A day in West Yorkshire

Featured image I’m thankful for lots of things. One of them, although far down the list, is that I was able to make my soccer pilgrimage to the north of England before the Wuhan coronavirus hit. (We were even able, in early February of this year, to take a vacation in the Dominican Republic.) Last year on this date I was in Huddersfield, a city of about 160,000 in West Yorkshire. Harold »

Remembering Ray Clemence and the heyday of English goalkeeping

Featured image Ray Clemence died yesterday at the age of 72 after battling prostate cancer for 15 years. When I began following English soccer in the late 1970s, Clemence was the number one goalkeeper for the English national team and for Liverpool, then the best club side in the world. At the time, English goalkeeping was the world’s gold standard. Gordon Banks had been one of the two best keepers at the »

Toffees in dreamland

Featured image Four weeks into English Premier League season, Everton sits atop the table, thanks to four wins in four matches. This is the first time since 1969 that Everton has won its first four league matches. If I’m not mistaken, it’s the first time since 1987 that we have won four straight at any point in a season. We won the league in both of these seasons. We have also won »

An all-time English Premier League top 60

Featured image The English Premier League kicks off its 30th season this weekend. In honor of the occasion, The Athletic has come up with a list of the 60 greatest players of the Premier League era. Here is the list, along with the team[s] for which each player starred during his prime years: 1. Thierry Henry (Arsenal) 2. Alan Shearer (Blackburn and Newcastle) 3. Eric Cantona (Manchester United) 4. Ryan Giggs (Manchester »

Remembering Liverpool’s other “British Invasion” band

Featured image When I think of England in the 1950s, I think of shortages, decline, and despair. Part of that impression stems from the play “Look Back in Anger” and the movie “The Entertainer” (also a play) — both by John Osborne — so it might be an exaggeration. But certainly much of the art and literature of 1950s England reflected pure bleakness. I view the early Beatles as an answer, or »

2019-2020 English Premier League all-stars

Featured image The 2019-2020 English Premier League season was played in two stages, due to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. The EPL shut down in March, resumed in mid-June, and ended on July 26. Liverpool won the title, its first since England’s top flight rebranded itself as the EPL. The Red Shite topped the old English First Division for the last time in 1989-1990. The Shite was on its way to a record-shattering »

Home fans make a difference in Germany

Featured image The German Bundesliga completed its regular soccer season this weekend. The last nine match weeks were played in almost entirely empty stadiums. Fans weren’t permitted entry. (If you heard crowd noise on television, it was solely for the telecast. The noise wasn’t heard by the players.) How did home teams fare without their fans? Poorly. The home team won 26 matches; the away team won 38 matches; and there were »

The EPL embraces BLM

Featured image There’s good news and bad news regarding the English Premier League. The good news, from my perspective, is that the EPL will resume its football season next Wednesday, June 17. The bad news is that all players will wear the words “black lives matter” on their jerseys. As I understand it, for the first 12 matches — those through June 22 — the names of the players on the back »

Squabbling threatens reopening of MLB and the EPL

Featured image The German Bundesliga, one of the world’s greatest sports league, will resume playing soccer this weekend. The games will take place behind closed doors. The English Premier League, an even greater sports league, has been cleared by the government to resume in early June, assuming certain conditions are met. But the matches will have to be played not only behind closed doors, but at neutral venues. Unfortunately, EPL clubs can’t »

All German stores to reopen this week, with soccer to follow soon

Featured image A week or two ago, it looked like German soccer would resume this coming weekend. That was the plan, but it did not receive approval from the government. Now, the government has approved a resumption of play in mid-May for Germany’s top two professional soccer league. Games will be played behind closed doors, with only around 300 people — players, coaches, referees, team officials and staff, broadcast crews — allowed »

German soccer set to recommence

Featured image The German Bundesliga is poised to become the first sports league I follow to go back to work. In fact, players are already at work. They are practicing in anticipation of matches to be played in early May. When the Bundesliga season came to a halt, teams had nine matches left to play. And, for once, there was a genuine race for the championship. Normally, Bayern Munich has the top »

Ex-soccer stars recover from Wuhan coronavirus

Featured image In early to mid March, the English Premier League was planning to keep playing soccer matches in front of spectators when it learned that Mikel Arteta, Arsenal’s manager, had contracted the Wuhan coronavirus. Shortly thereafter, the EPL postponed its season. The season remains on hold. Arteta’s case was of interest to me because, as a star midfielder for Everton, he was one of my favorite players. Therefore, I’m extra happy »

Euro 2020 to become Euro 2021

Featured image Euro 2020, the European nations’ soccer championship, will not take place this year. The competition, held every four years, has been pushed back a year. It will now take place in 2021 from June 11 to July 11. The tournament wasn’t scheduled to begin until June 12 of this year. By that time, there’s a good chance the virus will have subsided to the point that teams could compete and »

Does fan noise affect the games? A former player’s take.

Featured image For a while, it looked like major sports leagues and tournaments would proceed despite the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, but with no fans admitted. This plan ended when players, coaches, and referees were found to have been infected by the virus. I did watch one German soccer match played without fans. It was a Rhine derby between arch rivals Borussia Mönchengladbach and FC Köln (Cologne). Fans called this a “ghost match” »

Will soccer cause the coronavirus to spread to central France?

Featured image Italy is the European nation most affected by the coronavirus, so far. As of two days ago, more than 2,000 cases and seven deaths had been confirmed. Reportedly, a dozen towns, including Milan and Venice, have been placed on lockdown. Travel is permitted neither in nor out. Last Sunday, the two top-league soccer matches scheduled in northern Italy — one in Milan, the other in Bergamo — were postponed. Matches »

Wayne Rooney delivers

Featured image Wayne Rooney, one of England’s all-time great soccer players, has made a sub-specialty of the instant splash. He made one as a 16 year-old for Everton in 2002 when his late wonder goal against Arsenal ended the Gunners 30-match unbeaten run, making Rooney the youngest goalscorer in Premier League history at the time. “Remember the name, Wayne Rooney,” the match commentator instructed. Rooney was also an instant success in international »

What’s the difference between American football and English football?

Featured image The punchline to this joke was supplied 20 years ago by a soccer fan I met on my way to a match in London: American football, you get up, get dressed, and go to the game. English football, you get up, get dressed, get drunk, and go the game. Twenty years later, I’m not sure the joke applies. The difference may now reside in where you get drunk. In American »