The Fresh Prince of Burnley

Now this is a story all about how my life got flippin’ turned upside down. And I’d like to take a minute just sit right there, I’ll tell you how I became the prince of a town called Burnley.

In the Borough of Pendle I was born and raised, on the playground was where I spent most of my days. Chillin’ in Nelson relaxin’ all cool, and winnin’ at conkers outside of the school.

When a couple of lads who were up to no good started making trouble outside Superdrug. I got in one little fight and my mam got scared. She said ‘You’re movin’ with your auntie and uncle in Burnley.’

…and that’s how I ended up at Turf Moor.

Posh and kecks

The boss weren’t right keen on Becks stepping out with the moody lass from Girl Spice. Reckoned she was turning his head. In fairness the signs were there. He’d switched from Lynx Africa to your fancy eau de toilets, and he’d started wearing kecks with fellas names on ‘em. Kevin Klein’s and such like.

I had a bit more sympathy with the lad. In a lot of ways he reminded me of me. People forget that I was a bit of a ladykiller in my time (as in Peter Gabriel not Peter Sutcliffe). The Carrow Road years are a blur of cheeky Vimtos and heavy petting.

I was young, handsome and club captain at Norwich City. Naturally that came with its perks. There was none of this papping nonsense back then and a good thing too! In between starring for the Canaries, I was secretly bedding two-fifths of Five Star, a couple of Bangles and the lass from Culture Club.

I’d chuckle at the young apprentices lusting over Bananarama in their Look-In annuals. Little did they know I’d been guilty of love in the first, second and third degree on that cracking night at the Gala, Norwich. Happy days!

Famous number two

Folk often ask me why I never took one of the many management roles I was offered in and around the Granada region over the years. It’s a fair question. After all I’ve learnt from the very best – Sir Alex Ferguson, Sir Bobby Robson, Gary Megson (thus far cruelly ignored by our honours system).

Truth is I loved coaching. For years I prided myself on being the biggest and best number two in the land. My innovative cone work is the stuff of legend, and as for pointing and shouting at the side of the pitch, only Pat Rice and Phil Neil came close.

It also turned me into a household name when the boss had his little to-do with the Beeb. Suddenly I was thrust into the limelight on Match of the Day, getting more Saturday night viewers than big John Virgo during his Big Break heyday.

Sir Alex always sent me out with two clear instructions – be as dull as possible and don’t drop the f-bomb. I like to think I bored the fr*g out of everyone.

I like short shorts

The one and only time I fell out with Sir Alex was when he called me into his office and told me I should think about cover for the front two. I told him we had Saha fighting fit on the bench plus the new lad Manucho. We’d be fine.

“No. I mean that front two”, he said, pointing at my rude box. Shine a light I thought, not the shorts again. I was a man in my forties who happened to have a cracking pair of pins. Would he have told Daisy Duke to cover up in the same way? No. This was sexism.

He said there was too much Mike Phelan on show – with little left to the imagination about ‘Little Micky’ too. I told him I wasn’t budging (I couldn’t in those shorts) and he could like it or lump it. He may have been the boss of Manchester United and for good reason, but I was the boss of my pants.

Credit to the gaffer he never picked on that particular bone again. I like to think he secretly admired my stance – and the fact I could hold my own.