‘Football is a fertility festival. Eleven sperm trying to get into the egg. I feel sorry for the goalkeeper’ – Bjork
I have a bit of a funny relationship with football. Whilst I would never declare myself a football fan, I like the fact it serves as a good excuse to go to the pub and hang out with my friends. I don’t mind watching Newcastle United (preferably if we win – which doesn’t happen that often these days) and as a child we had 2 season tickets between the 4 of us which we would rotate between the two adults and two kids. I have very vivid memories of being at the historic home match against Manchester United in 1996 with my mum and as Les Ferdinand booted the 3rd goal past Peter Schmeichel in the 62nd minute. The man next to me scooped me up in his arms and ecstatically presented me to the crowd like Simba from the Lion King (not sure anyone would be able to do that to a young girl these days without operation yewtree getting involved). for the 3 or 4 seasons I used to go, I never saw Newcastle lose at home, which gives you some indication of how well we were playing at the time.
It was also a time when the players and the club were way more accessible and on boxing day of that year my dad took me and my brother down to the training ground in Durham. Pavel Srnicek, goalkeeping extraordinaire was always a fan favourite and not least with me and my brother (loyal members of the Junior Magpies) and although he hailed all the way from the Czech Republic it was’t long before chrouses of ‘Pavel is a Geordie’ would ring out through St James’ Park at every match.
I also have a memory of another match I attended with my mum, don’t ask me against who. Our seats were always front row behind the left hand goal as you would look at the pitch from the duggout so you had to watch the game through little squares. It didn’t always give you the best vantage point for what was going on the other end of the pitch but I remember the crowd were all of a sudden on their feet and going mental with enthusiasm. We couldn’t quite tell what was going on until I heard mum shout ‘It’s Pav, It’s Pav!’ turned our he’d come out of his goal and ran the full length of the pitch to try and score. I don’t think he did, but I seem to remember it gave everyone a laugh. The little tinker.
Now just over 15 years since he left Newcastle Pavel Srnicek has released his autobiography, appropriately titled ‘Pavel is a Geordie’ just in time for Christmas. It chronicles his early life, his prolific role as part of ‘The Entertainers’ Newcastle side of the mid-90s and life post professional football. The book, which is released officially on Thursday December 17th 2015 has been available to pre order for the last month or so with anyone buy a copy being invited to get it signed. Which of course Mum and Dad took full advantage of so now Pav has the honour of saying he’s met this full branch of the Weatherstone tree, the lucky duck….
Geordies are a passionate bunch, not least about football and when someone plays for their club with the heart, grace and humour that Pav did they will be fiercely loyal.Whereas he never reached the dizzy heights of David Beckham type fame, it comes as no surprise to me that he’s decided to write a book. And even less of a surprise that it will no doubt sell extremely well on Tyneside.
‘Pavel is a Geordie’ by Pavel Srnicek and Will Scott is available from the following links:
Follow Pav on Twitter: @PavelSrnicekUK
Hi Helen, really enjoyed your piece. Lovely euphemistic intro using a Bjork lyric. I was a big fan back in the day. I think you capture beautifully what Pav meant to the people of Newcastle. It hurts, more than I can express, he’s no longer here.