It was no wonder Wimbledon were booed off the other night, their display had all the worst elements of Football on show. The Long Ball, a tactic that brings with it acute boredom for the spectator is excusable to a certain extent, when it suits your players and brings results. What is not excusable though is a team who after going ahead in the 4th minute, spend the rest of the game deploying every delaying tactic in the book. Not a very good reflection on a team that is supposedly in a higher division.
Coupled with the gamesmanship was the persistent fouling executed by virtually every player in a blue shirt. Elbows in the face, shirt tugging, knee high tackles and blatant tripping were all a part of the Wombles game plan, aided and abetted by a referee who amazingly let it all go without punishment. That at least two Wimbledon players weren’t sent off must be a total mystery to everyone except this ref and that includes the two guilty players themselves.
His eventual booking of Young, Gayle and Wise was cheapened by his incredible booking of Ripley, who at 1 – 1 and with Boro pressing hard for the winner sought to gain advantage by kicking the ball goal-wards despite being offside. “Time wasting m’lad! Can’t have that!” Players were aloud to foul and foul again, in fact they could have tripped Bernie up all night as long as no-one broke a leg or something. Blue murder.
On the plus side Boro were magnificent, especially in the second half when they overran the Wombles with the kind of work rate that used to personify games at Ayresome. It was great to see Ripley back to his very best, i thought he was superb for the whole 90 mins. Parkinson was getting forward effectively, linking superbly with Putney and not totally disregarding his defensive responsibilities. Same with Cooper, what a difference he makes, and he’ll get better and fitter with each game. Mogga and Kerny were commanding and looked very keen, despite the ‘sledgehammer in the stomach’. Brennan played some lovely little balls inside the full back with Proctor doing most of the spadework and Bernie
was… err, just Bernie.
We’d have murdered Plymouth and Brighton if we’d played like that, and lets hope it wasn’t a one off. Sing your hearts out for the lads today.
I see the North Stand clock has joined the growing ranks of faces at Ayresome Park these days and stopped working. A bit like those halcyon days between 1976 and 1980 when amongst the remarkable features of Ayresome matches like goalies with safe hands and well organised defences was the fact that all games kicked off and ended at 4:50.
Though i was a mere bairn in 76, a starry eyed one at that, the sight of that lifeless time piece was the second most embarrassing thing (getting wrongly accused for shi**ing in the school baths being the first) especially when the visitors were Liverpool or Man Utd. “What on earth will they think of us?” i thought as i stared into the packed Clive Road corner, whilst also making a mental note never to purchase and product of ‘Longines’.
Match of the Day appearances were marred by not only the 0 – 0 draws but the occasional glimpse of those fixed hands. During televised games i prayed for passes to be kept low and to feet and i am thankful that Wimbledon weren’t in the league back then.
It seems such a little thing to ask that it be repaired or replaced, though the club came out with a succession of what seemed at the time like half baked excuses. The club claimed that the clock was technically not their property as it was part of a 10 year agreement made in 1966 with a member of the World Cup committee. The gadgie with whom the contract was made had since died (probably sick to death of the phone ringing) and it was impossible to trace the original, owners. A Lancashire firm who maintained (?) the clock had not surprisingly gone bust and no other firm wanted anything to do with the job. Or so we were told, in other words because it was a delicate piece of machinery and quite high up, to restore the pride and convenience of 25,000 paying customers every other week “will cost you in the region of one hundred nicker….. hello……are you still there Mr Amer?”
When we sold Graeme Souness to Liverpool i consoled myself with the thought that “oh well, i suppose we can afford to get god damn clock fixed.” But of course it wasn’t and why should it be, after all you cant see it from the North Stand anyway and that’s where all the real fans sit.
Then suddenly it was gone. With the explanation that the original contract had been found at the Loginess Head Office (of all places) in London. They decided that the clock was beyond repair (yeah the it’ll cost you a hundred nicker syndrome again) and so it was taken away to a place of rest, which at the time was probably Huton Road. Then the club had the bespectacled bare faced cheek to ask for a new clock to be sponsored by some ‘kind hearted soul’. I other words ‘you want to know how long till half / full time, you pay for it’.
Well the Ayresome jinx has struck again and this pathetic situation has turned full circle, which is a damn sight more than the current clock is doing. Now that the club has a few bob in the bank why don’t they do something positive and lasting and erect a state of the art computer scoreboard at the back of the old Boys End. It surely wouldn’t cost that much and it would bring us into line with all the so called top clubs to which the board are constantly telling us we aspire to. The cost of such a project could be offset against revenue that can be earned with advertising and it would give the fans something off the field we could be really proud of. We’ve spent enough on the Hardwick, Camsell, Mannion and Foggon suites and whilst its nice to impress visiting players and staff, who does it really benefit, not the community, most of whom couldn’t afford to use these facilities and are hardly likely to be invited.
So come on Mr Chairman what about us?
The following is a retrospective view of Alan Comforts career at Orient – written by Tom Davies and reproduced by kind permission of the Leyton Orientear.
The first piece of bad news to come Orients way in a long time hit me as I munched my Cornflakes on July 11th 1989. As rumoured, Comfort was on his way to Teesside to play for Middlesbrough in their bid regain Division One status (hopefully at the expense of W**t H*m). I don’t suppose you can blame Alan or Frankie really. There’s cash in it for us and hopefully Alan will provide the Second Division scene with as much entertainment and skill as he did in the Fourth. Although i can’t help thinking that to progress further we need to get out of this vicious circle of selling our best players. Since the departure of Chiedozie in 1981, Comfort has been the most exciting and skillfull player to grace the mighty mighty Leyton, at times it seemed like he was the only one with any ability at all.
Comfort arrived in March 1986. We were in our first season in the basement and our promotion bid was faltering, mainly due to a run of terrible home performances. He leaves in 1989 with the club better supported than at any time since our Division Two days, promotion achieved and things looking up (touch wood).
I missed his debut at Scunthorpe but the reports were good, even if the result wasn’t (2-0 up with 8 minutes left, 2-2 final score). I first saw him in the 4-2 win of Torquay and although we missed promotion Comfort had shown immediate promise on the left wing. It was in 1986-87 that Alan really established himself as a cut above your average Division Four muddied oaf. The trouble was that the rest of the team were bloody awful and the hole we’d dug ourselves by the beginning of January (4th from bottom in an era of angry Clark abuse and Orientear editorials) was too great for us to achieve promotion. It was during the revival of Feb-May 1987 that Comfort came into his own. Aided by the cultured midfield play of Shaun Brooks and the tireless flair of Godfrey on the right, Comfort was often breathtaking. His brilliant last gasp winner vs. Lincoln is particularly memorable and over Easter his pace and skill completely overwhelmed his pervious club Cambridge in a 3-0 romp, followed on Easter Monday at Aldershot by a superb 50 yard run which set up Ian Juryeff’s dramatic winner. He was pretty much the unanimous vote as player of the season, which he fully deserved.
At the start of the 1987-88 season optimism was high yet false but Comfort certainly played his part in helping us to 2nd place by Christmas. Memorable Comfort moments include two cracking goals in the 8-0 vs Rochdale and a fine run and cross for Rhino’s dramatic winner against Darlington. But in the latter half of the season Comfort was frustrating and frequently dragged down to everyone else’s mediocrity as some horrific performances were witnessed Hartlepool (h), Scunthorpe (a) and Wolves (h) etc. Alan was rarely at his best during this nightmarish period.
Optimism was low at the start of the 1988-89 season and for the first six or seven games Comfort didn’t really stand out as the whole team were playing completely crap. As results picked up, Alan was good but not that good. Unfortunately, one of his best performances in this period was at Enfield in the Cup in front of 4,031 at Southbury Rd – and the bloody TV cameras. Motson was gushing with superlatives as the cameras showed in-depth slow motions from about 37 angles of Comfort weaving his way through the Enfield defence. But the team remained inconsistent and although Alan frequently showed his class, it was a bit sporadic as rumours of arguments with Eastwick spread like wildfire and we wondered why he kept being switched to the right.
Being fickle and without the benefit of hindsight, giving Comfort a freer role, coupled with the arrival of Kevin Campbell worked wonders and Alan was in breathtaking form as we stormed up the table and on to promotion. The O’s front line of Comfort, Campbell and Harvey took the piss out of Fourth Division defences and a feast of goals were plundered. Comfort finished top scorer last season with 18 goals, many of which were absolute classics – Burnley (h), Burnley (a), Wrexham (a) – where he steamed through a packed defence and slammed it into the roof of the net. He was instrumental in our eventual promotion. Unfortunately, the outside world got wise to his ability and now he’s gone, along with many of the other stars from our stay in the Fourth – Brooks, Godfrey and Shinners etc.
Comfort will be fondly remembered for his role in brightening up our lives on a Saturday afternoon with his mazy runs down the left and his ability to grab spectacular goals. A ‘real old fashioned winger’ as they say and though this sounds very sycophantic, he often really did make you forget you were watching Fourth Division football. In these past three and half years i never saw anyone playing for your Scunthorpe’s, Wolve’s or Northampton’s as skillfull as him. He was also renowned for his devout Christianity and his slightly posh accent, which was encountered as certain people lied about their age to get into the Junior O’s open day in 1987 (“I’m looking for my brother honest”).
For those of us too young to remember the, er, glory days of 69-70, 73-74 and whose memory of those Second Division days is a bit hazy, Comfort will be regarded as one of the O’s greats. Cheers Alan. Over to you Danny Carter – p.s. we should never have sold him.
Ewan J Carmichael, a regular correspondent of FMTTM, recently wrote to Tyne / Tees Television to complain bitterly about the level of coverage given to Boro on their regular sports feature. He received the following letter by way of reply.
FMTTM would like to go on record as saying that although Tyne Tees sport presenters do appear to have a Mighty (spew) Quinn fixation at the moment, their coverage is a lot fairer than their rivals at the BBC who are loathed to feature anything outside of Tyne & Wear. Tyne Tees are sensitive to accusations of regional bias since they came under strong pressure to eliminate it a few years ago when independent TV stations were franchised. The BBC meanwhile can smugly report on whatever they feel and these differences are reflected in the two services on offer.
Mr Carmichaels reply was as follows: