THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Dear WSC
As an avid AFC Wimbledon fan, I was amazed at Robert Jeffrey’s article (WSC 212) which makes the club look like it is in a total mess with constant bickering and some pretty unpleasant fans and management running the club. I am not sure how we could have won 42 league games out of 46 if we were in such turmoil. Things are never perfect, but for goodness’ sake the feeling for the club has never been stronger or more positive, while suggesting we treated Kevin Cooper like Tottenham did Sol Campbell is such a disgraceful distortion. Plus rubbish like “We have, quite simply, forgotten how to be happy.” I know no one at the club who even feels vaguely the same way, so perhaps he should think of doing something else on his weekends as it won’t get any better than this.
Richard Brazier, via email

Dear WSC
Matthew Rudd’s comments (Letters, WSC 212) about Steve Foster turning down sponsorship of his headband are at odds with the story my mate Mike tells. Mike went to school with “Foz” and told me that the logo on Foster’s headband earned him more at the 1982 World Cup finals than the rest of the squad put to­gether. This, apparently, didn’t exactly endear him to his team-mates, especially as he only played in the Kuwait match. Maybe that is why Keegan missed the header against Spain...
Tim Manns, via email

Dear WSC
Advanced booking discounts now seem to be the norm at football clubs. Prog­rammes trumpet: “For those who buy in advance, our prices are unchanged from last season!” Whoopee! For everyone else they’ve leapt yet another £2 – even in the lower divisions. Why is this creeping in? Think about it. Paying on the gate involves a turnstile operator making one movement of a hand or foot to take the punter’s money. One click and you’re in. Advance booking involves phone calls, credit cards, printing tickets, sticking them in en­velopes and either posting them or holding them at the ticket office till the day of the game. The turnstile operator till has to click the button and tear the ticket. That can’t be cost effective, can it? Surely clubs are just hoping that hardly anyone books in advance, while allowing themselves the PR sheen of a positively Blairite “price freeze” which for many doesn’t exist. I live over 200 miles from my club – not much chance of nipping down in the lunch hour – and many  people don’t have credit cards. I don’t mind prices going up but I don’t like my  intelligence being insulted.
Kevin Ellis, Watford

Dear WSC
Sorry, Geoff Wallis (Letters, WSC 212), but Nottingham isn’t the smallest city  or town to host a European Cup or Champions League-winning side. As far as I am aware, this honour belongs to Eindhoven (pop 208,000) rather than Nottingham (pop 270,000).
Cal Slater, Hull

Dear WSC
Robert Jeffery’s excellent article on AFC Wimbledon (Dons Chaotic, WSC 212) contained one small but significant in­accuracy. The purchase of Kingsmeadow by AFC Wimbledon sadly did not get “Ks out of a financial hole”. In normal circumstances, maybe. But Ks’ circumstances ceased to be normal when we plummeted into administration in October 2001. April 2002 saw businessman Rajesh Khosla buy Kingsmeadow from the administrators for less than £500,000. Within a year he had sold the ground on to AFC Wimbledon for £2.4 million. Ks received none of the profit. Khosla’s proverbial back pocket was the sole  recipient. In the meantime, Khosla has promised to sell Ks to the supporters’ trust. And broken that promise. At the time of writing he is stalling on similar negotiations with a local businessman. While this has been going on, disaffected fans have deserted Ks, disillusioned by Khosla’s dithering (he’s admitted privately to a lack of interest in foot­- ball). Ks’ fear isn’t so much of being swallowed by the AFC juggernaut – as chairman of the Ks’ Trust, I can vouch for the acceptable way AFC have so far treated us – as being run into the ground by a money-grasping businessman whose claims to be the Ks’ saviour become more hollow by the day. Especially as he could almost live off the £9,000-per-month interest payments he receives having lent a football club the money to purchase their own ground last year. That club? AFC Wimbledon.
Mark Murphy, Chessington

Dear WSC
The multimillionaire Roy Keane holds obvious admiration for Paul Gascoigne, Wayne Rooney and “a young Ryan Giggs”, but it is bizarre that he names them as the only three players he would actually pay to watch. This from a strong critic of the “prawn sandwich brigade” who treat football as such a luxury. Just supposing – just supposing – that the romantic Irishman was on holiday with his wife in Paris and had the chance to see France play Wales there. “Are Gazza or Rooney playing?” he might ask her, arms folded like a kid, before he considers buying their tickets. “How about a young Ryan Giggs? Just the current Ryan Giggs? Fine. Well, you won’t get me there for love nor money.”
Joe Hockney, Sheffield

Dear WSC
Like many football fans over recent years, I have become very disillusioned by players kissing the badge on their shirts to try to show some kind of loyalty to a club and the fans. How refreshing, then, to witness Mark Viduka celebrating his first goal for Middlesbrough at the Riverside on Match of the Day by kissing the sponsor’s logo. Leaving fans in no doubt now where his allegiance lies.
John Hague, Leicester

Dear WSC
Looking at the Shot! feature in WSC 212, I tried to decipher the scrawl noted down by Leic­­ester boss Micky Adams on his notepad. I was intrigued to learn just what a manager under pressure writes to motivate his team during the half-time team talk or to refer to for future games. Unfortunately, after much screwing up of eyes and use of a magnifying glass, I can only make out the three-word phrase as “Scary Big Diaginal”, which is a tactic I must admit I’ve never heard of – at the very least, it sounds like a child’s first impression of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Is this Micky’s answer to an instant return to the Prem? Do any other WSC readers have any idea what this refers to?
Graeme Coleman, via email

Dear WSC
In response to the letter in WSC 212, Charlie Oatway was named after players in QPR’s first-team squad when he was born in 1973. Confusingly, his names aren’t in team order, so the first one, Anthony, is for central defender Tony Hazell, while the goalkeeper Phil Parkes appears second. The manager Gordon Jago is in there too. “Charlie” is itself a nickname. However, his last two names, Stephen and James, are something of a mystery as there was no one with either first name at QPR at the time, unless they refer to coach Steve Burtenshaw and chairman Jim Gregory.
Tony Pulford, via email

Dear WSC
I’m sorry, but I’m not prepared to tell Jeff Moffat who Charlie Oatway is named after (Letters, WSC 212). He’ll just have to work it out himself (big clue: Oatway was born in Hammersmith in 1973). Next he’ll be writing in asking which is the highest ground in England. I dunno, kids of today. I really can’t believe those A level results, you know.
Robin Pearson, Isleworth

Dear WSC
It looks as though the popular myth that Alan Smith’s poor goalscoring record at Leeds was due to him playing mostly in midfield has spread to the current king of strikers Alan Shearer. That is if Philip Cornwall’s review of the 1991-92 season (WSC 212) is anything to go by. Alan’s paltry 23 goals in 118 appearances for Southampton can be put down to the fact he started his Saints first-team career as a 17-year-old (albeit with a hat-trick) and spent most of those 118 games learning his trade and performing the donkey work for Paul Rideout, Rodney Wallace and MLT, often as part of a 4-2-4 formation. However, in none of those 118 games did England’s finest ever play in midfield, he simply was not a prolific goalscorer until he went to Blackburn.
Adrian Chesney, Southampton

Dear WSC
Further to The Strange Case of Chris­topher Wreh (WSC 212), the one-time Double winner is now playing for Buck­ingham Town. But he’s still not fit.
Andrew Desmond, Milton Keynes

Dear WSC
In reply to Geoff Wallis’s letter in WSC 212 concerning Nottingham Forest’s un­beaten run of the late Seventies, all I can say is that Geoff was either not around himself at the time and so has resorted to the record books to make his case, or else he is viewing that period of time with Forest-red coloured spectacles. Without in any way wishing to deride the achievements of that Forest run, as someone who lived in the Nottingham area at the time I am sure I am not the only one who remembers Forest’s performances towards the end of their record-breaking marathon. Then they only seemed to have the unbeaten record as their aim and seemed to totally forget that they should be  trying to win matches rather than simply avoiding defeat – something that could well have cost them a second successive championship. There is simply no comparison to the current Arsenal side’s cavalier ap­proach to every league match.
Simon Lane, via email

Dear WSC
I have a couple of thoughts on Sir Bobby Robson’s departure following your editorial in WSC 212. I don’t like Freddie Shepherd and he probably doesn’t care. But everyone with whom I share a ridiculous loyalty to Newcastle believes Sir Bobby should have gone before the be­ginning of last season. Our tactics have been impenetrable for 18 months. His defence of them beyond belief. It was time he became a legend. Any other employer would have peddled Kieron Dyer. He can only go no­where quickly. In 30 years of watching Newcastle not win things, we have never had a player so consistently over-rated; who seems to have persuaded the press and the England coach he is worth the bother. He doesn’t score goals, he doesn’t make goals and he cannot tackle. He contributes nada to the team and he is an embarrassment to the city. We do have a squad that contains some good players: Given, Bernard, Hughes, Butt, Milner, Carr, Bowyer. We have some who might yet make it: Jenas, Bellamy, Ambrose, Bramble. We have the obligatory Newcastle enigmas (Laurent Robert as Jimmy Smith and Shola Ameobi as Tino Asprilla). And we have one great player who retires this year. Without Alan Shea­rer, we would have been relegated twice under Sir Bobby. Robson has reached that point of venerability when his eccentricities are view­ed fondly by the British public, a bit like the Duke of Edinburgh. But in the small part of Britain where the bizarre nature of the club we support has allowed New­castle fans to see almost everything football has to offer, there is still a clearer eye and a longer memory. No squad discipline, training reduced to a joke, a weak coaching staff, favourites given a shirt time after time, grudges borne and a collection of individuals who no more re­semble a team than the Tory Party. After five years we have come full circle. Again. When you speak of Shepherd’s handling of this, think about whether Sir Bobby might have been offered the chance to resign; and remember how Kev­in Keegan’s removal from the Eng­land team was handled. What was that about living by swords?
Paul Hanson, via email

Dear WSC
Does anyone else find Sky Sports’ new promos for their live games annoying? No mention of a Premiership team is complete without a snatch of Martin Tyler screaming the name of one of their players in coital ecstasy. As in: “Tomorrow on Sky Sports 1 Chelsea (DROGBA!!) take on Spurs (DEFOE!!) while Liverpool (GERRARD!!) travel to Manchester United (KEANE!!).” Sky appear to have decided that people who watch their programmes need shouted subtitles to help them understand what they’re being told. For the sake of consistency this should go further: “Super Sunday on Sky Sports (POW­ER-MAD AUSTRALIAN MEDIA OLIGARCH!!) presented by Richard Keys (HAIRY HANDS!!) and Andy Gray (SHOUTS A LOT!! WHY?).” It’s almost enough to make you turn over and watch the Tory Party Conference (HOWARD!!).
George Bone, via email

From WSC 213 November 2004. What was happening this month

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