Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ned Kelly Caught out by His Wooden Prose; Football Notebook

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ned Kelly Caught out by His Wooden Prose; Football Notebook

Article excerpt


YOU may not know the name Carlo Collodi but his most famous character came to mind while reading a new expose of Manchester United - "the book they tried to ban".

Collodi wrote: "If he turned to the right, he knocked it against the bed; if he turned to the left, he struck the walls. Pinocchio, not knowing where to hide his shame, tried to escape from the room, but his nose had become so long that he could not get it out of the door."

Perhaps it's for the best that Ned Kelly, the former SAS man in charge of United's security for 12 years, doesn't have a wooden nose.

Some at Old Trafford believe his book, Manchester United the Untold Story (Michael O'Mara Books, [pounds sterling]18) is the work of a fantasist and he certainly takes credit for a few fantastic things, including Eric Cantona's celebrated jibe about the press.

Kelly, who gets the timing of the press conference wrong, claims Cantona asked him: "Ned, what do you call a fishing boat in England and what do you call the small fish in the sea?"

before the famous Seagull and trawler remark. Kelly also claims that a famous 3-1 victory at Anfield was down to artillery plans he gave to Alex Ferguson before the match.

The whole book is tittle-tattle wrapped in cliches and it's hard to see any reason other than paranoia why United would have bothered trying to suppress it. There are numerous accounts of former chairman Martin Edwards's "little problem" of being a peeping tom in womens' toilets, but as he was cautioned by the police for this in December 2002, it's hardly a state secret.

Among other trivia are claims that Cantona likes "slapping womens' bottoms", that new chief executive David Gill "never spoke highly of Ferguson", that Paddy Crerand likes a free drink and several of the 1996 FA Cup-winning team enjoyed a "blow-job festival" from two girls in the toilets at the Four Seasons Hotel. And, wait for it, Kelly also says that Ryan Giggs "constantly picks his nose" . …

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