Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7740 – Saturday 6 August 2011 – Tyrus

Posted by duncanshiell on August 13th, 2011


IThis puzzle was published on the first weekend of the new Football League season in England.  A new team in League 2 was AFC Wimbledon.  This was the club that was formed when the original Wimbledon Football Club moved from Wimbledon to Milton Keynes in 2002.  

Many of the existing Wimbledon fans were outraged by the move and refused to have any association with the club that moved to Milton Keynes.   As a consequence of their dismay, they founded AFC Wimbledon.   The new club started life in the Combined Counties League in the 2002-2003 season and has since progress through the Isthmian League First Division, Isthmian League Premier Division, Conference South and Blue Square Premier to finally win promotion to the Football League at the end of the 2010 – 2011 season.   The club in Milton Keynes changed its name to Milton Keynes Dons (MK Dons) in 2004.  This season MK Dons play in League 1 so the two teams will not meet unless they get drawn against each other in one of the Cup competitions.

Tyrus is clearly a member of the old Wimbledon fan base and a supporter of AFC Wimbledon today.

There are a few subliminal, but many upfront ‘political’ messages in the grid and the clues.  Some solvers will agree with the messages, some will not, and probably many others won’t care either way.  I have tried to identify the references in the clues and wordplay in the tables below rather than make this preamble any longer.

The key message though, in Tyrus’s view, is spelt out in the entries for the first five Across answers as


No doubt compiling this crossword was a labour of love trying to get as many Wimbledon and Milton Keynes references as possible into the clues.  The clues read well and solvers don’t need to understand the footballing references to understand the wordplay and definitions, except perhaps at 18 Down DIE OFF where the clue refers to 9 Across WIMBLEDON

The puzzle didn’t take me too long to solve and the parsing seemed fairly clear.

No. Clue Wordplay Entry
1 All workaholic hit man likes to do, right? (7) JUST (only; do nothing else but) + ICE (kill , American criminal slang) A workaholic hitman would like to do nothing else but kill people. JUSTICE (rightness; right)
5 Signal agreement about price at last – it’s a deal (4) NOD (signal agreement) reversed (about) + the final letter (at last)  E of PRICE DONE (as an interjection, agreed; it’s a deal!)
9 One in car about to get seduced – it’s common (9) (I [one] contained in [in] BMW ([make of car]) reversed (about) + LED ON (tricked; deceived; seduced) WIMBLEDON (reference Wimbledon Common in South West London)
10 Jet left to fly past (4) BLACK (reference jet-black excluding (to fly) L (left)) BACK ([belonging to the] past)
11 Conspiring to arrest the French Guinea rebels (2,6) Anagram of (rebels) GUINEA containing (arrest) LE (French for ‘the’) IN LEAGUE (reference ‘ in league with’ – having made an alliance [usually for bad purposes]; conspiring)
12 Not in the wider interests’ primarily wrong – best showing some intelligence (6) Anagram of (wrong) (OUT [not in] and the first letters TWI of [primarily] THE WIDER INTERESTS).  The clue is probably a statement of a WIMBLEDON fan’s view of the move of the club to Milton Keynes OUTWIT (defeat [best] by superior ingenuity; best showing some intelligence)
13 Female lost doctor’s backing (4) (L [lost; reference win {w}), loss {l}, d {draw} in football results] + RIG [manipulate unscrupulously; doctor]) reversed (backing) GIRL (female)
14 Dancing, orgies and taking drugs – one might say you should slow down (4,4) Anagram of (dancing) ORGIES AND excluding (taking) E (ecstasy; drugs) ROAD SIGN (one example of a ROAD SIGN is the one that tells drivers to slow down)
17 Breakfast TV show (8) PORRIDGE (a traditional breakfast food in some countries) PORRIDGE (TV sitcom starring Ronnie Barker, first broadcast in 1974) double definition
19 Club masters (4) M (master) + ACE (master) -[two] masters MACE (club)
21 Showing bottle, AFC are up (6) Anagram of (up) AFC ARE  The AFC refers to the new football club. CARAFE (bottle)
23 Strip president (8) GARFIELD (reference President James GARFIELD, 20th President of the United States. He was President for only 200 days before he was assassinated in 1881) GARFIELD (cartoon strip about a cat, first published in 1978.  In 2007 it was syndicated to more newspapers and magazines than any other comic strip in the world) double definition
24 Ultimately was Milton Keynes establishment a bit lacking in sensitivity? (4) Last letter (ultimately) S of WAS + OU (Open University.  The OU is based in Milton Keynes) + first letter (a bit)  L of LACKING.  No doubt WIMBLEDON fans think moving a club 100 miles or so lacks sensitivity by the Directors. SOUL (moral and emotional power and sensibility; sensitivity)
25 Heroic fans (nothing less) fought club being moved (9) Anagram of (fought) HEROIC FANS excluding (less) O (nothing).  There’s another ‘political’ statement here about the fans who formed AFC WIMBLEDON FRANCHISE (a commercial concession by which a retailer [or football club owner?] is granted by a company [ FA?] the exclusive right of retailing its goods or providing its services in a specified area making use of the company’s expertise, marketing trademark etc; a professional sports team; almost certainly a reference to the old Wimbledon football club being bought and transferred to Milton Keynes and renamed MK Dons.  I think Tyrus views a FRANCHISE as lacking any roots)
26 Quietly disregarded minor painter (4) PETTY (minor) excluding (disregarded) P (pianoforte; quietly) ETTY (reference William ETTY, English painter 1787-1849)
27 Workers cutting twisted TV lead? (7) MEN (workers) contained in (cutting) TELE (television; TV) reversed (twisted) ELEMENT (lead [Pb] is an element)


No. Clue Wordplay Entry
1 Talking about women in car (6) JAG ([jaguar]car) containing (about) (W [women]+ IN) JAWING (talking)
2 Smile more in performance – I’m waiting (9) Anagram of (in performance) SMILE MORE.  I suspect Tyrus is looking forward to lots of smiles when AFC WIMBLEDON play in League 2 SOMMELIER (wine waiter; I’m waiting)
3 Wrongfully keeping on a criminal (7) ILL (wrongfully) containing (keeping) (LEG [the ‘on’ side in cricket] + A) ILLEGAL (criminal)
4 George financially sound – spin! (5) Sounds like (sound) EDDY (spin) EDDIE (reference EDDIE George a former Governor of the Bank of England 1993-2003. Known as ‘steady EDDIE‘, he died in 2009 and is probably now spinning in his grave as the financial markets struggle to manage  the current situation)
6 Not against Ivor and TB’s fantastic revolution (5)

Anagram (fantastic) of IVOR and TB excluding V (versus; against) It is likely that IVOR is a reference to AFC WIMBLEDON Director IVOR Heller and TB is a reference to the Manager Terry Brown or even to the Dons Trust Board that oversees all the activities of AFC WIMBLEDON mens and ladies teams.

ORBIT (revolution)
7 Impressions of internet affairs about to split (8) C (circa; about) contained in (split) E-THINGS (it seems you can prefix anything with ‘E-‘ these days and make it electronic or internet related, so E-THINGS are internet affairs) ETCHINGS (impressions from an etched plate).  
8 Girl’s love for East African country (6) ANGELA (girl) with O (love) replacing (for) E (east) ANGOLA (African country)
14 Eggs old Dons on (3) O (old) contained in (dons) in RE (about; on). Dons is an affectionate name for the old Wimbledon football club, as opposed to MK Dons ROE ([fish] eggs)
15 Eric (sic) unhappy with FA surrender (9)

Anagram (unhappy) of ERIC SIC and FA.

ERIC (SIC) is no doubt a reference to ERIK Samuelson, Chief Executive of AFC WIMBLEDON and the FA (Football Association) surrender, in Tyrus’s eyes, to the commercial interests that moved the old WIMBLEDON FC to Milton Keynes and renamed the club MK Dons.

SACRIFICE (surrender)
16 One’s hard work in school brought up? No chance! (3,1,4) (A [one] + H [hard] + OP [opus; work]) contained in (in)( ETON [school] reversed [brought up]) NOT A HOPE (no chance!)
18 Girl and boy not good – don’t survive (unlike 9) (3,3) DI (Diana; girl) + GEOFF (boy) excluding (not) G (good) DIE OFF (don’t survive, unlike WIMBLEDON (9 across) which has survived as AFC WIMBLEDON)
19 Reclaim place in a different form – it’s phenomenal (7) Anagram of (place in a different form) RECLAIM.  WIMBLEDON FC  has reclaimed its place in the Football League in a different form (AFC WIMBLEDON).  Possibly an &Lit clue in the eyes of AFC WIMBLEDON supporters. MIRACLE (act that breaks the laws of nature; marvel; wonder; it’s phenomenal)
20 Father wears it to match – in rotation though (6) ALB (a priest’s [father’s] long white sleeved vestment) + TIE ([football] match) reversed (in rotation) ALBEIT (although; though)
22 Give a great deal to state (5) Sounds like (state) A LOT (a great deal) ALLOT (distribute; give)
23 Picked up big jar (5) Sounds like (picked up) GREAT (big) GRATE (jar)

15 Responses to “Independent 7740 – Saturday 6 August 2011 – Tyrus”

  1. sidey says:

    Thank you for your efforts Duncan. Unfortunately my eyes went a bit funny during your preamble. To this solver who is completely indifferent to football it might as well have been in Greek. Similarly, most of the linked clues made no sense cryptically or superficially. A real shame as there has obviously been an enormous amount of work by Tyrus. Your explanations have revealed a quite remarkable puzzle, but really not one for the non fan.

    I still can’t see the definition for franchise though.

  2. Jake says:

    Many thanks for blog. I guessed my way through most of this puzzle, so thanks for the detailed solutions.

    Tyrus, nice one old bean!

  3. hounddog says:

    MK Dons are widely known as ‘Franchise FC’, and not just among AFC fans. Possibly the only clue that needs knowledge of the situation although North American sports teams do sometime move between cities and are referred to as ‘franchises’.

    I got the theme early on but confused myself by finding a couple of wrong answers that fitted the theme and, at a stretch, also fitted the clues.

  4. Allan_C says:

    Yes, a nice one Tyrus. One or two references I didn’t understand, so thanks Duncan and hounddog for enlightenment. Favourites? PORRIDGE and GARFIELD.

  5. Polly says:

    I’m not a football fan either, but I found this puzzle hugely entertaining: like Jake, I found it possible to work the clues without knowing anything of the subtleties revealed in Duncan’s masterly analysis.

  6. Tramp says:

    A superb puzzle. I loved the puzzle but failed to spot the message!! Very clever stuff.

  7. duncanshiell says:

    Thanks for the comments on the blog.

    There’s no doubt that sporting puzzles (football and cricket especially) tend to polarise opinion. I must admit I groan inwardly when I see a puzzle based on films.

    Pity AFC Wimbledon lost their first league game.

  8. Eileen says:


    I’ve just commented on the Guardian thread that it’s a good job I wasn’t blogging last week’s Paul puzzle, because I wouldn’t have had the background knowledge to make it more interesting. I would have been an absolutely total dead loss with this one – I’m wondering how on earth I managed to solve it, without knowing one scrap of the stuff that holds it together! [I’m mightily comforted by the fact that such a clever chap as Tramp missed it, too.] What a labour of love, indeed! And it’s surely the sign of a really good puzzle that I thought it was a good puzzle while being totally unaware of what was going on. [It goes without saying that I didn’t see the Nina, either.]

    I’m full of admiration for Duncan’s encyclopaedic knowledge, too. Many thanks for the blog and for revealing the depths of the cleverness of the puzzle. [I do hope you were interested in the theme!]

  9. Jake says:


    I’m glad I’m not the only one! I do often half-ass my way through tougher puzzles, without—often purposely—approaching the clues zealously, as Duncan has here for full understanding.

    This, (my) way I and lots of other solvers would agree that I’m missing out on the brilliance of the construction. Oh well, only I lose by solving this way. Still. Again good stuff Tyrus. And Duncan for leaving no stone unturned.

  10. nmsindy says:

    Being interested in football, I saw the theme here all right. Some cracking clues too. I think ‘the wider interests of football’ in 12A refers to the justification given for allowing the club to move to Milton Keynes by the official panel that decided it. The success of Wimbledon supporters in forming a new club and getting back into the League will, I hope, mean something like that will never happen again. A Milton Keynes club should have had to climb up thro the Leagues in the same way (and would have been able to, I’m sure). Thanks Tyrus and Duncan.

  11. superkiwigirl says:

    Many thanks for the terrific blog, Duncan – I really struggled with this today, and came here in need of your explanations for the parsing of several solutions.

    Having read the blog I now see what a clever technical feat this puzzle represents, but I’m afraid that I’m with Sidey @ 1 here (did someone mention the word “marmite” ?) I’m disappointed to have missed the Nina, though, as I’ve been trying to train myself to spot these – no excuse perhaps, given that a theme was clearly sign posted by the cross referencing of WIMBLEDON and DIE OFF which I couldn’t understand.

    Some very good clues (I particularly liked ROAD SIGN, MIRACLE , GIRL and SOUL – 4 letter words are often the hardest to crack I find) but I’m still unhappy about the definition of FRANCHISE, notwithstanding the blog and hounddogs’s amplification @ 3 (thanks anyway, hounddog, I’ll think about this further and maybe the penny will drop).

    Thanks finally to Tyrus for providing me with such a challenge this morning. And good luck with the match today!

  12. superkiwigirl says:

    P:S: maybe “club being moved” could be made into a more acceptable definition of FRANCHISE by adding the word “perhaps” (it is after all only one example, and a pretty technical one at that, of what is meant by this word in my view). And it’s not as if every case where a club is moved will result in a FRANCHISE- if, say, Spurs had been successful in their bid to take over the Olympic Stadium I doubt that this would have led to one.

  13. Tyrus says:

    Thanks to all for their comments and for tolerating the rather parochial theme. I tried to give fairly straightforward clues to compensate.

    An excellent and very thorough blog, Duncan, which is much appreciated. Thanks also to nmsindy for explaining the ‘not in the wider interests’reference at 12A.

  14. Paul B says:

    Another win today, I understand, old bean. Most entertaining, as is your puzzle. Championship new boys Southampton too (who went down almost as heavily as The Dons, due also to the most appalling mismanagement) added a second victory to their tally at the expense of Barnsley.

  15. PaulG says:

    Outstanding puzzle – indeed a ‘labour of love’ by Tyrus, as noted above. And a superbly clear blog from Duncan.

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