Interview with Dave Langan

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November 23, 2012 by Made In Brum

Everyone of us is on a journey through life filled with joys and sorrows too, and we have a beginning and we have an end. However, it’s what you do during that journey that we will be judged on.I recently caught up with former Birmingham City and Republic of Ireland legend Davy Langan on his return to St Andrews in the Royal George pub on Tilton Road. A group of Birmingham City supporters paid their tribute to the great man on Langansday. I spent the day with Davy and he gave me a fascinating insight into his journey when he joined me ‘On The Back Seat.’

How are you Legend? Let’s start at the beginning; where are you from and what are your first football memories?

Davy:

I’m good thanks Paul. Me knees are playing me up a bit. I’ve just had a new one and I still can’t bend it, but lets move on. I’m from Dublin and me first memories of playing football are with me Da in Ringsend Park. Then after Mass on Sunday, we would start a game with a few local kids, word soon got around and we would finish with about 20 a side. Real jumpers for goalposts stuff!

Gabbie:

Tell me about your education Davy?

Davy:

I went to a Catholic school where we didn’t play football, it was Hurling or Gaelic football. I left at 14 without much education and went to work briefly as a delivery driver. My football education really started at Bath Rangers and then Cherry Orchard. At the Orchard’s we went a season unbeaten in what is now the Eircom League.

Gabbie:

Who were your heroes Davy?

Davy:

Pat Jennings. All the kids, when they went in goal at Ringsend Park would pretend they were him. I eventually played, and scored against Pat. I also used to like Charlie George and little did I know years later that I would play in the same team as him at Derby County.

Gabbie:

Didn’t Charlie lose a finger in an accident with a lawnmower Davy?

Davy:

Yes he did and not a nicer man could you wish to meet. Charlie’s a great guy and I guess the reason a lot of Irish folk support Manchester United, as I did, was because of George Best. Although me Da was a big Shelbourne fan and I followed Shamrock Rovers all over Ireland. In fact, when I signed for Derby I’d phone home every Sunday to see how we’d got on and more often than not, they would lose!!!!

Gabbie:

They must be the Irish equivalent of Birmingham City, but when they’re in your blood you’re hooked. We should get a tie up going. Next stop was Derby County and a certain Brian Howard Clough. Tell me about the great man?

Davy:

Yes it was Brian who brought me over, but it was third time lucky as I was turned down by Birmingham City, and along with David O’Leary and Frank Stapleton, we were turned down by Manchester United. The first time I met Cloughie he was tanned and he had white shorts and a yellow top on. With his hair swept back. He said “Young man, can you use a brush.” I said “Yes boss.” “Well fuck off down my office and get it cleaned.” He replied. When he made Brian Clough, God threw away the mould, he had an aura about him I’ve never seen in anyone else. He knew when to give you a bollocking and when to give you a lift. I sat beside Brian one game and John McGovern was having a mare, Brian kept nudging and telling me where John was going wrong. When the half time whistle blew I thought Jaysus, John’s gonna get it. Cloughie had a pop at a couple of the players and then he turned to John, who had his head in his hands, and said “Young man your a credit to the game and you’ll do for me. Your Mom and Dad should be proud, you were fucking magnificent.” John’s head rose and chest pumped out, he ran out for the second half, scored and won us the game. That was the magic of Brian Clough. Then one day the lads stitched me up and I drew the short straw to ask the gaffer about a pay rise for us all. The boys knew I did a lot of work for Cloughie, he used to say to the staff “send me the Irishman” as that’s how he always referred to me. So, I knocked on his office door and entered. Cloughie said, “yes Irishman, what the fuck do you want?” “I’ve come to see you about a pay rise” I answered. “Well fuck off and come back and see me when you’re sober.” Then there was the time he phoned the boot room and Alan Lewis answered the call. Cloughie said, “Bring me down a whiskey.” Alan replied “fuck off” and a rather irate Brian Clough answered, “Young man, do you know who this is?” Alan, for all his cheek said “Yes its Brian Clough, do you know who I am?” An even more irate Cloughie said “No” So Alan yelled “Well fuck off and come and get it yourself” We then all ran for our lives!!

Gabbie:

Did Cloughie ever find out who it was Davy?

Davy:

No but we reckon he had a pretty good idea!

Gabbie:

Next was Birmingham City Davy, tell me about your time with us?

Davy:

I loved it at the Blues. We had a great team with the likes of Frank Worthington, Mark Dennis, Colin Todd, Alan Curbishley and with Jim Smith at the helm. Now, Jim was fiery, he would let you have both barrels and the tea would often end up all over the dressing room wall, but he was a great guy. Jim would just let loose and I’d put me head down and let him pass. Jim always wore these highly polished black shoes and if they appeared in my vision, the game was up. To be fair, he would then come and buy you a drink in the bar afterwards, he was a man’s man. Sadly, my time at Birmingham was blighted by injuries, my knees would swell up, I’d have them drained and more Cortisone than I could wish to remember was injected into me, but I just wanted to play every week and that got me through 90 minutes. Things got worse though, I hit the bottle and gambled, I got depressed and hit a downward spiral. In fact, a Blues fan named Gordon Powers saved my life and he straightened me out. Then Ron Saunders sold me to Oxford as I was deemed to be finished, but we won the old Second Division and the Milk cup. I ended up at Peterborough, but I wasn’t fit and sadly ended my career in that way. I’ve now had 13 operations and I’m still not right. My first job after leaving the game was as a car park attendant. I have a lot of regrets, particularly with my kids, but the past is the past and hopefully we can all move on. I’m married to Dawn now and I’m looking towards the future.

Gabbie:

We all make mistakes and have regrets Davy. I guess we’re all like broken stones trying to find our way home, some of us don’t but we keep right on!! If you could have a beer with anyone dead or alive, who would it be with mate?

Davy:

Steve McQueen. I love all of his films

Gabbie:

What is the best bit of advice you have been given?

Davy:

It was from Roy McFarland when I was a young un at Derby. Roy said “It’s a short career so put some money by in a pension.” I wish I had listened to him.

Gabbie:

What is your most treasured possession?

Davy:

My 26 Ireland caps. Me Ma has them in her house in Dublin along with all me other stuff. If you’re ever in Dublin, pop in and see them, you will be made very welcome.

Gabbie:

Thanks Davy. What makes you tick?

Davy:

As a player, it was always the fans, that’s what the game is all about. They pay your wages and I always respected that and gave everything I had.

Gabbie:

How do you chill out?

Davy:

Dawn and I like going to the theatre and concerts, and before you ask I do like Paul Weller and the Jam.

Gabbie:

Top man Davy, I knew you had taste. Your book “Running through Walls” is a fantastic, honest and enlightening read. How did you come across the title, Davy?

Davy:

To be fair, we never had a title, so we asked fans on their memories of me. A lot of them said Davy would run through a brick wall for you, hence the title Paul.

Gabbie:

If you could jump into any players body and be him in any match ever played, whose body would you jump into and in what game?

Davy:

Maradona. I played against him once when he was about 17. Chippy Brady was running the show for Ireland and then Argentina made a substitution. I looked up and could only describe him as a freak. He had legs like tree trunks, he was small and as strong as an Ox. He ripped us to pieces, he was a genius. I remember a game in the 1986 World Cup finals when he scored that goal against Belgium. He was off balance, stuck it away, peeled off to the crowd to celebrate and stayed on his feet. I guess it just about summed him up. Diego was easily the best player I’ve played against and big Paul McGrath is the best player I’ve played with. He is an Irish legend, is Paul.

Gabbie:

So what are you doing now, and what is your legacy Davy?

Davy:

I work for the Lord Mayor of Peterborough these days Paul, and as for my legacy, I always tried me best for the fans and God loves a tryer!!

Gabbie:

Top man, top answer and we will leave it on that note Davy. Trust me, us Birmingham City supporters love you too mate. It’s been a privilege and a pleasure being in your company today. I can only wish you all the best for the future and I hope all works out with the family. Keep Right On mate!

Running Through Walls is now available at all good book shops or online, and is a must for all true football fans.

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