Jon Harrison is probably correct about Bruce Rioch peaking in the Derby side of 1975 (Letters, WSC 158), but his recollection of Don Masson suggests his memory is as ropey as Ken Gall’s. Masson wasn’t playing for the Rams in 1975. His best season was 75-76 as a pivotal member of the QPR side which came within 14 minutes of the title. His clever passes (usually to Don Givens) were as familiar as the skills of Bowles and Francis and the pace of Dave Thomas. Older Rs fans who have witnessed the Stamford Bridge transformation with dismay can’t see the glory days ever returning to Loftus Road, especially after Bruce Rioch left his mark with Stewart Houston.
Colin Baker, Sutton
Poor Anthony Knight (Letters, WSC 158). Despite being a long-term season ticket-holder at Crystal Palace, his amnesia, obviously brought on by his club’s pitiful financial state, has conveniently allowed him to forget the late 1980s and early 1990s. This was when Palace were playing host to Wimbledon’s predecessors as tenants at Selhurst Park, namely Charlton Athletic. Anthony is quick to bemoan the vulture-like fashion in which clubs such as Charlton, Portsmouth and Millwall have descended upon the cash-stricken Eagles to pick up players on the cheap in order that Attilio Lombardo’s wages may continue to be paid, once the gate receipts have stopped trickling in. It is therefore surprising that Anthony neglects to recall how this trend has gone on for a lot longer than that. For example, John Humphrey was virtually given to Palace for nothing in lieu of back rent owed by Charlton to the benevolent Ron Noades back in 1990. Ron and his cohorts, not satisfied with merely gnawing at the carcass, returned to plunder Darren Pitcher four years later, again for a derisory sum.
You’re right, Anthony – what goes around, comes around.
Ian Cartwright, London SE12
While I don’t disagree with Gordon Taylor in WSC 158 when he calls for full-time referees, I do take exception to the fact that he singles out schoolteaching as his example. I would have thought a profession where you’re dealing with 20-odd spoilt, petulant, argumentative individuals, some of whom are intent on getting away with breaking rules and refusing to accept they are at fault, would be the ideal preparation for being a referee. The lack of support teachers receive from some parents exactly mirrors the attitude of Arsène Wenger et al. Finally, since the banning of corporal punishment, teachers are used to having the minor threats of lines or sending someone out of the lesson as a punishment. Just like yellow and red cards. What football needs is a crack squad of really hard PE teachers, the sort who’ll teach the overpaid stars a lesson in how to behave. Mind you, it would be a good idea to recruit them from tough inner-city comprehensives and not la-di-da public schools like, er, Harrow.
Michael Atkin, Sidcup
Crystal Palace have massive debts. The club may fold within weeks, if not days. A buyer may not be found. Crystal Palace supporters have formed a trust to buy the club and save it. They have the backing of the government, local MPs, Croydon Council and all the Palace fans’ organisations. The CPST is being held up as a model for other clubs’ supporters to follow. Given the above, wouldn’t you expect to receive the support of the Task Force chairman and self-proclaimed “voice of the fans”, through his 5 Live radio show, and weekly column in London’s Evening Standard? Sadly, David Mellor lives down to his reputation. Twice, Trust organisers have called Mellor’s show to explain what the Trust is, how it will work and our aims, only to be continually interrupted and dismissed by the host. Then, in his next newspaper column, Mellor states he is fed up with Palace fans – we’re too middle-class (we’ll hold sherry parties to save the club, apparently), not radical enough and deserve to fail. Middle-class? I suppose, compared to a Cambridge-educated QC and former Tory MP, we are. Perhaps he’d like us to revert to the old ways of protest, with baseball bats and broken windows. Anyway, about 2,000 Palace fans were conservative enough to acclaim Mellor a wanker at a public meeting in March. Palace fans face a mountainous task to save their club. We need all the help we can get. The voters of Putney decided they’d had enough of this buffoon. Football doesn’t, and never has needed, Mellor. His “radical” views should no longer be given a pulpit on Radio 5 Live or in the press.
Mark Gardiner, Palace Independent Supporters Association
I thought someone else would comment on your survey of Lancashire clubs (WSC 157) and your welcome remarks on my old home town side, Stockport County. However (a pedant writes), Stockport is in Cheshire, not Lancashire, so must be included with all those Premiership sides like Tranmere, Chester, and Macclesfield.
Robert Bracegirdle, via email
Football myth No 8 is reproduced in the Diary entry for February 19 (WSC 158). Contrary to folklore, Jermaine Wright is not related to the more famous Ian Wright. Jermaine said so in an interview in Wolves’ matchday magazine. Graham Taylor brought him to Wolves from some obscure London club (might have been Palace). He was later offloaded to Crewe by Mark McGhee, probably for blatantly showing potential talent or some equally serious misdemeanour.
Mark Danks, Lichfield
I would like to congratulate the scouting staff at Derby County for their perspicacity in spotting Malcolm Christie stacking shelves at a supermarket and concluding he was better suited to a career as a Premiership striker. It occurs to me that by changing careers he has created a vacancy. I have a broad experience of watching strikers who could ably fill Mr Christie’s former position and wonder if any leading supermarket chain would like me to act for them in a scouting capacity?
Damon Green, East Dulwich
Had Eddie Edwards (Letters, WSC 158) not been put off buying the book by my ignorance of chemistry he would have read in the authors’ notes to Rusting Tin & Shiny Plastic that Roger Titford “looks forward to spending the rest of his life being told that tin doesn’t, in fact, rust”. It’s the penalty of doing the marketing before the research!
Roger Titford, via email
Welcome as it is to read about Scottish football, do you think you could get someone to do more than regurgitate misinformation from the Daily Record? Gary Oliver regaled us with the following “facts” about Celtic in WSC 158: Terry McDermott was the equivalent of a Butlins Redcoat (the Record constantly poked fun at his “social convenor” tag, one he never actually had). Dalglish was on “unspecified club business” in La Manga when Barnes was sacked – he was there to attend a youth tournament. Dalglish has a rolling contract until the age of 65 which would cost £750,000 to terminate (this from the Daily Mirror for a change). MacDonald has a one-year probationary contract. Both later proven to be complete bollocks. Allan MacDonald has obviously taken over from Fergus McCann as Mr Oliver’s scapegoat for all the ills at Celtic Park. Anyone who can describe successfully conducting club business (extending Larsson’s contract, resolving the bonus dispute) as “ingratiating” himself obviously has some other agenda.
Nick Saxton, Glasgow
I read Stephen Wagg’s article on Stan Collymore (WSC 158) with a mixture of agreement and outright indignation – increasingly the latter. We are all aware of the stresses of public life to which footballers are subjected and the excesses of the press. But in order to get a sense of the damage that Collymore has done in his tour across the Premiership, why not ask Liverpool or Villa fans? The latter will remember the comments Stan made on arrival at the club – “coming home”, “where the soul is”, “supported since I was a boy”. So, if this was his alma mater, why did he proceed to frequently and spitefully deride it? Yes, the press have turned Stan into a figure of fun, but Stan, who raised the hopes of so many people at his former clubs, has this terrible habit of dashing these hopes on the rocks of his own ego and temperament. Leicester fans beware!
David Evans, via email
* In the article about Stan Collymore in WSC 158, comments attributed to the Guardian’s Daniel Taylor were in fact made by Jeremy Alexander. Apologies
From WSC 159 May 2000. What was happening this month