What would Owld Bob have said and a tale of a suit
I’m a bit worried. Since Mike Smith and I started the Bob Lord book, I can’t speak for Mike, but I’ve started to obsess about the man inasmuch as I frequently stop to ask myself ‘What would owld Bob have said?’
Bob of course was a chap who had his finger in quite a few pies, although he was quick to admonish one critic who accused him of being a pie maker with the retort that he had never made a pie in his life. The Lord Empire in fact was built on sausages, 10 miles a week of them at his peak from his Lowerhouse factory, said one newspaper piece we found. During the war at one point he filled them with whale meat. Presumably at that time it was difficult to make both ends meat.
Wondering what the old lad would have thought happened again, when I read about the 5million payment to be made to retiring Richard Scudamore. Of course the rationale was all dressed up in business-speak and some people said that this is just the way of the business world, even though it is an obscene amount of money. I can’t begrudge the high salary he is on, and maybe even the bonuses he is reported to have already received for his work. But this 5million really does take the biscuit.
The Premier League culture is simple enough, being based on figures and sums of money that go into the billions and make your eyes water. I can only assume that the figures at the top of the Premier League tree dealing with these gigantic figures simply lose all sense of reality. Is this starting to happen at Burnley – surely not? But, such a group of people might well be the Premier League Remuneration Committee, whose brainchild the 5million was. Reports say that the clubs then went along with it without even a show of hands. Fingers are being pointed towards Bruce Buck as being the instigator but one has to ask what the other members of the remuneration panel were thinking. Of that there is no word. One of them in fact is Mike Garlick the club announced back in June of this year. All of us I think were quite delighted that he should be elevated to such a role, seeing it as quite a coup for our little club.
The top sports writers, however, led by the inimitable Henry Winter plus supporters groups, up and down the land, slammed into the cash award. When the news first broke and in my naivety I’d hoped that the Burnley board would give the idea short shrift. But that was before I remembered that Mike Garlick was a member of the Remuneration Committee. My thoughts were that this was a grotesque figure to award him. One million and a box of cigars would have been OK or perhaps just a nice sherry decanter. A crate of Newcastle Broon would have been a bit insulting, but 5million… we were open mouthed.
The reaction on the airwaves was spectacular. On twitter, Facebook and the messageboards there was utter fury especially at the idea that Burnley FC would be contributing 250k to the total. A huge majority vehemently condemned the payment, and certainly the Burnley contribution. And Bob Lord’s name cropped up more than once on the airwaves when people other then me, asked what on earth would Bob Lord have thought? His name will just not go away. Our fourth draft of the book us currently with the publisher for their perusal. We managed to get it down to 140,000 words without losing any of the real stories and impact.
Initial reports said that Burnley were one of five clubs to have disagreed with Scudamore’s reward. This was later amended to just three, Watford, Fulham and Southampton. There were unsubstantiated reports that clubs had been ‘told’ to cough up.
‘Worst decision since Lee Hoos and the retainer fiasco,’ was one comment. More than just a few folks said you can have my season ticket back. If that was a bit extreme it was certainly reasonable to say that here again was the perfect example of Prem clubs being out of touch with supporters, their opinions, reactions and views. Make no mistake; Burnley FC agreeing to stump up the quarter of a million did not go down well at all, like a lead balloon in fact.
Words like embarrassing, shameful, appalling, disgraceful, laughable and ludicrous filled social media, along with obscene and even offensive. Supporters hadn’t quite got over the idea that fans could become a hero by being an unpaid steward and helper on matchdays outside the stadium.
Why could the club not spend the money on local grassroots football where pitches are a mudbath and changing facilities in many instances non-existent, was one query? Spending it on providing hot water in the concourse washrooms and toilets was another? What about a gesture to the fans who buy season tickets, turn up in all weathers, a free drink, a free programme or a scarf? None of us can remember the last time the club actually gave us something.
My old granny used to say, money breeds money, as she fed me my jam and bread. We didn’t have any money ourselves back then; still don’t have an awful lot. How many of us rank and file actually do? Yet on pensions and low wages we stump up for season tickets only to see the club that is normally so careful and prudent, a byword for caution, not betting the ranch, and making sure the jar on the mantelpiece is filled for rainy days, a club that is run by local men, sane and sensible men, barely a Del Boy or a gambler among them, but agreeing to find 250,000 for Scudamore’s handshake. If you say a quarter of a million it sounds even more.
It therefore genuinely baffled me that our eminently sensible directors could go along with this in a town where it was clear it would be condemned; a town of unemployment, low wages; genuine hardships for many and where eyes would stare with amazement at the figures being bandied about.
The club response, the official statement, supporting the payment, produced more anger and indignation. It was brief to the point of curtness and its final sentence dismissive, as if to say, well if you don’t like it, lump it. Arrogant, said several folks. I suspect Bob Lord would be apoplectic about the sum being paid to Scudamore. I suspect he would have refused point blank to find 250k towards it. But the last words of the club statement:
‘The club will be making no further statement on this matter,’ were truly Bob Lordian.
But let the last word go to the fan who wrote that the club should not pay the full 250,000. ‘We should adopt the Rodriguez approach,’ he said. ‘Offer them £50,000 and see if they will take that. If it’s a no offer 55,000 and see how it goes. They’ll soon get fed up and say no and we will have saved £250,000.’
Meanwhile here’s a highly recommend book for your Christmas list; ‘Bloody Southerners,’ by Spencer Vignes, a Brighton supporter who lives in Yorkshire; and is the story of Brian Clough’s brief tenure at Brighton and Hove Albion. The Roy Oldfield book, Mud, Sweat and Shears, tells the tale of Clough turning up at Turf Moor, only to find that all the staff had gone out for lunch, and Bob Lord was nowhere to be seen. Cloughie wandered round the premises and found Roy out on the pitch. While he waited for people to turn up to sort the sale of Harry Wilson and Ronnie Welch, muttering to Roy that he never got a bloody lunch break, Roy beetled off to the chippie to bring pie and chips for himself and Clough to eat in Roy’s little room under the stand.
Roy’s book is much more than just a tale of growing grass and mowing the pitch and is filled with his anecdotes of the great and good in football who chatted to him on a matchday, not to mention all the managers he worked for. He adored Bob Lord, by the way.
Spencer Vignes for his book interviewed many of the players who were there and by all accounts Clough was hardly ever there, was none too popular, and his henchman Peter Taylor was deemed to be an awful man who did nothing but put people down. Once Welch and Wilson had been signed, Taylor and Clough then raced to Lytham to register them but missed the deadline by 15 minutes on account of the traffic. The two players therefore watched the away game at Watford from the stand having been introduced to their new teammates. And Harry had bought a new suit for the occasion.
‘Wilson and Welch, 19 and 20 years old respectively watched the Watford game unfold from their seats in the stands at Vicarage Road but only after they had met Albion’s players for the first time in the away dressing room prior to kick-off. Wilson had bought a new suit especially for the occasion, one that stood out for its garish nature. Lammie Robertson, who remembered both players as juniors from his time at Burnley was handed the job of introducing them to the team.
‘Harry was wearing this loud kind of checked suit and Clough says, “Fucking hell I don’t ever want to see you in that suit again.” And everybody started laughing. Harry had red hair and he was going red in the face as well. And then Cloughie came out with a classic. “What the fuck are you all laughing at? They’ll be in the team next week.”
With his £5million, spread over three years of course, Scudamore can maybe buy as many new suits as he wants. Meanwhile, I will continue to wear a pair of shoes I’ve had for 20 years, big sturdy things, American Leather from M&S. These are shoes that have been through 11 pairs of laces, walked old Scamper the Scottie in years gone by through the muddy woods, been to many a football match in the rain, and done me proud.
I am sure that owld Bob would approve.Share this page :