Iván CAMPO The Spaniard who swapped paella for pies
park life www.parklife.co.uk
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TOP XI FOOTBALL LEAGUE RIVALRIES WES HOOLAHAN DARTFORD FC TOMMY SPURR ONE LAST ROLL OF THE DICE
BARRY FRY King of the lower leagues
‘You can stick your 30 points’ Wembley and relegation - Luton Town’s bizarre season Bring me sunshine The Morecambe FC story in Sammy McIlroy’s words
‘I died on the pitch... JULIAN DICKS but lived to tell the tale.’ park life
of The real livesgu the lower lea es The Administrator The Chairman The Referee The Subsitute The WAG on with
puts a face to the people behind the
on drinking, golf and the frustrations of managing in the lower leagues
The real lives of the lower leagues
PHOTO OF THE MONTH
Photo of the MoNtH
There’s only 3,000 Eric Cantonas! And you thought the King was dead? Well, you probably didn’t but we bet you didn’t think you’d see a whole stand of Eric Cantonas. Now you have. Before FC United’s home game with Bradford Park Avenue the home crowd adorned masks of their hero for a new film on the football genius.
FC United’s view from th e stand page 58
Head to the website for an interview with Eric during his first taste of English football... at Sheffield Wednesday
Park Life June 2009 3
Inside park life Not even the FA could stop them winning at Wembley
Barry Fry - The lower leagues’ most famous face
Julian Dicks - the Hammer lost in the lower leagues
A game of life and death - Adam Davies died on the pitch but that didn’t end his career
Football League Community Schemes REGULAR
Breakaway club FC United of Manchester
‘Better than Wembley’ Is Dartford’s ground the best non-league stadium in the country
One to Watch Reuben Reid REGULAR
66 Charity England midfielder Michael Carrick speaks to Park Life about the NSPCC
Last roll of the dice Park Life documents the ups and downs of the last day of the season
72 Away day Park Life’s night with Rotherham United REGULAR
Top XI Football League Rivalries REGULAR
Journeyman Norwich City’s Wes Hoolahan REGULAR
Simply the best Chesterfield FC midfielder Darren Currie REGULAR
4 June 2009 Park Life
Tommy Spurr Q&A with the Sheffield Wednesday left-back
80 Reviews Games, films and books REGULAR 86
Are you ‘avin a laff? Stats that shouldn’t be true but somehow are REGULAR
Iván Campo - we talk to the former Real Madrid man
IVÁN CAMPO The Spa
niard who swapped pae lla
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THE PREMIER LEAGU
TOP XI FOOTBALL LEAGUE RIVALRIES WES HOOLAHAN DARTFORD FC TOMMY SPURR ONE LAST ROLL OF THE DICE
KING OF THE LOWER LEAGUES
Sammy McIlroy describes the rise of Morecambe
‘YOU CAN STICK YO UR 30 POINTS’ The tale of Luton Town’s up but, ultim
ately, down campaign
BRING ME SUNSHINE
The Morecambe FC story
in Sammy McIlroy’s word
‘I DIED ON THE PIT
BUT LIVED TO TELL THE
CH... JULIAN DICKS ON DRIN
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THE GAFFER’S TEAMTALK It’s all over. Every fan has experienced the proverbial ups and downs, as well as the trials and tribulations over the course of the season. But now the tedious humdrum of a summer without football kicks in. So, here at Park Life, we’ve decided to light up your footballless lives with some of the biggest characters in the game. The enigmatic Iván Campo, the forbidding Julian Dicks and the effervescent Barry Fry - not a bad line-up, even if we do say so ourselves. Not only that, but we’ve teamed up with Carling to bring you an
insight into the real lives of the lower leagues. Ever wondered what a WAG does when he’s playing away? Or how a referee feels when thousands are calling for his head? Well, now you can find out. So, get a tinny, put your feet up and enjoy not one but two magazines. Good times. Yours in football,
Simon Peach Editor-in-Chief
YOUR LETTERS Dear Park Life, Disappointed once again.A familiar feeling for us Bradford fans. After all the hype and promises we were given by our ‘saviour,’ this year’s pain seemed a little tougher to swallow. Two points. Two points off the play-offs. Two more draws, one more win, but it didn’t happen and we look ahead to another cold year sitting on the terraces willing our men to win. After Mark Lawn poured money into players, we had the team our manager wanted, but something just wasn’t right. Hopefully, McCall has learnt from his mistakes – ‘old time, high earners’ aren’t really what’s needed down in League Two. Hopefully this season we greet some young fresh players who will fight for their The saviour: place, and fight for promotion. Hopefully. gaffer Stuart McCall Helen Davids, Bradford
Park Life June 2009 7
Holding on for dear life
Dear Park Life, As a Derby County fan I find myself increasingly frustrated with the difficulty clubs such as ours have in trying to bounce back to top flight football. The gulf between the Premier League and Championship is huge. Not just in monetary terms, but in terms of quality. It’s a tough situation to try and overcome for any club. It’s generally accepted that all three clubs promoted from the Championship will be back the following year. The trouble comes in raising enough money to bring in players who can exceed the standard of the Championship to gain promotion to the Premier League and then to secure players who are of Premier League standard. How does a club, who are expected to get relegated, attract this standard of player? The gulf is so vast that very high risk sums of money need to be fronted by those promoted in order to stay in top flight football. The risks are huge. Derby are a case in point here. We came crashing back down from the Premier Leaue because our board simply would not put forward any real sum from the £60million we effectively earnt from gaining promotion through the play-offs, for new players. The difference of quality between our players and the rest of the league was only too apparent from the fact that we won one game all season and set a new record for the lowest ever points in a Premier League season. With our new chairman Adam Pearson, I can only hope that he will try to invest more money in new players to try and push the club forward. And, hopefully, back to where Derby belong. Regards, Callum Walker, Boston
BONDING: We’ll make it out this league if we stick together
You’re ‘avin a Clarke Dear Park Life, Having watched highlights of the Burnley versus Sheffield Wednesday game on ITV’s ‘The Championship’ (01/03/2009), I realise that some viewers may be under the impression that Sheffield Wednesday striker Leon Clarke is a striker of reasonable quality. I would like to make it clear to anybody who is of this opinion that he is, in fact, completely useless. Mark Barton, Doncaster
Is it a sport or a business? Answers on a postcard, please Dear Park Life, Having never really done anything particularly memorable, Chris Dunphy (chairman of Rochdale) has never specifically been the object of my disapproval. However, in the Guardian on the 8th April, he, like countless others before him, decided the time had come to jump on the ‘Leicester City avoided a point deduction in 2003 and as such should be deducted points and should be sent to hell’ bandwagon, which must have circled the Earth, or at least England, thousands of times by now. In this latest attack on probably the longest serving team of scapegoats in modern football history, he asks if writing off debt by going into administration is any different from “an athlete taking drugs to enhance performance.” I would agree with him if he had compared the situation to an athlete perhaps falling on a needle by accident after being pushed by someone sponsoring him and inadvertently improving performance as a result, only for the people
who left the needle lying around to complain when the athlete wins a race. This absurd, yet more comparatively accurate, series of events is much more akin to the goings on of 2003 and more recently at Southampton, because a football club can surely not be held solely responsible by the league, if a financial dependant of the club goes into administration.
Going into administration is bad practise for any business... However, it was an option that allowed the club to remain in existence. Do I agree with what Leicester did? No. Going into administration as a limited company and writing off debt to creditors and the taxman as a consequence is bad practise for any business. However, at the time it was one of a number of options available to the club, and most importantly, it was an option that allowed the club to remain in existence. The fact that, at the time, it did not result in a ten point deduction was not an issue, and still isn’t. The modern offside rule, as we know it, was last amended in 1990. Does that mean
all goals before it should be reviewed, and corresponding scores amended? No. Perhaps the ten point rule was introduced as a result of the actions of Leicester City in 2003. Many analysts, such as Tom Dart in the Times on the 19th February, regard it as the catalyst for the introduction of the rule. If that is the case, I am glad Leicester were able to highlight this loophole. So actually, Chris Dunphy, in his infinite wisdom as Rochdale chairman, could argue that he has Leicester City to thank for other clubs committing the unforgiveable sin of succumbing to financial problems, losing ten points, and as a result, dropping league positions and suffering even more. His team is destined for eternal mediocrity, unless he can persuade the football league to do the honourable thing and kick his peers whilst they are down. With the size of figures in football at the moment, be they red or black, I believe that the line between a football club and a business needs to be much more clearly defined before the chairman of Rochdale can dub Leicester City, or any other club for that matter, ‘morally wrong’. Regards, Tom Kelly, Leicester
Dunphy - Leicester basher
Dear Park Life, I was at Wembley with the Blades but we never stood a chance.You can’t win matches without scoring goals.You can’t expect the defence to bail us out all the time. Who would have thought we would be short of strikers at the offset of the season? Nobody. We were the envy of most of the Championship clubs; but what did the club do? What they have done all my life - they sold them. And that’s what we will do this coming season with the whizz-kids - our two young full backs, Walker and Naughton. With the present defence, plus Hulse, Beattie (the real one) and Stead, for back up, an experienced quality replacement when we knew Gary Speed was on his last legs, then we wouldn’t have needed the play-offs. We would have had automatic promotion, without a doubt. Keith Edwards, Sheffield United’s radio commentator, was right when he said: “Our Chairman’s got a good business head but he should wear his football head a bit more often.” Will we ever change? I doubt it, we will never go bankrupt but we will never be a big club. Regards, Jim Brown, Sheffield
BIG Support: But will they ever support a big club?
Hot property: The Kyles, Walker and Naughton
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YOUR LETTERS Where’s my money?
STAR LETTER Dear Park Life, I am a Leeds fan, and when it came out that Jermaine Beckford had turned down a new contract I was gutted. I was disappointed with the club for not pursuading him to stay, and thought that Ken Bates should have gone to any lengths possible to keep Jermaine. This is all until I heard that Jermaine had demanded £50,000 a week. When we signed Beckford, three years ago, he was a windscreen repair man for the RAC. Beckford currently earns £11,000 a week, which is a huge amount by League One standards. It is a shame that a player like Beckford has made such incredible demands,
especially after he declared his love for the club and said that he wanted to stay. The wages he has demanded would earn him twice as much as any player outside the Premier League, and are clearly not feasible for Leeds. I hope that someone is willing to pay these wages, because otherwise Beckford will end up staying at Leeds when everyone knows he doesn’t want to be there, which is a shame. Maybe he should join Newcastle, surely they would stump up the required cash. Either way I think it is a disgrace that a player who Leeds took from a semiprofessional outfit has asked for the same wages as Francesc Fabregas. He was never that good anyway! Daniel Bruce,York
Football’s coming home (for Southampton, at least)
WHERE?!: Gillingham next season, mate
Dear Park Life, I’m writing on behalf of the footballing world to express satisfaction at Nottingham Forest’s escape from relegation. The club’s former omnipotence in Europe brings global interest to a league otherwise manacled by bedpan clubs like Doncaster Rovers. Unfortunately, the international relief at Forest’s success was sullied somewhat by an outpouring of grief and self-pity in Hampshire. Several column inches that could have been used to congratulate Billy Davies were reserved for eulogies at the passing of Southampton FC. A “heartbreaking and sobering decline” sobbed one commentator.
I should like to point out that Southampton’s only club honours in history, barring a freak FA Cup win, are Third Division titles. And let’s not forget that Southampton played in a cow shed for over a century, appalling the entire football community with third world hospitality. My dear Saints, you shouldn’t be crying.You’re finally home. If I was feeling particularly savage, which I am, I’d point out that Charlton and Norwich have left a similarly ephemeral mark on the sport.You’ve done nothing in football lads; don’t make the mistake of thinking that anybody cares. Best regards, Alex Campbell, Nottingham
Send your letters to: firstname.lastname@example.org or post them to: Letters, Park Life, Haymarket Publishing, Teddington Studios, Broom Rd, Teddington, Middlesex TW11 9BE 10 June 2009 Park Life
ROUTE ONE No fuss, we go...
‘BETTER THAN W
Is this the best ground outside t Dartford FC, who are they?
You’d be well within your rights to ask that question. The club finished eighth in the Isthmian Football League Premier Division this season. That’s the seventh tier of English football. That’s officially the footballing wilderness. What a grim place this should be. Amateur footballers kicking lumps out of each other in front of dilapidated stands, which provide no shelter for their hardwearing fans. Churned pitches so bad that they’re a health risk to the players and litter scattered around the feet of those in the terraces. That’s not the way they do it in Dartford though, if their on-field form follows the promise they’re showing off the pitch, it won’t be too long before they start winning trophies. Their home, Princes Park, was built by
12 June 2009 Park Life
Dartford Borough Council in 2006, at a cost of £6.5 million. That appears to be a snip when you see it from the outside, as they have created one of the most cutting edge stadiums in the world. After 14 years of not having a place to call their own, playing home matches at Gravesend for some of that time, there were high hopes pinned on Princes Park, and The Darts’ latest acquisition did not disappoint. Within design circles it has been hailed as a tour de force, the stadium has been lauded for its architectural advancements as well as its eco-friendly structure. From a ‘living roof’ to solar panels, the stadium has the environment at its core. There’s even an ‘Oak Man’ – a 5.5 metre figure that holds up the stadium roof. He is undoubtedly Dartford FC’s biggest fan.
Other eco-friendly design features are the pitch and floodlights, which have been deliberately set below the level of the ground outside the stadium to reduce noise and light pollution for the neighbours. There are also two small lakes to collect rainwater for watering the pitch and the main building has timber cladding for insulation. The award for Best New Non-League Ground in 2007 was just the start as Princes Park has continued to pick up awards for design. It was even featured on Soccer AM, with show guest and architect Wayne Hemingway describing it as “better than Wembley.” “It’s got a grass roof all the way around the outside, it’s got solar panels, it’s totally sustainable and creates its own electricity,” he said.
ROUTE ONE LOWER LEAGUE LOOKALIKES
Tim Westwood of Pimp My Ride fame
A young Barrack Obama
Burnley manager Owen Coyle
Nottingham Forest striker Rob Earnshaw
the Premier League? “That’s the way that buildings should go, it’s just fantastic, and it’s definitely the best stadium in the country.” With council funding essential to the construction of the stadium, it not only provides a place for football at the weekends but is used extensively as a community centre. You can hire out the high-tech astroturf pitch within the complex, shoot nine holes at Princes Park’s very own golf course or join its running club. So the ground looks and functions amazingly, but what’s improved for the fans? The ground has a capacity of 4,000, well over the average attendance of 400 at Isthmian Premier League games. “Princes Park has elevated us to a new level and a potential way beyond anything we have ever achieved in the past,” says
David Tumbridge of The Dartford FC supporters club. “Jeremy and his colleagues have created a miracle and I for one will be eternally grateful.” Jeremy Kite, leader of Dartford Borough Council, was the man responsible for proposing the new stadium, which was designed by Australian architect Meiyun Valdivia a L’Onions (great name). He says that Princes Park is a reward to the people of Dartford: “It’s important the community have a place to come and enjoy the football. Dartford residents deserve the best and in Princes Park they’ve got it.” With such an impressive stadium The Darts are making football clubs all over the country green with envy. To check out more class non-league stadia go to www.parklife.co.uk/stadia
Pantomine dame Christopher Biggins
Plymouth supremo Paul Sturrock
Goomba from the Mario Bros
Wolves loanee Marlon Harewood
Nosferatu the German vampire
Our favourite lookalike, Rob Earnshaw, at it again
If you have any football lookalikes, plea se email them to lookalikes@parklife .co.uk. It could be the funniest thing you ever do. Park Life June 2009 13
QUOTES OF THE MONTH “Charlton’s chances of staying up are thinner than Keira Knightley on a diet.” Commentator on The Championship during the highlights of Charlton v KNIGHTLEY Blackpool. needs a balti pie
OH, WHEN THE SAINTS...
“At six o’clock on Saturday morning I was varnishing the garage. What a horse of a man I am. Now I can book my holidays.” Wolves manager Mick McCarthy after winning the Championship. “Most goals are scored between the sticks.” Mansfield manager David Holdsworth being interviewed after their 2-2 draw at Woking.
Whilst the Saints may have been relegated from the Championship there are some holy spirits in blissful form...
These footballing priests from Switzerland play in the name of the big man every Sunday and, as you can see, take it very seriously. Those on the South Coast, take note - you could do with some divine inspiration.
“Some of the lads weren’t even born when I started playing. I get called grandad and all sorts and it makes you feel a bit old!” 40-year-old striker Paul Furlong after netting his 200th career goal in Barnet’s 1-0 win over Bournemouth. “I think it’s the highest honour you can achieve.” Oxford United striker James Constable on his international call up... to the England C squad. “If you said to me back in June when we returned for pre-season training that with three games to go we’d be in with a chance of automatic promotion, I’d have broken both your legs and your arms.” Sheffield United manager Kevin Blackwell’s surprise at his side’s form.
BLACKWELL - Well ‘ard 14 June 2009 Park Life
McKEE’S TERRACE TALK
These new England shirts are a reminder of the good old days - a strong pound and affordabe housing
There really is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow
LOWER LEAGUE WAG
QUOTES OF THE MONTH (CONTINUED)
“I have to watch it before every game. It gets me in the right mood. It’s been my favourite film since I was little - it calms my nerves and gives me luck.” Huddersfield winger Malvin Kamara on his bizarre Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory-inspired preparation.
“When Sir Jack Hayward sold this club to me, it was a proud day. Twenty months later, he’s offered to buy it back for £20! But £20bn wouldn’t buy it now.” Wolves owner Steve Morgan goes a little over the top in his valuation of Wolves. “I feel like I’ve aged 150 years!” Scunthorpe manager Nigel Adkins after watching his side sneak into the play-offs after a late equaliser against Tranmere. “I’ll be cutting the grass or playing on the golf course - anything to keep away from the radio or a way of hearing the score.” Plymouth boss Paul Sturrock ahead of the Norwich v Reading game. He didn’t really think it through as it was an evening match. Doh!
Barnet’s Nicky Nicolau is a lucky man. A very, very, very lucky man. He’s with League Two’s finest WAG, in the great shape of Keira Jones
Oh, brother Because FOR every Ryan Giggs THERE IS A SHIT SIBLING (SUCH AS Rhodri GIGGS)
england and Chelsea captain
leyton orient midfielder
NEXT MONTH: THE BRAMBLE BROTHERS, TITUS AND TESFAYE (BUT CAN yOU GUESS WHO’s the crap one?)
TANNOY T ANNOUNCEMEN OF THE MONTH “The staff at the car park have found a wallet (slight pause) it’s got about about £4,000 cash in it so... yeah...that would be great if you could claim that...” The shocked announcer for Plymouth’s home game against Coventry on Easter Saturday must have prayed nobody collected it. Park Life June 2009 15
ONE TO WATCH
ONE TO W REUBEN REID
The nippy striker has made quite an impact in League Two, but for now he is just happy to be playing the game he loves Words & Photos: Simon Peach
Plymouth Argyle, Kiddermin- himself. He’s added a lot of things to my ster Harriers, Rochdale, Torquay game,” said Reid. “The best thing is he’s been playing United, Wycombe Wanderers, me. Brentford and now Rotherham “No other manager has given me that United. For a thirty something, nomadic lower league journeyman this is a career path that wouldn’t raise many eyebrows. But this is not your archetypal journeyman. Reuben Reid is a talented 20-year-old with pace, strength and skill to boot. As well as earning plaudits across South Yorkshire he has begun to receive higher praise. Ten goals in as many games earned him the Player of the Month award for March as he continues to show his undisputed talent. But the speedy, young Bristolian had a tumultuous start to a career that began with such promise. Trials at Crystal Palace and Manchester United didn’t bring a deal but he did eventually sign for Plymouth. Despite making his debut for them as a precocious 17-year-old, he never managed to hold down a first team place. Last summer he was released. Things looked grim for Reid but, following numerous trials, he signed for the Millers. And under the tutorship of manager Mark Robins he has not only found a place in the first team, but goals too. “I’ve come here and he was a striker
16 June 2009 Park Life
opportunity and I’ve had a chance to shine. “Hopefully I can repay the faith he has shown in me by scoring goals.” And that he has. Blessed with natural skill, the striker looks a cut above the majority of hitmen in League Two. Despite his scoring prowess, Reid had struggled to make a mark at any club before making the move to the Millers. But 18 goals in 38 games this season have seen him become a mainstay in one of the best teams in the division, on and off the field. “I’ve come here at the start of the season and it’s a very good changing room,” he said. “Probably the most welcoming changing room I’ve ever been in. “So, it wasn’t hard for me to settle down and feel welcome and part of the team. “Hopefully next season we can continue having a successful season, and hopefully push for promotion.” If it wasn’t for a 17-point deduction at the start of the season the Millers would
JOKE OF THE MONTH A man and his wife went to the ticket office at Leeds football ground and, handing over a £20 note, said “Two, please.” “Thank you,” said the man at the ticket office. “Would you like the goalkeeper and the centre forward, or are there two other players you’d like to buy instead?”
CHANTS OF THE MONTH “One man couldn’t lift, couldn’t lift Steve Evans. “One man and his forklift truck, couldn’t lift Steve Evans. “Two men couldn’t lift, couldn’t lift Steve Evans.....(repeat).” Torquay United fans during their match have finished the season in the play-offs. with Crawley, to the opposition’s Thanks in no small way to Reuben’s manager.
goals. But what started the goal surge? “I think I’ve been seeing a lot more of the ball recently,” he said. “Also I’ve been getting in contact with the middleman, which most of the time is Drewe [Broughton]. “That has helped a lot. “But I think, on the whole, if you look at results we’ve been getting, we’ve been winning so the team is playing well. “I’ve obviously been putting the ball in the back of the net but that’s a reflection on how the team is doing.” Having been on the cusp of becoming a professional cricketer at Gloucestershire his decision to choose football is beginning to pay off. And, despite his abundant promise, he is happy where he is. “I’m not one to make targets or look to the future,” he said. “All I want is to be playing football. “Enjoying my football, that’ll be best for me.” A simple mantra for a player who has had to fight so hard to get where he is now. l
parklife.co.uk Who’s your one to watch? Let us know
“£5, and you can’t sell out!” Forest fans during the game at a three-quarters-full Oakwell, despite Barnsley tickets being available for just £5. “Is that Legoland over there?” Swansea fans taunt Cardiff about their new stadium. “Ruu-pert Lowe.You’re a banker! You’re a banker!” Saints fans aim a recession-inspired chant in the direction of their muchmaligned chairman.
“You’re just a fat Steven Gerrard!” Sheffield United fans to Preston’s Neil Mellor. Park Life June 2009 17
ONE LAST ROLL OF THE DICE The last day of the season THE MATCHES Dag AND Redbridge v Shrewsbury Scunthorpe v Tranmere Rovers Carlisle United v Millwall Preston North End v QPR Bury v Accrington Stanley Rotherham United v Exeter City
Park life was there to witneSS THEM ALL The Maths It’s pretty simple in League Two. Dagenham and Redbridge are two points ahead of Shrewsbury, so the Daggers can win or draw to stay in the playoffs. For Shrewsbury, only a win will do. At the bottom of League One, it’s trickier for Carlisle. They need to beat promotion hopefuls Millwall, and hope that Northampton lose, or that Hartlepool lose by more than six goals at Bristol Rovers. The outlook is similarly bleak in the Championship where Preston North End host QPR, needing a win and for Cardiff to lose at Sheffield Wednesday or Burnley to
go down to Reading. Back in League two, Bury welcome Accrington to Gigg Lane, needing a win and Wycombe to lose at home to Aldershot by at least two goals. In South Yorkshire, Exeter are at Rotherham needing a win to guarantee promotion from the bottom division. In League One it’s much the same as at Dagenham; Scunthorpe need just a draw at home to Tranmere to make sure it is them, and not the team from the Wirral that make the playoffs. Only a win will suffice for Rovers. Confused? Good. Park Life June 2009 19
The ACTION 2:35pm – Park Life arrives at Victoria Road, Dagenham. The sun is shining; The Daggers fans are in great voice. “You are my Daggers,” to the tune of “You are my sunshine,” is belted out from the fans standing behind one end. Shrewsbury fans have bought Hawaiian shirts and beach balls. But who will be going on their holidays at full time? 2:45pm - The Grove Wharf stand at Glanford Park, Scunthorpe buzzes under the mid afternoon sun. Iron fans brandish foam fingers and bellow out “Daydream Believer.” 2:47pm - At Gigg Lane in Bury, Park Life stands with Harry and Matt Pickup; brothers who have been to every Bury match this season. They are nervously queuing inside the club shop for ‘We’re on the up’ t-shirts. 2:50pm - Preston fans seem just as confident, turning out in mass. Park Life is directed to the Tom Finney stand to pick up tickets... the queue is 20 minutes long. “HALF-TIME LOTTERY... HALF-TIME LOTTERY... GET YOUR TICKETS... HALF-TIME LOTTERY,” screams a grey haired man. The Preston fans are already in a lottery. 2:55pm - At the Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield, St George’s flags with ECFC emblazoned on them wave in the South Yorkshire breeze. The Grecians expect a good day out. 2:58pm - At Brunton Park in Carlisle, Jimmy Glass, the goal-scoring, goal-keeping hero from ten years ago is in attendance and gives a rallying call to fans and players. 2.59pm - Shrewsbury players are in a huddle. “Ooooh, hello girls, nice huddle,” shouts a bald, tattooed and scary-looking man standing next to Park Life. 2.59pm - Tranmere players get a similar reaction from Scunthorpe fans as they do their pre-match ritual. “GET ON WITH IT YOU SCOUSE TWATS,” they cry. 20 June 2009 Park Life
3.00pm 3:04pm – Tranmere have the first shot on target - a tame header from Ian Moore that is collected by Josh Lillis. 3:06pm – GOAL! 1-0 TO CARLISLE! Graham Kavanagh thunders his shot into the top right corner. Fans in the Windsor Park terrace go mad as they see one of the most important goals of the season fly in from their player/coach. As it stands, this would not be enough to keep them up though. It’s still 0-0 in the other important fixtures. 3:07pm – At Victoria Road, Tony Roberts saves from Nick Chadwick. Roberts is a big lad nowadays. 3:08pm – The atmosphere at Gigg Lane is electric. But the home side are given a warning as Accrington’s Craig
3:07pm Lindfield flashes the ball across goal and Sean McConville is a stud’s width from silencing the promotion-chasing Shakers. 3:09pm – “Ooph,” exhale the Exeter fans. But Stuart Fleetwood’s effort actually goes out for a throw-in. Cue laughter from the home fans every time the ball goes anywhere near the goal. 3:11pm – Three Tranmere fans are escorted out by police in the home end. “GET EM OUT, GET EM OUT, GET EM OUT,” sing the Scunthorpe fans. 3:12pm – Bury’s Michael Jones cuts in from the left and finds fellow winger Elliott Bennett who turns in acres of space but hesitates and then curls the ball high and wide. 3:12pm – In Sheffield, the Millers’ Drewe Broughton goes clear and lobs the ball goalwards. Troy Archibald-
3:40pm Henville (great name) gets back to clear the ball off the line. 3:13pm – At Deepdale, Chris Sedgwick scores and half the crowd erupts. The more astute fans already know its offside. 3:14pm – Daggers fans are silenced, Grant Holt forces Tony Roberts into a phenomenal reaction save with a header from point blank range. 3:18pm – GOAL! 1-0 TO SHREWSBURY! This time Holt makes no mistake. The league’s top scorer nets a carbon copy chance after winger Chris
Humphrey turns Scott Griffiths inside out. “Get closer to him Scotty,” goes the shout, followed by “Oh shit,” as Holt powers his header home. Shrews fans are delirious in the opposite end. 3:20pm – Millwall finally break with some urgency and forge a chance as a shot spins just wide. A unified sigh of relief emanates around the stands. It’s a sharp reminder to the Carlisle fans that they are playing a top six club today. 3:26pm – Tranmere are putting together some passes and look the better side. “I can sense a bad day,” says Scunny fan Steve, ominously.
3:28pm – News filters through at Brunton Park that Hartlepool are 2-0 down. It’s good news but Carlisle need a swing of two more goals for this result to become significant. The fans are more concerned with Northampton, the team they are most likely to catch. It’s still Leeds 0 Northampton 0. 3:30pm – Just as the match starts to pick up a bit of pace at Deepdale, the referee gets in the way of a midfield pass, met by sarcastic boos from the crowd. 3:32pm – GOAL! 2-0 TO THE SHREWS! The Away fans definitely believe they’re going to the play-offs. Humphrey, who has been giving Griffiths a torrid time, is through on goal, and lifts the ball over the despairing dive of Roberts. Daggers need two goals to get back into the play-offs. 3:38pm – Scunthorpe fans sing “Que sera sera,” as Tranmere break on the counter attack but can’t trouble the United goal. 3:39pm – GOAL ACTION! 1-0 TO TRANMERE! Famous last words. Rovers convert their early pressure after left winger Craig Curran crosses for Moore to beat the two centre backs and power past a helpless Lillis. “I knew we’d concede from a cross, our players just don’t look up for this,” says Steve. 3:40pm – GOAL ACTION! 1-0 TO PRESTON! Mix up between ‘keeper Radek Černý and defender Kaspars Gorkšs allow Jon Parkin to fire home. The crowd go mental, Preston are doing what they need to do, now they’ve got to pray for good news elsewhere. 3:42pm – Prayers don’t seem to be answered as whispers around the crowd tell us that Burnley have scored. Now they need to rely on Cardiff. 3:42pm – Daggers go close. Sam Saunders nods just wide from a Ritchie corner, only a lick of paint in that one. The home fans find their voice again. 3:43pm – Mobile phones are out everywhere. Leeds have scored. As it stands Carlisle are staying in League One. The crowd starts to sing: “We all hate Leeds, Scum, We all hate Leeds SCUM!” They may hate them, u
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but The Whites are doing Carlisle a favour here. 3:44pm – “We’ve got more fruit than you,” sing the Exeter fans as they hold an inflatable banana. But they almost lose the advantage over Bury when Jamie Green’s shot-cum-cross evades Paul Jones in the Grecians’ net, only to rattle back off the frame of the goal.
3:46pm – It is the Shrews, not the Daggers, who are in the play-offs at half-time. The home fans are not hopeful. “We’re bloody terrible,” the scary man tells Park Life. In Sheffield, with results going their way at the moment, automatic promotion is still on for Exeter. At Gigg Lane on the other hand it is the play-offs for Bury. As things stand, Preston are still out of the play-off positions. And at Brunton Park it looks like Carlisle are staying up. After four added minutes Tranmere are play-off bound going into the second period. The football season is about to enter its last 45 emotion-filled minutes.
4.03pm – 4.06pm – How has that not gone in? Paul Benson hits one post, Saunders then has the rebound cleared off the line before Benson forces Luke Daniels into a superb reaction save. A roar comes up from three sides of Victoria Road. 4.08pm –Still goalless in the second half at Gigg Lane and the home fans are getting nervous. John Miles jinks past four Bury players in a mazy 30 yard run but the ‘keeper saves well. 4.11pm – GOAL! DAGGERS PULL ONE BACK! Benson gives the home fans some hope. He out-jumps Graham Coughlan to get his head on a Matt Ritchie cross, giving Daniels no chance. “You are my Daggers,” rings out around the ground. 4.12pm – GOAL! 2-0 TO CARLISLE! Captain Paul Thirlwell blasts a rolling ball from 20 yards. It’s in the top right hand corner again. The fans go even wilder this time. Northampton
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4:12pm supporters must be getting that sinking feeling... it’s looking bleak for them now. 4.13pm – Scunthorpe go close. A goal mouth scramble lands at the feet of Paul Hayes but he pulls his shot wide. “We’ve gotta make this pressure pay, we’re getting up them but need a goal otherwise this was all worth nothing,” says Steve. 4.16pm – PENALTY! Accrington’s Chris Turner goes through on goal, Wayne Brown gets both hands on the ball but Turner goes down and ref Andy D’Urso gives a penalty. All hell breaks loose in the Bury end with fans bursting forward to the edge of the pitch to
scream abuse at D’Urso and support the keeper. 4.17pm – IT’S MISSED! Peter Cavanagh smashes the spot kick off the bar and Bury are still in the hunt. “This is our day lads,” say the Pickup brothers. 4.19pm – Jimmy Glass has his own song in Carlisle. It goes: “Jimmy Glass Jimmy Glass, it’s Jimmy Jimmy Glass. He gets the ball he scores a goal it’s Jimmy Jimmy Glass.” 4.21pm – GOAL! QPR PULL LEVEL! After a good five minute spell QPR are rewarded with a goal when former Lilywhite Patrick Agyemang finds the back of the net. Not looking good in
4:46pm Lancashire. 4.26pm – Shrewsbury should make it safe. Holt misses a sitter from two yards after getting on the end of yet another Humphrey cross. 4.27pm – GOAL! 1-0 TO EXETER! The moment the travelling support has been waiting for arrives. Substitute Richard Logan stoops in to head home the vital goal. If things stay the same
here, Exeter are guaranteed League One football next season. 4.31pm – A lull in the match brings silence in the Scunthorpe end, Tranmere fans are a sea of movement as novelty bananas and beach balls bounce around. “It’s one of those days,” says our Scunthorpe mate Steve. 4.33pm – RED CARD & EXETER MISS A PENALTY! Dale Tonge’s sent off for a stupid challenge but Fleetwood scuffs
his spot kick wide. Terrible effort. 4.35pm – News filters through that Sheffield Wednesday have scored. The entire crowd are on their feet. 4.37pm – It seems that every other fan is on a radio. Chants of “we are staying up,” fill the ground. As it stands, they are. Northampton and Hartlepool are both losing. 4.42pm – GOAL! 2-1 TO PRESTON! Sean St. Ledger heads into the back of the net from a Jon Parkin long throw special. Deepdale is in ecstasy. 4.43pm – Efe Sodje heads a Jones corner but his effort is scrambled off line. Andy Morrell puts the rebound over. 4.44pm – Exeter fans are visibly squirming as Rotherham push to grab a late equaliser. Squeaky-bum time for those from Devon. 4.45pm – RED CARD! Scunthorpe’s Grant McCann finds some space with a neat drop of the shoulder only to be crunched from behind by Gareth Edds. Referee Steve Tanner brandishes a second yellow. 4.45pm – ‘Keeper Roberts is up for a corner at Victoria Road. Can we have a Jimmy Glass situation again? No, the 39-year-old gets nowhere near the ball, but doesn’t bother running back. Grant Holt is clear on goal, but Peter Gain gets back to make a potentially season saving tackle. Roberts hasn’t even crossed the halfway line yet. 4.46pm – GOAL! SCUNTHORPE ARE LEVEL! From the free-kick an in swinging ball lands on the head of captain Cliff Byrne who powers it past a helpless keeper, the players go mad and pile on the scorer before lifting him on their shoulders for the fans. Playoffs are back on. 4.48pm - Three minutes of injury time signalled in Dagenham. 4.48pm - At Deepdale, a safety announcement warns the crowd against what seems inevitable as supporters make their way to the edge of the pitch. 4.48pm - Another brilliant chance for Bury from a Jones corner. Morrell heads across goal, Ben Futcher makes contact but the ball is hacked off the line again.
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ECSTASY “There’s no way we’re gonna score now. No way,” says a disconsolate Matt. 4.49pm - Scunthorpe fans breathe heavily as the assistant holds up four minutes added time. 4.50pm - Holt fouls Ritchie but the free-kick is ploughed forward and the referee blows for full time. In the away end, they are going crazy. In fact, it’s time for a pitch invasion. The Daggers finish outside the play-offs. The Shrews have Wembley on their minds. 4.51pm - PENALTY TO BURY! A corner is whipped in and Sodje heads towards goal. Futcher rises with Andy Proctor and the defender handballs it on the line. A massive debate ensues with around 15 players crowding the officials. 4.52pm - Final whistle at Don Valley Stadium. Exeter City will be playing in League One next season. The fans pour onto the pitch in celebration. 4.52pm - The fourth official indicates five minutes of injury time at Brunton Park. 4.53pm - Final Whistle at Glanford Park. Scunthorpe make the play-offs. United fans rush the pitch, some climb the stands with flags aloft and man-on-man hugging sweeps the terraces. 4.53pm - QPR have three efforts 24 June 2009 Park Life
cleared off the line at Fortress Deepdale. It’s a scramble in Preston’s box but the ball is cleared. The final whistle blows and the fans raid the pitch. Preston North End are in the play-offs. 4.53pm - GOAL! 1-0 TO BURY! Phil Jevons scores in the bottom left corner and fans flood the pitch. They still need another goal though. The players are desperately trying to get them off the pitch. 4.54pm - The announcer is called into play in Carlisle. “Can everybody get off the pitch,” he begs. Good luck with that, mate. 4.57pm - Full time at Gigg Lane. It’s the play-offs for Bury. By the time the match restarted there was only around a minute left. 5.01pm - After the delay of the early pitch invasion the match finally finishes. Carlisle stay in League One. The players are in the stands waving to the crowd. Commiserations to Northampton who lost 3-0 to Leeds.
The FINAL EQUATION The championship The unlikeliest result came at Deepdale where Preston left it late to defeat QPR. They were let down by Burnley who beat Bristol City but Cardiff tripped up at Sheffield Wednesday, letting the . Lilywhites sneak into the playoff places by the tightest of margins. LEAGUE ONE Carlisle pulled off the great escape, beating Millwall 2-0 and overtaking Northampton who lost to Leeds. At the other end, Scunthorpe have the chance for an instant return to the Championship after drawing 1-1 with Tranmere to take the last play-off spot. LEAGUE TWO At Dagenham, Shrewsbury came away with an unlikely 2-1 win, leapfrogging the Daggers into the final play-off place. They will play Bury, who managed a 1-0 win at home to Accrington but who lost out on goal difference to Wycombe. Exeter join Wycombe in League One next year, after they defeated Rotherham United.
TFOOOPTBXALIL TOP XI
ide derby. You can stick You can forget the Merseys u don’t even want to know the North London derby. Yo nc derby.. what you can do with the Ma es on and off the pitch. These are REAL rivalries. Battl o they thought were the Park Life chose wh nch. nastiest and dirtiest of the bu Words: Doug O’Kane
Forest & Derby If it was a war it would be: Greece/Turkey - Used to be huge world powers but have fallen from grace. Still hate each other though. Forest “A win against the sheep-shaggers can define a season. For most of the fans who can remember the Clough days, these games are all we have left to look forward to.” tyson_punch Derby “The games would be a lot more exciting for the neutral if we didn’t beat them every single time. Oh, we hate Billy Davies!” Swiggerram
Norwich & Ipswich
Cardiff City & Swansea City If it was a war it would be: French Civil War extremely violent conflict in a foreign country. Cardiff “We’re the capital of this country and they hate us for it. I feel sorry for them as they never beat us anyway. Pathetic bunch.” Darren_777 Swansea “You will always see a fight at these games. No doubt. The Welsh are a naturally proud race and this is a national rivalry. Sometimes that feeling just spills out.” Jack_768
United & Wednesday If it was a war it would be: Northern Irish conflict - you are either one or the other. Sheffield Wednesday “It’s more than just ninety minutes. It shapes your relations with everyone you know in the City, Blade or Owl, until the next derby.” Akpo80 Sheffield United “I’d rather beat them home and away than make the play-offs. I don’t like seasons when we don’t play them.” Boris_the_ blade86 26 June 2009 Park Life
If it was a war it would be: Cold War - both clubs are hibernating at the moment and East Anglia isn’t exactly known for controversy. Norwich “One of the clubs plays in yellow and has the most loyal fans and a glorious history. The other is a pathetic club who had one good manger, Bobby Robson, but are perpetual losers.” Iwanisgod Ipswich “We are a progressive club who bring through incredible youngsters. They are a farm team.” Catchthebudgie
Preston & Burnley If it was a war it would be: War of the Roses Two sides with tonnes of history battling it out in the North. Preston “They are the real Lancashire derbies. For people who support their local side and not the likes of Liverpool or United. The passion in these games is unbelievable.” Willthewhite Burnley “The games are usually pretty brutal. The fans give absolutely everything and none of the players leave anything on the pitch because the fans won’t let them.” Turfmoor155
Bristol City & Bristol Rovers
Bury & Rochdale If it was a war it would be: Darfur conflict - It’s been going on for years but was constantly ignored by the mainstream media. Bury “Well, we only play Roch-fail when the club is in a bad position as they have been in the basement league for about a century. Always cracking games though.” Robshaker Rochdale “There’s massive passion on the pitch and in the stands. There is violence every single time but it just shows how much the games mean in the local area.” Jonesy
Watford & Luton Town If it was a war it would be: World War Two - Both sides see each other as everything that is wrong with the world. Watford “Well, it doesn’t look like we’ll ever get the chance to beat those cheating non-league pricks again. They are good games though. Lots of entertainment and an easy three points to walk away with.” Horney for Luton “Every time there is a Watford v Luton match coming up I can’t really sleep y thekenn Kennyat ” detail. the week before. I remember every one in intimate
Huddersfield Town & Leeds United
If it was a war it would be: FalklandsWar - just like the tiny islands that are only known for the war which took place on them, the Bristol teams are known far more for their vicious derby matches than any footballing success. City “We aint had a Bristol Derby for years, not likely to be one for years either. You see, they play in toy town and we play in the big time.” wsm_RED Rovers “The City like to think they’re big time but we’re on our way and will be there to see everything come crashing down around them.” Gary_Simms
Exeter & Torquay If it was a war it would be: Spanish Armada - Huge battles fought on the coast. Exeter “Beating the Torquay scum in the play-off semi in 2008 was the best day of my life.We are a big city who have always played better football than that small town can ever produce.” Flackisgod Torquay “We have the better fans, atmosphere and seaside resort.” Basil
Dag and Red & Barnet If it was a war it would be: Korean Conflict only just become really intense but could be massive. Dag & Red “It’s becoming a huge game on the calendar. Two good teams with loyal London fans who are looking to push up the league.” Harry_daggers Barnet “It’s good to have a local rivalry I suppose but I don’t like being put in the same category as those conference amateurs.” Kingbee
If it was a war it would be: Vietnam - A super power keeps slipping up against a well-prepared and passionate enemy. Leeds “This isn’t a real rivalry. We’ll never play Huddersfield again after this year.” Micky64 Huddersfield “I have had to endure years of abuse and now we keep beating them home and way. It’s absolutely glorious and makes the whole of Huddersfield come alive.” Tom_terrior
Find out who just missed out on the first XI by visiting us for more at
Park Life.co.uk Park Life June 2009 27
L U F R E D THE WON ARRY FRY B F O D L R WO
Words: Keir Mackay
Three things seem eternal in lower league football; soggy half time pies, water logged pitches and Barry Fry. A mainstay in the leagues since a brief spell at Manchester United, Barry has always been an ambassador How’s things then Barry? Alright, I’ve had Reading on the phone all bloody day trying to talk to Darren (Ferguson, Peterborough manager). How did you spend the weekend? At the cup final, it was fucking hot, I wouldn’t have liked to be running around that’s for sure. Unbelievable. The way Peterborough are playing you can’t think a cup final is too far off. Wahey, nah you’re right mate, who knows. You took Birmingham to Wembley, was it good to be back? Well it was fantastic, I’ve been to Wembley three times now and I’ve won every time. I played for England School Boys there and beat Scotland 5-3 and I scored a goal in front of 93,000 people. Then of course I took Birmingham there in the Auto Windscreen shield final; we won 1-0. There was 78,000 that day, of which 35,000 were Bluenoses. That gate
and lifelong advocate of all things football. When PARK LIFE was given the chance to track down ‘Bazza’ we jumped in with both feet and prepared ourselves for a romp through Barry Fry’s world of Gypsy curses and Choppers.
was a bigger gate than the FA Cup Final four weeks later so it was pretty amazing. I went to Wembley with Peterborough in the playoffs when we were real underdogs and we managed to win that as well so I love Wembley! Does it make you miss management though? No not really, I lasted a lot longer than most. 31 years in management is a hell of a long time but in the end being the owner of the football club as well and having the responsibility of paying all the wages was just too big. You know I was on the training ground and the secretary would phone saying “the bailiffs are here” and I’d just have to drop everything, jump in my car and sort them out. Did it all become too much? In the end I was doing several jobs but I wasn’t doing any of ‘em well. I had to look in the mirror and sack myself. It was a huge responsibility and I never realised. They were going to put the club into administration and I thought u
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WATCH OUT: pissing on a corner flag near you
Barry on manager Darren Ferguson HAPPY DAYS: winning the League Two
‘It’s not about money with Darren, he’s just bought a bloody 800k house so he’s not short of a few quid!’
that was unfair to a lot of people who could’ve put writs on us, could’ve wound us up. Those people had been very understanding and I didn’t want them to get 10p to the pound so I bought the club which was nearly the death of me. How I kept it going for four years I’ll just never know, but now I think I’ve died and gone to heaven.
have nearly tripled. With people like Newcastle coming to town that can only get better. It’s gonna be amazing. There are 17 clubs in the Championship that used to be in the Premier League, so for little Peterborough to be rubbing shoulders with them really is fantastic both for the city and for the fans.
How have you had such a big turn around since then? The new owner Darragh MacAnthony came over. An Irish guy who lived in Spain. He’d seen the ‘Big Ron Manager’ programme (Atkinson came in as a trouble shooter for an ITV show) and took the club over. He said he wanted back-toback promotions so he employed young Darren Ferguson. They’re two young, hungry, ambitious people that both want to be in the Premiership. They’re not yes men, they fight and have a ruck but that’s good, that’s healthy.
Must bring a smile to your face? Well, I sit in the Directors’ box with a permanent smile on my face. I can’t believe what’s happened in such a short period of time. We were going out of existence; bankrupt. I was gonna live in a tent down the river in Bedford and then all of a sudden to have all this success is just so lucky. It makes all the heart ache over the four years, where I had to hold the club up so worthwhile now. I held it till someone came and took it to a level that I could only dream about.
Can they really make it three promotions in a row? Well, I think what they’ve achieved already is miraculous. Darren’s got young, hungry players that want to learn, want to improve and he’s worked with ‘em individually and collectively and put on a football feast here. Every Posh fan loves what they see, so much so the crowds
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Do you not panic about heading straight back down after one year though? Nah, we’re not worried. We’ve got a very young team, our average age is 23, and that team has practically got us two promotions. We don’t really know how good that team is - neither do they, but we feel that there’s improvement in ‘em.
What about losing some of your greater players like Aaron McLean and George Boyd? No, our chairman said when he came in we’re not losing our assets. Wolves came in for Aaron, bid a million, then a million and half, then two but he said no. It upset Aaron for a while but he still got a four year contract and can’t bloody complain now. Where can you see The Posh finishing next season? Well, instead of consolidating and think we want fifth from bottom, we’re thinking play-offs at least. It’s great and Darren keeps shooting his mouth off about how well we’ll do. The fans say “it won’t happen”, then “bloody hell he’s done it again” and you get away with the fairies. Three promotions in a row have got to win Ferguson the key to the city, though? He definitely won’t be with us if that happens! (laughs) It’s not about money with Darren, he’s just bought a bloody £800,000 house in Stamford so he’s not short of a few quid but I think he likes it here. I mean if he goes to QPR he’d have four bloody managers trying to pick his team and which idiot wants that?
BARRY FRY With all this success though, Sir Alex turns up tomorrow and asks to swap places with Darren, would you let him? No way! The players that come here come because of Darren Ferguson. They don’t come for the wages or view of the bloody Nene, they come for Darren. What if Ronaldo was by his side? No, we’re not interested in these great big stars that want all this money before they break sweat. We’ve got a policy at this football club and we’re gonna stick to it. We want players that talk about being given a chance rather than how much they want and that’s what impressed about Darren most. In the job interview for an hour he never mentioned his dad or money, just football, football, football. Was he always that passionate? I knew Darren from years ago and I obviously knew he’d set his heart on becoming a manager. He took his badges, he’d been to Warwick University for an LMA (League Manager Association) course and it would’ve been easy for him to say ‘I’m a Ferguson’ but he did it his own way and he’s his own man. He obviously talks to his Dad every day but sticks to his principles which have brought us success and long may it continue. Would you say he’s the best manager Peterborough have had?
Without doubt, bearing in mind he had no experience when we got him. What people didn’t know, he had been coaching the under 14’s at Wrexham. He was captain of Wrexham for the last five years and was one of the best players in League Two so he’d done his apprenticeship before us and is the best money we’ve spent. PARK LIFE read that you once pissed on the Birmingham corner flags to break a curse, is it all true? Yeah, we had a Gypsy’s curse on the pitch and they said the only way I could get rid of it was to piss in the four corners. For a period of time it worked and we were successful but then I got the sack so it must have dried up! (laughs) You’ve spent most of your career either at Peterborough or Barnet, which would you say your heart belongs to? Well they were two different phases in my life. I had 14 years at Barnet. The first five years was just unbelievable we just had to try and exist. If two went down then we finished third from bottom; three went down we were fouth; four down we were fifth. But when you look back we didn’t even have a shoe string budget - we had no bloody budget at all. So to keep the team in the league was a hell of an achievement.
What was the chairman like? The nine years I had with Stan Flashman, we finished second in the conference three times, we won the conference scoring 103 goals which is still a record today. In our first year in the football league, with part-timers we got in the play offs. The second year we got automatic promotion so it was a fantastic time at Barnet. To get a non-league side into the league is a great achievement. And what about The Posh? I had big hopes at Peterborough but it all went wrong. I came here and was gonna own the place and then they couldn’t do it for tax reasons so I really came here under false pretences. You soon get a feeling for the place; I’ve been here 12, 13 years now and seen highs and lows. It’s been a struggle but it’s been well worthwhile ‘cos you can look at our success now. If you love both then who was the best of the Posh and Barnet legends? Jimmy Quinn or Ken Charlery? Different players, Jimmy was near the end of his career but Ken was great. What a lot of people don’t know is Chris Turner, u KEN CHARLERY: ‘Not an outside right’
BARRY ON THE POSH PHILOSOPHY
‘we’re not interested in these great big stars that want all this money before they break sweat. We’ve got a policy at this football club and we’re gonna stick to it.’ FRY: “We don’t really know how good our team is.” Park Life June 2009 31
BARRY FRY Barry on manager Darren Ferguson
‘It’s only the real top players who have ten cars and so much money they don’t know what to do with it.’ BIG DAY OUT: Leading his Birmingham side out at Wembley.
a mate of mine, rang me up and wanted a left back and centre forward. He had a bit of money and was pushing for promotion so I recommended Gary Cooper and Ken Charlery who I was with at the time. He played Charlery outside right for a lot of the time. He phoned me and up and said “this Charlery ain’t the player you told me he was” so I told him “stop playing him out wide and you’ll get the best out of him down the middle.” Kenny bloody told him it as well. He became a Posh legend here which was brilliant. I bought him at Birmingham as well so Ken was a great lad, his heart’s in Peterborough. Jimmy Quinn bagged a few against Barnet though didn’t he? Yeah, 9-1 away from home, another record. He buried four I think. We beat them in the play-offs as well that year. Apart from Man United as a school boy, you’ve spent most of your life in the lower leagues. Never been tempted by the top tier? I’ve been in the Championship as a manager a couple of times and when I joined Southend they were bottom of the league facing relegation. The following season we were second when I left to join Birmingham who were bottom so I have been close. What made you join Birmingham at
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the time? Circumstance. They came in for me and the chairman listened. It was one of those things. Although I’d done a brilliant job at Southend I didn’t feel as though the chairman really wanted to keep me, he didn’t try hard in my opinion, so I left. I’d only been in Southend for eight months and changed everything for ‘em but I just got bad vibes from the chairman and sometimes that’s enough. Were you that bothered about leaving? I went Birmingham for a great twoand-a-half-years. We won the double and promotion as well as that trip to Wembley. The following year we were second again, had some great F.A. cup runs. Drew 0-0 with Liverpool at home then went to Anfield and lost on penalties. What would you say was your best moment though? The best moment in my career (sighs) that’s a difficult one, there have been so many. Taking Barnet out of the conference into the Football League was such an achievement. The year I was at Birmingham and we won the double was another fantastic year as well, even here at Peterborough winning the play-offs.We shouldn’t have been there, we massively over achieved and because of that we got relegated straight away! You’d still take a trip to Wembley any day. There’s too many good ones to pick out.
You’re obviously going to get a bit of cash for getting to the Championship, does more money need to start filtering down now to keep the lower leagues alive? We’re gonna get upwards of £2 million from the Championship but when you consider the Premier League gets £50million there’s no comparison, its obscene up there. That’s why the Premiership is going away from everybody. Even the parachute payments for those that come down mean it’s not a level playing field. If we leave the top league and get £12 million and the rest get two then it’s not right.There’s just gonna be a yo-yo situation and in my opinion it’s ruining the game. It’ll never change ‘cos people get greedy. Ronaldo could go for £90million and you could buy all of League Two for that. Do you think that turns the fans off the image of football though? The fans unfortunately read all this rubbish about wages and think that every footballer is on that kind of money. Realistically a lot of players in League One and Two are nowhere near that, with a wife, kids, mortgage and car it can start to get tight. It’s only the real top players who have ten cars and so much money they don’t know what to do with it.
BARRY FRY But you’ve worked with some great players in your time, including George Best. Besty was simply different class. His goal-scoring record was unbelievable for a winger, very talented, very skilful and certainly the best player I’ve ever played with or seen to be honest. He was only a little guy but he had a heart as big as a double decker bus. Magic feet and a wizard dribbler. He scored sensational goals, wasn’t too bad in the air for a little player. He had it all. Do you think he led the way for a lot of modern footballers? George changed everything overnight. He had showbiz stardom, every time we were on the coach there were about 500 women screaming at yah, as a player you’d never seen that. He went from A-Team to First Team and never came back. Then he got his problems. He’d go missing on a bender and just couldn’t conquer it. He knew he was hurting himself more than anybody else but he just slipped away. You say he was the best but who was the one player you could always rely on? The first name on your team sheet? I’ve gotta be honest and say Stan Collymore. He had a fantastic attitude at Southend - he was a very exciting player. I used to get on the edge of my seat whenever he picked the ball up, he made great runs outside right or left but couldn’t put the ball in the bloody net at times. He’d have his back to goal on the halfway line, centre back up his arse but he could just turn you. Fantastic pace and power and a vicious shot with either foot. He was another player who had his
name dragged through the mud a bit though. Well he was and he’s the first to admit he’s been an idiot. He was on the back page, front page and middle but he’d still be the first name on my sheet. How do you spend your spare time now then? I haven’t got any bloody spare time. As Director of Football I have to try and get players in, meet agents and all that financial stuff. Agents now are very timeconsuming and you can fall out with ‘em. I’m in charge because I’ve been a wheelerdealer for 35 years. What’s the most ridiculous claim you’ve had from an agent? You wouldn’t believe it . . . one player wanted a helicopter. He didn’t wanna move here so he wanted daily trips. Unfortunately, FIFA says you have to deal with agents but I think at the lower levels it’s stupid.They take a lot of money out of the game that should be staying. What else do you think is hurting the game at the moment? Football’s had a lot of blows recently. The Bosman rulling was unfair. The ITV digital collapse crippled everyone. A three-year deal that lasted ten months meant that a lot of clubs splashed that cash straight away and really tested the game, but I think what’s nearly killed us is the transfer window. For FIFA to bring it in is ridiculous, it stops trade. Before, if you had a cash flow problem you could always pick up the phone and change but now you can’t do that. It’s alright in the Premiership, they’ve got squads of 45, but in the Conference it’s fucking crazy and they’ve endangered football.
Have those bailiffs pissed off yet?
You’ve had some pretty big and infamous TV appearances, would you do it again? I think being on the telly is great for Peterborough United. We’re a small club but have had great publicity, bigger than most other clubs and it’s helped us recruit. A lot of people criticised me with the ‘Big Ron Manager’ programme but it enabled me to pay the players for two months and keep the club in existence. Do you still keep in touch with Big Ron? Yeah, five minutes after getting promotion at Colchester I rang him up with the Chairman and said “Ron, without that fucking programme we wouldn’t be here today and I wouldn’t be next to Darragh, so cheers.” Any regrets along the way? I’ve no regrets, you’ve gotta make cockups but I’m the luckiest man alive. Ever since I was knee-high to a grasshopper I’ve wanted to be in football and that’s been my life. Finally, any messages for lower league fans out there? Well, I am a lower league fan. I spent half my life in non-league football. I think the people in non-league football are the salt of the earth, my unsung heroes. To the supporters - enjoy every moment supporting your team and you never know what’s gonna happen. l
BARRY ON THE POSH PHILOSOPHY
‘one player wanted a helicopter. He didn’t wanna move here so he wanted daily trips. ‘ Park Life June 2009 33
N A H A L O O H S E W : N A M Y E N R JOU
Pilgrim’s progress From Eircom to East Anglia Words: Ade O’Connor
34 June 2009 Park Life
JOURNEYMAN The story of a young man moving across the Irish Sea to further his career is not an original one. Many Irish men and women have made the journey in decades previous.
Irish footballers continue to aspire to move across the water, from the Eircom League to a higher standard of football in England or Scotland. At the age of 23, Wes Hoolahan was comparatively late in making his move from Ireland. “I got a phone call from my agent saying that Livingston were interested and that they were going to make an offer to Shelbourne,” said Hoolahan. “I thought I’d go for it even though I didn’t think it was a big step up going to Livingston. I thought once I got across the water, I could push on from there.” This was just the beginning of Hoolahan’s journey from the Irish league to the English Championship and an international debut. “I was always into football from a young age, I was always watching it or playing it. Eric Cantona was my hero when I was growing up, him and Ryan Giggs I liked best,” said Wes. “I tried to model my game on Giggs, but I don’t have his pace – if I did I would be laughing!” Hoolahan, who joined Shelbourne at the age of 17, had already won three League of Ireland championships and been hailed as one of the best players the division had seen in recent times. The Irish national team, now casting its eye closer to home, had recognised the midfielder’s talent, too. In the interim period after Mick McCarthy’s reign, Don Givens called Wes into the squad to play against Greece. Yet, the need to move to progress was always greater than the difficulties of leaving his native Dublin. “It was difficult leaving, but you just get used to it. I like being over here, I’ve settled in here. At the start it was difficult, but now it’s like water off a duck’s back.” The midfielder moved to Livingston in January 2006 and imu
Park Life June 2009 35
JOURNEYMAN mediately broke into the first team, making his debut just a week into his contract. Hoolahan became a regular fixture in the side and the next season took his next step, moving south to England, on loan at Blackpool. Further success followed. Hoolahan scored ten goals in his season on loan at the club, helping them win the play-offs to reach the Championship, a division they would stay in the next season with relative ease, after Wes made his deal there permanent. But it was only after joining Norwich City last summer that Hoolahan really noticed the change in environment. “You can feel the buzz around the town compared to Blackpool, where I think we got 8,000 every home game. You feel the buzz around the training ground and if you walk into town, you see all the flags and people wearing their scarves. “Obviously there’s a lot more pressure here because of the fans, there’s 25,000 every week, every home game, there’s a great expectation here.” While Hoolahan began the season as part of then manager Glen Roeder’s starting line-up, he started to fall out of favour as Norwich struggled to live up to their billing of promotion contenders. A tricky Christmas period culminated with a home defeat to Charlton and Roeder lost his job, to be replaced by Norwich legend Bryan Gunn. “Glen brought me here. It was disappointing to see him go, but Gunny’s come in and done a great job, it’s a change of atmosphere in the dressing room. He’s more or less changed everything, his training regime is different - hopefully he’ll be great for the remainder of the season.” The change of manager brought an instant impact from Hoolahan, who was moved into a pivotal free role, supporting the lone striker. After scoring in Gunn’s first game in charge, a 4-0 win against Barnsley, Wes hit a sweet shot from 35yards against Southampton in the next game. Norwich went on to lose their two goal lead and finish with only a point, and Hoolahan’s team perspective dampens his enthusiasm for scoring such a quality goal. “Yeah, I was happy with it… but it’s just a pity we didn’t go on and win it. We’re in the relegation battle but we’ve got players who should be in the top ten, at least. If we get a few wins this year then maybe make a few signings in the summer to go with our good team here, and then hopefully while I’m here we can push for promotion.” 36 June 2009 Park Life
LUCK OF THE IRISH: Hoolahan at Blackpool (above) after starting out at Cork City (inset)
‘It’s everybody’s dream to represent your country and sing the national anthem in front of 80,000 people.’ Lofty ambitions for a player in a relegation threatened team, but Hoolahan has repeatedly made the step up, moving from the Eircom League, playing in front of crowds of around 2,000, to Norwich who average almost twelve times that figure. The Canaries’ impressive stadium, along with their “Premier League standard training facilities” make promotion in the next few years a genuine aim, just as long as they can survive this torrid season. Hoolahan has flourished alongside his midfield partner Sammy Clingan, a regular in the Northern Ireland team, who also joined Norwich in the summer, on a free transfer from Nottingham Forest: “Sammy sits there at the back of the diamond shape. He’s a great passer of the ball and a great man to have in the team. No-one
sees what he does, as he doesn’t dribble that much, it’s kind of the Makélélé role where you don’t get appreciated too much, but it’s an important job.” Clingan is proof that it is possible to be a regular in an international side while in the Championship, and this is a fact not lost on Hoolahan, who is keen to get another chance to relive the ‘amazing’ experience of pulling on a green jersey: “It’s everybody’s dream to represent your country and sing the national anthem in front of 80,000 people. If I keep on playing week in, week out and getting a few goals, hopefully there is a chance for me. It’s realistic that we can make it to the World Cup. We’ve got a great manager in [Giovanni] Trapattoni, and we have a great opportunity. This could be our year. I remember watching Jack Charlton’s team when I was younger, with Ray Houghton and Paul McGrath, it brings back memories.” No doubt Wes still dreams of making World Cup memories of his own, and you would be foolish to write off the Dubliner, given how far he has come already in such a short space of time. l
Termin sa l Va West Ham legend Julian non-league but it seems It’s a bitterly cold night in February, the fog is so thick you can’t see past your nose. It hits you that you’ve swapped Alicante, Spain for Wivenhoe, North Essex.You are the only footballer hard enough to stand up to Roy Keane. You’ve given up your life of golf in the sun for non-league management in the Ridgeons Premier League. It doesn’t matter, because you are Julian Dicks.
38 June 2009 Park Life
The former West Ham, Liverpool and England star joined Wivenhoe Town as their manager in February this year after an appeal from friend Nick Murphy-Whymark. The town’s football club had just been taken over to stop it from going out of business. It needed a face-lift; and quickly. Murphy-Whymark, now the club’s Director of Football, had sacked the previous boss Richard Carter in October and revealed the club was in massive debt. Carter had tied some players to £700-a-week contracts, leaving the Essex club owing their squad £30,000 which would to rise to £100,000 if help wasn’t found. Dave Whymark – Nick’s Dad, and reserve team boss Wayne Ward took the reins after an emergency meeting. Murphy-Whymark says he feels angry about how his club was treated: “We told the truth at the meeting. We felt like we’d been conned.” The club, very important to the small town’s population of just over 10,000, ap-
pealed to the community for financial help. At the same time, Murphy-Whymark was on the phone to Julian Dicks in Spain, telling him about his club’s plight. “Julian was sold on the idea right away,” says MurphyWhymark. “He’d been looking to get back into football, and we’re near where he used to live [Dicks was a pub land-lord in nearby Langham before moving to Spain] so I think his decision was pretty easy.” A local coach company, seeing the club’s troubles, agreed to sponsor the team, and give them free travel to and from matches. “Without them, we wouldn’t have been able to get to the matches at all, we had no money,” explains Murphy-Whymark.
WIVENHOE CHAIRMAN MURPHY-WHYMARK
‘We’ve heard that Keira Knightley and Ray Winstone are coming to watch in pre-season.’ The publicity that Dicks brought with him to the club was vital. “Sky and Setanta showed up at the ground within a couple of days,” the Director of Football says. “Whitton United [a local team] had disbanded and, because of seeing us on the telly, we managed to get one of their best players – Ronaldo Wright. Dicks has certainly made an impression on his boss. After stringing wins together, the former Hammer guaranteed Wivenhoe’s survival by the end of the season, an “amazing” feat, according to Whymark: “I wasn’t sur-
nator’s ation Dicks may now be plying his trade in it is his club that face judgement day prised to be honest; the guy gives off so much confidence and class. I knew we’d made the right decision.” With success though, has come frustration. As the club ensured Ridgeons Premier League football for next season, thoughts of further investment preyed on Murphy-Whymark’s mind. “We’re looking for investors,” he says. “We’re talking to people in the community to see if they can help. But we’re sensible, we know we have to encourage the youth – they’re our future.” The club has held comedy evenings and regattas to raise money, and the owner says that they’re now on an “even keel.” Wages have been re-negotiated, some players have left, and the debt has been wiped out. But what of Dicks’ future? Keeping such a high-profile manager, who has already been linked with Football League jobs, is proving troublesome. Dicks doesn’t get paid for managing Wivenhoe. “Julian is committed,” insists Murphy-Whymark. “But he isn’t being paid, he’ll make a judgement. I’m sure he’ll stay.” The Director of Football is effusive in his praise of the infamous hard-man. He has, MurphyWhymark says, inspired not just the players, but everyone at the club. Dicks has brought in his own reserve team manager, Graham Taylor, to keep the club’s infrastructure solid. He has used students from the nearby University of Essex, as well as army players from Colchester’s military base. Murphy-Whymark though, says that Dicks wants to push on next season. “Julian isn’t going to accept country
bumpkins who lose 8-0 every week, he’s a winner.” And that winner has brought a fair bit of interest from Upton Park. Every home match sees dozens of Hammers fans come to Broad Lane to get a glimpse of their hero, as well as some celebrities. “We’ve heard that Keira Knightley and Ray Winstone are coming to watch in pre-season,” Murphy-Whymark explains. “They’re big Hammers fans, so obviously they’re interested in our club now.” Wivenhoe’s owner is sure that Dicks will be in Essex in time for pre-season training on June 23, continuing what he calls “unfinished business.” He is hopeful his club can keep hold of a manager, who he describes as “ten-out-of-ten” but has already been courted by clubs like Rushden and Diamonds. But when Park
Life speaks to Dicks from his home in Alicante, his side of the story is somewhat different. “Well I don’t know if there’s gonna be a next season to be honest,” says Dicks. “Wivenhoe have big money troubles and if I can’t get decent players to the club then I’m not sure about it. “I live in Spain now, so for me to come back I am going to have to get paid something. I wouldn’t be able to afford it otherwise.” These sorts of comments will come as a shock to the chairman who sees Dicks as a long-term fixture at the club. Dicks is realistic though, and his drive for success means that he won’t accept second best. “I’m not interested in sitting half way in the table or fighting relegation. u
DICKS ON THE FUTURE
‘Well I don’t know if there’s gonna be a NEXT SEASON.’ Park Life June 2009 39
THE TERMINATOR’S EVOLUTION: Footballer with West Ham,; playing off the tee(1000); now managing Wivenhoe Town I don’t wanna do that and the supporters don’t wanna watch it.” Let’s face it; Keira Knightley isn’t going to accept anything less than promotion. He says that out of last season’s squad he would realistically have to cut 12 or 13 players, leaving a dilapidated side. But with no money to bring in new faces, putting a team out every week would be impossible. The club’s current wage policy revolves around a “play without pay” system which hasn’t been helped by a potential investor pulling out. “We’re looking at needing 50 or 60 grand for the season. That’s not mega amounts of money when we’re talking football. But for a club like Wivenhoe, it’s massive.” These lower league financial issues are a world away from the glittering, if sometimes gritty, career that Dicks enjoyed as a professional footballer. Nicknamed ‘The Terminator’, he was a legend at West Ham and was recently voted in their supporters’ all time XI. After reluctantly hanging up his boots he took up professional golf, being taught by the same coach as Colin Montgomerie. But football has always been his passion. Dicks says he’s desperate to get back into the game full-time. A series of knee injuries meant that his playing career was over by the age of 29; something that still upsets him to this day. “I used to go down the pub every night and get smashed. To be perfectly honest it was because I just didn’t know how to deal with it. I wanted to play football.Then I took a bit of stock of my life and thought ‘well, if I carry on like this, I’m going to end up an alcoholic.’” It hurt him badly and he feels that, having been tutored by the likes of Harry Redknapp and Graeme Souness, a successful 40 June 2009 Park Life
career in management could quench his thirst for the beautiful game. One of the many new ideas that Dicks has brought to Wivenhoe was to hold an open training session in the hope of unearthing local talent. On that foggy Tuesday night in February, around 40 hopefuls turned up, many of them West Ham fans eager to impress Upton Park’s greatest ever left back. “To be perfectly honest with you about three quarters of them were no good. Dicks on being a manager
‘I lost my rag two or three times...you’ve got to let people know that things are not going right’ They thought they could play football without running.” But he looks back on that evening, his first back in the game, with fondness. “It was so foggy we couldn’t even see the players. The thing is if they weren’t good enough and we saw that after five minutes we’d tell them they weren’t what we were after; sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind.” And this drop in standard is something that grates against a man that has represented his country twice. “At times it’s frustrating. The players play in that league for a reason. Obviously, they’re not good enough to progress at the moment.” For someone that has played football at Anfield, he says it is a lack of effort in semi-pro players that angers him the most. “People in that division, not just Wivenhoe, think they can just walk about and play football but unfortunately they’re not good enough to do that. At times it was annoying not just because of their ability but because of their work rate.” Should he get the money he craves to
make his stay at Broad Lane a more longterm one, he already has big plans for how he is going to take the club forward, including getting in touch with some old team-mates: “This time I’ll be with them from June and everything starts from scratch. So hopefully I can get one or two players from my old days. We’ve got a lot of fitness work to do.” When Park Life wonders what kind of manager ‘The Terminator’ is, we get the obvious answer. “I lost my rag two or three times. I was at Wivenhoe from February to the beginning of May and there were times when you’ve got to let people know that things are not going right. But that’s part and parcel of football, it’s a frustrating game, certain players frustrate you.” Dicks says he takes aspects of all the managers he’s played under, from Redknapp to Ron Saunders. And although his future at Wivenhoe Town is unsure, there’s one club for whom he’d always go the extra mile: “I’d walk back from Spain to get involved with West Ham but you know, I won’t hold my breath. It would be my dream to manage at Upton Park.” But will he be in North Essex for preseason training? His boss certainly thinks so. But Dicks isn’t so sure: “I’d love to be there next season don’t get me wrong. I like the club. It’s not good though if the players aren’t up to scratch and I can’t bring anyone in. But obviously cos I live in Spain if I come back I have to get paid.” As a first job in football management, Julian Dicks has certainly had a baptism of fire, but with clubs further up the football pyramid knocking on his door, whether he’ll be able to continue fanning the flames at Wivenhoe remains to be seen.
But one thing’s for sure... he’ll be back. l
COMMUNITY ROUTE ONE
all The Footb League Trust The Football League Trust oversees CommuNity aNd Youth developmeNt activities at Football League Clubs. Each moNth here at Park Life we like to showcase some of these eveNts takiNg place up aNd dowN the couNtry.
SIMPLY THE BEST..
DARREN CU The experienced Chesterfield midfielder speaks to Park Life about Words: Ben Drury
R’s back Down’s Best manager you’ve Syndrome kids Queens Park Rangers’ Community Trust gave youngsters with Down’s Syndrome the chance to impress fans at Loftus Road.
A 20-strong team from QPR’s DSActive Tiger Cubs took part in a football demonstration before Rangers met Bristol City. The activity was part of ‘World Down’s Syndrome Day,’ which celebrates the advances in care and social welfare of sufferers. Over 60,000 people in the UK have the condition. The Tiger Cubs side was launched in November 2008 and trains every week with club Disability Officer Anthony Doherty. He said: “The young people had a wonderful time on the pitch and were warmly received by both sets of fans. “QPR are striving to make football for people with Down’s Syndrome more accessible and we are delighted to be involved in such a fantastic project.” Football League Trust Regional Manager Greg Baker said: “We are fully committed to increasing participation amongst disabled youngsters and wholly support the work of everyone at QPR. “Anthony and the team are doing a fantastic job and we wish him and the Tiger Cubs side every success in the future.”
played under. . .
Joe Royle. He gave me my big chance at Ipswich, for a team that was challenging for promotion to the Premier League. I’d worked hard though, and earned my shot. He was a great guy to be around, a massive character. He was honest, which I’ve found is rare in this game. I’m not surprised he’s back (at Oldham), he’s football through and through. He’s got the bug.
DARREN CURRIE Club: Chesterfield FC Position: Midfield Date of birth: 29/11/74 Place of birth: Hampstead Height: 5ft 10in Previous clubs: West Ham United, Leyton Orient (loan), Shrewsbury Town, Plymouth Argyle, Barnet, Wycombe Wanderers, Brighton & Hove Albion, Ipswich Town, Coventry City (loan), Derby County (loan), Luton Town
Best match you’ve played in. . . We didn’t win in the end, but the two play-off matches against West Ham in my first full season at Ipswich were incredible. I was buzzing on the coach to Upton Park, it was a great feeling. To know you’re that close to the Premier League was massive, they’re the matches you live for.
Best match you’ve ever seen. . . For more information on Football League Community Schemes visit www.fltrust.co.uk 42 June 2009 Park Life
That’s easy. The final of Euro 2008 (Spain 1-0 Germany). When I teach my son to play football, I’ll sit him in front of that DVD and say “there you go son, that’s football.” Spain are one of those teams you don’t want to play in case they turn it on against you, a bit like England I think; people fear our players. I still can’t look past Brazil for the World Cup though. SPAIN: “that’s football”
SIMPLY THE BEST
URRIE the best moments of his career
Best player you’ve played against. . . I played at Anfield last year for Luton after keeping them 1-1 at Kenilworth Road, when we really should’ve won. I looked over to my right at kick-off and saw Steven Gerrard, he’s massive and got this aura around him, he’s on a different planet. Then he started playing and I didn’t get close to him again. He just needs to look at a Liverpool player and they give him the ball. I was a Liverpool fan as a boy, so playing at Anfield was a dream come true.
Best fans. . .
The Ipswich fans were brilliant. Of course they gave me stick, you can’t get a round of applause every time you touch the ball, but playing in front of 30,000 fans was something else. If only 26 of those appreciated me, then I’m happy. The Wycombe, Barnet and Brighton fans were all great as well, and they give me a good reception when I go back.
Best player you’ve played with..
CURRIE ON MOVING CLUBS
‘In those first games, you know no-one’s name so everyone’s called ‘Yes!’ and ‘Mate’!’
That one’s another easy one – Darren Bent. The kid’s amazing, his goal scoring record speaks for itself. I feel sorry for him, because he’s an unbelievable striker, but he gets a lot of flak. If he doesn’t stay at Spurs, he’ll go somewhere else and score goals there. It’s in his blood.
Best goal you’ve ever seen. . . My hero, Glenn Hoddle, against Watford, what a goal. He got it from a throw-in, faked to give it back, turned and dinked it from the corner of the box over the Watford ‘keeper. The lad stood no chance. When I was at Wycombe, John Gorman took over and Glenn came to train with us. He was the best player on the pitch. I said to the gaffer “sign him up, he’s still world class.” He must have been 45 at this point.
BEst goal you’ve scored. . . The goal on my debut for Ipswich against QPR. It was deflected, but the magnitude of the goal makes it the best. It was a whirlwind 48 hours, I only found out from (Brighton boss) Mark McGhee that I was going to Ipswich on the Thursday. I got home, looked at my wife and said: “I can’t believe that just happened.” The goal was from just outside the area and looped past the keeper. But scoring against one of my teams, QPR, made it even better. In those first games, you know no-one’s name, so everyone’s called “Yes!” and “Mate!” l
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Bring me sunshine Brighter times for the Shrimps under gaffer Sammy McIlroy Words: Tim Knappett
Street STOP!: Sammy McIlroy takes time out to direct traffic in Morecambe High
44 June 2009 Park Life
MORECAMBE It’s match day at Christie Park. The club shop is packed. Of course it is - it’s the size of a portaloo. The Car Wash Terrace is spilling over. Of course it is - it holds 500. And the Umbro advertising board above the North Stand reads ‘The Home Of Football’. The chanting of ‘Sammy Mac’s Red and White Army’ could lead you to believe you’re getting ready to watch a successful 1970s Manchester United side. But no, this is the impassioned sound from the crowds at another North West club - Morecambe FC. It’s a grey day in the bay with a cold wind swirling from the seafront. The locals are readying themselves for the visit of once-prominent Notts County. Not the sort of place you expect to find Northern Ireland’s 1982 World Cup captain and a legendary member of Manchester United’s cup-winning side. So what is Sammy McIlroy doing here? “I took the job on a temporary basis when my old friend Jim Harvey had a heart attack,” he says. “The fans were still singing Jim’s name when we reached the play-offs that year.” In 2005, Morecambe were a stable Conference club with a loyal support. McIlroy came in to replace then manager Jim Harvey, who had spent 12 years at the club. Harvey was the man responsible for achieving, and then consolidating, Conference status. A legend in the town, he suffered a heart attack before a match that November. McIlroy stepped in and the following May they were on the verge of reaching the Football League. However, it’s not quite the story of great friendship it should have been. McIlroy and Harvey, who had worked together at Northern Ireland, don’t see eye to eye anymore. Harvey was controversially sacked on his first day back at Morecambe after his recovery. He now manages Forest Green Rovers and on his return to Christie Park the two men refused to shake hands. But McIlroy grasped his opportunity at Morecambe and in his first full season took the club to a place they’d never been before: The Football League. “That was my main target, to make Morecambe a league club,” he says. This was by no means a fluke, he’d done the same with Macclesfield in the ‘90s.The only difference this time was u
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MORECAMBE that it was almost instant success. “I had a great time at Macclesfield. Getting them into league football,” he says. “The play-off final with Morecambe is my managerial highlight though. That’ll stay with me.” In a frenzied affair at Wembley, Danny Carlton scored a wonder-goal to seal a 2-1 win over Exeter. Just over 40,000 fans - a record attendance for a Conference play-off final - watched as Sammy Mac’s seaside team beat the Grecians . At the final whistle, the former Manchester United man, suited and booted, was hurled to the ground by his ecstatic players. It was a display of emotion that showed just what the win meant for a club overshadowed by local rivals Blackpool for decades. McIlroy couldn’t have had a better grounding for management. He was signed to his first professional contract as a player by the great Sir Matt Busby - “I was a very young boy when I was under him, but he was a fantastic man.” The Northern Ireland man was just 17 at the time and was the last of the famous Busby Babes. “Busby was steeped in history at the club. He knew everyone in the football club, from the laundry women right through to the apprentices. He was a gentleman and a fantastic football man and it was great to be there when he was around,” he says. McIlroy was a success at United where he played for 11 years, bagging 57 goals. During this time he appeared in three FA Cup finals, picking up the trophy once. Despite domestic success for McIlroy, it’s his international career that makes him most proud. “Winning my first cap at 17 for Northern Ireland, that’s high on my list of memories. Then obviously qualifying for two world cups in ’82 and ’86,” he says. As captain of Northern Ireland, it was in 1982 that McIlroy experienced his greatest victory as a player. His side, through a 47th minute Gerry Armstrong goal, beat the hosts Spain to finish top of their group.
“That was fantastic. It was a great atmosphere in Valencia that night. Spain were a very physical side. No-one gave us a chance and we beat them 1-0 to qualify for the quarter-finals which was a real achievement.” It was 18 years later, after playing spells at Stoke, Manchester City, Swedish club Örgryte IS and Bury, and managing Northwich Victoria and Macclesfield, that he got
the opportunity to manage his beloved Northern Ireland. “I worked with some very experienced, good league players. When I started I had Neil Lennon, Jim Magilton, Steve Lomas, Gerry Taggart and Kevin Horlock. Then in the second two years all these players started to retire and I had to start from scratch again with young kids.” His five wins with the team came in his
Morecambe FC timeline 1920 Morecambe FC formed after a meeting at the local West View Hotel.
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1940s and 1950s
The 1930’s are spent struggling to survive as a club, with poor results on the pitch and financial woes. The Second World War sees the suspension of the league.
Steady progress is made in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Foundations for the future are really being built in 1956 when the Auxiliary Supporters Club were formed and with their help many ground improvements are made.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Christie Park, capacity 6,400; Eric Morecambe’s statue on the seafront; shoes off for the Shrimps; against Brentford; Morecambe race forward
‘In one game we had 13 fit players and I had to put two players on the bench that I knew couldn’t even go on’ SAMMLY McILROY’s life after INTERNATIONAL MANAGEMENT first year as manager. “It’s an amazing experience to work with great players but you don’t see them often enough.” All of this is a world away from the 1950’s fish and chip shops, stale seafront pubs and desolate fairground which can almost be seen from the Morecambe dugout. And it’s not just the scenery which is
in contrast to the international football stage. His team has been injury-plagued all season and he’s not been able to bring in new faces. “This has been my worst season in football management because of injuries. The club had financial problems and there was a trade embargo which meant I couldn’t buy new players,” he says. “In one game we had 13 fit players and I
1960s AND 1970s
1980s to mid 1990s
Considered the club’s Golden Era. Reach the FA Cup third round (1961-62), win Lancashire Cup (1968) and the FA Trophy after beating Dartford 1-0 at Wembley (1974)
Club hits hard times, as attendances fall, with a visible decline in the team’s on-pitch fortunes. From the mid eighties signs of improvement appear both on and off the field which puts Morecambe on the cusp of Conference football.
had to put two players on the bench that I knew couldn’t even go on.” Having achieved his first goal with the club, what else does he think Morecambe are capable of? “We just want to improve, to get more experience in the league,” he says. “The more games we have in the Football League the more the club, throughout, is going to improve. And that’s what we’re after - to cement Morecambe as a Football League club.” The play-offs eventually finished just out of reach. But they did manage a top half finish - a position the manager is happy with. “We can’t go out and compete with the big boys of this league because we haven’t got the finances,” he says. “These lads that I’m working with at the moment have given me every ounce of effort and as a manager you can ask for no more. That’s what makes it so good when you do get a result with a club like Morecambe, it’s good and it’s very enjoyable.” So, with a small budget, how exactly does a League Two manager go about bringing in players to improve and mould a squad? “You can’t just go out and tell the chairman you want to bring in another player and then another player, especially at this level,” McIlroy says. “We’ve got a good chairman here and he wants to take the club as far as we can, but balancing the books is always of the highest importance. “It’s vital at this level to get players who have league experience. I’ve bought in two, Barry Roche and Danny Adams’ they know the league and have both done a great job for me.” With every pound tightly monitored, Morecambe is a club that has to make sacrifices to survive. “I don’t have many scouts; I’ve got a few people who do jobs for me that don’t even get paid. We’ve got a scouting network that checks out our opponents for us which is good, but obviously at this level you just can’t have scouts all over the country.” u
MID 1990s to 2009 The Shrimps are promoted to the Conference in 1996 and 11 years later are promoted to the Football League for the first time in their history. Finish the 2008/09 season 9th in League Two, narrowly missing out on a play-off place. Park Life June 2009 47
Terrace talk The Shrimps supporters have their say at PARKLIFE.co.uk/forum Put a bit of MFC in your life, you’ll never regret it. Steve, Carnforth I hope that the fans, the people of Morecambe and beyond will support our club in troubled financial times to give us all the best possible start at Westgate. I think our directors need our support as much as we need them. So let’s get behind them and our club to make sure we come out the other side in a fantastic position. Wozza, Halton I can’t imagine supporting another team. All my family support Man Utd, so I have a soft spot for them, but the Shrimps will always come first. Callum, Morecambe To have someone like Sammy at the club is amazing. The fans have warmed to him and he’s warmed to the fans. It’s a match made in heaven. We love you Morecambe. Jules, LA4 Football’s destiny isn’t decided by the stands, it’s by the people playing in front of them and the people making the noise on them. Moving grounds can only be a good thing for us. Brian, LA4 I think the play-offs are a realistic hope next season but it would be presumptuous to the point of idiocy to assume we’ll be safe from a relegation battle. If we keep on the road we’re on though, I can only see a good future for MFC! Jim, LA7 Whichever way you cut it, we are going to finish our second ever season of league football with a record points haul. Hopefully, with our highest position, with a very bright future free of debt and with a new stadium. It’s been another great year to be a Morecambe fan. Kath, Manchester 48 June 2009 Park Life
RETURN OF THE MAC: Sammy back in management
Having managed and played at varying you get over it quicker and you can’t wait levels he claims that the lower leagues of to get back with the boys. English football are often under-rated. “The way I look at it now is that it’s “Everything now is focussed on the hard to take when you lose. But there’s Premier League,” he says. “If you look always another match. down to League “Don’t get me Two, there is the wrong, you still physical aspect of take it home with the game but there you after a loss. are skilful players “That’s why as well. They’re getthey say - enjoy ting very hard now, the good times these leagues. Bebecause in footcause of the wages ball it can turn in and a lot of the big a game.” teams are having to Back in the cut their staff a lot dugout at Chrisof good players are tie Park, McIl‘We’ve got a good coming into League roy leaps up as chairman here One and League the winning goal and he wants to Two and it’s making goes in. The fans take the club as it very competitive.” start to roar, and far as we can, but Times are good it’s Sammy Mac’s balancing the books name on their at Morecambe right now. They have lips. He turns to is always of the plans to move into highest importance’ the South Stand a state-of-the-art Sammy McIlroy ON LIFE AT faithful and gives stadium by the start them a wave and MORECAMBE of next season, and a punch in the air. they’ve been beaten The Shrimps are only once in the last 17 games. not your average League Two club.They’ve McIlroy knows only too well though often been run in a bizarre fashion. Even that football can be a fickle game but feels today’s board includes the ‘Bullseye’ star an affinity with Morecambe which drives Jim Bowen – and this is a side that had no his passion for the club. manager at all for 30 years. But in Sammy “When I started off in management, I McIlroy, they’ve not only found a safe pair was trying to make a name for myself, and of managerial hands. They have a manager that’s very difficult,” he says. “Losing when with a touch of the big-time – he’s found you’re young affects you much more. I the perfect balance between Morecambe mean obviously I still don’t like losing but and Wise. l
parklife.co.uk Funny videos
Owl did they mess that up? It may seem like an old, local news interview. And it is. In 1991, a young, temptestuous Frenchman went on trial at Sheffield Wednesday. Nothing wildly exciting. But his name was Eric Cantona. And, after a trial, manager Trevor Francis decided he wasn’t good enough for them. Oops.
Ridiculous pictures Transfer gossip
Match reports Tables &
‘The Norfolk team’ Darren Huckerby’s move to the MLS caused quite a stir over there.The ‘English legend,’ is apparently responsible for the ‘greatest goal ever.’ So says an HOME American sports reporter, anyway.
THE OF FO OT BANT Y ER
WAG of the day Leeds fans dislike ITV Note to League One football supporters: sing an offensive chant about the broadcaster that shows your second round FA Cup game, and karma may just dish out a nasty surprise… Park Life June 2009 43
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n o c l e n á v I Words: Ben Drury
Iván Campo Ramos is a hard man to get hold of and when you do manage to get into the same room as him, he is incredibly intimidating. The first time Park Life catches up with the former Valencia, Real Madrid and Bolton man, he is hungry. “Let’s get some food, yes?” he asks. But in actual fact we are getting food, whether we like it or not. The former Spain international is now ploughing furrows with the Tractor Boys in Ipswich, and we meet at their Playford Road training facility to the north of the town. The car-park is awash with BMW 4x4s, top end sport cars and minibuses, emblazoned with Ipswich Town across them. The acres of football pitches are immaculate and the training centre itself is a modern, onestorey building - a mixture of yellow brick, varnished wood and glass. ‘Grand Designs’ would be proud. Campo eats chicken pasta as we sit looking onto the training pitch, where some under-14s are in the middle of a training match. “Everyone trains here” says Campo, tucking into his bowl of pasta. “It’s important for the kids to see the senior players, to make them feel wanted.” Campo breaks from the conversation to share a joke with teammate Jon Walters about the food the players have to eat. “I’m not a diva, but I don’t always agree with eating perfectly either,” he says, as he turns back to me, his wide smile disappearing as he gets back into interview mode. It is clear by the number of times Park Life has tried to sit Campo down for a chat that the Spaniard doesn’t care much for the press. “I don’t like talking about myself much, and anyway, the press make up lies.” We reassure him that no lies will emanate from our talk and he relaxes slightly, pushing his trademark mane back with force every time he thinks how to respond a question. Despite being in England for nearly five years, his English is, in his own words, still “not great.”
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r o d a t s i u nq IVáN
r o r e u q n o c e h t n á
From the Bernabéu to Bloomfield Road, Park Life spoke to the one and only Iván Campo Campo ON the galácticoS
‘They were special players and they were playing for a special club. But they were normal people.’
Real Madrid Campo may now be plying his trade in sleepy Suffolk but not so long ago he was playing for arguably the biggest club in the world - Real Madrid. After joining Madrid in 1998, he spent five successful years in the Spanish capital. He even played the full 90 minutes in the Champions League triumph of 2000. During his time there, Campo played alongside the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Luís Figo and Ronaldo, during the now infamous ‘Galáctico’ era. But when Campo hears the name - the Spanish word for ‘superstar’ - his back stiffens and he corrects us immediately. “I think that name is stupid. They are all normal guys,” he says sternly. “They were special players and they were playing for a special club. But they were normal people.” Zidane, in particular, is praised highly. “He was the best player in the world at the time, he’s definitely the best player I’ve ever played with,” says Campo. “He is a real gentleman, now and always. I was sad to see his last match end the way it did with the red card against Italy in the World Cup Final. Maybe he was under a lot of pressure in that match. Maybe something provoked him, but it was a mistake what he did. It was sad because it was shown on the TV all the time. But that was not the real Zidane.” u
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El Clásico to the Old Farm Campo enjoyed his time playing at the magnificent Santiago Bernabéu. But nothing, he says, is a substitute for the passion of English fans. “In England if you give everything in a game, the supporters accept that. In Spain, you have to win.” Park Life speaks to Campo on the eve of the ‘Old Farm’ derby - Ipswich v Norwich - and though the teams are more than 40 miles away from each other it is as big a derby as any. Campo, of course, has played in a few big matches himself, including El Clásico – Madrid v Barcelona. “I’m looking forward to the derby match. I always enjoyed El Clásico, obviously. If you win the fans, let you go out for a drink and enjoy yourself. If you lose, you run home and hide.The boys that have played the East Anglian derby before have been telling me what it’s like. It doesn’t matter how many fans are there, 25,000 or 100,000, players understand what derby matches mean.”
Campo ON the BOLTON SWITCH
“IT was a fantastic experience for me... I had to learn a new way of life, a new language and a new style of play when I joined.” Swapping with Beckham
OH NO!: Campo realises he’s just passed to Tommy Miller, not Zinedine Zidane 54 June 2009 Park Life
Campo continues to relax and explains his decision to move to England. As David Beckham swapped Manchester for the Spanish sun in 2003, Campo went the other way, signing for Bolton Wanderers in the same year. Iván was out of favour at Madrid and wanted a change so moved initially on-loan, before eventually signing a three-year deal. “Bolton was a fantastic experience for me,” he says. “I had to learn a new way of life, a new language and a new style of play when I joined. But it was a wonderful opportunity for me. Sam [Allardyce] was a big help. He is a great coach and makes all the players feel at home. We had some great times, getting into Europe and playing in the Carling Cup Final.” But when Allardyce moved to pastures new, current incumbent Gary Megson informed Campo he had no future at the club. “I would have liked to have stayed another season,” says the Spaniard. “But it didn’t happen, I was disappointed with how it happened but that’s football.” Campo wanted to say goodbye to the fans, and published a letter on Sky’s Spanish football correspondent Guillerme Balague’s website, saying thank you. But he is still a legend at the Reebok Stadium, so much so that some fans have named a band after him.
Ipswich’s transformation It’s been a strange 18 months at Portman Road. Ipswich were taken over by reclusive millionaire Marcus Evans during Christmas 2007. Seemingly overnight the family club, that had relied on its much-vaunted youth system due to financial constraints, was transformed by a £12 million war-chest. This money helped bring Campo to Portman Road. After his release in the summer Campo signed for the Tractor Boys following a trial. Some may see it as a step down but he is having a great time.“I’m enjoying it. It’s a good football club, with lovely people. Hopefully I’ll be here for another year.” Now 35-years-old, he is aware that his time is running out and wants to finish his career by winning promotion to the Premier League. “I have lots of friends here, and it’s a very professional club. They are good players here as well, with good attitudes. I think it’s very possible that the club can get promoted.” Although having played at the highest level in the Premier League and La Liga, Campo is full of praise for English football’s second tier. “It’s passion, that’s what football’s about. The Championship has that every week. Would I prefer to be playing in Bolton v Fulham or Ipswich v Norwich? The second one, definitely. That sounds strange, doesn’t it?” Park Life certainly doesn’t think so.
A bright future As we continue to chat, Giovani Dos Santos walks past, engrossed in an animated conversation with Spanish striker Pablo Couñago. Campo joins in, and the trio break out in howls of laughter. Park Life does not speak Spanish but, as Campo explains, it turns out Sevilla’s Fredi K a n o u t e missed a “sitter” at the weekend. It’s nice to see he has picked up the essentials of the English language. Another sign that Ipswich’s mysterious benefactor is prepared to spend his way to the Premier League is through the loan signing of ‘Gio’ from Tottenham Hotspur. Just 12 months ago Dos Santos scored a hat-trick for Barcelona that had media pundits a c r o s s the globe waxing u
SMILE: Campo poses for the cameras.
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‘It’s a good club”: Campo is enjoying his time in Suffolk.
lyrical. Now he is playing in the Championship. ‘Gio’ netted four times in an eight match spell and Campo was surprised to have the wonder-kid at the club. “Ipswich has done very well to get ‘Gio’ - he will be a superstar player. I’m not sure why he’s not playing regularly at Spurs, but it’s great for us that he’s here. He is very young still and it’s good experience for him to be here and playing. I’m not sure whether he’ll be here, at Spurs or another big team next year but while he’s here, we’ll enjoy it, and so will he.”
Campo ON IPSWICH
“I think it’s very possible that the club can get promoted”
A little secret
pitch. He continually checks to see if his English is correct but his teammate, Pablo Couñago, tells us he’s better than he lets on. “He doesn’t like talking to the press, so if he says he doesn’t understand something, keep asking,” he jokes. Ah yes, the press. That must be something he enjoys not having to worry about in the Championship. “Yeah I guess, though I still get asked my opinion on lots of things. But I can go and walk around the town without pressure, which was not the same in Madrid or Bolton.” And, just as quick as he arrived, he leaves. With his chicken pasta finished he says “adios” and makes his way into the very British weather. l
Campo is very self-conscious for a man that oozes confidence on the football
Keane to impress A week after speaking to Campo, Ipswich sacked manager Jim Magilton and hired another fiery Irishman, former Sunderland boss Roy Keane. The Spaniard was overjoyed by the appointment. “I think it’s great,” he said. “He has got a massive reputation, we all know how good he was at Man United, and he got Sunderland promoted, we can’t wait for training.” Campo says Keane’s arrival has already had a great impact on the young players, especially the strong Irish contingent at 56 June 2009 Park Life
the club: “The kids are so excited, I’ve played against him so I know what to expect, but the kids have only seen him on the television.” With 13 players out of contract at Portman Road at the end of the season, and one match to play, Campo says training since Keane arrived has been intense. “Tackles have been flying in, it’s like a proper match every time we practice. Everyone wants to stay and be a part of taking Ipswich to the Premier League.”
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FC United of Manchester Founded: 2005 League: Northern Premier League Premier Division (10th tier) Chairman: Andy Walsh Manager: Karl Marginson Ground: Gigg Lane, Bury Highest Attendance: 6,023
The Red Rebels When the Glazers moved in the real fans moved out Words: Mike Heap
Remember when the Glazers bought Man United? Remember the group of disgruntled fans that formed a break-away club? Surely just a flash in the pan right?
Apparently not. With three promotions in four years, FC United of Manchester now sit in the Northern Premier League Premier Division. Narrowly missing out on the play-offs this season, FC United are confident they’ll be in the Conference by 2011. Chairman Andy Walsh described giving up his Manchester United season ticket as one of the hardest things he has ever done. A life-long fan, Andy had seen his share of ups and downs at Old Trafford. But when Malcolm Glazer’s hostile takeover of the club went through, Andy, along with the Manchester United Supporter’s Club, knew something had to be done. O n e of the main
When the shrimps follow the trawler…they end up at Gigg Lane. 58 June 2009 Park Life
BREAKAWAY Bury’s Gigg Lane: home to FC United,
issues Andy had with the situation was the ever-growing price of tickets. There was a meeting on 19th May 2005 where it was decided a new club would be formed; a club with affordable football. AFC Wimbledon had done a similar thing four years earlier, and the then chairman, Kris Stewart, offered Andy and friends his support and advice. Ex-Rotherham United and Macclesfield Town player, Karl Marginson, was appointed manager. A local lad, Marginson is held in high esteem by the fans, who declared 21st March as ‘Margy Day’, and spent the entire match chanting his name. One of the most astonishing things about FC United is the level of support it receives in comparison to other clubs of the same scale. In a league where one match drew as few as 15 people, The Red Rebels attracted 6,023 fans to Gigg Lane in 2006. In that year FC had a higher average attendance than seven Football League teams, including Bury who they share a ground with. Manchester United legend Eric Cantona is also a fan of the club, when it first formed he said: “They have a great idea. I hope they will become a great club and win the European Cup in 50 years.” Cantona’s presence was never felt more at the club than the last game of the
Margentina: Where Karl Margins on is King
season. The production company making ‘Looking for Eric’ were at Gigg Lane and handed out 3,000 Cantona masks to fans (see Photo of the Month - page 3). A sea of Erics looked on as FC drew 1-1 against Bradford Park Avenue, missing out on a play-off spot by two points. But FC United are looking to the future and they have big ambitions. There are plans to develop their own training facilities, as well as building their own 10,000 capacity stadium by 2012. All this will be done whilst upholding their credo for affordable football. The club just announced that next year’s season tickets will be on a ‘Pay what you can afford’ basis. Board member Jules Spencer said: “We’ve been asked if we’re being foolhardy but why shouldn’t a football club trust its own supporters? FC United is after all a member owned club, so everyone has a ninterest in making this a success.” l
BREAKAWAY CLUB Next month:
the rise and rise of AFC Wimbledon Park Life June 2009 59
‘YOU C STICK Y THIRTY P Words: Doug O’Kane
Severely punished by the authorities, relegated to the Blue impression on the Football League this season? By winning the “It might be the last time we have something to cheer about for a while” says a Luton fan above the sound of the tube chugging out of Baker Street towards Wembley. The fans reminisce about the glory days of David Pleat’s reign as manager, during which the team was consistently in the top half of the First Division and won the League Cup in 1988. “We had such a good team at that point - players that could
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have gone on to bigger clubs but no one wanted to leave Pleat,” offers a voice from the back of the carriage. The discussion then turns to the loyalty of players in those days. An example used is the Stein brothers, Mark, who played for Chelsea in the 90s and Brian who scored the Luton winner in the cup final against Arsenal. They still live and work in Luton. The comparisons are made with players now.“Claude Gnapka. He’s so inconsistent. He’s definitely on a huge wage.”
AN ODD SEASON
CAN YOUR POINTS’ Square Premier. How could Luton Town possibly have made any Football League Trophy at Wembley in front of 40,000 of their fans. “Kevin Nicholls as well. He’s a Luton legend but twenty or thirty years back you would never have your club captain missing most of the season through minor injuries and suspension.” As Park Life steps off the train and onto Wembley Way it is clear that the Hatters fans vastly outnumber Scunthorpe’s. A swathe of orange away kits and black and white home shirts surges towards the national stadium. “I think there was a two finger “fuck you” attitude from our
fans towards the FA and Football League this season,” says Kevin Lennon, Chairman of supporters group ‘Loyal Luton.’ “There was a lot of bitterness and quite a few fans just left football. Those of us who stayed around just wanted to prove that this club isn’t going anywhere. We were saying if you want to treat us like that then do but we’re bigger than that and we’ll come back and rise again. It might not be straight way, but we will rise again.” u Park Life June 2009 61
g in g in h w s n a f ‘Liverpoolir owners is about thee. Arsenal fans laughablbecause they moaning on a trophy in a e m e haven’t w k a m s n o s a couple ofe saend be a Luton sick. Com hree or four years. fan for t real football.’ OR See some TON TOWN MANAGING DIRECT Gary Sweet, LU
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LUTON’s Deductions June 4 2008 - An initial 15 points from the Football League for going into administration. June 21 - The FA deduct ten points for financial irregularities in regard to dealings with agents during the previous three seasons. July 10 - An extra five points from the league because they had been in administration the previous season.
Luton Town secured the Johnston Paints Trophy (also known as the Football League Trophy) over League One Scunthorpe on Sunday 5th April to provide their hordes of fans with a moment of ecstasy in a difficult and controversial season. The club went into administration for the second time in under a year last summer. They were deducted 20 points by the Football League and were also given a ten point penalty for financial irregularities two years before that. But in front of what, at the time, was the largest set of fans a club has taken to the new Wembley, they produced a show of defiance by defeating a side 43 places higher than them in the football hierarchy. They conceded an early goal only for a Chris Martin brace to give them the lead. Despite being pegged back in the 89th minute, French-man Claude Gnapka grabbed the winner with an expert lob in extra time. Lennon says that it was a chance to send a message to the football authorities but before the game he encouraged fans to go to support the team and have fun rather than focus too much on the politics. “People were initially going to Wembley to protest and demonstrate to the Football League. We tried to send the message that we have had to deal with so much rubbish all season and we should go there with the priority of enjoying ourselves and cheering the team on. It has been so crap over the last few years that it was the one opportunity to have really good day out.” Lennon says that day out at Wembley will be something that will stick in his memory for the rest of his life: “The whole day was incredible. A sight to behold.” The lifelong Luton fan feels that the amount of fans the club brought to Wembley shows the club’s potential and the frustration of its supporters at the way it has been treated by the authorities. They sold 40,000 tickets, with demand for another 5,000, which was, he says “beyond anyone’s expectations” considering the club has been close to going out of business on so many occasions. Lennon attributes the support that day to a sense of injustice felt all around the Bedfordshire town: “It was the fact that we were doing something in the face of adversity and it shows there is life in the old club yet. People just wanted a good day out and they got it. Not many clubs have the opportunity to have a day like that.” He says it was the best moment ever for him as a Luton fan, eclipsing even the Littlewoods Cup win over Arsenal in 1988. “It’s sweeter now that we have been through the proverbial rollercoaster. In ‘88 we were on the back of eight very good years. Recently we have been on the verge of not having a football club so you appreciate it so much more.”
“SURPRISE is understatement. I was shocked to the core” says Managing Director Gary Sweet, who was part of the 2020 consortium who took over from Luton in early 2008 only to be hit by the heaviest points deduction in the history of English football.
Sweet, who is in control of the business side of the club whilst BBC newsreader Nick Owen is the official Chairman, is now trying to rebuild the club but admits the decision by the FA and Football League shook the club. “There was a pure lack of logic and reason in their decisions. The Football League made a mistake in giving Leeds 15 points a few years ago, that was very harsh.Then they did the same u to us. We were expecting the 15 points for administration but why they chose to give us five more points just because we had been Park Life June 2009 63
in administration before was beyond me.” The owners also had to pay £500,000 to creditors. Sweet was upset that they were not given any chance to take the club forward, and had to pay for past mistakes. “Why we couldn’t have a suspended sentence on the deductions?” he says. “We suggested that and said we would take a 20 or 30 points suspended penalty if we get into trouble again but they didn’t listen. The FA chose to give us ten points for a technical breach of payments which was far less than what has been committed by other, bigger clubs.The problem here is the complete imbalance in the FA’s dealing of large and small clubs. It doesn’t make sense at all. If we had only got the 15 point deduction from the Football League, we would have stayed up. Their extra five and FA’s ten cost us relegation and probably a million and a half pounds. I am somewhat bitter and so are the fans.” Kevin Lennon says that the psychological impact of being so far behind from the first game was just as bad as the points themselves. “You could see at the start of the season, players were scared to take risks or shoot or take any form of gamble on the pitch because they were so conscious of making a mistake. We weren’t playing with freedom. Psychologically it’s a very hard task.” Lennon says that the side dealt with the points deduction badly, unlike Leeds the season before: “When Leeds got the deduction they won in the last minute at Tranmere on the first day and that gave them the momentum to really push on. We played Port Vale and lost 3-1. Confidence breeds confidence.” But Luton continued to average some of the highest attendances in the league and Sweet says Town fans are the best in the country. “We have had 6,500 fans at every game even though most of us felt totally pissed off with football and a lot of people walked away from the sport. “They have been through more than any other set of fans. Liverpool fans whinging about their owners is laughable. Arsenal supporters moaning because they haven’t won a trophy in a couple of seasons makes me sick. Come and be a Luton fan for three or four years. See some real football.”
‘We were saying if yo that, treat us like th than that and we’ll again. It might not be will rise again.’ kEVIN lE CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Delirious Luton Town fans celebrate Claude Gnapka’s winner in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final; the Hatters celebrate conquering Scunthorpe at Wembley; fans express their feelings for the Football League chairman
Time to prepare for the Blue Square Sweet knows getting back in into the football league will be a challenge but doesn’t expect Luton to be a Blue Square club for more than a season. “Some fans are talking about it being a holiday season and while it is a fun, family league we have to keep our heads. We know it’s a tough league and we will give every single club the respect they deserve. But we will be one of the biggest clubs ever in that league.” And Sweet isn’t just targeting promotion to the Football League, he wants to “do an Exeter”. “If we get out at our first attempt then the spring board will be immense for the future. Exeter have gone straight up and it’s not unusual, it’s just about getting out of the Conference.” Club in the right hands Sweet says that the era of irresponsible ownership is over for Luton and that his consortium will take the club forward despite the most difficult of starting point. They have halved losses and cut £4 million off the wage bill in just one year. He claims that the structure of him as Managing-
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Director and Midlands Today’s Owen as Chairman, as well as the strong base of local investors is the key to a bright future. “The crucial thing has been to introduce investment from more than one party. There is danger in relying total on one individual. Clubs that are owned and run entirely by one man are in a very fragile position from our point of view. By having a number of investors, we are not going to be in massive trouble if one of them goes bust.” But Sweet admits that having a “big name fan” in Nick Owen has helped give their takeover some gravitas, and has helped the fans get behind them as well: “Nick Owen is the face of the business as Chairman. He doesn’t get involved in the staff
ou want to treat us like hat but we’re bigger come back and rise straight way, but we
ENnON, lOYAL LUTON cHAIRMA
management or financial side. He is in control of PR and making new relationships. I am the main business person, but ultimately he is in charge.” A work in progress
Sweet, who was born and bred in Luton like all the new directors, cites working with local schools and communities to get the next generation of players and supporters into the club as a crucial part of its progress. “We are very aware of our responsibility to the town of Luton and the county of Bedfordshire and we want to breed fans and
players for the future. Then we have to work on our relationship with the community and schools in the county. Bringing youngsters into Kenilworth Road to watch and into our youth system is a massive task.” Their academy, which boasts alumni like Paul Telfer, Matthew Spring, Matt Taylor, Curtis Davies and Matt Upson, is once again the cornerstone of the club’s future. “Our under 11s won their equivalent of the Champions League in Germany which is a massive triumph and an inspiration to everyone,” says Sweet. “We have made lots of changes in the youth set up. We are telling all the parents that we will continue to invest in youth and help them become footballers despite the relegation.” Although the board are confident, they have decided to give themselves more than a decade to get the club where they feel it should be. Sweet says: “The business is called Luton Town football club 2020. Most businesses are named after the year of their birth. But we are actually giving ourselves 12 years to be reborn.This gives us a long time to be stable and put the club where it really belongs. We have spent almost a quarter of our history in the top flight and ideally we want to get back there.” A sure financial footing and a board full of Luton fans have come as a relief to a fan base that has endured some controversial owners in recent times. “There has always been a potential move to a new ground,” says Kevin Lennon. “A lot of people have come in thinking that they could make millions for themselves and what we found with the previous chairmen was that they really gambled the future of the club faster than it could sustain and it combusted and we spiralled down the league.” Sweet says everything is in place to move the club forward, from the board, manager and playing staff to the development of a new ground, where more of those 40,000 fans at Wembley can come and watch their team: “We are at Kenilworth Road, which is glorious to visit and will be one of best in the Blue Square, but if we want to progress we need to redevelop or move. That is the biggest issue and is currently being looked at on a long-term basis. This is all part of a gradual procedure of modernising business and the way it runs.” The board have benefited from having a manager in Mick Harford that knows the club inside out already. Harford spent six years at Kenilworth Road, between 1984 and 1990 as Luton went through its golden era, and Sweet says the former England international is the man to take Town forward: “Mick Harford is the manager, although he’s a Geordie he has spent so much time in this area that he is as much a Luton man as we are. He is a massive asset to the club. He has got so much experience and so many contacts that he can attract a very high standard of player. Footballers want to come to Luton town because of him and how the club is run. “It is testament to the players we have signed that they want to play for a club even though we had these deductions. It tells you a lot about their spirit and courage and suggests that they could see this was something special. The togetherness has never been as good as this. We are very proud.” The 2008-09 season was one of the darkest periods in Luton Town’s history, but under the stewardship of Owen and Sweet, and with 40,000 fans like Kevin Lennon behind them, a glimmer of light is poking through. Don’t count out Luton being in the Premiership in 2020. l
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Carrick kicking cruelty Interview: Michael Heap
Usually here at Park Life we don’t focus on the Premier League. But when Manchester United and England midfielder Michael Carrick wanted to talk to us about his NSPCC appeal we decided to make an exception when he visited a youth centre in Stockport. Why are you supporting the NSPCC? I just think it’s a terrific charity and I’ve got a little girl myself now. She’s a year old and I think once you have children yourself, it changes your perspective on things. I know I’m in a privileged situation and my little girl is in a good situation. But not all children have that, there are children out there who need a little bit of help for various reasons. I think it’s just a fantastic cause, and hopefully I can do my little bit just to help and raise funds and awareness that it’s not all great out there for certain children, so I try and help as much as I can. You’re going to have a kickabout with these kids later, and you obviously learned your trade a Wallsend. How important is it that young people have an opportunity to come to places like this? Oh, it’s vital. You can’t underestimate how important it is. For me, again, I was lucky, I had Wallsend Boys Club which was five minutes from my house and it was just a great environment, it was so friendly and had lots of community spirit. Not only that but it taught me discipline, It had rules that you had to live by, and not even just for footballers, it set you in good standing for the rest of your life, It taught you life values in a way. Compared to this youth centre today, it’s a very simi66 June 2009 Park Life
lar place and it brings back memories. You see the table tennis, the pool tables and the arcade games, it’s a very similar set-up, and you can’t underestimate the lengths that some of the leaders go to, to give the kids what they possibly can, it’s great to see.
‘Once you have children it changes your perspective on things’ What kind of things are you going to be doing to support the charity? Anything I can to be honest. Just to
raise awareness really and raise as much money as we can to help the children. There’ll be various things going on and it’s just an honour in a way that I can try and help. I’m in a good position to do that so I try and do my best. You are a Newcastle lad, do you think Alan Shearer is going to keep them up? I hope so, I really hope so. If anyone can, I think Alan can. Obviously they are in a tough situation at the moment,. Some might say it doesn’t look too good, but with the fixtures they’ve got, including three home games, that hopefully they can win, fingers crossed they’ll do it. If they did get relegated, it would be bad for the whole of the North East. I’ll be pulling in their direction and backing them all the way. Do you feel like you have one hand on the Premier League trophy? No, we’re not getting carried away about that. We’ve still got enough games left and there are plenty of points to play for, but Liverpool, I believe they still have a chance. We’re not the type of team that are satisfied with where we are now; we know we’ve got to win more games. We’re in control but we’ve got to keep the momentum going. l For more information on the appeal go to www.nspcc.co.uk/michaelcarrick
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LIFE AND DEATH
A Game of Life and Death “Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you it’s much more serious than that” Bill Shankly
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LIFE AND DEATH
Adam Davies November 23, 1982 - April 6, 2006 And April 6, 2006 onwards Words: Keir Mackay
Bill Shankly captured the fanatical fever that engulfs football fans and players nationwide.
The lure of the game has forced weddings to be dodged, childrens’ births to be missed and funerals to be forgotten. And for those lucky enough to make it as footballers the rewards seem endless, men chant your name and women want your phone number. But all that can change in the swing of a boot. Adam ‘Digger’ Davies was a promising young footballer with international caps to his name and a growing interest from top clubs. Then he rose for a long ball under Cambridge United’s Abbey Road lights… It was April 2006 and Cambridge faced Exeter in a tight Conference clash. Starting at centre back, with the tricky Jamie Mackie to mark, Adam was controlling the game on his tenth start for the U’s, but before the night was over Digger would add another dark highlight to his injury riddled career. “I saw the keeper boot it up-field and knew I had to make the header,” he says. “I didn’t feel a thing until I woke up in hospital with two teeth missing, a pounding headache and blood smeared all over my face.” Exeter striker Mackie had attempted an elaborate flick just as the ball reached Adam’s expectant forehead. Turning on his heels, he tried to chip the ball round the defender but smashed both the ball and his laces straight across the young star’s throat. Swallowing his tongue instantly, Adam fell to the floor in an unconscious heap. Silence swept the stadium as paramedics rushed to the pitch to try and wake the lifeless player.The injury looked so serious that referee Ray Lee sent both sets of players back to their changing rooms whilst astonished fans chanted in unison in the hope that Digger could hear their calls. “I was told they were chanting ‘there’s
HOT PROSPECT: Adam Davies came through the Cambridge United youth set-up
Adam Davies on the moment he died
‘I was just staring at the ball... then bang! That was the last thing I remember’ only one Adam Davies.’” Adam remembers. “I was completely KO’d so couldn’t really tell, but it’s good to know the fans were giving their support.” As the clock ticked on, Adam lay motionless whilst paramedics buzzed about his prone body. Twenty minutes passed before he lifted a weary head from the floor and showed signs of life. Fans rose to their feet
to cheer him off whilst friends and family hurried to his side. All Adam could offer was a solemn thumbs up and a toothless smile. The next few days were a mixture of medication and sensational headlines. Cambridgeshire papers claimed that Adam was dead for over five minutes before being resuscitated on the halfway line whilst fan forums were awash with speculation and premature commiserations. “I was reading these articles u
WELSH WONDER: Davies captaining the Welsh under-21 side against Germany in 2006 Park Life June 2009 69
LIFE AND DEATH
LOST LOWER LEAGUE HEROES MATT GADSBY The Hinckley United defender suffered a heart attack in 2006 in a game against Harrogate Town. DAVID LONGHURST Died from a heart attack whilst for playing for York against Lincoln in 1990.
HORACE FAIRHURST Died from a head injury during Blackpool’s game against Barnsley in 1920.
TONY ALLDEN Struck by lightning 1967 during an FA Amateur Cup q u a r t e r- f i n a l against Enfield for Highgate United.
SAM WYNNE Died from pneumonia during Bury’s 1927 clash with Sheffield United.
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HEALTHIER TIMES: Davies played for both Cambridge and Wales under-21s
thinking it was just surreal. The physios never really said I was dead but the look on their faces told me that it must have been touch and go for a bit.” This brush with death was the latest in a series of unlucky events for Digger. He began his career as a schoolboy midfielder at bitter rivals Peterborough United. When funding dried up in the youth sides he was quickly snapped up by the U’s and it wasn’t long until he caught the eye of international selectors for the Welsh under-21s. After strong displays against the likes of James Milner and Nigel Reo-Coker, and a promotion to international captain, Adam attracted interest from top managers, Everton’s David Moyes and Preston coach Billy Davies. But a week after impressing in trials for Everton, medial ligament damage squashed his dreams of the big leagues. After three separate operations and hours on the training pitch, Adam was once again fit for the field. The game with Exeter was not the final nail in Digger’s coffin though, as five minutes into his return from yet another injury, a harmless looking challenge left him clutching his heavily bandaged knee in agony. “I’ve not been the world’s luckiest footballer,” he says. “There have been times when I get down about all the injuries and all the sitting in bed recovering but that’s life. It’s better to walk around with a few scars than still be lying on that pitch staring up at the lights. “After all the operations and drama I just wasn’t the same player. My speed was
gone and it felt like I was made of glass, so I just had to bite the bullet and get out of the game.” Now retired at the age of 22 Adam has begun coaching those hoping to enjoy the more positive sides of the game. Financial support from the Welsh international side and Cambridge United has kept Adam’s interest alive in a sport that seemed to reject him at every turn. But would he change things? Would he go back in time and let that ball flick past him if he knew the outcome? “The thought crossed my mind a lot whilst lying in the hospital bed. But I wouldn’t have done a thing d i f f e r e n t l y. The gaffer would have battered me if I’d let Mackie get past.” l
O T R A E H E H T Every football fan in the country has a story to tell about the trips they have taken whilst following their team across England.To get a taste of this tradition, Park Life accompanied Rotherham United fans on their 260 mile round trip to Luton Town and was treated to fans stories, a sixgoal thriller and an unexpected chat with a famous Millers fan. The journey Park Life waits for the Millers’ bus in the drizzle on a Tuesday afternoon in February, the smell of urine floats out from Rotherham train station. We are outside Nellie Dene’s pub, the arranged meeting point, which is only half painted and is filled with scaffolding and emulsioncovered cloths. Boy racers zoom up and
down the streets while we are offered “accommodation” by an extremely suspicious gentleman who was desperate for us to stay in his hotel. Once we step on the coach we are viewed as strange outsiders with funny accents. But somewhere along the M1 our mutual love of football allows us to get well into the away day spirit. There are around thirty people on the bus of a mixture of ages and appearances, some sleep for the whole journey whilst others are too wired to even blink. We meet ‘Smiler’, the 27 year-old who mysteriously manages to get into every ground with an under-16 ticket and Dave, who has Cerebral Palsy and uses crutches, but never misses a match. But the people who first grab our attention are teenagers, Michael Woodall, 17, a trainee plumber and self-confessed “dole warrior” and David Claypole, 15.
Die-hard Millers, they haven’t been to many home matches since the controversial move to the Don Valley Stadium, but they are experienced away day travellers and keep us entertained with their road trip stories and thoughts on the state of football all the way to Bedfordshire. David says: “Every day at school I get banter because I’m a Rotherham fan. There are loads of Wednesday and United fans there and I get so much jip. They just see us as a tiny town in Sheffield. “Especially now we play in Sheffield I get so much abuse. I don’t like that stadium anyway. The stands are too far from the pitch because of the running track. It just feels weird and it’s not Rotherham’s home is it?” On the bus Park Life sees all the pre-game rituals, including a football card competition.You put your name to a team, pay 50p, and if that team is on the scratch
HANDBAGS: Rotherham and Luton players sort out their differences at Kenilworth Road 72 June 2009 Park Life
L L A B T O O F OF th i w d a o r On the
card you win the pot.There is also a raffle. Surprisingly, the winners of both of these competitions are sitting next to each other. Conspiracy theories abound. Park Life are told stories of games and players past and present and even relatives who drink regularly with the Chuckle Brothers - famous Rotherham fans. The general sense we get is one of a community and a love of away day culture. “When it gets to a match day we have our own little group and for once I don’t have to take abuse for who I support,” says David. “It’s always a good trip and an emotional roller-coaster. We’ve had some horrible times and some brilliant moments. I love going to the games with these folks. They are the true fans.” Our discussion takes us all the way to Kenilworth Road where we step off the bus onto a cold street swarming with
d e t i n U m a Rotherh
young kids playing cricket and football right outside the ground. “Much better than Old Trafford” says David.
The match Walking through a house and seeing the neighbours sitting down to a family curry just metres away is never an ordinary way to start a football game. But that is how you get into the away end at Kenilworth Road where Rotherham earn three points in a classy and entertaining encounter. The defeat all but consigns Luton, a side hit by the FA with a 30-point deduction at the start of the season, to relegation and the Rotherham fans do not hold back with their cruel chanting. The Millers know what it is like to be harshly treated by the footballing authorities and both sets of fans start the
match with a rousing chorus of “fuck off to the football league.” But the away fans do not continue the love-in as chants of “we’ll never play you again” and “the Blue Square will laugh at you” are thrown at the side propping up the Football League. A jovial atmosphere turns into a fullblown party when Reuben Reid runs past the Luton centre backs to rifle in the opener on 11 minutes. Both teams begin to show sumptuous skill on the ball, causing a series of “wheys” and “woos” from the Millers faithful as revelry continues in the shed of an away stand. The game begins to get a bit feisty after Millers keeper Andy Warrington is clattered into and captain Pablo Mills starts a pushing frenzy on the pitch. A succession of chants from the stands such as “Pablo, Pablo sort it out!” and u
Clockwise from ABOVE: Millers fans show their support; Rotherham United and Luton in action; Park Life’s ticket to the big match
‘F**k off the Football League’
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Clockwise from left: The Millers on the way to a hardfought victory; Park Life’s coach ticket; Millers soaring high; the team sheet; the away stand – accessed through a house
‘You’ve only come to see the Millers!’ “Pablo’s gonna get ya” follow. Our friends from the bus have joined “the hardcore” and Park Life stands just in front of the engine room of chants with the slightly less vociferous fans. We are discussing the various flaws in striker Drewe Broughton’s game and generally agreeing that he is amongst the worst strikers in the country when he pounces on a loose ball from a corner just in front of us, turns nimbly and finishes from the tightest of angles. What do we know, eh? By this time the Millers’ fans are on cloud nine and go into the break in good spirits despite a retaliatory goal from Luton striker Chris Martin. He causes Trouble in the Millers’ defence by racing through at the Speed of Sound and doing The Hardest Part in hitting the back of the net. (Enough of the Coldplay puns, please - Ed.) The tempo does not die down in the second period as Danny Harrison smacks in a third for the away team just after the restart. The banter between the fans continues, with a particularly hilarious moment coming after a contentious refereeing decision causes the home fans to sing “we always get shit refs”. To which the United fans instantly respond “we always play shit teams.” Despite cruising to victory the away fans do stop to praise their opponent’s determination and skill. “They don’t look
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bottom of league the way they’ve been passing it around,” says the chap in front. But their attention soon turns away from the Hatters’ silky football towards their manager and former Miller’s boss Mick Harford. “Rotherham reject! Rotherham reject!” goes the cry. Luton’s Asa Hall scores a lovely goal to set up a tense last 20 minutes but a counter-attacking move in the dying moments allows Mark Hudson to thump in the fourth to send the Millers fans home very happy indeed with a 4-2 away win.
The journey back On the bus home our lads are buzzing after coming out on top in the goal fest. “That were reight exciting” says Michael. “It was a great game. Both teams were playing good football but we just had a bit more on the day. Were rocking in the stands all game it was good fun.” “A Luton fan got kicked out. Our lads were going to get him but the police got to him first and kicked him out.” Michael says thatThe Millers always bring a big and devoted following with them on the road, even if they do break a few rules now and then: “We always make a lot of noise in stands at away games. Most of the time we get treated pretty well but there is always one steward in the ground who tries to make us sit down, it’s pointless because no one
does.” More match day tradition ensues as we are asked to vote for the Man of the Match, the player who wins the most at the end of the season wins a trophy and Fans’ Player of the Year. Tonight’s winner is Pablo Mills. Everyone is worn out after the hectic match and most fall asleep on the way home although there are still a few conversations on their club’s future and its past. “Going down to the bottom and starting from scratch is probably for the best for Rotherham, but in a few more years we’ll be back up,” says Michael. “We have lost loads of United support. We used to average 8,000 in Championship, 5,000 and 6,000 in Division One and now it’s down to about 2,000. We have lost a combined 27 points in two seasons. We had some awesome players but with all the financial problems we had to let them go. Last season and this season we would still have been up if not for the financial problems. The FA can fuck off.” Michael remembers his favourite away trip, which also happens to be at his least favourite ground: Millwall’s New Den.“We won 6-0 on the first day of the 2002/03 season, easy mate, straight up. We were unbelievable; it just kept getting better and better. Darren Byfield scored four goals on his debut.The Millwall fans
the referee’S a mller! n ‘The passsioh still run ithigh for me w m Rotherha United’ Howard Webb may referee at the top level but it is League Two he calls home
Here at Park Life, we tend to think we’ve seen most of the things there are to see in the football league. But even we were surprised when an eagle-eyed member of our team noticed the country’s number one referee Howard Webb in the corner of the stand.
looked really angry during the game and I thought we would get beaten up in a riot outside but they were just praising how good we were.” The subject of Darren Byfield (you know, he goes out with Jamelia) brings up fond memories of another road-trip, this time to Highbury in 2003. “Byfield’s last minute goal at Arsenal in the Carling Cup to make it 1-1 is the best I’ve ever seen,” says Michael. “I actually went from the back of the stand onto the pitch with the fans in the celebration.” The Millers-tinted optimism does not extend to their opinions on modern players however and Michael gives them short shrift:“football’s never been about the money.The passion’s gone, it’s all going in the players’ back pockets. It’s about how many cars and how many homes you’ve got.” Wise words from such a young fan. Park Life is genuinely touched and feels that here on a cramped bus travelling up a rain-sodden motorway is a microcosm of what makes football the greatest hobby on earth: the passionate fans who work all week so they can travel across the country to see their team in the lower leagues. l
Just one week before his trip to the Nou Camp to take charge of Barcelona’s Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich, Webb visited the 12,000 capacity Kenilworth Road to watch his beloved Millers. “Good game, wasn’t it?” He says after the final whistle. “I try to get to as many as I can. It’s pretty hard to keep a low profile now, especially in a ground like this.” The former police officer has progressed from the local leagues in and around Rotherham to become a FIFA-listed official who referees across the world. One week Webb will referee Brazil versus Italy at a packed Emirates Stadium, the next he’ll jet off to Massachusetts to officiate a key North American game, but he’ll always try to find time to watch his home-town club. “This season I’ve been to the most games since I’ve been refereeing in the Premier League because I’ve had so many games that have not started at 3pm on a Saturday. I’ve probably been to ten games at the Don Valley Stadium and two or three away matches as well. The passion still runs high for me with Rotherham United.” Webb’s rise to the top has been impressive and he says he wouldn’t swap his job for any other. “I’ve made a fortune; it’s a fantastic life,” said Webb with a broad grin. “We experience some really high highs, when you’re involved in great games, and obviously some lows as well. But that’s part and parcel of sport at this level, I guess, and I’m just delighted to be involved.” Being a referee is all about impartiality but when it comes to Rotherham Webb is very biased and he believes next season can be a memorable one for the Millers. “You hope they’d kick on from here really,” he said. “I mean 12 months ago we had a new ground, coming in with minus 17 points, and they’ve all done unbelievably well. I take my hat off to Mark Robins and to Tony Stewart, the Rotherham chairman, for the great job they’ve done. And if we can continue from this point then we expect a serious promotion challenge next season.” But before he can think about next season, Webb has a few appointments to keep. One of these is refereeing the final of the most famous cup competition in the world: the FA Cup at Wembley. It sure is a hard life being a referee.
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Spurr of t Sheffield Wednesday left back Tommy Spurr tells Park Life sbout scoring
SPURR THEM TO SUCCESS: The Sheffield Wednesday defender believes
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that manager Brian Laws can help them push up the Championship
against the enemy, his loyalty to the Owls and why he doesn’t touch alcohol
Interview: Scott Kirk
Spurr ON SCORING in the sheffield derby
‘It was a dream come true. You go into it not expecting anything like that to happen and then with your first touch to score it was just ridiculous. I was absolutely buzzing. ‘
It’s obviously important to stay fit but I hear you also don’t drink alcohol… I don’t even like it, it’s horrible. I’m just not a fan of it. When I was younger I didn’t drink and there’s no point doing it now. We have a short career so I don’t want to get involved with drink. A quiet summer then before reporting for pre-season? We go back for pre-season on July 1st. I’ve started doing a bit of running. I’ve still got little things, like fitness, to do over the summer. But I can’t help it - I’m obsessed. Every year I make sure I go back really fit. Do you think that’s why you’ve managed to play so many games since making your debut? Over the last three seasons I’ve only missed about 20 games, maybe not even that. I played 46 games last year and I think this year was something like 40 odd. I’ve been lucky with injuries - I only ever get injured for a couple of weeks or so at a time. I’ve just been happy to play. It’s buzzing to be playing for them now. I love it. It must be a dream come true to have been appointed captain at times for Wednesday? I’ve done it for four games it now. There was one game when Richard Wood (regular Wednesday captain) didn’t get picked and two games where Brian Laws just gave me it. It is brilliant - I know it sounds corny but it was a dream come true. I never thought it would happen and I didn’t think it would have happened so soon. Having broken into the first team, what advice would you give to youngsters coming through the ranks? My best advice is just to work hard. Every training session that you can, always put a hundred per cent effort in. So if in training you’ve not done something well just stay out for an extra 15 minutes and work on your weaker foot or work on whatever problem there was. It does help, there’s nothing better. As long as you can look yourself in the mirror and say you tried your hardest, that’s all you can do. If you get released and you say “I could have done better,” then what’s the point? There’s a lot of people who want to do it so don’t pass up the chance. I know I’m not the most gifted with skills but I’ve always worked the hardest. At the end of the day you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. If you’ve got to stay out for an extra ten minutes then do it. Go up to the coach and ask “will you just spend ten minutes with me?” and they always do it. I was struggling with my fitness. I wanted to get a bit quicker so I went up to the fitness coach and asked if he could do me a programme and they’ll do it for you or they’ll do it with you. It only takes 20 minutes but every little helps - it’s better than doing nothing. u Park Life June 2009 77
Spurr ON HIS FUTURE
‘I want to be involved in the big games for Sheffield Wednesday. I want to help in any way I can to help Wednesday do it. That’s who I want to play for at the end of the day.’
SPURRNED OPPORTUNITIES: Despite chances to move away from Hillsborough, Tommy cannot see himself anwhere else than at his boyhood club
What has been your favourite moment since making your debut? Scoring in the first minute of the Sheffield derby at Bramall Lane. It was amazing. You go into it not expecting anything like that to happen and then with your first touch to score it was just ridiculous. You don’t think it will happen to you. I was absolutely buzzing. I just couldn’t believe it, it came back to me and I thought: “Oh god, I’m in.” It would have been nice if it was a winning goal but when [Marcus] Tudgay scored it was world class. Rightly so, he got all the accolades for it. He got our Player of the Year and he’s probably been our best player along with our goalkeeper (Lee Grant). How do you rate the team’s performance this season? We always said we wanted to improve on where we finished last year. We’ve got to look to finish as high up as we can. That’s what it’s all about. I think we’ve got to go for the play-offs.We’ve got to get in or around it. Over the next couple of seasons we’ve got to look to get there. You want to play in big games at Wembley. Do you think Brian Laws has done well as manager? The likes of Birmingham and Reading have got loads of money to spend. I think Brian Laws has done a great job. He’s had no money and we’ve had one of the lowest budgets in the league. We were in the bottom three budget-wise, so if you look at that we should have got relegated. We may have over-achieved but we’ve got some good young players coming through who want to play for the club. For one match, eight players from the academy were in the first eleven out of a squad of 16. It’s a credit to the gaffer for giving people a chance, if they’re good enough they’ll play. 78 June 2009 Park Life
You’ve been linked with a fair few moves yourself. QPR, Middlesborough, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers…. It is a bit weird. I don’t really see myself like that. I take no notice of it. I can’t see anyone paying that much money for me to be honest. I’m happy where I am. I enjoy who I play with and I’ve got a lot of friends there. Hopefully the club can move forward and we can challenge for the play-offs. I want to be involved in big games in the play-offs. It’s all relevant to what you want to do. I want to be involved in the big games for Sheffield Wednesday. I want to help in any way I can. That’s who I want to play for. You seem down to earth; do you make a big deal about signing autographs like some players? It’s always something that you want when you’re growing up. You always want people to do that so I just give them anything they want. It’s only polite. When you go to games it obviously happens a lot. It’s just part and parcel of it.You’re playing for the team they support and they always want you to do well. I don’t think it’s right that you should have that attitude of: “oh, I can’t be bothered today.” It only takes five seconds to give an autograph. It’s not a chore at all. From what we’ve seen it seems you are very popular. How does it feel to be famous? It’s just a bit surreal. I still see myself as just normal, you know? People look up to you. But I just feel normal, as if I’m not doing anything different. I am living my dream in doing what I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve never wanted to do anything else. All the time I pinch myself. I never expect to play but I’m always worried that I won’t play.What if he doesn’t like me? It’s weird.That’s what keeps me motivated and trying to play well. l
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PARKI LIFE REVIEWS
HIGHLY ADDICTIVE Football Manager is back with a very large bang Football Manager 2009 lllll
It’s back! The most addictive game since records began, the single reason students fail degrees, husbands lose wives and the Park Life writing team hadn’t heard of girls until someone disrupted their marathon session with an alluring magazine known as ‘Razzle.’
Football manager has been a constant for fans since they tore off the umbilical cord and kicked their first bit of leather. Sports Interactive return with their moreish mixture of stats, wonder-kids, prima donnas and 12 hour sessions. The game hasn’t changed much since we first enjoyed its assault on the male sex in the form of Championship Manager back in 1992. You still control a team of your choice from over a hundred leagues, fighting off relegation or taking Macclesfield into the Champions League. The noticeable difference this year is 3-D replays. Gone are the bird’seye-views of circles kicking a white dot around the screen, they’ve been replaced by fancy graphics that actually show you how poor your defence is or why that 17 year old Romanian wasn’t worth your entire transfer budget. This artistic touch, developed by some Japanese geniuses in a SEGA laboratory, is good but it means you’re going to need to own a fairly powerful computer to enjoy the game at its full capacity. The battered old laptop, powered for days on end without a break won’t be able to handle the new Football Manager. But even for those lucky enough to own a super computer the difference is negligible. You don’t play this game for the view. The beauty of Football Manager was that you didn’t see graphics or goals, you saw stats and they drew you in quicker than a hit on Dad’s secret crack pipe.
The menus are still as easy to navigate as Newcastle’s defence whilst the vast amount of changes you can make to your squad keeps increasing. New features include advice from your assistant manager, (mine was Emmanuel Eboue by 2017) improved Board Confidence and transfer window options based on research, as well as some more innovative features.Want to get Lee Trundle to tutor an up and coming youngster? Fine a player one weeks wages for missing a penalty? Go roasting with Huddersfield’s centre backs? Everything is there at the click of a button. Spend your time at a press conference and scouring the rumour mill. You can even play as a female manager, just watch out for Mike Newell, ladies. But, despite these exciting additions, those looking for something completely new shouldn’t look here. Football Manager 2009 is a refined version of all those that have come before with new shiny bells on. The updated graphics and player rosters are a nice touch but the core of the game is what brings us back year after year, now if you’ll excuse me I’ve got to go....... Darren Moore wants a new contract and I fancy making that dinosaur sweat. l
The Damned United lllll
CHRONICLING BRIAN Clough’s treacherous 44 day stint at Leeds United, The Damned united is one of the best football films to come out of England in years. The modern day chameleon, Michael Sheen turns his hand to one of football’s greatest characters and captures Clough perfectly. His facial twitches and grasp of accent give the film a sense of realism rarely seen in modern football features and, unlike the book the film is based on, Sheen’s Clough is hilarious. David Pearce’s book received its fair share of lawsuits. Clough’s wife Barbara condemned its picture of Clough as a loner and alcoholic but this hasn’t damaged the film. Hooper’s Clough is likeable and only let down by an occasionally weak script but viewers will see a charming account of a man who will forever be a football legend. He was witty and charming in a world dominated by money-grabbing idiots. While times may not have changed, Clough was truly a one-off and Hooper’s film pays him the respect he so richly deserves. l
MOVIES ABOUT football hooligans have been a touch poor recently. Elijah Wood’s mincing American in “Green Street” and Danny Dyer’s cockney wideboy from “Football Factory” have cemented the cliché of the brainless hooligan but Holden’s entry into the genre adds a touch of class. Awaydays follows a Tranmere Rovers firm in late seventies Liverpool. The film focuses on the initiation of Paul Carty (Nicky Bell) to ‘The Pack,’ a notorious firm who have taken to smart clothes and dodgy barnets to set them apart from rival gangs. A stellar performance by Stephen Graham as the Pack’s leader, John Godden, is the films highlight alongside some of the best haircuts seen since Valderama strolled onto a pitch. For those who want a bit of intelligence with their side of blood covered fists, Awaydays will be the right fight for you. l
Kenny Sansom:To Cap It All lllll FORMER ARSENAL left back Kenny Sansom’s story of his soaring highs and rock-bottom lows is a compelling one. The England legend and record holder for most caps as a left-back (86 in all) describes in-depth the minutes surrounding Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ in 1986 whilst showing the readers his likeable character. Revelations about Sansom’s addictive personality and the events that threatened to destroy not only his career but his family life make this a book not for the faint-hearted.
Jeff Stelling: Jelleyman’s thrown a wobbly lllll IF YOUR Saturday afternoon is dictated by Sky Sports and not whether you’re off to B&Q or Homebase, Jeff Stelling’s brilliant, whimsical look on his years as a journalist is a must-read. There’s even a chapter dedicated to everyone’s favourite Soul-Glo’d, moustachioed lothario, Chris Kamara – unbelievable, Jeff! Stelling begins his story where it began, as a tea-boy at local radio, takes us through the disastrous TV-AM years, all the way to today, as the new Countdown host.Throughout his wit and charm shines through and if it’s at all possible, by the end of the book, Stelling is an even bigger part of your life than Soccer Saturday. I might see if he wants to adopt me.
For more reviews on the latest books, games and films visit www.parklife.co.uk. WIN one of ten copies of Clough’s War by Don Shaw. A top read, even if we do say so ourselves.
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Are you ‘aviN a laff? Park Life’s look at the quirky side of football
KeepiNg it iN the family The refereeing at the play-off finals weekend this year was a family affair. Michael Oliver, 24, took charge of the League One play-off final 24 hours after his father, Clive, 46, reffed the climax to the League Two season.
NamiNg aNd ShaymeN The change of name from Halifiax Town FC to FC Halifax Town may sound like a pretentious continentalwannabe decision. But actually last year, the ‘Shaymen’ went completely bankrupt, folded as a company and then the reincarnation was relegated three divisions by the FA. It seems like a long time since they had Geoff Horsfield up front...
WBA at the top West Brom may have finished bottom of the Premier League this season but they do have the record for having the ground at the highest altitude in the football league. But Baggies fans, if you have been feeling dizzy this season it’s probably just the fall down the leagues that’s upset your stomach.
The world record for the quickest sending off, is held by David Pratt of Chippenham Town.
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Norwich City’s 2Nd top scorer this seasoN was owN goals
You’re fired! I thiNk The sacking of Hereford manager Graham Turner was made more complicated by the fact he is also owner, chairman and director of the club. How does that work?
The iNtelligent players club
This year, Mansfield Town midfielder Neil MacKenzie became the first footballer to appear on Countdown. Furthermore, he won five games in a row. Geek.
The stupid players club The other extreme is Jason McAteer. Whilst at Tranmere Rovers he filled in a credit card application. Not very exciting but he was fazed by one question. “What is your position at the company?” it asked. His response: “right back.” I know, seriously.