Posted: 9/3/2013


       When Alf Common left  Sunderland for Middlesborough in 1905 he broke the transfer record and became the first player sold for 1,000. He had previously played for Sheffield United, for whom he helped win the 1902 FA Cup in a replay against Southampton, and scored 58 goals for Boro in 168 matches before later playing for Woolwich Arsenal and Preston North End.

       On transfer deadline day we had some mega bucks trades including the world record 85 million for Gareth Bale from North London to Madrid. Wages will be 280,000 a week and Jonathan Barnett his agent will trouser 13 million. Taxed at 45% the Spanish government will take its pound of flesh. It will need about 1.5 million Bale Galactico shirts to be sold to recoup the fee.  Real had been accused of a premature erection of the stage at the Bernabeau a week ago, with some naughty jokes being bandied around about.

     I remember the Welsh wizard John Charles being sold in 1957 for a then British record fee of 65,00, double the old record, from Leeds United to Juventus of Turin. At a time when players could only earn 10 from a transfer in England, he received 10,000. Elland Road built the new main stand, now named the John Charles Stand with the money.

     One day he scored a hat-trick and a director told him to come to his garage to fill his car up with petrol for free. The Welshman answered that he couldn't afford a car. His grandson Jake Charles plays for Huddersfield Town and for Wales at the youth level.

     Thirty eight years ago I picked up a couple of tickets from my old school mate Jim Armfield who was United manager for a reserve match. He had succeeded Brian Clough who lasted 44 days. I was watching the youth team play at the then ajacent training pitch and remarked to another fan on the fence that 30% of goals came from set plays." No man its more like 60%",  came a reply from over my shoulder. It was John Charles himself.

     I said that I had two complimentary tickets for the reserve match. He refused and insisted on paying for both of us at the turnstile in THE JOHN CHARLES STAND, since he had a gieivance with the club. We went inside and he had to sit at the end of the row because of his huge thighs. I had a never to be forgotten 90 minute chat with The Gentle Giant, Il Gigante Bueno.

     On Saturday I went to watch one of my favourite clubs, Altrincham FC at Moss Lane, a short trip on the Metrolink from Manchester. They were top of the league in the newly named SKRILL Conference North League, two tiers below the Football League. Their opponents were Histon from near Cambridge. The Robins took the lead in 90 seconds from James Walshaw and seemed set for a rout.

    It didn't happen. The Stutes fought back and took the lead and possibly a shock win until Alty and the league top scorer Damian Reeves equalized to share the points in an even battle. They are now equal with Hendersford Town on 13 points from 5 matches.

     Probably too late to let you know, but Wednesday 4th September Aberdeen are hosting Viking FK of Stavanger at Pittodrie and ENTRANCE IS FREE.  It's part of OFFSHORE EUROPE WEEK in the oil capital of Europe (well, until the oil runs out., anyway). The Energy Cities Community Cup will be contested, and 100 guest from Brazil will be present. I hope the fans are in for a Joga Bonito treat.

     A tribute to a true football fan who has just passed away, age 74, Sir David Frost, who as a young Cambridge University graduate helped change television for ever. On Saturday night 24th November 1962 I had returned from the college bar and watched the first ever THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS (TW3) on BBC TV.

     David was from Gillingham in Kent and supported The Gills all his life.  He once scored 8 goals in a youth match, but the prospect of a poorly paid football career didn't temp him from going to University where he performed and wrote for The Footlights. the new satirical programme lampooned the rich, the politicians, the establishment and the church and was awesome. 

     He went on of course to be a great broadcaster for the next 40 plus years and was famous for the FROST-NIXON DEBATES which was in 5 parts and made into a play and a movie. Thanks for the memory.