Remember, remember Dean Ashton

It has been a week to remember when internationals made my heart race, when England meant something to me and when the memory of Bobby Moore in his glorious pomp dominated the land. The James Bond of football, stirred but never shaken.

I mentioned in another article this week, in passing, how international football now leaves me cold. I wasn't expecting to be proved so right so damned quickly.

Ok, so we managed to put the Scots back into their place, it happens every now and again when they think they have a good team! And even though I chose to go to a Jackson Browne concert (over 40s, ask your dad) instead, the highlights of Wayne Rooney's lot embarrassing the Jocks in their own backyard was mildly amusing.

And in one sense I was delighted that Stewart Downing got back into the side, his play this season deserves it. But you know, I was more interested in his physical well being than anything that happened on the pitch.

Diafra Sakho, too, with Senegal in far away places. It is good to see our players get personal acclaim, but at what cost? Remember how we all felt when Dean Ashton finally got a belated England call-up? Proud and delighted.

But the memory of that first training session in Manchester and the terrible tackle by Shaun Wright-Phillips that set in motion the premature end of our centre-forward's career, always comes flooding back. I am only interested now in seeing our players return fit and safe from international duty.

I recall making some enquires from people who saw that Wright-Phillips tackle first hand, and frankly it was a disgrace and one that should never have been used against a colleague in training. 'Nuff said there.

My view is that had Ashton stayed fully fit and had a successful career with the Irons, we would never have been relegated and never gone through the nerve-shredding days of the mid-noughties.

Now we have Downing having not only picked up a knee injury on international duty--that's what caused him to sit out the Slovenia match--but then aggravated it in the first half in Glasgow. He could miss Everton because of it. So could Sakho, who has only just recovered from a shoulder injury but now has a back problem.

And it is not just us. Daley Blind could be out for several months at Manchester United while Luka Modric will miss three months with Real Madrid. Leighton Baines, Darren Gibson and James McCarthy could be out for Everton.

Joe Allen got smashed in the face by Marouane Fellaini (how does he keep getting away with it) and could be out for Liverpool. All these injuries happened while on international duty.

England have an insurance policy to cover loss of matches and wages, but do Senegal? I doubt it. Now I understand why managers and clubs get so upset by internationals, various FAs around the world and the whole unbalanced concept that country's have call on any player when ever they want, and a whatever cost.

Countries are told they own the players, not clubs who pay the wages and suffer the consequences afterwards. I doubt any national FA cares if our great start to the season is now ruined by injuries ruling out key players.

I read an interesting piece by Brian Williams on West Ham Till I Die this week that articulated far better than me the reasons for a lessening interest in England. And as if to underline his words we had the IRA-chanting nonsense at Celtic Park; what a disgrace, and the England band had to be told by an FA official not to join in!

The FA have stringent rules about who gets tickets for away England matches, they have to be in the England club and the FA know every name and address of fans attending. But still we have this dreadful abusive chanting. The England team, the Union Jack and the flag of St.George have been hijacked by the far right for too long, and Tuesday was just another example of something we are told has been eliminated.

And that brings me to my memories of Moore, and the recently published very worthy book, Bobby Moore--the man in full by Matt Dickinson (Yellow Jersey Press, hardback ?20) that I have just finished reading.

My memory of Moore at a Scotland-England game was way back in the 70s when he was at the height of his powers, upright, an imposing figure of a man without a hair out of place. The Scots hated him for it. The game I witnessed I recall him flicking a piece of mud from his shirt, imperiously, as he walked off at the end of another England win, disdainful and without a mark on his spotless kit. Class act.

Matt's work is the most impressive West Ham book of the year, a genuine and sincere attempt to get to the root of the man. It is an excellent, thought-provoking book, and the first serious effort on the subject for many years, certainly covering the later years of his life.

I started not really sure whether I liked it or not, it questioned my own memories of the man, and then I realised that Matt was the first person I have read on the subject who probably never saw Moore play.

I have to reveal an interest here, because I worked alongside Matt when he was first starting out in national newspapers, a Cambridge University graduate from the local evening paper, thrust into the nest of vipers that was the Manchester football reporting scene.

I feared for him at first, to nice, too polite and respectful. But he survived the baptism of fire and soon went on the join the Times and become their top man covering England.

In the book he seemed to be searching for something, maybe the real man behind the myths and legends he had been brought up on, but never seen. He spends a lot of time discussing Moore's drinking, not exactly calling him an alcoholic, but every club back then had a drinking culture.

But the way Dickinson handles the terrible illness that took Moore from us and the breakdown of his marriage to Tina shows great sensitivity and genuine respect. Dickinson spent plenty of time talking to the old hands of Fleet Street, Nigel Clarke etc to flesh out the inside stuff that had been around press rooms for years, and there is extensive and diligent research into Moore's failed business interests and equally unsuccessful attempts at management.

The author seems to suggest that Moore's drinking was out of hand and that the man did not have the nouse to survive in business or management. Either way, the book is thoughtful, very well written but in the end Dickinson seems still to be searching for answers.

It must be hard to find anything really new to say about the man, but West Ham fans should have it at the top of their Christmas list.

So we can now put aside England and internationals until March at the earliest. I just hope we do not suffer because of the involvement of our players on international duty. Just remember how good Deano could have been. And I will stick with my memories of Moore!

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