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Man City - the new bitters?

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1 hour ago, Anubis said:

Hasn’t realised Carl Creel had signed for City.

Marvellous response. 

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34 minutes ago, lifetime fan said:

One of Benjamin Mendy’s alleged rapes happened last week when he was already on bail for charges of rape. 

The last time we saw Benjamin Mendy on a football pitch he was waving to Manchester City’s supporters after a 1-0 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur. Mendy had not played well but, on a personal level, it was still a success of sorts. A new season was underway and Mendy was a surprise selection in Pep Guardiola’s back four, playing for the Premier League champions.

What the vast majority of people would not have known at the time was that the player wearing City’s No 22 shirt was under police investigation for allegedly raping a woman at his house. The crowd that day would not have realised Mendy had been arrested the previous November. But the people in charge at City knew — and, as we now know, decided against suspending their player.

All of which probably warrants some kind of explanation once the trial is done. And it will be intriguing to hear City’s version of events bearing in mind an employer, in virtually every other walk of life, would ordinarily be expected to suspend a member of staff who is being investigated as an alleged rapist.

Instead, Mendy continued to play for City over a nine-month period in which he made 18 appearances. He scored a couple of goals. He was championed by the club’s website. He collected his Premier League winner’s medal and played in the Community Shield against Leicester City at Wembley last month. “See you guys in the PL,” he told his 1.4 million followers on Twitter.

He was charged last Thursday with four counts of rape, having allegedly committed the latest offence earlier in the week, and a separate offence of sexual assault from January this year. The charges relate to three women. Mendy, who denies all the allegations, was remanded in custody and City announced they were suspending him, pending an investigation. Not that he could have played for them anyway, at that point.

Prior to that, City had decided Mendy should be allowed to continue playing, in part because the Crown Prosecution Service had not issued charges. And nobody really took issue with that decision, or challenged City about it, because the truth is nobody outside the club really knew Mendy was even the subject of a police investigation.

The first most of us knew about it came via a statement from Cheshire police on Thursday to announce he was due in court the following day. Until that point, it had been kept quiet and, as such, City have been spared any real scrutiny from the media, the club’s supporters or anybody else. 

But it is certainly surprising that any organisation of that size (with a women’s football club operating under the same umbrella) thought it was the correct choice, bearing in mind the seriousness of the alleged offence.

A comparison can also be made with Everton’s decision in July to suspend a player who had been arrested, though not charged, because of an ongoing police investigation into child sex offences.

Everton decided the allegations were so serious they had to act, in the same way that you would probably expect your own workplace to do exactly the same. It just turns out that City, for the best part of a year, took a different view when it came to rape allegations involving the player they signed for £52 million from Monaco in 2017. And this is the part that is hard to understand or justify.

In making their decision, City referred to the standardised players’ contracts — agreed between the Professional Footballers’ Association, the Premier League and English Football League — and, specifically, the Disciplinary Procedure and Penalties section. The rules stipulate that clubs can suspend a player for 14 days while an investigation is taking place. But there is also provision for that suspension to be extended, if the player agrees. City, in short, could have suspended Mendy but decided against it.

Maybe it would have been different if the police investigation was public knowledge because, without wanting to sound too cynical, it is tempting to think City might have thought very differently if there was the risk of a public backlash. Everton, for example, had to deal with a case that had attracted a lot of media attention. You can imagine the outcry if the player in question, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had continued to turn out for the club.

Or maybe we should be accustomed by now to football clubs behaving in a different way to other multi-million-pound businesses when serious allegations of criminality are made against their employees.

When Ched Evans was convicted of rape in April 2012 and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, the trial came at the end of a season in which he scored 35 times for Sheffield United and helped them reach the League One play-offs. A week after his conviction, Evans was named in the PFA’s League One team of the year.

His club were widely criticised for not suspending him and, though they would almost certainly deny this, it was difficult not to suspect they took that stance, in part, because he was such a valuable player. Evans, who always denied the allegation, took the case to the Court of Appeal, which quashed his conviction, and was cleared at a 2016 retrial.

Perhaps you might also recall that Lee Hughes was never suspended by West Bromwich Albion after causing the car crash in 2003 that had killed a 56-year-old motorist and then fleeing the scene. Hughes played another 17 games that season, scoring six times, to help his club win promotion before heading off for his trial and, ultimately, a six-year prison sentence. 

In Mendy’s case, it would be wrong to think City did not consider all the options open to them. The club, as a whole, are extremely conscious of their PR image and the decision was taken at a high level within the club. The bottom line, however, is that decision was very different to what might reasonably have been expected outside the football bubble. 

It is also part of a pattern that probably tells us a lot about how football, as an industry, tends to blur its priorities sometimes.

Leeds United, for example, decided against suspending Jonathan Woodgate and Lee Bowyer after they were arrested in connection with the street attack, in 2000, that left an Asian student beaten with such a level of violence that the people who found him thought he was dead.

“I had no right to deprive two employees of their ability to perform their duties,” Peter Ridsdale, then the Leeds chairman, explains in his autobiography.

Ridsdale received hundreds of letters to criticise that stance and recalls meeting the victim’s solicitor, Imran Khan, as well as representatives of the anti-racism group Kick It Out and the National Civil Rights Movement. Neville Lawrence, the father of murdered teenager Stephen, was also there.

“The normal thing for a blue-chip company such as yours would be to suspend your employees on full pay,” Ridsdale was told. “Mr Ridsdale, these are very serious matters — you mustsuspend them.”

Bowyer was acquitted at the subsequent trial, though later made an out-of-court settlement to the victim. Woodgate was convicted of affray but found not guilty of the more serious charge of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

It is a difficult, complex subject because Ridsdale will not be alone in presenting a case that “the British justice system is built on sturdy foundations that insist a person is innocent until proven guilty before a judge, jury or magistrate”.

Sometimes, though, is there not an undeniable case that the allegations are so serious the clubs surely have to take some kind of action? Allegations of rape, for example.

This is clearly something that football, as a whole, tends to struggle with. Sunderland, for example, suspended Adam Johnson in 2015 when he was arrested on suspicion of sexual activity with a girl of 15, then lifted that suspension two weeks later.

Amazingly, Johnson was still allowed to carry on playing for Sunderland even after the club’s chief executive, Margaret Byrne, was shown transcripts of the police interviews in which Johnson admitted kissing the girl on the lips, grooming her for more and knowing she was below the age of legal consent.

Johnson was sentenced to six years in prison and the details emerged in court of Byrne being given full access to the 834 WhatsApp messages, many of a sexual nature, that he exchanged with the girl. Byrne admitted “a serious error of judgment” and resigned, facing accusations Sunderland were more concerned about Premier League points than any sense of moral duty. But she also took a payoff in the region of £750,000, in exchange for signing a confidentiality agreement.

Don’t forget either — as mind-boggling as it is — that when Bradford City signed Gavin Grant in 2010 they knew he had a trial coming up for a gangland execution on the Stonebridge estate, where he grew up in north-west London. Grant played with an electronic tag under his sock before a murder trial ended with him being sentenced to a minimum of 25 years behind bars. Bradford’s official website, welcoming the new signing, explained that Grant had missed the last year because of “personal reasons”. Wycombe Wanderers, his previous club, helped Grant try to get bail when he was charged. Three years earlier, Millwall had continued to select Grant while he was on bail after being charged in connection to another gangland killing (Grant was found not guilty).  

And Manchester City? Maybe they will retreat behind the default setting of many supporters that the media is too quick to criticise them. Or maybe they will understand this is an important subject that needs to be addressed. Not yet, perhaps, when there are legal restrictions about what can and cannot be said to ensure a fair trial. But when that trial is over, and the verdict is in, it doesn’t feel like too much to ask why, in football, it is apparently OK for the champions of England to include a player who is being investigated by police on suspicion of sex attacks.

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No way the media didn’t know about this. That bluemoon forum all knew and a Spurs fan outed him at the original arrest when everyone thought it was Greenwood. 
 

On a different note, that link halfway down relating to Gavin Grant is a brilliant read. Just goes to show how mixing with the wrong crowd fucks your life up when you’ve got the ability to escape it. 

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On 30/08/2021 at 21:56, Red74 said:

No way the media didn’t know about this. That bluemoon forum all knew and a Spurs fan outed him at the original arrest when everyone thought it was Greenwood. 
 

On a different note, that link halfway down relating to Gavin Grant is a brilliant read. Just goes to show how mixing with the wrong crowd fucks your life up when you’ve got the ability to escape it. 

Gavin Grant story is behind a pay wall which is a pity

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7 minutes ago, CapeRed said:

Gavin Grant story is behind a pay wall which is a pity

“The first time I knew anything was wrong, he didn’t turn up for training one day. I didn’t have a clue where he was. I was trying to get hold of him. One of the players had heard something and then it got back that there might be a problem. And that was him gone.”

Of all the people who spent time with Gavin Grant, who nurtured his career and desperately wanted to believe in him, nobody pinned more on the player’s innocence than Peter Taylor.

Taylor will always be remembered for his one-match stint as England’s caretaker manager in November 2000, when he filled the void left by Kevin Keegan’s resignation and named David Beckham as the team’s new captain.

But almost eight years later, Taylor had taken a much less glamorous job at Wycombe Wanderers, then of League Two, and Grant was one of his first signings.

“He was a very quick forward who could score a goal,” Taylor says. “He had bags of potential and a great attitude. I couldn’t fault the boy, I liked him a lot.”

Taylor had already signed Grant once, on loan from Millwall while managing Stevenage the previous season in what is now the National League.

Even when he knew Grant had been accused of murder, it did not stop him from signing the player for a third time in February 2010 when he became the manager of Bradford City.

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Bradford’s official website, welcoming the new signing, explained that Grant had missed the last year because of “personal reasons”. Local paper the Bradford Telegraph & Argus repeated that line. So perhaps it should come as no surprise that a lot of people did not realise the sinister truth about why Grant had fallen off the football radar for so long.

When murder squad detectives executed a dawn raid at Grant’s house 16 months earlier, three days after he had played the full 90 minutes for Wycombe in a 1-1 draw at Grimsby Town, a story was cooked up by his club to try to keep it out of the news. Wycombe explained Grant’s absence as him having a cold. When team-mates started asking where he was, they were told he had a family crisis.

Many of those players knew he had already stood trial, in 2007, in relation to a gangland killing and been acquitted of a charge of conspiracy to murder.

What they did not realise was that, all the time, he was one of the prime suspects in a second murder and caught up in a “tit-for-tat” spate of killings that, according to Metropolitan Police, led to around 30 follow-up shootings in the part of London where he grew up.

The judge described it as an “execution by shooting” and ordered Grant to remain in prison until 2035 at the earliest, by which time he will be in his early 50s.

Yet the story, until now, has never been told in full.

“Gavin Grant thought he had got away with murder,” detective inspector Steve Horsley said outside the court. “He carried on his football career while, all along, he had blood on his hands.”

 

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Take a walk out of Stonebridge Park train station and, directly opposite, there is a symbol of how much the place has changed since Grant was familiar with these streets.

Argenta House, the disused two-storey building that has stood here for years as a magnet for graffiti artists, is making way for a 24-storey apartment block that feels more fitting, in the eyes of the designers, planners and architects who have flooded this part of north-west London, for the new Stonebridge. The Grand Union development, creating a new canal-side neighbourhood, is already underway.

If you follow Harrow Road, using the arch of nearby Wembley Stadium as your guide, you will eventually come to Neeld Crescent, where Raheem Sterling grew up on the neighbouring St Raphael’s estate.

Bridge Park, a leisure centre Sterling has been campaigning to save from closure, is on the other side of the North Circular Road.

Sterling used to play in junior football competitions at Bridge Park when he was growing up. Grant did, too. But it is also true that this community centre, opened in 1987 by Prince Charles, used to have a reputation as a place where gangs would congregate. In 2000, four men were jailed for life because of a shootout in its car park that left one man dead and was described in court as a scene from the “wild west”.

These days, Stonebridge is held up around the world as a shining example of how to transform problem estates. The brutalist 1970s tower blocks have been replaced by low-rise housing interspersed with communal areas, trees and street lights to “design out” crime. The children of Stonebridge no longer have to grow up in an area synonymous with crack, guns, gangs and fear.

“Stonebridge has changed since its reputation as a no-go area,” says Promise Knight, Brent Council’s lead member for community safety and engagement. “The Stonebridge of the past, when we had concrete estates with dark spots, no longer exists. One of the things we have done is create what we call Stonebridge community champions — people who care about their neighbourhood.”

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There was a long time, however, when Stonebridge was a lawless estate infested by violent criminals. A turf war was being fought between rival gangs. Stonebridge was so notorious that, in 1995, the then-prime minister, John Major, cancelled a speech there because of fears he may be shot.

Grant was 11 at the time, at his most impressionable age, and maybe he knew little else. As the prosecution noted on the first day of his trial, Stonebridge operated by “more the law of the jungle than the law of civilised England”.

Grant, though, had a better chance than some of not being sucked into the culture of gang-related violence. At the age of 14, he had signed schoolboy terms with Watford. He was released at 16 and, with no qualifications, took a job at Tesco. But he still had his dreams and Tooting & Mitcham, a semi-professional team in south London, offered an opportunity on the first rung of the football ladder.

“I knew he could make the grade,” says Richard Cadette, the Tooting manager at the time. “He had a great turn of pace and he could score goals. I thought, ‘This kid will do me’. And I have to say, he was a lovely, lovely kid. I never had any problems with him. He turned up for training on time, he took criticism well. If somebody had said to me he was involved in something like that — gang culture — well, you could have knocked me down with a feather.”

By then, however, Grant was already leading the double life that has left him, at the age of 36, not even halfway through a prison sentence carrying a minimum tariff of 25 years.

In May 2004, his gang suspected a rival by the name of Leon Labastide was involved in stealing £20,000 of drug money from one of Grant’s friends. The next day, they found Labastide, also known as “Playboy”, outside his mother’s house talking on the phone. Labastide, 21, was shot through the back six times by three gunmen and left for dead on the doorstep. Grant, then 19, was said in court to have been overheard boasting about the shooting hours later.

For a long time, the detectives on Operation Trident, the unit set up to deal with gun crime in London’s black communities, came up against a wall of silence. It was a familiar problem in Stonebridge. Nobody dared speak out because of the threat of reprisals. So the shootings continued and a year later it was Jahmall Moore’s turn to die in a blaze of bullets. Moore, a 22-year-old father-of-two, was sitting in the passenger seat of his girlfriend’s car when he was ambushed by four gunmen and shot 16 times.

Grant had been playing so impressively for Tooting it was not long before Athlete1, the agency that represented him, was talking him up as “one of the hottest properties in the non-League game”.

Barnsley confirmed they had been watching him. League One side Gillingham, then managed by Ronnie Jepson, took the plunge and gave Grant his first professional contract and his Football League debut in December 2005. But Millwall, just relegated from the Championship, had also been keeping tabs on him since a recommendation from Cadette and persuaded him to move back to London from the Kent club the following summer.

“He was one of those young players who had the talent to progress and become a regular in the first team,” Nigel Spackman, then the Millwall manager, says. “He was pacy, he worked hard, he liked to run behind the defence and he had a good appetite for the game. He never caused any problems. He was never late, not a troublemaker. He got on with everyone, mixed in. I’d watch him and think, ‘Yeah, that boy’s definitely got a chance of achieving something’.”

Darren Byfield, another Gillingham player, had also signed for Millwall in that window. Grant, he says, quickly endeared himself to his new team-mates. “He was one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met. Honestly, he was so funny. Not a practical joker, just one-liners, a very dry sense of humour.”

Byfield was going out with the pop singer Jamelia at the time and had the paparazzi on his trail. He remembers one photographer, in particular, who used to wait outside his house.

“I was driving to training one day, there was a car behind me, and when I looked in my mirrors I thought, ‘Oh my God, it’s the guy who’s been taking pictures of me’. I tried to lose him but couldn’t shake him off. So I rang Gav. ‘You need to help me out, Gav — when I get to the training ground, get behind me and slow him down’. Gav has come out and done it brilliantly. And this photographer has nearly killed him, nearly ran him off the road. Gav came back in. ‘Darren, I’m not doing that again!’. I’m laughing just telling this story.”

Was Grant ever violent? Did he create issues? Did he talk about gang life? “Never,” Byfield says. “He never showed any aggression in training. Never got into any arguments. To us, he was just such a nice guy. Everybody loved Gav. He was younger than me. I remember the first night he came out with everyone on a players’ night out in London. He was telling us, ‘Yeah, I can drink’, all that kind of stuff, and very quickly it became clear he couldn’t. We had to look after him that night, make sure he got back OK.”

What they did not realise at the time was that the player waking up on goalkeeper Lenny Pidgeley’s sofa the following morning, nursing the hangover from hell and facing allegations of being a “lightweight”, had another group of friends that operated with a different set of rules.

“I got a phone call from somebody in the hierarchy of the club to say he had been arrested,” Spackman says. “I didn’t really know the severity of it. Then you think, ‘OK, we need to look into this and what it’s all about’.”

To some, it might seem inconceivable that Grant was allowed to continue playing for Millwall while on bail after being charged with conspiracy to murder. However, they made their position clear after his first appearance in court. “Gavin strenuously denies the charge,” a club spokesman said. “He is not in breach of his contract and is continuing to train.”

Was there any pressure on Millwall to think twice about selecting a footballer who stood accused of arranging someone’s murder? Spackman does not recall that being the case and Grant also remained involved after Willie Donachie took over as manager in September 2006.

“I remember speaking to Gav about what was going on,” Byfield says. “He used to plead his innocence. He’d be with me, Danny Senda, Ryan Smith, and he’d open up sometimes. He didn’t go into the full story but he’d say, ‘Nah, they’re trying to blame me for something that’s nothing to do with me’. He was a good player, working hard.”

Millwall did eventually move him out on loan to non-League Grays Athletic where Grant’s electronic ankle-tag, issued by the courts to prevent any risk of him going on the run, did not stop him from making an immediate impact on the pitch. 

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Detectives had made a deal with Darren Mathurin, the getaway driver in Jahmall Moore’s killing, in return for his 16-year prison sentence being halved, an arrangement approved by the director of public prosecutions. For Operation Trident, it was a turning point. They had their supergrass. Mathurin, also known as Spider, was prepared to give information about several shootings, robberies, drug deals and other gang-related crimes. He was willing to betray his friends and associates by testifying against them in court — and Grant was one of them.

More than that, a female witness, who alleged she had heard Labastide’s shooting being planned, agreed to give evidence under the pseudonym of Susan Norwich in exchange for a lesser sentence on drug charges. Her decision to testify was crucial, according to the police, in securing the guilty verdict.

“It came as a huge shock,” Bradford’s Lawn says. “You really don’t want your club being tarred with something like this. He had already been to court once before and was found not guilty. When he told us (about the next trial), he was confident, saying he hadn’t done it. I believed him. Who wouldn’t, after he’d been found not guilty?”

Grant’s former team-mates at Wycombe were preparing for a pre-season friendly at non-League Burnham FC when they heard the news via Luke Oliver, who had left the club to sign for Bradford, initially on loan, that March.

Byfield can also remember hearing the guilty verdict. “I don’t think we will ever know all the details,” he says. “Sadly, there are lots of people who get sucked into gang-affiliated stuff. Your friends are getting involved in wrongdoings. You’re sucked in because you’d look like the ‘punk’, as they’d call you, if you didn’t go with them.”

Wycombe had been so convinced about Grant’s innocence they tried to help him get bail when he was charged with murder. Grant had just been given a pay rise, triggered after making his 11th appearance. He had made a positive impression and, to begin with, the club tried to cover up the news of his arrest.

“It was a very well-kept secret,” says one senior Wycombe figure from the time. “There were even people at the top of the club who, for quite some time, didn’t know the truth. It’s a standing joke now among the fans. If any player is missing with a genuine injury or illness, the fans say, ‘Oh yeah, remember Gavin Grant? We were told he had the flu — and never saw him again’.”

Matt Bloomfield, Wycombe’s longest-serving player, was interviewed by the Bucks Free Press after the real story finally emerged. “He was a nice quiet lad who came in and got on with his work,” he said. “We knew he had been in trouble before, but we thought he had turned his life around. When we were told there was something up with his family, we thought that was all it was.”

GettyImages-82291995.jpg
Grant, right, disappeared one day at Wycombe and was not seen at the club again (Photo: Hamish Blair/Getty Images)

It was October 2008 and Wycombe paid Grant’s wages in full for the rest of the month. He also received 50 per cent of his salary until Christmas. Eventually, though, it became clear he was not coming back. His contract was terminated and the players were called to a meeting to be informed their now former team-mate had been charged with murder.

“Everyone expected him to come back out,” Bloomfield said. “We didn’t think he could be involved. We fully expected him to play again that season.”

Leon Johnson, who spent seven years at Wycombe, used to carpool to training with Grant and another player, Matt Harrold. “We’d have a laugh and a joke,” Johnson says. “We had a few night outs. He was just a normal lad who liked a laugh and a joke and wanted to get on with his football.

“Then, on the morning he disappeared, I was waiting for him in my car just off the M25. My phone rang with a private number and it was his girlfriend. She said, ‘Look, Gavin won’t be in today, his little boy is ill’. I was like, ‘Oh bloody hell, OK, I’ll pass the message on to the manager’.

“I got into training and went upstairs to see ‘PT’ (Taylor) to tell him that Granty’s boy was ill and he wasn’t going to be in. The next day went by, the next day went by, and no one had heard anything from him. The club were asking me questions but I didn’t have a clue where he was and his phone was off.”

Johnson finally got back in touch with Grant after his team-mate was freed on bail and signed for Bradford on a pay-as-you-play basis.

“The police went up to Bradford to check out the hotel where he was staying, and whether they were going to allow him to play, because he was on some kind of house-arrest,” Johnson says. “I was speaking to him regularly. ‘Mate, I have no clue what is going on’, he’d say. ‘The police are out to get me because they put a lot of time and money into the (Moore) trial’. He was a little bit worried about that, but he was also saying, ‘But they don’t have a case’. He was adamant he hadn’t done anything. He was confident he was going to be cleared.”

Taylor, in particular, refused to give up on Grant. “Maybe Peter was guilty of wanting to see the best in everybody,” one former colleague says. “Maybe, because Peter’s such a nice guy himself, he didn’t see the bigger picture and didn’t want to believe one of his players could have committed such a crime.”

Was Taylor wrong to piggyback in an alleged murderer? Russ Spence of the Bradford City Supporters’ Trust, writing in City Gent, argued not. “By the law of the land, Grant was innocent until found guilty and how can you expect the Bradford City manager to make what is in effect a moral decision, which isn’t part of the job description, without being in full possession of the facts?”

It is still remarkable, nonetheless, that a murder suspect could make 11 appearances for Bradford that spring while waiting to go on trial.

“That was me giving him another chance, hoping it would work out OK,” Taylor tells The Athletic. “He came to me to say, ‘I’ve got my trial, but I think I’m going to be all right’. Again, that shows how much I liked him. I had every excuse to say, ‘No, I’m not bothering, you won’t be able to concentrate’, but I was desperate for him to have a chance.

“He was telling us he would get over this trial. He was always confident he was going to be OK. He always maintained his innocence. Nobody said to me, ‘Don’t take him because he’s not a good boy’. He was a lovely boy. He was terrific, he was polite. So when it all happened I was totally shocked.

“Honestly, I was shocked. I’m still shocked. The dealings I had with him were first class. He wasn’t a problem as a professional footballer. He couldn’t have been, because there was no way I would have signed him for Stevenage and Wycombe, as well as Bradford, if he had been.”

Now 68, Taylor still has the letter that Grant sent him from prison.

Grant, who refused to answer questions in his police interviews, always kept to his story that he had been set up and was doing “the nappy run” at the time of the shooting. Labastide, he said, was one of his childhood friends.

“It was a very nice letter to say that what was happening to him was not right,” Taylor says. “I find it very sad that the boy has not had a football career. All the other bits and pieces, I can’t talk about. I know what I think but I will keep that to myself. I just can’t imagine someone being locked up for so long. It’s a shame because, in my opinion, he was a good boy.”

What Taylor might not appreciate is that the number of shootings in Stonebridge fell by almost half after Grant, and others, were arrested. Police say gangs had terrorised the area with their crimes and anything-goes mentality.

“It’s such a sad story,” Cadette says. “Sometimes, it’s not about leading a double life. It’s about getting involved with the wrong people and not having the right guidance, at a young age, to get out. It’s a waste of life and, for Gavin, the waste of a career. But someone, ultimately, has died from violent means and we can’t ever forget that.”

As Grant and his co-accused were sentenced, a woman shouted from the public gallery, “It’s all fixed”, and “You are coming out”. Yet Grant’s bid for freedom was thrown out by the Court of Appeal five years later. And, however much Stonebridge might have changed, it can still be a hard-faced place.

Mathurin — now living with a new identity, outside of London, under the witness protection scheme — is the subject of a song, Are You Alone, by rapper K Koke, who grew up in Stonebridge and knew him from a young age.

You told and ratted on your co-ds/So for that you forget that you know me/You will never have a home back in Stone B/We don’t condone in that, we don’t condone in rats/Nah, there’ll never be a home for that/You’re a snitch ’cause ya speaking to them/I can’t lie, can’t even pretend/it’s click-clack when I see you with skengz.

“Skengz” is street-slang for guns. K Koke, the first UK rapper to sign to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label, was acquitted of attempted murder in a 2011 trial relating to the shooting of a man at Harlesden station, the next stop after Stonebridge Park on the Bakerloo line into central London.

Labastide’s family, meanwhile, were so frightened for their own safety, and so tortured by the memories of what had happened, they had to move away from the area.

In a statement read to the murder trial, his mother, Diane Havill, said her son “loved life and had ambitions”.

It also turned out that the man gunned down on his mother’s doorstep because he had “disrespected” the wrong people had a lot in common with Grant.

Labastide also loved to play football, she said, and was passionate about the sport.

“His senseless killing by so-called friends who grew up with him has left it hard to understand the futility of snatching Leon’s future away while at the same time destroying their own.”

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2 hours ago, Red74 said:

Fuck me, it didn’t seem that long when I read it. I’ll think twice before volunteering this shit again 

Everything is that fucking long in the Athletic.

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Back to City, they have not replaced Aguero, I dont think their midfield will be able to sort them out as much this season.

 

Im confident we will finish above them. 

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1 hour ago, Code said:

Back to City, they have not replaced Aguero, I dont think their midfield will be able to sort them out as much this season.

 

Im confident we will finish above them. 

I'm not confident of that, because we need to see how our own limitations work for us. But I don't think they look like a 100 points team. I feel they'll have plenty of days when they just can't score, even if they carry on dicking loads of teams 5-0. Last season they had loads of 1-0s it's easy to see how they could become 0-0 or 0-1 when they have those types of games. 

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12 hours ago, Red74 said:

Bradford’s official website, welcoming the new signing, explained that Grant had missed the last year because of “personal reasons”. Local paper the Bradford Telegraph & Argus repeated that line. So perhaps it should come as no surprise that a lot of people did not realise the sinister truth about why Grant had fallen off the football radar for so long.

When murder squad detectives executed a dawn raid at Grant’s house 16 months earlier, three days after he had played the full 90 minutes for Wycombe in a 1-1 draw at Grimsby Town, a story was cooked up by his club to try to keep it out of the news. Wycombe explained Grant’s absence as him having a cold. When team-mates started asking where he was, they were told he had a family crisis.

Many of those players knew he had already stood trial, in 2007, in relation to a gangland killing and been acquitted of a charge of conspiracy to murder.

What they did not realise was that, all the time, he was one of the prime suspects in a second murder and caught up in a “tit-for-tat” spate of killings that, according to Metropolitan Police, led to around 30 follow-up shootings in the part of London where he grew up.

The judge described it as an “execution by shooting” and ordered Grant to remain in prison until 2035 at the earliest, by which time he will be in his early 50s.

Yet the story, until now, has never been told in full.

“Gavin Grant thought he had got away with murder,” detective inspector Steve Horsley said outside the court. “He carried on his football career while, all along, he had blood on his hands.”

 

Wow, thanks for sharing, sad waste of talent. Wasnt that lad at the mancs linked to gangs? He had a spell at West Ham.

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44 minutes ago, CapeRed said:

Wow, thanks for sharing, sad waste of talent. Wasnt that lad at the mancs linked to gangs? He had a spell at West Ham.

Yeah, Morrison. Think he’s at derby now. 12 clubs in 9 years or something I read. 
 

He’d finally sorted himself out at West Ham and was playing great until that fat scumbag allardyce bombed him out the team cos he wouldn’t sign up with his son who ran an agency. 

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On 28/08/2021 at 12:42, Vincent Vega said:

State of these. 

72F31934-C607-4EC7-AE30-13A733F08695.jpeg

5215E408-AD42-40B0-87CF-997F1075E9AC.jpeg

 

"Vincent Kompany, where do you want your statue?"

 

"I don't know where it should go but it should look pixellated."

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