Are you aware of the administrative/secretarial difficulties that the English FA headquarters are currently experiencing? Over the past six months I have been attempting to apply for membership of “englandfans”, as the travel club is now known, for the period 2004-06. In July the “englandfans team” announced that packs would be out in August, but in spite of my non-membership I was invited to apply for tickets for England v Ukraine at Newcastle. Presumably, my earlier attendance and behaviour at the pre-Portugal tournament in Manchester had been monitored and found acceptable. I would like to continue to offer my support and the friendly in Madrid sounds attractive, but I am still not an “englandfan” and unlikely to be until January 2005! A letter in October explained that “the club is being restructured” (has Sven been told?) but that away tickets would for now only be available to existing members.Apart from the 76 fans arrested in Portugal, more recently in Baku a group of “englandfans” were reported to be displaying a banner saying “No Asylum Seekers”. I hope the FA find “sufficient evidence” on this occasion to create some vacancies for replacement fans.
Geoff Lord, Chesterfield
I found your “Football on TV” supplement (WSC 213) to be very informative but the headline “Regions to be Cheerful Part 1 – Yorkshire TV” would have been more aptly named “Reasons to be Gloomy” for non-Leeds supporters. The article rightly notes that regional games were rarely shown on this Leeds-based (and Leeds-biased) channel from 1982-83 onwards. The writer fails to point out that this was the era in which Leeds had been relegated to the old Division Two and Sheffield Wednesday were becoming the dominant force in Yorkshire football. So blatantly anti-Sheffield is Yorkshire TV coverage that it actually gave rise to a Wednesday fanzine, The War of the Monster Trucks. When Wednesday beat Manchester United in the final of the League Cup in 1991, virtually every ITV region stayed with the celebrations and post-match interviews for an extra half-hour. Not YTV – they cut away to show War of the Monster Trucks. Their switchboard was inundated with calls from South Yorkshire. It took YTV more than ten years to actually apologise. And in 1989, Gordon Strachan, upon leaving Man Utd, chose Leeds as his new club, despite having appeared to be previously on his way to Hillsborough. I’ll never forget the inanely grinning presenters of YTV beginning the story: “It’s Leeds United 1, Sheffield Wednesday 0”. Alas, Sheffielders can’t even turn to BBC for unbiased coverage. Leeds-based Look North is called Look Leeds in the steel city. It’s interesting that now that Leeds Utd find themselves out of the Premiership, YTV are regularly producing Sunday programmes and midweek specials on the Championship. No prizes for guessing which club they usually begin with. Even on Yorkshire’s teletext, Leeds get their own page, whereas Rotherham and Sheffield United have to share a page between them, despite being in the same division. And if you think I’m jealous – darned right. Had Leeds not stolen Cantona from under our noses in 1991-92 (he was training with Wednesday), we might have won the League instead of finishing third. But that’s another story.
Paul Clarkson, via email
With regard to your features on regional televised football (WSC 213), you draw attention to Granada once including Carlisle United among their number. During this time Anglia television had Hull City, Southend Utd, Norwich City and Northampton Town as regular cast members. Anyone who can be bothered to ruin a perfectly good map by joining them up and shading in the resulting area will find that it covers almost one fifth of the country and must go some way to explaining commentator Gerry Harrison’s bizarre accent.
Tim Allan, Croydon
Apart from reviving the all-too-recent memories of a miserable last 15 minutes – and the fact that I shall spend the rest of the season trying to spot the couple in the lovers’ tryst that will no doubt continue to unfold upon the Mayflower Terraces almost directly opposite my seat in the Lyndhurst side – I enjoyed reading Cameron Carter’s article on the game between Plymouth Argyle and Wolves (WSC 213). Just one thing caused me some discomfort, though. Well two if you include the match itself. Cameron states that second spot achieved after four matches was the highest in the club’s history. Not so. Does anyone else remember three consecutive wins early in the 1987-88 season (including a 6-1 bashing of Huddersfield), which temporarily took us to the top of Division Two, as it then was? Obviously this was your typical surprise start from a no-hoper (Argyle eventually finished 16th that season), but for just a brief spell we topped the division. Also, we led for half a weekend this August after winning at Brighton and Cardiff, so 16th place would seem to be in order once more.
Dom Haughton, Falmouth
In response to Graeme Coleman’s letter in WSC 213, I suspect that he read the words “Scary Big Diaginal” correctly. Having watched Leicester under Adams for a couple of years, this had, especially this season, unfortunately been his recipe for success. It involved somebody (usually Ian Walker or, more recently, Pie Man Pressman) hoofing the ball diagonally (please note the spelling Micky) towards the head of James Scowcroft, who would cunningly either head it out of play or to an opposing defender, who in turn would invariably return it to the Leicester keeper so the process could be repeated. Alternatively, the scrawled words could have said “Scowy Big Diaginal”, where the ball is hoofed diagonally on to the head of James Scowcroft, who would head it out of play or to an opposing defender…It wasn’t at all that scary for defences in the Coca-Cola Championship, though, who soon sussed that it would be possible to nullify Leicester City’s fine attacking play by standing ten yards away from the aforementioned Mr Scowcroft and waiting for him to head it to them. I look forward to next month’s photo of former caretaker-manager Dave Bassett’s scribble – “HOOOFF” maybe?
Rob Fray, via email
The BBC are back to being their smug self-satisfied selves with MOTD. And, indeed, back to their old tricks – pretending to give in-depth coverage of each game, while actually dubbing commentary in the studio afterwards. Why else would we have Tony Gubba saying: “Here’s Wayne Routledge in the tenth minute.”And if a superb move followed by a near-miss is good enough to warrant comment in the expert (?) post-match analysis, why isn’t it included in the highlights? ITV have just risen to the same heights by showing one of the two goals in the Leicester v Stoke game and saying: “The cameraman missed the other one.”
Glyn Berrington, Brierley Hill
The Football on TV supplement with WSC 213 was a most interesting look at how coverage of the game has evolved. However, two developments were overlooked. The first is the prominence that the game gets on the national news. A decade ago, you couldn’t get the result of a midweek game, let alone see any goals; these days David Beckham’s claim that he got himself booked deliberately against Wales gets a five-minute slot on the Six O’Clock News. How this non-story can merit 20 per cent of a news bulletin in these troubled times is totally beyond me. Second, and much more annoying, is the use of spurious football references in so many television commercials. Every other advert seems to contain “amusing” obsessive fan characters, players flogging fast food, or even cars playing football, of all things It’s not just the blanket coverage of games that’s turning people off, it’s the overblown sense that football actually matters in a global perspective and, linked to that, its ubiquity as a marketing tool. It’s only a game and TV types would do well to remember that.
Marc Bennett, Lichfield
The other day a caller to Century FM’s Three Legends Phone-In (in case you’re wondering, the mythic trio in question are Malcolm Macdonald, Bernie Slaven and Eric Gates) identified himself as a Middlesbrough fan before launching into a criticism of the tactics of Boro manager “Malcolm McClaren”. I can't remember what he said, but I imagine it was something about the way the ginger Svengali had made the team dress in pirate outfits and spent most of his time drawling away to gullible media types about how he invented 4-4-2 and Wilf Mannion.
Chris Front, Redcar
As a Charlton Athletic fan I am proud of the club’s stance at the forefront of the Kick Racism Out Of Football campaign. Working extensively within the local community in Greenwich and as far afield as South Africa, Charlton have reached out to promote awareness of a range of extremely important issues and the good name of the club. So why on earth has “Addicks fan” Jim Davidson been invited to provide the “comedy” element at Richard Rufus’s retirement dinner? As far as I’m aware this is a man who continues to peddle mimicry of a particularly dubious nature at the expensive of the black and Asian communities. Many people from all sorts of backgrounds find this man offensive and odious in the extreme. I and all my Charlton supporting friends are mightily embarrassed to have this man’s name associated with our club and to have his affinity highlighted in this way is at best a sick joke.
John Kelly, Kentish Town
I very much enjoyed the extract from Jimmy Glass’s autobiography (WSC 213) and look forward to reading the whole of One Hit Wonder. But as well as bringing back memories of where I was when it happened (sat in a cold, almost empty office building), it set me thinking about other one-hit wonders and where I was when I heard about them. Roy Essandoh, for example, the striker Wycombe signed after reading about him on Ceefax (or possibly vice versa), whose goal began the long decline of Leicester City, and the long decline of Roy Essandoh, as far as I know (I was sat in the same office). Still, at least he fared better than Manny Omoyimni, whose moment in the headlines came about because he was unable to remember playing in the League Cup for Gillingham when asked about his eligibility to do the same for West Ham, later that season (still in that office). But the person whose whereabouts most bothers me is a young midfielder who inspired Charlton to a fantastic victory over Chelsea last Boxing Day (I was listening on the radio while walking round a park, trying to work off some of the recently acquired excess calories and maintain some level of polite interaction with the family and to not disturb the peace of other nature-lovers by shouting too loudly whenever Charlton scored). Whatever did happen to Scott Parker?
David Alexander, Foots Cray
In WSC 213 I was pleased to read the reviews of websites of smaller FAs of Europe and club sites of these countries. But I think you got a wrong one: the URL you mention for FC Wiltz 71 from Luxembourg is the old one, that’s why it is not really up to date. Their official site is now simply www.fcwiltz.lu. It’s not up to date either, but at least it’s only a few weeks behind, not years.
Paul Krier, via email
From WSC 214 December 2004. What was happening this month