A football expert.. moi? | Dave Thomas

I was a tad flattered the other day when someone said I was a football expert.

Monday, 15th March 2021, 12:30 pm
Even after 60 years of watching his beloved Clarets play, and being the author of several books on the subject, Dave Thomas does not class himself as an expert in the game

At the ripe old age of 76 I am well able to say that, even after 60 years of watching Burnley, I am anything but.

If I was, I’d be on the phone every Saturday to Paddy Power and be a millionaire by now. I’d be so good that Paddy would ban me.

In the good old days, it was the football 'pools,' Vernon’s and Littlewood’s. My father used to spend hours filling them in, and I can’t remember him ever winning a penny.

That was when we chugged to Burnley, up through Cornholme and Cliviger, in an old Ford Prefect and you could actually find a space to park in the streets around the ground. It was always Lebanon Street. It only had three gears and going uphill could never get past 40.

Trouble is, we lived at number 50.

When I was a lad, football was simple, jargon was rare. The most technical thing you heard was “kick ‘im inter stands.” “Get stuck in lad.” “Give it some welly,” was always a favourite.

It was an age when wingers danced down the wing, inside forwards could turn on a sixpence and Burnley players always played with a chuckle in their boots.

Today I can just about understand what a high press is, and transition. I think I know where the channels are. But that’s about it. Oh, and I think I know what a staccato run is.

There’s this commentator on Sky that continually harps on about 'overload,' what that is, I have no idea. Then there is ‘playing through the thirds to work the overload.’ I’m lost.

Working with Paul Weller on the new book, he talked about his apprentice days being so enjoyable despite being bellowed at by Terry Pashley and Harry Wilson. They trained, played, did their jobs around the stadium and life was relatively straightforward.

Today coaches talk about growth maturation screening, peak height velocity, bespoke accreditation pathways, performance management application, productivity analysis, benchmark data and bio-bonding.

The young lads need a dictionary!

Brian Clough never used words like that and won the European Cup twice. So, what’s it all about? Who makes these things up? Harry Potts would have been baffled. ‘Get that ball up to Mothercare,’ he’d shout at Colin Waldron. That was the signboard by the pitch where Steve Kindon lurked, waiting for a ball to run onto.

And offside these days? In my day it was clear enough, even from a hundred yards away high up on the terraces.

If the attacker was clearly in front of the defender, that was it. But now with VAR and red lines and blue lines it’s down to a couple of centimetres. The other week it was a hand because someone was pointing to where he wanted the ball playing.

The day will come when it will be a nose that has strayed offside. I can just imagine a commentator: ‘Glen Little, offside I’m afraid, by just his nose.’