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Liam's Column: Curtain Raisers, a Country Divided

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Today Liam takes a step away from the Wanderers to explore what he really believes is the most farcical day in the football calendar, The Community Shield 'Final.'

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It is the beginning of July and after no time at all it seems as though the football season is almost upon us. Of course for West Ham it has already begun as they faced Lusitans of Andorra at Upton Park in the First Preliminary Round of the Europa League.

So as we hurtle towards the beginning of the new season everything is gearing up for each individual clubs first game but at the very summit of our countries footballing ladder, there is the hugely important matter as to who will be crowned The Community Shield Champions in the English equivalent to the 'Super Cup' finals taking place all over Europe.

On paper, it seems exciting, the current League Champions vs the current FA Cup Champions, despite this high billing, this is a fixture that barely lives up to anything and if anything dampens pre-season excitement at the pinnicle of our domestic game.

Winning teams almost begrudge walking up the stairs to collect their medals and do their upmost not to appear too pleased with victory which really highlights the pointlessness of the occasion.

Like many, I like the idea of a 'curtain raiser' but perhaps there is a better answer, something that not only includes the best players in the game but also captures those throughout the game, the entire football community if you will.

There is a sporting alternative to the Super Cup format used throughout the globe, particulary in Australia and the US and that is the 'All-Star Match.'

Stay with me here, I propose to you Bolton Wanderers fans that the FA replace The Community Sheild Final with a Northern vs Southern English players 'All-Star' game. The success of this can be seen in major US Sports such as American Football and Basketball as well in Australian Rugby League, with the fiercely contested 'State of Origin' Fixtures.

I would propose this fixture is played slightly earlier than the current Community Shield Fixture, enabling a Home and Away Leg to be played, allowing the football fans of the North to also enjoy the spectacle and not see our showpiece events restricted to those of us lucky enough to afford to live in London.

As you are doing now no doubt, my next thought were that is these games were played today, who would feature for both teams?

I have given this a go myself although feel free to comment with your own line-ups.

For clarity, anything south of and including Birmingham will represent the South (Sorry Birmingham).

North XI (4-3-1-2)

1) Joe Hart: Clear England Number one although the North-East's Fraser Forster can slip into his comfortable role as Hart's Understudy

2) Phil Jones: The Manchester United and former Blackburn Rovers utility man just gets the nod over Kyle Walker for me.

5) Gary Cahill: The former Wanderers goal-machine central defender is a more straight forward selection, Cahill has been very succesful since leaving Lancashire and has not only won every single major trophy available to him but has established himself in the England side, becomming Wayne Rooney's vice captain.

6) Phil Jagielka: The experiance of the Manchester born Everton captain is invaluable and has played alongside Cahill for England. Team Captain.

3) Leighton Baines: The diminutive Everton and former Wigan Athletic defender is a classy performer and forever dangerous from set pieces.

4) James Milner: Proud Yorkshireman Milner gets a slot back in central midfield. A tidy acquisition for Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool, he will be missed tremendoulsy at Manchester City, where he won two league titles.

8) Jordan Henderson: The Sunderland-born midfielder rose through the ranks of his hometown club before a hefty transfer to Liverpool where he has now found his feet and has become a consistent performer for Rodgers' side.

7) Fabian Delph: Bradford-born Delph makes up the third of the midfield three. The Villa man had his best season to-date last season and is now heavily linked with replacing James Milner at Manchester City.

11) Ross Barkley: Behind the front two stands creative spark Barkley who is on the cusps now of becomming an England regular. The Everton midfielder is young and talented and has a heck of a future ahead of him.

9) Wayne Rooney: First name on this team sheet Rooney is the best player in the country.

10) Danny Welbeck: After his surprising move to Arsenal, Welbeck has demonstrated the talent that made Sir Alex Ferguson stick with the Manchester lad so long, Bags of running and an instictive finisher make him the perfect partner for Rooney.

South XI (4-4-2)

1) Ben Foster: The West Brom stopper gets the international recognition he deserves, sort of.

2) Nathaniel Clyne: The new Liverpool signing saw his stock rise dramatically last season and has now been capped for England. The former Southampton man was an integral part of their Europa League qualifying side last season.

3) Luke Shaw: The young Manchester United fullback began to settle in since his own mega-money move from Southampton at the back end of last season. A stocky yet pacy defender with a big future ahead of him.

5) John Terry: Captain, Leader, Legend.

6) Chris Smalling: Quick off the mark, would provide the cover for Terry in a similar manor to that of Cahill at Chelsea.

4) Jack Wilshire: The Arsenal man has really begun to flourish as his begins to push through the injuries that have dogged his short career. A real leader for Arsenal, Wilshire can be a driving force for any team on his day.

8) Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: As competent performer in the middle of the park as his out wide, 'The Ox' can further add to the dynamism offered by Wilshire, his ability to go past players as well as high quality technique contribute to a real class-act of a player.

7) Raheem Sterling: Just pips Theo Walcott for me. Sterling just has the recklessness of youth that makes him that more dangerous. A fearlessly attacking talent, if he can be kept on the straight and narrow, he will be the future of English football.

11) Adam Lallana: Lallana has the unique ability of being just as dangerous with either foot. Lallana's comfort on the ball as well as the intelligent nature of his play are a strong asset for any side. Criminally under-used by Liverpool last season.

9) Harry Kane: 'The Hurricane' was nothing short of a revelation last season as the combination of confidence mixed with old-fashioned vigour saw Kane propel to the height of the game. A deadly, robust striker who is understandably linked with a big move in this summer.

10) Daniel Sturridge: The third former-Wanderer to make into the respective hypothetical squads is Daniel Sturridge. a clinical forward capable of scoring from all areas of the pitch.

Feel free to leave your squads below or if you have a different format for our curtain raiser, I would love to hear it!