You Can't Take Carlisle From The Boy

Neil, looking rather overdressed?

Are you ready for, will you ever be ready for:

Characters like Michael Knighton might not be every one's cup of tea, but they are never boring and can be very entertaining ? whatever your views!

Taking this one step at a time you have to wonder why someone would take the trouble to post such self-regarding views and pepper them with grammatical errors and blatant misuse of the English language fit to call the seriousness of the whole exercise into question. Observe the question mark in the segment above. It’d earn you a rebuke from an English teacher at GCSE level. For a while I wondered whether was some ironic wind-up posted by an enemy hell bent of dragging our former chairman and his ample carcass around the block for one more bout of humiliation.

Reading and re-reading it, I doubt very much that is the case. For starters, not even Knighton’s enemies – in my opinion – would stoop to:

The young, confident, hansom entrepreneur had stole a march on those better known big time international entrepreneurs

That’s not funny, even if it’s intended to be ironic. It’s also rifled with more examples of poor quality control. ‘Had stole’. C’mon, there are twelve year olds out there who could tell you what’s wrong with that. Incidentally, it’s ‘handsome’ when it means good looking and ‘Hansom’ in describing the cab, pulled by horses and – once over – a favoured means of transport.

In case you haven’t twigged yet I’ve just had a head on collision with a web site that appears to be the newly established internet home of the personage formerly known to many of us as ‘FGB’ and a man who once described himself as ‘the most reviled’ in Cumbria. Maybe he missed the abuse. He certainly seems to have rekindled the old animosities if the postings on the messageboard hereabouts are an accurate indication of our opinions.

The evidence this is the real deal – i.e. by the hand of Knighton himself – is probably strongest in the flattering descriptions, the inside information and the details only the man himself would know about his future. For example, there are references to some beliefs about Knighton – like his never really having the financial clout to take over at Manchester United – being false. Oh yeah, and he’s ‘written over four books.’ Frankly, this last point is bizarre. You’d expect someone familiar with authorship to be grammatical in discussing his activities. Does this mean he has authored at least five books, or did he simply buy some exercise books and go ‘over’ the pages with his scribbling? Either way, if I get any book tokens for Christmas they’re going elsewhere. I know some of you out there get wound up when those of us who write for a living mention our works. So let’s get something straight here. With over 100,000 new books coming out every year being an author is nothing special. In fact, we’re almost at the stage where any idiot could become a published author if he or she had the determination. Oddly, Knighton’s works don’t seem to have been captured on Amazon captures everything registered with an ISBN (International Standard Book Number). A work published on demand and selling 30 copies would turn up on Amazon. So, wherever these ‘over four’ books are I’d tend to trust them as real books when – and only when – they have titles, publishers and ISBNs.

Knighton’s books – apparently – include ‘a 200-poetry anthology.’ To the rest of us that would probably be; ‘An anthology of 200 poems.’ Whatever, you have been warned. If he’s looking for a few punchy crowd pleasers to pack the book he could always use some Blue Army chants from – say – 1999-2002. ‘We want Knighton Out’ was a particular favourite of mine, good rhythm, clear message.

An Amazon search for Knighton’s books turned up as the top hit: Cracked It by George Reynolds. I’m assuming one or two of you out there will get the irony right away. To the rest of you younger supporters it might be worth be reminding you that our former chairman counted Reynolds amongst his friends. Reynolds, a convicted safe cracker and former owner of Darlington Football Club lived a life that included larger than life gestures on his part and threats to his physical well being from the supporters of his plummeting club. He thought he was a misunderstood genius, they appeared to think him a t***. At least Reynolds’ life story has a publisher, an ISBN and a listing on the internet bookseller.

In fact, we should remind ourselves here that we do have younger fans logging on these days. You know, fans who’ve joined the club in the more successful recent times. The times we’ve enjoyed after Michael Knighton left. Knighton’s view of his successor John Courtenay is that the Irishman was a poor chairman, combining bad financial management with other poor decisions. mentions Courtenay’s:

unbelievable embarrassments and …..appalling record

I’d like to say here that I met Courtenay twice, once in a hotel after a defeat in Cambridge. He had plenty on his mind. He still took time to talk to fans, pose for pictures, shake hands and behave as if he cared about the people who were helping to keep an ailing club afloat. In my opinion Courtenay was a decent bloke who tried his best, never forgot that the fans mattered and dug deep in a situation that would’ve seen weaker men cutting and running.

Whilst we’re thinking of the younger readers it might be worth looking back over a decade and half. Around the time some of our dedicated younger fans were being conceived. Chill out here, I’m not going to discuss how you got conceived and…… Something else was going on back in the eighties. A certain Michael Knighton was running St David’s – a private school company – into bankruptcy. The national press reported the debts at £474,000. With their company going tits up the Knighton’s paid their own holding company, a creditor of St. David’s, £203,000. Not a smart move when other creditors were – pretty much – being ignored. The Inland Revenue - owed £288,000 – failed to see the funny side. In the resulting court case the man who became chairman of Carlisle United was banned from directing a company. What were those words on

unbelievable embarrassments and …..appalling record

Obviously, I wouldn’t want to comment. I’ll leave any judgements to you.

I wonder what St David’s told parents considering paying hefty sums for the education of their children when they asked about the standards of spelling, grammar and punctuation. I wonder if those teaching English in that school would have taken a line like: ‘The young, confident, hansom entrepreneur had stole a march,’ and covered it in red pen. If I was paying a lot of my own money to put the kids through school that’s what I’d expect in return.

Speaking of phrases from let’s remind ourselves where we came in:

Characters like Michael Knighton might not be every one's cup of tea, but they are never boring and can be very entertaining ? whatever your views!

‘never boring’ and ‘can be very entertaining’….’whatever your views.’

You could – of course – say the same about Adolf Hitler. When Freddie Starr did his famous impersonation of the Fuhrer I’ll admit to finding it entertaining. To the best of my knowledge most history books avoid the word ‘boring’ when talking about Hitler. Speaking of power-mad despots with moustaches what about Joe Stalin, sometime Russian premier and cheery looking bloke? Then the Wikipedia goes and reminds us that behind the happy portraits:

He was directly or indirectly responsible, via his policies, for tens of millions of deaths and unjust deportations to labour camps in the Soviet Union.

It could be worse I suppose, the Wikipedia might have called him ‘boring.’

I am not in any way suggesting that Michael Knighton – whatever his failings as a football chairman – was in any way as destructive or evil as these two infamous criminals against human rights. The publishers of this article similarly don’t wish to be associated with such a comparison. However, I do think you could apply the ‘never boring’ and ‘can be entertaining’ descriptions to almost anything. If you don’t believe me try surfing the Internet for sick jokes. Every disease, disaster and human failing is laughed at by someone because they are ‘never boring’ and ‘can be entertaining.’

Michael Knighton is – apparently – planning a book called My United. I think it was on this very site that I once read a promise by a fellow Blue that if and when Knighton’s book appeared he would scan it and make it available for free download immediately in the hope of depriving the author of any royalties. As an author, I couldn’t possibly condone such behavior. Then again, I suppose it could be ‘entertaining.’

I’ll get me coat in a minute. But, finally, if we can take any positive from the apparent return of the man we abused in chants and on messageboards for years it is probably in terms of Our United. Despite the current success on the field the mutterings still go on hereabouts concerning what’s right for the club in terms of ownership, direction and tactics on the field. We can still find it in us to disagree. Strange though, reading through the posts about Knighton we are definitely Carlisle United.

I’ve never met Mick Mitchell or spoken to him by phone. So I’m plugging nowt when I say……good luck with the new book, Mick!

Neil Nixon