When he was running through what he would say in the run up to his side's match with Queens Park Rangers last Saturday, we're guessing Coventry City manager Micky Adams, once in charge at nearby Fulham, hadn't reckoned on the above request. Fans often have transport problems in the last few miles before reaching a big game, but, when one of the sides playing is marooned, bold actions are called for.
Coventry's team bus was, marvellously, actually on its way back from the Loftus Road stadium where it had just deposited the players' gear when it became clear it wasn't going to reach the players themselves at their Chiswick hotel in time. So Adams marched them to Gunnersbury tube station and uttered those now famous words immortalised, though not so far publically, on several of his squad's mobile phones:
We took a bit of stick from West Ham fans and Fulham fans, but our unsung hero was [former Brentford player] Jay Tabb. He knew we had to change at Hammersmith and then go to Shepherd’s Bush.
Tabb's efforts sadly weren't enough to earn him a run out, but Dele Adebola's lone strike gave the West Midlands' latest wanderers victory, bringing an end to QPR's recent revival under new manager John Gregory who was full of praise for wing star Lee Cook while lamenting his limited options in defence.
Tabb may reflect that in the end he paid for his inexperience. Sure, the tube journey is the simple, route one approach, but at this level managers are looking for the ability to switch styles. With top class coaching, he would have known to drop off the train by twenty yards at Turnham Green before picking up the big red 94 coming forward for the set piece and staying with him all the way to Shepherd's Bush Green. Then you just have to hang on with the 207 for the last five minutes before a triumphant stroll up Loftus Road itself, the thirty nine minute journey leaving much more time before the game than the forty minutes his team-mates had to get ready.
A stickler for preparation such as Sunderland manager Roy Keane will have his lads well drilled ahead of tonight's 8pm kickoff at the same ground. His scouts will have warned him not to fall for the underground ploy, but to head instead for the Silverlink from Gunnersbury to Acton Central before gliding effortlessly onto the 207 a whole ten minutes earlier than the Coventry lads. Always assuming the team coach isn't available to do the 4.2 mile journey in the standard 24 minutes, of course.
Atmospheric pic of Shepherd's Bush station via currybet's Flickr stream.