Monday gone saw the 24th anniversary of the Valley Parade football stadium fire in 1985 when 56 people lost their lives in Bradford. The day had started in celebratory mood as the club’s players paraded the old Third Division trophy which they had just won around the ground before tragedy struck. Words can’t do justice to the horror which was caused by a dropped cigarette, litter under the antiquated main stand and safety procedures that wouldn’t be acceptable today.
Meanwhile, on the pitch matters saw the Premier League title race take a back seat as all eyes turned to St James’ Park on Monday night. Newcastle’s survival hopes received a massive boost with a tense 3-1 win over Middlesbrough while the Teessiders look increasingly doomed. The result left Sunderland looking over their shoulder and dropped Hull into the relegation zone. Three north east clubs and all in danger of relegation. Note to the national media as well, Hull City is not in the north east.
Those who watched the game on Setanta will have noticed some tremendous backtracking from Craig Burley as well who gave Shearer a bit stick for bringing on Martins in place of Owen seconds before the middle-aged, sorry, 24-year-old striker tucked away the Toon’s second.
The title race itself looks virtually over now. Liverpool went top last Saturday but could find themselves out of the race before kicking another ball should Manchester United pick up a point against Arsenal over the weekend.
Play-off action was the usual mixed bag of joy and heartbreak with Leeds and Millwall’s tie receiving the most attention, largely due to the authorities treatment of both clubs’ fans. Millwall progressed to the League One final and will play the winner of tonight’s MK Dons-Scunthorpe clash.
In the Championship Sheffield United progressed while Steve Coppell resigned at Reading after his team’s defeat to Burnley, and League Two will see Gillingham and Shrewsbury face off.
Non-league football had a terrible week as a stream of clubs hit financial troubles. First up Hyde United received notice from HMRC that they would be wound up unless they secured around £200,000. Blue Square South club Fisher Athletic are a step further down that road and were wound up in the High Court after failing to clear debts, thought to be around £250,000.
According to their website fans will look to reform the club in some manner and start again lower down the pyramid – good luck to them and Darwen FC who have found themselves in a similar situation.
FSF in the news – it’s not a core FSF issue but we often get asked about shirt prices, and while there’s the argument that no one is forced to buy them – which is true – there’s no doubt that shirts are expensive. Especially if the little ‘uns hassling you for a new one every year. And on that our chair Malcolm Clarke had one or two points to make in this Daily Mail article.
Lastly the FSF's weekly Daily Mirror column asked whether ref Tom Henning Ovrebo really deserved such stick off Didier Drogba? Of course not, but the hypocrisy of our TV pundits deserved a dig as well.
Until next week, enjoy the weekend!