• Simon Hill (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Lucy Zelic sits down with Fox Sports football commentator Simon Hill to discuss the state of Australian football, how Manchester City helped bring him to Australia and the art of football commentary.
By
Lucy Zelic

Source:
SBS The World Game
17 Jan 2020 - 3:57 PM  UPDATED 17 Jan 2020 - 3:57 PM

I’ve always considered football commentary to be an underrated art form.

There are so many challenging elements to covering live sport and perhaps the greatest of all is that you’re only ever afforded one opportunity to get it right.

When we reflect upon some of the greatest moments in the game’s history, our memories are naturally flooded with who we saw, how we felt and what we heard.

Like many, I’ve always admired the great Martin Tyler and more recently, developed a great appreciation for Premier League commentator Peter Drury.

Then there’s the lad from Northern England by the name of Simon Hill.

Over the years, Simon has become synonymous with some of our most iconic moments in Australian football history and he continues to dazzle us with his knack for articulating a match in ways others can’t, his unwavering professionalism and sharing his passion for the beautiful game in an authentic way that is devoid of any ego.

It also helps that he’s a bloody nice guy away from it all.

Here, Simon reveals why Manchester City were behind his move to Australia, what he really thinks about that famous World Cup qualifier commentary and how he scarily witnessed a fan get slashed with a knife on a train.  

LZ: I want to go back your upbringing and what it was like growing up in Northern England. Were you always a Manchester City fan?  

SH: Yes, I had no choice in the matter to be honest.

I grew up in Manchester and my father was, and still is at 85, a Manchester City fan.

My granddad, who has long since passed away, was a City fan all his life and my great granddad's a guy called Fred Taylor, he actually played for City in 1892 or 93, when City were not even Manchester City, they were West Gorton or Ardwick.

So this is like a family heirloom, or as it used to be labeled in our family, a family disease because we were terrible for so long. I had no option and nor did I want one.

My dad took me to my first game when I was five years old: Man City against Ipswich Town, April 1974. I don't remember hardly anything about the game because I was so young.

I don't even remember being particularly interested in it but there must have been something about it that I liked because at the start of the next season, which was 74/75, they played West Ham in the August of 74’ and my dad said, "do you want to go?" and I said, "yeah", so that was it, basically.

 

I was enrolled as a Junior Blue - the Man City supporters club which started in the mid-70s. I still remember my membership number 596.

It was set in stone almost before I knew what football was - that was my club and to be honest, I know Man City are a very, very different club to the one I grew up supporting but without City, I wouldn't be talking to you about all this because that's where it all began for me.  

What were your impressions of football as a young boy and what did it mean to you?

It was just everything. It was a bond with my dad and my granddad, it was a family thing that we all went to the games together.

It was exciting on a Saturday that we'd get in the car and go pick my granddad up and there were other people sort of, friends in the entourage that went as well so it was a real social occasion.

Without wishing to sound sexist, it was a male bonding thing to go to the game on a Saturday.  

That's not sexist, it's nice.   

It was like a bonding ritual between the males in the family - that's what we did, so I enjoyed that.

I also, like many kids, was playing football. I had really bad asthma when I was a kid so playing football actually helped.

I remember the thing that interested me most of all, and this maybe happened as I got a little bit older and probably led to the career path that I took - I wanted to be a professional footballer, same as everybody else but I knew that I wasn't good enough, but I remember being fascinated by the fact that this wasn't just about Man City or Liverpool or Man United.

When City played in Europe, all of a sudden I was aware that other countries played this.

My first European game was in 1977 - City against Juventus in the UEFA Cup and I remember being mesmerised by all these foreign sounding names because I'd never heard of these guys before.

 

Roberto Boninsegna, Franco Causio, Dino Zoff, Marco Tardelli - I had no idea who these people were and nor did I understand that they played a different brand of football!

I remember Juventus came to Maine Road and, today they call it 'parking the bus' and they were really cynical, they fouled a lot.

I remember being agog at this different way of playing because I wasn't used to that, so it opened up my mind to a whole new perspective, not just on football, but on life, because it made you curious about these other countries and what they were all about and where they were from.

I didn't know that Juventus were from Turin; I didn't even know where Turin was when I was 8, 9 years old.

Football was part of the education process and that's why I loved it.

Still to this day, I'm utterly fascinated by football in every single country.

I'm sure you're the same, Lucy, when you go on holiday or you go to a new country - the first thing you do is, you check out the local football scene because every country has it.

 

It became not just my hobby, but my passion at a very, very early age and still is. 

You mentioned that you knew you weren't good enough to play but at what point because there aren’t a lot of people who would freely admit that!  

I still struggle with it at 52! [Laughs] I knew when I was 12 and I'll tell you why, I played for a club just on the outskirts of Manchester, it was a Sunday league team and we were a good little side.

To be honest, I don't think I was a bad player and this one day we were told that a scout from City was coming to watch us, it was a guy called Eric Malinder, who was very famous at spotting lots of good young, talented players.

He came down to watch this game that I played in and I don't think I've ever given more effort in a game in my life!

I ran around like a blue-ass fly for 90 minutes, I think I hit the post - I couldn't score, but I hit the post and he never even looked twice at me.

He was after our goalkeeper, a guy called Steve Crompton who did sign for City and I'm still in touch with him to this day.

He never played for the first team and to be fair, he was our best player by a country mile, so he got signed but I knew from that moment on, this ain't going to happen.  

What were you like as a kid?  

Very sensitive and probably still am to a certain extent now.

I was very passionate about things, I was very into music as well and still am - I still play in bands today.

So there was football and music and I guess creative in lots of ways, which for a boy of my generation, wasn't always the easiest thing to have on your resume.

I loved books, so I was quite bookish but I was full of contradictions because I also loved playing football and that was the rough and tumble boy side of me.

I used to devour the newspapers, particularly the left-wing newspapers in the UK, I was very politically active at a very early age - I was involved in things like the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, I was a member of the Labour Party.

I was a whole collection of contradictions as no doubt many people would say and probably still am to this day.  

Can I ask, what are your memories of the Hillsborough disaster like?  

I was a student in those days - I was at University of Portsmouth or Portsmouth Poly as it was.

I remember I'd been out somewhere in the West Country with the girl that I was seeing at the time and we got back to her grandparents house and it was on the TV and I remember being stunned like everybody else and not quite believing what we were seeing happening in front of our eyes.

It's probably only with hindsight when you think back, because I went to an awful lot of games in the 80s, particularly on those sorts of terraces - I stood on the Leppings Lane terrace many times watching Man City and I'd been in crowds similar to that.

In fact, I remember in 1985, City played Charlton, a game in the old second division that we needed to win to get promoted and the crowd was nearly 48,000 and I remember being uncomfortably squashed on the Kippax terrace that day but being a teenager, you sort of laugh it off.

It was part of the experience that you were part of this huge crowd and that you had to surge forward and you got a bit winded on the crush barrier but obviously we were unaware that we were one step away from what happened at Hillsborough.

It was a big wakeup call, I think, for not just the authorities, but for a lot of football fans.

I think we all thought, well, there but for the grace of God go we because it could've been any of us quite honestly.

We'd all been in that sort of situation and it was only after that they finally took long-overdue action and improved the actual state of the stadiums, which they needed to do for many years.  

For those of us that haven't been exposed to English football culture and how it's evolved over the years, can you tell us what it was like?  

Well, the terrace culture was both exhilarating and terrifying.

I loved it because as a teenager, as I was in the 80s, going away on the football special trains or on the supporters club coaches, both of which I did very regularly - I was a member of the Man City Travel Club and the official supporters club so for many cities, I went to all the games home and away and it was thrilling, I loved it.

Being part of a big away following was much more exciting than being at home and there was a sense of tribalism and theoretically taking over somebodies town.

I'm using those words but I never, ever once got involved in football violence. It didn't interest me. I was always there for the football.

I was aware that it existed and the fringes were where the terrifying stuff was, because on occasion you could see these gangs.

I remember being slipped a card from the Man City Ice - the Young Governors, which was a hooligan group that was connected with Man City, saying "let us know if you want to be apart of this."

I was never there for that - it was football.

I saw one or two things - not many, fortunately, but I remember in the late 80s going to Anfield and these were the days where you kept your colours covered up once you were outside the stadium, and I was on a train back to Manchester and I saw a fellow City fan in the next carriage get stabbed, which was pretty terrifying.  

Holy sh*t, Simon that's full on. 

Yeah, well, I would actually say slashed rather than stabbed - they cut him, which was horrendous.

There were very isolated incidents, I can count on one hand the number of times I saw it but it did happen and if you wanted it, you could go and find it but I didn't.

I stayed clear of it and I think most people were the same. A lot of it was overblown but some of it was real and it was nasty and horrible.

These days, does it still exist? Yeah, to a certain extent.

I think maybe, unfortunately, because of the rise in right-wing populism, we've seen elements of that re-emerge today, particularly with the racism which I think is utterly abhorrent. But it's safer today, definitely.

Is it better? I don't think so because I think football should be a bit edgy, not dangerous but I think it should have that sense of frisson when you go to a game that you're fired up for it.

It's tribal, that's what the game is about and I miss it.

I love the new stadiums they're brilliant but I think they're a bit soulless and certainly the Etihad, as beautiful as it is when I go back, it's nowhere near the same buzz as Maine Road and I still miss that. 

Is it purely just logistics and structures that changed that? Or is it something else? 

Obviously it was a response to the Hillsborough disaster and a whole string of incidents that happened in the 80s and 90s.

The fact of the matter was, is that the hooliganism, overblown as though it may have been in the media, was starting to kill the game because people were scared to go, so they had to act.

What's happened since, you can say has revitalised the game.

The Premier League is the most successful commercially league in the world worth billions of dollars and the stadiums are pretty much full every week but I think we've lost something and I think most football fans who've been around for a long time think the same way.

We've lost that atmosphere that we used to have, which used to make it such a good experience on the weekends.

It's not totally gone - some places are better than others.

We're seeing this in Australia, aren't we with our active fans?

That was a big part of the A-League for many years and we've killed it through over-policing if that's the right word. I'm not just blaming the police for that, I mean that in a general term.  

I'll get to the A-League but I want to track back to your time at University. What did you study?  

I did a drinkers degree in social policy and administration [laughs], so I basically got pissed for three years. 

I think we all did that - it didn't matter what the degree was. I did a Bachelor of Journalism and Sports Business and I was drinking at 10 in the morning most days!  

Exactly, it's what we all did. At the time when I was at university, there were no journalism degrees, otherwise I probably would have done one.

I did a postgrad in written journalism after I graduated, but mine was a mixture of Sociology and Economics and Politics, which probably suits me down to the ground in the late eighties.  

So then how did you end up where you are now? Talk me through the moments when it dawned on you that football commentary was something that you wanted to pursue? 

To be honest, I think I knew probably at 13, 14. I probably didn't know the exact job, but I knew that football was my passion and my life.

I knew I wasn't going to be good enough to play it, so the next question was, how do I stay involved in it? I was always mad keen on watching and listening to football on the TV and on the radio, in particular.

A commentary hero of mine was a guy called Brian Butler, who worked for the old BBC Radio 2 network, which had all the sport back in the day.

I used to listen to him and his sidekick Peter Jones calling European games, invariably Liverpool in the mid-80s, from these far-off foreign climbs in Eastern Europe and think "geez, that sounds like a brilliant job."

But to be honest, my inclination was to write, I always wanted to write and I still do in many ways.

The broadcasting thing came later but I took a Postgrad in written journalism after I finished my university degree so my ambition really was to write for the Guardian, still is to be fair, the Daily Mirror or I wanted one of those left of centre publications on football of course.

But then in 1991 when I graduated, there was a big recession in the UK and there were no jobs in journalism at all.

I could not find a job and in desperation I applied for a role with a small radio station in South Wales called Red Dragon FM as a commercial copywriter, basically writing the adverts because I thought, well, at least that's writing - it's as close as I can get to it.

To my surprise, they wrote back and said, we don't think you're particularly suitable for this job, but we see you've got brief experience in sports journalism because I'd written a few match reports whilst I was in Portsmouth for the local paper there, and they said we've got a job as a sports journalist going here if you're interested in applying.

So my path changed a little bit so I went for that, got it and then I was in radio for the best part of 10 years, working my way up into the BBC and I started doing commentary in local radio and that was it basically.  

And then the bridge between the UK and Australia - how that and your role with SBS come about?  

Again, really, it's all down to Man City - you won't believe this.

When I was at the BBC World Service in the late 90s, this wonderful institution at Bush House on the Strand in London, there were all these, various different nationalities but the guy who I made friends with, of course, was the Manc, who was the City fan who worked in the BBC newsroom, a guy called Rob Minshull.

We became friends and we started going to one or two City games together, occasionally we'd go out and have a beer together and then many years later, he emigrated to Australia and we stayed in touch.

He went to work for SBS radio and in 2002 I'd left the BBC to go and work for ITV, a new channel that had been set-up called the ITV Sport Channel and ITV had head-hunted me to go over there.

Unfortunately, they had a pretty terrible business plan and within twelve months the channel went bankrupt, so I was out of work in 2002 and a bit down in the mouth and Rob said, "why don't you come over? We'll go on a holiday to Bali and then you can come out to Australia and spend a few days here with me?"

So that's what I did and whilst I was over here, he said, "I've heard that there's a job going as a commentator at SBS, you should apply for it." I said "listen, what do they want me for? I live on the other side of the earth, I haven't got a Visa."

And to be honest, he went on about it for so long that in the end I said, "when I get back to the UK, I'll send them a showreel and a CV alright."  

Had you been to Australia at all before that?  

Nup, that was my first trip - five days in 2002.

So I went back, I sent the tape off to Ken Shipp (SBS Head of Sport) and thought that would be it basically, I never thought I'd hear anything more.

To my amazement, Ken got in touch and said, "we're interested, can you get yourself a Visa?" So of course, I went down to Australia, House on the Strand in London and they said "no, you're too old, you don't have enough points."

So I went back, "I haven't got enough points is the only other way?" And eventually, they said they'd sponsor me, so that's how it happened. Very strange.  

And what were your memories like of SBS?  

Great. I was only there for three years, and a lot of the football after that transferred over to Fox, which is the main reason why I went over.

But, I remember feeling as though it was a natural home, in the same way, that I've felt the BBC was a natural home.

There was a huge passion for football, obviously - people like Les, Craig, (Andrew) Orsatti, Awaritefe, Tony Palumbo, Damien Lovelock.

All these people had football seeped into their DNA, different backgrounds to me, obviously but there was a passion for the game there, which resonated very deeply with me.

It was a great period and learning about football in Australia, I remember when I first arrived here, football was very, very different from what I was used to.  

What was that culture-shock like?  

[Laughs] I mean, it was massive.

It sounds funny for me to say this now because I'm steeped in it myself these days but I remember in the early days, we had five hours of The World Game on a Sunday afternoon and there used to be these half an hour panel chats normally involving Les and Palumbo and Johnny and goodness knows whoever else and they were like cabinet meetings!

Talking about the politics of the game and I remember - I'd only been here a few months - sitting, watching this, thinking "what is all this about? Why are they talking about politics for so long? Where's the football?"

Of course, it's only once you've been here for many years that you go "well that's why."

And now I'm involved in it, or have been down the years, so it was a steep learning curve and I was fascinated by it.

Being a natural football fan, I still am fascinated.

I'm fascinated by the history of the game here, even though a lot of it's very controversial, very chequered and not necessarily successful in some places.

It's all part of the rich tapestry of the game and I love that because I'm a football fan. So anything at all to do with the game is great by me.  

So you arrived effectively at the tail end of the NSL. What are your memories of it like?

I called the last ever NSL grand final between Parramatta Power and Perth Glory, I think it's still on YouTube somewhere.

 

My first game that I ever called in Australia was the semi-finals of that last year - it was Marconi against South Melbourne at Bosley Park in Fairfield.

It was nil-nil, I think it was nearly 40-degree heat and the game wasn't up to much!

Even before then, I think I went to my first game a month after I arrived, which was the second to last season of the NSL and Northern Spirit were the local team to where SBS was based and near to where I lived so I went to watch them.

I also travelled out to watch Parramatta Power, I went to watch Marconi - me and Franny Awaritefe and Orsatti and on occasion Fozzy - we'd go all over the city watching the NSL just because we loved football.

I watched all of that stuff and obviously I didn't know a lot about it in those early days, but you quickly got to know people and I remember the first interview I ever did for SBS was about Northern Spirit moving home grounds from North Sydney Oval to Pittwater Park in Manly.

They sent me out there with a brief to interview a guy called Lawrie McKinna, who I'd never met and I arrived at Pittwater Park on Tuesday afternoon and the whole place was empty.

There was one guy in the stands, who was banging seats into the stand, so I shouted up to him "excuse me mate, can you tell me where I can find Lawrie McKinna?" and he turned around and said, "aye son, you f**kin' found him." [Laughs]  

[Laughs] What a great story. You've spoken about your first-ever call in Australia but do you still remember what your first-ever call in football was like? 

I do and bizarrely, my first-ever call was a lot more higher profile than my first one here!

I did Chelsea against Blackburn Rovers at Stamford Bridge.

It was for radio, it wasn't TV but it was when I was at BBC Radio in Lancashire and the first game of the season, my producer, who I'm still in touch with to this day and still works for Sky in the UK said to me, "right, we're going to split the commentaries up between us, you're doing the first week, Chelsea and Blackburn in London" and I said "I've never commentated a game before" and he said "well, it's about time we found out if you can do it then isn't it?"

So that was it. I was thrown into the deep end and I remember I got Colin Hendry, the Blackburn defender, who was injured at the time, to act as my summariser and I was away - I've never stopped calling games since. That was 1993.  

Can you talk through some of the intricacies of commentary and what goes into it from your perspective and how you prepare because I am in awe of it - it's such a challenging thing to do and do well at that.   

Like everything else, if you're going to be good at something, you have to work at it, so you have to not only develop a style, but also don't skimp on the preparation - that's the key to everything.

It's always research, research, research. If you go into a game with half-cocked notes or a lack of research, you're going to struggle.

Even for regular A-League game, I do a full day's preparation on every single game, even though I know the players pretty much back to front.

Obviously, when you're doing Champions League or international games, sometimes involving teams like North Korea, you've got to try and do as much research as possible to give yourself the best possible opportunity of imparting the best information to your audience.

That only comes through hard work and I find that the more research you do, the more it sinks into your brain.

I'm old fashioned, I write a lot of things down still in longhand because it sinks in.

I also, to be fair for the domestic stuff, I subscribe to a website called 'soccer commentator dot com' that I pay a premium fee for and it's a data inputting site that I've been on for 15 years and I'm the administrator for the A-League in Australia so all my stats are centrally held in one specific online location which is good for me.

The other stuff is simply talking to people.

You go to games, you talk to people, you find stuff out about players, about systems, about who's injured, who's not.

So I think it's a combination of all of that stuff and over the years, you develop your own particular style and brand of commentary that probably has little elements of lots of other commentators laced in with it and people either like you or they don't - it's as simple as that.

Normally it is pretty much black and white - they either love you or they hate you, same as with any other aspect of telly.  

You wrote a book. What was that experience like for you? Cathartic in many ways? 

 In many ways, yes, in other ways, it was traumatic because when you write your autobiography, the football stuff was kind of straightforward because I knew most of that but you have to touch on your personal life as well to a large degree and everybody's got tales of woe in their life and things that are quite private and I found that element of it quite tricky.

Obviously, you've got to try and write it with the right tone for the people involved and for yourself as well.

So in many ways, it was tough and in other ways cathartic - it was nice to get that stuff on paper.

I'm certainly not going to retire rich on the proceeds of the book, but that wasn't the point of the exercise.

The point of the exercise was that I wanted to write it for me more than anybody else and the fact that I managed to get it published was a bonus, really.  

What are your tales of woe if I can ask that question? What's defined you as the person you are today? 

That's a deep question. I had a very traditional Northern English upbringing which in some ways has been a hindrance.

I know in Germany, they used to call it the wall of the mind between East and West and that can certainly be an affliction for people from Northern England!

At the same time, I'd like to think it gave me a good grounding in basic values as to who I am and the difference between right and wrong and things that you stand up for - your principles, really.

I think I'm quite principled, although I might be contradictory in saying that.

I think I stand for some good things but I'm not perfect.

That upbringing defined me in so many ways because it imbued in me this love of football - that comes from my dad.

He still goes to every home game to watch City and it's the first thing we talk about when we pick up a phone so that's probably the biggest thing that my parents did for me to be fair.

I always remember as a kid I was so obsessed with it, I used to write out the teams one to eleven and not just Arsenal or Man United but Chesterfield, Bury, Crewe Alexandra and I remember my mum coming in, looking over my shoulder and going, "what you doing that for? You're never going to get a job doing all this, you know?" Well I did mum!  

And you're still doing it, which is incredible. You've been a part of some of the most iconic moments in Australian football and your voice is synonymous with so much of what Australia has achieved on the football pitch. Are there moments and calls that stand out to you that you reflect on that still hold a special place in your heart?  

Oh, yeah, of course. I think you can't look past the two or three biggest moments - the Uruguay game in 2005, which was just monumental and every year seems to get bigger with hindsight because it just meant so much.

That was huge and strangely enough, not one of my favourite calls.  

Really? Why?  

Well, there were a couple of reasons. First of all, people forget this, I was in Montevideo for three or four days prior to that, calling the first leg and I was horribly jet lagged so that made the call tough.

Secondly, as Fozzie has no doubt told you down the years, he was horrendously emotionally invested and was basically almost cheering every good pass and bemoaning every poor one during the night, which made my job as the play-by-play pretty tricky.

You'll remember now because you've all heard the commentary: "Johnny Warren! Ray Baartz!"

Now, because Australia won, I think that's gone down in the best possible way - it's become iconic but as a commentator, when you're in that moment, you're thinking "did we get it right?"

I remember thinking in the immediate aftermath "oh jeez, we've got that so horribly wrong" because it sounded messy.

Fozzie was yelping all over me and I was trying to get lines out and I remember thinking that was just disastrous, we're going to get smashed for it but of course we didn't because the memory of the success was everything and we became a part of it, Fozzie in particular.

So that was a tough night, in many ways, but a great one to be involved in and it's so nice to be linked with.

Same as the Japan game, the first game at the World Cup, the first goal that Australia scored at a World Cup finals, the game against Croatia, the game against Italy for different reasons and countless Grand Finals and big goals.

 

I've been blessed, to be honest. To have been able to have stuck it out for so many years and still going for a while longer, hopefully.  

Are there still any games that you feel like you'd love the opportunity to call that you're still striving for?  

Oh, yeah. I've never called a World Cup Final, I've called games at World Cups, so I'd like to do that.

I'd love to do a Copa America but I don't think I'm going to be able to do that this year, unfortunately.

I'd like to go to an Olympics, I haven't been to an Olympics - I've covered an Olympics, but I haven't been to one so there are a few things.

But by and large, I've done pretty much most of what I wanted to do so I've been very, very fortunate - the most fortunate Northern English kid in the world!  

Is Australia home for you? Or could you see yourself going back to either the UK or moving elsewhere entirely?  

Australia is home to a certain extent.

I think where you're born is always where your home is.

I'd like to go back eventually, if only for the fact that my parents are both still around, but they're very old - they're mid-80s and naturally started to slow down.

Unfortunately, my sister died a few years ago, which is one of those traumas that I was referring to, so there's only me.  

Simon, I'm so sorry to hear that. 

It happened over 10 years ago now but it makes things tricky when you have elderly parents.

So I think eventually I'll probably move back and that might not be my decision either. Y

ou know what it's like in this industry, Luce nothing lasts forever and with the way our game is at the moment, who knows, so you've got to keep everything open.   

Let's talk about the state of the game in the country but before we do that, whatever the reason is, can I tell you how delighted I am that you've decided to jump onto Twitter? I love that you're saying it how it is and bringing a sense of rationality in a place that is very irrational. What are your views on it all? 

 Firstly, my opinion is, is that the game has an awful lot of soul searching to do.

I think it has to have a full review - I don't know who conducts that because quite frankly, I'm not 100 perfect sure who's in charge of the various elements of the game.

It needs a full, honest, frank review of what's happened over the last few years and a strategic plan put together that everybody can agree on and stick to.

I think it's the only way we're going to get ourselves out of this current mess.

The short-termism over the last few years can't continue.

For example, we can't continue with the ad hoc expansion model - there needs to be a proper structured plan in place.

If we're going to have a second division and ultimately promotion/relegation - brilliant, bring it on but let's plan for it strategically.

What is the plan to grow the financial pie for the game? What is the plan for the facilities and infrastructures of the game? What is the plan for youth development? What is the plan for coaching?

The only thing that we have is this horribly wooly Whole of Football Plan that was released in 2015 that was so scant on detail, I think it was Tom Smithies who coined the phrase "not so much a roadmap to the future as a postcard." There needs proper detail to be added.

I hope that James Johnson is a good start in the right direction, but it needs so much more than just one person.

We've got to get away from this messiah complex and all start working together but as we know, in this game, in this country, that's much easier said than done.

As for Twitter, I thought it was time to have a platform where I could get some views out there on various things. I think the game suffers at the moment from a lack of opinion, so I thought it was time I added my voice to that and to be honest, being a bit of an old fart maybe it was time for me to get in with the 'new thing', if that's indeed what it is, it's probably gone on to something different now.   

Finally, music is such a big part of your life, you're still involved in a band. What does it do for you and your soul? I imagine it feeds it in ways that football and other things can't?  

Oh yeah, that's cathartic in so many more ways than writing a book let me tell you!

Playing the drums has been my lifelong passion as well as football.

To be honest, there was a point maybe when I was about 18 that the music almost won.

I was in a band and we had a management agency that we signed up to and we had a little bit of record label interest, only a little bit, that never quite eventuated, down in London.

But, there was a point where I was like, "oh, maybe this could happen, maybe I could be a rockstar" but it didn't happen unfortunately.

I've always loved playing in bands, it takes you completely out of the football zone, which is marvelous.

My musical tastes are probably a little bit different to a lot of people's - I'm into heavy metal and hard rock.