Monthly Archives: February 2012

#oneaday 62: Please release me, let me go

I got a text today from one of my mates who was asking what day I was actually  leaving for the Ukraine to watch England contest the European Championships in June. My answer was simple, this time I am not bothering. England FC have become toxic, much like most football and certainly anything  to do with the Premier League. Yes the quality is there, but the loyalty and committment from many of the players just follows the money.

Two things have happened though that give me some hope and neither would I normally applaud or agree with the outcomes.

First, it looks like John Terry’s time as an England captain is finally over, for a second time. He may even have played his last competitive tournament game for England. I admire John Terry on some levels, there is no doubt that he is a true legend at Chelsea giving any team he plays for 100% of everything he has, and Chelsea rarely lose when he plays. But the FA have decided to sack him as skipper and have shown some leadership, even if it is a tad misguided. Terry is innocent until proven guilty, but the authorities should have brought the trial forward and got it out of the way before May. It is clear that some if not all of the other England players have had enough of their captain. His last outburst in South Africa was damaging beyond repair and he is guilty of hubris on occasion.

In sacking Terry, the FA have now pricked Mr Capello into action and he is not a happy bunny. Fabio has appeared on Italian TV and said that he is effectively unhappy with the decision and with the fact that he was not consulted. David Davies a journalist who used to be an executive director at the FA, has stated that some of his contacts are convinced Capello will quit. Personally I agree with him. Mr Capello has only got 5 months of his contract to run and forefit if he resigns. It will appeal to his Italian sense of ‘justice’ to resign. He knows he can only lose in the summer, he is working for money and no longer cares about what his employers think. If he walks away, in his mind he walks with his dignity intact, it was his decision. I believe Capello has lost the dressing room anyway, so this move would be the only chance of a win he would have this year.

Meanwhile the king in waiting is Poplar’s very own crown prince, Harry Redknapp who is currently on trial for tax evasion. Harry was by all accounts, banged to rights, but given the lead accusor and witness for the prosecution is a News of the World journalist, Harry may just find that his luck is in and he walks free. I hope he is innocent and proved so.  If he is, he will carrying on walking north all the way to Wembley and take control of the England team as soon as the season is over, although the FA will cut a deal with Spurs to borrow him for the friendlies planned between now and June. He will make Scott Parker his captain and try and forge an English birth certifcate  for Luca Modric and Gareth Bale. Harry has plenty of friends who can fix these things.

If Harry falls foul of the law and is detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure, then the FA may turn to the hardest number 3 on the planet. Mr Stuart ‘Psycho’ Pearce who has been managing the U21s for some time. That would be confusing to many, but the players would love the motivation of messrs Redknapp and/or Pearce and there may just be a modicum more effort shown this summer. Failing that Alan Pardew would do a fine job.

If Capello stays, and worse still Terry is picked for the squad, expect England to repeat their performance in the Euro ’88 tournament P3 W0 D0 L3. Wayne Rooney may not get a game!

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#oneaday 61: There is always a first time….

Today is a special day. Today, West Ham play Millwall and it is special to me because it is the first time I have not bothered to watch the Hammers play their traditional dockland rivals  at Upton Park in my lifetime. I forego the opportunity to visit the New Den, which like New Labour has faded somewhat in recent years, again for the first time when West Ham have played there (which includes visiting The Den) . In years gone by, it would have been a dot on the card for both games, and essential day out and one which would fill me with excitement and trepidation. Not anymore.

I have been pretty quiet about West Ham’s fortunes for sometime. I have seen them twice in the flesh this season , both one nil games. At home to Ipswich we lost 0-1 in a dreadful game and away to Brighton we won 0-1 on a cold dark night at the brand new Brighton stadium. We are currently top and playing a brand of football which will ‘get us out of the division ‘ according to Mr Allardyce who manages the club’s players nowadays. It’s a great division to play in as everyone can beat everyone else on any given match day. Literally anyone can get promoted to the promised land of the Premier League.

But my disinterest in all things West Ham has been building for a few years. Not least last season, when our new owners Messrs Sullivan and Gold ably assisted by Karren Brady appointed Avram Grant and the rest was history. Their bungled attempt to replace the hapless Israeli after three months with Martin O’Neill failed. This was exacerbated by Ms Brady’s briefing of the press that West Ham had got O’Neill over a fateful weekend in January. Martin O’Neill probably thought to himself ‘I really don’t fancy working with this lot’ and politely declined the opportunity. Look at him go now at Sunderland.

Aside from the football judgement, I have a problem with the owners of West Ham on another level. I was lucky enough to have dinner with some friends and Sir Geoff Hurstin October 2010 and we had a long chat about the club which is so dear to both of our hearts. He was simply brilliant and was with us for 5 hours. At the time we spoke about the ownership, leadership and future of the club and he agreed with me that the jury was very much out. But the one thing that did resonate was when he asked me to ask the club where they had put his World Cup medal he had sold to the club in 2001 (when they were owned by a different set of people). Apparently the medal had been on display in the West Ham museum, but rumour had it that the museum had been closed, due to the imminent move to the new stadium once the Olympics had finished.

Remember this was 2010 and the stadium move, if it actually happened, would be a full three years away so I really did not understand the closure. Sir Geoff and I wondered if the medal was safe, after all it was one of only eleven awarded and they way the current England team play, it is unlikely that there will be any new additions anytime soon.

Exactly where were these medals? I wrote to the owners of the club in October 2010 and then followed up in November. I gave them a break for Christmas, but then chased again in January 2011. I never ever got a written reply to my three letters. I am sure the owners were very busy and have bigger fish to fry, but you do wonder where is Sir Geoff’s medal and for that matter are Bobby Moore and Martin Peters’s 1966 World Cup winners medals also bought by the club some years back? They were supposed to be on display in the museum, but there is no mention of that on the official West Ham website. I wonder where they are and why they are not on show?

David Gold is a regular user of  Twitter and is always re-Tweeting complimentary comments from fans, however every time I ask him about the whereabouts of Sir Geoff’s medals, he stays silent. Maybe he just gets too many mentions to deal with?

I hope The Hammers win today, I really do, and for my mates who still go. I bet there will be some real anticipation. I remember  the old days fondly- when football meant something to all of us, friendship, rivalry, pride, joy and tons of disappointment. When money was not the be all and end all. It clearly means a lot to Sir Geoff Hurst and that does give me hope that our great game can be saved.

Interestingly, today sees our old ‘friends’ the Gooners organising a day of ‘protest’ by placing a black bin liner over each and every empty seat in their oil state sponsored stadium. Even Arsenal know the game is up. Loads of seats are just not taken up as the rich season ticket holders simply can’t be bothered to show up for all the games nowadays. Gone are the days when you could simply turn up and buy entrance to the ground on the day. That all went back in 1990 (the same year as the game above), post Hillsborough. Watch this space though. When the seats remain unoccupied more and more at the top level, clubs will have to act and encourage supporters to come back, by hook or by crook or lose the atmosphere that was so special up until recent times. Too much money in the hands of too few will never inspire passion I am afraid.

Good luck to all of you who still love the game, I for one will be praying that the tide turns and we get back to football being a game for the people at prices people can afford. I also look forward to West Ham putting the 1966 World Cup winners medals back on show.  Then I will return to Upton Park full time.


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