Oliver Reed, Wrexham FC, Malta and the Olympics. Of course.


The intangibles of football are hard to get a grasp of, funnily enough.

I’m writing this, for example, in the pub in Malta (wittily named “The Pub” and a welcome source of decent beer on the island that barley forgot, although Chris Rea was a dose of Britishness to far though, barkeep!) where Oliver Reed died.

Ignore the fact that it has become a shrine to the man-and to be fair, that’s exactly what it is and not the rather unpleasant freak show certain corners of the Internet claim, with suggestions that the seat he died in is highlighted-and I have to admit that the first thing that comes into my head after I heard of it was that Reed’s father bequeathed money to Wrexham FC in his will, apparently for no other reason other than he liked the look of our name when he saw the football results.

I suppose there’s nothing odd in my attaching an obscure Wrexham-related fact to a place half way across Europe from where I hail from. We football fans love to wallow in the notion that somehow we corner the market in nostalgia and obscurity, but it just isn’t true. Everyone travels in order to impose their worldview on their destination, it seems to me, no matter how much they affect a cosmopolitan outlook. That’s why a pub in Valletta run by an Anglo-Maltese couple, is full of Cockney accents and the conversations drifting across to me are about Wayne Rooney and the recent British Grand Prix.

So when my lad and I were getting excited last night watching Neil Taylor and Joe Allen play in the Olympics, it wasn’t quite as eclectic a behaviour as you might think. Odder, perhaps, is our desire to claim Allen as our own when he managed just two games in Wrexham colours before injury curtailed a loan spell which might have seen Dean Saunders take us up at the first attempt, such was Allen’s apparent superiority over the two Conference sides he faced for us.

But then there’s another classic part of the human psyche: we love a good “What if…” scenario. Reed died, apparently, because a car crash meant the ambulance called for him didn’t arrive until it was too late. Quite how apocryphal this tale is I don’t know, but then that’s the point isn’t it? We all love  to speculate without being restricted by reality. If Allen had been able to see out the season, would the reality have been as glorious as the succession of promotions I imagine would have happened in my mind’s eye?

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