Not today..

Saturday 6 January 21; I have half recovered from Thursday, as I told my nephew Billy yesterday, I feel it these days, but although I have always maintained the body is the most amazing machine beating any other, the punishment it can take and recover always astounds me. Not just at a football level in those days of three matches in four days with less 12 hours to recover, and that means sleep, but the in-between, the social activities which was at a level of complete insanity. Going out on a Sunday afternoon with Geoff Salmons I can only say was like going out for a good time with a Suicide Bomber. We’d meet up with Bryan (Shenton) the comedian of our team, Jackie Marsh and Sean Hazlegrave who sadly passed away recently, who was a lovely lad, who came into Waddington’s team of 1975 and did a quite brilliant job for the team as my mate Kevin’s horse might say Sean was a One or The Team player. Not a player that took a swipe or pull someone down as I said earlier there’s no such thing, in our day, as “Taking one for the team” and I don’t know who thought it up because it’s nonsense. That is simply a lack of ability, the ability to weigh up the situation quickly enough t adjust, and what gets me is how managers and coaches allow it? Or does it surprise me?
We took one for the team on those Sunday’s which led into a tough training session on the Monday where I’d like to finish with the ‘black bags’ on in the gymnasium and when we came back into the dressing room after a hectic 5-a-side (those that I loved so much) a brewery would have bought my black bags from me to recycle.
Those were the days my friend, when the Chelsea days of despair were behind me, but not my past as every day was not good for married life, but that was the problem about being an athlete, and no matter what the others in a pub might think, us boys could train. I would rather have a player who gives his all on and off the field than one that thinks because he stays in all week he can get away with mediocrity, therefore point a finger.
Give me, as Al Pacino said in Scarface, “Look at me, go on, take a good look, I am the bad guy,” well I can obviously relate to that, but bad has many meanings, and if bad is bad then listen to Huey Lewis, as he sings it in a way that bad is good for you. It certainly didn’t do a 24-year-old has-been Alan Hudson any harm as I left Chelsea that “bad guy” to find the air a different colour on the Potteries and although I wasn’t everyone’s cup-of-tea in the Home Team dressing room, I preferred it that way because I knew where I stood. If you live your life thinking that life is good everywhere then you live in a straight line never to turn every corner, plus I was never in a Popularity Contest I put myself out there not to be judged but enjoyed. If it rubbed certain people up the wrong way it was all because of their insecurities not mine, as I am just a “fun living kind of guy” which some people don’t appreciate. I had seen so many sides to life by the time I crossed Watford Gap and Wembley disappeared into the backdrop of London and it took that to find what I was looking for, appreciation. Again, I speak of the manager because, unlike Ramsey, Revie and Sexton, he judged me on what I did from 3pm to 3.45pm on Saturday afternoon in front of a different kind of customer, and he judged me on my ability to play the game the way he loved to see it played.
Look at the Rolling Stones still going into their Eighties breaking every rule in the Good Book, and I turn my head and see where they once resided in Edith Grove, Chelsea SW10. They once played as skiffle group in the pub on the Weatherby Arms which I suppose became ironic as if you’re going to pull a pub down replace it with a betting shop, out of the frying pan. Yeah Jagger hasn’t done too badly. I have photograph on my wall with Chris Garland and Viv Richards (yeah Sir Vivian) playing cricket, in our whites, with David English (The one time Bee Gees manager), Neil Foulds and Bill Wyman of the Stones wo had just opened Sticky Fingers which should have made him either our wicket-keeper or slip fielder but I was really surprised that of all the big named stars I have come across there was no conversation which I find strange. Maybe I like life itself too much?
On another note my friend Chris Garland is still in a home, I hope not suffering from Dementia, I spoke to Ruth over Christmas and like with so many cases, only different from Chris, but because of Covid dear Ruth, a good Welsh girl, can’t see the man who is and has always been her sweetheart. He was mine too, but in a very different way, a lovely young man who joined us from Bristol bring a another totally different type of humour into our dressing room, one they wouldn’t have appreciated 150 miles up the M1 and M6 in that dressing room. Chris would have taken it much differently than me and years later he came and stayed with me when I lived a another life in Uttoxeter and not a day would go by were we did not shed a tear of laughter.
As Frank sang, “That’s Life” and I’m afraid for now that is all I can tell you, in a time of something my friend Peter Millard says, “Is worse than the War”, but he continues that “at least the pubs were open” meaning that you can see your friends and sate these good times I try to write about especially in Lockdown when people outside are wearing masks and you wonder what would have happened years ago in Chelsea, if you wore a mask they’d still recognize you.
Not today!
Tomorrow Paul and I will enjoy another My Life My Music touching on 1984 when I did my second stint which led to my owning a Night Club and the parties swung onto a different level with new friends such as Johnny Mason – once a cult figure in town, and I did say cult Johnny – unlike Tommy Docherty who once was quoted as “Over at Spurs there all cults.”
I ran into different people in a different trade like Geoff Chell, who brought another spark into our lives and we his, great fun in the Richmond another club that didn’t appreciate our input into society, but we back-up across the road in another little den called The Flower Pot, which was again not for the feint hearted.
It seemed from the 70s to the 80s in the Potteries that there was an in-between but nothing changed and again I owe it all to Waddington for being the only person at Stoke City – Nick Hancock was not on the Board – as he would have been on my side, who really appreciated my contribution to not only Stoke City Football Cub but every other club in the area, whether a Night Club, Day Club, Social Club or anywhere we boosted the takings from in times when today was unthinkable. That is why we keep those times so very close to our hearts, because the best times keep your heart warm.