Everything was going so well. Me, sat on a bar stool in a fancy north London pub, chatting, laughing and talking football with Chris Kamara. Standard Monday night.
The transfer window has closed, the party is very much winding down and there have been hours of interviews for Kammy, but his enthusiasm is wholly unaffected. Suddenly, mid-interview the relaxed atmosphere is dramatically lost. A excitable fan notices Kammy, leaps next to him and knocks the cult figure’s drink everywhere. Ever the pro, Kammy obliges the crazed fan, we clean up and finish the interviews as the calm resumes. It’s an interesting and small window into the kind of adulation Kamara has with the public.
A cult figure amongst British football fans for his enthusiasm and gaffes when reporting on matches for Soccer Saturday, we got to know the man behind the mic at a 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.
Having spent nearly 15 years reporting on matches for Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday Coverage, in addition to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for Marie Curie Cancer Care amongst other charitable works, the cult of Kammy amongst the British public is a given. So much so that even my brother, a man who detests football, loves Kamara for his passion and antics.
We’ll get onto that later. However, I firstly had to address the realities of a slightly muted deadline day. We are surrounded by murmurings of relative disappointment from fans, ex-players and journalists alike at the lack of ‘big’ deals.
Thus my opening question for Kammy has to address the proverbial elephant in the room: What did you make of January deadline day this time around?
CK: It has never been fantastic over the last few years and tonight once again it was not totally fulfilling, but compelling viewing you’d have to say.
FFC: Do you think sometimes the media and fans are guilty of over-hyping it?
CK: It depends on what your expectations are. Are you wanting an Arsenal, a Manchester united, a Liverpool all the top top clubs to sign players on the last minute, it just doesn’t happen anymore.
FFC: So you cannot see another Odemwingie-style incident?
CK: No because that’s iconic, it’s a one-off – Berbatov up the stairs when nobody knew about it from Spurs to Man United, Odemwingie in the car park it will just never ever happen.You didn’t believe it was happening at the time with the Odemwingie thing. To think something like that can happen again – it wouldn’t. We have to remember those days and hope for something different but everybody’s too cautious now, the world has changed in terms of everyone’s expectancy and what is acceptable.
FFC: What do you think has fuelled deadline day becoming such an event?
CK: Survival in the Premiership has become the one because as far as the Championship managers are concerned, the window does actually still open again in terms of being able to get players on loan. This isn’t the be all and end all for Championship, League One and League Two clubs.
As far as Premiership clubs are concerned this is what you’ve got now and as manager you now have to be judged on what you’ve brought in. What you were allowed to bring in? Were the club prepared to give you money to bring players in? Were you happy to stick with what you’ve got?
If you can answer all of those questions after you’ve been sacked and quite rightly say it was my decision then fair enough. I can tell you now that there isn’t one manager that can say the club allowed me to do what I wanted to do in the transfer window.
FFC: Who’d be a manager hey! (This gets a big laugh from Kammy, fulfilling a life goal of mine) Is it these kind of pressures that put you off management?
CK: My history goes without explaining (Kammy laughs)! I was manager of Bradford and I did alright as it happens, then I did Stoke City managing and I didn’t do too well I’ve got to be honest. It was the worst 12 weeks of my life not being able to help Stoke City out of relegation.
FFC: You must be delighted with how things have gone in TV since then?
CK: I’ve got such a good life now I can’t complain, my life just gets better, from the day I moved into TV it’s onwards and upwards.
FFC: Were you surprised when you first became such a cult figure?
CK: No not really because I worked hard at doing what I was doing – what you have to understand is that people are really nice. People are really, really nice.
Football is a protected species and when people find out what is behind the footballer, what is behind the person and they see the real person that changes. A lot of people saw me as this player who gave everything for the football club got stuck in and then they saw the real identity, the real Chris Kamara.
I’ve been doing it for a long time now and they’ve realised that it’s not put on, I am what I am and I was this way as a player. I may have wanted to win as much as I can for that football club but the individual person was the same as I am today. I do appreciate that everyone appreciates me as being that person.
We certainly do Kammy, you’ve been better than we imagined, if that’s even possible.
Chris Kamara was speaking at the Ladbrokes #ForTheFans Transfer Deadline Day party.
What impact did the January transfer window have on your team’s odds for the title, relegation, or European qualification? Head to Ladbrokes.com* or download the app and bet NOW #TheLadbrokesLife