We’re delighted with the number of letters we’re getting now. It’s just about enough to constitute a weekly page and not so many that it means too much more work. We have also noted with interest the volume of correspondence regarding Alex Stewart’s Football Manager series and we’ll be extending its run accordingly. If Alex thought he was going to get to play a new game at some point, perhaps for his own personal enjoyment, he’s very much mistaken. We go again to Part Seven on Friday.
We’ve had an excellent opening three months and we’ve certainly learned a few things along the way. You may notice a few tweaks to our content now. Popular features like Pieces of Hate, Vox in the Box and Thoughts On will continue as before, but we’ll be changing the way we commission our features and interviews in an effort to make them fresher, more authoritative and more likely to distract you than ever before.
We’ll be running more competitions too, and not the boring ones where people try to farm database details by asking what colour the grass is at Anfield or how many noses Roberto Martinez has. You know about the Subbuteo Cup in our office, but there’s something else coming that you can play at home…
As always, the power rests in your hands. If you like something, let us know. You can RT it, you can stick it on Facebook in the midst of a stream of pictures of other people’s children eating chocolate. You can even drop a link to it on your messageboard. Ultimately, we just want your attention.
But now, on with the letters!
THE ST JAMES’ PARK MYSTERY
There’s a bloke sits along in front of my wife and me in the Bar 1892 seats at St James’ Park. These seats used to cost upwards of £1500 per season ten years ago, and aren’t a great deal cheaper since the change in pricing policy. He’s been there for more than 10 years now. He arrives each week with either his son or his wife, invariably between five and 15 minutes late.
They take their time shuffling along the row to their seats, sometimes actually stopping to watch the game should the crowd raise its collective voice and either team looks like scoring, which means, of course, that everyone else is stood up in front waiting for him to pass, blocking the view.
And then, they both get up and leave around 37 minutes into the first half; every single game whatever the score. We fans surrounding him have even started up a little sweepstake this season on which minute it will be. We look for patterns; correlations between the tediousness of football, who he’s with, the glamour of the opposition, the weather etc. But there is neither rhyme nor reason; between 37 and 42 minutes they’re both up and off, sometimes stopping on the way out to watch.
And they DON’T return for the second half, no matter what. They have NEVER seen Newcastle United play a second 45 minutes of football in more than 10 years.
One theory is that one of them has work commitments. However, that was quickly debunked because it doesn’t matter whether what day of the week or time of kick off, the exit window remains the same.
It’s also been mooted that one of them is alcohol-dependent and that they’re in the bar watching the game on the one of the many screens supping over-priced ale.
And such was the growing fascination and irritation with these people, that I was eventually designated (being the one to have highlighted this) during the next particularly dull game, to follow them into the lounge.
So I did. And they went straight out. So, they arrive late, leave an hour early and they don’t return till after the next home game is underway.
The whole of our section is at a complete loss as to why anyone would pay extortionate prices for season tickets and then use only a third of their value.
Now you could be forgiven for thinking that we should be concentrating on the match, and frankly it says a lot about the standard of football which gave rise to this unwelcome distraction in the first instance. I mean, it’s bad, mostly, we know that, but howay man…
… it’s not like we’re Sunderland.
ED’S NOTE: This letter was written before Sunday’s NE derby. Let’s just give Chris a hug, eh?
IT’S OKAY TO BE A GEEK
As if I didn’t spend enough time plotting the next addition to my Subbuteo collection or mulling over why I’m still terrible at Football Manager after devoting 16 years – or almost two thirds – of my life to it, your website had to come along and provide yet more distractions to the working day, which should be renamed the non-working day.
The weekend was spent camped in mid-table obscurity with Leeds, an event triggered by the Alex Stewart Moneyball review. I’ve signed one player and had more draws than a cowboy. But still it’ll be back on tonight.
Then today, I spy The Subbuteo Cup. Sadly, to be played in London, which is perhaps too far for this northerner to battle with public transport or the M6, even if it was for Subbuteo. At least with collecting, you can’t taste defeat. Something I’ve sadly gotten used to in all these years playing Football Manager. Even my relatively successful FIFA career is beginning to wane as I enter my late 20s. Something about a trick stick. What was ever wrong with pass and move?!
The purpose of my letter is to say thank you. Thank you for assuring me that at the age of 26, I am not going mad. We can love Football Manager. And we can love Subbuteo. He says, while cradling the three most recent additions to the PLG collection, shipped from France (Saint Etienne, PSG and Marseille, if you’re interested).
I wanted to be a sports journalist for as long as I can remember. In some ways, I’ve achieved it to a degree, covering rugby mainly. For now, I’m entrenched in the digital marketing world, combining it with a few side interests, hoping that one day I’ll be plucked from non-sporting obscurity to realise the lifelong dream for the remainder of my years.
For now, I’ll just have to wait until you need an article on something I can be an authority on – don’t suppose you want anything on Warrington Town FC do you?!
Keep up the good work. And thanks again.
SOMEONE GAVE THEM WINGS, IT SEEMS
Hello. How about those Red Bulls ? Lloyd Sam has been looking sharp and with BWP no longer under Henry’s shadow he’s beginning to show that he is more of a one dimensional player. The midfield is shaping up and they have a powerful presence with Sacha there. Granted it was just a small sample size but them tying with Sporting KC away and drubbing a DC United team in transition at home, I think they have a chance to make a deep run.
All the best,
ED’S NOTE: Should we write about MLS for once? Would you be interested? Dano is, but how many of the rest of you fancy it?
If you’d like to appear on our letters page, email [email protected] We’re ready to believe you.