THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Dear WSC
The Bristol City player captioned in the picture on page 32 of WSC 194 is Danny Coles and not Louis Carey as stated. Should you be inundated with correspondence from City fans claiming you should take note of his face as you’ll be see­ing it playing for some Premiership outfit in the near future, fear not. He’s the usual average journeyman the academy turns out.
Tony Rogers, via email

Dear WSC
I am amused to discover that I am now being used as a benchmark of statto-ness in the WSC letters page (WSC 194). I therefore feel compelled, in a staunch rear­guard defence of my anorak, to say that I am right about the whole Cruyff turn v Sweden thing. Of course, Johan was fairly good at it, so I’m sure he tried it out many a time, against all sorts of opponents. Still, the footage where the guy in blue ends up on his arse is against Sweden. Now, I was three at the time, so didn’t see it live, but I don’t need to rely on my own memory. I would simply point you in the direction of WSC ’s very own Cris Freddi and his books on the history of the World Cup. Cris says it was Sweden, so that is good enough for me.
Tristan Browning, Reading

Dear WSC
In response to Darren Fellows (Letters, WSC 194) it is also the same Ronnie Moore who in Rotherham’s 21st league fixture of last season did see Christian Negouai’s blatant hand ball “goal” for Man City in a game we lost 2-1. Had TV replays been in use then it wouldn’t have stood (the referee later apologised to Rotherham for missing it) and we would have had the point that eventually kept us up. Equally, Crewe’s failure to stop up had little to do with our point at West Brom and more to do with their failure to win any of the five games in hand they had on us towards the end of the season. So maybe Ronnie’s “crusade” for TV replays isn’t quite so disingenuous as Darren wishes it to be, or is it because West Brom have had precious few opportunities to invoke the need for cameras this season?
Phil Kyte, via email

Dear WSC

Something has been bugging me for ages. Why does Frank Lampard run around with his thumbs sticking up in the air? Does it help him get box-to-box any faster? We all know he has a “great engine” so maybe it’s all in the thumbs? The only other person I’ve seen do it was our captain at school and he was a bit of a tosser. Got him a trial with Blackburn, though, so maybe that was where I went wrong.
Phil Robbins, via email

Dear WSC
In his tribute to the bearded one, Barney Ronay (WSC 194) overlooked Jimmy Hill’s greatest football accomplishment, as writer of a hit single. In 1971, London Weekend TV’s The Big Match, with Jimmy and Brian Moore, ran a competition for viewers to write a song for Arsenal for the Cup final. For some yet to be explained reason, none of the entries seemed to meet their demanding standards, so Jimmy decided to write the lyrics to what became Good Old Arsenal himself. Not really a Shakespearean effort, but recorded by good old Charlie and his team-mates it entered the charts at number 16 on May 6, 1971 and remains a Higbury favourite to this day. Surely his most important contribution to the game as we know it today.
Nick Kates, Ontario, Canada

Dear WSC
One glaring omission from Jimmy Hill’s CV (WSC 194) was ensuring the survival of Fulham, firstly by getting together the consortium then by his support – in time and money – of Fulham 2000, the supporters’ campaigning and fund-raising organisation. Without him there would have been no club for Mr Fayed to save.  Talking of which, re: “Friendly Fulham, eh?” (Letters, WSC 194). In spite of sinking £100 million-plus into the club, the chairman has recently suffered absue from a (small) section of the Back to the Cottage campaign. In the circumstances, the “suited female FFC employee, pointing her clipboard like a Kalashnikov” maybe had a point; at most she was perhaps a little over-zealous...
Eva Tenner, London W12

Dear WSC
It failed to escape my notice that shortly after announcing that there were no fund­ing problems with their beleaguered but beloved Wembley project, the FA also announced that they had changed their minds and would now consider allowing a suitable club to pay to use it as their home ground. So, absolutely no rats to be smelled there then, but it seems that Arsenal are the most wanted tenants and this raises a different issue. If the Premiership’s top club were to take up residence at the new national stadium, then where would all the cup finals be played? It seems silly to have a national stadium and host finals elsewhere but surely it would be wrong to give the Gunners home advantage in such games. Perhaps the best solution is to offer Wembley to Spurs instead so that the problem doesn’t arise.
Mick Blakeman, Wolverhampton

Dear WSC
Dominic Haughton needs to leave his study of Spanish behind and concentrate on Latin (Letters, WSC 194). Vomitorios in Spanish is also easily recognised in Eng­lish. It’s called a Vomitorium and your local ground will have several (if they have a stand with a safety certificate that is), being the stairwell exits from the stands. The Latin derivation of vomit actually means to “rush out” so that makes sense too. The more unpleasant attributes of the word are entirely of our own making.
Robert Bracegirdle, Rothley

Dear WSC
While I’d agree with those who argue there is too much football on television these days, I think they are missing the real reason why. There simply aren’t enough commentary cliches to go round. During the Arsenal v Roma clash, we were informed that we had “two of the hairiest goalkeepers in the Champions League on the pitch tonight”. Then we were treated to “for a minute I thought Jeffers was going to go down there... he got foxy in the box on Saturday”. And as the final whistle approached, there was still time for “the Swiss referee, who should have a good watch, decides on how much time to add on”. The BBC should go the whole hog and get David Brent “in the box” for the FA Cup final.
Steve Lowes, via email

Dear WSC
Following on from Jon Wainwright’s letter on Wayne Wanklyn, (WSC 194) we Barnet fans are privileged to have among our ranks a young exciting footballer, with legs so bandy he couldn’t stop a pig in a passage, by the name of Toby Oshitola. I would also like to throw this letter open to readers to help us come up with a song for our young midfielder, Bai Mass Lette Jellow.
James Castle, via email

Dear WSC
In his article on non-league football Pyramid Scheming (WSC 194), John Carter asks: “What kind of a league depends for it’s survival on one or two well supported clubs just passing through?” Could I suggest – the SPL?
Mark Lewsey, Glasgow

Dear WSC

Reading the extract from Football Confidential 2 (WSC 194) got me thinking. While I’m not a supporter of any of the clubs whose managers were named as ProActive shareholders, I find it hard to see why “supporters would be... more concerned than anyone else” or, indeed, that there would be any great conflict of interest at all, for two reasons. Firstly I have to agree with the ProActive chief executive Paul Stretford when he says that “the sole reason for people taking players is what they do on the pitch”. At the risk of sounding naive, I find it hard to believe that a manager would buy or sell a player purely because they have shares in that player’s agent. After all, if a managers buying and selling weakened the team they would be risking the sack. Besides, Manchester City and Blackburn don’t seem to have suffered from the purchases of Schmeichel and Cole, despite the percieved conflict of interests in Keegan and Souness owning Pro­Active shares. Clubs complain about ag­ents unsettling their players, so you’d think they would be more concerned than anyone about this. But, in the case of Black­burn at least, they’re not. Secondly, I find it hard to understand why the writers seem to frown on the managers who have held on to their shares rather than selling them and eliminating any conflict of interest. The article names ten managers as being past or present shareholders in ProActive, and tells us that only Sam Allardyce and Peter Reid have sold their shares. The tone with which the writers describe Martin O’Neill’s failure to do likewise suggests that those who have kept their shares (and bought ProActive players) are in the wrong because, as shareholders, they would have benefited personally from any transfers. Surely they have got this the wrong way round. You don’t make money from shares simply by holding on to them – the only way to benefit financially is by selling them. If a manager/shareholder sold his shares immediately after completing a big-money transfer deal, there would be a very obvious conflict of interests. But Keegan and Souness haven’t done this. Allardyce and Reid have sold their shares and are actually the only two to make any money (presuming they sold them at a profit).
Joe Newman, Brighton

Dear WSC
I was disappointed with the opening paragraph on the otherwise excellent feature on the terraces at Leyton Orient that are about to be developed into a seated area (WSC 194).  Tom Davies wrote that “the campaign for the retention or return of terraces had aimed their fire too narrowly”. We have never campaigned for the return or retention of terraces, but for the introduction of small safe standing areas that can convert to seated areas as seen in stadiums across Europe, particularily in Germany. To give you an example, SAFE (Standing Areas For England) actively supports the Back to the Cottage camapign organised by Fulham fans. We believe that fans should be allowed to continue to stand at the Cottage – but only if the terraces are upgraded into standing/seated areas described above. We believe that fans should have the choice as to how they view a game, provided the area they are in is safe enough to do so. Once in a standing area, again, fans have a choice as to either engaging in partisan passion or standing quietly with friends – and having the occasional moan, of course...
Phill Gatenby, SAFE Spokesperson

Dear WSC
I should point out that Enfield supporters have not in fact “done a Wimbledon” as reported in WSC 194 in the sense that their breakway club, Enfield Town, was formed in 2001, a year before the uphea­vals at Wimbledon. Enfield Town are currently surging on at the top of the Essex Senior League while the “rump” Enfield struggle, often with gates of less than 100, near the foot of the Ryman Premier.
Ken Monro, via email

Dear WSC
After West Brom’s 1-1 draw at home to Bolton, I was taken aback by Gary Megson’s relaxed attitude towards the team’s failure to secure all three points. He pointed out a number of extenuating factors of which we supporters were largely ignorant, ie Danny Dichio was being sick even as they left the dressing room, Lee Hughes had been suffering with flu and Phil Gilchrist was in consid­erable pain with a foot injury. All things taken into consideration, it became a point gained rather than two lost. But this set me thinking as to why we fans shouldn’t be given this information before the match. It would elicit a much more sympathetic response from the crowd, because who is going to criticise a player who is obviously doing well just to be standing upright? It would also provide useful information to the TV pundits. So why not use the electronic scoreboard to relay this to us alongside the team announcements? Some of the excuses and explanations trotted out by managers after the game would make much better entertainment than two blokes running around in fluffy bird costumes.
Amanda Hume, via email

Dear WSC
Re: Joe Gallagher’s letter in WSC 194, the mess on the front of Premiership players’ shirts had been exercising my thoughts for some time until I was given the benefit of a glimpse at the dressing room of Leicester City in a pre-match corporate tour a few seasons ago. Laid out on the players’ table alongside energy bars, Lucozade isotonic pouches, Gatorade etc (and, peculiarly, the biggest bowl of jelly babies you’ve ever seen ) were several industrial-sized jars of Vick’s vapour rub. As a long-standing Arsenal fan, I can trace the appearance of the sticky mess to the arrival of our overseas players en masse from late 1990s. I had no idea that Vick’s was such an international remedy, though I do have a concern that so many bronchially-challenged individuals choose to follow the path of professional footballing athlete. On the basis that our manager’s first name relates to the name of this glorious club, I’ve assumed that AFC kit manager Vic Akers had something to do with its introduction. It set me thinking about other footballers who might have a link to this phenomenon: Karvol Poborsky, perhaps or Olbas Gunnar Solskjaer?
John Griffin, Norwich

Dear WSC

Can someone explain to me the use of the word “mathematically” in a footbal­ling sense as in, for example, Mick McCarthy’s recent pronouncement that Sunderland will keep on fighting while it is mathematically possible for them to stay up? My problem with this is that I am unaware of any algebraic, geometric or trig­onometric issues which affect the relegation zone. As points earned and goal difference, the two factors which could af­fect matters, are calculated by simple addition and subtraction, should the phrase not be “arithmetically” possible for Sunderland to stay up, regardless of how unlikely a scenario this may be? It may be that I have missed the point and that Kevin Phillips could slip a sneaky wee Pythagoras’ Theorem into the works as Sunderland beat Fulham by Pi to Cosine. However, I may be going off on a tangent here.
Alistair Moffat, via email

Dear WSC
Presumably referring to his side’s bid to make the top four in the Premiership, Claudio Ranieri recently stated that he was “sick of watching the Champions League on the TV”. In fact, I wonder if the real reason behind this was the fact that he can’t stand the ITV coverage? Take David Pleat for example. While co-commentating this sea­son he has mispronounced almost every player in the competition, including Dabidas (Dabizas), Yimmynez (Jim­enez) and Yarvey (Xavi). This, of course, from the man who in 1997-98 brought us Ginola and Gillespie (with the Irishman given the same pronunciation of his “Gi” as his Gallic team-mate). Then there are the commentators, all vying to eclipse Barry Davies in the pomposity stakes and, it has to be said, succeeding. Am I the only person who wants to be physically sick every time I heard Peter Drury’s voice?
Keith Watson, Washington

From WSC 195 May 2003. What was happening this month

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