It was while waiting to be released from the Riverside after a hard-fought but deserved win against the Boro that Ken Gambles learned, thanks to the scoreboard, that Fabio Capello had resigned. It set him thinking …
This momentous event, of course, was to dominate the football, if not national, news to the extent that Thursday’s Guardian omitted our match report completely and the only information it offered was that we’d achieved a L-L draw at Middlesbrough.
Now I’m certainly far more of a club supporter than a country one, probably ever since the shameful neglect of my all-time favourite player, Monty, and I had great sympathy with a Spurs fan who rang into Five Live as we journeyed home and declared:
“I would rather Spurs win a corner than England win a tournament.”
Which brings me to my subject: in the words of the excellent Tony Gillan in View from the Bridge in the Football Echo, “Good ‘Ol Harry Redknapp”.
Quite fortuitously, on the same day that Capello departed, Harry had been cleared of all charges at Southwark Crown Court and seemed to be the favourite for the England job in the eyes of most callers, pundits and ex-players. Thank heavens Martin O’Neill quickly ruled himself out of the running.
As part of ‘Good ‘Ol’s defence in the trial he’d mentioned how poor he was with modern technology and that he had the reading and spelling ability of a two-year-old. This could, of course, have been taken with a large pinch of salt as part of the defence (bearing in mind that here was a man protesting his complete innocence and, in the end, cleared unanimously – ed).
But I was reminded of a lovely story told to me by Bill Mantle, who did Roker Radio for many years, when I was compiling Black Catalogue.
Managers are supposed to hand in teamsheets to the referee an hour before kick-off and Bill would always be present to receive a copy for his announcements. In the 1996-97 season against West Ham at Roker, he was standing with Graham Poll, the referee, and Peter Reid in the corridor awaiting the already late Hammers teamsheet (remember clubs could be in serious trouble for breaking this requirement).
Suddenly Harry Redknapp appeared, dashing down the corridor saying: “Sorry about that but it’s all our foreign players and I can’t spell their names.”
I suppose with a squad including Dumitrescu, Bilic, Futre and Miklosko (M Salut trusts you, Ken, and has made no spellchecks!) – you could see his point. So perhaps no great surprise that he also struggled with the niceties of taxation regulations.
Which leads me to conclude that not only was Good ‘Ol telling the truth, as now established in law (at any rate on the balance of probability), he has also taken on a bit of part-time sub-editing with BBC Tees. For on Wednesday night they had Sunderland’s first goalscorer as Jock Holbeck (that well-known Scot from Leeds I assume).