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Socceroo star Brad Jones' plea for bone marrow donor for son Luca
SOCCEROO Brad Jones has revealed the devastating news that his son Luca’s leukemia has returned.
The Perth-born soccer star is urging all West Australians to register to donate blood or bone marrow, as the family desperately hope another identical match can be found so little Luca can have a lifesaving stem-cell transplant.
Luca, 5, had a transplant last September, three months after being diagnosed with cancer, prompting Jones to dramatically quit the Soccer World Cup and be by his bedside.
The family hoped he would be cured, but he was re-admitted to hospital mid-February and is undergoing intensive chemotherapy after tests confirmed that acute myeloid leukemia had reappeared.
Jones begged West Australians to sign up with the Red Cross, which collects much-needed stem cells, to help his son and hundreds of others in need of a transplant.
“It’s about getting people on the register and the fact that so many people need transplants and there’s not enough donors obviously we’re trying to spread the word,” he told The Sunday Times.
About half of those who need the transplant don’t find a match. Luca found one in Spain last year, but now needs to find another.
The transplant is reliant on a perfect match deriving from bone-marrow stem cells or blood from umbilical cords or placentas.
The former Bayswater City goalkeeper revealed his brave son was in positive spirits, despite knowing he faced another long period in hospital.
“Luca’s disappointed that he’s back in hospital. He only spent five weeks at home before he went back,” Jones said.
“He doesn’t understand the full story, but he’s been really good because he knows what to expect and he’s seen the same people.
“The doctors always tell you there is a chance it will come back. We hoped that it wouldn’t, but unfortunately it has. They say that some people have three transplants and survive, so it’s not the end of the world, but it is a big dent in his recovery.”
Jones made worldwide headlines when he sacrificed his World Cup dream to be with Luca after finding out about his son’s leukemia on the eve of the Socceroos’ opening match.
“The doctors are really happy with how he’s reacted to the medicine so far, but it’s still wait-and-see on how he will go in the longer term,” he said.
“Last time he was in from June to November, so we assume it will be very similar. We’re probably looking at the best part of five months, anything less is a bonus.”
The 29-year-old father said he and his partner, Dani Lawrence, and their family were calmer this time round.
“We’re more educated on it now. When we first found out it was just horrible. I didn’t know what to think, I didn’t know anything about it,” Jones said.
“Now we do know everything - the doctors, the hospital and we know what’s in store and what tests have to be conducted. Despite knowing all this, it’s still horrible because we and especially Luca thought it would be the end.”
He paid tribute to his English club, Liverpool, for the support it had given him. And he continues to take time out of his hectic schedule he has joined second-tier side Derby County on loan for the rest of the season to fly to France, where Luca is receiving treatment.
“I found out two weeks after returning from the Asian Cup and it was hard juggling training with seeing Luca,” Jones said.
“I spent much of February in France and Liverpool even offered to let me stay there and train with a French club if I needed to. We know Luca’s schedule now and things have settled down a bit, but I’m still getting over there as much as I can.”
Debbie Witt, the WA donor co-ordinator of Australia’s Bone Marrow Registry, said it was vital more West Australians joined the register.
She said there was a misconception that donating blood stem cells to help cancer patients was dangerous.
“It’s not at all scary,” Ms Witt said. “If you can save someone’s life, what’s a little discomfort?
“For many patients, this is their only chance at life. And the other side of the coin is that it could be your family member who needs it one day.”
BECOME A DONOR
To become a bone-marrow donor and possibly help Luca, call the Australian Red Cross Blood Service on 131 495. Donors must be aged 18-40. All donors will become part of an international register.
The assistant manager
Brian Clough and Peter Taylor, immortalised outside Derby County’s Pride Park
By Steve Graves
Assistant managers, what are they good for? Absolutely some things, we reckon.
First we need to define our terms. Assistants come in all shapes and sizes, and often with job titles which can lead to confusion as to their actual place within a management structure.
The term assistant manager is an all-embracing one, covering anything from a largely peripheral figure at a club to de facto manager and driving force behind football strategy - and everything in between.
Then there are jobs such as first-team coach or head coach, which can muddy the waters still further.
Steve Clarke, one of the highest-profile assistants of recent years in the English game, was recently appointed first-team coach by Liverpool. Credited with much of the tactical groundwork on which Kenny Dalglish has built a seemingly reinvigorated side, Clarke fulfilled a similar role (with more modest returns) at West Ham with Gianfranco Zola.
His previous work at Chelsea showed that even under a seeming autocrat like Jose Mourinho, there was a place for an assistant to offer light and shade as required.
It is clear that while Sammy Lee is technically assistant to Dalglish, Clarke has at least an equal standing within the club’s management structure.
In English football it is difficult to think of a manager who’s operated successfully without assistance not just with coaching but with decision making. In fact the real divide seems to be between those who favour a group or committee of assistants, devolving more power and encouraging a plurality of ideas, and those who maintain a duopoly above a group of essentially subservient coaches.
Clough at Leeds - structural defects?
Brian Clough was firmly in the latter camp, and for some the major failure of his career, at Leeds United, was down to the absence of long-term assistant Peter Taylor. It is undeniable that Taylor should be considered one of the great assistant managers and Clough was always likely to feel his loss. That said, perhaps part of the problem was not down to the absence of Taylor himself but to the entirely different structure into which Clough was parachuted.
Antipathy between manager and players, negative response from the fans, poor results and the looming shadow of his predecessor Don Revie are among the many factors at the heart of Clough’s failure at Elland Road. But he may have enjoyed more success, or at least stayed in the job longer, had Clough not been forced in to a totally alien system - Revie’s ‘family’.
To the outside world Revie is considered in much the same way as Richard Nixon - a man of accomplishments undone by his essentially unsavoury character. Those who were around his Leeds United paint a different picture. Revie’s emphasis on treating everyone involved with the club, including catering staff and players’ wives, as part of his project ensured the loyalty and devotion of many.
This was reflected in the coaching staff, with Revie’s assistant manager essentially the first among equals in a formidable team including Syd Owen (head coach) and Les Cocker (trainer). The collegiate atmosphere reflected the Boot Room created by Revie’s friend Bill Shankly, but was anathema to Clough and Taylor’s style.
Clough brought Derby trainer Jimmy Gordon with him to Leeds, dispensing with Cocker’s services, but fostering the atmosphere Owen and Lindley had been used to under Revie was not in Clough’s nature.
Perhaps Clough took something from his ill-fated spell at Leeds, as Gordon was by many accounts to become a far more important figure during the former’s time at Nottingham Forest than he had been previously.
It would be unfair to claim that assistants and other backroom staff have failed to enjoy success as managers in their own right. During the heady days of English football’s heady European golden age around the turn of the 1980s, on four occasions the trophy was won by managers who’d stepped up on the resignation of erstwhile bosses (Liverpool’s Bob Paisley three times and Aston Villa’s Tony Barton in 1981-82).
It is clear, though, that some high-profile assistants have floundered when given the top job. Brian Kidd, so integral to Alex Ferguson’s development of Manchester United and now assisting Roberto Mancini’s cash-rich City, was unable to save a Blackburn Rovers side heading for relegation under Roy Hodgson in 1998.
The jury remains intriguingly out on Kidd’s successor Steve Mclaren’s managerial career, but the fact that his replacement Carlos Queiroz is reportedly in talks over a job managing Iran might suggest that the Portuguese boss, at 57, has had his last big opportunity in club football.
Queiroz was one of the most influential assistants of the last decade in English football, enjoying a portfolio granting him the kind of power many would have thought impossible under a leader as strong-minded as Ferguson.
For persuading Ferguson to adopt a 4-5-1 formation which did not bring immediate results, Queiroz became a divisive figure among United fans during his two spells at Old Trafford. His influence over tactics and club affairs reportedly angered Roy Keane, while he came to be blamed for United’s over-cautious approach to European games in particular.
Doomed periods in charge of Real Madrid and the Portuguese national team have led to the suspicion that Queiroz does not have what it takes to be a manager in his own right at the highest level. That should not detract from his achievements, particularly during his first spell under Ferguson, who some believe still harbours hopes Queiroz will succeed him at Old Trafford.
Assistant manager/head coach/first team coach roles require specialist skills which may or may not be transferable to the manager’s job. It is equally the case that measuring the success of such staff in isolation is virtually impossible. Lee, for example, was found wanting as a manager at Bolton Wanderers, but has been a trusted ally to Sven-Göran Eriksson, Rafa Benítez, Sam Allardyce and Gerard Houllier. Lee even survived the nuclear winter that was Hodgson’s spell at Anfield, emerging blinking into the sunlight alongside Dalglish and Clarke.
Lee must get something right as an assistant, but even dedicated Liverpool fans would be hard pushed to say what beyond a generalised ‘feel’ for the club he served as a player and an obvious enthusiasm for the job.
Pat Rice - the unsung assistant
Few assistants can embody this sense of indefinable efficiency, of success built on undoubted yet seemingly intangible qualities, than Pat Rice.
Rice, a fine right-back over a 20-year career as a player with Arsenal and Watford, has spent the years since 1984 working in various capacities at Highbury and now the Emirates.
Since 1996 and the appointment of Arsène Wenger, the Frenchman has had Rice at his side as assistant.
Rice’s Wikipedia entry describes him as playing a ‘key role’ in Arsenal’s unbeaten 2003-04 season and twin Doubles under Wenger. A cynic might question such an assertion, given that Arsenal’s brand of football and coaching philosophy is very much the product of Wenger’s vision of the game. Given that Rice was youth-team coach under George Graham’s pragmatic regime, it’s hard to imagine he contributed much to developing that vision, at least initially.
Rather than the driving force Queiroz was allowed to be, with questionable results, or the quiet but influential likes of Clarke, Rice is the ultimate team man, implementing his manager’s instructions without ever claiming glory for himself.
Wenger has gone some way to explaining Rice’s success as assistant, attributing it to his winning mentality and affinity with the club. Even to his boss Rice’s qualities err on the side of the un-pindownable. Lee may well see Rice as a model for his own career, and would be wise to do so.
While Pat Rice may not be poached by Real Madrid, as Queiroz was in 2003, or ever attain the semi-mythical status of a Peter Taylor, he can retire (perhaps at the end of this season) having been at the heart of a remarkable project to transform a football club from top to bottom. Arsenal fans should treasure him while they can.