Keegan sold Barry Venison, the only man capable of wearing three haircuts simultaneously while still playing football

ON SATURDAY

It is with great regret that this column makes an announcement which will resonate throughout the sporting world: the second annual Independent award for services to hair in football has been cancelled for fear of terminally affecting the career of the prize-winner.

This is a shame, as the competition was hotting up nicely. Last year's winners Newcastle faded early, leaving the field open. In a metaphor for their fortunes in the League, it was Kevin Keegan's activities in the transfer market that scuppered his team's chances. Over the year he bought Ferdinand, Hislop, Batty, Barton, Asprilla and Ginola; not a decent hair gag among them. Worse, at the same time, he sold his tonsorial linchpin, Barry Venison, the only man capable of wearing three haircuts simultaneously while still playing football. Peter "just like me Mam used to do it, please Mr Barber" Beardsley and Pavel Srnicek with his Help-era Beatles mop could not carry the Geordie torch alone.

Several of the new imports burst on to the scene with the potential to take the prize from the Magpies. Ruud Gullit brought his Cleopatra thatch to Stamford Bridge, but was so elegant, commanding and majestic, few noticed his hair. Regi Blinker brought his Ruud-alike dreads to Hillsborough and was so ineffective, pointless and forgettable, his hair was all anyone noticed.

But it transpired that these boys were never serious threats to the local talent. And the competition was particularly sharp in the early weeks of the season. Robbie Fowler returned from holiday looking like someone had dropped a pot of Dulux on his head; as, bizarrely, did Steve Stone, who reappeared from the beaches with what little hair he had toned a virulent shade of daffodil. Meanwhile David James had gone purple and Roy Keane wore a number one crop that made him look more like Damien from The Omen than ever.

All eyes, however, turned to the City Ground. With Stan Collymore transferred, the opportunity opened up for Jason Lee, with his Carmen Miranda memorial fruit bowl on the head, to make his mark. Uncharacteristically, he took his chance. Within weeks he had become a national figure thanks to David Baddiel and Frank Skinner, who saw in Lee an unquenchable source of gags on Fantasy Football League. But it wasn't just the hair that they noticed about the lad, it was his all-round play: the fact he couldn't trap, couldn't pass, couldn't score. All season they couldn't stop sniggering.

And that's where things turned serious. This week Frank Clark, Lee's manager, put the player on the transfer list and blamed the two comedians: their gags, was his contention, had wrecked Lee's confidence. Everywhere he went the crowd laughed at his hair, and the poor mite couldn't hack it. "Not clever, not funny, not grown-up," was Clark's summary of their jibes.

It was a disingenuous performance by Clark. Last summer he sold Collymore, the local hero, and failed to replace him adequately. Easier to blame someone else. Moreover, Clark had previously branded Baddiel and Skinner as "middle class" and as not being interested in football, merely using it to make a name for themselves. This is clearly untrue: the pair are as obsessed with football as he is. But while he loves tactics, systems and pondering whether to play with a sweeper in the hole just behind the Christmas tree, they love, well, the hair. Clark's failure to spot that they were all batting for the same side did Lee no favours; a more sophisticated adviser would have got the player on the show the week after the gag was made and shown he could laugh at it himself. The sneering would have stopped immediately. But he didn't and the joke was battered and bruised into the ground.

The person to feel sorry for in all this is Jason Lee, a man promoted above his own level of competence. It probably was no fun to be pilloried for professional incompetence by Skinner and Baddiel, men who have the approach of the two comedy bullies at the back of the class; Jason Lee is the equivalent of the school fat boy, eyes stinging at their relentless smirking.

And then worse than merely suffering in silence, his manager, the person who should be protecting him, goes and tells everyone that it hurts. You don't get the feeling too many new employers will be queueing up for Lee's services now: can't score the goals, can't take the pressure. In deference to him, then, his award from this column will be held over. And in the meantime, I'm off to the barber's.

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
News
Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, right, met at Havana Golf Club in 1962 to mock the game
newsFidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?