The year 2010 has been one of the best ever for soccer writing. Its unearthed talent such as Zonal Marking, The Swiss Ramble and European Football Weekends. And the most beautiful thing is that none of these three are corporate entities although all three can owe part of their success to the gracious hand of The Guardian. That said, they stand out on their own as being truly original and are just a few of the sites listed below among the best soccer articles I read during 2010.
I was hoping to find a gem about the England versus United States World Cup match, but I couldn’t find or remember one. That may have been one instance where the game and everything that went into it was better than the written word. But if you have a suggestion, please post it in the comments section below.
With that said, here are my top ten favorite soccer articles of 2010 (in reverse order):
10. The MLS Web Site Disaster by Matt Rolf, Fake Sigi. Reading Matt Rolf’s critique of the launch of Major League Soccer’s official website is like looking at a roadside accident. It’s almost impossible to look away as you read about the mistake after mistake that the site creators accomplished. It’s hard to imagine a site launch that could have been worse, and Rolf does an admirable job at sharing his criticism in his no-holds-barred review. Thankfully MLSsoccer.com has gotten much better since launch despite the fact that its name is still repetitive and amateurish (i.e. MajorLeagueSoccersoccer.com).
9. Good Soccer Writing is Fueled by Love (Duh) by Richard Whittall, A More Splendid Life. This blog post, in particular, may read like ‘inside baseball’ for some soccer fans, but Whittall’s honesty and obvious love of the craft of writing shines through in this personal piece that examines what makes soccer writing good.
8. Chelsea’s Didier Drogba Expecting Emotional Return To Marseille by Dominic Fifield, The Guardian. Chelsea’s recent away match in the Champions League against Marseille was one that few people cared about except one man who it meant so much to, Didier Drogba. The well-written and informative article by The Guardian’s Dominic Fifield describes how much of an impact Drogba had when he played for Marseille, how emotional it was when he left and what it meant for him when he returned. It also talks about the future and whether Drogba will finish his career at the French club. Thanks @howardt for the recommendation!
7. The Premier League First Eleven by Ted, Two Hundred Percent. The blog Two Hundred Percent sometimes feels like EPL Talk’s long lost English cousin such is the similarity in topics and nostalgia that we cover. But in this particular instance, the article features a “hall of fame” for which eleven clubs deserve to be listed for their Premier League status and history. Some of the teams may surprise you, especially those of you who are new to the league.
6. Besiktas 3-0 Gaziantepspor by Danny Last, European Football Weekends. The concept is brilliant. With so many cheap plane fares from England to continental Europe, the blokes from European Football Weekends can spend a weekend going to any part of continental Europe to watch a match and can sometimes find it cheaper than going to a Premier League match in their neck of the woods, such is the extravagant price of those tickets (Arsenal, cough cough). In this particular journey, Danny takes us to Istanbul for their wedding anniversary to see Besiktas, my favorite soccer supporters in the world, who put on such an incredible show for 90 minutes that Danny doesn’t get to see any of the actual game itself. Highly recommended.
5. The Secret History Of American Soccer by Brian Phillips, Slate. Shhh! Don’t tell anyone, but soccer was on the cusp of becoming a major sport in the United States during the 1920’s. This eyeopening article recounts how popular the sport was in the 1920s, how some of the rules they enacted were way ahead of its time and the names of some of the stars who played in the States rather than abroad. Unfortunately the whole thing came undone by a combination of political infighting and The Great Depression. Otherwise, the sport could have been much bigger than it is now.
4. Bradford Remembered: The Unheeded Warnings That Led To Tragedy by David Conn, The Guardian. The year 2010 marked the 25th anniversary of the tragic Bradford City fire when 56 people died and 265 were injured after the main stand at Bradford’s Valley Parade was engulfed in flames during a match. David Conn goes back and interviews one of the club owners from the time as well as the coroner who worked on the case to get their viewpoints regarding the incidents a quarter of a century later. Plus the article examines how the loss of life was seemingly less important overall by politicians in the 70s and 80s as it is now.
3. 20 Teams Of The Decade – In Full by Michael Cox, Zonal Marking. It’s hard to consider that Zonal Marking only launched in January. The website, which is a tactician’s wet dream, painstakingly reviews the formations and tactics of football matches. And in this particular article, it reviews the tactical genius of 20 of the best teams of the decade. The team that finishes in number one place may surprise you! Thanks to @piquantscholar for the recommendation.
2. United We Stand, Divided We Fall by Swiss Ramble. The opening paragraph of the article about Manchester United’s finances perfectly sums up the worth of Swiss Ramble: “Pity the average Manchester United fan trying to make sense of the club’s annual financial results announced last week. On the one hand, they look great with record turnover of £286 million, operating profits climbing above £100 million for the first time and £164 million cash in the bank, but on the other hand they look terrible with a record loss of £84 million, disappointing revenue growth and a mountain of debt. No wonder chief executive David Gill admitted that the figures could be confusing.”
1. The Forgotten Film of the 1938 World Cup in France by Tom Dunmore, Pitch Invasion. Writer Tom Dunmore did some research to uncover what appears to be the official FIFA-sanctioned video of the 1938 World Cup even though FIFA doesn’t list it on its website or in its archives. The footage of the tournament, which was hosted in France one year before World War II began, features some uncomfortable politics, namely Germans giving the Hitler salute several times. But what makes matters worse is that it appears that prominent officials gave the salute too along the sidelines and in the stands. Maybe it’s no wonder that the film has been lost in FIFA’s archives.
Feel free to post your suggestions of what you thought were the best soccer articles you read in 2010 in the comments section below. Plus, feel free to debate or give feedback on the articles and sites mentioned above. Who did we miss?
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