Cockney Mafia steal Newcastle United’s lemon sole
FAMOUS meals time now, readers.
On Tuesday May 31 1994, Tony Blair invited Gordon Brown to meet for ‘dinner’ the Granita restaurant in London. It was there that the dour Scotsman agreed to step aside in the 1994 leadership contest in favour of the trendy urbanite. Brown never stood a chance. Faced with bowls of fennel-seed bread and mussels in lemon grass and coconut-milk liquor, and surrounded by knit-yer-own millionaire new Labour sat in a brick and blonde wood yurt, Blairs was in his element.
The other great dinner meeting was between Newcastle United FC’s owner Mike Ashley and Joe Kinnear, the club’s former manager now given a job in charge of all football matters. The issue of how they came to their agreement occupies minds at the Daily Mail.
Ian Ladyman writes:
Unhappy Newcastle supporters have long been suspicious of the ‘Cockney Mafia’ that runs their football club.
How ironic, then, that the latest alliance to cause Geordie football followers so much angst — that of owner Mike Ashley and new director of football Joe Kinnear — has its origins in a posh pub and restaurant on the outskirts of London.
Some of those who are wondering how Ashley, a 48-year-old businessman, and Kinnear, an unemployed football coach of pensionable age, enjoy such a close relationship will never have heard of the Orange Tree pub in Totteridge Village.
Ashley lives nearby in Mickey Most’s old pile.
It was in this rather well-to-do watering hole, where a fillet steak and fondant potato will set you back £22.95, that the pair first met 12 years ago and Kinnear impressed Ashley with his views on football and the cut of his jib…
Was it? Ashley is right with the Spurs owners. Kinnear used to play for Spurs. Maybe they met at a Tottenham do? Or anywhere else for that matter.
Later Ladyman recalls:
Neither Ashley nor Kinnear is from London, of course. The Newcastle owner was born in the Midlands and Kinnear in Ireland.
However, the ‘Cockney Mafia’ once again has a grip on power at St James’ Park. It’s amazing what can start over a glass of chardonnay and a plate of lemon sole.
Oh, swanky, hoity-toity, posh lemon sole. For those slack-jawed Geordie mouth breathers tuning in, lemon sole’s a little fishy on a dishy (china!) eaten by villainous London folk too poor to starve. Up in Newcastle, the working-class stiffs make do with pan-fried Bream and cauliflower puree washed along with a glass of Viognier.
After that flabby dish, the Mail’s Charles Sale serves the next course of soggy slops:
It sums up the fiasco around Joe Kinnear’s appointment as Newcastle’s director of football that there is even confusion over which north London pub he drinks in with Totteridge neighbour Mike Ashley. The Orange Tree has been widely mentioned but it has emerged that the pair’s favourite boozer is the Rising Sun in Mill Hill, just round the corner from Kinnear and close to Arsene Wenger (above), who hasn’t been seen propping up the bar.
And get a lod of those pub snacks:
Fresh asparagus with roasted red peppers drizzled with olive oil
Chicken livers, onion & 20 yr old balsamic vinegar
Gnocchi with wild mushroom porcini sauce
Fresh tomato bruschetta with homemade pesto
Geordies formed in the Daily Mail’s vision will, of course, have no idea what any of that is. But expect to see the Italian lad Gnocchi knocking them in for fun…