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Fatty Foulke

When I mention fat goalkeepers you could be thinking Andy Goram or Neville Southall but this guy William “Fatty” Foulke literally took the biscuit!

He played four first-class matches for Derbyshire County Cricket Club in the 1900 season, but is remembered primarily as a goalkeeper for Sheffield United although he also played for Chelsea and Bradford City. He also won a single international cap for England in 1897 against Wales.

After being discovered playing for village side Blackwell in a Derbyshire Cup tie at Ilkeston Town, Foulke made his debut for Sheffield United against West Bromwich Albion on 1 September 1894 and led the team to three FA Cup finals (winning two) and a League Championship.

At the end of the first match in the 1902 Cup Final Foulke protested to the officials that Southampton’s equalizing goal should not have been allowed. Foulke left his dressing room unclothed and pursued the referee, Tom Kirkham, who took refuge in a broom cupboard. Foulke had to be stopped by a group of F.A. officials from wrenching the cupboard door from its hinges to reach the hapless referee. In the replay, Sheffield United won 2–1, with Foulke being required to make several saves to keep United in the match. He was also in goal for United when they suffered an FA Cup exit to Second Division Burslem Port Vale in 1898.

Here he is, apparently wearing the same strip as the outfield players, in the 1901 FA Cup Final:

He then moved to Chelsea for a fee of £50 and was made club captain. Foulke by now was remarkably temperamental. If he thought his defenders were not trying hard enough, he would walk off the field. Opposing forwards who incurred his displeasure would be picked up and thrown bodily into his goal. He was, however, a great crowd puller, and Chelsea decided to exploit this. To draw even more attention to his size, they placed two small boys behind his goal in an effort to distract the opposition even more. The boys would sometimes run and return the ball when it went out of play, and quite by accident, ball boys came into being.Foulke stayed for just one season before moving to his final club, Bradford City.

Foulke died in 1916 and was buried in Burngreave cemetery, Sheffield. His death certificate gives “cirrhosis” as the major cause of death.The stories of pneumonia caught whilst earning pin money at a “beat the goalie” booth on Blackpool Sands seem to be without foundation.

This quite remarkable Mitchell and Kenyon film from 1902 briefly features Foulke but is worth the watching for the superb quality.

And I couldn’t watch those old clips without recalling possibly my favourite all time TV comedy sketch.

Thanks to Ken Fitlike for the inspiration and Wikipedia for the information.


When thieves (and former comrades) fall out…..

Oligarch is one of these words.

Even if you didn’t know the meaning you would know that it has to be something unpleasant just by its appearance or cadence. Ogre is lurking around the environs of the word as is garrotte and lig. Arch is there too, as in arch enemy.

You just know that legal proceedings billed as the “Battle of the Oligarchs” is not going to be a fraternal affair in the least troubled by compromise or esprit de coer.

It’s going to be jealous, vindictive and rebarbative.

As Tom Peck writes in the Independent:

Perhaps the most captivating element of all in the bitter dispute between Chelsea’s billionaire owner Roman Abramovich and his former friend, the wanted businessman and politician Boris Berezovsky, was its promise to shed light on the shadowy gangland world of mid-90s Russia.

He continues:

That light burst into brilliant luminescence as Britain’s leading barrister, Jonathan Sumption QC – rumoured to be receiving an eight-figure fee – delivered his opening arguments in defence of Mr Abramovich.

The Chelsea owner, worth an estimated £8.6bn, and his former mentor Mr Berezovsky, whose fortune totals a meagre £500m, again sat on opposite sides of the courtroom, surrounded by lawyers, as Mr Sumption – a medieval historian in his spare time – said conditions in Russia after the collapse of communism “have not been seen in this country since the 15th century”.

He told Mrs Justice Gloster that it was “not easy” for lawyers to understand those “quite extraordinary conditions” but added: “Your Ladyship must have read Shakespeare.”

Serious stuff.

This is Antonio v Shylock, MacBeth v Duncan, Hamlet (deceased) v Claudius.

It’s also Rasputin v the Tsar.

Thugs with money.

And power.

Lots of it.

“There was no rule of law,” he said. “Police were corrupt. The courts were unpredictable at best – at worst open to manipulation by major political or economic interest groups.

“Nobody could go into business without access to political power. If you didn’t have political power yourself, you needed access to a godfather who did.”

Mr Abramovich is being sued by Mr Berezovsky – who alleges breach of trust and breach of contract over the oil firm Sibneft and is claiming more than £3.2bn in damages*. On Monday Mr Berezovsky’s barrister, Lawrence Rabinowitz QC, portrayed the two oligarchs as friends and equal partners in Sibneft, before Mr Abramovich intimidated him into selling his shares at a knockdown price or face their being seized by the Kremlin.

The tale told by Mr Sumption yesterday was markedly different. He said Mr Berezovsky was paid millions of pounds by businesses controlled by Mr Abramovich for his services as a “political godfather”.

“Mr Berezovsky was a highly controversial figure in Russian politics in the 1990s,” he said. “Boris Berezovsky was a power broker.”
Mr Berezovsky’s lawyers shook their heads as Mr Sumption described him as a man with no knowledge or interest in the oil business – his only significant contribution to Sibneft being securing for Mr Abramovich valuable political introductions and his influence over then President Boris Yeltsin via his daughter Tatyana Yumasheva and her husband, Mr Yeltsin’s chief of staff.

*Berezovsky claims that Abramovich was forced to sell his share Sibneft for a “knock down price”.

That was done in 2005 and was the biggest single transaction in Russian history at £7.5 billion.

I can never hear the name Putin without thinking of “putrid”.

The case continues….

Transfer of Wealth

In 1922 Falkirk signed a player from West Ham United called Syd Puddefoot. It broke the transfer record in Britain, being the first time that £5,000 was paid for a player.

Denis Law became the first British player to be transferred for £100,000 in 1961 when Torino signed him.

In 1970 Martin Peters was transferred to Tottenham Hotspur from Norwich City for £200,000 thus becoming the first British player to be deemed worth that fee.

And so it continued….Kevin Keegan £500,000 in 1977, Trevor Francis £1million in 1979, Andy Cole £7million in 1995….£15million for Alan Shearer a year later.

Yesterday Chelsea signed Fernando Torres from Liverpool for FIFTY MILLION quid. The Reds had previously signed a replacement in the shape of Newcastle’s Andy Carrol for £35 million.

Meanwhile in Scotland I doubt if Rangers fans will be salivating over the loan signing of El Hadji Diouff.

And those 1922 financial pacesetters Falkirk were perhaps a little preoccupied to be bothered much about signing any players.

Health and Safety – Champions League Style!

Well Done United!

Well I suppose I have to mention it. My wife’s family are all Manchester City fans so I can’t be too fulsome with the praise. Mrs Bigrab however is also related (in a distant way) to former United hero Mark Hughes.

I think on balance I’d rather United won than Chelsea although over normal time one would have to say that the London side had the upper hand. That’s really all I can be arsed writing about it other than the penalty shoot out was exciting.

Tykes see off City Slickers.

Great to see that surprise results can still happen in the FA cup. When I was growing up in the 70’s I remember Colchester United beating Leeds United in the cup. Leeds were at that time the best team in England and Colchester were in division 4 (now league two). The half time score was 3-0 to Colchester thanks to a Ray Crawford hat trick and they held out to win 3-2. I also remember non league Hereford United beating Newcastle and West Ham of the first division in succesive rounds of the cup.

Fast forward to 2008 and Barnsley, having seen off Liverpool in the last round got the reward of a home tie against the multi millionaires of Chelsea played last night.

Kayode Odejayi’s second half header sealed the Championship side’s place in the semi-finals with Barnsley deservedly booking their trip to Wembley. As SpencerVignes says in the Observer today “Dickie Bird, Darren Gough, Arthur Scargill, Michael Parkinson – your boys dished out one hell of a beating.” Any fellow members of the ABC club (anyone but Chelsea) will rejoice at this news.

Hard Times For Mourinho!

This is no ordinary edition. This is the "Special One"


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