THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Dear WSC
Jez Moxey, the Wolves chairman, has decided to ban Cardiff City fans from attending the match between the two clubs in January. This is a throwback to Margaret Thatcher’s attitude to football. Two seasons ago, I attended the match between Cardiff and Wolves at Molineux and it was one of the most scary experiences I have had at a football match, as the West Midlands Police decided to allow Wolves fans to wait to ambush Cardiff fans returning to their coaches. From what I can gather, embarrassed by their performance the previous year, the West Midlands Police decided to impose themselves in the repeat fixture last season. When a handful of City fans in the concourse at half-time started chanting “we want beer” after the bars changed their mind about staying open, the police decided to “calm things down” by charging into the concourse in full riot gear, beating anybody who failed to clear out of the way with their batons. They continued in this vein out of the concourse and up the gangways to the terraces, leading to people spilling on to the pitch to avoid being attacked. About 30 City fans attended hospital. Of the 17 that were arrested, all but one were offered apologies by the magistrates when they were discharged. An FA of Wales inquiry has yet to be completed, because West Midlands Police did not turn up to the hearing, twice. This is the same police force that refused to meet with fans’ representatives before both matches to plan away travel to avoid trouble. So who is to blame? Cardiff City fans, if you believe the West Midlands Police and Wolves. And the Football League, who agreed with the away fan ban, without bothering to seek the views of Cardiff City, the FA of Wales, any of the fans involved or the South Wales Police. This harks back to Luton Town’s away ban of the 1980s, which was snuffed out by the Football League. Why are they so happy for it to be reintroduced by Wolves? All teams, under League rules, are supposed to make a certain amount of tickets available to away fans. Perhaps a better solution would be to ban West Midlands Police from the fixture and invite South Wales Police to ensure there is no public disorder. But I guess that would not give Wolves the advantage of playing in front of no away fans.
Jeff Wagstaff, via email

Dear WSC
I feel Gavin Duenas’s suggestion of how Derby fans could best profess hatred towards Nottingham Forest (Letters, WSC 237), although valiant in its efforts, may prove to be an entirely pointless exercise. On a recent visit to the City Ground, Carlisle United supporters were continually subjected to chants of “You’re just a small town in Scotland” and “We hate Geordies, we hate Geordies” (usual tunes apply). If the Forest fans’ grasp of geography is an example of the Nottinghamshire ­education system, any cultured effort to provoke a response may, I suggest, be totally wasted. Perhaps time would be better spent in supporting an “Adopt a Forest fan” scheme, where the club’s supporters could be helped in coming to terms with a life outside the Premiership.
Dave Doran, via email

Dear WSC
It’s easy to knock Chelsea, Arsenal and the other “big clubs” for their unsportsmanlike behaviour in tapping up players. It’s easy to knock their players for being arrogant, overpaid whingers. It’s easy to criticise many of their fans as glory-hunters. But let’s also take a moment to applaud the two giants of the game as they head the field in stamping out coin-throwing. No one likes to see incidents like the ones at Fulham and Newport recently and it’s here that the big clubs are rightly taking the lead. By the time you’ve gained entry to their grounds, got yourself a programme, a cup of Bovril and a pie, and had a cheeky £1 wager on the first goalscorer, you’re damn lucky to find any coins left in your pocket at all. Messrs Hill-Wood and Abramovich, I salute you and your glorious plan to eliminate thuggish behaviour from the game by ­impoverishing everybody who attends.
Andrew Weston, via email

Dear WSC
Some time last year there was a suggestion in these pages – flatly denied by the BBC – that Match of the Day commentaries were not “as live”. In other words, the claim was that commentators added their contribution after the match as though they were describing the action as it happened, but with the benefit of post-match knowledge. Therefore I found it interesting that Sky’s live coverage of West Ham v Arsenal couldn’t, initially, make it clear what had happened to Robin van Persie. Even with the aid of close-up replays Martin Tyler was only able to speculate, in the subsequent few minutes, that he “may have been hit by something thrown from the crowd”. Curiously, when watching MOTD2, I heard John Motson say “and we’re hearing he’s been hit by a coin” at the moment, in real time, when the incident had only just happened. Even if there was someone with astonishingly good eyesight working with the various broadcasters at the match to give them this level of detail, I think it unlikely that they would feed the information to those recording a commentary for later transmission, but not to the live broadcaster. In truth it is almost impossible to believe that the BBC go to the trouble and expense of recording a full 90-minute commentary at every Premiership match when they show a combined total of only approximately 90 minutes of action per week. Furthermore, I doubt anyone really cares that much if they do “fake it”, but I wish they would be ­honest about it.
Tim Manns, Southampton

Dear WSC
Following the recent altercation between Messrs Pardew and Wenger, is it time to finally put the penalty shootout to bed? In a cup tie ending in a draw, instead of the lottery of spot-kicks, I propose some sort of boxing/wrestling/kung fu match involving the respective managers. At the very least, the centre circle would double perfectly as a sumo wrestling ring, giving everyone a great view of the action and avoiding arguments about which end the penalties should be taken from.  It would also hark back to my school football days when, despite losing most of our matches, we consoled ourselves with the (almost certainly mistaken) belief that we would “do” whoever the opposition was if they dared to “start” after the game. Surely there is some justice in the ­hardest manager getting his team through to the next round, in today’s environment of ­powder-puff centre- forwards and ­theatrical wingers? If the idea is adopted, I expect the stock of Psycho Pearce and angry man Warnock to go up and Big Sam finally to get the England job.
Sam Vardy, via email

Dear WSC
In your piece about club mascots with “illogical” names (Web Review, WSC 238) Ian Plenderleith cited Pompey’s “Frogmore” giant blue frog as one such and speculated that he could be named after a Captain Frogmore or similar.Prosaically, if you look up the address of Portsmouth FC, you’ll find that Fratton Park is in Frogmore Road.
Steve Woodhead, via email

Dear WSC
Am I the only neutral fan who actually likes Neil Warnock (Letters, WSC 238)? Barely a day goes by without someone else whinging about how much whinging he does. Yet I am sure that he does no more bleating than many other managers, many of whom have far less reason to moan from atop their ivory towers. I know Warnock’s career has not been purely about success, but he has got five of the seven clubs he has managed promoted, often with few star players and even less money. Surely Warnock’s heart-on-sleeve fandom is better than the conspiracy theorists such as José Mourinho and Alex Ferguson, and the pseudo-bashful nature of boredom merchants like David O’Leary? The crux of the matter is that the guy is an enthusiast. Give me an enthusiast over a cynic any day.
Tristan Browning, Reading

Dear WSC
Colin Kennedy (Letters, WSC 238) is upset about Neil Warnock’s constant carping. Well, he lives at the top of our street, and I keep bumping into him in Tesco’s, my local Virgin gym and sometimes even in my nightmares, too. Where do you live, Colin? Fancy a house exchange?
Ian Martindale, Sheffield

Dear WSC
I was interested in your article on African players (Down and Out in Eastern Europe, WSC 237), but can’t help thinking that there was more to Jerry-Christian Tchuisse’s not playing for Russia than him being “threatened by far-right groups”. Knowing Russia as I do, I don’t doubt that, unfortunately, these threats took place. Tchuisse took Russian citizenship in 2000 and was called into the Russia squad in early 2001. He didn’t play a match, however, and soon opted for Cameroon. He made his debut in May 2001 and won one further cap.  At his peak Tchiusse played for a reasonable Spartak Moscow side, making 44 appearances between 2000 and 2003 in a side that was playing around 40 games per season. During this period there was plenty of interested and sometimes excited debate in the sports press about him possibly playing for Russia. Journalists seemed to be split on whether his footballing ability was high enough to merit a place in the side. Although there is undoubtedly a big problem with racism in Russian society, the article was a little one-sided in attributing this as the sole reason for him not playing for Russia; it may also be that he wasn’t quite good enough, or, as his club manager (who had pushed his claim for citizenship) said at the time, “hesitant as to whether to play for Russia or not”. Tchuisse himself is now in his eighth year in Russia, playing for FC Moskva. Hopefully he will remain in the country after his retirement as he is one of the few Russians in the spotlight prepared to speak out against racism and can only be a force for the good for the country.
Saul Pope, St Petersburg

Dear WSC
I have to dispute the absurd claim (Shot! WSC 238) that Hallam are the ­second oldest football club in the world. Everyone knows that Cray Wanderers, founded much earlier in 1860, hold that ­distinction. Cray are in the Ryman Division One South and featured on Football Focus recently after a magnificent win on penalties against Winchester in the FA Cup first qualifying round. Anyway, what’s the point in being the oldest club? Sheffield had to hang around for three years before they had anyone to play. The free-kick drills and corner routines would have been in some danger of losing their freshness.
Mike Eagles, via email

Dear WSC
Tired as I am of having to rush to the defence of Steve Bruce, I write with reference to the cartoon in WSC 238, with its sarcastic “All I ask is for people to show the same loyalty to me as I’ve shown to others”. When there are targets the size of Ashley Cole to hit, I’m surprised at this five-year-old grudge many have for one of the most effective defenders (yes, OK, not managers) of recent times. To recap – Bruce left Sheffield United feeling he had been “let down” by the board. I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt here. He was then sacked by Huddersfield. Wigan fans had reason to feel slightly aggrieved, I’ll grant you, and then he walked out on Simon Jordan, which anybody can be forgiven for. Since which, Bruce has become one of the longer serving managers in the league, riding out a number of storms and mini-crises, including a relegation. You wouldn’t think to slate Rooney for leaving Everton for example, and nobody mentions Brian Clough’s random club-hopping in the 1970s, so I don’t understand why Steve Bruce has become the yardstick by which shallow football folk are measured. He’s far from the world’s worst manager and is a decent, straight-talking, self-aware bloke. I wouldn’t mind having a pint with him – leave the guy alone.
Dave Lodwig, via email

Dear WSC
I can’t wait for Ian Plenderleith’s review of websites devoted to football club badges to appear. Given his laudable devotion to online footballing arcana, it will surely be with us soon. That will give him an excellent opportunity to atone for his crass remarks about the Oldham Athletic mascot Chaddy the Owl in WSC 238.  Granted he fails the “awful alliteration” test, but claims that the bird has no local links are way off the mark. Look at the club’s badge – and the town’s coat of arms – and you’ll see how prominent the “Owl of Oldham” is. This is more than can be said of the City of Sheffield equivalent, where there is not a bird in sight – Wednesday get their nickname from the Owlerton area of Sheffield. While I’m on the subject, and in an effort to stir up things further, we’re the original “Latics” too...
Tony Gore, via email

Dear WSC
Re: Model Professionals (WSC 238). Asserting Daleks’ “lack of aerial prowess” is to disregard blatantly the crucial developments in their capabilities exemplified in Dalek, Doomsday and Parting of the Ways. Although in the latter they are of course mutant half-human Daleks recreated by the Emperor Dalek following...
Oh God. I’ll get my coat.
Ben Drake, York

From WSC 239 January 2007. What was happening this month

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