From Paris to Greece, via East Africa
BEFORE each home game we'll be giving you a taster of what's coming in the forthcoming ALBION NEWS.
This week we're feeling generous - not one preview, but three in one go.
We revisit a time when footballers really didn't fancy living in Paris, mainly because of the primitive chemical warfare. Meanwhile, over in East Africa, sometime in 1968, Bomber and co took the field after a night out. Don't do it kids, it's not worth it. And, as if that wasn't enough, that noise you heard coming from Greece during the summer: it was Georgios Samaras' body finally yelling 'enough'.
FOR CLUB & COUNTRY
If you wanted real proof of the severity of conditions across the Channel, they came from an unlikely source, that of Douglas Nicholson, who had won the FA Cup with Albion when we defeated the Villa 3-0 back in 1892. Nicholson had spent 11 years living in Paris and, on a trip home to visit relatives, he gave the Birmingham Gazette this insight into life in the French capital.
"The city is like London on a Sunday, with its omnibus and motor-cab services withdrawn. Nine out of ten shops are closed because they have no staff. He states that the turpinite shell, which has wrought so much havoc and dismay in the ranks of the enemy, will kill everything within 100 yards. The effect is to burst blood vessels in the throat, but it leaves no mark on the body. The drawback is that there is considerable difficulty in firing the shell."
John Kaye in conversation with Tony Brown, discussing a trip to East Africa in 1968:
"The last day we were there, Alan Ashman came out at training and said, "Right, I want to see you lot after training at half past nine!" We thought he was going to give us it for having had a drink. But he said, "You bunch of idiots, we’ve been here ages and we haven’t had a night out together yet!" So he said, "We’ll meet at one." We thought he meant the afternoon but he said, "No, in the morning!"
"So we went to this club – and we were playing the next day at the stadium where Kip Keino did his first four minute mile! We got in about six in the morning, we’d had a few, so when the game came, we wanted to steam into them and get the game over and done with because we weren’t sure how we’d last! We went two up I think and it was going fine, but then they bundled one in, another went in through the side netting and the referee give it, then he gave them a penalty. In the finish, we beat them but it was a hell of a tussle!"
GEORGIOS SAMARAS MAIN INTERVIEW (Part 1)
Players coming back to normal football from a World Cup face real challenges but for Samaras, the issues were deeper yet given that he spent last term with Celtic.
Given the nature of UEFA’s qualifying criteria and Scotland’s struggles in raising their coefficient – we’ll get Rachel Riley in later to explain it – Celtic find themselves starting their seasons earlier and earlier these days. So it was that Samaras first kicked a ball in anger on July 17th 2013 last term – he scored – having already been back in pre-season training since the middle of June.
There followed a full Scottish season in which Celtic were crowned champions and in which they also qualified for the group stages of the Champions League where they faced the toughest group you could imagine – Barcelona, Milan and Ajax.
His season finally ended on 29th June 2014 when Greece were defeated on penalties by Costa Rica in the round of 16 in the World Cup, meaning that he had spent more than a full 12 months playing and that off the back of little more than a fortnight off before reporting back to Celtic.
Sometimes the body simply screams “enough!” while emotionally, losing a game that Greece will forever feel they should have won, and so letting slip a chance that might never come again, also took is toll.
For the full features, and so much more, please buy Saturday's 84-page ALBION NEWS. All yours for £3. You know it makes sense.