Soccer in North and further afield was illuminated by prime of Malcolm Brodie
Martin O’Neill made the point yesterday that Brodie could upset him with his reporting of Northern Ireland games, in part because Brodie “mattered”. But then, O’Neill added, Malcolm would come back to him as if there had been no sting to the criticism. O’Neill and other Irish players accepted this because of Brodie’s personality but also because he had been there. In O’Neill’s case he knew Brodie had been at the 1971 Irish Cup final when he scored two for Distillery against Derry City.
Malcolm was indefatigable. Alex Ferguson was on the phone to Radio Ulster as soon as he heard of Brodie’s passing. A fellow Scot who, as Ferguson noted, “never lost his accent” despite living in Belfast for 70-odd years, Brodie shared that Fergusonian energy.
Hugh McIlvanney once called Malcolm “a one-man industry”, a Glaswegian who rarely hid his viewpoint.
As McIlvanney said: “If Malcolm wanted an opinion from Irish sports officials, he gave it to them.”
Brodie’s gregariousness and capacity for work inspired the legend. A favourite tale dates from 1965 when Coleraine were playing Dynamo Kiev in the old Cup Winners’ Cup.
Malcolm, who liked a whiskey, was late for the post-match drinks which inevitably flowed and someone joked that he was “probably off filing 400 words for TASS”, the Soviet Union’s news agency in Moscow. Eventually Malcolm arrived and offered his apologies: “Sorry, lads, I was just filing 800 words for TASS.”
They read Malcolm Brodie behind the Iron Curtain in Pravda. They read him in the Belfast Telegraph for nigh-on 70 years. It’s enough. Farewell, Malcolm.
From Eastham to Odemwingie Freedom of contract struggle turns sour
George Eastham was one of those Irish League players whom Malcolm Brodie will have reported on, known and spoken to. Eastham played for Ards – where his father was manager– before moving to Newcastle United and Arsenal. It is meant as no insult to Eastham that his name sprang to mind as Peter Odemwingie made a clown of himself outside Loftus Road on Thursday night.
It was in 1963 when the court case Eastham v Newcastle United began. It led to players having the first sniff of freedom of contract and freedom of movement that would then be taken up by Jean-Marc Bosman four decades later. The transfer of power from clubs to players has since spiralled to £150,000 aweek incomes for the likes of Mario Balotelli. And to the behaviour of Odemwingie.
You would like to describe Odemwingie’s antics as misguided, but they were less impressive than that. It’s not what George Eastham went to court for.
QPR host Norwich City today. In the history of the game, this is not a fixture that grabs like, say, Tottenham v Manchester United. However, it does today. Should QPR fail to win there will be a told-you-so frisson throughout these islands. It is not just that Christopher Samba was bought for £12.5 million on Thursday, it is that his wagesfor the next 4½ years are £100,000 per week. That’s £5.2 million per year, which is £23.4 million over the course of his contract. In total QPR have just committed to £35.9 million for one defender. Meanwhile, in other news, Portsmouth are second from bottom in League One, bankrupt, facing a third relegation in three years.