On This Day 28 January – A look at what happened on this day in football through the years.

It was always cricket that fans would hope would bring the early end to a possible humiliating defeat, but on 28 January 1961, it was football and Luton Town fans that would be praying for rain and hoping the gods would intervene in an FA Cup tie against Manchester City. Luton fans would be more than happy as a young Denis Law bagged all six goals as City lead 6-2 only to see the game abandoned due to a waterlogged pitch after 69 minutes. Not only would the smile be wiped from Law’s face, but in the rescheduled game and despite scoring, City would end up losing 3-1.

It would be a double blow for Dens Law as the Scotsman would miss out on finishing out as FA Cup top scorer in the 20th century. Law would finish on 41 goals three behind Welshman and former Liverpool striker Ian Rush who would finish on 44 FA Cup goals. Those scrubbed off six goals would have seen Law finish with 47 goals and the FA Cup top scorer.

28th January 2014 saw Anfield play host to the Merseyside derby. Liverpool strolled to a thumping 4-0 win having taken a 3-0 lead after 35 minutes. It was two from Daniel Sturridge that sent the Reds on the way after Gerrard opened up the scoring. This win would help keep the red side of Merseyside keep in touch with the title race.

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He’s One of Ours – New from Dan Raywood

The eponymous Matt Doy will be familiar with this feeling – that of having “one of your own” make it into your youth team.
So yes some of Liverpool’s 1990s youth stars were Evertonians and I personally think that the abuse Wayne Rooney received (and probably continues to receive) from Everton fans is a disgrace, but having a youth team player make it as a first team regular is a rare delight.
However the situation at Spurs this season has been rather positive – the return of Ryan Mason from an extensive loan period, most notably to Swindon Town, has seen the starting 11 contain a number of homegrown and improved players. Despite a promising start last season, Nabil Bentaleb looked like he had lost confidence when he was continuing to start. This season, with the experience of a World Cup behind him, he looks a much more complete player and rightly keeping the likes of Paulinho out of the starting 11.
Also plenty has been written about Harry Kane, but it seems that Spurs finally have a goalscorer to be proud of. The lack of depth behind him in for squad is a concern, perhaps Coulthirst or Pritchard, currently on loan but showing plenty of potential, could offer that option from next season.
There is a real delight in “one of your own” making it into the first team because it shows that the club is making the right decisions. If the club choose a youth team player over a multi million pound signing, at first the fans may not be happy, but when that homegrown player starts scoring and/or performing, the complaining stops.
It also shows good nouse from the coach – if they are able to spot a rough talent that will not cost the club millions and is already trained and developed to the level that the management desires, then that player is already a step ahead of someone who needs to “bed in” to the club’s style.
Finally it shows that the club is using its academy properly, keeping the board onside and showing that youth is the best tactic. See that successful youth team? That’s your next first team. It made Manchester United excited in the early 1990s, and look what that team achieved.

From top of the world to mid-table in league one in 26 years – The debut of Dan Raywood

Last weekend saw Spurs (my team, you’ll see me write about them primarily) play Coventry City in the third round of the FA cup. For the well remembered and stattos among you, or failing that those of you who read Saturday’s sport sections will recall, this was a replay of the 1987 final.
It was watching the side of Hoddle, Waddle, Ardiles, Gough and Allen that swung me into following Spurs that day. You may feel that it is strange to choose the losing side and stick with them, but that is what I did and 26 years on, I am still with them. Although there has been some tough times, mainly called the 1990s, supporting Spurs is a joy. Most people like them as a second team, we play attractive football and have a reputation of having classy players: Gascoigne, Ginola, Defoe, Modric, Bale.
However for Coventry, history has not served them so well. A famous exit in 1989 to Sutton United has been followed by relegation and financial issues, to the point that Saturday’s match was probably seen as an unwinnable cash-cow. The 3-0 win, with goals from Dempsey and Bale, seemed pretty academic from my Soccer Saturday standpoint. It also saw the return of Scott Parker and Benoit Assou-Ekotto to the first team but what was an academic win for Spurs was probably the biggest match of the season for our opponents.
Times do change – look at the demise of Bradford City, Sheffield United and many others in the championship, but if there was a gulf of quality in 1987, it’s now an ocean in 2013. It’s not that I feel sorry for Coventry, they were one of the clubs that had the new stadium and having attended a match during Chris Coleman’s reign, a very nice one it is too. However this undoing is all too common now and while many clubs ‘need an Abrahamovic’, Coventry have been better served than many others, and need to realise where things went wrong post-1987.

However I will not lie about it, I don’t have a lot of love for Coventry. They had a touch of the Wimbledon about them and in the way Arsenal fans still dislike York City and Wrexham, losing in such a style does hurt. So in a way, this does serve as some sort of recompense for me as a Spurs fan, and I hope the future is brighter from here on for the Sky Blues.

The Curse of Africa on – Spurs – Dan’s second blog

This past week saw the two year mark of my good friend Dan Raywood’s contribution to my Strictly442/Match of The Doy blog. Having helped to make it what it is, this second blog in fact celebrates its second birthday.

This week saw the unfortunate announcement that Emmanuel Adebayor is to be heading to the African Cup of Nations in week to represent Togo.

Despite not really setting the world alight since his permanent move to Spurs, Adebayor is a talismanic striker with proven ability and strength – when he feels like it. So much like his predecessors Berbatov and Mido then.

There have been some calls for him to start as the lone striker ahead of Jermain Defoe – not something that I am especially fond of as I feel the extra man in midfield (often Dempsey or Sigurdsson) adds a lot of the balance and attack of the team. Plus neither Adebayor or Defoe are the type to track back.

But the impact of losing Adebayor on the team, despite his lack of goals and form, will be huge. Losing Pavlychenko, Keane and Crouch in the last 12 months and not replacing them has hit Spurs hard, and this month has seen us pick up a new left back (Fryers from Standard Liege) and midfielder (Holtby from Schalke) but a new striker is sorely needed.

In a way, the return of Adebayor to Togo is remarkable after the shooting on the bus at the last tournament left the team visibly traumatised. Perhaps it is selfish, but to lose one of your key players is really going to hit spurs where they are the shortest – up front.

The other concern is one of form. Spurs fans will recall Fredi Kanoute’s good form for Spurs after joining from West Ham, before he had an 11th hour decision to head to the tournament and play for Mali. Kanoute came back half the man he was and decidedly off form, so perhaps the off-form Adebayor will see the opposite effect, and rediscover the goal scoring form which saw him hit 17 for Spurs last season.

Of course the most legendary story for Spurs fans and the African Cup of Nations is around the call-up (and subsequent injury to) Benoit Assou-Ekotto which allowed Gareth Bale to start at left back in his place. The rest is history, which I also hope Adebayor’s poor form for Spurs will also be.

January moves, referee standards

The January transfer window may only be a handful of days old, but it hasnt stopped clubs getting in quick and signing players. So far most of the deals have been in the form of loan signings, the most notable so far being Lukas Podolski joining Inter till the end of the season. Mauro Zarate has made the short trip from East to West London as he joins QPR on loan from West Ham. Mark Schwarzer has departed Chelsea to join Leicester City on a free transfer. No major permanent deals as yet, but it has been reported that Man City are in talks with Swansea City over a deal to sign Wilfred Bony. A fee believed to be around £30 million. A deal that would see City with more firepower and Swansea with money to reinvest if they can find someone (Fabio Borini and Mario Ballotelli are available) to replace him.

On the subject of standards, refereeing is once again in the spotlight. Following various questionable decisions over the Christmas, former referees boss Keith Hackett has said that officiating over the period was bordering on appalling and that the standards have dropped.

Refereeing is of course not easy, but when they are now full time in the role, you would think that decision making would in fact improve. I guess though it is one of the things about the game that will keep us football fans talking.