Now & Then

What Became Of…?
City legend Colin Bell

By Richard DJJ Bowdery.

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Colin Bell: City’s greatest ever

In a poll carried out last year by the Manchester Evening News, its readers overwhelmingly voted Colin Bell as Manchester City’s greatest player ever. This at a time when the club’s star is in the ascendancy and its current crop of players are winning the hearts and minds of a new wave of fans.

But supporters have long memories and can recall those heady days in the 60’s and 70’s when Bell romped across the pitch like Nijinsky, one of two nicknames City fans bestowed upon him: the other being King of the Kippax. How he would have graced the game today with its Bowling Green pitches, unlike the quagmires he so often had to contend with.

Playing Career

Bell, from County Durham, started his football career at Bury, before that wily old fox Malcolm Allison spotted his potential. Man City’s assistant manager deflected interest from other clubs by saying: “He can’t head, can’t pass. He’s hopeless.” Allison’s subterfuge won the day and in 1966 20 year-old Bell became a City player costing the club £45,000.

In his first season with City he helped them win the Second Division (now the Championship) title. During his time at Maine Road the club also won the League title, the FA Cup, the League Cup twice and the European Cup Winners Cup.

He was the dynamo in City’s midfield. Such was his athletic prowess that the great British runner, and world mile record holder in the 50’s, Derek Ibbotson, after watching Bell in training, said: “He would have been a world champion had he chosen athletics over football,” hence his Nijinsky nickname.

What helped cement his iconic status among the City faithful was his performance against near neighbours, and deadly rivals, Manchester United during the 67/68 season. In a league game at Old Trafford Bell scored and also won a penalty. The Blues ran out 3-1 winners, a result which helped them beat the Red Devils to the League title that year.

England

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Bell won 48 caps for his country

His first cap came against Sweden, a game England won 3-1. He went to Mexico as part of England’s World Cup squad where he replaced Bobby Charlton during the 3-2 quarter final defeat to West Germany. Some at the time criticized the substitution, claiming it was the game’s turning point. But Charlton pointed out that West Germany had already got their first goal before his substitution.

Bell hoped he would get another crack at a World Cup. As he recalled: “I had joined the England squad just after 1966, and was on the edge of things in 1970, so… [1974] was going to be my World Cup.” And had it not been for a goalkeeper Brian Clough labelled a ‘clown’ he might well have achieved his dream. Bell later said the Polish keeper “… played out of his skin, but he was a bit lucky that night as well.”

Bell went on to represent his country 48 times, scoring nine goals and would undoubtedly won more caps had a serious injury not curtailed his playing career.

That Injury…

In 1975, and still in his prime, 29 year old Bell suffered a serious injury that would ultimately bring down the curtain on his glittering career.

City hosted Manchester United in a League Cup tie. Bell was racing towards goal when United defender Martin Buchan attempted to stop him. As he tried to cut inside Buchan, the defender tackled him. The combination of both player’s movements resulted in Bell being sidelined for two years. It was no consolation that City won 4-0.

On his return to the City first team, City fan Dave Brammer managed to get to Bell as he warmed up and placed a crown on his head. The king had returned…but not for long. In August 1979 he announced his retirement.

He flirted briefly a return to football in 1980 with North American Soccer League side San Jose Earthquakes. He lasted 5 games: it was time to call it a day.

Speaking about the tackle Colin Bell said: “People ask me if the tackle was done on purpose. I don’t believe it was and don’t believe things like that should happen in the game. No – it’s a man’s game, you take the knocks. I’ve only got to be thankful that I was in my late twenties when picking up the injury.”

In a thirteen year career at City he made almost 500 appearances, scoring 152 goals – a tremendous goal to game ratio for a midfielder.

After Football

Bell took on the role as City’s reserve and youth team coach in 1990 but left when Frank Clarke became manager. He later returned as an ambassador for the club.

Fittingly Manchester City honoured their famous son with a stand named after him. What was the City of Manchester stadium’s West Stand was, in 2004, renamed The Colin Bell Stand.

The following year he was awarded an MBE in recognition of his charitable work, and was also inducted into Football’s Hall of Fame.

A Reluctant Hero

It is a given that footballers, at some point in their careers, publish an autobiography. Colin Bell was no exception, though in one respect it was exceptional: it probably saved his life!

Written by Ian Cheeseman and published in 2005 it was called: Colin Bell – Reluctant Hero: The Autobiography of a Manchester City and England Legend.

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Cancer scare: Early diagnosis was vital

Jim Hill, a colorectal surgeon at the Manchester Royal Infirmary, was given a copy of the book. Coincidentally Bell’s son, Dr Jon Bell was also working at the hospital. On reading the book the surgeon discovered Bell’s mother died of bowel cancer at a young age. The surgeon suggested to Dr Bell that his father should have some tests.

Colin Bell had a scan which showed which showed the onset of an aggressive form of bowel cancer. Within three weeks he was being operated on.

Mr Hill said later: “If it was left untreated then I think what Colin had would have turned into a bowel cancer. I’m just pleased he’s come through this fine.”

It was a shocking bit of news but it led to an early diagnosis which saved his life.

Bell said: “It wasn’t until a few weeks after the operation that I started to take it in.”

Still the King

Whether it’s on the City of Manchester stadium terraces or in the Manchester media, Colin Bell is still called the king. They started singing ‘He is the King of the Kippax’ (after City’s Kippax stand at the old Maine Road ground. And as last year’s poll demonstrated, his fans are still singing it now.

@RichardBowdery

What became of…?
Goalscoring record holder Super Ted

by Richard DJJ Bowdery.

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Ted MacDougall

It is a date that will live long in the memory of AFC Bournemouth supporters; no, not 27 April 2015 but the 20 November 1971. On that day ‘Super Ted’ MacDougall fired nine of Bournemouth’s 11 goals in a one man demolition of Margate FC in an FA Cup tie. Some sympathy must got to Margate’s keeper Chic Brodie who was on the wrong end of a record that still stands today.

Scotsman Ted MacDougall started his professional career as a teenager at Liverpool in 1966, under charismatic manager Bill Shankly. But such was the talent within the squad, he made only one first-team appearance coming on as a sub.

From Liverpool he went to York City, Bournemouth (twice), Manchester United, West Ham, Norwich, Southampton, and Blackpool. Towards the end of his footballing career, he put his goal-scoring prowess to good use in non-league football and in the fledgling North American game.

As well as having more clubs than a pack of cards, he also played alongside some footballing greats including Jimmy Greaves, Bobby Charlton, George Best and Eusebio. To cap it all he scored 256 league goals in 535 games – almost a goal every two games.

Today MacDougall would command serious money in the transfer market, yet if you totalled up all his transfer fees it’s doubtful they would cover the cost of Raheem Sterling’s big toe: such is the price of 21st century football.

The Scottish national side also came calling. On his debut against Sweden he once again found the net, scoring Scotland’s equalizer. He won seven caps and perhaps would have gained more. Was an off-the-cuff remark he made to a journalist about the national team’s selection process, which was picked up north of the border, the reason for so few caps..? We’ll probably never know.

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MacDougall should have won more than 7 caps for his country

Post-football retirement

Like many footballers from MacDougall’s era he became a pub landlord (in Hampshire), following his retirement in 1980. But a visit to Barbados proved to be his gain and the brewery trade’s loss.

It was while in the Caribbean he met his second wife Lyne. They married in 1985.

He and Lyne settled in Vancouver. MacDougall takes up the story. “”I came originally to work with Alan Ball at the [Vancouver] Whitecaps. I got into building houses in 1987. We had some people build a place for ourselves and I thought: ‘I can make a mess of doing that just as well as these guys.’” So began his new career in property development, which met with some considerable success.

Rag trade

When they met Lyne worked as a fashion designer. She employed her husband and put him in charge of her company’s female reps. Unfortunately his management style was learned in the white heat of football.

MacDougall recalled that it was difficult going from macho football to fashion, which he found a bit camp. He said: “I was in charge of these female reps and went about the job in my normal style, having been brought up in a man’s world, which is, ‘You’ve got a problem with me? Let’s sort it out’ [as he did with Billy Bonds after a game when West Ham were ‘hammered’ by Leeds United]. There were lots of tears. Lyne said: ‘You can’t speak to women like that. Be nicer to them’. I tried. ‘Lovely shoes! I like your hair!’ I couldn’t help thinking that Bill Shankly had been my first boss and if only he’d been able to see what had become of me.” Unsurprisingly his role in the fashion world came to an abrupt end when his wife fired him!

AFC Bournemouth

In 1994 MacDougall was linked with a possible takeover bid for his old club AFC Bournemouth. He was approached and expressed interest in the opportunity but after some initial talks nothing came of it.

However, in July 2013 his name was once again linked with the Cherries; this time in recognition of his service to the club for whom he scored 144 goals in 223 appearances during his two spells at Dean Court.

The redeveloped south stand was named in his honour.

Retirement..?

Ted MacDougall scored 66 goals in 138 games for Norwich City between 1973 and 1976.

Ted MacDougall scored 66 goals in 138 games for Norwich City between 1973 and 1976.

Last year MacDougall stepped down from his training role at Atlanta Spurs fully expecting to soak up the Florida sunshine, where he now lives. That was before founder Gavin Owen asked him to be a part of the GotSoccer set-up.

MacDougall explained that GotSoccer is “…a software package for amateur leagues that deals with administrative jobs such as team registration and fixtures.” Already used in 27 states in the US, he has brought the idea over to Britain and is now Chief Executive of GotFootball, the UK arm of GotSoccer.

And finally…

I’ll leave the last word on ‘Super Ted’ MacDougall with Chic Brodie, Margate’s keeper back in 1971. After the game he told MacDougall how he considered himself the unluckiest goalkeeper in football. He explained how he went to put his flat cap on during a game and found a hand grenade in it; how while playing for Brentford he was attacked by a Jack Russell; and how, on another occasion, a crossbar fell on his head. “To cap it all,” he said, “You put 9 goals past me!”

@RichardBowdery

What Became Of..?
The £1 million pound man…

by Richard DJJ Bowdery.

Today, a £1m transfer seems like chicken feed and barely causes a ripple among football commentators and fans alike. After all, some Premier League stars earn that amount in a matter of weeks. But back in 1979 when Trevor Francis left Birmingham City for Nottingham Forest, a transfer fee of £1,150,000 caused the media to go into overdrive.

Yet this seismic event very nearly didn’t happen because Francis was on the verge of joining Coventry City. However, once Forest boss Brian Clough got wind of the impending deal there was only one likely winner.

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Clough, with squash racket, introduces Francis to the media.

So instead of journeying to Highfield Road, Francis took a detour to the City Ground. Armed only with his pension advisor – no agents or middle men – and a list of questions, he found himself seated in Clough’s office, waiting to be interviewed by the great man. The pair waited, and they waited, and they waited. Eventually in bowled Clough carrying a racket, and explained his lateness by saying he’d been playing squash.

Despite the delay, an excited Francis agreed to join Forest and the two men shook hands on the deal. Presumably there was no hitch with the pension. Oddly enough a contract wasn’t signed until later. Compared with today’s transfer dealings it was, perhaps, a transaction carried out in an age of innocence. It was most certainly an age of simplicity.

His playing career

Trevor Francis made his debut for Birmingham City in 1970, aged just 16. He went on to play nearly 300 times for the Midland’s club, scoring 119 goals. While at City he helped the club regain top-flight status when they were promoted back into the old First Division, in 1972.

When he joined Forest in February 1979 things didn’t start at all well. In his first game for his new club, away to Ipswich Town, he was heckled by the home supporters who had one or two things to say about the price tag that hung heavily around Francis’ neck. In an effort to lift the monkey on his back he punched the ball into the Ipswich net. The ‘goal’ was disallowed. Later in the dressing room Clough gave him a right royal rollicking. “Don’t ever do that again while you are playing for this football club!”

But all the pressure of being the £1m man was forgotten when Francis stooped to meet John Robertson’s low cross to head Forest’s winning goal in that year’s European Cup Final against Malmo of Sweden. The following year he helped Forest reach their second successive European Cup Final: this time against German side Hamburg. But injury prevented him from taking part and he could only watch as his teammates claimed their second European crown.

Trevor Francis of Nottingham Forest (l) heads the winning goal past Malmo goalkeeper Jan Moller

Francis heads the winning goal for Forest past Malmo goalkeeper Jan Moller.

In 1981 he was sold to Manchester City for £1m and Forest recouped their initial outlay. From there he moved to Italy where he was part of the successful Sampdoria side. Former England manager Fabio Capello noted that Francis was the best Englishman to have played in Italy. Fans of the legendary John Charles might disagree.

On leaving Sampdoria he went to play for another Italian side Atalanta Bergamasca Calcio, before heading to Scotland to join Glasgow Rangers. After one season he moved south to Queens Park Rangers, where he was soon promoted to player-manager. Soon Sheffield Wednesday came calling and he was appointed player/manager. Under his management the Owls reached the League Cup and FA Cup Finals in 1993, just failing to get over the line in both caps against their nemesis, Arsenal.

When he hung up his boots, in 1994 at the age of 39 he had played over 600 games, scoring 235 goals.

England

Francis represented his country from the mid-70s to 1986 winning 52 caps and scoring 12 goals. He made his England debut in a friendly against Holland in 1977 but the highlight came when he represented England at the 1982 World Cup Finals in Spain. He scored twice in England’s three group stage matches, but once again the Three Lions failed to make a significant impact on the world’s greatest footballing stage.

Two Books

In the Trevor Francis era most players waited until retirement before publishing their memoirs. No so the £1m man. In June 1980 World’s Works published Trevor Francis: Anatomy of a £1 Million Player. It was co-written with Rob Hughes. Then in November 1982 Sidgwick & Jackson brought out World to Play For, again co-authored, this time with David Miller. Not bad for a footballer only halfway through his playing career.

Post-playing career

Trevor Francis preparing for Sunday's FA Cup match against Leeds United. [pic] Graham Hughes

Francis was manager at Selhurst Park

Birmingham City has always been Trevor Francis’ first love. So it was no surprise to see him back at St. Andrews in 1996: this time as manager. He continued in that role for a few years, taking them to the League Cup Final in 2001. When Francis left the dugout in October of that year he said at his farewell press conference, in true Schwarzenegger style, I’ll be back – and as the Blues are always in his heart I don’t doubt that one day, he will.

Following his time with the Blues he took charge at south London club Crystal Palace for couple of seasons until 2003.

Media Pundit

Since he stepped away from the soccer limelight the £1m man has carved out a successful career as a media pundit and commentator, working for a number of high profile broadcasters. He is also in demand as an after-dinner speaker and as a guest at corporate functions.

Serious health scare

Despite all the money, fame and adulation Francis had garnered throughout his glittering career, it meant nothing when on 13 April 2012, aged 57 he suffered a heart attack which went undiagnosed for 11 hours. At any point during that time he could have died. But following surgery to have a stent fitted and with the help and care of the medical staff at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital, he pulled through. He later said: “Some would say I was a little fortunate [to survive] and they would not be too far wrong.”

Honoured in Birmingham

In 2014 Trevor Francis was presented with Birmingham City’s biggest civic honour when he was ‘inducted’ into the Broad Street Walk of Stars. The Stars Selection Committee chairman, the comedian Jasper Carrott, said: “You mention Birmingham City’s most famous players and Trevor Francis is right up there. The award is for people who have done a lot for the area and he’s certainly done that.” Francis spoke at the time of how proud and excited he was to receive this honour.

That ‘£1m man’ tag

Back in 1979 many considered the transfer fee paid for by Nottingham Forest for Trevor Francis to be a world record. In reality Italian forwards Paolo Rossi and Giuseppe Savoldi each cost in excess of two billion lire. The exchange rate at the time put each fee well above £1m. But wherever he goes, even 36 years after that ground-breaking transfer, he is still introduced as the £1m man. Gareth Bale eat your heart out.

@RichardBowdery

What Became Of…? Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris

by Richard DJJ Bowdery.

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Chopper is not only a legend at Chelsea but also of a certain era of the game.

Chelsea’s Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris – along with Tommy Smith, Nobby Stiles, Peter Storey and Norman Hunter, to name but five – belonged to an exclusive club of football’s hard men back in the 60’s and 70’s. Their fearsome reputation for snuffing out the opposition often had the desired effect before the game had even started.

And they all had their ‘tricks of the trade’. One of Ron’s came courtesy of Tommy Docherty who gave him an effective tip on man-marking. “He told me to ‘larrup’ somebody in the first few minutes, and after that just to stay behind them and cough every now and then, to show them I was not too far away.”

Aged just 17, Harris made his first-team debut in in a 1-0 win against Sheffield Wednesday in February 1962. For the next 18 years he was ever present racking up a club record 795 appearances for the club.

His career highlights during that time included:

• Winning the League Cup in 1965 beating Leicester City in the Final
• Becoming the first Chelsea captain to lift the FA Cup after defeating Leeds United in a replay at Old Trafford
• Being the first Chelsea captain to lift a major European trophy after beating Real Madrid to win the European Cup Winners Cup in 1971.

Like Tommy Smith for Liverpool, Harris was a rock in Chelsea’s defence, two footed and with an ability to play in either full back position.

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Harris now shows visitors around Stamford Bridge

Heading West
In 1980, as he approached the twilight of his career, Harris left Stamford Bridge to join Brentford as player-coach. Then in 1984 he was appointed player/manager at Aldershot Town following a boardroom takeover which saw the departure of the then manager, Len Walker. But when former chairman Reg Driver returned to the club he reappointed Walker and Harris hung up his boots for the last time.

No rest for the Chopper
The most he ever earned in a week whilst playing for Chelsea was £295: chicken feed compared to today’s stars who can earn in excess of £50,000. So to keep the home fires burning Harris forged a new career in the property market. And by all accounts, ‘the boy did good.’

Reminiscing
Today Ron Harris shares his memories from his playing days as an after-dinner speaker. He recalls 18 years at the top of his profession – going toe to toe with the likes of Dennis Law, Jimmy Greaves, George Best and the Leeds United eleven – all of which has given him a wealth of stories to regale audiences with.

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Harris was both a defensive stalwart and a fearsome opponent

Once such story concerns the 1970 Cup Final replay and Leeds winger Eddie Gray. He said: “Gray had given Dave Webb a real chasing at Wembley. So for the replay, we swapped flanks and I took Gray.” The Chelsea manager, Dave Sexton, had a word with Harris before the game and said, “If you get half a chance to rough Gray up a little, take it.” Ron took the manager at his word. Eight minutes into the game he ‘tackled’ Gray. Harris recalled: “I thought that was nice of me to give him eight minutes.”

But it isn’t only after dinner speaking that takes up his time. He is also heavily involved with the Legends Tours at Chelsea FC. Here a twinge of bitterness enters his voice. For a long time after he’d packed up playing it seemed that he wasn’t really welcome back at his old club. Perhaps that was because of criticism Harris had voiced about the club’s leadership. Under Roman Abramovich all that changed.

Now he is one of the former players who gives guided tours to the many people who sign up for a walk around this historic footballing attraction. And to recognize his great service to the Blues, in May 2011 he was given Special Recognition Award. Upon receiving the award, presented by former teammate John Dempsey, he said: “I’ve been in the game a long, long time and I’m very, very proud [to receive this award].” He even has a suite at the ground named after him, without the ‘chopper’ bit.

Chelsea aren’t the only club he supports. He is also patron of Aylesford Football Club based in Kent. They have youth teams, ladies teams and a senior men’s side who ply their trade in the local leagues.

Charity Work
Since 2009 he has regularly given time and support to the Duke of Edinburgh Award. His guest appearances at the Awards fundraising evenings are, unsurprisingly, called Chopper Nights.

Ron's autobiography is a must-read for all blues fans

Ron’s autobiography is a must-read for all blues fans

He has also supported other charitable events including Make-A-Wish Foundation UK, which grants the wishes of children battling life-threatening conditions, and the Chelsea Pensioners. It seems the hard man of Chelsea does have a soft side.

Autobiography
In 2004 Ron’s autobiography ‘Chopper: A Chelsea Legend’ was published. Co-written with Kevin Nash it recalls a time that would seem alien to todays ‘pampered’ stars. And he is as fearsome in print as he was on the pitch.

The Infamous Nickname
Everybody assumes the nickname is to do with his tough tackling. But Bobby FC has uncovered another explanation. Harris says the nickname has done him proud. And he adds: “…the ladies like it. That’s the first thing they say; ‘Why did they call you Chopper?’”

With a twinkle in his eye he says nothing, just smiles.

@RichardBowdery

Whatever Became Of…? Liverpool Legend Tommy Smith

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Tommy Smith: An inspiration

by Richard DJJ Bowdery.

According to the late Bill Shankly, Tommy Smith did not possess a birth certificate because he wasn’t born, he was quarried. Obviously a joke but the underlying sentiment was a recognition of Smith as the rock at the heart of Liverpool’s defence. It is also why he was nicknamed ‘Anfield Iron’ by the Kop.

Yet despite his style of play he was sent-off only once. It happened during a match against Manchester City at Maine Road. Allegedly Smith asked the referee, Clive Thomas, to go forth and…well you get the gist.

But to think of Tommy Smith as a one dimensional player would be wide of the mark. He was as comfortable on the ball as he was taking it away from an opposing player. Those skills along with his determination, leadership on the field and never say die attitude, led to him being appointed club captain 1970.

Another great Liverpool manager, Bob Paisley, said of Smith: “His fearless nature not only unsettled the opposition, it inspired his team mates. They drew strength from his example.”

He was a Kopite on the field of play. So much so that if blood was blue instead of red, he would ask the doctors to dye it to match the club’s shirt colour.

During his time at Liverpool he achieved:

• 638 appearances
• 48 goals
• 2 European Cups – 1977 and 1978
• 4 First Division titles – 1965-66, 1972-73, 1975-76, 1976-77
• 2 FA Cups – 1965 and 1974
• 2 UEFA Cups 1973 and 1976

But there is only so much battering a body can take and in August 1978 – after 18 years at Anfield and nearing the end of his career – he bid farewell to his beloved Liverpool Football Club.

Post-Liverpool FC

He saw out the remainder of his career at Swansea City, a club managed by his old teammate John Toshack; although he did have a brief sojourn in the fledgling North American Soccer League.

Smith’s time with the Swans saw them win promotion from the old Third Division, at the end of the 1978/79 season.

One other significant addition to his trophy cabinet before he hung up his boots was the MBE he received in 1978, for services to football. How the opposition he tormented every Saturday afternoon must have loved that one.

Post playing

Following his retirement from football in 1979, he had a spell as a youth coach at Liverpool. He also bought a pub in Billinge, Wigan: a purchase many other players of his era made. Called ‘The Smithy’, I doubt the locals gave the new landlord any lip!

But it was as an after-dinner speaker and media pundit that signaled a new direction for the Anfield Iron. Then as now he gives his no-holds barred view on football and Liverpool in particular. And he continues to pen a weekly column for the Liverpool Echo.

His health

The years of laying his body on the line for Liverpool glory has taken its toll. A hip, both knees and an elbow have been replaced and he suffers with arthritis. These medical conditions led him to claim disability benefit. Don’t forget he only earned a fraction of what the Premier League players earn today.

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Smith celebrates winning the European Cup in 1977

The FA Cup Final 1996. Manchester United versus Liverpool. At half-time Smith took part in a charity event on the pitch with other former players. No studs flying, no sliding tackles. He simply attempted to take a penalty, which sent pain shooting through his body. That was it. Suddenly he was hauled in front of a Social Security Tribunal to explain his actions. His benefits were stopped and for a while he found himself the centre of media attention. In his Echo column, Smith jokingly said he was grassed by an Evertonian. Of course it could have been a Red Devil. But common sense prevailed and his benefits were eventually reinstated.

Then in June 2007 he faced his biggest battle when he suffered a heart attack at his Liverpool home. He described that moment as being as if somebody had grabbed his heart and started to pull it apart. Such was the seriousness of the attack he ended up undergoing complicated heart bypass surgery.

He was inundated with good will messages including one from Michel Platini, president of UEFA. But what meant most to him was his first game back at Anfield after the operation. The whole crowd rose as one to welcome back their hero who had overcome yet another dangerous opponent.

Smith recalled: “It was unbelievable. I was so emotional. I couldn’t think of anything to say.”

His autobiography

In March 2008 Bantam Press published his autobiography ‘Anfield Iron’. As on the field, so in print. In his sights, the money men who run football.

“The money makers and those who are out to make their crock of gold have seized power,” he wrote. “Grossly inflated admission prices have made the sport increasingly elitist. The elderly and those on low incomes could once afford to watch top-division football. Not anymore.”

He also questioned whether the players of today could compete in his era. “Do you think this lot could play in the Sixties and Seventies, with all that mud?” he asks. “They play on a bloody bowling green with a balloon. We had a bloody cannonball.”

It also shed light on something I thought was an urban myth involving the late Alan Ball. Smith writes: “I did warn players [before kick-off]. When Jimmy Greaves came out at Anfield one time I handed him a piece of paper. He said: ‘What’s this?’ I said: ‘Just open it.’ It was the menu from the Liverpool Infirmary.”

Auction

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Tommy is one of football’s great characters

Three years ago Smith sold his medals and the memorabilia collected during his outstanding career. The auction at Bonham’s in Chester raised over £130,000. But why sell his past? He explained: “I had a wonderful career but the memories I’ve got are more important to me than the medals and the shirts. I’m getting old and the money is of more use to me now than the medals. This is about me putting my family first.”

Today

Smith lives a relatively quiet life in Crosby with his wife, writes his Echo column, does some after dinner speaking, and gets along to watch his beloved team whenever he can. But though age and health might have slowed him, his passion for football, and Liverpool FC in particular, burns as fiercely as ever.

@RichardBowdery

What became of… Jimmy (Monty) Montgomery?

by Richard DJJ Bowdery

Enduring memories

For those of us who watched the 1973 Cup Final, two images were forever etched in our memories that day.

The first was the Sunderland keeper’s heroic double save – from Leeds duo Trevor Cherry and Peter Lorimer – which denied the Yorkshire side an equalizer and, ultimately, the Cup.

The second was Sunderland manager Bob Stokoe, arms aloft and trilby on head, running onto the hallowed turf to embrace one player in particular.

In both cases it was the same man, Jimmy (Monty) Montgomery. But what became of him..?

Wearside Lad

Local boy Monty made his first-team debut for Sunderland in 1962 at the tender age of 17, in a League Cup tie against Walsall. Four months later came his league debut against Derby County in the old Second Division.

He went on to make 627 appearances for the Black Cats between 1962 and 1977, a club record.

Post-Sunderland

After Stokoe left the club Monty found himself loaned out to Southampton and then Birmingham City who signed him on a permanent deal. He made over 70 appearances for the Blues before being snapped up by Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest, as understudy to Peter Shilton.

While at Forest he won another major honour when they beat Hamburg in the 1980 European Cup Final. But this time Monty was an unused substitute.

Hangs up his Gloves

With his playing days over, Monty became a goalkeeping coach at two of his former clubs: Birmingham City and Sunderland, following a spell as the Black Cats youth team manager. He was also active in the Players’ Association, a forerunner of the PFA.

Monty then moved from coaching players to working at Sunderland as a club host on match-days, entertaining guests with stories from his playing days.

Then in February 2012 he was appointed as the club’s first ever ambassador. He said at the time: “To be given the honour of being Sunderland AFC’s first ever ambassador is fantastic.”

Today

Jimmy (Monty) Montgomery continues to be an integral part of Sunderland’s off-the-field activities. And his over 50 years of service to football – and in particular Sunderland AFC – has earned him a British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Jimmy Montgomery

Montgomery has an appointment at the Palace

On hearing the news 71 year-old Monty said: “I am absolutely delighted…it’s a great honour to receive this award.”

When he goes to the Palace to pick up his medal, I wonder if Prince William (an Aston Villa fan) will pull Monty aside to ask about his wonderful double-save, 42 years on. After all the Prince can’t ask his grandmother, she wasn’t there that day. It was the Duke of Kent who presented the trophy.

@RichardBowdery

The Lisbon Lions from Glasgow
The Best Ever Local Side..?

by Richard DJJ Bowdery.

Global Talent

In today’s £multi-billion football industry players are drawn from all parts of the globe to play in Leagues as far apart as the USA, Great Britain and Japan. Even top teams in the English non-league pyramid have players who originated from overseas.

So when Juventus and Barcelona contest this year’s Champions League (European Cup) Final on Saturday 6 June, it will come as no surprise that both teams will field players drawn from far and wide: most notably Barca’s Lionel Messi, who hails from Argentina.

Although this is now the norm, it wasn’t always so. Indeed one team in particular, who once claimed Europe’s top club prize, hailed from a lot closer to home.

Glasgow Through and Through

Nearly 50 years ago in May 1967 Celtic FC became the first British club to lift the European Cup when they beat Italy’s Inter-Milan 2-1, in Lisbon, Portugal. Not only was this a great first for the British game, it also provided one other rather amazing statistic: all the Celtic players were born within a thirty mile radius of Glasgow. Some footballing commentators have hinted that it was closer to fifteen.

Whichever figure is true it was remarkable that such a ‘local’ side could take on and triumph over Europe’s best.

To cap it all even their manager, the late, great Jock Stein, came from within that 30 mile radius.

The Team

The Glasgow lads who made history that day were:

67LisbonLions1. Ronnie Simpson
2. Jim Craig
3. Billy McNeill (c)
4. John Clark
5. Tommy Gemmell
6. Bobby Murdoch
7. Bertie Auld
8. Jimmy Johnstone
9. Willie Wallace
10. Stevie Chalmers
11. Bobby Lennox

 

Compare that to the Celtic side who competed in this year’s Champions League competition. In addition to players from the British Isles, you had players from Honduras, Nigeria, the Netherlands, Sweden, Israel, Australia, Norway, Bulgaria, Ghana, and Serbia.

It is a fair bet that never again will such a local side lift a major club trophy which makes the Lisbon Lions victory, all those years ago, even more memorable.

 

@RichardBowdery

 

 

The Greatest Tackle Ever – and it’s not by Bobby Moore!

by Rob Shepherd.

There are some people (often Arsene Wenger) who don’t seem to think the tackle is anything to shout about anymore.

But without solid, honest, properly timed tackles what would dazzling footwork and skill mean if it went unchallenged with the sort of ‘After You Claude’ attitude that the Arsenal manager seems to think should be adopted by opponents.

Indeed, much of the magic of Lionel Messi would become meaningless if there was no threat.

That’s not to suggest turning the clock back to the days of Norman ‘bites yer legs’ Hunter, Ron ‘chopper’ Harris or Italian hitman Claudio Gentile. While Hunter and Harris were symbols of an area where enforcers were given more leeway in this country, it was Gentile who took the role of defensive midfielder to another level on the international stage not least when he man marked and harassed Diego Maradona out of the game at the 1982 World Cup finals, a tournament Italy went on to win.

GentileOnMaradona

Claudio Gentile of Italy puts in an ‘old fashioned’ tackle on Diego Maradona in the 1982 World Cup.

It was the way that Maradona was effectively kicked out of the tournament, as Pele had been in 1966, which began FIFA’s process of changing the laws, starting with outlawing the tackle ‘through from behind’, and insisting referees issue cards for violent tackles.

In the main it has been positive, promoting more attacking free-flowing football at home and abroad.

When people try to compare Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo to Maradona and Pele it should always be remembered that the latter thrived when the advantage was with the defenders in the Seventies and Eighties, even up to the 1990 World Cup after which FIFA stepped up their crusade to ‘clean up the game’ (well, on the pitch at least).

Footage of Gentile stalking Maradona during that game in 1982 which Italy won 2-1 is quite extraordinary and would surely have resulted in a red card and not too long into the encounter either. It makes Hunter look like Snow White…

Some of the challenges bordered on assault. Yet a defiant Gentile, who was eventually showed just a yellow card (Maradona had earlier been cautioned for complaining at the rough-house treatment), stated afterwards that: “Football is not for ballerinas.”

Without the sort of shackles players have on them now Gentile, sometimes with stealth, sometimes subtly, sometimes slyly, often outrageously, then went on to hound Zico of Brazil in one of the all time classic matches which Italy won 3-2 to put them into the final against West Germany, a game the Italians would win 3-1.

That said, there has been an ironic twist to the clamp-down on the dark arts of defending that Gentile turned into a sort of science, one which we are starting to see too often in the Premier League.

Few and fewer players seem to know how to tackle properly which often results in woefully timed lunging challenges that are often far more dangerous than the ones iron feet men like Hunter, Harris or Gentile used to plough in – well at least until they were upset or angry.

Of course another unwanted side effect is that more and more forwards dive, buying free kicks and getting opponents into trouble.

And when you look at old footage is should be noted that whilst a lot of the tackling was fierce it was more often than not fair, in a time when a lot of players shunned shin pads and some played with socks rolled down around their ankles.

Bobby Moore takles Jairzinho in 1970

Click here to see Bobby Moore’s tackles v Brazil in 1970.

And for many there is tackle back in the day that proves that tackling is a form of skill in its own right when performed properly.

It came in the 1970 World Cup finals when Bobby Moore bided his time before caressing the ball of the advancing Jairzinho then immediately setting up a counter attack.

Yet footage has just come to light which in many ways betters Moore’s tackle – because it led to a goal from inside the scorers own half.

OK, it was in an obscure lower league in Italy but it’s worth looking at it and asking: ‘Is this the greatest tackle of all time..?’

@Shep_62

 

When Football Smoked
BOBBY remembers a time when footballers lit up regularly

by Rob Shepherd.

BremnerSmokes

Bremner in full blaze

There was time when football smoked. But now it seems like a hanging offence for a footballer to puff on a cigarette.

The reaction to paparazzi pictures of Jack Wilshere (aka Ciggy Stardust) having a crafty fag outside a London club as he wound down after Arsenal’s 2-1 Champions League win over Napoli caused palpations in the press.

Shock Horror Soccer Star Smokes: The puritanical wing of The New Media Army that has moved into football were beside themselves with disdain.

Outraged inquisitors demanded a reaction from Wilshere’s Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger who gravely agreed something had to be done.

Wenger revealed he would have some strong words with Wilshire about how much damage he could be doing to his health and what a bad health example he was setting.

Smokescreen

The player’s “people” – his PR machine – were suitably alarmed that Wilshere’s shocking act could have a bad knock on effect when it came to enhancing the “brand”.

So they decided to put up a smokescreen and issued a statement.

It read: “Jack was with his team mates and friends. One dared Jack, who does not smoke, to hold the cigarette as a prank. Jack absolutely didn’t smoke the cigarette nor does he condone smoking.

“Jack is utterly committed to fitness and a healthy lifestyle.”

AshleySmokes

Ashley in drag

Why do advisers think anything they say should be taken seriously or resemble the truth when they spout such utter piffle..? By protesting so much in such an obviously contrived manner it merely leads one to think they have something to hide.

For goodness sake Wilshere was not breaking the law. It WAS tobacco. And despite what some people seem to think he’s not alone. A lot of current players like Ashley Cole or Dimitar Berbatov enjoy a cigarette or indeed cigar when they are away from prying eyes.

And while no-one can argue that smoking cigarettes is actually good for you (although health “experts” used to), down the years it has proven smoking hasn’t necessarily harmed or hindered players during their playing careers.

Indeed some of the greatest players of the past smoked.

Smoking Greats

Many enjoyed the odd fag to calm the nerves before a game or quell the adrenalin afterwards, like Sir Bobby Charlton.

When Charlton played his farewell game for Manchester United at Chelsea in 1973 the London club presented Bobby with a silver cigarette.

Others were serial smokers like Johan Cruyff. Jimmy Greaves, Ossie Ardiles, Socrates – they all smoked.

Many managers would chain smoke through games such as John Lyall or Argentina’s Caesar Luis Menotti.

Some players and managers even smoked a pipe, like Jimmy Hill. In Italy and Spain it was almost a requirement. And to this day many players in Serie A and La Liga will light up after their meals.

Indeed there was a time when, bizarre as it seems now, cigarettes were promoted as something that could be healthy.

So when England’s first knight of the clean cut, Sir Stanley Matthews, was part of an advertising campaign for cigarettes in the 1950’s no-one batted an eyelid.

stanleymatthews-cravenacigarettead

Smoking and soccer were in many ways inextricably linked. The majority of working class fans on the terraces smoked and would collect photos of their heroes in the form of give away cards in the fag packets – that is if they could afford “straights” rather than roll ups.

It seems incredible now but dressing rooms were often smoke filled, sometimes even before kick-off.

John Osborne, West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper, smoking a cigaret

Nowadays gloves have made it impossible for keepers to light up in games…

And our picture shows Billy Bremner enjoying a wind down fag after a game. Or even more amusing is the photo of Leeds colleague Jack Charlton having a puff before a training session (see BOBBY’S ‘Great Shot’ archive).

More amazing still is the sight of West Brom goalkeeper John Osbourne having a lug DURING a game in the Seventies having been given an “oily rag” from a fan standing behind the goal!

Now if a player is caught with a ciggie off the pitch it’s as if he’s gone to pot and his entire career will go up in smoke.

The world really has turned upside down…

 @iLShep

 

Greavesie Sets The Record Straight He Tells BOBBY Why He Doesn’t Watch His Old Clubs Play

Jimmy-Greavesby Rob Shepherd.

Jimmy Greaves  has hit back at a report that he has snubbed former club Tottenham for 45 years since he left Spurs.

It was stated in an article in the Daily Telegraph that Greaves has never been back to watch a game at White Hart Lane since he moved to West Ham in 1970 with Martin Peters plus £200,000 going the other way.

But Greaves said: “As a Sun reporter then a TV reporter I went there loads of times. Really loads. I launched my autobiography there and I attended the funerals of both Bill Nicholson and Bobby Smith.

“But I don’t go to games. I never have. It’s not just Spurs. I don’t go to any of my other clubs either.”

And Greaves, who turned 75 last week, insists he did not turn down an invitation from Tottenham to be a guest of honour at Wembley for the Capital One Cup final against Chelsea, the club where he started his career.

“There was no invitation forthcoming but I wouldn’t have gone if they did. I’ve got a lovely giant screen TV, a lovely dog and a warm fire. That’s where I watch sport and it’s very nice. I’m not interested in driving in heavy traffic and enduring big crowds and being freezing cold. I love it on TV.”

And no doubt if he found the Spurs-Chelsea game a bit dull then Greaves will have flicked channels to watch the Six Nations crunch game between England and Ireland.

During a speech he made at a dinner recently Greaves made it clear he tires of the antics of players and has grown to prefer rugby union.

But Greaves DOES still feel raw about how his departure from Spurs was handled.

And that he was not told by the club that Manchester City and Derby were interested in him at the time – both clubs he would have preferred to the Hammers where he did not have a happy time, a period which really triggered his lurch into  heavy alcoholism. Greaves though has not had a drink since 1978.

In his autobiography Greaves said: “I was taken aback and I was angry. I was so annoyed with Bill for wantingGreavesTHFC to bring my Spurs career to an end, I simply said, ‘Okay. If you don’t want me at Spurs, I’ll go’. I didn’t have to go, not if I didn’t want to. I still had eighteen months of a contract to run. I could have told Bill I was staying at Spurs and there was little he could have done about it. But I was so peeved that he appeared so willing to get rid of me, I went along with it. What’s the point of staying at a club that doesn’t want you”

“Looking back on that day, I wish I had told Bill I wasn’t interested in moving.”

Greaves scored 268 goals in 381 games for Tottenham over nine seasons after joining the club for a record £99,999 from AC Milan in 1961. He had started his career at Chelsea, where he netted 132 times in 169 games. Greaves is fourth in the list of all-time leading England scorers, having scored 44 goals in 57 appearances.

@iLshep