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HELLO ALBERT, HELLO SPION KOP!
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HELLO ALBERT • ISSUE 22 

Fantasy Football
Duff Signings No.7/Fanzine Football
The Slump of '96
For Whom The Trapdoor Beckons


FANTASY FOOTBALL OR ....
TO PLAY IN OLD GOLD AND BLACK OR TO END UP AT THE DEVA, THAT IS THE QUESTION.

I went to watch a pre-season friendly between Wolves and Hamburg at the magnificent new Molineux stadium. I had seen it from the outside but not been to watch a game there. It looks good, even if the team were made to look second class by a superior side (Wolves had the excuse of fielding an under strength team).

The site of the stadium, on a slope, means that it remains hidden from the town’s ring road but as you walk down beside the main stand, the full majestic size of the ground begins to unfold. As you look more closely some of the attention to detail strikes you: bollards in the shape of footballs; a grand entrance with the name of the ground displayed on a pedestal and a giant sculpted club badge, the wolf’s head mounted up on the wall. Since I was there a statue of Billy Wright has been unveiled outside the entrance, adding to the impression that this is a club with a proud history and a confident future. Inside, the seats of old gold were glistening, the pitch looked luminous green in the floodlighting, an impressive sight. The large tv screens in each corner however were a distraction. When they weren’t showing a blurred picture of the game in progress there was a nauseating animation of a cartoon wolf presumably to get the crowd worked up but having no effect on the crowd whatsoever,

Beneath the stand too, the concourse was drab, people milling around at half time wondering whether to feed the appetite with over priced junk food and drink or glance at television screens showing an uninteresting interview.

On the whole though, Molineux must be one of the most attractive of the new grounds – worth a visit in itself. As I sat there looking across to the stand behind the goal at the far end of the pitch with that famous emblem, one of the most marketable in football – the sinister looking wolf’s head picked out in black against the old gold background. And I thought about the other team in the League which has a wolf’s head as its badge, our own Chester City.

Our wolf’s head is derived from the Earls of Chester, or the first one in particular – Hugh Lupus, or Hugh the Wolf or Hugh the Gross to his enemies. According to a story I heard third hand some time ago one of Hugh Lupus’ more genteel successors, the Duke of Westminster, earlier this century offered the football club a new stadium to be built on the canal side site where the telecommunication building is now. A stone’s throw from Telford’s warehouse and not far from the City walls – it would have been a tight and dramatic situation for a football ground but less bleak than the end of Bumpers lane in the middle of nowhere.

The only condition which the Duke made is that the team should play in his racing colours of.....Old Gold and Black. Whether it was for this reason or some other the offer was not taken up and City remained at Sealand Road until the nineties. It makes a fascinating “What if” story to imagine what might have been if Chester did play so close to the town centre. Such a site would have been much more popular with the fans if a nightmare for the city authorities and local residents. Even if the ground had been built there surely the Taylor report would have meant Chester being banished to an out of town site like the Deva anyway where access would be easier (some joke), and would be the only place for a modern stadium. Or would it?

Remember the brilliant Stadio Luigi Ferraris in Genoa, played in by both Scotland and Ireland during Italia ’90? Well that beautiful stadium was built on a very restricted site, hemmed in on all sides by buildings that could not be demolished and a river bed. The Genoese municipality employed the best architect they could find (Vittoria Gregotti) to completely rebuild the stadium on its existing site and the result is a “Glowing example of the urban art form” (Simon Inglis). In my fantasy football world, either the Duke or, better still, the City Council would have built an equally magnificent arena for the boys in blue/old gold which would have graced a restricted but dramatic site. Now if you think this is fantasy football, just wait till you hear who would be in the side.

Albert


ISSUE 22 Fantasy Football
Duff Signings No.7/Fanzine Football
The Slump of '96
For Whom The Trapdoor Beckons
 

 

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