“Bloody foreigners, eh? Coming over here, taking our jobs. Disgusting, innit mate?” The sort of xenophobic nonsense you’d expect to be spouted from the spittle-flecked lips of an “I’m-not-racist-but…” Griffin apologist in a Dagenham boozer – not by a Premier League footballer. And yet Spurs midfielder John Bostock has decided to make public his gripe that the club’s “foreign contingent” are hampering his prospects.
Who? You might well ask. Let me fill you in…
When Bostock made his debut in October 2007, he became Crystal Palace’s youngest ever player and went on to pick up the title of the Eagles’ youngest ever starter a week later. Cue lots of “the boy’s a bit special” press. The following summer, having made just five appearances in blue and red, he decided (or was manipulated by his step-father into deciding) that the time was right to move on and jumped ship to Spurs. All of which left egg on the face of his deputy headmaster, who had told the Mail: “He has a lot of humility, he’s very honest and there is no danger of him ever becoming a Big Time Charlie. His feet are firmly on the ground and we’re very proud of him”.
Apoplectic Palace chairman Simon Jordan went from his usual shade of orange to bright purple, declaring that Bostock and his adviser would have their Selhurst Park season tickets revoked – and that was before a tribunal set the fee at a risible £700,000, rising to a maximum of £1.25m.
So it’s safe to say that sympathy for Bostock’s current plight will be in very short supply in SE25. As some fans have quite rightly commented, he could quite happily have stayed put and continued his development at Palace, learning the trade through playing at a reasonable level week in and week out, and in a position in which he could be most effective. But instead he either got pound signs in his eyes or succumbed to overconfidence in his own ability and the hubris of youth (or both), and chose to condemn himself to years of languishing in obscurity at Spurs, his path to the first team blocked by better and more experienced players. In many ways, his fate is even more ridiculous than that of the youth star whose ill discipline and extracurricular antics lead him to piss all his talent up the wall.
Farmed out on loan at lowly Brentford last season, Bostock scored twice on his debut but failed to impress in his remaining nine appearances, to the extent that the Bees were happy for him to return to White Hart Lane in January. And when ‘Appy ‘Harry dared to question his application, his step-father reasoned that giving his son’s manager short shrift on national radio would be the perfect way to advance his cause. Bostock would probably find some way of blaming that on the “foreign contingent” too.
The Premier League’s new squad cap and quota of home-grown players could potentially come to Bostock’s rescue, of course. But if I was you, John, I wouldn’t hold your breath – another loan spell at another lower league side awaits.
Meanwhile, for Palace fans there’s a very real danger of history repeating itself. Amidst a head-turning whirl of interest and succession of bids from Birmingham, teenage full-back Nathaniel Clyne has reportedly declared he wants to leave. Be careful what you wish for, young man.