Social Icons

The Unofficial Greek
Roy of the Rovers
fan club

Τρίτη, 10 Δεκεμβρίου 2013

Roy of the Rovers stuff...literally

There are 3 pub conversations everyone reading this will have had at least once in their life –

1. Greatest album of all time?

Now this is open to a huge amount of debate - personal taste aside great bands don’t always make the truly ‘great’ albums, do you judge it on sales, mass appeal, or purely personal preference? I will simply say this without ever hoping to answer conclusively. If you say anything other than ‘The Stone Roses’ by The Stone Roses you’re wrong. If you answered with anything by Meat Loaf you can probably stop reading this and go spend some time taking a long, hard look at yourself in the mirror.

2. Greatest film of all time?

To be right just pick any one from these five – Weekend at Bernie’s, Rocky IV, Escape to Victory, Clerks, or Weekend at Bernie’s 2. Alternatively I will accept some pornography. Nothing with dwarfs though. Never again.

3. Greatest footballer of all time?

Now this is the biggie. Do you go Diego - mercurial, breath taking, the entertainer supreme and with the personality to match the talent? What about Pele, the most brilliant of the brilliant Brazilians, an institution in the game, scorer of over a 1000 goals (ish…)? How about Bestie, the wasted talent, the ‘How good could he have been’ argument? Then there’s Di Stefano, Socrates, Bobby Moore, Beckenbauer, Puskas, Messi, Ronaldo, Zidane, Gareth Bale…

Next time this comes up, let me give you a slightly different take. Let me submit to you a footballer whose career spanned decades from youth player to first teamer to player-manager. Off the pitch he survived player rebellions, a takeover of his club, a coma after being shot, a coach disaster, and a high profile marriage break up and reconciliation. On it he won everything domestically (including 9 league titles) as well as every European competition available including a personal favourite – the Cup Winner’s Cup.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Roy Race.

Roy of the Rovers was as bigger part of my childhood as football stickers and near constant rejection by women. I looked forward to Melchester Rovers weekly adventures more than ‘Arry Redknapp looks forward to a transfer window. I was an addict and mum was the dealer, scoring for me every Wednesday so I could consume the whole magazine as soon as I got home from school. I once had a letter printed asking what Roy thought his transfer value was in the light of Chris Waddle’s £4.5m transfer to Marseille, I’m not sure the birth of my first child will top the feeling.

Roy had it all including the original wag - the stunning Penny who he swept off her feet while she worked as club secretary. With his model looks, blonde hair, gorgeous wife, England captaincy, and precocious talent, he was David Beckham before David Beckham was. He was a role model with Brian Clough’s sense of decency and Dario Gradi’s loyalty. To put it in a succinct fashion, if Gazza had moved to Melchester Rovers he would now be famous for his charity work rather than needing strangers to ‘help’ him out of bars nightly.

Many football comics and comic strips came and went in my life. I loved Billy’s Boots but never connected with him as I begrudged him Dead Shot Keen’s boots – you want to get better at football go out and train, don’t rely on magic footwear you mop haired cheat. I also liked Hot Shot Hamish and Mighty Mouse but their approach to football was pure fantasy. ‘Gary Lineker’s Hotshot! Magazine’ also provided several strips I liked but poor sales saw it eventually amalgamate with Roy of the Rovers weekly and only ‘Andy Steel: Playmaker’ lives on in my memory. Roy was a constant and I liked that. Children rely on routine, Roy was part of mine.

Roy’s debut came in 1954 having been signed as a youth player with his best friend Blackie Gray. The 60’s saw him win his first trophies and develop into the Roy of the Rovers I knew and man-loved. The 70’s made him a player-manager and his life off the field began to enter the stories. The 80’s were my original jump on point before I began hunting back issues, and were by far his biggest decade. Roy made the national news twice, firstly when Penny left him and then after he was shot by a jealous actor who had been hired to play him in a television series. He lost half his first team due to terrorists accidently blowing up a car near the Melchester team bus, and then he left Rovers after a fall out with the management only to return shortly after. By the early 90’s the Premier League heralded a new era for football and a helicopter crash left Roy with an amputated left foot and his son taking over the mantel in Rovers first team. Slowly various incarnations of Roy of the Rovers died due to falling interest, his own weekly magazine became monthly and then ceased to exist at all. A stint as a regular strip in Match of the Day magazine came and went and Roy was consigned to a graceful retirement, one footed but with Penny for comfort and his son an eternal first team player for Melchester Rovers.

Roy’s still a hero to me because he serves as a reminder that football existed before the Premier League and all the Sky sponsored bull shit that accompanies it. Football was a simpler place, maybe not better standard wise in England’s top league but definitely simpler. In a world where my nephews had 5 different sets of football stickers to choose from at the beginning of this season, maybe there isn’t place for a footballer who owns up if he feels he was offside. Football is now 50% a sport and 50% a business concern, Roy was always 100% a gentleman.

The recently published collected editions now sit on my shelf and are already showing signs of repeated dips into my childhood. I urge you to have a look if you get the chance, they will serve as an antidote to Richard Keys, they will ward off evil spirits like Neil Warnock, and joyously they’ll remind you of a time in your life when you bought penny sweets and didn’t know who Robbie Savage was.

Δεν υπάρχουν σχόλια: