You can’t half buy some shite in the Fulham Club Shop…

The Who Ate All The Pies 2013 Christmas Gift Guide brought this to my attention:


The Fulham FC £1 pack of plasters!

The club’s bleeding you white, Fulham fans.

What other Fulham FC- branded shite can you buy I wondered… So I Googled “fulham plasters” and this is what came up in the image search:


Tri-fold golf towel – £12.99


Putter cover, although it seems to be out of stock unfortunately.


2-ply tissues, so you can blow your nose on the badge of the team you love (toilet paper not available Chelsea fans although you could re-purpose the tissues of course)…


Plug your bath with this novelty duck in Fulham colours. £4.99



Sometimes, words fail me…

That’s Christmas sorted then…

WHO ARE YA? Joanna Fisher, Head of Operations at Bollo Football School of Excellence


Joanna Fisher, Head of Operations at Bollo Football School of Excellence

1) Who are ya?

I am Joanna Fisher, I have lived in London all my life and know it like the back of my hand. I love the versatility and diversity of the Capital. I love the banter and the people who come from all walks of life and enjoy life! I love communicating whether talking or writing. I also spend a lot of time with family in Italy on the coast. I absolutely love it there.

2) Who do you support?

I am a third generation Arsenal supporter, my late grandfather who was from near Camden and my father who was Sports Editor of the Daily Mirror for many years left me with no choice but to support the Gunners. For a short while my father lived in the same road as Highbury and I grew up fully in the world of football.

3) What was your first game?

I was first taken to Highbury when I was four years old! Rather shamefully I have never been to the Emirates as I am always too busy, although one of the greatest Arsenal players who I know did invite me recently.

4) What do you do for a job?

I am Head of Operations at Bollo Football School of Excellence. It has been running as a successful community football club in West London for over 13 years with the aim of getting less privileged kids off the streets, coached and playing in leagues. They get some help from charities including Help a London Child. They have mentors and in the whole time it has been running only 3 have got into crime which is amazing. Some of the kids have gone on to play semi pro and pro also. It is always a huge bonus to discover talent which I enjoy doing a bit of scouting.

I was headhunted in the summer this year to take things to another level with the introduction of more structured coaching, fixtures at semi pro and pro academies, we recently played against Reading FC Academy our U12 who were buzzing at the experience and how well they were welcomed. I am also helping to set up Post 16 courses so the kids are given a good start in life with education like BTEC and NVQ whereas they may not be doing so well in school or supported at home.

We have been talking to teams and clubs abroad also to create tournaments and exchanges which is such an exciting opportunity. The job keeps me so busy but I absolutely love the fact we are working hard to support those less well off in the community.

The man who set up Bollo, Huey Reid is amazing. He has devoted 13 years to helping the kids in West London and they and I all respect him enormously in the community. He has put his heart and soul into community football and I respect him enormously.

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

I have never worked for any clubs but most days I am communicating with contacts at various clubs and spreading the word about Bollo or dashing about to meetings.

6) How did you get into it?

I was working at another football academy which I helped to set up and scout kids from London into professional coaching and fixtures including Charlton, Reading, Sunderland and Manchester City. I enjoyed getting to know all the kids and families and watch them live the dream. Everyone wants to be a footballer. It is their passion. But it goes without saying that it is so important to keep the kids realism in touch and support their education and career as so few actually make it. I spend hours with the families supporting them.

7) What do you get out of it?

I love working in football. Seeing the kids turn up and forget their problems while they live out their passion. Football is a real leveller in society. I have met so many amazing people who are passionate about youth development and its importance in the game. How it needs to be updated in the UK and more investment made into our home-grown players of the future. The talent is out there in this country. It just needs to be found early enough and structured coaching given and experience playing regular games through the teens so our players can rival European and other foreign young players that get snapped up by the big clubs.

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

I would always advise people to think long and hard about what job they really feel passionate about so that it never feels like hard work! Hard work and thinking outside the box, putting in the extra effort and enjoying it is so important.

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

If I could do it all again I would possibly have got more qualifications! But my love of communication seems to have helped me along the way.

10) Who’s your footballing hero?

Pele. Simply a fantastic player but also a great humanitarian.

WHO ARE YA? Craig M, Beyond the Last Man



1) Who are ya?

Craig, early 40s

2) Who do you support?

Grew up a Rangers supporter but moved away from Scotland a couple of decades ago so follow them fairly remotely from afar – in recent seasons with the sort of expression a pathologist might adopt with a particularly messy corpse.

3) What was your first game?

I faintly remember being taken to Hampden for the 1976 Scottish Cup Final and everyone celebrating almost as soon as we found our seats. Rangers scored in the opening minute and went on to beat Hearts 3-1 that day.

4) How did you get into it?

A couple of decades ago, I did a lot of freelance writing for football magazines before drifting out of it. Wanting to get a book project off the ground, I thought that blogging would be a good way to get the necessary practice and discipline such a project demands. That and a frustration about how Premier League and Champions League-centric modern football is: there are so many great stories to be told from before the 1990s that I thought it was worth sharing and hoping people might find interesting.

5) What do you get out of it?

It’s a mixed bag really. I try and mix things up with lengthy historical articles alternating with retro images and nostalgia related items and I suppose it can be frustrating when you get more reaction to easily assembled picture posts than articles that take weeks to research and write (GM – Tell me about it!).

But you do drift into contact with other knowledgeable and talented football-minded people, especially artists, that it’s a pleasure to interact with.

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

Two things really. Create something that genuinely interests you and that you really believe in rather than something you think might be popular. You’ll need that enthusiasm for your subject when you have those regular periods of doubt about keeping it going it – and you will.

Secondly; try and find a niche that not too many others seem to be doing. If you want to start a blog dedicated to Premier League transfer gossip, just ask yourself if you have anything new or different to say from the dozens of people out there already doing something similar. Try to be the quirky independent shop on the High street and not the homogenised chain store.

7) Who’s your footballing hero?

Javier Zanetti represents the best of all footballing and human values and the game will be a much poorer place when – or if – he ever decides to retire.

Some questions omitted as not applicable.

You can read Craig’s blog, Beyond the Last Man, here – – or follow him on Twitter – @BeyondTLM.

Former Bolton starlet Delroy Facey named’ among six arrested by police over ‘international illegal betting syndicate’


Bolton flop Delroy Facey, currently plying his trade for Albion Sports Football Club, a team in the Northern Counties East Football League

Reports emerging today have claimed that former Bolton Wanderers striker Delroy Facey is the ex Premier League player involved in breaking news about match fixing allegations.

Six people have been arrested by police investigating a “suspected international illegal betting syndicate” involved in the fixing of English football games.

The Independent reported that:

“Along with Facey, three current players were also detained.

“A spokesman for the NCA said: “Six men have been arrested across the country as part of a National Crime Agency investigation into alleged football match fixing. The focus of the operation is a suspected international illegal betting syndicate.

“The NCA is working closely with the Gambling Commission and the Football Association. This is an active investigation and we are unable to provide further detail at this time.”

“Facey played just 14 games for Bolton during a time when they were a Premier League club. His spell at the Wanderers, for whom he scored two goals after joining in 2002, was one of 14 different clubs the striker played for over a 16-year career.”



A female lino at BPA

I’ve been to watch Bradford (Park Avenue) a handful of times now and one thing that has categorised each game I’ve been to is loud vocal abuse of the officials, mainly (but not exclusively) by the die-hard BPA fans who stand at the far side of the Horsfall near the touchline, within earshot of the ref and lino. The fans who sit in the main stand are also pretty vociferous in their critiques of refereeing decisions. Sometimes it’s amusing, but more often it makes you cringe.

These officials are usually youngsters barely out of their teens or ordinary blokes and lasses doing it out of their love for the game – people giving up their time voluntarily or for little financial gain.

As with all football from internationals to grassroots level, if there are no officials then there’s no game.

GBR:  FA Respect Pr Shoot - Ray Winstone 23/02/2009

Who’s the daddy!?!

Ray Winstone did a hard-hitting and effective video campaign for the FA’s Respect initiative (view it on YouTube here), and the FA has produced the Respect Guide for Leagues (downloadable as a PDF, with other guides, from

In the introduction to the guide, Brian Barwick states:

“We must improve standards of behaviour – on and off the field.

“The message came through loud and clear in the major survey The FA undertook before publishing its National Game Strategy earlier this year – ‘Your Game, Your Say, Our Goal’.

“The research involved 37,000 football participants, including all major stakeholders, in what has been the most fundamental review to date of the state of grassroots football in England.

“Behaviour was – and is – the biggest concern, both abuse and intimidation towards referees, and unacceptable behaviour by over-competitive parents towards young players. That’s in addition to aggressive coaches and spectators on the sidelines. For example, parental behaviour is one of the main reasons why young players drop out of the game. Furthermore, as poor behaviour by coaches, parents and players towards referees means that thousands of officials are dropping out each season. Players and teams have told us they want a qualified referee for every game – well, let’s look after them and that may just happen.

“Respect is aimed at helping us all to work together to change the negative attitudes and abusive behaviour on the sidelines and on the pitch. It’s a long-term commitment, but if we all play our part, together we can really make a difference.

“And it’s not just about football at your level. It’s about football at every level, which is why we’re glad to be working in partnership with the Premier League, Football League, Professional Game Match Officials, Professional Footballers’ Association and League Managers’ Association to improve behaviour in the professional game too.”

The FA site also gives us the referee recruitment and retention figures for the 2010-11 season:

“Referee recruitment and retention

  • The total number of referees is 28405 an increase of 5 per cent from 2010.
  • There are 6,000 more referees than in 2008 Quantity and quality – Accompanied by Referee Development Officers, Referee mentoring, Referee academies, Improved IT support.
  • The Referee’s experience – Respect marks were collected for 24,000 games from 4,500 referees.
  • Average marks was 4 out of 5.
  • Overall most match officials have an enjoyable experience of officiating and are treated with respect by most participants.

“On field discipline

  • Overall across the FL and [EPL] dissent has fallen by 16 per cent since 2008/09.
  • Since 2008/09 Dissent has declined across the 15 senior leagues and divisions by 16 per cent.
  • The number of misconduct charges such as ‘Surrounding a match official’ or Technical area offences also fell in comparison to 2010/11.

“Assaults on referees

Although there has been a decline in the most serious cases of assault by 15 per cent the number of incidences of improper conduct towards Referees has risen by 25 per cent. Some of this will reflect the increased number of match officials and reports being submitted. The key message remains however that it is never acceptable to confront a referee in any way.”



Paul Ince, yelling

There have been several high-profile incidents recently.

Blackpool boss Paul Ince has vowed to improve his own touchline discipline after serving his recent five-match stadium ban for assaulting an official.

Ince received the five-match stadium ban after shouting ‘I’ll knock you fucking out you cunt’ at fourth official Mark Pottage and shoving him violently during a match at Bournemouth. Ince was initially sent to the stands after throwing a water bottle that struck a female spectator, before his incredible reaction to the fourth official after the final whistle.

Ince seemed keener on thanking Sky Sports for allowing him to watch his side’s matches at their Wilmslow studio near Manchester during the time he was banned than apologising to the official concerned. Ince told Sky Sports News:

“This is teaching me to keep my mouth shut.

“It has been weird, it has been strange, but I’d like to thank the Sky team for making it possible for me to watch the five matches here in the studio.

“Without you guys it would have been even worse for me. It’s hard when you can’t get the messages you want to your players, it’s hard when you aren’t on the line.

“But you have to learn from your mistakes and move on. I’m looking forward to being on the touchline against Sheffield Wednesday, and it’s nice after Ipswich last time, where we lost, to nick a point.”

This is five years into the Respect campaign.


Not ED-209, obviously, but similar…

The FA has unleashed it’s latest weapon in the initiative – an ED-209-style robot, programmed for on-pitch pacification and set to be deployed at football pitches across the country.

The BBC Sport website states that:

“This light-hearted approach aims to encourage people to take matters into their own hands when they encounter bad behaviour that goes against the spirit of the game.”

We shall see. You have 20 seconds to comply.

The Ask a Soccer Referee blog covers Law 5 of the Refereeing code:

How much abuse must I and my assistant referees (and the players) take?

According to Law 5, the referee “takes action against team officials who fail to conduct themselves in a responsible manner and may, at his discretion, expel them from the field of play and its immediate surrounds.” By no stretch of the imagination do most, and certainly not many, coaches or other team officials behave irresponsibly. However there are enough of them that referees need to have a plan of action.”

“Here are some examples of irresponsible behavior, directed by coaches or other team officials at referees, assistant referees, fourth officials, players of the opposing or their own team, and opposing coaches:
1. Screaming at or verbally or physically abusing the officials or any players or other participants for any reason
2. Interfering with the game in any way, such as:
* presuming to give the officials instructions on how to make or signal their calls
* insisting that an opposing player be cautioned or sent off
* throwing objects in protest
* kicking chairs
* striking advertising boards
* persistently and flagrantly protesting decisions by an official * interfering with the performance of assistant referee or fourth official duties * refusing to return to the technical area * entering the field of play without the permission of the referee * failing to deal with team spectators who loudly and persistently harass or insult the referee team

“There is a widespread trend within the nation and the [football] community toward eliminating abuse of young people by any adults. The referee is certainly empowered to ensure responsible [behaviour] by the team official in that regard. The method chosen would be up to the individual referee. The first action to consider is a quiet word with the coach or other team official to let him or her know that the [behaviour] will not be allowed to continue.

If that fails, get the police involved. One of my recent previous posts was on an incident at an Under-13s game in the suburb of Norwich where I used to live.

“Police were called as a heated altercation between two junior football team managers threatened to spill over. Officers went to the Fitzmaurice Pavilion in Thorpe St Andrew, where Thorpe Rovers U13s were taking on Sprowston U13s on Sunday afternoon, after reports that a man had been assaulted, but when they arrived they found that neither man involved, described by police as being “a little hot under the collar”, was willing to make a formal complaint.

“Parents contacted the Eastern Daily Press to voice their concern at the example being set to youngsters watching and playing in the match who witnessed the run-in.

“A spokesman for Norfolk FA confirmed the incident was being investigated. He said:

“We have been made aware of the alleged incident and will be investigating the matter in line with FA regulations.

“While we cannot comment further on ongoing investigations, we can reiterate that improving standards of behaviour across all levels of the game is a key feature of both the 
FA’s and Norfolk FA’s continuing work.”

No doubt incidents like this will continue to make the headlines, and – whilst they are amusing on one level – how long will it be before an official gets seriously hurt in an assault or takes matters into their own hands?

Former Premier League referee Mark Halsey believes that the pressure on top-flight officials could lead to one of them committing suicide.


Added Time

Halsey has published a book,  authored with writer and journalist Ian Ridley, entitled Added Time: Surviving Cancer, Death Threats and the Premier League, which chronicles the pressures exerted on a modern official from the moment they leave their home or hotel in the morning, through confrontations with managers and players on the field of play and in tunnels and dressing rooms, to the journey home to watch their mistakes beamed into the living rooms of millions of fans.

Halsey says:

”I also believe that if we do not do something to help referees with mental health and stress issues, then we could see a suicide.”

Nobody wants that. So, next you feel like calling the referee a wanker, or making insulting comments about the female lino, think on.


A recent news story on the BBC News website (“FA to target adult misconduct at youth level football“) reveals how nearly 4,000 misconduct offences have been committed by adults at youth level football.

The article says:

“BBC 5live Investigates asked the FA to collate figures for misconduct offences that have occurred at youth football matches at grassroots level. This is the first time the FA has quantified the scale of the problem.

“The FA provided figures from all 50 county associations across England.

“The reports mainly came from match officials who had witnessed improper behaviour, such as offensive remarks directed at referees and physical fights between parents or between opposing club managers.

“They relate to incidents recorded last season (2012-13) and so far this season (up to November 2013).

“In total, there were 3,731 cases of misconduct involving adults at under-18 matches.

“Of those, 1,057 involved incidents where clubs were charged with failing to control spectators or players – with the vast majority related to trouble caused by spectators.”

Mark Halsey believes pressure on top-flight officials could lead to suicide


From FAD FC:

“Former Premier League referee Mark Halsey believes the pressure on top-flight officials could lead to one of them committing suicide. “I also believe that if we do not do something to help referees with mental health and stress issues, then we could see a suicide.”

Halsey has published a book,  authored by writer and journalist Ian Ridley, entitled Added Time: Surviving Cancer, Death Threats and the Premier League.

Halsey was the longest-serving full-time professional referee in the English game when he retired at the end of the 2012/13 season. His career saw three seasons officiating in the Football League and a remarkable 14 in the Premier League.

Halsey is now a refereeing pundit for BT Sport.


If you have or being affected by Mental Health issues, please contact FAD FC.


The 2013 edition of BDO’s annual survey of Football Finance Directors (FDs) has discovered that an alarming number of football club owners are considering a full or partial exit from their respective clubs.

BDO state that most teams will meet the new financial fair play (FFP) regulations, but an owner exodus from Football League teams is predicted during the next two seasons as those owners struggle to find funding.

The BDO report, entitled New Dawn for Fair Play?, and focussing on the FFP regulations and their impact in particular, questioned 66 finance directors from across the professional divisions, representing 63% of the football leagues featured.

The headline findings emerging from the survey show that the current owners of 36 per cent of FL1 and 28 per cent of FLC clubs in the survey are considering a full or partial exit, with only 30 per cent of finance directors describing their club finances as ‘very healthy’. 48 per cent say that their situation ‘could be better but is not bad’, with 17 per cent of respondents’ reporting that their finances ‘need attention’; whilst 5 per cent say their finances are ‘a cause for grave concern’!

The survey also reported a growing reliance on rich benefactors to plug funding gaps at clubs. In total, 65 per cent of clubs acknowledged a dependence on principal shareholder/s to finance operating losses compared with 58 per cent last year; for the Championship the figure is 94 per cent and for League One it is 64 per cent.

The Taxman’s dread hand also reaches out to the FDs, with 20 per cent of clubs late with their tax payments during the year. Most had formally agreed the delay with HMRC beforehand however. 52 per cent said that HMRC was contacting them earlier and more frequently to chase payment of the tax due, and 23 per cent of clubs are worried by HMRC challenging complex wage structures, resulting in clubs having to meet large PAYE bills. This issue affects 41 per cent of English Premier League and 39 per cent of Football League Championship respondents respectively.

It’s not all bad news though. The BDO website states:

“Fair play has always been at the heart of the beautiful game, so it is good to see its appearance in the finances of football as well. An encouraging 95% of English clubs are expecting to comply with the Financial Fair Play rules in 2013/14 (the first season when FFP will apply to all English domestic leagues). As a consequence most FDs have reported some form of restraint on wages and transfer fees, a vital step on the road to more sustainable business models for all.

“In financial terms, the run of play has been going against many clubs – but if we have discovered anything while producing this survey, it’s that football clubs are fighters. Indeed, it’s probably not news that many of our findings this year give some level of cause for concern. But what is perhaps more surprising, and encouraging, is the extent to which clubs are still managing to cope with adversity and take better control of their circumstances.”

However, they also sound a note of caution – one that I’m sure fans of Leeds United and other clubs whose, to paraphrase Robert Browning, “reaches exceeded their grasp”, will recognise:

“This is not to downplay the challenges. We are seeing many common factors which conspire to increase financial instability and risk. For instance, a number of clubs depend heavily upon either a single owner or a small number of key shareholders, who may have their eye on short term glory. Inevitably, the huge potential rewards for reaching the Premier League may lure many clubs into a gambling frame of mind, risking future financial security for the big prize. As a long term model, this is not sustainable, and could result in structural instability for many clubs if it goes unchecked.”

New Dawn for Fair Play? can be downloaded for free from