Thanks for digging deeper into the faceless consortium that are attempting to transplant Wimbledon FC to MK. Although the “stadium” would be on my doorstep, I naively assumed that the FA would fulfil their responsibility to the sport and dismiss the move out of hand. Having lived in MK most of my life I’ve hardly been deprived of reasonable live football action. As a child, Saturdays were down to Kenilworth Road (at ten,Luton was an exciting day out). Now I take my son to Sixfields, and both Northampton Town and, if we’re really going on safari, Rushden and Diamonds provide good entertainment, and more importantly teams and clubs that we can feel part of and be passionate about. It’s spurious and irrelevant to try to justify the project by stating that we’re the only city in Europe without a major football club. Firstly, MK is not a city and secondly, so what? The primary consideration should be how this move will benefit Wimbledon FC, and then let’s hear some quantifiable benefits for the area. It’s a small point but it looks like the ice-rink in MK will be closing despite being home to a reasonably successful Ice Hockey team, the MK Kings. The result of this commercial decision by the rink’s owners is that the Kings are likely to be playing out of Birmingham next year. So how long might it be before a more affluent club than Wimbledon decides to realise the capital locked up in their current piece of potential prime retail development land and offer the MK stadium landlords a deal for some “temporary” accommodation. This could be the top of a very slippery slope.
James McAuley, Milton Keynes
As a Milton Keynes resident I am getting very fed up with the local press coverage of the Wimbledon move focusing on how great it would be to have “top flight” football in MK. We are told this a fantastic opportunity – for who exactly? I don’t support Wimbledon, won’t get any corporate tickets and don’t have a small business selling burgers. There are many hotel and leisure complexes in the city‑– we don’t need another one. But more importantly, why should we “get behind” the consortium and the club? As mentioned in WSC 185 we don’t know who they are. This is just another business venture. The fact that it happens to be football is neither here nor there for us. Are they really naive enough to think that Milton Keynes residents will start supporting Wimbledon because it is geographically close? Get behind your local club, they are saying – but it’s not really our local club, is it? It’s someone else’s.
Bridget Nicholls, Milton Keynes
In the midst of World Cup mayhem and all the associated nostalgia, I watched the recent glut of World Cup retrospectives optimistically hoping that one would have shown the most amazing match I can recall. Being a tender eight years old during the Argentina World Cup of 1978 my recollection of the event is somewhat hazy, but I am convinced I witnessed a game between Spain and Sweden played in Mar del Plata on a boggy pitch similar in consistency to treacle. The surface was so bad that the ball could barely roll and the players could hardly leap it off in attempt to reach any high balls. My distinctive memory is four or five players including the poor goalies jumping for a corner but half of them coud not physically push off the ground as the mud was so sticky, while those that did had brown tentacles of glop pulling them back down by their boots. However as time passes I am beginning to wonder if this ever really occurred. It was (and still is) impossible to play football in such conditions and in any other circumstances it woud surely have been abandoned. A snap survey of friends has not shed any light on the game and I now suspect that it was all a figment of an overactive imagination that has either made the whole thing up or exaggerated a small incident over the passing years. Can anyone supply any details and put my mind at ease?
Steven East, Plymouth
Given the media’s heart wrenching over the early eliminations of the French, Argentinian and Portuguese World Cup squads, I feel it is about time FIFA got their act together to ensure that such a catastrophe never happens again. For this reason, I would like to use your respected organ to reveal my own exclusive response to this crisis, my Television Attractiveness Scale (TAS). Rather than using simple goals for and against to settle future World Cup contests, I propose a new set of criteria where points can be scored for: the number of consecutive passes strung together; the successful execution of tricks performed in the latest advert for a well- known sportswear manufacturer; the perceived desirability of the country’s kit; “totty” factor of each team’s squad list; the international recognition of each squad based on the number of players represented in the Spanish, Italian and English (ie maximum TV exposure) Premier Leagues. An independent panel of experts could rule on these factors, with the eventual result determined by a phone poll (similar to Pop Stars). This would be a good source of revenue for FIFA given their current financial woes. Much more desirable than the World Champions being knocked out after the first round, I’m sure you’ll agree!
Richard Degg, via email
I am sure that many a thing has been said about Roy Keane in this issue and in many to come but the events prior to the World Cup has hit me and many like me (approximately 250,000 others) with a double whammy. Firstly, Ireland could (although it’s by no means certain) have beaten Spain with a physically and mentally fit Keane, and the feeling of what might have been is still going through my mind. Secondly, the feeling that if he really wanted to play he would have done is so strong that watching Man Utd (the team I have supported since 1968) next season will be impossible as my respect and admiration for him has been lost. One of two things could happen:United swap Keane with Damien Duff to appease the huge Irish support that flocks to Old Trafford every year or we all support someone else, although who else is another day’s work. This represents a massive opportunity for another club as I am not alone and am open to offers(Arsenal, Liverpool, etc need not apply).
Pat McKenna, via email
I’d like to make it clear from the outset that I’m not an England fan. I am however a Newcastle United fan and I take unfounded criticism of our players harshly. Cris Freddi, in the Wake Up to the World Cup supplement that appeared alongside WSC 185, appears to have a personal dislike of Keiron Dyer that is clearly unhealthy. He describes Dyer as “a shirker” and “a bit of a red herring”. Sorry? Where do these risible ideas come from? Certainly, if you wish to found your assessment of one of English football’s most creative talents on the basis of one appearance at right-back, I can see your point. Similarly, I’ve never much rated Gareth Southgate as a midfield holding player. Also, Dyer on the left against Paraguay was a dismal mistake. Yet, similar to Alan Shearer’s legendary appearance in goal at a schoolboy trial at St James’ Park, you are not judging a player’s true worth when he is forced to play out of position. Dyer is a creative central midfield player. Despite depressingly lengthy injury problems, Dyer has consistently shown world-class form in the Newcastle midfield, which was undeniably one of last season’s best in the Premiership. As I say, I couldn’t care less about England’s fortunes, but my impatrial view is that Dyer has the spark of wit and invention that the vastly over-rated Owen Hargreaves is conspicuously lacking.
Ian Cusack, Newcastle upon Tyne
I am writing with regard to your article titled Bend it like Uri (WSC 185) discussing Exeter City. I feel that I ought to offer a reply, as I find your ironic piece slightly disturbing. I do accept that it must have been written with all good intentions, despite the sarcasm and scornful undertones, yet for me this issue is far from a joke. Having recently assumed the role of co-chairman of the club, it was with immense pride and pleasure that I set about my new tenure. Not only is it a major coup for a Third Division outfit to have a world-renowned figure at the helm, but also my unswerving loyalty and commitment to the Grecians will remain one hundred percent. My love for the club stems from my son Daniel’s (now co-vice chairman) well-documented passion for City, and to suggest that there are ulterior motives is simply ludicrous. My aim is to help turn Exeter City around, to reach a stable financial footing, to attract sponsorship, extra investment and support, to raise the club’s profile in the local community and to have a successful team on the pitch. Recently the football club had the incredible honour of welcoming pop megastar Michael Jackson and mystifier David Blaine, as we hosted an event to raise money for the club and notably for several worthwhile charities. The world’s media turned out in number and thousands of adoring fans screamed and cried tears of joy. Disadvantaged children experienced a once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet their idol and the satisfaction, the delight that I felt couldn’t be put into words. John Russell (co-chairman), Mike Lewis (co-vice chairman), Daniel and I are entirely serious about the club achieving success, and what can be so devious about that?
Uri Geller, Sonning, Berkshire
From WSC 186 August 2002. What was happening this month