Writing Elsewhere

When Saturday Comes  

Issue 344 (Still Here: Durham City's Chequered History) 

Issue 351: the Northern League wants to remain isolated

The Football Pink

Issue Three (Founding Father: Tom Watson) 
Issue Four (Planes, Trains and Automobiles: South Korea and the 1954 World Cup)
Blog: Prejudice and Curiosity  

Falling For Football (Ockley Books, 2014)

South Korea 2002 (pp 43-49) 

Available to buy on Amazon here.


In Bed With Maradona 

Kashiwa Reysol
Whatever Happened to Urawa Reds? (also in World Soccer Magazine)
Dettmar Cramer: The Football Professor (also in World Soccer).
South Korea vs Italy
The Importance of the Northern League
The Legacy of Kim Yong-sik
Cha Bum-kun
A Japanese Nigel Quashie
Dragan Stojkovic. Better Than Wenger.
A Good Week for Gary Lineker (Nagoya Grampus) 
Omiya Ardija and the Invisible Fans
The Decline and Fall of Chernomorets Odessa
From Washington Colliery to the World
With The Ball at Brazil 2014

Sabotage Times

The Greatest Goal I Ever Saw: David Kelly against Portsmouth

European Football Weekends 

Gamba Osaka: The Japanese Newcastle
FC Zimbru vs Nistru Otaci

The False Nine          

Fumaca: the first Brazilian non-footballer

The Ball is Round  

Europe's Worst Football Weekends
Top European Weekends
My First Game: Newcastle United vs Coventry City

The Seventy Two 

Lower Leagues Across the Globe: Japan
Newcastle united for Plymouth Argyle

The Two Unfortunates   

The Monday Profile: Tadanari Lee
From Northern League to Football League

The Real FA Cup  

Blyth Spartans vs Gateshead
Nagoya Grampus vs Suzuka Rampole
The Northern League in the FA Cup
Jarrow Roofing vs Eccleshill United
Jarrow Roofing vs Congleton Town
Northern League clubs in the 2015-16 FA Cup Preliminary Round

The Magic Spongers 

John Dahl-Tomasson's Nightmare on Tyneside

Hebburn Town (Programme) Hebburn Town badge

A Brief History of Consett
Bishop Auckland: The Two Blues and the Reds
A Brief History of Celtic Nation
A Brief History of Ashington

Jarrow Roofing (Programme)

Opinion pieces, player profiles and club histories for The Roofer, the Northern League's Programme of the Year in 2013-14. 

Online copy here.

 J.League Regista

Playing for Kicks in the Kanto Regional Leagues

Les Rosbifs

Jimmy Hagan
The English Influence on South Korean Football

Leazes Terrace 

Halmstads '96
Rushden: Diamonds Aren't Forever?
Preview of Newcastle United vs Metalist Kharkiv

Viva Northern League

What Has the Northern League Ever Done For Us? Bishop Auckland and the Munich Air Disaster
No More Excuses for Racism in Football
What Has the Northern League Ever Done For Us? Samuel Irving and the Cardiff Invincibles
Beer and football: is it time we allowed drinking in the Northern League?


Middlesbrough vs Newcastle United, 1990
Newcastle United vs Middlesbrough, 1991

The FootyBlog.net

Omiya Ardija


Five Facts About Newcastle United


Clubs in Crisis: Ryton FC

Salut! Sunderland

View from a Newcastle Fan

Roker Report 

Northern League Day

Polly's Pause For Sport

My Favourite Premier League XI

Unofficial Football World Champions

All Eyes on Uruguay 


Issue Three: Omiya Ardija

The full account of how I ended up supporting Omiya Ardija is a long and complicated story involving a grave misunderstanding of the geography of Greater Tokyo, the David Mitchell novel number9dream and an Arsenal-supporting English teacher from Limerick. Essentially, though, it all boils down to this: as a Newcastle United fan from birth – thanks a bunch, Dad – and thus duty-bound to root for wildly unsuccessful sides wherever I can find them, I could hardly have supported anybody else.

When I first came to Japan in September 2004 Tochigi Soccer Club were in the 2nd division of the Kanto League and my closest J.League teams were the country’s then most successful team, Kashima Antlers, the best supported side, Urawa Reds, and their city rivals Omiya, who’d never finished any higher than fourth in J2. For once, my arrival coincided with an upturn in fortune, Ardija finishing runners-up behind runaway J2 champions Kawasaki Frontale. My first game at the NACK 5 was a 2-0 victory over Kyoto Sanga on the season’s final afternoon. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to feeling like a glory hunter.

The raucous, orange-clad crowd that day included one fan, in sunglasses and an Omiya scarf, who sat on a crash barrier directly behind the goal, raising his middle finger to the Sanga keeper throughout the whole of the second half. “Maradona played here once, you know,” my Irish friend told me, as Ardija’s Brazilian forward, Baré – later a J.League Yamazaki Nabisco Cup winner with Gamba Osaka – danced a Samba by the corner flag. If ever there was a moment to half fall in love with a football team, then that was it for me. Later that night, I shimmied up a lamp-post opposite Omiya Station and liberated a promotion flag, two fans and a shopkeeper cheering me on. Resplendent with a cartoon squirrel, it now enjoys pride of place on my living room wall.

While I can’t pretend that Ardija will ever engender the same depth of emotion as my English first love, the Squirrels have a way of burrowing under your skin. Ardija fans are a friendly, sometimes cynical, but always self-deprecating bunch, with none of the braying arrogance which sometimes characterises our Saitama City noisy neighbours. When I returned to Tokyo in 2008 I took three workmates along to Ajinomoto Stadium to see an Omiya side who’d lost five games in a row play soon to be relegated Tokyo Verdy.

“Who’s this team again?” asked Mark, a Sheffield Wednesday fan, still glassy-eyed from the night before, “and why the hell do you support them?” “How far is the ground from the station?” moaned Richard, who claimed to be a Swansea supporter but spent a disturbing amount of time attempting to talk rugby. “Look at the sky,” said West Ham fan Patrick, whose morose facial expression suggested it wasn’t bubbles he was worried might be about to start falling.

The game ended in a 1-0 defeat and eleven orange shirts slumped to the ground. “God, that was awful,” said Patrick, tidying away some discarded cans of beer. “When are they playing again?” asked Mark. “I wouldn’t mind seeing them at home.”

See, no matter how bad they are – and sometimes they’re very, very bad indeed - Omiya Ardija have a way of doing that to you.

Issue 14: Captain Tsubasa and Nankatsu SC.

Issue 18: Dettmar Cramer

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