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December 30, 2008

NHL Western Conference, Central Division: Map and Team Profiles.

Filed under: Hockey-NHL, pre-realignm't — admin @ 4:29 pm

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The National Hockey League’s Central Division has two teams that date back to the 1926-1927 season…the Chicago Black Hawks and the Detroit Cougars  (Detroit adopted the Red Wings nickname in 1932;  Chicago changed the spelling of their nickname to one word in 1986).

The Detroit Red Wings have won 11 Stanley Cup Titles,  and won the 2008 Title,  making them cup-holders  {see this: Traditions and anecdotes,  from Wikipedia}.  The Red Wings have won 4 Titles in the last 12 seasons.   The Chicago Blackhawks are a far less successful franchise,  with just 3 Stanley Cup Titles.  Chicago has not won a Stanley Cup Title since 1961  (they did make it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1992,  but were shut out by the Pittsburgh Penguins).  

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The Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings will square off in an outdoor hockey game,  in what the NHL calls the Winter Classic,  on January the 1st,  at Wrigley Field,  home of the Chicago Cubs baseball club.  Here is the site associated with the game  {Click here (NHL.com/ Event home) }.  

{Click here, for the webcam showing preparations at Wrigley Field.  (Note:  there is a nice video feature called ‘Wrigley Rink Build’ on this page,  to the right of the center screen,  and three boxes down.) }

The previous two NHL-regular season outdoor games were held in gridiron football stadiums,  the original match at Commonwealth Stadium,  in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada,  on November 22, 2003.   The game was between the Edmonton Oilers and the Montreal Canadiens,  with the Canadiens winning 4-3,  in front of 57,167 fans.  The temperature  was -18 Celsius (zero degrees Fahrenheit),  with a wind chill of minus 22 Fahrenheit.    Here is an account of the game from the ESPN archives  {Click here}.

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5 years later,  the Buffalo Sabres hosted the Pittsburgh Penguins at Rich Stadium,  in Orchard Park, NY,  home of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills.  The Penguins beat the Sabres 2-1,  with rising star Sidney Crosby scoring the winning goal in the overtime shootout.  71,217 attended the game (an NHL record,  surpassing the Edmonton-Montreal outdoor game 5 years earlier).  The temperature was 0.5 degrees Celsius (33 degrees Fahrenheit) with intervals of light snow falling throughout the game.   The teams wore vintage uniforms,  with the Penguins sporting powder blue uniforms for the first time since 1973,  and the Sabres in their original colors of white,  royal blue,  and yellow.   Here is an account of the game from NYTimes.com  {Click here}.  Here is a 30-second home video posted on Youtube showing the crowd {Click here}.

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The weather is a concern for the January 1st game in Chicago  {see this (Yahoo Sports, from Dec. 27) }.  

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The remaining 3 teams in the NHL  Western Conference, Central Division are the St. Louis Blues (established for the 1967-1968 season),  the Nashville Predators (established for the 1998-1999 season),  and the Columbus Blue Jackets (established for the 2000-2001 season).   There are no Stanley Cup Titles between these three hockey clubs,  although the St. Louis Blues made it to the Stanley Cup Finals three straight seasons (their first three seasons),  from 1968 to 1970…The West Division was made up of all expansion teams from the 1967-1968 season,  and the imbalance in talent between the new hockey teams and the ‘Original Six’ teams in the East Division was shown by the fact that the St. Louis Blues were shut out zero games to 4 games in three straight Stanley Cup Finals.   Speaking of weak expansion teams,  the Columbus Blue Jackets have never made the playoffs in their eight seasons of existence.   The Nashville Predators are pretty competitive,  though,  and have made the playoffs the last 4 seasons (losing in the first round each time).

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From the Jersey Database site’s blog, here is an article called ‘The complete jersey history of the Detroit Red Wings’ {click here}.

Thanks to the NHL shop at NHL.com  {Click here}.   Thanks to NHL Uniforms.com site {Click here}.   Thanks to Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos Page  {Click here}.   Thanks to the contributors to the Wikipedia pages on the NHL {Click here}.

December 27, 2008

NCAA Basketball: AP Poll, Top 25, from December 22, 2008.

Filed under: NCAA Men's Basketball — admin @ 5:58 pm

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The 12-0 North Carolina Tar Heels remain at #1.  Numbers 1 through 4 are unchanged from the last poll…#1 NC.  #2 UConn.  #3 Pitt.  #4 Oklahoma.  All of the top four are undefeated  [Wake Forest (#6),  Clemson (#22),  and Minnesota (#23) are also undefeated].    

All the teams in the top 25 have played between 10 and 13 games.

Note: #25 Missouri was voted 70 points.  Memphis missed the poll by 1 voters’ point;  Marquette by 2 voters’ points,  and Davidson by 3 voters’ points. 

The new AP Poll,  from 1:30 pm EST on Monday, Dec. 29,  is here…AP Poll  {Click here (SI.com) }

December 26, 2008

NHL Western Conference, Northwest Division: Map and Team Profiles (with synopsis of the PCHA, the WCHL, and the WHA).

Filed under: Hockey-NHL, pre-realignm't — admin @ 4:18 pm

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The National Hockey League did not have a presence in Canada’s western provinces until the Vancouver Canucks were awarded a franchise for the 1970-1971 season.   However,  there are Stanley Cup Title winners from Western Canada,  and the American Pacific Northwest,  dating back to 1915.

The Pacific Coast Hockey Association (or PCHA)  was a small,  but innovative league that existed from 1912 to 1924.  The Patrick brothers,  Lester {see this} and Frank {see this},  were the creators of this league,  which originally featured just 3 teams in British Columbia, Canada…the Vancouver Millionaires,  the New Westminster Royals,  and the Victoria Aristocrats.  

The Patrick family had just come into a fortune,  after selling their lumber business to a British concern,  and the Patrick brothers convinced their father to invest in their hockey league venture.  

The warm climate of the Canadian Pacific coast necessitated the building of artificial ice rinks.  The arena in Vancouver that the Patricks built,  called the Denman Street Arena,  had a 10,500 capacity,  remarkable for a city that then had a population of just around 100,000.  It was at that time the largest ice hockey arena in the world.   Another innovation made by the Patrick brothers was the creation of the blue line,  the first step in the evolution of  the modern offside rule for hockey.  They pioneered the use of player’s numbers on uniforms.  They first began recording assists on goals.  They invented hockey’s penalty shot.  Finally,  the Patricks first introduced the concept of a post-season playoff format,  in 1918. 

By 1915,  the trustees of the Stanley Cup decided to allow PCHA teams to compete for Stanley Cup challenge matches.  That same year,  the Vancouver Millionaires,  led by Frank Patrick,  defeated the original Ottawa Senators 3 games to zero,  to win the Stanley Cup Title.

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The PCHA had expanded to include American teams in 1914 (first in Portland, Oregon;  then in Seattle, Washington;  and later in Spokane, Washinmgton).   In 1917,  the PCHA’s Seattle Metropolitans defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3 games to 1,  to win the Stanley Cup Title.   This was the first Stanley Cup Title won by a team from the United States.

The PCHA was able to achieve its high level of competitive play so quickly because of its raids on east-coast talent,  circa 1911-1914.  Several players who went on to become members of the Hockey Hall of Fame,  like “Cyclone” Taylor,  and Newsy Lalonde,  joined PCHA teams,  and Taylor was instrumental in the Vancouver Millionaires’ 1915 Stanley Cup Title.

The Western Canada Hockey League (or WCHL) was established in 1921,  designed to be a sister-league to the PCHA.  The winner of a playoff between the PCHA and the WCHL would go on to play the winner of the NHL for the Stanley Cup Title.  This system existed for 3 seasons (1921-1922 to 1923-1924).  The four founding teams of the WCHL were the Edmonton Eskimos,  the Calgary Tigers,  the Regina Capitals,  and the Saskatoon Sheiks.
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But by the spring of 1924,  the PCHA found itself in dire financial straits,  and was forced to fold,  with two of the teams,  the Vancouver Maroons and the Victoria Cougars,  joining the WCHL.   The next season,  the Victoria Cougars,  led by coach/defenseman Lester Patrick,  defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3 games to 1,  to win the 1925 Stanley Cup Title.   This was the last time a non-NHL team won a Stanley Cup Title. 

A year later,  the WCHL also went bust.  The Patrick brothers were able to find most of the WCHL players employment in the NHL.  In fact,  for all intents and purposes,  in the fall of 1926,  the Victoria Cougars became the NHL expansion team called the Detroit Cougars…most of the players on the Victoria team moved to the Detroit team.  [The Detroit team  changed their name to the Red Wings,  in 1932.]    However,  the NHL does not consider the Detroit Red Wings to be a continuation of the the Victoria Cougars,  despite the similarity of most of the player roster (and the Detroit franchise’s original nickname itself ).   A similar thing can be said for the Chicago Blackhawks,  who were also formed as an NHL expansion team in 1926.  In their case,  the original Chicago team was comprised mostly of players from the WCHL’s Portland Rosebuds.  This was a team that originated in 1921 as the Regina (Saskatchewan) Capitals.

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The World Hockey Association was formed in 1972,  and began play for the 1972-1973 season.  Like the PCHA 60 years earlier,  the WHA of the 1970′s attained a good measure of instant credibility by raiding talent (from the NHL).  Players like Bobby Hull (joining the Winnipeg Jets) and Gerry Cheevers (joining the Cleveland Crusaders) made the NHL soon realize this upstart league would not be a flash in the pan.  By 1974,  WHA teams like the Winnipeg Jets began signing European players like Swedes Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson,  drawing on a pool of talent on the other side of the Atlantic,  something the NHL had traditionally ignored.  This is one of the greatest legacies of the World Hockey Association,  pioneering the use of foreign talent.  Today,  the NHL has a considerable fan base in Europe,  which would almost certainly not exist had the NHL remained so hidebound in it’s refusal to seek talent outside of Canada. 

One reason why the WHA was able to compete somewhat successfully with the NHL in the 1970′s was that the WHA introduced top-flight hockey to cities in Canada that had had to make do with minor league hockey previously…Edmonton, Alberta;  Winnipeg, Manitoba;  and Quebec City, Quebec.  And when the WHA eventually folded, after the 1979 season,  3 of the 4 WHA teams that were allowed to join the NHL as expansion teams were Canadian…the Edmonton Oilers,  the Quebec Nordiques,  and the Winnipeg Jets  [the Hartford Whalers were the fourth team].

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 Below is a small chart showing the 5 teams in the NHL Northwest Division;  read left to right for each team…

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Two of the five teams in the NHL’s Western Conference, Pacific Division trace their roots to the WHA.  The Edmonton Oilers are the only one of the four WHA teams in the NHL to still be in the same location.   The Quebec Nordiques are now the Colorado Avalanche.  [Of the other two WHA teams which joined the NHL in the 1979-1980 season,  the Hartford Whalers are now the Carolina Hurricanes,  and the Winnipeg Jets are now the Phoenix Coyotes.] 

In 1980,  one year after the 4 WHA teams joined the NHL,  the Atlanta Flames,  an 8-year old NHL expansion team,  moved to Alberta, Canada and became the Calgary Flames.

That accounts for four of the five teams in the NHL’s Northwest Division.  The fifth is the Minnesota Wild,  who were formed in 2001,  as an expansion team.   2001 was also when the current NHL divisional alignment was established.

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The Stanley Cup Title has been won 8 times by NHL teams which are currently in the Northwest Division.    The Edmonton Oilers have won 5 Stanley Cup Titles,  the last in 1990.

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The Calgary Fames won their Stanley Cup Title in 1989.    The Colorado Avalanche have won 2 Stanley Cup Titles,  their first in 1995 (the first season after the franchise moved from Quebec to Denver, Colorado).   The Avalanche won their second Stanley Cup Title in 2001.   In recent years,  the Calgary Flames lost the Stanley Cup Finals to the Tampa Bay Lightning (in 2004);  and the Edmonton Oilers lost the Stanley Cup Finals to the Carolina Hurricanes one season later (in 2006).

Thanks to the contibutors at Wikipedia to the pages of the NHL {Click here (set at the history of the NHL)},  WHA  {Click here},  PCHA  {Click here},  and WCHL  {Click here}.

Thanks to “The Official National Hockey League 75th Anniversary Commemorative Book”,  edited by Dan Diamond…particularly the chapter called ‘The Making of the NHL’,  by Brian McFarlane  (first published by McClelland and Stewart, Inc.,  Toronto,  in 1991).

Thanks to the site called Western Hockey Legends (PCHA and WCHL Hockey Teams)  {Click here}.

Thanks to the Logoserver site (set at PCHA logos hereWCHL logos here) }.    Thanks to Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos Page  {Click here (set at Pro Hockey logos) }.

Thanks to NHL.com shop  {Click here}.

Thanks to NHLUniforms.com  {Click here}.

December 22, 2008

League One, 2008-’09 Season: Map, with Team Profiles; and Average Attendances up to 20th December, 2008.

Please note: to see my latest map-&-post of the English 3rd division, click on the following, Eng-3rd Level/League One.
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I have never done a Zoom Map of the 3rd Level of English Football,  which is known as League One.   So here it is,  with up-to-date attendance figures (at top left of the map). 

Here is the top half of the League One Table,  with current 08/09 attendance figures,  and leading scorer by club (note:  all clubs have played 21 games)…

1. Leicester City: 47 pts.; 19,268 avg. attendance (down 18.1%).  The Foxes,  under manager Nigel Pearson,   seem a solid bet to bounce straight back to the League Championship,  racking up 5 straight wins.    Matty Fryatt: 18 league goals (League leader,  tied with Rickie Lambert of Bristol Rovers),  23 overall  (born in Nuneaton, Warwickshire,  and went through the Walsall youth program…see his Wikipedia profile,  here).    2. MK Dons: 43 pts./ 10,006 avg. attendance (up 5.8%).  MK Dons are doing well under new manager Roberto Di Matteo,  and seem destined to rise to the League Championship in the near future.  Sam Baldock: 8 league goals,  9 overall  (grew up nerby to Milton Keynes,  in Steeple Claydon, Buckinghamshire,  and went through the MK Dons youth system).     3. Millwall: 43 pts.; 8,711 avg. attendance (up 0.5%).  Millwall looks solid under manager Kenny Jackett (former Wales,  and Watford player, during WFC’s late 1980s glory days).  Tresor Kandol: 8 league goals  (born in Congo; on loan from Leeds United).    4. Scunthorpe United: 38 pts.;  5,452 avg. attendance (down 15.3%).  Scunthorpe manager Nigel Adkins has kept the Iron from experiencing a post-relegation drop in form.  Gary Hooper: 11 league goals,  15 overall  (began with Grays Athletic). 

5. Stockport County: 37 pts.; 6,139 avg. attendance (up 8.8%).  The Greater Manchester-based Stockport County are one of four English Football clubs to be fully owned by their supporters (the other three are AFC Telford United,  AFC Wimbledon,  and FC United of Manchester).  Manager Jim Gannon has shown that County have a real chance of back-to-back promotions.  Craig Davies: 5 league goals, 6 overall  (English-born Welsh international).    6. Oldham Athletic: 37 pts.;  5,846 avg. attendance  (up 9.8%).  English-born former Irish international Jim Sheridan has the Latics back in the playoff places in this his third season at the helm.  Lee Hughes:  11 league goals  (former West Bromwich striker,  before his 2004 conviction and imprisonment for causing death by dangerous driving).    7. Peterborough United: 37 pts.;  6,872 avg. attendance (up 14.6%).  Sir Alex’s son Derek Ferguson continues to keep the Posh on an upward course;  they seem headed for the League Championship in the next few seasons.  Craig Mackail-Smith: 14 league goals, 16 overall  (ex-St. Albans and Dagenham & Redbridge).    8. Tranmere Rovers: 33 pts.; 5,666 avg. attendance (down 12.9%).   Manager Ronnie Moore needs to keep the Merseyside club on a more even keel this season.  Last season,  Rovers started out strong then faded.  Ryan Shotton: 4 league goals, 5 overall  (defender on loan from Stoke City).

9. Leeds United: 32 pts.;  18,990 (down 12.5%).  The huge West Yorkshire club is at a very low point in the club’s history.  Sunday,  the club sacked manager Gary McAllister,  after a run of 5 straight losses (including an FA Cup 2nd Round match versus the tiny Non-League club Histon)  {see this}.  Many supporters may feel Leeds are too big for the 3rd division,  but it looks like they are going to have to get used to it for at least another season.  Jermaine Beckford: 12 league goals,  19 overall  (released by Chelsea,  he made his mark at Isthmian League club Wealdstone,  where he netted 35 times in 40 games;  has chosen to stay with Leeds rather than join a club in the upper divisions).    10. Huddersfield Town: 32 pts;  12,819 avg. attendance (up 36.5%).   This is the West Yorkshire club’s Centenary season.  Special 100-pound season ticket offers have swelled the gate figures,  and Town are in decent form,  especially considering the recent managerial change.  Ex-Norwich City assistant coach Lee Clarke is the new manager.  Gary Roberts: 5 league goals,  7 overall  (on loan from Crewe Alexandra).    11. Hartlepool United: 29 pts.;  3,762 avg. attendance (down 16.5%).  Speaking of coaching changes,  Pools has a caretaker manager,  Chris Turner.  Joel Porter:  7 league goals,  12 overall  (Australian international;  with Hartlepool since 2003,  with 40 goals).    12. Northampton Town: 28 pts.;  5,195 avg. attendance  (down 4.0%).  Manager is Stuart Gray.  Last season,  the Cobblers under Gray had their highest finish in a decade,  at 9th in League One.  Adebayo Akinfenwa:  6 league goals,  8 overall  (the London-born striker played for 8 clubs,  including the Lithuainian club FK Atlantas,  before joining Northampton this season). 

Here are the other top scorers in League One…Rickie Lambert (Bristol Rovers):  18 league goals  (Merseyside-born;  acquired from Rochdale).    Simon Cox (Swindon Town):  13 league goals,  16 overall  (Reading-born;  came up through Reading’s youth system).      Danny Graham (Carlisle United):  11 league goals,  12 overall  (born and raised in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear;  started with Middlesbrough).   

Thanks to European Football Statistics  {Click here  (set at 2007-’08 English Football League gate figures) }.   Thanks to Tony’s English Football Site  {Click here}. 

Thanks to Historical Football Kits,  for the kits on the map  {Click here}.

December 18, 2008

NHL Western Conference, Pacific Division: Map and Team Profiles.

Filed under: Hockey-NHL, pre-realignm't — admin @ 8:07 am

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This post begins my series on National Hockey League Divisions.   Each team’s current home and away jerseys are prominently shown;  third jerseys and secondary logos are also shown.   Within each teams’ rectangular box,  there are two smaller boxes…the upper box shows notable uniforms and logos from the past.   The box in the lower left shows each NHL team’s minor-league affiliates.   The entire 30-team NHL,  by divisions,  is shown at the top. 

The NHL is divided into two 15-team conferences (the Eastern and Western Conferences),  each with three 5-team divisions.  The current schedule has the teams playing fellow division members 6 times,  and fellow conference members 4 times,  with the remaining 18 games played versus the 15 teams in the other conference  {see this,  from a hockey blog on the New York Rangers called The 5-Hole.com}.  

8 teams from each conference qualify for the playoffs,  which includes the 3 division-winning teams plus the 5 other teams with the best records in each conference.   The NHL used to be criticized for having too many teams qualifying for the playoffs:  teams with losing records often qualified,  25 years ago or so.   That is no longer the case,  as expansion has swelled the ranks to where a team almost definitely has to have a winning record to make it to the post-season.   Of course,  hockey purists might insist that this is no improvement,  as the 30-team NHL has watered down the talent-level.   But with the influx of overseas talent currently in the league,  hopefully this is not a problem.   Hockey’s real hurdle has always been the lack of major-media-outlet exposure,  but it seems that the internet,  and fans’ ability to get NHL games and news there,  has allowed the whole professional game to find a comfortable niche.   The biggest problem with hockey’s ability to attract new fans (or lack thereof) has always been the fact that it doesn’t translate well onto the television screen.   There is nothing like seeing an NHL game in person.   It is an intense thing,  viewing the precision and fluidity of the players as they glide across the ice,  engaged in a game that melds graceful athletic prowess with sudden episodes of brutal physical collision.    

The current conference/divisonal set-up dates back to the 1998-1999 season;  the current team alignment dates back to the 2000-2001 season,  when the last two expansion teams,  the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Minnesota Wild,  were added.

The Pacific Division has two teams that have won the Stanley Cup:  the Dallas Stars,  in 1999,  and the Anaheim Ducks,  in 2007.

Thanks to NHLuniforms.com site  {Click here}.   Thanks to NHL.com shop {Click here}.   Thanks to the contributors to the pages on NHL teams on Wikipedia  {Click here}.   Thanks to Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos Page  {Click here}.   Thanks to Icejerseys.com  {Click here}.

December 15, 2008

National Hockey League 2008-2009.

Filed under: Hockey,Hockey-NHL, pre-realignm't — admin @ 2:34 pm

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The map shows the 30 teams in the NHL.   Last season’s attendance figures are listed,  along with percentage capacity.   In 2007-2008,  there were 11 teams that played to 100% capacity (or higher).   Below are the top 12 drawing teams last season,  with average attendance and capacity listed…

1. Montreal Canadiens  21,273 (100.0%).   2. Buffalo Sabres 19,950 (109.4%).   3. Ottawa Senators 19,821 (107.1%).   4. Philadelphia Flyers 19,566 (100.3%).   5. Toronto Maple Leafs 19,434 (103.3%).   6. Calgary Flames 18,870 (112.4%).   7. Detroit Red Wings 18,870 (94.0%).   8. Tampa Bay Lightning 19,692 (94.6%).   9. Vancouver Canucks 18,630 (101.1%).   10. Minnesota Wild 18,568 (102.8%).   11. New York Rangers 18,200 (100.0%).   12. Dallas Stars 18,038 (97.3%).

Two other teams played to capacity last season,  #15. Anaheim Ducks 17,193 (102.6%);  and #16. Pittsburgh Penguins 17,076 (100.7%). 

I have listed the Stanley Cup Titles of each NHL team on the far right of the map.

The Detroit Red Wings are 2007-2008 Champions and Cup holders.  The Red Wings have won 4 Stanley Cups in the last 12 seasons.

NHL site  {Click here}. 

Thanks to the contributors to the pages on NHL teams in Wikipedia  (NHL page here).   Thanks to Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos Page  {Click here}.   Thanks to Logo Shak site  {Click here}.   Thanks to NHL shop  (Click here}.   Thanks to ESPN site  {Click here},  and this site,  which has attendance figures for all hockey leagues in North America  {Click here}.

December 12, 2008

Spain: Clubs in La Liga, by Autonomous Communities.

Filed under: Spain — admin @ 11:39 am

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Note: to see my latest post on Spanish football, click on the following, category: Spain.

The autonomous communities of Spain underscore how decentralized the country is.  In fact,  the central government of Spain accounts for just 18% of public spending,  while 38% is allocated to the regional governments,  13% to the local councils,  and 31% to the social security system  {see this}.

The 17 autonomous communities are the first level of political sub-division in Spain.  The roots of the autonomous community system can be traced to the late nineteenth century,  following Spain’s defeat to the United States in the Spanish-American War.  Many viewed the country’s highly centralized political and economic systems as antiquated and unworkable. The Encyclopaedia Britannica states: “Groups in Catalonia,  the Basque region,  and Galicia who wanted to free their regions from the ‘Castilian corpse’ began movements for regional autonomy,  and a number of influential regional political parties consolidated their strength.”  {see this}.

This ultimately led to the Second Spanish Republic,  established in 1931 {see this}.  The push for regional autonomy,  of course,  was set back by the outcome of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939),  and the nationalist and Fascist dictatorship of Genralissimo Francisco Franco (from the end of the civil war to his death in 1975).  

In 1978 the framework was established for the autonomous communities.  The three regions which had long pushed for more autonomy or even outright independance… Catalonia,  the Basque Provinces,  and Galicia… were designated “historical nationalities”.  These three regions were permitted to gain autonomy through a rapid and simplified process:  Catalonia and the Basque Country by 1979,  and Galicia by 1981.  By May, 1983, the entire country was divided into the 17 autonomous communities.  Two colonial possessions in Africa,  on the southern Meditterrranean coast,  were designated autonomous cities in 1995:  Ceuta {see this} and Melilla {see this}.

Andalusia  (Andalucia in Spanish )  is the most populous, and second largest autonomous community.  The roots of the green and white in the Andalucian flag can be traced all the way back to the late 12th century,  during the battle of Alarcos (1195)  {see this (from the Historical Flags site) }.   This was during the Almohad  Dynasty (1121-1269)  {see this}.   The Reconquista gradually pushed back the Moorish domination of southern and central Spain until all that remained by 1390 was the kingdom of Granada  {see this time-lapse map: Progress of the Reconquista}.   The Emirate of Granada {see this} existed for 264 years,  in the latter decades as a vassal to Castile.  Control of the region was surrendered to King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella (monarchs of Castile) in 1492.   The flag for Andalucia maintains the green of the Moorish past,  and indeed the white is for the Uymayid Empire,  of which Andalucia was a part of prior to the Reconquista  {again,  see this,  specifically the 3rd proposed flag listed (ie, the flag of Andalusia)}.  The green bands represent the Guadiana and Guadalquivir Rivers. 

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There are 5 clubs from Andalusia currently in Spain’s top football league,  the Liga Futbol Profesional Primera Division (aka “La Liga”).  They are Real Betis,  and Sevilla FC  (both from the city of Sevilla);  RC Recreativo de Huelva,  from western Andalusia;  Malaga CF;  and UD Almeria,  from eastern Andalusia.

Spain’s capital,  Madrid ,  is an autonomous community of the same name.  There are 3 clubs currently in La Liga from Madrid:  Real Madrid CFAtletico de Madrid,  both from Madrid proper;  and Getafe CF,  which is just south of the central city.  Real Madrid evokes the concept of a strong centralized Spain with the mulberry band of the Region of Castile (since 2001, the color of the band in the crest has been altered slightly to a more bluish-purple).   Historically, the Kingdom of Castile and its people were considered to be the main architects of the Spanish State,  through expansion to the south (with the expulsion of the Muslim Moors),  and the annexation of their smaller eastern and western neighbors (through wars,  royal marriages,  and assimilation).    Franco supported Real Madrid,  indeed,  so did much of the entire upper-echelon of the central government in the era from post-WW II to the mid-1970s.  However,  there is little evidence that Franco or the government had any comprehensive influence on the success of Real Madrid,  as did regimes towards chosen clubs in other countries (such as East Germany) which similarly suffered under corrupt and repressive governments.  That being said,  it is unquestionable that Franco had a hand in forcing Barcelona to give up claims that they had the right to sign the Argentinian midfielder Alfredo di Stefano in 1953 {see this, specifically the bottom half of the third paragraph}.  Di Stefano went on to lead and captain Real Madrid throughout their glory days in the mid 1950s and early 1960s,  and he deserves credit for being a big part of what made Real Madrid the huge club that they are today.   

Catalonia  (Catalunya  in Catalonian ) is the second most populous autonomous community.   Here is Wikipedia’s page on Catalonia  {Click here}.   FC Barcelona incorporates the Catalan flag in its crest,  and the club considers itself the ‘national’ football club of Catalonia.   RCD Espanyol has about one-third the fan base as FC Barcelona (2007-08 average attendances: FC Barcelona, 67,560 / RCD Espanyol, 21,870).  Espanyol’s full name is translated as Royal Spanish Sports Club of Barcelona.  The club used the Catalan spelling of its name from 1931 to 1939,  but was then forced to change back to the Spanish during the Franco era as part of a central government repression on regionalist identity.  In 1995,  the official club name was changed again,  back to the Catalonian language.

The rivalry between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona has a huge underlying subtext…that of the overall tension between a strong central Spainish state (as represented by Real Madrid) versus the push for autonomy and/ or independence of the regions (as represented by FC Barcelona). And there is a further element to this, as pointed out in the following article at insidespanishfootball.com, ‘To determine whether someone favors right-wing or left-wing politics in Spain can be found out by asking them which is their second favorite team. If they answer ‘Real Madrid’ they are right-wing and if they answer ‘FC Barcelona’ they are almost certainly left-wing.’(quote from ‘Politics – Deep in the veins of Spanish football‘ at insidespanishfootball.com).

The Valencian Community  is located on Spain’s eastern Mediterannean coast,  and is comprised of three provinces,  two of which can boast of a club currently in La Liga.  The province of Valencia is home to Valencia CF.  Valencia are the third-most supported club in Spain,  after Real Madrid and FC Barcelona.  Valencia’s club crest features the colors of the Valencian flag (the bat is also in the city’s coat of arms {see this}).   Levante UD also hail from the city of Valencia;  they were relegated from La Liga in the spring of 2008.   The province of Castellon is home to Villarreal CF.  This club’s nickname is El Submarino Amarillo (the Yellow Submarine),  for their all-yellow kit.  Villarreal also has the Valencian flag’s colors in their crest.   Villarreal are currently near the top of the table,  remarkable for a club whose hometown is not on most maps (the population of Vila-real is around 49,000).   The southern-most province of the Valencian Community is Albacete,  whose club of the same name were last in the top flight in 2006.

Castile and Leon  (in English: castle and lion) is the largest autonomous community in size.  It is also one of the largest subdivisions in the European Union.  The name castile has its origins in the many castles that defended the region in the Middle Ages during the Reconquista.   Two clubs from this subdivision are currently in La Liga:   Real Valladolid,  and the small club from Soria called CD Numancia.

Galicia  is in northwest Spain:  Deportiva La Coruna are from here.  Celta Vigo,  who were just relegated last spring,  also call this region home.

Asturias  is east of Galicia:  home of Real Sporting de Gijon.  This club was just promoted,  but it has a considerable fan base,  and has spent 37 seasons in the first division.

Cantabria  is east of Asturias.   Real Racing Club de Santander call this region home.

The Basque Country  currently has one club in La Liga:  Athletic Bilbao.   This storied, never-relegated club only signs players from the 4 Basque provinces in Spain:  Biscay,  Guipuzcoa,  Alava,  and Navarre,  plus the 3 Basque provinces in France:  Labourd,  Soule,  and Lower Navarre.   Real Sociedad are also from the Basque Country;  they were relegated in 2007.  Likewise,  Deportivo Alaves,  who were relegated in 2006. [Likewise SD Eibar, who won promotion to La Liga for the first-time-ever for 2014-15, becoming the smallest club to ever play in the Spanish 1st division (with crowds in the 3-K-range when promoted).]

Navarre  is not officially part of the Basque Country,  but a map of predominantly Basque-speaking areas of the region shows how strong the Basque influence is here,  especially in the north of Navarre {see this}.  CA Osasuna hail from this region,  in the city of Pamplona.

Thanks to the contributors to the pages in Wikipedia that were referenced,  and to the Encyclopaedia Britannica on-line.  Thanks to David Goldblatt,  and his book “The Ball Is Round,  A Global History of Football”,  published by Penguin Books.  Thanks to  the Flags of the World site  {Click here}.   Thanks to the Albion Road site  {the link is set to La Liga clubs…Click here}.

December 9, 2008

2008-’09 UEFA Champions League, 1st Knockout Round: Map and Club Profiles.

Filed under: Attendance Maps & Charts,UEFA Champions League — admin @ 4:27 pm

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Here are all 16 clubs that have qualified for the next stage of the 2008-’09 Champions League.   

In some cases,  I utilized kits templates from the Switch Image site  {Click here}.  Excellent, highly detailed renderings of kits can be found on this site.  The Portuguese clubs kits are from this site,  as well as the Italian clubs’ kits,   most of the Spanish clubs’ kits,  Lyon,  Bayern Munich,  and the Man. U. and Liverpool change strips.   The rest of the kits are from the Colours of Football site {Click here}.   

UEFA site,  {Click here}.

December 5, 2008

NCAA Division I-A / Football Bowl Subdivision, the ACC: Team Profiles and Attendance Map (2007 figures).

Filed under: NCAA Gridiron Football,NCAA/fb-ACC — admin @ 7:55 am

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The Atlantic Coast Conference (the ACC) was formed in May, 1953.  Founding members were Clemson (Clemson, SC),   Duke (Durham, NC),   Maryland (College Park, MD),   North Carolina (Chapel Hill, NC),   North Carolina State (Raleigh, NC),  South Carolina (Columbia, SC),   and Wake Forest (Winston-Salem, NC).   These schools left the Southern Conference primarily because that conference had a ban on post-season play.

In 1971, South Carolina left to become an Independent (South Carolina is now in the SEC).

Georgia Tech (Atlanta, GA) left the MAC,  and joined the ACC in 1978.   Georgia Tech had been in the Southeastern Conference (the SEC) from 1933 to 1963.

Florida State (Tallahassee, FL), also left the MAC to join the ACC,  in 1991.

In 2003,  there was a big shake-up in the East,  and 3 schools eventually left the Big East to join the ACC…Miami (Coral Gables, FL)  and Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, VA) joined the ACC in 2004;  Boston College (Chestnut Hill, MA) joined in 2005.

The ACC Championship Game is Saturday, December 6th,  in Tampa, Florida.  For the second straight year,  Virginia Tech will play Boston College for the Conference Title  {see this}.

Thanks to the contributors to the pages on ACC football teams at Wikipedia.   Thanks to http://www.nationalchamps.net/NCAA/database/index.htm .   Thanks to the AP Poll Archive (Click here}.    Thanks to the sites on the SSUR site (the Society for Sports Uniforms Research) {Click here}.   Thanks to the North Carolina sports site called Tar Heel Times {Click here}.  

Thanks to the Helmet Hut site  (I have set the following link to Florida State helmets;  the Miami page is also nice)  {Click here}. 

Thanks to Michael Bolding’s My Favorite Bowl Games page  {Click here}.  This is a nice page to check out, with lots of old photos and illustrations.  I found old,  leather helmet-era,  and early 1950s-era helmet illustrations here (evidently from the FB Helmets to Infininity site,  which is now the Infinite Helmets site,  and is just starting to add content.  On Infinite Helmets,  there is a nice modern, Schutt-type helmet template,  which can be seen on the NFL teams there…Click here).

December 3, 2008

Top 25, BCS Standings for Week 14.

Filed under: NCAA Gridiron Football — admin @ 10:28 am

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