My previous blog was in tribute to my late friend Dave Hodgson who passed away on New Years Eve – thank you for reading it in such numbers.
Suffice to say that his memorial service was held this weekend just gone in the church where he and Tatty were married – it was every bit as he would have wanted it to be and the sheer number of well wishers who packed St John The Baptist church as well as the Kings Head pub next door for the wake afterwards spoke volumes.
It’s my intention (as with the recent passing of Steve Harris of SHY) to not only make a donation to the relevant cancer charity to continue research into what took Dave’s life, but also to arrange something special to honour Dave’s memory. Cogs currently whirring in the brain on that one. One thing – whatever it is will have to be BIG – like Dave!!
I’ve also made clear my utter bewilderment recently at Blues fans electing to boo Keith Fahey’s name when he was introduced as a substitute in a recent home game. Quite how that is supposed to help a player perform for the shirt you love is beyond me.
But at the home game with Ipswich last Wednesday, the boo-boys outdid themselves. Nikola Zigic was the target – an easy one you might say at 6’7” - but on this occasion the boos came up from an admittedly small section of home fans…when his name was read out BEFORE kick off.
I’ve since been challenged by some Blues fans to prove that he was jeered (“Which stand did it then?” “I heard nothing – you’re a liar” being 2 such examples on FB messages etc) but I know what I heard. In fact when you have a headset microphone and an effects microphone set up for broadcast at a stadium, chants and boos are often amplified beyond that which the ear can normally detect. So, I say again – I know what I heard.
The giant Serbian went on to score both goals in a dramatic last gasp victory over an Ipswich side who appear to be the sort of team that would stand a chance at this level if games lasted just 75 minutes.
Of course there’ll be someone somewhere in a Brummie boozer declaring to anyone within earshot “Yeah I booed the lanky **** - worked though, didn’t it? He scored both of ‘em!” which just about sums up the crackpot logic a minority of football fans at ALL clubs have. You can, it seems, pay your money and do what you damn well like…no thought of being part of a team or a unified force, then.
Whilst I have concerns about the way the club is haemorrhaging money lately due in no small part to the huge wages that Zigic still commands after relegation (no clause obviously) the answer is surely not to insult him before he’s even kicked a ball in a match. You want to make Chris Hughton’s job even harder than it already is? Go right ahead. You want to give those outside our club the impression that we’re a fractured band of supporters ready to leap down the throats of players who are, to my mind at least, showing a desire to play for the club? All yours then – best of luck.
Unbelievably we sat in 6th place for 2 glorious hours after our 6-0 hiding of Millwall yesterday – then Reading went & won at Watford to banjax that. Zigic didn’t score at the New Den but was heavily involved and got more than the occasional whack for his troubles. I’ll bet the away support weren’t on his back for not netting a brace like Marlon King did. What an extraordinary effort from Hughton and his squad/staff so hastily assembled back in the summer. Zigic may not necessarily be the solution on the pitch but, finances aside, he certainly isn’t the problem either.
I’ve only ever booed a player once in my life as a Bluenose. Once. That was Paul Furlong when TF substituted him against the Baggies and he threw his shirt to the floor as he stormed down the tunnel. That was about as disrespectful as it gets for me. Paul has told me since when we played in Martin Grainger’s testimonial that he regretted doing it almost immediately – and he understood the booing as he headed out of our sight.
Players can sometimes accept when they’ve brought criticism upon themselves, but just as applauding your player who’s been sent off is utterly daft 99% of the time, booing a player who has barely done his laces up whilst the captains are tossing the coin is bonkers 100% of the time. Unfortunately I don’t expect things to change much in the minds of those chosen few in the stands anytime soon.
Norwich & Swansea continue to show how well they are acclimatising to Premier League football with some consistently impressive performances. I’ve seen both sides earn draws at Molineux in recent weeks and whilst they did show examples of defensive naivety at times – especially the Swans in letting a 2-goal lead slip – the 2 Prem newcomers appear to be learning at a geometric rate about the attacking side of the top flight. No matter at this time that Norwich can’t keep clean sheets; they have learned quickly how to utilise both Morison and Holt in attack and bring the creative best out of Hoolahan at the same time.
It’s hard to believe that Grant Holt was seemingly going nowhere at Nottingham Forest not so long ago and even dipped down the pyramid further to Shrewsbury Town. It’s not just his physicality that’s impressed – his willingness to work the channels ( as well as Morison) have got Norwich into great positions high up the pitch, allowing Hoolahan and others to profit from midfield.
It’s also something of a relief to see Danny Graham getting goals for Swansea as important as the winner against Arsenal – his £3.5m transfer fee looked to be weighing heavily on him at first but he’s now edging towards 10 goals in his 1st PL season – very commendable. He’ll be the 1st to acknowledge the role of Dyer, Britton Allen et al as the ideal support team going forward, and Ashley Williams is looking very accomplished for club and country just now.
Intriguing really – Swans & Canaries showing that laissez-faire attitude to the game that is paying dividends whilst other established PL sides still prefer a more dogmatic approach. Nothing wrong with that – winning the title should be about passing a series of tests; beating the more diffident defensive units or combating the swashbucklers who attack at will.
It could easily begin to fray around the edges for them both as we head towards the business end of the season, but I do not expect a Blackpool/Hull-style implosion from them as the weeks go on. For all the naivety they have shown at times in defence they don’t look completely without organisation and determination (some of Norwich’s goal-line clearances, especially Russell Martin’s, have been right out of the top drawer). We will just have to see how adaptable they become when the PL elite ‘work them out’ as it were. Stoke haven’t been ‘worked out’3 and a half years in - and they’re supposed to be one-dimensional cloggers with no brains or finesse. Garbage – they can play when they want. So can Wolves too. You don’t have to believe every sub-editor’s headline you read, you know.
And whilst we’re at it, don’t forget some of the other golden rules of the cock-eyed tabloid sub-editor:
• There is no point in running a Blackburn story when they’ve won
• Kenny Dalglish’s record is not to be compared with Roy Hodgson’s at any point
• Andre Villas-Boas is to be ridiculed at every turn
• Stoke are the Devil Incarnate
• Referees aren’t far behind Stoke
• West Ham are the most important club to all of us at all times