Monday, 16 April 2007

The Paul Ince Confession

It is a bit lazy but as nothing much has happened today I thought I would pass the time of blog by featuring a small piece by Paul Ince. It is 'The Guv'nor's' version of the truth behind that infamous posed picture in the Manchester United shirt. Now, I have a small confession to make regarding Ince. I remember too well my anger at the time of his transfer and the frustration of seeing him put in a string of listless performances in the last few games before his departure. There was one match where I swear he stood on the halfway line and refused to move more than a few feet in any direction for the duration of the match. I was incandescent with rage at the time but then I was just a kid, as was Ince in truth. He was petulant, impressionable and very badly advised.

There is a passage in John Lyall's autobiography where he talks about nurturing Ince as an ebullient 13-year-old at Chadwell Heath. It is intimated that the youngster was saved from a troubled life by the education he received at the football club, even if the detrimental pressures and temptations of his teenage associations were never far behind. Lyall recounts the story that he received a telephone call one day to tell him that Ince had been present at a fracas involving old schoolfriends. A detective came to visit and although no charges were brought Paul was made aware of his responsibilities. It was a lesson he never forgot. When the time came for the player to leave the club he did so with the full backing of Lyall, and that is good enough for me.

My own animosity towards the player has somewhat dissipated with the subsequent passing of years. There has simply been little or nothing to sustain the anger; no ill-timed comment or action to nourish the enmity and stoke the fires of discontent. Frank Lampard take note. I would momentarily join in with the tirades that cascaded down from the stands upon his every return to the club, and then I'd look at the faces around me contorted in rage, watch the spittle and invectives fly, and realise my heart was not really in it any more. So my confession is that I do not and have not for some considerable time disliked Paul Ince. Paul Ince's confession, about the events surrounding his departure, is as follows:

Let me put the record straight. My wife Claire and I were living in a house in Dagenham. I had just bought an XR3i cabriolet and parked it outside the house. The roof and wheels kept getting slashed, and the windows were smashed. At the end of the 1988-89 season I went to the West Ham manager John Lyall and said, "Look, no disrespect gaffer, but I'm getting my car trashed, so I need to get out of this house, and on the wages I'm on I haven't got enough money to move."

He could see what I was saying and sorted out a new contract. I'll tell you exactly how much it was for - £1,100-a-week. It was all ready for me to sign when I came back for pre-season training. But while I'm on holiday, John got the sack and Lou Macari took over. I told Lou about the contract, but his exact words were: "At your age, you shouldn't be on that much money." I couldn't stay after that.

Man United then became interested, so I spoke to Alex Ferguson and the deal was close to being done. I then went on holiday, and my agent at the time, Ambrose Mendy, said it wasn't worth me coming back to do a picture in a United shirt when the deal was completed, so I should do one before I left.

This would be released when the deal was announced. Lawrence Luster of the Star took the picture and put it in his library. Soon after, their sister paper the Express were looking for a picture of me playing for West Ham, and found the one of me in the United shirt at the bottom of the pile. They published it and all hell broke loose.

I came back from holiday to discover West Ham fans were going mad. It wasn't really my fault. I was only a kid, I did what my agent told me to do, then took all the crap for it. The most annoying thing was Luster never had the balls to come out and say what had actually happened. He has killed me. If I ever see him again I'll give him a good hiding.

I went up to United, but then failed the medical, so I had to return to West Ham. I sat on the bench for a couple of games, but my wife was getting stick in the stands, so I thought, nah, I'm not having this! Alex Ferguson got in touch to tell me that he was resurrecting the deal and that he'd look after me. I have to thank him for that. That is the story, but God, all the crap I get from West Ham fans!

If you think about all those fans at Upton Park, they must have made a mistake and been forgiven. What do they get at games? About 25,000? I bet about 10,000 of the men have been unfaithful and asked for forgiveness from their wife. You have to forgive and forget. When I played for England against Italy in Rome, when we qualified for the 1998 World Cup, West Ham fans were probably standing by the bar saying, "There's our boy from the East End", but as soon as I came back I was still a Judas. I've held my hands up and told you the story as it happened.

When all is said and done, I still consider myself a West Ham boy. That is where I come from. That will never change. I probably still have more affection for the club than any other.


Anonymous said...

Great story and def rings true.. I had the pleasure of sharing many years at school with Incey and trust me.. he had it tough.. so..its about time people recogise the guys guts and determination to succeed..and deep down he will always be an east-end boy done good!..

Anonymous said...

I had a meeting with Ambrose Mendy's son this week and he told the story virtually word for word as Ince himself had. It seems al that abuse was misplaced...


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