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(In trouble again.  I wrote this a few days ago before his latest transgression)


I saw your picture in the papers a few weeks ago.  You made a pathetic sight, stumbling from a taxi in an open bathrobe with your privates in full view of the press hyenas; a trip to the store for a bottle.  You and the bottle – a marriage made in Hell.

I didn’t want to see this.

I wanted to see you “daft as a brush”, the little cocker spaniel kid and I wondered who looks back at you in the mirror.  He’s still in there – the kid who’d join the other kids on Dunston rec, whether he’s seven years old or a multi-millionaire superstar.  You and a ball – a marriage made in Heaven.

We were privileged that you played in our generation, the best of your generation.  I was doubly privileged that you played for (nay, graced) my team, giving my memories an even sharper affection than for others.

The free kick you scored from about 40 yards against Arsenal in the ’91 Cup semi-final.  The lob over Hendry, back-sided by genius, and then volleyed into the net against Scotland in the ’96 Euros.  Waltzing through the entire Pescara defence for Lazio, enshrining yourself in their mythology.

But always around the corner was the little kid who didn’t understand life’s rules.  Taunting Celtic fans with a sectarian pipe-playing goal celebration.  Burping into the microphone for the Italian press at Rome airport.  The cocaine, the wife-beating.

Your clubs never knew what they’d bought.  Genius certainly; they knew that.  But flawed genius which came at a price.  Was Venables the only one who truly understood you? that all you wanted in life was to be given the ball and play on the rec again?

YouTube – Lest We Forget.




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John Coopey

Tue 20th Sep 2016 17:00

You're so right, MC. It's as though the Gods of Genius have played a cruel joke on the lad and wired him up wrong.

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M.C. Newberry

Tue 20th Sep 2016 14:23

There is something profoundly sad about seeing God-
given gifts wasted through defective character. The
words that come to mind are "lack of self-discipline",
something that cannot be taught once a certain age has
been reached. Thereafter it becomes gratuitous self indulgence that leads down the slippery slope to self-
destruction. Reflections of this could be found in the
life of another great talent on the ball - George Best.

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