Once more TOMM is at the cutting, some say leading, edge of the heart of the watershed of the coalface. Our competition to win a copy of the new book from All The Action No Plot blogger Michael Lacquiere http://www.allactionnoplot.com/ is now closed. The questions were all about would-have-been cult heroes, if only they had joined us, or to put it another way, transfer gossip that is between thirty and forty years old. You don’t need all those other rumour-mongering sites, just stick with me for accurate information, cross-checked from at least two different impeccable sources, if not quite up to date….god, you’re demanding, you can’t have everything, you know.
Question 1. A bona fide stone cold hero for country and club, in the mid 60s he could not wait to join Spurs and get away from the London team with which he will forever be associated. But his board said ‘no’ and punished him by keeping his wages down. Bobby Moore.
Synonymous these days with West Ham, Moore was keen to join Spurs in the mid 60s. The Hammers’ board had other ideas and refused his transfer request. The World Cup was looming and their trump card was that if there was any problem with his registration as a player, he might not be eligible for the England team. In those days, only a few years after the abolition of the minimum wage, the clubs held much greater power over players than is the case today, post-Bosman. Now, a player can let his contract expire and move on but back then, clubs still held the registration until a transfer has been negotiated. Whatever happened with the contract, Moore remained at Upton Park and for some time was not treated particularly well there, by the board at least, although fans the world over recognised him for what he was, one of the finest defenders the game has ever seen.
Question 2. This saintly hero was rumoured to be on his way for a couple of years and even the bloke behind me confirmed the deal. His style was perfect for Spurs but then his fiancée said she didn’t want to come to London, so he stayed a one club man on the south coast. All I can is, I hope she was worth it. Matt Le Tissier.
Not much more to add really, except he would have been welcomed as Le God in north London and that everyone on the terraces just knew his signing was only a matter of time. What is it about London? Would three years in, say, Hampstead, Highgate, Cuffley or Barnet have equalled the sin and shame of Dante’s Third Circle of Hell? Sounds more like Southampton to me. Each to her own, and Matt’s a good egg to be that devoted to his relationship. Whatever happened to her?
Question 3. This man achieved iconic status in the 70s but for one of our bitter rivals. Medicals completed, he was on the point of joining us when one of the cult heroes featured in the book pinched him at the last moment. See how it all fits together? Charlie George.
This is the one that I would not have believed, never mind answered correctly, because George was the quintessential Arsenal cult hero. Long hair, socks rolled down, hugely skilful but hardly a 90 minute man, cup final goalscorer, he was and is adored by the Highbury faithful. And the people in the corporate circle, the ones who missed the first Barca goal last night because they were still stuffing their faces, have probably read about him. Talking about the circles of hell….
Anyway, I was around at the time, of course, and don’t remember it at all. I came across it recently in a Rothman’s Year Book for ’76 but even then I had to check it, and turned up an interview with Dave Mackay, who said that the deal had got as far as a medical when he stepped in at the last minute. George never really wanted to join us, but Terry Neill persuaded him – almost. He jumped at the chance to go to Derby.
Thanks to everyone who entered – much appreciated. And now the moment you have been waiting for!! Cue drum roll, the winner is (long pause a la X-Factor to rack up the tension artificially) – Marion Hart. Congratulations!