Football Lookalikes

Friday 27th September 2013 at 8:32AM

How many of you out there can remember Brian Kilcline?  The ex-Coventry, Newcastle, Notts County, Oldham Athletic, Swindon Town, Mansfield Town and Halifax Town (thank you Wikipedia) defensive stalwart was remarkable for his physical appearance – as well as for a career trajectory that must worry any club with a ‘town’ in their name.

It’s fair to say that combined barber floor hair cuttings from the 1973 Cup winning Sunderland side could have been knitted into a carpet to cover the Grosvenor House Hotel’s ballroom, but our Brian’s incredible thatch exceeded even that.  Looking like the result of a bizarre breeding programme involving King Charles I, Ted Nugent and Killer Bob from Twin Peaks, he bestrode the world of football like Dave Lee Roth (although with more hair and possibly less natural football talent). 

One thing Kilcline was noted for was a penchant for diving headers, even when the ball was merely inches from the ground.  This possibly explains why Brian never walked serenely from the field of play at the end of the game.  He would always look like he was returning from the trenches, mad staring eyes suggesting a heavy dose of ethyl bromoacetate and dragging his one good leg behind him.

But it’s the former Van Halen front man connection that got me thinking.  How many rock stars would fit easily into a modern football team and how many modern footballers could discard their shin pads in favour of a Fender Telecaster?

First up is Wade Elliott. Apart from having a name that sounds like a firm of solicitors (and scoring the goal that got the Clarets into the Premier League) he’s better known in our household as the spit of Radiohead’s very own Thom Yorke.  He may be known as a high energy, creative midfield dynamo, but we’re convinced he spends his evenings in his attic programming pulsating doom-laden symphonies about death and government conspiracy (and I’m a fan.  That was meant to be a compliment).

Wade is also well known for having (1) short legs or (2) unfeasibly long shorts.  For most football fans this boyish image belies his years, but for my family, it shows him beginning to embrace the three quarter length black shorts of the skateboarding Emo punk Goth brat.  Today, a sterling performance against Arsenal and tomorrow, a duet with Paramore’s lead singer Hayley Williams and twenty minutes annoying the hell out of tourists on London’s South Bank.

Incidentally, those of you who have recently bought a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers career best of and were wondering what had become of the blonde tousled haired one-time Travelling Wilbury.  Well take a look at Luka Modric and you have your answer.  And it does seem appropriate that the spindly rockster should be patrolling the midfield, doesn’t it?  He ‘won’t back down’ (he certainly didn’t during the extended palaver with Real Madrid) and enjoys ‘running down the dream, sorry, wing’.

Looking at some of our most famous global rock stars and figuring out who they’d play for and in what position has also occupied my mind lately.  Phil Collins would no doubt fulfil the Andy Johnson / Kevin Phillips / Adam Le Fondre tiny-but-deadly penalty area assassin role, while erstwhile Genesis sidekick Peter Gabriel, whose brother Jimmy may or may not have played for Southampton in the 60s, would be good at marking at corners, given the way he clung on to Kate Bush in that ‘Don’t Give Up’ video.

I’m not sure whether much travelled Welsh dynamo and one time Manchester City reserve team coach Glyn Hodges had a reputation for over-reacting and histrionics, but his curious similarity to arch-thespian Ulsterman Kenneth Branagh somehow confirms the idea.  We once saw him slip out of a once-piece fur-lined tracksuit on the bench at Southampton versus Crystal Palace in 1991 (Hodges, not Branagh) and could have sworn that his parting words to the first team coach were ‘age cannot wither me, nor custom stale my infinite variety’.  Now Mr Branagh isn’t a renowned musician, but Bob Dylan certainly is and while his most obvious lookalike is Snidley Whiplash from Wacky Races, his slightly ragged look betrays his true calling as a mid-seventies hard-tackling midfielder.  If Souness didn’t get you, Zimmerman would!

The temptation to exploit the link between rock stars, Columbian marching powder and other narcotic substances is hard to resist, especially with concepts such as ‘sniffing out chances’, ‘crack midfielder’ and ‘he made a hash of that clearance’ but I’m not even going to consider it, even if there is a touch of the Kurt Cobains about Andrey Voronin.  The fact is, Pete Doherty would be really easy to knock off the ball and it would be no fun chasing Jim Morrison down the wing.   His snakeskin jeans would make him slippery to hang on to, I’ll grant you that, but his slavish devotion to strong lager meant you’d catch him up every time. 

The best of the lot, of course, is former Wrexham, Doncaster Rovers and Wolves boss Dean Saunders. For years my wife thought that Bruce Springsteen was leading a double life, especially when we discovered that the New Jersey born rock hero drives a Rover too.

Having done a little digging, I think Ana might have been closer than you think. After all, which other manager could respond to a 0-1 home defeat at the hands of Crawley by writing ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’?

 

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