Wales vs England - Pride Park 8th September

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Wales vs England - Pride Park 8th September Empty Wales vs England - Pride Park 8th September

Post by Adam D on Sun 04 Sep 2011, 7:05 pm

This week Wales not only take on England in the Euro 2012 qualifiers but they also field a legends side to take on a England legends side at Pride Park.

The reason?

To raise money for the John Hartson foundation. Now I know we have already been drawing attention to this great event but with the big competitive fixture on our doorstep this Tuesday, we felt it was time to once again promote this great event. And hopefully, you can all find a few spare pounds to donate to the charity as well - remember even if its only a few pounds, it all helps.

If you would like to donate, you can do so here 606v2 JHF Charity Page

There are still some tickets left - if you want to go then please check out details here - http://www.wearederby.com

Now ahead of the game, we asked William Geldart of the football blog ( http://www.the-football-blog.co.uk/ ) to look back at the career of John Hartson and write us a piece. And what a great piece it is:

When introducing a biography of John Hartson, you become overpowered by a complex set of emotions as multi-faceted as the former player himself, William Geldart writes.

The former West Ham United and Celtic striker displays tangible frankness when he speaks about his life and past, as uncompromising as his style of play on the field.

In stark contrast, through the giddying highs of a successful career that saw the striker plunder 205 goals in 505 domestic club appearances to the darkness and despair of suffering from testicular cancer, Hartson has remained influential.

The proud Welshman’s autobiography and subsequent memoir, Please Don’t Go: Big John’s Journey Back to Life, charts a career that began professionally at Luton Town before becoming Britain’s most expensive teenager with a move to Arsenal and eventually to the head on struggle with the ‘Big C’.

The remarkable recovery Hartson has made is further testament to the man’s fighting spirit. The intention was for the book to “save lives”, urging, in the striker’s desperate call, for men not to “leave it too late” to check themselves for signs of testicular cancer. It is certainly a message the football world and beyond is keen to share.

John Hartson remains a fan of boyhood heroes Swansea City, the town of his birth; however it was Luton Town who gave him his first break as a professional in 1992.

The frontman’s “all-action displays at centre-forward combined aggression, quick feet and aerial ability in equal measure”, quickly endearing him to Hatters fans who saw the burly striker score 11 goals in 54 league appearances for the club before a £2.5million move to Arsenal three years after his making his debut at Kenilworth Road.

In purchasing Hartson, George Graham had broken the British transfer record for a teenager and quickly saw a return of the promise he had invested in.
Although Graham was sacked in February, Hartson’s record of 7 goals in 15 Premier League appearances since moving to north London in January 1995 saw him rise to prominence. There was heartache too. Despite scoring the equaliser in the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup final, THAT 40-yard lob by Real Zaragoza’s Nayim consigned the Gunners to a last minute defeat.

Hartson maintained a respectable scoring record in his next two seasons at Highbury however opportunities became limited upon the arrival of Frenchman Arsene Wenger.

Dennis Bergkamp had joined the club to partner Ian Wright, the latter a player the Welshman has singled out for praise in past interviews.
In a question and answer session with The Independent in 2006, Hartson describes Wright as the greatest striker he ever played with.
“It has to be Ian Wright” he said. “What a player. What a character. Wrighty helped me as a young striker. He also got me into trouble. When the keeper went for the ball, he'd shout, "Go on Johnny, smash him". These tenets no doubt appealed to his fellow striker’s indomitable spirit!

Another big-money move was forthcoming in 1997 with West Ham United manager Harry Redknapp deciding to take Hartson to Upton Park for a club record fee of £3.2million.

During his first full season with the Hammers, he scored 15 goals in 32 league games. His partnership with Paul Kitson during the tail-end of the previous season proved instrumental in saving the club from relegation.

Aside from his goalscoring exploits in his two years at West Ham, Hartson is remembered for his training-ground altercation with midfielder Eyal Berkovic.
As both players tussled in a practice game, the Israeli took exception to a Hartson challenge and showed his disapproval by punching the striker in the leg.

Hartson reacted angrily by kicking his team-mate in the face, a heated exchange that would probably have just been dealt with quietly on an internal basis were it not for cameras being present to catch the whole event.
Honest in his assessment of the incident, Hartson admitted in his autobiography that booting Berkovic was an “error in judgement” and the two publicly made up.

Another transfer record was broken when Wimbledon prised the striker away from east London for £7.5m. Chronic knee injuries hampered Hartson however he is still remembered fondly by Dons fans, helped by another decent tally of 19 goals in 49 league games.

A mini resurgence at Coventry City in 2001, scoring 6 goals in 12 games for the Sky Blues, preceded a move north of the border to Celtic, where John enjoyed his greatest success, becoming a cult hero amongst Hoops fans.

Under Martin O’Neill, Hartson won nine domestic trophies in five seasons with the club and scored a hatful of goals, some vital, including a 25-yard screamer against Liverpool in the quarter-final second-leg, in Celtic’s run to the 2003 UEFA Cup final.

Spells at West Bromwich Albion, with Hartson scoring twice on his Baggies debut, and Norwich City brought the curtain down on a prolific career with the player himself admitting he no longer had the same appetite to play the game.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph following his retirement, he said, “They say you should go down the leagues and just play for enjoyment because it will be easier. It isn't.”

"I have been fighting my weight for 12 years. I can't have a burger without putting on half a stone," the striker added.
You could debate whether Hartson should have reigned in his off-field vices, something he possibly wrestles with himself, although you can’t doubt his candour.

The Welshman’s statistics are impressive and his ability to score a variety of goals often goes unrecognised. He wasn’t simply the archetypal British target man, all elbows and with a reliance on just aerial ability.

Indeed, Hartson’s confidence in his own attributes led him to say while at West Brom, “With the ability I possessed, and still have, I'd have played for a Manchester United, a Liverpool or a top foreign side if I'd gone through my career a stone and a half lighter.”
Many questions about ‘Big John’s’ career focus on his weight and fitness, ultimately the twin subjects that played so heavily (pardon the pun) on the striker’s mind.

In July 2009, it was announced that Hartson was to undergo intensive chemotherapy after being diagnosed with an advanced form of testicular cancer. The nature of the disease that afflicted Hartson was handled with great dignity and calm, despite the seriousness of the condition.

The struggle and recovery has ensured Hartson is committed to helping others in need, evidenced by the formation of The John Hartson Foundation.
In an era when footballers are heavily criticised for the salaries they earn and their contribution to wider society or lack thereof, Hartson’s Foundation aims to give something back, providing greater awareness of the disease and support for cancer sufferers and their families.

A man who has faced up to his personal and professional problems, Hartson even enjoys grudging respect from rival Cardiff City fans for the manner in which he gave everything for the national side. Given that achievement, it seems that the Welshman, just as he did on the pitch, is capable of winning every battle.

Visit The John Hartson Foundation website where you can find out how the organisation help raise awareness and support of testicular cancer.

William Geldart is editor of The Football Blog, a site that encourages football opinion and discussion, for the fans, by the fans. Join in the conversation at www.the-football-blog.co.uk.


And remember that the game is going to be on ITV4 this Thursday, so even if you can't make it along to the event (details and prices - Here ) then please spare a few pounds for the foundation. Donate here - 606v2 JHF Charity Page

Thanks to Will for writing another great piece for us. Also a big thank you for all the donations so far.

So lets hear what you think the final score is going to be. Are we going to make it a double and beat England on Tuesday and Thursday? Let's hope so!


Last edited by Adam D (Hobo) on Mon 05 Sep 2011, 12:30 pm; edited 2 times in total

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Post by Guest on Sun 04 Sep 2011, 7:12 pm

It really is a brilliant piece. I'll be buying the book shortly.

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Post by Fists of Fury on Sun 04 Sep 2011, 7:14 pm

Great piece on the career of one of football's more colourful characters.

Looking forward to the match, should be fun as these celebrity events always are, and hopefully we can raise a decent amount for the JHF charity through 606v2.

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Post by Adam D on Sun 04 Sep 2011, 7:15 pm

Risca Rev wrote:It really is a brilliant piece. I'll be buying the book shortly.

I know a few people who have bought it - I might take a copy and get him to sign it!

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Post by Fists of Fury on Sun 04 Sep 2011, 7:18 pm

Many thanks to trottb as well, if you read this mate, that's a very generous donation you've left!

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Post by Liam_Main on Sun 04 Sep 2011, 9:51 pm

Looking forward to the match, enjoy yourself there Hobo thumbsup
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Post by Gibson on Mon 05 Sep 2011, 1:28 am

For every Henson, there is a Hartson. Love im. Man's got the inner-strength to drive himself... and others - forward.

Hail! Hail! John Hartson.
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