Who better to have the final word on the fox jukebox than Mr Leicester City himself, matchday host, The Birch. Racking up an impressive 163 appearances between 1971 and 1977 Birch returned to Filbert Street as Club Ambassador after his playing career ended and his tireless charity work provided the final astonishing post script to the premier league winning season when his life was saved by one of the portable defibrillators that his campaigning had financed.
So in an ideal world Birchenall would be listening to music which perfectly sums up the Leicester City fairytale. Well you know what? This IS an ideal world. So it should come as no surprise to find Birch’s 71 summers soundtracked by the well-nigh faultless Temptations.
“‘I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day. When it’s cold outside I’ve got the month of May. I guess you’d say what could make me feel this way? My girl’. Perfect. Just perfect. Not a wasted word. Everyone talked about Dylan’s Nobel, but have you tried reading Tarantula? Are you telling me you understand Desolation Row? Me, I thought it was a cul-de-sac on the Braunstone estate. Nobody’s giving Smokey Robinson a Nobel prize though are they? Nah mate. Too simple. Everyone can understand it. Sunshine on a cloudy day? Anyone could write that couldn’t they? NO! We needed Smokey to write it ‘cos we couldn’t. It takes a genius to say something that simple and make it sound fresh and it takes a genius like David Ruffin to sing it convincingly. Like Leicester eh? Well drilled back four and a skinny frontman to bang the ball in the net.”
You know what Birch? You’ve got so much honey the bees envy you.
Postscript: Clearly I have, over the past season and a half, been playing a little fast and loose with the truth. So on the off chance that Leicester City’s highly paid legal team are trawling the net in search of libel I should like to make it quite clear that model professionals like Wes Morgan and Robert Huth do not spend their spare time quaffing cocktails. Nor for that matter is the blemishless Mark Albrighton as hopelessly addicted to Sunny Delight as I suggested. The story about Alan Birchenall’s defibrillator on the other hand is entirely true. As friends and family members alike will testify, I’m really not imaginative enough to make up something like that.
Since bidding a fond farewell to the hallowed turf of Fortuna Biesdorf, Robert “Big Bob” Huth has been
biting ankles and scaring children at the farthest flung corners of the known world. From Berlin to Chelsea, stopping off at Middlesborough and Stoke before finding his spiritual home at fortress Freeman’s Wharf, Bob’s resolute jaw and Jurassic brow have left a trail of shock, awe and yellow cards in their wake.
So after all that clench-jawed aggression it may come as some surprise that behind closed doors bon viveur Bob enjoys sophisticated evenings at home soundtracked by classic lounge jazz whilst suppressing his chuckles over a spot of Dorothy Parker.
“It never ceases to amaze me that Dakota Staton doesn’t enjoy the same reputation as her contemporaries. She knew instinctively how to pitch songs, emotionally speaking, and wasn’t afraid to do less in order to achieve greater effect. NOT LIKE THAT YOU IMBECILE! You’ll bruise the vermouth” he admonishes as I try to follow his special martini recipe.
When the dust and the olives have settled Bob and I find we’re in agreement that Dakota’s “The Late, Late Show” from 1957 is the album to own, although on this occasion he has chosen a 1973 cut from sessions with The Manny Albam Big Band. “It shows off her full range and I think you’ll agree it’s the greatest Bond theme never to grace a film”.
Choose your next witticism carefully Mr Huth, it may be your last I say in a foolish attempt at levity. Fixing me with his basilisk stare Bob eventually enters in to the spirit of the game. “Names is for tombstones, baby” and turning to the croupier adds “now take this honky outside. And waste him”.
Harsh words sir. Harsh words indeed.
These days there’s no shortage of naysayers basking in the schadenfreude of Jamie Vardy’s lack of form. They don’t know the whole story.
Since last year’s notorious Japgate incident, Leicester’s unstoppable goalscoring tsunami has got wise, got educated and got radical. “Look, Trump and Bannon aren’t stupid… well OK, yes they are, but surely they would have known the immigration ban contravenes UN law and the Geneva convention? You have to wonder if there isn’t a smokescreen at work here to deflect attention from a wider agenda concerning the changes on the National Security Council and the covert activity that the Trump inner circle could control.”
WOOOAAAHH! No surprise then that Jamie finds moral support in Parliament’s state of the nation rant “Come In Out Of The Rain”. “Yeah – ‘the president’s talking ’bout change’ – it was all there, nearly 50 years ago. Plus ca change, y’know warramean?”. But Jamie, the flower power generation failed. We got Nixon, an escalation of the Vietnam war and deteriorating relations with the islamic world under Carter. Don’t you see any hope? “Dunno, but I know this. They should have put Clinton in the White House”. Hillary? “Naahhh, George”.
Right on brother, right on.
Postscript: In case anyone didn’t get the reference, George Clinton was the leader of and driving force behind both Parliament and Funkadelic, later to find solo success with the mildly alarming “Do Fries Go With That Shake?”. Embarrassingly for Jamie it seems that a George Clinton HAS been in the White House, serving as vice president to both the Jefferson and Madison administrations. Dr Funkenstein in the house, indeed.
One would expect that 12 years of the zen suffering that goes with life at Leicester City would have taken a Dorian Grey like toll on Andy King. Not a bit of it. His unmarked boyish features suggest he would have no problem getting served in the students’ union.
No surprise then to discover his scholarly attitude towards classic indie. “Their brand of fey innocence has become such a cliché within indie that it’s easy to forget how revolutionary Orange Juice were” he asserts. “No one had taken such a defiantly non-macho stance before. A lot of people were genuinely affronted by it. It’s okay to wander down Gallowtree Gate with a floppy fringe these days, but to stand up in front of an aggressive Glasgow crowd in the late 70s with that attitude took genuine commitment. We can laugh at taunts like ‘you’re all homosexual, apart from Steven’ but back then they were taking big risk. Apart, obviously, from Steven”.
So come the Champions League victory parade can we expect to see you in sandals and safari suit Andy? “Ye Gads!” he exclaims, not inappropriately.
Simply thrilled as ever, our kid.
We’re all going on a European tour! Kid Slender resumes his factually doubtful series of interviews with the Leicester City squad and discovers what they’re playing on the tour bus. Can I kick it? Of course you can!
Dilly-ding, dilly-dong. During a season of shocks and surprises, few came close to raising as many eyebrows and launching as many t-shirts as Claudio Ranieri’s astonishing pronouncement dilly-ding, dilly-dong. But after being written off and misunderestimated so often, it should come as no surprise to learn he has once again been misquoted. Clearly what Claudio was trying to say was doodle lang doodle lang in a direct reference to talcum powder floor filler “Needle In A Haystack” by the Velvelettes.
“I say to my chaps, listen to these girls, always they are striving for the impossible. A good man? He is like a needle in a haystack. But still they believe he can be found” he says in the Stoke-on-Trent accent with which he likes to surprise new aquaintances. “My boys, they may be sly, slick and shy but never do I allow them to become starry eyed. To dream is good, yes? But it is hard work and fearlessness which makes these dreams come true. I learn this at the Twisted Wheel in ’69”. Hold up a second, you went to the Twisted Wheel? “But of course. Keep the faith. Always you must be keeping the faith”.
We will Claudio, we will.
John Sjoberg. Mike Stringfellow. Theo Zagorakis. Each and every golden era of the Foxes has its own totemic Scrabble winning stalwart. Few though come close to Shinji Okazaki’s mammoth 40 points – in itself, enough to avoid relegation.
“It’s got to be Alphabet Street then hasn’t it?” he grins archly. “Prince was always at his best when he seemed to be parodying himself. If you’re going to sing lyrics like ‘I’m going to talk so sexy’ you’ve either got to take yourself completely seriously or with a massive pinch of salt. Prince managed both. It’s a difficult trick to pull off.”
That’s all well and good. But back to the Scrabble. Surely Muzzy Izzet is unassailable in this respect. “Ah!” replies Shinji inscrutably anticipating my question. “You’re forgetting his full name is Mustafa. I think you’ll find I still have a clear five point lead”.
Much like the Foxes since Christmas then.
A constant presence on the left side of midfield this season, Marc Albrighton’s quiet diligence surely brings to mind that other tenacious centre leftist Tony Blair and his Cool Britannia. “What, the shopping centre in Hinckley? ” quips the man born on Watling Street.
No surprise then that Marc is partial to a bit of britpop. “Supergrass were a victim of their own image” he lectures. “Beneath the monstrous sideys and knockabout videos lurked a refined songwriting talent. Top up your Sunny D?” he offers generously.
“In It For The Money is the album where it all came together – not a weak song on there. Going Out is the one I keep coming back to though. It’s fun but feels regretful somehow. The perfect 90’s hangover number. ” he ends wistfully.
You’re not wrong there, me duck.