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Thursday, January 08, 2009

RN interview last season with Terry Christian read in full here

the sort of feature you miss if you don't ever buy the mag - with well over 70 former Utd players interviewed so far by RN too!

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RN: So, first thing’s first, why United?
TC: To be honest I was a bit like a kid in a sweet shop because City were good as well. I remember in our house in Duke Street in Old Trafford, a little terraced house, I shared a bedroom with my three brothers and in one corner, we had United programmes in a cabinet. My brothers first season was 58-59, he was 6 or 7 at the time, he went every week with his mate and his Dad, he even had one of those paper crowns from the 1963 FA Cup Final that had the pictures of the players on it. He used to go all the time and I desperately wanted him to take me but lads go with their mates and you didn’t really want your younger brother tagging along! Plus it was a bit of a hike from the Moss-side end of Old Trafford, you could get the bus halfway there but still, a bit of a hike.
RN: Can you remember your first game?
TC: Yeah! It was a reserve game between United and Netherfield Town in 1968 (RN looks bemused)…Exactly! We won one-nil, Carlo Sattori scored. …and your first United game proper?
First United game proper was the first home game of the ‘69-70 season, United played Everton and we lost 3-0. The next game was the following home game; I seem to remember it being a warm day, cold but warm if you know what I mean. Used to get to the ground hours before the game. We got to the ground early to get autographs for about half eleven, got in the ground at about half twelve. Then proceeded to watch United lose 4-1 to Southampton in what turned out to be Bill Foulkes’ last game. I was reading his biography and I felt a bit guilty to be honest because I was slagging him off in my book ‘Reds in the Hood’, but when I read his I realised he was playing with an injury.
The only game my Dad took me to around that time was City. The played QPR in the league Cup and beat them 3-0. It was weird to be honest because I had mates that lived nearby to City and they went all the time. What put me off City, and it sounds terrible, but it was the crowd. There wasn’t the same kind of atmosphere even though they were a team that were on the up at the time. They were a good attacking team and they played similar attacking football to United with two wingers and they’d been quite successful but like I said, it was the crowd that put me off. The biggest mistake City ever made was employing John Bond as manager. He took them down a whole division mentally.
RN: Moving on from the bitters, you seem to get a lot of stick, are you tough skinned or do you just not give a damn?
TC: If you take what I say that seriously then I just despair! You get stick on different levels, I mean, you get people who don’t like me because they think I’m opinionated. The thing is, all the people I like are opinionated!! The major problem is...hang on I’ll give you an example. If you started to dislike him (points at Dave F) because you were jealous of something, you wouldn’t like to see yourself as being so shallow to dislike him because you were jealous of him so you start to find reasons as to why you don’t like him. The feeling comes first, the justification of that feeling comes afterwards!
The problem is compounded when you work for the media. In the media, everyone wants that fame and notoriety, and when you’ve got it and they haven’t it drives them fucking mad. Without the dough it’s very overrated but they still want it that much so they always see the bad in you, so you end up getting slagged off even more. It’s hard when it’s people you’ve never met before in your life and they all have an opinion about you.
RN: Does that mither spill over onto the streets from some of your comments on your radio shows?
TC: It’s all about jealousy, like I was saying before. It’s the same jealousy that caused City to lose the title in 71-72, they went and bought Rodney Marsh when they were running away with the league. They had a great system and it was working for them. United were having a big mid-season wobble, but we were still dragging in 10,000 more fans a game than they were…RN: no change there then……they thought it was down to George Best, the great entertainer, so they bought Marsh to counter that. The issue was that Rodney Marsh looked slow when you put him in that team, he looked nothing but slow.
When I’m doing a show like talkSPORT, I didn’t want it to be all about 4-4-2 and how Scunthorpe had laid their team out that day, to me that’s just boring and I’m a football fan. I just keep it tribal, keep it about the prejudice and have a laugh with it. We do talk about what players have played well but I just can’t stand this anti-United rhetoric, it just gets on my nerves because it’s all still based on jealousy! I mean, the only game City turn up for is United! RN: Their season is complete if they beat us. Exactly, and they get really pissed off with us for saying it because they know it’s true.
RN: Do you see yourself as the supporting version of Paddy Crerand? There to attack the ABUs in defence of United?
TC: Laughs…Not really, I just enjoy causing a bit of trouble me. I’m a seeker of the truth (laughs again). If there was any truth in “United are jealous of Liverpool” then I’d admit it. The only Liverpool side I’ve ever been jealous of was the Dalglish side, but even then jealous is the wrong word.
RN: Reckon we should forget about the football and just get on with the Scousers? Like Hug-a-hoodie but hug-a-dipper instead?
TC: It’s all so stupid, they’re the ones who started the hatred thing, not us. United fans never had a big downer on Liverpool, in fact we probably had more of a problem with Everton in the late 60’s/early 70’s than we did Liverpool.
RN: You talked about jealousy and TV, The Word was a pretty symbolic change for TV, why do you think that there aren’t any shows like that around any more?
TC: To be honest, everything that’s decided to be put on TV now is sorted by panels. You know, 4 or 5 people who are considered to be qualified in what should and shouldn’t be on the TV. I think that if you don’t take a risk like they did with The Word, then you just end up with the same old boring shite that you’ve already seen. It’s all about how it looks on paper before it makes it anywhere near the screen. Whereas with the word it just organically emerged and self perpetuated itself into what it became.
RN: Did you enjoy making it?
TC: Again it was a bit of a one, because when I agreed and started making it, I had no idea it would turn out to be this high profile show. Who would? I mean I’d never done TV before, all I was, was some bloke who played records on the radio in Manchester. Manchester’s trendy but I don’t think I had an idea how big it would get. It just grew legs of its own. I just didn’t want to try and be cool on the show, it’s just not in me anyway, I’m not cool. I enjoy my music and everything but I’m not cool. I do quite enjoy niggling people but I think that comes from my big family. I mean that’s what siblings do to each other all day isn’t it!
RN: It must’ve given you some stories to tell though, what was the maddest thing that ever happened?
TC: The whole thing was just a bit surreal really, even the small things like travelling about, and you think to yourself why am I here? Why 4 am I doing this? Why is everyone taking notice of me? I mean, TV programmes didn’t get written about much in those days, except Coronation Street and Bruce Forsyth, and only then if someone was getting married. All of a sudden I’m getting slagged off every day in the Sun and the rest of the tabloids - but who said I was any good in the first place? I said in my book ‘The Word’ why would anyone want to be that jealous of me? (tongue in cheek) I was doing a show with all the best bands on, getting flown out to LA to interview some of Hollywood’s biggest stars and staying in all these hotels and der der der.
RN: It’s been said that Maureen Lipman took you to task on an interview that you’d done with a girl who’d done a walking expedition in Asia and you said you’d have crapped yourself doing it…
TC: I’ve heard this rumour before. It never happened. I never interviewed anyone like that! Why would I be interviewing a girl who’d been walking across Asia when I was doing a TV show that was concentrating on music and entertainment?! It’s amazing the urban myths that seep out of the woodwork. There was another one where I was interviewing Whitney Houston and the rumour was that she’d told me that she kept a gun in the glove compartment of her car, which I apparently followed with “when’s your album coming out?”. For god’s sake, I’m one of six kids, all my siblings and all my mates were taking the piss out of me for months with that one and it wasn’t true! What had actually happened was I was interviewing Cybil Shepherd the American actress, and she used to go out with Elvis Presley, they both came from Memphis. I was asking her about that and she explained that he was a nice guy, they had similar backgrounds but she didn’t know how any human being could cope with that amount of fame. She carried on saying that ever since what had happened to John Lennon, she kept a .38 Smith and Wesson in the glove compartment of her car. She rambled on for a while about women using the weapons of men. So we cut from that pre-recorded interview in Toronto to me sat in the studio with Whitney Houston. My first question to her was “do you keep a gun in the glove compartment?” to which she replied no, she wouldn’t have guns around her. It was the way it was done that sparked the rumour.
My commissioning editor wanted me off the word by Christmas of the 3rd Series but because the figures were so good he had to leave things alone but he didn’t want to be seen as wrong. So any chance of a dig then later on…it was awful. I don’t think that any other TV presenter had that. Some people had come onto TV, had a go and were crap, fair enough, at least I had a go, I tried it, do you know what I mean?
RN: Is it fair to say then that your passions lie with Manchester United and music?
TC: I like music, I like reading, I like a lot of things really. To say my passion lies with Manchester United might be a bit unfair. I used to go to all of the home games but the amount of away games I used to get to over the years, if I got to two a season that was a lot. I cheat a bit because I used to live in London and get on the blag for tickets, so some seasons I did ten away games but like I say, cheating a bit.
RN: You were spotted in Roma last season, see any of the bother?
TC: God yeah, course I did, I was there! I was there with Radio Manchester with my little portable telly and Stuart Gardener’s binoculars looking like this (makes a binocular shape with his hands). Hell of an over-rated place anyway, isn’t it?
RN: It’s been noted that you saw Graham Taylor and Alan Green arguing, what was that all about?
TC: It was Graham Taylor’s choice to be in Rome to watch the game and after the game had finished, Alan was shitting himself because they couldn’t get a taxi away from the ground, he thought they were going to have to walk through the crowd. They were trying to blag themselves onto different team coaches to get back to the hotel. The United coach was headed straight for the airport though, so no chance there. Alan Green was kicking off saying that they could have been at Stamford Bridge rather than being stuck in at the ground. Graham Taylor was arguing back that the United game had more significance and was a more interesting game. Alan Green was just moaning and they ended up standing there for about two hours. We ended up walking back with people like Henry Winter with their suits and attaché cases, getting eyed up by these dodgy looking lads on scooters and everything.
I was with one of the girls from our place and I ended up picking an Italian newspaper. Stupid really, there’s no way I look Italian! I was shitting myself, getting all those moody looks. It was probably the most frightening bit of an away game I’ve ever been to, it was enough to put anyone off going to away matches.
RN: Is that the scariest moment or can you think of a worse one?
TC: It’s definitely up there. It had kicked off royal style with City previous and I mean proper kicked off with bodies in alleyways and all sorts. Another time, my mate had just passed his driving test and he had a Cortina with a Piccadilly sun strip in the windscreen. He drove to Everton away and we beat them one-nil in a cup replay, think it was a Jimmy Greenhoff header. Anyway, it was going off everywhere, Liverpool and Everton teaming up and there was one bloke walking down the street smashing fuck out of every car that had anything Manchester orientated on show. We were shitting ourselves with our huge Piccadilly sun strip in the car. We dived in the car and it wouldn’t start, it was like something from a comedy sketch.
RN: (Laughing) You were talking about the seventies, would you rather have the game as it was then and no success or as it is now with all the success United have had?
TC: You can’t trade it off. We were never a bad team really apart from the one season where we got relegated. But even in that season it caused us to rally a bit. There was nothing really wrong with how we were playing, we just couldn’t get the results. The problem was that at the time we didn’t have a Rooney or anything and our best idea of a striker would have been the equivalent of Michael Carrick up front. Lou Macari, not really a striker, was being asked to play up front, same with Sammy McCllroy. If you look at the line-ups it wasn’t terrible. We’d beaten a good Everton side 3-0, beaten Southampton 1-0. We had a proper rally around Easter time, even the game where City beat us 1-0 we were all over them and they were good at the time. Similar to today’s City side, they’d maybe only win one or two away from home all season but at home they’d only drop 6 or 7 points.
RN: Biggest United hero? And biggest United villain?
TC: Urm…Biggest United hero has got to be George Best. Biggest United villain, there’s not really been a player that I’ve hated. Oh, hang on, apart from Ted MacDougall, anyone from that era would understand. We bought him and I just thought, ‘he’s got absolutely no class whatsoever’. He scored enough goals for us but it was like having Shaun Goater playing up front. I remember feeling embarrassed that he’d just scored. Then he went from us to West Ham and came back to haunt us while we were in Division 2 because he kept scoring against us all the time. He came back and scored for Norwich in the League Cup when they beat us over two legs. I’ve never seen a goal keeping performance like it, Kevin Keelan it was, how he stopped half those goals…and we didn’t beat them all of that season. The law of averages said they should have lost every game about five-nil. They were the hate team you know when we were in Division 2. The chant in the Stretford End was: “We all fucking hate Norwich”.
RN: It’s the 6th of Feb this Wednesday; do you think the anniversary stuff is being handled well by the media?
TC: Everyone’s getting excited in a way and the media are scared to miss out on it. It’s funny how the media have got this strange love affair with United, haven’t they? They like slagging them off. But do they hate Real Madrid that much in Spain? Or AC Milan that much in Italy - course they don’t. I know that there’s a lot of jealousy in Germany about Bayern Munich but it’s very regional in Germany and the jealousy stems from bitter rivalries. I think the main problem United have got is that they’re not from London, and they are by far and away the biggest football team in Britain and one of the biggest football teams in the world. I think it’s one of the 4 reasons I end up getting on my moral high horse. It’s like on phone-in shows I do, I ban people from calling us Man U. I had a Tottenham fan that did exactly that and I remember asking him how he’d like them to be referred to as ‘Tott Hot’ for the rest of the show.
RN: Do you reckon the minutes silence on Sunday is going to be possible?
TC: Yeah, I think so. You never heard any Munich chants at City in the seventies. The first team I remember turning up to Old Trafford with a Munich banner were Everton in the 78/79 season. To be honest it was the comments from Turf Moor that really got peoples backs up, we’d heard them saying “they all should have died” and other such horrible comments. As well as coming out and telling United to get over it and move on. That just caused horrible, horrible tension between United and Burnley.
RN: Moving to music, do you miss the days when you were in Derby starting your career off or are you happy with where it ended up?
TC: Derby was good because it was dead small and we were young. I kind of almost wanted to make a little Manchester in the middle of Derby. The people are quite laid back too, it helped that they had jobs down there with British Rail and the like so there was a bit of money knocking around in Derby while it was all going on. They had this one really good club called the Blue Note, it was better than anything we had in Manchester at the time - 1981/1982 sort of time. It was quite small and cosy, indy-ish in the type of bands that they’d have on and the music that they played on a Saturday night was very similar to what they ended up playing in the Hacienda. Probably because the Hacienda nicked half of its play list ideas from the Blue Note! You’d get big Jazz Funk tunes mixed in with the new romantic type stuff like New Order as well as the Cure and stuff like Clint Eastwood and General Saint. So I kind of used that as a template. I thought I was Billy big bollocks to be honest. I’m from Manchester and I’m putting bands on der der der…
RN: Is the music scene better in Manchester now or is it just different?
TC: The difference is huge, you can’t really compare the two times. Sometimes you get a band where everyone just leaps on the bandwagon like the emperors new clothes and often it’s not that band that are the ones who are making big moves. Like at the time when Oasis came through the better bands in Manchester at the time were Puressence and Audioweb who were then called the Sugar Merchants, but it was Oasis that came through and you wouldn’t have guessed it if you’d heard them play live at that point. Now we’re looking at bands like The Cortina’s, Twisted Wheel, and The Ting-Tings. Interesting the Ting Tings, they’ve been together for a while. When she was 14 she was in a band called TKO who were supporting Atomic Kitten on tour, she then met him and they became DEAR Eskimo who were basically The Ting Tings under a different name but they never took off because the Southerners didn’t understand what they were doing.
RN: They are being pushed by Radio 1 at the moment, it must help having a national radio station pushing you along.
TC: Yeah, but don’t forget that Radio 1 will always be directed somewhat by the media who in turn are directed by how much money are being spent on that band. As I said before it helps that the Southerners in London and Brighton have found new-electro which is exactly the same as the electro-clash we were playing in Manchester when Dear Eskimo were about. I’m hearing good stuff all the time though so we’ll see. It’s important to remember that there’s always a bigger scene. Even Madchester was reduced to the Inspirals, the Roses, James and the Happy Mondays. But we had a far better scene than that at the time, we had the Assassins who were brilliant, MC Busby, Jack and the Birds, Temper Temper and 808State. But all of that stuff seemed to get ignored and it was a shame.
RN: You’re a big advocate of Manchester music aren’t you?
TC: Yeah, but that’s what I grew up with. I grew up with Tony Wilson championing bands and the first of the Manchester music radio shows were being done around 1982. Mark Radcliffe (of Mark and Lard fame) had a show on Piccadilly where he focussed his show on Manchester bands.
RN: Go on then, best ever Manchester band…?
TC: The Smiths for me. Emotionally they were awesome.
RN: Ok then pick, Smiths reunion or Dippers away?
TC: Liverpool away for me. When it’s been and its gone it’s there forever anyway. It’s existed and for that time it was perfection. The Roses were a better live band than The Smiths. The Smiths were good, better than Morrissey live anyway! James were brilliant live as well, although I was never a massive fan of theirs anyway. They were among the first of the bands where their gig was more like an event, like a show, more about the audience than the band themselves. It’s funny really, none of the Manchester bands at that time were amazing live! The Buzzcocks were good live and Joy Division were ok. Joy Division was strange really, their album was all about the steady beats but when you saw them live it was more like heavy metal. I remember going to see the Buzzcocks with Joy Division and I remember thinking to myself that heavy metal was coming back!
RN: Just radically changing the subject, it is a cliché to say the the media looks down on the working class?
TC: I don’t know. Yes, probably. I think there’s an envy of the working classes. If your black and working class, it’s almost like they can dismiss you saying that you are where you are due to positive discrimination otherwise you wouldn’t be there. So even if you are really good at what you do, if you’re black and working class you get dismissed. If you’re white and working class and Northern, they almost think your privileged but they give you twice as hard a time. The media is such a cut-throat business that they think that if you’ve made it then you must be twice that twat that they are because you’ve made it from a worse social position. It’s like you get picked on as a curiosity.
RN: Bringing that into a United context, ‘prawn sarnies’, was Keano right or wrong?
TC: I don’t know. I think the nature of football changes and it’s bound to be expensive. Just the amount of money that the players are on these days, what can you do? You can’t stem that tide no matter what you try or what political points you have to make, if you remove that money, we’d be the ones fighting over Benjani’s signature at the moment. Instead of which we’re in the position where we can choose who we want to buy. At least you can watch the games on the telly now. I can think of many times, even when it was 30p to get in, where I’d rather have watched them on the telly, especially if we’d had a colour TV! We didn’t have that option, if you wanted to see them play, you had to go to the ground and watch them. I remember you’d turn up and you’d see the huge TV cameras there and you’d think “great, we’re on Match of the Day tonight!”. They’d only ever show two matches on Match of the Day and one of those would be dead short highlights and the other one would be the main game. When we were on MOTD in Division 2 when we played Sunderland, it was one of the best games I’d ever seen and we won 3-2, 63,000 people in Old Trafford.
RN: You’re in charge at United, manager and chairman, you’ve got two decisions, what would they be?
TC: Firstly, I’d abolish the ACS, fucking ridiculous. What’s the point in it? You’re going to fill the ground anyway. Secondly, get that Manucho here now, sod loaning him out to Panathanaikos. Stunning goal he just scored! He’s only 24 as well, he looks quite similar to Adebayor. He’s got that cocky supreme confidence about him.
RN: If you could choose any moment from United to re-live again, what would it be?
TC: Ole’s goal. 1999 European Cup Final. Without hesitation. No, hang on, the equaliser. Because it wasn’t coming was it? I’d given up at that point. I’d never given up so early in a game as I did then. I was thinking to myself that we’d been so good that season and we’d done so well but we were looking really tired weren’t we.
RN: You’ve got ten minutes to interview anyone you want from any time, who would it be and what would you ask?
TC: I’d interview Duncan Edwards, and I’d ask him what he thought of England’s chances in the 1958 World Cup.
Interview by Big Liam and David Field. Terry’s enjoyable My Word is out now and published by Orion and available via Copyright Red News 2008.


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