Join the club, Delia

March 3, 2005
By John Brewin
(Archive)

Delia Smith's appearance as a surprise addition to Carrow Road's half-time show on Monday served to replace an image gained over 30 years of being Britain's foremost home economist with that of a latterday 'Edna the Inebriate Woman' with added affection for Norwich City.

That outburst, readily downloadable from the internet should you be Google-savvy, may well turn out to be the defining moment of a vain Canaries fight against relegation but Delia should not be too downcast.

In getting a bit carried away in the arena of football she's in good company. Here's ten from the annals of history.

'Let's be 'avin yer!'

1) Kevin Keegan 1996

Where else to start but the be-mulleted one's legendary 'I would luv it' explosion after a Newcastle United victory over Leeds United. Sky interviewers Andy Gray and Richard Keyes looked on aghast as Kev launched a broadside against Alex Ferguson and Manchester United.

Fergie had mischievously claimed that Leeds wouldn't try as hard as they had done with ten men at Old Trafford the week before. That, and a supposed slight on Kev hero Stuart Pearce sent the Toon boss into fits.

Sadly for Keegan, he may have luvved it if Newcastle had beaten 'them' but it was not to be. The United of Manchester lifted their third Premiership title the following Sunday.

2) Paul Gascoigne 1991

It was a time when Gazza-mania ruled the nation. The gurns, the fake breasts, even the great goals. After firing Spurs into the FA Cup Final with a match-winning display over Arsenal, Gazza was fired up for his first piece of silverware in the final with Nottingham Forest. He would get it alright, only not from the Duchess of Kent; just from Terry Venables as he suffered in a hospital bed.

After gooning around with a wig in the pre-match warm-up, Gazza set off like a Dark Ages beserker on a heroic dose of fly agaric mushrooms.

First Gary Parker was assaulted with a high kick to the chest, for which Gascoigne was lucky to stay on the pitch and then Gary Charles was the target of a flailing lunge that put both players on the ground. Charles got up and so, after intense treatment, did Gazza. He was soon back down, his knee shattered.

A year out of the game awaited him. He would next kick a ball in anger in Rome and would never be quite the same player again.

3) Michael Knighton 1989

It was the start of the season at Old Trafford and all was looking rosy. A series of big-money Fergie buys had swelled the crowd's ambitions and there was the possibility that the hated Edwards family were to leave the club. Their shares were to be purchased by self-made man Michael Knighton, who had the necessary £10m in his pocket to buy out the erstwhile butchers.

So, in celebration, the former Coventry City trainee chose to greet his new public with a ball-juggling display in front of the Stretford End. Fans roared him on and he eventually volleyed into the back of the net to finish his cameo. United ran out 4-1 winners over Arsenal to signal the optimism was justified.

Sadly, Knighton didn't actually have the cash he said he had and, by the turn of the year, Fergie was fighting for his managerial life.

4) Sir Alex Ferguson

While Fergie may have caused Keegan to explode in 1996, he's not been unknown to get carried away in interviews himself.

The first example came in 1983 when his Aberdeen side had lifted the Scottish Cup after a narrow 1-0 win over Rangers. Surely a cause for celebration? Not a bit of it. A Scottish audience was greeted with an amazing tongue-lashing of his players. In Fergie's eyes they had played so badly that they could not celebrate the victory at all.

The boiling fire in his eyes was then transported back to an amazed dressing room where only centre-halves Alex McLeish and Willie Miller escaped growling censure.

The other highlights? 'Choking back the vomit' at Anfield in 1988 over some questionable refereeing decisions.

On Jimmy Hill in 1993: 'If there's a prat in this world it's him' - levelled after the chinsome one had criticised a Cantona challenge.

On Alan Hansen questioning whether his fire still burned in football in 2003: 'My greatest challenge was knocking Liverpool right off their f**king perch...and you can print that.'

After journalists criticised Juan Sebastian Veron at a press conference in 2002: 'Youse are all f**king c**ts, Veron's a f**king great player.' And there's many more.

5) Jim McLean 2000

GettyImages / ChristopherLeeGive yourself a round of applause, Delia. You've joined a prestigious club.

Fergie's old adversary from the days when Dundee United and Aberdeen ruled the Scottish roost was always known for his fearsome temper and non-suffering of fools.

By the year 2000, McLean the Tangerine patriarch was club chairman and had appointed brother Tommy on to the coaching staff - not a successful move as United languished at the bottom of the SPL table.

When BBC reporter John Barnes secured an interview and asked him about his unpopularity with demonstrating fans, Big Jim proceeded to punch Barnes in the face while the cameras still rolled.

His time at Tannadice was brought to a bloody end. Jim resigned the following day.

6) Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira 2005

The Arsenal versus Manchester United enmity had reached such a crescendo by last month that police chiefs and MPs were calling for a coolling of the waters. But the players just couldn't help themselves.

As Keane adjusted a faulty pair of shorts in the dressing room, he caught a glimpse of Patrick Vieira approaching Gary Neville in the tunnel. The feud from a game that had ended the Gunners 49-game unbeaten run was fully back on.

And Keane stormed out to confront the Frenchman. A TV audience's first glimpse of the players was Keane's forefinger gesticulating at Vieira. The words 'shooting your f**king mouth off' were clearly audible.

Keane was placated by the ref as Vieira reached for a mascot to grab on to. Forget the coppers and the MPs - we had a classic on our hands.

7) Francisco Gallardo 2001

Rough treatment on Jose Antonio Reyes at Old Trafford was the catalyst for our previous entry but this incident, back in his Sevilla days, saw the young man positively violated - this time by a team-mate.

Barely 18 and already the jewel in his home town club's crown, Reyes had scored in a 4-0 rout of Valladolid. He was engulfed in colleagues eager to congratulate him. But one of them, midfielder Gallardo, took it way too far. He bent down and nibbled at the teenager's genitalia in rampant celebration. A watching nation saw it all, Gallardo was soon charged with infringing 'sporting dignity and decorum' and bemoaned his ensuing punishment while the gauche Reyes worried about being teased - by his team-mates that is.

We'll leave the last, somewhat laughable, word to Sevilla sporting director Monchi Rodriguez: 'This celebration was neither terrible nor public. It took place in a private place.'

8) Graeme Souness 1996

Souey has always been a firebrand. Right back to the days when he walked out on Tottenham Hotspur as a 19-year-old because of a lack of first-team football through to his debut as Rangers player-manager ending in a red card and an on-pitch brawl with Hibs, we've seen the man's temper erupt in a way few that watch his smooth, measured punditry could imagine.

But his season-long managerial stay at Turkish giants Galatasaray is best remembered for his post-match antics in a cup final against Fenerbahce. A Galata win was celebrated by the Scot gallivanting into the centre circle of Fener's stadium and planting his club's flag there - a piece of amazing impetuosity considering the cauldron-like atmosphere of Turkish football. A full-scale riot was narrowly averted.

Souness later explained his actions as being a reaction to being called a 'cripple' by Fener's president. He also explained it away by saying such antics were commonplace in British football. He lost the chance to make them part of the Turkish game when he was sacked soon after.

9) Ron Atkinson 2004

The doyen of TV expert summarisers, the creator of his own Ronglish sub-set of the English language, the tan supreme, the comedian on the mic, the racist...

Yes, Ron's 'off-mic' racial insult of Chelsea defender Marcel Desailly as the Blues' European Cup campaign collapsed at Monaco's Stade Louis II ended a TV career and lost him £1m in pay and endorsements. It was a terrible 'rick'.

Further attempts to recover his career (save for a Channel 5 late-nighter and a Norwegian cable gig) have fallen on deaf ears and indignant unrepetance was the overriding emotion in a BBC documentary set up as 'Road to Damascus' for the 'big fella'.

To paraphrase some of the later words in that fateful outburst; that was a f**king disgusting performance.

10) Eric Cantona 1995

Empics / PhotographyJim's not mad: Mr McLean tells someone what's what.

Ten years on, and with Manchester United visiting Selhurst Park this very weekend, there seems no other place to end than Le Roi's amazing demonstration of karate on a foul-mouthed fan having been dismissed by ref Alan Wiley after a clash with Crystal Palace's Richard Shaw.

The fan, Matthew Simmons, running down the Selhurst steps, the suspended animation as Cantona flew through the air, the haymaking punch that followed it, the reactions of the old dear in the front row, the open mouths of the surrounding fans, Simmons' appalling leather wear...it seems like yesterday.

Cantona came back from a long ban to lead United to glory, Simmons was sent down soon after for another offence. These days Eric is an actor and an Old Trafford idol. Simmons carries hod.


After looking at that rowdy lot, Delia, as she grasps for a glass of consoling vin rouge, may be able to see that Monday's well-oiled antics weren't quite so bad after all.

'Come on!'


  • If you've any comments or suggestions of football madness, email John Brewin