Sunday, November 25, 2007

In Praise of the Championship

I don't know about you, but I'm bored of the Premiership. The same old teams at the top, the massive gulf between the richest clubs and the rest. The very essence of sport is unpredictability, and even after yesterday's surprise defeat for Man Utd at Bolton, the results are simply too easy to call. What a difference to the second tier of English football, the Championship. There, everybody can beat everybody else. I was lucky enough to have been at Loftus Road yesterday to watch QPR play Sheffield Wednesday. Both teams are in the bottom half of the table, yet you wouldn't have thought it by the quality of football on show. Wednesday could have been 3-0 up after the first quarter of an hour, but QPR then took the upper hand and dominated the rest of the half. In the second half, once again Wednesday started brightest, before QPR got into their stride and started to boss the game. The match was a terrific advert for football: two teams committed to attack, playing the game in the right manner with not a dirty foul all afternoon. Brian Laws, the Wednesday manager said it was one of the best 0-0 draws he'd ever seen, I certainly can't think of a game I've been to that has finished goalless and has been so entertaining (or a game in which the woodwork had been hit so many times). Laws also said that it would have been a shame if either side had lost- when do you ever hear a Premiership manager ever say anything as sporting as that?
On yesterday's performance, expect both QPR and Wednesday to finish nearer the top, than the bottom of the league.
As far as I'm concerned, you can stick the Premiership and its overpaid mercenaries and prima donnas and you can stick the over-rated Champions League too. If you want to enjoy football how it used to be played- and how it should be played- check out the Championship. I'll be interested to hear from any more football fans out there who feel the same as I do.


Anonymous said...

Championship?!!? Overpaid rubbish!
Give me Blyth Spartans any day.

I am actually a Blyth fan, and I agree with the sentiment. Non premier league football is a great experience.

Neil Clark said...

I have great memories of Blyth Spartans from when they had they great FA Cup run in the 70s. They really captured the nation's imagination. Wonderful days, when we used to get proper Cup shocks.
How are they getting on now?

Hudster said...

That's a top post Neil. As a QPR fan and fellow anti-neo-con blogger, it's much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Blyth aren't doing too bad at the moment. No FA cup run this year though, they're even out of the Setanta Shield, but still in the FA Trophy. The best thing about non-league is the commitment, passion, and fact that as a fan you can hear the players talking to each other, every kick of the ball/ opposition etc. A good day out!

Unknown said...

Hey Mr Clark

Great Article and glad you enjoyed the game as a neutral


Anonymous said...

I agree but what a problem we have at QPR. With the new money do we buy promotion, increase prices and be humiliated for a few years or stay in the Championship and enjoy the football.
I believe the standard has increased this year and a gulf is developing between Div 1 and the Championship similar to the difference between the Premier and Championship.

Neil Clark said...

Hudster and Aaron: Many thanks.
pigbag: I agree. A gap has definitely grown between Div 1 and the Championship. And it is a dilemma about whether promiotion to the Premiership, given its present inequalities, would be that great a thing. I'd love if it we could get back to the days when a club like QPR could come within 15 minutes of winning the League title and teams like Ipswich could win the FA Cup and Notts Forest the European Cup. If we could just press a button and get rid of the Premiership- and go back to the system we had pre-1992 it would be terrific. Sadly, because of big money and the greed of the top clubs, the Premiership isn't going to be abolished, so the best thing that can happen is if the 'Big Four' join a new European League- at least that would give a chance to the other clubs of winning something! I'd also like to see divisional salary caps introduced to level things out more. Something has to be done urgently, that's for sure. Do you want a situation where only FOUR clubs have the chance of winnning any silverware? No, me neither.

For any more QPR fans out there, you might like these two pieces of mine: in the first one I talk about their brilliant UEFA Cup run in 1976/77.
the second is a list of things from the 70s it would be good to bring back:

Anonymous said...

Neil, I agree that it would be great to go back to the days of pre-1992. The Premier League is nothing more than a procession now. For smaller clubs like mine (QPR also), the dream has gone. Even so called 'big' clubs like Newcastle United have no chance of even challenging for the title, let alone winning it.

But as for the big 4 being a part of a newly created super league, dont you think they'll simply be replaced by a new 'big 4' who win absolutely everything? What then? A Euro super league 2?

I never thought I'd say this, but I've fallen out of love with football. Sky television have played a massive part in destroying the game in this country.

Neil Clark said...

"But as for the big 4 being a part of a newly created super league, dont you think they'll simply be replaced by a new 'big 4' who win absolutely everything? What then? A Euro super league 2?"

Good point swiftly. I think the ideal solution would be:
1. the premiership scrapped and a return to the old four divisions as they were pre-92.
2. the introduction of divisional salary caps.
3. restrictions on the number of foreign players allowed in each team, as Sepp Blatter has advocated.

If we got all three, then top tier football would once again be as exciting and unpredictable as it once was. And teams like QPR and Sheffield Wednesday would once again have a chance of winning silverware. Bring it on!