Honour Amongst Thieves
The Judas. You all know what I mean, don’t you? Some of you will have a general concept of it. Some of you will have instantly thought of a particular individual that broke your heart. And, as we all know, they’re still out there. In yesterday’s post, I erroneously (though I did claim mitigating circumstances, as you can see) made claims over the feelings of Millwall supporters towards Teddy Sheringham. I have removed the offending comment, but the reply just about it says as much as I could have done. People still, no matter what they have thrown at them, have enormously strong feelings over people that do this to them. Yet still it goes on. The weirdest thing of all about the entire Ashley Cole affair was his attempts at self-justification. He’d been at Arsenal since he was a child, yet there was still a half-hearted attempt on his part to justify his actions on sporting grounds. He just didn’t get it, did he? He assumed that we were stupid enough to swallow it. If he just said, “Look, they just threw a pot of cash at me and, to be honest, Arsenal probably aren’t going to win the Premiership again while I’m still playing. I’m just backing the winning horse here. And I’m even richer than I was before”, we could at least have admired his honesty. As it was, though, he tried to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes. He thought we were all stupid – and now this career moment of absolute avarice will be what he’s remembered for. Forever more, he’ll be Cashley Cole. And so it should be. However, there are varying degrees of evil in this sort of thing, so let’s take a quick look at some of my favourite Judases.
1. Denis Law was free transferred from Manchester United to Manchester City in 1973, and ended the following season by back-heeling United into the Second Division and refusing to settle it. Well, yes, but… not quite. This story overlooks the fact that Law had made fifty appearances for City in 1960-61, before he was even associated with United, and that Law’s backheel was irrelevant – United were relegated at Old Trafford day by results elsewhere rather than anything Law did.
2. Derek Dooley played for Sheffield Wednesday between 1946 and 1953, before breaking his leg whilst playing for them, contracting gangrene, and having to have his leg amputated. Remarkable enough already, I think you’ll agree. In 1971, he returned as their manager, but in 1973 the man that had literally given his leg for Wednesday was sacked. Revenge, for Dooley, was sweet. He joined Sheffield United as their commercial manager, and eventually worked his way up to become their chairman. By the time he retired in April 2006, United were at the point of promotion back into the Premiership, whilst Wednesday had been reduced to being one of English football’s more enduring soap operas.
3. In 1986, West Bromwich Albion were relegated from the First Division. They’d had a bad season, but they were still in the ascendency over local rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers, who were in the middle of a catastrophic collapse that took them into the Fourth Division. During the summer, Albion sold one their excess strikers to them for £65,000. His name was Steve Bull, and he went on to become a legend at Molineux. He scored 306 goals for them over the next thirteen years (a jaw-dropping £216 per goal), and played for England in the 1990 World Cup. He now has a stand named after him at Molineux.
4. Pat Jennings signed for Spurs in 1964, and played 472 matches for them up to 1977. When they were relegated that season, he left for… Arsenal. Now, there are two stories as to why he left Tottenham. The first, that Spurs thought that Jennings was past it, appears more likely (though it did lumber them with the distinctly unholy trinity of Mark Kendall, Barry Daines and Mijlija Aleksic until Ray Clemence arrived from Liverpool in 1982), but I prefer the unsubstantiated rumour that Jennings left because Tottenham told him he could no longer have a club car, whilst offered him one. Jennings, by the way, has been the Spurs goalkeeping coach since 1993 – the establishment of Ian Walker as their first-choice goalkeeper shortly afterwards, which leads me to believe that, for a while at least, he was still in the pay of Arsenal.
5. I’m not exactly sure what the rationale was behind Lee Clark leaving Newcastle the first place. A Newcastle supporter who’d played for the club for nine years, suddenly transferred to… Sunderland. Now, there’s nothing enormously unusual about this – quite a few players have played for both clubs, but made Clark unique was his appearance in the crowd at the 1999 FA Cup Final at Wembley wearing a t-shirt with the charming phrase “Sad Mackem Bastards” printed across the front of it. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he was transferred away from the Stadium Of Light that summer, and eventually returned to Newcastle in 2005. He’s know on the coaching staff.
6. Paul Ince’s Judas credentials are almost unrivalled. He has managed to thoroughly piss the suppporters of two clubs off. Firstly, there was his transfer from West Ham to Manchester United in 1994, when he was photographed wearing a United shirt a couple of weeks before his transfer to Old Trafford was finalised. My, how they enjoyed denying United the Premiership title on the last day of the following season. Fast forward to 1998, and Judas Ince did it again, transferring from Inter to Liverpool, becoming the only player in recent years to have played for both clubs. Quite an achievement.
There are plenty more. Too many to mention, really. I’m sure that you lot can do my proud by listing your favourites, or least favourites, below.