Apportioning Blame In Name Game

A Quarter Of A Century Of Getting It Wrong – But Now We Know

Jason Roberts….looking every inch an impressive football ambassador.

A new publication reveals that we have been using the wrong name for decades for a striker Wolves introduced to League football.

Jason Roberts, who pitched up relatively briefly at Molineux in the autumn of 1997, has made it known that he is in fact Jason Robert and is liable to become irritated if people do not respect the difference.

“My surname is Robert,” he is quoted as saying. “The ‘s’ was added because it became easier. Otherwise, you end up correcting everyone a million times.

“But my wife is a stickler for tradition. She writes her name as Carly Robert. And our kids also use Robert. So, maybe I should use it myself.”

There will no doubt be raised eyebrows among the football fraternity who remember the 42-year-old not only as a prolific striker with Bristol Rovers, Albion, Wigan and Blackburn but also as an articulate BBC pundit.

His widely accepted surname tripped off the tongue easily enough but he is clearly just as comfortable with the alternative version, which dates back four generations in a family whose roots are very much in the West Indies.

“My great, great grandfather had given the family his own name, which was Robert. It happens a lot in the Caribbean,” he added.

“In all of my documentation, including my passport, my name is down as Jason Robert.”

There was no mention of this fact when the player was signed by Wolves from Hayes for £250,000 in September, 1997.

To be blunt, there wasn’t much mention of him around the club at all as he was confined to a diet of reserve football other than sitting on the bench as an unused substitute the day Wolves famously won at Leeds in the quarter-final of the FA Cup six months after his arrival.

Mark McGhee was busy stockpiling strikers at the time – Bull, Goodman, Keane, Paatelainen, Freedman and Claridge come to mind even before we start to consider the young hopefuls – and Roberts was sold to Bristol Rovers in the summer of 1998 for the same fee that he had cost.

His subsequent impact at Albion, Wigan and Blackburn especially caused rueful expressions over the years at Molineux, where his uncle, Cyrille Regis, had also spent a season earlier in the 1990s.

And it was while at The Hawthorns that the ambiguity became an issue in the already festering relationship between Jason and manager Gary Megson, as Chris Lepkowski’s new ‘From Buzaglo To Balis’ book explains.

As close as he went….Roberts sneaks on to the end of the Wolves bench at Leeds.

“I put in a transfer request and signed it ‘Jason Robert’,” he added. “Gary came back and I replied: ‘Yes, that’s the name on my birth certificate – no ‘s’.

“He said I didn’t know how to spell my own name. I thought that was really poor on his part. It was water off a duck’s back but I remember my grandma bring really upset.

“It was a big issue for certain members of my family and it lacked class. He knew what I’d said was true and there was no need for him to do something so demeaning.

“Obviously, with a formal document like a transfer request, I used my proper name and removed the ‘s’.”

The former Grenada international is now director of development for CONCACAF and is based in Miami. His middle names are given as Andre Davis, which we assume are the intended spellings!

Thomas Publications
www.footiepix.co.uk