Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Equality reps courses

Equality reps course

4.00pm Friday and John Hoey was in a buoyant mood. Partly it was the prospect of the long weekend before him. More importantly he and five other northwest Unite members had just completed a five-day Equality reps training course in Liverpool that the Barclays Bank employee was confident would “give everyone the skills needed to tackle workplace equalities issues.”

These are things that John feels passionate about. Visually impaired, he was by no means disappointed at being forced to give up chairing the Barclays equalities and diversity group. This is because it came with the understanding the company now wants anyone on it to receive equalities training.

John was happy to do so and was already looking forward to starting back at work the following Monday and seeking “official accreditation as an Equality rep in order to be able to openly discuss with members their concerns.” He, like the others on the course is already looking ahead - with plans for a company wide equalities day  - after being asked to prepare an Action Plan by the course tutor Samantha Firth-Corner. 

It’s a relatively new role for Samantha after she was made redundant in the summer, ending more than two decades as a laboratory technician at Arla Foods in Northallerton. What’s certain to stand her in good stead is that, like the vast majority of Unite tutors, she comes to the post with a wealth of union workplace experience.

She’s more than happy to pass it on, and recalls that although her branch elected an Equality Rep to sit on its committee not every member was supportive, saying, “I know how difficult it is to change some members, even the active one’s, attitudes. We examine how best to do this on the course. ”

Aircelle employee David Smith was pleased with what he had learnt during his five days. Over 70% of the 700 plus employees at the Burnley based commercial aircraft engineering company are members of Unite, and early in 2010 he became the first to be elected as an Equality rep.  He sees the role as a caring one and had already managed to organise an equalities awareness day. 

Now he’s properly trained David, alongside a freshly elected second equality rep, intends working closely with management to promote the issue of equality amongst the workforce. “It’s in the interests of the company to treat everyone equally by, for example, preventing bullying and ensuring people are paid fairly as otherwise they will end up with dissatisfied staff who will constantly be seeking alternative employment” he explains.

“Everyone has learnt a great deal. There’s been a good diversity of workplaces as, in addition to David and my workplaces, there are workers from Liverpool council, the food industry and a plastering company. Despite no legal rights for union equality reps Unite members are electing them and winning agreements with management to get them trained to do the role properly. Long may it continue,” said John Hoey.

The Unite Equality Reps training course lasts five days. Held in learning centres across the country the course looks at why equality matters, understanding discrimination and harassment, unite equality rules, structure and policy, roles and skills, organising your workplace, negotiating, campaigning, listening and communicating, workplace equality policies, actions plans and a quiz. It’s not easy, but you and your workmates will benefit if you get involved. 

Union Learning Reps courses

Union Learning Representative

As a bus driver for a quarter of a century John Lea was used to picking people up. He still is, but now as Union Learning Representative [ULR] organiser across northwest England he has an aversion to dropping people - or to be specific ULR’s - off.  

Which is why John is constantly telling any potential, or recently elected, ULR that “Unite runs courses just for them at easy to reach, safe and friendly locations across the region. We aim to ensure those who’ve taken on such an important position quickly gain the skills to do the job effectively on behalf of the members who’ve elected them.”

Which is exactly why Jean Bishop, an RSA employee since 1999, could be found in late September participating on the ULR stage 1 five-day training course being run at Jack Jones House in Liverpool by John. 

As one of the largest insurance companies in the world RSA has branches across Britain, and Unite have members in each branch, including at the Liverpool site where Jean is one of 1040 employees. A staunch trade union member for many years she agreed to become the first ULR after Unite negotiated a union learning agreement with the company, allowing for a rep on each site. 

Speaking on the course’s final day she said, “it has been a very interesting week from which I’ve learnt a great deal. I appreciate why the union puts so much importance on life-long learning, helping as it does people to update their skills at a time when no-one has a job for life. I have a much greater understanding of which courses it might be appropriate to try and attract members to attend, whilst being amongst new ULR’s has helped in bouncing ideas around and gaining support from others in a similar situation to myself.”

Joining Jean on the course was Everton fan Brian Whitehill. A taxi driver for two decades he joined Unite at the start of 2008, when after attending a NVQ level 2 Road Passenger Vehicle Driving [RPVD] Course at Jack Jones House he became convinced his constant battle with the authorities on behalf of his work colleagues would be better served inside the union. It’s a move he’s never regretted. 

After becoming a ULR he was so spurred on by his learning experiences that he subsequently undertook an assessors and Preparing to Teach in the Life-Long Learning Sector course, as well as recruiting hundreds of new Unite members by initially encouraging drivers to attend the RPVD course. “This course has acted as a refresher, allowing me to examine where I might have made mistakes in the past, whilst I also hope that my recounted experiences to the others on the course will help them in the future” said Brian.

According to John what comes next for the newly trained reps must include “letting people know they’ve been on the course, advertising their role, preparing a questionnaire, offering guidance on what courses might be available and finding out what all employees, including potential unite members, want.”

“I’d urge anyone who might be interested in becoming a Unite ULR to contact their officer knowing they can expect to receive some high quality training to help them do their job effectively” said Jean.

The Union Learning Reps Training Stage 1 lasts five days. Held in learning centres across the country the course looks at why Unite is involved in lifelong learning, the role of a ULR including the legal framework, overcoming barriers to learning, skills for life in a workplace, facilities, identifying learning needs, designing questionnaires, interviewing skills, working with others and personal development. It’s not easy, but you and your workmates will benefit if you get involved. 

Courses for union workplace reps

Workplace Reps Introductory Certificate

Lee Dunning doesn’t look like he might be “terrified” of much. Ex-army, with a spell in Northern Ireland, the Marks and Spencer truck driver is burly and aggressive and as a Newcastle fan immediately challenging to the Sunderland fan writing this piece.

So when he admits to “sweating buckets and lying awake terrified the night before the first three sessions” you quickly realise just how intimidated he must have felt at the beginning of the Workplace Reps Introductory Certificate training course held for new workplace reps in Sheffield earlier this year. 

Similar courses lasting 12 days run right across Britain and Ireland, and thousands will attend this year. Having completed the course Lee Dunning has no hesitation recommending them to new stewards and those considering taking on the role saying “the fact that I had not been in a classroom setting since leaving school well over twenty years ago, and my reading and writing is not as good as it might be, has not prevented me getting a great deal from the course. What I found was that everyone pulled together, we encouraged each other and shared our concerns. With the tutor’s help there wasn’t a time when I wasn’t learning something that can be used to improve things at my workplace. I feel so encouraged I now intend becoming a Union Learning Rep.”

One of his fellow students was Bradford’s Ian Armstrong, a forklift truck driver/picker at Morrisons Supermarket for ten years. Elected in January Ian didn’t know Unite ran courses to help train new stewards but “despite some anxieties about my spelling I welcomed the chance to get some training to become a better steward. It’s been a challenging 12 weeks but one I’ve really enjoyed. The union’s regional office that hosted the course is a bright and relaxing place.

I have learnt how to undertake disciplinary and grievance hearings, use various procedures and employment law. Around 80% of the 1,800 people employed at the distribution centre where I work are in either Unite or USDAW, but I’ve done a mapping exercise to try and identify those that remain unorganised. I’ve also helped to get re-started the newsletter in order to keep members informed. Additionally I’ve learnt to understand that picking small issues that are winnable can be important.”

At the moment these are probably all Liz Hammond can hope to win, as with less than a quarter of her colleagues at the Sheffield call-centre of Insurance company Aviva in Unite that means there is no collective bargaining agreement in place. Liz doesn’t believe people aren’t interested, saying “it’s because most are under 30 and know very little about trade unions as nothing is said about them when you are at school. For me the course has been a great help when its focused on helping the individual, because at this stage it will be by winning such cases at work that we can hope to increase interest in the union. At the same time I’ve also started up a paper newsletter for everyone, alongside a regular e-bulletin to those that have joined the union.”

The Workplace Reps Introductory Certificate lasts 12 days and is held at all regional/country training centres. Successful completion earns a Unite certificate of attendance followed by a certificate of achievement of 24 credits at NVQ level 2 from NOCN.

The Certificate has 4 modules each lasting 3 days based on Unite’s three central pillars of organising, global solidarity and politics.

Module 1 - Organising
Module 2 - Roles and responsibilities of being a shop steward
Module 3 - Negotiating
Module 4 - Political and International 

Stopping workplace deaths and injuries - trade union courses for safety reps

This article is about courses for Unite members - all unions run similar courses. 

Organising for health and safety

Five years ago when Peter Suddaby was badly injured working at Lenzing Fibres, a chemical manufacturer in Immingham, he was grateful for Unite’s support. Especially, after a court case, that revealed major flaws in the manufacturing process, resulted in financial compensation.

As a trade unionist all his working life, and determined to give something back, Peter felt it was “only right and proper” to take on the role of safety rep when a position became vacant at the end of 2006.

Fully aware that Unite runs an extensive training programme for freshly elected safety reps at all of its regional/country training centres Peter has faced an uphill battle to get time off work. It meant that it was only in May this year that he finally made an appearance on the five days Organising for Health and Safety reps course at the Unite Grimsby office.

Perhaps, not surprisingly, he’d like to see the law strengthened to give reps an automatic right to go on the course. Nevertheless he’s still glad he kept battling away in order to attend saying “it has been invaluable as I now understand the Health and Safety at Work Act and its operations, as well as how to negotiate improvements at work using legal routes if necessary. I have learnt to take up some of the smaller more winnable issues before trying to tackle the bigger problems, which are centred around noise with the company preferring the cheaper option of distributing personal protective equipment rather than looking at reducing noise levels.”

Fellow student John Iound is a chemical operator at Cray Valley in Stallingborough. He took on the safety reps role in the summer of 2009 and it’s apparent he has gained a great deal from the course when he says, “as a result I have done a work assessment that has involved inspecting areas that may have last been looked at 15 years ago. I haven’t, thankfully, found anything serious but that hasn’t stopped people being supportive including some non-union members who’ve joined the union as a result of my efforts. I have also asked people to complete a health questionnaire after Byron, the course tutor, drew my attention to the Health and Safety Executive’s website.”

Byron Waterman is one of a number of Unite lay tutors. 22 years an employee at Synthomer Limited in Grimsby his workplace experience as a branch secretary, shop steward and safety rep sits nicely alongside the rigorous and robust training programme he had to fulfil before becoming a tutor. With Unite spending significant sums on reps training it “ensures that tutor’s are professionally trained whereby after an initial assessment and a training week each prospective tutor has to complete seven assignments before they get to initially work alongside other more experienced people” said the man behind their training, Educational Development Organiser Mick Bond.

Byron says he “always enjoys running the organising, and the follow up working safely/risk assessment course, at the end of which we would expect safety reps to be able to carry out inspections, including after accidents. We want reps to feel confident about speaking up, not aggressively, but by employing considered arguments, and backed by relevant information, to win support from members into pressurising management to ensure a safe workplace. ”

“The courses are a big help for new reps. They boost your confidence, you learn a great deal and get to know where to go for information, help and advice” said John Iound.

Organising for Health and Safety and its’ follow up course Working Safely/Risk Assessment both last 5 days and are held at regional/country venues throughout the year. They are both accredited through the Passport to Progress Framework. 

Monday, 30 May 2011

Barcelona are not the best team ever

The current Barcelona team is not the greatest ever.

They’re not even the best in my lifetime.

Much as there was to admire in Barcelona’s play on Saturday it would be wrong to describe them as the greatest team ever. I can’t speak for teams before the mid 60s but in my view they are not yet the greatest team in my lifetime.

Firstly the side they were playing may have been England’s best but this current Manchester United side is not a patch on the 1968 one that contained Best, Crerand, Charlton, Law, Stiles, Dunne, Brennan and Foulkes.

United also lack a manager who realises that at the highest level you need to have players who can keep the ball and his decision to keep Ferdinand and Vidic unoccupied at the back whilst Messi danced and dominated the game from just ten yards in front of them was the actions of a man who should be persuaded that his time is up.

Regards Barcelona - does anyone seriously suggest that the AC Milan side of the 80s with Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten, Frank Rikkaard, Paolo Maldini and Franco Baresi wouldn’t beat them?

The 1970s Ajax with Krol, Haan, Cryuff and Neeskens would beat them.

And so would Pele, Gerson, Tostao, Jairzinho, Alberto, Rivelino, Clodoaldo - Brazil 1970.

I also suspect the Liverpool side of the early 80s would not give up as easily as Manchester United did, would close down Messi and make it as uncomfortable as possible for Barcelona and in Kenny Dalglish they had a player guaranteed to keep the ball when their defence needed a rest.

So I’d say Barcelona are either the 4th or 5th best team in my lifetime.

Regards Messi, it's laughable to suggest he’s anywhere near yet as good as Maradona.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Book Review - Live Working or Die Fighting by Paul Mason

Live Working
Die Fighting

How the Working Class Went Global

Paul Mason

Harvill Secker  £12.99

The BBC’s economics editor Paul Mason is best known for his investigative probing of big business leaders, economists and politicians who appear on Newsnight. The result can often be compelling, and the same is true of his book Live Working or Die Fighting. In this he brings to life the voices of workers, past and present, worldwide with the clear aim being to draw lessons for successful future struggles designed to raise living standards everywhere.

Published at a time when the post war consensus of a decent pension, healthcare and welfare benefits are coming under vigorous attack Mason’s book will be of great interest to trade unionists. Mason may welcome the creation of millions of new waged workers in places such as India and China, not forgetting in former eastern Bloc countries, but he certainly doesn’t want to see them being used to undercut the wages and conditions of their Western counterparts.

For Mason it’s a case of workers defending what they’ve got and not letting multi-national corporations play one group off against another. That means organising collectively and Mason starts his book with an examination of events at Peterloo in 1819 when Manchester’s then new industrial workforce marched in their thousands in demand of the vote and were cut to pieces, by those serving the ruling aristocracy, for daring to do so.

Repression its clear can be guaranteed from the ruling class and Mason provides plenty of examples over the intervening years to prove so. Yet it can’t stop workers organising. Even under Hitler Jewish workers through the Bund refused to lie down and fought heroically during the Warsaw Ghetto uprising in April 1943. It also can’t prevent workers winning. In 1889 London dockworkers rose en masse to win sixpence an hour rather than five but, more importantly, by doing so demonstrated solidarity and a capacity for self-organisation. In the aftermath tens of thousands of unskilled workers rushed to join trade unions that much later merged into one union in Unite, whose attempts in recent years at organising migrant workers in the London docklands  builds on the original dockworkers honourable traditions.

Now in the search for ways of defending wages and jobs workers are revisiting some of the practices of the past. In Flint, Michigan in 1937 workers belonging to the United Auto Workers Union at General Motors occupied the plant to win a recognition agreement. Seventy-four years later when management at the Zanon ceramics factory in Neuquen, Argentina moved during an economic crisis to close it and remove the ovens the workers acted quickly to take over production.

Ten years later, and despite deciding to lessen work speeds, Zanon is still open and has taken on more employees from amongst the thousands of locally unemployed. Sometimes the workers really do know best, and it’s to Mason’s credit that he doesn’t attempt to pretend he knows better than them. Instead what he’s done is write a thought provoking book that is a really good read.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Big Society is Big Business says pesticides campaigner

“Big Society should be changed to Big Business.” So says campaigner Georgina Downs in response to the coalition government’s watering down of fresh European legislation designed to protect the general public from pesticides.

Downs, whose chemical interest began after a move to the Sussex countryside led to a serious health problem, has waged a decade long battle to protect rural residents, especially from pesticides in crop spray.

Her own meticulous research and analysis of the government’s own figures helped Downs win five legal cases against the Government in 2007 and 2008. Safety limits had been exceeded and witness statements revealed a failure to act had created health problems in the countryside.

Celebrating after a High Court victory

She’d hoped, after meeting the then Environment Secretary Hilary Benn, that Labour would strengthen the law. This would have made it compulsory for residents to be given advance notice and introduced a ban on crop spraying around homes, schools and public areas.

Instead of which she was left stunned when the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs [DEFRA] application to the Court of Appeal to overturn her evidence, on grounds she isn’t a scientist, was accepted.  She’s now mounting an appeal against this decision at the European Court of Human Rights.

Meantime the European Parliament has itself been taking steps to safeguard the public’s health by establishing a framework for community action aimed at achieving safe, sustainable use of pesticides.

New legislation includes a legal obligation for farmers to provide residents with information on the pesticides they employ. There are also options for a new legal requirement for prior notification before spraying. Pesticide use in areas used by the general public or by ‘vulnerable groups’ including residents is to be banned. With the Government’s figures showing the main poisoning pesticide incidents are from crop spraying this was good news.

With these significant changes starting on November 25th this year DEFRA was given the job of consulting with stakeholder groups on their implementation, prior to the Government making the domestic legal changes required to make them effective.

According to DEFRA Minister Lord Henley - or ‘Henley the VIII” as he’s dubbed because of his grand lifestyle by residents close to his Cumbrian castle estate - that can be done “by making small changes to our existing approach as no compelling evidence was provided to justify further extending existing regulations and voluntary controls.”

Downs met Henley in July last year. She’s convinced, that in addition to Henley’s voluntary methods being in breach of European legislation, his promise to examine her evidence has not been kept saying: “otherwise he could not possibly have come to such an inaccurate conclusion.”  She accuses the government of ignoring evidence that the damage to people’s health from pesticide exposure is costing the NHS billions.

“The Government is not interested in protecting the health of the very people they are expected to serve. The Prime Minister’s pledge that it will be the ‘greenest ever’ is an absolute farce, and ‘Big Society” should be changed to ‘Big Business” said Downs who is now looking at mounting a further legal challenge.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Tolpuddle Martyrs: transported in 1834 for forming a Trade Union

Tolpuddle Martyrs: transported in 1834 for forming a Trade Union

“The rich and the great will never act to alleviate the distress and remove the poverty felt by the working people of England. What then is to be done? Why, the labouring classes must do it themselves, or it will for ever be left undone.” George Loveless

In the history of the trade union movement, the story of the Tolpuddle Martyrs, six farm labourers from a small village in Dorset, is an important event.

Their story is set in the context of the development of trade unions in England in the early nineteenth century, with the growth of industry at that time. In 1799 Pitt's Government passed a series of anti-Combination Acts which banned all clubs and societies formed by working people for the purpose of improving their pay and conditions.

The rural landowners, who continued to dominate the Government, and the increasingly confident factory owners, shared a joint fear of the democratic ideas of the 1789 French revolution with its popular proclamation of the principles of 'Freedom, Equality and Liberty'.

The Government, concerned to prevent an uprising here had in 1790 suspended the Habeas Corpus Act, using the pretext that supporters of the French revolution were planning something similar.

In his must-read book 'The Making of the English Working Class' E.P. Thompson claims that 'The Combination Acts were passed by a Parliament of anti-Jacobins [Jacobins was a common term for those supporting the ideas of the French Revolution] and landowners, whose first concern was to add to the existing legislation intimidating political reformers'.

The anti-Combination Acts had the effect of driving organisation underground, but it did not prevent workers continuing to combine, agitate and press for improved wages and conditions and as more and more of them were driven from the land into the factories they increasingly realised that only by combining could they improve their lot.

After 1799 workers continued to issue demands, hold meetings and even on many occasions organise protests and/or strikes. During this period the more enlightened members of the ruling class also began to recognise that outright repression was not likely to work and that in fact it could well drive the workers into taking more drastic revolutionary action.

At the same time it also became increasingly obvious that the French revolution was not going to be exported to Britain.

Thus a combination of working class pressure, enlightened self-interest on the part of some sections of the ruling class and reduced concern about the impact of the French revolution led to the repeal in Parliament of the anti-Combination laws in 1824.

Within ten years, during which there was a period of economic growth, new organisations were formed to represent different groups of workers such that in February 1834 it was possible to establish a general union, the Grand National Consolidated Trades Union (GNCTU), initially organised by socialists who were supporters of Robert Owen. The GNCTU's official journal claimed a membership of half a million, although it is felt unlikely that so many were able to pay their subscriptions as they didn't have the money to do so.

A number of leading politicians and the bosses however remained resentful and the economic slump and growth in unemployment, which began in 1833-34, gave the landowners and the factory bosses the chance to attack the unions.

In the countryside, workers were increasingly impoverished. Landlords through the Enclosure Acts had taken common lands from them. Labourers therefore became increasingly dependent on employment by landowners.

The average wage of agricultural labourers in the 1830s was ten shillings, [50 pence today] but this began to be lowered. In Tolpuddle, in Dorset, wages were reduced first to eight shillings [40p] and then to six shillings [30p] a week. Tolpuddle farm workers called a meeting with the local magistrate, James Frampton, appealing to him to fix wages. This was refused. Farm workers in Tolpuddle were therefore forced to look elsewhere for support.

Following discussions with others, George Loveless, a farm worker and local lay preacher contacted the GNCTU and set up a meeting. 40 farm labourers, virtually the entire male population of the village, and two representatives of the GNCTU attended this. The meeting decided to establish friendly Society of Agricultural labourers as a branch of the GNCTU. The first six laborers, including George Loveless, enrolled in the union, which involved swearing an oath, in December 1833.

This gave the ruling class the opportunity to act. They resented and were fearful of the   growth of trade unions and political societies, recognising their ability to increase wages and improve the conditions of workers. They also remained concerned that trade unions could politicise the working class about their own potential power. Lord Melbourne, the Whig Home Secretary at the time was particularly anti-working class. He had family connections in Dorset and knew the Tolpuddle magistrate, James Frampton.

In February 1834, the six Dorset men were arrested and in March 1834, tried at Dorchester Assizes. George Loveless himself later wrote that,

“the whole proceedings were characterised by a shameful disregard of justice and decency; the most unfair means were resorted to in order to frame an indictment against us.”

The jury had connections with many of the very landowners who had been cutting wages. One of the charges against the men related to the Mutiny Act and to the taking of oaths.

The men were found guilty and sentenced to seven years transportation to Australia. The sentence was met with widespread protests amongst the working class, including a meeting of 1,000 people in London, a one-day demonstration of 200,000 people in the capital and a petition of 800,000 signatories seeking a pardon for the men, which was initially refused.

The families of the six men were refused parish relief, but contributions were received for them from workers all over the country, enabling the families to remain in heir homes. Instead of weakening the trade union movement, it was in fact strengthened, by the injustice shown to the Tolpuddle men.

The campaign for the men's release continued and free pardons were granted to the  men in March 1836, and they returned to England in the following two years. Only one however returned to Tolpuddle. Money was raised by supporters to buy seven-year leases on farms in Essex for the other five men, where they set up a branch of the Working Men's Association.

Later, George Loveless wrote a pamphlet about their experiences entitled "The Victims of Whiggery", in which he wrote, "the rich and the great will never act to alleviate the distress and remove the poverty felt by the working people of England. What then is to be done? Why, the labouring classes must do it themselves, or it will for ever be left undone.”

Few truer words can ever have been uttered.

Jeanie Molyneux and Mark Metcalf

Sunday, 22 May 2011

West Ham United 0 Sunderland 3

West Ham United 0
Sunderland 3

West Ham went down with a whimper, easily beaten by a Sunderland side that thus ensured they remained unbeaten in London this season with two victories and three draws. The Wearsiders might have scored twice through Asamoah Gyan before they took the lead when Jack Collison couldn’t be bothered to track back, leaving Bolo Zenden with the simplest of headers from Ahmed Elmohamady’s cross.

With Steve Bruce’s side running the midfield only once did the home side look like they might grab an equaliser but Simon Mignolet was equal to Zavon Hines close range effort on the stroke of half-time.

The game as a contest was over on 51 minutes when Stephane Sessegnon was allowed to run down the middle of the park before hitting a 30 yard shot that Robert Green could possibly have saved. The keeper did better towards the end, denying Jack Colback from 15 yards.

In the final minute Jordan Henderson’s cross was seized upon by substitute Cristian Riveros to make it 3-0, which with news filtering through that West Brom had equalised at Newcastle had the 2000 away fans dancing with joy in the knowledge their side had leapfrogged their local rivals in the Premier League table. “That’s why we’re going down” chanted the West Ham fans at the end of a very sorry season for the Hammers.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Huddersfield Town 3 AFC Bournemouth 3 Huddersfield win 4-2 on penalties

League One Playoff semi-final

Huddersfield Town 3

AFC Bournemouth 3

After extra-time, score at 90 minutes 2-2

Aggregate 4-4

Huddersfield Town win 4-2 on penalties

This was a real thriller of a match that finished with Huddersfield Town progressing to the League One playoff final. Lee Clark’s side held their nerves to successfully convert more of their spot kicks in the penalty shoot out that followed a fourth draw between the sides this season. Antony Kay’s decisive finish to make it 4-2 saw thousands pour on to the pitch in joyous celebration. The Terriers will now play either Peterborough United or MK Dons, who play tonight, at Old Trafford in ten days time.

To the excitement of their followers the home side pressed from the kick-off and could have taken the lead if Gary Roberts had shown a little more composure when presented with a chance to beat Shwan Jalal from the edge of the area. The midfielder then saw his shot blocked by Shaun Cooper before Bournemouth’s Adam Smith, surging forward from defence, hammered a shot just wide of Ian Bennett’s goal.

Roberts then had a header well saved but from his follow up corner Lee Peltier powerfully headed home from inside the six yard box to make it 1-0 on 26 minutes.  It was a deserved lead but it was almost immediately whipped out only for Bennett to deny Donal McDermott with a fine save. The keeper however had no chance when, following a Kay foul on Smith, Steve Lovell blasted the resulting penalty kick high into the net.

Jordan Rhodes might have restored Huddersfield’s lead with another penalty area header before right on the stroke of half-time Danny Ward did so with a lovely goal. Picking up the ball 30 yards out he turned inside and drove an unstoppable left foot shot beyond the despairing dive of Jalal.

When the match resumed Rhodes again spurned a good chance. It proved costly as on 63 minutes Lovell again drove Bournemouth level, when after receiving a neat Rhoys Wiggins pass he made space for himself before beating Bennett from a tight angle.

At this stage it looked like the 700 away fans would be enjoying a celebratory ride home, Huddersfield’s passing was going increasingly adrift and Bournemouth’s neater, more attractive style of football looked like it would pay off. Credit to the home side though, they rolled up their sleeves and might have won the game only for Benik Afobe to fire wide from eight yards before Mr Swarbrick, who refereed the game excellently, blew to send the match into extra-time.

With just ninety seconds remaining the first period of extra-time looked certain to end without any further goals when substitute Marc Pugh produced a wonderful cross to which Danny Ings applied the slightest of headed touches to put Bournemouth into the lead for the first time. The Cherries celebrations were however cut short when Huddersfield almost immediately equalised when Kay headed home a Roberts corner to make it 3-3.

With just eight minutes remaining Bournemouth skipper Jason Pearce was sent off for a late studs up challenge on Kevin Kilbane. Pegged back the south coast side somehow hung on as the ball bounced around the six-yard box in the last few minutes before the contest ended tied 4-4 on aggregate.

Only eight penalties were needed to finally settle the contest, because after Liam Feeney and Anton Robinson had both missed for Bournemouth Kay stepped up to beat Jalal.

Coming out of the ground Brian Mawhinney, Honorary President of the Football League, summed things up perfectly after this exciting encounter when he said: “It’s what the playoffs are all about.”

Celebrating Terriers fans at the end of a thrilling match 

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Is Dave Whelan right when he accuses Norman Deeley of ending his first class football career?

The following is taken from THE FA CUP - 50 years on, published by SPORTSBOOKS in April 2010.
Author - Mark Metcalf 

Wigan chairman Dave Whelan  claims that his first class career was ended by a reckless 42nd minute challenge at the 1960 FA Cup Final. But does the evidence support him?

According to Alan Hoby’s next day report in the Sunday Express the tragedy happened “when the tormenting hard-dribbling Norman Deeley clashed and collided with Blackburn’s left back Dave Whelan. They struck shins, Deeley spun away like a black and gold top – but amid a strained silence Whelan lay motionless, a sad prostrate blue and white figure.

“For two minutes Whelan lay ominously still while the St John Ambulance men and stretcher-bearers fussed about him. Then tenderly they tied his feet together and laid him with delicate care on the stretcher. DAVE WHELAN HAD FRACTURED HIS RIGHT SHIN.’

Hoby got it wrong. Whelan had broken his left leg.

Dave Whelan remains angry at what he feels was a bad tackle by Norman Deeley. Forty-five years later, several newspapers quoted him after a reckless challenge by Chelsea’s Michael Essien on Liverpool’s Dietmar Hamann during a European Champions League game in December 2005  “ the worst tackle I’ve seen for a long time. You can’t go over the top like that. It was so dangerous. It has no place in football. How Hamann didn’t break his leg, I’ll never know.

“Essien’s tackle was like the one that broke my leg in the Cup Final in 1960. Norman Deeley went over the top, but it was different then, there were no TV replays. The referee didn’t even give a foul, but it absolutely finished me. It was a nasty tackle.”

Writing in his autobiography - Dave Whelan: Playing to Win in 2009, the Wigan chairman, who went on to build a successful business empire after retiring from playing, admits he was intent on intimidating Deeley from the off, and “After about twenty minutes I got him a tackle and I really hurt him. He was getting away from me, so I just clogged him, perhaps a little unfairly but not by the standards of the day. ‘He’s finished for the rest of the game, he won’t bother me now,’ I thought.

“In the 42nd minute a 50:50 ball came in between me and Norman Deeley. I thought he would still be trying to get there ahead of me, even after the crunch I’d just given him. He was that type of player. So I set off, determined to win the ball.

“And I did. I got there seconds before Deeley. But that was when I realised he had no intention at all of racing me for that ball. He was going for me. As I was running I heard a loud crack and felt my knee suddenly burn with pain. ……I was in agony and I knew I was out of the game. Norman Deeley had got me good and proper. ”

Dave Whelan’s career at the top level had come to an end, because whilst he was able to play professionally again it was in Fourth Division at Crewe.
He never played for the Rovers first team again and moved to Gresty Road in January 1963. His problems might have been even worse as only the swift intervention of a hospital doctor in advising him to have the plaster removed
stopped the spread of gangrene.

Dave Whelan is correct that today the incident would be replayed numerous times on television. This wasn’t the case in 1960 - there were just four BBC cameras covering the match - and it was not until many years later that a DVD of the game was released. This shows Whelan taking out Deeley early in the match, but when it moves to showing the incident that left the fill back out of the game it appears to show no more than two keenly committed players going honestly for the ball, with, if anything, Whelan slightly late. It was Deeley who got to the ball first.  Whelan’s views, not surprisingly, has brought a response from players and fans on both sides.

After Whelan’s comments in 2005. Steve Gordos, Wolverhampton fan and former Sports Editor at the Wolverhampton Express and Star. wrote to him. “ I don't recall any blame being attached to Deeley. Whelan even appears to wave to Deeley as he is stretchered off to say it was 'no problem.'

“I've replayed a DVD of the game, which shows clearly that Deeley got to the ball first while Whelan comes careering in with his left leg at an awkward angle. Deeley could not avoid tripping over the leg. I believe if Mr Whelan viewed the incident again, he would see that his memory is wrong. He has done great disservice to Norman Deeley, who always played fairly."

Gordos asked Whelan to retract his comments on Deeley but did not receive a reply.

Gordos is also angry at Whelan for the comments in his autobiography: “I was incensed by Whelan’s comments suggesting that Norman made a two-footed tackle on Whelan. He compared it to a bad tackle by Essien of Chelsea, which was ridiculous. I wrote to Whelan about this and called on him to watch the DVD of the game and then he would surely apologise. I also wrote to the Daily Mail, who had carried the article quoting Whelan, and they published my letter asking him to take a look at DVD that is now.

“Whelan never had the decency to write back, which seems most out of character as he always comes across as a fair-minded fellow. What he said was most unfair to Norman Deeley, who was one the game's gentlemen. If you look at the incident it's clear that Whelan's version is totally wrong. Repeating his comments four years later is out of order.”

Deeley’s old teammates are also concerned. Keeper’ Malcolm Finlayson says: “I am a bit upset to be honest, because at the time and afterwards Ronnie Clayton, the Rovers captain, a very sporting man who shook our hands afterwards as we waited to go and collect our medals, acknowledged it was an accident.”

Wolves captain Bill Slater: “I seem to remember the referee didn’t even award a free kick against Norman Deeley who was a tiny chap. I am aware that Whelan has suggested recently he was deliberately fouled but I thought he just sort of fell over with both players going honestly for the ball”

Wolves full-back George Showell “I was at school with Norman Deeley and any idea he did anything to harm Dave Whelan deliberately is nonsense.” 

Whelan’s teammate Bryan Douglas meanwhile admits he’s “not sure about Dave’s injury, I just think he went with his wrong leg. He was a right footer but played on the left. I have heard bits that Dave thought he’d gone over the top but I met Norman Deeley later and I think he’s a genuine guy.”

Deeley, who died in 2007, had this to say on the incident many years later in an article in a book ‘Match of My Life - Wolves’: “The ball was knocked out towards me as I ran inside off the wing. It was a bit short and so tempted Dave Whelan into the tackle. I might only be short, but I could tackle as well as any Wolves player, because I’d started out as a half back. Dave and I went for this ball and we arrived at speed pretty much together. Crunch. I heard this crack as we collided and I thought ‘That’s my leg.’ When I looked down in my dazed state there was a duck-egg shaped bump already forming on my shins. Then I looked across at Dave’s leg and there was no flesh on it for about four or five inches…………I had a few questions afterwards about the incident by the press but generally it was accepted as an accident.”  

While writing THE FA Cup - 50 Years on I made attempts to interview Dave Whelan and only bad weather prevented the first meeting. When it later became increasingly difficult to contact him I wrote asking for an interview but never received a reply.

Monday, 16 May 2011

The first playoffs and a chance to cheat

On a weekend when Manchester United confirmed their superiority as England’s number one club it was probably appropriate that the penalty which brought them back a point from Ewood Park was a dive with Javier Hernandez going to ground even before Blackburn Rovers keeper Paul Robinson barged into him. This though is no lament for the past, as football has always had its cheats going back as far as the first playoffs at the end of the 19th century. Funny enough Blackburn were also the victims back then.

When did the Football League playoffs begin is a fairly standard football quiz question and most fans with some knowledge of the game can trot out the standard answer ‘at the end of the 1986-87 season’ and earn a valuable point in their search for whatever prize is on offer at the end.

However for football purists, and aren’t we all, the answer is wrong as believe it or not the first playoffs were organised a good few years earlier, back in fact at the end of the 1892-93 season when they were known as ‘test matches’, a descriptive term that was borrowed from cricket where it was first used to describe international matches thirty years previously in 1861-62.

Football ‘test matches’ or playoffs were the result of the expansion of the Football League from one Division to two. A First Division was launched after William McGregor wrote to some of the leading clubs in March 1888 and after two meetings the founder members of the League were agreed. It is a remarkable achievement that 123 years later only Accrington from the original twelve are no longer in the league - or kicking at all after going out of business in the 1890s.

Football had only really become popular a relatively short time before the launch of the Football League and occurred alongside the rapid urbanisation then taking place throughout England Wales and which by 1860 was starting to produce an annual increase in real wages for workers giving them more money to spend not only on essentials but also on activities that they enjoyed participating in and watching.

With the gradual reduction of the working week from six days to five and a half, with Saturday afternoons off, the fledgling football clubs in areas with large populations soon realised that they could charge an entry fee for spectators keen to see games that were quick and exciting to watch.  With the money the clubs could, after they’d covered their expenses, start to pay players, managers and a training staff even if it meant obtaining them from outside their own localities and by 1885 professionalism was legalised within the game of football in England.

FA Rule 25 – ‘Matches shall not be played on Sundays within the jurisdiction of the Association.’

The start of the Football League meant guaranteed fixtures for the leading clubs and depending upon how many entered the ground then a guaranteed income. By the start of the 20th century there was already in place a highly complex network of about 200 mutually dependent business organisations supported by thousands of smaller amateur clubs – much as it is today in the 21st century.  With this, of course, has come an increasing involvement with the game of businessmen, lawyers and accountants with the running of football clubs. There has also been a whole series of businesses developed to supply products for football such as shirt manufacturers, printers and publishers not to mention local businesses and firms who sell products to fans on match days.

When the Football League began in 1888 it was agreed that at the end of the season the bottom four clubs would be required to retire at the end of the season and stand for re-election against teams from outside the league who wished to become members, the first team to lose its place in this way being Stoke City who were replaced by a North East team, Sunderland at the end of the second ever season in 1890.

Meanwhile a rival competition had been established, the Football Alliance, and it was agreed that it would be a good idea if the two were merged and this is what happened at the end of the 1891-92 season. This presented a problem in that there was no way of deciding how teams from Division Two could replace those finishing at the bottom of Division One. It was agreed that the fairest way would be for the bottom teams to play the top with the winners playing in Division One the the following season.

This playoffs kicked off on April 22nd 1893 when Manchester United [or as they were then - Newton Heath], Notts County and Accrington from the bottom played Birmingham City, Darwen and Sheffield United respectively with Man Utd, Darwen and Sheffield United proving successful. Birmingham had in fact finished top of Division Two and Manchester United bottom of Division One so ‘the Blues’ were appropriately enough named from the start!

Birmingham were again back the following season overcoming Darwen, whilst the great North-West rivals of Liverpool and Manchester United squared up to each other for the first time with Liverpool winning 2-0 whilst Preston hung on to their top flight spot by beating Notts County 4-0.

In 1894-95 Bury, Derby County and Stoke were all successful in overcoming the challenges of Liverpool, Notts County and Manchester United.

Teams involved with the test matches had been using a loophole in the laws of the game to attract players to play in them. To try and stop this the Football League decided in 1895 that in order to participate any player concerned had to have played in at least four league games for the club previously or been resident in the club’s home town for at least four weeks beforehand. This was intended to stop clubs trying to buy their way out of trouble.

In 1895-96 the one-off games were changed and a league format was introduced involving the bottom two from Division One and the top two from Division Two playing one another. This allowed bottom placed West Bromwich Albion to escape relegation whilst Liverpool replaced Birmingham with Manchester City staying where they started in Division Two.

In 1896-97 there was a major shock when three times League Champions Sunderland finished second bottom and along with Burnley who finished bottom were joined by Newton Heath and Notts County in the eight games ‘mini-league.’ 

Things looked bleak for Sunderland as they had only two points from the first three games, but in front of 8,000 spectators at their then Newcastle Road ground they beat Newton Heath with two goals from Jas Gillespie - a result that saw the Manchester side start the following season in Division Two alongside Lancashire rivals Burnley. For Sunderland the escape helped ensure that until 1958, when they were ‘finally’ relegated from Division One, to proudly claim that they had played all their games in the top flight.

The 1897-98 season was the last of the original football league play-offs and it pitched Blackburn Rovers and Stoke City from the first up against Newcastle United and Burnley from the second. 

When the final round of matches took place on April 30th 1898 Stoke and Burnley knew that they only had to draw their game to be playing First Division football the following season. What followed was a total farce, the most boring game of football ever played ended 0-0. 

Staffordshire Advertiser
‘The game proved a complete fiasco.’

Athletic News
‘The teams could have done without goalkeepers so anxious were the forwards not to score’

Whether or not this was when one of the bitterest rivalries in football started between Burnley and Blackburn Rovers we can only guess.

In fact Rovers and Newcastle both did gain promotion that season when it was agreed to enlarge the First Division.  The Stoke-Burnley game did however provide the final ‘nail in the coffin’ for the test matches, they had not been regarded as particularly fair or successful and from the 1898-99 season they were replaced by automatic promotion and relegation. Bolton Wanderers and Sheffield Wednesday were the first Division One teams to be denied an opportunity to hang on to their places through the test matches.

What happened next?

The answer is very little, but in 1920 the First Dvision of the Southern League became the Third Division. It had been intended to form a northern section of Division Three but there was no ‘Northern League’ and it took another year to form one, this being composed of teams from across the North East, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Birmingham, Lincolnshire and Midland districts. Maintaining the principle of two up two down as it applied to Division One and Two it meant that only the winners of the Third Division North and South moved up a league to replace the bottom two in Division Two.

Almost 40 years later and shortly after the opening of the first Motorway the Football League formed Division Three and Four. Teams finishing in the bottom half of the North and South Division Three dropped into the fourth. Instead of two up and two down it was agreed that at the end of the first season, 1958-59, four teams would be promoted from Division Four to replace the bottom four in Division Three. This had first been proposed for all the leagues by Mr W Bendle Moore, the chairman of Derby County, in 1931 but his efforts floundered due to the opposition of other chairmen who felt it would produce chaos.

When it was finally introduced for the bottom leagues the hopes were that with more chances of being promoted, and of course relegated, it would increase excitement and no doubt bring more spectators through the gates to produce much needed revenue. Whilst it didn’t embody the principle of ‘every game will count’ that has been used to justify the play-offs it went somewhere towards it and in 1973/74 the decision was taken to make it three up from Division Two to replace three down from Division One.

Many years earlier during the mid 1920s the great Huddersfield and later Arsenal Herbert Chapman had suggested that eleven teams should be relegated and eleven promoted each season, a proposal which if enacted would mean ‘every game would matter’ but would probably reduce each league to a farce. Chapman had advanced his argument as he hoped to restrict clubs spending excessive amounts of money on new players in order to ‘stay up’ and also because he wanted to reduce the stigma of relegation.

Hardly surprisingly the proposals were rubbished with the then League President Mr John McKenna saying:- “The Management Committee would never dream of making such a suggestion as the interchange of 11 clubs instead of two.” Perhaps not then, but perhaps some Chairman today might not think it too bad an idea?

The current play off system was introduced as part of a radical series of changes when football was in a major crisis. On February 14th 1985 the Chairmen of the Football League rejected a TV deal that would have meant receipts of £19 million over four years. The negotiating group and the League Management Committee had recommended acceptance of the deal but the chairmen, led by Robert Maxwell of Oxford United, wanted more money, even suggesting they would hold out for £80 million.

The ‘Big Five’ clubs which at that time consisted of Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs and Everton had already expressed their concern about smaller clubs having too much say and had started meeting to discuss issues back in 1982, only one – Liverpool was represented on the Management Committee. Their objections were primarily about sharing gate receipts [they wanted clubs to be able to keep all the gate receipts from their home matches] and they also objected to paying a 4% share of the gate receipts into a pool to be distributed throughout all the clubs – they wanted this reducing to 3%.

At the League Annual Meeting in 1983 these clubs had managed to persuade others to agree to clubs keeping their home receipts - the smaller clubs feared that unless they agreed a deal the larger ones might walk away and create their own league, a reasonable assumption bearing in mind what did in fact happen.

When the Football League Chairman turned down the proposed TV deal on St Valentine’s Day they could not have predicted what would happen next. There were riots at Kenilworth Road in an FA Cup match between Luton Town and Millwall, serious disorder by Chelsea fans at both League Cup semi-final matches with Sunderland, a major disturbance at the Birmingham-Leeds final day game and then a massive fire at Bradford City’s final home game which killed 56 people. [1] All followed by the deaths of 39 more people at the Heysel Stadium in Belgium [2] after the Liverpool fans pulling down of an inadequate fence led to panic amongst those standing in an area that should have been left empty and crushing at the side of the ground. Did TV companies really feel the need to cover such a sport? The answer was, not that much and certainly not if it involved laying out a great deal of money.

The Conservative Government were also outraged and football was told to get its house in order. English clubs were also banned from European Football with the consequent loss of TV interest such that when the following season [1985-86] kicked off there was no live football on television.

It was at this point that the Big 5 made their move and on September 30th 1985 they invited 13-15 other clubs to join them in a Super League with Ted Croker from the Football Association at its head.

During the discussions there was talk of a 20 tier top league and 24 in the second, with third and fourth division clubs cut adrift. Graham Kelly of the football league believed that something had to be done to keep the major clubs in the Football League ‘framework’ but also knew that the leading clubs were not prepared to stand by the status quo. 

How keen is something we will be exploring as it would have involved a great deal of work both administratively and financially by the big clubs, and Gordon Taylor was able to obtain support from the players to oppose the breakaway and threaten strike action.

It was agreed on December 18th 1985 not to give one division total control but change the revenue shares – the First division would get 50% of TV and sponsors money, Second Division – 25% and associate members [i.e. the third and fourth] – 25%

It was agreed to reduce the First division from 22 to 20 teams but not to do this immediately and it was with this in mind that there would be a staggered promotion and relegation, supplemented by play-offs similar to the American Leagues – these would operate for two years but if they were popular they would be maintained for the foreseeable future. [in fact the play-offs are massively popular today and it was the lower league chairman that had first suggested them in the 1980s in 1983, the top teams simply latched on to the idea]

On the Management Committee it was agreed there would be four from Division One,  three from Division Two and one from the associate members - all of which failed to stand the test of time as by 1992 the Premier League was up and running.