After reading Ian Plenderleith’s web review (WSC 219), I immediately logged onto www.standupsitdown.co.uk to add my support to a cause very close to my heart. Growing up on the Shelf at White Hart Lane, I eventually reached the age and height to leave my half milk crate at home and stand at the back and sing with the “Tottenham boys” I had idolised for so long. Then to my utter disgust the bastards made the last remaining terrace at the Lane all-seated. I am now one of the few season-ticket holders who stand in front of my seat where the Shelf once was and add my vocal support to the Park Lane’s efforts (still a lame substitute for jumping up and down on the terraces). But, not content with destroying a piece of my childhood, Spurs now seem intent on making me sit on my uncomfortable piece of Sky-sponsored blue plastic. Stewards are randomly throwing out the most vocal following because they won’t sit down. Health-and-safety jargon is boomed out of the jumbotron screens at half time, cheesily complemented by a James anthem telling Spurs fans to “all sit down”. Fans of other clubs from all over the country seem to be experiencing the same problem. As much as I love the “sit down stand up” campaign, we really don’t stand a chance against the advertising machines that once used be our clubs. I can’t see them forking out millions to change the seating areas back into safe terracing and then having to charge less for tickets.
Martin Gowers, via email
Re: Dave Green in WSC 219 complaining about the decline in entertainment value of Match of the Day. May I suggest to Mr Green and others who feel the same to try turning the volume down and trying to decipher the near-cryptic Ceefax captions. Here are some translations to start you off: Our Saw = Arsenal; Rebuilt Stadium = Reebok Stadium; Marine Yeah = Mourinho; Dario Far = Doriva. I think Frank Lampard would also be delighted to hear that his championship-winning goal was dispatched “Crewe as you like”.
Dave Smith, via email
We have been hearing a lot about no player being bigger than his club. In the spat between Robbie Keane and Spurs – short bloke, reasonably large club – this is probably true. However, if Jaap Stam joined, say, Macclesfield Town, this rule might not apply. I also seem to recall several Middlesbrough players in the Seventies that were bigger than the club, if measured around their circumference, Bobby Murdoch and Alan Foggon to name but two.
David Hood, Bewdley
In Ben Walsh’s letter (WSC 218) he states “the only difference between Chelsea and Manchester United and Arsenal is that Chelsea have been given the money to spend on players in one go”. This is incorrect. Man Utd and Arsenal have never been given money to spend on players. The difference between Chelsea and Man Utd/Arsenal is that the money Man Utd/Arsenal spend on players is monies that they have generated themselves through the turnstiles, sponsorship, merchandising, television rights etc. This is patently not the case with Chelsea. While the morality of how Roman Abramovich acquired his money is another matter, it’s important to see the clear distinction between Chelsea and Man Utd and Arsenal in this regard.
Phil Rogers, Exeter
I understand why fans wish the FA Cup semi-finals were held at neutral grounds rather than the Millennium Stadium, but some grounds don’t deserve the honour (or the money). In 1995 at Elland Road the DJ played Queen’s “We will Rock You” repeatedly before the Everton-Spurs game at a volume that forced people to leave their seats and wait in the corridor until the song finished. The atmosphere, such as it was at noon, was ruined. It’s only my opinion, but I think they wanted to make it unpleasant because the stadium was full of supporters from other clubs. Or perhaps, given that Everton fans attacked the Tottenham coach pre-match, it was an attempt to defuse trouble through awful high-volume music, mimicking the tactics of the United States Marines. In 1999 at Old Trafford, everything was basically OK, but two years later the Theatre of Dreams employed an announcer that didn’t seem to realise the ground was full of non-Manchester United fans. He introduced the teams thus: “Playing today, from North London – Arsenal! And their opponents, also from North London – Tottenham!” At half time and the end of the game he congratulated us with: “Well done, Old Trafford, you’ve given these two teams from North London a really great reception.” As Chris Kamara – who would have done a much better job – would say: “Unbelievable!”
Paul van Stratten, via email
The article in your At The Match supplement (WSC 219) about half-time “entertainment” and the ubiquitous penalty shoot-out competition reminded me of Sheffield Wednesday’s own take on the idea a few seasons ago: when the chosen competitors were introduced, the person had to name their favourite Owls player. Now, at the start, obvious candidates arose – David Hirst, Chris Waddle, John Sheridan etc. But then the introductions started to take a turn for the surreal – the chosen players becoming obscurer and obscurer, which in turn led to a position where the more obscure the player, the louder the cheer from the fans. Those selected included Greg Fee – four seasons, 26 league appearances. Adem Poric – five seasons, 14 appearances; David Reeves – four seasons, 17 appearances; Goce Sedloski – one season, four appearances. Obviously not Wednesday stalwarts by any stretch of the imagination and the last one brought the house down. As a result, the competition became a highly anticipated break in the tedium and despair of Wednesday’s home matches during our ill-fated League One campaigns. So yes, rampant commercialism may permeate into every corner of the football game these days, but it can have pleasing, if unexpected results.
Amir Arezoo, via email
I had an idea for a means of redistributing wealth in the game from the haves to the have-nots. Whenever an English club pays a transfer fee for a player, a tax could be levied, lets say of five per cent of the value of the transfer. This tax could then go into a central pot that is redistributed to lower-league clubs on the condition it goes to fund the wages of YTS players. As well as Premiership clubs, perhaps also those still receiving parachute payments following relegation from the top flight would be excluded. The theory behind the idea is that all clubs paying transfer fees are clearly in a position to pay this tax and at the close of the season the money would go directly to supporting the development of young players. This mechanism is evident in other walks of life: stamp duty on houses, income tax and so on, so why not football? Clearly there are issues such as disclosure of transfer fees, but I think the underlying principles of the scheme are sound.
Shaun Harrall, via email
I would like to buy “Skoda Fan” (Letters, WSC 219) a pint. Like him I was astonished at the historical revisionism that saw WSC 217’s book reviews reinvent Joe Jordan, that gappy-toothed plug-ugly unrepentant cheat (go on, sue me) as the personification of footballing integrity and honesty. This hand-balling scumbag made me cry when I was only nine and, now 37-and-a-half, I still swear every time I see his gormless mug on TV (a phenomenon latterly revived in Wales and dubbed “The Bobby Gould Effect”). So, two months it has taken me, two months of English work colleagues staring at me pityingly, telling me to “let it go” as they shake their heads at my decades-defying ability to harbour grudges against people I have never met. I nearly fell for their superior wisdom and scrapped this letter. Then I mentioned to them one Diego Armando Maradona, and suddenly they knew exactly what I was getting at.
Mark Ainsbury, via email
From WSC 220 June 2005. What was happening this month