I was browsing through the 2005-06 predictions in WSC 223 when I chanced upon the Birmingham City entry. I have to say that, as a Fulham fan of many years standing, a broad and satisfied grin played across my lips when I read the City fan’s disliked team was none other than Fulham – “How are they still a Premiership side?” he demanded. For us Fulham fans this is proof, if proof were ever really needed, that our friends from the “second city” never emotionally recovered from when little, poorly supported, Second Division Fulham dumped them out of the FA Cup in the semi-final replay in the dying seconds, some 30 years ago. We have come to terms with our subsequent failure to turn up for the 1975 final (I occasionally watch the video in the hope that I might spot some element of a spirited performance that has escaped me on previous viewings). I sincerely hope that those kindly, good-natured City supporters can somehow find some “closure” over their failure in 1975, as it’s clearly long overdue.
Ashley Manning, via email
If Andrew Cowe (Letters, WSC 223) is using personal contacts to back up his stance on the cheat Jordan I will have to resort to this as well. At a Wales Under-21 match held at Cardiff Arms Park Jordan was present scouting (I take it the FAW had provided a complimentary ticket: a sickening irony considering the millions he cost Welsh football). I shouted up that he was an effing cheat and he returned what can only be described as a knowing look. I rest the Welsh case.
Gwilym Boore, via email
This correspondence is now closed
Shame on you Cameron Carter for saying in WSC 223 that Dean Holdsworth was “currently unattached” after “turning out for Rushden & Diamonds last season”. Well, Deano didn’t turn out for Rushden at all last season, but instead played for Havant & Waterlooville in the newly formed Nationwide, South. He scored 33 goals in 51 games and swept the board at the end-of-season awards ceremony. He has also since been appointed as assistant to manager Ian Baird.
Simon Lynch, programme editor, Havant and Waterlooville, via email
With reference to Steve Menary’s article on Stadium Development (Arrested Development, WSC 223), I think it will come as a great surprise to Cardiff RFC supporters that “Cardiff Arms Park was turned into the Millennium Stadium”. Although I am not a great fan of “egg-chasing”, it is worth establishing the correct history of this historic venue. Cardiff Rugby Football Club were founded in 1876. Their first home fixtures were played at Sophia Gardens (where Glamorgan now play cricket). CRFC soon relocated to Cardiff Arms Park, which hosted rugby and cricket and was named after the Cardiff Arms pub. Until 1969 Wales also played their home international matches on the same pitch. However, the building of the “National Stadium” established a new stadium for international matches with club rugby fixtures still played on the adjacent Cardiff Arms Park site. In 1999 the “National Stadium (at Cardiff Arms Park)” as it was officially known, was replaced by the Millennium Stadium. Cardiff RFC, however, still play at Cardiff Arms Park, right next door.
Isn’t pedantry great?
Richard Brown, Teddington
The editorial in WSC 223 advocates the bleeping of certain phrases from all football commentary and punditry. While I would be very happy to hear no more of those quoted, I would trade them all to put an end to “saved by the woodwork”.No team has been saved by the woodwork, unless they planted extra ones in the middle of the goal. A shot that hits the post or bar and fails to go in is off target. You might as well hit the corner flag.
Adam Stoddart, via email
While I appreciate that errors and omissions occur, I was flabbergasted by the mistake in the text that accompanied the Shot! Archive picture in WSC 223. The Manchester United player in the centre is Shay Brennan, not Ronnie Cope. Shay made his debut, as a left-winger, in United’s first game after the Munich disaster, scoring twice in the 3‑0 FA Cup win over Sheffield Wednesday. He also scored in the match where this picture was taken, but after playing such a prominent part in United’s valiant run to Wembley, Shay was left out of the final side in favour of Dennis Viollet, who had by then recovered from the injuries he sustained at Munich. Shay made only one United appearance the following season, before beginning to establish himself in the first team during 1959-60. His conversion to full-back saw his career take off and he went on to make 356 appearances for United, including the in the 1968 European Cup final against Benfica.
Gary Neile, via email
Terry Wogan often says that listeners sit patiently waiting to be disgusted, just so they can write in to complain about how disgusted they are. Many of my fellow Newcastle fans were equally guilty of this strange moralistic viewpoint, while unable to tear themselves away from the spectacle of Lee Bowyer and Kieron Dyer flapping at each other. Good to see, then, that that peculiar phenomenon is not confined to those who merely sit and watch. Mathias Svensson (WSC 223) apparently suffered for eight-and-a-half years, with five different clubs, most of whom had the audacity to ask him to run. (Not a prerequisite at St James’; unless attempting to catch last orders down the quayside.) All of which begs the question, if poor Mathias found English football such a chore, why did he subject himself to the likes of the “training camp from hell” and not merely seek a style of football that did suit him? Could it be that the rewards were just too good to turn his back on, as many of the footballers he alludes to at the end of his interview know only too well.
Alistair WS Murray, Newcastle Upon Tyne
Please can this be the last year that MK Dons are dismissed in your season preview with “No comment” (WSC 223)? I utterly disapprove of how MK Dons came into being, and wish AFC Wimbledon every success. Like it or not, though, MK Dons are a Football League club now with fans of their own, and those fans have a right to be represented in the season preview. If you find the thought of asking a newbie Dons fan to answer the questions distasteful, perhaps one of the handful of ex-Wimbledon fans who now travels to Milton Keynes would oblige? That doesn’t mean I think they did the right thing by following the Dons to MK, merely that they have proved they have enough of a passion for Franchise FC to be worthy respondents in the preview.
Jess Cully, Gosport
The first day of the new season involved a 375-mile round trip for QPR fans to Hull City on the opening day. The game got under way with a great atmosphere inside the impressive stadium with expectation on both sides. One of the things I enjoy most about going to football is the banter among the home and away fans. Who could not enjoy the irony of “Is that all you take away?” or “Did you come in a taxi?” when there were at least 2,500 QPR fans in the crowd of 22,000. How many other London clubs will fill the away end? However, this banter turned sour within the last 15 minutes of what had been an enjoyable match. Hull fans in the East Stand (nearest to the QPR support) suddenly chanted “You’re just a town full of bombers”. I can only conclude the few hundred mindless Hull City fans could not have anticipated the hostile response they would receive. They had no idea how many QPR fans may have suffered loss or injury during the July 7 London bombings. Although I haven’t suffered or experienced loss/injury personally, I do have the misfortune of living on the Peabody Estate in North Kensington that was raided on Friday July 29. I overlook the flat where the suspects were arrested. That was trauma enough for me, I do not expect to be reminded of this at a football match. A great response from the QPR fans was to sing “Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner”. Unfortunately, some also sang “Are you a Muslim in disguise?” My heart sank; to me that made the furious QPR fans who sang this no better than the Hull fans who started it all. At this point, the football was over as far as I was concerned and I just wanted to get out of there as soon as possible. A very disappointing end to what had been an enjoyable day up to that point.
Sandra Lee, London W10
When I collected my season ticket, the woman at the counter handed over the book, looked at me and asked: “How are you?” A simple question, maybe, but I was totally wrong-footed. This is not what I expect from my Premiership team. We both know the score – they’ve got my money, I’ll be exploited, patronised and bled dry, then come back again next year. I am not an individual, I’m a “patron number”. Conversation on the personal level was utterly unexpected. Should I share my hopes and fears for the new season, or did she want to know more about 35 years of unstinting devotion? Then, in a flash, the only proper response came to me. “Is there a problem with my credit card?” I stammered. Actually, of course, the woman at Spurs was being genuinely friendly and like me is looking forward to the season. I guess I go into this thing with my eyes wide open. For football I will suspend my usual persona as a cynical consumer. I know the prices are ludicrous, to the point where my vague protestations that it is in the blood sound pretty weedy. I don’t go to friendlies, I can’t afford to go away, I don’t buy a new shirt every year and I bring my own food and drink.Fans aren’t quite as powerless as chairmen would wish. There is no doubt that crowd reaction has influenced Spurs policy for the better – the sackings of Christian Gross and George Graham, the long-term club strategy in the wake of the ghastly season without a manager. I never used to barrack my team, but as I approach 50 I’ve changed my mind. I’ve little problem with high salaries if players are committed and perform to the best of their ability. If not, get at them – that’s a new part of the deal. The Premiership is over-hyped, but switch off the pundits, don’t believe what you read and seek the entertainment and commitment that abounds. Above all, fans should not be ashamed to say that football still provides passages of excitement, skill and drama that is unsurpassed in any other sphere of life. And you don’t have to wear the Europe away goalkeeper’s jersey to enjoy it.
Alan Fisher, Tonbridge
Thanks for including our worst ever year in Season in Brief, WSC 223. Contrary to popular belief South Liverpool are still alive and kicking and actually just had our most successful season since we re-formed in 1992. I’m sure your readers will be interested to know that there is football life in our city outside Anfield and Goodison.
Jim Stanway Hon Sec, South Liverpool
From WSC 224 October 2005. What was happening this month