The Jonathan Jackson Column

Wednesday 10 April, 2002

Saturday 13th April 2002.

It is going to be a sad and emotional day, although like the recent death of Her Majesty The Queen Mother, not entirely unexpected . The very last competitive game at Valley Parade in a Claret & Amber shirt for the one who is known by many of us as simply "Stuart".

Few players are ever remembered just by their Christian names. Few ever earn that respect. Stuart is one of that few, like Bobby (Campbell) before him, the name Stuart will always mean Stuart McCall. He embodies everything that the last 20 years in the history of BCFC has thrown at us. To say I am gutted would be an understatement. It is the end of an era, the end of an epoch and a moment in itself worthy of a two minute silence on every anniversary.

The burning question, for me has to be why ? Why won't we offer him another contract, why is he being viewed as too old, too expensive, past it, and why are we prepared to let him go to a rival. Stuart has said he will play on, and who can blame him, although the sight of our God in a Burnley or Sheffield United shirt playing at Valley parade next year is unthinkable.

Not only is Stuart is fit enough for another year, he is good enough. With Nicky Law planning to flood the squad with youth, he would have been invaluable in helping to bring these youngsters on, urging, cajoling and setting up grand a finale coming off the bench for 20 minutes or so.

My lasting memories of the Ginger God are many, like videos in my subconscious;

Charging across the mudbath against Sheffield United at the end of 1983, jumping on the railings of the old Railway End at Burnden Park when the Championship was clinched in 1985. The little boy lost who became a man during the aftermath of the Fire, the overwhelming look of loss at the final whistle Vs Ipswich in 1988, and the look of pride leading out his Everton team for Mark Ellis's testimonial.

In recent times, the strange Scottish accent when interviewed after his return, the miss against Oxford in the last home match of '99, the sheer delight at Wolves, and falling off that car. Stuart's emotions mirror my lifetime of football supporting in just one career.

Perhaps because he is just 3 months younger than me, I associate my love of Bradford City with Stuart more than anything. For me Stuart is City, and City is Stuart. Throughout my late teens and adult life, he has always been there. Even when he went to Everton & Rangers it still felt as though his spirit was at Valley Parade, and to a certain extent, in the shape of "Bantam Progressivism", it was.

I will miss him, Saturdays will never be the same, and I may well shed a tear at 4.45 this Saturday. I will certainly dedicate my end of season p*ss up to his glorification.

Whilst I wish him the best possible swansong, should he play on next year, I really do hope that he doesn't sign for another Division One club or (god forbid) for the TB's. The sight of Stuart playing a blinder against use next year, or playing for those arrogant underachievers from "Last Of The Summer Wine Land" would break my heart.

Goodbye My Ginger God, good luck and in the words of Led Zeppelin:

If the sun refused to shine,
I would still be loving you,
If mountains crumbled to the sea,
There would still be you and me.


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