Short-term publicity stunts are just that. A burst of profile and then everyone forgets about it. Especially if they don’t pay off. There’s nothing more embarrassing than drawing attention to yourself and then being made to look a fool. I remember in 1996-97 when Hitchin played at home to Wisbech in the FA Cup. Adam Parker, Hitchin’s precocious young striker, dyed his hair yellow and green. At the end of the game, which the Canaries surprisingly lost 1-2, somebody remarked, “I bet he feels daft now”. He probably did, but Parker was, and still is, a larger than life character, so he wasn’t going to let that bother him.
Farnborough have committed the ultimate style crime and in doing so, have made non-league football look a little foolish. The late Kenny Everitt might have said “it’s all in the best possible taste”, but it is not.
Farnborough were rescued out of administration by a sponsor, but part of the deal was to change the names of their squad to a collection of the world’s greatest players. So the Farnborough squad reads as follows: Banks, Matthaus, Carlos, Maldini, Hansen, Cafu, Terry, Beckenbauer, Best, Gascoigne, Zidane, Cruyff, Messi, Lineker, Maradona, Pele. Their manager, Spencer Day is now Jose Mourinho and their kit man is Terry Venables.
However, there is a snag. Farnborough have yet to play a game this season as they have not met the Conference’s pre-conditions which would enable them to play in the league. Their games against Chelmsford, Maidenhead and Bath have all been postponed. They have been granted extra time to meet the conditions. It’s a shame because the likes to Beckenbauer, Best and Cruyff are all itching to get started this season!
While the rest of non-league football sits back and laughs at the ridiculous publicity stunt that will keep the Deed Poll boys busy, supporters of Aldershot and Welling should also breath a sigh of relief, for the same sponsor was discussing a similar stunt with both clubs.
If Farnborough and their sponsor think this is going to attract the crowds to Cherrywood Road – or whatever the ground is called now – they are deluded. It is a cheap trick that sells the soul of a club that seems to lurch from crisis to crisis. And anyway, the impetus has been lost. The season will be nearly a month old before Farnborough kick a ball and people will be more interested in what’s really going on in football – not the attention seeking of a bunch of non-leaguers with the names of their heroes on their backs. Actually, you can see that by going along to any Football League ground. How many Chelsea fans have “Terry” or “Lampard” on their backs?