Dear WSC
The revival of Lok Leipzig as detailed in your Germany supplement (WSC 231) is not quite the heart-warming story it might appear to be. FC United have been asked to play Lok in a friendly soon, but they are having reservations about doing so. The main problem centres on the fact that Lok’s support contains a significant fascist element. This is sadly not a new development in the region – extreme right politics have long been seen as a form of rebellion by disaffected youth in the former East Germany. However, there is little sign that the club themselves recognise this as a problem. The fact that Lok’s owner, now a successful businessman, was once the leader of the club’s hooligan fringe (albeit not a neo-Nazi) does not encourage hopes that steps will be taken to discourage the boneheads. As I understand it, the consensus in Manchester is that FC United will play in Leipzig but only if they are able to use the occasion to draw attention to grassroots anti-fascist campaigns in the former DDR. Whether this will be acceptable to the Lok leadership remains to be seen.
Tony Barraclough, via email

Dear WSC
Further to recent comments on the letters page about Steve Bruce’s resemblance to a dinner lady, it strikes me that another current Premiership manager would seems ideally suited to a different line of work. With his stiff demeanour and strangulated way of speaking, Glenn Roeder could easily pass for the put-upon boss of a haulage business, often seen pacing around the main gate of the retail park with his clipboard in hand, fretting over the late arrival of a truckload of pallets and exchanging sarky banter with the security guard – “What about your Hammers last night, then? Bloody rubbish, mate...”
Graham Kaye, Wrexham

Dear WSC
Did anybody else notice that the squirrel that starred in Arsenal’s last European match at Highbury, against Villarreal, was of the foreign, grey variety of the species and not the under-threat of extinction, native to our shores, red variety. Funny, that...
Simon Clarke, Hove

Dear WSC

I scarcely listen to Five Live as I can’t stand their constant attitude of smug superiority (especially since their major rival is far better) but I did pay a rare visit to listen to the Chelsea v Liverpool semi while driving home from watching TNS play Llanelli. I believe that voice and pronunciation coaches are included in the BBC’s staff of thousands. Is there not one – just one – who could tell the expert Chris Waddle then when the ball is kicked at goal after a foul inside the 18-yard box, or in a shootout after 120 minutes, it is called a “penalty”, not a “pelanty”? Most of us grew out of that at the age of six, but then most of us don’t get paid to watch football matches...
Glyn Berrington, via email


Dear WSC

It’s funny Steve Lowes should jokingly query “Do they have cash machines in Shipley?” (Letters, WSC 231). I decided to take the train from Shipley for Grimsby’s game at Carlisle a few weeks back. After shelling out 30 quid in notes and shrapnel for the return ticket, I was left with nothing in my pocket to buy a typically overpriced drink on the train up. I inquired of the bloke in the ticket office: “Where’s the nearest cash machine, please?” After a second’s pause he looked up and said quizzically “Cash machine?” as if such a thing was beyond comprehension and existence. So, Steve, you might have been joking, but that clearly suggests to me that they don’t have cash machines in Shipley. No laughing matter when your day’s first cup of tea comes some six hours after waking up, when you reach the modernist haven that is Carlisle.
Simon Wilson, Rodley, West Yorks


Dear WSC

Nigel Power (Letters, WSC 231) said my suggested changes to the offside rule would bring chaos, as if the offside rule wasn’t chaotic already. Around a third of any offside decisions in any match you’d care to watch (I’ve been checking) are wrong either in the letter or spirit of the law. I agree six seconds might be too long, but if the assistant ref paused for two seconds before raising his flag it would certainly give the attacker the benefit of the doubt, while still stopping any player from goal-hanging. The linesman could say to himself “Only a fool breaks the Naught-on-side rule” before raising his flag, as a way of ensuring a brief pause in the attacker’s favour. Maybe it’s the name that’s bothering Nigel, so in a gesture of magnanimity I’m prepared to let FIFA vote on whether to call it after me or name it something dull like Power Play” instead.
Ged Naughton, via email


Dear WSC

Given that British teams have won the Champions League only twice since it began and have generally fared pretty miserably, how come our TV studios seem to have a monopoly on the trophy itself? The Champions League semis were a case in point. ITV had it positioned grandly in front of the gallant Gabby in Milan, while the following night saw it miraculously sitting next to assorted pundits (sorry, their names escape me) in the box at Highbury. It’s always on British TV. This raises a number of important questions. Did Lennart Johansson take pity on us and write a clause into the rules that allowed us to have it as we have no chance of winning the darn thing? Will this be rescinded if Arsenal win it? Is there a free-for-all after each game as Johnny Foreigner tries to wrest it off our heroes?
Simon Taylor, London N5

Dear WSC

Your correspondent Alun Thomas (Letters, WSC 231) claims to have witnessed “something historic” on Match of the Day. Something truly historic would be any game involving Fulham not being last in the queue, every week.
Mike Waring, via email


Dear WSC

I was wondering whether any readers could shed some light on why the otherwise rather brutish looking John Terry insists on wearing his socks over the knees like a pair of ladies’ hold-up tights. Could it be that he is attempting to bring greater meaning to the traditional use of the word “stockings”? Or perhaps it more likely reflects the Chelsea squad’s predilection for female grooming. Any answers gratefully received. 
Matthew Holt, via email

Dear WSC
Two weeks ago I was on the M25 listening to a BBC Southern Counties radio phone-in when a Brighton fan expressed hope for the escape from relegation through the loan signing of Gifton Noel-Edmonds. What a combination of skill and irritation for any defence.
John Townsend, via email

Dear WSC

Regarding predictions (Editorial, WSC 231), you do yourselves a disservice. I distinctly recall someone predicting in the pages of WSC that Conference play-off winners Carlisle looked better equipped for League Two than champions Barnet and have kept a careful eye on developments ever since. Hey presto. Mind you, I’m the man who pointed out in 2002 that France only win the World Cup in years when Arsenal do the Double.
Paul Smith, via email


Dear WSC

With regard to Eddie Kernaghan’s letter in WSC 231 asking when goalkeepers started coming up for last-minute set pieces, I think the process began when keepers advanced out of their area to take free-kicks. Wimbledon’s Dave Beasant was one of the early exponents, launching the ball “into the mixer” from midway inside his own half. Once it had been established that it was possible for a goalkeeper to move up the pitch without becoming disoriented or hysterical, it was only a matter of time before they began appearing in opposition penalty areas. This still doesn’t explain why Stuart Pearce thought David James could function as an emergency centre- forward in that Man City v Middlesbrough game last season, however.
Tim Weaver, via email

Dear WSC

I read the news of Graeme Le Saux’s departure from the BBC, unsure as to whether or not it was an April fool. Regardless of Mr Le Saux’s feelings on the matter, my concern is that someone in a position of great authority on the BBC payroll has decided that John Motson and Mark Lawrenson are the very best that the corporation has to offer. No wonder people are going over to Sky. Motson shows increasing evidence of failing eyesight with every game. Every week on Match of the Day, he makes incorrect calls – sometimes correcting himself after three or four replays, sometimes not even realising. He has been a wonderful servant to football but he is not a sacred cow and someone needs to gently nudge him aside. As for Lawrenson, I am starting to think that his weak puns and sly winks to camera are being encouraged as part of what the BBC perceive to be his “unique charm”. Does no one coach the pundits after an edition of Match of the Day? Does no one sit them through a video of the show, slowing it down and pointing out areas for improvement? For God’s sake, does no one grab Lawrenson and shake him, shouting: “You’re not funny! Please stop talking!” I have to turn down the volume and put my radio on. I realise that pundits need to have their personality and image to make them stand out from all the other talking heads, but Lawrenson’s on-screen persona is not unique, he has simply become a composite of everyone’s grandad. The BBC has been very fortunate to keep the rights to the World Cup, with the government’s protectionist “reserved” list of events. I consider the low and lowering quality of their presentation to be an abuse of that privilege. Sky’s coverage is far from perfect but there is an underlying professionalism running through it, a quality that, in the last couple of seasons, has been disappearing from the BBC’s coverage.
Gareth Allen, Normanton


Dear WSC
I have a confession: despite being a West Brom fan, I haven’t been to The Hawthorns since the 0-0 draw with Fulham early this season. However, there are certain mitigating circumstances – all right, one. We’re rubbish. Truly rubbish. The kind of dreadfulness that makes you read the match report and notice that your team is mentioned somewhere around paragraph nine with “hapless” or “hopeless” prefacing its name. It’s demoralising. Bryan Robson (and a gleam-domed accountant named Jeremy Peace) have worked an effect on me similar to that of kryptonite on Superman. They have combined to suck out all the thrills, potential and opportunity a second term in the Premiership has offered by creating a void of uselessness and mediocrity. But I await the inevitable slew of pundits who’ll slip a comforting arm around our Bryan, soothe his brow and completely ignore the fact that he has played a large part in the transformation of Albion’s season from one of promise into a carnival of capitulation. Poor players are always fair game for a journalistic slapping, but poor managers are protected by the consoling sympathy of the hack columnist, who draws a discreet veil over the destruction they’ve wreaked. When bad managers leave their jobs, they can move on to the co-summarising seat alongside Alan Green or the MOTD sofa opposite Gary Lineker, blithely commenting on managers who are doing much better than they are. A glum-faced Robson mumbling away next to Lawro on a Saturday night while a good manager steered West Brom much more convincingly through a tricky Premiership season would have been a nice alternative. But it seems that Mr R is, as I write, being given an undeserved chance to “meet the challenge” of our forthcoming Championship campaign. So the chance to do something more constructive with a few spare tenners than subsidise his spineless brand of football will no doubt suggest itself come next season.
Ian Hall, via email

From WSC 232 June 2006. What was happening this month

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