Points and positions
First Team Squad
U19, U18 & U17
Lifts the Lid...
Life with United...and beyond Part V
18-Dec-93 (a) 2-0 Premier League
Cole and Beardsley combined for two classics but Mike Hooper almost got on the scoresheet as well....
"Hoops could really thump the ball and it was no surprise that he tested Neville Southall with a punt upfield in that game. It was a real shame that things went wrong for Mike at United, Pav's popularity always made it difficult for him. He is a really great bloke and intelligent, which obviously set him apart from the rest of the lads...!! After one particular nightmare he had at St. James' (Southampton, I think) he was leaving the ground at the bottom end of the car park when a bloke came up to him and asked if he would sign a ball. As he hands the ball to Hoops, he says, "Watch you don't flippin' drop it," Mike took the ball and hoofed it way over the fence and onto the roundabout on Barrack Road. The bloke just watched. "Nar, I won't drop it," Mike says and walked off. I was in stitches...".
Before the kick-off of the Everton game Hooper thumped one as he goes onto the pitch, which eventually hit the post. The end of season video shows Peter Beardsley watching the effort and giving it an "Ooooh," as it comes back out. I asked John if he had any pre-match rituals:
"Not really, although I never liked to carry a ball out onto the pitch and was usually one of the last out. One thing I learned was never to get changed too quickly. At Barnsley I'd got in the dressing room early one match and started getting changed. When the manager arrived I was fully kitted and ready to go, only to be told I wasn't playing.... Ever since then I waited for the teamsheet before changing. Keegan, for example, would come in and tell us if we were playing straight away. His teamtalks were always very simple and he'd often say, "Just two minutes of your time, lads." Once he came in and was about to speak to us when he went back out again to get his coat. Tino stood up, put on a coat and went, "OK lads just two minutes of your time," in that accent of his. Seconds later KK walked in and just told Tino to carry on! Some managers would have gone spare but Keegan always laughed and joked with the rest of the lads."
1-Feb-95(h) 2-0 Premiership
"The referee, David Elleray, sent off a couple and booked about 11 in this one. Elleray is one of those refs that you never know what sort of mood he'll be in. Sometimes he'll not book anyone but in this one he went crazy. I remember Everton's boss Joe Royle was fuming afterwards. We just put it down to it being Elleray's time of the month as most of the players thought he was a bit of a woman anyway...." [apologies to women readers at this point on behalf of the entire 1994-5 squad. Likening you to David "posh-school" Elleray is totally uncalled for....]
1-Oct-95(a) 3-1 Premiership
Big Les got a classic in this game - he picked up the ball in the centre circle then turned and just ran with a belting finish:
"It's funny you have certain teams that you look forward to playing against. Les always seemed to score against Everton and he often said that he went into games against them with a lot of confidence."
16-Dec-95(h) 1-0 Premiership
"It was still in the first half and I sat in the dressing room trying to work out what was happening from the crowd. It's a lonely place and I went for the proverbial early bath feeling devastated. I ended up watching the second half from the bench which, strictly speaking, you shouldn't do. The crowd and team were brilliant and Pav played a blinder to make sure we won and to get me off the hook."
29-Jan-97(h) 4-1 Premiership
"We didn't play well in the first half and got badly booed off the pitch. From a player's point of view, this is awful and one of the worst things that can happen. Very few players give less than 100% but sometimes things just don't go well. At half-time there's always the chance that you can put things right in the second half and booing players off the pitch at half-time is a real insult to professional players. We didn't play fantastically well after the break but four late goals turned it round. At the end of a game like that, though, you're not pleased to have turned it round for the crowd, you just think, "Up yours!" and I think you could tell that from the player's faces.
28-Jul-97(f) Chelsea Friendly at Everton's Goodison
This was the game in which Alan Shearer broke his ankle.
"I was on the bench for this one recovering from an injury and Al went down awkwardly. You knew straight away it was a bad one. He just lay there still, which is usually a bad sign. Les was down in London that weekend about to sign for Spurs and when the injury happened Dalglish and Freddie Fletcher tried desperately to get him back. I remember Les phoning us when we were on the bus after the game trying to find out what was happening. To be honest, we thought he should tell Fletcher to stuff it and that they should never have let him go in the first place. In the end he did just that and I think most professionals would have done the same, although Les never wanted to leave Newcastle. The club cocked it up badly.
"A couple of weeks later it was Alan's birthday and we thought we'd do something special for him as he was in pot (plaster). The usual stripper idea was discounted but I had the idea of getting my sister to try and wind him up. It worked....
"We went to a restaurant in Durham - about 12 of us with our partners. To start with my sister, Michelle, went up to him and asked him for his autograph which was no problem, you expect that when you're out. However, while he was signing the autograph she said, "I'm sure you weren't with her last time I saw you in Julies," pointing at Alan's wife. Al just stared as he handed back the signature and then laughed nervously.
"Later on she returned with a camera and asked if she could have a picture with Alan. He was starting to get a bit fed up but agreed. As they all grinned for the photo she started to tickle the back of Alan's neck in front of his wife. He was starting to get really angry. Alan pulled me to the side and said, "You've gotta help me here, she's driving me up the flamin' wall." I was desperately trying to keep a straight face and not blow everything. At that point, Al's wife (who was in on the joke from the start) came up to him and gave him a right dressing down, asking who the girl was and saying he was ruining the night. Al was stunned. He said: "Bloody hell, she never has a go at me in public - she usually waits until I'm home...".
"Once more Michelle returned, this time with a mobile phone, asking Alan to say hello to her Mum, who she claimed was his biggest fan. At this point Alan lost it and shouted at her to get out and leave him alone. So we got the manager to send a waiter in, claiming Michelle was calling the Police and that he had humiliated her and abused her but that if he apologised nicely she would forgive him. Al was fuming and refused.
"Finally, Michelle said she just had one thing to say to him before she left and we persuaded Alan to listen, although he was still really mad. She marched right up to him and just said, "Gotcha!!", presenting him with a gold Oscar-like trophy. Al was speechless as we rolled on the floor howling with laughter. All he could say was, "You b*stards!! I knew it. I bloody knew it!". Michelle and her mate, stayed and had a great night, Alan just kept shaking his head...."