Day: March 28, 2008

An Early April Fool’s Joke

Take a close look at the picture on the left. That man is John Batchelor, and you might just be hearing quite a lot about him over the next few weeks or months. The reason for this is fairly simple – John Batchelor has launched a take-over scheme for League Two club which might even replace the likes of the Thames Valley Royals, Fulham Park Rangers and Manstock County as the maddest ever dreamt up by a football club owner. John Batchelor hopes to buy League Two club Mansfield Town, and rename it “Harchester United”, after the fictional club featured in the Sky TV drama show, “Dream Team”. I have, on your behalf, checked, double-checked and triple-checked to ensure that this isn’t all an elaborate April Fool’s Day joke, but it would seem that it isn’t, and it raises serious issues over who exactly is there to look after prone football clubs, who are stony broke but in possession of something that is very valuable indeed – a place relatively near the top of the tree in English senior football. So, first of all, a brief history lesson. York City were, by the start of 2002, in a poor state. Their former chairman, the wretched Douglas Craig had been turned upon by a small minority of supporters at Bootham Crescent, and decided on a revenge that would almost bring...

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The Death Of An Icon

Some of you may have noticed the minute’s silence prior to the match between France and England on Wednesday night. This was to mark the death, at the age of 49, of Thierry Gilardi, France’s very own “Voice Of Football”. When Franck Ribery was booked for ripping of his shirt after scoring the only goal of the match, it was a tribute to Gilardi that was printed on the vest underneath it, and the praise in France for the former Canal Plus and TF1 man has been fulsome, to say the least. Ironically, Gilardi had only been with TF1 since 2004 – a short period of time in the life of the average commentator – but the reaction to it all seems to reveal a schism in attitudes towards the men on the television in this country and in France. In this country, we are almost duty bound to hate our football commentators. The broadcaster Danny Baker would often make mention of his father shouting “WE KNOW!” at the television every time John Motson opened his mouth, and I’ve been as guilty as the rest of us of throwing spit-inflected bile in the direction of the likes of Jonathan Pearce and Clive Tyldesley, safe in the knowledge that there will be no comeuppance for it. The truth of the matter is that we love to hate our commentators. The...

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