Outside the Box: Local heroes' standing makes this the year of the statue

 

What do Sir Alex Ferguson, Sir Bobby Robson, Don Revie, Denis Law, Roy Sproson and Fred Keenor have in common? Distinguished football figures clearly, but also heroes of whom a statue was erected during 2012. It continues a trend established comparatively recently, which has been meticulously recorded by Dr Chris Stride and Ffion Thomas at the University of Sheffield. Their website www.sportingstatues.com lists some 70 existing tributes to football folk, plus another dozen currently planned. Fifty of them are at British grounds, the oldest being Swindon Town's tribute to their former England international Harold Fleming in 1956. After that it was not until the 1990s that any more were erected at stadiums. "It's very much a new phenomenon," Dr Stride says. "It's a combination of clubs seeking to brand themselves using nostalgia and success, and also fans, who've organised about one-third of them, saying that this is their hero and their ground. So they are particularly popular at what can often be rather bland new stadiums." Best, however, not to let the fans loose on the actual sculpting; when Southampton did so for a statue of the long-serving manager Ted Bates, the result – looking more like Milan Mandaric, the former chairman of hated rivals Portsmouth – had to be taken down within a week, after which a new one was commissioned. Coming soon: Nat Lofthouse at Bolton's Reebok Stadium, Bill Nicholson at White Hart Lane and West Bromwich Albion trio Brendon Batson, Laurie Cunningham and Cyrille Regis in the town centre.

Nothing to Crow about

Good foresight by Brighton and Millwall in bringing their fixture forward to last Tuesday to beat the lack of public transport on Boxing Day, when the game was scheduled. Millwall's lifelong fan Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers union, was able to keep them up to date with plans for industrial action. Given the prospect of an Underground strike, Arsenal called off their game against West Ham, but Fulham and Queens Park Rangers insist they can cope despite the many fans who use the Tube to reach grounds.

Boot is on another foot

Well done, too, to Stuart Holden of Bolton Wanderers, who has persuaded his team-mates to join him in parting with all manner of clothes and footwear for the town's homeless this Christmas. The American midfielder assembled an impressive collection of designer gear and 60 pairs of his own footwear for local charities. He has hardly had the best of years, having not played for 15 months after two serious knee operations, but hopes to return shortly.

Hansen plays by the book

On the subject of worthy causes, we will know this evening if the Hillsborough single "He ain't heavy, he's my brother" will be the Christmas No 1 ahead of Middlesbrough fan and X Factor winner James Arthur. The BBC pundit and ex-Liverpool defender Alan Hansen, who features on the song, is also backing a novel called Dangerous Score (Dynasty Press), about a footballer seeking justice for himself after being linked with the disappearance of a young woman. The author, Mike Bearcroft, once a Sheffield United junior, will donate part of the royalties to the Hillsborough Family Support Group.

Unarmed and dangerous

The spirit of Alan Partridge lives on in the Signal Radio reporter interviewing Stoke City's defender Andy Wilkinson following last weekend's fractious game with Everton: "On a different day, Andy, the referee might have been throwing yellow cards around like a man with no arms."

Outside the Box; twitter.com/@stevetongue

Voices
voices
News
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
News
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before