Brief encounters – October 1999

WSC Readers share their encounters with footballing stars past and present

One lunchtime I needed to get some of my work clothes cleaned so I carried them around to the nearest dry cleaners. In front of me was a large blond guy. I wasn’t paying much attention to him until the person behind the counter asked for his name. “Gottskalksson” he replied. Looking up, I suddenly realised that I was standing next to the Hibs goalie. The dry cleaning man handed him his change, which Ole promptly spilled onto the floor of the shop. Just the sort of performance that relegated Hibs that year. Doug Bell

A few years ago I was visiting my parents in a comfortable but unglamorous suburb of Manchester. At some point, my dad grunted from behind the paper: “There’s a United player moved in round the ­corner.” I was intrigued by this, but not exactly shaking in anticipation – the ­estate’s previous brush with glamour had been lumbering “stopper” Graeme Hogg (he rented for six months). I ­wasn’t struggling to retain a sense of perspective.

That Sunday morning, I went to the newsagents round the corner. It was bright and far too early, when walking towards me I noticed a big bloke with two little kids and a football, probably going for a kickabout on the bottom field. Then his silhouette became ­clearer. That ramrod straight back, the slightly splayed feet. It was Eric bloody Cantona!

As the distance between us closed to a matter of feet, I desperately racked my brain for any shred of French I could recall apart from “Où est la bibliothèque?”, but failed, and all I could muster was a bestial grunt of “All right mate,” which, to be fair, he at least nodded at. But that was that. A couple of months later came the fracas at Selhurst Park, and he was off. I hated French at school, so in a way it’s Mrs Bellis’s fault. I mean, if she had made it more interesting I would have conversed with a living legend. And he had stupid Miami Vice-style shorts on. Keith Wright

After strolling out of a West End night club in the early hours of Sunday morning, I spotted former West Ham donkey Scott Minto, with a young lady. I ­informed my friend, a loyal Hammer, of my sighting. With this he set off in ­pursuit, caught up, then rolled up his sleeve to show Scott his West Ham tattoo. “What the fuck are you doing out at this time, you should be resting, big game on Wednesday,” my mate told him. Mr Minto didn’t look too impressed. My mate continued: “Anyway, you’d better have a good game, it’s about time.”

With that we left Scott alone and went on our way. A minute later, though, we spotted him climbing into one of those carriages that are pulled by someone on a bike. This led to us lining up along Oxford Street chanting, “Scotty, where’s your Porsche, Scotty, Scotty, where’s your Porsche?”

His girlfriend laughed, but Scott ­remained a miserable git. Paxton Pete

In the early Eighties, when I was just a nipper, a childhood hero of mine, Paul Sturrock, used to own a video shop in the village I lived in. The shop was imaginatively entitled Paul Sturrock’s Video Library. My dad was a publican in the same town and the local video shop was just along the road. I would beg my dad to let me get a video out so I might catch a glimpse of Paul. One night, upon entering the shop, I could see the man himself was dishing out the videos from behind the counter.

I asked what he recommended and was delight to receive a copy of Raiders of the Lost Ark. To this day I have never thanked the man for a quality recommendation. Paul Sturrock – footballing legend and not bad video reviewer. Graham Donnachie

It was the suit I noticed first. “That’s expensive,” I thought. It took my friends to point out that the suit in question was draped around David Platt, then of Aston Villa, later The World. He came, alone, into the pub we sometimes crawl to after work. He sat alone and ate a prawn cocktail, alone, drank nothing and left, alone. It was then that I realised I could never hack the lifestyle. John Tandy

I once bumped into José Quitongo, now of Hearts, at Sainsbury’s in Hamilton. The night before, Hamilton had been beaten 1-0 by Rangers, and José had a pretty good game. I said well done on his performance, and asked him what he thought of Rangers, as I am a Rangers fan. He rather unsportingly said that goalscorer Ally McCoist was a lucky, fat bastard. I still asked the cheeky Angolan for his autograph for my Hamilton-supporting father-in-law. Ronald Gault

From WSC 152 October 1999. What was happening this month