Nice to see Tranmere physio Les Parry get some recognition in WSC 255 (Shot!), although he is no stranger to fame. Not only did he win a competition to find the fastest physio in the country a few years ago (with the final being held before the League Cup final), he is probably the only physio in the country – nay, the world – who has his own chant. The verses are seldom sung these days, as they refer to players such as Andy Thorn who have long retired (a further sign of his longevity), but the chorus, to the tune of I am the Music Man, of “Physi, physi, physio. Physio Les Parry” still rings out when he sprints on to the pitch to repair yet another Tranmere player clattered to the ground by some carthorse of a third-division defender.
John Rooney, Bristol
I read Jon McLeod’s article (Futsal First, WSC 255) with a mixture of fascination and frustration. As a teacher of children with special educational needs, I have been using football as a means to raise the self-esteem of these disadvantaged youngsters for over ten years now. Just a few months ago I discovered two futsal balls skulking at the back of the PE store like the runts of the litter, unloved and unwanted. Just picking one of them up and idiotically trying to bounce it gave me an instant understanding of the basic principle of the game. This is not a ball designed to be punted into the air but to be controlled and then moved on to your team-mate. I immediately gave it a go and the results have been astonishing. Children quickly come to realise that they have to move even when they don’t have the ball. The player in possession needs team-mates nearby and good control of the ball, and, above all else, the winning team are always the team with the best passing technique. “Big lads” no longer dominate proceedings. Everybody wants the “nippy little kid” with good balance. More players get more touches and so everybody’s technique improves. The lack of physicality means that more girls can join in. At first some of the children were reluctant, but the results achieved when playing against other schools with the regular-size ball have been so positive that everyone is won over.The most gratifying element for me, though, is the seismic shift in on-field banter. No longer the cries of “Whack it!” or “Get rid of it!” as “On the deck” and “To my feet” are frequently heard instead. The other day I heard one lad, disgusted at a team-mate who tried to punt the futsal long, screaming: “You’re playing like an Englishman!” Mission accomplished, I think.
Mark Ellis, Morecambe
Watching Barnsley manager Simon Davey failing to suppress a smirk while assessing Sheffield Wednesday’s draw with Plymouth on Sky, it struck me that there is something unethical about managers working as pundits on matches involving relegation or promotion rivals. Fair enough if you need to watch the game to check out forthcoming opponents, but otherwise you have only gone along in the hope of a bad result for one of the teams. So your beaming presence is only going to further antagonise those in the TV audience who are already angry and depressed.When your side are struggling, you should be spending your free time doing what your club’s fans will be doing. That is, going for head-clearing long walks whatever the weather and/or staring blankly out of the kitchen window while jangling the change in your pockets. It’s not the time to pick up some easy money by sitting on a gantry nodding politely each time Peter bloody Beagrie says “he has went” instead of “he has gone”.
Graham Menzies, Sheffield
Game 39 may have been laughed out of town, but the front shown by Premier League clubs in actually exploring the viability of this relocation should not be forgotten. Which got me thinking. Given this publication’s continued antagonism towards MK Dons and its refusal to even acknowledge their existence in its annual season preview, will this lofty principle be extended? I would like to believe that WSC will remain true to its values and ignore the entire top flight in 2008-09, given these clubs’ documented desire to uproot teams and relocate matches for no more reason than grubby financial gain. Go on: I dare you.
Phil Harris, Norwich
It has become the recent custom of the BBC’s Ceefax and online services to report both and separately the “result” and the “full-time” score of matches. As far as I am aware, the two have never differed but the air is now pregnant with the possibility that somehow they might. Where once the full-time score was unequivocally the result, can we no longer believe that it is free from the potential interference of, shall we suppose, the Big Four, Sky or FIFA? Or is this repetition of the scoreline merely a way of challenging a post-modernist world that would deny any objective truth in a “text” such as Bolton 1 Arsenal 0? Perhaps someone from the BBC sports desk and from a philosophy department can advise.
Old Sport, Gosport
Like your correspondent Michael Green (WSC 255), I attended the Boxing Day Conference game between Dover and Margate in 2001. I was there in my role as balanced and totally impartial local hack to report on the fabulous Mighty Whites’ 1-0 victory at the home of the forces of darkness. Accordingly, I feel that I am as well placed as most to observe that the most southerly team to be subjected to the “Dirty northern bastards” chant are Ramsgate, a mile or two south from their much loved Thanet neighbours. Curiously, though Dover have hosted visits from genuine soft southern nancy boys including Folkestone, Hastings and Weymouth, we have never been subjected to the aforementioned chant. However, we do occasionally hear “You’re French and you know you are”. I’m guessing this is as geographically specific as you can get and should add that this was actually quite funny when our friends from Cheltenham Town first came out with it almost ten years ago to the day. On this topic, can anyone explain why Dartford reside in “bandit country” yet Gravesend – or whatever they are called this week – do not? I’m guessing you employ some researchers for this very purpose.
Mark Winter, Dover
This may be the latest in a long line of titles that Exeter City are destined not to win, but here goes anyway. In answer to Michael Green’s question (Letters, WSC 255), Margate are not the most southerly team to be accused of being “dirty northern bastards”. At Exeter we have faced that accusation for a generation or more, courtesy of Torquay United fans. It is true (if surprising) that Exeter is due north of Torquay, but the title we have come closest to winning in recent years has been the Conference Fair Play award.
Andrew Long, via email
Phil Greaves (Letters, WSC 255) wonders if fans celebrate goals by invading the pitch at other Premier League grounds, apart from Sunderland’s Stadium of Light. The Football Offences Act of 1991 made “entering the playing area without lawful authority” a criminal offence, and the Football (Disorder) Act of 1999 ramped up the punishment from a likely ticking-off to a mandatory (although not always enforced) three-year ban. Presumably most fans would now rather err on the side of caution behind the advertising boards rather than jump over them.However, before the 1999 Act was passed, Everton’s fans were particularly regular frequenters of the pitch. Watch footage of Graeme Sharp’s famous volley at Anfield in 1984 and wait for the bespectacled beige-jacketed Evertonian careering across the pitch, arms outstretched – a man now affectionately referred to as “the windmill” in Evertonian fanzines. Other invasions of note: the classic Keystone Cops chase of an ecstatic (and eventually jacket-less) Eddie Kavanagh during Everton’s 3-2 victory in the 1966 FA Cup final; the 30 or so Evertonians mobbing Wayne Rooney on the pitch after his late goal gave us a first win at Elland Road in 51 years; and several fans getting all the way across the old Wembley’s greyhound track/car park/photographers’ area to jump around on the turf after Stuart McCall’s 90th-minute equaliser against Liverpool in the 1989 FA Cup final. The 1991 Act only applies to invasions committed inside British grounds, which may have been in the mind of several Evertonians – including a small boy (led back to the stand by a fatherly Tim Cahill) – who ran on the pitch at Brann during this season’s UEFA Cup game following a late goal from Victor Anichebe. UEFA, rather than go through the hassle of identifying, arresting and charging individual fans, decided to fine Everton an easy-to-swallow £2,500 instead.
Harry Foges, London
In response to James Edwards point regarding “Bayern Munich” being a mongrel term (Letters, WSC 254), I’m afraid I cannot, as James implored, suggest a way of stopping this, but I can offer a solution. Become a regular visitor to the Allianz. Please look away now, all those who believe the key requisite of supporting a team is the ability to heave a sodden caser from your cradle of birth to the hallowed centre circle; or those whose life-long support is defined by the postcode lottery. I am an English FC Bayern fan and get to four or five games per season. If you were to do the same you would quickly realise that the term “Bayern Munich” is never used in Germany, as James so rightly points out. What you may not be aware of, though, is the pronunciation that itself makes the anglicised “Bayern Munich” clumsy in its own right. München’s “short syllables and intimidating umlaut” need intimidate no longer. Simply adopt the correct pronunciation and all will be well. Back in England, when asked whom I support I proudly state “Eff sai Bayern Moon-schen”. To which people generally look at me in an odd way and say, “Do you mean Bayern Munich?” I simply smile and say: “Yar vol.” There’s a long way to go yet…
Neal Cresswell, Leicester via München
I’d like to pick up on a couple of points in the article in WSC 254 about Portugal’s Euro 2004 venues. As SC Farense and Louletano play most of their matches at the Algarve Stadium, it is in fact used almost every weekend. The former are top of the Algarve League and destined to win promotion back to the national setup. Attendances are not published here but word has it that 2,000 have been known to attend – not too surprising with admission at €2.50. Louletano, on the other hand, are in the doldrums and are lucky to get 300, paying €9 in Division II (ie the third level.) The stadium was used for this year’s Portuguese League Cup final (Sporting v Vitoria Setúbal) which was apparently a sell-out, with the maximum ticket price for members of either club set at €10. A problem with this and some of the other stadiums, such as Aveiro’s, is that they are miles from anywhere and the only access for most events is by road. In fact the stadium at Aveiro, where I saw Beira Mar win promotion at the end of last season, in front of 7,000, is the only stadium I have ever been to that has no pedestrian access whatsoever.
Tom Allen, Albufeira, Portugal
As somebody who likes to avoid the Premier League scores until the highlights, can anybody explain Match of the Day’s insistence on effectively giving away the key moments? You know full well, these days, that, if the camera hones in on a centre-back up for a corner, or shows a substitution being made in full, one of the players in question is going to net either the equaliser or the winning goal. It’s becoming hardly worth my while ramming a cushion over my face, and shouting “Der der der” or similar really loudly, when the newsreader (also in on the conspiracy) sneakily reads out the results at around 10.15pm. There was, of course, a precedent set in 1987, when Tottenham played Arsenal in the League Cup semi-final. Sportsnight always kept viewers waiting for football highlights and I patiently sat through ice skating from Swindon Top Rank and a nondescript boxing bout. During the latter, though, Tony Gubba (who I’ve hated ever since) said something like, “Oh, and that fighter was as pole-axed as Spurs’ defence earlier tonight”. I immediately rang the BBC to complain, but the receptionist didn’t seem to appreciate the point I was trying to make.
Dave Wiggins, Rainford
From WSC 256 June 2008