The First Family of Football and why the English Hacks worship them.


In the beginning, there was Harry, who made his name as non-scoring midfielder at West Ham, before going on to manage nine different football clubs and oversee the fine details of many many football transfers.

While he was at West Ham Harry met Frank Snr. He was a swashbuckling left-back who played over 500 times for the club. Between 1994 and 2001 he was Harry’s assistant. They are brothers-in-law.

And Harry begat Jamie, a slightly higher scoring midfielder with a better haircut. And Frank Snr begat Frank Jnr, a considerably higher scoring midfielder with an arguably worse haircut.

All together Harry, Jamie and the two Franks made quite a quartet. They have many friends. Principally, Tim Sherwood with whom Jamie R established Icon Magazine – a bi-monthly backed by Harry and ‘Sir Les’ and aimed at Premiership footballers and their immediate families (a somewhat niche market not known for its voracious reading habits) In the first issue, Jamie interviewed Frank at Harry’s favourite restaurant (Scalini’s in Knightsbridge). Sample quote: ‘As Frank tucks into his favourite grilled chicken and penne arrabiata, I’m eager to delve deeper into his career…’

The magazine bombed as the editors, having identified a fantastically wealthy, if traditionally non-reading, niche market, then, counter-intuitively, asked them not to pay. No matter (Billy?) bonds were formed. Those that ate at Scarlini’s stayed loyal to otehrs who ate at Scarlini’s. The brains behind Icon stuck together.

No surprises today then when Uncle Harry should use two pages in the Sun to laud the achievements of ‘a good manager…someone who knows about football and about life…a superb youth coach…able to teach people how to be streetwise and to get the best out of themselves as people as well as players…he was out there coaching life skills…a real “club” man…he doesn’t do PR, he does plain talking…it’s a sad day for English Football…’ Or to be more exact, Tim Sherwood, the self-proclaimed supply teacher who guided Spurs into the Europa League.

Among the stream of nonsense floated one gem – the idea that Uncle Harry should consider PR beneath him and the Scarlini Set for no one does PR better than Harry. For the last twenty years he has been giving journalists stories (winding down the window on transfer deadline day for a quick chat came so naturally to him) and in return journalists have given him adoring coverage (never more so than when they all proclaimed him ‘the fan’s overwhelming favourite’ to be England manager. Really?). Harry and the Hacks were joined at the hip. They spoke the same language. Literally. And now there is one fewer English manager to talk to the hacks are becoming increasingly agitated. Where are they going to get their stories from if there is no one talking their language? It’s a sad day for English Football Writers….




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