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January 31, 2008

Ukrainian Premier League, 2007-’08 Season: Attendance Map at the winter break.

Filed under: Attendance Maps & Charts,Ukraine — admin @ 8:10 am

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The Ukrainian Premier League ends it’s winter break on the weekend of March 2 and 3.   This map shows the average attendances for the first part of the 2007-’08 season (7 to 10 home matches).   There is also a smaller map, showing the four Ukrainian clubs that qualified for the 2007-’08 Champions League (Dynamo Kyiv and Shakhtar Donetsk), and the 2007-’08 UEFA Cup (Metalist Kharkiv and Dnipro).  I have also added the top 12 drawing clubs in the Ukrainian Persha Liha (the second division).

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Dnipro are surprise leaders at the winter break, with a 2 point lead over Shakhtar Donetsk, and four points ahead of reigning champions Dynamo Kyiv for the crucial second Champions League qualifier spot.   Dnipro host Dynamo Kyiv on Sunday, March 3.  It is basically one of the biggest games in the history of Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk.  Because if the club can beat the giants of Ukrainian football (Dynamo), for the second time this season, they will very likely hold on to the second place spot that will allow them the chance at the Champions League.  It would be good for Ukrainian football for another club to be at the top.  And it would be appropriate for Dnipro to become the third force in Ukraine, as they are the only club outside the big 2 (of Dynamo Kyiv and Shakhtar Donetsk) that has lately been supplying players to the national team.  

 **{See this article, from The Guardian website, by Jonathan Wilson,  about Dnipro, and their quest to break the big 2 duopoly in Ukraine.}    

**{Click here, for the Ukrainian Premier League Table.} 

Ukraine is currently ranked # 12 for European competitions by UEFA.  Winner and second place in the Premier League make it to the 3rd round qualifiers for the Champions League.  3rd and 4th place qualify for the UEFA Cup.

Thanks to the Colours Of Football website, for the kits (http://colours-of-football.com).

January 29, 2008

NFL Thumbnail Histories: The AAFC; the Cleveland Browns; the San Francisco 49ers; and the Baltimore Colts/ Indianapolis Colts.

Click on the image below for my map of NFL, 1920-1960, plus helmets of 49ers and Colts…
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The All American Football Conference was formed in 1944, but did not begin play until 1946, due to World War II.  The AAFC had advantages that other competitor-leagues did not.  The AAFC was bankrolled by ownership groups that were, in most cases, wealthier than their NFL counterparts.  And the founder of the league, Arch Ward, was editor of the influential Chicago Tribune newspaper.  This gave the new league much more media attention.  Also, the league began right after a major disruption in the NFL (ie, World War II).

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There was one big problem with the AAFC, though.  That was the disparity in team strength.  And while it was true that the Cleveland Browns won all 4 of the AAFC’s Titles, to say they were the only good team would be untrue, as the San Francisco 49ers, the New York (Football) Yankees, and the Buffalo Bills all fielded strong squads.  But aside from the Los Angeles Dons, the other franchises, such as the Chicago Rockets, the Brooklyn Dodgers, and the spectacularly unsuccessful Miami Seahawks, held the league back.  In the end, the league’s lack of a draft kept the talent levels static: the Browns dominated to the point of turning the AAFC boring. 

The crowds that Cleveland, San Francisco, Buffalo, and Baltimore drew could not be ignored, though, and the NFL opted for a merger in 1950.  They balked at allowing the Buffalo Bills in, though, citing the city’s small size, and cold weather (and ignoring the fact that Green Bay is smaller and colder).   So the Cleveland Browns, the San Francisco 49ers, and the original Baltimore Colts were given franchises in the NFL.  The Colts lasted only one season (another franchise was formed as the Baltimore Colts three years later(1953)).   The fans in Buffalo had to wait another decade for football, when the town won a franchise in the AFL (of 1960 to 1969).

Thanks to the SSUR, and (http://www.logoshak.com/).

January 28, 2008

Cardiff City FC.

Filed under: Engl. Promotion Candidates,Wales — admin @ 6:30 am

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Cardiff City are one of only three Welsh clubs to currently play in the English Football League (Swansea City and Wrexham are the other two; Newport County had played in the 4th Level, from 1920-’87, but were relegated to non-League status in 1988). 

Cardiff are the only non-English club to win one of the 3 major English football trophies.  This occurred when they won the 1927 FA Cup, over Arsenal, 1-0.   The Cardiff City teams of the 1920′s were some of the best in England.  In fact, they narrowly missed out on the 1924 National Title, as they were tied with Huddersfield Town for first place, but lost out on goal average.   The next year (1925), they finished runners up in the FA Cup, losing 0-1 to Sheffield United.  Two years later they finally claimed a trophy, with the 1927 FA Cup.  **{See this article, on the 1927 FA Cup.}      **{See this Youtube highlights reel.}     **{See this Youtube tribute.}

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Cardiff City has spent just 15 seasons in the top flight, 8 of those in the 1920′s.  Their last spell in the first division was 2 seasons in the early 1960′s.  They were relegated to the second division in 1962.  Since then they have have been relegated 7 times, and promoted 7 times, between the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Levels.  Their low point was in 1998, when they finished 21st in the 4th Level (then called League 3), only two places from being relegated out of the League. 
 
Under manager Dave Jones this season, Cardiff are threatening to break into the League Championship playoff places.  They sit in 8th place, after having won 6, drawn 2, and lost 2, in their last 10 games.   The club features two old Premier League stars, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (with 5 league goals) , and Robbie Fowler (4 league goals).  Two Welsh-born midfielders are powering the Bluebirds: Paul Parry (6 league goals) and promising 21-year old Joe Ledley (5 league goals).  

Thanks to Historical Football Kits website (historicalkits[dot]co[dot]uk): the 6 older kits on the right hand side of the chart are courtesy of Historical Football Kits, and reproduced by permission.   Thanks to Colours of Football website (colours-of-football[dot]com);   (trimac[dot]com);   (thefa[dot]com);   (viewimages[dot]com);   (therightresort[dot]com);   (worldstadiums[dot]com).   And special thanks to (http://www.freewebs.com/tims92/panoramics.htm)  for the great panoramic photo of Ninian Park.

January 26, 2008

2007 NCAA Football Ranking. Final AP Poll, top 10.

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This map shows the top 10 in College Football, from last season.  The Louisiana State University Tigers are champions.

The Associated Press Poll, and the USA Today Poll both had the same top ten teams (Boston College being placed at 11, in the USA Today poll).  The helmets are sized to the teams’ 2006 average attendances (the NCAA website has not posted 2007 final average attendances; probably the only changes would be increases in the Missouri and Kansas figures).

January 24, 2008

The NFL, 1960-Map.

Filed under: NFL/ Gridiron Football,Retro maps — admin @ 7:15 am

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The NFL expanded to 13 teams in 1960, with the addition of the Dallas Cowboys.  That season, they would be competing with the newly formed AFL.  They made sure they could meet that new threat head-on in Texas, by establishing a franchise in Dallas.  This, just 8 years after an initial failed attempt (the Dallas Texans, of 1952).  The following season (1961), the NFL would add a 14th team in Minneapolis, with the Minnesota Vikings. 

This was the era when teams were adopting helmet crests.  The Los Angeles Rams had been the trailblazers in this department, sporting their soon-to-be trademark golden horns, in 1947.  In 1954, the Baltimore Colts began wearing a U-shaped horseshoe on their helmet, but strangely wore it on the back of a blue helmet.  By 1957, the Colts’ helmet had evolved into the very same style won today.  Also in 1957, the Philadelphia Eagles began wearing their eagle-wings style design on their helmets.  In 1960, the Chicago Cardinals moved to St. Louis, Missouri, and debuted their striking Cardinal bird’s head emblem (only slightly modified in 2005).  Also in 1960, the expansion Cowboys wore the large blue star they still wear today, but on a white helmet.  Their distinctive pale blue-silver colored helmets did not come until 1964.    

In 1960 and 1961, several teams wore a blank helmet for the last time.  In 1961, the Giants, the Lions, and the Packers adopted helmet insignias; in ’62, the 49ers, the Bears, and the Steelers followed suit.  That left just the Cleveland Browns, who reversed the trend by switching from helmets with the players’ number on it, to a blank orange helmet.  The franchise wears this style helmet to this day.

Thanks to Helmets, Helmets, Helmets website, and the SSUR (http://www.ssur.org/).

January 22, 2008

The League Championship Standings Map, 3rd week of January, ’08.

Filed under: Engl. Promotion Candidates — admin @ 6:58 pm

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This map shows the League Championship Table, in cartographic form.  The size of each club’s circle is sized relative to the club’s standing in the table.  So league leader West Bromwich Albion’s navy blue and white stripes are shown in a large circle, and last place Colchester United are represented by a tiny dot.   {To see the full League Championship Table, click here.} 

The club crests on the map are sized in relation to the club’s average attendance.   {To see League Championship Attendance Figures, click here.}

January 21, 2008

Stoke City FC.

Filed under: Engl. Promotion Candidates — admin @ 6:45 am

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Many Stoke FC fans were not happy when Tony Pulis came back last season for his second spell as manager.  This is because Pulis’ teams play a very defensive-minded, Route One/long-ball game (ie, dull).  And true to form, the 2006-’07 Stoke City team was miserly on defense, and low on offensive flair.  But not only did the club lead the League Championship with least goals allowed (41), they finished a surprising 8th place, just missing out on a shot at the promotion playoffs.

This season, they have continued to improve, and sit 4th in the League Championship, only 1 point away from the automatic promotion spots.  They are a big side, and can physically dominate their opponents.   And their offense has begun scoring more, with striker Ricardo Fuller notching 12 league goals; winger Liam Lawrence has 9 goals overall; as does striker Richard Cresswell.  Newly signed Leon Cort (7 goals) had a brace of goals last Saturday, in Stoke City’s 3-1 win over Preston.  That made it 12 games unbeaten in the league for Stoke (6 wins and 6 draws).  **{Read about Stoke City’s win in this article.}

** {See this recent article, from The Telegraph UK website.}

Stoke City FC is the world’s second oldest football club, formed in 1863 (the oldest club is Notts County FC, which was formed in 1862).  They were first known as the Stoke Ramblers.  In 1876, they merged with the Stoke Victoria Cricket Club, and became Stoke FC.  In 1888, the club became one of the 12 founding members of the Football League. 

Here are the 12 clubs that formed the Football League.  1. Accrington FC.   2. Aston Villa FC.   3. Blackburn Rovers FC.   4. Bolton Wanderers FC.   5. Burnley FC.   6. Derby County FC.   7. Everton FC.   8. Notts County FC.   9. Preston North End FC.   10. Stoke FC.   11. West Bromwich Albion FC.  12. Wolverhampton Wanderers FC.   [Note that these are all northern English clubs, and there was no representation fron London.]

In 1925, six towns merged to form Stoke-On-Trent, and the club renamed itself Stoke City FC.  In 1932, the 17-year old Stanley Matthews debuted for the club.  In 1933, the club made it back to the First Division for the first time since 1907.  By the mid 1930′s, Stoke City was one of the bigger clubs in the country, regularly playing to crowds of over 20,000.  With Matthews as their leader and playmaker, the club continued to improve, and finished in 4th place in 1937.  Following World War II, Stoke came the closest to a Title, losing out by two points to Liverpool, yet finishing in 4th place.  Matthews had a falling out with Stoke management late in the season, being sold to Blackpool with 3 games remaining.  That season, they had their peak season at the turnstiles, drawing 31,590 spectators per game. 

Stoke were relegated in 1953.  They made it back to the top flight for the 1963-’64 season, with the help of 48-year old returnee Stanley Matthews.  Stoke stayed in the First Division for 20 out of the next 22 seasons.  They were last relegated out of the upper level in 1985.

Stoke City’s  best moment, though, was when the club won the 1972 League Cup, beating Chelsea 2-1, at Wembley.   Goals were scored by Irish midfielder Terry Conroy, and inside forward George Eastham.

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**{Click here, for a 360-degree view of Stoke City’s Britannia Stadium.}

**{Click here. for a fan-run site that has an assortment of Stoke City FC items of interest.}

Thaks to the Colours of Football website (www.colours-of-football.com) for the newer kits.  Stoke City-mad (www.stokecity-mad.co.uk).

Thanks to (historicalkits[dot]co[dot]uk):  the 5 older kits on the bottom  right -hand side of the chart are copyright Historical Football Kits, and reproduced by permission.   Thanks to (webaviation[dot]co[dot]uk);  (viewimages[dot]com);   

January 19, 2008

The AFL (1960-’69). Map, with original team emblems, and helmet evolution.

Filed under: NFL/ Gridiron Football,Retro maps — admin @ 12:25 pm

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The American Football League, of 1960 to 1969, was the only pro football league to ever successfully compete with the NFL.  On this map, I have shown the oldest team emblems I could find, in all their primitive glory.  The helmets on the bottom left show each AFL franchise’s major helmet design changes, up to the present time.   

When the AFL merged with the NFL, prior to the 1970 season, 3 NFL franchises joined the 10 AFL franchises to form the American Football Conference. (The Baltimore Colts, the Cleveland Browns, and the Pittsburgh Steelers were the 3).   **{Click here, for Wikipedia’s entry on the AFL (1960-’69).}   The other 13 NFL franchises became the National Football Conference.   [The NFC and the AFC, of course, would continue to send their champions each season to compete in the Super Bowl (which up until then had been officially called the AFL-NFL World Championship, even though the media had called it the Super Bowl, from the start).  That competition had begun in the 1967 season, but AFL and NFL teams did not play each other during the regular season, from 1967-'69.]    **{Click here to see the summary of the first NFL season that included AFL teams (1970).}

Thanks to the Society for Sports Uniforms Research (http://www.ssur.org).   Thanks  to the Helmets, Helmets, Helmets website (http://www.misterhabs.com).   Thanks to Logoserver (http://www.logoserver.com).

January 17, 2008

Swiss Super League Attendance Map, 2006-’07 season.

Filed under: Attendance Maps & Charts,Switzerland — admin @ 7:19 pm

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In Switzerland, attendance is up, for the 2007-’08 season.  Last season (which this map depicts), the Swiss Super League averaged 9,763 per game.  This season, the average, after half the season, is 11,063.  Back-to-back champions FC Zurich boast the highest percentage increase, with a 34% rise in gate figures (from 10,871 to 14,594).

The Swiss Super League has 10 teams in it.  [The clubs in the league, this season, happen to be numbers 1 through 10, on this attendance map.]   The last place finisher each season is relegated to the second level, which is called the Challenge League.  The ninth-place finisher in the Super League must play a playoff, with the second-place finisher in the Challenge League.

At the present time, FC Basel have a 6-point lead in the Super League, over FC Zurich, and BSC Young Boys.  FC Aarau are in 4th, and newly promoted FC Xamax are 5th.  FC Sankt Gallen are in danger of being relegated.  They are in last, four points below the safety zone.  Sankt Gallen is a rather large club to be playing in the second tier, so it should be interesting to see how the table ends up.  **{See the Swiss Super League Table, here.}

Currently leading the Challenge League is the southern Swiss club AC Bellinzona.  As you might surmise from their name, the club is in the Italian section of this multi-lingual nation.   Italian clubs like to loan out players to this club, particularly AS Roma.   **{Click here, for the Swiss Challenge League Table.} 

Bellinzona only lead the league by 2 points, though.   FC Wil,  FC Wohlen,  FC Winterthur, and the Liechtenstein-based FC Vaduz are all in touching distance.  As my cut-off point for this map was 1,000 avg. gate, 3 of these 5 clubs didn’t make the map… FC Wohlen (989 avg. gate) are due east of Aarau.   FC Wil (975 avg. gate) are just west of Sankt Gallen.    FC Vaduz (904 avg.gate) are southeast of Sankt Gallen.  {Click here to see where Liechtenstein is.}    {Here is Wikipedia’s entry on FC Vaduz.}

Switzerland is joint-hosting, with Austria, Euro 2008.   (The actual name of the competition, which no one uses, is the 2008 UEFA European Football Championship).   Basel,  Bern,  Zurich, and Geneva will be the Swiss host cities.   **{Click here for UEFA’s website, on Euro 2008.  And/Or click here, for Wikipedia’s entry on Euro 2008 (there’s a good map, here)}. 

{Swiss Super League website {translated}: (axposuperleague[dot]ch).}

This map was made in connection with The Home of Football/ Fussball-blog von Frau B. website (http://fraub.ch).    {For the text-only, translated version, click here.}

My Swiss attendance map was first posted on http://fussballblog.espace.ch   {Click here, for a translated version of the site.}

And a huge Thanks to Herr C. …Grasshopper-supporter,  and West Bromwich Albion fan,  for the opportunity to be in Swiss cyberspace.

January 16, 2008

Swiss Football Clubs.

Filed under: Switzerland — admin @ 6:49 pm

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I will post my Attendance Map of Switzerland tommorrow.  Here is a brief look at the Swiss Super League.

In Switzerland,  FC Zurich has edged out FC Basel for the Title, on the last day of the season, for two years running.   This despite the fact that Basel has the largest budget (around 19 million Euro).  In the 2005-’06 season, it ended in a very dramatic way.  The excerpt below is from Wikipedia .

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FC Basel is Switzerland’s biggest club.  Last season, their average gate was 20,144.   **{Click here to see their 39,00-seat state-of-the-art stadium,  St. Jakob-Park).  BSC Young Boys, from the capital, Bern, had the second highest average, at 15,517.  FC Sion drew the third best, averaging 12,304.  Sion are the only decent-sized football club in the more mountainous southern half of the country.

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Champions FC Zurich had the fourth highest average attendance, at 10,871.  The club they share a stadium with, Grasshopper Club Zurich, averaged 6,920 last season (7th highest).  Grasshoppers Club are probably named in honor of the manner in which players celebrated goals, early on in the club’s history (ie, lots of jumping).  Grasshoppers have the most Swiss championships, with 26.   [Servette FC Geneve, a second-division club, have the second most Swiss Titles, with 17.  Three clubs are tied for the third most Titles:  FC Zurich, FC Basel, and BSC Young Boys, all with 11.]  

Fifth and sixth highest average gates last season were to be found at the eastern Swiss club FC Sankt Gallen, and centrally located FC Luzern, both in the 7,800 to 6,900 range. 

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The other Swiss club that deserves mention is FC Thun.  They drew 5,159 per game last season, but a decade ago, this club from just south of Bern was playing to crowds of around 100.  In 2004-’05, in their third season in the top flight, Thun finished as runners up.   This allowed them to enter the 2nd round Champions League qualifiers.  There, they stunned Ukrainian giants Dynamo Kyiv.  Then they beat Swedish champions Malmo FF, which gave them entry into the Champions League.  They became only the third Swiss team ever to qualify for Europe’s most prestigious competition.   [The other two Swiss clubs that made it to the Champions League were Grasshoppers Club Zurich, in 1996; and FC Basel, in 2002.]

See this article about FC Thun’s shock qualification for the Champions League, in 2005, from the UEFA website.}

The Swiss Super league is a compact, 10-team league.  I think the Swiss are wise to have the league this small.  When the bottom  few clubs in a country’s top league can’t draw more than 4 or 5,000, it becomes something of a farce to have more than a dozen teams in the league.  The Netherlands and it’s 18-team Eredivisie;  and Ukraine, and it’s 16-team Premier League, come to mind.

Switzerland is ranked # 17 in Europe for UEFA competitions.  Currently, 4 Swiss clubs gain entry each season into UEFA competitions.  Only the first place finisher is eligible now for Champions League Qualifiers;  2nd and 3rd place gain entry into the UEFA Cup Qualifiers;  the Swiss Cup winner, or the 4th place finisher, also gains entry into the UEFA Cup Qualifiers.

FC Basel, and FC Zurich are both still in the 2007-’08 UEFA Cup competition, which has reached the knockout round.  FC Basel will play Sporting Lisbon;  and FC Zurich will play Hamburg.  {See the complete set of matchups, here.}

{More information on the 2007-’09 Swiss Super League, from the BetInf. website, here.} 

Thanks to Colours Of Football website for the kits (www.colours-of-football.com).   Thanks to (http://www.stades.ch) for Swiss stadium photos;  also (marazzi[dot]biz).

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