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Posts Tagged ‘ West Ham United ’

Former Premier League Star Reveals He Is Gay

hitzlsperger

Former Germany midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger has announced in a newspaper interview that he is gay.

“I’m making my homosexuality public because I would like to advance the discussion of homosexuality among professional athletes,” he told Die Zeit in an interview to be published on Thursday.

The 31-year-old is the first high-profile German player to publicly reveal that he is homosexual. Continue reading

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Premier League Fixtures Released

File:Old Trafford (262774812).jpg

From Wikicommons, user: russavia.

With just 59 days to go until first kick-off, the fixture list for the 2013/14 season of the Barclays Premier League has been released, and whatever computer the League uses to draw the fixtures clearly hasn’t lost its mischievous side. Manchester United’s new manager David Moyes looks to have his work cut out for him; his side will face Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City in their first five games. The clash with Chelsea will be the Scotsman’s first game in charge at Old Trafford and is a mouth-watering prospect considering it will be José Mourinho’s first return to Manchester as a Premier League manager, and Moyes’ first real test at United’s helm.

Continue reading

O’Brien Looking Forward to Cork Clash

Joey O’Brien is relishing the opportunity to return to his homeland when West Ham United go on pre-season tour to the Republic of Ireland.

The senior Ireland international was born and raised in Dublin before moving to England when he signed for Bolton Wanderers at the age of 16. Continue reading

Brooking Remembers Cork Stint Ahead Of Friendly

 

Sir Trevor Brooking is known throughout football as a true One-Club Man, having made 647 appearances and scored 102 goals for West Ham United during a glittering 18-year career with the Hammers.

What fewer supporters are aware of, however, is that Sir Trevor turned out for a host of smaller clubs following his departure from the Boleyn Ground in 1984. Continue reading

Explosion In Online Gaming Results In Sponsorship Opportunities

Over the last decade, the online gambling industry has exploded and this explosion in popularity has presented new opportunities for football teams in the forms of sponsorship.  Below are some of the squads who are
currently sponsored at least in part by online gaming companies.

English Premier League

At least seven EPL squads are sponsored by online gaming companies.  League champion Manchester United was the beneficiary of bwin’s decision to discontinue their association with Real Madrid.  In August the team announced that bwin.Party is the team’s new online betting partner. Continue reading

Limerick Revolution Knows No Limits

st2013 looks set to be a pivotal year in Irish soccer as one club bravely seeks to establish themselves among the footballing elite of the League of Ireland.

The words mediocrity, disappointment, death and rebirth give a thinly veiled history of two time League of Ireland champions Limerick FC, yet football on Shannonside looks set for something of a renaissance under the tutelage of Stuart Taylor, who has been handed a three year deal.

19 years have passed since the club last played top flight football and many Limerick fans are drooling at the thought of facing the best the country has to offer. The 19 year journey from falling through the trapdoor to their re-emergence is one that Lims fans will be hoping is well and truly something that remains in the past. Those dark days are long etched in the memory of fans and the club annals as their history depicts the numerous manifestations of the Munster side. Since their inception in 1937, Limerick FC have plied their trade as Limerick United, Limerick City and Limerick 37, with each name representing something totally different but not necessarily for the right reasons.

The early years were somewhat dull but the 1940’s brought great improvements to the banks of the Shannon as the club twice finished as runners up in both the league and cup. Success would ultimately follow in the fifties as the club laid their hands on their first national title and a Dublin City cup.

The turn of the sixties would prove to be their finest hour as they captured their first League of Ireland championship. Success would be hard to come by over the next decade as Limerick lost two FAI Cup finals before winning the blue riband in 1971.

The club endured severe financial difficulties in the seventies with fortunes on the field also hitting a snag despite league cup success and another batch of runners up medals from a FAI Cup final defeat to Dundalk. It wasn’t until ex Ireland manager Eoin Hand arrived in 1979 that the ship was steadied and League of Ireland success once again graced the mid west as did the FAI Cup in 1982.

The club changed its name to Limerick United in 1977 and won a League of Ireland Championship and FAI Cup under this name. Affairs at the club began to deteriorate after the FAI Cup win in 1982 and the beginning of the 1983-84 season saw High Court action with a battle for ownership. Soccer in the city was suspended for eight weeks pending a decision, which went in favour of Pat Grace, who changed the name of the club to Limerick City and also changed the club colours. Limerick City won the revived League of Ireland Shield and the Munster Senior Cup in its first season. The Shield was won in the last game played at Market’s Field in April 1984. They moved out of the Market’s Field to a new home in Rathbane for the start of the 1984-85 season, an unpopular decision with many fans and one that heralded a decline in the club’s fortunes.

The 1985-86 season saw the League of Ireland being divided into two divisions for the first time, with Limerick being granted Premier Division status. It wasn’t long before Grace departed and Father Joe Young took control of the club, who would now return to operating as Limerick FC.

Limerick were relegated for the first time in 1990-91, a year which also saw them lose a League Cup Final to Derry City. Current West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce was appointed as player manager for the 1991-92 season and immediately brought the club back to the top flight. Allardyce only remained for one season before departing to take up a coaching role at Preston North End. Limerick finished a respectable sixth in the Premier Division the following season and also won the League Cup, beating St. Patrick’s Athletic in the final. Relegation was to follow the following season and a long period of mediocrity and disappointment ensued.

Financial problems plagued the club, who had no real home at this stage and were often swapping between grounds. Danny Drew took over at the helm come the millennium and took the club back to Rathbane in an attempt to revive their fortunes. The 2001-02 season saw another League Cup victory but no improvement in the league followed over the coming seasons.

The true reality of the financial problems plaguing soccer on the banks of the Shannon was yet to become apparent. Limerick FC were denied a licence to compete in the 2007 First Division and this forced the FAI to seek new applicants to emerge to take their place and ensure soccer survived in the treaty county. A consortium known as Soccer Limerick would prove to be the victors and having done so moved the club now under the Limerick 37 banner to Jackman Park. Little success followed until last year when Pat Scully guided the club back to the top flight as champions, pipping Waterford United to the post by four points.

Scully’s sacking in late 2012 came as a surprise to all and the club immediately set about hiring a top level candidate. Scotland native Peter Taylor was eventually drafted in, beating a host of other well known candidates and has immediately set about restoring pride to soccer in the famous city.

Limerick FC (renamed again in 2009) now represent a model that is designed for success. 2013 will see the club play their home games at the home of Munster Rugby, Thomond Park, a move that has caught the eye of many across the country. In the form of Pat O’Sullivan, Limerick now possess a crucial ally in their battle to re-establish themselves among the footballing elite. With O’Sullivan’s backing and Taylor’s experience, it wouldn’t be too far from reality to suggest the Shannonsiders will be competing at the top end of the Premier Division in 2013.

Looking forward to his new role with Limerick FC, Stuart Taylor, explained, “I am delighted to be joining, in Limerick FC, a club with a great history but more importantly a clear long term plan for the future.  The transformation in Limerick FC since my days in the league with Drogheda is there for everyone to see.   The chairman exudes positivity and has impressed on me the importance of the club to the region and the potential role it can play in improving opportunities for young people in the region.  It is our aim to assemble a team that will not only play attractive, winning football but create a bond with the fans on and off the field.   The club has extremely passionate supporters and I look forward to their support throughout the season and I hope they will be proud of the performances the team put out on the park.  We have a good youth structure in place, a strong returning panel from last season and we hope to make some further additions before the season kicks off against Cork City.”

Taylor has immediately set about recruiting a squad capable of posing a threat to the big boys and has already re-signed last year’s First Division player of the year Rory Gaffney. Further signings are imminent as the Limerick faithful prepare for a bright future and given the outstanding achievements of Drogheda United last season, who knows where the mighty blues might end up in 2013. European football may well be on the horizon come 2014 but for now Limerick fans will just be happy to back where they feel they belong.

Boys In Green Look To Set Premier League Alight

The Premier League kicks off next weekend and Irish fans will have a keen eye on proceedings as the World Cup qualifiers loom. Following a poor Euro 2012 campaign, Irish fans will be eager to see the Boys In Green performing well for their clubs before Kazakhstan and Germany come calling.

Something that has become a recent trend is the number of Irish stars who are dropping down a level and this trend has certainly been prevalent this summer. Both Keith Andrews and Simon Cox have swapped West Brom for The Championship while Darren O’Dea scored a surprising move to Major League Soccer side Toronto FC. Of course with Wolves been relegated that further reduces the number of Irish players plying their trade in the top flight. Kevin Doyle, Stephen Ward, Stephen Hunt and Kevin Foley all look set to remain at Molineux and help the club bounce back to the Premier League at the first attempt. Sean St Ledger, Keith Fahey, David Forde and Paddy Kenny will also be prominent features in the Championship this term while the likes of Robbie Keane and Aiden McGeady are still plying their trade outside the British Isles.

But what about those Irish players remaining in the Premier League?

Everton will be hoping to qualify for Europe this term and will be buoyed by the fact that they have retained the services of long serving manager David Moyes, who spurned the advances of Spurs after Harry Redknapp was dismissed from White Hart Lane. Moyes has added smartly to his squad given his limited resources with both Stephen Pienaar and Steven Naismith joining The Toffees. Much is expected of the free scoring Nikica Jelavic but this hardworking Everton outfit will be largely reliant on the skill and tenacity of Seamus Coleman combined with the graft and experience of Darren Gibson, who seems rejuvenated having left Manchester United last January. Shane Duffy will be hoping to establish himself in The Toffees defence following some superb displays last term.

Robbie Brady will be hoping to break into the senior international set up quite soon. The Manchester United player has enjoyed a solid pre season and Alex Ferguson sees him as an adequate competitor for Patrice Evra’s full back position. With Evra ageing, Brady’s time looks set to be on the horizon although few would have expected the winger to convert to a full back following his tremendous displays on loan at Hull City last season

James McClean will be hoping to maintain his sensational start to life in the Premier League with Sunderland. Martin O’Neill will have his first full season at the Stadium of Light and despite the lack of transfer activity on Wearside you can expect Sunderland to push for a top ten finish while enjoying a solid cup run. John O’Shea will continue to hold up the rearguard while Keiren Westwood looks resigned to a number two role yet again. David Meyler will be hoping to have an injury free season and catch the eye of Giovanni Trapattoni in the process.

Hope springs eternal at Villa Park as the new season ushers in the era of Paul Lambert as Aston Villa boss. The club have overhauled their managerial structure and have rid of some players who simply weren’t up to scratch. There is still a strong Irish contingent at Villa Park though and it remains to be seen whether Shay Given and Richard Dunne will pack in international football in order to further their club careers. Ciaran Clark will be hoping for another solid season while under 21 star Samir Carruthers may well break into the first team following his substitute appearances last term. Stephen Ireland will be looking to re-establish himself among the Premiership elite and could be a key player for Lambert who will be aiming for a top eight finish and perhaps a league cup win. Keep an eye out for Enda Stevens, Graham Burke and Derrick Williams, three upcoming Irish stars who may well burst onto the scene this year.

Fulham are another side hoping to crack the top eight this term following a ninth place finish last season under the guidance of Martin Jol. The Dutchman has done well to retain the services of Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembele thus far as both players have courted interest from many clubs. Damien Duff and Stephen Kelly will be hoping to pick themselves up following Euro 2012. Duff will be looking to recover his form of old while Kelly, who recently signed a new contract, will be hoping to fend off new signing Sascha Riether to make the right back spot his own.

West Brom will do well to build on their tenth place finish from last term. Steve Clarke has taken over at the helm and opted to show Andrews and Cox the door. Steven Reid and Shane Long both remain at The Hawthorns and the latter will face increased competition for a starting berth this term following the arrivals of Markus Rosenberg and Romelu Lukaku.

Jon Walters will be hoping to set the Premier League alight this term following his appearances at Euro 2012. The striker will be hoping he can find the golden touch to fire The Potters to a better finish than last year. Glenn Whelan, Marc Wilson and Rory Delap all remain at the Britannia and will be key players as Tony Pulis’ side seek to build on a 14th place finish.

Wigan Athletic will be looking to avoid the drop again this season and will be delighted that manager Roberto Martinez has stayed with them. Martinez masterminded their terrific end of season form last year which saw solid wins over the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United. With limited resources he will do well to repeat that feat. There will be a heavy reliance on James McCarthy, who was a key player last term and was forced to miss Euro 2012 due to his father’s illness. Conor Sammon is the only other Irish player at the DW Stadium but for all his apparent strength goals have been hard to come by for the ex League of Ireland star and he will need a big change if he plans on cracking Trap’s plans.

QPR have enjoyed a great summer with their new found wealth enabling them to buy talented stars such as Park Ji Sung and David Hoilett. It’s been all change at Loftus Road, particularly in the goalkeeper ranks where Paddy Kenny has departed for Leeds United. Brian Murphy remains with QPR as a capable deputy to new number one Robert Green. Mark Hughes side shouldn’t have to worry about having another relegation battle this season.

Norwich City will be hoping second season syndrome doesn’t strike this term. It’s been all change at Carrow Road with ex Ireland international Chris Hughton replacing Lambert in the dugout. Hughton will do well to keep the Canaries up and will be looking to Wes Hoolahan and Anthony Pilkington as key players in doing so. Both players excelled last term with Hoolahan the most impressive. The former Shelbourne star has been unlucky this past week as he was forced to withdraw from Ireland’s friendly with Serbia due to injury. Nonetheless, he will be buoyed by the fact that he has finally caught the eye of Trapattoni. Marc Tierney may well earn an Ireland call up in the near future and the full back is one worth watching.

Premier League newcomers Reading will be aiming for top flight survival this term but under the guidance of Irishman Brian McDermott many expect that to be a formality. Promoted last season as champions, this Reading side features a host of Irish players. Following an impressive season last year Ian Harte was widely tipped for a shock return to the Ireland set up for Euro 2012. While that never happened it won’t discourage the ex Leeds United star who will be hoping to show he still possesses the quality to compete in the top flight. Noel Hunt will be hoping to blaze a goal trail which will earn him a return to the Ireland side while Jay Tabb is another Irish star involved with the first team. Pierce Sweeney, recently signed from League of Ireland side Bray Wanderers, may feature this term while ex Shamrock Rovers ace Karl Sheppard has been loaned to Accrington Stanley.

Playoff winners West Ham United have returned to the Premier League and will have solid ambitions which won’t feature a relegation battle. Sam Allardyce has added some fine talent to his squad and has made Irish keeper Stephen Henderson permanent, following a loan spell from Portsmouth last season. Joey O’Brien is the only other Irish player at Upton Park and he will be hoping for a standout season having been called up to the Ireland squad for the upcoming Serbia game. The three times capped star hasn’t pulled on the green jersey in over four years and will be hoping he can re-establish himself within the Irish setup. The 26 year old certainly has time on his side and time will tell if he can live up to the hype that was associated with him during his days with Bolton Wanderers.

With the World Cup qualifiers fast approaching and Trapattoni open to shuffling his pack, the time is ripe for a new star to emerge and stake his claim for a starting place.

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