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Pat Nevin, Hall of Fame

By Rob   Sawyer  ::  12/01/2012   21 Comments (Last)

Since retiring from the game, Pat Nevin has been a football writer and broadcaster

Pat, firstly congratulations on your forthcoming induction into the Gwladys Street Hall of Fame next March. What are your thoughts?

Delighted, proud but also surprised.

Tell me how your move to Everton came about ? was any other team in for you?

I was leaving Chelsea as they had gone very ?long ball? and the new boss wasn?t keen on my style of play. It had been arranged for me to sign for Paris St Germain but when I got a call to phone home from a beach in the Greek islands (with a bunch of Aussie campers and dropouts ? not flash footballer holiday stuff) and Colin Harvey said would I sign, I said simply yes. I think he expected more haggling, a bit of consideration re money etc, but for me I knew the answer within a second.

When you signed what were you led to believe would be your position in the team ? mindful that Trevor Steven occupied the No 7 shirt?

Like anywhere else you go you expect to fight for your position. I knew I could play left wing, right wing, behind the striker and had also played up front including for my country. So there where a few positions I could go for. I did want to play in the same team as Trevor though as I rated him very highly.

Early in Howard Kendall's reign you played ?in the hole? as opposed to on the wing (e.g. the 0-0 FA Cup draw against Liverpool ). Did you prefer this role?

I only played a few times there for Howard, I don?t think we really rated each other very highly, but I plugged away even though my days were numbered when Colin Harvey left and Howard came in. I personally thought that was my best position, but the game was less sophisticated in England then, so a strict 4-4-2 was usually adopted much to my disappointment! It usually surprises people to find out that I had never played on the wing before I went to Chelsea ; I was always a striker or a number ten between the attack and midfield. There were more opportunities for that in Scotland while England was often stuck in very strict systems.

In the past you have alluded to there being two factions in the squad during your Goodison tenure. Was this the old school and new influx?

Colin Harvey once told me there were three cliques, the new ones, the old ones and me. I personally tried very hard to work with everyone and found the atmosphere a bit of a disappointment to be honest at times. Colin understood I absolutely would not be part of any set group and I took it as a compliment. No other club I played for in my career was like that and sadly I think it had a negative impact on Everton when I was there.

How central was alcohol to ?team building? in those days?

Maybe with the boys from the older group. They had won things and enjoyed themselves along the way with that great side Howard had built during his original tenure. Most of the newcomers wanted to buckle down and work to succeed because they hadn?t enjoyed those successes and were hungry for them. I wasn?t involved in the drinking culture at all really.

Do you think excessive alcohol intake has curtailed many careers due to impaired recovery from injury?

YES 100%. Those were some of the reasons I didn?t get involved in the sessions.

Graeme Sharp's autobiography mentioned that you once went visiting local architecture, during an Irish tour, whilst the others were ?bonding?. How integrated into the squad did you feel in your early months at Goodison.

Yes the others were getting pissed but I wanted to stay fully fit. I didn?t agree with some of their outlooks re. alcohol and still don?t. Now don?t get me wrong I like a glass of wine and even a whisky, but I was being paid to provide the best I could. I wanted to maximise my potential and I wanted to give the fans their money?s worth every week and I thought I could do that personally when I was as fit as I possibly could be.

Oddly enough I liked all of the lads even if I didn?t share all their outlooks. There were big personalities in that dressing room and some fine players. The biggest sadness of my time there was that as a group it underachieved considering its ability.

How did playing for a London and northern club compare?

Very different in some ways but in the most important ways quite similar. The fans of Chelsea and Everton are extremely passionate about their clubs and that is key for me. Day to day it is about the group of people you work with and I had some guys who I really liked at both clubs.

Tony Cottee was someone you got on with at Everton. Some have said he didn't put enough effort in when not on the ball (i.e. his attitude was that he'd just put the chances away). How did you rate him as a player?

I thought he was a fantastic goal scorer and probably worked harder than people gave him credit for. I think he was best suited playing alongside an all action striker such as he did with Frank McAvennie at West ham. Then TC could use the space that whirlwind would create. In simple terms look at his goal ratio, it stands up pretty well.

I recall you speaking out against racism at Chelsea and being behind an anti-racism campaign on Merseyside with Everton and Liverpool being photographed together at Bellefield. How aware were you of racism of the terraces at Goodison and elsewhere around that time?

I started my anti-racism campaigning in London with Chelsea when I was 19, the first player ever to take a stand I believe. So it was natural to carry it on when I got to Merseyside. It existed everywhere and still does, I would rather it didn?t but in simple terms I do not believe it has any place inside a football ground, a place of entertainment.

You have stated that every successful team has a (often unheralded) player that acts as the glue to bind the team together. At Chelsea it was Tony McAndrew, did Everton and Tranmere have such a player during your time at Goodison?

Tranmere had a few actually, Steve Mungall was one who lasted.. well forever nearly. But there were others such as Mark Proctor. At Everton I am not sure there was one player like that, maybe Dave Watson could be seen as the right personality, but he wasn?t exactly unheralded. Maybe we missed having that type of individual.

What is your personal choice of finest game and goal for the Toffees?

I enjoyed beating Man Utd at home, I scored a decent goal, made another and stuck two fingers up ( in a friendly way) to my friend on the other side Brian McClair.

Colin Harvey and Howard Kendall as Everton manager - Compare and contrast.

I really liked and admired Colin and could see exactly what he was trying to build, he was very close, it isn?t easy to rebuild an aging squad as AVB is finding out currently. It was Everton?s biggest mistake in a generation getting rid of him in my opinion. As for Howard, as I have said we didn?t rate each other, though it is important to note I have no ill feelings towards him at all now we speak on very friendly terms when we meet.

Has time healed old wounds between you and Howard over the years?

As I said no ill feelings at all. Life is too short and it doesn?t make him a bad person just because he didn?t think I was good enough to get a game for his team, it is just opinions after all. We chat in a very friendly way when we bump into each other as I say. I was annoyed that I had to leave Everton, so you can understand me being a bit miffed with him at the time.

How did your loan and permanent move to Tranmere come about?

I love playing football and wasn?t getting enough opportunities under HK. The Euros were coming up and I had to show Scotland I was still on form, it worked and I went to Sweden 92. I enjoyed Tranmere?s open style of play and when it came down to a choice between Galatasaray and The Rovers the next season I plumped for the Mighty Whites. I liked living in the North West , loved the people and the passion for the game so it was an easy and a good choice in the end.

You were once quoted as stating that Colin Harvey's team was on the brink of great things prior to his sacking. What makes you think that?

I could see the likes of Keown and Hinchcliffe etc. were recent quality signings. Colin had a great positive attitude to the game. He also, as I said, was at the start of a difficult but careful rebuilding process which was ditched when he was sacked?pity.

Do you wish you had transferred to a European club for a spell on the continent ?

Had the chance, didn?t take it. I had International football to keep my satisfied.

Neville Southall was a ?one-off? ? tell us about him!

It would take too long but he was the greatest I ever witnessed.

What is the funniest anecdote from your time at Everton?

Beagrie, motorbike, drink, plate glass window, hospital, hilarious.

You were PFA rep whilst at Everton ? how were you selected? Aside from being dropped to the A-team (the 3 rd team for younger readers) on occasion what did the role entail at Everton.

Actually there was little of note to do at the club other than my role eventually as PFA Chairman and then it got difficult. We balloted for strike action which did not make me popular with the higher echelons, especially as my name was on the bottom of every ballot sheet in the country!

Later you were Chairman of the PFA. Did you leave this role as it was only for a fixed term?

I did five years as I recall, but had to leave the role when I went to Scotland to play for Kilmarnock . It was a job I absolutely did not want but Gordon Taylor was keen for me to stand. Much to my disappointment I was overwhelmingly voted in.

David Moyes remains highly rated but some supporters question his attacking intent ( 4-5-1 etc). In your opinion is he being sensible and pragmatic or is there room for a more ?daring? approach? Would he have played you regularly were he your manager?

Davie would be more attack-minded if he had the squad that he wanted. Sadly finances do not allow that, so he has to be more pragmatic. I think he has done and is doing a fabulous job and I desperately fear the day we lose him.

What do you feel EFC should do to remain competitive ? assuming no significant investment (i.e. a sugar daddy) comes in?

Keep Moyes at all costs. I can?t see anyone around who would come close to doing as well as he does with the resources available.

Talking of investment, do you miss anything of the ?old? Chelsea since Mr Abramovich arrived with his millions?

Yes and no. It was smaller and maybe more close-knit before, but I am delighted for the fans who followed through thin and thin that they finally got a taste of true top class success. Oddly many fans from my time there still look back on those days as the most enjoyable? rose tinted spectacles eh?

Are you still in regular touch with former players from Everton (or your other clubs) or do you steer clear of footballers?

Bump into them now and again, but no one who I see regularly for a drink. I kind of tried to live a normal life away from that sort of existence.

Football Generally

How did you end up as Chief Executive at Motherwell FC?

Again dragged into a job I didn?t fancy, but did it to help out somebody I knew. It taught me executives work unbelievable hours and they take all the flak, the buck certainly stops there. Actually I am extremely proud of the job I did there, but business put an end to it. Four years running it under budget and the Chairman decided to put it into administration?go figure.

Which current players remind you of yourself in terms of playing style?

David Silva is precisely the player I always tried to be. Oddly for the first time since the early 80s I think my style would finally be more suited to the modern British game. It wasn?t very technical when I played in comparison to some leagues. I thought it was very long ball orientated, I found international football suited me better, I found it much easier would you believe. Obviously I was born at the wrong time or in the wrong country!

Why did Scotland have a tradition of ?tricky wingers? in the 1960s-80s?

Good technical players simply got stuck out on the wing, even when they wanted to play inside. I had never played on the wing before I was at Chelsea would you believe.

Talking of Scottish wide-men ? Faddy is back at Everton. Many feel he has not fulfilled his promise at club level. Why do you think that is?

Faddy is not a centre forward, he is an incredibly talented player and he should major on what he is good at. Getting the ball and attacking defenders by running at them, not by having his back to them. He is the most gifted Scottish player of his generation and I hope he gets good advice from here on in and listens to it.

Are there particular players you recall failing to reproduce their training ground form in competitive matches?

Lots, but I am too polite to mention names.

Why are there so many top-flight Scottish managers in England ?

Long and complicated, but it goes back to them all leaning from the best there ever was?.Jock Stein.

Whose results do you look for at 4:45pm on Saturdays?

Hibs and every team I played for.

Who was your hardest opponent during your career?

Me, my own head. No one else mattered.

Did you ever have any dealings with Brian Clough?

Sadly minimal.

Should the ?Auld Firm? compete in the English league system?

It will never happen, they would love it but for a variety of reasons there is no chance whatsoever.

Other Matters

When did you first consider working in the media?

I had always thought I would write for a newspaper, in fact I had been doing so since I was 22. Broadcast media was just something I fell in to. But it is a great job and I love doing it, TV, radio and writing, all are fun.

Being considered by many as a bit of a ?renaissance man?, with varied interests, are you surprised that you have ended up as a football journalist rather than in another sphere?

I did some stuff as an Arts correspondent and still do occasionally for the Tate and other places. I also do some music journo things and even politics, so it is pretty wide but the football stuff is what is most watched and heard.

You seem to appear on numerous outlets (BBC Radio 5, BBC TV, Channel 5, ESPN, BBC Scotland). How does this work ? do you have a good agent?!

I have never had an agent; if someone asks me, it suits and I am available I do it. The reason for so many outlets is that none pay a sustainable wage. If you have a contract with SKY , ITV or BBC TV nationally then you could afford to work for just one. So for those of us who left the game without having benefitted from Sky?s millions, it is a job and a time consuming if enjoyable one.

Which are your favourite grounds to visit with your media work?

The food is great at Arsenal and Man City , but I personally love visiting Chelsea and Everton because I am made so welcome there.

Now that Media City has been built in Salford will you be spending more time back in the North West ?

I am down every Friday at the moment and quite often on a Sunday too. I did some DJing in Manchester too recently though after my appearance of Match of the Day 2, I suspect I will not be doing that one again, The Twitter folk were unimpressed and I suspect they have quite a big say on who gets back on again.

Barry Horne or Pat Nevin ? who has the best, most eclectic, music taste?

Very different but with many similarities too. I suspect his collection is actually bigger than mine. We argue about who is the bigger Cocteau Twins aficionado!

How is that group ?Joy Davidson? getting on these days?

I wonder if The Sun ever forgave me for winding them up on that one. It was so funny when they printed that was my favourite group and anyone listening at the time would have known that I was taking the P.

Do you have any musical talent yourself?

None. Played Clarinet and a little Sax in the school orchestra but with no talent at all. My daughter weirdly can sit at a piano and pick out complex tunes never having had a lesson in her life. I am so jealous.

Living in the NW in the late 80's to early 90's did you see at first hand of the second summer of love, Madchester etc or did you stay loyal to ?fey indie bands??

I liked the Mondays a lot and did see them and there were trips to see The Inspiral Carpets, but I wouldn?t say I was absolutely involved in the scene.

Should the Stone Roses have reformed?

Funny, but they were the band I never really got. I didn?t dislike them in any way but they just didn?t touch me. As I say I preferred Shaun.

Have you ever been to a Bill Kenwright production?

Not knowingly, though if he did Mary Poppins I did take the kids to see that and it was great?The Choreographer is phenomenal.

Finally?.back to Everton ? how would you sum up the club in 3 words?

Real, classy, passionate.

Pat, thanks very much for your time.

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