ADA HEGERBERG: SEXISM IN FOOTBALL

Why the world’s best footballer won’t be at the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

Words by Danny Brown

Can you imagine a World Cup without Messi or Ronaldo? It’s hard to imagine the world’s biggest tournament without it’s biggest players – and even harder to imagine them missing out due to discrimination.

But that’s exactly what will happen this month when Ballon D’Or winner Ada Hegerberg refuses to play in the 2019 Women’s World Cup. Here we take a look at why problems with discrimination are still affecting the Women’s Game.

Ada Hegerberg is one of the best footballers on the planet. The Lyon forward has scored 255 goals in 254 games across her career. She was awarded the Norwegian Gold Ball in 2015 (the first woman to do so in 20 years). She’s won six league titles and four Champions Leagues (at the age of just 23). She was named UEFA Best Women’s Player in Europe in 2016 and BBC Footballer of the Year in 2017 and 2019 – yet she is still faced with sexism wherever she goes.

The most well-publicised example of this came last year, when Hegerberg was asked if ‘she could twerk’ just moments after she collected the first-ever Ballon D’Or Féminin award. It was an awkward and disrespectful question that stole away the headlines from Hegerberg in the biggest moment of her career to date. The same thing would never have happened Luka Modric, the winner of the men’s award, so why was Hegerberg’s victory trivialised in such a way?

The disparity in pay, conditions and treatment between the men’s and women’s international teams faced by Hegerberg in Norway is the reason why she took the decision to stop playing for her national side back in 2017. She has gone on record to say that until the Norwegian Football Federation gives equal treatment to it’s men and women footballers, she will continue to abstain from playing for her country. Here’s what she said about her decision in an interview with ESPN:

“[In Lyon] it’s the amount of respect and the fact that we’re equal in terms of conditions, the pitches we have, eating in the same canteen and really taking part in the club together with the mens team. I was trying to make an impact [on Norway] for a lot of years and I could see that in this system, in the federation, it didn’t fit me at all. I feel like I was placed in a system where I didn’t have a voice.

It was such a hard thing to do. It can’t be easy when a woman stands and tries to be critical in a positive way. For me, it was really important that [the federation] knew what I was talking about, point by point. When the media asked me what I told the federation, I said, that’s between me and them so they can work on it. But it doesn’t seem like they took it in the way they should have. 

Women need to back women in cases like this, even more than we do today. If each woman stands up and uses her voice, imagine how many voices would be together and how strong a mass that would be. It’s impossible to play football in a world among men and not fight for equality. We’re all feminists. Playing football can be damn harsh, but every day is a fight for equality. That’s a fact.”

So far, Hegerberg is the only player to boycott the World Cup altogether – but that doesn’t mean others aren’t standing up for equality in football. Players from USA have filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation due to “institutionalised gender discrimination” in the form of unequal pay and discrimination, alleging their women’s team gets paid on average 40% of what the men’s team does. Denmark and Ireland have also led protests over pay disparity.

Since Hegerberg first went out on strike, the Norweigian FA have begun to make some improvements. Equal pay between the men’s and women’s teams has been promised – making Norway’s FA the first to do this, however there’s still a long way to go before there’s any chance of us seeing Hegerberg pulling on a red shirt for her country again. Her actions are making a real difference, it’s just a shame it takes the world’s best player sitting out a World Cup for these changes to come about in the first place.

Here’s what Norway’s female sporting directer and former player Lise Klaveness had to say about Hegerberg’s actions in an interview given to the Associated Press: “We are happy for this debate to raise attention and respect for women’s soccer in the world. And I do view it as a big change-maker. But I just wish she was in our team.”

When the World Cup kicks off tonight with hosts France taking on South Korea, million will be tune in around the globe to see what will most likely be the best tournament yet for women’s football. As the sport grows in popularity and more people begin take notice of the talent on offer, it’s only a matter of time before equality in football is finally achieved. But sadly for now, athletes like Ada Hegerberg must continue to take a stand in order to be respected for playing the sport they love.

For more information on equality in women’s football, you check out UEFA’s #TimeForAction campaign here.

Click here to read our piece on the Top 5 Kits from the Women’s World Cup.

CANADIAN PREMIER LEAGUE – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Everything you need to know about Canadian football.

Words by Charlie Fox

The Americas is no stranger to football, from the tifos and heated rivalries of Brazil and Argentina all the way to the USA, where MLS has erupted into the mainstream thanks to stars like Rooney and Zlatan. But now there’s a new kid on the block.

You might not have realised it, but April saw kick off in of one of world football’s newest leagues. The Canadian Premier League was announced two years ago but until recently has flown mildly under the radar. That’s right, the country famed for it’s syrup, moose and ice hockey has finally embraced the beautiful game – and there’s big things on the way. The league has promised to showcase the ‘best home-grown Canadian talent’, under the slogan ‘We are many, we are one.’ It’s exciting stuff, so here’s everything you need to know about Canadian football:

Comprised of seven teams spanning across the whole of the ice-clad nation, the league is split into a regular season and a fall season – giving fans more games to enjoy and more opportunities for the league to make a good impression on the world stage. The league’s quest for home-grown talent is helped by it’s draft system, similar to that of American Football and a wage cap also helps maintains the equal nature of the league – ensuring no-one can just pump money into a team and buy all the best players, as has been seen in some other leagues, *cough* Manchester City *cough*.

All sounds pretty good, right? But who are the teams participating in the ‘new era for Canadian football?’ Here’s a complete run-down so you know what to expect:

Cavalry FC

Cavalry FC are based in Alberta, lying to the south west of Canada, a place famed for its landscape and vast forests. Founded in 2018, the team were one of the founding members of the CPL. They play their games at the Spruce Meadow, a stadium with a capacity of 6,000 and a modular layout, which makes it perfect for later expansion. The team will sport a red strip with a white stripe for their home games, whilst their away kit is a classy green number paired with contrasting white shorts.

Coach: Tommy Wheeldon Jr

Key Player: Dominque Malonga (Congo)

Malonga is an experienced forward, previously plying his trade in France, Italy, Spain and Scotland, with his most successful stint being at Hibernian, where he scored 17 goals in 43 games. On top of this he has secured seven starts for his homeland. A player with this much experience will be a threat for any team in the league.

FC Edmonton

Just down the road from Cavalry FC are FC Edmonton, who too are in Alberta. The club was founded in 2010 as a NASL franchise, however, were granted CPL admittance in June 2018. With the nickname the Eddies they will play their home games at Clarke Stadium. The stadium has a capacity of just over 5,000 which is 1,000 less than their rivals. Their home games will be spent donning a Millwall-esque dark blue jersey with white trim, whilst the away kit has more of a Huddersfield feel too it, with blue stripes on a white canvas.

Coach: Jeff Paulus

Key Player: Tomi Ameobi (England)

There is another Ameobi brother! Just like the two we are more familiar with, Tomi is too a forward. With experience across the English football League ranging from Leeds to Forest green, taking stops at Doncaster Rovers and Grimsby Town on the way, Ameobi has been at Edmonton since the start of the 2014 campaign, taking a year out to try his hand with FC Cincinnati, who are set to be the newest MLS enterprise.

Forge FC

The first team on the list that isn’t based in Alberta. Forge FC are based in Hamilton, Ontario, a stone throws away from the Niagara Falls. The team with a logo that looks like it belongs to an E Sports team were founded back in 2017. The Tim Hortons Field will be the backdrop to the home games this year, sporting a 10,000-seater stadium which can be expanded to just over 23,000. The kits are pretty much reverses of each other, the fans at home games will see them in a full Orange kit with grey trim, whereas the traveling fans at away games will see a grey kit with orange trim.

Coach: Bobby Smyrniotis

Key Player : Kyle Bekker (Canada)

The first home grown Canadian on the list Bekker is a tricky midfielder who has exclusive footballing experience in North America. Being drafted to MLS outfit Toronto FC back in 2013 was the start of a tour of America, playing at other MLS teams such as FC Dallas and Montreal Impact. Managing to also rack up 18 caps for the Canadian nation team gives the player a strong pedigree.

HFX Wanderers FC

With arguably the most detailed badge in the league, HFX Wanderers, commonly known as Halifax Wanderers are in the Canadian district of Nova Scotia. The second smallest of all Canadian provinces and the furthest east of all is home to the Wanderers Ground, which is a 6200-seater stadium based in Halifax. In contrast to the badges the kits are a more simple affair. Basic navy blue is all over the home kit whereas the away strip is a light blue.

Coach: Stephen Hart

Key Player: Luis Alberto Perea (Columbia)

At the age of 32 Luis Perea is reaching the swansong of his career, having represented close to 20 teams. 8 Countries have seen him score goals, the fans that would have the fondest memories of him would be Universidad San Martin in Peru, having scored 36 goals in 92 appearances. The Copa del Inca top scorer of 2014 and Salvadoran Primera top scorer of 2018 will be looking to get back to prolific ways.

Pacific FC

British Columbia was home to the ski resort that hosted the 2010 winter Olympics, as well as having links to Vancouver and a bustling film industry, it seems like the perfect place to home a football team. Pacific FC is situated in Langford and has been there for just shy of a year. Home is called Westhills stadium and can house 5,100 people. The Home kit resembles that of Orlando City, purple top to bottom. The away kit takes the other colour of the badge being a mint colour.

Coach: Michael Silberbauer

Key Player : Marcel De Jong (Canada)

With 56 Canada caps to his name Marcel De Jong is arguably one of the most capped players in the league. Born to Dutch parents he was part of the PSV academy and was part of teams across Europe, before moving back to North America in 2015 when he joined Sporting Kansas City. At the age of 32 he has all the experience he needs to be a vital part of this team.

Valour FC

With my pick for the best looking badge in the CPL Winnipeg based Valor FC are one of the older teams in the League. May 6th 2017 is the date of birth for the side, in comparison to other teams who have only been around less than a year, this team looks archaic in comparison. Sat in a plush 33,000 seater stadium .The kits have the potential to match the logo, a black and red strip for the home kit, with a reverse of proceedings for the away kit.

Coach: Rob Gale

Key Player: Adam Mitter (England)

A journeyman for his age, the 26-year-old Mitter has played at senior level for 14 different teams, ranging everywhere from Scotland all the way to the Philippines. He plays as a Centre back or right back and has proved his worth at many clubs, playing at least 10 games a campaign since 2014. He could prove to be one of the strongest defenders in the league by sheer experience alone.

York 9 FC

With former Canadian international Jimmy Brennan at the helm, York 9 FC are one of the teams who have played a game in the new CPL. The team are based in Toronto, a place with a strong footballing connection to the United States. Appearing in May 2018 the team is barely a year old. Home games
will be played at the York Lions Stadium, making use of its 8,000-seater capacity. The Home kit is a clashing of white and green and the story is continued with the away kit, being a green and black affair.

Coach: Jimmy Brennan

Key Player: Manny Aparicio (Canada)

Argentine born Aparicio plays as an attacking midfielder and at 23 he has plenty of room for development. One upon a time he was part of the Toronto Academy, since his departure in 2015 he has played for teams in Spain before heading back to Canada with York 9 FC. Standing at 5’8 he has a similar stature to a lot of attacking midfielders in the league, however something that sets him apart would be the Canada cap to Aparicio’s name.

Whatever you make of it, it seems there’s a lot to be excited about when it comes to the future of Canadian football. Next time you’re bored and the Premier League, why not tune into the CPL? Who knows, you might find your next favourite team.

You can find out out more about the CPL here.

MÁLAGA CF – THE GUIRI ARMY

We met Spanish football’s craziest fans. Naturally, they were English.

Words by Danny Brown

When most people think of ultras in Europe, they think balaclavas, pyro, smoke bombs and tifos… Not boozed up brits with beer-bellies, sunburnt heads and cans of lager. But in Malaga, one group of British ex-pats are doing things very differently.

A trendy port city on Spain’s Costa Del Sol, Málaga is best known for it’s lush beaches, restaurants and holiday resorts. The home of Málaga Club De Futbol, who have been playing their football on the south coast since 1904, la Boquerones are one of Spain’s more historic and well-supported clubs. Málaga also happens to be home to around 40,000 British ex-patriots who have decided to ditch the doom and gloom of the UK in favour of the sunshine and beaches of España – and when you stick a bunch of footy-mad Brits and a 115-year-old football club together on the same coast, a love affair is just waiting to happen.

Meet the Guiri Army, a rowdy gang of British ex-pats who have followed Málaga CF home and away for the best part of two decades. Loud, proud and typically English in that they never take themselves too seriously, the group represents one of largest and most active foreign followings of any club in Europe. We caught up with the group’s leader, Dave Redshaw, to find out how the group first fell into existence, plus the story behind their unique name…

“We didn’t actually set out with the intention of forming a group. It more or less just snuck upon us. I first started watching Málaga in 1989 and there has always been a good group of us going to game but I suppose it really kicked off when Málaga got promoted in 1999 and people got interested as they could now see the big teams at La Rosaleda after 10 years out of La Primera. The club folded in the early nineties then re-formed, so the fans had been starved of top-flight football for a while.

I started getting a coach for games instead of us driving our cars and we were filling it regularly. I remember about this time that I was walking back to the bar we use near the ground with one of the lads and I said to him it was about time we got ourselves and identity. I’d been watching the cricket and the Barmy Army, so I suggested we call ourselves the ‘Guiri Army’ as a way of poking fun at ourselves – ‘Guiri’ being a Spanish slang word used to describe a foreigner – typically one who is as white as a milk bottle and wears socks, sandals and Union Jack shorts when on holiday!”

With the name decided on, there was only one thing left to do – the group purchased a giant St Georges Flag complete with their new name with the England and Málaga badges printed either side and the Guiri Army had officially been born. Twenty years later, the group (and flag) are still seen at virtually every Malaga match, home and away – but what exactly does a typical match day look like the Guiri Army? (It’s what you’d expect – a lot of drinking and the odd bit of mischief).

“On a match day we meet in the Lounge Bar in Benalmádena before we set off on the coach, always around two-and-half-hours before the game.
We take our own DVDs and beer with us on the coach, the driver Paco is a good friend of mine so he basically let’s us get away with murder. When we get to Malaga we use a bar called Hermanos Madrid, it’s 10 euros and that includes as many bottles of beer as you want, before and after the match. Bargain!”

Part of the Guri Army match day experience is some of the wacky traditions the group have adopted over the years – from fancy dress to doing a dozen laps of a roundabout near the stadium in their coach on match days (to the bewilderment of the Spanish locals), by far the funniest is one bloke who used to whip off his shirt off before kick off and run the entire length of La Rosaleda holding a giant flag. Fair play.

“The roundabout tradition started when we got our own bus, everyone used to stand and look at us. The driver still does it, he goes around it a dozen times some days! A bloke called Rick used to run with the flag, he’d strip his shirt off and run to one end of the stadium and back, with all the fans egging him on. He doesn’t do it now as the police sort of take a dim view – they actually banned him from doing it at Champions League games!

There’s obviously quite a few characters in the group, all different in their own right. Rick is obviously a real character, a funny guy who is always taking the mickey out of anything and everyone. Then there’s Spider (whose real name is Graham Rimmer), at one time he was in the pop group Chumbawamba (“I get knocked down but I get up again”), although he left before they had their big hit. He’s an absolute lunatic. There’s also a guy called Dutch Tom, who is very funny as well.”

Subtlety isn’t one of the Guri Army’s strong points, as you can probably tell from their bus.

For years, at the heart of the Guri Army’s exploits (and making their roundabout shenanigans possible) was their customised bus – instantly recognisable wherever they went thanks to the 10-foot Union Jack plastered across one side. Sadly now-retired, the coach carried the gang on their adventures across Spain (and even further-afield into Europe), and was at the centre of more than a few hilarious tales for the group over the years:

“We’ve put the bus out to grass now as it’s 32-years-old and way past it’s sell-by date. I remember one time we were coming back from a home game on the coach and one of the wheels fell off, rolled past us and demolished a brand new BMW that was parked at the side of the road – apparently it had been in for a service and the mechanic had forgotten to tighten one of the wheels!

When Malaga played Porto in the Champions League we went on the coach and set off at 4.30AM on the Monday as we were staying overnight for the following day’s game. Coming back, we were just south of Porto when the bus broke down, meaning we ended up staying in a service station overnight. We eventually got back around 2.30am on the Thursday – it was a long trip, but one of the best ever!”

Unsurprisingly, some of the Guiri Army’s best times following Malaga was during the team’s remarkable Champions League run under Manuel Pellegrini back in 2013. Malaga made it within touching distance of the final but were cruelly knocked out by Borussia Dortmund – for the Guiris though, it was the adventure of a lifetime, with trips to Germany, Belgium, Russia, Italy and Portugal to name a few.

“We’ve had some fantastic trips over the years. We went all over Europe in the Champions League. The atmosphere is brilliant and Málaga fans always get behind the team, which isn’t always the case in Spain. It was unbelievable when we were in the Champions League. We had some great nights of European football, both home and away we’ve had even more fantastic trips over the years.”

While large groups of drunken Englishmen are probably a common annoyance for the Spanish locals, the Guiri Army actually have a strong bond with the locals at La Rosaleda and happily occupy their own area of the stadium away from the main Spanish ultras group, the Frente Bokeron. To outsiders though, the group sometimes still falls under the typical perception of English football fans as hooligans – until people quickly realise how different they are.

One time we were coming home from Madrid on the train and one of the lads mistakenly put the flag over a steward’s computer. It was wet and the bloke went mad before calling the police to throw us off the train. On the platform the police were waiting with riot shields etc. – I think they were expecting Millwall or something and got the shock of their lives when they took us off and found out we were just a load of middle-aged blokes who had been drinking since 7.30am! They even showed us where the bar was before we bought tickets for the next train back to Málaga.

The Málaga fans love the fact we all support Malaga and I think they’re quite proud that we’re probably the biggest contingent of British ex-pats in Europe who go to watch their local club. We get on really well with them, although we don’t really associate with the ultras as we congregate in one corner of the ground, whilst they are behind the goal. Despite this, we are members of the Malaka Hinchas supporters club (I’m not quite sure why they spell it with a ‘k’ instead of a ‘g’. Mind you, I know what it means in Greek!) By and large we do get on with the ultras, especially now they are behind the goal at our end of the ground, and we know a few of them.”

What’s more English than getting your teams crest tattooed on your arm? Not much.

While recent times for Málaga have been tough both on and off the pitch, with the club spending the last year playing in Spain’s Segunda Division following their relegation from La Liga and familiar financial troubles looming once again, you’d think it’d be all be doom and gloom amongst the Málaga fans, but think again – for the Guri Army this season has been one big holiday, with their support showing no sign of fading, no matter how much the team struggles.

The current situation doesn’t look too good as I think the only way Málaga will go up this season is via the play-offs. There is also an ongoing court case with the owner Sheikh Al-Thani and Blue Bay Resorts, who claim he promised to sell them shares in the club which would have meant them becoming the new owners, but the mood amongst us that we are not overly bothered if they don’t go up as they’d more than likely come straight back down, as the Sheikh has not put any money in now for over six years.

We kind of like it in this division at the moment as we have a number of relatively near fixtures we get a bus to: Córdoba, Almería, Cádiz and Granada. And this year I’ve been to Las Palmas in Gran Canaria, Mallorca and Tenerife, so we get a holiday for a few days at a time! In fact, when we went to Tenerife at the end of January there was 76 of us, including some who came over from the UK, so that was a bit chaotic.

Dave has also written a book dedicated to the turbulent history of Málaga (available in both English and Spanish) which is well worth a read if you’re interested in learning more about the club. Check it out on Amazon here.

PANENKA MEETS: SHANTA RONALDO

We met Shanta Ronaldo. It was interesting to say the least.

Words by Danny Brown

You may have heard of Shanta Ronaldo. The young Danish footballer became a social media celebrity a few years ago thanks to his remarkable likeness to global superstar Christiano Ronaldo. But what became of Ronaldo’s biggest fan? We decided to find out.

At some point in most young football fans lives, they’ve pretended to be Christiano Ronaldo, even for a few seconds. Find me someone who hasn’t struck that signature wide-legged pose down the park before smashing an imaginary free kick straight into the top bins. Well, Shanta Ronaldo has taken that fantasy and gone a step further.

At first glance you might be forgiven for thinking Shanta Ronaldo is the real deal. The 20-year-old (real name Shanta Kordbatchje) has adopted everything from his idols surname, hairstyle and even his iconic #7 shirt number. The effect is interesting to say the least.

Nicknamed the ‘Iranian Ronaldo’, the young footballer has a social media following just shy of 40,000 people and takes inspiration from his role model in pretty much everything he does, down to the way he acts and even the clothes he wears. But when did this unique obsession first begin?

“Being a Real Madrid fan, I discovered Christiano back in 2009 and I instantly saw that he was special. People today admire players for having great technique etc. but the reason why Christiano is my idol is his mentality. He can play in a game for 89 minutes and do nothing but then, all of a sudden, he’ll score.

That’s what I admire about him. His mentality is something I’ve learned a lot from. The way he acts and works hard is important – with the right mentality you can always take steps forward. His goals and stats speak for themselves. He’s an example for everyone.”

Following in the footsteps of Ronaldo, Shanta has begun carving out a footballing career for himself and currently plays for Odense Boldklub, a club in Denmark’s Superliga. Admittedly, not quite at the level of his role model just yet – but Shanta’s got big plans and even hopes to one day play against his Ronaldo himself for Iran at the 2022 World Cup.

I started playing football here at Odense Boldklub when I was six years old. Football has always played a huge role in my life ever since I was I kid. My parents always supported me from the start and they still do right now – my dad actually played at high level back in Iran. I was born here Denmark, and that’s where my footballing career started.

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Keep your head up and believe⚽️ #nevergiveup

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I’m 20 years old and my goal is currently to develop as a player and one day play outside of Denmark. A few months ago, I had trials with LA Galaxy and in a short time I’m going to Spain to train with a team in the Segunda Division there. My dream is to represent the Iranian National Team for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. There are good things on the way. I’m confident.”

Shanta could hardly call himself Ronaldo’s biggest fan without having met the man himself, and he’s done that (just a few times). When Ronaldo was at Madrid, Shanta became known for waiting hours outside the club’s training ground in Spain to meet his hero and has met CR7 on at least a dozen occasions. But how does he feel about Ronaldo’s move to Italy to play for Juventus last summer?

“Yes, I’ve met him many times. He’s a great person. We spoke a lot and he wished me good luck for everything. He knows they call me the Iranian Cristiano Ronaldo! Sometimes in life, the unexpected things happen but in a positive way. I think it was the correct time for him to leave. As he always does, he scores goal after goal and he does the speaking on the pitch.”

While Shanta’s unmistakable similarity to Ronaldo has gained him a lot of popularity, it’s also caused him to get a bit of stick over the years. One newspaper claimed that Shanta had legally changed his surname to Ronaldo plus spent thousands of pounds on plastic surgery to look like his idol, but Shanta says these stories are rubbish and his looks are simply a coincidence.

“Haha! Please do not believe those fake stories. Are they still alive? Haha. Of course. The reason why I called my social media accounts ShantaRonaldo is because of the fame I got from that name. Looking like Cristiano? I think it’s more in a natural way. I just focus on my game and life. Then people can say whatever they want. I don’t want to look like Christiano. What what I want is to reach my goals and to get inspired by the best.”

Haters? They make him, and me, stronger. It’s part of my life now, I just have to keep going.”

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Actions lasts longer than words😉🤫😜

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So what is on the horizon for Shanta Ronaldo? While the 20-year-old has big dreams on the football pitch, he also sees a future for himself off it and has begun coaching young kids in Demark with the hope of launching a career in coaching to run alongside his playing career. His favourite coach is Jose Mourinho (which must be something to do with Portuguese people).

I have always wanted to develop my coaching career too as I have always and still admire tactics, coaching stuff and the mental part of the football game. My favourite coach is José Mourinho and I try to learn from him a lot, for me he is the best! The reason is simple, he knows what he is doing and have the right mentality.

For me it’s a pleasure to coach kids and to learn from my experiences. And of course, it is really a pleasure when the kids admire they have a football player as a coach. My goal is to become a better coach everyday. Let’s see what happens in the future!”

Whatever people say about Shanta, from speaking him it’s clear he’s a lovely bloke with big ambitions and we’ve got absolutely no doubt he’ll go far doing what he loves – Ronaldo or not. Keep doing you Shanta.

In the meantime, we seriously suggest you go and follow Shanta on Instagram and Twitter at @ShantaRonaldo.

ONCE IN, NEVER OUT – BOLTON WANDERERS

Words By Neil Boardman

About five minutes in a car. Forty minutes (ish) on foot. And too long by train. That’s how far I grew up from the home of Bolton Wanderers – the, as it’s currently known, University of Bolton stadium.

Considering the ground is, by road, about 3 miles away from mine, you’d think the train wouldn’t actually take that long but you’re looking at, including the wait in town, about an hour. The reason behind going on about all this is because the older generation of people round these parts, will try and claim that the day Bolton moved away from their spiritual home of Burnden Park to the Reebok (that’s what it’s called, don’t debate it), was the day the club lost its soul.

Burnden Park was located in the centre of town. An appropriate place for such a ground to be located as it wasn’t only defined as the centre of a town geographically, but also spiritually. Bolton Wanderers Football Club is the heart of a town. The heart of a town that isn’t the home of riches or strong government investment. Bolton is a town that has had it’s strong heart broken time and time again; it’s not the nicest place nor is it my favourite place in the world but it is the home of good people, friends, family.

For years, living in Bolton, there wasn’t much to look forward to, nothing much at all for the average, working class family. Apart from Saturday afternoon at 3pm. Although I don’t have any memories of Burnden Park, I have been told stories of the days, there, by countless fans. The town being a sea of white shirts from early morning to late at night, with ninety minutes being taken out of the day to witness a John McGinlay masterclass.

This was the soul of one of the Football League’s founders. The 4 times FA cup winners. However, despite what some might say, this soul did not rest in peace at Burnden Park. In fact, the Bolton Wanderers that this town loves carried on for so many years. This was a club that held its own against the European big boys, pulling top notch results off against Bayern Munich, Athletico Madrid and Red Star Belgrade. The club was the home of some footballing icons. Anelka. Djorakeff. Campo. Hierro. And, of course, the man so good they named him twice – Jay-Jay Okocha.

The days at the Reebok, with Big Sam and Little Sam is the Bolton Wanderers that I and many others will remember. This wasn’t a team without a soul, this was a team that young kids in the town believed were the best in the world. And isn’t that what football is all about? A bit of optimism? A bit of belief?

It pains me to say, but the Bolton Wanderers that so many of us grew up with no longer exists. This is a club where the supporters think relegation is the best option, some are convinced the club should pack up and start again – this is a club that has had its soul ripped to shreds. It wasn’t the move from Burnden Park, Sam Allardyce leaving or, even, relegation from the Premier League – it was money.

As great as some elements of the modern game are, and as much as I hate to moan, Bolton Wanderers are a victim of modern football. Debts and unpaid wages are two elements of business that circle the ‘UNIBOL’ (awful that, init) everyday, the statue of Sir Nat Lofthouse being the club’s guard from the vultures of the footballing world. Corrupt guidance from the crooks that call themselves the Anderson’s have ripped the beating heart straight from the chest of this town.

It’s mad, isn’t it? How the dark arts-esque actions of football’s money men can change the lives of the people that make the sport – the fans. Within ten years the devils of the football world can turn Nicolas Anelka into Chinedu Obasi. It is time for the footballing gods to sort this mess out and restore the heart and soul of one of football’s most historic clubs.

ONCE IN, NEVER OUT. ANDERSON OUT.

TOP 5 KITS: BOCA JUNIORS

Words by Panenka Magazine

Boca Juniors are one of those teams, aren’t they? One of those teams that everyone knows. Famous across the world for their culture, success and fans, it is no wonder that some of the world’s greatest players have once called La Bombanera their home.

Amongst all that, you know, being on of the world’s most famous clubs and all that, the Azul y Oro have had their fair share of really, really nice football shirts. Here, we talk about a few of our favourites:

2017 THIRD

We have just been rattling on about just how famous this club is. And, when you begin to think about Boca, you probably think about the famous blue and gold- and that’s fair enough. However, Boca’s 2017 third kit drifts, ever so slightly, away from the traditional Boca kit. Whilst paying homage to the traditional dark blue, the touch of electric blue across the strip takes this jersey to a new dimension, whilst keeping in touch with the club’s traditional roots.

2018/19 kits

We reckon that there is a lot of kits out there at the minute that you just look at and think, ‘they aren’t what they used to be, are they?’. But Boca’s most recent efforts don’t have that feel about them, so we are whacking them both in because we think they are both fantastic.

1981 HOME

This is Diego Maradona wearing one of the most famous football shirts of all time, if you need a reason for this being on the list, please contact us separately via email.

1990/91 HOME

There is something about football kits and kit sponsors. A jersey with a sponsor that looks good on it, will sit there and take the piss out of a kit that has a sponsor that looks daft – we’d like to imagine that is what Boca’s 90/91 home shirt did to every shit sponsor it saw. Not sure whether to thank Fiat or Adidas for this one, but it is a very nice shirt – we are seeing abit of a trend here, aren’t we?

1998 HOME

Collar? Yep. Traditional blue and gold? Yep. Long sleeve option? Yep. Ticks all the right boxes this one it would seem. Fair play. Fair play indeed.

Check out last weeks Top 5BEER SPONSORS

THE PLAYERS THAT MADE US FALL IN LOVE WITH FOOTBALL – *CONTRIBUTORS NEEDED*

Alright? How’s everyone doing?

Just a quick one, is this, but we would like to tell you all about a new little series we are starting.

The series is going to be all about the players that made us fall in love with football. Whether it’s a former Ballon D’or winner or a lower league journeyman, we all have a player that springs to mind when we are asked, why do you love this game so much?

We are hoping to make this into a really interesting little series, so we were thinking – why not get as many people as possible involved? So that’s what we are doing! We want to hear from you on the player(s) that made you fall in love with the beautiful game – so if you would like to be a part of this new series, please send your words (we are looking for 500ish – but that’s, certainly, not a set rule) to this email: editor@paneknamag.com or if you have any further questions don’t hesitate to contact us via email or social media!

Cheers.