What Next? A Fluffy Muff and a Matching Hat?

Doncaster Rovers FC's Belle Vue ground, which was set fire to on 29/6/95. Ken Richardson, 61, the main shareholder of the club at the time, was convicted at Sheffield Crown Court of hiring Alan Kristiansen, an ex-SAS soldier, to commit arson for 10,000 pounds.

I cannot be the only Rovers fan dismayed to see Adriano Rigoglioso wearing gloves against Brentford recently. God knows it’s bad enough living with the fact that Carl Alford was allowed to wear the sacred jersey but I never thought I’d see the day a Rovers player would wear gloves.

Real Madrid players may well have been pictured wearing scarves recently but a Rovers player in gloves? Gloves? Rovers? Gloves at Rovers? One of the players in gloves? A Rovers player? Argentinians in Alice bands wear gloves. Italians with their own line in male cosmetics and perfumery wear gloves. Rovers players do not. I never saw Les Chappell in tights. I don’t recall seeing Alan Little in ear muffs. If Gary Brabin ever wore a brushed nylon body-warmer under his shirt I must have missed it.

When Colin Sutherland punched Colin West’s lights out at Nene Park we wouldn’t have heard the smack in Row Z if he’d been wearing a pair of sheepskin mittens. Dean ‘The Rock’ Walling was from the sunny island of St.Kitts but was man enough not to need gloves on a cold Yorkshire evening. Ian Snodin would have been Fergie-purple with rage if ‘The Rock’ had trotted out in gloves.

What kind of message does it send out to the opposition? You set off from your nice footballer’s house in a leafy suburb on your way to fortress Belle Vue. You’ve heard the stadium is windswept and decrepit and that the Main Stand crowd can almost touch you as you leg it down the touchline. The language is industrial. The place stinks of fags, and fried onions. The executive boxes are second-hand Portakabins. Doncaster have one of the best home records in the League. They’ve dragged themselves out of the bowels of the Conference and they are getting better and better, year on year.

You run out onto the field, emerging from a dingy tunnel. It’s freezing. You can see Asda on your left, the Portakabins over on the right. The air is full of noise and burger fumes. Out come Rovers. The number three looks like an axe-murderer. The guy Doolan looks like a night-club bouncer. Leo Fortune-West towers over you and fixes you with a hard stare. You want to go home. What kind of hell is this? Maybe it’s time to think about a nice office job.

And then you see the Rovers number 10. He’s wearing gloves… and suddenly, at that moment, the sun comes out in your head. All of your birthdays have come at once. Donny, Donny!, have got someone wearing gloves. Oh yes. Everything is going to be peachy.

You might ask if it does it really matter? According to ex-Ireland international Tony Cascarino it does. ‘Playing against a centre half in gloves? I loved it. A rugged man-mountain defender with a pair of gloves on? Not so tough after all. I felt it gave me an edge and I would feel confident I could outmuscle him.’

Still, if you dig deep enough you will find eventually someone to defend the glove-wearing footballer, for example, this letter to the Times headed ‘No kid gloves’

 Sir – During the current cold snap I have noticed that the old chestnut of footballers wearing gloves has come up again. It’s been suggested that those who do decide to protect their pinkies from the elements are sending out the wrong signals and that they are not up for the battle.

However, as a Crystal Palace supporter, I can distinctly  remember our centre-forward in the early Sixties, Cliff Holton, wearing gloves, and yellow ones at that. He played with distinction as a forward and half-back for the Arsenal for 11 years before becoming a bit of a journeyman. Sadly now deceased, he was a big man and highly intelligent. Whether playing in defence or attack he was very uncompromising and a prolific goal-scorer.

You would suggest at your peril that his desire to keep his hands warm was some sort of indication that he was wanting in some way.

Iain Gordon
Banstead, Surrey

Well Iain, Cliff Holton might have been ‘a big man and highly intelligent’, but so is Leo Fortune-West and Leopold does not wear gloves. I’m sorry – and I say this with due respect to my Home Counties coal mining brothers – but if the only defender of glove-wearers comes from Surrey, I think I can rest my case.

by Jack the Miner

This article first appeared in print in issue 30 of popular STAND fanzine, published in April 2005. 

One thought on “What Next? A Fluffy Muff and a Matching Hat?

  1. Only just seen this “southern softies” “Surrey’s full of posh wimpy toffs” crap stereotyping. I wasn’t defending glove wearing just telling it as it was. To a Highlander Yorkshire’s much like Surrey!

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