Going back to players in yesteryear, a good, or more like great player would play in any era because of his football brain, the speed of thought on a football field will never change no matter how heavy the balls and pitches were and playing in Tony’s Testimonial (if you could call it that, Stoke City are so mean) after what he did for them, which I add if only they were as loyal to him as the other way around and I can say that through my very own experience along with Jimmy Greenhoff and many other vastly talented players that played for peanuts. I was running my pub and night club at the time of this particular match and the boys, me friends who were playing, had their pre-match meal (drinks only) there, because it was a really warm afternoon and they need a few pints for dehydration reasons. This afternoon Neil Franklyn, a very well known gentleman from the area, and I say that with great seriousness Neil was just that, who played at back for our team. I had heard from the locals that e was the best ever before leaving England because “He was made an offer he couldn’t refuse” to go to Bogota, and I can only imagine the bollocks he was told to get the best centre-half in England, and that included the 105 cap Billy Wright, before boarding that plane. I was about 35 at that time which made Neil around 65, I can only think out loud quickly, but my goodness gracious a ball came out of the Potteries sky with that “soot” on it and he killed it on his knee like Frank Beckenbauer and gently flicked it away like the Keizer also. That was that, gossip and hearsay no more, Neil, who was a real nice man, I’m certain could and would have played today, most probably watching the special God-given talent of Virgil Van Dijk (no relation to Dick, by the way) you might put him in that bracket, as I said speed of thought and mind. I say that and immediately think of Alan Ball and having played both with and against the pint sized genius – who made the Barcelona midfield look like Sunday players – with his speed and quickness of thought as you’d make one step to close him down and if you blinked he was gone, that is what the game is all about and watching Manchester United at Arsenal yesterday afternoon, all I can say if they are earning £200,000-a-week you can put another nought on the end of ABs contract negotiations. Yeah, as time passes by through watching that match in 1972, the year of Stoke City’s one and only triumph by beating our Chelsea team in the League Cup final, funnily enough speaking of age, with 35-year-old George Eastham scoring the winner.
Thank goodness for that because that was the day Tony decided to buy Hudson as George’s replacement, and that was exactly what I told my old friend George Andrews on the radio yesterday and added that our finest young players were Jack Grealish Number One followed by the kid at Arsenal Smith-Rowe (a terrific football brain and touch) and the two Leicester City lads Maddison and Barnes both better than all of those hyped up over the last few years. Six hours later a little speed and thought of mind saw Jack (Grealish) brilliance set up the winner at Southampton for Barkley, another player who I liked at Everton (I thought he might be another Gascoigne?) a few years back but went backwards, but now he’s alongside Jack he looks like making a comeback, yeah forget Stan at sixty this kids making a comeback at 25. Oh how I would have loved to have played alongside the brilliance that is Grealish and oh how we have missed a player with such assurance, self-confidence and supreme swagger, no not me, Jack Grealish!Sunday 31 January 21GREEDY GIANTS Man Utd and Liverpool accused of plotting to DESTROY football with FIFA and Real Madrid amid European Super League plansExclusive by the Sun’s Martin LiptonLiverpool and Manchester United have been accused of plotting with Fifa and Real Madrid to ‘DESTROY’ football. LaLiga chief Javier Tebas says the ‘greedy’ Premier League giants have spent months scheming over an ‘obscene’ £4.6billion European Super League. Joel Glazer has been working with FIF, Liverpool and Real Madrid to ‘destroy’ football, claims Javier Tebas. Liverpool owner John W Henry is part of the group conspiring to form the European Super League. The Spaniard insists United’s US owner Joel Glazer and Liverpool’s John W Henry have been working with FIFA president Gianni Infantino plus Madrid supremo Florentino Perez on plans that will ‘ruin’ the game. Tebas stormed: “This would be a disaster for football, it would destroy the ecosystem and balance of the game in Europe. This whole underground project started with Infantino and Perez – but the Glazers and Liverpool were active too and held meetings. They have all tried to keep it secret, before the stories emerged in October and since.”SunSport first revealed plans for a breakaway Euro Super League and how the Big Six have been offered up to £310m in ‘founder-member’ money. That’s on top of a minimum of £130m per season to be part of a closed shop of 20 teams. Tebas says plans could be officially launched next month – with the other 14 Premier League clubs at the risk of losing £3bn between them.He told SunSport: “Is it just about greed? You can define that how you like – but that’s the idea. Liverpool, United, FIFA and Real Madrid declined to respond to Tebas’ allegations. But in November, United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward insisted he would work through the European Club Association on ‘the strengthening of existing UEFA club competitions.’ At the time, Woodward said: “The dialogue focuses on them continuing to be predominantly mid-week games, having little or no impact on the Premier League.” ‘THE YANKS ARE COMING’ – AND ITS ALL OUR FAULT!I have read many stories of the years-gone-by footballers so many greats who led the way for both myself, some very good friends I played with and against along the way in a game that, in my experience, was much like normal life but with a twist of magic and unforgettable memories. I have come across those who are totally in love with the game, some that play it because they can’t do anything else and then there’s the ones that were born to play with such an incredible ‘gift’ being on the field with them explains one thing, this bizarre word we live in is staggering from the beaches of Rio de Janeiro to outside the prefabs of Upcerne Road. Football apart my everlasting feelings about having been a professional footballer is coming across such talents who take it in their stride as if they was like my father, your father, a window cleaner, decorator, builder, an every day ordinary bloke just doing something that he does, and I always come back to the only man ever to not only walk to the middle but walk up those stairs and pick up the World Cup in this country, Bobby Moore. The epitome of all that is good in our game, and when I looked at those headlines yesterday, although I was not shocked, in fact far from it, I thought ‘That day has come, the ones who have never experienced such things have arrived and end all that those before them have built, those who have played in poverty, those who played on the breadline and then the modern day millions.’ That old saying that: “Money is the root of evil” has never been more evident and these people are not only going to ruin what was built they are building a skyscraper on the most faraway desert. We, if not careful, are on the brink of a tragedy that’s been-waiting-to-happen for a very long time and it’s all down to our friends from ‘Across the Pond’ which will soon see Chelsea join the party as their chairman Bruce Buck is one of those whose only love for OUR Beautiful Game is the beauty of, what they say, “The Greenback” and that is The Way It ls one of my favourite songs of mine by Rob Hornby. They say there’s no smoke without fire and with the Chelsea owner still having problems with his getting in and out of a country after he invested (is that the word for something else?) vast amount of millions I’m sure he will have some say in this – although my terrific contact tells me it’s not Roman’s club, he’s Putin’s front-man, like Osgood was Chelsea’s, Greenhoff was Stoke City’s and Supermac Arsenal’s my three English clubs, two of them that were on the brink of liquidation and who-know-who paid the price. It is at a time that those who took things for granted will never know that the day we lost Matthew Harding, I say we, as he was ‘one of us’ he would be the only man I can think of that would stand up and fight these people, who once again faceless. The first time I ever set eyes on Sepp Blatter I knew that the football world was in the hands of the wrong people and like those politicians we can’t really complain – although I have never once voted – because we in all countries vote them in and once we do, without knowing the individual, are building our own downfall. These people in football who haven’t a clue about the game that brings people together are like some alien from another planet and will destroy every single shred that was decent about the game that was better – and I have always said it – when I played as a schoolkid in the backstreets next to the Chelsea Power Station, no referees, no VAR, no managers, no coaches, no directors and whatever Directors of Football means and finally no aliens.If you asked these people like the Glazier’s and the Henry’s about the history of our game you might say do you remember Puskas, and they say it’s a Hungarian Dish, then maybe Beckenbauer, answer, a German Airline and to make it easy, in English, how about Moore and they’d say “MONEY” This news has come at a time out lives when our game is at its lowest ebb. After that terrific 40 minutes on ZOOM with my Chelsea 60s, 70s and 80s team mates Johnny Boyle and Peter Rhodes-Brown l watch Chelsea achieve their their first three points under their new manager with the aid of firstly Burnley’s biggest goal threat absent and then their second biggest threat leaving through injury before half-time, now their biggest problem was they never had a third threat.After what I just wrote about the building and the love has one has for the game I mentioned on our ZOOM podcast to Tony Jiminez, Johnny Boyle and Peter Rhodes-Brown that what we were doing was great because I was sitting introducing two people to one another who were part of my journey where I began with Johnny in the mid-to-late Sixties and ended with Peter in the mid-Eighties at Chelsea Football Club and it was wonderful to do so, as our memories of great matches we played are precious, but there’s no substitute for the friends we are fortunate to meet along the way – and more important share the stories and have fun. This was the reason I only received two international caps. I never cared for those who saw my way of life as the wrong one, but after what I have been through before and after 1997/98, an experience which gives me strength through this pandemic, they can keep all of their medals, trophies and money, because, although we all go out wit what we came in with, its so wonderful on a Sunday morning with two former team-mates who played for all the right reasons and along the way value such friendship – and now such times might or more than likely all come to an end and the future for our children left in the hands of something so faraway from that Power Station.