Celebrate good times…

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CB writes…

I’m absolutely loving the Women’s World Cup so far (apart from the pervasive sexism that’s still hanging around like a bad smell, eg: the suggestion of smaller goals. Don’t be daft). There is much to celebrate from the Group Stage nonetheless.

The Lionesses are through to the Round of 16 with a game to spare, the USWNT can’t stop scoring, Thailand started scoring (hooray!), Chile’s outstanding goalkeeper Christiane Endler (below) has shown herself to be a total badass, and Brazil’s Marta….well, Marta is an absolute legend.

“The party’s over there!” Chile’s Christiane Endler knows the score.

Her perfectly-taken penalty in yesterday’s game places her right at the top of the all-time overall World Cup scoring table with 17 goals in her five tournaments – one more than Germany’s Miroslav Klose. She’s on another level, no question of that.

Marta may be one of the greatest players of all time, but we’re glad to see she’s not immune to a silly goal celebration (below), making a brave effort to kiss her magical right boot while still wearing it after her record-breaking penalty against Italy last night!

The Italians were celebrating too, having also reached the Round of 16. The joyous picture of captain Sara Gama being given the bumps (above) by her team-mates beautifully captures the spirit and feeling of this tournament. Everyone seems to be having an absolute blast.

Long may the party continue!

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Mascot Monday: Ettie (Women’s World Cup 2019)

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The Women’s World Cup begins on Friday in France, so it seemed like a good idea to celebrate that on Mascot Monday! If you have any suggestions for future editions, get in touch.

Name: Ettie

Age: 15 (according to FIFA)

Tournament: Women’s World Cup 2019, France

Mascot Since: 2018

Species: Chicken

Friends & Family: Ettie’s dad is Footix (below, as immortalised on an Albanian stamp), the cheery blue rooster who you’ll remember as the celebrated mascot of France ’98 if you’re of a certain age.

Screenshot_2019-05-31 Stamp Mascot Footix (Albania) (Football World Cup 1998, France) Mi AL BL113,Sn AL 2564,Yt AL BF88,Sg [...]

She’s also been seen hanging out in Moscow with Zabivaka, the wolf mascot from last year’s World Cup – they went sightseeing and did a photo session together, apparently.

Notes: Like her mysterious English cousin Lily, Ettie is a chicken who loves football (unlike this one) – but in many ways she’s the opposite to Lily, in that we know quite a bit about her. FIFA have given her a cute little back story:

[Her] name comes from the French word for star, étoile, as she came from the bright star that her father Footix was awarded for the 1998 FIFA World Cup. Footix cast his star far into the night sky so it could shine brightly, and after a few years of travelling through the cosmos it came back to him in the form of his twinkling daughter, ettie.

Footix knew immediately that ettie was very special, not only because of her sparkling personality that would radiate happiness and joy to everyone she met, but because they shared a real passion for football.

Like father, like daughter, it seems. Good luck Ettie!


Brian Clough, Peter Shilton and a roundabout way of winning in Europe

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In 1980, Brian Clough (below) took Nottingham Forest to their second European Cup triumph in as many seasons. Like the Spurs side of nearly forty years later, Forest had beaten Ajax in their semi to reach the final in Madrid (although the 1980 final was held at the Santiago Bernabéu).

Preperation for such a big match can sometimes be fraught with problems, especially if you are a perfectionist in the same way that Cloughie undoubtedly was. This excellent tale, as told by the legendary Forest and England goalkeeper Peter Shilton (above), possibly explains a lot about Old Big ‘Ead’s more… er… unconventional problem solving methods:

When we got to Madrid, [assistant manager] Peter Taylor told me we had a great training pitch, but it was too hard. ‘You haven’t looked hard enough,’ Cloughie told us. ‘We know a grassed area that’s perfect.’ I couldn’t believe what Taylor was pointing at: we were standing in front of a roundabout, near the city centre, and on it was a circle of grass. It was fairly quiet, but a few cars came past, beeping horns.

Whether or not the roundabout actually had any impact on the eventual outcome of the final is unknown (probably not, or we’d be seeing Alisson and Hugo Lloris preparing for this season’s trip to Madrid in the same way!), but Forest won, beating Germany’s Hamburger SV by a single first half goal scored by John Robertson. In the end, Shilton was left with roundabout nothing to do.

Brian Clough

No, I don’t think he looks very impressed either…