| THE BIG MAN UPFRONT MINISERIES | Episode 2 – Part 1. GIORGIO CHINAGLIA

Not many people like me but I don’t give a shit’

Giorgio Chinaglia

The year was 1976. New York Cosmos general manager Clive Toye touched down in Rome wearing a razor sharpe pinstripe suite and a smile. He was accompanied by a bottle of the finest red wine, a case of 10 Cuban cigars and an open cheque book, the remit – sign Giorgio Chinaglia. Having claimed the signature of the great Pelé a year previous, the Cosmos needed a big man to compliment the Brazilian in the striking department. This would significantly strengthen their attack but also further enhance the reputation of the American game. Chinaglia’s time at SS Lazio appeared to be coming to an acrimonious end despite the striker leading the club to a famous Serie A title in the 1973/74 season, becoming a genuine club great. Adored by the blue side of the Italian capital, the often outspoken Chinaglia, was a figure of hate with the Roman half. That hatred had began to boil over into an unsafe territory, hardly helped by Chinaglia’s facist salute goal celebration in various matches. His hero like status at facist dictator Benito Mussolini’s club of choice meant Chinaglia and his family had become the target of kidnap by various mafia lead terrorist groups and he needed a way out of Rome, preferably out of Italy. Toye later claimed it to be the ‘easiest signing of a star’ he ever made but, in their very first meeting, there would be a sign of various difficulties to come – Chinaglia brazenly leaning into the glovebox of his Porché and revealing a gun. Episode 2 of the BIG MAN UPFRONT Miniseries takes a look at the strange world of Giorgio Chinaglia and how the controversial striker went on to become arguably the greatest striker in the history of the North American Soccer League (NASL)


GIORGIO CHINAGLIA

Giorgio Chinaglia was a broad 6 ft 2’ Italian Centre forward who spoke English with a Welsh accent. Born in Carrara, Tuscany in 1947, his family relocated to the unlikely setting of Cardiff in Wales because of the devastating affect of World War II on the Italian economy.

He took a liking to football and being noticeably bigger than the majority of his peers he signed for Swansea Town (now City) in 1964, playing in division 3 (now league 2) of the Football League. Unfortunately for Chinaglia, things didn’t pan out at Swansea. He only made 6 appearances in 2 years scoring just the once before being released at 19 years old. With Military service still compulsory in Italy and the call up looming large, Chinaglia took the decision to move back to Italy with no apparent interest from any British football clubs.

Military service was to be a turning point for Chinaglia’s career however and one he himself credits as his saviour claiming..

‘I’d still be in Wales, slogging it out in the mud and drinking ale’

Luckily for the burley striker the Italian military had a special regiment for footballers in which they could train every day and play competitive matches. He would learn the game properly and, without any outside distractions, develop a style that was never the most pleasing on the eye but extremely effective. It lead to goals and Chinaglia took the regiment by storm. When his service ended there were no shortage of Italian clubs willing to take him on but here lay a problem. A strange ruling banned Chinaglia from playing in Italy’s top league, Serie A, for 3 years because he’d already played professionally in another country. Fortunately, special dispensation was granted allowing him to sign for Serie C side Massesse. Not the money spinning deal he’d hoped for but two effective seasons followed by two equally productive years at fellow Serie C side Internapoli meant his ban was now up which now allowed him to sign for a top club. SS Lazio came calling.

In Giorgio Chinaglia’s 6 years at Lazio the club experienced a relegation, a promotion, an Italian cup win and a Serie A title. A mixed bag that would sum up the big man’s career in many respects. In those times however, one thing remained constant- the prolific rate in which Chinaglia bagged his goals. He was the talisman of the Lazio forward line, often selfish and singleminded, all he cared about was finding the net and didn’t mind who he upset along the way. He earned himself the nickname Long John because of his striking resemblance to Serie A great and Welshman John Charles. He was adored by Lazio fans, hated by opponents and often, his own teammates. Never shy in saying what he felt, Chinaglia was very critical of the Italian tax corporate laws which lead to various failed ‘business’ ventures.

During Chinaglia’s time at Lazio, he was also part of the Italian national team set up but would only end up making 14 appearances. Controversy was never far away as far as Chinaglia was concerned, playing in a World Cup Finals group match in 1974 against Haiti, Chinaglia reacted terribly to being substituted launching a foul mouth tirade at then Italian coach, Ferruccio Valcareggi. Storming down the tunnel, he would destroy both sets of dressing rooms and leave the stadium before the match ended, an act that effectively ended his brief international career. What’s worse, Italy actually won the match 3-1.

By 1975, Chinaglia’s much maligned international career was over but within Lazio, they looked after him. After all, his goals had delivered a scudetto nobody thought possible. He was club captain and with that came fame and notoriety that was right up his street. He was the centre of attention, the main man that everybody wanted a piece of, often seen mixing with celebrities and cultural icons of Italy but also hangers on, shysters and freebooters looking for gain. He’d also be seen with major players in Rome’s criminal underworld, leading to activities that became a distraction on his football.

By 1976, things were coming to a head for Giorgio Chinaglia. A very chaotic social life as well as very public disagreements with his own teammates, his power inside Lazio had become toxic – A price paid for the club looking after him so well. Lazio’s board of directors knew there was no alternative. Chinaglia had to go and Clive Toye stepped off the plane.

To be continued.

BLOGIN FANTASY FOOTBALL (Gameweek 32)

OVERVIEW: Another respectable return of 58 points in gameweek 31 leaves me still unmoved in 7th place in the office table but gaining, only 15 points off 5th now. 18 points from captain Mané was the highest scorer but I was expecting a bit more to be honest given Liverpool’s home fixture. The Toon lads all chipped in again which is always nice.

In other news, my benchboost did nowt.

THIS WEEK’S PICKS: Looking at the gameweek, Arsenal and Chelsea have fixtures that look pretty favourable. With that in mind I’ve used my free weekly transfer but also took a -4 on another. Out comes Mané, reasons being Liverpool are away at Man City, probably the toughest fixture in the league and, with the title already wrapped up, there’s a chance Klopp may start to rotate his team. Replacing him is Willian of Chelsea, away at struggling West Ham, he’s always likely to grab points from set plays and takes penalties. The other transfer is Aubameyang for Calvert-Lewin, a change made possible by money gained in the Willian deal. Arsenal at home to bottom side Norwich is a great chance for Auba to fill his boots and for that reason he is made captain, with Kane (Away at Sheff.United) vice. My 3 toon players still retain their places away at Bournemouth.

GET TO THE BYLINE!!!

Line up for Gameweek 32

BLOGIN BETS 26/6/20

This week’s accumulator is £10 @8/1

  • SEVILLA 4/11 (Home v Valladolid. Friday KO 21:00)
  • BARCELONA 4/7 (Away v Celta Vigo. Saturday KO 16:00)
  • MAN UNITED 2/5 (Away v Norwich. Saturday KO 17:30)
  • ATLETICO MADRID 3/10 (Home v Alaves. Saturday KO 21:00)
  • ATALANTA 2/5 (Away v Udinese. Sunday KO 18:30)
  • REAL MADRID 4/11 (Away v Espanyol. Sunday KO 21:00)

CONFIDENCE: 8/10

OVERVIEW: The less said about the previous weeks the better. I’ll be staying well clear of Arsenal for the foreseeable so this week, it’s back to basics. 6 clear favourites, spread nicely over the weekend to accommodate staggered viewing. What’s worth noting is I haven’t included any teams from Germany despite them being a permanent fixture since lockdown. The reason being the Bundesliga title race is over and it seems everyone else is beating each other. Quite frankly, it’s been a nightmare to predict. Having Dortmund, Leverkusen et al out of the equation, I’m feeling a lot more confident this week.

PICKS : Sevilla have drawn 7 of their last 10 outings in all competitions but are unbeaten in that period. They are home to Valladolid who have had a very indifferent season and only won 1 of their last 7. I expect Seville to extend their unbeaten run and grab the W.

Barcelona are neck and neck with rivals Real Madrid for the title so they can not afford anymore slip ups. Barca, as you would expect, have only dropped 2 points from their last 15 available and playing before Madrid is a good chance to put the pressure back on Los Blancos. Celta have had a mixed bagged in recent weeks, they lost at Villarreal then hit 6 against against Alaves so it’s not easy to predict which Vigo side will turn up. Which ever one, Barca will be too strong here. Away win.

Man United have quietly gone about their business for a while now and are surprisingly 13 matches without defeat in all competitions. The return of Pogba playing along side Fernandez has been a massive positive and, providing the manager doesn’t rotate, could be key this weekend. Their opponents Norwich are set for relegation having endured a very poor Premier League season. That run will continue in the cup thus being a comfortable Man U win.

Atletico Madrid have been in very good form since La Liga’s restart and are without defeat in their 12 previous matches. Their opponents Alaves have lost their last 2 games which included a 6-0 drubbing at Celta Vigo. Atleti don’t score too many but concede even less. HOME WIN.

Atalanta are having a superb season in Serie A. They have won all of their last 8 matches in all competitions including a 3-2 victory against title contenders Lazio last time out. Udinese, by contrast are having are very scratchy season and hover just 3 points about the drop zone. 3 points for Atalanta.

Real Madrid have won their last 4 La Liga matches and, at home to Bottom side Espanyol, should be a straight forward formality. The only stumbling block could be Barcelona playing before them, winning and adding a bit of extra pressure but can’t see it being a problem. AWAY WIN and the in form Benzema to BRING HOME THE ACCA!!!

BLOGIN FANTASY FOOTBALL (GAMEWEEK 31)

Office League

  • 9 Entrants
  • £10 a head, winner takes all.
  • Bottom place provides the rest with sausage or bacon sandwiches and a drink of their choosing. (More important than the money)

OVERVIEW: The gamble paid off. 3 Newcastle players bought in for gameweek 30 has all but ensured I won’t be handing out sausage sandwiches this year, much like Newcastle all but confirming their own Priemer League survival. A clean sheet for Lascelles, an assist for Almiron and a goal for star man Saint-Maximin gave a very good haul of points. 64 points totalled, the only down side is that it seems to have been a good scoring week all round.

THIS WEEK’S PICKS: One transfer made for gameweek 31. Sergio Aguero limped off in Man City’s demolition of Burley on Monday night and although the severity of his knee injury is not known, it’s pretty certain he’ll miss this next match. I’ve replaced him with Harry Kane who is up against a massively struggling West Ham, big chance for points there. I’ve captained Mané as Liverpool are at home to Bournemouth whilst I’m looking for much of the same from the 3 Newcastle players- Home to Aston Villa, who haven’t won in 8, the pressure should be off Steve Bruce’s side.

Oh and I’ve thrown in my Bench boost chip this week too.

Work the channel’s lads!!

Gameweek 31 Team

BLOGIN BETS 19/6/20

This week’s offering is 2x £5 lines. £5 ACCUMULATOR @7/1 and £5 TREBLE @11/1

LINE 1

  • BARCELONA 5/6 (Away v Sevilla. Friday KO 21:00)
  • LEVERKUSEN 4/7 (Away v Hertha Berlin. Saturday KO 14:30)
  • ATLETICO MADRID 1/3 (Home v Valladolid. Saturday KO 21:00)
  • CHELSEA 1/2 (Away v Aston Villa. Sunday KO 16:15)
  • INTER 3/10 (Home v Sampdoria. Sunday KO 20:45)

CONFIDENCE: 6/10

LINE 2

  • ARSENAL 13/10 (Away v Brighton. Saturday KO 15:00)
  • WEST BROM 4/7 (Home v Birmingham. Saturday KO 15:00)
  • NEWCASTLE 9/4 (Home v Sheffield United. Sunday KO 14:00)

CONFIDENCE: 5/10

OVERVIEW: A slight change of tactics this week after another horror show last time out. I’ve decided to split this week’s £10 and have two lines running, hopefully at once. Main reason for this being I’ve selected Barcelona on line 1 which is on Friday night. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem, it’s Barcelona after all, but on this occasion it’s a risky selection with them being away at high flying Sevilla. Should that selection fail it would leave us with nothing to go at over Saturday and Sunday. That’s where the back up 2nd line comes in.

The results really have been all over the shop since football’s return, 2 lines should increase the chances of a win. I read the other day that home win percentages were down about 30% or 40% since the behind closed doors matches began. It shows what a difference the crowds make in creating the home advantage we’re usually accustomed to.

This week’s fixture set isn’t the greatest pool to pick from and going off the previous failures I’ve tried to be a bit more gut feeling rather than being too focused on stats and form. I’d be lying if I said these selections were anywhere near guaranteed and it’s probably the least confident I’ve felt since football returned. Having said that, a change of luck is definitely due and usually arrives when least expected. Here’s hoping.

LINE 1 PICKS: Barcelona travel to 3rd placed Sevilla looking to maintain their lead at the top of La Liga. Seville have had a good season and they have their own Champions League securing aspirations. This is by no means a given result but Lionel Messi has returned from the break in imperious form resulting in 2 wins from 2. If Barca can get through this tricky Friday night match this line has a GREAT CHANCE.

Fresh from a comprehensive drubbing of Osasuna, Atletico will be looking to carry on their decent form and hold on to the converted Champions League spot at home to lowly Valladolid. Golden Boy João Felix finally started to show his worth with a hattrick last time out, hopefully the start of a run for the talented Portuguese. HOME WIN.

Leverkusen are unbeaten in 9 away matches in all competitions with 7 of those being victories. I fancy that run to continue at Hertha who have lost their last 3 matches and are marooned in mid table with nothing to play for. Havertz to bag again, AWAY WIN.

Chelsea have been moving along quite nicely under Frank Lampard and sit in the top 4. Their opponents Villa haven’t won for 7 matches and are 2nd bottom with relegation looking a very distinct likelihood. Chelsea’s quality should shine through with the help of an empty Villa Park.

Inter’s Serie A title hopes may have faded in the week’s leading up to the lockdown but they still should be too strong for struggling Sampdoria. The away side have secured a couple of positive results in recent, not so recent matches, albeit against team’s way off Inter’s quality. It’s possible we could have a good cash out number if we get to this point on Sunday night which maybe worth looking at, but I reckon Inter will wrap up the acca without needing it. HOME WIN!

LINE 2 PICKS: Arsenal divide a lot of opinion but the defeat at City was their first in 2020. Despite a lot of draws in that run, that’s pretty good going. Their opponents on the other hand are on a 10 match winless streak and only 2 points above the drop zone. The Gunner’s extra match fitness could be an aiding factor and hopefully we’ll see Lacazette partner Aubameyang upfront to give the away side that extra firepower. AWAY WIN.

WEST BROM look destined for promotion to the Premier League but they also aim to pip Leeds to the Championship title. Although this is a heated derby match I’d usually avoid, I think the home team will show why they are deserve to be promoted against Birmingham side who sit 16th and without a win in 7 games. Bragging rights West Brom.

Ahhh Newcastle United. This is a pick from the heart with logic going straight out the window. The opposition, Sheffield United, have had a excellent first season back in the Premier League and are chasing a European spot. I just have sneaky feeling the Toon will gain a narrow victory in this one at St.James’ Park. Having beat the blades in the corresponding fixture earlier in the season, I’m hoping for the same on Sunday. Saint-Maximin to be key in a 1-0 or 2-1. TOON TOON!!!!

BLOGIN FANTASY FOOTBALL (GAMEWEEK 30)

The background story in our office is as follows

  • 9 Entrants
  • £10 a head, winner takes all.
  • Bottom place provides the rest with sausage or bacon sandwiches and a drink of their choosing. (More important than the money)

OVERVIEW: The Premier League returns this Wednesday which means the fantasy football mind games restart in the work’s office. Before lockdown it became very competitive with only 100 points separating 7 places.

It has been quiet around the office recently in the lead up but that’s not uncommon, that’s part of the mind games. Not mentioning anything in the hope colleagues forget to make their changes. It’s a tactic that has been dubbed the silent treatment and one I’ve been caught out with on more than one occasion. I’m under no illusions of the likelihood that the schemers are playing this again, after all I’m using it myself. After such a large break it would be easy to forget to wheel and deal but I’m ready and prepared. What’s more its UNLIMITED TRANSFERS this week so it’s a perfect time to get an edge. For me personally, sitting 3 from bottom and in grave danger of sausage sandwich relegation, a team overhaul is what I’ve been crying out for since wasting my wildcard and other chips months ago. The humiliation of handing over wholesome sausage sandwich goodness to gloating colleagues is the stuff of nightmares so this team rebuild is crucial.

THIS WEEK’S PICKS: Needing an overhaul, only 5 players survived the cull. I’ve brought in Aguero (captain) and Sterling (vice) as Man City have a double game week with both matches being home fixtures. Can really smell big points there. Vardy is the league’s top scorer so he remains as does his Leicester compatriot Soyuncu who has been a consistent and surprising point scorer all season. Lundstram, a midfielder down as a defender and very cheap has been great value also.

Now the gamble. I’ve put in 3 Newcastle players in this week, probably pulled heartstrings rather than fantasy football logic but the plus side is I shouldn’t have too many of the same players as my opponents which, in my precarious position would be pointless if I want to have any chance of climbing the table. This dice roll is nessessary and with the toon at home to Sheffield United there’s a solid chance of sneaky points.

Calvert-Lewin was a running out of money change but he’s a starter and regular contributer for Everton. The down side is that they are up against champions elect Liverpool. Overall I think Aguero in as captain along with Sterling and Mané is the key this week.

Get the ball down and play, lads

SQUAD/TEAM FOR GAMEWEEK 30

BLOGIN BETS 13/6/20

This week’s accumulator £10 @8/1

• DORTMUND & OVER 1.5 GOALS 2/5 (Away v Fortuna Düsseldorf. Saturday KO 14:30)

• BRAGA 4/11 (Home v Boavista. Saturday KO 21:00)

• BARCELONA & OVER 2.5 GOALS 4/6 (Away v Mallorca. Saturday KO 21:00)

• LEVERKUSEN 1/2 (Away v Schalke. Sunday KO 17:00)

• GALATASARAY 4/7 (Away v Rizespor. Sunday KO 19:00)

CONFIDENCE: 7/10

OVERVIEW: After last week’s shit show I was tempted to move away from the acca avenue but,having scowled and researched the fixtures, there’s a more wide ranging selection of picks to go at this time round. La Liga returns in Spain along with the Turkish SuperLig so I’ve gone for 5 selections across 4 different countries spread over Saturday and Sunday. More confident than last week.

PICKS: Dortmund’s title hopes may be fading by the week but they have still won 4 away league matches on the bounce. Their style of play will always suggest goals, either their own or leaking at the other end. Their opponents, Düsseldorf maybe unbeaten in their last 4 home games but that only includes one win. 2nd top v 3rd bottom. Away win with goals.

Braga will be looking consolidate their Europa League spot at home to Boavista. A defeat in their last outing was their first for 11 games so they’ll be looking to bounce straight back. Boavista haven’t won for 6 games 4 of which were defeats and are on the slide, I reckon that streak will continue. HOME WIN.

Despite not always being at their best away from home this season, Barcelona are still top of La Liga with a 2 point cushion. They’ll be out to maintain that gap when they travel to 3rd from bottom Mallorca. With Lionel Messi expected to be fit, the chances of goals are greatly increased. In the 5 previous meetings between the sides, Barcelona have triumphed with a margin of 2 or more goals. I fancy that run to continue, Comfortable Barca victory.

Leverkusen are excellent value at 1/2. They have won 5 consecutive away games in all competitions and are unbeaten in 9. 17 year old forward Florian Wirtz has been very impressive in recent weeks along with main man Kai Havertz and both are in line to play. Their opponents, Schalke, haven’t won for 12 league games with defeats in 7 and have only managed 4 goals whilst shipping 20 in that run. Another defeat incoming. AWAY WIN.

Galatasaray are only 3 points out of the Champions League positions so there’s a big win incentive. The opposition, Rizespor, are winless in 10 matches and are in the relegation places. No crowd could be to Gala’s advantage in this one where quality should prevail. Another away win to CLINCH THE ACCA!!!

| THE BIG MAN UPFRONT MINISERIES |

EPISODE 1. BIG KEV FRANCIS

The city of Calgary in Canada is more renowned for ice hockey and the Winter Olympics than Association football. It sits within the peaceful confines of the Alberta province, tucked under the protective shelter of the vast Rocky Mountains. The country’s 5th largest city is a metropolis of skyscrapers, giant structures and large rail links. Calgary’s local constabulary even boasts its very own high rise ~ All 6ft 7 inches of former professional footballer Kevin Francis. An English expat, retired centre forward turned Canadian law enforcer. A Rocky Mountain himself, it’s hardly surprising Calgary’s crime rate is adequately in check and relatively low. The once bruising lower league talisman now dons a blue badged uniform and becomes the first entrant in the Big Man Upfront miniseries. Episode 1 tells the tale of a bizarre night in the FA Cup 21 years ago.


15TH JANUARY 1999 – Oxford United v Chelsea. FA Cup 4th Round.

Oxford United were in a mess. A reported 9 million pounds worth of debt with staff left unpaid and a half built new stadium across town that the club simply couldn’t afford to finish. As the scaffold sat rotting away throughout the winter, they carried on at the old Manor Ground ~ A 9000 capacity shed, rarely full with a sloping pitch for company. Oxford were heading for relegation back to Division 2 (now League 1) of the English Football League but in early January of 1999 had managed to beat Crewe Alexandra in the FA Cup to set up a potentially money spinning 4th round tie. A kind draw would alleviate some of their financial burden and, for the time being, stave off the threat of administration. The draw was kind. Premiership giants Chelsea were coming to town and better yet, Sky Sports wanted to televise it. KER-CHING.

The match itself was an excellent cup tie, set in a time when the cup meant something. A cracking full house atmosphere under the lights and played at a lightning fast tempo. Chelsea fielded a plethora of globally renowned superstars. Italians Gianfranco Zola, Gianluca Vialli and French World Cup winner Marcel Desailly to name a few but it was Oxford’s previously lesser known striking substitute who was grabbing the limelight, pre and post match talk.

The big man was warming up along the touch line, his giant frame engulfing the screen when the camera focused in. He dwarfed his compatriots as he sauntered through the motions; very high knees, heel flicks and side to sides, the commentator dubbed him the largest outfield player in the English league football. The hype was huge, the Sky cameras had their narrative that bordered on patronising given his size but a closer look into the player’s career suggested he wasn’t just the Bambi on ice novelty act the tv production team were making him out to be, there was substance. 88 goals in 152 appearances for Stockport County had seen him become a club legend and had paved the way for an £800,000 move to his boyhood favourites and hometown club Birmingham City where he had a decent spell, if not as prolific. That lead to a switch to Oxford and this FA Cup fourth round tie where the sense of anticipation, intrigue and readiness for him to enter the uneven field was palpable. The crowd and the nation viewing at home waited patiently, willing the Oxford manager/Nigel Mansell Spin off, Malcolm Shotton, to get him on. They needn’t of worried. The stage had been constructed from the offset, the Manor ground crowd demanded it, the country now demanded it. Shotton obliged around the 60th minute. On came BIG KEV FRANCIS.

It was an introduction that produced the largest cheer of the night, fitting for the man’s size, not far from 7 foot of striker. It didn’t take long for him to ruffle feathers of the Chelsea Centre half’s, messrs Lebeouf and Desially visibly shaken after the first few aerial duels. Accomplished world class Premier League defenders who knew they were in a proper battle. This was a striker to be taken seriously, a team to be taken seriously. Oxford, by this point, were remarkably 1-0 up through a young Dean Windass’ header. The Manor Ground crowd sensed Chelsea were here for the taking and when a home attack down the left produced an inviting cross heading in the direction of an unmarked Francis, they thought this was the sealer, Sky’s would-be fairytale ending to the picture they’d been painting all night. With only a simple tap in required the big man’s long gangling legs had managed to tie themselves into a double bow. He’d lost balance and the chance squirmed away much to undoubted disbelief of Malcolm Shotton and 9000 others watching on.

The night wasn’t to get any better for the big striker. With Chelsea pushing for a late equaliser and the clock ticking towards 90 minutes, a defending Francis awkwardly lunged towards Vialli inside the very crowded 18 yard area. A typical centre forward’s tackle that was accompanied by the Italian’s tumble and an instant referee’s whistle. Penalty. With stunned silence inside the ground, a distinctly bemused Francis looked on while his teammates protested on his behalf. The replays seemed to suggest a good contact on the ball but the referee was undeterred and Lebeouf would slot home the resultant, if fortunate, spot kick. 1-1 and a heartbreaker at the death for Oxford.

Despite the initial disappointment, the draw would become a brilliant result for Oxford United with the subsequent replay at Stamford bridge turning out to be a lucrative one. Lucrative enough to see them financially secure till the end of the season where they would ultimately be taken over and saved.

As for Kevin Francis, he gained a greater cult following after his strange night in the FA Cup. A brief spell back at Stockport failed to reach his own previous heady heights. He would also go on to have time at Hull City and Exeter as well as various forays into non league before hanging up his boots. Finishing with a total of 126 career goals, Kevin Francis emigrated with his family to Canada and became a cop.

There aren’t too many police officers in Canada or English lower league footballers that can claim to have played in a football match where they have overshadowed Gianfranco Zola whilst being a substitute, came on to rapturous applause, missed an open goal, give away a last minute penalty and still left the field a hero having inadvertently but potentionally saved his club from extinction. The instantly recognisable striker never had the clichéd great touch for a big man but his towering presence, uncompromising, unorthodox style and never say die attitude were all superb qualities. When Kevin Francis hit a ball, it stayed hit. When he puts the cuffs on, they stay nicked.

BLOGIN BETS 5/6/2020

This weeks accumulator £10 @5/1

• BRAGA 4/9 (Away v Santa Clara Friday KO 19:00)

• BELENENSESDRAW NO BET 13/20 (Away v Aves. Friday KO 21:15)

• ARMINIA BIELEFELD 4/5 (Home v Nurnberg. Saturday KO 12:00)

• RB LEIPZIG &OVER 2.5 GOALS (Home v Paderborn. Saturday KO 14:30)

CONFIDENCE: 6/10

OVERVIEW: Let down by 1 last week we go again using the Paddy Power refunded £10. The Primeira Liga in Portugal returns this week which gives us a bit more choice but it’s a tough crowd of selections. I’ve gone for 4 picks spread over Friday and Saturday which, due to the lack of bankers, includes a Bundesliga 2 fixture.

That being said, I’m quietly confident with these picks.

PICKS: With Braga now 10 games unbeaten in the league and on a 4 game win streak that includes a victory away at Benfica, you’ve got to fancy an away win here. Their opponents a marooned in mid table, haven’t won in 3 and have only taken 47% of their points total in home fixtures. First game back after the forced break and first game behind closed doors maybe swaying factors but AWAY WIN.

The next selection is a battle at the lower end of the table in Portugal. Despite being 5th bottom, Belenenses are on a 4 game unbeaten run and are up against rock bottom Aves who have only gained 13 points all season. Aves maybe the league’s whipping boys but I’ve added DRAW NO BET as security, mainly due to our pick’s lowly position also.

With the barrel pretty dry I’ve headed to Bundesliga 2 for the 3rd selection. Arminia Bielefeld are 4 points clear and the top of the league, look certain for promotion and are home to a team 4th bottom. 4/5 represents great value here. Comfortable home win.

RB LEIPZIG are unbeaten in 10 matches. A home fixture to basement boys Paderborn should be a great chance to extend the run. It will be interesting to see how man of the moment Timo Werner fares having allegedly agreed to join Chelsea this summer. He’s scored 27 league goals this campaign and he could well add to his total in this one. Home win by a big margin. COME ON!