September 09, 2002

London Times football writing is the best.: Aside from the breadth of resources, it is the high standard of match reports that draws me to the Times's soccer section. Pick one report and marvel at the attention to detail, the ability to capture the atmosphere and drama of the event, the near-epic weaving of game minutae into the larger game and league context, the dry wit and, sometimes, lyrical poetry. The fact that they pull this off day in and day out is sheer brilliance. You will never see sports writing in the same light.

posted by worldcup2002 to soccer at 01:50 PM - 15 comments

I'm going to have to disagree with you there. Although the Times is good, The Guardian is far and away the best, although now David Lacey and Frank Keating have retired there will be 2 big holes. Here is Keating on Lacey, and Keatings final column, from todays paper. Paul Haywood and Henry Winter in the Telegraph are excellent and the Independent is also very good, if a bit boring. We are spoilt for choice I suppose.

posted by Fat Buddha at 05:51 PM on September 09, 2002

Fat Buddha: I agree that the overall point is debatable. And yes, I was employing hyperbole. However, in terms of the match reports, don't you think the quality of writing exhibited by Times reporters stands head and shoulders above Soccernet, BBC, Guardian, Independent and Telegraph et al? I dare you to show me a match report that rivals the craft of any randomly-picked report on the Times site ... ;-)

posted by worldcup2002 at 07:14 PM on September 09, 2002

There's some good writing there, and I'm not a football/soccer fan. The style reminds me of 1930s/1940s baseball writing. You don't see flair like that on American sports pages.

posted by shackbar at 11:49 PM on September 09, 2002

worldcup2002, take your pick. More recently there is this, or this on the same game. Or there is Jim White, who writes features rather than reports. Then there is the wacky, slightly off the wall stuff. If you stick to accessing the Guardian on the web, you will also get articles like this from the Observer. All of the above is high quality. Apart from the first link everything else is taken from todays front page, I did not have to search and dig around for good stuff, it is a representative sample of one day. Bear in mind that it is a very quiet week for football, yet there is still plenty to enlighten and entertain and provide us addicts with our daily fix. Chuffin 'ell I should have been in advertising.

posted by Fat Buddha at 03:37 AM on September 10, 2002

I must say that I agree that the Guardian's coverage is fantastic, if you don't mind it being laced with sarcasm and wit (I like it this way). I'm an avid reader of the fiver, regularly stop off to look at Ormondroyd's virtual match report. Oooh, and their live coverage of the world cup was startlingly funny.

posted by BigCalm at 08:39 AM on September 10, 2002

I'm a Guardian reader as well. Apart from the fact that I think the sports writing is better than the Times, the Guardian website is better designed and easier to navigate. I often get the impression from reading American sports reports that the writer didn't actually bother going to the game. There are so many stats available that the reports seem nothing more than a tedious list of stats.

posted by salmacis at 09:48 AM on September 10, 2002

Fat Buddha: Yes, good examples. Thanks. Big Calmy: Ormondroyd rocks! But that World cup live coverage was too filled with the sort of Americanisms that grate on the true ;-) soccer lover's eye (e.g., "handpass", references to American football -- altho that prob. made it more accessible to the Yanks -- and awkward terms like "directional switcharound"). Guess my childhood watching "Big League Soccer" has spoiled me. Good stuff, lads. I'm putting up a post in your honor in, oh, about seven days ...

posted by worldcup2002 at 09:58 AM on September 10, 2002

And shackbar and salmacis: Thanks for pointing out what I had to hold back. Yes, US sports writing (apart from the big magazines) is mainly pedestrian, without "flair" (shackbar) and "nothing more than ... stats" (salmacis). Can you imagine MLS games being written about in the sort of tone, attention to detail and history that we see in the periodicals mentioned above? Oh, right, that's if they can get more than a quarter of the column for each game report.

posted by worldcup2002 at 10:02 AM on September 10, 2002

Big Calm, I hope you noticed I put a link to a Villa report up. If you like Ormondroyd you have to take a look at the match reports on this Huddersfield Town website. Believe me it's worth it.

posted by Fat Buddha at 12:31 PM on September 10, 2002

Much obliged FB. And the Huddersfield reports are fantastic. Thanks for pointing these out! Ormondroyd has been getting less and less frequent recently - 2 years ago it was once a fortnight, last year it was once a fortnight too, but with numerous lapses, and now it's just one a month. Oh, and I've actually played a game of being Glenn Hoddle. Yes, there was alcohol involved, before you ask.

posted by BigCalm at 03:12 AM on September 11, 2002

worldcup2002: Not sure what you mean about the Guardian's world cup coverage. It was irreverent, funny, and completely unlike anything I've seen in American sports. The kinds of term you mention "hand-pass", etc were piss-takes of the stereotypical clueless American soccer fan.

posted by salmacis at 07:14 PM on September 11, 2002

salmacis: I was referring to this link that BigCalm originally pointed to. And since you made me go there, I'll list the pain-inspiring Americanisms that were used in that article to describe simple soccer terms. Let's start from the bottom (since it's a match report, the first second begins at the bottom of the page). My comments in parentheses ... 1. 8 min: "That's one soccer football point to no score!" [It's a freakin' goal. There are no freakin' points until the game is over. This ain't footbawl or basketball.] 2. 22 min: "For this alone, the US team should start all games with a deficit of two football points." [I think he means "goals."] 3. 26 min: "Flag! Eddie Pope is yellow-marked for contact infringement." [Yellow-marked? wtf? Cards, they're called cards, dammit!] 4. 28 min: "28 min: McBride nearly latches on to a long sideline handpass from Lewis in the Mexican zone, but the offensive play is snuffed out by Vidrio." [Sideline? Handpass? It's a "Throw-in"! @#&^ This guy gets paid to do this? On the Guardian no less? Or did they need some American dork to write for the stereotypical football-clueless Yankee fan? Did he do it for free beer?] 5, 6. First period shutdown: "The US are worth their one soccer point advantage at the 50 percent stage, but can they hold out after the directional switcharound?" [First period shutdown? How about "half-time"? "Directional switcharound"? Holy crap!] 7. 47 min: "Flag! Mastroeni is put on report for a charging transgression." [Charging? Call it a "foul", ok? Just say he knocked the guy out of the way. And if he says "Flag!" one more time ...] 8, 9. 49 min: "Flag! Wolff procrastinates over a sideline handpass and is ref-charged for clock abuse." [Argh! (but I'll not charge him for the Flag call...) "Sideline handpass" again! "Ref-charged"? Try "booked". Graaaargh!] 10 ... and I give up. 64 min: "GOAL Mexico 0 - 2 USA. Two soccer points to no score! Eddie Lewis makes a cross-pitch play from the left zone, finding Landon Donovan alone in the danger area. He top-bodies the sphere into the score bag, and Mexico have a double-negative stat!" [It's too much. "Soccer points", "left zone", "top-bodies", "score bag", "double-negative stat". Groan. It hurts too much.] Of course, Scott Murray is probably English, and I've totally missed the point that he's taking the mickey out of the Americans. I hope.

posted by worldcup2002 at 11:00 PM on September 11, 2002

Scott Murray was only poking a bit of good natured fun at you football loving guys over in the US! That report still managed to fool the BBC though!

posted by BigCalm at 03:09 AM on September 12, 2002

Hahahahaha! Thanks, BigCalmy! I guess I should read the Guardian more. btw, looks like Aston Villa did pretty well, and Birmingham almost pulled an upset on my boys Liverpool. I'm going over to make my weekly report on the SpoFi Fantasy League now...

posted by worldcup2002 at 11:50 AM on September 12, 2002

When reading my local sports rag, I don't expect to be impressed with the writing. All I'm looking for is reaction from the players and the coaches and the occasional scoop on possible trades and/or signings/firings. For newspaper eloquance, I go for the op-ed pages. Maybe that's why I don't immediately go to the sports page as soon as I wake up.

posted by shackbar at 11:55 PM on September 12, 2002

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