The mention of the “ironic greeting” at Albion Rovers’ Cliftonhill Stadium – “Welcome to the San Siro” – reminded me of the time I popped in to see Wee Rovers, the club that supplied the Boro with Bernie Slaven, one freezing December day. We arrived at quarter to three and took our places in the only stand just in front of the PA man, who was greeting individual arrivals by name. “Hello Mr MacPherson, nice to see ye. How’s the family?” Later, as he spotted a group of Dumbarton supporters: “Hello there! You’ll find we’re a very friendly crowd here. If you could just turn to the left and shake hands with the person next to ye.” How very different from the life of our own dear Premier League.
Bob Kerr, Middlesbrough
The leader of Birmingham city council, Mike Whitby, has outrageously suggested that Aston Villa change their name to Aston Villa Birmingham as the club is apparently an “international brand” and this would help to “boost Birmingham’s profile across the world”. Is Mr Whitby unaware that Birmingham already has a club that proudly carries they city’s name? What more does he want? It was Villa’s choice to name themselves after a suburb and they are stuck with it. If the council wants to promote the city of Birmingham, they should build Birmingham City a new stadium to enable us to consolidate once we return to the Premier League next season. Then the city will win both ways – it will have an international-class venue and a top-flight team that is proud to bear its name, instead of the suburbanites who still bang on incessantly about the stuff they won in the last century.
Martin King, Yardley
Michael Essien sleeps 14 hours a day. I saw this on a recent Inside Sport with Gabby Logan. How much does he earn on a given day while he sleeps, bearing in mind his weekly wage? Could be a GCSE maths question.
Darren Binney, Crawley
I would just like to make it clear that I for one have not been blind to the insidious normalisation of the word “soccer” in media circles. The Championship on ITV, on a weekly basis, has its commercial breaks buffered by St Helier Pear Cider – or some such aberration – with the slogan “Sponsoring this ITV soccer show”. Add to this Sky’s Soccer Saturday programme, David Beckham’s Soccer Academy and the proliferation of “soccer skills” videos on sale and on YouTube and you have an alarming trend in society apparently going unchecked. I realise the word comes from the aristocratic shortening of “association football” and harks back to the birth of the game and all that, but this modern usage is just lazy. We cannot have our younger generation growing up talking about
soccer practice, can we? I think not.
Brendan Innes, Tamworth
There was a mistake in the article “History lessons” (WSC 262) about the Museu do Futebol located in Estádio do Pacaembu. This is a municipal stadium and not, as the article stated, owned by Corinthians, even though they play most of their games there. Corinthians’ own ground, which is very small and not suitable for top-division games, is called Parque São Jorge, commonly known as “Fazendinha” (“Small Farm”).
Fábio Brazolin Abdulmassih, Brazil
I am writing to take issue with a comment made by Matt Nation (City Break, WSC 262), where the author describes his return to Ashton Gate to watch Bristol City after a 15-year absence. In the article, Mr Nation refers to the PA announcer introducing Paul Cheesley at half-time, claiming “Today, not even the man with the mike [sic] knows who he [Paul Cheesley] is... he refers to him as “Paul Cheepley”. No one appears to notice.” The man with the mic is David Lloyd, who has been a fan of Bristol City for over 30 years, following them home and away in that time. Not only that, but David has also given up hours of his own time compering fundraising events for the supporters’ trust, as well as club events such as the player-of-the-season awards and hosting Brian Tannin’s testimonial evening.
David was recently given the job of matchday announcer in addition to his other role as fans’ liaison officer – a position he takes extremely seriously, acting as a conduit between club and fans, answering emails and writing a weekly blog on the club’s official website. David is a very popular figure at the club, understands the fans and is extremely proud to represent Bristol City in this capacity. As someone who knows Paul Cheesley, it was my privilege to introduce David to him several years ago. David was like an excited schoolboy meeting his hero and spoke to Paul at great length about his career and his memories of the great man. It is extremely insulting for Mr Nation who, let’s not forget, hasn’t even bothered to set foot inside Ashton Gate for 15 years, much less give up time and money supporting and representing the club, to suggest that David Lloyd doesn’t know who Paul Cheesley is. If Mr Nation was any sort of supporter of Bristol City, he’d know who David Lloyd is and wouldn’t have made such a flippant and disparaging remark in a poor attempt to pad out and add some much needed wit to an extremely poor piece of copy.
Huw Griffiths, Norfolk
Alan Housden’s letter (WSC 262) re unintentionally ironic post-match music brought to mind an incident at Barnet in 1979, where we were “enjoying” a dreadful run under captain Steve Oliver, whose gaunt, bearded appearance convinced me he should have been a maths teacher rather than a footballer. At the end of a particularly awful 2-0 defeat by the less than mighty Hillingdon Borough, the PA crackled out the latest Elvis Costello hit, Oliver’s Army, the words “Oliver’s Army is here to stay and I would rather be anywhere else than here today” causing most of the 600-odd crowd to collapse with laughter on their way out. Sadly, the club didn’t adopt my suggestion that the song should be played as the teams came out for the rest of that season.
Paul Hawkins, Hadley Wood
ITV commentator Peter Drury got very excited about Arsène Wenger’s command of English early in the Arsenal-Dynamo Kiev Champions League game on November 25. Wenger had said he was not necessarily looking for a “providential leader” as captain. Coming from a non-native speaker, that impressed Drury. The French word for “providential” is “providentiel”. Perhaps Peter had lost his French dictionnaire.
Graham Dunbar, Geneva, Switzerland
In reply to J Ferrier in WSC 261, who questioned whether I was aware of the temperature at Boundary Park, I can confirm that I have indeed seen Stoke play there on numerous occasions, and have been very cold in that particular Lancashire spot – snow during a win in April, for example. However, on a consistent basis I would say that the Britannia would have to at least match it – and I can’t recall many other grounds where high winds forced a postponement of a match, as happened with Stoke v WBA a few years back, nor have I seen a penalty that needed to be respotted three times, like ours in a game with Spurs this season.
Andy Thorley, Solihull
One of the regulars in the Man Utd youth team is Oliver Gill, the 18-year-old son of the club’s chief executive. Have any offspring of club chairmen or senior board members, who weren’t former players themselves, ever made the grade as footballers in the UK?
This has happened in Spain, where two sons of the former Real Madrid president Lorenzo Sanz were squad players at Real for a short while with one, Fernando, being on the bench for their Champions League final against Juventus in 1998. In the UK, the son of Barnet’s “ticket broker” chairman Stan Flashman was briefly the team’s reserve goalkeeper, but that’s not in the same league.
At least if Oliver doesn’t make it, he probably won’t have to go down the Job Centre any time soon.
Jack Lowe, Cirencester
From WSC 263 January 2009