I’m assuming the Ruud Gullit who recently defended himself working for a dictator by saying he wasn’t interested in politics (Caucasus calling, WSC 292) to be the same one who dedicated his 1987 European Player of the Year to Nelson Mandela. I realise people’s opinions can change over 20 years, but I’m just curious as to what made him decide he wasn’t bothered about injustice anymore.
John Chapman, Sheffield
It was interesting to read the Crawley article in WSC 292. At Southport, we gave them a guard of honour and a standing ovation. How did they thank us? Ninety minutes of cheating, play-acting and complaining to the referee. They conned the officials into sending off our striker within six minutes for two innocuous challenges. What made it even worse was the “victim” was one of our ex-players.
The Non-League Paper described their tactics as “tiresome” and the referee “poor”. I have never heard a Southport crowd so aroused and angry at both opposition and officials. In Crawley’s next game Rushden had two sent off.
Crawley were definitely the best team in the league but towards the end it looked like they were going to get their 100-point target at all costs. League Two – you’re welcome to them.
John Massam, Southport
Political tensions may be currently endangering Bosnia-Herzegovina’s international participation (Three’s a crowd, WSC 292), but perhaps they could learn from a similarly divided nation in the Low Countries?
The intermittent stalemate between Flanders and Wallonia since 2007 was, until lately, reflected in the performances of the national side, with sparse home attendances and the nadir of defeat to Armenia. Now, however, the management of Georges Leekens appears to have sparked a revival for les Diables Rouges, currently second to Germany in their Euro 2012 qualification group. They have been inspired by the new “golden generation” of Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, Simon Mignolet and Jan Vertonghen, in addition to the more established names.
So, rather than nominees look after the own ethnic group, the Bosnian FA presidency should be reformed, in keeping with Sham 69’s maxim that “if the kids are united, we’ll never be divided”.
Paul Culloty, Tralee, Ireland
Listening to the Clash’s Combat Rock recently I was disturbed to note that Joe Strummer’s voice sounds uncannily like Roy Hodgson’s at times, especially when he does that Dylan-esque talking-rather-than-singing thing in tracks such as Death is a Star. Give it a spin if you don’t believe me. I’m not going to go all Private Eye with “Are they, perchance, related?” etc but perhaps there are other managers who might scrape by in a tribute band this summer?
Nick Cooper, Cardiff
Norman Mason of Widnes (Letters, WSC 292) has it absolutely spot on regarding goal celebrations. As most of us would agree, the current rules regarding bookings are ridiculous. The celebration of a goal should only be considered an issue if it is done to wind up the opposition fans.
Players should be able to celebrate how they want in front of their own supporters – taking their shirt off, running into the crowd, donning a musty-smelling mask that’s been stuffed down their underpants for the last three years, whatever. But winding up opposition fans genuinely has the potential to cause crowd trouble and should be stamped out, so surely this is where a booking would be reasonable?
Of course, the fact that I am a Sheffield Wednesday fan, and have more experience than most of seeing other teams’ players lording it up in front of us having negotiated their way through the bus-sized gaps in our defence, has no bearing on my views on this subject. And let’s bring in a special retrospective clause for Gary Neville while we’re at it.
Martin Howard, Cheltenham
While Andy Thorley’s rail against the lazy stereotyping of Stoke City (Stoking the fires, WSC 291) is undeniably justified, his argument that “if any other club had [mirrored their achievements] the pundits would be lining up to describe the rise as meteoric” is a very insular one.
Stoke’s rise from the lower divisions is hardly unprecedented (or even particularly meteoric), and the disdain with which they have been treated since taking their place at the top table of English football is far from unique.
Bolton have been a Premier League club for all bar six of the 18 seasons since they finished runners-up to Stoke in the third tier in 1993. Since then, their fans have seen four top-eight finishes, two League Cup finals, two FA Cup semis (the most recent of which will doubtless be remembered far more fondly by Mr Thorley!) and two UEFA Cup campaigns. None of that prevented them from being labelled one-dimensional long-ball bullies.
Wigan Athletic were in the bottom division as recently as 1996-97, but quickly outstayed their Premier League welcome despite finishing tenth and reaching the League Cup final in their first-ever top-flight campaign just nine years later. Rest assured, it isn’t just Stoke – unless they have sufficient Premier League previous to earn a pass, promoted sides are only a breath of fresh air until they have the temerity to avoid relegation. It’s short shrift from thereon in from a media whose coverage revolves almost exclusively around Champions League qualification and West Ham United.
Jon Callow, Bolton
How disappointing that in stating that AFC Wimbledon and FC United of Manchester were not invited to testify (and in doing so suggesting this was some sort of scandal) at the select committee on football governance (Health Check, WSC 292), Steve Menary fails to mention that Exeter City actually did so. A supporters’ owned club since 2003, Exeter were represented by vice-chairman Julian Tagg at the session held at Burnley FC in March (bit.ly/emGOHU).
I know Exeter City are not the most romantic of clubs because we haven’t been founded due to our original club going up-country or out of some sort of protest. But if City, a club that has risen from near extinction in non-League to League One in the time it has been supporter owned, cannot be considered “pioneering” then I do really despair.
Despite being higher up the league pyramid than Wimbledon and FCUM, we seem to somehow always be under the radar when it comes recognition of the progress being made by supporter-owned clubs. I know Steve Menary’s point was more about the lack of fan representation across all the select committee’s sessions, but it would have least been nice to have recognised Exeter City’s contribution to this process.
Bernadette Coates, Exeter
The caption on the photograph of Stan Anderson in the book reviews of WSC 292 contained a most unfortunate error. The black-and-white nature of the photograph may be misleading but the striped north-eastern team shown losing to Man City in the 1955 Cup semi-final was Sunderland, and not Newcastle United, as claimed.
While the Wearsiders were being beaten by Don Revie’s boys, Newcastle were drawing with York City in the other semi-final before defeating them in a replay at Roker Park and going on to claim the trophy at Wembley for the third time in five years. Stan Anderson may not have been keen to make the move to Tyneside in 1963, as claimed in Joe Boyle’s review, but he was at least joining a club with a record of post-war domestic success.
Johnny Wright, Limours, France
I felt compelled to write to you regarding your editorial in WSC 292, and specifically the reference to West Ham and the whole Carlos Tévez issue. There’s no argument that this whole affair reflected poorly on West Ham and damaged their reputation. However, let’s try to stick to the facts rather than the myth.
According to the editorial West Ham “were only required to compensate Sheffield Utd who went down in their place”. I could have sworn West Ham went through Premier League disciplinary proceedings, were found guilty and fined £5.5 million. This at a time when they were favourites to go down as the clubs above them had it in their power to stay up by their own efforts. The compensation West Ham ended up paying Sheffield Utd directly was when the Blades later took West Ham to court – setting a precedent for other clubs who also don’t like the way decisions have gone after an agreed disciplinary process (which all clubs sign up to).
Strangely enough, Neil Warnock, so vocal in his criticism of West Ham at the time, has been quiet about QPR’s situation. How ironic that Swansea had been considering legal action against QPR for depriving them of a promotion place – presumably now shelved following the Swans’ play-off success. Still, the Hammers have now been relegated so hopefully commentators may finally feel the club have received their just desserts and stop regurgitating the view that West Ham received no meaningful punishment and ignoring the reality.
Alison Townsend, London
In answer to the question posed on the cover of your last issue, Barcelona: Best in the world?, the answer is “Yes”.
Paul Hay, Maidenhead
From WSC 293 July 2011