If you want to hold a grudge follow the example of Leigh Roose | Paul Doyle

Yaya Touré is no Johan Cruyff but they are mild compared to the keeper who caused chaos for Celtic and against Stoke

It is getting to the stage where we are going to have to accept Yaya Touré is no Johan Cruyff. Shame, really, because the Ivorian had the right idea. Whether served with an upturned bowl of steaming hot bile or a platter of cold hard truths, the revenge of the jilted footballer can be an entertaining force. None of the sport’s great orators, from Bill Shankly to Claude Puel, has ever given a team talk as inspirational as a well-nurtured grudge.

In 1910, the magnificent Leigh Roose set an example that may never be matched but we will get to him in a bit. First, let us congratulate Touré’s agent, Dimitry Seluk, for mischievously pricking our hopes this week by announcing that his 35-year-old client passed a medical in London in advance of signing for a new club.

For a tantalising 0.5 seconds we could imagine Touré joining Chelsea, Spurs or Arsenal and fulfilling his ambition of leading a team to the title at the expense of Manchester City, thereby making a fool of Pep Guardiola, who judged him to be obsolete. Instead, it seems Touré is to sign for Olympiakos, who are unlikely to knock Guardiola off his fashionable stride any time soon.

Nor are the Greeks likely to meet Royal Antwerp, who are managed by Laszlo Boloni, the manager who, when at Sporting Lisbon, gave a senior debut to a 16-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo but when he was at Monaco could not find a regular place for a 23-year-old Touré. When bad results led to Monaco sacking the Romanian in 2007, Touré bid him a fond eff off. “Boloni’s departure gives me great satisfaction,” he declared. “I was more than fed up with him.”

It would be nice to think Touré’s whole glorious career was fuelled from then by a desire to ridicule Boloni, at least until Guardiola got the Point-to-Proveometer flashing and bleeping in provocative manner. But even if it were, that does not surpass the feat of Cruyff, who, after being ushered away from Ajax in 1983, vowed to make the club rue the day they suggested a 36-year-old could no longer make a country’s footballers dance to his tune – and this at a time when Shakin’ Stevens was king. Minds were soon altered in upsetting fashion across Amsterdam, as Cruyff strode over to Ajax’s arch‑rivals, Feyenoord, and led them to the league and cup double, earning the Dutch player of the year award in the process. Cruyff even scored against Ajax in a 4-1 win but did not run the length of the pitch to gloat in a style later made famous by Emmanuel Adebayor. An uncharacteristic oversight.

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And now back to Roose, who is also remembered for a remarkable sprint down a pitch – among other deeds in a wonderful life ended by the first world war, in which he fought with valour before being killed on the Somme.

The sprint came during the Wales international’s only appearance for Celtic, in a 3-1 Scottish Cup semi-final defeat by Clyde. The goalkeeper, on loan from Sunderland, was so impressed by Clyde’s third goal that he pursued the scorer, Jackie Chalmers, all the way down the other end and gave him a vigorous handshake. Roose had played with Chalmers at Stoke a few years previously but the forward was said to be surprised by the congratulatory gesture. Celtic fans are understood to have expressed, in most strident terms, the view that this was neither the time nor the place for rekindling old friendships, not when Chalmers’s goal had confirmed Celtic would not get their hands on a trophy that had been withheld the previous year because the final, between the Old Firm, degenerated into a riot.

A month later, Roose made an even more extraordinary guest appearance. His turning out for Port Vale’s reserves was part of a brazen vengeance plot. The match was a title-decider against Stoke reserves in the North Staffordshire District League. Not one that would normally attract a celebrity player famed for his charm and extravagant lifestyle as well as his skill. But this was for the league title as well as local pride and, as such, offered the perfect opportunity for Roose to irritate Stoke’s directors, whom he had not forgiven for letting him go after relegation in 1907.

Although he was part of Sunderland’s squad by 1910 he remained an amateur – albeit with legendary expense claims – so he could make himself available to others. He was pleased to take the field for Port Vale that April. To ensure his presence registered appropriately on the Point-to-Proveometer, he insisted on playing in his old Stoke jersey. Upon seeing how this was received by the 7,000 crowd in Stoke’s Victoria Ground, the referee ordered Roose to change. He refused.

Then he performed with ostentatious skill to preserve a 2-0 lead for Vale. After an hour it got too much for some Stoke supporters, who burst on to the pitch and charged towards their former hero who, in turn, hightailed it towards the River Trent. “The Rev A E Hurst [Stoke’s chairman] made a public appeal to the crowd and, with the aid of the police and some of the Port Vale supporters, Roose was able to prise himself away from a watery grave and into the sanctuary of the dressing room,” reported The Argus.

The local FA declared the title void, fined Port Vale and ordered Stoke to start the next season behind closed doors. Roose escaped unpunished after claiming he thought the match was a friendly and that folks would take his antics in the spirit they were meant.


Paul Doyle

The GuardianTramp

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