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The Importance of Sport (NEW CONCEPTS)
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Mick Harper
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The thing that most most infuriates me about televised football is the habit of the camera dwelling on faces in the stands, on the bench or in the manager's box while the commentator waxes forth about them. You can see their heads moving from side to side as they watch the action and one hopes desperately one will be able to watch the action oneself any time soon.
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Mick Harper
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The Konate red card is an incredible travesty especially now that the three voices of RefWatch have joined the universal chorus of approval.

I know it's boringly Carrotish but can I say yet again that everybody on the pitch is entitled to stand wherever they want. If Havertz is steaming up the park with the ball, Konate is entitled to be in his way. Where else should he be, having a hotdog in the Sir Jack Willshire stand? If Havertz insists on clattering into Konate that's not only his lookout, it is bordering on common assault. If Havertz then clutches his face as if Konate punched him (there was no contact at all) it is Havertz that should be in the early bath not Konate.
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Grant



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It's happening in rugby as well. Regularly players just standing there get sent off for dangerous play when someone clatters into them.

What's going on? They used to be contact sports.
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Mick Harper
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Yes, but the appeal of them (i.e. qua professional sport) is the non-contact part. Therefore the legislators are always on the side of the bloke trying to dance his way through, not the bloke who's trying to stop him. It's a huge bone of contention as well in basketball, a supposedly non-contact sport.

Gridiron, as usual, shows the way. There, it's the entire team's responsibility to prevent people getting in the way of the ball-carrier.
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Mick Harper
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What is to be done about Root? One can accept fluctuations in form. One can even accept his majestic career may be coming to an end. What one cannot abide is a number four batsman, with the team up against it, playing reverse sweeps, scoops and charges down the pitch before his knees have got brown in the middle.

My solution? Play him as a spinner batting at number eight and promote one of the spinners to number four.
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Mick Harper
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Whatever happened to cross-country? At this time of the year the back pages would be full of thin looking chaps bent slightly double with hands at their waists, palms outwards. Was it when schools started offering a golf option? The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner getting a Novello nomination? A mystery for someone to solve.
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Mick Harper
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You may not have heard of the Sunday Wembley Cup but that's because you didn't know Wembley is an area of London as well as the Field of Dreams. It even has its own cup competition. In fact they have already reached the semi-final stage, Candi vs MHFC. For those not up with the North London amateur scene, Candi is Camden and Islington United, and MHFC stands for... ah, there's the problem. Although that's the name they're registered under, it originally stood for Munter Hunters FC. No, I don't know what a munter is, but the Guardian does

'Munter' is a derogatory term for someone who is unattractive and is typically targeted at women.

You can just see them, sitting round the pub table. "Yeah, sounds good, my five-a-side's just broke up." "What are we going to call ourselves?" "Willesden & Neasden United." "Bit of a mouthful, what for short?" "The Willie-Nillies?" "That's a bit off." "Better than your five-a-side, the Munter Hunters." "I'm not so sure, half of are from Kilburn." "Fuck it." "You'll be lucky."

Players at the community-owned football club Camden and Islington United (Candi) decided to boycott their Sunday Wembley Cup semi-final after being exposed to “horrific examples of misogyny” by their opponents, Munter Hunters FC. Candi are holders of the Sunday Wembley Cup but, after reporting the issue to the London Football League and the Amateur Football Alliance, they withdrew from the competition after the league refused to postpone the game while the case was investigated.

“Some things are bigger than football,” said Kai-Yen Thomas, the men’s player representative on the Candi board.

It's one way of getting to a Wembley final.
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Mick Harper
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Things You Didn't Expect Euro Edition

Granit Xhaka has been a revelation in the centre, playing more progressive passes than any other player in Europe

We had a player of the same name. Perhaps his son.

The announcement that the Brazilian winger Sávio, on loan from Troyes, will be joining Manchester City underlined the flaw in the fairytale. Troyes and Girona are owned by the City Football Group. Forty-seven per cent of Girona belongs to City; Pep Guardiola’s brother Pere owns 16%.

I'll be looking forward to those match-ups when they're drawn together in the UEFA Boardroom Cup.

Dovbyk is La Liga’s joint-top scorer on 14 with Jude Bellingham, who cost €103m.

Look here, chaps, we don't mind you giving him an international veneer but he's our international midfield dynamo for the ages, so don't start filling his head with Golden Boots. We've got Harry Kane and er... Harry Kane to do the goal bit.
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Mick Harper
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Is it it my imagination or are both Liverpool and Man City crap?
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Mick Harper
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For some reason, my story about Munter Hunters is getting lots of traction (by my standards). I was going to strike while the irons were hot with the following piece but I'm not sure about it. Give me some feedback. (It's a lowish bar on Medium.)

----------------

Winter, summer, spring or fall 
All you've got to do is call


So now we're losing players to the Asian Cup as well as the African Cup of Nations. It only remains for the Europeans to have one and we'll barely be able to put eleven players on the park. Where's it going to end?

Hold up. The Europeans do have one. We're in it. It's in the summer. It's in the summer precisely so it won't affect the Premier League. Apart from everyone turning up for pre-season in August complaining of exhaustion. A few games in familiar surroundings takes care of that.

Hang about. Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't Asia in the same climate zone as Europe? Just along a bit. Wrong time but right neck of the woods. Why can't they play their cup competition in the summer? If we can suffer, so can they. It's in a good cause. While we're on the subject, isn't Africa somewhere near the Equator? What difference does it make to them whether it's winter or summer. Or both. Or vice versa. I don't know the ins and outs of the situation but they can play it in our summer, no sweat, that's the point.

If it's some sort of mute protest about neo-colonialism then that's not much of an argument. That'll change with levelling up and it will be our lads leaving their premier leagues for a month to play in EURO 2086. I know they don't play in boots but when it does happen they'll find it's on the other foot. And they'll learn how hard it is to operate a midfield shorn of their European dynamos.

Here's a suggestion that will put an end once and for all to strife on Planet Football. It's simple, it's easy to understood, it's the same playing field for both sides. Everyone plays international football tournaments in the summer, whenever that is and wherever they are. Apart from South America.
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Mick Harper
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I have discovered only three Medium members viewed the Munter story (about average) but twenty-odd non-members did (unprecedented). This can only mean it was 'retweeted' or whatever on some platform or other. Intriguing and useful (if I could discover how). Maybe sports stories are the key to success.
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Mick Harper
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Skyman: Well, Dermo, is that a pen or not?
Dermot Gallagher: Of course it isn't. His arm can't be tucked in more than that.
Justice Cocklecarrot: Exactly. It's in an entirely unnatural position. If it was where it should have been just dangling by his side, the ball would have struck his torso. Penalty all day long.
Skyman: Yes, but surely it's the new normal.
Dermo: The Cocker's right. He's always right. Our lodestar, if you will.
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Mick Harper
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With the Super Bowl done and dusted (the USA won) the two characters I spend two hours of every day watching (year round not just in season) were discussing the differences between watching sport on telly and watching it live, for real, in the stadium. This had come about because the pair of them watch all NFL matches on the box, it's their job, and only the Super Bowl live, for real, in the (this year, Las Vegas) stadium, also as part of their official duties.

As it happens, something similar happened to me recently. I too watch all football on the box except once in a blue moon I get invited to a West Ham vs Arsenal at the London Stadium. I did so last season and I've just watched it on the telly this season. I had to agree with my American counterparts, you get a far better view of the action on the small screen. It's an all-round better experience. Though for contractual reasons they didn't quite put it in those terms.
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Mick Harper
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Eurofootie was an unusually disappointing experience this week. Now they break up the last sixteen matches into two weeks -- and with Newcastle and Man U failing to do their duty -- we had Copenhagen vs Man City, and that was it. So predictable I ignored the live match and played the highlights at double speed.

Still, Arsenal next week against some no-hopers. Better make the most of it, they've got no hope of going further since not signing Ivan Toney in the window. All right, he's coming in the summer but the Arteta window will be over by then.
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Mick Harper
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You normally think of knock-out matches as being intrinsically more exciting than league games but not so in Euroland. Watching the first legs in the knock-out rounds you just think 'Ho hum, it's only the first leg, who cares?' In the qualifying groups every match counted.

PS I'm still not used to away goals not counting double even though there is no reason why they should. Can anyone remember why they were introduced in the first place?
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