Time Gentlemen, Please
By Bryan Walker
From Issue 49, Winter 2000
If the racist thugs at Elland Road get sent down
in January, it will nicely put the finishing touches
to my newly formed prison football team.
We nearly had Bruce Grobbelaar in goal, but thanks
to an open verdict (as opposed to the open goals
he left during his final year or so at Anfield)
it leaves the jail doors open for Andy Gorton
of Oldham. Often mistaken for Andy Goram (except
in terms of ability), he replaced him when Goram
headed north of the border. He was put behind
bars for arson - whereas Bruce did not go to jail
despite arsing about for years. My prison team
wouldn't be short of supporters either, if the
Wimbledon coach burners of 1994 were ever found.
We'd get more than Everton, especially as their
numbers would have been cut dramatically.
Gorton would receive protection (a handy thing
in prison) from a back four beginning with Carl
Bradshaw, the ex-Sheffield United and Norwich
right back who is currently at Wigan Athletic.
He was jailed for a Dennis-Wise type assault on
a taxi driver. Why Dennis Wise wasn't put away
for a Dennis Wise type assault on a taxi driver
defies belief, unless you think that justice is
only for the rich and powerful. At centre back
and captain, who else but Tony Adams? Drink driver
and garden wall demolition expert Tony stopped
hitting the bars and ended up behind them. Our
left back, Garry Croft, was a former Grimsby and
Blackburn player who got involved in a car insurance
scam. He has just enjoyed promotion to the Premiership
with Ipswich Town while sporting an electronic
tag. It hampered his movement somewhat, but he
could always blame awkward tackles on it. We are
still awaiting transfer news regarding Jonathan
Woodgate, but in former QPR and Spurs nutcase
Terry Fenwick we have excellent back-up - which
is a damn sight more than he gave Terry Butcher
in Mexico 86.
In midfield, we are spoilt for choice. The snapping,
snarling characteristics that we so love in our
midfield battlers throughout the years can often
be difficult to leave on the football pitch. (Un)fortunately,
my team cannot call on the services of Ray Kennedy
or Jimmy Case, since neither were put away for
their little North Wales fracas. Liverpool's gain
was my loss, but I'm not bitter. As with Woodgate,
Lee Bowyer stands on the verge of making the biggest
move of his career - well, anywhere must be better
than Leeds - but the other midfield places can
be filled with relative ease.
Speaking of relatives, one place can be filled
by Darren Sheridan, currently a teammate of Bradshaw's
at Wigan, who was detained at Her Majesty's pleasure
for housebreaking. Indeed, the Sheridans of Stretford
- brother John, formerly of Leeds (now there's
a shock) is the most famous - are, how you say,
"notorious" around Old Trafford. Our
own Jan Molby did his (triple helping of) porridge
in Preston back in 1989 for driving related offences.
When he was released, he was smuggled out in the
boot of a car to avoid the gathering media. The
boot? That must have been a fucking big car!
Everton's Tony Kay took a bundle of notes to 'throw'
a football match back in the 60's. Cruel Red types
have been known to make comments such as "the
current lot must be making a fortune", but
not me - honest. Our midfield quartet is completed
by Graham Rix, who hit the headlines when he had
sex with an underage girl. Great moral crusader
Ken Bates threw the book at him and, er, kept
his job open for him while he served his time.
What a shining example to us all.
Up front, the assault (attack, shurely? - ed)
is led by ex-bluenose Duncan Ferguson. Disorderly
got four months for head-butting Raith Rovers'
John McStay at Ibrox. Liverpool and Celtic fans
sang "Hail Hail Big Dunc's in jail, What
the fuck do we care? Let the bastard rot there"
and many ribs were tickled. Although I have little
sympathy for him, it must be said that equally
bad assaults have taken place on numerous occasions
on the field of play and no one else has been
put inside. Shame.
Completing the forward line is one Mickey Thomas.
Not our former battling midfield star, but the
former blue (for five minutes) and darling of
the Stretford End. He lost his liberty for counterfeiting,
although I imagine the time that he was stabbed
in the arse while shagging someone else's missus
may have proved a far more painful ideal (though
that side of his prison experience was never revealed).
Ironically, he was stabbed up the backside with
a screwdriver - though the assailant never told
anyone whether Mickey's anus was pozi, slotted
The manager of the side could be a bit tricky.
Rix could certainly double up as coach (teaching
the young kids everything he knows), while I could
promote Jan to manager after his Swansea/Kidderminster
exploits and pick George Best for the team. George
may not care for a return to prison during his
rehabilitation. He drinks milk now, y'know? Oh
yes. Failing that, I could put Jan back into the
side and just wait for the verdict on Dave Jones.
This lot would take some beating. Despite obvious
deficiencies in nearly all positions, they have
the distinct advantage of playing all their matches
at home. We are at the moment awaiting our very
own version of Bosman to become law, in which
footballers who have spent a night in the cells
can also be considered for selection. It's called
The Bosnich Ruling.
In the current climate of poor footballer behaviour,
the transfer market could explode at any moment.
And not a single penny to be spent! No transfer
fees, just transfers. There are various 'accidents'
waiting to happen; Paul Gascoigne, Dennis Wise,
Roy Keane, Maradona. Indeed, Old Trafford could
become rich pickings if they carry on the way
they do in automobiles. Yorke, Cole, Beckham,
even Ferguson (he'll soon have the shits then).
Who knows? If the police did their job properly
and laid into Old Trafford for withholding evidence,
my Lags Eleven might end up being managed by the
greatest manager of all time.
Nah, no chance. Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley were
exemplary characters, after all.