Waddle McClure Dream Team – Part Three
In part two of our chinwag between the Rev John McClure and flying winger Chris Waddle, the former Owls wideman opened up about Gazza, sausages and team building 90's style. This time round he talks up Wednesday's chances next season, fills us in on life as Hallam FC's midfield dynamo and waxes lyrical about the perrenially underrated Diamond Lights…
So we've spoken about playing for England and Sheffield Wednesday but who are the best players you've ever shared a pitch with?
CW: I played against Maradonna in ’86 when he handballed it, he’s the best player I’ve seen. Marseilles had some right players, and Glenn Hoddle is the most technical player I’ve ever played with. I trained with Glenn for two years, and I learned more in those two years than I did in the rest of my whole career. Pros are the best coaches.
Exactly, I mean Tottenham had [Edgar] Davids – he probably played about 200 minutes but was in the dressing room and on the training pitch so his influence would have been felt.
CW: Definitely. You learn so much on the training field. When people say things to you it goes through one ear and out the other, but when you see it you think, ‘I can do that’.
JM: So when you see what Wednesday are doing now, are you hopeful for them?
CW: Yeah, but I just hope that they don’t go up and linger around in a relegation battle. You want them higher up the table. They’ve got [Chris] Kirkland, who’s a very good ‘keeper when he’s fit. I’m sure Dave Jones will want four or five more.
JM: Well they’re talking about having that [Ivan] Klasnić off of Bolton.
CW: He’d be good. Dave Jones’ teams have always been good footballing teams, so when he came to Wednesday he must have been shocked because they’re big, strong and direct. He probably thought ‘I’ll go with it because it’s working’, but now he’ll change it. He knows what it takes to get in to the play-offs in that league, because he’s done it before. He’ll want creative players – passers and runners – players who win football matches.
Have you got your eye on anyone, Jon?
JM: Well they’ve gotta get [Michail] Antonio because he’s like you Chris, he’s the type of player who excites crowds and there’s something in that.
CW: I agree. Wednesday have a great following, and if they get a couple of players who excite then people are gonna turn up to watch.
JM: Me and my mates have been to Owl’s matches when Waddle played here and you’d get excited and think that you could do it yourself, even now!
You were playing until you were 39 weren’t you, Chris?
CW: Yeah and then I went semi-pro, I was at Worksop until I was 42, and then a couple of other teams up till I was 45.
You still hear about amazing goals you’ve scored, even at this point in your career. It filters through from people in the crowd to all football fans.
CW: Well I play for Hallam now, we won the league and the cup…
So is it’s all about the silverware for you at this point?
CW: [laughs] Nah it’s not like that.
Do the opposition always know you’re playing? Or do you get the situation where someone’s just tackled you and they look up and then realise who they’ve just tackled?
CW: It happens sometimes yeah! But it’s strange because we pass it well in our team. Tonight we’ve got three players in their forties in our team. The others are pub teams, so they have players who are 19, 20, 21 – and they can’t get the ball of us. And I’m thinking, how can we do it at our age and they can’t? We shouldn’t be winning these matches,yet we have about 70% possession. We haven’t got many runners in our team because of our age so we have to pass to feet, and we just keep the ball. You think why can’t they do it, they’re young so they can run too.
JM: It’s like in music that. You get people who are knocking on who make music just because they love it and for no other reason.
CW: Yeah you’ve gotta love it.
JM: Some people go in to these things for the wrong reasons. Could you have gone anywhere else other than Marseilles after Spurs?
CW: You know what the trouble then was? Squads talked very little. I played against AC Milan, and they said to me they put a bid in for £2m for me and I was like, ‘Did ya?! I didn’t know’. Years later I found out the amount of teams that tried to buy us and I couldn’t believe it!
JM: Who would you have played for if you could have gone to anyone?
CW: Well it was all about Italy at the time, it was the best league. Unfortunately I didn’t know which teams wanted to get me. Spurs told them that I wasn’t for sale, so Marseilles popped up and asked what price they’d sell me at, and Spurs said £4.5m. Spurs thought it would scare them off because I was nearly 30. So when they came back with it, Spurs tried to turn it down but Marseilles said that they should be allowed to speak to me. I rang Glenn Hoddle up because he was at Monaco and asked him what the French league was like, and he told me I’d enjoy it.
JM: Wasn’t [Arsène] Wenger in charge at Monaco then?
CW: Aye he was, yeah. He was a really nice bloke.
JM: Did you play in that game against Red Star Belgrade?
CW: Yeah, I was in Belgrade last week actually to do a bit of coaching. I went to the stadium, and it’s like a shrine to that win when they beat us 5-4 on penalties. Their manager is [Robert] Prosinečki who played in that game. They had won the cup the day before so he was wrecked, they drink shots over there and not beer. I dunno what he’d had but he was slumped in the corner and he sat there with a fag.
JM: Can I just ask, you know that Diamond Lights – where did it get to in the charts?
What were you Jon, top 10?
JM: Yeah Heavyweight Champion of the World got to 8. I was worried that you’d gotten higher! [laughter]
How did that come about, anyway?
CW: We used to get sponsored by a car company. Towards the end of the season he said to us that they had this awards ceremony in Coventry and asked if we’d go to it as our guest. So we went and me and Glenn had had a few beers too many, and we got up on karaoke and started singing Beatles songs. They were watching and he was like ‘that’s good that’, then he said if he sorted out a record would we wanna sing it next week? We agreed, and ended up in The Chocolate Factory on the Old Kent Road, took us two days. We were on a cup run all the time, and normally when you go out for autographs its programmes and photos and whatever, but people were coming up with Diamond Lights and Smash Hits! and things like that. And instead of talking to the Daily Mirror or whatever, we were chatting with Melody Maker!
What did the manager think?
CW: Ah, he didn’t mind. Tottenham were okay with things like that. As long as it didn’t interfere with your football it was okay. But then we had to do Top of the Pops, and that was more scary than missing a penalty in the cup final I tell you! It was the most nerve wrecking thing I’ve ever done.
I remember reading an interview when you said that you carried Glenn that night!
Reverend and The Maker's album Reverend_Makers is out now. Chris Waddle commentates for ESPN and BBC Radio 5 Live.
Interview by Rob Barker. Photography by Shane Rounce.