Steve Cradock, virtuoso guitarist to both Ocean Colour Scene and Paul Weller, no less, is currently taking his also-stellar solo material on a run of intimate acoustic shows across the UK, so Football Burp caught up with him for a quick chat about his more leisurely status as a self-confessed “armchair Aston Villa fan”…
Will you be watching tonight’s game against QPR from your armchair?
D’you know what, it’s the last day before I go on the road, so I’m taking the kids out this evening. So I won’t be, no! It’s an easy one to juggle up, isn’t it? It’s my last night and I’m sure they’re going to want to do something, so I’m theirs.
Almost certainly for the best to spare them from an Alex McLeish-managed home game. He’s not too popular at the moment, seemingly…
He’s not popular at all, I know. I happen to like the guy because I’ve met him a few times, but it’s a difficult one, isn’t it? He’s not popular, but having said that, the team are sort of firing on half cylinders anyway. The manager always gets the stick for it, but at the end of the day it’s the lads out there playing, you know.
Do you think there are some causes for encouragement, though? Stephen Ireland seems to be playing his way back into form, and Gabriel Agbonlahor’s had a good season…
Yeah, but the thing is we keep selling the good players.
That’s true, although Ashley Young and Stewart Downing haven’t done all that much since they left.
Yeah, which I’m pleased about! (Laughs) But you know, if you keep doing that…I guess people will call it a “transformation period”, for want of a better term.
Chris Hughton’s had Birmingham City playing some decent stuff of late. A Villa manager in the making, perhaps?
He couldn’t come to Villa, could he?
Okay, you’ve got me there! (Laughs)
Does it hurt at all seeing Martin O’Neill propelling Sunderland up the table?
I wouldn’t say it personally hurts me, no, but he was a great manager. I don’t know what it is – he’s obviously well respected, but he doesn’t seem to shout about it, does he? And he delivered really well for us.
Devil’s advocate might have it that he lumbered you with a number of mediocre players on big contracts, such as Steve Sidwell, Habib Beye and Emile Heskey.
Well, I think Heskey’s a really good player. He’s such a big unit. I was talking to Dion Dublin – I was producing a band of his called The Establishment – and he was saying that basically Heskey is a person you can’t really get through. He thought he was a great player, so I’ll take that as true.
What’s Dion Dublin up to? I know he invented the “Dube” – is he busy with musical stuff?
He is, and he does a lot of punditry, which I think he’s really good at as well. He’s quite articulate, Dion is. He’s just got back from Los Angeles, actually, where he went to a big music meeting – a what-d’you-call-it – where they all get together and show each other their wares. He took the Dube out there, hoping to get a dealership in America for it.
Fingers crossed for him – it would be great to see Dion Dublin conquer America.
It would be, wouldn’t it?
Would you collaborate with him?
In what way?
An album, perhaps – Steve Cradock and Dion Dublin.
I can’t see that happening. Did you know he’s a saxophone player as well? He comes from a musical family – two older brothers, one’s a bass player and the other’s a drummer, I think. And his dad is a really good saxophonist, apparently. I tried to get three of Jools Holland’s brass section to play on the Establishment record, and I tried to get Dion to get involved, but he wasn’t having a bar of it so I’ve never actually heard him play. But I do know he does play.
Finally, if you had to pick a five-a-side team out of all the Villa players you’ve seen in your time as a fan, who would you select?
It would probably be from my sort of generation, like Peter Withe, Gary Shaw…errr…I don’t really know half of them, to be honest with you. There you go, that’s how limited my knowledge of football is. Make one up yourself! (Laughs)
Steve, thank you.
Steve Cradock will play the following UK dates in February and March…(click here for links to buy tickets)…
Thu, 09 Feb 2012
Scotland (The Tolbooth, Tolbooth, Jail Wynd, Sterling, FK8 1DE)
Fri, 10 Feb 2012
Scotland (Maggie May, 60, The Trongate, Glasgow. G15EP)
Sat, 11 Feb 2012
Scotland (The Attic, 57-59 Hopetoun St, Bathgate, EH48 4PB)
Sun, 12 Feb 2012
Scotland (Dirty Martinis, 8 Langlands Street, Kilmarnock)
Fri, 17 Feb 2012
Birmingham (HMV Institute, Digbeth)
Sat, 18 Feb 2012
Tumbridge Wells (The Forum. Fronthill, The Common, TN48YU)
Thu, 23 Feb 2012
Manchester (The Ruby Lounge, 28-34, High St, Manchester, M4 1QB)
Fri, 24 Feb 2012
Wigan (Indiependence, Kings St West, Wigan)
Sat, 25 Feb 2012
Scunthorpe (The Priory, Ashby Rd)
Sun, 26 Feb 2012
Liverpool (Erics Live, Mathew St, )
Wed, 29 Feb 2012
Wed, 29 Feb 2012
Wakefield (THE HOP – 17, Bank St Wakefield Wf1 1EH)
Thu, 01 Mar 2012
Blackburn (The Live Lounge, 79, Northgate, Blackburn, Lancs BB21AA)
Fri, 02 Mar 2012
Cleesthorpe (Pleasure Island)
Sat, 03 Mar 2012
Hull (The Piper Club)
Sun, 04 Mar 2012
Newcastle (O2 Academy)
For more information, please visit www.stevecradock.com