Our Boys in France

June 8, 2016

We have 10 players strutting their stuff at the Euro’s, how will they fare?

In a quiet summer where transfer rumours are few and far between we need something to chat about so I suggest we look at the performances of our chaps on a game by game basis.

So, on Friday we have Koscielny and Giroud quickening the pulse playing for France against Romania KO. 20.00 GMT.

Saturday afternoon gives us a view of Granit Xhaka playing for Switzerland against Albania.


The evening entertainment is England’s first game and the chance that Wilshire will start. In my opinion he is head and shoulders England’s best midfielder (name a better one) and must start.

Aaron Ramsey will also be playing on Saturday at 17.00 GMT vs Slovakia. Surely a must win game for Wales.

TPIG is in the squad for Poland on Sunday at 17.00 GMT but I expect Flapianski to start ahead of him.

Mesut Ozil kicks off his campaign against on Sunday night at 20.00 GMT against Ukraine.

Young Hector should start for Spain on Monday at 14.00 GMT against our gloveman Petr Cech who is representing Czech Republic alongside the wonderful Tomas Rosicky.

Luckily, most of our players have not been selected and will hopefully start the season rested and 100% fit. Who knows – it could happen!

written by Big Raddy

Was Friday night a full moon as the Wolf came out to play

March 30, 2015

Morning all

England played Lithuania on Friday night at Wembley with an 80,000 odd crowd turning up to watch England win a rather one sided game 4-0.

England Captain Wayne Rooney came close to opening the scoring just after the start when he ran onto a through ball and tried to beat the keeper to his left hand side. Rooney had beaten him by a mile but the ball hit the inside of the upright and rebounded away to safety. Not long after that Danny Welbeck picked up a through ball from Fabian Delph and after a great run he tried to shoot past the keeper but hit him instead, the rebound was in the air and Rooney put his head on it and found the back of the net. 1-0.

Danny worked hard and he was to be rewarded early in the second half when he went down low to steer a header towards goal where it rebounded off a defender’s leg but he couldn’t keep it out. The evenings pundits couldn’t give it to Danny as it hit a defender but England were in complete control over what I thought was a really bad Lithuania eleven, as has been said, you can only play who is in front of you.

Joe Hart could have had a shampoo and set as he was idle for most of this match as the Lithuania attack was non existent.  The England supporters were comfortable and enjoying the game as the goals were coming along so no need to worry. Roy Hodgson  was clenching his fist and punching the air, he won’t manage many easier games than this one.

Raheem Sterling although nursing an injured toe had agreed to play this game as it was a qualifier. After the game, Roy Hodgson said that Stirling would now be able to have an injection in the toe and had already agreed that he wouldn’t play against the Italians this week. Raheem did get on the score sheet as he broke through the Lithuanian defence as easy as a hot knife through butter, he got onto the ball and steered it past the hapless keeper and that was 3-0.

Near the end our Danny was subbed.  He looked to have picked up a leg injury as he was limping as he trudged off. Hodgson also spoke about him after the game and said that he too would miss the next game.

Harry (Wolfie) Kane came on. The papers and media had had a field day praising this 21 year old player from the swamp. Harry was on for 80 seconds when a quite brilliant bit of trickery from Stirling down the left hand side culminating in a magnificent deep cross was excitingly headed in by Wolfie. The fans, pundits and players went mental, Wolfie on his début with an 80 second first touch had put the icing on the cake. 4-0.

Hodgeson tried to defuse the speculation on Harry (Wolfie) Kane as a  future saviour by saying that Harry needs to be brought along slowly and he would appreciate it if there was not too much pressure on the young lad so early on in his career.`I expect Wolfie will have been eager to buy up all the newspapers.

The England Captain Wayne Rooney also spoke after the game. As he nears Bobby Charlton’s record for goals for England was quick to praise the players for a fine performance. Wayne had a good game and was a handful as usual, but was quick to praise the other young strikers. It doesn’t seem that long ago when he broke onto the England scene and now as he approaches record breaking feats another hopeful burst on to the scene. Rooney has come a long way, England have had a few knocks as has Rooney but for captain and rookies the future looks considerably good, 4-0 to England and I feel the English support went home very happy.

Steve Palmer


Blast from the Past No. 18 England’s World Cup History

June 13, 2014


The World Cup competition began in 1930, and has since become the world’s largest sporting event. It has been staged every four years since then with the exception of 1942 and 1946, when the Second World War forced its suspension.

England did not enter the first three competitions of 1930, 1934 and 1938. Although FIFA sought England’s participation, the Football Association declined all invitations. Not until the fourth tournament in 1950 did England take part.

England has entered all 16 post-war competitions. They reached the final tournament 13 times. They qualified through play in the preliminary competition on 11 occasions (1950, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010), as host country once (1966) and as reigning champions once (1970). They failed to qualify for the final tournaments on only three occasions (1974, 1978 and 1994).

England has had only moderate success in the World Cup, and that is perhaps a fair reflection of their standing in world football.


They have won the tournament just once, in 1966, when it was held on English soil and they played all their matches at their home ground, Wembley Stadium, an advantage extended to no other team in World Cup history. Their 4-2 extra-time victory against West Germany in the only final match they have reached has remained clouded by the controversy over whether their third goal, the first of extra-time, actually crossed the goal line.


England reached the semi-finals on only one other occasion, at the 1990 tournament in Italy, where, following extra-time victories over Belgium and Cameroon, they went down to West Germany on penalty kicks after a 1-1 extra-time draw. They then lost the third-place match to the host nation, 2-1.

Englands WC placing

England has reached the quarterfinals on six other occasions, at the 1954, 1962, 1970, 1986, 2002 and 2006 tournaments. At the 1982 competition in Spain, where the final tournament was conducted through two group stages with the teams topping the four second-round groups proceeding directly to the semi-finals, England finished the second group stage unbeaten but was therefore eliminated.

England have been eliminated in the round of 16 teams stage on two occasions since the final tournament was expanded to more than 16 teams in 1982–at the 1998 final tournament in France and the 2010 final tournament in South Africa.

England have been eliminated at the first round group stage on two occasions 1950 and 1958, when they finished level in group play with the USSR but lost a playoff match.

The World Cup has been a frustrating odyssey for England, particularly since 1966. At several tournaments, their performances have filled their fans with justified hope, but in the end, they have just not had enough to overcome the world’s most powerful teams in crucial knockout matches.

Consolation-seekers like to point out that it has been England’s misfortune to meet the eventual World Cup winners in the knockout stages of four tournaments. They went out to Brazil, 3-1, in the quarterfinals of the 1962 tournament, to Argentina, 2-1 by way of Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal, in the quarterfinals of the 1986 tournament, to West Germany, on penalty kicks after a 1-1 extra-time draw, in the semi-finals of the 1990 tournament and to Brazil again, 2-1, in the quarterfinals of the 2002 tournament after holding the lead.

On three occasions they have been eliminated in penalty-kick shootouts, in the 1990 semi-final against West Germany, the 1998 round-of-16-teams match against Argentina following a 2-2 extra-time draw in which they played a man short following the expulsion early in the second-half of midfielder David Beckham. On a third occasion, in the 2006 quarter-finals, England were eliminated by Portugal following a 0-0 draw.

Perhaps most disappointing was their elimination at the 1982 tournament in Spain. Having won all three of their group matches quite handily, all they could muster in their second-round group was a pair of goalless draws against eventual finalist West Germany and hosts Spain. They went home unbeaten, having yielded only one goal in five matches.

Our first game in the 2014 group stage is on June 13th vs Italy.

There will be no predictions from GN5 I simply want our team to play up to their top potential and hope that Lady Luck favours us.

world cup history

World Cup Finals
1 Jul 30 1930 Uruguay 4 Argentina 2
2 Jun 10 1934 Italy 2 Czechoslovakia 1
3 Jun 19 1938 Italy 4 Hungary 2
4 Jul 16 1950 Uruguay 2 Brazil 1
5 Jul 04 1954; Germany 3 Hungary 2
6 Jun 29 1958; Brazil 5 Sweden 2
7 Jun 17 1962; Brazil 3 Czechoslovakia 1
8 Jul 30 1966; England 4 Germany 2
9 Jun 21 1970; Brazil 4 Italy 1
10 Jul 7 1974; Germany 2 Netherlands 1
11 Jun 25 1978; Argentina 3 Netherlands 1
12 Jul 11 1982; Italy 3 Germany 1
13 Jun 29 1986; Argentina 3 Germany 2
14 Jul 08 1990; Germany 1 Argentina 0
15 Jul 17 1994; Brazil* 0 Italy 0
16 Jul 12 1998; France 3 Brazil 0
17 Jun 30 2002; Brazil 2 Germany 0
18 Jul 09 2006; Italy* 1* France 1
19 Jul 11 2010; Spain 1 Netherlands 0
* Won on Penalty Kicks

wc finals appearances



A Blast from the Past No. 11 The birth of the FA and International Football

April 26, 2014

The early years 1872 – 1900

C. W. Alcock, one of the founder members of The Football Association in 1863, was one of football’s visionaries. He was the inspiration for both the FA Cup and the annual fixture between England and Scotland, these two events sparked a huge interest in the game and it spread quickly, firstly through Britain, followed by Europe, Africa and then to South America and beyond. Due to his imagination football quickly became a national obsession and by the early 1900’s numerous clubs had been formed in the heart of the country’s industrial communities. Prior to Alcock’s vision, football played outside of the country’s top public schools was considered to be no more than a loose and disorganised riot.

The England – Scotland fixture was drawing crowds of 100,000 and spawned debates over team selection and tactics both before and after the games. His idea for the annual fixture came after he witnessed the enormous interest aroused by rugby’s first international between the two countries in 1872 and he saw the publicity potential in a Football Association equivalent. However his announcement of the fixture, in the FA minutes of October 3rd 1872, did not indicate any real excitement – it read;

“In order to further the interests of the Association in Scotland, it was decided that a team should be sent to Glasgow to represent England”

England Scotland scrum 1878 001

Following the first international game football boomed in Scotland and many new clubs came into existence. The associations intention was for them to teach and for Scotland to learn but in the first ten matches England were humiliated by Scotland only winning twice in the first ten games including losing 6-1 in 1881 and 5-1 in 1882 – and to compound their dismay they only won four of the first twenty fixtures. The Scottish Football association secretary Robert Livingstone did not like the English dribbling game, he thought it was suicidal and instead he adopted the tactic of kicking the ball up the field and running after it and it proved to be very successful. The popularity of the annual fixture was encapsulated in an article which appeared in Bells Life prior to the 1878 match.

“All available conveyances were picked up long before two o’clock and a continuous stream of hansoms, dog carts and buses kept pouring their living freight to the foot of Hamden Hill…every inch of the locality was covered by spectators, In some places, it was packed like herrings in a barrel, but the majority bore it with Christian resignation”

English team -1890 001

The English Football Association Team, 1890

1900 – 1914

The dawn of the twentieth century did nothing to change England’s fortunes Scotland subjected them to a 4-1 pounding at Parkhead. The Football Sun reported;

“As soon as the gates were swung open people flocked in and the long wait was enlivened by patriotic songs, not to mention the whisky”

Two years later football suffered its first major crowd disaster during the England- Scotland game at Ibrox when a stand collapsed. It left 25 dead and hundreds injured but most of the crowd were unaware of the catastrophe in their midst. Early reports indicated that there were only a few injuries so the decision was made to continue with the game to avoid widespread panic. The stand was new and Ibrox had an official capacity of 80,000 but it was estimated that over 100,000 were in the ground – which led to the disaster. The original game ended in a 1-1 tie and was later downgraded to a “friendly”. It was replayed at Birmingham a month later and ended 2-2 with the gate proceeds going towards the disaster fund.

Between the turn of the century and the start of WW1 Scotland continued to be England’s only real competition of the 53 official internationals England lost just 7 games, 5 to Scotland and 2 to Ireland.  The 1909 Home Championship came within a whisker of being cancelled due to industrial unrest across England. The Players Union affiliated itself to the General Federation of Trade Unions and strike action in support of the miners threatened to bring the country to a standstill.

With just days left before the matches were due to begin the Players Union issued a statement announcing that “England would play and do their utmost to win” This was interpreted to mean that the team contemplated deliberately losing. The FA insisted that the players sign a statement declaring their determination to win. England went on to win the Championship without conceding a goal.

England players in 1911 001

England players conferring during a match in 1911

1919 – 1939

The 1920’s were an unsuccessful decade in England’s history. Following WW1 England, and other allied football associations, made the decision not to play against Germany, Austria or Hungary or any other country that agreed to play against their former enemies. This decision was shelved, two years later, when it became apparent that there was no reasonable opposition left to play against. But despite this change of heart England’s only foreign opponents were Belgium, France, Luxembourg and Sweden.

The 1930,s began promisingly with a triumph in the Victory International over Scotland; the game was played in appalling conditions and England’s team, nine of whom had seen service in WW1, found themselves 4-2 down at half time.  But in the second half, despite the continuous downpour, they turned the game around and won 5-4. Andrew Ducat, a member of the English team, died while batting at Lord’s during WW2. The win proved to be only a brief respite for England as they only won 6 of the next 17 games against Scotland during this period and had to wait until 1930 to win their first Home Championship since 1913.

Everton’s Dixie Dean played his first game for England against Wales on February 12th, 1927.  In the 1927/28 season he scored an astonishing 60 league goals, including a hat trick against Arsenal in the last match of the season, a record that is unlikely ever to be broken

Dixie Dean 001

England had a habit of stepping up their performances in important games and this showed in games against Italy and Germany. The match against Italy in 1934 was dubbed “The Battle of Highbury” it proved to be so violent that The FA seriously considered ending its participation in international football. Italy were the reigning World Champions and Italian newspapers called it the most important football game played anywhere in the World since the Great War.

An ankle injury to Italy’s Monti after just 3 minutes sparked a match of unrelenting violence. Centre- forward Ted Drake one of 7 Arsenal players in the line up, was punched on the chin early on and Captain Eddie Hapgood suffered a broken nose after a deliberate elbow flattened him. England went up 3-0 and after the game Hapgood recalled that the Italians started to hit everything in sight and fought back to 3-2. Arsenal’s Wilf Copping was in his element, he was considered to be the “hardest” man to ever pull on an England Shirt. His specialty was the, then legal, two footed lunge and he shoulder charged and tackled with ferocious enthusiasm. He more than any other player saved the day for England when their goal was under siege and they hung on for a famous, but ugly, victory.

England vs Italy 001

England’s Captain Eddie Hapgood wasn’t smiling after his nose was broken.

England faced Germany on May 15th, 1938 amidst a growing tension between the two nations, like Mussolini, Hitler’s Nazi re3gime understood the symbolic power of sport and the game against Engald provided an ideal arena for their propaganda machine.

110,000 spectators greeted the players in Berlin’s Olympic stadium amid a mass of red swastika flags with just the odd Union Jack.

Amid a storm of controversy back home English diplomats had agreed that the English team would give the Nazi raised arm salute. Captain Eddie Hapgood later reflected;

“I’ve been in a shipwreck, a train crash and inches short of a plane crash but the worst day of my life was giving the Nazi salute in Berlin”

Hitler was desperate for a symbolic victory over the mother country of football but the German team proved to be no match for Stanley Matthews and company and England ran out 6-3 winners.

England vs Germany 001

Action from the game in Olympic stadium May 15th, 1938

More to come………..



Premiership clubs destroy England – Is Dyke right?

September 5, 2013

The new Chairman of the FA, Greg Dyke, has opened his account with a high profile critique of the current state of the game in England.  His fundamental point is that the pool of English talent continues to diminish and something needs to be done about that.

Looking at the last World Cup and the recent Under 21 Euros, you could say he has a point.  In both of those tournaments, England produced pretty lame and tame performances, and never looked to be in danger of troubling the silver polishers.

Personally, I think there are some very good young English players around right now, not least of all our own Theo, Jack, Gibbs, Corporal Jenks and the Ox. The likes of Daniel Sturridge, Joe Hart, Kyle Walker, Raheem Sterling, Ross Barkley, Ryan Bertrand, Jack Rodwell and Wilfried Zaha all look excellent.  And amongst the youngsters behind them, there are players who look to have real quality: for example, Spurs’ Tom Carroll looks very good.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that the English game is in fact the English and Welsh game, and right now there is something of a resurgence in the Welsh game, evidenced most obviously by Bale’s transformation into a Galactico, but also shown by the amazing success of Swansea and the return of Cardiff to the top division. And then there’s our own fantastic Welshman.

So, I’m not so sure the problem is as bad as it’s being made out to be.  It’s also worth remembering that, in recent years, the senior England squad has become more reliable about qualifying for major tournaments.  In the 1970s and 1980s, they made it a habit of missing out on qualification; that doesn’t much now.

Dyke’s focus seems to be on foreign players’ presence in the Premier League.  He cites figures suggesting that, in the last 20 years, the number of English players in the starting line-ups of top-flight clubs had gone from 69% to 32%.  He also said the proportion of new signings by PL clubs who are qualified to play for England had fallen from 37% to 25% in the past two years. “Last weekend only 65 English players started in the Premier League with another 14 coming on as substitutes,” he said. “Taking into account that some of these players are not international standard, I think it’s fair to say we already have a very small talent pool and it’s getting smaller.”

I won’t get into the basis of Dyke’s stats, save to make the general point that percentages can be calculated in many different ways, so I don’t necessarily take Dyke’s figures to be gospel.  For example, it isn’t clear to me where Scottish, Welsh, Northern Irish and Irish players fit into the analysis – players from those five footballing nations constituted the pre-PL pool from which players were drawn, so narrowly looking only at English players now would stunt the figures. Also, when you think of dual qualification, people like Carl Jenkinson for example, the truth behind the figures can become less clear.

But let’s assume that Dyke is right, that there is a diminishing pool of English PL players for the England coaches to recruit from.  Is that really a problem?  And if it is, why has it happened, and what could be done to rectify it?

Whenever I hear people complaining about the number of foreigners playing in the PL, my first reaction is always to point to the stubborn reluctance of young English players to make the same moves as their counterparts from other countries.  If they’re not getting enough pitch time in England, why not go to Holland, Sweden, France, Portugal, Belgium, or the US?  My guess is those youngsters are too scared to take on the challenge of moving country and/or prefer to take the easy, better money of being in an English PL squad.  Introducing quotas on foreign players (even if that were legally possible) wouldn’t answer those problems.  It would be better to give those young players some life-coaching, so that they make better decisions and broaden their horizons and their ambitions.

So, any thoughts?  Is Dyke right?  Do changes need to be made to the way the game is organised?  Does the strength of the national team even matter as compared with the ability of the clubs to recruit whatever players they want?

Written by 26may


June 16, 2012

With England conceding two goals in quick succession Theo Walcott was finally given a chance to shine on a Major International Tournament stage.

Having been taken to 2006 World Cup and not played, then to feature heavily in 2010 qualification stages and not play, and then to feature again in these championships and again be overlooked when Hodgson’s pragmatic formation took shape it seemed yet again that Theo was destined for being unsuitable for the England team.

To be fair to the England managers I am not overly surprised, they don’t have the quality in the centre of midfield to pick out his runs, and they don’t have players with the ability to move up the field in numbers to support his blistering pace. So how can you use Theo to greatest effect? Well it turns out you just stick him on the pitch and let him sort It out for himself, and most importantly just let him play on his instincts.

England had been poor in possession for the entire game, Stevie Me’s cross to Carroll the high point in an otherwise cumbersome England performance. The lack of ability to keep the ball without going back to the keeper and him hoofing it back to the halfway line and compete for another 50:50.

Theo was brought on to replace the poor Milner, and within minutes had set England level. None of us knew that Theo had that strike in him, as the ball dropped to the edge of the area Theo’s first touch was good, his second moved it to the right of on rushing defenders and his next sent the ball up and over the mass of players in the box and curving this way and that leaving the Swedish keeper totally befuddled. The look on his face suggested he didn’t quite know how he’d managed it.

How did I do that?

Minutes later Theo gained possession around the Swedish area, this is what we know he is capable of, committing defenders and taking the ball to the byline, looking up he saw Wellbeck’s movement and delivering a ball that the latter finished as well as RvP has done all season.

Twice more Theo got himself in positions to exploit the space on Sweden’s right but first Stevie Me and the Andy Carroll ignored the passing option, Arsene would have gone crazy if one of his players had ignored the pass.

There was still time for Theo to put the afterburners on during an England break that saw him overtake Stevie Me to get on the end of a Parker pass, and then deliver a cross for the Ox but Stevie Me wanted to get on the scoresheet and blasted at the keeper.

All in all a good nights work for Theo, but I don’t expect him to feature in a starting line up anytime soon, he showed his defensive weakness on several occasions during his short display, and unfortunately that weakness will not be tolerated in Hodgson’s defensive minded setup. He will continue to be a super sub when necessary though, and then the knives will be out if he can’t produce what he did last night every time he is brought on.

Gooner in Exile

One of our young gooners is taking part in the Race for Life on Sunday 17th June for Cancer Research. If you feel you would like to donate to this hard working charity please visit her giving page here http://www.raceforlifesponsorme.org/alicemonk Thank you.

Looking at Jack Wilshere’s U21 Call-Up From All Angles

May 5, 2011

“I will never say no to my country.”

So Jack Wilshere has vowed.

We all know the story by now. The European U21 Championship takes place this summer. Stuart Pearce has included Wilshere in his provisional 40-man squad for the trip to Denmark in June, there is absolutely no doubt he will make the squad and the starting XI. As you all know (in case my username isn’t a giveaway) I am Irish so I come at this 100% from an Arsenal point of view and want Jack to rest up and play the tourney on his Xbox this summer. However, I respect that the majority here are English, and while a lot, if not all, would put club over country in this case, that you want your country to do as well as possible, and having Wilshere in the squad will do that. Instead of rambling on, I will set out the arguments each side has for Jack going or staying.

Arsene Wenger — Arsenal

Jack Wilshere is 19 years old and has had his first full season as a senior starter under his belt. He has played 52 (FIFTY TWO!!) times for his club and country already this season. That would take the wind out of the best of seasoned players, never mind a young man who is barely old enough not to be called a teenager. During this time, he has taken on massive responsibility in our midfield. Personally, I can’t remember why he came into the squad, was it an injury? Was it because he did so well at Bolton? Was it tactical? All I know is he came in and played like he has been a senior for years. Playing against the likes of Xavi and Iniesta, and with the likes of Fabregas and Rooney (for England) hasn’t daunted him. He demands the ball, and he is not shy in trying to win it.

So Wenger has one question to ask himself when pondering Jack’s trip to Denmark; “What will he learn?” The answer is “nothing.” He already has all the technical ability, he won’t learn from those around him or those he is up against. He is already considered a main player for Arsenal so will not upgrade his responsibility chart. All Wenger cares about is Arsenal, and Wilshere’s trip to Denmark is nothing but a headache to him.

Stuart Pearce — England 

Just as Wenger’s considerations are all about Arsenal, so Stuart Pearce’s are all about England’s U21. He is not managing them to be friends with club managers, he is there to get the best out of who he can select, and Jack Wilshere is the best he can select. Pearce’s argument is very easy to see, yes he realizes that Jack has played a lot this season, but he also realizes that Jack is one of the best young talents in world football right now and not taking him would be madness. If Wilshere is tired after the tournament its not Pearce’s problem but Wenger’s, of course it could also be Capello’s problem. What is good for the England U21s might not be good for the Senior squad. What good will an exhausted Jack Wilshere be to you in Poland and the Ukraine next year?

Jack Wilshere

There is no doubting this is a fine young man we have on our hands at Arsenal. There was some stories early last season that he was getting a bit big for his boots, a few months at Bolton sorted that out (one of Wenger’s best loan decisions in my opinion) and you know he will always give a 100% for whoever he plays for, and he wants to play for England. Following his Twitter, Jack takes huge pride in being English, and unlike some other players who will claim man flu to get out of an international game, Jack will play whenever and wherever needed.

He sees the tournament in Denmark as a major one and one where he can lead his country. He is playing as well these last few weeks as he had been at the start so obviously he doesn’t feel tired, however its how he feels after the tournament that matters. It would be very sad that a young man who wants to do right by his country could set his career back a bit next season by getting exhausted and perhaps dropped by Wenger for the first few games.

Hopefully it doesn’t come to this. I  fully expect Jack to be in Denmark in June and in the starting XI, and while I wish England’s U21s all the best, I won’t hide my happiness if they get knocked out early and Jack is on the beach having a nice rest for the remainder of the summer.

Written by Irishgunner