The Fan

By Davies, Hunter | New Statesman (1996), October 4, 2013 | Go to article overview

The Fan


Davies, Hunter, New Statesman (1996)


Look out for Roy Hodgson pulling up his trousers during the England game against the mighty men of Montenegro this coming Friday (ii October). I think I know the reason.

He's not fat but at his age, 66, he has acquired a little beer belly. Not seen it--we use separate bathrooms--but I assume he has. You have to take some things on trust, such as the oft-repeated line that he speaks five languages.

Not heard any of them but I presume this is because in his long-legged career he has managed clubs in Sweden, Italy, Denmark and Switzerland, as well as England. Obviously, he must have picked up the local languages, as footballers do, being so awfully adaptable.

I base the theory about his belly on my own dear tum, which just seems to gave arrived with age and lodged itself there. While standing on the touchline, Roy's belt slowly slips below his belly line, which of course is more comfy, but then he suddenly realises, worries that his shirt will pop out--perhaps even his belly--so he has to howk it up. This is an action that usually coincides with something frustrating happening on the pitch. Do look out for it.

All managers look worried, if not terrified but then we all look pretty miserable in repose, when caught unguarded, not having put on our face to the world. Without doubt, Wenger is the most miserable-looking manager of them all. Those lines, those frowns. He is beginning to make W H Auden look positively baby-faced. Remember him?

Auden was the first famous person I ever used a tape recorder to interview. In the Sixties, I was sent to see him at a house in St John's Wood where he was staying with Stephen Spender. I had a sealed envelope to hand over to Auden, given to me by Leonard Russell, the literary editor of the Sunday Times (who was married to Dilys Powell, the paper's film critic). I looked in it, of course, and inside there were 30 crisp [pounds sterling]1 notes. Once Auden opened the envelope and stuffed it in his pocket, he lost all interest in me or the interview.

Meanwhile I was fussing about with the tape recorder, which I had never used before--an early Grundig, about the size of a Mini-Minor. …

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