Archive for the ‘John Gubba’ tag
Jose Mourinho is over-rated and over the hill: England’s finest Brian Clough was the original ‘Special One’!
As a lover of the beautiful game, I will never forget the brilliance of Brian Clough, the man I regard as England’s greatest ever manager, who sadly passed away nine years ago today at the age of 69.
The man we used to affectionately call ‘Old Big Head” was the real deal, twice winning the European Cup with Nottingham Forest having previously made their equally unfashionable Midlands rivals Derby County English champions for the first time in their history.
Cloughie was the best manager England never had because the Football Associated lacked the character to appoint the outspoken boss to take charge of the national team. He should have been given the job when his nemesis Don Revie failed in 1977.
Clough was the original ‘Special One” and he knew it. He once famously declared: “I wouldn’t say I was the best manager in the business. But I was in the top one.”
What is more he achieved his glory without being bankrolled by a mega rich chairman and he did it with clubs with no previous history of being champions.
It ironic that self-publicist Jose Mourinho, Portugal’s poor man’s copy of the boss with the biggest head in football,is busy making excuses about the less than special start to his second spell in charge of Chelsea.
Ever since Mourinho breezed into London and announced himself as “The Special One” he has had the British media in the palm of his hand because they love the way he provides a never-ending succession of headline grabbing sound bytes and headlines.
There is no doubt the late Sir Bobby Robson’s former interpreter has charisma and has been a brilliant tactician and motivator. But his current body language is a pale shadow of his former self.
Despite claiming otherwise, the truth is Mourinho was a failure at Real Madrid, where his critics say he was the worst manager in the club’s history.
Winning one La Liga title in three seasons, albeit with a record points total, was not enough to challenge the supremacy of Spanish rivals Barcelona in a League where there are only two real candidates.
He alienated the fans and his critics because he thought he was bigger than the club and his negative approach to the game was not good enough for the mighty Galacticos regardless of how many matches he won.
The pinnancle of his success came in 2010 when he guided Inter Milan to an unprecednted treble of Serie A, Coppa Italia and the UEFA Champions League. The style of play was not the most pleasing on the eye but his tactical brilliance and motivational skill that season was beyond question.
Five years earlier in his first spell in charge at Stamford Bridge he led Chelsea to their first League title in 50 years. It was the start of a trophy laden era that made him the most successful manager in the club’s history.
Unlike Clough, Mourinho’s triumphs have been bankrolled by the huge riches of mega wealthy owners. The exception came in his first success at Porto where he rose to prominence by winning the Champions League for Porto.
It was an outstanding achievement. But the truth is he was helped by a giant slice of luck when his side knocked out Manchester United by virtue of a shocking offside decision that ruled out a winning strike by Paul Scholes at Old Trafford.
Had it not been for that linesman raising his flag when Scholes was clearly onside, one wonders if Mourinho would ever have gone on to be given the platform of those top jobs at Chelsea, Milan and Madrid.
Now that he has tasted success and riches beyond his wildest dreams, there is the suspicion that he has lost the hunger and the drive to replicate his previous triumphs on his return to West London.
Mourinho blames the search for a new style for Chelsea’s poor form. “I don’t like the way Chelsea were playing in the last couple of years. The club doesn’t like it and we want to change,” he explains.
But in that period the Blues won the Champions League and recruited a dazzling collection of flair players including one of last year’s players of the season Juan Mata, who has been consistently marginalised by Mourinho.
The harsh reality is that this has been the club’s worst start to a Premier League season in the Roman Abramovich era. A humbling home defeat by Basle in the Champions League on Wednesday night has put the spotlight on the boss who started the season by re-christening himself ‘the Happy One” – a title that now sounds ridiculous.
Not just because Chelsea’s form is even worse than the sum total of their results. But you only have to look into the eyes of the disheveled boss who used to be the epitome of style. His confidence and swagger have currently deserted him and the pressure will quickly mount if he fails to live up to all the hype and expectation.
The brutal reality of Mourinho existing in the world of dictator Abramovich is that failure to emulate his previous achievements will see this latest chapter end in tears and acrimony. There is still time to repair the damage, but the aura of invincibility has already been blown away.
During my career in the sports media I have had the privilege of meeting and interviewing some of the biggest names in boxing, including the greatest of them all Muhammad Ali.
George Foreman, Henry Cooper, Mike Tyson, Frank Bruno, Lennox Lewis, Barry McGuigan, Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank were all huge names in the 20th century and along with Ali I met them all and many more during my days as a TV reporter at ITV.
What to do once a fighter is past his prime is the age-old problem that faces all top sportsmen and women and there have been many surprising twists. Foreman reinvented himself as the punching preacher. Tyson turned to wrestlemania and keeping pet tigers: Iron Mike it was once reported allegedly offered a zoo keeper 10,000 dollars to fight his gorilla.
But there are not too many boxers blessed with the gift to hold an audience in the palm of his hand with the sound of his voice, like the legendary world champion I met this week for the first time who is still enjoying his role as a knockout entertainer 35 years after quitting the ring.
While Ali proudly boasted that he could “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee”, this former undisputed world welterweight champion from Bethnal Green has tackled the showbusiness world full on and carved out an enviable reputation as a brilliant singer.
John H Stracey stunned the boxing world in December 1975 when he went to Mexico City and knocked out world champion Jose Napoles in his own backyard.
Today he is still wowing audiences with a stylish cabaret act that will take you by surprise because he has such a heavenly voice. Belting out classic ballads sung by Frank Sinatra and Matt Munro to up tempo numbers from The Drifters, Van Morrison and Michael Bolton, this loveable cockney is a born entertainer.
There are other sport stars who have found fame after the floodlights have long since faded. Vinny Jones, the ‘psycho’ member of the Crazy Gang I used to chat to before matches back in the 80s, is a much bigger star in Hollywood than he ever was on the football pitch. And there are many sporting heroes who have re-invented themselves on the small screen. But there is something unique and endearing about H that sets him apart from the rest.
Like Vinny he has tasted success in the movie business, playing a major part in the success of ‘The Krays’. For six months he acted as boxing trainer for Gary and Martin Kemp and then choreographed what has been widely acclaimed as the most authentic fight scenes ever in a British film. Yet there is no sign of arrogance or big-headedness in a man who is so grounded and down-to-earth that he is the perfect role model for any celebrity who wants to know to behave. He also has a heart of gold and takes a huge amount of pleasure from the sterling work he does for charity.
Supported by his partner Kathy, the East End boy has created one of the most looked-forward to dates in the calendar on the Wirral with the John H Stracey Celebrity Golf Day, an annual charity event that is hugely popular with a whole host of stars of the sporting and entertainment world. It was at this splendid occasion – invited as guest of sports promoter Bev Walker and his travel business Livingstones World of Golf – that I had the good fortune to meet H and his inner circle.
Celebrities supporting this year’s event at the Eastham Lodge Golf Club where Ian St John is president included ex-fooballers Tony Currie, Andy Ritchie, Clayton Blackmore, Willie Morgan and Alan Whittle. The world of boxing was represented by the likes of Glen McCrory and Dave ‘Boy’ Green, the British welterweight rival who famously beat Stracey at Wembley in 1977. While ex-Bath rugby union star John Palmer was there along with showbusiness stars like sixties pop star turned actor Jess Conrad and the incredibly funny comedian Stan Boardman.
Surrounded by his celebrity friends Stracey shone like the star that he still is performing a classic routine of songs. And there was no doubting his huge satisfaction when he proudly told me at the end of the evening that the event had raised £2200 for his two designated charities. What does the H stand for I asked his lovely wife? ‘Handsome’ came Kathy’s instant reply . . . and that he still is at the grand old age of 63. Unless someone told you he had fought for a world boxing title four decades ago you would never guess that he had ever done anything else but sing.
Sir Chris Hoy not only Team GB’s greatest ever Olympian but the most likeable sporting hero I ever met
Perfect role model and the ultimate sporting icon: Scotland’s finest Sir Chris Hoy
Over the past 35 years I have met many of the world’s greatest and most successful sporting heroes. But none have been more genuine and more likeable in person than Sir Chris Hoy.
For me it was the standout memory of London 2012 when Hoy turned on an extra burst of speed to claim his record-breaking sixth Gold medal and win the keirin, crowning a pulsating final session at the Velodrome on a memorable Day 11 at the Games.
Watching the Scot dig deep and fight back to cross the line first after momentarily being overtaken by Germany’s Maximilian Levy in the final sprint was a sporting moment to cherish. And I defy any sports lover who watched the great man collect his gold medal not to share a tear of joy with this modern day braveheart.
Never have I met a sportsman who is a more perfect role model than Sir Chris and it was typical of the great man the way he modestly looked ahead to London 2012 when we spoke at the Team GB preparation camp and he talked about his ambitions for the Games and his pride at the way the sport of cycling has been elevated in Britain during his remarkable career.
Sir Chris Hoy, Laura Trott & Victoria Pendleton provided thrilling cycling finale and are extraordinary role models
The most successful Olympic cyclist of all time, Sir Chris Hoy, will announce his retirement on Thursday (April 18) at the age of 37 in his native Edinburgh. This comes eight months after the inspirational Scottish icon became Team GB’s most successful ever Olympian at London 2012.
Hoy claimed his first Olympic gold medal when he won the one kilometre time-trial in the velodrome at Athens in 2004.
Successes in the team sprint, keirin and sprint at the Beijing Games four years later gave him three more gold medals and he was subsequently voted the 2008 BBC Sports Personality of the Year before being knighted in the New Year’s Honours list.
He took his tally to a British record six Olympic gold medals by winning the team sprint and keirin at London 2012. In all he has won seven Olympic medals, his first success being silver in the Team Sprint at Sydney 2000. He has also won 11 world titles.
Sky TV’s quest to champion Women in Sport is no way diminished by Charlie Webster’s sexy photoshoot for FHM
For anyone to suggest that Charlie Webster has damaged her career by posing for a sexy FHM photo session is simply absurd. Does anyone think that glamour shoots have harmed the reputations of her Sky colleagues Kirsty Gallagher and Charlotte Jackson? Being beautiful never damaged the career of Gabby Logan, one of the most successful broadcasters in TV Sport and recently voted 2012 Celebrity Mum of the Year – and why should it?
I had to laugh when my former associate Charlie Sale wrote in the Daily Mail that “There is considerable annoyance among management and her fellow Sky Sports News presenters over Charlie Webster appearing scantily clad on the cover and inside lads’ magazine FHM.” Sale claims the FHM shoot (video below) “upset a number of her female colleagues, who feel such exposure can only damage their efforts to be taken seriously as broadcast journalists and become known for the quality of their work rather than their looks.” Really?
Vic Wakeling, the former Head of Sky Sports, once confided: “It is our policy to appoint glamorous presenters because that is what the viewers want.” True, Wakeing has retired. While former presenters Richard Keys and Andy Gray got the bullet after embarrassing the channel with male chauvinistic comments a couple of years ago. But that has not stopped the hugely popular satellite channel from filling our screens with good looking presenters, as Webster’s anchor role merely confirms. What’s more, why should they change a winning formula and where does it say in the book of life that you can’t have brains and beauty?
Personally, I have always supported the old adage “If you’ve got it flaunt it.” No one would seriously argue that David Beckham or Jess Ennis have cheapened their image by doing exactly that and cashing in on their good looks. So why should we think any less of TV presenters who do exactly the same thing.
Even Clare Balding, the classy BBC thoroughbred with an air of royalty about her, has cast her inhibitions aside and tried to sex up her appeal by proudly posing as a covergirl for Lesbian monthly Diva. Good luck to her and I’m sure the vast majority of the Great British public respect her for doing so.
Instead of trying to sell newspapers with salacious gossip, hacks like Charlie Sale would be doing us all a favour if they paid more attention to giving credit where it is due and highlighting Sky’s current quest to champion Women In Sport. No channel did more to promote International Women’s Day than Sky Sports News with an excellent amount of airtime for inspirational female role models.
Sale, meanwhile, a journalist who would never win a beauty contest, is undoubtedly among the many thousands of readers FHM are targeting by featuring glamorous photoshoots. It would be hypocritical of the sports gossip monger to claim otherwise. He certainly has an eye for a beautiful woman, as I experienced first hand when he brazenly leered over my ex in my presence with accompanying words that I could not possibly repeat here. Does that lose him any respect with his colleagues?
Behind the scenes on Charlie Webster’s photoshoot for FHM . . .
It was the autumn of 1991 and I was checking into Edinburgh Airport with Frank Bough, former England captain Steve Smith and the rest of the ITV Sport team returning from a Rugby World Cup match at Murrayfield. In the distance was a familiar figure walking towards us carrying a sports bag and his fishing gear. It was Tony Gubba.
By pure coincidence, my uncle was on the same flight back to Heathrow and he was just as surprised by this unexpected welcome party as we were to see what he was trying to check in as hand luggage. The sports bag was unzipped and packed with ice to keep fresh the huge salmon he had caught that afternoon. One of Tony’s great passions was fishing and while we had been at the game, Tony was relaxing on a quiet riverbank .
This surreal scene took an unexpected twist when the check-in staff insisted the salmon was not permitted on the flight because “transporting dead animals as hand luggage was not permitted.” But that of course was red rag to a bull. And typical of one of the most resourceful sports journalists and broadcasters of his generation, our Tony weaved his magic and managed to find a way to get his catch on board and safety home to Berkshire.
It was a tribute from his old pal John Motson, speaking after the tragic news broke that Tony had passed away at the age of 69, that reminded me of this amusing episode.
“What I like most about Tony and it worked in my favour many times was his sheer determination and persistence. He would never take no for an answer,” recalls Motty.
“In 1974 he and I went to our first World Cup in what was then West Germany. And of course the wall was still there and West Germany were about to play East Germany in a highly political match. And on the plane over Tony said ‘I’m going to do my first piece walking along the Berlin Wall.’ And I said don’t be ridiculous there will be guns on one side and he said ‘Don’t worry. I will do it’ and he managed to get permission to walk along the wall and do this piece to camera.”
Three World Cups later, the two buddies were both commentating again at Mexico 86 and Motty paints an even more exotic picture when he remembers: “Tony said we are going to have to go and watch the Russians play you know. And I said they haven’t got any warm up games and he said yes they’ve got one private game. It’s about 240 miles away. And he named the place. And I said how are we going to get there and he said I’m going to hire a plane.
“He went out and got a 4-seater plane. And the two of us on our own with the pilot went to this place in the middle of Mexico. When we got there there were some very stern Russian officials saying you can’t come in. This is a private friendly and Tony sort of said something about the BBC and the guy said well you better come in and go and sit on the touchline with the coaches.”
Whether it was requisitioning an aeroplane to pursue a story, risking personal danger to film a classic piece of video or using his charming powers of persuasion to get his own way, this was who I looked up to and wanted to be like.
When I was a kid growing up in the late 60s and early 70s,Tony was the ultimate role model for me because I wanted to follow in his footsteps. Not just because he was living the dream with a career in the media, he always seemed to have a beautiful sports car and a never ending procession of glamorous admirers.
I remember when Tony made the switch from newspapers to TV, leaving the Daily Mirror in Manchester to head to the South Coast and a job with Southern TV. It was a long drive to his new home in Southampton and I loved it when he took me there for visits during the school holidays. He was not impressed when I got car sick the first time we made that trip. But it was all good character building and watching his career take off was a great inspiration.
It was not long before the switch from ITV to BBC and it was only a matter of time before Tony made it into the wonderful world of sports broadcasting. I was bursting with pride when he was chosen to present Sportsnight after David Coleman left the programme in 1972. I can’t imagine how thrilled he must have been. Tony had hit the big time and no one deserved it more than he did. He later became the frontman for Grandstand, alongside Frank Bough, the man I would get to work with myself a couple of decades later, and he also presented Match of the Day, where he made his name as an outstanding football commentator.
For many football fans of my generation, we grew up listening to John Motson, Barry Davies and Tony Gubba doing the commentary on MOTD.
Along with my father, his older brother Ron, uncle Tony got me hooked on Manchester United. And I will always remember how a BBC camera picked out his celebration on the pitch behind the goal when Norman Whiteside famously won the 1985 FA Cup Final for United’s 10-men in a dramatic injury time against Everton.
Less than 10 years later I had the honour of working with my uncle when Visionsport International – the independent production company I set up after leaving ITV started filming Premier League football. With Tony often the commentator at matches where we supplied the host broadcast coverage, one of the highlights for both of us was when my uncle provided the commentary and we supplied the coverage of Manchester United’s record 9-0 win against Ipswich Town at Old Trafford. There were many occasions when that familiar voice provided the soundtrack to our pictures.
Sportsnight editor Jonathan Martin, who later became head of sport at the BBC, summed up Tony’s qualities that earned him his place in the hot seat vacated by Coleman when he said: “His strength was that he was a very good broadcaster and journalist. He was mainly a football man to start with, and that was his real love, but he was very flexible. He could turn his hand to anything. Bobsleigh, table tennis, ice-skating, ski jumping, rowing … He would be on everybody’s team for the winter and summer Olympics. He never complained or grumbled when he was asked to do something, he just went away and did his homework. He could present, commentate and was a first-class reporter.”
But Tony was a natural entertainer who was always destined to get a taste of showbusiness. A talented singer, who enrolled at the Northern music college with thoughts of becoming an operatic tenor, he once dressed up as Pavarotti and gave an outstanding rendition on David Baddiel and Frank Skinner’s cult TV show Fantasy Football. It suited him down to the ground, although he initially turned down the role, when Christopher Dean and Jayne Torvill personally chose him to be the commentator on ITV’s Dancing on Ice. His tongue in cheek commentary was always one of the highlights of one of the most popular shows on ITV. Classic lines like “He skates like Benny Hill chasing a chorus girl” when describing Kieran Bracken and “He’s not normally this active before midnight” in a respectful tease of Lee Sharpe, the ex-footballer with a playboy reputation, earned him a new legion of fans.
Along with the rest of the Gubba family, I felt devastated when the end came so suddenly on 11 March 2013, just a few short weeks after he was diagnosed with leukaemia. My heart goes out to his beautiful daughters Claire and Libby and his partner of the past 15 years, Jenny. But the memories will live on forever. And if you would like to help fight the cancer that killed one of the great voices of the past 40 years please visit this site Memory Giving
Beauty beat the beast as Wales crush England to retain Six Nations Championship – and Austin Healey weasels out of bet
Even as a proud Englishman I have to admit there was something quite beautiful about the way Wales demolished England this evening to retain the Six Nations Championship.
With the prize of the Grand Slam within their grasp England were outclassed by a team of Welsh dragons, who played with fire in their bellies and produced two beautiful tries to end comfortable winners.
Four penalties from Leigh Halfpenny and two glorious second half tries from Alex Cuthbert topped a classy performance by the home side, who only needed to win by seven points to ensure the title. Video highlights: Wales 30-3 England
England coach Stuart Lancaster said he was “gutted” that his side failed to claim their first Grand Slam since 2003. But the truth was this was another case of stage fright by England, who have a habit of underachieving just when they are expected to flourish.
For me it was painfully obvious from the start that England were relying on their size and strength to overpower the Welsh. But the home side, driven forward by a passionate crowd at the Millenium Stadium, produced rugby that proved skill, flair and determination can still make a much bigger side look ordinary. Rarely have England played the type of expansive rugby that fans would love to see. And as a purist who wants to see beauty conquer the beast this was a victory for the game of rugby, not just the Welsh nation.
The post-match talking point was the predictable decision by Austin Healey to weasel out of his £1 bet with every member of the Welsh public. If everyone had taken him up on the bet that England would beat wales to win the Grand Slam – and many did – he could have lost as much as £3m.
Do your homework and sports betting will add an extra layer of enjoyment to the thrill of picking a winner
I will never forget the excitement of watching Red Rum beat Crisp in one of the most thrilling races ever to win the Aintree classic for the first time in 1973. Knowing that dad had placed a sizeable bet at favourable odds six months before the race, after McCain had urged him to back his horse, was my first taste of what it’s like to back a winner because I had also secretly gambled my pocket money.
Luckily for me, because I have never had the time to study the form, I did not get hooked on gambling on the horses. My weakness has always been football. And as a passionate fan I must confess I have been tempted to take a punt on my team from time to time. As any sports fan will concur there is nothing to match the thrill of watching your heroes triumph knowing that you have also hit the jackpot.
For some it is all about the adrenalin rush of winning and it does not matter what they bet on. Many sports fans I have met even back against their favourite team or individual occasionally to soften the blow of losing. While others are addicted to the thrill of in-play betting. We all like to predict what will happen next and the satisfaction of putting your money where your mouth is will definitely give you a buzz when you get it right.
However knowledgeable you are about horse racing – you can bet on the Aintree classic at Grand National betting – my advice is never gamble money that you can not afford to lose. Treat gambling as a purchase rather than an investment and you will never fail to enrich your sporting experience.
Oh yes, I almost forgot, dad’s winning bet on Red Rum paid for a whole year’s school fees. So do your homework and, you never know, you could be celebrating all the way to the bookmakers.
COMMENTS: Please give me your feedback on twitter @johnnielegend – and stay in touch @visionsportTV
Nani red card disgrace Real insult: Curse of anti-British referees ruining Champions League and threatens EPL quota
The history books will show that a goal by Cristiano Ronaldo on his return to Old Trafford earned Real Madrid victory over Manchester United and a place in the Champions League quarter-final. But anyone who watched this epic clash of the giants of world football can have no doubt that a Turkish referee tipped the balance in favour of a Spanish side that was second best over both legs.
The harsh reality is that a hugely controversial red card for Nani has destroyed United’s hopes of emulating the glorious Treble triumph of 1999. And this is not the first time the conspiracy theorists can point to what looks like a blatant case of anti-British refereeing.
Only last month Celtic were on the receiving end of a shocking display by the match official that contributed to their crippling 3-nil home defeat by Juventus. Who can forget the outrageous Rob van Persie sending off in 2011 when he planted the ball in the net for Arsenal against Barcelona a millisecond after the ref had blown for offside. And we all remember the way Chelsea were refused a succession of blatant penalties in their 2009 semi-final against the Catalans.
This time it is United’s players and global following who are left shattered, inconsolable and feeling deprived of the chance of glory in a match that will forever be remembered for one of the worst refereeing decisions in the history of the Champions League. It is always a huge disappointment when a major football match is decided by a controversial decision by a match official. But never has this been more blatantly the case than Madrid’s ref assisted win in Manchester.
The full extent of the damage to English football may ultimately be felt by the whole of the Premier League. UEFA are looking for any excuse to reduce the EPL from four to three qualifiers for future competitions and with no qualifiers for this year’s quarter-finals because Arsenal are already dead and buried in their tie against Bayern Munich, this has been a disastrous season for English clubs.
Former skipper Roy Keane mischievously argued that the red card was justified in a blatant attempt to wind up his former employers and shamelessly gratify anti-United viewers on ITV. But any rational football fan will agree with Sir Alex Ferguson who furiously protested from the touchline over Nani’s dismissal.
There was no doubt that Nani only had eyes on the ball when he attempted to make contact with the ball in the middle of the park. But Cuneyt Cakir waved a red card in the face of the Portuguese winger after his acrobatic attempt to win the ball resulted in a high challenge on Alvaro Arbeloa. The Spaniard theatrically rolled along the turf and the Turk stunned a worldwide audience by reducing United to 10-men.
Not only was it a shocking decision that robbed United of a victory that was firmly in their grasp at a time when they were firmly in control of the match, leading 1-nil with 56 minutes on the clock, it destroyed a beautiful game of football. Even though he refused to be drawn on whther or not the referee had got it hopelessly wrong Jose Mourinho admitted:”The best team lost.” And there can be no more honest assessment by a winning manager than that, even if he does have one eye on the ultimate prize of one day replacing Sir Alex Ferguson in the king’s throne at the Theatre of Dreams.
United fans will not forget Mourinho’s humility when it comes to winning the public vote to become Fergie’s successor. Equally, supporters will respect the way former idol Ronaldo was equally apologetic when he struck the decisive blow after an outstanding equaliser by Luka Modric cancelled out the opening goal turned into his own net by Sergio Ramos after a telling ball in by Nani.
All this on the night Ryan Giggs celebrated his historic milestone of 1,000 career appearances with yet another outstanding performance at the heart of United’s midfield. And Wayne Rooney was left on the bench as Fergie pulled off a tactical masterstroke and nullified Madrid with a classic counter attacking display that worked perfectly until Nani unjustly received his marching orders.
COMMENTS: Please give me your feedback on twitter @johnnielegend @visionsportTV
Below: No penalty: Did the ref ignore Ramos clearly holding back Danny Welbeck in the box?
‘World would be a boring place without Paddy Crerand’ – don’t miss this remarkable feature-length tribute to unique football legend
There is no one in football quite like Paddy Crerand – and this weekend Manchester United fans around the world will enjoy a fascinating and revealing insight into the life of one of the club’s most colourful personalities when my long-awaited documentary ‘Paddy 50 Years’ premieres on MUTV.
Signed by Matt Busby for £56,000 on 6 February 1963, the kid from the Gorbals was the Paul Scholes of his generation and enjoyed a pivotal role in a hugely successful side that became the first English winners of the European Cup.
Now one of the club’s most fanatical supporters, Paddy has re-invented himself as an outspoken football pundit and has his own show on the club’s TV Channel. His recent radio rant that followed the Manchester derby – when contributors to BBC 5Live Breakfast blamed Rio Ferdinand for inciting the crowd and being hit by a coin – trended worldwide on twitter.
It was an insanely funny piece of radio that re-inforced his cult status with United’s current stars and skipper Patrice Evra says: “The players all love Paddy.” Not that this was the first time that he has vented his fury on radio in his uniquely passionate style to defend a Red Devil. Guess who was dominating the airwaves in support of Eric Cantona after his infamous kung-fu attack on abusive Crystal Palace fan Matthews Simmons back in 1995?
This Glasgow-born Celt of Irish descent is a fascinating character adored by his fans, friends and family alike because he is a man of the people who speaks his mind and is fervently loyal. Sent off six times, he insists he never started a fight but always finished it. And yet, behind that tough-tackling, tough-talking exterior, is a man with a heart of gold.
There are many fascinating chapters in the life of the 73-year-old who briefly dabbled in coaching and management after hanging up his boots. While his passion for politics famously saw him act as a peacemaker between the IRA and his old friend John Hume back in the seventies. Then there was his spell as a pub landlord when the likes of Bryan Robson, Paul McGrath, Alan Brazil, Norman Whiteside and Kevin Moran were his regulars.
“The world would be a boring place without Paddy Crerand,” declares Brian Kidd, who used to clean the Scottish international’s boots when he started out as an apprentice at Old Trafford. Kiddo, of course, is now Roberto Mancini’s assistant at rivals Manchester City. But he remains a close friend and is one of the stars of our feature-length documentary tribute to the United legend.
It is a film laced with tragedy as well as triumph and I expect a few tears will be shed when viewers share Paddy’s emotional trip down memory lane that begins with the Second World War when his father was killed by a German bomb.
When Paddy finally signed for United from his boyhood heroes Celtic, it was the start of a golden era that saw Matt Busby’s men win the FA Cup, two league Championships and the 1968 European Cup in a remarkable five year spell. “I’d only been at United three months when we beat Leicester City 3-1 in the Cup Final at Wembley,” says our hero, who lined up against Frank McLintock, a player he’d previously faced in schools football back in their Gorbals days.
It was a decade when George Best, Denis Law and Bobby Charlton became the iconic names at Manchester United. All three were European footballers of the Year. But Paddy was the outstanding half-back who made Busby’s team tick.
Nobby Stiles, who reverted to a more defensive role when Crerand arrived, says: “For me Paddy signing was the best thing that ever happened because it meant I moved back alongside Bill Foulkes, which was my best position.”
In the documentary, Sir Alex Ferguson and his brother Martin both talk about their memories of Paddy in the early days. Martin worked with Paddy in the shipyard before he signed for Celtic, and talks about how they used to play football at lunchtime in steel toe-capped boots. Sir Alex recalls Paddy playing junior football for Duntocher Hibs and likes to remind everyone that Celtic were beaten 4-nil by Rangers in Paddy’s final game north of the border.
The biggest accolade comes from Denis Law who told me: “Paddy was one of the best midfield players Scotland ever had.” Now that is some tribute from my good friend the Lawman who many of us regard as the greatest Scottish player of them all.
To fully appreciate what I am talking about you will have to watch the documentary and I am proud to say that my script has been brought to life by the narration of Bernard Hill, the Hollywood actor who starred in Lord of the Rings and Titanic.
‘Paddy 50 Years’ premieres exclusively this weekend on MUTV.
Watch primetime at 9pm on Sunday, February 3, or catch one of the repeat showings. You can sign up for MUTV at manutd.com/joinmutv or call 08708 486888. ‘Paddy 50 Years’ is produced, directed & scripted by John Gubba.
— john gubba (@johnnielegend) February 3, 2013
You are truly a legend @patcrerand . One of a kind, hilarious, incredibly biased but don’t we just love it! The 50 Years show was brilliant
— Craig Nunn (@CraigNunn10_14) February 3, 2013
Just watching a documentary celebrating @patcrerand 50 years at United. Brilliant stuff
— waz (@wazmcr13) February 3, 2013
Paddy Crerand documentary on MUTV. Absolutely brilliant. Thought Paddy could not go any higher in my estimation. I was wrong. Legend. #mufc
— JOHN LUDDEN (@JOHNLUDDS) February 3, 2013
— Vijay Kara (@VijayKara1) February 2, 2013
@johnnielegend 50 years wot a legend Paddy is KRO
— paul collins (@gabbiecabbie) February 2, 2013
Also thanks to everyone at MUTV, but special thanks to John Gubba who Im sure i drove mental. Well done John excellence
— Paddy Crerand (@PatCrerand) February 2, 2013
In 2005, during the bidding process for the 2012 Olympics, Lord Coe proclaimed: “London’s vision is to reach young people all around the world. To connect them with the inspirational power of the Games. So they are inspired to choose sport.”
Seven years later, as we bask in the glory of arguably the greatest Games ever, and the nation considers what the legacy will be for London 2012, there has never been a better time for all sports to promote themselves and get the public taking part.
With so many role-models among Team GB’s medal winners there is no lack of sports men and women to be inspired by. And the early signs are encouraging that success at the Games will result in increased participation of sport across the board.
Here at VISIONSPORT.TV we are aiming to do our bit by producing inspirational sports videos and documentaries. And we hope to hear from sporting bodies across Britain who want us to help them by producing dynamic content to promote their sport.
To get the ball rolling we have produced a short promotional film featuring some of Team GB’s brilliant medal winners.
Hopefully watching this video will not only inspire people of all ages to take part in sport, but encourage administrators who can build on the success of London 2012 to get in touch and hire our winning team.
LOOK OUT FOR MORE INSPIRATIONAL VIDEOS FROM VISIONSPORT.TV