IT’S a book I’d been meaning to catch up with for ages.
I’m glad I finally have and for those Sheffield United fans who haven’t seen it or got a copy, then may I respectfully suggest you get one.
It’ll be well worth your time. I’m certainly enjoying my time with it.
It’s “Fit and Proper?” - and, whatever else, don’t forget the question mark, it’s paramount!
It’s about Sheffield United or, as the sub-title says - Conflicts and Conscience in an English Football Club.
It’s excellently researched, compiled and written by Matthew Bell, well-known chronicler of all things Blades (not least as editor of the fanzine Flashing Blade) and Dr Gary Armstrong, a Blade too but one based in London where he is a University lecturer.
It was Matthew who, quite rightly, pointed out recently that my description of Charles Green as a largely anonymous figure during his time at Bramall Lane might not be quite accurate.
Green was the guy from Goldthorpe, ex-Mexborough Sunday League footballer and centre forward at Mexborough Town and Worksop Town amongst others, who turned up as chief executive when Mike McDonald became chairman in late 1995.
What I meant with the ‘anonymous’ remark was that, as I recall it, Green did not figure much on the public stage, in the media. Managers and chairman held sway.
The Greens of this world tended to be in the background - although in his current role as chief executive at Rangers right now, he most certainly couldn’t be described as anonymous!
No doubt Dave Bassett wouldn’t describe him as anonymous. Might be interesting how ‘Harry’ might describe him though.
Chapter Nine notes the astonishing little contretemps when Green apparently ‘offered Bassett out’ only to then decline when Bassett agreed.
It happened upon Bassett’s departure. The official statement described the parting as “amicable”. Not completely it wasn’t.
Here’s the excerpt from Fit and Proper?
“Bassett... claimed that his pay-off wasn’t the full amount owed to him and an argument ensued with Charles Green.
“The club’s management style of the time decreed that Green offered to settle the dispute by physical means in the car park; it wasn’t the first time he had emplopyed this unique style of ‘diplomacy’.
“But Bassett called his bluff and Green backed down.
“Four years afterwards, Bassett said: “I would love to have had the chance to take negotiations further in the car park. He didn’t want to.”
There’s plenty more where that came from and you only have to glance at the back cover to have you shaking your head.
“This is the story of a football club that, in the 1990s, harboured the UK’s biggest white-collar fraudster... and was almost bought by someone who couldn’t decide whether to be a man or a woman.”
That, of course, was Sam Hashimi. Who later emerged as Samantha. Honestly, you couldn’t make it up.
I certainly remember (when he/she was Sam) a past colleague from this sports desk putting in a call to his number. He expected some posh company or at least a private and direct line.
It was a wine bar in London. “I’ll get him for you,” came the reply.
Those Blades fans who haven’t already done so, treat yourself to a copy. You’ll learn a lot, shake your head a lot and be amazed even more.