Van Persie and his missus in Cheshire. Possibly.

by Noel Draper

I am at present humming Andy William’s classic hit “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” over and over to myself. If you knew me personally you might think that this music choice was a little strange considering my usual more heavier tastes but there is a method to my sudden madness and it is this. The transfer window is open. I’ll say that again. The Transfer Window is open.

As you can probably tell I love the Transfer Window because of all of the speculation and the rumour mill antics that come with it. My first action after I have switched on the computer in the morning is to check the gossip section on the BBC football website. This is, of course, usually wildly inaccurate with the majority of the stories being fanciful flights of imagination probably started by agents of players who are acting with their clients best interests at heart, obviously, but I don’t care as it makes for a brilliant read over my morning cuppa.

It really is fantastic but it hasn’t always been like this. Way back in the distant past – the year 2002 to be exact – the registration period, to give it’s official title, was brought in much to the disappointment of most of the English clubs. This was a complete U-turn as ten years previously the top clubs were all in favour of “windows” but had not agreed on anything mainly due to lower league opposition whose main gripe with the proposal was the inability to sell a player if they suddenly needed to. One of it’s original purposes was to enable a club coach to actually allocate time with his players rather than spend all season looking for purchases or fending off would be buyers. The added benefit of a clubs players sticking together and thus forming a “team spirit” was also muted but it was mainly brought in to stop the transfer system at the time completely collapsing due to breaching the Treaty of Rome.

Has it worked? Do coaches spend more time with players? Yes. Probably. Has team spirit increased? No, but this is due to the players and their agents more than the failing of the transfer window. Do lower league clubs suffer from not being able to sell a player at short notice? Probably, but they shouldn’t get to that position in the first place. What has worked is something that the powers that be didn’t think of way back when and that is excitement for the people that really matter. The fans.

When I click on the “transfers” tab on the BBC website and take in the names of the players, what club they have moved to and the pitiful fee that said move has commanded I am intrigued . Especially if the player involved is a former “star” or an ex player of my favourite team. Are they playing that far down the leagues due to choice or injury? Are they now old and are just hanging onto their career or was there another factor involved? I love it. Did you know that Jody Morris, ex of Chelsea, moved to Bristol City on a free transfer from St Johnstone? Or that Anthony Gardner, who used to play for Spurs, has just signed for Sheffield Wednesday also on a free? What about another Spurs old boy, Gary Doherty, moving to Wycombe Wanderers, know about that? Nope, neither did I until I clicked on the button.

I also love browsing my team’s on-line forums for juicy titbits and snippets of transfer news. It’s great when someone points out that they have seen player X at the closest airport which in turn means that they MUST be signing within the week. Even the slight disappointment of player X signing a contract extension a few days later doesn’t dampen my spirits. Another top player has been seen driving his expensive car around the City so it must be true this time. Fantastic.
The greatest of these forum offerings is usually posted by the person who boldly claims to be “In the Know”. This person will claim that his Uncle is the groundsman’s Brother, or that his Mum works alongside a woman who’s Daughters best friend is mates with a secretary at the club. This, once again, must be true. These musings increase right up until transfer day deadline with even the television companies joining in. It all adds up to a fantastic couple of months.

The best thing about the transfer window though is that it makes a football fan dream, dream of players that hopefully might sign just because someone, somewhere mentioned their name. As a football fan I dream all the time. It’s what football is all about.