FourFourTwo

Primal Scream hail Hand of God

The Primal Scream frontman on trousering Wembley turf, King Kenny’s magic, stray wine bottles – and the time Oasis forced him to play centre- back

- Niall Doherty

What was the first match that you ever attended?

I had a ticket to see Scotland against the Czechs in 1973 – if we won, we’d qualify for the 1974 World Cup. I got a ticket because I lived close to Hampden Park, only two streets away. I was up in the North Stand and went on my own; Scotland won 2- 1 and Joe Jordan scored the winner. My seat was in line with it, a spectacula­r diving header. Jordan went where other men were scared to.

Who was your childhood hero, and did you ever meet them?

In Glasgow, my hero was Kenny Dalglish at Celtic. He was just f** king amazing, a wizard. I marvelled at the way he’d get the ball with his back to the opposition’s goal and could hold off four or five players. They couldn’t get the ball off him, which would create the space, and then he’d just pass it to Danny Mcgrain or Jimmy Johnstone. His football brain was second to none. Dalglish was just a f** king perfect player. I was brokenhear­ted when he went to Liverpool in ’ 77, but as a fan I was like, ‘ I know why he’s gone to Liverpool, because he wants to win the European Cup’. I think the sad thing was – and we all knew it – that it kind of signified Celtic weren’t really a major club any more. I never met him, but I knew so much about him – I knew his girlfriend was Marina Harkins and that her dad owned a pub 10 minutes from where I lived.

What was your greatest moment as a player?

I was in a Boys Brigade team and we won the league. I was 14 or something. I got a medal for winning the league and played inside- left, like a No. 10. Free!

What do you like the most about going to a match?

Just the energy as you approach the ground, the build- up, this whole feeling of expectatio­n. There’s that romantic idea your team is going to do well. The energy as you approach the stadium, that feeling of this massive event; this larger- than- life event. There’s religiosit­y to it – everybody is there to completely lose themselves, subsume their ego and their character in something that’s greater than them. You lose your sense of self and become part of this mass consciousn­ess. It’s incredibly seductive, and it’s an amazing feeling. You surrender to something bigger than yourself.

How has watching football changed for you since you were a kid?

When I was a kid, there were the big clubs like Liverpool, Leeds, Man United, Man City, all the London clubs, Celtic, Rangers, right? Obviously, that hasn’t changed. But what has changed is the inequality. The wealth. The playing field was a little more level back in the day. Have you ever watched I Believe In

Miracles [ the 2015 film documentin­g Nottingham Forest’s double European Cup winners of 1979 and 1980]? That answers what I’m about to say. Forest winning the league and then winning the European Cup, twice – that can never happen again because the super clubs are so rich, because of that inequality. And I think that’s what’s changed for me – that romance of a small club like Nottingham Forest achieving what they achieved under Brian Clough and Peter Taylor. It can never happen again because the game is rigged. And it’s getting worse.

Have you passed on your football fandom to your children?

My sons know everything about football – especially my older son Wolf, who’s fanatical. I love watching football with them. We’re Celtic fans in this house, especially my oldest son – he gets very upset watching games. I’m like, “Well, you know, the thing about being a football fan is the highs are very, very high – and these days they’re few and far between. But the lows are very, very low. To make that commitment, you’ll be in pain a lot of the time... so get used to it!”

What’s your favourite goal you’ve ever seen?

Either Maradona’s Hand of God, or his second goal against England. I’m not a Catholic, but they’re holy goals; it’s like an anti- imperialis­t’s f** king wet dream. Those goals are just perfection.

Where’s the strangest place you’ve ever met a manager or a player?

I was on a march, right – an anti- austerity march – and we were going down Regent Street. I saw Alex Mcleish, he saw me, and I’m like, “Alex!” He’s gone, “Hey, Bobby!” and then wandered in with his wife. We were just chatting as we walked down the street...

Where’s the best place you’ve ever watched a game?

I was lucky enough to go to England vs Scotland at Wembley in 1977, when we won 2- 1, Dalglish scored and then Scotland fans got on the pitch and broke the goal. I was really young, but it was a monumental occasion and I managed to get some Wembley turf. I took it back to Glasgow and put it in a f** king pot.

If you could drop yourself into your all- time five- a- side team, who would you be playing alongside?

It’s got to be Diego [ Maradona]. But you need a goalkeeper, don’t you? So he’s got to be Felix, Felix the cat, from Brazil. Franz Beckenbaue­r at the back. One more, then... I’m just fannying about somewhere. Then [ Andres] Iniesta’s in midfield.

Which fellow musician is the best footballer you’ve seen?

Guigsy from Oasis was pretty good. We had a couple of games with them against roadies at European festivals – I think one was at Roskilde in Denmark around ’ 94/’ 95. All the Scream boys liked a game of football, but we were all like, “Ol’ Guigsy’s all right.” Throb from the Primals was good as well. Guigsy was understate­d and tasteful. The rest of Oasis, most of them were poaching. And I was poaching! I was like, ‘ How many poachers can there be?’ So I went, ‘ F** k that, I’ll go back and play centre- half’.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen at a game?

During a Celtic- Rangers game at Ibrox, Celtic were being beaten, and Celtic fans started fighting each other. I saw a grown man get another grown man by the hair and smash his face into the metal barrier. That was horrific. In the same game, I saw an 11- year- old boy get a full bottle of wine in his face that somebody threw from the back of the terrace. Then as I left the game, I got attacked by a man holding a massive wooden stake. All of that was on the same day. Were you after something less violent?

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CELTIC BOBBY GILLESPIE
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