How to beat the winter freeze: football’s frozen pitch dilemma

The latest issue of FourFourTwo includes my feature on undersoil heating and various other methods of beating the problem of frozen football pitches, including straw, braziers and a mysterious beer-like liquid. “First mooted in 1937 yet only mandatory for Premier League clubs since this season, undersoil heating has endured a chequered history – starring frost, […]

History of the magic sponge

The latest issue of FourFourTwo magazine contains a big feature on football injuries, which includes a piece by me on the history of injury treatment and the football trainer’s miraculous magic sponge. “The magic sponge is one of football’s most familiar artefacts, having being variously applied to players’ bumps and bruises for more than a […]

The Amazing Archie Goodall: “Nothing So Extraordinary Ever Seen!”

Archie Goodall was once regarded as ‘the world’s greatest international footballer’. He played in some of the best teams of the Victorian era, at Derby County, Preston North End, Everton and Wolves, and fans loved his fearsome physical style. After football, he became an internationally-famous vaudeville star via his bizarre strongman act ‘Walking the Loop’. […]

Sing your hearts out for the lads: a history of football songs

Ever wondered where football’s most popular terrace songs come from? My feature in the latest issue of FourFourTwo attempts to find out, tracing the origins of various favourite chants and ditties, adapted from hymn books, the pop charts, music halls, and operas. “At the 1888 FA Cup Final, West Brom and Preston fans joined together […]

A fag at half-time: a history of smoking in football

The latest issue of FourFourTwo magazine includes my feature on smoking in football, which looks at the changing relationship between tobacco and the beautiful game. “When Jack Wilshere smoked a cigarette outside a London nightclub after Arsenal’s Champions League win over Napoli earlier this season, he inadvertently sparked up the burning issue of smoking in […]

Football floodlights: a history

There’s something undeniably romantic about football floodlights, standing as beacons on rickety pylons, drawing fans toward grounds on drizzly evenings. I wrote a feature for FourFourTwo on the history and appeal of floodlights. It covers early attempts to illuminate football, the roll-out and reliance on electric light, plus failures, climbing, collapses, and sabotage. “The UK […]