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‘World would be a boring place without Paddy Crerand’ – don’t miss this remarkable feature-length tribute to unique football legend

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BY JOHN GUBBA

There is no one in football quite like Paddy Crerand – and this weekend Manchester United fans around the world will enjoy a fascinating and revealing insight into the life of one of the club’s most colourful personalities when my long-awaited documentary ‘Paddy 50 Years’ premieres on MUTV.

Signed by Matt Busby for £56,000 on 6 February 1963, the kid from the Gorbals was the Paul Scholes of his generation and enjoyed a pivotal role in a hugely successful side that became the first English winners of the European Cup.

Now one of the club’s most fanatical supporters, Paddy has re-invented himself as an outspoken football pundit and has his own show on the club’s TV Channel. His recent radio rant that followed the Manchester derby – when contributors to BBC 5Live Breakfast blamed Rio Ferdinand for inciting the crowd and being hit by a coin – trended worldwide on twitter.

It was an insanely funny piece of radio that re-inforced his cult status with United’s current stars and skipper Patrice Evra says: “The players all love Paddy.” Not that this was the first time that he has vented his fury on radio in his uniquely passionate style to defend a Red Devil. Guess who was dominating the airwaves in support of Eric Cantona after his infamous kung-fu attack on abusive Crystal Palace fan Matthews Simmons back in 1995?

This Glasgow-born Celt of Irish descent is a fascinating character adored by his fans, friends and family alike because he is a man of the people who speaks his mind and is fervently loyal. Sent off six times, he insists he never started a fight but always finished it. And yet, behind that tough-tackling, tough-talking exterior, is a man with a heart of gold.

There are many fascinating chapters in the life of the 73-year-old who briefly dabbled in coaching and management after hanging up his boots. While his passion for politics famously saw him act as a peacemaker between the IRA and his old friend John Hume back in the seventies. Then there was his spell as a pub landlord when the likes of Bryan Robson, Paul McGrath, Alan Brazil, Norman Whiteside and Kevin Moran were his regulars.

“The world would be a boring place without Paddy Crerand,” declares Brian Kidd, who used to clean the Scottish international’s boots when he started out as an apprentice at Old Trafford. Kiddo, of course, is now Roberto Mancini’s assistant at rivals Manchester City. But he remains a close friend and is one of the stars of our feature-length documentary tribute to the United legend.

Paddy Crerand looks back on the past 50 years
Paddy Crerand looks back on the past 50 years in an emotional documentary tribute

It is a film laced with tragedy as well as triumph and I expect a few tears will be shed when viewers share Paddy’s emotional trip down memory lane that begins with the Second World War when his father was killed by a German bomb.

When Paddy finally signed for United from his boyhood heroes Celtic, it was the start of a golden era that saw Matt Busby’s men win the FA Cup, two league Championships and the 1968 European Cup in a remarkable five year spell. “I’d only been at United three months when we beat Leicester City 3-1 in the Cup Final at Wembley,” says our hero, who lined up against Frank McLintock, a player he’d previously faced in schools football back in their Gorbals days.

It was a decade when George Best, Denis Law and Bobby Charlton became the iconic names at Manchester United. All three were European footballers of the Year. But Paddy was the outstanding half-back who made Busby’s team tick.

Nobby Stiles, who reverted to a more defensive role when Crerand arrived, says: “For me Paddy signing was the best thing that ever happened because it meant I moved back alongside Bill Foulkes, which was my best position.”

In the documentary, Sir Alex Ferguson and his brother Martin both talk about their memories of Paddy in the early days. Martin worked with Paddy in the shipyard before he signed for Celtic, and talks about how they used to play football at lunchtime in steel toe-capped boots. Sir Alex recalls Paddy playing junior football for Duntocher Hibs and likes to remind everyone that Celtic were beaten 4-nil by Rangers in Paddy’s final game north of the border.

The biggest accolade comes from Denis Law who told me: “Paddy  was one of the best midfield players Scotland ever had.” Now that is some tribute from my good friend the Lawman who many of us regard as the greatest Scottish player of them all.

To fully appreciate what I am talking about you will have to watch the documentary and I am proud to say that my script has been brought to life by the narration of Bernard Hill, the Hollywood actor who starred in Lord of the Rings and Titanic.

Paddy 50 Years’ premieres exclusively this weekend on MUTV.

Watch primetime at 9pm on Sunday, February 3, or catch one of the repeat showings. You can sign up for MUTV at manutd.com/joinmutv or call 08708 486888. ‘Paddy 50 Years’ is produced, directed & scripted by John Gubba.

How pathetic for Craig Brown to brand Team GB players ‘selfish”

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Craig Brown

Craig Brown

BY JOHN GUBBA

Forget the politics – it is time for England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales to join forces and get behind Team GB’s bid for glory at London 2012

Stuart Pearce – the Englishman appointed manager – is absolutely right when he says Britain’s top young stars will all want to take their shot at Olympic Gold.

The Olympics is a unique platform for the world’s finest under 23 players to shine. Remember it was the stage that launched Lionel Messi on the way to becoming the best player on the planet. And Messi was so determined to take part he was happy for Argentinia to take Barcelona to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in the argument over whether or not he could play at the Games.

That’s why the likes of Welshman Gareth Bale are expected to ignore pleas by the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish FAs not to take part for fear of losing their national status with FIFA.

Let’s face it does anyone really believe that England, Scotland, Wakes and Northern Ireland will be forced to compete as Great Britain at the FIFA World Cup.

For former Scotland manager Craig Brown to say players who take part will be “selfish” is just pathetic.

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CLASSIC GOALS from Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham

Beat the Scots and England can reach a third successive Rugby World Cup Final

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By John Gubba

At last it’s getting serious at the 2011 Rugby World Cup – and there is much more than a quarter-final stake at place in England’s final group match against Scotland.

Defeat by Argentina means it’s win or bust for the Scots, who need an 8-point victory margin to stay in the tournament and send England home.

England vs Scotland - Rugby World Cup 2011

England vs Scotland - Rugby World Cup 2011

Making it all the more exciting is that England will fancy their chances of going all the way to a third successive World Cup Final if they beat Scotland and claim no.1 spot in their group.

Topping the group means England will avoid host nation New Zealand, the red hot favourites, and instead meet a France team in meltdown.

And then the odds are that victory will land a semi-final showdown with Ireland or Wales.

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CLASSIC GOALS from Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham

ONLY MORONS BOO NATIONAL ANTHEMS: SADLY THE BRITS ARE THE WORLD’S WORST

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How it should be - Katherine Jenkins sings the Welsh National Anthem before the Ashes match between England and Australia in 2009

How it should be - Katherine Jenkins sings the Welsh National Anthem before the Ashes match between England and Australia in 2009

BY JOHN GUBBA

THERE is nothing in sport that makes me more sick to the stomach than hearing fans boo the national anthem – whatever country we are talking about. And what makes it worse, I am ashamed to admit, is that we the British are the biggest offenders.

This time it was the Welsh who were the first to disgrace themselves with an ear-splitting chorus of boos that greeted God Save The Queen before the Euro 2012 Qualifying match against England in Cardiff.

But England’s mindless morons responded just as badly. And we all know they would have started the booing if the Welsh anthem had been played first.

How pathetic and condescending of England’s tainted captain John Terry, controversially re-instated by Fabio Capello, to infer otherwise when he claimed the boos provided the inspiration England needed to put the Welsh in their place. ‘They were booing the National Anthem and the players were very pumped up because of that,’ he said. ‘The players are very proud and ready for the game but when you hear that you get pumped up even more. We showed that from the start.

‘When you go away you expect things like that but, when you hear it, it makes you stick your chest out even more. You can hear the English fans singing and you want to do it for them as well as yourself.’

OK Terry, we get the point. But why don’t you lambaste the English fans when they do the same thing. What makes it worse on this occasion is that God Save the Queen is the national anthem of the United Kingdom, of which Wales is a part and one shudders to think what our brave servicemen around the world who give their lives in battle think of their own people acting so shamelessly.

But it is not just the football crowd who bring shame on Britain. Ricky Hatton was famously let down by his followers in Las Vegas in 2007 before he was embarrassingly outclassed by Floyd Mayweather Jnr in his WBC World title defeat.

Ricky Hatton was embarrassed by his fans booing USA national anthem before his fight with Mayweather

Ricky Hatton was embarrassed by his fans booing USA national anthem before his fight with Mayweather

Hatton’s British fans loudly joined in when Sir Tom Jones sang God Save The Queen. But when Tyrese, the R&B singer, stepped forward to sing The Star- Spangled Banner, the United States national anthem, he was almost drowned out.

The singer gamely plugged on. But many were rightly outraged. HBO’s commentators were quick to condemn the fans they had been praising moments earlier and one HBO technician in the ring gave a middle-fingered salute to the crowd.

The Americans have their faults. But it is hard to imagine their people lacking the class and dignity so often seen by so-called sports fans from Britain.

It is a sad fact that God Save the Queen is regularly targeted by England’s Celtic rivals back in the UK because it is the anthem used by England.

Embarrassingly, last September The Scottish Football Association was forced to apologise to Liechtenstein after Scotland fans booed their national anthem before a Euro 2012 qualifier – because it has the same tune as God Save the Queen.

At the time George Peat, the Scottish FA’s acting chief executive, said: “I was embarrassed and extremely disappointed by the disgraceful behaviour of some of our supporters during the Liechtenstein national anthem at Hampden Park last night.”

It was poetic that the booing seemed to spur minnows Liechtenstein on, and they took a shock 1-0 lead. Scotland only saved themelves from a humilaiting result with a winner SEVEN minutes into injury time at the end of a match against a team ranked only 141st in the world.


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