by Noel Draper
When you say the name “Harry Redknapp” these days, people are reminded of a top Premier League Manager who has guided Tottenham Hotspur to a recent Champions League spot and had a small heart operation. It hasn’t always been that rosy for Mr Redknapp though as, like other English managers, his past is chequered to say the least. Four of the clubs he has managed have or have come perilously close to disaster. When he has been given money by a club he has also managed to buy some fantastically rubbish footballers.
Florin Raducioiu was a Romanian international who arrived in July 1996 at West Ham for the princely sum of £2.4m from Espanyol. Previously he had played for Milan. Florin scored 2 goals in the Premier League before being shipped out for a quarter of what Redknapp had paid for him because he preferred to go shopping in Harvey Nicks with his wife rather than turn up to play for West Ham. Dani was signed from Sporting CP and although starting brightly was shipped out a few weeks later due to loving night clubs rather than the curfews imposed by Harry who later referred to him as a “playboy”. Javier Margas was signed and once again played quite well for a while before disappearing. Literally. No one had any idea where Javier had gone until a few weeks later he turned up in his native Chile completely unaware of the trouble he had caused.
But one name stands out amongst all this mediocrity. One name, that when mentioned to most West Ham fans of a certain age, causes an involuntary facial twitch before an uncertain smile spreads across their faces. Marco Boogers, or Mad Marco as he became known to the press, is that name.
After coming on as a substitute he made a beeline for Gary Neville before leaping at him in some sort of Dutch Kung Fu style drop kick
Marco Boogers was signed for nearly a £1m from Sparta Rotterdam in July 1995. With 71 goals in 200 appearances and standing over 6ft tall, Marco was seen as an ideal “English” centre forward and as such would blend in to the West Ham team with ease. In his first game against Leeds United he managed 30 minutes without actually doing anything of note. Footballers take time to adjust usually but Boogers managed to make his mark in his second game. After coming on as a substitute he made a beeline for Gary Neville before leaping at him in some sort of Dutch Kung Fu style drop kick, almost cutting him in half, which according to the Sun newspaper was a ‘sickening horror tackle’. Much to Rednapps disgust, Boogers was sent off with a straight red card. After his four match ban had finished Boogers managed to play another two games as a substitute before a knee injury curtailed his season.
What happened next is subject to believing whoever you read or listen to. According to the papers Marco Boogers had gone back to his home country and then disappeared. No one could find him until he was tracked down to a Dutch caravan park. Hiding was a word used. Mental was another. Boogers was subsequently given a free transfer to another Dutch club despite his protestations that he “wasn’t mental”. The Sun newspaper ran another headline that captured the story perfectly, ‘Barmy Boogers Living In A Caravan’.
When he realised that he was going to be out for a few weeks, and being a bit depressed after the paper outrage regarding the attempted decapitation of Gary Neville, Marco went back to Holland for the birth of his son with the blessing of Redknapp. When asked by a newspaper reporter where Boogers had gone, the West Ham P.A and travel arranger is supposed to have said ‘If he has gone back to Holland, he’s probably gone by car again’. The press misheard this as ‘Caravan’ and printed the story the very next day.
What is true is that Boogers never played for West Ham again. His career continued in Holland where he managed to score another 91 goals. Redknapp said later that Boogers was a poor player who he had signed on the basis of watching a video tape. Boogers disputes this, but then again, he was mad.