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Bez Lifts the Lid...
 Life with United...and beyond   Part VI

John Beresford
spills the beans on Steve Howey's hero-worshipping, reveals which Scotsman couldn't take his drink and finishes up by defending his bizarre choice of John Barnes as an International Manager.....

21st Feb 1993 (a) 0-0

Top of the table clash at Upton Park, United were in top spot in Division One with West Ham four points behind having played an extra game.

"Steve Howey really excelled that day. He'd been out for a few weeks and we'd lost a couple of games so it was good to have him back in the centre of defence. This was also his first real season as a centre-back and after this display everyone knew he was going to do well there. He got clattered in the first minute by Martin Allen with a terrible two-footed tackle but that didn't put him off and the whole of the defence earned a good point that day. It was round about then that Steve got his nickname of "Boy". A few people have got that story wrong over the years but the real reason he was called that was because of the way he used to idolise Barry Venison. He really looked up to him and would fetch him his drinks etc. so we called him Venners' "little boy", which got shortened and stuck."

19th Mar 1994 (a) 4-2

Andy Cole scored one in this game with his right boot that was almost at head height. 

"Andy used to hate heading the ball when he was at Newcastle, although he actually got some good goals with his head. Even when you played the ball up to him, he would hate heading it but he was that flexible that he could almost get his boot just as high. That's something they have obviously worked on at Man United and he seems pretty decent in the air now. I think Alex Mathie also got a late goal after coming on as sub. Alex was a nice lad but was always just on the fringe of the first team. One thing about Alex, though, like Steve Howey, was that he was always fairly easily led which was why he got into trouble in Bournemouth (see Bez I). He was in tears about that. Alex was never a great drinker either. He'd try and keep up with the lads who could take their ale but would often end up being put in a taxi home at about nine. Not exactly the typical heavy-drinking Scotsman...."

31st Aug 1994 (a) 3-1

Another good win at West Ham, an own goal by Steve Potts and goals for  Lee and Mathie again.

"This was the one when Kevin Keegan tried to re-educate us and our drinking habits. He was really bubbling after the win and as we got on the coach he thought someone he knew was waving to him. He started waving back and just as he was about to get off the coach to talk to the bloke he realised it was a West Ham fan giving him the w*nker sign.... Anyway, after a good win we would often stop off at an off-licenc e and get a few beers in for the journey back. This time round Keegan announced he would get some decent drink and got back on the coach with several cases of Chablis. You can imagine what most of the players thought about it, Clarkie in particular wasn't impressed. Most of the lads didn't want any and shouted abuse at Keegan and he ended up drinking most of it himself. When we dropped him off at Scotch Corner, where his wife was picking him up he was absolutely hammered. I think he fell off the bus and had to be helped into the car...."

8th March 1995 (h) 2-0

"There was a home game when Keith Gillespie turned Julian Dicks inside-out all match. I know Dicks quite well and he never liked coming to St. James', in fact I think he got sent off in one game that I missed through injury just after I joined United [yep - 29th Aug, 1992]. I saw Dicks after the game and he couldn't believe just how fast Keith was."

At this point I asked John about the infamous Dublin incident involving Gillespie. Although John was OK about including the story here, we think it probably best to leave it off the page. All we'll say is that the story we'd heard (and that has "done the rounds") is accurate up to a point.... 

21st Feb 1996 (a) 0-2

This was the one that put a real dent in the title challenge - Tino was put on from the start, hit the post and had a few saved but we went down 2-0.

"There were lots of reasons why we didn't win the Title that year but for me, the introduction of Tino lost us this particular game. It was just so difficult trying to accommodate him into a side that already had so many brilliant players in it and I think it knocked us out of rhythm. Having said that, when he hit the post - if it had gone in I'm sure we would have won it by several goals. When we went behind we just couldn't get back into it." 

18th March 1996 (h) 3-0

"Of course, it was the opposite at St. James' not long after. We absolutely murdered West Ham and Tino was superb. It was like playground football with one team all over the other. It seemed like every time we went forward it would end up with a shot at goal. I remember they said we had something like 42 shots on target and Les Sealey had a great game for them." 

20th Sep 1997 (a) 1-0

John Barnes got the winner with a fabulous shot after Tino had shielded the ball.

"John Barnes was technically brilliant when he played for us but he'd obviously lost a lot of his pace. He was great to play with and his balance was fantastic. He's also a very deep thinker about the game and he's got some great ideas. I took a bit of stick for suggesting him as England manager [including from] and I was purposely trying to avoid coming out with all the usual names. However, I think he'll do well in management, possibly on the Continent. To put some of his ideas into practice he'd need a whole team of technically able players."

Niall MacKenzie


Page last updated 24 June, 2009