Doing The 92

My name is Steve Hall. I am a Brit who lives in Spain and who loves football.

In 2010 I cycled to all the 92 football league clubs in England and Wales. I set off in May and finished on 23 September 2010. I was met with almost universal kindness, hospitality and friendship.

I had great plans for retracing the route in 2020/2021. Sadly Covid and then a long spell in hospital scuppered my plans. (See www.theshirt2010.co.uk/uncategorized/jigsaws ) I will soon announce a new trip.

Please check through the site to learn more about the project, the people involved and how you can also help and get involved.

Thanks

Steve

DoingThe92

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Foul


Foul by Arton James

As a player, he had everything…except trophies.

Now a young idealistic manager, Casemiro Velasquez is just a few months away from leading his small-time team of larger-than-life personalities to a historic league title.

Then a secret threatens to rear its head and devastate their season and their lives…

If you liked The Damned Utd and sports movies like Rush and Million Dollar Baby, you won’t be able to put down this gripping, hard-hitting novel by Arton James that takes you deep beyond the dressing room into some of the game’s darkest recesses.

Read a preview chapter here

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Robin Friday


The Legend that was/could have been Robin Friday

The Robin Friday story that has never been revealed – until now

Robin Friday – The Legend

It’s 2021 and July2021 would have marked Robin Friday’s 69th birthday but ……

The mercurial, maverick footballer lived fast and died young.

His professional football career lasted just four years, yet he’s still considered Reading’s greatest ever player and Cardiff’s all-time cult hero.

He unwittingly created an infamy at a time when the beautiful game was awash with mavericks who played as they lived their lives, with wild abandon.

These were hedonistic entertainers, footballers as rock ‘n’ roll stars, exhibiting a lust for life that they demonstrated at full tilt on and off the pitch.

The likes of George Best, Stan Bowles and Rodney Marsh – these were flamboyant geniuses who partied hard and engaged in the pursuit of pleasure with the same ribald joy as they did finding the back of the net.

Of course, Robin Friday never attained the giddy footballing heights of the aforementioned stars, nor the associated riches of fame.

Part rock star, part footballer, he was considered by many to be good enough to play for England, but Friday retired aged 25, exiting the pitch for a life marked by battles with alcohol and drug addiction.

His legend was no doubt emboldened and reawakened to a wider audience in 1996 when Welsh rock ‘n’ roll frontiersmen Super Furry Animals released the single The Man Don’t Give A F***, which used a colourised version of the iconic picture taken on April 16, 1977, at Ninian Park.

The cover of Super Furry Animals – ‘The Man Don’t Give A F***

Having clashed repeatedly with Luton Town goalkeeper Milija Aleksic, Friday celebrated scoring by trotting past his nemesis flicking the “V-sign.

His is a tragic tale of unfulfilled talent, a flame that burned brightly but briefly. He died in Acton in London on 22nd December 1990, aged 38. He had suffered a heart attack.

That image of Friday as the outsider, the rebel, sticking it to “the man”, is something which appealed to author Stuart Kane, who has written two books about the footballer.

Man Friday: The First Half, deals with the player’s time at Reading, while his latest, released recently – Man Friday: The Second Half majors on his tumultuous period at Cardiff City.

They are written in the style of biographical fiction, much like David Peace’s award-winning book The Damned United, about Brian Clough’s torrid 44 days reign as manager of Leeds United.

Book Cover

Stuart’s books see the writer attempting to get inside the player’s head, retracing his early life to non-league football through to his appearances in the football league, emboldening Friday’s mythical aura.

First encountering Friday in the 1990s, thanks to the Furries, it was that infamous picture that piqued the author’s interest and has led him on a literary and footballing odyssey researching the player’s life and unearthing stories that have never seen the light of day.

“The second book breaks new ground on Robin’s time at Cardiff in 1977,” says the author. “The details I reveal are not known, so it gives City fans an idea of what was really going on behind the scenes with Robin and Cardiff in 1977. Some are taken from eyewitness accounts from former players, and a huge one which even the players didn’t know about.”

That huge story in question has been unearthed after being buried for more than 40 years.

It was September 1977 when the local press knew something was amiss with the player who had frequently gone missing since signing for the Bluebirds on December 30, 1976.

Former South Wales Echo journalist Joe Lovejoy speaking to WalesOnline in 2012 paying tribute to City manager Jimmy Andrews who had recently passed away, spoke about Friday’s fractious relationship with the boss, and one incident in particular.

“My abiding memories of Jimmy at Ninian Park concerned Robin Friday,” he said. “The first came when he had called the player into his office for a few words about him going missing.

“Jimmy made a point of clearing everything off his desk before the meeting, particularly the letter opener which was like a large knife. He didn’t want that on his desk in what was likely to be a difficult meeting.

“Then, when Robin seemed to have gone missing again, Jimmy told the press it was because of a viral infection. Then it became Hepatitis. Eventually we found out it was neither – Robin was in Reading jail and Jimmy was trying to protect his player by covering that up.”

2nd Half – Book Cover

The facts were that Robin was in prison, but it wasn’t Reading, it was Pentonville in London. And the reason he was incarcerated has never been revealed until Stuart unearthed the truth after painstakingly combing through archived documents at Bow Street magistrates.

“As far as the revelations about Robin, the biggest one that I uncovered was that he had been sent down for impersonating a police officer in September 1977 at Piccadilly Circus,” says the author.

“He had made an ID card and was confiscating drugs, but bumped into an undercover officer who rumbled him.

“Basically he would look for a mark, somebody young like a student who would look like they had some drugs on them and he would then shake them down.

“He would tell them he was CID, quickly flash his fake ID card and tell them he suspected they had drugs on them. He’d then make them empty their pockets out and if they had any drugs he’d confiscate them and give them a warning.

“The irony was that he tried this on an undercover officer who spotted the fake card immediately.”

Word quickly got back to Cardiff City manager Jimmy Andrews, who must have been at his wit’s end with a player who caused nothing but disruption since he had joined the club.

However, manager Andrews was loyal to his players and didn’t let anyone know what had happened.

“Robin was sentenced at Bow St and sent to Pentonville on the 22nd September 1977,” says Stuart. “Now, the press in Cardiff knew that something had gone on but no one was really sure – although they knew he’d been nicked.

“Joe Lovejoy pressed Jimmy Andrews but Jimmy told no one that Robin was in Pentonville for a short while before being bailed out. Even the players had no idea about this.”

The relationship between both parties was already severely strained after the culmination of the previous season in May, when Cardiff City lost the Welsh Cup Final 4-2 on aggregate to Shrewsbury. Cardiff won the first game at home 2-1, but lost the away leg 3-0.

Addiction

In the hours following that defeat, players and staff were awoken in the night by Friday standing on the snooker table of the Prince Rupert hotel in Shrewsbury, in his underpants, launching balls around the room in a blind rage.

Unbeknownst to everyone, except maybe the manager, Friday’s addiction issues and drug use had ramped up a notch over the summer. His behaviour was becoming even more erratic.

“Robin had to keep going back to Bow Street for hearings. He had got into a prescription opiate called Diconal and that’s what caused his escalating problems.

“Over the summer he had split up with his partner Lisa so he was struggling with things going on in his private life, but there were also these mounting addiction issues and he had been sent home ill by the club several times at the start of the season in August.”

After his stint at Her Majesty’s pleasure he returned to Ninian Park.

“He reappeared in press photographs at Cardiff looking noticeably thinner on 3rd October,” says Stuart.

Intriguingly, on one picture that was published in the local press it appears that felt tip marks have been applied to the photograph.

“Felt tip stripes have been added to his training top, so it looks like Robin is wearing a striped ‘convict’ uniform, under his top,” adds the author, who believes the newspaper was sending a message to the club. “I think this was the newspaper’s way of saying we know he’s been inside, even if you’re not telling us!

Unsurprisingly, the end was near for player and club.

Mark Lawrenson

An away trip to Brighton saw the team staying over at the salubrious Grand Hotel on the seafront.

“His wild antics only escalated,” discovered Stuart. “I interviewed (former Cardiff City player) David Giles who roomed with Robin at the hotel that night. He told me how Robin had sent him to the bar to get two bottles of Cinzano Bianco and that in the morning he ripped the chain that was holding the portable TV in place in the room and put it in his kitbag before getting on the coach to the ground.”

Friday’s mercurial genius and petulance would flared up spectacularly when Cardiff took to the pitch at The Goldstone Ground to take on Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday 29th October 1977.

After several run-ins with Brighton centre-half Mark Lawrenson, who found it difficult to handle Friday, the player now turned TV pundit, brought the Cardiff player down. With both players on the floor an incensed Friday retaliated by kicking Lawrenson in the face.

Legend has it, after receiving a red card in the 4-0 defeat, he broke into Brighton’s changing room and defecated in Lawrenson’s kit bag before leaving the stadium with the game still going on, although this story has been denied by Lawrenson.

Stuart, however, has unearthed what actually happened.

“In a fit of anger and frustration he had gone into the Cardiff changing room and had thrown all his teammates’ clothes into the bath and then stormed out of the stadium,” he says. “The Cardiff players had to borrow Brighton’s training kit for the journey back to Wales.”

It’s widely believed that this was Friday’s final first team game for the Bluebirds, but the author learned that he would make one more appearance for Cardiff City against Bolton Wanderers in a 6-3 defeat on 10th December.

“That was his final first team appearance,” says Stuart. “It was against a Bolton team that included Frank Worthington, Sam Allardyce and Peter Reid. He had a tough afternoon and was taken off around 50 minutes into the game.

“However, that wasn’t his final game as such, he would play a reserve match for Cardiff against Southampton on Wednesday, 14th December, when I believe he got a bit of a walloping in that game.”

By Christmas 1977, the Bluebirds had terminated Friday’s contract by mutual agreement. He’d made 25 appearances for Cardiff, scoring seven goals.

The decline was evident when weeks later, in January 1978 he was again arrested.

“This time it was in Piccadilly Circus underground station,” says Stuart. “He was arrested for attempting to sell Diconal tablets for a pound. He must have been quite desperate at that point and finding things incredibly hard going.”

Robin Friday would never play football again.

Stuart’s treasured signed photo of Robin Friday

His is ultimately a tragic tale of unfulfilled talent, but also a life lived large at twice the speed of mere mortals.

“I think my most significant insight was that Robin Friday really did give a f***,” says Stuart.

“That was his problem, he really did. You don’t obliterate yourself if you’re in a good place and that’s what he did – it was his way of escaping.

“In my opinion, he had an addictive personality and, in the end, that’s what caught up with him. It must have been very hard being him sometimes.”

“At the end of the day, he was very much like his hero George Best, but Best got to play at the top of his game, whereas Robin didn’t, and I think that was one of his biggest regrets.”

For Reading and Cardiff fans, Robin Friday remains the ultimate cult hero. Those lucky enough to witness his talents on the pitch did not forget them easily.

When former Reading boss Maurice Evans told him he could play for England if he’d calm down a bit, Friday replied: “I’m half your age and I’ve lived twice your life.”

He wasn’t wrong.

Buy Stuart’s Kane books Man Friday: The First Half and Man Friday: The Second Half


This article first appeared in Nation.Cyrmu on 27 July 2021



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Football Art Online


Francesco Totti – AS Roma


I have recently met Mark the owner of Football Art Online and was immeditaely impressed with the quality and value of his work. Those of you who know me well, know that I struggle to draw a straight line nevermind anything of beauty.
I guess that explains why I am in awe of people like Mark who have the skill, the talent and the imagination to delight us. I asked Mark to write a piece for www.TheShirt2010.co.uk and he said that he had recently been interviewd by Keeley at www.FreeWebStore.com so that I should maybe share that. My pleasure. I wish you both well.

www.Footballart-Online.co.uk

“What began as a hobby in 2020, has now become a full-time business. Store owner Mark combines his skills as a Graphic Designer with his love of football. He produces high-quality iconic, retro and contemporary imagery celebrating soccer.  

1. Please tell us a bit about your company and how it all started.

Football Art Online was born during the first UK lockdown when, while furloughed from my ‘day job’ and looking for something to fill my time, I combined my passion for football with my skillset (I’ve had a lengthy career as a Graphic Designer) and started to create a few creative images initially as a hobby. A few ‘sympathy’ buys then followed from Friends & Family who suggested I shared them with the wider public initially via social media.

A very positive response followed with suggestions for products and enquiries asking if my work was available to then purchase online… and the rest is history! Football Art Online is now my full-time business and from originally selling Canvas Art & Digital Prints, I’ve now expanded into additionally selling retro/vintage football clothinggifts accessories with currently over 900 products available

2. What is your most popular product?

My ‘Escape To Victory’ range has been a huge hit! 

This iconic film is 40 years old this year and so I decided to create a range of artwork, clothing & gifts commemorating this which has even attracted comment and interest from some of the original stars of the film including Russell Osman and the legendary Ossie Ardiles!

3. What do you see as the most important marketing tool for your business?

My most important marketing tool is daily social media engagement! From a standing start I now have over 3000 loyal Twitter followers and regularly post with details of my new products and offers as well as general conversation of our shared love… football!

4. If you could have ANYONE to come and work for you, who would it be and why?

I’d probably say the legendary Commentator, John Motson! With his wealth of football knowledge, I don’t think I’d ever be short of ideas for products and the daily conversation would be wonderful too!

John Motson

5. Do you have any advice for new store owners?

If you’re unsure, go for it!…. Don’t doubt yourself if you’re unsure if your products will sell…there’s an audience out there for anything. 

6. Is there a specific reason you chose freewebstore as your eCommerce platform?

I chose Freewebstore as my eCommerce platform mainly for its simplicity. I’d explored other options previously but with Freewebstore I’ve found that I don’t need to spend as much time doing the ‘techy’ stuff as opposed to its competitors enabling me to have more time to get on with designing & developing my own products! The monthly price is great and the support is first class too.

7. Why is eCommerce important for your business?

eCommerce is hugely important for my business as I view my website as a member of my Team who works for me for 24 hours a day (& they don’t need a lunch break either!). There’s no greater feeling than logging into your Freewebstore panel each morning and finding out that you’ve had sales overnight.

8. Do you have any celebrity customers?

Do I have any celebrity customers? Yes! I was delighted when Russell Osman (ex-Ipswich Town & England professional footballer) bought a T-Shirt from my ‘Escape to Victory’ range, and also commissioned me to create something unique for him. He was then kind enough to post a pic of it on social media giving Football Art Online some huge exposure and subsequently achieving those always welcome online sales!

9. If you could choose one magic power, what would you go for?

If I could choose one magic power, it would be to have more than 24 hours in a day! Football Art Online really is a full-time job but I love it and wouldn’t change it… but sometimes just a few moments when I don’t live and breathe football would be nice….but then again perhaps not!!!

10. And finally, where do you see your company in 5 years time?   

Hopefully it’ll go from strength to strength, will be a recognizable ‘go-to’ brand… & I can be adding new products to my Freewebstore site from a Tropical Island somewhere (while of course watching and talking about football!!)

That sounds like the perfect life Mark! We are delighted that your business is doing well. Best wishes for a bright future. “

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The Greatest Escape

The Greatest Escape – Book Cover

The Greatest Escape – Daniel Hurley

Yes, greater even than the epic adventures of Michael Caine and Bobby Moore in the 1981 Escape to Victory are West Ham United’s achievements in the 2006/2007 season.

As a football fan, there are those seasons which remain indelibly inscribed in the memory. Simply unforgettable. The 2006/07 season remains one of those for fans of West Ham United. A season that began with such promise: Alan Pardew signed two genuine world-class players ahead of the kick-off, but little did the Argentinian pair of Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano know they joined a season-long relegation battle. Roll forward to the business end, and with nine matches left to play the Hammers looked doomed. Seven wins from those nine made it arguably the greatest escape in English top-flight history. A season so memorable for all the wrong reasons: going two months without a goal; 11 games without a win; snatching defeat from the jaws of victory against your biggest rivals. Then having survived, on the final day by winning at Old Trafford, extra-time in the courts, with the rest of football saying you had cheated, and the table did lie. The Greatest Escape is the story of the highs, lows and controversies that were the 2006/07 season.

The book is available from Amazon but if you want a signed copy, Daniel has kindly offered to oblige and you can contact him on Twitter

The Greatest Escape
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Aston Villa


Aston Villa Fans – Gambia

I watched a fascinating Amazon Prime programme this week about how football, our “Beautiful Game” has brought about peace in Rwanda after the genocide in the 1990s during the Rwandan Civil War. “This Is Football” is an exceptional programme on many levels but one thing I particularly focused on was the absolute PASSION of Rwandese from every ethnic group for Liverpool Football Club. This is still a poor country, very poor in fact, but at the weekly Premier League games absolutely everybody is wearing a Liverpool shirt. I spotted classics from the 90s, to retros, the odd keeper’s shirt and even some of the latest scarecly worn away shirts. Their passion for the club is unlimited. Watching two of them visit Anfield with tears of happiness at being able to see their beloved team was actually quite emotional.

By absolute total coincidence today, I “met” Pete Fincham on Facebook today. He is an Aston Villa fanatic based in Hampshire who selflessly collects old Villa shirts (any size/season) to send to the Villa fans in Gambia. I had no knowledge that Villa were so avidly followed there. I was happy to be educated.



He says,

Proud Villa Fans – Gambia

“My name is Pete Fincham and I am the Chairperson of the Official Aston Villa Solent Lions Club based in Hampshire in the UK. I am a Villa season ticket holder in the Lower Holte L7 Row D end seat and as you can see from the photo’s below our Lions Club has been sending any old Villa shirts, wrong size shirts or any other Villa memorabilia to the Gambian Lions who are organised by Kevin Boucal and Ebrima Sonko. So if you have any old shirts, new shirts, slightly too small shirts or slightly too big shirts and would like to send them to The Gambia I will be collecting at the Holte End. So why not say hello and bring me a shirt or two for these crazy mad Villa fans from Africa in The Gambia, thank you.”

If you don’t visit Villa but have any shirt that you can donate to the cause please do get in touch with Pete on Facebook or simply mail anything to Pete Fincham, 47 Marlborough Gradens, Hedge End, Southampton S030 2UT. He also says that they can accept any shirt from any club that they will sell it off and with the money raised, they will buy Villa merchandise.



Showing Their Colours
New Delivery from the UK

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Football for Brains

Football for Brains – Steven End



Football for Brains is an exciting new project by Steven End

It’s not the only football quiz book I have seen but it IS as good as I have seen AND Steven is additionally making a donation to The Scores Project at the University of East Anglia which is looking into dementia after repetitive head impact in sports.

The book has over 700 questions all recently researched. There is also a good mix of questions from anagrams, to multiple choice, from international statistics through the professional game and down the pyramid into non-league.
It’s a bargain buy at only £5.50 (+ p&p) and looks a great read for a train journey, car journey or the basis for a great pub quiz.
There is also an interesting review of football programmes and memorabilia collecting in general.

So, a fantastic way to end (or start!) an argument and, equally importantly, to raise money for research into dementia.
Enjoy.

It’s available on eBay but if you want to stock the book in a clubshop, retail outlet Steven would be delighted to talk to you on Twitter.

You can find a full review on Football Book Reviews

SCORES Project – University East Anglia
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2021-2022 92 Club Poster

I got this from Rob today. I have always been impressed with his posters in particular and website in general. Happy to share his newsletter to help him

OUT NOW! 2021/2022 92 Club & National League poster

Fully updated for the new season, our poster is double-sided featuring the 92 Club on one side and the National Leagues on the other.This year’s map comes with a design refresh featuring a fresh new colour palette, incredibly detailed shirts and extended statistics including star ratings for atmosphere and overall rating, as voted by our 155,000+ registered users.This is an essential purchase for any groundhopper and is a fantastic educational resource for kids – it looks great on any bedroom or office door or wall!All posters include FREE UK delivery. Order the new 2021/2022 92 Club & National League poster today!

Payments taken by PayPal or credit/debit card with 20% off using code: KICKOFF21

2021/2022 – 92 Clubs….. and more!
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A.C. Chievo Verona

AC Chievo – 2020/2021 Home

On the day that Serie A starts a new season and with Italy as European Champions, the confirmation has come through that Chievo have ceased to be.

Last month the club were relegated from Serie B to Serie D because of financial irregularities. Despite efforts being made to find investors, the search was successful and the club has had to admit defeat. There is probably no parallel in British football. Chievo were a one-off. Only twenty years ago they played in front of crowds of a few hundred l Mussi Volanti (The Flying Donkeys). In 2001 the club miraculously made it to Serie A where they remained, even more miraculously, for six seasons.

On field success with two seasons in Europe and even a Coppa Italia victory have often been overshadowed with off field scandals and rumours. In July their “rightful” place in Serie B was awarded to Cosenza as Chievo were unable to prove their financial viability.

A sad story. I had been looking forward to visiting the club (who groundshared with Hellas Verona at the Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi. As a groundhopper it is disappointing but there is another reason. In an age of Puma templates, Chievo had a unique shirt with the image of Cangrande I della Scala, a medieval Verona Lord.

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Footy Draws

FootyDraws

I am delighted to introduce you to one of my Twitter friends, Nick AKA Footy Draws

Hand drawn digital illustrations. Any player, any club, any moment. International stars, club heroes, or even Local Sunday League Legends! Pick up an existing print, or request a bespoke design! Deals on multiples and international shipping available.

Make contact via Facebook, Twitter or Etsy

Three Lions
Bruno

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La Liga

Real Madrid 2021/2022

I moved to Spain in 2001, so 20 years ago. In honesty I had not been a huge follower of Spanish football which certainly at international level had failed to deliver despite the galaxy of club sides. My interest in Spanish football started following a local side FC Torrevieja (as was!) that later became something of a legend four levels below La Liga. Crowds were regularly ten times bigger than the other 23 teams and often more. In other words we were reguarly getting bigger crowds than those in La Segunda, just one level down from La Liga. In English terms it would be like Bromley getting crowds ten times bigger than Boreham Wood or as big as QPR in the Championship. Work took me more and more to Madrid, my Spanish improved and high (-er!) speed internet enabled me to start following Real Madrid more closely until it became quite addictive! Probably Barcelona were more fashionable but De Gaal was never my favourite mananger. they had Puyol, Luis Enrique and De Boer but Real Madrid had Del Bosque in team which included Casillas, Morientes, Zidane, Figo, Ronaldo (Brazilian!) and more. No contest!

So for the past 20 years, I have closely followed las camisetas (the shirts) in La Liga and below. Obviously Real Madrid are globally famous for the miniaturistic white shirt whilst Barcelona’s is their emblematic blue and scarlet. Athletic’s red and white mirror Southampton’s eternal red and white stripes. Sevilla are loyal to their white and red, whilst across town Real Betis are green and white. Fortunately, Sevilla’s “cucumber” strip was a one-off publicity stunt as was Atletico’s Spiderman!



This season’s La Liga shirts have been collected by PlanetaFobal . Enjoy!

Real Sociedad
Real Sociedad – Covid Launch
Athletic Bilbao – 2021/2022
Sevilla 2021/2022

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