THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

3 February ~ Spurs right-back Kyle Naughton recently joined Middlesbrough on loan for the remainder of the season – this after moving to White Hart Lane from Sheffield United in July 2009 in a joint deal with Kyle Walker that was worth a reported £10 million. Walker, in turn, was immediately loaned back to Sheffield United. The hurried shift between clubs in such a short space of time must have a significantly disorientating effect on young footballers. As seemed to be the case with John Bostock, another of Spurs’ prodigies pinched from the Championship, when I saw him play on loan for Brentord against Charlton Athletic at a muddy Griffin Park in December.

Bostock made his Crystal Palace debut at the age of 15 years and 287 days, making him Palace’s youngest ever player. News of his prodigious talent soon spread and there were even reports of interest from Barcelona. Bostock’s controversial move to White Hart Lane in July 2008, eventually decided by a tribunal after the two clubs bitterly failed to negotiate a fee, infuriated Palace owner Simon Jordan to the extent that he even threatened to cancel Bostock's father's season ticket.

With the ball thrashed breathlessly from end to end at Griffin Park, Bostock was, for the majority of this contest, a rather bemused spectator. Indeed, isolation on the wing among unfamiliar team-mates must lead the mind to wander somewhat and at times it did seem that he was lost in thought, far, far away from the mud-splattered battle around him. From Bostock’s hesitant and rather meandering movements after the ball, one could not help but wonder if he really believed it was his battle too; much rather “theirs”.

Either way, Bostock’s first touch of the ball came a good 15 minutes into the game, courtesy of a free-kick on the left flank. Across he glided, shirt out yet immaculate and utterly inscrutable. With minimal backlift, the free-kick was swung over; the heavy, mud-encrusted ball curled tantalising between the onrushing Charlton keeper Rob Elliot and Brentford’s airborne attackers.

It was a single moment of brilliance and it summed up Bostock’s overall afternoon. Momentary flashes of a higher, more refined technique, glimpsed by a perfectly weighted first-time ball, an instant single touch control of a speeding overhit pass, an almost uninterested shimmy to leave the Charlton left-back momentarily befuddled. Just moments, fragments of brittle light in the misty December gloom.

Deprived of the ball and unable to truly involve himself in the hurly-burly nature of the contest, Bostock was substituted after just 64 minutes, replaced by the more willing, if limited Sam Saunders. Ambling apathetically over to the sidelines he was loudly informed by Charlton’s raucous travelling support that he would “never play for Tottenham”. As he sat on the bench, staring out on the field, I wondered if he could hear the taunts of the Charlton fans or if he even cared. He probably just wanted to go home, wherever that is. John Porter

Comments (5)
Comment by markbfc 2010-02-03 14:55:29

A hugely misguided article - Bostock's contribution to Brentford over the past two months was a good one with his debut the best I have seen. He has learn some streetfighting to supplement his undoubted talent.

Comment by cantagalo 2010-02-03 18:57:16

What a strange article. Patronising and insulting in equal measure to both Brentford and John Bostock.

I would suggest that Bostock's loan spell at Brentford was a valuable learning experience for an 18 year old and to imply that he spent his time 'uninterested' and scratching his head wondering what he was doing there is just plain wrong. It was certainly better for him than languishing in Spurs' reserves. And I predict that in the future he'll have to cope with worse abuse than 'You'll never play for Tottenham'.

So I'll be at Griffin Park on Saturday to see another loanee, Wojciech Szczesny waste his time there before he takes up his rightful place as Arsenal's number one.

Comment by The Young Cobbler 2010-02-03 22:10:56

I thought this article provided an interesting angle on the situation which some young on-loan players find themselves in.

The article really was only focusing on one man, one game; not Bostock's entire time at Brentford. As such, I found it thought provoking and it certainly made me look at things from a new angle.

Comment by daveebee 2010-02-04 12:30:40

Yes the pitch was very heavy and John who is only just 18, having played more games in the last two months, than ever before did tire. To suggest he didn't care is an insult to both John & Brentford who both gained from his loan period.

He played so well on his debut some idiot on Talksport said it wasn't fair on the rest of the division that we had him on loan, from a Premiership club as well, not right!

I thought WSC was all about 'real' football, yet you seem to have a problem with 'mud'?

Perhaps you should have a nice glass of Chablis and pop down the Bridge for mud and hurly-burly free football.

Comment by rockford 2010-02-04 17:21:23

From what I understand most clubs generally ear-mark two or three youth players for professional contracts and the rest are there to make up the numbers.
As an Orient fan I've seen a fair share of loanees from Spurs. Often you get the feeling they may not be the "chosen ones" to go on and play at the highest level, but Tottenham's fairly generous loan system means these players get the experience of nitty-gritty professional games which will provide good standing if they're ever released at 19/20 years old.
Lee Barnard now at Leeds is a good example, is is our own Ryan Jarvis.
Yeovil, ourselves and now MK D*ns also had the benefit of Andros Townsend's slightly over-rated skills. A player who will probably never experience the disappointment of the traditional early UEFA cup exit or FA semi-final defeat of his home club, but will equally excite and frustrate Championship fans in future seasons to come

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