Saturday, 1 August 2009

Farewell, dazzler Bobby...

Sad though not unexpected to hear of the death of Bobby Robson, after his long, repeated and brave battle with cancer. The tributes have been fulsome, but in this case rightly so - with many noting the great personal qualities of the man... some of which seem sadly lost on a number of his successors in the management game. The Guardian summed it up by noting that he "became the heart that English football wore on its sleeve." Sir Bobson Robson (as he was once referred to on Japanese TV, I'm told) was a person formed by the mining community he grew up in, by football, and by a certain old-fashioned working class civility and humour. Some old fashions are great, it should be noted!

He thought long and hard about the game, too, though this didn't always come across in his public statements, which could be gloriously prone to those amusing little slips beloved of hacks and Private Eye's Colemanballs. One of my favourites (I can't recall the exact occasion) was when, during a piece of extempore TV punditry, he declared: "If our lads can get ahead and keep it that way to the end of the game, I'm convinced we can win."

Other classic and affectionately remembered word fumbles that have made it to the web include: "We didn't underestimate them. They were a lot better than we thought" - after England nearly lost to Cameroon at the World Cup in 1990; "Football's like a big market place and people go to the market every day to buy their vegetables" (don't mention turnips!); "If you don't score you are not going to win a match"; "The first 90 minutes of the match are the most important"; "If you count your chickens before they have hatched, they won't lay an egg"; "Don't ask me what a typical Brazilian is because I don't know what a typical Brazilian is. But Romario was a typical Brazilian"; "Jermaine Jenas is a fit lad. He gets from box to box in all of 90 minutes"; "Yeading was a potential banana blip for Newcastle"; "He's very fast and if he gets a yard ahead of himself nobody will catch him"; "There will be a game where somebody scores more than Brazil and that might be the game that they lose"; and finally... "We don't want our players to be monks. We want them to be better football players because a monk doesn't play football at this level."

Dumbarton's keeper is nicknamed The Monk, by the way. And he's not doing too badly... Well, OK, Saturday wasn't great.


Fr Kenny said...

The Monk let in five and he's doing not too badly? Expectations aren't high then Simon?

Simon Barrow said...

Look on the bright side. It coulda been 8 :)

Jack Deighton said...

Robson seems to be one of the few English football folk whom people up here in Scotland had some respect and even affection for. That says a lot for his character.

And sorry to be picky, Simon, but fulsome actually has primarily negative connotations - see first three definitions below.

1. offensive to good taste, esp. as being excessive; overdone or gross: fulsome praise that embarrassed her deeply; fulsome d├ęcor.
2. disgusting; sickening; repulsive: a table heaped with fulsome mounds of greasy foods.
3. excessively or insincerely lavish: fulsome admiration.
4. encompassing all aspects; comprehensive: a fulsome survey of the political situation in Central America.
5. abundant or copious.

Simon Barrow said...

Thanks, Jack. Yes, I realise that 'fulsome' usually implies unctiousness, or insincerity (though your chosen definitions are certainly negative, there are others such as "abundant; copious; fully developed; mature"). The point I was seeking to make, perhaps in an ungainly way, was that when someone dies the praise nearly always flows like cheap wine - but in this case the abundance of flattery is actually deserved. Using a word in a way that subverts its primary meaning with a submerged secondary one doesn't always work, though... I've amended what follows to try to make it clearer.