Sunday, August 21, 2005

I like David James. OK, he's not the greatest goalkeeper who ever trod the turf, but in my book he's a good guy. In 2000 Aston Villa lost 1-0 in the FA Cup Final to Chelsea, the goal coming about largely because of a howler by James. The newspapers the next day laid the entire blame for our woeful performance on 'Calamity' James. No headlines about the fact that the forwards hadn't mustered a shot on goal throughout the whole 90 minutes (strangely familiar yesterday at Old Trafford too) or that the midfield was non-existant, or that no defender cleared the corner which James actually came for. No, the whole debacle was down to 'Calamity' James. The next day, through 'contacts' in Birmingham City Council, I managed to wheedle the family into Birmingham City Council House, where Doug Ellis had managed to get the Council to organise a Civic reception, presumably in anticipation of our great victory. The players trooped in, and didn't they just troop. OK, they didn't have anything to celebrate, and they should have looked sheepish about their shambolic performance the previous day. Also... a Civic Reception... for losers? No wonder they were embarrassed. If anyone should have wanted to hide away it was the giant goalkeeper who had been scapegoated by the media. But whereas Billy Bigtimes like Gareth Southgate and Lee Hendrie and most of the other multi-millionaires just sulked in the corner, Jamesey was everywhere, posing for photos with the kids (and, shamefacedly, their dads in some cases) signing autographs and chatting amiably with anyone and everyone. Benni Carbone and Merse, at least one of whom probably didn't have the faintest idea what was going on, also joined in I'm pleased to say. The sulky Southgate, who demanded a transfer to a 'bigger club' and then moved to those football giants Middlesboro, continued to sip his Britvic juice and hide in the corner.

Anyway... as I say, he ain't the greatest, but I like David James, and I felt for him this week when the cliche-ridden media pygmies got their spears out again to prod him mercilessly. Still, it all finished happily... he was back in Brum yesterday and had a smile as wide as the Bull Ring at the end of the match. And so did I.