WHO ARE YA? Amar Shah, World Cup Legends

Image1.  Who are ya?
Amar Shah, born and bred in the North West, currently living in the East Midlands, working in London.
2.  Who do you support?
Manchester United (insert first sarcastic response that comes to mind here!)
3.  What was your first game?
I think it was in the late 90s, a Champions League match (unfortunately I had to become an adult before I could actually get to my first live game, before that the stadium tour was as good as it got for me!).  It was a routine win for United and I remember Solskjaer getting on the score sheet.  Those were better times!
4.  What do you do for a job?
Work Life
 – Work in the banking industry specialising in Risk Management
Personal Life
 – Creator of the World Cup Legends project (www.wclegends.com)
 – Voluntary fundraiser for various charities
 – Voluntary football coach (FA Level 2 qualified)
5.  Have you played/worked for any football clubs?
I’m afraid I wasn’t good enough as a kid to make the grade on the football pitch, but that didn’t stop me playing.
In one of my previous work roles I supported the commercial team by hosting overseas competition winners and suppliers as part of our corporate relationship with Manchester United.  It involved visiting United’s training complex at  Carrington and taking part in player Q&As, coordinating stadium tours and corporate hospitality on match days.
Most recently, my World Cup Legends project has brought me into contact with a number of clubs such as FC Bayern Munich, Manchester City FC and the Spanish National Team.
6.  How did you get into it?
World Cup Legends:
When I was a kid, I had a dream of collecting World Cup match balls and one day meeting my World Cup heroes.  A few years ago I got hold of a World Cup ball collection from 1970-2010 and so I started to see if I could make the dream a reality and I succeeded.  24 World Cup winners from the past 40 years signed up, from Pele to Xavi.
So far I’ve raised c.£2000 for charities through my project – www.justgiving.com/teams/wclchallenge
7.  What do you get out of it?
A great buzz and sense of achievement!  I love football and if there’s an opportunity to combine that passion with helping others then I’m there whenever possible.  I’ve also learned some great skills through my project too, such as web development and social media marketing.
8. What advice would you give someone wanting to follow in your stud marks/footsteps?
I try to apply the same advice in the work place and in my personal projects, that is ‘work smart, think smart’.  There’s no bigger advocate/stumbling block to what you can achieve than yourself.  Oh and talk to people.  A lot!
9.  If you could do it all again what would you change?
I wish I’d got into the football industry when I was younger and possibly took a study path which would’ve increased my chances of getting into the industry.  I’m currently considering the possibility of a career switch from banking to football but its not going to be easy!
10.  Who’s your footballing hero?
Diego Armando Maradona, the hero/villain of my first World Cup memories as a kid, Mexico 86.
Twitter – @worldcuplegends
Many thanks, Amar. All the best with the plans for the exhibition.

WHO ARE YA? Geoff Pearson, Senior Lecturer in Sports Management and Law at the University of Liverpool


WHO ARE YA? Geoff Pearson, Senior Lecturer in Sports Management and Law at the University of Liverpool

1) Who are ya?

Geoff Pearson, 39, from Manchester

2) Who do you support?

Manchester United

3) What was your first game?

Manchester United 0 Nottingham Forest 4, December 1977

4) What do you do for a job?

I am a Senior Lecturer in Sports Management and Law at the University of Liverpool. I teach Football & Law and Sports Operations Management and I am Director of Studies for the MBA (Football Industries) programme. My research interests include football crowd behaviour and management, policing, legal responses to crowd disorder and the impact of EU Law on the football industry. I have published two books on football fan behaviour and managing ‘hooliganism’ along with many articles and reports.

5) Have you played/worked for any football clubs?


6) How did you get into it?

I completed a PhD at the University of Lancaster looking at legal responses to football ‘hooliganism’. When I submitted my thesis in 1999 a job came up to teach football and law on the MBA (Football Industries) programme at the University of Liverpool.

7) What do you get out of it?

It’s an incredibly rewarding job for someone who loves football. It’s great to see the MBA(Football Industries) students progress and go to work in the football industry. Researching a topic I love is also intellectually stimulating and rewarding when my work can have an impact on improving the management of football fans attending matches.

8) What advice would you give someone wanting to follow in your stud marks/footsteps?

There are jobs out there in academia for those wanting to focus on football or sport. If you can get taken on to study a PhD in this area, and are able to publish on the subject, it’s a rewarding and stimulating career choice.

9) If you could do it all again what would you change?

I would probably have been more ambitious earlier on in my academic career in terms of publication and research funding. But then I wouldn’t have enjoyed the last 15 years quite so much!

10) Who’s your footballing hero?

Bryan Robson – best midfielder I’ve seen and an inspirational captain and leader.



My brother and I had this in the 1980s. The players are exactly as I remember them but the box and packaging doesn’t look like the edition we had. Oh well, the mind plays tricks and it was a long time ago.

Actually, that would be right, as ours was the Palitoy edition.



I can remember the white plastic insert that held the players, and the plasticky velour 5-a-side pitch with side walls.


The diving goalkeepers were ace, and if you really twatted the player’s head with the flat of your hand (which made the player’s foot strike the ball in a pivot motion) you could boot the ball hard and fast, turning it into a offensive weapon against your opponent. This probably led to tales being told and my brother being sent to bed with the game being confiscated, as it was usually him that tried to inflict pain on me (being the youngest and less well-adjusted and “sporting” in his game-play as a result!).


Pretty sure that ours had the red team, probably Man Utd, and the black and whites, Newcastle Utd:


Early versions of the set contained:

  • 4 ‘Red’ players
  • 4 ‘Blue’ players
  • 2 Goalkeepers
  • Ball
  • 2 Goals
  • 2 Goal bases
  • Pitch
  • Pitch surround
  • 6 Metal brackets for pitch surround
  • Rules

Peter Upton’s page, where a lot of these images come from, describes the game:

The red box All Star Super Striker  is the set I owned as a child, and it was sold under the Palitoy logo. As mentioned on the previous page, this set had an rules sheet that gave instructions for both the diving goalkeeper and the old standing one. As the sets above show, this is because the “All Star” game was released in both “Striker” and Super Striker” forms, which was something I was not aware of as a child. So perhaps the Striker version didn’t have a long shelf life. The only difference between the two sets seems to be the goalkeepers, and although the complicated mechanism of the diving version would have been more expensive to produce, I can’t really see the reasons behind having two sets at this point.

 Either way, these Palitoy boxed games are a new deluxe version of the earlier sets, and various enhancements have been made to the standard playing pieces.

The pitch is the moulded version with fence surround from the Wembley Fast-Pitch edition, but this has now been covered with a felt-like playing surface. The box calls this a “Super Texture” pitch. This texture slows down the Wembley pitch, and is a big improvement. This is also a great pitch for five-a-side Subbuteo, although mine has been over-used and the surround is now badly cracked.

The big advance in this set is with the outfield players. At first glance they may look the same, but they are now bigger, have more detail and cute individual touches. They can be right or left-footed Their arms come in different poses, and can be glued at different angles. The shorts and shirts and legs are all separate pieces, and the kicking leg is now fully rounded (whereas the inside of the leg on the earlier figures is flat). The final artistic flourish is the head of the player, as this has a choice of facial expressions, and a variety of hairstyles (all rather 1970s) which come in brown or black. The eyes and eyebrows are hand-painted.

In addition to this, these outfield players are now produced in accurate club strips, including badges and trim. The two kits in the box set are Manchester United, and Newcastle United.

The game is fetching a lot of money online now, if you’re lucky enough to find an original 1970s/1980s example. Like most of my childhood things, our game is long-consigned to the bin or charity shop, along with Escape From Colditz, which is also worth a tidy sum.

WHO ARE YA? Kane Brooker


Kane Brooker

1) Who are ya?

Kane Brooker, 16 years old from Surrey.

2) Who do you support?

The mighty Manchester United! Although I have a (very) big soft spot for Walton Casuals. Call them my non-league team.

3) What was your first game?

Manchester United v Birmingham City, at Old Trafford. News Years Day 2008, United won 1-0. Tevez displayed his infamous dummy celebration for the first time, but I couldn’t see him do it too well!

4) What do you do for a job?

I am currently a student at college, although I have a voluntary job at Walton Casuals as the club reporter/journalist. Within this I contribute to the Non-League Paper every home game we have as well as the club programmes and website.

5) Have you played/worked/volunteered for any football clubs?

Besides my role at Walton Casuals that I took up at the start of this current season, I haven’t worked at any other clubs. I did play for a Sunday youth team, staying with the same club for a solid 9 years. I in fact became known as the Ryan Giggs of the Surrey Primary League!

6) How did you get into it?

For journalism: After enjoying reading endless football news and articles, I decided to give it a go myself. I was pretty bad when I first started, but I have begun to develop new skills and techniques as I go.

For playing: It was a way to fit in at school! I was also pretty bad at playing when I first started, but joining a club really helped, and I became a key player after a few years. I did hit 49 goals in one season as a striker, not too bad.

7) What do you get out of it?

I have absolutely loved the start of my work with Walton Casuals and journalism. First, the thrill of seeing people reading your first article is brilliant. When I first started with Casuals, I watched from the stands like most fans. No one knew who I was at the time, and I’d hear a lot of people discuss ‘this new writer’ and when you hear people say great things about your work, it really brightens up your day. The bond I’m beginning to make with some of the players is great, it always makes matches and writing interesting. You also get to watch a lot of great games too, a massive bonus.

8) What advice would you give someone wanting to get started in blogging/writing?

I’d give two pieces of advice:

1) Be patient. When you start off, your work may not get many views or readers, even if it does deserve more. After a few months, a fan base builds up, and you will see the waiting game has payed off. I started my blog in June and am only beginning to see a big increase in views. That’s mainly because of the audience. Non-league fans love a good read!

2) Get your name out there. Never reject any offer you get, and go the extra mile to get noticed. Whether a local club, another website, a newspaper, just write, write, write!

9) Given the chance, would you do anything differently?

I have no regrets so far, but I’d definitely start earlier! It does feel like I’ve wasted a year or two I could have been doing this, but since starting I wouldn’t do much differently. I almost turned down a chance to commentate on a local radio station, but decided I might as well in the end. I’d definitely snap that right up if I was to do it again though!

10) Who’s your footballing hero?

Diego Forlan. In truth, I’m not sure how I exactly came about to it being Forlan. I remember watching him when I was young (although not when he was at Manchester United) and really like the way he played, when at Atletico Madrid. I suppose I followed him from there and he inspired me as I adapted from midfield to the frontline when playing.

Thanks Kane, all the best.

You can read and follow Kane’s blog – The Red Card – at th3redcard.wordpress.com

Manchester United – United Uncovered email

My department at work receives various football club emails and newsletters due to us purchasing match tickets on behalf of our branches in Reading, Manchester, Newcastle etc.

We received Manchester United’s ‘United Uncovered’ email last week, but I’ve only just returned to work from a week’s holiday.

The newsletter contained the following image:


This caused a bit of a furore, leading United to send out another email by way of an apology:

“In this week’s United Uncovered email newsletter, a graphic spelling the letters MUFC ran alongside a feature about Manchester United’s younger squad members entitled New Order.

While the headline was intended to reference the band of the same name, it has been pointed out that the graphic had design similarities to a swastika which, combined with other connotations of the phrase ‘new order’, has caused offence which was entirely unintended.

For this, United Uncovered unreservedly apologises.”

Epic fail on the email quality-control front there, chaps. Nice one United and your marketeers!


Pompey Supporters’ Trust (PST) chairman Ashley Brown has told the BBC that the group has proved it is capable of running Portsmouth.

12 months ago, former Pompey owner Balram Chainrai dismissed the Supporters’ Trust’s bid as having “no substance”. The Hong Kong-based businessman had predicted that the PST’s bid would fail because of “in-fighting and lack of actual money”. However, the PST now has 2,170 shareholders, owns 59.3% of the football club and has raised nearly £2.5m.

“We’ve certainly proved Balram Chainrai wrong,” Brown told BBC Sport.

“We didn’t fail through lack of money and anybody who witnessed any of the open meetings we have had over the past few months would recognise there is no in-fighting.”

The PST now controls the club after reaching an out-of-court settlement with Chainrai, ending a 14-month saga over the club’s future and finances.

“We always believed it was possible but it became far more difficult than we expected it to be and that was due to some of the outside challenges we faced,” Brown said.

“Balram Chainrai always knew our bid was possible. He obviously tried to put some pressure on us in the press but at the end of the day he did a deal in court.

“I hope he looks back and thinks he did the right thing and passed the football club onto people who really care about it and will take it on in the future.”

Ashley Brown also stated:

“Most supporters’ trusts set out with the aim of potentially owning a small slice or large slice of a football club and very few get close to achieving that.

“We need to sit back, review the situation and see what else we should be doing. Should we be doing more community work?

“Then the other side is how best we work alongside the football club and interact with them and keep our members and shareholders informed.

“We have to become better at communication and more agile as an organisation.”

Pompey are now the largest supporter-owned club in Britain, joining Wrexham, Telford United, AFC Wimbledon, AFC Rushden & Diamonds, Ebbsfleet United, Exeter City, FC United of Manchester, Newport and Wycombe Wanderers, amongst others.

In Spain, Real Madrid’s and Barcelona’s fan-members (socios) have owned and operated the clubs since their inception, along with Athletic Bilbao and Osasuna from the top flight of Spanish football who are also run by their fans.

In Greece, Panathinaikos is moving towards being fan-run, with a 54.75% stake in the Athens club now being in the hands of the ‘Panathinaikos Alliance’ group.

In Austria, SV Austria Salzburg and SK Rapid Wien are owned by supporter’s trusts, and in Germany fans have also re-founded bankrupt or otherwise disappeared clubs, such as Lokomotive Leipzig.

Fan ownership is also prevalent in Wales, with Barry Town United, Merthyr Town, Monmouth Town, and the afore mentioned Wrexham.  EPL side Swansea City are currently 20% owned by the Swans Trust.

All Argentinean football clubs are entirely fan owned, with no other form of club ownership allowed.

The Spirit of Shankly trust, the Liverpool Supporters Union, and ShareLiverpoolFC reached a formal agreement in the summer of 2010 to allow both organisations to push forward as one unified force for supporter ownership of Liverpool FC. As yet, Liverpool FC remains in the hands of Tom Werner and the Fenway Sports Group, but Spirit of Shankly continue to develop their model of supporter ownership, trying to secure the funds necessary for direct club share purchases.

The fact that the PST now has the controlling share in Portsmouth FC may give the Spirit of Shankly renewed impetus.