Simon Goodley’s excellent piece about Notts County (WSC 280) sums up the feelings of many long-standing Notts fans. Following the so-called takeover of the club by the Munto charlatans, the Notts fanbase was taken over by arrogant, intolerant glory hunters. Simon refers to the abuse heaped on the doubters on the internet, I know of two people who were physically attacked for the sin of professing to be less than wholly enthusiastic about the riches supposedly bestowed on us. Many supporters actually turned their back on the club, as a friend of mine said: “This is not the club I have followed for 30 years.” Getting promoted was in many ways the worst thing that could have happened as we may have to put up with these interlopers for a bit longer. Like Simon, I and many others I know actually hoped the team we support would lose matches so that it could regain the soul and good humour that attracted us to it in the first place. Here’s to a long winless run and relegation scrap – let’s see how many of the glory hunters remain then.
Tony Meakin, Nottingham
Although this letters page has become a fascinating forum for critical analyses of questionable utterances by TV commentators and pundits, I cannot recall reading any comments on the most ridiculous gaffe of all, repeatedly uttered both from the commentary box and the studio. A good example occurred as the FA Cup final teams left the pitch at half-time. “Chelsea could have had four or five,” we were told. No matter that they had hit the woodwork five times, that observation is utterly illogical. Salomon Kalou would never have had his sitter to miss, if Frank Lampard’s earlier shot had sneaked in under the bar. By the same token, after Lampard had struck the bar, but supposing Kalou had then scored, we would not have had John Terry and Didier Drogba (twice) rattling the woodwork. All that could be said at the interval is that Chelsea could have, and should have, scored. Nobody knows how many more chances they might have had if Kalou had tapped in Ashley Cole’s cross, let alone how many goals Portsmouth might have scored by half-time. If commentators and pundits are professionals who understand the game of football, how come they perpetuate such nonsense?
David Bull, Bristol
I’ve just opened my new Esso World Cup medals. They are packed like contraceptives and one needs a degree in engineering to work out the instructions for putting the folder together. The 23-man squad includes Ben Foster, Wes Brown, Wayne Bridge, Joleon Lescott, David Beckham, Theo Walcott and the recently departed Rio. The 24th token is Fabio Capello, who must have given the selection to Esso rather early. Or was it an unfathomable Italian joke?
Michael Steel, Welwyn Garden City
Pete Ridges (Letters, WSC 280) suggests that the government is powerless to interfere in football matters because FIFA would not allow it. Might I suggest that in these troubled times, when the nation faces extreme cuts in public services, a hefty tax on TV revenue to sports clubs would not be unreasonable. Say 50 per cent on all income above £20 million. This, by pure coincidence, would only really hit Premier League clubs and those at the top would lose considerably more than the rest. A two-year warning could be given, so that clubs could make the necessary arrangements, such as telling Wayne, Stevie and Ashley that they can’t have a million-pound pay rise. Of course the government could let it be known that it would be pleased to see certain reforms to the game and if these were to be implemented, the tax arrangements would be reviewed. If FIFA has the power to over-rule our tax system, it really is time to give up and watch hockey instead.
David Andrew, Northampton
I was cleaning up the spare room when I came across a WSC from last August in which you predicted the outcomes of the four divisions. I lined up predicted versus the actual outcome and did a statistical ranking test (Pearson’s). In this, a score of 1 means you got it perfect. For the Premier League you scored 0.81, which is pretty good, and 0.62 for League One. You totally blew the Championship (0.46) and League Two (0.40). Yes, I know, I need to get a life.
Ian Orme, Colorado, USA
In his article about Hertha’s relegation (WSC 280), Paul Joyce mentioned that their striker Artur Wichniarek failed to score at all this season. This isn’t quite right – ask the supporters of Heerenveen. Wichniarek scored one goal all season, but what an important one. In their 3-2 away win in the Europa League group stage game at Heerenveen, Wichniarek got the goal in added time that enabled Hertha reached the knock-out stage of the Europa League at the Dutch side’s expense.
Oliver Parchmann, Ludwigshafen, Germany
Matthew Gooding’s article on half-time entertainment (WSC 280) tapped into a very rich vein. I only saw it once myself, but I believe that Leicester City regularly featured caber-tossing in the Jock Wallace era, which must have made the groundsman very unhappy. In the early 1970s at Newcastle United, I saw an excellent police dog handling display that gained tumultuous applause, the star dog being cheered off the pitch with chants of “Superdog, Superdog”. Ten minutes into a turgid second half, another chant grew around the ground – “Bring back the dogs”.
David Hood, Bewdley
Jonathan O’Brien’s review of my book How To Win The World Cup (WSC 280) was very fair. I have to point out, though, that I do not state anywhere that I believe England are going to win the World Cup this year. What I did suggest was that this group of England players have to come good this year or the game’s over for them. However, if you are reading this after July 11 and England have triumphed, please disregard all of the above. I clearly know more than I think.
Graham McColl, Glasgow
Far be it for me to condone the behaviour of the minority of idiots who decided to invade the pitch at the conclusion of the relegation decider at Hillsborough (especially the clown who thought it would be a lovely experience to take his young daughter onto the pitch with her Dora The Explorer rucksack in hand, walking past a few idiot old boys giving some Palace fans a dose of 1980s era medicine). But I do feel a bit aggrieved that all of the focus appears to be on Wednesday fans (thus apparently tarring us all with the same brush) and not also on the Palace supporters. In the media’s eyes these fans were in their rights to also invade the pitch and celebrate on an away team’s turf. What was even more worrying is the fact that the Palace supporters managed to bypass one of the biggest cadres of riot police I’ve ever seen at Hillsborough. Are these people not employed to prevent the very events that occurred that afternoon? Even more galling is the fact that over 20 years on from the clearest example of what can go wrong at a football match, surely it was in South Yorkshire Police’s own best interests to ensure the safety of fans and thus prove that they can handle such situations properly? It is hard enough to see our football club be thrown to the lions by our faceless board (who seem to be less interested in ensuring a club of Wednesday’s stature is playing at the level it should be rather than looking after their investment), never mind the press (including yourselves unfortunately) making out the fans are the problem too.
Amir Arezoo, Barnsley
I’m sorry to disappoint Phil Ball (Letters, WSC 280), but the en masse dismissal of ball-boys is not a uniquely Spanish incident. In May 2006, Watford faced Crystal Palace in the Championship play-off semi-final. Carrying a 3-0 lead from the first leg at Selhurst Park, Watford sought to play out the home game and advance to the final. Complicit in the effort were the Watford ball-boys, who acted in a similar way to that described by Tony Cole (Letters, WSC 278). They generally ignored the ball, dawdled to get it, “dropped” it and failed to stop balls that rolled near them. This even lead to one away fan encroaching on to the pitch to return a ball which the nearest ball-boy was steadfastly refusing to acknowledge. Eventually, the referee, Stephen Tanner, took it upon himself to dismiss the ball-boys and the game continued without them. Our manager, Aidy Boothroyd, then started a pushing match with Fitz Hall which escalated in to a 22-man brawl, when Boothroyd similarly didn’t return a ball near him. Boothroyd also ended up watching the game from the stands. Given that Aidy is now managing Colchester, it’s clear that he took his tactics with him. I also recall that the ball-boys were used to good effect against Reading that season, replicating the quick return ploy that Reading used at their home games. Other tactics included keeping fans behind after a game once it was clear that we would make the play-offs. The team then practised penalties, with supporters trying to recreate a hostile environment for the players. Ultimately, the only penalty we needed was Darius Henderson’s in the 3-0 victory over Leeds in Cardiff.
Alan Darlow, Harpenden
From WSC 281 July 2010