Football Injuries: The Risky, the Common, and the Hazardous

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For a lot of people, we forget how severe injuries can be for footballers. It’s easy to assume that due to professional footballers wages, injury can’t possibly be that much of an inconvenience – what we forget is that not all footballers are professional. For those that play football week in, week out for nothing more than their own love of the sport, injury can be a massive problem if you suffer an injury that hinders you from working for any period of time.

Many non-professional football enthusiasts partake in Sunday league and Amateur league football which is played in a league structure with fixtures against other clubs in their local leagues. It may not have the same popularity as professional football does – but it does come with the same risks.

The problem with lower league and amateur football is that if an injury does occur, it can become confusing when looking for medical assistance. As opposed to the top quality treatment you would receive should you be playing for one of football’s top clubs in the premier league.

Head injuries are one of the game’s most high profile issues since the 2014 FIFA Men’s World Cup, this is because of the scrutiny they have received upon how they should be treated. Football is not a delicate sport, despite the referee’s becoming more and more strict regarding the type of challenges that earn you a punishment, accidents still do happen. It is expected that head injuries are a danger of the support, however there is a debate on how to deal with them.

New rules state that the referee must stop the game if they believe that a player has suffered a head injury, even down to concussion. This is because even the least severe head injuries can quickly become severe if they are not treated properly. Claims can be made if you believe that you have not been treated correctly when suffering from a head injury.

Another common risk for footballers of all abilities is the risk of ligament damage. This can happen with little or no contact at all. One of the most well-known injuries that footballers can sustain is the cruciate ligament. The knee is made up of four ligaments, and the cruciate ligament is one of these. Damage to any ligament in your knees is going to cause discomfort. Ligament damage can have long term effects, such as arthritis later on in life if not treated correctly.

Of course, with contact sports come major injuries – such as broken bones. This is most likely to be one of the most hazardous aspects of the ‘beautiful game’ that we see commonly. It is just as common in non-professional football as it is professionally; it needs to be treated correctly and swiftly.

If the bone that is broken breaks the skin and tissue surrounding it, you can end up with a bad infection on top of the broken bone. To avoid this you need to find the correct treatment as quickly as possible to make sure no damage is caused in the long term.

Sunday league football can be fun, but you can come across people that will neglect your needs if you suffer from a footballing injury. This can mean you are eligible for a claim due to being treated with either negligence or malice.

Usually Sunday league pitches aren’t high standard, with the grass sometimes growing too long it can mean an increase in twisted ankles – and injuries. On the other hand, you might also come across competitors that will put in tackles that don’t get the ball, and deal a nasty injury to you. In these instances you would be eligible for legal action.

The repercussions of most injuries sustained throughout your career of playing football are likely to be very minor, maybe leaving you feeling discomfort for a couple of hours or days. However, you may suffer from a severe injury that could have an effect on your quality of life afterwards. Should this be the case, then it is likely you are legible for a case due to the fact you might be placed under financial strains because of the fact you can’t attend work for a period of time.

If this is the case there is legal help you can get from law firms like Thomson Snell & Passmore from Kent and Thames Gate.  There personal injury solicitors specialise in sports injuries and you can even arrange an meeting with on of their personal injury solicitors at their offices in Kent or Dartford for a free consultation and you can find out more on their personal injury page.


Written by Aedan Kiernan

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Stoke City: The Potters trying to finish as high as possible to get due recognition for Mark Hughes

Stoke City manager Mark Hughes had to be insistent, after seeing his side lose 1-2 at home to Crystal Palace on Saturday, that his team’s season would not peter out”. It is indeed in danger of that happening, with defeats in their last 2 games before they head to Chelsea in a fortnight’s time. Their position in the top 10 is insulated by 6 points over Palace but Hughes said it was “important that we finish strongly”, refusing to let any complacency give a bittersweet ending to what has been another impressive season for Hughes and the Potters.

With 8 games left Hughes is 9 points away from bettering last season’s tally of 50 which was their highest in the Premier League since returning in 2008. So far Hughes has eclipsed former manager Tony Pulis’s league performance and is again on course to surpass his predecessor’s best points total of 47, achieved in 2009-10.

It has been a season which has seen the often overlooked Stoke record wins at Tottenham and Manchester City, do the double over Everton and, as seems to be the usual in this modern day Premier League, beat Arsenal at home. It is easy to see why Hughes is desperate to see his team end the campaign on a high note as they involve themselves in a three-way tussle with Swansea City and West Ham United for 8th place which would be the highest the club has ever finished.

Their previous best was the ninth place that Hughes led them to last year in his debut season as a manager who among certain sections of the Stoke support wasn’t the most popular choice to follow Pulis. The Welshman, appointed on a C.V that included impressive spells with Blackburn and Fulham but tarnished with failures with blank chequebooks at Manchester City and QPR, had the jury very much out and the pressure on as he inherited a side that had probably ran its course under the regimental guise of Pulis.

“I got the job because there was a feeling that the team was starting to fail”, was Hughes’s recent verdict, “the way we have progressed since has been quite exceptional.” On the second point it is hard to argue. In Pulis’s 5 years in the top tier at the Britannia his team only once managed above 38 goals (the 46 they managed in 2010-11), but this season they already have 34 goals and gone is the perception that they are over-reliant on an overly physical threat from corners and free-kicks. This term, only Liverpool and Swansea have scored less from set-pieces than Stoke’s five.

Although they remain typically stout defensively, their total of 37 goals shipped is bettered only by the current top 6, Hughes has encouraged more fluid and aesthetic football with a greater emphasis on short, crisp passing. That has stemmed originally from the back with the arrival of Marc Muniesa, forged in Barcelona’s technical breeding ground of La Masia, and Erik Pieters, good enough to earn 18 caps for the Netherlands during his time with PSV Eindhoven.

Ryan Shawcross meanwhile has continued his excellent form as club captain but Robert Huth, a symbol of the imposing physicality synonymous with Pulis, found himself immediately out of favour with Hughes and has since been shipped out on loan to Leicester City. Phil Bardsley has been brought in to provide energetic forward runs from right-back and together with left-back Pieters, they have combined to create a total of 31 chances.

A back four that utilises attacking full-backs and passing out from the centre-halves was perceived as anathema to Pulis but under Hughes, it has become natural.

The signings of Muniesa and Bardsley, both for free, and the £3 million acquisition of Pieters gives further detail to the quality of Hughes’s job at the Britannia, now having to make do with a restricted budget in contrast to the heady days of Pulis who, backed by chairman Peter Coates, oversaw a transfer policy that recorded a net spend of nearly £80 million in five years.

Last summer however Stoke spent the least amount on transfers out of the 20 Premier League clubs and with austerity ushered in at the Britannia, Hughes has had to revert to a management style geared more to getting the best out of cut-price dealings rather than paying big fees and having to manage the big egos that invariably come with the high wages. To make notable progression despite spending just £6.2 million across four transfer windows, especially in English football’s current climate of gargantuan spending, has deserved the highest of praise.

As well as Muniesa and Bardsley, Mame Biram Diouf, whose 8 goals puts him as Stoke’s top scorer, was also a free transfer while Steve Sidwell also came for nothing from Fulham to add his experience and steel to the midfield. The loan market has been used effectively for Victor Moses, who has brought his vibrant wing-play from Chelsea to be rated as Stoke’s best player from 18 league appearances, in the same way as Hughes did last year for Liverpool’s Oussama Assaidi.

Phillip Wollscheid has also been taken on loan from Bayer Leverkusen and the 26 year old centre-half, who has the option to make the move permanent in the summer, has made a quick impact as he looks to rebuild his career in England.

Perhaps most impressively though, the cut-price signings of Marko Arnautovic, for £2.4 million, and Bojan Krkic, for £1.5 million, have been huge successes for Hughes despite initially appearing as gambles. Once likened to a child by Jose Mourinho and happily wished goodbye by Werder Bremen after a string of controversies, the Austrian has been tamed by Hughes and turned into an effective squad option while Bojan, with his confidence shattered after failures with AC Milan, Roma and Ajax, produced some remarkable form for Stoke before knee injury cruelly curtailed his season in January. Hughes’s man-management expertise has shone through in both of them.

The Pulis era still remains prevalent throughout the team with Steven N’Zonzi and Glenn Whelan forming a midfield partnership that combines craft, energy and combativeness while John Walters provides his tireless work-rate on the right of the attack. He has 7 goals together with Peter Crouch who continues to lead the attacking line with a scoring touch and an underrated intelligence on the ball.

The 34 year old still tends to deceive with his gangly 6ft 7 inch frame, possessing quick, clever feet and good vision which makes him effective at holding the ball up and linking-play, something that Hughes’s philosophy of neat, attractive build-up play, has used more of.

Therefore the manager is probably right when he claims that he put the groundwork in place for Hughes to build on but there is undoubted progress, both in playing style and results, under the new regime. The focus will now go on trying to gain another record finish but even if they fall short, there can be no taking away from the superb job Hughes is doing with Stoke.


Written by Adam Gray

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Top 10 British Sporting Cities

Britain truly is the home of organised sport, and her sporting influence is felt across the globe. Whether you’re a South American footballer, a North American golfer, an Indian cricketer, an Australasian Rugby star, or a Chinese snooker player, you owe it all to the sporting heritage of the UK.

This article aims to tap into the lucrative market of British sporting tourism. The ten featured cities range from the metropolis of London, to smaller destinations such as Preston and St. Andrews.



London is easily the UK’s largest city, so it not surprising that some of the nation’s most famous sporting venues are found here. The north London skyline is dominated by the newly refurbished Wembley Stadium, which plays host to international matches, and domestic cup finals, such as the F.A. Cup. In addition to the national arena, there are also a dozen league clubs to be found in and around London.

The English Rugby Union side also play their home games in North London, at the majestic Twickenham Stadium, with its 80,000 capacity. Tennis enthusiasts flock to the lawns of Wimbledon for a fortnight each summer, to view the oldest Grand Slam tournament.

Whilst the spiritual home of World Cricket is also to found in London, at Lord’s Cricket Ground. Finally, from 2012 onwards the sporting tourist will have the chance to visit the Olympic Stadium in the East End of the capital.



Whereas Aintree in Lancashire claims the Grand National, the town of Cheltenham holds the three-day racing festival that offers the tourist the best atmosphere of any Horse Racing event in the world.

This is due in part to the pleasant Cotswold Hills that overlook the Race Course, and the high standard of equestrianism, but above all the wave of Irish punters who flock annually to this elegant corner of England.

Every March the usually sleepy town is transformed into a home from home for thousands of Irish racing enthusiasts, even when there isn’t an Irish trained winner, the Guinness is sure to flow long into the night.



Rugby Union was invented in an English Public School almost two hundred years ago, but the spiritual home of British rugby is undoubtedly in South Wales. There are many proud ‘Rugger’ towns in the vicinity, but Cardiff is the site of the Millennium Stadium, with its retractable roof.

Built as a replacement for Cardiff Arms Park, the most hallowed of twentieth century rugby grounds, the Millennium Stadium represents not only the pastime of Wales, but also the regeneration of the Welsh capital.

The Millennium Stadium also hosted the English F.A. Cup between 2001 and 2007, during the renovation of Wembley Stadium.



The East Midlands city of Nottingham is the smallest English city with two football teams, Notts. County and Nottingham Forest, the latter having twice won the European Cup. The riverside stadium of Trent Bridge is a scenic venue for Test Match cricket.

In addition, the National Water Sports Centre is one of the most impressive leisure facilities in Britain. The fast-flowing artificially created rapids challenge Britain’s elite canoeists, kayakers, and white water rafters.

Whilst the two kilometre long Regatta Lake caters for the needs of Britain’s hugely successful Olympic rowing team.



Both Sheffield football teams, Wednesday and United have been crowned English champions, but perhaps the hilly Yorkshire city’s most famous sporting association is with snooker.

The Snooker World Championship is held every spring in Sheffield, in what is literally the most dramatic setting for any high profile sporting event, the Crucible Theatre.



Yorkshire is perhaps the proudest of all English cricketing counties, and there are few venues in the world that can match Headingly for nostalgia, and passionate support. Cricket is a way of life in Yorkshire, and until very recently only those born within the Four Ridings of Yorkshire could qualify for the county team.

The cricketing ground is next door to the home of Leeds Rhinos Rugby League Club, who have enjoyed recent successes that Leeds Football Club can only dream of.

However, despite its tenants falling on hard times, the footballing stadium of Elland Road still makes an impact on the visitor.



There’s more to Manchester than Old Trafford, though the home of Man. United does attract fans from around the World. Local rivals Manchester City also boast an impressive stadium, which was originally constructed for the Commonwealth Games of 2002.

In addition to the two large stadia that between them can hold 125,000 spectators, the city also hosts the Manchester Velodrome, one of the World’s premier cycling venues.

For fans of the oval ball, the rugby league towns of Salford, Wigan, and St. Helens are a just a short hop away.



The small Lancashire city of Preston has one major claim to fame, namely being the Mecca of world club football. Preston’s unparalleled footballing heritage, centres around the recently refurbished Deepdale stadium, home of the famous Preston North End Football Club.

Deepdale is the oldest professional football ground anywhere on Earth (football was first played here in 1880), and consequently the English F.A. chose as the site for the National History Museum, a must-see for football fanatics of any allegiance.

The Museum has an extensive collection of artefacts from the nineteenth century to the present day. There are also many interactive amusements for children, and the opportunity to view the hallowed turf of Deepdale itself.

Preston has excellent transport links due to it’s proximity to the M6, and the West Coast railway that connects the Midlands to Scotland.



Glasgow, not Edinburgh, is the footballing capital of Scotland, as testified by the majestic sight of Hampden Park. Hampden is the headquarters of the SFA, the second oldest football association in the World, and it also holds the Scottish Football Museum.

The rivalry between the two main Glaswegian teams, Celtic and Rangers is perhaps the fiercest in Europe. Rangers have won the Scottish League more times, but Celtic was the first British team to lift the European Cup back in 1967.

Both grounds are worth a visit; Celtic Park (Parkhead to traditionalists) is the bigger of the two, and holds over 60,000 supporters, however it lacks the red-bricked elegance of Rangers’ Ibrox Stadium.

In fact, Glasgow is the only European city that can claim three football venues with a capacity of over 50,000. However in the summer of 2014, football will for once take a back seat, as Glasgow hosts the Commonwealth Games.


St. Andrews

Scotland’s association with golf goes back many centuries, in fact it is said that Mary Queen of Scots enjoyed the game. Though the Fife town has a population of little more than 15,000, it is home to the world’s most famous golf club, the Royal and Ancient (founded in 1754), plus a dozen pristine golf courses in the vicinity of this historical university town.

The advantage of a trip to this seaside location, is that any party members who are not interested in golf, can enjoy the beach, or the rustic charm of St. Andrew’s many old buildings.


Written by Brian Heller

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Franco Vazquez: This season’s Serie A revelation

Franco Vazquez has been something of a revelation in Serie A this season. The 26-year old Argentine attacking midfielder is contributing to a fine season for his club Palermo, the Sicilian outfit sit tenth in the table – after achieving promotion from Serie B just last season.

He was bought to Sicily in 2011 to replace Javier Pastore, who was sold to PSG for approximately €23m that summer. While succeeding his fellow countryman was not an easy task, Vazquez is finally proving that he has the abilities and talent to take over the reigns.

Vasquez and attacking team mate Paulo Dybala have formed an outstanding partnership up front. To put it into perspective, Palermo have scored 38 league goals so far this season — these two players have been responsible for 35 of them.

Dybala has received most of the praise for Palermo’s terrific season thus far, but for me, Vasquez is equally as important to Giuseppe Iachini’s side.

Franco has notched up 7 goals and 9 assists so far this season.  When you compare those statistics to other top performers (in his position) in the league, it’s rather impressive. See the graphic below:

A wonderful performance against Napoli demonstrated what a talented young man Vasquez really is. He was unstoppable in that league game last month - he struck a superb goal and created another in their 3-1 victory over the Champions League chasing Napoli. Below are the highlights from that performance, in which Vazquez labelled himself as ‘the perfect performance’.

Still yet to represent Argentina, there is talk that Italy head coach Antonio Conte may call him up. Vasquez qualifies to represent Italy because his mother is from Padua (North East of Italy).  Franco is more than open to the idea;

“My mum would be delighted. But she always told me to do what I felt was best for me. She didn’t have to do any convincing. I’ve always said that I feel half Italian. My mum is from Padua and I’ve got lots of relatives there. It would be an honour.”

He then added,

“For me, he’s (Conte) one of the best coaches in the world. You don’t win three scudettos in a row by fluke. He emits such a motivational air, just like our club coach [Giuseppe Iachini]. If Conte asked, I would even play in midfield — I’ve done it at Palermo so of course I’d do it for the national team.”

Vazquez may get to do it in March when Italy face Bulgaria in a Euro 2016 qualifier. If his performances continue, Franco could find himself at a big club come next season.


Written by Serie A Writer

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Lazio: The Biancocelesti could be on their way back to the glory days under Stefano Pioli

Stefano Pioli spoke excitedly after witnessing his team negotiate a difficult trip to Torino and come away with a 0-2 win. “I think we’ve gained a winning mentality, built thanks to positive results which gave us confidence” said Lazio’s coach and if winning mentality is a phrase a little overused among the buzzwords of modern football, it is definitely true in the case of the Biancocelesti. Torino had lost just once at home since September but Pioli’s Lazio would record their fifth win in a row to move 3 points clear of Napoli in the race for the third Champions League qualifying spot.

Lazio would be without the suspended Antonio Candreva who with 37 chances produced and 7 assists is their most creative outlet, but attacking midfielder Felipe Anderson would step into the void with 2 goals.

The Brazilian now has 8 goals, making him the club’s joint top-scorer with Stefano Mauri and Miroslav Klose, and 6 assists, leaving him one short of Candreva. After struggling in his first year in Italy following an €8 million move from Santos in June 2013, few have been left with doubts over the ability of the 21 year old who continues to enjoy a remarkable second season.Felipe Anderson has enormous potential,” Pioli said, “He can become a player who will be unstoppable for his opponents.”

Shorn also of long-term injury absentee Filip Djordjevic, the main centre-forward who had scored 7 goals before fracturing his ankle against AC Milan in January, Pioli has relied on experience to take-over the goal-scoring mantle left behind by the Serbian and hasn’t been let down, with 35 year old Mauri and 36 year old Klose still producing the goods at a ripe old age.

The versatile Candreva meanwhile, nicknamed “The Moped” for his reliability and work-rate, has continued his excellent form on the right side of the front 3, making a mockery of the £4.5 million it took for the Rome club to sign the 28 year old from Udinese in 2012.

Recent performances have included that thrashing of Milan as well as handsome victories over Sassuolo and far more impressively Fiorentina, fellow challengers to the Serie A’s top 3 places and Champions League qualification. Pioli has also guided them into the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia, where they are poised 1-1 with Napoli ahead of the second leg in Naples.

The season has marked a breakthrough for Pioli who has previously failed to make his mark in Serie A despite some relative successes down the Italian football pyramid. A 3 year spell at Bologna was undermined by budget restrictions and poor form which culminated in the relegation campaign of last season and he was set free to replace Edoardo Reja at the Stadio Olimpico last June.

Though met with initial disillusionment by Lazio supporters he was cited as the antidote to Reja’s inflexibility and overriding caution, a low-cost manager with a reputation for entertaining football and developing young talent.

The football has undoubtedly been entertaining, only league leaders Juventus have scored more than Lazio’s 49 goals and nobody has netted more times on the road than the Biancocelesti. “Lazio are playing with pace, intensity and an overwhelming dominance which make it very enjoyable to watch. I have not seen such exciting matches in Serie A for some time” is the verdict of former coach Dino Zoff, who says this current Lazio team is the best since the Sergio Cragnotti-funded Scudetto winning side of 1999-2000 under Sven Goran Eriksson.

Pioli has stuck invariably to a 4-3-3 which operates with a high defensive line designed to force opposing teams back and to put pressure and establish possession in the opponent’s half. A driving force behind that is Marco Parolo who has made his £4.8 million summer move from Parma look a bargain with his energetic displays and attacking runs which have got him 6 goals. The midfielder has featured the most under Pioli, missing just 2 of Lazio’s 27 league games so far.

Alongside him Argentine midfielder Lucas Biglia has missed only 6 games and provides his competitive edge and experience in the engine room while fellow 29 year old Senad Lulic provides an option on the left of a midfield three, another who possesses stamina, energy and dynamism, traits that are so appealing to Pioli’s philosophy. Meanwhile veterans Lorik Cana and Christian Ledesma remain indispensable squad options on hand to provide their wealth of know-how should it be required.

Pioli’s style also preaches adventurous full-backs so it is perhaps no surprise that first choice pairing Dusan Basta and Stefan Radu have combined to create a total of 26 chances while cover options Luis Pedro Cavanda and Edson Braafhied have got forward to make 7 and 12 chances respectively. That can leave them vulnerable on the counter attack but when they have time to get in shape Pioli’s men stay extremely well organised and resilient, their rate of 20.7 tackles and 19 interceptions per game are league highs in the respective columns.

Only the top 2 of Juventus and Roma have conceded less than Lazio’s 27 and this recent 5 game winning run has been geared by a stingy defence that has shipped just 1 goal in that period. Pioli’s most expensive signing last summer, the £5 million Dutch centre-half Stefan De Vrij, has been a huge success in his first year in Italy and the 23 year old has plenty of time to improve even further while Mauricio, loaned in from Sporting Lisbon in January with the option to make it permanent in the summer, has settled in well alongside him.

It has all made for a successful mix that has given Pioli cause to set his sights not only a return to the Champions League for the first time in 8 seasons but on overcoming city rivals Roma and finishing in the top 2. “What exactly is our target? To win every game and get back into Europe. Is second place a taboo?” asked Pioli. “No, it’s not. If we win all our games, then we’ll finish high up the standings.”

With the dazzling youthful qualities of De Vrij, Felipe Anderson and the highly-rated 20 year old Keita Badle Diao mixing with the imperious experience of Klose, Mauri, Cana and Ledesma, then glossed with the skills of Parolo and Candreva, there should be no limit to the ambitions Lazio harbour under Pioli.

In the white and blue half of Rome, the glory days may be coming back again.


Written by Adam Gray

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Arthur Wharton: Britain’s first black professional footballer

In the late nineteenth century, Arthur Wharton (1865-1930) was an athlete of legendary proportions, competing at the top level in many sports including cycling, rugby, cricket athletics and football.  It was previously believed that Wharton was the first ever black football player; however new evidence has recently come to light that shows this distinction goes to Andrew Watson, who played in Scotland in the 1870s.

Despite this, Wharton was a pioneer in the sporting world, competing in arenas almost universally occupied by white people. He was a well-liked, well respected competitor but unfortunately, his life story did not have a happy ending.

In 1875 Wharton and his father, the Rev Henry Wharton, moved from the West Indies to England.  He attended Dr Cheyne’s school in London from 1875 and in 1882, he began training as a missionary teacher at Shoal Hill College and two years later at Cleveland College in London.

In 1886, at the age of 20 Wharton entered the Amateur Athletics Association (AAA) Championships at Stamford Bridge.  As well as becoming the first black athlete to win an AAA championship, he also set a new world record at the event becoming the first man ever to run 100 yards in 10 seconds flat.

Later that year, Wharton signed a professional contract with Preston North End football club, one the top teams in the world at that time.  Ironically, despite being the fastest man on earth, he was to become a highly respected goalkeeper.

Wharton had a reputation as a hard man on the field and when he unleashed his trademark ‘prodigious punch’, it was said that he always connected with ether the ball, or an opponents head!  In those days a goalie could handle the ball anywhere in his own half and players could barge him whether he was on or off the ball, which explains the logic of having a fast, powerful goalkeeper.

Wharton seems to have relished the more physical side of the game and like many goalkeepers, he seems to have had an eccentric streak.  In a letter to the Sheffield Telegraph and Independent (January 12, 2022), T. H. Smith wrote;

“In a match between Rotherham and Sheffield Wednesday at Olive Grove I saw Wharton jump, take hold of the cross bar, catch the ball between his legs, and cause three onrushing forwards - Billy Ingham, Clinks Mumford and Mickey Bennett - to fall into the net.  I have never seen a similar save since and I have been watching football for over fifty years”.

Wharton stayed at Preston North End for three years before signing for Rotherham United in 1889.  Five years later he moved to Sheffield United were he spent a miserable year, finding it difficult to hold a regular first team place.  In 1895 he went back to Rotherham United, where he played in only fifteen league games in six years.

During his time at Rotherham, Wharton was also a pub landlord, running the Albert Tavern and later the Plough Inn in Rotherham then the Sportsman Cottage pub in Sheffield.  During this period, he developed a drinking problem, causing his career to nose dive and eventually forcing him to retire from football in 1902.

He spent the rest of his life as a colliery haulage worker and by the time he died, on the 12th of December 1930, of epithelioma and syphilis, he had fallen into obscurity and was a penniless alcoholic.

In recent years, Wharton’s name has been brought out of obscurity and, while he is by no means a household name, a number of articles and a few books have been written about him.

A colourful and well respected all round sportsman, Wharton was a trailblazer for black sportsmen throughout the Western world and deserves his place in history as one of the greatest athletes of his day.

In 1886, Arthur Wharton became the fastest man on earth when he ran 100 yards in 10 seconds flat.  Soon after, he became only the second black man to play top level football.

Despite his blistering pace, Wharton had a successful career as a goalkeeper and left a mark on the beautiful game.


Written by Auron Renius

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Danny Ings: England cap not just yet in the offing, but the Burnley striker shows the talent to go far

Burnley’s 1-0 victory over Manchester City on Saturday evening gave the Lancashire outfit a real chance of staying in the Premier League against the odds in what would be an extraordinary achievement for Sean Dyche and his shoe-string assembled squad. A season that has seen them take points off Chelsea, Manchester United, Southampton and now the current title-holders has already made it a sensational campaign for the Clarets who may be about to see one of their players earn a cap for England for the first time since Martin Dobson in 1974.

Danny Ings faces solid competition from the likes of Harry Kane, Saido Berahino and Charlie Austin to be the new star in Roy Hodgson’s attack for the matches with Lithuania and Italy at the end of March but, despite having scored less than his rivals, his 9 Premier League goals are extremely hard to ignore. That is certainly the case with Real Sociedad, Newcastle, Everton, Arsenal, Liverpool and most recently Manchester United, all whom have expressed an interest in signing Ings once his contract expires in June.

Amid the rumours that have circulated since October which have told of Ings rejecting a new contract offer at Burnley, seeing a £4 million bid from Liverpool turned down in January and having signed a pre-contract deal with Real Sociedad, it has indeed been testament to the man-management skills of Dyche and the application of Ings that his performances have not suffered in the face of such rife speculation.

The 23 year old has missed just 3 league matches and although he’s rated as Burnley’s 6th best player by, his 9 goals, 4 assists and a rate of 1 chance created per game make Ings by far their biggest threat.

Both goals in the victory over Stoke, vital goals in draws with Newcastle and West Bromwich Albion and the winner over relegation rivals QPR have been indications to his cool-touch in-front of goal but many will point there is much more to his game than goal-scoring.

A player who is as comfortable turning with his back to goal and creating space between the lines as he is heading in a cross past David De Gea at Old Trafford, he is an intelligent reader of the game, one who operates with astute movement and a desire to run in behind defenders and in to space. Running is certainly something he does a lot of, both off the ball and on it, it was not a surprise to recently hear his manager saying that the striker can be “criticised for trying too hard.

His work in providing Ashley Barnes for his recent goal against West Brom is an insight into the striker’s ability; the look over his shoulder whilst anticipating the long ball, the clever feint of the shoulder and the movement to retrieve the follow-up. Then he displays the strength to hold off two defenders before finding Barnes in the centre with an improvised cross.

The link-up with Barnes, Scott Arfield and George Boyd, with whom he played off in the victory over City, has been superb at times this season, often more deserving than the 25 points from 18 games Burnley have accrued. His understanding with Sam Vokes in the build up to Ings’s goal against QPR is almost telepathic, a sign of a player perfectly in synch with his team-mates and thriving off their service.

After scoring 26 goals to fire Burnley into the Premier League last year Ings was named the club’s player of the year and he looks set to retain that accolade by scoring the goals that could well keep them there against all expectation. If he manages to achieve that, few will begrudge him his decision to end his four years at Turf Moor and pursue his ambitions elsewhere.

When it is announced on Thursday, Hodgson’s next England team could be too soon for Ings who is likely to stay in the under-21s, for whom he has 4 goals in 7 appearances, but if he continues on his current path many senior caps are sure to come.


Written by Adam Gray

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Ashbourne, Derbyshire: The Home of Extreme Football

Football is played in many places around the world, with many different sets of rules, but there is only one place in the world where a type of football has been played continuously for a thousand years: Ashbourne, in Derbyshire, England.

The earliest written records of the game go back to the twelfth century, when the English king first tried to ban it! So the game is certainly older than that. Throughout history Kings, Queens, local councils and police forces have all tried to ban the game, but nobody has yet succeeded. Not even Kaiser Wilhelm III, nor Adolf Hitler, could stop it.

So committed are the people of Ashbourne to their game, that when the men were away fighting in the two World Wars, the women of the town took over, and made sure that the game continued!

In the end, the authorities gave up trying to ban it, and in 1928, a truce was called, and the then Prince of Wales, (later King Edward VIII) started the annual game, which was renamed “Royal Ashbourne Shrovetide Football.”

So what is it about this game that arouses so much animosity from the authorities, and such partisanship from its players?

First of all, this is football as it was originally played in medieval times, from the part of the world that gave football its two main codes, soccer and rugby. The Pilgrim Fathers also originated from this area, so it certainly influenced football in the United States, and the rest of the British Empire.

Think – football as an extreme sport!

The goals are three miles apart, and both are at the site of medieval mill wheels. The mills are long gone, but the posts remain, and to score a goal, the player must be in the river Henmore. The game is played on Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day) and Ash Wednesday each year, so it is quite common for players to have to break the ice in order to play in the river.

The town of Ashbourne takes up the area between the two goalposts, and so forms the field of play. As there are no limits to the number of people who can play, it is not uncommon to be standing in an ordinary street, and then find literally hundreds of men in ragged clothes and heavy working boots suddenly rushing towards you!

This is exhilarating, and frightening to the uninitiated, but there are always refuges for spectators, and the very friendly locals will always help a stranger to stay safe.

With so many people involved, some damage to property commonly occurs, hence the past antipathy of the authorities. However, nowadays, the games’ governing committee have a fund, and all damage caused by Shrovetiders is paid for.

Although minor injuries to players are common, the game is played in good friendly spirit, and so serious injuries are mercifully rare, and there have only been a handful of deaths throughout all of the game’s long history. Injuries to spectators are almost unheard of.

The game is played by two teams, the Uppards, who are either born upstream of the town, or have Uppards family connections, and the Downards, who are affiliated to the downstream area of the town.

Unlike most modern football games, the aim is to score an own goal, the Uppards take the ball to the upstream goal, at Sturston, the Downards take the ball to the downstream goal, at Clifton.

The ball is made of cork, wood shavings and leather. It has been made in the same way for centuries, and the secrets of ball making is passed down through families from generation.

As the ball usually spends a fair amount of time in the river, and manhandled by groups of men each determined that the ball will travel in opposite directions, it needs to be very robust. (This crowd of indeterminate numbers is known as the “Hug”, which is a very apt name for a crush of 20 to  60 or more players, each man seeking advantage for his team, and to touch the elusive ball, somewhere in the middle.) It is larger than a soccer ball, and over time tends to get very heavy as it absorbs water.

There are very few rules, although over the last few years a new rule has been introduced, for the first time, that the ball must not be carried in a car or other motor vehicle. (A problem the medieval players weren’t faced with.) Rough and tumble are traditional aspects to the game, and the game is played as it was in medieval times. This is not the sport for the faint hearted.

The game starts with a ceremonial meal, usually roast beef, where speeches are made, songs are sung, and the person who is to “turn up” the ball, or start the game, is introduced to the participants.

Traditionally this is held at the Green Man Hotel, an ancient coaching inn in the center of Ashbourne, also traditionally the site of public executions. (These are one Ashbourne tradition which has thankfully died out.)

After the meal, he is then carried, shoulder high, by a contingent of players, to the Plinth on Shaw Croft car park, where the game traditionally commences. Once on the plinth, with some of the Committee, players are exhorted to keep to the spirit of the game, reminded of its great history, and then the Shrovetide Song and the National Anthem are sung by the entire crowd.

Then the chosen person throws the brightly painted ball into the waiting crowd, to a huge cheer. (Usually the person turning up the ball on a Tuesday is a celebrity, while the person on a Wednesday is a local person of good standing.)

The players now attempt to take the ball to their team’s goal. If the ball is goaled before 5 pm., another ball is turned up. If the ball is goaled between 5 and 10 pm., the game ends with the goal. If the ball is not goaled before 10 pm., then the game is declared over for that day.

The locals are fiercely proud of their game, and are only too happy to explain the finer points of play to strangers.


Written by Kate

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Andrew Watson: The World’s First Black International Football Player

Taken from

Until recently, it was believed that the world’s first black footballer was Arthur Wharton, who played for Preston North End in the late nineteenth century.  However, evidence has recently come to light showing that a man by the name of Andrew Watson was playing in Scotland around ten years earlier than Wharton.

Watson was born in British Guyana in 1857 and later came to Britain, attending public school in Halifax.  In 1875 he enrolled in Glasgow University, where he studied Maths, Natural Philosophy, Civil Engineering and Mechanics.

Watson, who played on either side of defence or in midfield, began his playing career with Maxwell in Glasgow, followed by a stint at Parkgrove in 1874.  Later, he played for Queens Park, the top team in Scotland at the time, spending seven years there from 1880-1887.

According to the ‘Scottish Football Association Annual’ of 1880-81, he was:

“One of the very best backs we have; since joining Queen’s Park has made rapid strides to the front as a player; has great speed and tackles splendidly; a powerful and sure kick; well worthy of a place in any representative team.”

He is also known to have represented the London Swifts in the English Cup Championships (FA Cup) in 1882, becoming the first player of African descent to play in an English cup competition.  Watson won four Charity Cup medals and two Scottish Cup medals, the earliest of which was another milestone in football as he became the first non-white player to be in the winning side of any major football competition.

Watson also holds the distinction of being the first black international player.  Acknowledged in the ‘Who’s Who’ for his international performances, he represented Scotland three times from 1881 – 1882, in the International Challenge Match.  In his first international on the 12th of March 1881, Watson was captain and led Scotland to a 6-1 mauling of England at Kennington Oval in London, with a crowd of 8,500.

In his second, two days later, 1,500 people saw his side beat Wales 5-1 at Acton Park, Wrexham.  His team again hammered England a year later on 11 March 2022 in the same competition, beating them 5-1 at First Hampden Park in Glasgow, in front of 10,000 fans.

Watson was not only a pioneer on the field; as club secretary at Queens Park, he was probably the first black member of a football club’s boardroom. Watson spent most of his career as an amateur and was a seasoned and valued player at Queens Park when football officially went professional in 1885, although it is unclear whether he himself turned pro.

When his playing days were over, he and his family emigrated to Australia, where he remained the rest of his life.

After his death, Andrew Watson fell into obscurity but has now reemerged to claim his place in both football and black history.  As a successful black sportsman living at the end of the nineteenth century, it is easy to speculate on the difficulties and prejudices he would have undoubtedly faced.

However, despite the obstacles put before him, he had a successful career in a previously all white sport, and deserves to be remembered as one of histories true trail-blazers.

Recent evidence has come to light that reveals a man by the name of Andrew Watson was the world’s first black football player. Starting his career in 1874, he was successful at all levels of the game and set the path for those that would follow him.


Written by Auron Renius

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Di Natale and Quagliarella show ageless class as they remain as dangerous as ever in Serie A

There was a certain inevitably as to the identity of the opening two goal-scorers in Sunday’s meeting between Udinese and Torino. With Udinese’s lethal strike-force of 2007-2009 reunited at the Stadio Fruili, albeit on opposing teams, it was no surprise to see Fabio Quagliarella’s 15th minute opener cancelled out almost immediately by Antonio Di Natale. It would take the pair of evergreen strikers, at a combined age of 69, up to 10 goals each, just five goals behind Serie A’s leading scorer Carlos Tevez.

Such was the brilliance of Di Natale’s performance, named man of the match as he also assisted Molla Wague’s winner, his coach Andrea Stramaccioni issued a plea to his 37 year old frontman to reconsider his end of season retirement plans. “It makes no sense to retire now and I will try to convince him with these remaining games” he said, “He can’t be a player for 38 matches per season, but in 20 he still makes the difference.”

That Di Natale remains so integral to Udinese after 409 games for the club over a spell that is now into its eleventh season is both suggestive of the Zebrette’s failure to find a replacement and the brilliance of the striker who is seventh on the Serie A all-time top scorers list with 203 goals from 411 league appearances. The erstwhile striker is current top-scorer for Stramaccioni’s side with 10 and is also the leading assist-maker with 5, having failed to start just 5 of Udinese’s 25 league games so far.

Di Natale is a relative late-comer to prolific goal-scoring, previously tallying as much as 17 before the 29 he registered in 2009-10 began four straight seasons where he would manage in excess of 20 league goals as Udinese would break into the Serie A top 4 under Francesco Guidolin.

As he entered into his 30s, the age when many strikers see their goal-scoring powers begin to wane, Di Natale would thrive, hitting 67 league goals in 85 matches between August 2009 and December 2011. That was as many goals as he had managed in his previous six seasons.

Many would put his sudden conversion into such a potent striker to Guidolin’s introduction of the 3-4-3 and the ruthlessly efficient counter-attacking system that he preached. Though more of a cause was his conversion from a winger, he was often perceived as being too small to play the role as a centre-forward, after the departure of Quagliarella to Napoli in 2009.

“Playing in a more central role, he didn’t have to do the work that wide men are required to do, so he is sharper in front of goal” said the then-Udinese coach Pasquale Marino. What followed was successive capocannonieri (Serie A top-scorer) awards for 2010 and 2011 and the Italian Player of the Year award for 2010.

Quagliarella, who hasn’t quite managed to replicate the same kind of form that saw him plunder 21 goals for Udinese in 2008-09, has seen his career path take a slightly different path to his former team-mate’s but he remains as equally important to his club as he enters the autumn of his nomadic career.

Now in his third spell with Torino, the club he started out with in 1999, the 32 year old is also top-scorer with 10 and a regular face in Giampiero Ventura’s side that sits 7th in Serie A after going 12 games unbeaten, a sequence broken at the weekend by Di Natale and Udinese.

Four more goals have come in the Europa League where Torino are preparing to face Zenit St Petersburg in the quarter-finals and his total of 36 appearances so far (he has failed to start just 1 of Torino’s 26 league matches) marks his highest amount of appearances since managing the same number for Napoli in 2009-10.

Despite a trio of Serie A titles, the striker would experience 4 underwhelming years at Juventus on a personal level, only managing as much as 23 league goals from a total of 83 games and would find himself overshadowed by the likes of Carlos Tevez, Fernando Llorente and Mirko Vucinic; his resurgence at Torino resembles a Quagliarella reborn. He would also make a return to the Italy squad last September after an absence of four years, earning a call from his former Juventus boss Antonio Conte.

The race will be on now to see who finishes on top of the scoring battle between the former Udinese teammates and they are both one goal behind another veteran in Verona’s 37 year old Luca Toni. In fact, Serie A is proving an appealing place to go for an ageing striker with Tevez leading the charts at 31, the 36 year old Miroslav Klose has 8 for Lazio and Massimo Maccarone has 7 for Empoli at 35. The 38 year old Francesco Totti meanwhile, second on the all-time Serie A scorer’s list with 240, has 5 and remains central to Roma’s challenge at the top of the division.

One may offer a series of reasons for why the elderly strikers are still going strong in Serie A including a slower style of play, a declining standard and deeper defensive lines leading to a lower reliance on attacking pace, but much more likely, perhaps with Quagliarella and definitely in the case of Di Natale, it can be put down to class that time just can’t erode.


Written by Adam Gray

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