Monday, March 22, 2010

Michael Foot ~ An Appreciation

Michael Foot died recently and the nation’s media was packed with tributes to him. Quite right too. He has been a high profile politician for all of my life and has been universally acclaimed as a man of great wit, intelligence and integrity by colleague and adversary alike. You can look up the conventional obituaries in any of the likely sources for more detail.

I don’t want to give a résumé of his whole life. Others will have done that already. I just want to focus on a few ways that he has, even if only indirectly, affected me. So here I go in no particular order…

Years ago when I was far younger I simply did not have the money to get to many away games so when I did it was always something of a treat. On this particular occasion I went to Bournemouth for a game at Dean Court long before it was developed into what we know today. I don’t remember anything about the game. I don’t remember if we won or even if we scored. What I do remember was standing in the queue at the turnstile waiting for my turn pay and go in and Michael Foot being the person before me. I suppose it would have been around the time of him wearing the jacket that caused all the fuss at the memorial service at the Cenotaph. There was nothing controversial about his appearance on that day but I do remember him wearing a very, very trendy pair of shiny ankle boots which provoked a fair bit of good-natured ribbing from the travelling supporters. It was an indication of the depth and ordinariness of his support for Argyle that he stood on the terrace along with every other fan.

Another aspect of his devotion to the club came along when Messrs Foot, Jones, Stapleton, Warren and Gill got together to buy the club from Dan McCauley. These were desperately dark times for the club and the takeover came out of the blue. It was all a huge worry but Foot’s name added credibility to the new men and their intentions that no other name could have. Somehow we, as supporters. knew, at last, that everything was going to be alright and sure enough what followed was the greatest spell of success that Argyle has ever known.

My Mum knew him. Or met him at least. I didn’t know this and it was only on his passing that she ever mentioned it. This goes right back to post-war Plymouth and his first election campaign in which he was fighting to get elected to the seat of Plymouth Devonport and was running against “Churchill’s boy” (Mum’s words). She can’t speak highly enough of him and I don’t think that anybody of my generation, and especially not those much younger, can begin to understand the impact he had or the role he played in Plymouth’s phoenix-like rise from the Luftwaffe’s devastation.

Michael Foot was a man of great humility, huge integrity and no little passion. It was this that made him so popular across the country and, and this is no exaggeration, so very, very deeply loved by Argyle fans everywhere.

He was an atheist so “RIP” isn’t really an appropriate sign-off. Well he probably didn’t think much of reincarnation either and I would dearly love to hear him tell me why I shouldn’t end this piece with just two thoughts:

Thank you, Michael, and resurgam.


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