Monday, 12 February 2007

Frank McAvennie

Frank McAvennie has become the latest former Hammer to voice his criticism of the current team. The West Ham goalscoring legend has called on players at his old club to "roll up their sleeves" and fight as a team if they are to turn around this season's "absolutely diabolical" and "criminal" peformances.

As I have no wish to dwell on the misery currently pervading the club, below is a weird interview with Mac the Knife that I first read a couple of years ago. It might cheer someone up out there...if only for a few minutes.

Good morning Frank. Blimey, it's a noisy line. Can you hear us?
Oh aye, no problem.

Alright, we'll press on regardless. Rumour has it you've settled down. Can that be true?
Aye, of course I have. I mean I've done everything, in fact I've done it all twice, so those days are behind me. I've got a great wife who's good for me, plus I've got a good relationship with my ex-wife and I'm seeing my son a lot these days, so I don't need the old lifestyle.

Bah! Surely you must cut loose every now and then...
Aye, but not like in the old days. I mean I still go out and have a session but my wife knows where I am and she's happy with that. The only difference now is that I used to drink for three days and recover in one, now it's the other way round [laughs].

A three-day bender, that's some going. Your personal best?
Oh no, there was four days in a row once. I nearly killed myself, but never mind [laughs again].

Back in the day, who was the bigger playboy - you or Charlie Nicholas?
[Chuckles a somewhat mischievous chuckle] Ally McCoist! He was much worse than any of us! And Gary Lineker. They were far worse than us but the papers never slaughtered them for it because they used to sneak in and out unnoticed a lot [coughs, perhaps nervously]. I'd normally go on sessions with Charlie and Mo Johnstone, and of us three, Mo was probably the best because he never ever suffered in the mornings in training like we did.

We fancy a night of late-night revelry in our fair capital, preferably with a bevy of buxom beauties. Can you recommend a good nite spot?
Well I only ever used to frequent a couple during my time in London: Stringfellow's and Brown's. And these days when I'm back in London, I only ever go to Stringfellow's, so I'd certainly recommend you head there. Mention my name. Actually I was there about a month ago, just to say hello to Peter and the boys.

Is it true that you worked the Stringfellow's door as a meet-and-greet man?
[Laughs] Noo, that was that fella from Coronation Street... what's his name... erm, aye, Chris Quentin. It would have been nice if that rumour was true, but it wasn't me [laughs again].

If you can narrow it down, what's your poison?
[Like a flash, as if we had offered to pour] Vodka. Always has been. I can't afford champagne these days, and I've never been a lager man because it just bloats you up and makes you fart. So I'll have a vodka with diet Coke.

In your prime and given the choice, Frank: coke, booze or women?
Oh God, women. Yeah, not a problem. But having said that, they all tended to go hand in hand back then, you know [laughs that mischievous laugh again]. So I'd have all three.

I'll bet. And these days?
Definitely the booze. I'm happily married and I don't take drugs, so it's got to be booze for me.

Speaking of "these days", what are you up to?
I'm doing a fair bit at the moment, keeping very busy. I'm doing some after-dinners, which is great as I was born for that - having a drink and talking to people - and I'm setting up a footballers' golf thing for next year. And obviously I've been busy doing the book...

Shameless, Frank. So that'll be Scoring: An Expert's Guide, published by Canongate and out now priced £14.99, right?
That's the one.

West Ham are playing Celtic. Who are you supporting?
Ooh, it'd be a draw. Well Celtic's my team, everyone knows that, but it'd be hard to call. Hang on a minute.. can you give me a call back in 20 minutes, I'm just in the hairdresser's having my hair cut and dyed and they need to take the cap off my head...

We chuckle, for 20 minutes, then calls back. How's the hair looking, Frank?
[Laughs] Aye, not bad. It was getting back to the Eighties, y'know, so I got it cut quite short.

And dyed, by the sound of it. Is it true your hair's naturally ginger, rather than the famed platinum blonde?
It is indeed - you've read the book. It used to be a lot brighter but it's calmed down a bit now. When I got my first wage I got it highlighted and it's been that way ever since.

Right, back to the questions: Glasgow or London?
Well Glasgow's my city but I prefer London because nobody bothers me down there. I mean, the Glasgow people are great to me, but I'm just very conscious that everyone knows me and you can't escape.

But surely you get "bother" in Glasgow from Rangers fans...
No, they're no problem at all. I'm always treated brilliantly in Glasgow. In fact I was out in a bar up there with a Page 3 girl this one time; short skirt and boobs, the usual. Anyway, this fight broke out and there was beer and glass going everywhere. Frankie Miller, the [Scottish R&B] singer, was with us, but instead of protecting the girl, he dived on top of me to make sure I didn't get hurt! She wasn't best-pleased [chuckles].

When you used to shove cocaine up your hooter, what was your denomination of choice?
Well it depended where I was. If I was down in London it'd always be a £50 note. But up in Glasgow they still had pound notes, so I'd use them instead. [laughs]. They were the perfect size. And the other thing about Glasgow was that if you used a £50 with people round a table you'd end up getting a pound note back [chuckles again]. It never happened to me, but I've heard stories.

Who or what would you put in Room 101?
[Like a shot] Lou Macari.

Ah, for, as the book details at some length, making you train when you were clearly injured at West Ham and setting your recovery back several months...
Aye, he haunted me. But mainly because he's just not a very good manager, y'know, and he's got about as much charisma as I have in my big toe. He set me back for three months. It was a three-mile run on Christmas Day, for God's sake! He shouldn't have done that. On the road as well. I shouldn't have done it, I wasn't ready.

Does it also annoy you that none of your early goals were ever seen, thanks to the mid-'80s TV blackout?
Not at all. It was disappointing that my family couldn't see the goals at the time, but I've got all the tapes from West Ham so they saw them later. It was actually good because I could go and play my football, then go out and no-one except West Ham fans would recognise me, so I didn't get any bother. Well I say that, but I was once recognised in Liverpool after they'd beaten us about 7-1, and I got chased down the street by a bunch of blokes. I was with a girl, you know, and luckily this taxi drew up beside us before they could get us.

A close shave, Frank, a bit like the hair, eh?
Aye, very good.

Ahem, assuming you're wearing any, Frank, what colour underpants have you gone for today?
I'm wearing a pair of black Calvin boxer shorts. I wear black all the time actually, the colour hides a multitude of sins [laughs long and loud].

Kylie or Britney?
Definitely Britney, no question. I've met Kylie, you know, and she's exactly the right height for putting a drink on top of her head. Don't get me wrong, she's a sexy lady, but Britney's more to my taste.

Controversial choice, Frank. Cheese or chocolate?
To be honest, I'm not really into either of them. There's one cheese I do like, but I can't remember the name of it... [ponders loudly for several seconds] cheddar, aye, I like a bit of cheddar. That's not the one I was thinking of, it's a soft cheese, but the name still escapes me.

Never mind, it doesn't really matter. What's in your pockets?
Erm, my credit cards and some money. Not much money, mind, the hairdresser just did me for 50-odd.

Blimey, it must be a good cut for £50. Anyway, what newspapers or magazines do you take?
The Sun, the News Of The World and because I'm in Newcastle, I still read the Daily Record to keep up with what's going on in Scotland. And I get a lot of the lads' mags - FHM, Loaded and Maxim. They're a good read, and the pictures are good [laughs].

How much is a pint of milk? [Answer: about 40p]
Oh God. Err... well my wife buys it and I just pay for it - story of my life - but it's normally a four-pint bottle. Erm, 50p?

Close enough. Dark alley, late night, a lion and a tiger are squaring up. Who's your money on?
The lion, definitely. King of the Jungle and all that. I've seen lions chasing tigers on telly, so they must be shit scared of them. Aye, I'd have a score on that.

What was the last book you read?
The Tony Adams book [Addicted]. I was in prison and it put me to sleep at night [laughs]. It was a good book but not my kind of read, y'know. And in there you'd read anything.

You don't need to tell us that, Frank, but that's not a time we like to dwell on. Tea or coffee?
Coffee. I drink a lot of lattes. It's amazing how quick the weight goes on these days, so I'll have that with a sweetener instead of sugar. I still look pretty fit, but I'm not.

We'll take your word for that. Anyway finally, Frank, where are you off to now - a nitespot, perchance?
No, no, I've got a wedding to go to, someone on the wife's side.

Ah, hence the hair cut and what have you. You need to look sharp for that, right?
Ha ha, not likely, it's in Sunderland, so you don't need to make much effort [laughs loud one final time, and is probably still laughing as we speak]

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