The Voice in your Community
February 3rd 2021, Issue 103
Winter has been tough for everyone but for sports fans there has been a lot to enjoy. We have constant Premier League games ,England’s cricket success in Sri Lanka and a much tougher encounter in India. Rugby, Golf, Darts, Horse Racing, NFL, and Tennis have all played the part.
VAR has carried on driving everyone to despair. Millimetres are causing long delays, along with some poor refereeing decisions when they have the evidence in front of their eyes on the screen. For me the more the game is delayed, the more frustrating it is. All the TV punters agree it’s spoiling football. Now the powers that be need to accept there’s some serious decisions to make. handball is another major problem, the old ball to hand and hand to ball is still the best. Offside again is being played on far too long after an obvious offside.
Now none of these modern rules have improved football, but to get FIFA etc to accept they got it wrong is hard to imagine, just like referees who don’t like to admit to a mistake. I saw it many times in football. Now I visited the FA a few times as a manager, mostly in the wrong, but I can remember one occasion when a linesman lied in front of me to the committee, I apologised to them and left the room, it cost me £50 and I never attended a hearing again. As a player I only got sent off twice in 23 seasons and could handle the decisions far better as a player. I always say management brought out the worst in me, many actions are best forgotten, the desire to dominate the Potteries was a massive motivation for all involved.
Man City are red hot favourites at the moment, they play super football, can they win the Champions League - the ultimate goal for the club. They will never be in better shape but failure now would be a major blow for Guardiola. Liverpool’s injury list has impacted on the whole shape of the team, Henderson moving to centre back has only created a massive hole in midfield. He has coped well but players have got down the side of him at times, the instinct of a true defender is missing. Alexander Arnold has missed Van Dyke to cover for him, and lots of teams have exploited the right back area and it’s cost Liverpool many goals. Klopp has been naive in his planning defensively and has been slow to sort the problem out. He has to have cover to help him, the main asset of a defender is to see danger early, he lacks this at the moment. So all the shuffling about hs impacted on Liverpool’s progress, certain players might be slightly past their best.
Man Utd have been disappointing - so much attacking talent but little fire power at times. Martiell has lacked desire and mental strength to impact games and Rashford still not fulfilling his potential. Solskjaer’s laid back approach is good at times, but that looks ineffective when the players lack hunger and need someone to confront them with important constructive criticism which is this still missing in Utd’s set up.
Maguire is not as dominant as he used to be, they give away goals in most games. It’s a strange season with no fans, home support for some teams is vital and the Blades being a good example, whilst West Ham could be flourishing without there critical fan base. Spurs are inconsistent under Mourinho, the big question is about Kane - does he need to move to fulfil his dreams and his ability, a move to Man City would be what he deserves - the time is right for him, let’s see what the future holds. Gareth Bale needs more opportunities to show his magic, his shift is less these days, but talent and quality will shine through.
Great to see Leeds Utd back where they belong, entertainment has been the priority for Bielsa, with his CV - I have been surprised with his approach to defending, especially against the top sides.
Stoke have found it difficult to push on with Campbell’s injury and a lack of quality in certain positions. O’Neill’s been defensive in many games and entertainment has been in short supply. Recent form has improved at home but can they maintain this momentum.
Golf, another passion of mine, is now getting more difficult to play, my severe back injury in 1983 has plagued me ever since, with different degrees of pain being a massive challenge, mid nineties until 2010 was my best spell, I really enjoyed playing for Uttoxeter First Team in the league - great times with my Son Daniel also playing, I never had any operations on the advice of a Neuro Surgeon, I see all the problems Tiger Woods has had with his fifth op recently - he is now awaiting an MRI to see how it’s healed. His chances of playing in the Masters are hanging on the result. I wrote a while ago about Tiger having a real battle to play Professional golf regular again, I still think it’s unlikely to happen but I hope so, he changed golf for whole World and we are all grateful for that.
Now for trip now down Memory Lane, my days in Tean fondly remembering characters like Pat McGarry. Pat was a very enthusiastic member of Tean Cricket Club putting in hours of hardwork, helping to run the club, also working in the community in many ways, a popular councillor for many years. Happy birthday Pat on your recent 90th.
Nelly Horrobin, another shopkeeper who I worked for delivering paper,s a great character. Ken And Nellie Sims. very close friends of my Mum And Dad, they ran a shoe shop and Ken was a talented musician locally. They were both great to me when we used to all go out together. Some more shopkeepers like the Dawson’s with daughter Diane and Norma, their Dad Fred took me and others to Newcastle swimming baths for lessons, always calling for chips on the way home. Great people who helped you. My mate and top keeper Barry Alcock’s Mum And Dad running the Butchers Shop, Bostocks bike shop, Baileys at the chip shop, Alcocks at the paper shop, Lymers at the bus company, Aubrey was a great bloke, we all have fantastic memories trips and school runs and many Stoke games home and away. I hope you Tean folk enjoyed our times there as much as me and all those great Village people who were so kind.
I would like to finish on a tribute to a close friend of my family, Gilbert Egerton of Rocester, who sadly passed away recently. Gilbert was a very well known character in local football for many years, as secretary of Rocester FC he was just the best guy you could ever wish to meet, hard working, conscientious, diplomatic and a family man in every way. In the good and the bad times Gilbert was steady as a rock, whether it was getting Graham and myself out of lumber at the FA, swapping fixtures around nothing was too much trouble for him.
He loved the good times, when we beat Halesowen in the FA Vase at Leek , it was only down to Gilbert that we were allowed to play at Leek. He was Mr Rocester FC and everyone had a tremendous amount of respect for him. We would spend hours on the phone chatting about the games, he was so happy around the Football club and it was a major part of his life, and we all thought the world of him. So God Bless you Gilbert - may you rest in peace, you made the world a better place...
December 7th 2020, Issue 102
The FA lost Clarke in circumstances which you wonder how it could happen, with his experience in the correct way to speak in meetings about racism, especially at that level.
This subject has evolved over the years, and a lot of us have experienced it in dressing rooms over the years. At my time at Rocester I would have no problem discussing it with many players who played for me, talking to lads with a Black Dad and a White Mum and asking them what their thoughts are about the correct way.
I was lucky never to see any racist situation in any Dressing Room in over 50 years, obviously playing with and for Alan Smith over many years, and learning so much from our skipper Barry Hulton and growing up with them in Tean. The respect I had for them as friends and sportsmen gave me a massive advantage in any situation on and of the pitch.
I know they both lived with Racist situations in their lives which were very difficult for them both, but they always rose above it and showed tremendous courage. Two of my favourite sportsmen ever was the great Mohammad Ali and Tiger Woods talent - all that matters is we all live together.
Show respect, give jobs to the best people in sport and in all areas of business.
The FA need to lead by clearing out the old school - it’s the same in County FA, it’s a closed shop full of ancient ideas - a massive change needs to be demanded by all supporters of football. All the previous Chairmen at the FA have said the same - they just want yes men, and retain the power themselves.
Sport is powerful, it shows the ability and mental strength of all individuals, opportunity is required equally for everyone. Let’s take Lewis Hamilton, the best British sportsman over the few years by a mile, the knighthood needs to be given to him now, his talent and dedication is second to none.
The press also need to be fair, they owe Lewis bigtime - give him the credit he has earned. Rashford is showing he cares about youngsters today, to see a player using his own background experiences coming forward and being proactive in his help to improve youngsters’ lives.
Southgate’s team selection for the Belgium game was baffling - four fullbacks - Dier and Rice I don’t believe are International players, and Mount out of position all looked a jumble up, a more attacking style would have been appropriate, we had possession but mainly slow giving Belgium time to sit behind the ball, with not having a strong midfield I like to see us counter attack.
Grealish showed his class, very calm on the ball, great composure, a proper footballer in many ways. But why as he had to wait all this time, because Southgate was focused on what his defensive side is instead of saying go out and make me pick you, show me all your attacking talent.
My England Team would be, Pope Chilwell Coady Maguire Grealish Henderson Foden Alexander-Arnold Rashford Kane Sterling, seven attacking players in this Team. For me Southgate has swopped players about too much and he’s negative at times - he’s had lots of time to mould a Team together, we are weaker in midfield and defence so let’s attack with pace. Nations League performances have been poor, we have attacking players they are our strength so use them.
Dustin Johnson winning the Masters in Style was superb to watch, his control and shot selection were top draw, Sky’s coverage and the drones filming made excellent viewing. After the Summer Lockdown I started to do some fishing with my long time buddy Peter Bentley showing me the ropes down at Blakehall. Things have changed a little since I bought my first Rod from Fred Carr’s sports shop in Tape Street with my money from my 11th birthday. At first just for fun and relaxation a few Carp later and I am hooked, first of all my grandson Ethan joined me, then Jamie and Dan, now little matches are going on, the competitive streak comes out, so fishing several times a week and slowly improving - great to in the fresh air!
I wish everyone a Happy Xmas and stay safe.
October 28th 2020, Issue 101
Stoke City will be hoping for a strong start to this season. O’Neil has steadied the ship which I expected him to, he’s a very experienced manager and his knowledge of players will be vast, having watched many games doing his international job.
Home form is vital and with no fans it’s altered the atmosphere of all games. The performance against Bristol City was poor so let’s hope it’s a one-off. Beating Preston away will boost confidence but Stoke lacked a cutting edge against Birmingham. Also the Cup run has raised spirits in the Camp.
Arsenal could be a threat this year, Arteta has organised the team and made them more competitive. Willian is a great signing as he is a very good player, a superb work ethic, technically a class act and I expect him to be a key player to Arsenal’s progress.
Aubameyang signing a contract is a massive boost for Arsenal, an incredible player who is very talented, quick great feet, scores all types of goals.
Jurgen Klopp’s signing of Jota from Wolves is a chance for him to become a top player for Liverpool, he’s scored some good goals at Wolves and he can now force his way into Liverpool’s team on a regular basis - a difficult challenge for any player, I think he’s got the ability to do it. Thiago is top class and will improve Liverpool - the pressure is on Liverpool as teams look to stop Salah, Mane etc, playing a little deeper to give them less space to run into, similar to what Arsenal did recently. I really like how future young players at Liverpool like Jones etc, are all coached to play the same as the first Team so transition is a little easier - Klopp will have some work to do after the Villa thrashing.
Can Man City get closer to Liverpool? they must improve this season or the powers at City will need to change the management, with the investment involved success is required urgently.
Defenders are the problem for Guardiola and they still look vulnerable to the counter attack. Vardy and co made them look very ordinary. I stand by my previous article Guardiola has had time to sort out the defence and not winning the Champions League - these two points will cost him his job. Top professional defenders diving in on Vardy isn’t acceptable at Premier League level .
A few players who have made a good start this season include Saint Maximin at Newcastle - maybe the quickest player in the league. Rodreguez at Everton is a top World player with a few goals in him, Barnes at Leicester is a great prospect, Lamptey at Brighton is a quality attacking fullback. A Player I’ve always liked is Antonio at West Ham and also Bowen is having a good season and he has a great attitude. young Saka at Arsenal looks a top lad.
Man Utd have serious problems all over the pitch, but for me The Gaffa sitting in the stand showing no
urgency to go down to the pitch whilst players are letting him down doesn’t set the example required by a club of Man Utd’s stature. Look closely at players who are not giving enough, Pogba, Rashford, Shaw, Maguire and several others miles away from their best. Respect and desire are sadly missing in this squad and personalities with mental attitude are hard to find. Spurs walked all over them and the board must be embarrassed.
Winter is going to very tough for many football clubs, with no prospect of crowds coming back, many clubs will be on the edge of bankruptcy, whilst not being the most important problem with Covid causing terrible worldwide issues, football is a very important social activity for fans’ well-being - it is an outlet for expression and enjoyment for fans of all ages. To lose a local club has a severe effect on fans and their mental health, they need a redistribution of funds needs to feed down the pyramid urgently to save clubs, ultimately players start at grass root level and that’s where the funding is required to start the process for the future. The Government also needs to help through this unprecedented times.
Gareth Bale needs to keep fit to bring back the memories for Spurs - he’s a great player and I really hope he can produce some magic for them, Jose has parked the Bus for a long time so has he finally found the attacking modern way, the bus is rusty and broken down thank goodness.
As for survival, Fulham and West Brom will be favourites to go, Villa and the Blades could find it a lot tougher with no fans to help to sing about greasy chip butties, they create a superb atmosphere and will be sadly missed. I have been in the crowd behind the goal and they great loyal fans. Sheffield people love their football so fingers crossed they can survive. Burnley have a weak squad with Boardroom problems also not helping.
Cheadle Town have found it difficult to find good County League players in the Town, it’s been tough losing players, but that’s natural progress, the desire to play good Saturday football isn’t there locally, back in the day the aim was to play at Rocester for Alan Smith who could motivate people with ease, then playing with Barry Hulton, Keith Hibberd, Peter Swanwick and many others was something to be proud off, the desire was easy to find with Alan at the helm. I don’t see that in many players anymore, Mark Alcock worked hard to establish Cheadle Town in the Premier Division and the lads have a tough job to keep up with the standard required.
Handball has become embarrassing for the Premier League, so many poor decisions have undermined the rules of the game. The ball touching a player’s hand isn’t always a handball, a player can’t be penalised when he as no time to move his hand, or when he can’t see the ball coming from behind him. It’s obvious we all know it’s affecting results and needs to be stopped.
Locally Uttoxeter and Rocester have made a good start to the season and they will be hoping for promotion this year, the standard of premier division is better and the challenge is there to aim for promotion at both clubs and they would expect to be promoted. I hear Dan Harper is playing well which I am very pleased about, a talented lad with great vision, Dan can score goals at that level with both feet, he needs to get forward into the box as much as possible.
Sad to hear Cheadle’s George Byatt has passed away. Ivan Plant, Ronnie Whieldon and myself played at Oakamoor with him, a good forward who could hold the ball up and a great touch. George was a lovely bloke, liked by many people, and just like his Dad Stan, he loved football, and he was very generous and helped Cheadle Utd a lot in their early years.
Alan Hudson was his friend and Tony Waddington also, we used go up to Potters club with George and talk to Waddo, superb entertainment with great stories about the players he had managed. Alan Hudson was the jewel in the crown, the best player I ever saw at Stoke by a mile. other characters he chatted about were Eddie Clamp, Maurice Setters, Jimmy Greenhoff, Tony Allen, John Ritchie, My Dad’s favourite Peter Dobing, Roy Vernon, Calvin Palmer, the great Gordon Banks and so many more in his magical years at Stoke. His Son Steve Waddington played for me at Rocester and I used tell him how proud he must be knowing his dad gave so much to the fans at Stoke, quality players came to Stoke because of Tony and we all had those memories of Stoke taking the best on in England.
September 10th 2020, Issue 100
Europe became a disappointing place for our English clubs. Man City were the most frustrating of all the clubs, Now this might sound controversial but Guardiola was hired for one mission - to win the Champions League...
Other managers have won the League in the past but Sheikh Mansour wanted the Champions League and Guardiola hasn’t delivered - his decision to leave out both Silva’s, Marhez and Foden was the sign Guardiola went defensive at the the very moment he had to hold his nerve.
They give goals away because the quality isn’t there in defence, but they have players to create chances and score more than the opposition, but he bottled it at the crucial moment and for that reason Man City may need to look for another Manager, I am surprised he hasn’t already gone as the super rich Arabs usually act very quickly.
Guardiola has the fire power to win the trophies but the defence is their Achiles heel. Chelsea looked out of their depth at times, and Liverpool, Arsenal, Wolves and Man Utd all struggled to impress, so the question have we the strongest league in Europe - the results don’t back that up.
Barcelona have suffered a very embarrassing defeat, with players as good as Messi chucking the towel in, they face a rebuild, needing a new squad with so many old players to move out. The fans have been fed on the best players in the World being on show, that’s a difficult act to follow and Koeman’s challenge is massive.
Jimmy Anderson, one of England’s greatest fast bowlers, is still performing as he gets towards his late Thirties - his control and ability to move the ball both ways is superb to watch, and his physical condition has always been top notch.
Crawley batted with confidence and looked to have time to play all types of shots, let’s hope he can fill No 3 slot for years to come, Test cricket is always my favourite to watch.
Local football faces a tough challenge under the Covid rules, sport is very important for people’s enjoyment, football especially with Media’s coverage been at a very high standard, games on TV will help to get us through the Winter. Sport without fans is not the same but watching it live is vital for all sports .
Golf at the very top has so many top quality players as anyone who follows the Tours can see such talented individuals battling it out every week, Johnson, Mclroy, Rahm and so many others are giving great entertainment to so many fans like myself.
Nigel tells me this issue is the 100th edition of the Voice over thirteen years, that’s a great achievement. People enjoy the local information and banter it creates.
Construction is hoping Planning in the UK can finally move forward and help to turn the country around, commercial property is left empty and could now be converted into domestic property, planning is so slow and long winded when investment is available we have to grab the opportunity. Boris has promised to build our way out of recession, construction is the most important UK strategic move to give British business the impetus it requires to create jobs in industry involved in Construction.
I have enjoyed Building over 55 years and the reward of looking at the end product has always motivated me to carry on.
Lots of people never see the end product of their efforts - but for me, I can ride around and view them.
July 30th 2020, Issue 99
Neil Warnock arriving at Middlesborough to play Stoke who always looked vulnerable to a highly motivated Warnock team. Stoke are in for a mighty battle as players take you to where you belong in a season. Wigan’s situation might save the day....
It’s been great to see live matches even though VAR has not improved, the delay is spoiling live football.
A new football team has been formed in Alton by Simon Heston following in footsteps of Alton Athletic. l played for Alton when I was 16 in the Sentinel Shield when Billy Brunt was running them, so it’s great to see them reformed. They will play in the Uttoxeter Sunday League when it starts.
Man Utd are looking good up top, the moody Martial has all the ingredients to be top class, the rest is down to his desire and passion to be the best, he should look through the top strikers in the past, what did they do to be the best. Let’s take a few like Aguero, Henry, Owen, Shearer, Lineker, Rush, Greaves, Law, Rooney and many more - they all made runs constantly into the penalty area, goals were an obsession to them all, greedy and selfish at times, but never taking their eye off the scoring area on the pitch.
Martial can achieve this but only if his desire is to be the best at Man Utd, their top man always chasing and running into the area, even when it’s not your day in your mind, keep making the runs. Rashford needs to feed off this and constantly try be the top man himself, this would enhance his game, and with Fernandes and Pogba setting you u,p they could rival Salah and Mane who are the modern day runners - always getting behind players, always making runs from the midfield, lads to feed off.
Then we take a look at the very best in De Bruyne who has vision and passing, also scoring - he would improve any team in the world, Real Madrid and Barca must come calling one day, he would be a superstar anywhere.
With Cricket starting again, sport is slowly moving forward if the virus can be contained, only time will tell.
Golf in America has been on Sky now for a few weeks. De Chambeaux has taken the driver to another level, his fitness regime has seen him bulk up by 2 stone, and sent him 40yds further down the fairway, now just chipping short shots in from less than 80yds.
For the future of golf as a skill then it’s debatable if it carries on this way. Golf courses are now too small but most cannot expand any more, so this brings the debate about the ball, and do we need to alter the ball to take some distance out of it. I am sure this is going to happen eventually - it’s the easiest way to solve the issue.
June 8th 2020
Welcome back to everyone.
My thoughts are with all families affected by the dreadful Virus, also to everyone doing essential work a massive Thank you, and finally the NHS - the Nation will be forever grateful for your bravery and dedication. God Bless you all.
If you Love Sport it’s been very strange without it, we know a lot people will be happy not to see it, but I mainly watch Sport and have missed the atmosphere when a game is on TV. Gary Neville and Co do their best but you can only go over the past so much.
Footballers are entertainers gifted by the Lord, and he maybe looking down and wondering if they let him down a little, some are guilty of sitting back on huge wages and wanting all the protection there is to offer. How much community spirit they have is sometimes debatable, their wealth is beyond normal peoples' dreams. Playing behind closed doors should be achievable, it would lift sports fans to watch live games, it’s not ideal without fans.
Let's hope the squealing side of football is stopped - it’s an embarrassment to every player who can watch the game back, when people are putting their lives in danger every day to help people. The Manager has a big part to play - instruct the team it won’t be acceptable anymore, players will follow the Gaffers instructions, show some proper leadership, play the game hard and fair, the media can help confront the Managers and players to behave like Professionals should, surely to gain respect they have to show some common sense.
Horse Racing is a terrific sport, look at the Jockeys - they are extremely dedicated, tough professionals who perform day in day out, they take the injuries with the job -no time for play acting - I have the utmost respect for them. Footballers take look at them and realise rolling about play acting is not what the fans want.
China, where all it all began, is now hoping to be the first to find a vaccine - well that’s handy....
We are guilty of using China as a massive factory for the World, led by profit which is understandable to a point, but now they have the power and resources to pollute the World without the scrutiny that is required. China has never been leading when it comes to disclosing information and they aren’t going to start now, we should as a nation turn to our own people to improve our supply chain of all kinds of products.
To see the World brought to a standstill will be forever in people’s minds, the challenge to stay at home in isolation , companies have been claiming millions by furloughing workers, the day of pay back will come and Taxation is the only answer, Boris will be in a corner for a long time.
Playing some Golf at Leek has been nice, they have done a great job organising the start of playing again, I love golf but my dodgy back doesn’t, so to play the game at 60 percent is difficult for me with a competitive nature, but I am trying to play the game for enjoyment only, and be happy to have a knock.
Our new granddaughter Aria is so beautiful, she is the apple of granddads eye without a doubt, I love her so much. Hopefully soon contact will be possible. To hold her again will be very emotional and for lots of people a moment they are desperate to see happen...
April 6th 2020
The NHS have gone to war on Coronavirus.
If we consider what faces the whole workforce and the dangers they confront 24 hours a day, it’s nothing short of true bravery, often without the correct PPE they have shown enormous courage and dedication, no medal could ever repay them, but we must as a nation reward this human effort. I am sure you all have so many ideas on this, it would be great if you sent some into The Voice.
Sadly we lost a dear friend, Alan Smith, recently, after his courageous battle with Cancer.
I have known Alan all my life. He was a proud Tean Man, a superb Sportsman, an excellent motivator of people. Alan never sat on the fence about anything, he had his opinions and his beliefs and he stuck by them no matter what.
He was a go-to man because he would always help and take on the establishment no matter who they were. He loved Stoke City and we would go home and away on Lymers Fish Tail Coach, always with a card school on the rear seats.
Alan started Tean YC in Staffs Moorlands League, and we all travelled around holding our own with Biddulph Moor, Cellarhead, Bolton’s and many more. Alan was behind it all and we had a great time.
He was also a talented cricketer - he could destroy a bowler on his day, and a great fielder, he was lethal in the covers and I was behind the sticks, taking the bails off was the easy bit, he was the ultimate competitive sportsman, great to play with and against.
Playing for him at Rocester was one of the best experiences of my sporting career. Playing with Barry Hulton, Keith and Leon Hibberd, Peter Swanwick and many more under Alan was a privilege.
His Charity work was so important to him, and again Alan’s people skills would shine through with so many people willing to support him.
He had a lovely family around him and Donna’s support was his Rock through his Illness. The love and care they gave him was very special……
Alan’s funeral was completely changed by the Coronavirus situation, but hopefully in the future we can all celebrate his life altogether how he would have wanted. Alan was also proud of the NHS and the care they gave him, he would be supporting them wholeheartedly if he could.
Alan was a fighter from day one - his life was full of challenges - and he met them all with true courage.
God Bless You Alan R.I.P.
Let’s all keep safe, follow the rules and help each other get through this Pandemic. We are a nation of good people who will come through this. Premier League footballers need to quickly offer a reduction in wages, when other workers at the clubs are suffering wage cuts. To delay would be very damaging to the creditability of wealthy footballers who are already under close scrutiny…..