Ian Plenderleith explores the murkier corners of the footballing web to discover Lincolnshire murder mysteries, Highland League replica kits and some straight shooting advice for referees
It’s midday at Sincil Bank on the opening day of the 1955-56 season. Lincoln City are away at Blackburn, so the ground is deserted. Except, that is, for a dead body lying in the middle of the pitch.
What’s it all about? For more information log on to Glory Days, a weekly murder mystery written by Al Kitching that has now clocked up more than 30 episodes and is still going strong, with DI Frank Bridges and Sergeant Harry Kemp attempting to solve the riddle behind the Sincil stiff.
As an idea for a football website it stands head and shoulders above a million others, while the story has more than enough substance to pull you along to the next page. Well written and evoking visions of 1950s Lincolnshire which certainly seem authentic (though I wasn’t around), the two detectives stand on the terraces ruminating upon murder, football and life beyond: “Harry knew that Frank’s thoughts were elsewhere, but he couldn’t help but realise that his friend finally appeared to fit in with the Sincil Bank faithful. Faithful but heavy with doubt.”
If you would rather read your football literature in the more traditional offline format, then you might find what you’re looking for at Football Heaven, a small-scale, friendly webstore run from the Highlands that harbours a treasure trove of the kind of books you threw away when you left home but now wish that you’d kept, like Kenneth Wolstenholme’s FA Cup Centenary Gift Book For Boys.
Prices are reasonable, and if you’re looking for something once loved but lost this may be the place to find it. And as someone who is unashamedly seduced by replica kits, but only at a severely knocked down price, I can also strongly recommend the shirts department, where prices start as low as £7.50, and you can finally get your hands on that black-and-red-striped Deveronvale top from the era when they were sponsored by Bremnars of Fogie. Yes, that one.
Finally, a gem of a site by Julian Carosi, The Corsham Referee, who presides over an advice guide to other refs which is both informative and, at times, written exactly as you might imagine a referee would think – that is, at great length and in the tone of a rigorous schoolmaster.
“As soon as the players realise that the Referee will stand no nonsense,” he states, “they quickly start to behave themselves (sometimes).” He also points out to colleagues over-keen to stick their hands in their top pockets that “referees who are renowned for ‘carding’ every misdemeanour are not very well liked by players.” Some refs, you feel, may not necessarily see that as a reason to stop.
All these quotes are from a huge section of the site devoted to Common Sense, in which Carosi opines that top level referees no longer possess this capacity because they “have been monitored, trained, cajoled, moulded and turned into efficient (almost robotic) machines controlled by their FA mentors.” The thought of Adam Crozier in the main stand with a hand-held, battery-operated remote device, grinning manically as he causes an unwitting Andy D’Urso to grasp yet again for a small red disc, does not somehow seem too far-fetched.
From WSC 182 April 2002. What was happening this month