THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

 
Dear WSC
I was on the Kop for the Liverpool v Manchester United FA Cup game and inadvertently found myself slap in the middle of a News of the World headline. As reported by that paper on the following Sunday, SICK and DISGUSTING fans brought SHAME on Liverpool FC by singing a celebratory lyric regarding John Arne Riise breaking Alan Smith’s leg to the tune of a recent popular record (I can’t remember its name, but it has Ooh-Ahh in the middle and the 11 to 16 age range love it). I would like to make three things clear to the News of the World journalist who reported this incident. First, it was a loud but small minority of fans who belted out the offending song; most ignored it, while others were shaking their heads sadly in disagreement with the sentiment expressed. Of course, shaking your head sadly, even by a group of people, can’t be heard across a football stadium. Second, there was no mention of Smith being applauded off by the Liverpool fans. This was a bit of an oversight, which I would put down to the tabloid practice of not letting detail or nuance interfere with damning judgment. Thirdly, I was only reading News of the World because I was hungover and couldn’t face the small writing in the broadsheets. As a postscript, the bloke who started the song off originally was only one seat to my right, one row behind me. I may already be being hunted down as an agent of SICKNESS and DISGUSTINGNESS by police who have trawled through CCTV footage of the crowd. And I didn’t even boo Gary Neville.
Rob Lawrence, via email

Dear WSC
Tuesday, February 21, 8.40pm. ITV1; Real Madrid v Arsenal. Half-time. Two besuited buffoons are pitchside, fervently agreeing with each other in front of two piles of photocopying. Why?
Alex Witts, via email

Dear WSC
When did spectators first stand up with their arms outstretched to indicate that an opposition shot had missed their team’s goal? It happens at every match I go to now, but despite being widespread I think it’s relatively new. Was it started by a TV show, in the way that the tiresome “Easy!” chants originated on Soccer AM? The arms-wide gesture is fair enough when a shot has ballooned over the bar, but it’s used all the time now, even for one that has just edged past the post. There should be a range of accepted gestures than can be used, a bit like the various umpires’ signals in cricket. Spectators would then be punished for making the wrong gesture, initially by being ejected from the ground and eventually by losing their season tickets. I’ll be giving this suggestion my approval with a thumbs up followed by a circle made with thumb and index finger.
Rob Weston, via email

Dear WSC
In Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italy cookbook, his recipe for prawn and parsley frittata contains the instruction to make sure the dish is not “absolutely mullered”. In view of your correspondent’s definition (Letters, WSC 229), when I make the dish in future I will ensure that the eggs are not comprehensively beaten in a surprising and unimaginative manner.
Andy Charles, via email

Dear WSC

When Chelsea went 2-0 up against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge recently, the Chelsea fans began singing “We shall not be moved”. This shows a staggering lack of understanding of their league position. Could I point out to them that as they were at least 15 points clear at the top of the league at that point, even a resounding Liverpool win wouldn’t have been enough to move them.
Dave Wallace, via email


Dear WSC
I’m sure I must be the 1,000th person to point this out but you seem to have confused the Gadaymak in your “Owning Up” article in WSC 229. The photo of the gentleman holding one end of the Portsmouth FC scarf with Milan Mandaric is Alexandre Gadaymak, not Arcadi. Arcadi Gadaymak does own Beitar Jerusalem but has nothing to do with his son’s involvement at Pompey. At least that’s what Alexandre says. And who are we to disbelieve him? If it’s good enough for Milan, it’s good enough for me.
Simon Melville, via email


Dear WSC

How about getting FIFA to change the offside rule to allow the most advanced forward to be in an offside position for up to six seconds? The rule would otherwise be unchanged and the linesman would flag when the forward over-stayed his time or as soon as a second forward broke the line. I think this would transfer the initiative clearly to the forwards and produce more exciting play, but would also still avoid the “goal-mooching” that the original rule intended to stamp out. They can name this rule after me if they want...
Ged Naughton, via email


Dear WSC

Reading the article in WSC 229 about teletext reminded me of the link I have so often made between teletext and luck. I am one of those sad armchair supporters who always wears my team’s colours at home when we (Manchester United, I’m afraid) are on TV, has a lucky seat (but stands up when we are not winning) or makes other members of my family sit in a particular place till the end of the game if we score. The power of Ceefax was demonstrated only the other week by the fact that after watching Teletext on ITV for the whole of the first half of the Blackburn game we were 3-1 down. Changing channels to Ceefax when the fourth went in led to a comeback to 4-3, but then I had to switch channels again to ITV and Rio Ferdinand got sent off. Surely no coincidence.
Graham Ayres, Walsall


Dear WSC

Drew Whitworth writes (Letters, WSC 229) in support of video evidence to prove if the ball has crossed the line in a goalscoring situation. I find it astonishing that anyone can support this. The game we love is being destroyed anyway without hastening its demise. Imagine the ball goes out for a throw-in. From the throw-in the ball does/does not cross the line, so bring on the video evidence. “Wait a minute – we gave the throw-in the wrong way! Now what!?” The point is that decisions go for and against every team – and this has worked for over a hundred years. The arguments for video evidence all relate to the financial implications. I couldn’t give a stuff and I am sure 99 per cent of all football fans could not. If my team attacks and the ball doesn’t cross the line but a goal is awarded and my team get promoted, I laugh and enjoy it. If the converse happens I go apoplectic, but eventually I get over it (and my team, Bristol City, have gone bust and suffered more than our share of relegations, so these sort of decisions do affect my team). It is part of the game – leave it alone, please.
Phil Edwards, Mark, Somerset

Dear WSC

Thank you for giving my book, True Colours, the opportunity to be reviewed in your magazine. However, after reading the incredulous lambasting the book received at the hands of Taylor Parkes I feel I have to respond. Some criticisms are justified – I would love to have included more teams and had in fact completed an additional ten club kit histories, but due to a strict page count imposed by the publishers it made sense to concentrate purely on the Premiership. However, instead I would like to concentrate on Mr Parkes’ major criticism – the lack of photographs. The main focus of the publication is on football kits – not players, not even teams – but football kits. If you want pictures of “muddy-arsed heroes” then buy one of the many other football history tomes that are out there. In presenting the kits, choices were made purely on showing the designs in the most attractive manner. I believe that the illustrative and graphic approach to showing these kits is by far the most effective and consistent way to present them to supporters. Information on the kit designs were gleaned from many sources – including grainy, blurred, tiny, black-and-white photos from early 1980s match-day programmes. Mr Parkes evidently knows very little about book design if he imagines a publication made up of such grubby, poor-quality images would be a glorious aesthetic delight. I am immensely proud of True Colours and have been delighted by the wonderful response the book has had. I am therefore disappointed that by printing this incredibly negative review, WSC has had no regard for the sheer amount of work, passion, patience and dedication I have put into this book, which attempts to detail a subject that has been at the cornerstone of football and yet has almost been completely ignored.
John Devlin, via email


Dear WSC

I, too, was at the Southend v Bradford game (Letters, WSC 229), although at the other end of the ground so I am not in a position to comment on the alleged racial abuse of Donovan Ricketts. However, one element of the incident’s aftermath has been completely overlooked, namely the performance of Dean Windass in goal. With no keeper on the bench, the rotund striker donned the gloves after Ricketts’s 34th-minute sending-off. Having seen him watch a free-kick drift over his head for Southend’s equaliser and sensing some fun and games (and TV exposure), my friends and I duly positioned ourselves right behind the goal Windass was defending for the second half. To our (and probably his) amazement, Dean kept a clean sheet in the second period, earning the Bantams an unlikely point in the process – him kicking the post before taking a goal-kick in the style of a proper keeper and then turning round to give us a big grin was just one of the many highlights of his performance. Given the amount of incident in the game, we were eagerly awaiting our appearance on Sky Sports News, Goals on Sunday and Football League Review. So imagine our surprise when the alleged racism incident was all but ignored and – much worse – the second-half achievements of Dean Windass were not acknowledged in the slightest. I really can’t see the point of blanket coverage of football if the quirky incidents that make the game what it is aren’t highlighted. Incidentally, to get into the away end at Roots Hall, you have to buy a ticket and then insert it into an automatic turnstile gate thing. What is the world coming to?
Wayne Sutcliffe, Shipley

Dear WSC

With reference to the grandstand at Wolverton being possibly the oldest in the country (WSC 229), I think you will find it’s the second oldest, the oldest being at Great Yarmouth’s Wellesley Road. According to the history page at yarmouthfc.tripod.com/id24.html, it was opened on June 11, 1892, making it at least seven years older than Wolverton and so possibly the oldest football stand in the world. It’s a grade II listed building and is still in use on match days.
Russell Driver, via email

Dear WSC

After Chelsea’s FA Cup tie against Cheltenham, Joe Cole said in an interview: “I’ve said it before – our lower league football is the best in the world.” How does he know? Has anyone ever seen him at Carlisle, or on a ground-hopping tour of the Ryman League? And presumably we only have Cole’s word on his detailed study of third and fourth tiers of German, Italian and Ecuadorian football. It’s an interesting idea, though, and maybe one of English football’s many boasts that might actually have some truth in it. Our overweight centre- forwards with two dicky knees are the finest in the world. And we’re also top-drawer when it comes to having a kickabout in a bus shelter after closing time with an empty fag packet.
Ken Monro, via email

Dear WSC

I notice the German FA has asked a number of English players – including Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand and David Beckham – to support a campaign to persuade visiting England fans at the World Cup not to sleep with prostitutes, get drunk or cause trouble. What was all that stuff about not having a sense of humour?
Barry Thornton, via email


Dear WSC
Why are people so excited about Arsenal being “the first English team to beat Real Madrid”? What exactly is English about the Arsenal team that took to the field in the Bernabéu? You could argue that it was in fact a defeat for English football, as both English starters finished on the losing side. Twenty-five years or so ago, when the European Cup only left England for the final venue and was then brought straight back again, I would support English teams in Europe as it was a test of English (or more correctly British) football against the different European styles of play. Nowadays, however, I find myself at best ambivalent to our European representatives and I’m offended by the assumption made by Sky and ITV than any Englishman watching must be rooting for the “English” side.
Sam Stringer, Woking

From WSC 230 April 2006. What was happening this month

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