Wed 16 October
I often wake up in the morning with a song playing in my head. It’s usually blues or rock n roll, something I was playing before I went to sleep. This morning my heart felt uplifted and the tune bouncing unbidden around my head was “Something Tells Me I’m Into Something Good”. It’s a bright little pop song that was a big hit for Hermann’s Hermits in the 1960s and begins with the words, “Woke up this morning, feeling fine”. And I did. I do. The sole reason? England’s victory last night against Poland. Knowing we all have the agony and the ecstasy of a World Cup in Brazil to look forward to next year. All the fun and pleasures of the build-up. Sticker albums, new edition of FIFA on the PlayStation 4, debate over who should be in the squad. Kit, tea-shirts and souvenirs. Persuading myself that I don’t look ridiculous in a football shirt (I do of course). Another song springs to mind. “I’m in Heaven, I’m in Heaven….” Only a game? Yeah right. And yes, I am 56 years old. The only difference to how I felt in 1970 when Bobby Moore and the lads were off to Mexico was that back then I still believed I would play in the World Cup myself one day.
At my age I have seen enough to think I recognise patterns and behaviours repeating themselves over the years. The emergence of Andros Townsend following the departure of Gareth Bale brings back memories of Ledley King emerging to replace Sol Campbell. He turned out to be an even better player, truly understood loyalty and what it meant to the Tottenham community. He will for ever be a towering respected figure at the club. That sort of opportunity is also there for you Andros. It is not all about chasing the lucre and an easy route to success. Meanwhile, I know you don’t need telling Mr. Levy but a new well paid long term contract with a £120 million buy-out clause is required, sharpish please. [update Sat 19 Oct –well done again Mr. L. The Sun reports this morning that Andros has signed a new £40,000 a week contract until 2017. Hopefully it includes the massive buy-out figure too].
A Storm in a Teacup – that’s the absolute most it should ever have been
Saturday 19 October
There are some advantages to maintaining a daily football diary but not publishing it until several days have passed. You are able to be your own moderator, review your initial gut reaction, your language from the first draft and cut back on some of the emotion. I bet some of the people caught up in the live media circus wish they could do the same. A good case in point is the furore over Roy Hodgson’s encouraging comments to Andros Townsend.
For me the best and most helpful comment on the issue appeared on Sky TV this morning from Clark Carlisle, the former PFA chairman. It described the situation perfectly.
“This was a humorous anecdote where the merits of the issue are where someone who thinks they are skilled and not should be giving it to someone who is adequate to do the job, so if anyone should be offended it’s Chris Smalling” (for the blinkered among you that’s another little joke right there, not a serious insult to Smalling.) “What people are also not aligning with this is the fact that Roy Hodgson was talking to two BME players. So it’s not like he was talking to a Caucasian player and saying “you’re an astronaut” and a black player “you’re a monkey”. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH RACE OR CULTURE it is to do with perceived responsibility and ability. I feel very proud, I would say, of the way Andros Townsend has dealt with this. Having said that players should stand up and say what they believe in, he has immediately done that and he has not shirked any of the responsibility for his accidental involvement in this issue.”
This is pretty much word for word what I put in my first draft of this diary on Thursday. Whenever I express an opinion on a sensitive subject like this, I question my own judgement and how qualified I am to comment. If I feel strongly enough about it, I go ahead in the hope I can make a positive difference if only in a small way. I feel so much better though if I can find something from someone in the public eye who is clearly qualified to speak out and then give it a positive constructive comment a bit more publicity. So thank you Clark Carlisle.
Andros Townsend himself said,
“I don’t know what all the fuss is about. No offence was meant and none was taken. It is not even news worthy. I think everyone should be focussing on us qualifying for the World Cup in Brazil next year and not negative silly news really.”
On Thursday I drafted “Unfortunately, the Kick It Out Chairman has showed a complete inability to grasp the situation and lowered the reputation of his organisation by calling for an enquiry. You just know that the other society of trouble makers will be jumping on the bandwagon and stirring it up even more any minute now…Thank goodness. By midnight the FA have put out a statement saying they have already investigated and fully support Hodgson and the Kick It Out organisation has said they are satisfied”.
There are a lot of people in the wrong over this issue but Roy Hodgson is not one of them. Firstly, there is the player who was allegedly offended and went to the Sun. If he was offended, it just shows he is another poorly educated youngster who does not understand the concept of an analogy and therefore did not understand either the joke or the instruction to get the ball to Townsend. If, mistakenly due to his lack of knowledge and experience, he thought Hodgson had made a racist comment, he should have questioned it at the time and asked for an explanation. Running to the Press about it shows a lack of character and moral fibre.
Then there is the Sun. Instead of running the story, they should have sat the player down, explained what an analogy is and why the joke was instructional, amusing and appropriate. The officials in the Kick it Out campaign should have done the same thing from the outset. The only way to fully repair the damage is for the player to come out, admit it was him and that he totally misunderstood what was being said and apologise for all the trouble he has caused. He should say that he now realises that if he had understood, he would not have been offended – and that he was wrong to go to the Press. The organisations that have stirred it up to make something out of nothing should issue retractions and an apology but you just know from their blinkered behaviour on other issues that they are not big enough to admit their mistake and will keep digging. If they did though, it truly will be what the back-peddling Sun says in Friday’s edition, “Case Closed.”
Thank goodness the league games are back today. Real football action to write about instead of watching the media manufacture controversy out of nothing for the sake of a story.
All the fun of the fair on Soccer Saturday as usual. All the best teams storming through in the last 20 minutes after valiant rear-guard actions in the first half by the smaller clubs. All, that is except Man U. No real surprise when Southampton equalise at Old Trafford to pull them back to 1-1. Jose Mourinho gets sent to the stands but it doesn’t stop Chelsea getting a third and a fourth against Cardiff. Arsenal do the same against Norwich after they had pulled it back to 2-1. Swansea also get 4 against an initially brave Sunderland who collapse totally once the first goal goes in. Jeers at Stoke as they fail to score again. 0-0 vs. West Brom. Last week Mark Hughes joked after the boring game against Hull that it would be best leaving the “highlights” until this week’s Match of the Day. I bet his sense of humour has worn off after this performance. Just sitting back to enjoy the West Ham vs. Man City game on the box as I send this diary off for publishing. Aguerro has just run through to score City’s first in the 17th minute.
I’m looking forward to my next blog being all about the games, results, performances and great goals – and a return to form for Spurs. It shows just how tough it is this season. A win will gain us no better than 4th place.