I still miss you fella.

Published: Monday, 04 April 2022

‘I beg your pardon young chappie?’ You’d hear it every time he heard something he didn’t like. ‘I make you right fella’. This followed when he’d heard something he agreed with. ‘Morning fella’. Obvious.  We’d taunt him with a version of this one - we’d make out that his first words at a press conference would be - ‘morning fellas, but don’t quote me’. Of course it wasn’t quite like that, but he hated controversy - and any good impersonation needs a little exaggeration!

Ray Wilkins. I’m proud to say ‘my mate’. I said this on Twitter today, (Monday April 4) on the 4th anniversary of his desperately sad passing ‘I’ve lost too many good friends in recent years but this fella is still the one I miss the most. There isn’t a day goes by that I don’t hear myself mimicking him’. It’s true - whether it’s on the golf course, in a tv studio, a bar or just passing another mate. He gave us ‘Ray-speak’ - his own unique version of the English language.

He hated his early nickname ‘Butch’. The family gave it to him because he was a chubby baby. I guess you couldn’t today! He’d hate woke just as much mind you.

You knew when you’d pissed him off. He’d just look at you and frown - concentrate his eyes on you and stare. I’d always laugh - I couldn’t help it.

That was the thing about Razor - yes, lovely, lovely guy - but there was an inner steel. There had to be or he wouldn’t have touched the heights that he did. What a player. What a wonderful player - years ahead of his time.

It was Ron Atkinson that christened him ‘the crab’.  Ray’s view was ‘why waste possession with a hopeful ball into space? Keep it. Go sideways or back - but keep it’. Guardiola would’ve loved him.

I didn’t necessarily agree! I still laugh when I think about me and Andy taking him into the centre circle at Singapore Cricket Club. We were about to play a friendly against them - football of course. We told Ray ‘get your head up son - no sideways and backwards - we’ll be running that way (pointing towards the goal) - all you’ve got to do is hit us’.  I’m laughing again now. Happily, he did as well. Of course, he was brilliant. He always was and my goodness I called on him often enough to play charity games.

That inner steel I referred to - do you remember him trading punches with Graeme Souness in an England/Scotland game? He wasn’t going to back down. He could look after himself.

He got his revenge sometime later when they both played for Rangers. Graeme was manager - and as he came on as sub mid-way through another stroll, Ray quickly went round the other players and told them not to give Souness the ball. Graeme spent the last 20 minutes of the game chasing it They passed round him - over him - anywhere they could in order that he didn’t get the ball. He’d drop deep to pick it up from the keeper - but away it went again. Ray was that good he could control things like that. Souness left the field without getting a touch.

Post match Souness was furious ‘whose fucking idea was that?’ he ranted in the dressing room. The lads kept their heads down and ‘chuckled’. ‘Right, you’re all in Monday’, he said before storming out. I’m laughing again. I did that a lot around the little man.

It’s lovely to read so many warm words about Ray, but how I wish he was still here. I’m sure Jackie, Ross and Jade will be touched by the annual show of love for their husband and dad, but they know more than any of us how cruel it is that we lost Ray far too soon. Love ya fella.

A couple of things from the weekend. I don’t know if David Ginola has watched much football in recent years - I guess not. He wouldn’t be alone. Not everyone that’s played the game watches it during their career - or after. This is the only excuse I can give Ginola. David - Harry Kane is many things, but he’s not Maradona.

Marcie Rashford wasn’t ‘killed’ (horrible word to use) by Ralf Rangnick at the weekend. He lost his way many, many months ago. I wrote a blog way way back on this subject and came in for some stick then. And now?

Deli Alli hasn’t ‘mysteriously’ disappeared Graeme. He was the subject of another blog months ago. I’m afraid he’s gone. Poch, Mourinho, Nuno and Conte have all failed to get a tune out of him. Lampard will as well. Dele will never be the same again.

Fernandes can’t leap out of a tackle - and then complain that his team-mates aren’t putting enough into games. Lead by example Bruno. Words are cheap.

Another pundit reckons United’s players don’t ‘look as though they’re enjoying themselves’. Really Poirot? Good spot! That’s what happens when you ‘play by numbers’.

Rangnick wants 18 months to sort United out. With you at the helm I’m guessing Ralf?

Tuchel claimed a lot of Chelsea’s problems in the defeat by Brentford were down to the weather. ‘We trained in gloves on Friday’, he said. ‘Today it was warm’. Please. 😂😂.

Guardiola claimed the grass was long at Burnley. It can’t be. They’re all a standard cut these days thanks to Arsene Wenger - except City’s pitch, which is really tight. That’s their choice - but Guardiola can’t expect others to prepare a pitch to his liking.

And David Moyes is correct - there is no way that the FA Cup should offer a CL place to teams that have previously played in that competition. What next? Russian money supporting a Chelsea takeover? One of the groups is trying that sting. Let’s not dig down too far with the others eh? Or it’ll never happen.