Category Archives: Editors Insight




Quarter Finals day beckons and with it, I take stock of what I believe could well turn out to be the best World Cup ever. As I predicted before a ball was kicked, the party mood of the favelas has captured the imaginations of the millions of fans watching but moreover, each of the 32 nations participating (even our own) have been involved in some of the best total football matches at many a World Cup in recent memory.

We have seen the Spanish – the current World champions – exit at the group stage. We have been inspired by the heroics of Algeria, Costa Rica, Mexico (and in particular their manager) and the USA. Although only one out of the four of those have progressed to join many of the bigger teams at the tail end of this year’s competition, it is great to see so many of the underdogs have the opportunity to seize the day and stamp their authority on the destination of where the trophy ultimately ends up on July 13th.

In the past, we have had the heroics of people like Roger Milla capture the imagination and as recently as 2002, we saw hosts South Korea reach the last four and Senegal take on the then, World Champions, France and overcome the odds to beat the footballing giants of the French game including Zinedine Zidane, Patrick Viera and Thierry Henry.

Whilst discussing the French national side, their cup winning captain of 1998, Didier Deschamps has rediscovered the fortunes of the French national team and have made them into one of the most formidable teams at this World Cup. Should their campaign ultimately end this afternoon against Germany (my sweepstake team) there is more than enough reason to be happy as a French fan ahead of them hosting the European Championships in 2016 which I presume will see them heavily fancied. Germany, themselves, despite needing Extra Time to overcome an Algerian team which boasted Leicester City’s winger Riyad Mahrez (sorry for the plug again, but you’ve got to make the most of success as a Foxes fan), have looked in steady shape – in particular the defensive line spearheaded by Neuer. At the other end of the pitch, Muller has been scoring for fun, and is on course to mount a challenge for the Golden Boot when tournament proceedings come to close.

Colombia, who always prove a heavyweight in qualifying have now matched that on the biggest stage, to put to bed some of the ghosts from previous tournaments. They and Costa Rica have been mightily impressive thus far and deserve to find themselves in the Quarter Finals. Belgium, another ‘outsider’ of sorts have had a recent revival in fortunes and have some great players – many of whom are now plying their trade in the top divisions across Europe. However, I still feel the challenge which faces these sides is quite daunting and this may be the end of the road for them this time around.

Then we come to the three other highest ranking teams (bar Germany) left at the World cup; the Netherlands, Argentina and hosts Brazil. For me, this is the pool of nations where the eventual winner will come from.  Holland were extremely lucky to get to this stage after a late comeback against Mexico but we know the class they possess following their early 5-1 victory against Spain. Argentina, too, have some quality players in their ranks – in particular multi-time winner of the Ballon d’Or, Lionel Messi, widely considered to be the best player in the world currently. Nevertheless, my mind remains unchanged. I firmly believe that Brazil, in their own backyard are too strong and will overcome the odds to win the World Cup for a remarkable sixth occasion. If Neymar stays fit, it is theirs to lose… And what a fitting way that would be to close the Brazilian and perhaps the best World Cup, ever. Enjoy the games!


EDITOR’S INSIGHT – 19th June 2014.

Image   Story by Robin Popley One week in to Brazil 2014 and it has already proven to be as good as the hype that preceded it. By my mathematics, there is an average of 3 goals per game which means we are well on track for almost 200 goals by the end of the tournament and by the way some teams are attacking, that prediction may well be met. Holland have been scoring as freely as Niagara Falls flows and Spain’s defence has been as absent as a Dingle’s school attendance: which is probably why they have been eliminated after only one week of their title defence. Continue reading EDITOR’S INSIGHT – 19th June 2014.



EDITOR’S INSIGHT – 12th June 2014


It’s been almost two years, but, I am delighted to welcome you all back to XI (11).

In the time since the team and I were last writing, my beloved Leicester City have managed to storm to the Championship title and earn our place back at the top table of English football for the first time in a decade and Culture Club have reunited. So, yes, a lot has happened. More importantly though, we missed the laughs, so what better time to make our return than on the day the World Cup in Brazil kicks off. To be fair, I feel like a kid at Christmas… I love the World Cup!

Continue reading EDITOR’S INSIGHT

Editor’s Insight: Cole NOT Dole!

Story by Robin Popley

October is here, again, but unlike last year I’m not wearing my bermuda shorts. Sadly.

This months ‘Editor’s Insight’ takes a look to something I referred to a few months ago. Racism in football. To be honest, I am fed up of having to keep raising it, considering that we are supposed to be living in a civilised 21st century society where Social Media has enhanced our communication by bringing people of all ages and backgrounds together. Yet, perhaps, this is where the problem lies. By trying to be a jack of all trades to the masses, social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, have indirectly created further problems, which have aided in the popularity of such television shows as Jeremy Kyle on ITV. Surely that is something we should avoid at all costs?

I, myself, have accounts on social media sites but I refrain myself from writing expletif language as I am also aware people from the world of business or charities I have worked for may not approve of my home personality if I were to do so. In fact, as was so expertly put in yesterday’s Edition of the Observer, if we (the ordinary public) were to put something that could be considered offensive, we would almost certainly – without question – be disciplined and in the most severe cases, be suspended from the workplace.

Therefore, why is it acceptable for a national footballer, to do this same thing?

The case of John Terry has become a rather precarious one. On the one hand, we have an ex-England captain who had been initially cleared of using racial slurs towards another professional, before then being prosecuted by another body for the same thing and a public display made of him: with the outcome being a 4 match ban. If that wasn’t odd enough, one of Terry’s key witnesses (Ashley Cole) from the original trial, has since been drawn up on his less than convincing testimony and is now undergoing formal action against him at their (the English pair’s) parent club, Chelsea. Yet, what heightened the almost obvious scenario, was Cole’s outburst on Twitter towards the end of last week when he accused the FA for being a bunch of female genitalia. I wouldn’t want to use the real word as it is was very offensive. The description in itself is pretty explicit.

So, why then is it, that both Terry and Cole are just the latest in a long line of footballers who have been before the courts where the outcome has usually come out favourably for the sportsmen in question? In the case of Ched Evans of Sheffield United and Marlon King (as was then a Hull City player) with having a lesser profile by comparison to the former Premier League stars, it is somewhat disheartening that it seems dependent on who you are, is what the outcome becomes.

I propose this to you, fellow football fans, who are reading my article. We, on a daily basis, have to find the means and measures to get by. How will afford our next meals? How will we afford to pay the bills? Moreover, the rent or the mortage, upon that house we bought before the big economic crash? Yet, by contrast, our footballing heroes can do as they please, STILL be rewarded financially whilst breaking the law – either directly or indirectly?

Therefore, in summary, who wouldn’t rather be Ashley Cole than on the dole? He knows the meer threat of a fine cannot truly hurt him. But if a proposed ban or long term suspension was put in place for the Chelsea defensive duo, it may yet prevent further players following suit. For that, I commend Alan Shearer, who called for that self-same outcome on MOTD.

It’s a long road but no-one and I mean NO ONE is above the law!

Thanks for reading;


It may only be half time but it’s beginning to look very good!

Story by Robin Popley

Well, as promised, here is my very – no, extremely – special Editor’s Insight for September. This week has been a monumental week in my life and many of my team. On Thursday 6th September 2012, we doffed our caps to the Chancellor at the University of Lincoln (UK), walking over the threashold no longer as Undergraduates or Graduands, but Graduates and Alumni of the University of Lincoln. The spirital home of 11.

What preceeded this event for myself, though, was the real eye opener and made me feel both blessed and proud. I was off to London for the Paralympics. Exciting stuff.

Along with my parents, I was to take my place in the stands at the ExCel centre, just outside of Greenwich. The two events I was pencilled into see were the Boccia (to which I will come to in a second) and Wheelchair fencing. Luckily, though, I was able to get into see all 5 events that were being showcased over the two days I was based there: headlined by the Sitting Volleyball. Let me hear you say, way-o, way-o…

Now, at this point of the article, I haven’t yet mentioned football once. You may wonder why this is. Well, the point of this month’s Editor’s Insight, is to pay homage to all the sportspeople (or as Tony Benn quite nicely called we Lincoln Graduates, ‘Olympians’, when he was in town to pick up his Honourary Doctorate for outstanding contribution to Politics earlier in the week), who just get up and get on with it. Something we all often say on phone ins or forums. I wish they’d try harder.

For me, it was the Boccia (pronounced Boccaaaa like Gotcha) that best demonstrated the true spirit of sport, not only Paralympian but in general. Most of its competitors suffer from Cerebral Palsy, with some having such extreme variations of the disease, they have to play through the aid of an apparateus shaped into a type of slide (not the playground variety either). It was really inspiring.

Most of you will be unaware that I, too, suffer with disability. Although mine is only mainly learning, I was greatly surprised to learn that I could also participate in the Paralympic games (if I were good enough) because of my extreme dyspraxic problems, not to mention my dyslexia. Then, aware of this, I was lucky enough to catch Keira Knightley discussing her problems with Dyslexia when in discussion with the reporter about her new film. Her drive to overcome our learning difficulties, was that ultimate goal of being able to do what you most want, to quote her directly; “There was always a carrot being dangled in front of me, to break through that wall!”

So, I come back to the feat of my team and I, with our honours degrees. There were times when things got pretty dire and I can admit that there were several times I contemplated quiting, but then I thought, if I do this now it will be worth it in the end. I will get my dreams and someday I will be a somebody. I DESERVE IT!

And that is what I think footballers – at times – need to evaluate. In general, each and every single one of us should look to the achievements of this year by our country, then sit back and remember what a wise old lecturer said to me; “It’s not the if…it is only the when!”

Hope you all enjoyed watching our (England’s) great opening win last night,