Points and positions
First Team Squad
U19, U18 & U17
Lifts the Lid...
Life with United...and beyond Part XX
Bez on Bradford:
John only ever played against Bradford in the friendly game struck up as part of the deal to sign Des Hamilton. We asked John about our very own Disco Des.
He was a strange player in that he arrived with rave reviews and could look really good in training but at other times he didn't look so clever. However, one thing which he was a world-beater at was Tomb Raider. When we were in the Champions League we all got given a Sony Playstation and he was fantastic. If ever anyone got stuck they'd give Bubba a ring. This also lead to his another nickname - "Rain Man".
In the friendly game at Bradford Des was made captain and he lead the team out onto the pitch. When we ran out we stopped and he ran out by himself. I think everyone saw the funny side of that. Incidentally in that game I played as left wing-back and I was directly up against Chris Wilder who is now my current boss at Bradway. [Bez now plays for a Sunday League side].
Our only other Bradford angle was to ask John if he had any stories about Stan Collymore.
Probably nothing more than the usual ones. As well as playing against him for Liverpool and Forest he played against us for Southend in the promotion season. Stan quickly got a bad reputation among players who saw he had fantastic ability but knew he was the "missing link". I can remember the England lads, Shearer, Rob Lee or Bats coming back and saying what he was like. I also remember Steve Stone at Forest didn't think too much of him.
When you played against him there was never much point in roughing him up which seemed to make him play better. The best thing was to just talk to him - he was easily distracted....
Bez on Ipswich
One morning Keegan called us all together for a meeting when we'd hit a bit of a bad run. I think Kitson wasn't keen on signing his contract and he'd had a few disagreements with Keegan. KK asked around if anyone had any problems and no-one really said very much. "And what about you, Paul?" he said. Kitson looked a bit taken aback and said nothing. "Come on, there must be something you'd like to say and I'll take as many zaza's as you like." The room erupted.
Paul used to fancy himself a bit and thought he was a bit of a tough nut. I don't know whether he was or not but "I'll knock ya out," became a bit of a catchphrase for him. This backfired a bit after he came off worse after a night out in Leeds. I think he was out with his girlfriend and some lads started having a go. Instead of laughing it off Paul squared up to them and took a bit of a battering. Of course the lads were sympathetic and took the mickey all week. I'm sure every time Paul told the story one more was added to the number of lads he took on.
We asked John about the infamous incident when Keegan apparently turned off the radio on the team bus when callers into phone-in, 606, abused Kitson on the way back from a 0-0 at Sheffield Wednesday.
I honestly don't remember it and I'd be a bit surprised if it actually happened. We never had it on in the bus. As soon as the results were read out at 6.00 the radio would get turned off and a music video would get put on.
Bez on the 'Ammers
He and Liam [O'Brien] were the best of mates but Tommy would always put himself out and couldn't do enough for you, which is still the case today. After that game with Man City when Tommy played a blinder everyone wanted to talk to him. I caught his eye and he made sure I got the first interview with him straight after the game."
Bez on the Saints:
He kept chasing it trying to win it back (like on the pitch!) but got
further and further into trouble. He was losing money that meant an awful
lot to him although to the other players it wasn't that much. By the time we
got down to the match he was in no fit state to play, although he did and he
was all over the shop.
"Most of us thought that Glenn Hoddle saw the Southampton position as a stepping stone for the Spurs job. David Howells would often say exactly that and although it was speculation on our part, it was no surprise when Hoddle went to White Hart Lane."
Bez also revealed that the current Saints
caretaker manager Stuart Gray was instrumental in him moving to the
South Coast from the toon:
Even during training that week I was in
agony, but managed to look ok whenever the gaffer (Dave Jones) looked
across. I knew that i f I told him I was alright i'd be guaranteed a sub's
spot for the game, and sure enough he put me on the bench.
Finally, we asked Bez whether he had any particular recollections about going down to Southampton during the Keegan era, given that our then- Manager had been a Saint at one time.
"Keegan never really seemed that
bothered about going back to The Dell. I know he didn't play for them for
that long but he lived down in Hampshire for a good while. He was never like
he was when we went to Anfield. That was always a special trip for KK."
Once more we went a bit tangential in our second wave of interrogation. Mentioning a few of Bez's Arsenal England colleagues brought up one or two tall tales....
"The England game I got called up for was a qualifier in Turkey and there were a number of Arsenal lads in the squad. Lee Dixon, Tony Adams and Ian Wright were there. Dixon is a very quiet lad and although I know he's not a big favourite with Newcastle fans off the pitch he's actually OK. He's a scratch golfer and spends a lot of his spare time working on that.
"Tony Adams was a fantastic captain. His team-talks before a game were something else. On the pitch he'd also look after you and was great at organising. But the joker of the pack was Ian Wright. In Turkey Gazza and Wrighty were there and the two of them together was a frightening combination! In the team-talk that Graham Taylor gave before the match Gazza and Wrighty were sitting together and every time Taylor turned to the board to talk about the opposition's players they would start thumping eachother. When Taylor turned back they would both sit bolt upright and nod in agreement and look concerned before punching eachother when Taylor turned his back again. It was hilarious - a bit like being back at school. At the end Taylor summed up and then thanked Gazza and Wright for the entertainment....
"It was quite nerve-wracking meeting all the squad for the first time but Wrighty was great in putting you at ease. As soon as I walked in he shouted "Alright, big man?" and made a big effort to welcome me to the squad. You might also remember one picture from our training out there when Gazza and Wrighty were covered from head to toe in mud. That was when we trained on a mud-bath and the press and fans watching were in hysterics as the pair dived into pools of mud.
"There was also a bread roll fight that the pair had at the hotel restaurant. They were sitting about 20 yards apart and they were absolutely pinging them at eachother. Shortly after I got in the lift with them as we went back to our rooms. The FA Secretary Graham Kelly was also in. Gazza started making fart noises saying, "Ahwww Mr Kelly, that's disgusting."
"When we got to the stadium the fans had already been in the ground for ages. I remember a banner on the far side that said "Gazza Die" and as we came out of the tunnel they pelted us with all sorts of things. Gazza and Wright both gave "Come on then" gestures which didn't exactly quieten them down. As we came off they were throwing lighted bits of paper at us and one landed on an elderly woman's head. She must have had a fair amount of lacquer on, as it went up in a big blue flame. It got put out very quickly and I don't think she was hurt but I remember Steve Howey, Steve Watson and Lee Clark being there with the under-21's and we were all very nervous sitting in the stands.
"We won the game 2-0 but unfortunately I never got on the pitch despite warming up on the touchline. I played in a couple of England B games at Anfield and Hillsborough but that time away with the England squad was an experience I'll always remember."