Lawrie: I remember when there weren’t any substitutions – Daily Echo

LOTS of things have changed over the years in all sport – but particularly football with the influx of money and players from all around the world coming to our shores.

Comparing some of the things to the old days, it’s hard to believe for instance that one of the conversations being had at the top levels has been how many substitutions are allowed.

I remember when, of course, there weren’t any and then you were allowed one.

The hardest thing for me was in the 1976 FA Cup final, my substitute was Hughie Fisher, who was a terrific professional, had been at the club quite a while and was one of the most popular lads in the dressing room.

Every player would have an ambition, in those days, to play at Wembley.

I remember when Bobby Stokes, bless him, scored the goal. There was only seven minutes to go and I looked at Hughie and said ‘sorry’.

Before that, I had him warming up and obviously he would have thought he was going on. I knew seven minutes wasn’t long enough for a player to get used to the pace of the game.

Hughie accepted this, being the professional he was.

He is still around the Southampton area and is often seen on the golf course with one of his old Scottish friends, Jim Steele, who did of course play in the final.

Now, I presume the decision to put subs on is even more difficult because three divisions in the Championship, League One and League Two have just agreed to have five subs available to be made.

Of course, comparing squad sizes from the old days, the first team was basically 13, possibly 14 and then some younger players who in those days played in what was called the reserve team. The rest were even younger in the under-18s.

Now, Premier League squads are as many as 25 at times. Some managers must have a real problem.

If, for instance, the team is on a winning run, he may not want to change it, so the same faces are sat on the bench week after week. While players may still get games in training, there is nothing to compare to a real competitive game.

Whether the five subs come into the Premier League, let’s wait and see.

Sadly, some people in the past week have been mentioned in the media after passing away.

One up in Scotland was Campbell Forsyth. He had been a goalkeeper at Southampton, a Scottish international.

Ted Bates had signed him and I remember he kept in touch with the club. I would speak to him on a regular basis and he did a little bit of scouting for me when he went back up to Scotland.

The other name was a man called Eric Hall. He was one of the first agents of sorts.

He was an interesting character, whose trademark was a big Cuban cigar that he had in his hands whenever he went out. I came across him when I was signing a youngster from London – Dennis Wise.

Dennis came up the stairs to my office, followed by Eric with his cigar.

They walked towards me to shake hands. I turned around, opened the window behind me and said to Eric: “Right, keep walking and throw that thing out the window!”

He looked shocked. I said: “Go on. Then you sit down there and when Dennis and I have finished talking, I’ll have a chat with you.”

Eric was known throughout for his strange way of talking. He used the words ‘monster monster’ in almost every sentence and that was his nickname.

I found out recently before he went into the football world, he had got involved with Elton John – when his real name was Reg Dwight.

Eric would get some of the records made by young talents and then stand outside places like the BBC studios and wait for Disk Jockeys going in. He would hand over the records to promote his people.

I’m not sure how he would get on in football these days but he certainly gave everybody a good laugh and will be sorely missed.