Moose memories of a fine football fellow

Of all the interviews I've carried out with a vast range of personalities over the years, there's one that stands head and shoulders above the rest as I reflect on my life and times as a journalist.

Of all the interviews I've carried out with a vast range of personalities over the years, there's one that stands head and shoulders above the rest as I reflect on my life and times as a journalist.

Actually, it's not so much a case of head and shoulders as head and antlers, come to think of it.

The interview happened in Cambridge during John Beck's infamous, but hugely successful, reign as manager at Cambridge United - the good old days when he took the club all the way from the old Fourth Division to the verge of the inaugural Premier League in straight seasons, only to lose out in the play-offs.

Beck's style of play wasn't universally admired, to put it mildly, but it was indisputably successful: not least because he had a couple of hotshot young strikers who positively thrived on the direct approach.

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At that time, a feature of games at the Abbey Stadium was the unique cry of the crowd behind one of the goals whenever a visiting keeper went to take a goal-kick.

I don't know if they still do it these days, but every time the goalie ran up to the ball he would be greeted by a bellowing chant of . . . “MOOSE!” Stange, but true.

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It was all down to the fact a moose's head was hung proudly in the CUFC supporters' club bar, not a stone's throw from the stadium (equally strange, but true). The fans picked up on it, and adopted it as a mascot.

Anyway - and I hope you're still with me on this one - the moose became a thing of such legend that some bright spark commissioned the production of hundreds of sponge mooseheads, complete with antlers, which were duly worn by supporters on matchdays. All good fun.

This was too good a tale to miss, so I duly went along to Cambridge armed with my comedy moosehead to produce a feature for Anglia's Friday night football preview.

We got all the relevant shots; the moosehead in the supporters' club, the thoughts of a few wacky fans . . . all that sort of thing. There was just one thing missing - the players' thoughts on the issue.

As I approached the lads at a training session one morning I wondered if one of them might be good enough to enter into the spirit by donning one of the aforementioned comedy mooseheads for an interview on the subject.

There weren't many takers, funnily enough, but one man was game enough to join in the fun. Good old Dion Dublin!

How pleased I was, therefore, to see the very same Dion Dublin signing for Norwich City yesterday, returning to the club which once released him as a youngster all those years ago.

Sure, at 37 the big man's best years are behind him, but I reckon he could do a good job for the Canaries this season, and not just on the pitch.

Dion's one of the game's great characters; it can only be good to have a player of his experience and personality in and around Colney and the dressing room.

I'll never forget him for being good enough to indulge me in that infamous 'moose' feature all those years ago. Hopefully, he'll find time to join us on Anglia's midweek football programme when it returns next month. I think I've still got the comedy antlers somewhere.

I should also like to thank Dion for providing the inspiration for this week's column. Until news of his signing broke, I was half-way through penning my thoughts on the Panorama programme this week.

For me, the most provocative thing to come out of the show wasn't so much the allegations about who's broken what rules.

The most damning part was the suggestion that one agent made a cool £1 million from a single transfer deal, legitimately.

That, frankly, is outrageous.

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