What Nev did next…………

28 03 2012

The citizens of Llandudno are well accustomed to bumping into international footballers. We are used to Joey Jones saying a cheery “Hello!!!” as we walk down Mostyn Street, we’re used to seeing Mickey Thomas flash us one of his famous world-weary smiles, when Neal Eardley kicks our footballs over the fence of the all-weather pitch it’s almost a cliché.  I used to think I was special, I used to think that these things were happening to just me, but I wasn’t special. Llandudno’s international footballers treat Llandudnoeans as one.

With a 1 in 3,000 chance of meeting an international footballer (I’ll throw in Neville Southall & Eddie Niedzwiecki for good measure – Even though Eddie and Mickey Thomas are from Llandudno Junction and Mochdre respectively I’ll whitewash the vagaries of local geography) you may expect Llandudnoeans to become blasé about the heroes within our midst, but we’re not blasé, we’re very protective. (We’re so protective we have turned Llandudno into a no-go zone for the paparazzi – something that makes the lives of the Jet Set easier!). Of all the players that I have frequently bumped into Neville Southall is definitely the daddy of them all. Ever since our first proper meeting I have been in awe.

Imagine a social club with copper coloured metal effect tables from the 1970s, imagine the tiny puddles of coke collecting in the bubbles of the copper effect top. Imagine the raised stage at one end of the room, a tinsel curtain gently waving in the gentle breeze. Now imagine the air, heavy with the smell of Sure deodorant and crisps. Yes, that room is full of young footballers. If you’ve successfully imagined all that then you’re now in the middle of an Aberconwy and District Youth Football Association awards evening from the late 1980s.

I’d earned my right to be at the awards evening because I had been a non-playing reserve in the League Cup Final for Llandudno under 12s. I waited excitedly in line, at last I was going to have a medal for something!!!  I could see my prize glinting under the coloured disco lights. I was so close, soon the tacky pub domino league-style trophy would be mine. To make the moment even more special I would be receiving medal from Llandudno’s king of football, Big Nev. You can’t imagine how proud I was, tacky pub domino league-style trophy in one hand, Big Nev’s massive hand in the other. Then there was the moment that made me even my happiness even more stratospherical; the bon mots; “Well Done!!!!!” said Nev, “Thanks!!!” said I.

Our second glorious meeting developed my sense of awe; I was outside the local shop that was equidistant from the houses of Nev and  I and to cut a long story short my bike was rolling out of control because I had misjudged the slope up to the entrance. In controlling my bike I somehow nearly hit the figure coming out of the shop. It was Nev, my favourite international goalkeeper; “Sorry!!” said I, “That’s ok” said Nev.

After these memorable memories our disparate existences became entwined like the double helix in DNA.

– We are both goalkeepers from Llandudno.

– We both went to the school.

– In 1990 Nev conducted a half-time protest, I conducted a protest against the monarchy by leaving the Scouts.

– In 1993 we both let thing slip from our grasp, with Nev it was Georghe Hagi’s shot, with me it was A levels.

– In 1997 Wales lost 7-1 away to Holland but without Nev it would have been 15-1. Last week my six-a-side would have lost 11-3 without my fabulous saves (We lost 3-1).

As you can see our connection is almost spooky.

Unfortunately on a day in the late 1990s Nev suddenly performed a moonlight flit out of the spotlight and I was bereft of an example to follow.  Then there were only rumours and possible sightings to go on; “player manager in Kent”, “charity match goalkeeper”, “spiritual guru for the TOWIE generation”. Then Nev discovered twitter and the sporadic tetchy bon mots followed. Then there was last week, society became aware of the Southall masterplan. Ladies and gentlemen may I introduce the Ask Neville Southall website!

“This is where you can get personal advice from me on any football related subject. Simply pay for an email or phone consultation below, and I will be in touch asap”

Of course there are terms and conditions to abide by;

  • The advice offered on this website is given in good faith drawing on all my knowledge and experience over the years.
  • I will endeavour to answer your email questions within the allotted time of 72 hrs as stated.
  • I will endeavour to set up your telephone consultation within 7 days as stated.
  • Once the advice/consultation has been given there will be no refund of monies.
  • I will not be held responsible for any injury or illness derived from any advice given.
  • I have the right to refuse any questions deemed unsuitable or inappropriate.
  • Telephone consultations will run strictly to time.
  • Abusive emails/ telephone consultations will not be tolerated.
  • All questions are requested in English.
  • All answers/consultations will be in English.

As the name suggests you can ask Nev a question. If you want an e-mail response from Nev you will have to part with £49. If you want a more in-depth phone-based consultation (for an hour) it will cost you £99. At first I wondered how Nev’s prospects could have dipped so low that he was hawking himself on the internet for the chance of a quick buck then I remembered our umbilical connection. Nev is to be applauded, not pitied. He’s like me; a proud Llandudnoean and the world should know that the advice of a Llandudnoean is worth its weight in gold, and that’s even if you lot are unworthy of  Llandudnoean advice. The world should be grateful for such benevolence but you lot seldom are, are you? Well you’re not are you? Yes, hang your heads in shame. Take this line from the terms of conditions and you will see what a Llandudnoean has to put up with;

“I will not be held responsible for any injury or illness derived from any advice given”

Sometimes it doesn’t matter how often a Llandudnoean’s voice is heard some dullards refuse to absorb the righteous message. I’ve often found that in my very part-time job, avenging angel, people will feign deafness in the hope of sustaining a lucrative injury in the future. Anyway, back to the point in hand, a couple of members of the When Saturday Comes message board suggested that 99 board members all contribute a pound towards raising enough money to ask Nev two e-mail questions. After this suggestion I remembered this video clip;

I was able to come up with a good question; “Is Michael Owen as much of a prick as he seems?” I reasoned that the world needs to know.

It’s a shame that the world has forced Nev to charge people for his insights because he is the sort of unvarnished hero that the world of football needs. We’ve all had enough of Lawro and his shite, we’ve had enough of Shearer’s banal baldness. We need Nev, he’s the kind of person that we need, he speaks about football like this;

“But to the ex-binman from Llandudno, perfection was always something just out of reach due to his own sky-high standards.

“What others would class as a save I’d just class as routine,” he says. “I always expected my next save to be better. I’d leave it behind and try to do better. If I thought one was my best save then it’d be like saying I couldn’t do better. Then one day I realised I wasn’t going to make anymore.

“I never liked save of the season or anything. I’d rather watch goal of the season and work out how I would have saved them, then I’d win it next season. Maybe it’s boring but it’s just how I look at it.

“If you go to a museum and look at a painting, you don’t come out and think I’ll paint a f****ing jug with flowers in it, someone’s already done that. You can’t beat that so you do something else.”

 – “I got my MBE for services to football. I think they looked at the list and were thinking equal opportunities and just said: “Right, who’s Welsh and who’s done something? He’s nearly retired let’s give it to him.” It’s quite humbling at times though because other people who have got them saved lives. Maybe they ran into a tank and saved their mates, or rescued kids from a burning house and I just kicked a ball about. I just did what I was paid to do.”

 Nev on Time Howard – “He’s a fantastic goalkeeper but he wears a camouflage shirt and you can still see him. What’s the point?”

There’s another part of the interview as well. I feel great knowing that an autobiography is in the pipeline and the whole world will get to share my joy, mind you lot would  probably still “not get” Nev. If only you came from Llandudno then you’d understand!




One response

13 04 2012
Rhys Wynne

Some great quotes from the big man, but this one….

He’s a fantastic goalkeeper but he wears a camouflage shirt and you can still see him. What’s the point?”

…got me thinking about an Everton goalie top i owned in the 90’s!

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