Points and positions
First Team Squad
U19, U18 & U17
What happened to?
Lifts the Lid...
Life with United...and
beyond Part XX
The final game of the season, and
our last wee chat with the boy Bez for a while.
As we find out, Villa at home was nearly the end of a beautiful
friendship with him and St.Kevin......
NUFC 1 AVFC 0 14.4.96 (Ferdinand)
What else could we ask John about but
the infamous Keegan incident when John reacted to some touchline
instructions in a certain way that earned him an early substitution.
"It all actually started on Friday when we were talking through how
might play. Keegan told me he wanted me to tuck inside because Villa
were likely to play with three forwards; Dwight Yorke, Tommy Johnson
and Savo Milosevic. I said, "That's fine, but David (Ginola) won't
back." Keegan insisted that he'd have a word with David and to leave it
to him to sort out. I protested and said that Gary Charles would have
field-day down the right because I knew Ginola wouldn't come back and
help out the defence. KK said he'd sort it."
"When it came to the game, Villa broke forward and I was tucked inside.
Yorke spread the ball out to Charles and when I tried to clear it the ball
fell for Yorke who smashed it just wide of the post. Keegan had a right
go at me, saying I was tucked too far in. I shouted back, "I told you
David wouldn't f***in' track back," but Keegan shouted that it was my
fault. At that point I turned and told him where to go...."
"As soon as I'd done it I could see he was scrambling for the
board and I could see Robbie (Elliott) was warming up. I thought, "I've
got 30 seconds until the ball next goes out of play to score with a
spectacular 40 yard screamer."
[Funnily enough, Bez actually did hit one like that a couple of
seasons later against Villa].
"As I came off I was still angry and still had a go before sitting on
bench. Once I'd calmed down I remember asking Arthur Cox what he thought the
best way to approach Keegan was. Should I ring him, see him on Monday or
what? Arthur said, see him as soon as the game's finished and get it sorted.
I did that and went to see him in his office. Apart from getting down on my
knees and begging I did everything I could to apologise and asked how I
could make amends. He sat there stoney-faced and then said, "OK, no
"I knew that Keegan had a reputation of not forgiving, so I wasn't
sure if I'd get back into the team. It was probably the following summer
before I felt like I'd got back into his good books. I turned up for
pre-season the fittest I'd ever been and worked really hard in pre-season.
He would give me 45 minutes and Robbie 45, so I still wasn't sure who was
his first choice but luckily when the season started I got the nod."
"Even now, Keegan hasn't forgotten it. When we went up for the Peter
Beardsley testimonial he was saying hello to all the former players and
when it came to me he said, 'Alright John, you're not going to tell me to
f*** off again are you...?'"
NUFC 3 AVFC 1 25.2.95 (Beardsley 2, Venison)
scored his one and only goal against Villa - a spectacular
25-yard belter. I asked John if he remembered it.
"I do, in fact I think I was one of the first to get to him
after he scored.
Venners was one of the best players in that side and we really
him when he left. He was a great captain, a great talker and
on the pitch and when he left no-one really took over in the defence.
Steve Howey was still a young lad, Philippe Albert wasn't really
very vocal and we missed an organiser at the back.
It probably wasn't until Stuart Pearce
arrived that we had a real leader in the back four. It's vital to have
someone like that. Although Steve Bruce was probably the only
non-international in the Man United side that he played in, they'll all tell
you how crucial he was to their success."