Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Talent Was Allowed to Go Untested

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Talent Was Allowed to Go Untested

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID BANKS

I'VE been taking a lot of unsporting stick down the Red Lion recently thanks to the recent slump experienced by Liverpool, the footballing love of my life.

Robbie the Spittal lawnmower salesman and his sister-in-law Fiona the Facebook Queen are Sunderland fans; her husband, Stripper, barracks for Chelsea and the rest of Milfield are solid Toon Army when they're not supporting Hibs or Hearts.

The occasional drinker has even owned up to being a Berwick fan since the Wee Gers' doughty display against the big boys from Glasgow. So you can imagine how it's been.

Life might have been different if fate had taken a hand back in 1967 when I received a letter out of the blue from the chairman of Scottish Third Division side Forfar Athletic.

"Thank you for your very distinguished CV and application for the vacant post of player manager," began the letter, which went on to admire my record as a player and coach before "deeply regretting" that the post had finally gone to a former Celtic and Scotland international.

"Do not abandon your search for a prominent position in the professional game," the chairman urged consolingly. "A talent like yours should not be wasted."

I never did discover who posted 'my application'; presumably one of my fellow weekly newspaper colleagues, tired of my tirades from the terraces, decided my career in journalism should be kicked into touch in favour of me putting my money where my goalmouth was.

THE Weakest Link should only be viewed through the hands at the best of times, but when the rudest woman on telly is putting a favourite niece through the wringer - and you happen to know both of them well - then splayed fingers are the only way to go.

"Don't tell Anne Robinson I'm your uncle," I earnestly advised young Helen Wakefield. "It won't make you a star in Anne's book. …

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