We all know that time of year is getting near; New Year’s Eve, let’s go get leathered with the boys, and pretend we’ve got someone to kiss at midnight, when in fact, you just end up telling your mates how much you love them.
Anyway, doesn’t matter that you’re nursing a stinking hangover the next day – as you stuff your face on mum’s never ending leftovers from Christmas – why? because there’s a shit load of football on New Year’s Day. Let’s park up on the sofa, stick the kettle on, and say that classic saying; ‘this is the only time I’m glad I’m not a footballer’.
Well, when interviewing former Man United and Sheffield Wednesday manager, Ron Atkinson, we got a first eye view of how this sort of day goes at professional level. We asked Big Ron, ‘what was one of the best stories he’s had in football?’ And this is what Ron had to say on the matter, on one fine New Year’s Day…
“One of the best stories? Got to be, David Hirst.
My great story on Hirsty, we [Sheffield Wednesday] played New Years Day against Man City.
It was a 12:00 kick-off, and I got the boys in over night on New Years Eve. Got them all down for an 8 o’clock pre-match breakfast the next morning.
I put a bottle of champagne on the tables, and said; ‘pour yourself a glass, enjoy, Happy New Year, get on with it.
We play the game, and Hirsty puts us in the lead.
David Oldfield runs through and takes out our ‘keeper, Kevin Pressman, and we haven’t got a sub ‘keeper. Hirst comes flying up the field, barges his way past everyone and puts the ‘keeper’s jersey on. We’re all thinking; ‘what a top lad, putting himself forward, sacrificing himself for the team’.
We eventually win the game 1-0, and Hirsty keeps a clean sheet, he goes running over to the crowd saluting the whole stadium.
Two years later, we’re talking about the game at a function. Hirst goes to me; ‘gaffer you don’t know about that story, do you? You know when you put those bottles of champagne out, I went around all the tables minesweeping all the drinks, and was absolutely plastered. I couldn’t do anymore after I scored that goal. As soon as I had the chance to go in goal, I took it for a breather, as I was completely fucked”.
As told by the man himself, Ron Atkinson
Who says being a ‘keeper is easy? Just ask Hirsty. Sounds like a top cop-out following a heavy night/morning for a professional footballer.
For more top stories from Big Ron, check out his book, The Manager.
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