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January 29, 2010

Colombia: Categoria Primera A, 2010 season, with a chart of the Colombian all-time champions list, from the professional era, spanning 1948 to 2009-II; and an overview of the El Dorado era (1949-1953).

Filed under: Colombia — admin @ 11:52 am

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The El Dorado era in Colombian fútbol (1949-1953)… 
Football first came to Colombia via British sailors in the Caribbean Sea port city of Barranquilla.  Football remained an amateur affair with no national league for decades,  and with the game having little presence in the interior of the country.  This was primarily because of the lack of transportation infrastructure in a nation which had some formidable barriers,  namely steep mountain ranges and wide rivers.  Coffee growing as an industry changed that,  providing the wealth that allowed for transportation improvements, and by the 1930s and 1940s, football had spread throughout Colombia. The wealth also brought into focus the economic disparity between the privileged few and the teeming masses of the underclass. In 1948, at the same time that a professional league was about to begin play in Colombia,  there was widespread civil unrest following the still-unsolved assassination of the presedential candidate Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, who was mayor of Bogatá. Gaitán was a threat to the entrenched oligarchy…his most famous pronouncement was “The people are superior to their leaders”.

With thousands dying in street riots, and the brand-new pro league about to begin, the governing body for amateur football in Colombia asked FIFA to suspend the pro league. FIFA did so, but then a lawyer associated with one Bogatá club, Millonarios, found a loophole which blew the door wide open…this new league and its clubs were no longer bound by rules put in place by FIFA with respect to player transfers.

This would not have been a big deal if player-management relations were normal, but player strikes in Argentina turned this situation into a mass exodus of top-calibre talent into Colombia. With coffee money to burn, and not having to deal with rules, or transfer fees, clubs like Millonarios filled their roster with some of the best players in Argentina, most notably Alfredo di Stéfano (who would later go on to fame in Europe, becoming the player that made Real Madrid the power it is to this day). Other clubs followed suit, and for 5 seasons, 1949 to 1953, Colombia had an essentially pirate league that was producing some of the best football in the world. This era in Colombian fútbol is known as ’El Dorado’. 

It wasn’t just Argentine players who flocked to Colombia for the higher wages. Peruvian, Ecuadorian, Uruguayan, Brazilian, Mexican, Chilean players; and even Scottish, English, Irish, French, and Hungarian players came to Colombia during this pirate-league golden age. By 1950, there were over 100 foreign players in Colombia. The situation was playing into the hands of the oligarchy, as they realized that this incredible calibre of football was distracting the still-restive underclass…bread and circus, if you will. FIFA allowed the pirate-league situation to continue until the end of the 1953 season, then professional Colombian football was shorn of its high priced talent, and Colombian fútbol took its place back in the pecking order in South America, a rung below Brazil and Argentina. 

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The Colombian first division is known as Categoria Primera A. This season’s competition, its 62nd, is known as the 2010 Liga Postobón  (for sponsorship reason), and begins January 30th and 31st, with a full slate. To see the fixtures,  {click here (Soccerway.com)}. 

The league has 18 clubs, yet plays 18 rounds for each season in the year, which is divided into the Apertura season (usually early February to May) and the Finalización season (June to December). In each season,  clubs play every club in the league once (17 games), plus an extra 18th game against the local rival, which is appointed to them. 

The make-up of these extra-match-versus-local-rivals-fixtures does not change that much because sometimes there is just one club relegated to Primera B, and one club promoted. Like in Argentina, relegation is determined by first division results from a three-year period. The club with the worst cumulative average over the three-year-period is relegated, and the second-worst club must play the second place club in Primera B in a relegation/promotion playoff. 

Since 2002,  the league format has featured a large, 8-team post-season playoffs, and split champions for each year, which are denoted by the Roman numerals I and II for that year’s Apertura and Finalización champions. In other words, the current champion, Independiente Medellin, were winners in 2009-II. Independiente Medellin defeated Atlético Huila 3-2 on aggregate, and on 20th December they were champions.

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In 1948, the DIMAYOR, or División Mayor del Fútbol Profesional Colombiano  (in English: Major Division of Colombian Professional Football) was formed in Barranquilla.  Right away, the Colombian professional game went through the aforementioned  ’El Dorado’. The league was out of the jurisdiction of FIFA during this 5-year period, and players from all over South America jumped at the opporttunity to play in Colombia for what were then record wages.

The appropriately named Millonarios (established 1946), of Bogatá, who wear blue-and-white, were the club that had the biggest success during El Dorado, winning four of the five titles in the El Dorado era. The team at this time became known as the ballet azul (the ballet in blue). Millonarios, led by that wizard Alfredo di Stéfano, went through the 1951 season undefeated. They would quickly score a few goals, then opt not to score any more goals which would humiliate their opponents, instead putting on a passing display that would dazzle the large crowds. International tours ensued, and Millonarios were victorious over many top European clubs. This also exposed the club’s talent, and as soon as the pirate-league status of the Colombian first division ended, in 1953, all the top players on Millonarios were gone.

Millonarios have never really been as big as during the El Dorado period, although they won 8 more titles, to make 13 titles total. In recent decades, financial problems have plagued Millonarios and the fútbol club has not won a championship since 1988. 

[Bogatá is Colombia's largest and capital city,  with a metro population of 7.5 million (2009 census, here).]

Millonarios are tied with América de Cali for the most Colombian professional titles, with 13. América de Cali, who wear red-and-white, are a club that can trace its roots back to 1918, when it was formed by some students from Colegio Santa Librada in Cali. 

[Cali is in western Colombia approximately 128 km. (80 mi.) from the Pacific Ocean, and is the county's second largest city, with a metro population of around 2.5 million.]

There is one crucial difference berween the 13 titles these two clubs each have won…Millonarios have not won a title in 21 years, their last championship was in 1988. And since 1988, América have won 7 of their 13 titles, their most recent in 2008-II. América de Cali have been runner-up in the Copa Libertadores a frustrating four times, in 1985 (losing to Argentinos Juniors on penalty kicks), in 1986 (losing to Argentina’s River Plate), in 1987 (losing to Uruguay’s Peñarol in the dying moments), and in 1996 (again falling to River Plate). América de Cali have been hampered by their past associations with drug cartels, and were on the Clinton List (ie, their $1 million-plus assets in the USA were frozen). Since then, the club has been a financial mess. Nevertheless, in the last 3 decades (1980-2009), América de Cali have still been the most successful club in Colombia, winning 12 of their 13 titles. 

Here are América de Cali’s rivalries {click here (‘América de Cali – Rivalries’,  from en.wikipedia.org)}.

Third on the list of all-time champions {here} in Colombia are Atlético Nacional, who have won 10 titles,  their most recent in 2007-II. Atlético Nacional are from Medellin, and wear green-and-white.

[Medellin is in west-central Colombia and has a metro population of 2.2 million,  making it slightly smaller than Cali {note: some sources say Medellin is the second largest city of Colombia, and some sources say Cali is the second largest.}] 

Atlético National are one of just two Colombian clubs to have won the Copa Libertadores, which is of course the most prestigious trophy in South America. Atlético National won their Copa Libertadores title in 1989, defeating Olimpia of Paraguay 2-2 aggregate/5-4 on penalty kicks.

Atlético Nacional share their stadium, the 52,000-seat Estadio Atanasio Girardot, with Independiente Medellin, who are current champion. Independiente Medellin, who wear red-with-blue, have now won 5 titles, three in the last decade. This makes them tied for the 6th most-successful club in Colombia with Junior, of Barranquilla, who won their fifth title in 2004-II. Junior wear red-and-white-vertical-stripes-with-blue-pants.

Another stadium share is between the two biggest clubs in Bogatá, the aforementioned Millionarios and Santa Fe. Santa Fehave 6 titles, but none since 1975. Santa Fe, who wear red-with-white/-Arsenal-style kits, are the 5th most titled club in Colombia. 

There was a third example of a stadium share in the league, in Cali, between América de Cali and the fourth-most-successful club in the country, Deportivo Cali. Deportivo Cali wear green-and-white, and have won 8 titles, their most recent in 2005-II. That stadium share has ended with the 2008 opening of the monumental 55,000-capacity Estadio Deportivo Cali …see this video filmed by a constructioin worker and you can see how the barriers between the privileged elite and the underprivileged masses have remained. Notice that the all-mod-cons which modern stadia inevitably feature are not at all evident in the gigantic bowl seating. All the seats in the main area are backless benches. While towering above is a sheer wall of multi-story luxury seating for the rich, {click here (‘Estadio Deportivo Cali’, a Youtube video by Pacocali83, from July, 2007)}. Estadio Deportivo Cali is in Palmira, which is 28 km. (17 miles) north-east of Cali.

To round out the all-time champions list, the 8th most successful club in Colombia are Once Caldas, who wear white-with-black-pants, and are from Manizales, which is the principal city of the major coffee-producing area of Colombia. Corporación Deportiva Once Caldas were formed after the El Dorado era, in 1959,  from the merger of two clubs formed in the 1930s. One of the two clubs which formed the merger was Deportes Caldas, which was the only club besides Millonarios to win a title during the El Dorado era….Deportes Caldas won the 1950 title. Once Caldas did not make it to the top flight until 1961, and it took almost 3 decades for them to challenge for a title. Once Caldas first made a Copa Libertadores appearance in 1999. They finished dead last in their group. So it was quite a shock to see this club be crowned champions of South America just 5 years later. Their Copa Libertadores title was won in 2004, with a shock upset of Argentina’s Boca Juniors, by a score of 1-1 aggregate/2-0 in a penalty shoot-out.

There are 6 clubs that have won one Colombian professional title. 4 of these are currently in Primera A. The most recent of these, Boyacá Chicó,  won the 2008-I title. This club was founded in Bogatá very recently, in 2002, as Chicó FC, winning top flight promotion in 2003, then moving east to Tunja, which is the capital of the department of Boyacá. Boyacá Chicó is a club that is punching above their weight…they play in a stadium that holds just 8,500. 

In general, this is a trend in the Colombian game, with small clubs getting the chance to win titles. There are two reasons for this. First,  almost all the big/big city clubs have faced financial turmoil in recent seasons. Second, with 8 of 18 clubs making the post-season, all bets are off, so to speak, and several small clubs have recently won their first title…the aforementioned Boyacá Chicó (2008-I); Cúcuta Deportivo (in 2006-II), the-just relegated Deportivo Pasto (in 2006-I); and Deportes Tólima (in 2003-II). Deportes Quindo is the only other club currently in the top flight which has won a title. Deportes Quindo are from Armenia, a city of around 325,000 which is located in the center of the triangle formed by the three biggest Colombian cities of Bogatá, Cali, and Medellin. Deportes Quindo won their sole title in 1956, 3 years after the El Dorado period ended. The only other club with a Colombian title is the Primera B club Unión Magdalena, from the north coast city of Santa Maria. Unión Magdalena won the 1968 title. Colombia’s most-recognized player, Carlos Valderrama, got his start there.

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Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org {click here},  and es.wikipedsia.org {click here;  translated, here}.   Thanks to http://knol.google.com/k/colombian-football-league .   Thanks to http://www.demis.nl ,  for the base map.  

Thanks to David Goldblatt,  for his book ‘The Ball Is Round, a global history of football’,  originally published in 2006,  by Penguin Books, Ltd.,  London   {at Amazon,  here}.

January 25, 2010

2009 NCAA Football Rankings- Final AP Poll, Top 10/ (plus a how-to for: Bing.com/maps-Bird’s-Eye satellite view).

Filed under: NCAA Gridiron Football,NCAA/fb->AP top 10 — admin @ 2:18 pm

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On the map, at the far right, top, there is the top 10 listed, along with the result of each team’s bowl game. Also on the map there is a shot of each team’s home stadium. In the little text boxes that accompany each photo, I have included the years when there were stadium upgrades (an upgrade usually means expansion). I have also noted when the playing surface was altered. Three of the venues have switched back to good old real grass (hooray for Florida, Ohio State and TCU!), while the Iowa Hawkeye’s Kinnick Stadium, and the Texas Longhorn’s Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, have switched back and forth , and now back again, to artificial turf (boo). PS, that story about Boise State’s blue astro-turf at their Bronco Stadium causing waterfowl to think it is a body of water, thus killing the birds when trying to land ?…Wikipedia says it’s an urban legend. Not so sure about that, but maybe I’m being a color snob (and an opponent of artificial turf in general). 

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Below is a little chart I put together that shows each of the top 10 teams’ 2009 home average attendance. The blue column on the left shows the 2009 averages, plus the team’s rank in the 120-team Division I-Football Bowl Subdivision (the Michigan Wolverines were the highest-drawing college football team once more). In the middle column is listed percent capacity that each team drew (some venues allow for standing-room tickets, hence the percentages which exceed 100%). The light blue blue column on the right shows 2008 average gates, plus percent change from 2009-versus-2008.  

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Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org {2009-10 NCAA football bowl games page,  here}.  Thanks to NCAA site,  or attendance figures {click here (pdf )}.  

Thanks to http://www.rolltide.com {Bryant-Denny Stadium page, here}.   Thanks to http://www.gatorzone.com {‘The Swamp”, here}.   Thanks to http://bealonghorn.utexas.edu {Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial stadium, here}.   Thanks to konrad_photography at http://www.flickr.com , {click here (Lane Stadium,  Blacksburg, Virginia)}.

Thanks to NCAA Stadium Guide,  at http://ncaafootball.com  {click here for interactive stadium guide} **Recommeded**.

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Thanks to Bing.com‘s awesome Bird’s Eye view.  Just check this shot of the Cincinnati Bearcats’ Nippert Stadium complex {click here}. 

Here’s how you can easily access Bing.com’s Bird’s Eye view…

1). Make a Google search for whatever you want to see,  inserting wikipedia in the query…say, “oregon ducks stadium wiki” / {you get this (first search result: ‘Autzen Stadium-Wikipedia..’)}.  

2). Once you click to get to Wikipedia’s ‘Autzen Stadium’ page, {here},   click on the Coordinates (at top, right in bright blue).  

3). You should then have this page (GeoHack-Autzen Stadium) {here}.  (It might take a while).  

4). You will see in the middle of the screen a purple band for Bing Maps (popular).  One of three options there is Bird’s Eye .  Click on Bird’s Eye,  and you get this, {click here}.

Thanks to Micosoft for that.

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Thanks to Jeremy at Albion Road site [2013: now defunct, sadly], for catching my error in not showing an up-to-date photo of the Texas Longhorns’ Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium,  which he found (somewhere) at http://onair.cstv.com/ . The endzone stand in the open air part of the horseshoe, (ie, at the far left in the photo) is the upgrade this photo shows.

January 21, 2010

2009-10 FA Cup, Fourth Round Proper (32 clubs).

Filed under: 2009-10 FA Cup — admin @ 1:12 pm

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Notice how odd the map segment above looks without the usual suspects (ie, no  Manchester United Red Devils and no Liverpool Reds).  And the fact that uber-minnows Accrington Stanley are still alive in the 2009-10 FA Cup makes it even more unusual.

Accrington Stanley are drawing 40 percent higher than last season,  but are still barely above a 2,000 per game average gate.  In this tough economic climate,  it’s good to see a tiny but competeive club like Stanley with increased attendance figures.  The fact is, they deserve it.  Accrington Stanley’s Manager John Coleman,  the current third-longest-tenured Football League manager (behind Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger),  has done a remarkable job with very little..Stanley have the smallest budget and the smallest roster in the League.  Even so,  Accrington Stanley are the only club in England to have improved (or maintained) their league standing every season for the past 10 years.  Here is ASFC’s League History,  from Accrington Stanley-Mad.co.uk {click here}. 

From The Offside,  ‘Accrington Stanley, who are they?’ (14 December, 2009) {click here}.

This season,  Stanley are in 11th place in League Two,  and have won four of their last 6 league matches,  as well as beating League One’s Gillingham 1-0,  on Tuesday,  in their FA Cup Third Round replay.  And there is good news for the club financially,  as they have have avoided last year’s winding up order and have repaid their debts.  And the 67,500 pounds prize money for reaching the Fourth Round is another plus for the little Lancashire club that wouldn’t die. 

Accrington Stanley will host the Premier League’s Fulham FC on Saturday.  This is the first time the modern version of Accrington Stanley has reached the FA Cup Fourth Round;  while Accrington Stanley FC (1891-1963) reached the Fourth Round 3 times,  in 1926-27,  1936-37,  and 1958-59.

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For this round’s map,  over at the far left,  in the average attendance list,  I have added another column…percent change in average attendance from 2008-09.  

Average attendances for each club are 2009-10 season domestic leagues,  to Wednesday,  January 20 inclusive.

FA Cup fixtures {click here (BBC Sport)}.

Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org {FA Cup page,  here}.   Thanks to ITV site,  for gate figures {click here}.   Thanks to FourFourTwo magazine,  for information on Accrington Stanley {FourFourTwo site,  here}.   Thanks to Accrington Stanley official site {click here}.   Thanks to Behind the Badges site {click here}.   Thanks to http://www.hyndburn.gov.uk  {The Townships of Hyndburn, Accrington,  here}.

January 15, 2010

2010 Copa Libertadores, map of the 40 clubs in the competition.

Filed under: Copa Libertadores — admin @ 9:23 am

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Defending champions are Argentina’s Estudiantes de La Plata.  As holders,  they enter the 2010 Copa Libertadores automatically.  Two other clubs entered automatically,  the two Mexican clubs that left the 2009 tournament in the wake of the H1N1 virus scare…Chivas de Guadalajara and San Luis FC.  They will enter the tournament in the Round of 16,  so they can pick up where they left off last year,  so to speak. 

The other 37 clubs in this year’s tournament all qualified by the many and varied ways which clubs qualify…from outright champions of their domestic leagues to runners-up to winners of separate competitions such as the Primera División de México’s InterLiga competition,  which just ended Wednesday (and takes place in the USA,  in southern California and Texas).  CF Monterrey,  and the newly re-branded Estudiantes Tecos,  of Guadalajara,  were the clubs which advanced to the Copa Libertadores via this competition.

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The 51st Copa Libertadores de América will begin on January 26,  with three matches from the First stage,  Deportiva Táchira (Venezuela) v. Libertad (Paraguay); and  Colón de Santa Fe (Argentina) v. Universidad Católica (Chile).   The 12 clubs in this stage are the lowest-placed clubs in the tournament and must win a 2-legged tie to advance to the Second stage.  The first part of the Second stage,  the Group stage,  will begin on February 9.  You can see the Group Stage set-up, here.  

On the map,  as I did last year,  there are thumbnail profiles of each club in the competition.  The profiles include the club’s city and stadium(s),  their domestic and Copa Libertadores titles,  their total Copa Libertadores appearances,  and how the club qualified for the 2010 Copa Libertadores. 

This year I have added another feature,  the jerseys of each club.  I put credits at the bottom of each jersey.  The four jerseys without credits I cobbled together myself (Nacional of Uruguay,  Real Potosí of Bolivia,  Juan Aurich of Peru,  and Deportiva Italia of Venezuela), because I could not find a suitable image anywhere. 

Thanks to Onion Bag.com,  for several of the jerseys [click here}.   Thanks to Futbol Mundial Kits blogspot,  for several of the jerseys {click here}.   Thanks to Subside Sports,  for several of the jerseys {click here}.  

Thanks to Junior Passion.com,  for an image of the Junior (Colombia) jersey {click here}.   Thanks to http://www.football-shirts.co.uk for an image of the Monterrey jersey {click here}.   Thanks to Big Soccer.com/Forum,  for the Estudiantes Tecos jersey {click here}.  

Thanks to World Soccer Shop.com,  for some of the jerseys {click here}.   Thanks to Soccer Shop Usa.com,  for the Morelia jersey {click here}.  Thanks to Football11.net,  for some of the jerseys {click here}.  

Thanks to El Blog de las Casacas,  for some of the jerseys {click here (set at Primera División Argentina kits, 2009)}. 

Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org {click here (2010 Copa Libertadores page)}.   Thanks to Footiemap,  for location help {click here}.

January 10, 2010

National Hockey League. The start of the second expansion era, 1967-68 season (6 teams added).

Filed under: Hockey,Hockey-NHL and expansion — admin @ 2:24 pm

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The modern era in the National Hockey League began in 1967-68,  when the league doubled its size from 6 to 12 teams.  All 6 expansion teams were grouped together to form the newly created Western Division.  The 6 established teams (aka “the Original Six”) were grouped together to form the newly created Eastern Division.   [The Eastern and Western Division set-up lasted 7 seasons.]

All 6 expansion teams were from the United States,  with two teams from California (the Los Angeles Kings and the Oakland Seals),  two teams from the Midwest (the Minnesota North Stars and the St. Louis Blues),  and two teams from the Northeast…both from the state of Pennsylvania (the Philadelphia Flyers and the Pittsburgh Penguins).  

[Canada was shut out of this expansion,  but a third Canadian team would join the NHL 3 years later,  when the Vancouver Canucks (along with the Buffalo Sabres) joined the NHL in 1970-71.]   

On the map,  there is a sidebar at the top,  left which shows the expansion history of the NHL,  from 1967-68 to 2009-10.

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The NHL was pursuing US television broadcast money,  and to do so they felt they had to establish a presence throughout the USA,  not just in the Northeast and the upper Midwest.  This was the reason Canada saw no expansion here,  in 1967-68.  It was also rumored that the Toronto and Montreal owners didn’t want any more Canadian teams because that would force them to split the Canadian television broadcast money.  And the NHL league office refused to seriously consider bids from cities like Edmonton, Calgary, and Winnipeg,  without really explaining why they had no interest in putting teams there.  It was because they were Canadian cities,  and would not contribute to the pursuit of American television broadcast money.  This would become a pattern that persists,  and plagues the game,  to this day…the NHL’s league executives and owners lying about their intentions when it comes to placement of teams.  Basically the NHL would rather have a team in a warm weather locale in the United States that has zero tradition of ice hockey,  rather than a team in a provincial city in Canada where to this day kids play hockey outdoors all winter,  and where there are thousands and thousands of hockey fans willing to regularly attend games of a nearby NHL team they could call their own.  Saskatoon, Saskatchewan;  Winnipeg, Manitoba;  Hamilton/Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario;  and Quebec City, Quebec specifically.  All because of the NHL chasing big television money that never seems to materialize,  and trying to be a continent-wide sporting institution when it is ultimately simply the top league of a regional sport.  Here is an article from The [Toronto] Star.com,  from October 3, 2009, ‘Ziegler’s NHL dream got burned in Sunbelt’  {click here}.

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In 1967,  the NHL wanted all 6 expansion teams in the same division so an expansion team would be guaranteed a place in rhe Stanley Cup finals.  Why the top brass including commissioner Clarence Campbell thought it was so important for an expansion team to be in the Stanley Cup finals was never really adequately explained.  After all,  the other major sports leagues in the United States never felt the need to alter their league’s structure so that brand new teams could advance to the playoff finals.  And most sports fans would probably agree that expansion teams should really have to ”pay their dues”,  or,  basically,  be lousy for at least a couple years,  before they become good enough to qualify for a league’s playoff finals.  And sure enough,  in the three seasons that the NHL had this team/division structure,  the Stanley Cup finalist from the all-expansion Western Division was the loser.  All three seasons it was the St. Louis Blues,  and not only did the Blues lose those 3 consecutive Stanley Cup finals,  they never even won one game.  The Blues were swept by Montreal in 1967-68 and 1968-69,  and by Boston in 1969-70.

The expansion teams didn’t really like the set-up either,  as was shown when,  after the 1967-68 season,  the new teams petitioned for the schedule be more balanced.  The teams in the Western Division wanted more home games versus the established (and more popular) teams in the Eastern Division,  because attendance was suffering as a result of all these games between expansion teams.  So in 1968-69,  teams began playing more inter-divisional games (it went from 24 inter-division games per team to 36,  or from 4 games v. teams in the other division to 6 games v. teams in the other division).

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The 1967-68 expansion put pro hockey in 3 markets it never had been in (southern California,  the San Francisco Bay area,  and Minneapolis-St. Paul),  and in 3 markets that never got a decent shot at sustaining an NHL team because of the Great Depression (Philadelphia,  Pittsburgh, and St. Louis).  

Here are league attendance figures from the 1960-61 NHL season to the 1998-99 season {click here (HockeyZonePlus.com}.  

[These days,  the NHL averages in the mid 17,000-range,  with a 17,475 average for the league in 2008-09.  {team by team attendance figures in 2009-10, here (ESPN).]   

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In 1967-68,  the 6 expansion teams all got relatively good,  but not great,  attendance,  with one glaring exception.  That was the Oakland Seals.  The team was never able to tap into the San Francisco market,  and some games were only drawing around 3,000.  Ownership changes,  front office changes,  coaching changes,  personnel changes,  team name changes,  and uniform changes all failed to alter the fact that the Seals,  then the Golden Seals (after 1970) were a doomed entity.  The California Golden Seals ended up being sold and moved to Cleveland,  where the franchise played its last two seasons as the Cleveland Barons (1976-1978).  The owners were able to work a deal with the league where they bought the then-struggling Minnesota North Stars franchise,  and transferred all the Baron players and personnel to Minnesota,  thus dissolving the Barons.  Major league hockey has never returned to Cleveland.   The NHL did return to the San Francisco Bay area 15 years after the Golden Seals.  This time,  the team,  the San Jose Sharks,  were a huge success.  But of course,  in the late 1960s/early 1970s,  there was no Silicon Valley economy to bolster a new sports franchise in the region.

The only other one of the 6 expansion teams in 1967-68 to eventually move out of its original region was the Minnesota North Stars.  The hockey club moved to Texas in 1993 to become the Dallas Stars.  Again,  as with the Bay area,  a new franchise was eventually awarded to the region,  seven years later,  when the Minnesota Wild,  of St. Paul,  began play in 2000.  The Minnesota Wild have the longest currently running sell-out streak in the NHL.  The hockey club has played to capacity in every home game since its inception in 2000-01.  In other words,  a successful expansion team in a cold weather city. Hey NHL top brass – this is not rocket science…cold weather cities produce viable NHL expansion teams, while Sun Belt cities produce NHL expansion teams doomed to fail because of fan apathy.

From Forbes.com, December 17, 2009, ,   by Christina Settini,  ’In Pictures: The NHL’s Best (And Worst) Fans’ {click here}.

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Thanks to Jersey Database.com,  for the jerseys on the map {click here}.   Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org {click here (’1967-68 NHL season’ page}.   Thanks to NHL shop,  for 2009-10 jerseys {click here}.   Thanks to “The Official National Hockey League 75th Anniversaty Commemorative Book”,  edited by Dan Diamond,  published by McLelland and Stewart, Inc., Toronto, 19991; 1994 edition  {at Amazon,  here}. 

January 5, 2010

UEFA Europa League 2009-10, Knockout Stage (32 teams).

Filed under: Attendance Maps & Charts,UEFA Cup / Europa League — admin @ 3:17 pm

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There are no cup holders in this competition,  as the Europa League is brand new,  but de-facto Holders are Shakhtar Donetsk,  of Ukraine,  who won the final UEFA Cup title last May.  The Europa League Knockout stage will begin in the third week of February,  on the 16th and 18th.  To avoid a Merseyside fixture congestion,  the round will kick off two days before the rest of the matches in the leg.  So it’s Everton v. Sporting Clube de Portugal on 16 February,  and the other 15 matches on 18 February,  including Liverpool v. Unirea Urziceni.  

Here are the match-ups {click here (UEFA site)}. 

On the map,  at top left,  is the draw for the round of 32.  Team 2 has the advantage of having second home match in the two-legged ties.  As usual,  club crests are sized to reflect each club’s average attendance (from last season’s domestic league).    

Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org {click here}.   Thanks to E-F-S site, for the gate figures {click here}.

January 1, 2010

2009-10 FA Cup, Third Round Proper (64 clubs).

Filed under: 2009-10 FA Cup — admin @ 8:47 am

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2009-10 FA Cup Third Round,  Sunday, 3 January- Manchester United 0-1 Leeds United.  Beckford (19th minute).  Old Trafford,  attendance: 74,546 (capacity: 76,212).

From Two Hundred Percent.net, ‘Match of the week 2, Manchester United 0-1 Leeds United’ by Ian King {click here}.

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The biggest rivalry in this weekend’s FA Cup Third Round matches is Manchester United v. Leeds United,  on Sunday.  About 57 kilometers (36 miles),  and the Pennine Chain,  separate the two cities.  The rivalry between Leeds United and Manchester United is part of larger rivalry between regions that has gone on since at least the 15th century, {see this ‘Leeds United AFC and Manchester United FC rivalry’, from en.wikipedia.org}.  

It is appropriate that the two combatants today wear colors which echo those of the two warring houses of Lancaster and York,  with the red rose of Lancashire represented in the Manchester United jerseys,  and the white rose of Yorkshire represented in the all-white kit of Leeds United. 

Manchester United have worn red jerseys since the club changed it’s name in 1902,  from Newton Heath Lancashire & Yorkshire Railways FC to Manchester United FC…{see this (a small chart of NHL&YRFC/early Manchester United kits);  MUFC full kit history here (Historical Football Kits.co.uk)}.

For the FA Cup final of 1909,  Manchester United wore a change strip that featured a red rose of Lancashire (as well as a large red chevron under the collar…a design feature also in the club’s 2009-10 kit).  You can see that 1909 FA Cup final jersey {here (Toffs.com)}  One hundred years ago,  Manchester was still considered part of Lancashire (the concept of Greater Manchester didn’t exist then). 

Leeds United started out in 1919 in royal blue and white vertical stripes until 1934,  when the club introduced yellow to form blue and yellow halves on their jerseys,  circa 1934 to 1948…{see this “Leeds United FC, Colors and Badge’}.

By 1956,  Leeds United began wearing blue with yellow trim on their jerseys.  This lasted until 1961,  when coach Don Revie chose to have the squad wear all-white gear,  in emulation of Real Madrid,  who were of course the most successful club in the world then.  Leeds have kept the all-white look ever since 1961.  In 1984,  the club began sporting a badge that had the white rose of Yorkshire,  with a yellow and white football inside {here}.  They kept this crest until 1998,  when their current badge was introduced,  which includes the white rose at the top of the sheild. 

Thanks to the FA site {click here}.   Thanks to ITV.com,  for attendance figures and percent capacity figures {click here}.   Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org {click here}.   Thanks to http://www.mapcrow.info .

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