Soccer AM/MW - the home of lively and humorous discussion from the Football and Non Leagues

Thursday, December 31, 2009

The John Barnes Story

During its time on the airwaves of Lancashire, Soccer AM/MW became infamous for many things.

Cheating during trivia quizzes, Lakes failing to turn up on time, doing features off the cuff instead of planning, oh, and one anecdote.

The tale of how former Liverpool and England star and ex-Tranmere manager, John Banres, "saved the life" of Nobes is much feted.

However, despite several promises, the story of how it transpired has never been told. Until now.

In an exclusive for this blog, Nobes takes up the story.

"I must have been only five years old at the time, so we're talking 1992ish. Barnes was still at Liverpool and a big name in English football. So anyway, imagine our surprise when we believed we'd spotted him taking a break at Center Parcs in the Suffolk countryside.

After a quick debate, one of my brothers and I decided it was and cautiously approached the star, who was with his children at the time. He must have noticed us coming as the next thing we heard were the words, 'Don't be afraid' in those unmistakable dulcet tones.

On reflection, it sounds like the sort of thing Angels are supposed to have said in the Nativity story. However, those were his exact words. His kids were around the same age as my brothers and I, so we quickly hit off and were playing in the play area - and yes, we did get John's autograph too.

John explained that they had been planning to go on holiday abroad to Spain, but his wife had become pregnant and could not fly, so they had taken a break back home instead. Later, he bought us an ice cream. I honestly can't remember what type, but I can safely say it must have been the best I've ever had.

Soon we had arranged, as families, to go swimming. The swimming pool, as anyone who has ever been or knows anyone who has ever, is a central feautre of Central Parcs. We all loved swimming too, albeit I wasn't particularly good at it.

So, it was with great then that I attempted to go down one of the biggest, quickest slides in the pool. Now, this slide was a from a great height - pretty daunting for a young kid. However, both my brothers and Barnes's children had done it, so I had to.

Anyway, down the slide I went, it plunging me deep underwater before I began to surface. Then, disaster. My head was trying to emerge above the water but for some reason it wouldn't. Something - a big infaltable pool partioning device (for short) that was floating on the water - was stopping me.

This was it, I thought. The end of the Seb Noble story. Cruelly cut short at such a young age. Never truly being able to show the world my wit and punning ability. Then, from out of nowhere, I found myself being lifted from underneath the water by two arms.

Yes, it was John Barnes. He had been waiting at the bottom to make sure we all came down safely. I can't recall the exact words he said as he completed his life-preserving action, but it was something like: "There we go."

Such understatement for a man who had just 'saved' a life. Then again, that's the humility of the guy. My lifesaver."

Lakes: Incidentally, I used to have a Panini sticker of a similing John Barnes on my bed headboard when I was a kid, and once, when I woke up in the middle of the night, I thought he spoke to me. I haven't quite got over that.

Nobes: Haha. What about other anecdotes about meeting footballers/people in football? I did once meet a former, and widely loathed, Skyrockets chairman came and shook my hand and had a word in the car park at Stockport at an away game.

I had arrived early on the train from Preston and I think he was trying the old 'caring chairman bonding with fans' routine, only I was the only Boston fan there at the time!

Turls: When I was about 16 or 17 I served Gary McAllister when I was working in the fish and chip shop [the infamous George's Traditions Fish & Chip Shop.] Asked him how his wife, who was ill, was doing.

Macca's dreaming of a chippy tea after the match

I stole Paul McKenna's mobile number off the Rock FM database when I was on placement there. Phoned him once, heard him say "Hello," shat my pants and hung up. No idea where the number is now.

Nobes: I saw the former Lincoln and current Macclesfield boss Keith Alexander in reception at BBC Lincolnshire when on work experience there.

He's a former Boston player too, but I didn't have the bottle to congratulate him on his successes at Sincil Bank.

Turls: I saw Michael Dawson at Nottingham greyhounds for my brother's Stag Do, and I also saw Steve McManaman at Selfridges in Manchester - didn't say anything to either of them.

Nobes: How about this for not saying anything? I once shared a three hour train carriage journey from Nottingham to Stoke with former Boston striker Anthony Elding.

I was there wearing my BUFC hat, him clearly noticing it. He must have been thinking, "Why the hell is he not coming up to me and saying something." I was too scared. You never know how they might react.

Turls: My brother got a thumbs up from Marlon Harewood as he was driving into the City Ground car park and I once bumped into Muzzy Izzet while doing some food shopping with my mum.

One time I was in Preston I was behind David Moyes in the queue at Tesco Express. He lives round the corner from my mum still. He had two boxes of Lemsip Max! I thought he was going to OD.

I daren't say a word, but the guy at the till was quite chatty with him. I guess he had an excuse.

Oh, and I fixed Rob Kelly's laptop free of charge at PC World. Got told off for that. Told him I expected a win against QPR. We drew.

David Moyes finds out they've sold out of Lemsip

Nobes: I used to have the mobile number of our former manager when he was at the club. Always resisted the temptation of texting him some suggestions for substitutions on a Saturday afternoon. Probably why we were relegated.

I also saw the current Cambridge and then Orient boss Martin Ling in the VIP lounge at York Street once ahead of a game - obviously doing some scouting.

He was enjoying a cup of tea - on a saucer. Can't recall whether he was enjoying a biscuit too though. That's showbiz.

If you've any anecdotes of your own of occasions you met people within football or footballers themselves - you might have even had the courage, unlike Nobes, to speak to them. Email us at soccerammw@gmail.com or leave a comment.

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