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Chris Marsh: Dirty tricks against England just like in League One

By Chris Marsh | Walsall FC | Published:

What a feeling it was to see England beat Colombia on penalties.

Chris Marsh

I’ve had a thoroughly enjoyable week watching the box, which I’ll talk about later.

But first of all, I just want to say congratulations to Gareth Southgate and the England players because they more than deserved that victory.

We were the better team. Colombia were dirty, they resorted to some outrageous tactics.

But you have to be able to overcome that if you want to achieve anything in the game. And I can remember countless times we came in for rough treatment at Walsall.

Ray Graydon, though, would always be there stressing the need for us to keep our heads, there was no way he was going to let us pick up a silly booking.

The tactics Colombia used could often be found in League One or League Two back in my day.

Sly kicks, little jabs, players getting in your face. It used to happen and a lot still does.

I remember being on the floor and opposition players would often come to help you up, but they’d then pinch your arm as they were doing it to try and wind you up.

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There were some players who’d try anything.

But to achieve anything, you had to rise above it.

That’s what we did the year we went up ahead of Manchester City. On paper, their squad was stronger and more talented than ours. But we had camaraderie and team spirit – we’d stick together and help each other out when we were in a battle. And I believe that’s what this England team have.

Is it coming home? I’m not sure. But I’m enjoying the journey and I feel proud watching this team play.

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Finally this week I want to tell you a story that I remembered when flicking through the TV channels.

There are a few Saddlers fans who read this column and tell me they enjoy hearing about the funny things that happened during my playing days.

Anyway, last week I was scrolling through the TV channels looking for something to watch before Love Island started.

My Mrs watches that but I exit at that point – I can’t be doing with that.

But I stumbled upon the film Titanic and there is a scene where a group of violin players continue to play even though the ship is sinking.

And it reminded me of former Walsall keeper Danny Naisbitt – he is lovely but he isn’t the brightest.

He was number two to Jimmy Walker and looked up to Wacka, who, let’s be honest, isn’t the best role model.

Danny had a thick Geordie accent and back in 1990 we were drawn to play Swansea in the FA Cup.

It was snowing really bad, so much so that only a handful of games got played and we ended up on Match of the Day.

Me, Paul Hall and Danny weren’t playing, I can’t remember now if I was injured or had been dropped – probably dropped with Sir Ray in charge.

But we were watching the game from the stands and Paul kept staring at one of the Swansea fans and insisted he knew him.

He wouldn’t drop it, to the point where I was getting bored with him going on.

So at half-time, I went over to him and asked if he was a footballer.

But then Paul shouted out, ‘You’re the violin player on the Titanic.’

The guy smiled back and asked us to keep quiet.

But then in the thickest Geordie accent, Danny shouted: “Titanic, I love that film. But dunna spoil the end I’ve not seen it like, I’m gonna go home and watch it on video.”

The actor, Jonathan Evans-Jones he’s called, looked up at Danny for a minute to say are you really that thick?

And when he realised he was being serious, he couldn’t hold it together.

We were all in tears laughing and so was Jonathan. He had to walk away because he just couldn’t keep it together. It really was hilarious.

Danny was a cracking lad. But not the sharpest tool in the box.

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