Live by the sea - DVD re-release

oasis - the mad ferret

Interview with Paul 'Guigsy' McGuigan
FourFourTwo Football Magazine

December 1997

Earl's Court, September 1997. The most famous men in Britain have just finished their soundcheck for a gig that night, one of the three in London that sold out within two hours of tickets going on sale. Even though it's still a couple of hours until the doors will open, the crowds are already gathering outside, eager to grab the best spot to see Oasis later on.

For bassit Paul 'Guigsy' McGuigan, the past few months have been split between the hype and furore surrounding the continuing exploits of the band, and his lower-key research into the life of one of the most remarkable footballers ever to grace the British game.

Guigsy - along with journalist and co-conspirator Paolo Hewitt - has dedicated much of his time to writing a book about Robin Friday: star player for Reading and Cardiff, hellraiser, hedonist, tragi figure. The publication of the resultant book. 'The Greatest Footballer You Never Saw', has taken him into uncharted territory.

So what made him want to write about someone as obscure as Robin Friday?

'I'm a big of a Ceefax on football and I'd never heard of him' says Guigsy, sipping on his pre-gig mineral water. 'And then I asked around a big and nobody else has heard of the f*ck*r. Gradually we found out that Stan Bowles knew him and thought he was dynamite. We played a gig down in Cardiff and mentioned him to people down there and they all said: 'Now you're talking.'

'When we were in Cardiff there was a bloke who as a big drunk, getting a big feisty - as people do, especially with Oasis' says Hewitt. 'And Guigs just said "Robin Friday." 'The bloke was going: 'How the hell do you know about him? Friday was only there for three months, and that was 20 years ago!'

Guigsy enjoys talking about Friday: more than Oasis, more than anything in fact. He is no doubt as to how good he was: Charlie Hurley, who was his manager at REading, says that he'd rather have Robin in his side than Shearer. That means a lot, Stan Bowler says the same. I reckon it was only his temperament that stopped people having the courage to take a gamble on him.

'There's a whole club of them from the 1970's: Bestie, Rodney, Marsh, Bowles, Frank Worthington, and he belongs in that club. We wrote the book so he could take his rightful place with them.'

Writing the book must have been a big like doing an album then? 'Yeah, it was. We just did all the research and then lcoked ourselves away in a room in my house for a week. Paolo stayed round mine and we'd get up at six, have something to eat and just go back in and work.'

What fired both Guigsy and Hewitt is an obsession with football - in the former's case, Manchester City in particular. Guigsy could have made it as a footballer had he not injured his knee at 16 - and he has his own views on where things have gone wrong at Maine road.

'They've got a nice gound, nice kit, nice pitch and they never fuckin' win. Frank Clark is a very good man-manager, but he couldn't spot a player. Just look at some of his signings. He spent 8 million pounds this summer - 8million on what? It's taken a long time to turn the club around and Frannie Lee's done really well. He's done a good job. I just think we're fucked, bascially.'

'I'll tell you the Liam story, shall I?' interjects Hewitt. 'See, Patsy's put the dinner on and Liam's just nipped out to buy a packet of fags. He walks out of the house and there's all these press everywhere. He just ignores them and then somebody shouts 'Oi, Liam.' It's Mike Summerbee. Three hours later he gets back and the dinner's burnt...'

And with that the bassist from the biggest band in the world takes his leave; he's wanted downstairs, where Noel and Liam are waiting. Just time to ask what actually happened to Robin Friday after he gave up the game.

'He was spotted down at Piccadilly Circus a few times,' says Hewitt. 'He'd look for someone who had drugs and then he'd slam them up against the wall and say: 'I'm Detective Robin Friday from the local CID. I'm going to have to confiscate those drugs - don't do it again.' Then he just walk away with the drugs.

 

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