Posted: 10/5/2008


      I couldn't get there quick enough for Saturday's marathon 12 hour session of Walking along The Stray from the Leeds Road, this beautiful parkland in Harrogate had lots of soccer matches and coaching sessions to observe before I reached the Cedar Court Hotel. I passed on the $26.00 breakfast buffet and asked for some free hot water at the bar for my cold medicine powder to dissolve in.

   I was suprised to see the ballroom filling up fast. It was  a FREE session as FIGHTING TALK was being broadcast live on BBC 5 Live for the very first time. I listen to BBC 5 Live on digital radio for hours and hours all day and night and ignore my ancient TV set. It's THE BEST sports radio programme ON THE PLANET!!!   Northern Irishman Colin Murray was the slick and amusing moderator as 4 panelists gave their often irreverent views on the weeks sporting topics.

   Next up was Barbara Smit who lives in France but who wrote a TERRIFIC book 'PITCH INVASION' about the fascinating story of Adi and Rudi Dassler, who started making sports shoes in the 1920's in the little village of Herzogenaurach, near Furth, Germany and fell out, split up and ran ADIDAS and PUMA on separate sides of the river that runs through the town. I have been there numerous times and met Adi through Dettmar Cramer, from whom I got my coaching license ,and son Horst Dassler who became the most powerful man in world sports. He got Juan Antonio Samarach elected as head of the Olympics despite his fascist past, Sepp Blatter into FIFA and much more, but who died young. My previous blogs have gone over the story a number of times.

   Next was a journalist who I admire greatly, David Conn of 'The Guardian' ,an investigative journalist into the finances of football, who has written many books on the topic, and Dan Jones  an accountant with Deloite Annual Report on Football Finances, whose findings are viewed by all with interest each year. 

   The next guest was Paul Trevillion a 72 years young marketing guru  who draws a strip cartoon about controversial refereeing questions and answers weekly in 'The Observer', 'YOU ARE THE REF', and also on the guardian on line,along with the boss of EPL and the Football League's referees Keith Hackett, one of the most articulate and enthusiastic guardians of the 'Beautiful Game'  in the land. It began as a comic strip in the magazine SHOOT!   Paul rebranded Don Revie's Leeds United over 30 years ago by introducing pre match warm-ups, and also stocking tabs which the players signed, wore and then threw into the crowd after the final whistle, That was just the start of an amazing career from an amazing gentleman.

   There was a great panel discussion, hosted by that wonderful North-Eastern writer Harry Pearson with Rick Glanvill and Les Scott, about ghost writing for legendary soccer players, managers and other sportsmen. Last but not least was Duncan Hamilton whose recent book  'Providing You Don't Kiss Me, which deservedly won a prize and is a GREAT READ, is about his career chronicling the life and times of  a true sporting legend, the one and only Brian Clough, 'Old Big Head' who took unfashionable Derby County to the League title,left them and then lasted only 44 days at Leeds United, but walked away with a tax free $280,000 plus pay off(about $3 million in today's money) and then led Nottingham Forest to the Champions of Europe twice.

    His TV debate with his predecessor at Elland Road, Don Revie, who had taken the England job, is a classic which we got to view. Also on the panel was Peter Lorimer who played for Leeds United under both Revie and Clough and whom I was privileged to watch play for Scotland at World Cup 1974 in West Germany. He is now a Leeds United Director and a newspaper columnist and owns a pub in Leeds called 'The Commercial', walking distance from Elland Road, where funnily enough all the Norwegian Leeds United fans congregate before and after each home match.