Pete Sixsmith wonders what to do with himself now that footie is over. He casts his eye over assorted topics, and wonders whether the ominous interest from Anfield and Old Trafford will bring at last pleasure into the lives of those so eager to barrack “the best player we have produced since Colin Todd” …
The last week in May brings the end of the football season.
The so-called close season lasts for the whole month of June, unless there are exceptional circumstances like European Championship qualifiers. But local football grinds to a halt and the club committees have the opportunity to re-seed the pitches, paint the goalposts and sort out the budget for next season.
For dedicated anoraks like me, it’s a six-week period for recourse to reading books, going for walks and generally mooching around looking for something to do. Exam marking is usually on the agenda, but they have put it all online this year and I do not relish that, so may drop out.
It does give a little time to look at other aspects of our game. After a superb performance from those masters of the passing game, Barcelona, Wembley was treated to a very exciting Championship Play off game between Swansea and Reading.
The 4-2 scoreline allowed nearly every commentator to reflect on the epic final of 1998 when Charlton Athletic managed a win against us. Once Scott Sinclair slotted home his third, the ghost of Clive Mendonca stalked the land as his name was, in the words of the late Kathy Kirby, “shouted from the highest hills” as a previous hat trick provider in these games.
I was pleased Swansea went up. I’m not fond of Reading as a town or as a club. They speak “New Football” to me. When they were tootling along at Elm Park with crowd of 5,000, they were a perfect fit. Now, with the immodestly named Majdeski Stadium (out of the Boro/Derby/Stoke box) and a chairman with a penchant for a ridiculous hair style, the Tory Party and Cilla Black, they irritate me.
I have visited the Liberty Stadium in Swansea and it is out of the same rectangular container as Reading and is also on the edge of town. It’s a city that has had little to shout about recently and I can’t say that I warmed to it in August 2009 – but that may be because I had just heard of Stephen Wilson’s tragic death and the local evening paper was full of assaults and drunken brawls. Not the best time to be there.
It’s a hell of a trek for us as well (345.9 miles from ground to ground) but Swansea are going to put some miles on next year. Their “local derby” will be at the Hawthorns, a mere 145.2 miles away, while in addition to us, they will have trips in excess of 300 miles to Newcastle and Norwich. I’d love to be a tyre retailer on the Gower; book that Tenerife holiday now …
After the pleasure afforded by Barcelona and Swansea, we then had to put up with the goings on in Zurich. Far better people than me have spoken about Blatter and his motley crew, so it just leaves me to taunt him by saying that his “mother was a hamster and his father smelt of elderberries. I break wind in your general direction”.
Finally, England. What can we say about Darren Bent missing that chance at the end, other than “Hee hee hee”. I always said that he was not up to it at international level, apart from a brief hiatus between August 2009 and January 2011.
He certainly didn’t look out of place alongside the likes of Lampard, Parker and Milner, who made our midfield of Cattermole, Henderson and Colback look positively Olympian.
As for Joe Hart – well, it took me back 30 years ar so when I featured for Shildon Sunderland Supporters and was prone to let the odd one in at the near post – and the far post and under the bar. Poor keeping from a man who threatens much but achieves little.
We may well lose Jordan Henderson in the next couple of weeks. The fact that Kenny Dalglish appears to rate him as highly as Sir Alex Ferguson may register with those noisy individuals who berate him at every opportunity. I would hate to lose him, but football is a business and money talks. He is the best player we have produced since Colin Todd.
The count down begins now; only 38 days to go until Bootham Crescent and the fixtures are out in two weeks. Lovely.