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Vinnie Jones: 1988 FA Cup Final, Leeds 4-3 Hull & Leeds Debut

- 08:04, 28th April 2020

As the days pass, I’m still keeping an eye on what’s happening football-wise.

Hopefully by this time next week we’ll know what’s going on. You’d say just give Liverpool the title, but it’s not as simple as that because there’s so much money depending on the Premier League finishing that something will surely happen.

Whatever they decide the smaller clubs must be helped. The grass roots of football needs protecting - from kids’ football to clubs, both non-league and lower league - because how different would my life have been without Wealdstone and Wimbledon? I certainly wouldn't be sitting here in LA writing this - let alone having played against such greats as Glen Hoddle!

 

 

I told you Glenn was a class act and we had a laugh on Twitter last week about when I played for Wimbledon against Chelsea.

I don't need to go over the story again - at the end of the day we lost! - but it led to me to thinking about some of my favourite games.

 

Vinnie Jones' Favourites Games As A Player

 

 

Top of the list would be the FA Cup in 1988, smashing Steve McMahon early on our way to lifting the Cup, Lawrie Sanchez scoring the winning goal. It means I’ve got medals from the FA Cup and FA Trophy - I’m probably the only player to have both in my collection.

 

 

My time at Leeds might have been short, but it was pretty sweet.

We had a great team then - players like Gordon Strachan, Chris Kamara, Lee Chapman, David Batty, who became my best mate there, Chrissy Whyte and Chrissy Fairclough, Mel Sterland and, of course, the late Gary Speed.

I had a few memorable games for Leeds.

The first was against Hull. They were bottom of the league, we were top and at Elland Road, but we had a right ding-dong.

 

 

It was one-one, two-two, three-three. I’d scored a 35-yard screamer to give us a two-one lead, but they came back. They actually went ahead, but we levelled it up and then I played Strach through for the winner to make it 4-3 to us. We went crazy.

That game is up there with my home debut for Leeds as most memorable.

I came on as sub against Middlesbrough with only ten minutes to go and the crowd was right up for it - and so was I. It was my ball through that led them scoring an own goal. The place went wild - and it was the same when I scored my first goal against Ipswich.

 

 

Happy memories of being champions of the old Second Division, winning promotion.

I’ll keep dipping into the memory bank before we’re up and running again and having games to get stuck into. Those nice lads at Easyodds love me tipping a few winners - so I can’t wait to get back in the groove when the season starts again.

But it’s golf now, lots of it - and this current situation has meant plenty of course time.

However, tell me how a man goes from a handicap of 4.6 to 10.7 in a matter of months? You could blame a lack of practice or a lack of games/matches, but that’d be wrong given I’d been chasing the courses, even in lockdown.

Covid-19 closed our courses and driving ranges in California, but with the help of some mates with their own planes, my own Range Rover - plus those nice people at American Airlines - I was able to play most of the time in the states which allowed golf.

So why did my game go down the pan?

The more you try and correct your swing the worse it gets, but my whole game wasn’t right after I lost Tans. It went down rapidly, but at least I knew why. I lacked concentration and was rushing my shots. Nevertheless, I still backed myself to win against the boys - and was doing it in!

I knew something was definitely wrong when the lads started sending expensive limos to pick me up, knowing I was easy money on the course! They wanted me at the club and ready to give them the cash - again - so I was determined to do something about it.

The course is never the place to do it when you’re in a match situation, but my local - Plantation Golf Club - recently opened its gates again to members-only with masks at all times and one man per cart, which suits me. I always carry around so much s*** anyway!

So, armed with a laser distance-measuring rangefinder to help with lay-ups etc, a speaker for music (normally house music from the late-1980s!), my phone and battery charger, plus drinks in an ice box, I went out and practiced on my own. It did the trick.

On Monday last I was back in Scottsdale, Arizona, and on the driving range. I kept on telling myself to keep my head still, before a slow take away, a turn of the hips, wrists locked and swinging through on the downswing. Over and over.

I’m still pushing it, chunking it and slicing it, but my scores go 91,90,87 - and I’m now getting the old feeling back. Come Thursday I hit 82 and win the money. On Friday it’s an 81 and I win the money again - but there’s even better on Saturday.

I hit a motherf****** 76. Boom!

It’s all come flooding back. I even missed some easy putts during that 76, but now I’ve taken loads of money and it’s my turn to send the limos for the boys. I’m getting my own back now, so the moral of the story is practice, practice, practice. 

Follow my advice and you’ll be the one sending the limos. I’m a happy bunny now and, with more and more courses opening their gates, albeit for members only and with masks on, we’ve got even more chance to get out there - and me to win the money.

But even when this is all over, I’m sticking to my own cart!

Hopefully, the courses near you will be opening soon, and you can get out there and swing a club. 

Keep safe and all the best. Fore!

Vinnie.

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