Wednesday, 31 December 2014


1950s And Before

“You can say what you like, but he wouldn’t have been able to do that with the old leather football”. Can’t help absent-mindedly scanning the Premiership table looking for Preston North End, still thinks of Wolves as one of Europe’s top sides, has a niggling feeling that there really ought to be two League teams in Bradford and calls Crystal Palace “The Glaziers”. Refers to players “breasting” the ball down and calls scarves and hats “team favours”. Would still take his rattle to games but police confiscated it in 1987 telling him “That thing would be lethal if you clocked someone with it” Admits that the maximum wage was a pernicious and unjust system, yet can’t help thinking that its abolition has ruined the game. Raised on Matthews and Finney he likes to see wingers taking full-backs on, but insists that “That Ronaldo wouldn’t have fancied it so much after Frank Brennan had put him into the stands with his first tackle (because that’s what he’d have done, you know?)”. Laments the passing of the good old-fashioned shoulder charge and the inception of mass goal celebrations. Greets the sight of a player rolling about in agony on the turf with a cry of “Tell his Mam to give him a jelly”. “Roy Keane? He’s a right Shirley Temple.”



“He wouldn’t have been spinning round on the ball like that if Dickie Rooks had been marking him”. Insists on taking a thermos of tea with him to matches despite the fact that throughout the 1980s police confiscated it from him “because you could throw it at someone” Can recall the exact qualification criteria for entry into the Inter-City Fairs Cup (“And you see that was how Newcastle came to be playing in it that year”). Still talks about Hartlepools, occasionally calls Everton “The Toffeemen”, thinks of Sheffield Wednesday as a top flight side and gets cross at the very mention of Antonio Rattin. At the back of his mind there is a feeling that the European Championship is a competition only countries from behind the Iron Curtain take seriously. Talks of “London’s fashionable King’s Road” and can name all the Miss World’s George Best slept with. Mists over at the mention of that golden summer day at Wembley. Still has his Star Player cards and “even after all these years if you sniff Colin Suggitt you can still smell the bubblegum”. Associates Saturday morning with Sam Leitch and would like to see The Home Internationals revived. “They’re in Division Two, or whatever stupid name they’re calling it these days”.



“You wonder what these modern players would have made of Cloughie”. Believes that the proper way to wear a football scarf is tied round your wrist, but whenever he does it the kids wail “like, stop being soooo embarrassing, Dad”. Cackles merrily at the very mention of The Watney’s Cup and the Daily Express five-a-sides and can tell you every team that won the Anglo-Italian without even looking in the stash of Jimmy Hill’s Football Weeklys he has in the loft. “Call that a dive? You should have seen Frannie Lee”. Never sees a big centre-half without repeating the old Jim Holton chant “Six feet two, eyes of blue…” Has the theme from Sportsnight with Coleman as his ringtone and says, “His application for re-election was rejected” when a workmate is made redundant. Can’t help wondering why goalkeepers all wear gloves when “Jimmy Montgomery pulled off that incredible double save with his bare hands”. Has those Shoot! League Ladders somewhere but has just bought five more sets on eBay just in case. Occasionally yells “Interesting…Very interesting!” for no apparent reason and has been heard to ask, “Whatever happened to the teleprinter?” more than once and grits his teeth any time anyone says ‘an assist’.


Is no stranger to the word Simod and will always think of it as The Littlewoods Cup. Secretly resents the fact that police no longer search him when he enters the away end at grounds. Used to rage against The Saint and Greavesie, but now he’s seen what was to follow can’t help getting a bit wistful for all those gags about Scottish goalkeepers. Still regards Oxo as a drink. Bitterly remarks “Where were this lot in 1988?” when he can’t get a wagonwheel because the man in front of him is demanding to know why there’s no sun-dried tomato paninis left. Recalls being made to remove the laces from his Doc Martens by police at Ipswich and views it as a reproof to “all these middleclass tossers who have turned up since 1990”. Don’t get him started on Toni Schumacher. Can sing Half Man Half Biscuit’s “All I want For Christmas Is The Dukla Prague Away Kit” all the way through, still has an inflatable banana and a box full of photocopied fanzines with names like Brian Moore’s Head and And Smith Must Score. Used to complain about the fact that you couldn’t hear the PA in grounds and tell people it was “a health and safety issues” but now rather regrets it as he listens to “The Power” by Snap at deafening volume for the 3,000th time. ‘He wouldn’t have lasted two seconds with Mick Harford’.



“They make all this fuss about Soccer AM but it’s not a patch on Fantasy Football”. Views the season ticket renewal notice as the real harbinger of summer. Wears replica Peru shirt with his nickname on the back in honour of his club’s brief liaison with a left-winger from Lima when watching away games in the pub. Can’t help wondering if the Cup-Winners Cup wouldn’t be worth reviving. Thinks 606 has never been the same since Danny Baker left. Has “Three Lions” as a ring tone. Still associates the words “dentists chair” with “that” Gazza goal against Scotland.  Will always hate Andreas Moller and occasionally wonders what happened to Maidstone United. Likely to start chortling if someone says, “Barry Venison’s mullet” or mentions John Barnes’ jackets. Views a mobile as an essential match day accessory and spends much of the game yelling, “Can you hear me? We just scored. Are you there? I can’t hear anything. I said, “We just scored”. Is still looking for Mark Draper (Notts County) to complete the 1992 Panini sticker album. “He plays in that position the legendary Teddy Sheringham once made his own”.



“So Gary Lineker wasn’t always a TV presenter then?” Looks blank if somebody mentions terracing or turnstiles and tends to base his assessment of players on how they perform in Pro Evolution Soccer 6 Platinum. Doesn’t really support a team as such, but takes a passionate interest in whoever Zlatan is playing for at the time. Owns replica shirts from a variety of Spanish and Italian clubs that were bought while on holiday in Portugal because “Y’know, I just sort of liked the colours, really”. Knows the precise difference between a Predator Absolute TRX and an AZT90 Lazer FG. Totally believes the stats and ratings on the Shoot Out Premier League trading cards. “No, look Craig Bellamy has got more stars than Hernan Crespo, so he must be better”. Thinks the “Easy” chant is nearly as funny as the bubble captions in Match! Wishes Tim Lovejoy lived next door and considers the visit to the megastore the key part of the match day experience. Doesn’t actually believe that football was invented by SkyTV but thinks it was “pretty boring” before they took over. Enjoys going to a game, but secretly wishes it was all a bit more like one of those cool Nike adverts. “What d’you mean, Gabby Yorath’s dad?”





  1. 26th November 1980; me and three lads from work decided to drive to London to watch Sunderland in the Daily Express 5 a Side tournament. We got as far as Washington services when smoke started billowing from the car's dashboard. We ended up having a day on the drink in South Shields . . . and that was the year they only went and won the bloody thing. Supporting SAFC in a nutshell. And I loved the league ladders. Oh, and I had a rattle painted in my school colours - black and gold (St. Aloysius, Hebburn)
    Austin Baird

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