Aidan Smith: It’s time Andre Villas-Boas got with the programmes

There’s a funny smell in our house and, despite it being the home of three children under five, I’m wholly responsible. It emanates from a cardboard box. Inside are my football programmes, most of which have been stored in freezer bags for 40 years.

But, last week, for the first time in long enough, I purchased some additions to my collection – matchday pamphlets from Arbroath and Montrose, Morton and Queen’s Park.

“What’s that pong?” asks my wife. “It’s the honk of history,” I reply. “The reek of tradition, diversity, identity, continuity and honest-to-goodness town pride.”

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And it’s a history and a smell that Andre Villas-Boas is suggesting we kill off.

The Chelsea manager proposes that big clubs make little clubs their feeder teams. And our own David Weir agrees. These teams, like Barcelona “B” in Spain, could play in football’s second tier. This would aid the development of young players for whom the jump from youth and reserve football to the first team is currently too great.

Perhaps this could improve the dire situation of Chelsea, who’ve lamentably failed to bring on indigenous young talent while continuing to throw outrageous sums at foreigners and, all the while, failing to provide Roman Abramovich with the Champions League he craves.

But what would it do for the “little” club, formed at least a century before, producers of, perhaps, their own footballing style, a famous cup win, other thrills, the odd spill then a revival, maybe an international wing-half and, yes, a mountain of old programmes growing ever more smelly?

The answer, surely, if you wake up one day and find you’ve become Chelsea “B”, is: not much that’s any good.

On the contrary, says Villas-Boas. For Chelsea and other big clubs – the Stamford Bridge swankers are not the only ones to fail football’s youth – purchasing feeder teams could be a “solution”. He adds: “There is more of a cultural identity [with the parent club] if it’s called a ‘B’ team.”

What rubbish he speaks. How do Chelsea have more cultural identity than, say, Bradford City, currently sixth from bottom of England’s famous old 92-club pyramid but who, until Abramovich’s arrival, had won the FA Cup more times?

By cultural identity Villas-Boas really means “foists football on new territories, China a priority” and “sells replica shirts by the shedload”. Well, big deal.

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He’s a funny character, is AVB. By funny I mean pretty arrogant.

From the start at Chelsea he spoke perfect English and talked of teams and players as if he’d been there for years.

Perhaps he was trying to demonstrate that he wasn’t Fabio Capello, still struggling with the lingo, always seeming to be just passing through.

Fair enough. But, when the defeats came, he got narked by criticism. Very quickly in “the world’s greatest league”, he’s become the biggest diva.

It’s a bit different in Scotland. Three years ago a plan for the Old Firm to enter reserve teams in the Third Division was welcomed by then SFA chief executive Gordon Smith.

No one was suggesting Celtic and Rangers take over other clubs as feeders, although the proposal provoked enough anger anyway among Highland clubs who’d missed out on the chance to replace Gretna.

But would feeders work here? You have to think the Old Firm must be perfectly happy with the present arrangement, where diddy teams find and nurture talent until it’s SPL-ready, then hand it over.

This has worked well for decades, and anyway, I don’t see the diddies ever agreeing to full feeder status. Who’d want to become properly known as Celtic or Rangers’ bitches, even if we like to amuse ourselves with jokes about how some clubs have been groomed for this for most of history?

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Ah, history. AVB was in Scotland recently, helping make the Scottish Cup fifth round draw.

Re: fitba’s heritage. You’d like to think that romantic names such as Heart of Midlothian and Queen of the South made an impression on him that day.

Also Kilmarnock – founded in 1869, a good 36 years before his Stamford Bridge arrivistes.

If not, he can have a look at my collection. The Montrose ones are classic and, in 1975 at least, contained local facts tailored to the visitors, so Hibs fans were reminded that the great Gordon Smith “grew up and learned his football” in the Angus town.

As Robert Duval almost said: “I love the smell of programmes in the morning.”