Growing up in the 1970s and early 1980s were bleak times. Constant industrial action caused power cuts, candles were a commodity akin to gold on our estate. And it was worse than having no power, it was much worse.
Alongside lights suddenly going off and my grandfather reaching for a box of Bryant and May and the candles, when the power WAS on there were only three TV channels. News of that is enough to scare the modern kid of today witless, even more so when you whisper that WiFi hadn’t been invented…nor had the Internet.
With kids of today looking bemused, go for the kill and tell them that the TV channels didn’t run through the night, that the BBC used to play the National Anthem that you had to stand to as it played out and that video recorders loaded cassettes through a bolt-action top loading mechanism and that they were operated by wired remote. Yes, the magic of a Ferguson Videostar.
Some things never change though, these things remaining constant through the ages. Things such as big football teams plundering smaller sides of their best young players and Emmerdale Farm.
Actually, Emmerdale Farm HAS changed quite a bit since the days when it had two words in the title – quite a bit indeed. First is has dropped the word ‘Farm’ from its title, this coming due to a move away from the life ethos of a village farming community. Instead it has moved in to a more steamy arena where bed sheets are ruffling in such a way that Annie Sugden’s hair would curl into spirals so tight she’d be wearing a Michael Jackson circa early 1970s Afro.
My two favourite characters were joint-owners of the village pub ‘The Woolpack’ – Amos Brearly and Henry Wilks (above). The characterisation between the two was spot on with Brearley’s constant chiding of his business partner hitting a sweet note with me.
It is with Amos Brearley’s catchphrase that I’d like to drag this around to football and Leeds United.
Nay, nay, nay Mr Wilks
January is upon us, soon 2017 will be but a dim memory of a year gone by. As a Leeds fan, before the current regime change even, we usually worried about teams hovering like Saharan vultures waiting to pick the flesh from the bones of our starved and stranded squad.
Things have changed though, ever so slightly but they have changed and for the better. We’ve gotten better as a side and gained some kind of sticks to beat away the circling vultures waiting to pounce. Oh and Norwich were relegated and are a worse team than we are – so safe on that front. Essentially, we’ve gone to a ‘buying club’ rather than a ‘fire sale’ club where the remnants we had worth salvaging were paid off.
Yet, when you have a reputation of producing great young talent, the vultures continue their slow, ponderous circling above. It’s par for the course really of being a second-tier side with a reputation for good youth players made better in the first team. Look at Ronaldo Vieira, never has a player been so aptly named to succeed than he at Elland Road.
Yet he isn’t the only one, and he won’t be the last – by no means will he be that. You can scan the fringes of the first team and Under-23s and names pop out that would attract vultures. Tyler Denton, Lewie Coyle and Mallik Wilks are but three that teams looking for an upcoming youngster would be tempted by.
In fact, Premier League Everton have been, according to reports in the Liverpool Echo and Daily Mail. Big Sam Allardyce has chugged down another couple of pints of wine and pointed to the young Leeds star and said, “We’ll have ‘im!” Wilks is halfway in to a season-long loan deal that has seen the rated young White out at League Two side Accrington Stanley. In fact, such has been his impact at Stanley that, according to the Mail, West Brom and Everton have been taking a shufty at him.
22 appearances across all competitions for Accrington Stanley has brought the struggling Premier League vultures circling it seems. But, and Mallik would do well to heed this, the grass might be greener on the other side but the bench is still splintered and hard for any side.
I guess what I am saying could be summarised thus; Mallik, there’s no need to leave Leeds United for the supposed lure of the Premier League with Everton and West Brom – well more Premier Inn than Premier League. Stay at Elland Road, build from the strong foundations that you’ve created.
Or in the words and vernacular of Emmerdale’s Amos Brearley: “Nay, nay, nay Mr Wilks!”