After Tottenham’s adventures this week in the San Siro, NORMAN GILLER was going to have a word with Joe Jordan, butt…
I have hard-earned advice for any reporters thinking of approaching Joe Jordan for his view on the touchline bust-up with Genaro Gattuso in the San Siro this week: don’t waste your time. It is easier to get a cuss from the Pope than a quote from “Jaws” Jordan.
The headlines focusing on Joe were even bigger in October 1977 when he literally punched Wales out of the World Cup in a bad-tempered qualifier at Anfield.
Wales supporters will tell you that this was not so much Hand of God, more Fist of the Devil.
Television replays proved conclusively that Jordan, challenged for a long ball into the Wales penalty area by defender David Jones, had punched goalwards. It was the 78th minute of what was so far a goalless game.
French referee Robert Wurtz saw the hand connect with the ball, but must have gone to the same optician as his countryman Stephane Lannoy, who this week failed to see that Flamini’s criminal assault on Spurs defender Corluka was a red card offence.
Monsieur Wurtz managed to mistake Jordan’s Scottish fist for the Welsh hand of Jones, and awarded Scotland a penalty. Don Masson scored to put the Scots on the way to a 2-0 victory that, to this day, is bitterly disputed by Welsh football followers.
Every sports editor in the land was screaming for an after-match quote from the then Manchester United centre forward. Silence. Jaws was well and truly zipped.
Frank Nicklin, sports editor of The Sun, knew I was close pals with Old Trafford manager Dave Sexton and thought he had found a way to unlock the Jordan tongue.
I was freelancing in those days and Frank telephoned me the day after the match to say: “Tell your mate Dave that we will pay Joe five grand to talk about the penalty. He can deny punching the ball if he wants, just provided he talks.”
I duly made the call, and Dave told me: “Joe would not talk to his grandmother about the penalty. He has made it clear that he does not want to discuss it.”
Going the extra yard, I managed to get to Joe directly, who responded, “Nae comment” before putting down the phone. He was out of the Kenny Dalglish school of interviewees.
Joe has maintained his silence ever since. Will he be silent for as long about the “Glasgie kiss” that ex-Rangers mercenary Gattuso described as “speaking in Scottish”.
This week even Jordan’s erudite ghost James Lawton could not get a word out of Joe on the head-butting incident. The skilful hidden hand in Joe’s autobiography (Behind the Dream), Lawton reported in The Independent: “Jordan was eloquent enough in his embrace of omerta. He said, ‘I’m sorry, but I just don’t want to make a single contribution to this whole business not disappearing as quickly as possible from everyone’s memory. For me, it is already closed’.”
Well that was an improvement on “nae comment”.
Norman Giller is a prolific author, sports historian and television scriptwriter. His published works are well worth a shufty and they are available on an exclusive Buy One Get One deal HERE.
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