"Hursty? Yer cant help but say he did a job"

Cod Almighty | Article

by Andy Freeman

27 December 2016

Who better than reliable Freddy Fraser, barber, of Grimsby Road to sum up the managerial career of recently-departed Mariners boss, Paul Hurst?

Barber shop

Number 5, sir? Right you are.

That’s right. Ive seen em all come and go. Managers. All shapes and sizes. They all come here for a haircut, shave in the old days. Bobby, Alan, Lawrie, John, Allenby, Paul. Lennie used to come in from time to time. Even the guys who didn’t stay long. Only ever got one sarcastic so-and-so . How would you like me to cut your hair? In silence. He was the one with the drink problem. All sacked eventually. Hurstys the first one left of his own accord. Hes divorced us and its upset some. Lets show a bit of class and wish the lad well.

But its like my missis says when yer get dumped its often for the best. Cry in the toilets and then go again. The new lad? Not been in yet but he will be. Pick my brains. I like the look of him. Looks like hes here for the long haul. But he could do with a haircut.

There we are. Looking better already.

I always say- look at the way they come in and the way they go out. Three relegations in eight years was it? Woodsy. Lovely guy, did his best. Then John F appoints Robbie Scott plus his sidekick. Look at that first press conference. I was there. New club blazers that didn’t quite fit. All starchy. Scotty does all the talking. Leads. Relaxed. Very impressive. Hurstys like a rabbit in the headlights job. And when Scottys 'issues' get him the sack its so lucky for the club that Hurstys up to it.

Had an old Boston fan at the same time as Hurst came in. Visiting his grandma in Kent Street. Hell do the same to you he said and of course he did. Even loyal Dave only got a five minute call on the Sunday night. Did he ring the players? Dis? Shaun? Jamie Mac? I don’t think well be naming a street after him like we did with Jackie. Bestall Avenue. Hurst Avenue? Cant see it. But remember what Sir Alan did with West Brom. And weve forgiven him.

Sideburns trimmed?

But and its a big but. I know hed never get a job in public relations but yer cant help but say he did a job and get us a result in the end. Forget the England job or taking over from Fergie. Getting out of that non-league wilderness is the toughest job in football. A wretched place when youve lived a better life.
He got us to the play-offs was it four times? Luck evened itself out with that Braintree win then the Forest Green final. A two magpie job. Never forget it. Our best day in football. Ill always thank him for that. Giving us back our self-respect.

Head up a little, sir. Thank you.

I must say every player who came in here old fashioned word, respected him. And the team got better every year. Some shrewd signings on the budget he had. The Shop. Podge. Nolan. Always looking for loyal. Always looking for humble. I remember the words. Shipped out potential troublemakers- the lad with the Tony Curtis who went to Whitehawk, Cooky, Scotty B, Jack, lovely lad. Could be ruthless could Hursty.

Do you know when I knew he was going? When he sacked all the squad that got us up. Craig. Gregor. Andy. No sentiment. Cold. The Yorkshire in him I suppose. Boycott. Brian Close. Don Revie. Austerity football. But look what he did for the likes of Hearn, Lennie and Podge. Best football of their careers under Hursty.

Straight or natural at the back, sir?

Shrewsbury? Its what yer call a career move. Five years time well see. And he was never gonna stay ten years and set himself up in a pub or a tobacconists was he? But I cant see him coming back in 10, 20 years time like the others do. Joe. Dave. Macca. Matt. Tony. Kevin. Back all the time and cheered in the street when they do. Always come here for a chat and a trim.

Eyebrows, sir?

I hated all that toxic Hurst Out stuff from the Mariners Ultras. Twitter and fanzines and all that chatter and white noise in his ears. Must have got to him and his family. Not brave enough face to face. Just used to be pub gossip and the odd letter in the Telegraph in the old days.

I did see that first Shrewsbury interview. A track suit that fitted. Expensive leather chairs. Sparkling new stadium out the window. He looked ten years younger already. Thats the way he went in. Hows he gonna go out? Big Mal used to say youre not a proper manager till youve been sacked. Well see.

Satisfactory, sir? Senior Citizen is it?

No. I don’t get to see all the games but I do get to hear 1,000 different opinions. And I open the window on Saturday and hear the roar when theres a goal and the muttering when were losing. Maa-ri-ners. Maaarriiinerrrss... Almost better than being there.

Next time you come Ill tell you about the time Geoff Hurst comes in for a trim back in 68. And Stanley. Stanley Matthews telling me about his Dad. He was a barber in Hanley. Lovely man. Genuine. Cheers. See yer.

Whos next?

With acknowledgements to James Kelman and Ring Lardner

The image is by Ramón Peco, available under this licence

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