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View Full Version : The October 2012 Red News interview with Brian Greenhoff. RIP.



Red News
24-05-2013, 11:42 AM
This interview first appeared in Red News 194


With the imminent release of his autobiography, Brian Greenhoff kindly agreed to a wide ranging interview for RN. His ghostwriter, @yolkie_, kindly agreed to ask our questions (from RN readers and contributors) with their clear rapport and trust making this exclusive chat more comfortable and interesting. Judge for yourself.
RN. A lot of United fans, simply because that's life, won't know about your post-United career, can you give a brief potted history.
BG: Well, went to Leeds, then South Africa, then Rochdale, then Finland, and then nearly went to Malta. That was it basically. After football, when I got back from South Africa after Rochdale, I went into the pub business, then after the pub we bought a shop, then after the shop I went working for Hitachi. Then I worked for Nobels Amusements. Then I went to Lindops. I was there for 11 years, which is the same amount of time I was at United, they were the best two jobs I had and then I went to Spain for six years, well 5 years 8 months. I indulged a bit in local cricket and football, that was all from 1987 basically, well from 1980 when I played for Robinsons for a few games and then the Villagers and then I went to Norden, got involved at Norden and started playing for the 2nd team there. It's been a long thing. I've always had something to do with sport, even with Whitworth Valley, the Horse & Farrier pub, I helped with their team for a while. There's a lot, isn't there?!
RN: Why did you decide now was the time to do the book?
BG: Cos somebody asked me! To be fair I was never sure, if I did a book, would it sell? But I thought at the end of the day, why not? Wayne (Yolkie) wanted to write it, so I enjoyed doing it.
RN: I know that you are relatively modest and whenever I have said anything nice about it, you don't like hearing the nice things really, or you sort of shrug it off, do you not think the more you have talked about it, your story is interesting.
BG: Well it's not interesting to me (Laughs). Because when I am reading it I know the story. Better for other people reading it, and seeing what they think because when I'm reading it, it's the way I am talking. I can remember when we were doing it, I'd talk, we'd drift off, we'd come back and that's how you have done it and I thought ‘does it work that?’ but I think ‘yeah, it does’, because to me when I read an autobiography I read it as if it's them, I can hear their voice while I'm reading it and it's the same with me but I think ‘I know that!’. I found it weird, reading it.
RN: Have you enjoyed it, has it been a good experience?
BG: Yeah. It's been hard work, and it's been hard work for you because I haven't been well. Since we started doing it I've had my nose done, getting over that, then I finished up getting this chest thing and then I got a bloody stomach bug, it's been a bad year for me hasn't it, everything seems to be going wrong!
RN: Let's hope it ends on a high!
RN: A few players that RN has interviewed from the 70s team that you were in, say they don't wish that they had swapped eras to today rather than then, do you agree?
BG: Well, I'd swap the money! That's one thing I think everyone would say. Not the era because it was a good era when we played. I'd like for us to have played on better pitches. The two things I am jealous of now, well not jealous, I'm envious of the money and I'm jealous of the pitches. Because we used to get them early season and then… you look at the Semi Final of 1979 when we played Liverpool at Maine Road, look at the pitch at that, it was horrendous. A Semi Final of an FA Cup. I used to look at the fixture list when it came out and I used to look at certain fixtures where we were playing, say like Derby away and I would hope we were playing them in August/September, because it means the pitch would be decent. If you knew you were playing in February, well there wouldn't be any grass on it, it would just be mud. But that's the way pitches were, I mean Old Trafford wasn't the best pitch, Maine Road was poor. The best pitch we played on was Ipswich, there were very few pitches that were good all year round. Don't forget the Reserves used to play (on them). You'd play one Saturday and next Saturday when you were away, the Reserves would be at home and the Youth team would play on it all the time. And also you've got to remember when you had Cup Replays, they carried on until they finished! When we played Sunderland, we played at home, away, then back at home.
RN: The team, the Doc's Devils were so entertaining…
BG: It was a great era we played in, as I said I wouldn't have swapped it, all I mentioned is the money and the pitches really. That's the only thing what the present day has got for me. A lot of things happen in the present day which are very annoying now for a lot of ex-players, with that diving and all that where as in our day people used to get up and get on with it.
RN: You've said that Dave Sexton wasn't your cup of tea, why was that, did you ever clash (Wayne adds - if you can try and keep it to less than 4 hours!)
BG: I think Dave Sexton wise, it's better off reading the book. Because to be fair, to highlight everything that I think about him… I think the main thing about Dave Sexton - I think I've put it across in the book - it's I didn't enjoy his training. I've always said, when they talk about good coaches, not so much managers, but good coaches, it's a good coach who has got a lot of days when you are training, so he's got to make it interesting. You know that he's going to repeat stuff, but you hope that he can still make it interesting. We know what we were doing with Tommy Cav (Cavanagh), but we'd always finish with a 5-a-side, and we'd always finish that way. There might be a bit of controversy, and we'd just come off laughing and arguing, that's what it was about. So you'd take it to the dressing room, you'd still be talking about it whereas with Dave Sexton, a lot of the time we finished doing exercises and exercise and it bored me to be fair. I didn't like it.
RN: A few players have said the same, that he wasn't particularly their cup of tea but they've also said that given time he might have won the league with United, do you think that, do you agree with that?
BG: Sexton? Nah. No. I don't think he had a great fight in his belly. Some managers have that fight and push you on, like the Doc used to push us on and Alex Ferguson, has got that fight where I didn't think he had that.
RN: Obviously United fans didn't take to his style from the Doc's attacking nature but we were more like to concede then being more attack minded anyway, so as a defender does that matter?
BG: Well it does, because you've totally got to change your game because why have me playing centre-half when I can't attack, when I can't go forward. The idea of me playing centre-half was so we could start moves from the back, so I could get it, pass it out quick and get onto the attack whereas with Sexton I was basically held back, I felt held back with him, so basically me playing centre half was a waste because then if he wanted a defender, go and buy one - which he did!
RN: The Doc said you offered something different whenever he moved you into midfield, which position did you prefer?
BG: It's a funny one that because I don't know really. Because I enjoyed playing midfield, but I enjoyed playing centre-half, certain games, especially when you're at home playing centre-half was a lot better, I was basically then pushing into midfield as much as anything, I still knew what my responsibility was but I was never held back whereas in midfield it was, I enjoyed playing in midfield for England funnily enough because at one part he gave me a different role, and I played it for three games and I played it really, really well and I thought to myself ‘oh I like this’ and I played in the same midfield then with Ray Wilkins, and basically then Ray replaced me which as I say in the book I wish Sexton had never stopped me playing with Ray because I first played with him at Old Trafford in the under 23s when me and him absolutely ran the game. I was more sitting in front of the back four supporting everybody and if the fullback went then you'd just push across, you'd be helping everybody, if somebody was in trouble you'd try and be there to help him, you'd try and be the outlet for everybody. I know he's a bit of an arsehole but if you watch Busquets, he does the role fabulously, he does it really well, but he's a bit of an arsehole for his diving but that's another story ain't it!
RN: People when they look back say that player from that era would have been perfect nowadays, do you yourself when you look back and asked such a question as to which position you preferred, do you not look at this team and think ‘I would have been perfect for that position’, because of your style as an attacking defender or a useful ball playing midfielder…
BG: I think with United, yeah, I think I'd have to play as a defensive holding midfield player. The idea of that, you're supposed to guard your centre-halves, you're trying to stop balls being knocked into them, it's something I quite enjoyed doing because we played against Bolton once, and Sunderland once, and I was playing midfield and suddenly things were causing us a bit of trouble and Martin (Buchan) just said to me ‘Brian, do us a favour, stick on him ‘til half-time’ and I did, I did a job for them, ‘cos that's what I would do, so any job they wanted me to do basically for the team I would do. The Doc wanted me centre-half, I'd play centre-half, Sexton in the end didn't want me to play centre-half, he put me midfield, he put me full-back whereas the Doc trusted me in every way didn't he because he played me centre-forward, played me there, right side midfield, centre midfield, left side midfield, centre-half and I was even bloody substitute goalkeeper! So he trusted me, and it's a thing I've tried to come across in the book, when you've got a manager who trusts you, you perform better.
RN: On trust and the good relationship you had with the Doc, some players did fall out with him obviously, was that hard to keep from simmering over, was the atmosphere difficult at times?
BG: No, because it never bothered me, players falling out with him, that's their problem. It's like, there were players on a lot more money than me, didn't bother me, because it wasn’t my problem. I had to earn the right to get the money that they were on. He never broke a promise to me about wages you see the Doc, I got a rise every year he was there, so basically that was all he could do, wasn't it?
RN: Do you think the Doc was targetted fairly or unfairly sacked?
BG: Whether he was unfairly sacked, I don't know but I think he was targetted, I know that, I've said that in the book, he was targetted. I mean the Doc always talked about a junior Board and yeah he was right because I can remember them. I got on well with them ok, one of them carpeted my first two houses!
RN: Was the problem in the 70s, through to Atkinson until Fergie, that the youth set up was being forgotten?
BG: Yeah. The youth thing, I thought it started, mainly Atkinson was the problem that, he just wanted to buy. I do think in my time, though I wasn't with him that long but I didn't see much that Dave Sexton was doing. I think he actually fetched in Sid Owen, but I know Sid was at Leeds when our kid was there and our kid loved Sid Owen but when my nephew was an apprentice at Old Trafford, he hated Sid Owen, so it was a funny one so whether Sid changed I don't know, he always seemed to be hard with them. And I don't know if that's the right way. To me when they talk about the youth thing coming through the years I sometimes think ‘but we didn't do anything special, they didn't do anything special with us, we just trained’. They were lucky, we were just good players and I think it's good players that’s the key. Good players are easy to train and this Academy thing is totally different, because they are going in, and they are teaching them skills and all different ways and things to do, and I can understand that. But me, from getting there at 15 years old to being 18 when I finished playing for the youth team, I didn't think we did anything special but we had some good players. When you think, three of us got through, myself who played 271, I think Tony Young played over 100 games and Tommy O'Neil played about 50, so that was basically what came through ours which if you get three through every year, you are doing well, aren't you? When you look at the year after you've got Sammy, Jimmy Nicholl, and the year after that you've got Arthur Albiston so that sort of era wasn't too bad. They were always producing, United. Whereas like now, it seems to take longer to get through now. We don't get anybody in at 18 do we who sort of plays regular? Well there is a lot more patience. Well, unless you are called Pogba! Or Fryers. They've no patience, just to wait another year, I mean, I can't see Pogba playing regular for Juventus. They'll do exactly the same thing that Alex Ferguson wants to do, wants to make sure he is ready when he comes in.
RN: You created some controversy on twitter in talking about the Glazers, what are your actual thoughts on their ownership?
BG: No comment. I just wanted to feel the facts of all the fans, that was all. I keep seeing people tweeting and talking about the Glazers but they're not saying anything. They are talking about ‘let's do this, let's do that’, they are not, what are they going to do about it? Who do they want in? I was just asking the question because I am interested in it. I'm glad it caused a bit of fuss to be fair because I do think it is a thing which it doesn't sit pretty with me but I don't know if the Glazers have done a good job or a bad job. I understand the thoughts of the fans when they say they are taking money out of the club but they have never refused Alex Ferguson anything, so Fergie tells us. I don't think Fergie is going to tell lies on that sort of thing.
RN: To take it to the level that you would directly know about, how was Louis Edwards to deal with, was there much direct contact with the players?
BG: Yeah, Louis was a lovely fella. He just used to come into the dressing room before the game and he'd go “TP” - two points - that was it, all he wanted to do was get back to his glass of champagne. I think that's why he liked coming away because I don't think his wife liked him drinking a lot, so when he used to come away with us and all that you'd see him in the bar, having a drink, having a glass of champagne, some nice food. He enjoyed himself. As a Chairman I don't know what he was like because I never had any dealings with him. The Directors, they'd come on the bus and they'd all be fine. They'd all talk, I didn't have a problem with them to be fair. The best Directors, you never hear them. You never heard Louis Edwards blabbing in the papers, did you, talking in the paper? He never did that. He had a difficult decision to make, when the Doc had the affair so whether he handled it right or wrong, we don't know. I think there will be a lot of United fans think ‘no they shouldn't have sacked him, they should have got rid of Laurie’. I could open a bit of a can of worms with it but I don't think it's for me to do it.
RN: Were there many personality clashes in the dressing room at United?
BG: No, there was only people different. No, but I didn't see any personality clashes. Actually we had a good dressing room. It was a funny dressing room, there was some funny people in it. When we had to be serious, we had to be serious, if Martin wanted to say something we sat down and listened, because we'd have our own players' meetings and Martin would front it. And he was very good at that.
RN: You speak in the book about Willie Morgan, under Tommy in the early days there was a fair bit of conflict, Willie eventually moved on because he had a big falling out with Tommy, did that cause any rucks or differences?
BG: Well it was a bit uncomfortable because all he did was slag him off. Once Willie had made his decision that was it, and he should have just gone down the road. He wasn't happy, he didn't want to leave Manchester United, I'll tell you that now. In the end I think the Doc just said ‘look, you've got to go’, think he wanted him out then, you see I could say something about that which would open up a can of worms but it's not for me to say it really.
RN: Is it odd when those kind of divisions break out to keep the team unity?
BG: No it was fine because particularly at the time we were playing well, so I think when you are playing well, if you are playing badly then I think it gets worse but when you are playing well it doesn't particularly matter. Didn't for me anyway. ‘Cos Willie to be fair, still performed, he sort of never threw his teddy out of the cot and didn't say ‘I'm not going to play, I'm not going to do this’, he carried on playing. He didn't piss off to Argentina and play golf for five months!
RN: The crowds and the atmosphere. As well as the great away following and Old Trafford atmospheres, there was also the trouble at the time, how difficult was it playing when that was going on?
BG: Yeah, it wasn't nice. It wasn't nice. I can remember we had a meeting at Old Trafford with the fans, basically the fans who turned up weren't the fans who were causing the trouble. The fans who turned up were just fans who just wanted to turn up, just to meet the players! It was difficult, and it wasn't nice but in the end it all got sorted and it was back to normal.
RN: Did the players used to talk about the Red Army?
BG: Well, never knew as them like the Red Army, yeah we talked about it, I would say a lot of players weren't happy about it but it was just something that happened, it was society at the time, it didn't only happen with United fans it was happening with quite a few lots of fans.
RN: In the book you speak about Milan in '69 being the pinnacles of the atmospheres you've ever witnessed, you've even gone as far to say you've played against Ajax and that was a great atmosphere but nothing quite got to you like the Milan '69 game?
BG: Yeah. That was unbelievable that.
RN: What is the difference then between a great atmosphere and it spilling over? Because obviously a great atmosphere has got to have that feverishness about it?
BG: Yeah, they keep talking about it at Old Trafford, about getting a singing area. I mean if you went in the Stretford End, you sang. And don't forget you've got the great big Stretford End Paddock, so for the noise that came from there was, when they got going… it used to come round the ground because don't forget you were standing on four sides, so when it used to come round the ground, I used to remember, because they were all 3pm kick-offs, the noise that was generated at 3pm, before you were kicking off was like ‘woh here we go’. You don't get that now. People still stood up. I've said it before, I do think Keano was right when he talked about the prawn sandwiches, because when I have done the corporate, I've seen people missing 15 minutes of the 2nd half because they are finishing off their cup of tea, or a pint or a glass of wine. So when Keane talked about it, about the atmosphere of the prawn sandwich brigade, he's right. But that's not the genuine fans is it? The genuine fans… I mean the away support is fantastic, you hear them singing all the game, it's fantastic. But at home it's just… I mean you go, you know. Anybody who sort of went in the 70s, and the 60s, they'll tell you, the atmospheres not half as good or maybe not a quarter as good. It was the worst thing that happened to football, was the sitting down lark. Every ground now. I know Hillsborough and it was a tragedy and it's something that happened, but that wasn't caused by, well we'll find out what actually caused it soon (interview took place the week before the recent apologies by the police) but if it's managed right… if you get a standing area full, for 25,000 people, and let 20,000 in, you're not going to get in bother are you? You're not going to get any accidents. If you put 30,000, it's going to be a bit different. And United there's no need to extend the ground they could just, if they let us have a standing area… and I'd have a standing area for away fans as well. So they can fetch a few more. I can remember when United played city the other year in the Cup at Old Trafford, and I said to my lad, ‘hey they are getting more people you know city, you'll see the difference in the atmosphere’. When he came home he said ‘I couldn't believe it!’. Difference in the atmosphere. The Bilbao fans, imagine if they'd have fetched 10,000, what the atmosphere would have been like then?
RN: Was it City as the enemy for the players as it was the fans. We know Bestie used to mix with their players, did your era?
BG: Never socially in Manchester. With England we'd used to knock around with Dennis Tueart and Dave Watson. Yeah spent a lot of time with Dave, I spent more time with him than I did with Dennis but me and Stevie knocked around with them.
RN: The walls have gone up since your era, there's not the closeness there was during your time between fans and players, what are your thoughts on the change?
BG: In our days it was the pop stars, who were never with their fans, they were always sort of ushered away then like present day players are now so they've basically become pop stars. How many players will go into a pub for a pint now after the game? They wouldn't would they? It's just the way it is now. Sometimes I would do it, I didn't do it all of the time, I'd go in pub after the game. I'd just say to Maureen, ‘I'm going to pub for an hour’ she'd be ‘alright, no problem’. And that would be it, I'd just go to the pub and the lads would be… sometimes the local I used to go in, in Urmston, I used to get in there before the landlord got back from the game! Because he used to go in the Trafford Arms, they'd park in his backyard and go in pub, walk to the ground, watch the game, come back in pub, let traffic get away and then jump in car. Where we'd finish, always 20 to 5, get a shower, go into the players' lounge and then we'd be leaving about 5:30, 5:45 and I could go into pubs, it wasn't a problem. I never had a problem in a pub with a supporter, whether it was United or City.
RN: You're welcome on twitter offering your own views, not being censored, did that ever get you in trouble, on or off the pitch?
BG: No, no, not really. See don't forget the press was different in our day as well, you could say to the press ‘off the record’ and it would be and it would be off the record, then if it came into the public domain, or suddenly, then they knew they could speak about it and half the time they would speak about it without mentioning your name. They were good like that. We had some good reporters.
RN: Is your tendency to be outspoken, why we don't see you on MUTV much, etc?
BG: I don't think I'm outspoken. I think what it is with MUTV, is that they don't seem to want me on so why should I pander to what Manchester United want you to say. Because you have got to watch your Ps and Qs on MUTV. We've seen it happen with Willie Morgan and Panch, haven't we? They crossed the line and bump, out. Now when you watch all the others, you know, I do think they do sit on the fence, but the thing is, to me on twitter I've no need to sit on the fence, I can say what I think. Whereas if I go on MUTV and start saying things like that, ooh, you'd be off. I think maybe that's why they are not ringing me now! But it's their loss.
RN: Have you had many dealings with the current players or Sir Alex?
BG: No, well, Sir Alex, I've met him but that's it, that's as far as it goes. But none of the other players, no they don't, they won't reply to somebody like us, they are a different breed now, they are a different breed, well you know, trying to get a present day player to just retweet that you've got a new book coming out to try and help you, it's just not happening! And I just find that incredible.
RN: Do you think that's the culture of the players becoming celebrities, the fact that they don't feel as connected with the history of the club? I mean you'll see someone like Evra who looks like they completely indulge in the history of the club. It's like you've got two sets of United player, the ones from this era, from the Premier League era and the ones from before and there seems to be a divide somewhere?
BG: Yeah. You can't help but get wrapped up in the history of the club. You've only got to walk around the museum for that, haven't they? How many clubs have museums? It's like United, they've always been the first in doing things haven't they? The first to go into Europe, then they were the first to have an Executive club, 1974 that started, I think they were the first to have the boxes around the ground, in saying that when they had the boxes around the ground it was just boxes to go in and sit in and watch, it wasn't like it is now where you can get a three course meal, drink and wine, they make a fortune out of it. There's so many things where they've been the first. So many things with United, things have happened, they've always let United put their foot in the water then if it's ok then the rest follow on. It's like all the different sponsor deals they do now, everybody is following suit, everybody is making money watching the United way of doing it. This is what gets me, this is what comes with the Glazer thing as well, how much have they fetched to the good, to the table? Nobody tells us that, do they? You know when you see the deals that they are doing now, they are far better deals than anybody else gets, and it's like who is bringing this to the table? It's not Gill is it all the time? That's when we talk about the Glazers, it's like that's why I asked the questions for things like that, is to see what, are they fetching enough to the table so they can manage their own debt? I don't know. I mean I'd like to see the debt paid off, but the thing is it doesn't matter whether they pay the debt off, you still can't compete with city or Chelsea. They just blow you out of the water.
RN: Well I don't know. If they paid the debt off they probably could because the turnover and the income is so very high.
BG: Yeah but you might be able spend £100m, but they can go and spend £200m. You could go in for Ronaldo at £95m, they could say ‘well we want him, £150m’, and what's the selling club going to do at £150m? They are going to say we want you to go there. And they'd give him £20m to go. That's the way that I would work with football, it's like the Adebayor thing with city, they wanted him to go and they've done a deal to get rid of him. And I bet that deal has cost city money.
RN: We hear of long agent negotiations as players decide to sign for United, how easy was it for you when you joined?
BG: Well easy because they just said they wanted to sign me, I had to make a decision, said ‘yes’ and they come and picked me up the same day. That's it basically! That's how it happened.
RN: Talking about your relationship with your brother in the book must have been tough, was that the hardest part in agreeing to do the book?
BG: No, it's the hardest part for me, to put it in. Because I could have easily gone and not put it in. But I thought it had to be said because there's that many people on twitter and in general ask me about him, and I don't know. I don't know the answer. So I thought well the only thing to do is to tell the truth. We haven't spoken for 20 odd years, and by doing that, that means I have to tell the reason why. Like I said, it's his decision. So he has to live with that. But he will, I’m sure.
RN: How hard was it when you left Old Trafford after 11 years? It must have been a horrible period?
BG: Yeah, because it hadn't been a good sort of summer. You know, because of Sexton, as we keep saying, I just didn't know where I stood with him or anything so in the end I had to make a decision, I had to play for him, or leave. And I chose the latter. It was a hard decision but in some ways it was a bit of a relief because I finally got away from that twat!
RN: You're clearly still a big Red, you fell in love with Tommy Taylor as a kid, is that where the hold started?
BG: Yeah, Tommy Taylor and Bobby Charlton, it was always United with me. When I used to get my Red shirt at Christmas, from Army & Navy store, it's like, that's what I wanted. I know Barnsley played in red so it covered two because I used to go and watch Barnsley because to be fair we couldn't afford to go to Old Trafford. I used to go and watch Leeds because our kid was there, because we got free tickets. Me Dad always got someone to give us a lift so it didn't cost us ‘owt to go.
RN: But after the difficulty of leaving, was the time you'd spent still enough to say ‘I'll always be United’ after that?
BG: I think soon as Sexton left basically, then I wanted them to win again. It's true. I cheered them on in the '83 Cup Final. The '85 Cup Final. Yeah, I wanted them to win, I didn't want, and I've got to say it and it's an awful thing to say, I just didn't want them to win anything when Sexton was there.
RN: There's things in the book, what people will understand, the reasons why because it's a big thing to come out and say ‘I didn't want United to win while he was in charge’, and that might come across as being ‘oh, because I didn't like him’', but there are serious reasons why, not that you didn't get on, there were, particularly leading up to your departure, was fairly serious for that…
BG: Well it is. It was just one lie after another with him. Which I'd never had with the Doc. The Doc never told me a lie. I know a lot of players might say ‘can't believe that’, but it's true.
RN: What were your best and worst moments at United?
BG: Well the best was the FA Cup Final. Always said that. When you play for clubs like United, you want to win something, it's about winning. Right, we won the 2nd Division title but that wasn't much really ‘cos we shouldn't have been there. To win the Cup was, well, the be all and end all to me. The worst moment? I don't know. I had a few of them really.
RN: Personally, you've got the relegation, but that was your first season and you played so well, but then you've got the '76 Cup Final, from talking to you, that's a pretty bad memory but obviously there is leaving as well.
BG: I don't know. Probably Southampton I think because it was so upsetting. Because I think sometimes you don't think, the initial thought is you might never get back there again, to play at Wembley, in a FA Cup Final, because don't forget it was only the 2nd time I'd been to Wembley. First time I were a ball boy. Yeah, it wasn't a good moment that. As it reflects after in getting bladdered.
RN: And if you could relive, just one match to play in again, what would it be?
BG: Cup Final. vs Liverpool. I don't know. It's like the Ajax game, that was always special in me. I think sometimes you play a game and you come off and think ‘yeah I've done alright’ and then suddenly, boom, the headlines are there, you're like ‘my God, did I play that well!’, ‘cos you never do. Because all I ever wanted to do was to play well. I wanted the fans to like me. I wanted the other players to like me and that's all I wanted to ever happen. I'm sure there's players weren't keen on me, I'm sure there was fans weren't keen on me but the only one thing, nobody will ever accuse me when I was at Old Trafford, and even at Leeds, that I never gave less than what I could give.
RN: You like your cooking, give us one quick favourite recipe for the RN readers?
BG: Ooh, one favourite! No, I like my mussel one! Yeah it's with, basically tin tomatoes, herbs, garlic, white wine. Put the white wine in one bowel, fetch it to the boil, throw the mussels in, then in the other bowel put tin of tomatoes, some nice herbs in it; basel, coriander, some parsley, season it, salt and pepper and then when your mussels open, pour it all in, with wine and all and that's a lovely, lovely, mussel dish. Tomatoes, stir them in, get the tomatoes all into the mussel. Delicious! I had it four times on holiday that! Three times somebody cooking it, and once doing it myself.
RN: Tell us one fact about yourself the readers wouldn't know?
BG: Ah, God. That's a good question that, isn't it. Well, there will be nobody knew I played in South Africa. Can't say I played against Pele because they might know that, might they? I don't know, it's a bloody good question that. I once met Elton John… I was a secret smoker. I bet there's still one or two of the players who didn't know I smoked. Might be a couple who didn't know. I was never a big smoker. I never smoked in front of Tommy Doc or Tommy Cav. To half help me keep the weight down. It's to stem the hunger pains.
RN: What did life at United teach you?
BG: Yeah, the one thing it taught me was to never give up (having so many setbacks in the early years) because it's that the thing - from having the nose operation, to appendix to breaking my leg, yeah, if you never give up you can reach your goal. Because that's what happened to me. I must admit so many times I thought, when it got to the end of one season I thought ‘that's it, I'm going to get dragged in, that's me gone’ and my lucky thing was Tommy Doc coming.
RN: Do you think that's your philosophy ‘I never gave up’ which essentially not giving up is the ethos of United, does that give you a special feeling with the club, that you both have?
BG: I think we always had that anyway - just never give up. It's what Fergie does isn't it? It's driving people on, trust your team-mates. You've got to trust in your team-mates. If your mate was in trouble would you walk across the road, it's the same on a football pitch, would you run that extra 20 yards to help somebody. If people are prepared to do that, it's just never giving up, isn't it?
Interview: @yolkie_
Transcript: BC. Thanks to Brian for his time. GREENHOFF is out in October in hardcover and is published by Empire Publications. copyright Red News.


Order Brian Greenhoff's GREENHOFF book here


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