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'NOT' the Walsall Advertiser Column - Thursday 5th April 2018

Thursday 5th April 2018 - by Neil Ravenscroft

I was going to talk about the first "Not The Advertiser" Column this week being not about football, giving that our game last weekend was called off due to Bradford being above the Arctic Circle, it seems. I could also have made a fuss about them not calling in a local ref for a pitch inspection, given the weather forecast, so Walsall fans wouldn't have already set out - some hope for consideration in this day and age. Still, it has, at least given Dean Keates an opportunity to work with the team to try and tighten up a defence that has been too leaky of late and a way to get his most talented attackers to blend together.

But no. Instead I feel I have to reflect on today's sad news of the untimely death, at the age of a mere 61, of Ray Wilkins.

I used to get into arguments in the eighties when backing my belief that he had to be in the England side, with people who came out with the old line about his play of always passing sideways - "crab football".

Although I couldn't have known it at the time, it was the way Wilkins played the game, the realisation that you needed to take care of the ball, to receive and recycle and keep the ball moving, that I wanted to see out on the pitch.

What has come to pass now, though - and it has been something that has been pointed out by several people making tributes today - is that Wilkins was ahead of his time. Put him in the midfield of one of the teams that plays that way today, such as Manchester City, then I think he would be recognised for the great talent he was. 

Rest in peace, Ray.

 

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