Ron Springett In The Net - Sheffield Wednesday

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Andyben

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Sheffield Wednesday
#76 26/09/2019 at 11:41

but then i won't be able to concentrate on what i normally have open in incognito tabs... 

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DirtyLeedsOwl

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First used 09/08/09
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#77 26/09/2019 at 11:48

You don't need to subscribe to The Star

Just copy the link into an incognito tab
Reesh1867, 26/09/2019 at 11:38




Or you could volunteer to set up a thread and paste the articles on? 😁 

DLO: Harder than Tony Toms & fitter than Roger Spry 

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Reesh1867

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Sheffield Wednesday
#78 26/09/2019 at 11:49

No thanks, don't read the Stir.  

Consilio et Animis 

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DirtyLeedsOwl

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First used 09/08/09
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#79 26/09/2019 at 11:52

No thanks, don't read the Stir.
Reesh1867, 26/09/2019 at 11:49


You don’t have to read it mate, just cut & paste it? It’s part of your duties as site administrator! 👍 

DLO: Harder than Tony Toms & fitter than Roger Spry 

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Andyben

First used 07/08/09
10003 posts

Sheffield Wednesday
#80 26/09/2019 at 12:32

it wouldtake half an hou to delete all the shit bumf from their pages in order to get a paragraph cut and pasting twitter posts from idiots. 

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DPCSF

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Sheffield Wednesday
#81 26/09/2019 at 21:27

Excerpt from one of the numerous Stir articles about Wildpig fawning over the victims.

“The two sides have only met six times since football began with the invention of the Premier League in 1992, but Wilder hopes it becomes a more regular occurrence in the years to come.”


Be water, my friend 

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bricat

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First used 09/12/09
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Sheffield Wednesday
#82 26/09/2019 at 22:36

He dreams a dream, a fantasy. He believes in miracles............ 

Fuck 'em. This city will always be ours. 

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Reesh1867

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Sheffield Wednesday
#83 10/10/2019 at 08:15

David Beckham recovering from his metatarsal break in time for the 2002 World Cup, Paul Gascoigne’s infamous dentist chair celebration at Euro ’96, and three Sheffield Wednesday promotions can all be traced back to a small office in Wickersley, on the outskirts of Rotherham.

On the ground floor of a building containing a hair salon and a financial advice firm is the practice belonging to former Wednesday physiotherapists Alan and Paul Smith. The father and son duo, who between them boast 71 years of physiotherapy experience, have seen pretty much all that football has to offer.

After working at Rotherham, Blackpool and Wednesday before joining the England set up from 1994 to 2002, Alan was tasked with keeping the Three Lions’ stars fit at four major tournaments.

The walls of the practice are lined with photographs of Alan with England’s best players of the past 30 years and each has a story that he is more than happy to tell. One of Beckham — a “reliable, lovely lad” — with the physio in front of adoring fans in Japan sparks some remarkable tales involving Gascoigne, Gareth Southgate and Alan Shearer.

“When I was treating David for his metatarsal fracture, all hell broke loose all over the world because he was a world-class player,” Alan, 70, says. “But I ignored that. David is such a nice lad and we worked together like two mates, really, and just ignored everything.

“I said: ‘Just concentrate on what we are doing and how you are feeling.’ And he played every game, scored the winning goal against Argentina and never had any reaction at all. When they are top drawer like that, they are not only top-class players but they are top-class people, I have found. Reliable — I trusted him and he trusted me and that’s important.

“My two sons (Andy and Paul) worked here in the practice whilst I was in Japan and I used to ring them up and say, ‘David’s passed his fitness test’. They got the information first and then they were telling the patients that he would be fit for the game!”

It’s one of a few interesting situations Paul has been in over the years. Six weeks before Euro ’96 he regularly found Shearer at their family home as the striker spent every day in recovery from a hernia working to get fit.

“For six weeks we were together every day,” Alan says. “We would do alternate days in Wickersley and Blackburn, seven days a week.”
It paid off as Shearer won the golden boot in that tournament. Another frame on the wall of the practice holds a signed shirt from the Premier League’s all-time top scorer.

Alan says: “After the Switzerland game which was 1-1, he scored the goal and was walking off to the dressing rooms. I’ve got bags and all sorts that I’m carrying off the pitch and he waited for me.

“He just stood there inside the dressing room and he took his shirt off that he had played in and gave it to me as a present and said: ‘Thanks for getting me fit.’ We shook hands. That relationship is tight and the appreciation is nice.”

There can also be some more unexpected products of the trust that exists between physios and players who spend time in the treatment room — or “the hub”, as Paul calls it.

“You know the dentists’ chair?” says Alan. “That was planned in the treatment room. Steve McManaman, Jamie Redknapp and Gazza — I remember them talking about it and planning it. If there’s a little players’ meeting like that, it’ll be in the treatment room, every time. I remember it now, I just burst out laughing. At the time I don’t think I saw it clearly because of the celebrations because everybody has gone absolutely ballistic. Wembley is full, 80,000 and Gazza goes and does that and the place was rocking.

“When you get a squad of players together, you get a mixed bag of people and you weigh up how to manage them. The (England) squad for Euro ’96 was a total extreme. Gareth Southgate as a player was a mature, sensible, highly intelligent person. The perfect professional, impeccable. At the other end of the scale — Gazza. Who is a great lad, fantastic lad. A world-class player, the best in the world at Euro 96.”

Many talented players have come through Alan and Paul’s treatment rooms, but one name sparks an animated response from both. Gascoigne is the best player Alan says he has worked with in terms of “pure talent”. The physio tells the story of how Gazza curled a perfect free-kick past David Seaman in training and then wound up the video technician Gary Guyan, who was using a cherry picker to film England’s set-pieces.

“Towards the end of the training session Gazza went over to the machine, turned the engine off and put the key inside his sock and disappeared,” recalls Alan. “Gary was stuck 40 foot up there, shouting ‘Can you get me down?’ and everyone is looking around knowing he’s done it.

“We’re all looking for him and we couldn’t find him anywhere. He’d hidden under the back seat of the coach! He had the place howling. You need all that, it’s from the genius to being full of fun.”

There was a generous side to Gascoigne too, even in the earliest days of his career as a player with England Under 21s.

“I was a physio to the under-21s before I was appointed to the full team,” says Alan. “We were in the south of France and Gazza’s little mate was Vinny Samways who used to play for Tottenham. This particular day Gazza came up to me and said: ‘I’ve got a present for you.’

“He took me up to his room. I’m guarded because it could be anything, it could be a bucket of water thrown over you. Vinny’s there and he gave me a brand new tracksuit and he said: ‘Thanks for looking after me. That’s a present for you.’

“I said: ‘Paul, you can’t give me that! It’s a brand new tracksuit, you have it.’ It was one his sponsors had given him but he insisted on me having it. That’s the type of lad he is, he looks after the people that look after him. He’s got a lovely side to him.”

The practice isn’t entirely filled with England mementos, though. Treatment room three belongs to Paul, who has worked for clubs throughout the English football pyramid including Derby, Rotherham, Bury and his current club, Aston Villa. Every inch of this room however, is devoted to Paul’s beloved Sheffield Wednesday, who he has played for, worked for and supported all his life.


Alan (left) and Paul Smith (Photo: Nancy Frostick)
“For me, it was a dream come true,” Paul says. “To be the physio of your club — I’ve been a Wednesdayite from being eight years old. I was in Wednesday’s youth set-up but I made my decision at 16 that physiotherapy is what I wanted to do. I think it was a mature decision at that age, I just had a stronger desire to be a physio, even though some would regard I was quite good. ”

“I can remember the actual incident,” Alan says. “Paul was a good player, he played for Sheffield Wednesday’s academy for eight years. He was playing one Sunday and we were getting ready in the hallway of the house and he said: ‘I don’t want to be a footballer, I want to be a physio.’ Years later I can remember going up to Paul’s office at the training ground and looking across the pitch and I said to Paul, just think you were a player here and now you are head physiotherapist. What a great achievement.”

The story of the Smith affiliation with Wednesday and physiotherapy starts with 17-year-old Alan sitting in his parents’ front room in Saltburn with one leg in a plaster cast after suffering a double leg fracture. Alan’s father bought highlights of the 1966 FA Cup final and the 1966 World Cup final for his son to watch on the family’s 9mm projector as he waited out the long recovery process. Alan’s interest in Wednesday was sparked by watching their 3-2 cup final defeat to Everton. His move from playing as a schoolboy at Middlesbrough to a career in physiotherapy came thanks to the man that treated him at Ayresome Park — Jimmy Headridge.

“In those days the physios, generally speaking, were older people, white coat, collar and tie,” Alan says. “They had a clinical approach but Jimmy wore T-shirt, shorts, ankle socks, trainers and he was in with the players working with them.

“I think, deep down, he felt sorry for me being so young and getting such a bad injury. He gave me an unbelievable opportunity, he invited me into the treatment room as a student to take notes and watch him work. He used to say, ‘I’m helping you because you’re worth helping.’ You can’t see it in yourself can you at 17, you’ve no idea. But he could see something in me and I went from my first job with Darlington in the Fourth Division to England. It was amazing.

“Jimmy became physiotherapist at Manchester United. He was top of his job, class. I was with Blackpool at the time, and we were due to play Manchester United in a pre-season friendly at Bloomfield Road. I was in the treatment room and Jack Chapman, who was a friend and a coach at the club called in to see me. He said, ‘Al, can you run on for both teams tonight?’ So I said, ‘Of course, but why?’ ‘Oh’ he said, ‘the United physio has dropped down dead in training this morning.’ That was Jimmy.”

Headridge died at the age of 41 after collapsing at the United training ground, so never saw Alan reach the heights of joining the England staff, but his legacy and his style lives on in both Alan and Paul’s attitudes to physiotherapy. Both men stress the importance of getting stuck in with the players, like Headridge did, to build trust in the relationship that will encourage honesty in the recovery process.

“It’s so important when you are working with a player for him to give you that trust and information you need,” Paul, 45, says. “That helps you decide the next stage of his rehabilitation. There’s a chance further down the line that he will break down if he has not been honest with you. That trust helps you get the positive result.”

Despite 23 years working in football, Paul admits he still pinched himself when he was a team physio for David Beckham’s testimonial at Old Trafford. He was given Paul Scholes’ shirt and missed a post-match glass of red wine in Sir Alex Ferguson’s office because he had gone autograph-hunting in the changing rooms.

Between them, Alan and Paul have achieved five promotions, won one major trophy, qualified for Europe twice and been to four major international tournaments. While tallying everything up it is suggested they have notched up more achievement than many managers or players will ever reach. “That’s a great point,” Alan says, “I’d never thought of it like that.”

The father and son realise they also survived the reigns of 11 Wednesday managers in some testing times for the club across their two spells at Hillsborough.

“It shows you how the game has changed because dad had four managers with Wednesday in 11 years. I had seven in eight years and three chairmen,” Paul says.

“When I joined the club in 2009 we had one bike, one cross trainer and the gym was a Portakabin. I was like: ‘What do you expect me to do in this? You’ve got a squad of 25 players and one bike.’ To have the injury record we had and the success we had, I look back and think I don’t know how we did it with the facilities we had, they were really poor.

“I’ve had managers who want three meetings a day, or you can have managers who don’t really want to see you because they don’t want the bad news but it is the harsh reality of the game. Players get injured. Managers are disappointed but some deal with it a lot better than others.”

Alan — who was given the Football Medical Association lifetime achievement award in 2015 and in 2003 was presented with a full international cap crafted out of solid silver by the FA for his services to England — is patron of his hometown boys’ club, Saltburn Athletic. Paul still helps out in Rotherham one day a week when he is not on Aston Villa duty but, even with recent advancements in football, he knows the perfect person for advice whenever he needs an extra opinion.

“The sports science side is the thing that has really kicked on. We have a live feed at the side of the training pitch on a laptop with information about the players and it is all geared towards injury prevention. Things have moved on massively. But, at the end of the day, if I’ve got something unusual or you want more experienced ears I will always, always ring my dad.”

(Top photo: Neal Simpson/EMPICS via Getty Images)

Consilio et Animis 

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DPCSF

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Sheffield Wednesday
#84 10/10/2019 at 08:50

Cheers for link, good read that.


Paul getting the boot from Hillsborough will have been a hammer blow, loves the club and was walking in his Dad’s footsteps.

Met Alan a few times, top bloke. Even now when I picture him I see him racing across the pitch with his bag. 

Post edited on 10/10/2019 at 08:51 by DPCSF

Be water, my friend 

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P_O_T_R

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#85 10/10/2019 at 09:04

Only physio to get a cheer/song from the kop when he came onHappy  

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Owling_Wolf

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First used 31/07/09
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Sheffield Wednesday

Yellow Card

#86 10/10/2019 at 11:51

Enjoyed that one, Reesh. Thank you. 

We must not give opposition teams hope. We have to kill them. 

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Wor_Jackie

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308 posts

#87 10/10/2019 at 14:06

Cracking read that thanks, cheers pal. 

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Reesh1867

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Sheffield Wednesday
#88 10/10/2019 at 14:10

For £30 a year initially it is certainly decent value.  

Consilio et Animis 

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Reesh1867

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Sheffield Wednesday
#89 14/10/2019 at 09:56

Stepping up to take the decisive penalty that will either see your team knocked out of the cup or advance to a meeting with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge is a big responsibility.

It carries even more weight when it comes in only the 13th senior appearance of your career, on your 21st birthday, and when your club desperately need the additional cash bonus which comes with a cup win.

That was the exact situation facing Sheffield Wednesday’s Connor Kirby as he walked up to take the final spot kick for loan club Macclesfield Town in a Carabao Cup tie against Grimsby last month. Regardless of whether he scored or missed in that moment, Kirby had taken the next stride in his career — understanding life as a “small fish in a big pond” and learning the ropes of the professional game away from familiar surroundings in Sheffield.

It turned out to be an unlucky 13th senior outing for Kirby, who saw his penalty saved by James McKeown.

The Wednesday loanee’s disappointment was evident as he kicked a lump out of the turf at Blundell Park and he was said to be devastated, head in hands, once he made it to the changing rooms. But it has already proven to be a valuable experience for the central midfielder as he looks to make his mark away from Wednesday and as one source told The Athletic, “If that doesn’t make him a man, nothing will.”

Kirby will have learned more from missing that penalty than he would have done by scoring it.

It’s a fact he admits himself, despite his disappointment at his role in the defeat, as he told The Athletic: “I was a bit disheartened because I basically cost the lads a game at Stamford Bridge and it was a great opportunity for myself. So I was very disappointed and a bit upset. But it’s a learning curve and it’s totally gone now. It was only one game of football, so we’ll make sure to put it right.”

Kirby got straight back on the bike, starting all six of Macclesfield’s league matches since to take his tally for the campaign to 15 appearances so far. Previously limited to just four outings for his parent club, these match minutes will be valuable for his career development with less than a year left on his current Wednesday contract.

With another 90 minutes under his belt in Saturday’s 2-1 victory over local League Two rivals Port Vale, Kirby looks settled at Moss Rose. Playing in a holding role to shield the back four, Kirby was composed on the ball and was involved in some of Macclesfield’s best chances — especially as he was the designated set-piece taker.

Macclesfield were deserved winners and Kirby worked hard to maintain a high press until the dying moments of added time.

“It’s good for me to be in a winning team and get that winning feeling,” he said afterwards. “When I first came, I wasn’t playing and I’ve had a change of manager as well (Sol Campbell left the club just three games into the season) so I’ve had to work extra hard in training to get into the team. Hopefully I can keep that spot now.

“It’s men’s football so it’s a lot more physical than playing against kids my age. Plus it was a derby so there’s always that more physical and aggressive edge to the game.”

Kirby has cemented a place in the centre of the park under new manager Daryl McMahon, filling in for Jak McCourt, who made his return from injury off the bench against Port Vale. Whether Kirby will be able to hold down that place now his fellow midfielder is back in the fold is yet to be seen, but the signs are encouraging.

Macclesfield are a club that have had their own bumps along the road in recent seasons, since promotion back to the Football League under John Askey last year against all the odds. Just last week, players and staff contacted the EFL to ask for help as they went unpaid amid uncertainty over the club’s future.

Previous manager Campbell has spoken out since he left Moss Rose, claiming that he was only paid once in his final five months as manager, and that scouting systems and analysis equipment was not replaced or renewed.


Macclesfield are due in court on October 23 in relation to a winding up petition over an outstanding tax bill and have previously been taken to court over unpaid wages.

As for matters on the pitch, last season’s great escape under Campbell, who is said to have left his stamp on the club with improved professionalism and a revamped squad, ensured another year in the Football League.

It’s a challenging environment for Kirby to tackle at his loan club, but the midfielder has a mature head on his shoulders and has already settled well in a young squad. An initiation that saw him singing The Killers’ Mr Brightside, as well as shared car journeys with other members of the squad based in South Yorkshire, have helped integration.

Kirby’s long-term ambition is to become a Hillsborough regular and he drops in at Middlewood Road in his free time.

“Steve [Haslam], the academy manager, rings me and I go in to see the lads on my days off, so they’re always asking me how I’m doing, which is nice,” he says.

The next opportunity for Kirby to impress the Hillsborough hierarchy will come with a trip to Oldham next weekend as 12th-placed Macclesfield look to edge closer to the play-off places.

And though a winding road across the Peak District and two leagues separate them, it’s a target Kirby will be hoping both his teams in blue and white can achieve by the time he returns to Wednesday at the end of the season.

Consilio et Animis 

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Reesh1867

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Sheffield Wednesday
#90 14/10/2019 at 11:35

Daniel Taylor: From Fergie’s hairdryer to a player’s dad trying to headbutt a manager – it’s been a blizzard of emotions and I want more


By Daniel Taylor 6h ago 24
Perhaps the best place to start is by going back to the Saturday afternoon at Bramall Lane when I got my first big break in football journalism. March 28, 1998, to be precise. Sheffield United versus Port Vale and one incident in particular that leaves me wondering, more than 20 years on, whether I have ever witnessed anything quite so unusual at the end of a football match.

I was living in Leicester at the time, working as a news reporter during the week and then doing bits and pieces in the Filbert Street press box at weekends. Part of my remit was to feed the football addicts’ fix that was Teletext page 302. I supplied goal flashes for the BBC and player ratings for Shoot! magazine. But I wanted more. I wanted to write about football, and everything around it, on a regular basis.

That day, I had been invited to Sheffield to cover my first game — though only on trial — for a press agency that supplied match reports to all the national newspapers. There was the prospect of a full-time job if I could prove I knew what I was doing and, looking back, I suppose it was an early lesson that sometimes even the most ordinary matches can conjure up extraordinary stories.

What I came to know as the press box “rewrite” originated late in the match when a long ball was pumped towards the corner flag. Dean Saunders, the home team’s striker, chased after it and the Port Vale goalkeeper, Paul Musselwhite, came racing out of his penalty area to slide the ball out of play. Saunders went to take a quick throw-in, with the goalkeeper out of position, but did not have any team-mates nearby. So he improvised — and aimed it against Musselwhite. The ball bounced off the goalkeeper and Saunders craftily put it into the net from 25 yards out. It was a brilliant piece of quick thinking — “the keeper’s backside was so big, I couldn’t miss,” Saunders explained later — and one of the stranger goals you will see. Full-time score: Sheffield United 2, Port Vale 1.

Except something else happened that day to shape the headlines in a very different way.

An hour or so after the final whistle, I was waiting to speak to Saunders by the players’ entrance when I became aware of a bloke, probably in his early-50s, making his way across the car park and shouting in a broad Yorkshire accent that there was someone he wanted to see.

Sometimes, you can tell when a guy is in a bad mood just from the way he is walking. This guy could not have been more obvious if he had a neon sign round his neck reading: ‘Treat With Caution’. Port Vale’s bus was outside the ground. The engine was running and the manager, John Rudge, was on the front seat, waiting for the last couple of players to get on board.

At which point, this guy charged up the steps, eyes blazing, fists clenched, and stormed on board. He was shouting that he was after Gareth Ainsworth. Rudge, a lovely old character, put out an arm in an attempt to pacify him and — no kidding — this guy appeared to try to headbutt him. All hell broke loose.

It was one of the stewards who explained, once everything had calmed down, that the guy’s name was Sid and he was the father of Dane Whitehouse, one of the Sheffield United players. Dane’s knee had been wrecked in a challenge with Ainsworth at Vale Park the previous November. Dane was four months into a long rehabilitation programme and Sid had spent the afternoon stewing on it before deciding to go after the man he held responsible.

He never did get to him because Ainsworth had been sensible enough to arrange a car to get him away from the stadium. But it was mayhem. I couldn’t be sure how many players, coaches and other members of staff it needed to calm everything down and, even with my limited experience, I was pretty sure that a player’s dad shaping up to nut the opposition manager (he didn’t connect, fortunately) on the team bus was not something I could just ignore.

I rang it in from a telephone booth on Shoreham Street and the next day, as well as a wonderfully eccentric goal to lead off my match report, I had my first exclusive on the back pages. Within 24 hours, I had a job offer: my first role as a full-time football journalist, operating out of Manchester. And when I think about it now, having covered at least 2,000 other matches without witnessing anything quite so dramatic, one thought in particular comes to mind.

Bloody hell, I got lucky.

As journalists, you tend to accumulate these kinds of stories on the road and, in my case, that encompasses 19 years at The Guardian and The Observer, the last seven as their chief football writer. It has taken me to five World Cups. I have met some remarkable people, covered some huge stories and had a close-up view of all sorts of unforgettable events, on and off the pitch. Today, I am joining the very talented — and still growing — line-up of writers at The Athletic.

It certainly isn’t easy to put into words the blizzard of different emotions upon seeing Barry Bennell, the man described as a “child abuser on an industrial scale”, jailed for 31 years after the tidal wave of publicity that began with me interviewing some of the players he had preyed upon in the junior systems of Manchester City and Crewe Alexandra.

Or the mix of relief and vindication, after several months of pursuing some kind of justice for Eni Aluko, to be in a parliamentary hearing in Westminster as the Football Association finally backed down and admitted that, yes, she had been the victim of racial discrimination from Mark Sampson, manager of the England women’s team.

Not that everything has gone so smoothly. I can also tell you what it was like to be road-raged by Roy Keane and those interminable few moments on a quiet country lane near Manchester United’s training ground when it felt like I was staring into the eyes of John Hardy, Rutger Hauer’s character from The Hitcher.

I have had my eyebrows singed by Sir Alex Ferguson’s hairdryer more times than I can remember (trust me, however bad you imagine it might be, it is worse). I have wandered into what I thought was an open-air theatre in Tehran only to discover it was a public execution site where people were stoned to death.

If you want to know about my prowess on a football field, I was stupid enough once to attempt to chip Neville Southall in a Wales v England media game at Ninian Park. More fool me: Neville plucked the ball out of the sky, one-handed, with a look of bemused disdain on his face, at which point, Gordon Hill, once of Manchester United, ran over in a temper, screaming: “You’ve got to put your fucking foot through the ball, son.” One of my more deserved rollickings, in fairness.

Though I would still maintain that nothing was as surreal, or terrifying, as the time myself and Colin Young, then of the Daily Mail, took a wrong turn looking for some toilets in the corridors of Portugal’s old Estadio da Luz and suddenly realised we had emerged into a recess of the Republic of Ireland dressing room. We knew because Mick McCarthy was just starting a team talk which, if I remember correctly, involved various instructions about putting Luis Figo on his backside and seemed to go on for an eternity. Or certainly a long time for the two hacks cowering in the shadows, wondering what might happen if Mick or anybody else caught us listening in.

Anyway, you get the point: it has been a lot of fun. When I started in this industry, it was the pre-internet age and the only way to find that Saunders goal would be a blooper video rather than clicking on YouTube.



Tweeting was something for birds, not humans. Trolls existed in fairy tales, usually living in a cave. And the press box was a fascinating place filled with old rotary-style phones, the twisted vines of cigarette smoke and the near-unremitting babble of harassed scribes dictating their copy, all colour and metaphor, down the line.

There was little to suggest, even in those early days of the Premier League, that football would become the sport of the super-rich, VVIPs and the glitterati, where sometimes it might feel like money was how they kept the score. It was Jamie Pollock in Manchester City’s midfield, not Kevin De Bruyne. The manager, Joe Royle, had a drinks coaster in the design of a panic button. And, thankfully, not too many people seemed to notice the time, covering a night game at Maine Road, my match report attributed a stoppage-time goal to some chump by the name of Daniel Taylor (sincere apologies to the real scorer, Gareth Taylor).

Back then, you could go to a press conference at Melwood, the Cliff, Platt Lane or Bellefield and there might be half a dozen people in attendance. These days, one of those events will get 10 times that number. Football’s relationship with the media has changed immeasurably. It is still evolving all the time and, by now, I hope you can see why The Athletic is fast establishing itself as the go-to place for in-depth coverage and long-read journalism.

I also hope you can see why the feedback has been so positive since it launched in the UK with the emphasis, more than anything, on raising the bar.

For starters, it wants to invest in journalism and, believe me, that alone is something to celebrate at a time when many newspapers are shedding staff and never replacing them, or reporters are having to share their work between up to four or five different titles as part of cost-cutting measures.

As you may already have seen, The Athletic doesn’t just want to tell you what has happened, it wants to explore why it has happened. The onus is on the writers to live up to that line from Arrigo Sacchi — and I love this quote — when he described football as the “most important of all the unimportant things in life”. There are no space restrictions or unforgiving deadlines and perhaps you might also have noticed all this is delivered in the cleanest way possible. No adverts, no clickbait, no clutter, no pop-up boxes or online surveys promising to enter you into a prize draw if you confirm how many times you have used a razor or shopped for groceries in the last month.

What it does guarantee is, I think, highly attractive: writing in its purest form, in-depth analysis, investigations, features, long-form interviews, brilliant reads and a whole lot more from what is already, by some considerable distance, the biggest line-up of football writers anywhere in, well, the world.

This article is my way, I guess, of explaining why I wanted to be a part of it. Though perhaps a better way of putting it would be to ask: why on earth would I not want to be part of it?

Consilio et Animis 

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