Give Us An ‘R’ interview – Tranmere Rovers fanzine issue 52
Name?: Nigel Blackwell
Where do you live?:
Not far from the ground
Monorail Operator at Chester Zoo
Describe your usual matchday routine:
Leave the house as late as possible, take up seat just in time for kick off, talk to mates all through first half about everything except the game, suck boiled sweet at half time, continue inane chatter throughout second period, go home. Always stay for the final whistle though!
What was your first game?:
I’m told it was sometime after the Coventry City cup win in 1968.
Favourite Ever Rovers Game and Why?:
Difficult to say, there’s just so many! Erm...well yeah ok let’s say the Southampton match obviously, the Everton game also but that was tempered slightly by a bad back at the time so each time we scored I was sort of both cheering and cursing myself. Had my Ralgex confiscated by stewards on the way in as well which I imagine would have been a ’first’ for them. Other highlights include Stockport away in 1976 when we more or less secured promotion though if I remember correctly I think there were a few nervous moments in the last game against Bradford City which ended 3-3. Bangor City away in the FA Cup was a good day as I’m sure people who went will recall (ahem). Most home games in 75-76 season were more than delightful as we were scoring five or six seemingly every other week (seven in the case of Torquay Utd). I’m sure our present manager looks back on that time with much glee.
Worst Ever Rovers Game and Why?:
Worst games? Hard to say really as I can always pluck some comfort from the most desperate of affairs although when we lost at home to Orient near the end of the 1987 campaign (Alan Comfort-now there was a good player)I started to genuinely worry as we looked as if we might drop and out and had we done so I’m not sure we’d exist today as a club. So a round of applause for Gary Williams I reckon.
Favourite Away Game on Your Calendar and Why?:
No particular favourite as I think it depends on circumstances at the time. Having said that I used to enjoy Torquay Utd.
Worst Away Game on Your Calendar and Why?:
Worst? Again nothing springs immediately to mind-if you’ve got the right people in the right car they’re all enjoyable irrespective of what happens on the pitch.
Favourite ever Rovers player and why?:
Being the age I am, I’m possibly expected to opt for the likes of Paul Crossley, Ronnie Moore, Steve Coppell or Ian Muir but if I’m being totally honest the one player who has excited me more than any other when wearing a Rovers shirt has been Jason Koumas. Bobby Tynan runs him a close second though.
Favourite All-Time Rovers XI from players you’ve seen?:
Which Player (realistically) would you like to see at Rovers at the moment?:
Realistically, I’d quite like to see Mike Jones back here as I don’t really think we gave him a fair enough crack of the whip. Technically gifted, quick feet, good ’footballing brain’. Thought we let him go too easily and it certainly seems to have been to Bury’s advantage.
Do you have a second club, and if so how did this come about?:
Queen of the South since I was a pale faced child. For no apparent reason.
Which Club do you most dislike?:
Omonia Nicosia. Predictable perhaps but what can you say....
Which opposition player of players you’ve seen do you most dislike?:
I can’t say I’ve ever been particularly affected by an opposition player enough to actively dislike him.
What’s the scariest Rovers match you’ve ever been to?:
They’re all scary surely! You wouldn’t want to subject your kids to that kind of stuff-it’s a form of child abuse. Oh, I see what you mean, erm...strange as it may seem the hairiest sketch I ever had was at Peterborough Utd in the eighties (subways were involved) but I suppose most away games back then carried a certain tension which could at times, if truth be told, seem quite exciting, if that’s the correct term. Visits to Lancashire clubs were often sparky and of course Wrexham and Chester usually saw the local constabulary on at least ’time and a half’. Putting things into perspective however, such occasions were never really ’scary’ when compared to perhaps getting on the wrong side of President Mobutu in downtown Kinshasa.
What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever seen at the match?:
The old bloke with the walking stick against Bournemouth was top quality entertainment of course (Charlie wasn’t it?) and I also recall a time when we experimented at free kicks by placing a wall of our own in front of the defending wall but then crucially forgot to part it when we took the kick resulting in the ball simply striking our own men. That was when we were REALLY shit.
What’s the biggest sacrifice you’ve ever made to get to a match and was it worth it?:
Never been a sacrifice as such as ultimately, I’ve always wanted to go and watch the Mighty Whites in spite of what my previous negativity may have suggested!
Funerals have been abandoned admittedly, but no-one’s that special are they and besides I’ve always believed that it’s what the deceased ’would have wanted’.
Not that I liked him that much anyway...
Have you ever re-enacted a scene from ‘Fight Club’ with an opposition Fan?:
Not ’Fight Club’ as such but scenes from Herzog’s seminal ’Aguirre, Wrath of God’ were referred to once after a particularly feisty affair at Burnley.
What’s the best thing about being a Tranmere Fan?:
Probably not having to queue up for anything.
What’s the worst thing about being a Tranmere Fan?:
That’s an oxymoron isn’t it? Same as The ’Secret’ gardens of Oxton. Record crowds last year.....
Tell us something about yourself that will impress us?:
Describe a perfect day that includes Tranmere:
Cycle ride to Caerwys, returning via Two Mills cafe (tea, toast-marmalade perhaps), long soak in bath around one o’clock, settle down to watch astoundingly bad television for an hour or so on Bravo (Ross Kemp in the Cotswolds etc), receive phone call from Mark the kit man (who along with Les Parry is the real pulse of the club) to inform me that the game that afternoon has been postponed because the visiting team have failed to turn up without a valid reason and as such we are automatically awarded the three points. Make more tea, watch the aforementioned programme again on the +1 channel. Win Lottery. Buy a cake.
How would YOU improve the Club?:
I would improve things by bringing back that staple of half time entertainment, namely the Police Dog Display Team. How much preferable it would be to see frenzied German Shepherds jumping excitedly through hoops and over various obstacles than the current diet of Dance Troupe and injured player picking winning ticket with dubious enthusiasm. Rover the Dog may feel a bit ’put out’ but who’d give a fuck?
How will Rovers do this season?:
The Lord alone knows. We’re up and down like the Assyrian Empire.
Your promotion and relegation candidates from this division?:
Whatever Tony Coombes said in the last issue.
Any other comments?:
Don’t be tempted to ever put a Wordsearch in your magazine as they are stupid and futile and most of us aren’t reading it in hospital.
Not especially imperative but I thought I should give a mention to my Dad who would take me to some of those early away games like Skelmersdale in the cup and Scunthorpe Utd at the neutral venue of Goodison (Christ, how ’neutral’ was that for Scunny...- didn’t matter though as they beat us anyway)-he still has a season ticket and travels from Rhyl. He in turn was dragged along by his Dad (my Grandad obviously) who was present at the 13-4 Oldham game and in the seemingly typical family trait of taking the gloss of things maintains that half the Latics team were pissed from the night before. Both men never entertained the idea of taking me over the water to watch a match, although they didn’t hold anything against either of the big two (Liddell was popular in most households I think as were various other players from both sides)-it’s just that no-one came close to hero status as much as Abe Rosenthal.
As they used to say, ”There’s a team for Birkenhead so we’ll support them”