And then there were two: George Cohen R.I.P.

George Cohen, the Fulham right back who George Best described as the best full-back he ever played against, vice-captain of the Boys of 1966, has died aged 83. That leaves only Sir Bobby Charlton and Sir Geoff Hurst who shared that sunny Saturday afternoon. I remember when Alan Ball died, the youngest man, the first to depart. I remember when all our heroes, even the unsung and humble, were still here to remind us that there once was a day. Sadly, such people are immortal only in the minds and hearts of we who cheered them.


The Greatest of them All

In the battle over just who is the Greatest Footballer Of All Time, we’ve spent years on the argument as to whether it is Lionel Messi or Christiano Ronaldo without coming to any conclusions, nor will I weigh in with my opinion. How do the Argentinian and the Portuguese match up against the Other Argentinian or the Dutchman? Should we broaden the category to include the German? Diego Maradona, Johann Cruyff, Franz Beckenbauer. Do we argue for Michel Platini or Zinedine Zidane?

If you’re of my generation, there is no question. We were brought up to believe that the Greatest Footballer Of All Time had but one name, one that the whole world knew him by. His real name, which I could only ever guess at pronouncing, was Edson Arantes do Nascimento but the world knrew him as Pele.

No, he’s not died, not yet. But it is only a matter of time, and maybe not a lot of that, and for once I wanted to say these things whilst the hero I’m talking about is still in the world. Not for him to read them because he never will. But because I want to speak them into the world whilst he is part of it, and because he was, is and always will be Pele, and he needs no other words, just Pele. And because for once I want to salute the light before the world is dimmed unmercifully forever.

The Man of the Big Moment: Ronnie Radford R.I.P.

He was what you’d call a journeyman footballer but he made himself immortal on a muddy Herefordshire football pitch one February afternoon in 1972. People like me don’t need the clip below to remind us, we read the name and it flashes across our memory, paying no royalties to the BBC. Fifty years on Ronnie Radford is gone, but his name will never disappear.

Crap Lawyers

Read this.

This arrogant, puffed up, snobby, supercilious twat thinks he knows better than an inquest and a jury. He can’r resist slandering Liverpool on top of that. And his profession clears him of breaching Professional Standards. If I were still, in any way, connected with the Law, I would be quitting on the spot.

The utter shit.

Crap Journalism

It’s been a long time since I last out up something from The Guardian, which is a combination of my decision not to read the writers most likely to talk bullshit and a growing mellowness that is less spiritual progression than inertia in the face of so much in the world that is rotten that I can’t cope with the sheer multifariousness of it.

Take a look at this piece, in particular item 7. This is the Guardian‘s reguklar Ten Things To look Out For about this weekend’s forthcoming Premier League programme. Note that this is a weekend where five games (so far) have been called off due to COVID.

Let me take a step back. I’m a Manchester United fan, have been for over forty years. I’m biased towards my club, of course, but not fanatically so. I like to think of myself as being decently objective, not paranoid.

But the Guardian has been conducting a campaign of… let’s be polite and call it denigration… towards United for some time, especially towards Ole Gunnar Solksjaer. So much so that it has become a vendetta, especially from two members of their football writing staff, who lost their neutrality ages ago. It actually got to the point, not so long ago, that I stopped reading anything the paper said about United that was not an actual match report. Opinion pieces at least five days a week, all negative, all one-note, all of them exaggerated in one form or another.

Now go back to that item 7. Five matches have been called off, one of them United’s. Yet they feature in the weekly Ten Points. For no better reason, it would appear, than to aim a nasty crack at United – that bit about thinking and trying. Sure, the tactical aspects are intelligent, and would have remained intelligent if the writer could have refrained from the gratuitous kick in the cobblers, which would have made the piece into what it’s supposed to be and not yet another shot in the ongoing vendetta.

And they keep appealing to me to pay money to read this Crap Journalism online.

…And then there were three: Roger Hunt R.I.P.

The death reported today of Roger Hunt, the former Liverpool striker and World Cup Winner in 1966 reduces to three the number of survivors from that long ago day. And Bobby Charlton, George Cohen and Geoff Hurst are all in their eighties. The time will come, ere long, when all that remains are memories. There is little else now.

Crap Journalism

It’s not yet 24 hours since the unexpected news broke that Manchester United had re-signed Cristiano Ronaldo after twelve years away, and this is already the Guardian‘s third article decrying the move, declaring it a disaster and depicting it as a shattering mistake that will further destroy United’s prospects of returning to glory. But this is the newspaper that pens a couple of articles every week, slagging off Ole Gunnar Solksjaer, and trying to get him sacked in the grounds that he isn’t good enough. And this is the paper that essentially first demanded United hire Jose Mourinho as Manager and then spent all its time trying to get him sacked.

So what am I surprised about? No, I’m not. Go fuck yourselves, all of you. At least under Ollie, we look like Manchester United again when we play, and that, after Moyes, van Gaal and Mourinho, is good enough for me.

We Three Kings…

Only one of them was actually called ‘The King’ in his time, but their three names are bracketed together and always will be. Georgie went, a long time ago, in his own manner and we may squabble over whther his demons were demons or just the way he chose to live his life. And last November, his wife announced that Sir Bobby had succumbed to dementia.

Now the man they actually called the King has announced that he too has dementia, mixed dementia: not for Denis just the one thing. He’s asked us not to mourn him as he goes into the greyness that swallows up all the things he did, the people he loves, the team-mates and the friends of his life, even the adulation he had and still has from us, because he has had these things from us for a very long time.

He was the only one of the three I ever met, preparing for a book signing in W.H. Smith’s in Stockport forty years ago, and I bought the book so I could get it signed and say thank you for all the pleasure he’d given us, and he grinned this brilliant grin, stuck out his hand and said ‘Put it there!’ and my mate Steve was disgusted with me that I ever washed the hand he shook.

Denis Law, the King of Old Trafford, never gone, never forgotten. We remember him this way.

Denis Law