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Quite by chance, I had just finished reading an article about the massive expansion in the Buy-To-Let housing market, and how it presented an opportunity for people with spare capital to make a killing by renting out newly-acquired property into the private rental sector, when the news appeared on the Everton FC website that Adam Forshaw had signed a permanent deal with Brentford FC following a successful loan spell.

At this point I have to own up to being an Everton fan and season ticket holder at Goodison Park for the past 50 years (yes I have forgiven the League Cup win), to ‘adopting’ The Bees as my favourite League One side since Adam Forshaw and Jake Bidwell went on loan to Brentford and having met Dave Lane, editor of the excellent Beesotted fanzine. Further ‘linkage’ exists in that Dave was kind enough to publish my book ‘Making The Grade’ (Legends Publishing 2012) about my experiences between 1969-1971 as an apprentice at Everton, when I came through the ranks in much the same way as young Jake and Adam did. However, mine was a very different era in football.

Back then, the player-to-let loan arrangements didn’t exist; you either made the grade as a pro and secured a contract at 18, or you were released to find your own level, usually on the scrap heap. The player loan system wasn’t an option at the time – more’s the pity.

In its simplest form, nowadays, players like Bidwell (pictured above) and Forshaw get the opportunity to gain valuable first team experience and either return to their home club or, as in Adam’s case, sign a new contract with the ‘loanee’ club if the chances of progress at the home club are limited. The plus side for the ‘loaning’ club is that their player develops whilst on loan (and is off the wage bill usually), could return as a potential first-teamer or to generate income as a transfer target. A bit like the tenant in a buy-to-let property who makes the landlord an offer he can’t refuse for the house they’ve previously rented. Everyone’s a winner… potentially.

As I said, that’s in its simplest form, whereby the player-loan arrangements were originally devised so that young English players could be nurtured and developed for mutual benefit to players and clubs alike. However, things have become a little skewed – Chelsea have an army of players out on loan, AC Milan have 32 at various clubs, while Watford have taken things to an altogether different level by becoming a nursery squad for Italian outfit Udinese.

The example of Brentford’s loan arrangements with Everton for both Bidwell and Forshaw, in my view, represents a great example of how player loan deals are an ideal way by which players who are not going to get a crack at the first team at a Premier League club can develop themselves and secure a future in the game at an up and coming club outside the top flight.

And the more I read about Brentford, its management structure, playing philosophy and development plans, not to mention its supporters, the more I think young Bidwell and Forshaw are in good hands and could well be playing at a club in the Championship in the not-too-distant future. As an adopted Bees fan I really hope so.

But most of all, I envy them the relatively comfortable and secure roofs over their heads and wish I could have had a player-to-let deal when I was evicted from Everton in 1971.

Stan Osborne

 

UnknownStan’s debut book ‘Making The Grade’ is about to be adapted and made into a feature film of the same name – and before the book takes off in a big way, make sure you’re one of the first non-Evertonians to read it.

 

“This is a wonderfully evocative, witty, thought-provoking and gritty trip down Memory Lane – one that every football fan and  ‘nearly-but-didn’t-quite-make-it’ footballer will adore.

Stan Osborne’s debut book captures a very special era in footballing history and his highly detailed ‘fly-on-the-wall’ insight into Everton’s title-winning season gives a unique perspective on a very special season – one that also underlines how different life is for today’s want-for-nothing footballing starlets.”

Here’s a review that appeared in the latest edition of Everton fanzine, ‘When Skies Are Grey.’ Copies can be bought here for just a tenner.

‘Making the Grade’ is about football, obviously, but for me, the book is about trauma, and a man trying to come to terms with a terrible event that scarred, informed and patterned the rest of his life. For most people who’ve been psychologically hurt, there’s one great childhood trauma that haunts the rest if their days.

But even more than the football, I enjoyed the bigger story of the book, particularly Stan’s self-analysis of his family’s own relative poverty and the mass exodus to the area created by the slum clearances of L5 and L3.

There are some really poignant stories – Stan tells a tale of his handicapped brother being verbally abused by a group of local yobs and the reader gets a real visceral sense of justice being meted out when Stan batters the ringleader in the boxing ring. In another tale, Everton FC gives the apprentices a Christmas hamper and Stan’s mum has to ask the ‘posh’ neighbour next door about a mysterious ‘hard green vegetable’ which turns out to be an avocado pear; and there are many other nice touches and elements of semi-forgotten social history memories that help to drive the narrative and help us to understand Stan’s sense of missed opportunity and his evident still-simmering indignation of the events of 69-71.

‘Making the Grade’ is an indispensable book for anyone with an interest in football and/or the human condition, and far more enjoyable than the frankly dull (and now highly suspect) ‘My Father and Other Working Class Heroes’. Buy it.