With the two clubs meeting on Monday evening it’s worth looking back at a cult figure who was the the patron saint of bad-boy, and is the subject of a new book
8 December ~ Sean Morrison, once of Reading and now of Cardiff, will be back at the Madejski Stadium on Monday night for the televised Championship match. He’ll probably be regaled with a chant about an occasion when, to put it gently, he was “caught short”.
Oddly Robin Friday, also once of Reading and Cardiff in the mid-1970s, never had such a song about his many and allegedly far more outrageous exploits. It was a different media age back then, black-and-white, analogue and still.
Despite all that, Friday somehow became the patron saint of bad-boy, maverick lower-division footballers, a cult figure commented on internationally and the subject of a possible Hollywood film. How that happened, and how much of it is true, is addressed in The Legend of Robin Friday by WSC regular and Reading fan, Roger Titford.
Here’s an extract:
“One striking phenomenon is the sheer modernity of aspects of Robin Friday’s behaviour. If Martin Peters was famously ten years ahead of his time on the pitch, Robin was 30 years ahead of his off the pitch. He dressed for effect and to shock – satin suits and lizard print shirts. He wore an ear-ring and bore tattoos a whole generation before both became almost de rigueur in the Premier League.
He kissed men in public, mockingly of course, but team-mates, opponents, even bystanding coppers behind the goal were not out of bounds to him. As a package all of that would make him edgy and hot news even now. He spent his first close season as a pro in a hippy commune in Cornwall. He was a pioneer in ways that connect him attitudinally to some of the younger T-shirt market who never got to see him play but are happy to bear his philosophy on their chests.
If he was that far ahead of his time how did he thrive back then even for just a few short years? Truth be told, The Man was off his watch, The Man was asleep at the wheel, The Man didn’t give a toss during those same years. The mid-1970s was an extraordinarily weak time for Authority. It had simply ebbed away.
It was not just Robin who could get away with what he wanted. Take 1976, his peak year. It felt like one careless holiday that you weren’t forced to come home from. Over at Crystal Palace manager Malcolm Allison had guided them to two successive relegations but still thought it was fine to have an actress/model Fiona Richmond photographed naked with the team in the team bath.”