When I was a lad I read Roy of the Rovers every week. Aside from the main story, in which Roy Race and Melchester Rovers went about their business, there were various other stories, too. My favourite was always Goalkeeper, in which young Rick Stewart tried to make his way in the game. (FYI: Rick was the son of the late, great, Gordon Stewart, who had been the focus of the story in previous years.)
It was terrific stuff, lots of good action, drama and fun pictures. You’d sometimes get hold of the old annuals as well, which meant you’d get a glimpse into how things were with Melchester Rovers in the 70s, for instance. By the time I was reading they had posters of players in the middle pages every week, and I’d often rip these out and put them on my wall. Commentators used to say “That’s Boy’s Own stuff”, which I think was a reference to another publication aimed at children (and which ran, I see up to 1967). Well Roy of the Rovers was perhaps a successor to that phrase, as time and again Roy and his teammates would come up with something out of the ordinary to foil whomsoever was opposing them.
I can only really remember two stories. One involved a Swedish player on trial. Melchester Rovers misheard his name as “Kingo Laff” and didn’t pay him much respect. Then when they saw him play they realised that he was none other than the great Ken Golaff! How embarrassing.
The second story was a Goalkeeper story. Rick Stewart was, I think, on tour with the England U21s in Italy, and came across a player who could make the ball move in the air as if by magic. The ball would fly around like mad, as if manipulated by higher powers. Nobody knew how to stop this but clearly it was Rick’s job to do so. I suspect he got there in the end, although the details remain fuzzy.
Anyway, it’s been revealed that Fulham have signed Mladen Petric. I’m excited by this because of that goal he scored against us in the Europa League, a free-kick that he belted and which went up then down then sideways, all kinds of things, frankly, and it made me think of Roy of the Rovers and in that sense he struck me as a good player to have about. Unlike the vast majority of Fulham fans on the internet I haven’t seen anything of him since, but a Croatian on Twitter told me that he plays either as a forward or as an attacking midfielder. At 31 he’s perhaps around his prime, he’s free, and we’re running out of players. So it’s all good isn’t it?
Especially when you consult his wikipedia page and realise that he’s been pretty prolific throughout his career. He also scored the goal that caused England to lose 3-2 in the “wally with the brolly”/”woops Scott Carson” international. So yes, it’s all broadly encouraging. I’m assuming, for no good reason, that he’s our new Clint Dempsey.
Richard Allen desperately wanted to fit something in about Mladen Petric moving to New Malden (near the training ground) but couldn’t find a way to make this work.