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Billy Lamont

I see from the club website that former manager Billy Lamont has died.

He joined us as manager in 1981 after achieving the feat of getting East Stirlingshire promoted from the bottom flight in 1980 (something they’d only achieved four times before then and never since.) He left us in 1984 to join Falkirk but the team he had put together for us went into the top division at the end of that season, the last time we graced the highest echelon of Scottish football.

He left to go to manage Falkirk and gained promotion with them too.

In 1990 he came back and took us to promotion from the Second Division as champions in 1992. That team was good to watch.

His is a record that makes him one of the most successful managers we have ever had and a fondly remembered club legend.

Billy Lamont: 12/5/1936 – 8/10/2021. So it goes.

Roger Hunt

And so another name from that small number of Englishmen to grace a World Cup final, Roger Hunt, has finally left the pitch.

His 244 league goals remain Liverpool’s best ever. Only Ian Rush has scored more goals for the club overall. Hunt also scored 18 times for England in 34 appearances – including three in the group stages in 1966. When Jimmy Greaves was fit again for the final it seemed it might be Hunt who would make way for him but manager Alf Ramsey decided to stick with Hunt and Geoff Hurst. By raising his arms and turning away Hunt looked in no doubt that Hurst’s shot off the bar had crossed the line for his controversial strike in extra-time that in effect won the game.

That Liverpool supporters called him Sir Roger shows the esteem and affection in which he was held.

Roger Hunt: 20/7/1938 – 27/8/2021. So it goes.

Jimmy Greaves

One of the footballing greats has gone. Jimmy Greaves might be termed a pure goalscorer. His record of 357 goals in the top flight of English football may not ever be surpassed. He also scored nine in Serie A with A C Milan.

He began his career at Chelsea then moved to A C Milan in 1961. He did not settle there and was signed by Tottenham Hotspur for £99,999 (the £1 less than 100,000 supposedly to avoid the pressure of being the first £100,000 player. I doubt that would have bothered him.) He is the highest ever goal scorer for Spurs where he won several trophies. His League career ended at West Ham United.

He also scored 44 goals in 57 international appearances for England but missed out on a World Cup Final appearance in 1966 – and therefore his country’s greatest (only?) football triumph – due to being injured in a group game and the form of his replacement Geoff Hurst. This disappointment reportedly subsequently preyed on his mind. Sadly he became an alcoholic after his League career ended.

In later years, the alcoholism overcome, he became a Saturday lunchtime fixture in the TV prgramme Saint and Greavsie and earned himself a whole new legion of fans some of whom had never seen him play in his heyday.

Here are some of his goals for Spurs:-

James Peter (Jimmy) Greaves: 20/2/1940 – 19/9/2021. So it goes.

A Family Headstone

I can trace part of my ancestry back to my grandmother’s family in Tyneside. She was born Margery Besford in Hebburn, now South Tyneside, but a book I inherited through her from her father suggested he had once lived in Cramlington, Northumberland. There in May 2021 I found this headstone relating to an even earlier generation of Besfords.

Besford Grave, Cramlington, Northumberland Village,

The gravestone tells of the unfortunate fate of John Besford. He was run over by a train on Stannington viaduct. How devastating that must have been for the family. His young wee daughter followed him just a year later. Annie was obviously a bad luck name for the Besfords as the Annie in the following generation, my granny’s older sister, also died very young, of Scarlet Fever I think.

Friday on my Mind 207: The Price of Love. RIP Don Everly

Don Everly, half of pioneering rock music duo the Everly Brothers, who had an undeniable impact and influence on musical acts who succeeded them, including The Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel, died earlier this week. (I noted his brother Phil’s passing in 2014.)

Don was 81. (Astonishingly, the obituary in the printed edition of the Guardian said he was survived by his mother, who has therefore reached a very good age)

By the time I got to listening to music in the mid-60s the Everlys star had waned somewhat but their harmonies still had a distinctive edge.

This song, written by the brothers, was the Everlys last big hit in the UK.

The Everly Brothers: The Price of Love

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Isaac Donald (Don) Everly: February 1/2/1937 –21/8/2021. So it goes.

Charlie Watts

Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts, never really one to seek the limelight so it’s a bit ironic he was a member of one of the biggest entertainment acts of the last 60 years, has died. He was a key contributor to that act’s sound.

I was of course aware of The Rolling Stones from frequent TV appearances before 1966 but that was the year my family finally got a transistor radio and I could listen to the radio on my own. As a result Let’s Spend the Night Together was the first Stones track that really made an impact on me.

This is a clip I remember vividly from Top of the Pops and shows Mick Jagger’s ability to sell a song. He’s moving around so much that the cameraman’s close-up fails to keep him in shot. Charlie drum rolls on this are delicious, though, and make the track.

As I recall some DJs and radio stations in the US objected to the implication in the song’s title and demanded it be changed to Let’s Spend Some Time Together.

The Rolling Stones: Let’s Spend the Night Together

That single’s double A-side, Ruby Tuesday, features some more signature drumming by Charlie.

The Rolling Stones: Ruby Tuesday

Charles Robert (Charlie) Watts: 2/6/1941 – 24/8/2021. So it goes.

Afghanistan

I refer you to the answer I gave previously.

I read a piece a few months ago which suggested that since Afghans don’t like outsiders (and their ideologies) coming into their country, maybe having the Taliban take over would eventually reveal them and their beliefs to be as alien to Afghans as any other invaders and the usual Afghan resistance might follow. I confess I won’t be holding my breath for that.

Apocalypse Now

A heat dome over North America, conflagrations in Greece, floods in Germany, Belgium and London, smoke from Siberian forest fires drifting over the North Pole, the hottest temperature ever recorded in Europe.

These were things never imagined when I was growing up. Any possibility of these things was consigned safely to the uncertain future.

And yet.

The climate has definitely changed in my lifetime and there can be no doubt that fact is overwhelmingly due to human activity.

That apocalyptic future is here. No longer in the future.

Now.

What will it take to make certain people believe that?

Gerd Müller

Sadly Gerdy Müller, one of the best strikers I’ve seen play football, (never in person though, though only on television,) has died.

With Bayern Munich and the West German national team he won every competition going. He scored 51 times in 31 appearances for TSV 1861 Nördlingen before joining Bayern (then not in the West German top flight!) for whom he bagged 566 goals in 607 games and an incredible 68 in 62 appearances for his country. That record speaks for itself. Despite not looking like a typical footballer, squat and a bit ungainly looking, he had great pace over short distances and a quick mind for the chance to shoot at goal. He was so good he was nicknamed Der Bomber. He finishe dhis career in the US at Fort Lauderdale Strikers, again averaging more than a goal a game.

In those days chances of seeing a player of a foreign club were few and far between – possibly highlights of a European tie involving them and a Scottish or English club or just, maybe, the final of the European Cup. Even European championship games weren’t routinely on domestic TV.

So it was in World Cups where these exotic foreign stars were revealed to us.

In the 1970 World Cup in Mexico Gerdy got a singleton and two hat-tricks in the group stages to set up their quarter-final against England.

I didn’t see that game live (I was young and foolish) but I heard the early score.

When I got home – not knowing the result – I said to my dad, “England 2-0 up?” A nod.

“2-2 full-time?” (hopefully.) “Yes.”

“3-2 Germany after extra time? “Yes.”

“Gerdy Müller?” “Yes.”

Maybe it was wishful thinking (even in 1970 Scots had got fed up with 1966 and all that) but somehow I knew what the outcome would be and that Der Bomber would make the difference.

Mind you, if I had watched the game maybe I would have been less sanguine. By all acounts (or is that English acounts?) England were bossing it till Alf Ramsey took off Bobby Charlton to save his legs for the semi. Then Franz Beckenbauer took over the midfield. Whatever, poor Peter Bonetti, stand-in keeper after Gordon Banks caught a stomach bug, got the blame. West Germany lost that extra time thriller of a semi 4-3 to Italy, but Gerdy scored twice.

Four years later it was a different story. (England didnae make it cause they didnae qualify. Oh sorry, that line came four years later.) Gerdy scored only once in the first group stage but got two in the second, helping West Germany to the final where they played the Netherlands, Johan Cruyff and all.

Their brand of football made Holland most neutrals’ favoured side and they even took the lead from a penalty in their first attack. But after another penalty evened things out Gerdy scored the winner in a home World Cup for West Germany, forever sealing his legacy.

Gerhard (Gerd) Müller: 3/11/1945 – 15/8/2021. So it goes.

Educational Attainment

I heard on the radio this morning that the gap in examination results between Public (aka private) school pupils in England and those in state schools had widened. As you would expect the Labour Party had apparently bemoaned this difference.

A BBC reporter then relayed the UK Government gloss on it, to the effect that when you “drilled down” into the results then those from selective schools and “academies” showed the same trend as private schools.

How convenient I thought, that this information mirrored what their adherents would have the general public believe about the effectiveness of such schools.

Then it occurred to me, that in a system now solely dependent on teacher assessment this increase is entirely what you would expect from institutions more likely to suffer parental pressure – or employer pressure on teachers – than the average state school. Because what exactly are parents of private school pupils paying for? (Better results certainly, as well as access to old boy networks.) A similar expectation no doubt exists for selective schools and the so-called academies.

Another explanation than the effectiveness of individual schools presents itself. That the results from “normal” state schools are more likely to be genuine and the teachers in those schools less likely to have bent to any pressure from parents, or their employers, than those whose jobs are perhaps less secure.

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