By The Boy Wonder
From Issue 49, Winter 2000
He's just about ready to snap, he really is.
Now if you mention that someone in football is
about to go stark raving mad, you would assume
it to be Stan Collymore. I've ranted and raved
myself in a previous issue about how wonderful
Stan was, is and (in my eyes anyway) always will
be, so I will relent on boring you with my side
of the story again. For a few paragraphs at least.
No, what's really eating me up at this precise
moment in time is this; apart from Liverpool fanzines,
just when is someone in the media going to expose
the rampant rage of insanity that is Joe Royle?
It's a story as old as the hills, and it's our
own fault I suppose. Scousers, I mean. A cheeky
little grin and a little wisecrack, and you get
away with anything. Ask that git from Big Brother.
Joe's been doing this for what seems like centuries,
and no-one has ever said "Erm, Joe
what colour is the sky in your world?"
It's okay to do all that "everyone's against
me" shit when you're at Oldham. Plucky underdogs
can get away with murder sometimes - do you remember
Barnsley and the BBC whitewash? When Athletic
were last at Anfield, winning 1-0 with a couple
of minutes left, Fowler jr scrambled home an equaliser.
A barely deserved winner followed a few minutes
later. Got that? A few. Not according to Joe.
At the time, he was squawking about 5 minutes
of added time. By the return game, he'd got it
up to 6. By the time he was with Everton (the
marriage made in hell) it had risen to eight.
This was the manager so lacking in self awareness
that he could refer to Evans' legitimate complaints
about McManaman's treatment in one derby as "dummies
being spat out of prams" and not even suffer
a microsecond of shame or regret for his outrageous
double standards. This was followed by a rare
success for the shite in the FA Cup. After beating
Spurs, he crowed (for the third time? Oh sorry,
that's cocks, not dicks) "sorry about the
dream final, lads" to journalists who'd predicted
a United-Spurs final. And there's the rub: dogs
of war, proving hacks wrong and gloating, Royle's
entire style should have been called the Underdogs
of War. I'll bet he had newspaper clippings pinned
onto the dressing room wall, too.
But that can only take you so far. As soon as
Everton started rising up the table, so did their
expectations. Shorn of their underdog status,
results soon slipped. It was Joe Royle who began
Everton's annual humiliation against lower league
opposition, while the universally reviled Spice
Boys only ever lost to Premier opposition. Local
press mutterings became outright criticism, and
it was then that Royle fully defined the phrase
"spat out his dummy". To this day, he
believes the local press got him the push from
Red Johno, despite little or no evidence.
Now he's back in the frame with City, and guess
what? He's more bonkers than he ever was. Ironically,
it was a Manc who always rings into phone-in's
(think 'Ian McDonald hanging out the end of a
on second thoughts, don't!)
that got in touch with Radio Merseyside and told
gullible Evertonians that Joe had to quit Goodison
because "he was really ill". Which part
of him was ill? The lad wasn't forthcoming, but
I've got a pretty good idea.
We've had his "I'm no sexist but" routine,
but while City were mercifully floundering down
below all was relatively quiet and still. True,
we did play a friendly at Maine Road and he had
the Echo man thrown out of the press conference
afterwards. Chris Bascombe (who looks about twelve)
must have been heartbroken not to listen to Joe's
lecture that his team had just beaten "a
team of 16 internationals". That was nothing.
City were promoted again, and now they are back
in the top flight. Despite the lack of a trophy
for 25 years, and the lack of a title for 32 (which
didn't stop them taking the piss out of United
back in '92 for going without the championship
for ten less years), it won't be long before City
fans start having those damned 'expectations'
- and Joe will be well and truly fucked.
Already this season, they've lost to Charlton
Coventry and drawn at home to Middlesbrough. Short
aside; a City friend told me that Boro' (We're
as big as Liverpool - © Bryan Robson) took
three hundred supporters to Maine Road. Christian
Ziege will be kicking himself for leaving, I'm
sure. Anyway, Joe's new Underdogs of War beat
Leeds away and almost beat us, if we're honest.
The savagery of Dickov and Prior (amongst others)
came as no surprise to experienced Royle Observers.
The Don Quixote-style ranting after the match
by Fathead was also to be expected, even to the
extent of arguing about HOW a penalty was given
to the away side. Experienced psychologists will
tell you that when someone starts going all biblical
on you, there's a crack-up just over the horizon.
The cock crowing for the third time caught out
one of the Apostles in a shameful lie - how apt,
Joe. One day, you will reap what you sow
Heskey has fallen over too often and too suspiciously
to garner much sympathy, but it isn't beyond a
sly manager to get his players to kick seven shades
of shit out of him and instruct them to do the
praying/diving gesture that defenders have perfected
throughout the years. Do I think Royle did this?
Check your past issues of TTW&R and find out
what he used to tell Joe Parkinson and John Ebbrell
before a game (by Porkinson's own admission/confession)
and then we'll talk. If the lad in issue 48 was
right, and he tried to have Chris B chucked out
of our press room, that shows he's on the verge.
I heard he also called Ric George a twat, but
this came from the same source who told me Zidane
was "signed and sealed", so make of
it what you will.
But Joe's piece de resistance, his Moaner Lisa,
came at Highbury. I was taping Match of the Day
because I was on the piss that Saturday night
(the derby was the next day!), so I'm a lucky
so-and-so because I can bring you verbatim the
full interview with Gerald Sinstadt on MOTD after
Arsenal 5 Man City 0. Remember that, 5-0. It helps
to make the following even funnier than it seems.
GS: "Joe, it's not easy to play Arsenal
with eleven men. With ten, it became impossible"
JR: "Well, eleven versus eleven was fine.
When it went to ten v twelve, we had problems"
GS: "It sounds as though you weren't too
happy with the sending off"
JR: "That's an understatement. It wasn't
just the sending off, we should have been playing
ten men anyway at that stage. Thierry Henry has
just lashed out at Spencer Prior in front of the
referee, in front of the fourth official, but
of course you don't send Arsenal players off here
GS: "You had actually broken up their rhythm
pretty well until then"
JR: "We were fine, we were comfortable, for
43 minutes it was comfortable. The first booking
against Tiatto was at least dubious, the second
one maybe contentious, the fourth goal he only
handled it with one hand in controlling it and
the fifth goal might have been three maybe five
yards offside. But these things happen. I'm not
happy but I can't say what I really want to say
about the performance of the officials because
I will be in trouble"
Back to the studio, where an incredulous Gary
Lineker says "Just as well!" and Trevor
Brooking and Mark Lawrenson are laughing their
Well, where can you possibly begin? The idea
that Arsenal have some sort of immunity from referees
(someone told Patrick Viera?) or are protected
by officialdom? I'm sure Arsene '12 Match Ban'
Wenger will be amused by that one. The idea that
poor lickle Spencer Prior needs protection from
wild maniacs like Henry? The idea that the fourth
official has any part to play in the game, apart
from holding up the electronic indicator? That
City were okay until then (most reports said Arsenal
had missed several good chances)? That Joe's arithmetic
is as bad as it ever was? Henry's last goal was
borderline offside, but by the time Fathead's
finished it will no doubt emerge that Henry was
70 yards off - despite one half of a football
pitch only being 55 yards long at the most!
In the short term, he'll get away with it. It's
an (inevitably bitter) irony that we played Everton
the following day, because City fans are just
as bad. They honestly believe the superiority
of their neighbours derives from corrupt officialdom
and boring football, even though no-one has done
more to drive fans out of football grounds than
Joe Royle. If they get away with their thuggery,
it's the other lot who can't take it. If they
don't, there is a football conspiracy to deny
them their true greatness. They've won fuck all
for years and give lectures on loyalty to your
team that would be laughable if they weren't so
pathetic. Despite all that, even City fans aren't
so gullible that they'll put up with Royle for
much longer. His days are numbered.
I don't often agree with 'The Liverpool Way',
but they hoped that the idiotic idea that Joe
could possibly manage England would somehow come
to fruition because you'd soon see some dummies
spat out then. The continuous invective poured
on the England manager would have Joe in a straight
jacket by Christmas. Judging by his more recent
press conferences he's halfway there already,
and if he couldn't handle McNulty and Capeling
he'll be foaming at the mouth after slimy gets
like Jeff Powell, Rob Shepherd, Harry Harris and
Nigel Clarke have got through with him.
Which brings me to Stan. Another year, another
change of manager, another club - and Bradford,
at that. My heart bleeds for him. Right from the
off, Peter Taylor showed he wanted no part of
him. At least John Gregory made some sort of effort.
It was further complicated by Taylor signing Akinbayi
for a large sum (for Leicester, that is). The
more he failed, the more he stuck with him and
the more Stan's nose was put out of joint. Houllier
did the same with Heskey, though he's finally
got some reward for that. Past experience shows
what was bound to happen next. Players fall out
and have squabbles all the time, but they become
War Crimes whenever Stan is involved.
So he scores an absolute blinder on his debut,
and everyone wants him hung for his celebration
in front of the Leeds fans. If these are the same
twats who moaned about Old Trafford making fun
of Istanbul, despite their continuous abuse about
Munich (I'm not sure which century Leeds thinks
it is in, but it ain't the 21st) then I've no
sympathy at all. If I did, I would also wonder
how Beckham can get away with gestures when he
(or his wife) get shit off Leeds fans, but Stan
can't even though I can just imagine what he had
to endure that day. Hypocrites, all.