Tag Archives: Andy Ansah

Dream Team. Final Score. And the small matter of a London derby

19 Apr

Brentford travel to Millwall this lunchtime for a fixture that has everything to give. For the Lions, a mere two points separate them from the relegation places whilst the Bees will be looking to close in on another top ten finish. With Promotion chasing Leeds United due to visit on Monday, if that is an aspiration that Thomas Frank is serious about then three points today will be a must for the red and white (hopefully) machine. It will be a task made all the trickier with the news that Said Benrahama is out for the rest of the season with an ankle injury.  Devastating stuff for Bees’ fans but presumably (please….) nothing more than a precaution ahead of his, and our, final campaign at Griffin Park. Yet there’s as much to take out of today ‘off-pitch’ as well as on it, thanks to a surpise contender – West Ham United.

There’s not much can be said about Millwall that hasn’t been said before. Jellied eels. Cockles. The Den. ‘That’ walkout song which also doubles up as goal music – something which is already the most heinous of supporter inflicted tortures then made worse by that banjo filled gumph  . Violence. Racism. No-one likes us  etc etc etc . It’s fair to say that the club don’t have a great reputation, something made all the worse by playing in a breeze block stadium that visiting supporters are then kettled out of once the home fans have dissipated.

As such, you could perhaps be forgiven for giving this one a swerve today. Catching up via I-follow in the sunshine with a few cold ones and the barbecue cooking could be well up there on the list of more pleasurable options. Even better, catching up via BBC Radio London digital in the sunshine with a few cold ones and the barbecue cooking. There we have the pleasure of the dream-team of commentary – Phil Parry and Billy Reeves doing their thing from the seats above the Meridian Line. The programme starts at 12.30 ahead of the 13.00 kick off.

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Yet, as always, whatever the reasons not to go you can bet that we’ll be there en-masse. Easter bank holiday has that beautiful footballing double–header of the Lions and Leeds aswell as being one of the last chances to gorge on the beautiful game before the barren summer months. Besides, for yours truly Millwall has an additional reason for the annual pilgrimage. Dream Team. Not so much Billy and Phil but that much lamented Sky One thing.

I’ve spoken about it before on these pages and will no doubt do so many times again. But why wouldn’t you? It was magnificent. For all the wrong reasons. Running for ten series, the show was centred around the ongoing and progressively more outlandish events at fictional football club Harchester United. Combining real life stadia  – Millwall’s ‘New’ Den played host to the exterior shots in later series – and action (often Leicester City, Chelsea or Everton but with the contrast turned up to make their blue shirts look like Harchester’s purple) the show was as loved for its crazy plots as the frequent use of celebrity cameos. From Ron Atkinson to John Barnes, even one time Bee’s boss Steve Coppell had a go at channeling his inner Marlon Brando. It wasn’t good.

Yet perhaps the most famous of these actors was another former Bee (and member of our ‘top ten moustaches‘ club), Andy Ansah. Forget his later work on ‘Street Striker’ or numerous films and adverts though. For me his crowning glory was six series reciting variants of: ‘Get warmed up lads’ and ‘Alright, Gaffer?’ whilst playing himself, as the club’s first team coach.

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Dream Team – Fletch is sorely missed

The plots were riddled with more holes than our defence. Murder at the FA Cup final. The plane crash. The coach crash. The coach explosion at the Millennium Stadium. Goalkeeper Jamie Parker holding his team mates at gun point in the changing room. Liverpool (the real Liverpool) being linked in the papers with a £3.5 million swoop for Didier Baptiste back in 1999. Cue much egg on face when it transpired they weren’t actually bidding for a Monaco player but actually looking at a character from a TV show.

It was truly awful yet compellingly addictive. Sadly, the show was axed in 2007 yet many loyal fans still campaign for a return . Indeed, with Griffin Park around the corner from Sky HQ and a new stadium on the horizon in Lionel Road, then what better time to bring this back with a progressive club filling the role of the new Harchester? They’ve used Watford. They’ve used Millwall. They’ve even used Brentford (albeit as part of the May 2007 Open Day when a Harchester United team played the Community Sports Trust at Griffin Park.

How about Brentford doing it again – for real ? If any show deserves a reboot, then Dream Team must be top of the list. If it worked for Doctor Who and Dallas then imagine what could be done now. Come on Sky, the world of football demands it.

If nothing else, the 2018 film ‘Final Score’ shows the appetite for terrible football drama combined with stadium movies remains alive and kicking.  If you haven’t seen it as yet then please do. The Independent described it as “The most preposterous film of the year”. Things are bad when a movie doesn’t even go ‘straight to video’ but instead, ‘straight to sky movies’. Albeit, with a supposedly simultaneous big-screen release.

For those who may not be aware, season 2015/16 saw West Ham leave The Boleyn Ground (as the media insisted on calling a stadium they had only ever previously referred to as Upton Park) in a departure that was very much ‘blink and you’ll miss it’. I think it got the odd mention on Sky Sports over the campaign but don’t quote me on that. The denouement of their protracted exit saw supporters thinking demolition work had started early as a series of explosions ripped through the old ground back in June 2016. Infact, this turned out to be the filming of something I had promptly forgotten about until the aforementioned tweet crossed my social media stream.

Oh, my. Preposterous doesn’t even begin to touch the sides on this one. When it was released, Mrs. Bruzon and myself took the first opportunity to watch this shocker about a terrorist hostage-taking at The Boleyn Ground. A name they must have mentioned about a dozen times in the first half hour, in case anybody was in any doubt. All this happens in secret (don’t ask) and whilst West Ham are taking part in a European Cup semi-final against Russian outfit Dynamo FC. Count the number of things wrong in that last sentence alone. All the while, the hostage takers are searching out Pierce Brosnan, whose East European accent was even dodgier than his beard, whilst Drax from Guardians Of The Galaxy attempts to save both the day and the annoying daughter of a former army comrade whose death he feels responsible for.

This REALLY happened.

It was incredible. So truly bad it crossed to the other side and became unintentional comedy gold. Equal parts Nicolas Cage (if only he’d been available) and Sean Bean’s ‘When Saturday Comes’ with a decent dollop of Dream Team on top.

If it worked for West Ham and Pierce than how about resuscitating the corpse of Dream Team. Come on Sky. Come on TV Producers. Come on Andy. Oh, and come on Brentford. Great though it is to visit the home of Harchester united, six points from Millwall and Leeds United would make this a quite wonderful Easter weekend.

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Final Score – if Dream Team ever reached the big screen

Nick Bruzon

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That Sky One Harchester United thing. Dear Sky TV, Andy Ansah, Richie et al….

3 May

These pages usually talk about Brentford FC but, occasionally, we look further afield than Griffin Park. Today is just one of those. It is a time when we need to look back to look forward. And also ask the question – is it time for a footballing renaissance?

That Sky One Harchester United thing”. Not my words but those of Absolute Radio DJ Richie Firth, talking on Wednesday morning’s Christian O’Connell Breakfast show. Regular readers may well be aware of, amongst other things, the show’s role in resolving the Cameron Diaz / Brentford story (something which, for the record, our own club commentator par-excellence Mark Burridge also had a hand in at one point).

But this was not a discussion about celebrity fans (or lack of). Instead, it was talk of actor Ricky Whittle and his current role in TV series American Gods. The actor, who has also appeared in Hollyoaks and on Strictly Dancing, is probably best known for playing Ryan Naysmith on what Richie had called That Sky One Harchester United thing. Or, of course, Dream Team.

Ahh, Dream Team. Running for ten series, the show was centred around the ongoing and progressively more outlandish events at fictional football club Harchester United. Combining real life stadia and action (often Leicester City, Chelsea or Everton but with the contrast turned up to make their blue shirts look like Harchester’s purple) the show was as loved for its crazy plots as the frequent use of celebrity cameos. From Ron Atkinson to John Barnes, even one time Bee’s boss Steve Coppell had a go at channeling his inner Marlon Brando. It wasn’t good.

Yet perhaps the most famous of these actors was another former Bee (and member of our ‘top ten moustaches‘ club), Andy Ansah. Forget his later work on ‘Street Striker’ or numerous films and adverts though. For me his crowning glory was six series reciting variants of: ‘Get warmed up lads’ and ‘Alright, Gaffer?’ whilst playing himself, as the club’s first team coach.

andy ansah moustache

Ansah – wonderful Tekkers

I caught up with Andy a few years ago whilst writing a ‘Where Are They Now’ article for the Griffin Park match day programme. It goes without saying that the main topic of conversation was this wonderful, wonderful show. It was a truly privileged behind the scenes insight (and you can read more below) but, if I’m being equally honest, since finishing in 2007 the show has slipped from most people’s memory.

But then Wednesday saw Richie do his thing, even taking to Twitter where he noted, “Everytime I pass the Dragon’s Lair on the train at Millwall I get misty eyed. Bring it back @sky1”

Boom. Quicker than you could say Karl Fletcher, Lynda Block or Luis Amor-Rodriguez (think of a low budget Jota) the memories came flooding back.

Murder at the FA Cup final. The plane crash. The coach crash. The coach explosion at the Millennium Stadium. Liverpool (the real Liverpool) being linked in the papers with a £3.5 million swoop for Didier Baptiste back in 1999. Cue much egg on face when it transpired they weren’t actually bidding for a Monaco player but actually looking at a character from a TV show.

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L-R, John Black, Luis Amor-Rodriguez, Karl ‘Fletch’ Fletcher, Sean Hocknell

It wasn’t just me. Pick of the highlights to subsequently flood Twitter was that of @JohnDryden1 who noted: Lawlor in goal? That must of been after Jamie Parker held his team mates at gun point in the changing room.

As you do.

But now, ten years on, is it time to bring back Dream Team? Does Richie, a one time self-proclaimed soothsayer of scores, have his finger on the footballing pulse once again?
Would people watch it ? Yes, yes and yes have to be the answers to all three questions.

Sky 1, if you are reading (you probably aren’t ) how about it? Natalie Sawyer, any chance you could have a word with the bosses?  Andy Ansah (again, probably not reading), if anybody has the contacts it must be you?

With Griffin Park around the corner from Sky HQ and a new stadium on the horizon in Lionel Road, then what better time to bring this back with a progressive club filling the role of the new Harcehster? They’ve used Watford. They’ve used Millwall. They’ve even used Brentford (albeit as part of the May 2007 Open Day when a Harchester United team played the Community Sports Trust at Griffin Park.

How about Brentford doing it again – for real ?

If any show deserves a reboot, then Dream Team must be top of the list. If it worked for Doctor Who and Dallas then imagine what could be done now. Come on Sky, the world of football demands it.

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Andy dons the monogrammed tracksuit in his Harchester United days

And if anybody was in any doubt about the love for the show, this is what Andy Ansah himself had to say about it in that aforementioned interview:

Having finally retired from playing, all of a sudden Andy appeared on Sky one’s football based ‘drama’ series, Dream Team, playing himself at fictional club ‘Harchester United.’ A guilty pleasure for many viewers, myself included, but for all the wrong reasons! Wooden dialogue, outrageous plots and, as Andy himself offers, “The Lynda Blocks of this world”, its combination of beautiful women and real match action made it compulsive viewing for close to ten years. So how did he go from footballer to actor?

“I went to a Take That concert at Wembley, believe it or not. I made my decision then that I was going to retire from football. I met two people there and I said, ‘What do you do ?’ “ Oh, we do ‘extras’ work?” They were stand in doubles.

I thought that sounded interesting because I’d always liked acting and I love my films. Some friends of mine were on Dream Team doing the footballing extras although they were a lot younger than me. So I thought, ‘ok’, this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to stop playing pro-football, play a bit of part time, join ‘Dream Team’ and learn how to be an actor.

Subsequently, I joined as one of the football extras but because I was older than everyone else, I was thirty then whereas they were nineteen/twenty, I used to spend all my time with the directors and producers who were the same age. They used to ask questions about football all the time – how would we do this or that? I found myself directing the football for them and then within a year they made me the producer of football on Dream Team. It was crazy!”

Alongside the move to producer came a step up from ‘extra’ to acting role aswell, portraying the club’s assistant coach, Andy Ansah (!!) This also meant a few lines per show, with regular Ansah gems including takes on , “All right, you lot ! Get out on the field and warm up,” and “Leave it, gaffer. He’s not worth it.”

I put it to Andy that it must surely have been fun to be involved?

“I loved it, I loved it. Listen, it was brilliant. The show itself was low budget but it was built up on people. The people were fantastic and it had cult status. No matter how bad it was, you’d be able to say – I know who that is. That was Drogba’s goal for Chelsea against so and so. That’s what made it so much fun.

At the end, it kind of died a death. I was there for six years and when I left I was offered a Hollywood job with the film, “Goal”. That’s when I left and they ended up employing four different people to take up my one post on that show. That’s how much I did.”

As for those famous/infamous cameos? “The guys were great. Being honest, I should thank the likes of Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke and the West ham players. They mainly got me that producer role because I pulled in my contacts to get those guys on the show. One time, Andy had just got called back into the England squad and all the press were outside the training ground at Man United. I had to go and meet him at the training ground and came out the back door with Andy and Dwight , then drove to Stockport County so we could film them on Dream Team – for nothing. It was absolutely crazy. Can you imagine a footballer now using his image rights and saying, ‘I’ll come on your show for nothing’ but that’s how much of a cult status it was.”

After six seasons at Harchester United, ‘Goal’, and the lure of the silver screen proved too much, although not for the first time !

“Infact, whilst I was doing Dream Team, after two years I also did a film called : Mike Bassett England manager. I cast Terry Kiely from Dream Team (popular character, Karl Fletcher) and Scott Mean who used to play for West Ham to come and work on that film. I did all the choreography on that film myself, which was a big job! We shot at Wembley and also went to Brazil. I was there for almost two months, filming at the Maracana, Botafogo and everywhere.

It’s a hard job…!!”

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Bassett / Tomlinson – one of the many famous faces to film at Griffin Park

Nick Bruzon

Who has the best ever Bees moustache? Who is this year’s new entrant?

1 Nov

With Brentford now having a few days to wait until  we resume Championship action with Friday’s night’s TV game against Fulham, there’s time to look at a few things from the archives. Specifically with a top ‘XI’ that is a blatant rip off of a column published two years ago (albeit with one new entrant). Yet I make no apologies as it is for a great cause.

Today, November 1st, sees the beginning of the Movember campaign. Men in your place of work, your home or even Griffin Park will be undertaking that toughest of challenges – growing a moustache. Some will carry it off with all the prowess of flamboyant Queen frontman Freddie Mercury or Tom Selleck in his Magnum heyday; many will end up with barely perceptible wisps. Often, at a totally different colour to the hair on their head. Yet whatever the results, it is all being done to raise funds and awareness about men’s health – primarily the battles against testicular and prostate cancer.

Somebody near you will be engaged in this challenge and so, please, don’t look on them with scorn or disdain. Instead, why not dig deep? Nobody grows a moustache on purpose…

Yet this wasn’t always the way. Looking through the historical archives shows us how common a practice this once was at Brentford. With many people taking up Movember’s  charitable baton, what better way to recognise their forthcoming battle with bum fluff than by reviewing the top ten of moustaches sported by Brentford players through the ages.

This is a totally non-scientific study based on nothing more than personal opinion of moustache quality rather than playing ability. And so with apologies to any noticeable omissions, let’s kick things off….

10 – Roger Stanislaus. The classy left back opted for an equally classy moustache. It takes a brave man to try and carry this off but Roger did it with ease.

Roger Stanislaus

Forget ‘what happened next’. Remember the class

9 – Andy Ansah. These days better known for his wonderful Tekkers, in his youth Andy was as famed for his pace as he was for this effort.

andy ansah moustache

Ansah – always displayed wonderful tekkers

8 – Steve Phillips. Was the goal machine from the late 70’s a possible inspiration on none other than Gary Blissett ten years later? Note the similarity in strike rates and facial hair.

Steve Phillips moustache

The original Gary Blissett?

7 – John Smeulders. The first of three goalkeepers to make the list. Despite only a handful of appearances, his name lives on forever in the pantheon of mustachioed Bees legends.

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Smeulders – played with style

6 – Gary Phillips. Another goalkeeper and another quality moustache. Little evidence of this, at least in Brentford colours, exists on the Internet. However, once seen it was never forgotten. Mercuryesque.

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a photo as fuzzy as his moustache

5 – Chris Kamara. Like Andy Ansah, Chris is as well known these days for his TV work. But Chris also displayed unceasing loyalty to his moustache – something that continued throughout his playing career and can still be seen this very day. An unbelievable effort.

Kamara moustache

Unbelievable, Jeff

4 – Gordon Phillips. Was it compulsory to go for the Tom Selleck look if you played for Brentford and were a Phillips? Our third goalkeeper and third player to carry that surname, Gordon is easily the best of that group – moreso as he offsets this with a fantastic pair of sideburns.

Gordon Phillips moustache

Clean sheets but not clean shaven. Wonderful

3 – Gary Blissett. A goalscoring hero to many. A moustache icon to more. How many players can say they sealed a Championship, knocked their beloved Manchester City out of the FA Cup and even ended up in goal a few times – all despite the extra pressure of maintaining finely groomed facial hair? Seen here with former Bees commercial manager, Matt Davis.

Bliss - with Mat Davis

Bliss – a hero to many. Then and now

2 – Wayne Turner. Sometimes words are not enough. Just let the picture do the talking.

Wayne turner moustache

Move over Terry Thomas

1 – Gordon Sweetzer. I wasn’t fortunate enough to remember seeing Gordon play and so I take a quote from Andy McCulloch to describe his on pitch personality:

“Gordon, now he would go through a brick wall. He was just crazy. He got terribly injured at times. He was a bit like me in a way – he went for things he shouldn’t have. Probably should have stepped back but you can’t with that sort of desire”.

Imagine, as a defender, that bearing down on you but with the added quality of Brentford’s best ever moustache. Absolute class.

Gordon Sweetzer moustache

Sorry Bliss, Chris and Wayne. Beaten by a worthy champion

Before we go, any football team needs 11 players.  Whilst he may not have made it into the top ten, there is one man at the club who transcends all style. Who has shown over the years that the moustache is still a tradition (albeit a lot less prevalent) which can be carried off by today’s modern players.

At 11, rather than his traditional 7(seven) none other than Sam Saunders.

Sam Saunders Panini

Just imagine finding this in your Panini stickers 

 

And if anybody  would like to find out more about this year’s Movember campaign or even participate then you can do so here.

Nick Bruzon

Ansah, Kamara, Bliss. Who has the best ever Bees moustache?

10 Nov

With Brentford now having the best part of two weeks off until we resume League Action against Fulham, it’s time to look at a few things from the archives. And with many people taking up the charitable baton offered this November, or should I say Movember, what better way to recognise it than by reviewing the top ten of moustaches sported by Brentford players through the ages.

This is a totally non-scientific study based on nothing more than personal opinion of moustache quality rather than playing ability. And so with apologies to any noticeable omissions, let’s kick things off….

10 – Roger Stanislaus. The classy left back opted for an equally classy moustache. It takes a brave man to try and carry this off but Roger did it with ease.

Forget 'what happened next'. Remember the class

Forget ‘what happened next’. Remember the class

9 – Andy Ansah. These days better known for his wonderful Tekkers, in his youth Andy was as famed for his pace as he was for this effort.

Ansah - always displayed wonderful Tekkers

Ansah – always displayed wonderful Tekkers

8 – Steve Phillips. Was the goal machine from the late 70’s a possible inspiration on none other than Gary Blissett ten years later? Note the similarity in strike rates and facial hair.

The original Gary Blissett?

The original Gary Blissett?

7 – John Smeulders. The first of three goalkeepers to make the list. Despite only a handful of appearances, his name lives on forever in the pantheon of mustachioed Bees legends.

Smeulders - played with style

Smeulders – played with style

6 – Gary Phillips. Another goalkeeper and another quality moustache. Little evidence of this, at least in Brentford colours, exists on the Internet. However, once seen it was never forgotten. Mercuryesque.

A photo as fuzzy as his moustache

A photo as fuzzy as his moustache

5 – Chris Kamara. Like Andy Ansah, Chris is as well known these days for his TV work. But Chris also displayed unceasing loyalty to his moustache – something that continued throughout his playing career and can still be seen this very day. An unbelievable effort.

Unbelievable, Jeff

Unbelievable, Jeff

4 – Gordon Phillips. Was it compulsory to go for the Tom Selleck look if you played for Brentford and were a Phillips? Our third goalkeeper and third player to carry that surname, Gordon is easily the best of that group – moreso as he offsets this with a fantastic pair of sideburns.

Clean sheets but not clean shaven. Wonderful

Clean sheets but not clean shaven. Wonderful

3 – Gary Blissett. A goalscoring hero to many. A moustache icon to more. How many players can say they sealed a Championship, knocked their beloved Manchester City out of the FA Cup and even ended up in goal a few times – all despite the extra pressure of maintaining finely groomed facial hair? Seen here with Bees supporter and one time Bees commercial manager Matt Davis.

The goal scoring legend never changed his style

The goal scoring legend never changed his style

2 – Wayne Turner. Sometimes words are not enough. Just let the picture do the talking.

Move over Terry Thomas

Move over Terry Thomas

1 – Gordon Sweetzer. I wasn’t fortunate enough to remember seeing Gordon play and so I take a quote from Andy McCulloch to describe his on pitch personality:

“Gordon, now he would go through a brick wall. He was just crazy. He got terribly injured at times. He was a bit like me in a way – he went for things he shouldn’t have. Probably should have stepped back but you can’t with that sort of desire”.

Imagine, as a defender, that bearing down on you but with the added quality of Brentford’s best ever moustache. Absolute class.

Sorry Bliss, Chris and Wayne. Beaten by a worthy champion

Sorry Bliss, Chris and Wayne. Beaten by a worthy champion

It wouldn’t be a full football team without eleven players and so I’ll reach out to the terraces for our bonus addition. But before I do, if anybody is feeling generous and would like to donate to this year’s Movember campaign (raising funds to fight prostate and testicular cancer) then you can do so here.

Any sized donation would be gratefully accepted and help keep yours truly out of the dog house, where my own attempt to join this elite group is becoming somewhat of an embarrassment.

Face of the fans – Glenn Joyce. Glenn is a familiar face around Griffin Park – and as much for his ongoing devotion to facial hair. Pictured here with Terry Evans, the man mountain may stand head and shoulders above him but not when it comes to moustache growth.

Terry is in good company

Terry is in good company

 

 

Bees emerge triumphant from the Lions Den

9 Nov

Brentford are in the play off zone! Saturday’s destruction of Millwall saw us make it nine points from the last three games and finish the day in sixth position. It was a stunning afternoon of attacking football from a rampant Bees outfit who, as they’d done with Derby County and Nottingham Forest, gave no notice to the reputation of their opponents.

To read the rest of this article, season 2014/15 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full. Containing additional material and even some (poor) editing, you can get it here for less than the cost of a Griffin Park matchday programme or Balti Pie.

 Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, I need to make more space on the site for any follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further along.

Some aspects of modern football remain in the past

Some aspects of modern football remain in the past

Clem remains on one win from twelve for the season

Clem remains on one win from twelve for the season

Dear Andy Ansah. If you aren’t at the World Cup……

3 Oct

There doesn’t seem to be a day goes by without talk of the Qatar World Cup being moved from its traditional summer home to a winter tournament. Only after awarding football’s greatest honour to the Gulf State, does the penny seem to have dropped with FIFA that to hold the competition in 50 degree heat may prove somewhat of a logistical problem. Switching it, though, presents as many new issues – the least of which being it will cut directly through numerous domestic campaigns. By the time you factor in a warm up period, the competition itself and then some post event R&R it means a break of about four months. Hardly conducive for a, traditional, league system.

But lets go with it for a moment. If this does happen then there’ll be a lot of players left kicking their heels. What do they do with themselves?

To read the rest of this article, season 2013/14 is now available to download onto Kindle, in full. Containing previously unseen content, you can do so here for less than the cost of one matchday programme.

 Thanks for reading over the course of the campaign. For now I need to make space on this page for any follow up.  The ‘close season’ / World Cup columns continue in full, further on in this site.