Early Doors

Twelve Doors of Christmas: August

Early Doors

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Early Doors takes a nostalgic and sherry-fuelled look back at the year's big stories through the medium of recycled posts. ED returns on January 4. 

August 10: Chelsea beat Manchester United in the Community Shield

ED's take: Alex Ferguson's face is the football season's equivalent of a pregnancy test; the moment it turns purple, you know it's game on and there is no turning back.

Who will be holding the little bundle of joy that is the Premier League trophy in nine months' time? The game offered few clues. But the Community Shield fulfilled its brief as a super-size friendly admirably, even managing to provide some genuine needle.

Fergie was furious that Chelsea's second goal stood because of a fairly blatant shoulder charge on Patrice Evra by Michael Ballack. While ED would rather not get bogged down in the intricacies of the advantage rule, it feels it must point out that United were in possession at the time.

Even with his left-back in a sprawling heap, Fergie might do better to reflect on his side's defending of Chelsea's agricultural boot forwards, which resembled a knackered out pub side with neither the ability nor the inclination to get back in numbers.

August 11: England face Netherlands in an international friendly

ED's take: It's not often Early Doors agrees with Ian Wright. But even a blind darts player is going to hit treble-20 sooner or later, and the Gladiators presenter has got it exactly right calling England friendly against the Netherlands "ridiculous", "a waste of time", "a hindrance", "pointless" and "absurd" - he's obviously been at the thesaurus.

Nobody knows who decided internationals this week were a good idea, and why, but one can only assume the scheduling was made as a forfeit resulting from some sort of bet.

ED has to confess it hasn't watched an England friendly for years (just so you know on Thursday, when it gives its verdict on Holland-England, it is basing its views on some overheard conversation in a pub and a 20-second goals montage on YouTube).

Why bother playing a match in which 21 of the 22 players are worried only about staying fit for Saturday's game against Wigan or Willem II (David Beckham obviously has no reason to protect his own safety, and would probably welcome an injury in order to escape the weekly scuffles with his own fans)?

August 13: David Bentley is charged with drink driving

ED's take: Such has been David Bentley's descent into anonymity at Tottenham that he couldn't even get arrested. Can you see where ED is going with this? 

The Spurs midfielder was charged with drink driving after crashing his Porsche into a lamp post at 3am.

It seems that The Sun were first to the story, but their article contains two major errors: firstly, reporting that he was driving back to his home in Cuffey, Herts (it's actually Cuffley) and, much worse, they described him as 'England soccer ace David Bentley'.

Bentley's career has been so "ace" that the last of his nine England caps was almost a year ago, when he came on for the final 10 minutes of the 2-2 draw against the Czech Republic.

Nowadays he would be hugely grateful to even get an ice-cool nod of recognition from Don Fabio if they passed each other in the corridors of FA HQ.

August 20: Ipswich goalkeeper Shane Supple retires

ED's take: Sometimes, you just feel like jacking it all in, don't you? You feel like you're going nowhere, your boss is on your back, the thousands of people who watch you work won't stop giving you abuse...

All right, so that last one only really applies to professional sportsmen, who by and large can handle it, but even they sometimes have bad days at the office and consider leaving the game behind for a trip down the Job Centre.

One young footballer who has actually taken the brave step of getting out of the game is 22-year-old Ipswich goalkeeper Shane Supple, who today called time on his five-year career.

If nothing else, Supple's eschewing of Wednesday night's at Faces in Ilford guzzling Jammy Donut shooters proves that the grass is not always... oh, who are we kidding, he's mental. If a tall, softly-spoken Irishman takes that vacant desk next to you in accounts next week, give him a stern talking-to.

August 25: Sol Campbell joins Notts County - ED senses all is not well

ED's take: We expected weird at Campbell's introductory press conference. But what we got was one of the most surreal pieces of television ED has seen in a long while.

Far from appearing enthused at the challenge facing him, Campbell was morose, monosyllabic and uncooperative.

However hard the assembled journalists tried to coax a decent answer out of him, Campbell continued to smirk dismissively and provide responses hardly befitting a man ready to embark on his role as an ambassador for the club.

Q: "Do you think you'll play in the Premier League again?"

A: "I dunno."

Q: "What role did Sven-Goran Eriksson play in persuading you to sign?"

A: "(Laughs) He played a big role, yeah."

Q: "What do you think of Nottingham?"

A: "Nice, very charming."

Q: "Why did you reject the chance to stay in the Premier League."

A: "I'm looking more future-wise now."

Q: "Was it because County offered you more money?"

A: "Er... not really, no."

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