A Trip to England’s 9th Tier: Penrith FC

Penrith Football Club, founded in 1894, are members of the Ebac Northern League Division One, the 9th tier the English league pyramid. In 2009, they relocated to a new stadium at Frenchfield Park after the development of Penrith New Squares took over the site of their historical home, Southend Road. Nathen McVittie grabbed his camera and propped it up right next to the pitch to experience Penrith FC for the first time.

In Nathen’s words: “Penrith is a pretty small town. The new stadium is only a five minute walk from my family’s house. I was trying to get to as many football games in England as I could before I had to fly back to New York, and it hit me that everything I had seen up to that point was of a fairly high standard. I wanted to capture something local, something gritty that captured the essence of non league football.

I wasn’t looking to capture immaculate photos, quite the opposite. I wanted to reflect exactly what I was seeing on the pitch– imperfection. It was actually my first ever Penrith game, even though I spent the best part of 20 years there. It was my Nick Hornby moment; I realized I would watch any game, anytime, anywhere.”

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South American Football v Europe the numbers:

We began this blog as a group of Argentineans who wanted to inform non- Argentineans on our league. Football world-wide seems to centered around Europe, but don’t be fooled that has much more to do with money and marketing than quality of football. However, people have the idea that the only large clubs and teams are in Europe. And so we would like to point out the numbers, because in comparison there is nothing that says Europe should be the center of attention anymore than South America. 

In Competitions:

Champions League v Copa Libertadores:

Most won Champions: Real Madrid 10

Most won Copa Libertadores: Independiente 7

Intercontinental Cups: 21-21 (What is now the Club World Cup)

Most Titles: Peñarol (URU), Nacional (URU), Milan (ITA), Real Madrid (ESP), Boca Juniors (ARG)

Most successful clubes in local tournaments:

Paraguay- Olimpia 40

Argentina- River Plate 35

España- Real Madrid 32

Italy- Juventus 31

Chile- Colo colo 30

Germany- Bayern Munich 24

Colombia- Atletico Nacional 15

France- Saint-Étienne 13

England- Manchester United 13

Brasil- Palmeiras 8

Club with the most international trophies (Europe and South America):

España- FC Barcelona: 20  

Argentina- Boca Juniors : 18

Italy- AC Milan: 18

España- Real Madrid: 18

Argentina- Independiente: 17

World League Ranking:

South America has never not had a team in the top ten (Since there has been a ranking 1991-2016)

Best positions: 1998, Brasil 2nd Best League in the World. 2008, Argentina 3rd Best League in the World. 2011, Brasil 3rd Best League in the World. 

Average: Brasil & Argentina in mid table. 

Currently: Argentina 4th, Brasil 6th. 

Players: A very important point, South America has only South American Players for the most part. How about Europe?

Top Ten European Teams: 67 South American players 

Barcelona: 9 South Americans 

Real Madrid: 6 South Americans 

Bayern Munich: 3 South Americans 

Manchester United: 5 South Americans 

Chelsea: 5 South Americans 

Arsenal: 4 South Americans 

Porto: 7 South Americans (Plus 4 Mexicans)

Juventus: 8 South Americans 

Benfica: 13 South Americans 

Atletico de Madrid: 7 South Americans

Top Ten Teams in South America: 0 Europeans

River Plate: 0 Europeans (All South American)

Peñarol: 0 Europeans (All South American)

Boca Juniors: 0 Europeans (All South American)

Emelec: 0 Europeans (All South American)

Barcelona (Ecu): 0 Europeans (All South American)

Indepenidente del Valle: 0 Europeans (All South American)

Nacional: 0 Europeans (All South American)

San Pablo:  0 Europeans (All South American)

Bolivar:  0 Europeans (All South American)

Caracas FC:  0 Europeans (All South American)

The Best Players of All Time can be debated, however there are some that undoubtably are the biggest names in the sports history:

Diego Armando Maradona

Edson Arantes do Nascimento “Pele”

Alfredo Stéfano Di Stéfano

Leonel Andres Messi  

Garrincha, Cafu, Kempes, Enzo Francescoli ect.

What would the sport be like without these players? What would the sport be like without the clubes who form them? Or more importantly what would European clubes be like if they couldn’t import so many players?

Next time you hear, or say yourself, that South American clubes cannot compare to say Barcelona or Real Madrid, remember the numbers. There is more to say about our football, like the unforgettable matches and moments, the incomparable fans and support, and so on but lets just leave it at the tangible and comparable.
Football and sexism: How obscene abuse excludes women from game
Natalie Pirks draws on her own experiences to illustrate what football still has to do to stamp out "the ugly side of the game".

I remember vividly the first time the penny dropped that the abuse I was receiving was sexist.

It was 2009, and I was presenting a non-league football match when I worked for the broadcaster Setanta. At half-time, as I walked to the centre circle to do some live links, around 500 fans stood up and chanted a sexually obscene question at me. Over. And over. And over. The same chant Victoria Beckham would often get when watching husband David play against Arsenal.

It was far from the first time I’d had chants aimed at me while working - in fact, I’d hear some comment or chant almost every time I was around fans with a camera - but this time it felt visceral. Intense. Embarrassing.

Live broadcasting is already hard enough - this very audible chant made it almost impossible for me to concentrate. But like most women who hear sexist comments when they’re working in football, I carried on. Grow some balls, as the saying goes.


A Sense of Life Around The Game: Non-League in Poland by Przemek Niciejewski

Far from full stadiums, there are onlookers of every kind watching the wondrous non-league football around Poland. From cars that pull over to dogs that want to pitch invade, Przemek Niciejewski spent many of his Sundays capturing an environment that runs right alongside hints of culture in his country.

In Przemek’s words, “Football has resided in me for over 25 years, when the first time I watched (consciously) a football match in Wieluń (Poland). During this time I have seen countless number of matches, the non-league struggles in Poland or Germany and the big stadiums in Barcelona or Manchester. From the very beginning of my relationship with football I’ve been fascinated by everything that is happening around the stadiums.

The native pub, the endemic coloring, tissue of specific human personalities. So I am interested in everything that has a profound impact on how terraces look and behave during the beautiful game.

In Nottingham I met a man who hadn’t left the game of Forest more than 1500 times in a row. In Mönchegladbach someone collects match programmes of local Borussia over 40 years. There is a pub in Liverpool, close to Anfield Road , that for most of the regulars is a second home. Literally.

Memory is fleeting. I collect the tickets, write a diary, but the photography, despite its limitations, arranges the memories in the best and emotional way. I try to capture this particular “moment”. The moment an individual happiness, collective ecstasy, but also sadness, or even suffering due to the unfavorable situation on the pitch.

Football is something more than 90 minutes. For many people caught up in my photographs is the sense of life.”

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