Tuesday 2 June 2020

If You Are Going To Slag Off John Aldridge in a Loud Voice Best Not Do It When He's Walking Right Past You...

I wrote about this unfortunate event for Issue 4 (March 2020) of Gateshead FC supporters fanzine 'Kenny's on Corners', but never got round to posting it on here until now. You can follow Kenny's on Corners on twitter.

"He's a fake Irishman, he's from Liverpool and has a full on Scouse accent," I shouted, or something along those lines anyway. It was I think 2013 and we were about to play Oxford United then of League Two at home in an FA Cup first round replay and a match that was to be televised live on BT Sport.

The original game with Oxford had ended in a 2-2 draw after Gateshead had squandered a two goal lead at the Kassam Stadium. BBC Newcastle had provided live commentary on the match and I remember listening to it at my parent's house and feeling extremely frustrated come what full-time. Matthew Raisbeck filling in for an absent Mick Lowes had travelled with summariser John Anderson down to a Sunday Newcastle away game in London or somewhere or other a day early via Oxford to provide the commentary. 

As for the replay it was originally postponed due to a waterlogged pitch but eventually took place a week or two later on a Thursday evening. I vividly remember that the match took place on the same night that Nelson Mandella died, and I also remember there being an Ashes test match on down under and that I'd foolishly booked the Friday off work to stay up and watch it. I attended the match with a few friends (who sadly never really went on to become Heed regulars as I did) and it ended in a 0-0 draw with Oxford winning the tie in extra-time thanks to a dubious penalty decision. The clothesline (singing section) were in full voice that night including several renditions of a personal favourite of mine 'A Little Respect' whilst the lads had done themselves proud on the pitch but sadly it wasn't to be.

The most memorable moment of the night, however, came whilst sat in the main reception/bar area downstairs before kick-off. One of my mates had seen John Aldridge being interviewed earlier and mentioned it in passing. Unable to remember his name he referred to him as "that scouser who used to play for Wales". Eventually, we worked out he meant John Aldridge a scouser who had actually played for the Republic of Ireland and not Wales. We figured he must be there for the TV coverage. 

Like several players of his era, not good enough to play for England Aldridge managed to find his way into the Irish national team by having an Irish grandparent. Another player who famously did this was Tony Cascarino from Kent who admitted years later that he'd eventually found out his mother had been adopted and his Irish grandparents were not actually blood relatives after all meaning he basically had no Irish blood in him whatsoever! Aldridge's Irish relatives were apparently genuine blood relatives, however.

Anyway, to cut to the chase, without realising he was walking right behind me I went on a massive rant in a loud voice about how Aldridge was a fake Irishman who should never have played for Ireland in the first place as he was Liverpool born and bred so therefore English. My kind friends never bothered to shut me up and before long I saw him out of the corner of my eye walking off whilst glaring right at me! It really was a case of 'Oh no he did-ent!' and it's fair to say I was left feeling a little awkward.

Thankfully though nothing came of this incident, Aldridge carried on walking and never said a word, our paths did not cross again that evening, and the rest of us all had a good laugh about it afterwards. Some light relief after a heartbreaking end to the night for us on the pitch.

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