Outside the Box: Barron enjoys four minutes of fame then calls it quits
Sunday 25 July 2010
In future, to paraphrase Andy Warhol's maxim, Andy Barron will be famous for four minutes. That was how long he spent on the pitch during the World Cup, though the fact that the New Zealand midfielder was the sole amateur in the 32 squads and also an investment consultant, ensured his cameo against Italy made news around the planet.
Now, having achieved the impossible – a banker getting a good press – Barron has retired from football. The 29-year-old feels he owes it to his employer, the Westpac Banking Corp in Wellington, to focus on his £1bn investment portfolio. Even in South Africa, he admits, he was monitoring clients' funds. Having started out at Petone FC in Wellington, aged five, he went on to play in the US for Minnesota Thunder and Northern Ireland with Lisburn Distillery, realigning himself with Petone before deciding to quit. And to remind him of when he took a break from trying to make millions to rub shoulders with those who already do, he'll always have his framed Azzurri top. A swift transaction with Gianluca Zambrotta saw to that. Bankers? They'll have the shirt off your back.
Wake up Thursdays
The precedents for supporters taking control of football clubs are mixed. The internet campaign MyFootball Club persuaded 32,000 people to invest £35 each in Ebbsfleet United in a real-life version of Football Manager, only for the Kent club to be relegated last season as backers drifted away. In contrast, AFC Wimbledon and FC United of Manchester have put down roots. A new online scheme, fivepoundfootballclub.com, hopes to attract 5,000 subscribers at a minimum of a fiver a time with the aim of buying a modest-sized club, preferably in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, and making it the hub of the community. The project has 350 founder members and down-at-heel Abergavenny Thursdays have emerged as favourites to be, as one member put it, "reawakened". Founder members of the Welsh Premier League in 1992, the Thursdays (named after half-day closing when shop-workers gathered to play) are now six promotions from that level in Gwent County League Division Three, competing with Race, Caldicot Castle, Pill and Villa Dino. No official approach has been made but local fans, mingling with £5fc members on Facebook, are said to "incredibly receptive".
Virgin territory for Burch
One ritual of the pre-season tour at many clubs sees summer signings having to endure the embarrassment of singing for new team-mates. Word reaches this column of the cringe-inducing extremes of Notts County's final night in Austria. The after-dinner entertainment started with Journey's motivational rock-ballad "Don't Stop Believin'" by the ex-Doncaster midfielder John Spicer. The striker Ben Burgess, freshly recruited from Blackpool, then played the laddish card with the single-entendre rap track "Candy Shop" by 50 Cent ("I'll let you lick my lollipop/Keep going 'til you hit the spot"). After which it took great bravado, or horrible misjudgement, for former Lincoln goalkeeper Rob Burch, 26, to serenade his colleagues with "Like A Virgin" by Madonna.
A bit less Fuller
Stoke City have also been in Austria, from where news comes of a shrunken Ricardo Fuller. Not for the normally muscular Jamaican powerhouse a common-or-garden injury or even a stomach bug. Fuller reported back a stone lighter – due to stress after his grandmother's home in Kingston was wrecked by rioters supporting the fugitive drug lord Christopher "Dudus" Coke.
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