the ground at 5pm.

Hadleigh United 2 Dereham Town 0

12-02-2011: Hadleigh United 2 Dereham Town 0 (Ridgeons Premier Division) The Millfield, Hadleigh, Suffolk

Hadleigh United

Hadleigh is another Suffolk town that made good from the wool and cloth trade in the 15th century and there are many fine homes from that era still remaining in the town. These are centred around the High Street, Angel Street, George Street and Benton Street, the backs of houses on the later easily visible from Hadleigh United’s Millfield Ground.

The town’s origins, however, date back well before that period, with Guthrum, King of the Danes, believed to have been buried here in the 9th century. At the time of the Doomsday Survey, twenty years after the Norman conquest in 1066, Suffolk was the most densely populated county in the realm and Hadleigh was at its centre.

Hadleigh United’s origins are considerably more recent. Founded in 1892 they spent the majority of the 20th century in the Suffolk & Ipswich League and its forerunner the Ipswich & District League. They competed in Division One of the Eastern Counties (now Ridgeons) League for the first time in 1991-92 clinching promotion to the Premier Division, as Champions, just two years later. They enjoyed three seasons in the top flight before relegation back to Division One in 1996-97.

There they settled comfortably for just over ten years until promotion back to the top flight was achieved in time for the 2008-09 campaign. Winners of the Suffolk Senior Cup on four occasions, most recently in 2004, they enjoyed their best run in national cup competitions in 1994-95 when they reached round 5 of the FA Vase.

More pictures here.

Chicago Sting 5 Montreal Manic 3

12-02-1982 Chicago Sting 5 Montreal Manic 3 (NASL Indoor) Chicago Stadium, Chicago, Illinois

Sting v Manic

At the time of this game the Sting were competing in the NASL Indoor League. The NASL was an outdoor league first and foremost but had jumped on the back of the indoor soccer bandwagon following the success of the Major Indoor Soccer League (or the MISL for short).

The MISL, formed in 1978, had been the brain child of a group of media savvy types who wanted a sport that would look good on the television. This is where they first hoped to get exposure to promote the league and then latter on big bucks from a lucrative TV deal.

To kick things off they got two teams together and had them play a game in an indoor arena (something along the lines of the annual Daily Express five-a-side tournament in the UK at the time). The game was recorded on video and analyzed by a number of experienced television producers who came up with the following:

Rudy Glenn heads the ball away from Montreal's Brian Quinn

  1. Play with a red ball because red balls, unlike their white counterparts used in the outdoor game, look good on TV, sometimes appearing to leave rocket trails behind them.
  2. To accommodate TV ads, split the game into four 15-minute quarters, with a three-minute break after the first and third quarters and a 20-minute break at halftime.
  3. Use a goal that is higher than its outdoor equivalent so that TV cameras can capture more head shots around the net.
  4. Teams should play in bright colors. TV just adores bright colours.
  5. The NASL had problems getting fans to identify with its mostly imported stars, so the new indoor league should require that 13 of each team’s 20 player squads must be North Americans.
  6. Play the game on a small pitch to encourage high scoring. American’s just adore high scoring games no matter the sport.

Sting v Manic

One thing that this new sport was not was bland and the floor was open for ideas to get the crowds going before and during the game. Elaborate player introductions before matches were de rigueur, with one side, the Baltimore Blast, using a flying saucer lowered from the roof, and other special effects, to make it appear as though their players had arrived from outer space.

For the 1981-82 season, the leagues fourth, there were teams in Baltimore, Denver, Buffalo, Cleveland, Kansas City, Memphis, New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Wichita. Twelve of this group of thirteen already had local TV contracts, although ratings were not that great, but nonetheless attendances were on the rise and the season would finish with an 8,735 average, the St. Louis Steamers top of the pile averaging an impressive 17,800.

The league continued for a further ten years (the Chicago Sting competing in the 1982-83 season and from 1984-85 through to 1987-88) but never managed to build on its bright start. It managed to maintain an average of just under 8,000 fans a game but a long term national TV contract was never forthcoming. A protracted salary war and the growth of the NPSL – a rival indoor league to which many players switched their allegiance – was the final nail in the league’s coffin. So a league that had done so much to raise awareness of the professional game in North America (albeit indoors) came to an end in 1992 just two years short of the arrival of the World Cup on US shores in 1994.

Musgrove disaster, Karl-Heinz Granitza signs

A Brief History of the Chicago Sting: Part 3

1978: At the beginning of the 1978 NASL season the Sting set a much unwanted record when the team lost its first ten matches. This was not the start that owner Lee Stern had anticipated when he brought in Clive Toye as new club president who in turn had hired Malcolm Musgrove as the teams new head coach. Toye had been one of the men behind the success of the NASL’s leading light the New York Cosmos, while Musgrove, a former left-winger with West Ham United was a coach with a growing reputation.

Musgrove had made expensive forays into the transfer market bringing in four new players in the shape of Karl-Heinz Granitza (from Hertha Berlin), Arno Steffenhagen (from FC St. Pauli), Horst Blankenburg (who had played in the great Ajax side of the early 70’s alongside Johan Cruyff, and co) and Jorgen Kristensen (another former Hertha Berlin man).

Swift action was needed and out went Musgrove as Willy Roy was recalled as coach. The effect was immediate – ten wins were recorded in the last fourteen regular season games – and the Sting moved up from last place to second place in the Central Division to win a playoff berth.

Although eliminated from the playoffs by the Tampa Bay Rowdies the Sting (or Der Sting as they had become known with the shift from British staff to German) won plaudits around the league for their attacking style of play scoring thirty-eight goals in those final fourteen games.

While Musgrove’s reign had been fairly disastrous his signing of Granitza would set the seed for the Sting’s success over coming years, as we shall see.