Football: 'Blame Johnny Foreigner - but not the Swedes'

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The Independent Football

AT THE Conservative Party Conference in Blackpool last week former Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher attributed all the problems of herlifetime to action taken on mainland Europe. Speaking to me exclusively over a large gin and tonic, the former Football Association official SirTufton Cholmondely Farquharson warmly endorsed Lady Thatcher's comments.

AT THE Conservative Party Conference in Blackpool last week former Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher attributed all the problems of herlifetime to action taken on mainland Europe. Speaking to me exclusively over a large gin and tonic, the former Football Association official SirTufton Cholmondely Farquharson warmly endorsed Lady Thatcher's comments.

"Dear old Maggie has hit the nail on the head," said Sir Tufton, "I couldn't agree more, all football's problems stem from Europe. We gave themthe beautiful game, but what have they done to it?

"I argued against joining Fifa at the start of the century, but under the New Labour welfare state namby-pambies we went in after the SecondWorld War. What good has it done us?

"This Bosman chappie, simply because the Belgians cut off his wages, went moaning to the European Court of Justice and the French pratsmade a ruling which has led to our league becoming awash with foreign players.

"Thankfully, some of them don't stay long. That Anelka moved on pretty sharpish, but Arsenal were left with a profit of £21.5m. Goodriddance, I say.

"And Cantona. He took exception to a fine young Englishman telling him a few home truths at Selhurst Park. Surely those of us who pay theiradmission fee have the right to express their opinion when Johnny Foreigner steps out of line?

"The sooner that Ginola follows the strutting Cantona home and takes his shampoo with him the better, I say. You wouldn't catch a fine clean-cut man like Kevin Keegan advertising poncy products.

"These mercenaries from across the Channel are denying our homegrown youngsters their place in the league. They're bleeding the game dry.Why has England no left-sided players? Why have we not been able to replace Gascoigne? Why have we hardly any decent Englishgoalkeepers? Because all the places are taken by foreigners, that's why. And all of them mediocrities. That Ruddock was right, they are prats.And they're too slow, too much tip-tap. What the English fan wants is blood and guts, up-and -at-'em, the style epitomised by that youngYorkshire lad Batty.

"And the cheating they've brought into our game. The French would never have won the World Cup if they hadn't been at home. All those slytactics, pinching the opponent and grabbing his testicles.

"Course, they're trying to con the best referees in the world in our league, which everyone knows is the best league in the world. Not only that,we have to cope with all the Fifa directives. First the shoulder charge disappeared. Now there's no tackling from behind and no passing back tothe goalkeeper. They'll be abolishing the throw-in next.

"And all these yellow and red cards we have nowadays. They weren't needed in the old days. One look from Stanley Rous and JohnnyForeigner soon got the message.

"These Uefa people say we play too much football in England and should cut the Premier League to 18 or 16 teams. Poppycock. We won theWorld Cup when the First Division had 22 teams. They'll be criticising the Worthington Cup next. The English season is a marathon not asprint.

"Of course, Thatcher tried to persuade Uefa to adopt an identity card scheme after one or two of our lads overstepped the mark in Turin,Luxembourg, Stockholm, Germany and Heysel. They refused, saying hooliganism was an English disease. Bloody cheek. The Heysel disasterwouldn't have happened if they hadn't taken the match to a crumbling old stadium.

"At least we've now done away with those stretchers which were introduced to speed the game up in that World Cup we missed due to thatincompetent German referee in Rotterdam in 1993.

"Where did women's football first take a hold? In Europe, that's where. In Scandinavia, and Italy, and Germany. They even had a womanmanaging a league team in Italy.

First they introduced the European Cup. Chelsea were right not to enter in the Fifties. Now we've got a World Club Championship and TonyBanks persuaded Manchester United not to defend the FA Cup.

"They introduced penalties instead of replays. What was wrong with the old system when we had three, four or even five replays? All becauseof European football, dictated to by television, we have lost our birthright."

Sir Tufton was just warming to his theme when I took my leave to seek reaction to his remarks from those perhaps better versed in the ways ofmodern football. "Maggie is right, 100 per cent," he shouted, as I closed the door to the snug at Lower Chittenden's Rat and Ferret.

A spokesman for the newly established federation of English football commented: "We will, of course, be delighted to meet Sir Tufton and hearhis views on the way forward."

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