Internally displaced Afghan children play cricket in a refugee camp. Photo: SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images
Afghanistan at the World Cup
By Tim Wigmore - 19 February 12:23

"Appreciation for Afghanistan’s cricketing achievements is perhaps the only thing that links the government with Taliban forces."

Novak Djokovic at the Australian open. Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
How Novak Djokovic can make you a better friend, colleague and spouse
By Ed Smith - 19 February 11:17

Self-improvement isn’t about making our best better – but about making our worst less bad.

Sky Sports Premier League coverage. Photo: Ben Radford - Sky Sports/Getty Images
I never thought it was possible to have too much football
By Hunter Davies - 19 February 11:16

Eleven hours of the beautiful game on one day: is it enough?

A worker installs a flag advertising the cup. Photo: A worker installs a flag for the cup. Photo: Stephane de Sakutin/AFP/Getty Images
Letter from Equatorial Guinea: forget human rights – here comes the football
By Jonathan Wilson - 12 February 11:09

When Morocco withdrew from hosting the African Cup of Nations, citing Ebola fears, Equatorial Guinea stepped in. But at what cost?

English footballer Gary Lineker of Leicester City FC, circa 1980. Photo: Simon Miles/Getty Images
In ye olden days, retired footballers set up market stalls – or sold toilet rolls
By Hunter Davies - 12 February 10:19

I can think of only two players in my lifetime – who played long before the birth of the Prem – who did manage to make real money after their playing days.

Ronda Rousey hits Liz Carmouche during their 2013 title fight. Photo: Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Why the UFC is treating its female fighters better than (almost) any other sport
By Joel Snape - 26 January 16:34

It’s not just the money – Ultimate Fighting Championship has appreciated that women aren’t good fighters considering their gender. They’re simply good fighters.

Walthamstow's finest: Harry Kane for Spurs. Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
All the Spurs players are heroes but Harry is different: he’s a local hero
By Hunter Davies - 15 January 10:35

What does it mean to sign a local lad?

Grass-roots: Crystal Palace fans in 1989. Photo: Getty
Priced out of matches and treated as commodities, football fans are finally starting to reclaim the beautiful game
By Martin Cloake and David Webber - 23 December 10:45

In the space of two decades, English football has gone from a localised game rooted in working-class communities to a globalised brand controlled by the markets, excluding many of its loyal fans. But those fans are still there and they are fighting back. 

I am in love with Jeffrey Schlupp. I like writing his name down. Photo: Getty
Hunter Davies’ Half-Season Awards
By Hunter Davies - 19 December 11:52

Cheer up, Stevie! Go, Schlupp! And Pearson, don’t come down from the stands.

Andre Agassi. Photo: Getty
Ed Smith: for some coaches it’s not about improving sporting skills but about moulding people
By Ed Smith - 11 December 10:28

Many high achievers, across all disciplines, have troubled and complex relationships with people who pushed them. I would like to pretend that psychological bullying never works, but clearly it can.

Players in Victoria put out their bats in tribute to Phillip Hughes. Photo: Getty
SB Tang on Phillip Hughes: The nation mourns a cricket hero
By S B Tang - 11 December 9:32

He was, as we say in Australia, just a really good bloke. 

 

The longest yard: Vinnie Jones. Photo: BT Sport
Vinnie Jones: “I speak to kids today and I’m not a footballer, I’m a film star”
By Cameron Sharpe - 10 December 17:53

As Vinnie Jones embarks on his sixth decade, he reflects on the biggest day of his career, his battle with alcohol and why his wife has to stop him calling Massimo Cellino.

Liverpool supporters protest about ticket prices during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Hull City at the Anfield stadium in Liverpool, northwest England, on October 25, 2014. Photo: Getty Images
Premier League clubs are less and less able to ignore fan discontent over ticket prices
By Martin Cloake - 05 December 17:33

There are tentative signs that Premier League clubs are starting to take fan campaigns against high ticket prices more seriously.

Footballer Gavin Swankie (left), just one of the players whose every goal is recorded by the Whitehall fan. Photo: Getty Images
Who's the Whitehall civil servant spending hours each week editing footballers' Wikipedia pages?
By Ian Steadman - 27 November 15:59

Someone, somewhere in government, is spending a considerable amount of time keeping Wikipedia's entries on Scottish football up-to-date.

Gravy train: Fifa president Sepp Blatter on the pitch with a Saudi official in Riyadh. Photo: Getty
It is time to clean up the beautiful game
By Jon Holmes - 27 November 10:00

In recent days, Fifa seems to have plumbed new depths of almost comic-book villainy.

Phil Hughes batting for South Australia before the accident. Photo: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images
Cricketers mostly ignore risk – but sometimes, as Phil Hughes found, it comes looking for you
By Ed Smith - 26 November 12:15

In throwing in your lot as a professional sportsman, you make an implicit deal. The upside feels irresistible; the downside you consign as too improbable to think about.

Better with age: Arjen Robben, who used to play for Chelsea, now at Bayern Munich. Photo: Getty
They may be foreign players, but they’re our foreign players
By Hunter Davies - 13 November 10:00

Hunter Davies’s weekly football column, The Fan.

Ooh-aah: Eric Cantona in 2013. Photo: Getty
Maverick or phoney: why Balotelli has nothing in common with Cantona
By Ed Smith - 13 November 10:00

Ed Smith’s weekly column, Left Field. 

The graduate: David Wheeler of Exeter City (left), a former NS Subscriber of the Week. Photo: Getty
Where have all the graduate footballers gone? A football player reader explains
By Hunter Davies - 06 November 10:00

Just over a year ago, David Wheeler made it into the Football League, joining Exeter City in League Two, where he still is, a dashing and hard-working right winger. He started reading the NS six months ago.

To the victor the spoils: Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer after the Wimbledon 2014 final. Photo: Getty
Sometimes, the best of sport can find eternal life
By Ed Smith - 30 October 9:00

Ed Smith’s Left Field column. 

Hospitality sweet: corporate boxes at Villa park football ground. Photo: Getty
Goodbye pies and fights: how football became the game of the middle classes
By Hunter Davies - 29 October 15:00

When the Prem began 20 years ago, and stadiums became all-seaters, with the season tickets costing a fortune, many of the working classes and twentysomething lads were excluded, unable to pay the prices.

Hammering: England playing San Marino on 9 October. Photo: Getty
Which is better – watching football in the flesh or on the telly?
By Hunter Davies - 27 October 10:13

Hunter Davies’s weekly column, The Fan. 

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls playing football against a team of journalists at the Labour Party Conference. Photo: Matt Cardy/Getty
Politicians are trying to reform football – there must be a general election on the way
By Martin Cloake - 24 October 12:16

Nonetheless, if the current proposals to include fan reps on club boards go through, it will be a significant breakthrough for the sport.

Nicholas Anelka playing for Chelsea in 2010. Photo: Getty
The mutual dependence of football and the media
By Martin Cloake - 21 October 11:52

A new book by Roger Domeneghetti explores the huge pull that the game has on the mass imagination.

Man of the old school: United manager Louis van Gaal (second from right) with his briefcase/note pad. Photo: Getty
Football, home to the lost art of handwriting. And other silly rituals
By Hunter Davies - 17 October 16:22

Hunter Davies’s weekly column, The Fan. 

Arsenal Ladies celebrating their 2014 FA Cup win. Photo: Getty
The rebirth of women’s football: more than a century on, it’s a game worth watching
By Samira Shackle - 17 October 12:43

The FA is out to make women’s football the second most popular sport in the UK, displacing men’s cricket and rugby union. Samira Shackle explores the long history of the game, from munitions workers in 1917 to the first salaried national players just a few years ago.

Fratton Park, the home ground of Portsmouth FC, the largest fan-owned football club in England. Photo: Getty Images
Supporters Direct welcomes Labour's plans to put fans on football club boards
By Martin Cloake - 17 October 10:58

Football supporters will be given the right to appoint and remove up to a quarter of a football club’s board of directors under new proposals from the Labour Party. Fans will also be given the right to buy up to 10 per cent of a club’s shares on offer during a change of ownership. We assess the proposals and get the views of Supporters Direct chief executive Robin Osterley.

Pocket rocket: Santi Cazorla of Arsenal. Photo: Getty
Does size matter? And where have all the Arsenal six-footers gone?
By Hunter Davies - 09 October 13:45

Hunter Davies’s The Fan column. 

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