Wednesday, 9 May 2012
I wish we were Bilbao: Lancashire
Rory Smith started a Twitter hashtag today called ''I wish we were Bilbao''. This inspired tweeters all over the world to suggest teams from their region as a tribute to Athletic Bilbao's 'Basque only' policy. (NB: Back in the early days of this blog I wrote a piece called ''A Scouse National Team'').
Revisiting the idea of a Scouse team in 2012, I think it would look something like this.
1. Tony Warner (Wellington Phoenix) or Paul Harrison (New Saints)
2. Tony Hibbert (Everton)
3. Leighton Baines (Everton)
4. Jamie Carragher (Liverpool)
5. Scott Dann (Blackburn Rovers)
6. Joey Barton (QPR)
7. Adam Hammill (Wolves)
8. Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)
9. Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
10. Rickie Lambert (Southampton)
11. Darren Potter (MK Dons)Subs would include: Nolan, Kelly, Ryan Taylor, Flanagan, Barkley, Nugent, and Orr.
One would expect that the city of Liverpool would do well here (after all Liverpool produces more England players per head of population than any other region). The goalkeeper is the obvious weakspot. The wonderfully named Anthony Randolph Warner is now 37 and playing in New Zealand. Harrison is playing in the Welsh league. The rest of the team, though, is pretty darned solid.
A Liverpool only rule is needlessly restrictive - and far more restrictive than Athletic's policy. If we extended it out to Merseyside we could add in Spearing (Birkenhead), Jack Rodwell (Southport), Osman (Billinge), Jon Walters (Moreton, Wirral), Stephen Warnock (Ormskirk), and Jamie Jones (Kirkby). Jones, of Orient, is probably Merseyside's finest keeper but the team is better for having Osman, Walters and Rodwell.
However, Merseyside is a fairly modern construct. It is the bastard child of some bureaucrat who thought destroying the counties of England was a good idea (hell, the region now known as Greater Manchester was supposedly known as SELNEC). Despite a bit of Merseyside pride developing over the years it is an odd construct. A better region, and more in keeping with the Bilbao, wouldn't be that of the northwest but that of the traditional county of Lancashire.
Remember that Lancashire County Cricket Club plays most of its games outside modern day Lancashire at Old Trafford (Manchester) and, less frequently, Aigburth (Liverpool).
Such a team would have all those from Liverpool and surrounds named above we could add Wes Brown, Phil Jagielka, Phil Neville, Paul Scholes, Phil Jones, Frank Fielding, Mike Pollitt, Larnell Cole, Craig Dawson, Will Keane, Danny Simpson, Phil Bardsley, Ravel Morrison, Keiren Westwood, Simone Perrotta, Adam Le Fondre, Danny Welbeck and Kyle Bartley.
The team above would benefit from Fielding, Scholes, Jones, Welbeck, Brown and Jagielka. A Lancashire XI would be a fine thing indeed.
Lancashire - proper Lancashire encompassing the ugly sisters at either end of the East Lancs Road - has traditionally been the powerhouse of English football. I know many get moist eyes and feel an unusual throb in the pants about West Ham United's contribution to the 1966 World Cup win. Of the starting eleven in 1966 only three were from the South of England: Moore (Barking), Peters (London) and Cohen (London).
The rest were Northern. The biggest chunk of those from old Lancashire: Styles (Collyhurst), Ball (Lancashire), Hunt (Lancashire), and Hurst (Lancashire). In the rest of the squad Connelly, Armfield, Byrne, Eastham and Callaghan were all from the Red Rose County.
A nice link to an important game in England's history and a bit of fun thinking. If nothing else, I'd buy a Lancashire football shirt.
* Edited in line with first comment in comment box. I inexplicably missed Danny Welbeck - as explained in my comment.