WHO ARE YA? Callum Jones, Press Officer for FC Halifax Town

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Media Officer at FC Halifax Town

1) Who are ya?

Callum Jones, 23

2) Who do you support?

Manchester United

3) What was your first game?

United v Wimbledon, January 1997.

4) What do you do for a job?

I work as a Press Officer for the Skrill Conference club FC Halifax Town.

5) Have you played/worked for any football clubs?

I had a fledging career for both Vauxhall Motors and Chester City FC in my youth. Now, I’ve worked for Chesterfield, as well as FCHT.

6) How did you get into it?

I’ve always loved football, and all sport, so when it came to picking a degree, a Sports Journalist seemed ideal. Working within football clubs is a fantastic career and I’d recommend it to anyone. Working a matchday does not feel like real work!

7) What do you get out of it?

You get to watch football as a job! No, in all seriousness, you get to meet a whole range of people, and no two days are the same. The chance to work in a variety of roles, from radio commentary, to writing a match report, is thrilling too.

8) What advice would you give someone wanting to follow in your stud marks/footsteps?

Be committed. You don’t always have to be the most talented, but if you show desire or commitment, it will get you places. And always enjoy yourself, no matter what.

9) If you could do it all again what would you change?

I’ve not got too far down the road yet, don’t there’s not a great deal I would change so far. But making less mistakes and better decisions always come to mind.

10) Who’s your footballing hero?

David Beckham. I even had a few terrible haircuts like him too in days gone by.

Cheers Callum.

WHO ARE YA? Andy Jones, FA Get into Football Officer at Salford Community Leisure

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Andy Jones – FA Get into Football Officer at Salford Community Leisure

1) Who are ya?

Andy Jones, age 37, lives Monton, Manchester

2) Who do you support?

Manchester United

3) What was your first game?

It was a long long time ago, so I can’t remember the opposition, but I just remember it was Ron Atkinson’s team, and Ralph Milne had a shocker!!!

4) What do you do for a job?

I currently work for Salford Community Leisure, managing a range of funding projects across a number of different sports. I manage a city-wide football coaching programme called Soccerstars, which has 5 sites and provides grassroots coaching for young players aged 5-11 years.

I previously spent 12 years as a football development officer for Trafford, Manchester City council and then the Manchester FA.

I also coach at a local Junior club, Deans Youth and Ladies, coaching the development centre for 4-6 year olds, plus my sons team, the Under8’s.

5) Have you played/worked for any football clubs?

Just played my final season for Trafford FC, and I worked for Manchester United at the Carrington training centre every Friday as part of my role with Trafford MBC as MUFC funded the role.

6) How did you get into it?

I worked part time as a Leisure Assistant and a casual coach working in schools at the age of 17 whilst studying leisure management at Salford Uni. From that, I got more experience and got to find out about full time roles.

7) What do you get out of it?

I’ve always enjoyed sports, both watching and competing, so to work in the industry was the ideal job. I’ve been lucky enough to work on some major events such as 2008 Uefa Cup Final, Hyundai World Cup fan parks 2010, and Englands world cup bid 2018

8) What advice would you give someone wanting to follow in your stud marks/footsteps?

Be willing to volunteer, or work casual hours to get your foot in the door and build up a good relationship with potential employers. Its more difficult now due to funding cuts within local authorities, but there are still opportunities.

You can build up employment by coaching for a number of different employers. Do coaching badges in a range of sports, and don’t pigeon hole yourself to one sport, as being able to coach a variety of sports makes you more versatile.

9) If you could do it all again what would you change?

I’d try going abroad, probably to the USA to coach on summer camps. I have old friends who did that years ago, and now live out there and have successful careers in coaching football, in the sunshine in LA!

10) Who’s your footballing hero?

David Beckham. I’ve been lucky enough to meet him a few times, plus my current favourite player is Cristiano Ronaldo – easily the most talented and exciting player I’ve seen play live.

WHO ARE YA? Lorri Wilson, Manchester United & Sign4all Ltd

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Lorri Wilson – Communication is the key

1) Who are ya? 

Lorri Wilson, age 53 but I look 35!

2) Who do you support? 

That’s a hard question. When I was little I supported City. Now I work for the Reds, it has to be United!

3) What was your first game?

Manchester City in the 70’s.

4) What do you do for a job?

Joint company Director, Sign4Sport Ltd (about to change to Sign4all Ltd), which is a freelance company to sign BSL to deaf and hard of hearing in the sporting world of football.

Originally, I worked in a building society and had a deaf customer, I felt utterly embarrassed that I couldn’t communicate, so I went on to learn basic sign language and carried on from there. I then went on to work in the education services for visually impaired and hearing impaired in Stockport,  This is where I met a colleague who introduced me to Man Utd as she was working there for an hour a week. She then decided to emigrate and asked me to take over her position. After working there I also gained a good name for being reliable and good at what I do, so word got around and other football clubs asked me to help. The work load was getting far too much and, whilst at Utd, I met my business partner, Abdel, and we set up ‘Sign4Sport Ltd’.

5) Have you played/worked for any football clubs?

At present I work for Manchester United, but this has no connection with my own company – I try to keep them separate,

6) How did you get into it?

I realised that there was no-one who signed for the deaf in sport. All communicators, interpreters et al wanted to work in the law, hospitals, courts etc. I loved the Idea of working with and in football and I wanted to dedicate as much time to it as possible, making sure that footballers and coaches could communicate with each other via me or another. ‘Football speak’ is hard enough to understand for the hearing, so can you image what it’s like for anyone who has a hearing loss!

7) What do you get out of it?

Passion for the job and the satisfaction of helping people communicate.

8) What advice would you give someone wanting to follow in your stud marks/footsteps?

Just go for it. You have to love people, and the sport. It’s a hard concept to understand, but you need to have the mentality of wanting to stand around outside when it’s cold and wet on horrid days at a match, especially if you don’t enjoy the game.  Expect to get muddy too!

9) If you could do it all again what would you change?

Nothing, as I’ve found my passion in life. This is the best job in the world! Not the best paid by any means, but very rewarding in other ways.

10) Who’s your footballing hero?

Too many to mention… but, for skill, would have to be Cantona. Others include Lionel Messi and David Beckham for their looks and Ryan Giggs for politeness and humbleness.

WHO ARE YA? Geoff Pearson, Senior Lecturer in Sports Management and Law at the University of Liverpool

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WHO ARE YA? Geoff Pearson, Senior Lecturer in Sports Management and Law at the University of Liverpool

1) Who are ya?

Geoff Pearson, 39, from Manchester

2) Who do you support?

Manchester United

3) What was your first game?

Manchester United 0 Nottingham Forest 4, December 1977

4) What do you do for a job?

I am a Senior Lecturer in Sports Management and Law at the University of Liverpool. I teach Football & Law and Sports Operations Management and I am Director of Studies for the MBA (Football Industries) programme. My research interests include football crowd behaviour and management, policing, legal responses to crowd disorder and the impact of EU Law on the football industry. I have published two books on football fan behaviour and managing ‘hooliganism’ along with many articles and reports.

5) Have you played/worked for any football clubs?

No.

6) How did you get into it?

I completed a PhD at the University of Lancaster looking at legal responses to football ‘hooliganism’. When I submitted my thesis in 1999 a job came up to teach football and law on the MBA (Football Industries) programme at the University of Liverpool.

7) What do you get out of it?

It’s an incredibly rewarding job for someone who loves football. It’s great to see the MBA(Football Industries) students progress and go to work in the football industry. Researching a topic I love is also intellectually stimulating and rewarding when my work can have an impact on improving the management of football fans attending matches.

8) What advice would you give someone wanting to follow in your stud marks/footsteps?

There are jobs out there in academia for those wanting to focus on football or sport. If you can get taken on to study a PhD in this area, and are able to publish on the subject, it’s a rewarding and stimulating career choice.

9) If you could do it all again what would you change?

I would probably have been more ambitious earlier on in my academic career in terms of publication and research funding. But then I wouldn’t have enjoyed the last 15 years quite so much!

10) Who’s your footballing hero?

Bryan Robson – best midfielder I’ve seen and an inspirational captain and leader.

SUPER STRIKER – WITH DIVING GOALKEEPERS!

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My brother and I had this in the 1980s. The players are exactly as I remember them but the box and packaging doesn’t look like the edition we had. Oh well, the mind plays tricks and it was a long time ago.

Actually, that would be right, as ours was the Palitoy edition.

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I can remember the white plastic insert that held the players, and the plasticky velour 5-a-side pitch with side walls.

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The diving goalkeepers were ace, and if you really twatted the player’s head with the flat of your hand (which made the player’s foot strike the ball in a pivot motion) you could boot the ball hard and fast, turning it into a offensive weapon against your opponent. This probably led to tales being told and my brother being sent to bed with the game being confiscated, as it was usually him that tried to inflict pain on me (being the youngest and less well-adjusted and “sporting” in his game-play as a result!).

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Pretty sure that ours had the red team, probably Man Utd, and the black and whites, Newcastle Utd:

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Early versions of the set contained:

  • 4 ‘Red’ players
  • 4 ‘Blue’ players
  • 2 Goalkeepers
  • Ball
  • 2 Goals
  • 2 Goal bases
  • Pitch
  • Pitch surround
  • 6 Metal brackets for pitch surround
  • Rules

Peter Upton’s page, where a lot of these images come from, describes the game:

The red box All Star Super Striker  is the set I owned as a child, and it was sold under the Palitoy logo. As mentioned on the previous page, this set had an rules sheet that gave instructions for both the diving goalkeeper and the old standing one. As the sets above show, this is because the “All Star” game was released in both “Striker” and Super Striker” forms, which was something I was not aware of as a child. So perhaps the Striker version didn’t have a long shelf life. The only difference between the two sets seems to be the goalkeepers, and although the complicated mechanism of the diving version would have been more expensive to produce, I can’t really see the reasons behind having two sets at this point.

 Either way, these Palitoy boxed games are a new deluxe version of the earlier sets, and various enhancements have been made to the standard playing pieces.

The pitch is the moulded version with fence surround from the Wembley Fast-Pitch edition, but this has now been covered with a felt-like playing surface. The box calls this a “Super Texture” pitch. This texture slows down the Wembley pitch, and is a big improvement. This is also a great pitch for five-a-side Subbuteo, although mine has been over-used and the surround is now badly cracked.

The big advance in this set is with the outfield players. At first glance they may look the same, but they are now bigger, have more detail and cute individual touches. They can be right or left-footed Their arms come in different poses, and can be glued at different angles. The shorts and shirts and legs are all separate pieces, and the kicking leg is now fully rounded (whereas the inside of the leg on the earlier figures is flat). The final artistic flourish is the head of the player, as this has a choice of facial expressions, and a variety of hairstyles (all rather 1970s) which come in brown or black. The eyes and eyebrows are hand-painted.

In addition to this, these outfield players are now produced in accurate club strips, including badges and trim. The two kits in the box set are Manchester United, and Newcastle United.

The game is fetching a lot of money online now, if you’re lucky enough to find an original 1970s/1980s example. Like most of my childhood things, our game is long-consigned to the bin or charity shop, along with Escape From Colditz, which is also worth a tidy sum.

NEAR POST – CHRISTMAS PARTY HIGH-JINKS

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Where’s Barry?

Due to the ubiquity of camera phones and social media, plus the Press lying in wait to pap snap any footballer who even suggests being the worse for wear by shutting his eyes, football club Christmas parties are now quiet, sober affairs, if the parties take place at all.

They weren’t always like that though, with the “win or lose we’ll have some booze” culture of the 60s, 70s and 80s, and even the post-EPL 90s and 2000s, “throwing up” many examples of having too much Christmas spirit.

Whereas journalist’s knew which side their Christmas Pudding was brandy buttered on in the 60s and 70s and collaborated with football clubs to keep the worst player excesses out of the papers, come the 80s every tabloid journalist was looking for the next high-profile footballer faux pas and was willing and able to splash it across the front page quicker than a pissed-up player could splash sick on a bouncer’s shoes.

Here are some of the worst cases of Football Club Christmas party “high jinks”.

Foxe gets his tail out and makes a splash

It’s fair to say that flame-haired defender Hayden Foxe didn’t really make a huge impression on the pitch during his time in English football, but the Australian certainly entertained at the 2001 West Ham Christmas Party!

After running up a reported £2000 drinks bill in the VIP area of the Sugar Loaf club in London, Foxe thought he would liven up proceedings further by climbing on the bar and unleashing a killer dance routine, one that culminated in him pissing on the bar. Unsurprisingly, he and the rest of the Hammers party were asked to leave soon afterwards.

Scroogey Redknapp

Harry Redknapp quite cheerfully accepted accusations of being a Scrooge at Christmas when he was manager at Spurs. For Harry, Christmas and Christmas parties just didn’t exist, as he thinks alcohol is harmful for injured players, and he claimed that most of the Spurs players wouldn’t even be interested if a Christmas party was suggested anyway.

Redknapp is still scarred by the Tottenham secret Christmas bash in 2009, when he thought that the players were having a golf day. Instead, they splashed out £2,000 a man in a Dublin bar and nightclub!

Tottenham’s Giovani Dos Santos was also pap snapped being dragged into a taxi by bouncers after throwing up outside the Taman Gang Club in Marble Arch on the club’s 2008 Christmas do.

Last December, with Harry at QPR, he cancelled the Rangers’ planned Christmas party because they just didn’t deserve to have one due to performing so poorly. “I’m not a fan of Christmas parties and we’ve got nothing to celebrate,” he said.

Current QPR player Joey Barton also has previous involving Christmas parties, fancy dress and lit cigars, so his moratorium on parties is probably for the best.

Redknapp isn’t alone in this. Sir Alex Ferguson always reserved the right to ban Manchester United’s festivities at the eleventh hour, because of the events of the infamous 2007 Manchester United Christmas Party. A 15-hour drinking marathon culminated in orgies at a Manchester hotel and allegations of rape were made, although no charges were ever brought.

However, Andre Villas-Boas is the anti-Scrooge, as he said that Tottenham’s players should have had two or even three nights out!

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Copping a feel at the Christmas Party

In December 2012, West Ham’s Andy Carroll was accused of assaulting a photographer on the club’s festive jaunt to Dublin.

The not very Christmassy Carroll had been accused of gouging and attempting to bite Paddy Cummins, as he photographed the player leaving a Dublin nightclub.

Carroll’s team-mates all vouched for him when he was questioned by club officials about the incident, however. The players insisted that the striker was provoked, and that he wasn’t aggressive towards the photographer.

Celtic try to keep it low-key

Celtic thought that they could keep things low-key and avoid bad press by having their Christmas party in another city at the Sizzlers steakhouse in Glasgow, but the evening climaxed with Neil Lennon passing out on the pavement and smashing his head on the kerb on the way down.

In 2002, they could get away with more if they left Glasgow so went to Newcastle instead, in what a spokeswoman confirmed was “an effort to avoid attention”. However, the party of well-oiled Bhoys washed-up at the glamorous-sounding Buffalo Joe’s American themed bar in Gateshead, only to be met by a gaggle of waiting photographers. One ‘incident’ later, and four of them – Neil Lennon, Bobby Petta, Johan Mjallby and Joos Valgaeren – were spending the rest of the night in police cells.

Babes in the hood

David O’Leary’s team of ‘babes’ were less than angelic on and off the pitch.

December 2001 saw a Wild West-themed fancy dress pub crawl for the Christmas Party, involving 10 solid hours of banter and boozing. What could go possibly wrong? Everything, which is why the club appointed five security guards to follow the 30 or so players around the city of Leeds in an attempt to babysit the young starlets and prevent trouble.

Despite being chaperoned, Robbie Fowler still managed to wind up in the Millgarth police cells after an altercation with photographer Ben Lack ended up in Lack’s camera being hurled to the unforgiving concrete of a garage forecourt.

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I’m the Stig

Former cult player for my team Bolton Wanderers, midfielder Stig Tofting, had his AGF Arhus career quickly curtailed after he punched out four team-mates at the team’s Christmas party. Why? Because they’d torn Tofting’s shirt.

Stig looked more like a Rugby League player than a footballer, so I assume that some “Dutch courage” had been partaken of when they decided to mess with his attire.

Roy Carroll at Christmas

Another Christmas Carroll – Roy this time – as he and Ryan Giggs had to be forcibly separated after the pair was seen going “nose to nose and swearing at each other”. A bystander was quoted as saying:

“It was all pretty nasty but they didn’t actually come to blows. I think drink had played its part.”

One not-so Wise man and an ignoble Savage

Invite Dennis Wise and Robbie Savage to a party and you’re asking for trouble.

The atmosphere at Leicester’s 2001 Christmas bash took a scatological and violent turn for the worse when Wise gave Savage a teddy bear impaled on a dildo and reportedly told him:

“Take this, because you’re the only prick in a Leicester shirt at the moment.”

Savage retaliated by smearing chocolate on Wise’s face and mocking his relationship with old Wimbledon pal Dave Bassett.

Violence ensued.