Football: My idol returns - the man who made winter tans acceptable

THE GAFFER TAPES
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The Independent Online
The pink champagne was flowing yesterday as football managers all over the country celebrated a victory in our fight for better conditions. You may not have read too much about our blockade as the Murdoch press, anxious to protect Sky's licence to print money, refused to report it but I can inform you it was a stunning success.

We took the campaign to Lancaster Gate and picketed the Football Association and Premier League. It was cold but Kevin Keegan organised the Harrods soup wagon to feed us and Terry Venables sent along a few copies of his game, The Manager, to keep us amused. Unfortunately Kevin got so annoyed at losing to Fergie he threw the pieces into the road where the soup wagon ran them over.

Neither Kev or the wagon turned up the next day but Jack Charlton wandered into Hyde Park with his 12-bore and bagged some rabbit and pheasant - or were they peacock? We cooked them over a barbie made from all those cards advertising "massages" in the local telephone boxes (apart from one card I kept for historical purposes).

The FA, upset at being obscured by smoke, now promised us "a full and frank enquiry with the utmost urgency", but we weren't having that. We could all be sacked by the time that was finished - or dead.

This led to an escalation in our campaign. We forced Richard Keys and Andy Gray to admit a live Sky televised game was abysmal to watch. Thanks to Joe Kinnear and Martin O'Neill for arranging it.

However, this still didn't achieve our objectives. The FA tried to fob us off with the offer of a knee-length sheepskin coat, box of Havanas and a silver cigar lighter each, but we said no despite an impassioned address from an honorary vice-president and former active member, John Bond.

Eventually we were forced to storm the building and Kelly the Jelly and Bert the Inert were held hostage in the Mark Dennis Disciplinary Room until the FA gave way. First we twisted a few arms to get Howard Wilkinson's Charter for Quality passed by the FA Council (a few videos of their activities on FA jollies, and a threat to send them to the press and their wives, did the trick). That persuaded Howard, our mole in the FA, to turn down Sheffield Wednesday.

Then Wednesday were encouraged to bring back one of the legends of the game, a hero to us all, in Big Ron. He is, I am not ashamed to admit, an idol. He made chunky jewellery, designer sunglasses, dodgy defences and winter tans acceptable. He also set standards of punditry which ensured we all had a chance of a spell alongside Brian Moore. Welcome back Ron, and any chance of three points when we play Wednesday in a few weeks?

All that excitement meant I missed out on a bit of controversy at the Old Cornfield. It emerged that the chairman, Sir Hirem Firem, had given a personal donation of pounds 500,000 to the local Tory Party the day before the local council's planning committee passed our application for a new stand at the Graveyard End.

There had been quite a lot of opposition to this, mainly from relatives of all the bodies we need to dig up to sink the foundations. However, the council appreciated that a town this size needs a Premiership club and we can't sustain our place if we don't expand. When news of the donation emerged there was a brief problem with one of the opposition councillors but he's now been so convinced by our arguments he's even agreed his construction firm will build it for us.

We were thinking of running a competition for the name of the new stand but it now looks like being called "The Sir Hirem Firem Stand". Even the fanzine is fairly happy with that, they only want to add one word: "Memorial".

We've no fixture today because it's international week so we're taking the team to the Canaries for a short break. Norwich is lovely in November. Unfortunately Shaun Prone can't make it because he has a chest infection after accidentally stabbing himself with a poppy. Ivor Niggle is also out, he sustained a groin problem during filming for one of those fake videos we sent to the FA councillors.

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