Category Archives: Terrace Talk

We miss you ‘arry (Video)

You are always guaranteed entertainment when Harry Redknapp is the subject of an interview. All too often managers and players churn out the same tired one liners in a post match interview, but not our ‘arry.

Whether its storming off after being called a “wheeler dealer” or cutting a journalist down to size with a scathingly sarcastic comeback interviews involving the former Tottenham manager are always worth a look.

Here’s a particularly good one, and for once its not conducted through a car window. Football needs Harry Redknapp back. After all Ian Holloway can’t provide the comedic moments all on his own.

And with four vacant managerial posts in the Championship up for grabs and Mark Hughes struggling at QPR I don’t think he’ll be out of work for too long.

Robert Lock

Transparency in Football

On Saturday I met one of Crystal Palace’s chairmen, in a pub in Leicester.

Steve Browett walked in, rather unassumingly, and went about answering any questions the Palace fans had about the club. The hot topic of course being the departure of Dougie Freedman (or Greedman as some fans have taken to calling him) to Bolton and what really caused him to tender his resignation.

Whilst he wouldn’t speculate on the shortlist of potential managerial candidates he was more than happy to indulge the fans and give them an insight into the workings of the club.

The board at Selhurst Park are well known for interacting with the fans and regularly take to fan forums and Twitter to deal directly with questions from supporters.

After all they are fans themselves and part of their mantra when their consortium CPFC 2010 took control of the club following its administration was to be as open with the fans as possible.

Of course they would not reveal any sensitive information about the club or anything which could be used to make a profit. Had Browett revealed the next manager I’m sure many fans would have swiftly downed their drinks and headed towards the nearest betting shop.

But just how open should they be?

We hear stories of players in the past joining fans in the nearest pub after the match to drink with them and socialise. While I’m not saying every team should attend a lock in after a match it is interesting to see how much the game has changed in such a short space of time.

Fans don’t feel they can relate to players any more. The enormous salaries have a large part to play in this; it is difficult to relate to someone who is earning your yearly pay packet in a week. Or a day if you’re Cristiano Ronaldo.

Many players use Twitter to interact with fans and take time out of their day to answer their questions in an attempt to make themselves seem more accessible. In my opinion they should do this, it helps the fans feel more connected to the club they spend their money supporting.

That is why I think transparency in football is to be welcomed in an age where many see footballers as overpaid pre-Madonna’s who have the audacity to earn millions and claim they are “not enjoying their football”.

Realistically many teams could not have one of their chairmen going to a pub before a game; I can’t see Roman Abramovich or Sheikh Mansour popping into the Dog and Duck for a pre-match pint and a game of darts.

But moves like this help fans feel as if they are part of something; and that the people in charge of the team they love are not just faceless corporate businessmen but fans like them, who actually care about the team and not just the money it generates. And to that end I think they should be applauded.

Robert Lock

When football doesn’t matter

Last weekend Nottingham Forest’s on loan striker Billy Sharp played against Barnsley. The match marked the anniversary of the tragic passing of his son Luey, who died last year.

How Sharp would have wanted to score on such a poignant occasion and celebrate a life which was so cruelly short lived.

The incident last year seemed to unite football. Sharps bravery at playing only 3 days after the loss of his son was, quite rightly, applauded.

He scored in that game against Middlesbrough and lifted up his shirt to reveal the message “That’s for you son”. Not even the most cynical referee in the world would have booked him for that.

Much like the incident with Fabrice Muamba last season when he so nearly lost his life following a cardiac arrest on the pitch at White Hart Lane in an FA Cup game against Tottenham it takes something tragic to truly unite football fans.

The tribalism in English football is something which makes it so enthralling. The bitter rivalries between clubs steeped in tradition are something which for me, makes football in this country the envy of the world.

Rival football fans have a lot of animosity towards each other, but in situations like these we realise how irrelevant the actual game of football is and start to appreciate what really matters.

When a life hangs in the balance everything else pales into insignificance. The incredibly poignant images of Sharp and Muamba being given standing ovations by home and away fans reinforce the emotions felt by football fans nationwide.

It is such a shame that we do not see the good side of football like this more often, and it is an even bigger shame that we only see it at such desperate times and in such tragic circumstances.

I’m sure not even the most cold-hearted or staunch Barnsley fan would have refused to applaud Billy Sharp had he scored against them this weekend.

The result went in Forest’s favour; they ran out 4-1 winners with Sharp unfortunate not to be amongst the scorers.

A goal would have been the perfect birthday present for his little boy, but the result was enough.

That’s for you son.

Robert Lock

The price of modern sponsorship

You may recall a couple of years ago Manchester United sold the sponsorship rights to their training kit in an effort to, unsurprisingly, generate more funds for the club.

The move seemed smart, United players are often pictured in newspapers and on websites during training so any potential sponsor would have their brand shown to a large audience.

Sensing this delivery company DHL paid the Manchester club £40m for the right to appear on all their training gear.

However since securing a gargantuan £372m shirt sponsorship deal with car firm General Motors who will replace current sponsors AON in 2014, the powers that be at United have decided that the right to advertise on their training gear cannot be bought for a paltry £40m.

To this end the Glazer family have bought out DHL’s existing sponsorship contract after deciding that there is more money to be made by selling the rights to another company.

It’s a bit like buying a car; driving home then having the dealer turn up at your house demanding to buy the car back because he thinks he can make more money from another customer. It just seems a bit odd.

Now I appreciate most chairmen are businessmen and are out to make as much profit as possible. Most however end up following the Milan Mandaric approach to ownership: “How do you become a millionaire through football? Start off as a billionaire”.

Whilst no one is suggesting United acted unfairly in buying out the remainder of DHL’s sponsorship actions like this do little to allay the tired allegations that football isn’t about players and teams and fans and trophies anymore. It’s only about the bottom line. The money.

As a relatively young football fan I love seeing grainy old photographs of players wearing their teams kit’s in all their respective colourful glory without SAMSUNG or WAITROSE emblazoned on their chest. And don’t even get me started on Wonga. Or the size of the shorts for that matter.

Of course these companies help to finance the teams, which in turn pays the players wages etc so their existence although annoying, is necessary.

After all it could be a lot worse, a quick look at Formula One demonstrates how sponsorship can get out of hand. The driver’s overalls are so covered with logos and brand names they look comical, like they have been attacked by a 5 year old with a box of stickers.

Sponsors can sometimes provide unintentional hilarity however, last season cash-strapped and administration bound Portsmouth were sponsored by job listings website Jobsite. Slightly funny, but not funny enough to cheer up long suffering Pompey fans after relegation and a subsequent 10 point deduction.

Like them or loathe them, and most fans seem to be in the latter camp, it is easy to see why sponsors have become such a prominent feature in the modern game.

And if you need another reason why they are so important, the Glazer family can give you 372 million of them.

Robert Lock

Learn to play like the great Emile Heskey (Video)

Before you ask no, this is not a joke.

Australian sports broadcaster Fox Sports has decided to film Newcastle Jets striker Emile Heskey during matches so aspiring players can view all his movements and how he plays. They’ve decided to call it “HeskyCam”.

Viewers can opt to watch the camera as it focuses only on Heskey, the former England international seems to be enjoying the added exposure though; he’s scored four in his last four games.

Reports are unconfirmed as to whether or not Andy Carroll, Peter Crouch and Kanu turned them down beforehand and they had to settle for big Emile.

Here’s some of Heskey’s greatest moments and after watching I’m sure you’ll wonder why we haven’t put a camera on the great man sooner.

Robert Lock

Wilfried Zaha –He’s just too good for you (Video)

A new poster has been unveiled on the South Circular, the latest in a line of “South London & Proud” promotions by CPFC 2010.

It features Wilfried Zaha and the chant which is sung seemingly almost every time the England Under-21 winger is on the ball “he’s just too good for you”.

Palace fans have known for a while now that the boy is a bit special, on the level of a certain Mr Moses even.

The increase in the quality of Zaha’s performances this season has been very encouraging.

Four goals in the two games against Wolves and Burnley have demonstrated the shooting practise he has been putting in.

All too often last season Zaha’s fantastic work on the wing was undone by a lacklustre or wayward shot.

This term however he carries a genuine threat in front of goal, coupled with the added physicality he has added to his game following a summer spent in the gym mean Wilf can give any defence in this League a torrid time.

His fine performances have drawn the attention of Arsenal who are apparently considering a £12m swoop for Zaha in the January transfer window as a replacement for the wantaway Theo Walcott.

One thing is certain, if Zaha does leave it won’t be for Wigan- they may have captured Victor Moses on the cheap but Palace are no longer in a position where they have to sell.

Any anyway Roberto; he’s just too good for you.

Robert Lock



All change in SE25 (Again)

It’s the hope that kills you.

With Crystal Palace sitting in the lofty heights of 3rd position in the Championship and a genuine club legend in charge things were looking good after years of financial trouble and mediocre performances.

The eagles were “flying high” to borrow a tired tabloid phrase.

Heading into Saturdays derby against South London neighbours Millwall Palace fans had every reason to be hopeful coming off the back of five consecutive league wins.

A predictable spicy match ended 2-2 with Millwall coming back from a two goal deficit following defender Dean Moxey’s dismissal following a deliberate handball.

Despite the result the Eagles were still comfortably in the play off places and playing good expansive football under Dougie Freedman.

And then the impossible happened. The messiah departed.

Freedman opted to take the vacant managerial post at Bolton Wanderers following Owen Coyle’s dismissal earlier in the month.

The rumours had started as soon as Coyle was shown the door. Freedman; a young talented manager had long been admired by Bolton chairman Phil Gartside and was reportedly at the top of his hit list.

Crystal Palace fans were quick to dismiss the rumours as tabloid chatter. They said Freedman wouldn’t leave the club where he spent the majority of his playing career, the same club that gave him his first managerial job.

Freedman had stated in a press conference earlier in the season that he was happy at Palace and wasn’t the sort to leave a job “half done”.

But then again this is football, and even a supposedly loyal servant of a club, a cult hero and true fan favourite can be persuaded to jump ship.

Just when Crystal Palace fans thought their club was on the up they lose their manager, a man they assumed was Palace through and through.

The Crystal Palace board allowed Bolton to speak to Freedman on Monday, after initially denying them permission. A compensation deal was quickly thrashed together and Freedman was on his way North.

Palace fans are no strangers to managerial upheaval. With the Eagles sitting at the top of the League in 2001-02 and looking like strong favourites to return to the top tier then manager Steve Bruce opted to hand in his resignation and move to Birmingham City.

Most Palace fans agree that their club never do anything the easy way, and this latest setback will certainly only help to reinforce this.

So what now? Manager-less Palace managed to secure a 1-1 draw away at Barnsley on Tuesday evening to maintain their play off ambitions and keep alive hopes of a successful season.

The question remains however as to who will take the reins at Selhurst Park, the usual names have already been banded about, McCarthy, Curbishley etc. But the most interesting name linked to the job is Steve Coppell. Or Sir Steve Coppell as he is know in a certain corner of South London.

The same Steve Coppell who has managed Palace on four separate occasions and has led them to promotion, relegation and the only FA cup final in the clubs history.

Sounds like a match made in heaven, it’s not like a club legend has ever let them down before after all.

Robert Lock