November 12 2017: going soft


Clarty politics, yesterday’s blog lamented that a few drops of rain – a “soft patch”, as they reported – had led to the postponement of Tow Law’s FA Vase tie against 1874 Northwich at Winsford.

By way of contrast, Keith Bell in Canada recalls the famous image of the great Tom Finney, looking as if he might be clearing Becher’s second time around but, in truth, on Preston’s right wing at Chelsea in 1952. They called it The Splash.

This was the man who scored 187 in 433 Football League appearances for North End, 33 in 76 for England and of whom Bill Shankly observed that he’d have been great in any match, in any team and in any age – “even with his overcoat on.”

The future Sir Tom didn’t drown, didn’t develop webbed feet and didn’t – so far as history records – take to his bed with the sniffles. Since he lived to be 91 – he died in 2014 – the experience may not have done him too much harm nor led to an FA investigation.

The image won the 1952 sports photograph of the year award, might have done in almost any other year, and was the model for the statue of Sir Tom unveiled outside Deepdale in 2004.

If ever a picture was worth 1,000 words – illustrating how men were men and are now treated like mewling infants – it’s that one.

Keith Bell also recommends further viewing. Find on YouTube the FA Cup fourth round match between Spurs and Newcastle United in 1952, he suggests, or the 1955 semi-final between the Magpies and York City.

“When we were last back in the UK,” he adds, tellingly, “I watched Tynedale v Sale in the RFU’s national league second division. Nobody was bleating about ‘soft patches’ there.”

What’s a little wet to a water rat?

*Tom Finney, by then 44, was among a host of big names who turned out exactly fifty years ago for a match at Bishop Auckland in memory of Colin Barker, a former Bishops, West Auckland and Evenwood Town player who had died tragically.

The famed Preston plumber scored twice in an All Stars 5-4 win voer a Northern League X1 (for whom Stewart Alderson, still West Auckland’s indefatigable general manager, was on target.)

A man capped 76 times by England turning out for a charity match far from home? That wouldn’t happen today, either.

*Guisborough Town chairman Don Cowan had other concerns about yesterday’s blog – at the foot of his page was an ad for Harrod’s sequin-encrusted sandals.

Don recalls the occasion in August 2015 when I fell and broke my arm on the Last Legs stage to Alnwick Town. “If you were wearing the sequin-encrusted sandals you’re promoting it’s perhaps not surprising,” he writes.

So far as I understand these things, however, such ads are based on the browsing activity not of the blogger but of the reader. The sequin-encrusted sandal may be on the other foot.