One of the most exciting, nail-biting, worrying and ultimately satisfying experiences in English Football occurred on Monday (Not you again, John Terry) – the firm slamming shut and nailing of the transfer window. Of course you can still bring in free agents and loan players but not through the window – possibly the transfer cat flap underneath, although you have to be careful if it is one of those magnetic ones. The cats/players wear a collar with a magnet attached and it only opens to let in a cat with the right positivity (good for the dressing room) – once inside, they cannot escape as their collar will be repulsed by the magnet in the flap. One woman went on holiday and forgot to alter the settings so she came back to a house full of cats that had entered in search of food but couldn’t escape. I suspect Harry Redknapp is operating a similar system at White Hart Lane although he has obviously chucked Robbie Keane out of the window.
My own lot managed to bring in a total of seven players in the window – that’s two thirds of a new team and as scathing a criticism on the previous manager’s ability to assemble a squad as my wife’s on the state of an IKEA Television table I once put up which lasted about as long as Robbie Keane at Spurs this time.
The transfer deadline used to be in March and was always the scene of high-intrigue and characters and situations straight out of a James Bond film. Shadowy figures meeting in airports and service stations all over the country, swapping coded messages and suspicious-looking brown paper packages – although not as suspicious as the sandwiches and “meat” products sold in those locations.
We once were linked with Diego Forlan and were due to meet him at Gatwick Airport, London to fly him up to Teesside to sign for us. Unbeknownst to us, Sir Alex Ferguson had dispatched his agents to intercept the Uruguayan and spirit him to Manchester Airport instead. I had mental images of our chairman and chief executive sitting in the arrivals lounge looking at their watches and seeing the clips of him arriving in Manchester, looking at each other and saying “Are you SURE we missed him?”
If it’s not the excitement/disappointment of deadline day, the transfer fees themselves are suspect to interrogation. The almost casual use of ‘undisclosed fee’ these days mean that many amateur fans have no idea what their teams have paid or received for certain players but we can rest assured that most journalists don’t either and simply resort to page 2 of the junior reporters almanac – the Chapter marked “Making it up”. Looking back at some of the official fees for players though, as usual in football – truth is stranger than fiction.
Future England and Manchester United great Gary Pallister was brought from non-league Billingham Town by Middlesbrough for the princely sum of a set of kits, a bag of balls and a goal net. No confirmation whether the net was used to carry the balls but I hope we didn’t nickel and dime them. The most unusual involved a striker called Kenneth Kristensen who moved from Norwegian 3rd Division outfit Vindbjaert to Floey for his own weight in fresh shrimp. He was even weighed in a boxing-style weigh in to make sure they got their due.
Some of you may conclude that it would be a cheap-shot to end a piece on poison shrimps with a video of Denis Wise and you know what? You’re absolutely right.
Guy Bailey is a staff writer for The Yanks Are Coming. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.