‘90s harmony-pop heroes Dodgy return on February 20th with their brand new studio album STAND UPRIGHT IN A COOL PLACE, so Football Burp had a ruddy good natter with front man Nigel Clark about his beloved Birmingham City on the eve of their crunch FA Cup clash at St Andrew’s with Midlands rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers (er…Blues, that is, not Dodgy). A positive result for Chris Hughton’s men should see to it that the band’s “semi-acoustic” show at The Boogaloo on Monday night is embellished with a suitably celebratory atmosphere, but it should be a cracking evening nonetheless so we’d advise anyone in and around the north London area to scoot on down and hail the comeback kings…
I was told you’re a Birmingham fan but apparently you support Liverpool and Leeds United as well…
When I was a kid, I supported Leeds because I was a trophy hunter – they were the top team then – but when I was a teenager, I went to go and see Birmingham a lot because they were my local team. And then my son supports Liverpool, which I kind of coerced him into during the early 2000s when he started playing football.
Which team do you follow most closely?
Results have picked up a bit of late but it’s been an underwhelming season for Blues so far. What do you think of the work Chris Hughton’s done so far?
I prefer him to McLeish – I’m glad he went to Villa! – because I just thought he played boring football, a point and he’d be happy. I don’t enjoy that sort of football; I enjoy the game as a whole, the competitiveness, winning or losing. But drawing? I just don’t understand the mentality. I think Chris Hughton’s changed the set-up. We’ve a lot of new players, while a lot of our old players are doing well in the Premier League. So I’m quite attached to the Premier League now! I don’t know if you saw Craig Gardner’s free-kick the other night, but it was an amazing goal! He’s a talented guy and a Birmingham fan so it’s a shame that he left.
Which Blues players have caught your eye this season?
To be honest, I haven’t actually seen that many games. What with them not being in the Premier League now, I can’t see them on Match of the Day, so I’ve just been keeping up with the results on my iPhone! I don’t know who’s caught the eye; my mate’s a massive fan, goes to every game, and he hasn’t mentioned anyone. I’ve been part-coaching a youth team, and have been since my kids were 7 or 8, so most of my football has been grassroots. I enjoy that football a lot more than going to a match these days, because you can see raw talent and…
…and they act less childishly than Premier League players!
Well, yeah! They do know those things, what you shouldn’t say on a football pitch.
Do you play as well?
I play at training and I used to play a lot when I was younger, but I haven’t recently because it affects your knees when you get to my age. I’m quite fit but I can’t take the battering on the knees. But I do play with the kids when they have a training match.
What kind of player were you in your heyday?
I’m quite tall – my coach used to say to me, “You’re a great sweeper” – so I always used to get put at the back, but I wasn’t disciplined enough to be a defender! My favourite footballer is Steven Gerrard so I romantically saw myself as being more like him, but that was just a dream.
Back to Blues, how do you feel about having Marlon King in the side?
Not great, really, but he has been to prison for what he did, hasn’t he? I don’t agree with it, especially for the women who support Birmingham City, but at the end of the day he’s served his time and he has his career to think about, so I guess you’ve got to give these people a chance.
How do you feel about Luis Suarez?
The word he used is acceptable where he comes from but it’s not acceptable in British football, at all. I hate racism, sexism – anything based on being different – and maybe he was let down a bit by the club in terms of informing him that saying things like that isn’t allowed in the British game. I thought the actual eight-game ban was a bit extreme, and there was a lot of stuff about Evra being…well, a bit of a liar, basically! I’m not really keen on Manchester United or Evra but Suarez admitted he said it, so he should be punished, although I think he should have been fined rather than banned.
Do you have any memories of Gary Ablett in a red or blue shirt?
Very vague memories. I was really sorry to hear that he died, at such a young age as well. When he played, I was living in London and trekking around the world with the band, so my football experience then was very limited. It was only once I moved out of London and got back to a normal life that I was able to get back into football, but I knew his name and that he was a good player, which he obviously must have been to have played at the top level for as long as he did.
Was there ever a time in your life when you were a regular at St Andrew’s?
Yeah, when I was about 15 – around 1982/83 – I was there for a couple of seasons. I didn’t have a season ticket but it was quite cheap back then and my mate was a massive fan, so we used to go up on the train. It was at the height of football violence – which isn’t why we went! – but it was an exciting period, going to the ground and getting chased by football fans. I got beaten up by a Manchester United fan once, which wasn’t nice.
Is that why you don’t like them?
No, I don’t like them anyway, but that compounded it!
Would you be able to name the first, best and worst matches you ever went to?
The first match I ever went to was with my dad, when I was a kid; it was Aston Villa vs Leeds around 1977, at Villa Park, and I was a Leeds fan. Tony Currie got headbutted right in front of me!
The best match I ever went to was when Birmingham got promoted to the First Division in around 1982, something like that. Archie Gemmill score a penalty and we all invaded the pitch. It was really exciting.
The worst match was Liverpool-Birmingham at Anfield in the FA Cup, back in the ‘90s. I really thought we were going to win, and then right at the end we didn’t. I was really upset. I thought we had a chance but Liverpool came through in the end, as they normally do.
If you had to pick a five-a-side team out of all the Blues players you’ve seen in your time as a fan, who would you go for?
Joe Hart, Stephen Carr, Archie Gemmill, Craig Gardner and Bob Latchford.
Quick score prediction for tomorrow?
Birmingham 2-0 Wolves.
And finally, what can we expect from the new Dodgy album?
A friend for life!
Nigel, thank you.
STAND UPRIGHT IN A COOL PLACE will be released on 20th February through Strike Back Records. Click here to pre-order your copy. For more information, please visit www.dodgyology.com or check out the band’s blog at dodgyuk.blogspot.com
Dodgy embark on a small UK tour in February, dates as follows…