Sunday, October 15, 2006

Lee Trundle

I see that Lee Trundle scored his 100th League Goal yesterday. The iconic Lower League Celebrity has entertained fans at Wrexham and Swansea, whilst being patronised by Tim Lovejoy and Soccer AM. He has achieved his minor fame by scoring a lot of great goals, and wearing flashy gear. His broad Mersey wit and an eye for the ladies certainly helps to cement his position as a postmodern Frank Worthington.

Decades ago, Lee Trundle would have been an obscure cult figure at a small club. Think of Tommy Tynan, Don Rogers, or Tarki Micallef. But in the time of digital media, when so many channels are desperate for content and interest, Trundle has been built up into more of a player than he really is. Then came the Millennium Stadium incident, the image rights, and all the hyped up attention that might have spoilt his big time move.

It could all have been so different.

In the late 90's , I used to run a website that channelled most of its energies into the humiliation and ridicule of then Welsh manager, Bobby Gould. Gould was universally despised by Welsh fans at the time due to his "quirky" man management techniques aligned with absurd tactical decisions. To his credit, he did a lot of positive things for Welsh football away from the 1st team, which were unceremonously dropped by Mark Hughes' during his own star-pampering tenure. But at the time, Bobby Gould was the Number One Hate Figure.

It was with some embarrassment then, that I found myself working alongside Mr Gould in his time as Cardiff City manager in 2000. I was information manager at the club, and to all extents and purposes, I was Bobby Gould's PR man.

Apart from a tricky situation when we chose Bobby's nemeses, Manic Street Preacher's "You Love Us" as the run-on song for the season, I tried to do the job professionally, and we worked closely together for a time.

One Friday afternoon, I was speaking with Bobby and mentioned that I was going to Rhyl that evening to watch their game against Connahs Quay Nomads in the League of Wales. "Do me a favour", said Bobby. "Take a look at their front pair, and let me know what you think. I've heard good things about them". He was talking about Danny Barton and Lee Trundle.

So there I was, a scout for Cardiff City, running my watchful eye over a couple of potential signings. I had seen them both play before of course, but this time I would concentrate, and even maybe write a few things down. I told the Rhyl board that I was representing Cardiff, and I even got a free cup of tea and a biscuit. Live the Dream, Eric, Live the Dream!

I soon wrote Barton off as one of those players who excel at LoW level, but who would struggle to hold down a place in a professional side.

Trundle however was different. He demanded your attention. But that evening, the fates conspired against him. Maybe he was nervous knowing that the newest, but most influential figure in Welsh football was watching, but he didn't have a good game.

The Nomads defenders were winding him up about something - the now-forgotten incident in a Mersey nightclub perhaps ? Whatever they said, it was working. Every time the ball came to Trundle, he looked for an opportunity to have a dig, a stamp, or an elbow. He was distracted.

There was a late penalty which Trundle took, and I can't remember if he scored it, or missed. And I think he might even have been sent off eventually.

My report was uncomplimentary. It was negative, while still leaving the door open for the portly Scouser. I told Bobby Gould that Trundle was overweight, that he lacked sharpness in the area, and he was easily wound up - (known in the scouting game as a questionable temperament). But I also added that he was skillful, and that I'd seen him play better.

Bobby Gould never signed Trundle. I would hope that he saw the player himself, and made up his own mind. But my ego likes to think otherwise. I like to think that I drove Lee Trundle into the arms of Bryan Flynn. I don't think he was "a Cardiff City player". I never scouted agin.

1 comment:

Uncle Lance said...

you forgot to mention citys answer to George Best.
Robin Friday a brilliant player who was invairiably pissed and would rather nick you last quid than break int a swaeat, Shame theres little footage of him playing.