Junk Archive

Liberate Your Loft and Leave A Legacy

Jim Heath 1958-2012

Gelsenkirchen 2006

If you’re a regular reader of Junk Archive, you can’t fail to have noticed that there have been no contributions from the blog’s creator Jim Heath recently and very sadly I have to write now that Jim lost his battle with cancer early on Saturday morning.

This is so difficult to write as I have lost all enthusiasm for the site with the loss of my friend and how do you write a tribute to a mate anyway?

I met Jim over twenty years ago through London Wolves when he first regaled me with stories of ‘infiltrating’ opponents’ grounds and ‘ambushes’ in back alleys in the 1970s, when he would be decked out in a decorated butchers coat.  Jim was never a hooligan but loved telling the tales and I always found them entertaining.

Jim’s Laugh

This was a feature of Jim’s character – he was always entertaining. A conversation with Jim could take any tangent as he could talk about bands, TV, films or politics with equal relish and enthusiasm and he had some great stories about his own adventures along the way. I noticed that Jim used to ask lots of questions and would actually listen to your answers before asking more – the art of a true conversationalist, and Jim could spark up a conversation with anyone.

Portuguese Police Hear Jim’s Reputation

The Future Boss of Wolves

This was an approach that could reap dividends when searching for tickets, Jim was the master of finding the spares for sale, and also in meeting new friends. I was lucky enough to be with Jim in Portugal for the 2004 Euros and as we sweltered in the Coimbra sun waiting for England v Switzerland, I couldn’t believe his nerve as he approached two scantily clad fans to ask if they were the Maxim girls. Their total indifference didn’t matter as Jim turned to us with a huge grin and his famous laugh, another story lodged for his legendary status. That trip saw a huge collection of photos with all manner of fans from all over Europe but also including police, Wolves celebrities and Pierluigi Collina the Italian ref, who Jim collared at another game.

Who’s That With Jim?

Two years later in Germany for the World Cup, it was Jim who discovered the wonderful Dusseldorf as our base, and when we four travellers met him there he had already made an impact in the two hours he was ahead. ‘Jimmy Jimmy’ greeted us as he took us to our hotel and for most mornings as well, as the staff came to know this friendly England fan with the strange guffaw. In Altenburg we were the only diners in a restaurant as we watched one game on a big screen. The very mature landlady was delighted by our visit and stood by to shake hands as we filed out. The first three of us did so, but Jim lent over for a quick peck on the cheek – ‘Know your market lads’ he joked, with again the grin and laugh to follow!

Jim and a Trinidad Fan in Nuremburg

A Likely Crew in Dusseldorf

At home, TV games and tournaments had meant that Jim & Christine’s flat in Maida Vale had been the site of many a get-together before their move back to Telford. As part of his role as host, Jim inevitably brought out his scrapbooks or other mementos, which I had pored over, sucking in obscure Wolves reports and pictures from 25 years earlier, or photos of bands before they were famous taken at Jim’s parents’ venue. Although the move, brought an end to these events our mutual interest in memories and memorabilia would surface regularly – and in our telephone conversations, sometimes catching up over hours, between discussing all sorts of rubbish, we would often talk about setting up somewhere to get down our ramblings and recollections about badges to programmes and everything in between. These chats eventually got more serious moving from the idea of books to online and we came up with a few plans for a blog, thus Junk Archive was born – one of several names Jim had come up with.

I had always enjoyed Jim’s writings – I knew of his ‘Guttersnipe’ fanzine background and his ‘A Load of Bull’ articles always had an easily identifiable style, which were always my first choice ALOB read. I had not been as regular in my contributions and I never saw myself in the same league as Jim so I was extremely flattered that he would let me share the Junk Archive platform. We would talk about what direction we were taking, the inspiration we could use and who would write the articles for items in the news.

Jim was always incredibly supportive, generously praising my postings and encouraging me to keep writing, so I was immensely proud when he asked me to help him finish his book by putting together a couple of chapters. As always Jim was fulsome in his praise and generous in his dedication in the book itself.

I am so glad that Jim was able to get his book published. The whole circus surrounding the release, with TV appearances, an article in the programme and best of all the signing with 70s Wolves stars at the ground was a joy to see as Jim became a minor celebrity in Wolves colours. In fact when I last met Jim, at the final home game of last season, he was encouraged to sign a copy for a fan I spotted in the queue, squirming at the attention as a group of us friends watched like groupies.

Pleasing his Fans

It’s memories like these that I’ll keep with me – Jim’s enthusiasm in chasing the team bus at Arsenal with his banner, much to his son, Jack’s embarrassment – doubled in the ground as he insisted on pulling the flag out again as the players emerged.  Jumping out from the bushes at Stanley Park, shouting ‘Who Are Ya’  and masquerading as a Scouse scally as we made our way to Everton.  At Charlton, showing off his Heath 50 Wolves shirt, totally full of beans after his 50th birthday and at Spurs sitting with him in the home end trying to keep quiet as Wolves got an FA cup equaliser.

Lingering Around the Hope & Anchor

It was always a pleasure to be in his company – I feel so privileged to have known Jim for all these years and Wolves games will never be the same again for me. It goes without saying that to lose someone with such a zest for life is a cruel blow and my thoughts go out to Christine, Jack and Nicholl for their considerable loss.

The Jim I’ll Always Remember

Finally, returning to Junk Archive, this will be the last posting – the blog was always a joint collaboration between us and without Jim’s input it would just seem empty, so I won’t be continuing. Thank you all for reading over the last couple of years and for those who have made contributions. Please feel free to leave your own tributes in the comments below.

Rest in peace mate – the world’s a poorer place without you!

posted by Glen Baldwin in Obituaries and have Comments (7)

Sherpa Tension!

The Goalscoring Kings of Wembley 1988

Every time I see a Sherpa Van go past me on the road I am transported back in time, to 1988 in particular for a special date in the hearts of all Wolves fans.

I refer, of course, to the Sherpa Van Trophy final on 29 May 1988 between Burnley – then residing in the 4th Division – and Wolverhampton Wanderers, recently crowned league champions of the same division. Most people outside the two towns are unaware that the attendance of 80,841 was a record for teams from outside the top flight – yet another honour bestowed on the mighty Wolves, alongside that of being the only team in English football to win all four divisions.

For Wolves fans who had witnessed our demise over the past seven years this match honestly felt like the rebirth of our team. For sure, we had already cantered to the league title, courtesy of 52 Steve Bull goals as we regained our self-respect, but this was different. This was a public pronouncement of our return to the big time.

In many ways the winning of the trophy was secondary. The main attraction was seeing 50,000 Wolves fans at Wembley – something that remains sadly unique in all the years I have seen Wolves live in the flesh.

Much derided by some, the Sherpa Van was a great opportunity for some of the games lesser lights to sample the Wembley experience – be they players or fans. To this day I always manage to watch the final and emit a wistful sigh as the memories come flooding back of that early summer afternoon in 1988.

The Burnley team included the usual mixture of youngsters alongside a couple of old pros, in this case Peter Daniel, ex-Wolves player and owner of one of the last great beards in football and Ian Britton, once of Chelsea.

Wolves, by way of contrast, were a younger team, with only the likes of Ally Robertson, the vastly experienced ex-West Brom centre half, being the wrong side of thirty. Wolves were young, they were hungry and they were going for the double.

You Try Lifting A Sherpa Van!

The match itself was not the best to grace the hallowed Wembley Turf. Wolves were clearly the better team and it was only a matter of time before we took a 23rd minute lead, thanks to Bully flicking back a Robbie Dennison corner onto the head of Andy Mutch – one nil to the gold and black legends. Burnley huffed and puffed but they couldn’t blow this Wolfs house down. Despite Wolves suffering a couple of injuries, with the unlucky Robertson and Micky Holmes being replaced by Nigel Vaughan and Jackie Gallagher – the man with the then biggest belly in football – we held on comfortably to our lead. Indeed, we added to it with a trademark Robbie Dennison free-kick after fifty-one minutes, his sweet foot curling the ball delightfully over the wall and into the top corner of the Burnley net. At this point I had to go to the toilet due to excitement but I soon returned to see us hit the woodwork and eventually claim the honour of our cup win. I can still hear the noise of the crowd as Ally Robertson lifted the silverware to the Wolves fans – we were back in business!

Looking back with rose tinted spectacles I can see why the Sherpa Van Trophy meant so much to me. It was a time when the link between fan and player was still strong. They scored, we cheered and together we could conquer the world. Nowadays fans scream and shout and players kiss football badges on shirts, with perhaps an insult or two thrown in by way of Twitter. Progress? I think not. The Sherpa Van was innocence personified, for both me and the team. Or at least that is how I remember it.

One Of The Few Games Bully Didn’t Score In!

One thing I should add is that the commentary on the match was provided by Martin Tyler and Andy Gray – with this being Grays first ever TV commentary. This eventually produced a nice bit of symmetry, as his final match commentating was also a Wolves match (0-3 against Liverpool) with the subsequent sexism row leading to his removal from our TV screens. Gray was quite insightful during the game with none of his boorish behaviour on display and I remember being pleased that a Wolves match was getting the full coverage of a national media. So pleased was I that I rushed home to video record the ceefax page that had a match report on the game. I still have this to this day and I get it out now and again to remind me of times past, especially when Wolves have just been beaten by some lesser team.

Glory, Glory Wolverhampton

So Wolves won the match and completed the lower league double; we were up and running and ready for more. The next season saw us waltz through Division 3 and also reach the area final of the Sherpa Van Trophy once more. However, a disappointing home 0-2 defeat to Torquay in the second leg of the semi-final saw us dip out of the competition 3-2 on aggregate, thanks to Roger Hansbury in our goal that night.

Still, no matter, I had my memories from the year before.

Bobby Smith

As Bobby has brought back such great memories I felt I had to add my own thoughts. The club had been a joke as we passed down the divisions, but Graham Turner had halted the slide, albeit with a hiccup of an FA cup defeat to non league opposition and a play-off defeat. But this was just foreplay to the 1987/88 season as Wolves dominated the bottom division, winning at a canter as Bully ripped up the goal-scoring record books. The lower division cup was also a piece of cake, the only worry coming from an away 1-0 defeat against third division Notts County in the semi-final (or area final if you prefer) that was overturned 3-0 at Molineux – we were off to Wembley!

It was actually our second journey up Wembley Way that season, as a successful run at the right time had seen us qualify for the League Centenary Tournament, a weekend of mini-games that had seen us edged out on penalties to reigning League Champions, Everton! This time it was for us to enjoy, and the fact it was another old great, Burnley as our opposition added to the spice – we still owed them for stopping Wolves becoming the first double-winners of the 20th Century in 1960! Tickets were sought and I managed to persuade a few non-Wolves friends to join me on the terraces – insisting they wore suitable colours on the day! Pre-Match Tension gripped me as we travelled down to London on a sunny Sunday morning, stopping for a couple on the way but too nervous to enjoy them. I persuaded everyone to get there early so we took our places on the steps of the Wolves end with a while to kick-off.

The huge stadium was already filling and it was plain to see the Gold & Black was dominating. We had our whole end and even an entire section at the other end – the Sherpa Van Trophy or it’s predecessors had never seen the likes and would never again. Wolves would gain the record of the largest representation from one team at Wembley in any competition – in excess of 50,000 as Bobby says and unlikely to ever be bettered, and my team and it’s fans gained respect from my companions. My nerves were not eased by the first goal and only a little by the second, but as the minutes counted down and the singing got louder I grew in confidence – and what a wide array of songs we had back then! Suddenly the whistle blew and we were the lower division double winners!

We didn’t care it was a tinpot cup – we were Wembley winners and celebrated wildly as the team displayed their trophy. Nothing could stop us now – well until Torquay derailed our second double the following year! It seemed inevitable at the time that we would be back to Wembley sooner rather than later but 24 years later, we’re still waiting. Perhaps next season?

Glen

posted by Glen Baldwin in Football and have Comment (1)

Green on Red

Green On Red – in Black & White

Way back in 1985 the music press was up in arms at the new ‘big thing’ in music – the American Paisley Underground, as it was then christened. Alongside bands such as The Long Ryders, The Rain Parade and Dream Syndicate was a band that to me seemed to be the real deal – Green on Red.

Formed in 1979, in Tucson, Arizona, the band first started out playing a weirded out version of 60s psychedelia, with slabs of crashing guitar moulded around an understated organ, courtesy of the multi-talented Chris Cacavas – who also played second guitar when needed. Singer and main guitarist Dan Stuart’s vocals were just the right side of gravelly and the band took to the road – slowly building up a following. After a single and seven track debut album – the very Doors sounding Green on Red (1982) they released their second album in 1983, the sparkling Gravity Talks. I have this album playing in the background as I type this and two things strike me – how one paced it is and also the number of guitar breaks featured in the songs. If you like your guitars with the power of rock and just a mild country twang then this is the record for you. Tracks like Blue Parade and Snake Bit still stand up today as classic rock music, made at a time when guitars were very much going out of fashion.

Gas, Food, Lodgings or Motorway Services as We Say Here!

The next album saw an addition to the band, in the shape of ace guitarist Chuck Prophet IV – a man who certainly knew how to play his strat. With Chuck on board the band became a tad more countrified, as the Gas Food Lodging album proved (1984). This is probably the last of their top quality releases, as almost every song takes the band in a different direction. Be it the dirty blues of Black River or the rock and roll of Hair of The Dog.

Still, saying that, the next album No Free lunch (1985) was also a bit of a toe tapper, with Keep On Moving and Jimmy Boy the stand out tracks.

After this album they picked up publicity over here in England and started gigging on our shores regularly. They even managed an Old Grey Whistle Test appearance.

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In many ways I feel that Green on Red were like an American version of The Waterboys, although I would always prefer the more authentic American version to their celtic counterparts.

After this album the band became more and more of a Chuck and Dan project, with the input of Chris Cacavas being side-lined until he eventually left the band, along with the rhythm section of Alex Mac Nicol (drums) and Jack Waterson (bass).

A few more releases were put out by Dan and Chuck, still under the Green on Red name, but they had sadly lost the freshness of youth, with the result that the records just come over as an exhibition in how to play the guitar – no bad thing in itself but the passion and spark of those early Green on Red records had gone for good.

Nowadays Chuck has carved out a successful solo career for himself, with his records selling by the bucket load in an America that will never fall out of love with country music and stories of the working man toiling for his daily bread. Dan has largely packed in the music business, although he does sometimes play with Chuck to recreate the original Green on Red sound.

For me I still like their old records, even to this day, for they were an old-fashioned band who stuck to their guitars whilst the whole world – or so it seemed – was forever going disco dancing.

Oh, and as for the Paisley Underground I have no idea what ever happened to it. I guess it went the way of Grebo rock, Positive Punk or even techno-Oi!

Bobby Smith

 

posted by admin in 80's Bands,Music and have Comments Off

Ranting – Know What’s Good For You!

Every weekend I read people’s moans about TV or sport or modern life in the Sunday papers and I wonder how much time these correspondents have on their hands that they can be bothered to write a letter about the most mundane of trivialities. For instance last weekend I read that the BBC’s Wimbledon coverage was RUINED by the small logo continuously appearing on the screen – really? Ruined?

So contemplating these letters as I was driving to work I came upon one of my personal bugbears and at last it struck me – these letters are a cathartic exercise and helps to vent pent up anger and frustration building up. I’m sure friends reading this can understand how useful this could be for me and instead of inflicting my rants on them I’ve decided to commit them to print – albeit to our captive Junk Archive audience rather than the Sunday Times. I’m not talking about the big things like tax avoidance, the Tory party, social inequality or the Olympics – these are my petty pet-hates of the moment.

As it’s my birthday and in no particular order the current top ten trivial rants of a 47 year old male:-

– Why do binmen need to do their job early in the morning, either waking you up or getting in the way of your rush-hour journey? Why does rubbish need to be piled up before lunchtime? C’mon you’ve got all day to collect it, do us all a favour and have a lie-in.

– Why can’t Americans negotiate properly on the History Channel’s Pawn Stars ? It seems the stooges go with a price in mind – start at that and blithely accept any thing they get, leaving the big profit with the owners. We’re not famed for bartering over here but I know no-one would take $1000 for something that’s just been valued at $6,000 by an expert. Wake up Yanks!

– Stop bothering me about sodding PPI – I never took it because I was too skint!

-Why have newsreaders got into the habit of asking their correspondents ‘What do we know about…..’? Clearly you know nothing or else you wouldn’t need to ask someone! Surely you mean ‘What do you know’ or ‘What is Known?’

– Why is it that when one road near me has roadworks and traffic-lights so does the alternative route? Don’t these people ever talk to each other and plan to leave at least one exit from Thornton Heath free?

– What’s 0.9p? Only ever used by petrol stations, how come they are the only retailers in the country that feel the need to sell their product in fractions? It’s not 133.9p it’s 134! I want to buy a round litre of petrol pay in pence and wait for my change – let’s see them find the 0.1p!

– People who pay by cards in the pub! What’s wrong with these people? Beer is a cash business and there is nothing more annoying at a busy bar while some knob fiddles about with their PIN number then changes their cards to pay for two diet cokes and a half of lager top, while you’re standing with a tenner in hand just waiting for your order to be taken. Why has this crept in? Pub=Cash – no excuses!

– I think everyone is annoyed by Man United/Liverpool/Chelsea/Arsenal glory-hunting fans but what gets me are the ones who can easily take the high-ground in any football argument but never go to a game! Standing around in the back of a pub nursing a pint of Fosters doesn’t make you more of a fan and football expert than someone who supports a lower division club and actually turns up for a few games! Football is about being there – not attaching yourself to a winner.

– Why can’t delivery companies consider that most people are not in during working hours – as we order more and more online, there is nothing worse than coming home and finding a card about a missed delivery! Now the choice is try and rearrange a delivery for when you’re there – some hope, or go to pick up your own parcel – usually from miles away and therefore negating that online saving! It must be a million pound idea to have a delivery company that only works from 6-9pm!!

– Look, I know modern music isn’t meant for me and I’ll never like hip-hop, grime, dubstep, boybands or poll winners and many others, but what I really hate is the recording artists who can’t be bothered to write their own songs but just sing over someone else’s. I don’t mean a cover version – I love some cover versions – I mean singing totally different words over the top of something we all know – sometimes out of sync, perhaps changing the structure slightly but most importantly ruining the original!

There – that’s the tiny things that bother me and you know what – it does feel better……………………..Dear Editor…………..

posted by Glen Baldwin in News and have Comment (1)

Make Mine Cider!

It’s Summer – Time For A Pint

Over the years I have suffered much ridicule over my choice of pre-Wolves match tipple. To start with, back in 1987, I opted for vodka and lemonade, which made proud men of the West Midlands spit into their pints of beer and mild in disgust. I was deemed effeminate for my drinking shorts and not a real man in any way, shape or form. A slander that my choice of clothes also failed to put right.

Desperate to gain acceptance I switched drink to another short – Southern Comfort. Again, my choice was sneered at, despite its advantages – as it was a short I never missed a live Wolves goal at the match due to constant piss breaks. Despite this, the muttering about my sexuality continued.

So, fed up at the comments I was receiving from my peers, I rebelled and went through a short phase of guzzling down peach schnapps; I guess because it fitted in well with my love of German punk. However, after a humiliating trip to a Swindon boozer, where long-term mate, Neil Kirk, asked the bartender for “six pints of lager and a peach schnapps for the lady,” I knew I had to make a stand.

I duly switched to cider.

And Look After Dogs On A String!

At long last I had found my natural life partner; it was fruity, it was strong, it was joy from the earth for an old punk like me. At first I was conservative, drinking only well-known brands such as Strongbow and Dry Blackthorn, swallowing 6 or 7 pints of the sweet drink before matches – and a couple after the final whistle. However, the taste I was developing for the original and best Alco-pop was luring me into the behind the counter stuff – the cloudy, paint stripper cider kept in keg barrels and only brought out for Wurzel type regulars.

I remember a night match in Plymouth and a dingy boozer after the game. Thirsty for a cider after a disappointing 1-0 defeat I asked for a pint “from the black keg over the back there.” The bartender, a man with a large beard and disapproving expression said “I don’t think so sir, that is strong, cloudy cider. You stick to the simple stuff.” Put out by this rejection, and eager to impress my mates, I answered “No thank you, I will try a pint of it please.” The bartender sighed to himself and whispered back “As you wish sir,” and duly pulled me a pint.

The next day I woke up with the memory of the trip home a complete blur and a mouth that tasted like pig sweat.

I was hooked for life.

Wolverhampton used to have a great range of pubs, where spit and sawdust genuinely mixed on the floor with the residue of mouldy pork scratchings – the mess invariably sticking to ones’ shoe. It also had some killer ciders. I always remember the Hogs Head and a cider called Farmhouse, a lovely drink that was somewhat off-putting as it was bright orange – leading to some serious bowel movements the next day in the Smith household. A couple of pints of this and I was seriously gone.

Mind you, it had its southern counterpart: Old Rosie, a 7.5% cloudy cider that took no prisoners. I used to end up in the Weatherspoons whenever we played Palace away drinking this macho drink. Unfortunately it had the tendency to make me incoherent and dribble down my chin, so eventually I had to knock it on the head when out and about. I still have the odd one these days out of respect to its memory but I normally stop after one or two – although our forthcoming trip to Palace this season may see me revert to type.

I don’t know what it is with me, but whenever I see a new cider on the supermarket shelves or in the pub, I just have to try it. I reckon I must have had at least 150 different ciders over the years with some leaving a lasting impression both on my memory and my toilet bowl.

Every Man Needs A Hobby!

In case anyone is interested, my favourite cider has to be Red Rock Cider. This was much publicised over here in England by a series of Leslie Nielsen adverts, back in the 1980s. A truly lovely drink, I used to buy 8 cans of this from Budgens every time I walked home to my house from Enfield after a Wolves match.

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On the flip side, the worst cider has to be Woodpecker. I once had to endure 4 pints of this at a Rotherham social club, when at a Wolves away game, as it was the only apple based drink at the bar. To this day I get upset when I see stacks of this sweet, sugary cider at the local supermarket. Avoid like the plague unless you are 13 and trying cider for the first time.*

Nowadays my mates still drink the mild and beer they have always done, only now I can look them in the eye and say that I too am a man. And I have the cider belly to prove it.

Bobby Smith

*Junk Archive is not advocating under-age drinking. This is just a word of advice to the kids of today to try something a bit stronger if they get the urge – like lemonade.

 

posted by Glen Baldwin in Uncategorized and have Comments Off

The Hafenstrasse – Anarchy in Action.

Most people tend to go to Hamburg, Germany, for the reputation of its red light district, the famous Reeperbahn, or perhaps to see Bundesliga team Hamburg or its cooler second division rival, St Pauli.

However, I used to go to Hamburg for another reason; it was the punk rock capital of the world back in the 1980s, mainly on account of the Hafenstrasse.

In case you are unaware of this magical, mystical place, I will give you a brief potted history. It all began in 1981, when a group of German punks started squatting in a small street of the St Pauli district – the Hafenstrasse. At the time the squatting movement was big all over Europe and in the States, as the unemployed, the disenfranchised and the neglected, sought a way out of joining the birth, work and death system that consumed much of the western world. Inspired by the naïve desire for anarchy, as espoused by punk, the Hafenstrasse became a place where people could gravitate if they had nowhere else to go.

As the block of houses in the street were owned by Hamburg council frequent disputes, often bloody and violent, broke out between the idealistic youth and the ‘pigs in green’ – as the police were normally called by German punk bands at the time. Gradually word of the Hafenstrasse spread and anarchists from all over Germany migrated to its ever open doors. Bands would play in the run down squats and the whole place became a hive of creativity – even if a lot of this was just about how to fight the police! Discussions of left-wing politics and feminism were the staple diet back then, as the authoritarian nature of German society was dissected and rebelled against. Eventually up to 5,000 people descended into the Hafenstrasse, lending it an air of freedom in a culture of discipline. In many ways it was like the Greeks invading the German economic miracle – just like nowadays, I guess.

I remember our news channels showing footage of the riots over here, fuelling in me a strong desire to meet up with my punk rock brethren. So, youthful and innocent as I was back then, I flew over to Hamburg, accompanied by my long term friend, Nikki.

I must say that straight away I loved the place, it was seedy, it was dank and grey, but it had an atmosphere about it that was authentic. Wandering up and down the Reeperbahn I was struck by the amazing variety of ‘ladies of the night’ on show, and the swarms of men who flaunted their cash in pursuit of physical relief. Although I had a brief look in the red light district I kept my wallet strictly closed. I had other intentions for my large bundle of Deutschmarks – German punk!

After buying stacks of German punk records I walked around the streets of Hamburg, naively thinking I might bump into a member of Slime, my favourite German punk band who lived in the city. Regretfully I never did meet them, although I did find some graffiti that showed that punk was not dead.

In all honesty the Hafenstrasse was something of a disappointment to me, as I did not see bands playing on the streets or a riot of any sort. Indeed, the only music I found in Hamburg was at the Fabrik venue, where I had the pleasure of seeing fellow Hamburger punks, The Rubbermaids. I guess I had got carried away with the romance of an anarchist street life, albeit one softened by my living at home with my parents at the time!

I wrote a few paragraphs ago about the German love of authority, well this was best demonstrated to me by the reluctance of German pedestrians to cross the road before the green man showed himself at traffic lights – even if traffic was nowhere to be seen. I crossed the road once before the green man and received a volley of abuse from fellow pedestrians, alarmed at my flagrant ignorance of German custom. Oops!  (It’s actually illegal to cross on red in Germany! -JA)  

Back in the squats the punks continued to live apart from society, content to live an almost hippie like communal existence – an irony that I am well aware of. A radio station, originally named ‘Radio Hafenstrasse’ was started up and the place almost seemed to be part of Hamburg culture and daily life.

Alas, this was not to last. Come 1990 and allegations were made that members of the RAF (Red Army Faction) the violent left-wing descendants of the Baader-Meinhoff gang had infiltrated the squat. The police, numbering as many as 1,000 turned the place over, and engaged in pitched battles with squatters, punks and autonomen – the black clad anarchist sub-section.

Touting for Business – the German Campogram

Nowadays the Hafenstrasse is no more – the row of houses being sold to a private developer. I was sad when this happened, as for me the true spirit of punk was represented by the squats.

We may have had ‘Anarchy in the UK’ here in England but the Germans truly put words into action.

Respect.

Bobby Smith

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German documentary re the Hafenstrasse.

posted by Glen Baldwin in Travel and have Comments Off

Back to the Future – England’s Great Hope

Artists Impression of the Centre

“We are no further forward than we have been in the last four or five years. Nothing has changed since South Africa. We have had an enormous amount of luck. We cannot pass the ball. It is basics, we haven’t dominated one game at this tournament with the ball. Why do Italy do it? Why do Spain do it? We cannot pass the ball.” –Chris Waddle

“The gulf in the second half between the two teams was absolutely embarrassing.” – Alan Hansen

“Italy were far superior to England. What impressed me was technically they controlled the game, but also they were physically stronger” – Jurgen Klinsmann.

Those were just some of the damning verdicts of the BBC team as England crashed out of Euro 2012 following a game against the Italians where they had been convincingly out played for the vast majority of the 120 mins. Whether you think they’re right or not, there’s no getting away from the fact that we do still seem to be way behind most of footballs superpowers when it comes to technical ability. If bridging this gap holds the key to the future success of our national teams, what is actually being done about it? This is as good a time as any to ask that question again as this month sees the opening of St Georges Park, a facility which the FA are pinning most of their hopes on in order to solve the problem.

Although it serves to highlight the need more, the concept of a national football centre certainly isn’t a new one which we’ve started to look at just because of recent failings. When it opens, St Georges Park is the end result of a project which is 30 years in the making with the 330 acre site in Burton-upon-Trent acquired as far back as 2001. 30 years may seem like a long time but the FA’s financial worries have been well documented and early business plans were seen as being non viable. One of the main turning points in getting us to the stage where we are today was the FA’s decision to appoint a new National Football Centre board in 2008 with former Ipswich Town chairman David Sheepshanks as its head. It was a message to everyone that this was something which was being taken seriously and has provided the focus and drive to make “the dream become reality”.

The Outdoor Pitches

The national team might take up much of the focus but the football centre is more than just a place for them to be based and train. The vision of the facility as set out by the FA is:

  • To become the home of English Football Development, bringing to life and embodying the whole game coaching and playing philosophy outlined in The FA’s Technical Guide, The Future Game.
  • To become a one-stop coaching and support environment which enhances personal development, rehabilitation and fitness;
  • To offer all its facilities and services beyond sport and facilitate cross-learning between the sporting and business sectors;
  • To become a training destination of choice for coaches, players, administrators and officials from within football;

As you can see, much of the focus and attention will quite rightly be aimed at developing our own coaches in an environment which has already been described as a “university of football”. The standard of coaching at a grass roots and youth level is seen to be where we are really falling down with the images of screaming parents and kick and run football being an all too common reality. The education centre at St George’s Park is designed to benefit the entire football pyramid with the aim for 80% of those who pass through it being at a grass roots level. While we hear so much about how bad the level of coaching is in this country, how serious a problem is it? The reality is probably worse than you think and can be summed up best by these alarming statistics. A recent UEFA report on the number of registered coaches who hold their top qualification of the A, B or Pro Licence revealed that Germany have 34,970, Italy have 29,420, Spain have 23,995 and France 17,588. England? 2,769! When looked at as a ratio compared to the number of people actually playing football in this country it means that we have one UEFA qualified coach for every 812 players. By comparison in Spain this is an incredible one coach for every 17 players and they haven’t done too badly in recent tournaments as a result.

To be able to deliver on its vision of improving the standard of English football, a national football centre requires it’s facilities to be of a cutting edge standard and St George’s Park definitely ticks this box. They may have their doubters in other areas but you can’t fault the FA for the research which they have put in to determine what is needed to make it work. The board have visited and performed extensive consultation with existing national football centres such as Clarefontein in France and Zeist in Holland. They’ve been to major football club academies both at home and abroad including Arsenal, Chelsea, Man United and Real Madrid. There has been a focus on making sure that objectives were realistic and to do so they have worked closely with the League Managers Association who became the first football body to pledge its support for the project by moving their headquarters to St George’s Park.  Refreshingly they’ve also broadened their horizons and looked at what best practices can be taken from other sports by looking at university sport science facilities in the UK and overseas such as the famed Australian Institute of Sport.

The result is a facility which contains:

  • Eleven full-size outdoor pitches, including a replica Wembley pitch
  • England’s first full-size indoor football pitch with elevated vantage points for up to 200 spectators
  • A phenomenal 60x40m multi-purpose indoor sports hall
  • A 142-bedroom Hilton Hotel and an 86-bedroom Hampton by Hilton Hotel, with conference facilities, gym and spa
  • A cutting edge sports medicine and science centre
  • Outstanding training, seminar and conference facilities
  • Community sports pavilion and pitches

As with all modern sport, there is a large amount of focus on sports science and medicine with the FA’s team doctor describing St George’s Park as “dream come true to those working in football medicine and science”. It is the aim to have the 25,000 sq ft sports medicine complex certified as a “FIFA Centre of Medical Excellence” of which there are only 22 in the world today. It will be the first facility in England to be awarded this recognition but again a sign of where we are given that we still seem to see ourselves as a big sporting nation is that Germany already has three and Italy two. I’m sure that these facilities will also be available for use by clubs at a domestic level and have already been targeted for potential use with other sports.

The UK’s only full size indoor pitch with elevated vantage points for coaching

The proof of its success will no doubt be judged on the performances of the men’s senior side but St George’s Park is here to provide a training home for every team who come under the Club England umbrella. It might surprise some to know that 24 teams make this up and is inclusive of our national team at all age groups, the women’s team and our disability teams such as the partially sighted. We know that success at youth level can be the springboard to future glories and it’s no coincidence that players who have featured so prominently at the recent senior tournaments have experienced success at that level. We also know that it won’t happen overnight but if we’re to progress then now isn’t the time to bury our heads in the sand, it’s the time for us to wake up and look at what the Germans for example did after their failings at Euro 2000. We need to be brave enough to learn from it, not fear it.

So will St George’s Park really work? There are still other issues to be looked at such as the excellent proposals introduced recently to revamp youth football and the need for a winter break but this has to be seen as a big step in the right direction. Perhaps the biggest endorsement would be that every other nation who has ever won either the World Cup or European Championship already has a dedicated national training centre. While this is a stat which points towards the positives of having such an establishment, the fact that we were the only country without one also serves as another reminder of just how far behind everyone else we currently are. That however is the situation we find ourselves in so now is the time to say that the only way is up. Patience will certainly be needed but I’m confident that given time St George’s Park is exactly what is needed to help us progress. For the sake of the game in this country it has to.

Paul Cooper

The Overall Site Plan

posted by Glen Baldwin in Football and have Comment (1)

50 Years of Bond Style at the Barbican

Bond, James Bond

To celebrate James Bond’s cinematic half century the Barbican is running an exhibition compiling some of the most iconic and memorable items and designs from his 50 years. Like a moth to the flame I was drawn in and so ended up wandering round, looking for the entrance on Sunday morning.

The exhibition begins as you walk through the lobby with a 60s Aston Martin DB5 on a plinth with a model of Sean Connery in an iconic pose from Goldfinger – the perfect opening! I had bought timed tickets in advance and this meant we could jump the small queue and pass through the gun barrel into the first room. The centre-piece here was another mock-up from Goldfinger, with a gold-painted dummy draped over a bed representing Shirley Eaton’s famous death scene. This sets the theme for the whole room which has the title of ‘Gold’ and examines the films’ relationship with the precious metal. Large screens show scenes from Goldfinger, The Man With The Golden Gun and Goldeneye and amongst the designs and props on show the highlight has to be Oddjob’s killer hat.

Q’s Radio Broom

We pass through a small lobby that features Ian Fleming’s books in their original prints and covers with most interestingly, his inspirations and influences. This leads to M’s office, where a superb painting of Bernard Lee looks down benevolently as we pass through, looking at each Bond’s passport representation. The next section is Q Branch and every inch is packed with gadgets, plans, blueprints and screens showing their use in the films. This is every middle aged boy’s dream, showing guns rockets and the original models used as the underwater Lotus in The Spy Who Loved Me. This is a fantastic collection of props where you can see Bond’s briefcase that enabled him to defeat Grant and Klebb in From Russia with Love, right through to Q’s radio broom used in Licence to Kill.

The next room is probably the most impressive as we step into a huge casino room – Bond always being synonymous with the gaming tables. Here we see costumes that have graced card tables from Sylvia Trench’s gown in Dr No through to a sparkly gown and achingly high Jimmy Choo shoes  from the next blockbuster, Skyfall. Around the room are more set designs from the genius of Ken Adam and Peter Lamont, as well as jewellery and again large screens showing some great casino scenes. This room reflects the world of Bond more clearly than any other – tuxedos, glamour and wealth, with a hint of danger and death in the background. As you stroll around the costumes you cannot fail to notice the change in styles as narrow trousers move gradually out and then thankfully back in again. Tiffany Case’s jump suit can only come from the early seventies, whilst the Scottish formal wear worn by George Lazenby in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service could almost be from any era.

Solitaire predicts another 50 years of Bond

The next section takes on another aspect of Bond that is part of the make-up of every film and is called Foreign Territories, where the flag of San Monique flies next to Solitaire from Live and Let Die and the space station designs from Moonraker are guarded by an astronaut’s suit. The modelmaker extraordinaire, Derek Medding has some of his work on show and it was funny to see that small figures used in the space scenes were made from another genuine 70s icon – an Action Man! The lobby way leading away showcases some vehicles from more recent films, including models of Zorins airship from A View to a Kill and the tank that was used in Goldeneye. A further cabinet looks at the beachwear, and shows off shorts worn by Connery and Craig mixed with bikinis from Andress and Berry.

Our tickets are stamped a second time as we enter the Villains and Enigmas section. Here we are treated to a compilation of some of the great cinema baddies at work, before seeing their costumes and props in separate showcases. Some are immediately identifiable, such as Rosa Klebb’s, deadly shoes and Jaws’ metal teeth, whilst others like Wint & Kidd’s ‘bombe surprise’ from Diamonds Are Forever might take a bit of recall for all but the most Bond obsessed. In the adjoining room some of the glamourous women are given the same treatment and again Jinx’s leather suit as worn by Halle Berry stands out amongst others, whilst Madonna’s fencing outfit also from Die Another Day looks like someting worn by a particularly severe dominatrix.

A step down two floors takes us to the last section, where the tickets receives it’s 7 to add to the two 0s already stamped, and we enter a surprisingly warm Ice Palace. Here the centrepiece is a model of the structure from Die Another Day, but the room itself reflects Bond’s recurring relationship with snow and the piste, showcasing his ski outfits from 1969 through to 2002. Surely it is only a matter of time before Daniel Craig also graces the slopes (but then again Connery was also only a sun-tan Bond!). This is the end of the official exhibition but other treats still remain.

Flying Models

Firstly there is a Martini bar and for £9 you can sample a true alcohol laden Vesper, from Casino Royale, or any of several other Martini cocktails – all shaken and not stirred of course. Suitably refreshed you can pass by the flying vehicles hanging from the ceiling like a boys model collection and move to the 007 shop, with inhibitions lowered due to the alcohol coursing through your system. For your delight are pocket-money badges and pencils through to £200 replicas of Jaws’ teeth and a SPECTRE ring. In between are all manner of posters and souvenirs and merchandise that has a tenuous link, which seems to have been left over from other exhibitions. I boosted my Bond collection with a catalogue for £30, which helped to make up a little for being banned from taking any photos.

Overall the exhibition is superb – having seen recent runs at Portsmouth, Beaulieu, the Science Museum and the Imperial War Museum, this seems like the largest collection of props and designs yet, and the settings are well constructed and thought out. The true elegance of the Bond films is conveyed by the costumes, the excitement by the gadgets and as you walk around you notice people smiling as they recall their favourite scenes and characters. You also appreciate the massive effort that goes into mixing the correct ingredients to keep the recipe fresh. So now it’s onwards to Skyfall and the next 50 years!

posted by Glen Baldwin in Films and have Comments (3)

Man’s Best Friend – the Sony Walkman

Those Were The Days

Over the years personal music players have gone from strength to strength, what with compact disc players, MP3 players and other assorted technological gadgets. However, for me at least, none come close to the iconic shape of the Sony Walkman.

When it first emerged back in 1978 the Walkman was hailed as the best invention for teens since the trannie. At last, youngsters could go on journeys and walk around with recorded music playing in their ears, via the delights of the audio cassette tape. No longer would we have to sit at home, inflicting our music on our parents. Oh no, we now had the freedom to waltz around humming along to our own mix tapes as we walked to the corner shop on errands. In many ways the Walkman was as liberating to teenagers as the pill was to women.

Early incarnations of the Walkman were expensive and slightly clunky to look at, in much the same way that mobile phones were originally. In addition, the headphones were small and the noise produced was tinny and very treble heavy – not good at all for people wishing to hear deep bass lines. Eventually ‘bass boost’ was introduced and the sound clarity got considerably cleaner, very helpful when listening to the subtle chord changes of anarcho punk bands like Conflict and Crass!

Eventually radio was introduced to later models and I remember this version being clasped to my ears whilst watching Wolves matches back in the early 1980s. The reception was second rate at best but the novelty value of switching from tape to radio whilst standing up at football kept me glued to the action – both on and off the pitch.

You Will Note The Mega-Bass Button On This Museum-Piece

Tragically, however, I have had some bad experiences with Walkmans. I remember when I was returning home from work once, to my parents’ house in Broxbourne. Unfortunately I missed my train stop and so got off at the next station. The station was very old and only had one platform, so, in my naïve (and not inebriated) mind I figured I would have to walk along the rail track to get home (I was only 17 at the time). Feeling bored I put my Walkman on, so as to listen to The Southern Death Cult, New Model Army or another of my favourites of the time. Of course, immersed in the post punk sounds of my youth, I could not hear the express train coming up behind me at a rate of knots. It was only when I could hear loud static – or so I thought it was at the time – that I turned round; to see a train about 50 yards away. With a hasty camp cry of “Argh, noooooo,” I twisted round to escape the train. Luckily, years of watching old WW2 films had left their mark on me so I managed to slither down an earthy embankment, ala The Great Escape, and held my hands to my head as the (German armoured) train sped past!

Common sense then belatedly kicked in, so I took my headphones off and walked home in silence. A narrow escape and one that should be a lesson to any who are contemplating listening to music when walking along railway tracks.

Another disaster happened when I attended a Barnsley v Wolves midweek match (1-0 to Wolves, Birch the scorer). Old friend Jim Heath, of this parish, had driven to the match and parked in an area near to the ground. A couple of young lads approached us and asked if we wanted them to “look after the car” whilst we went to the match, for a small fee of course. Unfortunately we refused their suggestion. You can guess what happened next. Yes, upon returning to the car, we found the window had been put in and bags stolen from the boot. Alas, a shiny new Sony Walkman belonging to yours truly had been nicked, alongside three German punk cassettes, not to mention my seasons supply of crucial Wolves stats – who says crime doesn’t pay! I was heartbroken and could barely console poor Jim, his own head muddled by the damage to his motor.

Still, a quick visit to the shops saw me purchase another Walkman with an even more sophisticated feature – a treble control on top of a bass booster. Wow! This was a really state of the art piece of machinery and a total babe puller. To prove my point I got married soon after this event, proving that the Walkman had unintended benefits.

Sony was not alone in producing the Walkman, as other firms tried to get in on their manor. Toshiba came up with the ‘Walky’ Aiwa ‘the cassette boy’ and Panasonic the ‘MiJockey’. None, however, were as iconic as the Sony Walkman.

Sadly, given the advent of modern technology, the humble cassette tape is largely on the way out – leading to the demise of the cassette Walkman. Much to my surprise, though, I notice that they are still being produced in China; for markets in Europe, the USA and presumably Waltham Cross.

Lastly I should mention that I still own two Walkmans, alongside a mountain of cassette tapes to go with them. However, I do find it a bit embarrassing when using them out of the house. I remember only a year ago a woman laughing at me on the bus when I got a tape out to listen to. Well, at least I think it was the Walkman she was laughing at.

Bobby Smith

posted by Glen Baldwin in Music,Toys and have Comment (1)

Follow, Follow……But To Where?

Ready – for Division Three?

So the fixtures come out and Manchester United’s first game is away at Port Vale, or Arsenal with a tricky home game against Dagenham and Redbridge or maybe everyone’s favourites reds, Cheltenham take on the old stagers from Liverpool. Madness and totally unrealistic, but for Rangers this is the prospect, as Friday saw the decision made to allow them entry to the Scottish Football League Division 3 and presented a first game away at East Stirling.

Firstly I will nail my colours to the mast – I have absolutely no interest in Scottish Football and do not rate the Premier League very highly at all. I think the two Glasgow teams are welcome to keep their religious bigotry and rampant nationalism to themselves, deserving each other, and I think the fact that no-one else is likely to challenge them a sad indictment of their league system, the weakness that is often demonstrated when a superstar of the SPL tries his luck in England. Yet I find it fascinating that such a massive behemoth of the British game can fall so spectacularly in a mere matter of months. Could this be an omen for clubs South of the border?

Rangers have committed the first sin of today’s football – it’s OK to overspend on journeymen mercenaries and have to miss paying certain bills, but never owe the taxman! As Portsmouth, Luton and others have found, although kit manufacturers, coach companies and local milkmen can jump up and down in frustration the HRMC – Inland Revenue – don’t mess around and just take non-payers to court to wind up as soon as possible. It’s amusing to think that in legal terms it is the Rangers fans’ beloved Queen that has demanded her money to see them in this predicament! When the bill gets as high as an estimated £75million out of a total debt of £134million, they are keen to get as much as possible. That the leadership of Rangers at that time allowed matters to reach this stage displays short-sightedness beyond belief, and factors such as the borrowing of money against future season ticket sales were more than just poor business practice that may see  the culprits in court in the future.

So having gone into administration – now rightly considered as cheating within football – Rangers were forced to take their punishment, a twelve month transfer embargo and the new club and company – newco – forced to go cap in hand to their peers to seek their approval to play in the Premier League next season. Clearly the new owners were fairly confident that the ‘turkeys wouldn’t vote for Christmas’ and shoot themselves in the foot financially but must have been astonished that clubs did gain some moral backbone. It may have been a case of settling some old scores but they voted almost unanimously (only Kilmarnock abstained) to expel newco Rangers from the SPL.

A Fan Sums Up the True Debate

Now it was on to the Scottish Football League. SPL clubs were content they had done the right thing and Rangers would deserve their season out of the limelight as they cruised Division One and revenue would only be lost for that one year. The SFA were happy that morally the right decisions had been made and began to pressure the SPL members  to accept newco Rangers into their top tier, but immediately there was some dissension. When Gretna had folded due to the illness of benefactor Brooks Mileson. they were told that entry to the SFL would be in the third division, why should Rangers get a privileged reaction? The Chairman of Gretna’s replacement, Annan Athletic, Henry McLelland summed up the feeling, describing how his club had been forced to make a presentation of their financial viability to gain acceptance into the League, yet Rangers – fresh from financial meltdown were just expected to have their entry rubber-stamped.

To yesterday, and the latest turn saw 29 of the 30 SFL clubs accepting Rangers into the SFL, but 25 voting them back to the lowest division. Perhaps the arrogance of Rangers plea yesterday was another factor, as they seemed to assume that the overall backing of the SFA would see their sojourn away from the top only last a year, but maybe it was also a chance for all the clubs to share in the unexpected dividend of league matches against one of the big boys? So there it is – Rangers open their league season with an away game at Stenhousemuir’s ground against perennial whipping boys East Stirlingshire. Or do they…?

Is That All You Take Away? – Or At Home?

Now we have the fallout from that decision and the SFA and SPL are presented with a dilemma – will Rangers being out of the top flight for at least three seasons cause financial meltdown –  have they sacrificed half of their cash cow? Already there is talk of renegotiation of TV deals and sponsorship, not to mention 12 missing fixtures with their money laden fans. Rangers have seen the desertion of many of their top stars and will no doubt need to rely on their younger prospects for a while to come. The SFA are looking at what they can do to exercise their influence and also scrap impending penalties imposed on Rangers, whilst, incredibly, it has been suggested that the issue may be top of the agenda at the SPL’s AGM that is scheduled this week – could the turkeys still have a chance to scrap the Xmas feast?

So how far fetched would it be seeing one of our big names hitting the same sort of rocks in England. Manchester United’s plan to float on the US stock exchange seems to take care of some of the recent debt they have accumulated, but this is all on paper anyway. They surely have enough assets to remain solvent without the Glaziers, but could the same be said for Chelsea with Abramovich, Man City without their kindly Arab backers or Liverpool, now looking increasingly mediocre against their erstwhile rivals. What about other teams relying on a large degree of benevolence, while trying to maintain their top flight status through constant turnover, I’m thinking more along the lines of Sunderland, Aston Villa or perhaps Spurs. Arsenal seem to keep their financial heads but how long can they hold out when not winning trophies? How would the Premier League react to the true meltdown of a giant? It’s unlikely they would be cast aside in the way that Leeds and Portsmouth have suffered in recent seasons, or tossed to the bottom of the heap – but Rangers problems do give a degree of hope to those looking for some levelling of the financial playing field.

Rangers are still a a massive club – newco or not and it is still baffling how one of the genuine top temas in this country could ever find themselves in this sort of mess. The only thing that is certain is that the fans will sit and wait for just any outcome. Their club is still in existence and they will no doubt turn out in full to cheer on whatever team newco Rangers are able to field in their home opener in the Scottish Challenge Cup – ironically sponsored by Ramsdens, a Cash for Gold company!

posted by Glen Baldwin in Football and have Comments Off
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