Players

Billy Bremner passed away last month, so Don Watson remembers the Leeds United and Scotland legend

We all know the hush that follows an opposition goal, but we know too that there are as many different kinds of hush to a football fan as there are types of snow to an Eskimo. Disbelief, resignation, bewilderment and anger can all be expressed in that silence.

“I was having a lunchtime beer in Terry Neil’s bar in Holborn when in walked George Best. He went downstairs where he was waiting to be interviewed by Sky TV. Twenty minutes later, in strolled Rodney Marsh ‘Can anybody move my car for me, I’m parked on a double yellow line?’Several people pretended to be in deep conversation, others were gazing into their beer glasses but nobody offered to help. ‘Can somebody park it for me I’m late for an interview’ said Rod in a pleading voice. This time there was almost complete silence. ‘Please’ said Rod beginning to sound desperate. The tension was unbearable, somebody had to crack. They did – it was me. ‘Give us the keys I’ll park it round the back,’ I said.

Injuries can not only end careers, but can also affect a former player's life afterwards. Ashley Shaw looks at the legal action taken by Ian Knight after his livelihood was taken away by a bad tackle

When a player suffered a career ending injury in the Good Old Days the options left open to him were fairly well defined. Almost automatically he would be forced to seek alternative employment – some opened pubs, others ended up cleaning windows, some even went into management. No one in their right mind would even contemplate taking a fellow pro to court – it just wasn’t done and besides there was little money in it.

More unlikely meetings between WSC readers and professional footballers

“While holidaying in Greece, I shared a hotel with Doug Alder, a Millwall and Brentford ‘left half’ from the ‘60s. He was playing a poolside game with his pals one night, of ‘trying to guess the pop celebrity’. Early in the game he said, ‘It’s on the tip of me tongue,’ and, ‘I’ll know it if I see the name.’ Several clues later: a dual nationality, a liking for tartan, an indirect link with the Small Faces, a hit with Sailing, a penchant for tight trousers and spiky hair, and still Doug couldn’t guess Rod Stewart. ‘Oooh, I know it. I can see his face.’

Apparently Doug now works in customs at Heathrow Airport.”
Jamie Sellers

Boyd Hilton wonders what went wrong for a great Arsenal No 7

Once upon a time, in the era before Sky, before the Taylor Report, before Football Came Home, there was a great player for Arsenal who proudly and appropriately wore Liam Brady’s Number 7 shirt and earned the admiration of 50,000-strong Highbury crowds.

Along with many more, he was compared with the Busby Babes, but Tony Kinsella thinks that Andy Ritchie could have laid claim to being that good

In the days before winning championships with kids became a formality, every new Wonderboy at Manchester United was viewed exclusively as a perspective on the bygone Busby era: Trevor Anderson was “the new George Best” because he resembled the maestro uncannily; Scott McGarvey “the new Denis Law”, fair-haired and Scottish; and Ashley Grimes was “the new Bobby Charlton” because... nope, can’t help you on that one.

Tipped to be a star at Everton, Graham Ennis remembers why Nick Barmby couldn't fulfil his potential

On the day Joe Royle signed Nick Barmby from Middlesbrough he made a curious admission: that he wasn’t quite sure where he was going to play him. Obviously then, he just kinda hoped that he’d get lucky and things would work themselves out. We all kinda hoped too. Choosing to ignore the fact that Royle had just off-loaded the highly promising Daniel Amokachi because he didn’t know quite where he fitted into his plans.

Lots of players are expected to have big futures but never justify the hype. Cris Freddi profiles some of the game's biggest underachievers

Edu, (Jonas Eduardo Américo)
The first ‘new Pelé’, he scored in his second international and became an immediately controversial figure by being included in the 1966 World Cup squad at the age of 16 but not playing a match while Brazil picked a string of knackered veterans. A skilful winger, he played in the 1970 & 1974 finals, but only against the weakest opposition (Romania & Zaire), and was always a peripheral figure despite winning 42 caps.

Matt Nation believes that if players were knocked off their pedestals occasionally football as a whole would benefit

Every team has done it at some point; a goal ahead with five minutes left, a defender reaches a dangerous-looking through-ball from the opposition and attempts to welt it into a neighbouring county in order to waste a few more minutes. Although not laudable in itself, playing for time really is a great leveller.

Tottenham fans once adored Teddy Sheringham, but Adam Powley reflects upon the awful reception he got when he returned to White Hart Lane with Manchester United

“Tormentors”, “enemies” and, according to Radio 5 Live’s Peter Drury, “mindless supporters”. Just a few of the accusations levelled at Spurs fans by the media following Teddy Sheringham’s acrimonious return to White Hart Lane. Over reams of newsprint and hours of broadcasting time devoted to reporting Tottenham’s first home defeat of the season, radio, TV, press and even players predictably focussed on the treatment that the fans meted out to Sheringham. And once again, they got it wrong.

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