Transfer deadline day. Traditionally chaos. In the fancy north London pub I was sitting in, it was no different.
A free bar is flowing as fans, journalists and ex-players collide in a maddening constant whirl of energy, chewing the fat over every last morsel of speculation and gossip.
It is a delight to pull myself away from this and get the chance too, in a quieter corner, talk to a man who has seen it all far too many times before. Someone who is too experienced to get too shocked, surprised or disappointed by it all.
Peter Reid. An England international midfielder and a man with 40 years of experience in football.
Two decades playing with over 500 first-team games, most notably winning the FA Cup with Everton in 1984. Two decades in management have followed including spells at Manchester City and Sunderland. Both longer than my entire lifespan. Not bad.
Now long established as prominent figure in British football, we got to know Peter at the Ladbrokes #ForTheFans Transfer Deadline Day party.
Ladbrokes invited Ian Wright, Chris Kamara, Peter Reid, Jason McAteer and 50 fans to a north London pub to take part in the Ladbrokes #ForTheFans Transfer Deadline Day party, fans were treated to free bets, the latest reaction to transfer moves and news by our panel of legends, a singing Kammy and a free bar to keep the night flowing.
Naturally, given that Peter’s playing and managerial careers have both individually been longer than my entire life, I ask which one are you more proud of?
PR: That’s always difficult because first and foremost playing is the best – you go into management when you can’t play. The brain’s still there but the legs go. Even though I had ups and downs in my playing career with injuries where I was out for longer periods of time, I would give a million pounds to go back and be fit enough to play 90 mins on a football pitch. Playing for me was the ultimate – I still try and knock about in 5 a side – it’s hard work!
FFC: Would Everton be the number 1 club you would want to go back to if you had the choice?
PR: I think when you have success, I started at Bolton Wanderers and played for some really big clubs like Man City but at Everton I had a lot of a success. That’s my team if you like yes.
FFC: People often seem to forget given the razzmatazz of the Premier League that there is life outside it. Do you think more needs to be done to protect clubs in the Football League and below financially?
PR: For me, yes. It’s the lifeblood, clubs like Plymouth, Bury, Oldham. When you look through the history of football, these clubs are the lifeblood, and the community. Besides the football part of it, it’s the community side of it.
I think there should be a further spread of the money down there, I know MK Dons are getting a few quid for selling a player now (Delle Ali) and that will keep them going for a while. Certainly I think the gap is always widening between the Premier League and the Football League.
FFC: Speaking of the lower Leagues as the lifeblood of football you must be pleased to see your old club Plymouth somewhat solid?
PR: Yes they are, it was a precarious time (when Reid was there), it looked like the club might go to the wall, which for a club like that… I played there for Bolton Wanderers I went there many a time and it was always a passionate club. It’s way down there (Reidy takes us on a geography lesson) I think it’s the A38 you get off the M5 that goes on for ages (cheers Reidy) and the Plymouth fans, I’ve got to say, are fantastic.
The away support they get with the amount they have to travel so, so long so many miles and I think they’re a credit to football. When you talk about a fairer share of the (TV) money I think Plymouth Argyle are a great example because it keeps football going down in Devon and Cornwall, in that area. Obviously Exeter and Torquay are down there too so I don’t wanna upset everyone so it’s just a great part of the country, and a great football part of the country.
FFC: On this topic do you feel enough of the Premier League TV deal goes to the grassroots, it is currently 5%, as I have seen you campaigning about this on twitter?
PR: I have yes. Patently it is not enough. I understand that football clubs are big business and the model of the Premier League works commercially but has the Bundesliga got it right where fans own 50% of clubs and it get passed down, that’s open for debate. One thing that isn’t is that we’ve got to get good facilities for our kids to play on week in and week out.
FFC: Going back to lower League clubs as an FA Cup winner did you enjoy seeing the recent spate of cup upsets?
PR: Well I was in India doing the Super League and my brother (Shaun), who is manager of Warrington Town, who beat Exeter. Nothing against Exeter but I thought that was the magic of the FA Cup. When you get results like (Middles)’borough going to Man City and getting a result and Chelsea getting beat at home by Bradford I think that’s what the FA Cup is about.
I know the Premier League clubs are strong and big clubs but I just think there’s a magic about the FA Cup and long may it continue. (Amen to that, we are disrupted by a fan behind me shouting, and it’s hard to disagree)
FFC: I suppose surprise results like this recently are important in reminding the younger generation of that magic of the FA Cup so it doesn’t get lost?
PR: Well yes, I was at the game when Wigan beat Manchester City in the final and it’s still that belief, that a team that’s not one of the big ones can go in and win a major final. Not matter what anyone says about the FA Cup and I know certain teams don’t put their best sides out it’s still an absolutely fantastic competition.
FFC: Do you think when people say things like ‘oh well Wigan would much rather have stayed in the Premier League’ that’s a disrespect to the FA Cup?
PR: Yes without a doubt because whilst they failed to stay up at the end of the day they’ve won the FA Cup. I just think you take what you have – in football there are winners and losers. That day, I tell you now you go and ask Wigan Athletic fans what they think of that day and it will be the best days of their lives.
FFC: Finally you won the FA Cup with Everton and they are probably the club you are most closely associated with, what do you make of their season at the moment?
PR: I think they’ve had a couple of injuries to influential players – McCarthy has been a miss. I think Besic has been a good buy, looks a decent player. Lukaku – I still think he’ll get better. It hasn’t been a great season, whether it’s being in the Europa League some people will say, I’m not one of them. I think as many competitions as you want, get in there. Come on you Blues!
FFC: Kevin Mirallas – a man much discussed through the transfer speculation, what did you make of that infamous penalty incident?
PR: Well listen I was at the West Brom game when this (the penalty incident) happened, but if I was Leighton Baines I’d have said ‘give me it’. I don’t mind players having an argument about things like that, I think it’s good. I know there’s all this stuff written by journalists and on the TV about ‘oh no, he shouldn’t have done it’ – he took the ball, he was confident, he missed it, move on.
Cheers Peter, you have brought a voice of calm, reason and experience to a scene of bedlam.
Peter Reid speaking at the Ladbrokes #ForTheFans Transfer Deadline Day party.