Mark Webster

When The Beautiful Game met the Greatest Of All Music
Mark Webster

MarkQUIZ1LR_1_What’s that, ‘soccer and soul’ you say, Bobby? The football, and the funk? I think this is where I came in! So here’s my hat trick of moments where The Beautiful Game met the Greatest Of All Music…

3) Ilford in Essex is an unlikely birth place for a movement. But there is no doubt that in the mid seventies, the rather tatty old Lacey Lady club in the High Road was where it was at. And that ‘it’ was underground disco and early jazz funk, played to a racially mixed crowd of aficionados wearing the new cutting edge of fashion – carpenter jeans, straight leg trousers, plastic sandals, Hawaiian shirts and, get this, the fellas had haircuts where you could see their ears!

First record I heard when I walked in there for my underaged debut on the nightclubbing scene in the summer of ‘77 – Chic’s ‘Dance Dance Dance’.

Also born in Ilford, in 1967, was Paul Ince. So he’d have been pushing it a bit to have been at The Lacy hearing those pioneering dance sounds ten years later. Mind you, I have it on good authority from a friend of mine who went to school with Incey, and subsequently some of the same local night spots a few years after, that The Guvnor’s favourite record was… Joyce Sims’ ‘Come Into My Life’.

Released in 1987, this was an innovative hybrid of soul vocals with hip hop production – courtesy of pioneering hip hop producers/mixers Mantronix. It was released on the brilliant, but short-lived New York label Sleeping Bag, which was also home to other groundbreaking acts such as EPMD and Todd Terry. Incey may now be plying his trade in one of the hotbeds of the Northern Soul scene, Blackpool, but back then as a young John Lyall discovery, making his way from West Ham’s famed youth academy into the first team, his first choice, was Joyce.

2) It’s 1994, at  the famed Soldier Field – the oldest stadium in the NFL and home to the Chicago Bears – and the World Cup is about to get underway with all of the usual overblown pageantry that we have so come to hate over the years at these kind of events. But what’s this, bursting through from the half wine line, leaving at least 200 defenders in white in her wake? It’s none other than the Queen of Motown,  Diana Ross. Dressed in what can only be described as a Liverpool FC trouser suit,  noone can get near her as she approaches the penalty spot – all of 6 yards from the goal.

La Ross, it should be pointed out, was 50 when she made her one and only World Cup appearance. So, yes, nearly as old as Ryan Giggs. But at the time she was married to Norwegian Arnie Naess, so it’s likely that she did have some grasp of the job in hand.

The ‘Supreme’ athlete takes a breath, shimmies, then begins her stuttered approach to the ball – in doing so, making a mockery of the penalty taking rules that insist on an unbroken run up. But these were different times, when England were represented at the tournament by the Republic of Ireland squad, for example.

Nevertheless, in spite of the kit, the knowledge and the guile, Ross only succeeds in dragging it, sticking the ball wide of the keeper’s right hand post. But if she’s anything, Ross is a competitor and without taking a beat she bursts through the goal which has now inexplicably exploded – she missed! – and carries on with the show.

Point being: all of this happened to the magnificent strains of what was to become her anthem, the Chic-produced ‘I’m Coming Out’; a paean to her having left her musical (and emotional, given her relationship with Berry Gordy) home of twenty years, Motown. The song also became a triumphant gay anthem, and had it’s roots on that scene because the writer/producer  Nile Rodgers came up with the lyric when he saw 3 drag queens all done up as La Ross, when out clubbing in New York. In spite of the Liverpool reference, Nile Rodgers, as far as I know, is not related to Brendan.

1) If you stick your head in a few of the pubs in the streets around Celtic Park, chances are you’ll find an old boy who’s a fan of The Bhoys and who’ll remember a game against Morton back in 1951 when a young player scored on debut. That player was to become known as ‘The Black Arrow’ during his brief tenure at Celtic. And his name was Gil Heron.

Gil was born in Kingston, Jamaica but emigrated to Canada where he joined the Air Force to do his bit. He was a good all round athlete, but decided to have a go at making a career in the heavily-handled ‘North American Soccer Football League’. Which is where he was scouted by Celtic and brought over as the first black player in that League.

Gil Heron

Gil Heron

He continued to have a career as a player – including a stint at Kidderminster Harriers –  and ultimately made his way back to North America to play his football in the home town of Motown, Detroit.

Although never really a couple, there was a relationship around this time with an opera singer, Bobbie Scott – one result of which was a son, Gil Scott-Heron.

By the time Gil Scott-Heron arrived in the artsy Chelsea part of Manhattan in the late Sixties, he was already proving to be a master of the written and spoken word. He was a published author, then recorded a spoken word album, ‘Small Talk At 125th & Lenox’ for the jazz label Flying Dutchman. A year later, in 1971, he then recorded what I consider to be possibly the greatest album ever made, ‘Pieces of A Man’. What ensued was a magnificent career, and troubled life, that saw him record his last album, ‘I’m New Here’ on XL in 2010, and die at 62 in 2011.

Back at that  nightclub in Ilford in 1977, I’d have been dancing to his best known tune, ‘The Bottle’, but out of an incredible array of great tracks, perhaps ‘It’s Your World’ is the one that really does it for me.

 

@ItsMarkWebster

 


Adrian Chiles and ITV Sport Team Get on a Sweat During 40 Minute Storm Delay

MarkQUIZ1LR_1_

by Mark Webster.

I suppose you could call it good preparation, in the end. Not necessarily for the England team, but for ITV Sport. Because the team’s second friendly in Miami provided the channel with the kind of challenges they are going to have to deal with in Brazil if things don’t go exactly to plan.

Of course, Adrian Chiles and the team have had previous in these matters. A couple of years ago in Poland, rain also stopped play. A situation that, among other things, exposed Andy Townsend as something of a trendsetter. Forced into action on camera, he introduced the football world to the pitchside gilet. And just two years later, there was Jose and Tim Sherwood following suit. As it were.

Not much call for extra layers in Miami, though. Although Adrian had decided to go with a jacket that he would very soon be regretting as something of a fashion faux pas. Speaking of which, perhaps it was his geographical gaff of welcoming us ‘to Rio’ that caused all the problems? Because the Floridian branch of the weather gods certainly took their wrath out on the stadium. Causing fans to flee to the inner concourse, and the fun to begin with over half an hour of ITV tunnel vision.

Clive Tyldesley told us Chiles, with Lee Dixon, Ian Wright and Glenn Hoddle, had been ‘forced to abandon their pitchside presentation position’. Which is long-winded speak for ‘legged it’. And in doing so, had little to fill the time with other than their wits, and two mics between four men.

Adrian quickly grabbed the opportunity to test out both of these by introducing us to ‘a fella here who looks like he’s in charge’. That fella, wearing a referee’s kit, being, well, the referee. We saw from a caption he was one Ricardo Salazar, but clearly that information hadn’t filtered down to Adrian. His body swerving of his name, coupled with that jacket in rocketing temperatures, had the Chiles brow visibly caking with sweat.

Then came the mic delegation between our four ITV men. First up, Glenn Hoddle made a grab for the one Ian Wright was holding, but he was having none of it. Giving his old Arsenal pal Lee a little wink, Wrighty went on to prove himself quite the expert at mic management.

And so they pressed on, with Glenn looking nearly as uncomfortable as Adrian in the conditions. He also didn’t know what to do with his hands, and even occasionally opted for a bit of ‘air mic’ – clasping his left hand into a fist as if he were holding one. Nevertheless, he still managed to get his point across of where he thought we were losing the battle in midfield.

ITVsweat

In a sweat: The ITV Sport World Cup team had a lightning storm to contend with during the England v Honduras game

At one point, Chiles had even resorted to telling everyone ‘the key thing to do – talk as slowly as possible. (We) could be filling for hours’ before Wrighty cheered ‘there’s the gaffer’ and Roy Hodgson enter the frame to save the, well, next five minutes.

And in spite of the presenter insisting on asking the manager to express more ‘despair’ while Dixon was trying desperately to ask him something about football, Hodgson was a steady hand on the tiller. Roy calmly told us he’d ‘encountered it here on golf courses’. And he was equally as sanguin when Glenn could resist it no longer and decided to tell the England manager exactly what he should be doing!

Adrian was equally as zealous about telling someone how they should do their business when the ‘stadium manager’ joined them. Who promptly pointed out he wasn’t but did, in fact, ‘handle soccer game operations’, had lived in the area many years, and that they were experiencing ‘what we call thunderstorms’.

The presenter, quite rightly, didn’t blame him for these ‘thunderstorms’. But he was rather taken aback by the fact that the stadium didn’t have a roof on it? The head of ‘soccer game operations’ smiled benignly and mumbled about the prospect of a roof. But the subtext seemed to be, ‘oh ok. I’ll just nip off and get my tool bag, shall I?’

But he didn’t need to defend himself. Because Wrighty was on hand to do that! ‘What we’ve done with Wimbledon, and you’re going to cane the geezer for not having a roof’, railed Wrighty, as Adrian mopped his brow with a tiny, sodden piece of tissue. ‘And you want one in 35minutes!’.

Luckily there was no need to get the builders in as the game was now set to get under way. Giving Gabriel Clarke the chance to come in and steal the whole rain-soaked show. With the ongoingly affable ‘fella’, referee Salazar, alongside him he asked in his classically earnest style ‘I saw you in the radar room. Just describe what you were doing in there?’. Somewhat breathless from clearly running around in humid conditions, Ricardo took a beat and replied ‘we were tracking the radar’.

And so we got back to the football. And I bet the boys at ITV could only have been happier if they were actually on the road to Rio. Weather permitting, of course.

@ItsMarkWebster

(First published at MailOnline)


When The Beautiful Game met the Greatest Of All Music
Mark Webster

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat’s that, ‘soccer and soul’ you say, Bobby? The football, and the funk? I think this is where I came in! So here’s my hat trick of moments where The Beautiful Game met the Greatest Of All Music…

3) Ilford in Essex is an unlikely birth place for a movement. But there is no doubt that in the mid seventies, the rather tatty old Lacey Lady club in the High Road was where it was at. And that ‘it’ was underground disco and early jazz funk, played to a racially mixed crowd of aficionados wearing the new cutting edge of fashion – carpenter jeans, straight leg trousers, plastic sandals, Hawaiian shirts and, get this, the fellas had haircuts where you could see their ears!

First record I heard when I walked in there for my underaged debut on the nightclubbing scene in the summer of ‘77 – Chic’s ‘Dance Dance Dance’.

Also born in Ilford, in 1967, was Paul Ince. So he’d have been pushing it a bit to have been at The Lacy hearing those pioneering dance sounds ten years later. Mind you, I have it on good authority from a friend of mine who went to school with Incey, and subsequently some of the same local night spots a few years after, that The Guvnor’s favourite record was… Joyce Sims’ ‘Come Into My Life’.

Released in 1987, this was an innovative hybrid of soul vocals with hip hop production – courtesy of pioneering hip hop producers/mixers Mantronix. It was released on the brilliant, but short-lived New York label Sleeping Bag, which was also home to other groundbreaking acts such as EPMD and Todd Terry. Incey may now be plying his trade in one of the hotbeds of the Northern Soul scene, Blackpool, but back then as a young John Lyall discovery, making his way from West Ham’s famed youth academy into the first team, his first choice, was Joyce.

2) It’s 1994, at  the famed Soldier Field – the oldest stadium in the NFL and home to the Chicago Bears – and the World Cup is about to get underway with all of the usual overblown pageantry that we have so come to hate over the years at these kind of events. But what’s this, bursting through from the half wine line, leaving at least 200 defenders in white in her wake? It’s none other than the Queen of Motown,  Diana Ross. Dressed in what can only be described as a Liverpool FC trouser suit,  noone can get near her as she approaches the penalty spot – all of 6 yards from the goal.

La Ross, it should be pointed out, was 50 when she made her one and only World Cup appearance. So, yes, nearly as old as Ryan Giggs. But at the time she was married to Norwegian Arnie Naess, so it’s likely that she did have some grasp of the job in hand.

The ‘Supreme’ athlete takes a breath, shimmies, then begins her stuttered approach to the ball – in doing so, making a mockery of the penalty taking rules that insist on an unbroken run up. But these were different times, when England were represented at the tournament by the Republic of Ireland squad, for example.

Nevertheless, in spite of the kit, the knowledge and the guile, Ross only succeeds in dragging it, sticking the ball wide of the keeper’s right hand post. But if she’s anything, Ross is a competitor and without taking a beat she bursts through the goal which has now inexplicably exploded – she missed! – and carries on with the show.

Point being: all of this happened to the magnificent strains of what was to become her anthem, the Chic-produced ‘I’m Coming Out’; a paean to her having left her musical (and emotional, given her relationship with Berry Gordy) home of twenty years, Motown. The song also became a triumphant gay anthem, and had it’s roots on that scene because the writer/producer  Nile Rodgers came up with the lyric when he saw 3 drag queens all done up as La Ross, when out clubbing in New York. In spite of the Liverpool reference, Nile Rodgers, as far as I know, is not related to Brendan.

1) If you stick your head in a few of the pubs in the streets around Celtic Park, chances are you’ll find an old boy who’s a fan of The Bhoys and who’ll remember a game against Morton back in 1951 when a young player scored on debut. That player was to become known as ‘The Black Arrow’ during his brief tenure at Celtic. And his name was Gil Heron.

Gil was born in Kingston, Jamaica but emigrated to Canada where he joined the Air Force to do his bit. He was a good all round athlete, but decided to have a go at making a career in the heavily-handled ‘North American Soccer Football League’. Which is where he was scouted by Celtic and brought over as the first black player in that League.

Gil Heron

Gil Heron

He continued to have a career as a player – including a stint at Kidderminster Harriers –  and ultimately made his way back to North America to play his football in the home town of Motown, Detroit.

Although never really a couple, there was a relationship around this time with an opera singer, Bobbie Scott – one result of which was a son, Gil Scott-Heron.

By the time Gil Scott-Heron arrived in the artsy Chelsea part of Manhattan in the late Sixties, he was already proving to be a master of the written and spoken word. He was a published author, then recorded a spoken word album, ‘Small Talk At 125th & Lenox’ for the jazz label Flying Dutchman. A year later, in 1971, he then recorded what I consider to be possibly the greatest album ever made, ‘Pieces of A Man’. What ensued was a magnificent career, and troubled life, that saw him record his last album, ‘I’m New Here’ on XL in 2010, and die at 62 in 2011.

Back at that  nightclub in Ilford in 1977, I’d have been dancing to his best known tune, ‘The Bottle’, but out of an incredible array of great tracks, perhaps ‘It’s Your World’ is the one that really does it for me.

 

@ItsMarkWebster

 

 


BOBBY Gets Top Marks
Broadcaster Mark Webster Joins The Team

MarkQUIZ1LR_1_BOBBY is delighted to announce a new signing as Mark Webster joins the team as a columnist.

Mark will be a familiar face to most of you having presented numerous TV shows over the years, including Live and Dangerous with Kevin Day and hosting NBA, NFL, NHL and IndyCar coverage for Five.

Mark is also a talented script writer whose credits include Never Mind the Buzzcocks and A League of Their Own. On the radio he has previously hosted breakfast shows for KISS FM and Xfm.

As a writer Mark is a regular contributor to magazines such as GQ, Loaded and The Face, and his passions include Soul music and West Ham United.

Twitter: @ItsMarkWebster