James suited to dressing down for 'Spice Boys' reunion party
"Had we won the Cup," mused David James, "we would have been the best dressed team to win the Cup."
However, Liverpool did not win the FA Cup in 1996, they lost 1-0 to Manchester United. The white Wembley suits worn by the Liverpool players subsequently became the defining image of the "Spice Boys", a cluster of Liverpool players in Roy Evans' side who were deemed to have been more style than substance.
Today there is a mini-reunion of the Spices. While James keeps goal for Portsmouth, Robbie Fowler will wait on the Cardiff bench for his chance to come on and score against his old team-mate. And in the stands Jamie Redknapp will be hoping his father, the Pompey manager Harry, oversees an FA Cup triumph. Who knows, maybe Steve McManaman, Stan Collymore and Jason McAteer will also be there, wearing anything but white?
"It was not white, it was cream, maybe even almond," corrected James this week, unable to help himself being irked by the error all these years later. He added: "If there is an irritation, it is that the suit was more memorable than the final."
"It was David James's idea," said Fowler this week. "At the time, he was an Armani model. If we had won, nobody would have mentioned it. But we lost and it has become infamous. People remind me about them all the time."
Both players have still got their suits. "I might wear it for the Christmas fancy-dress party," said Fowler. "It is in the wardrobe," said James of his. "It has got grass stains on it from when I wore it for a Travelling Bunburys charity cricket match a couple of years afterwards."
As well as the Spice Boy tag the goalkeeper was also labelled "Calamity James" following a series of high-profile errors, in part brought on by his pro-active goalkeeping style.
The nicknames did James no favours. Liverpool sold him to Aston Villa in 1999, then, after waiting years to replace David Seaman in the England goal, he was dropped within 12 months.
Since joining Portsmouth at the start of last season he has, though, developed a more serious image, creating the David James Foundation in Malawi, and campaigning at home on a range of issues. With the help of a psychologist, he appears to have come to terms with an obsessive personality. It is unlikely to be a co-incidence that he has regained his England place.
"This is probably the happiest I have been in my career," he said. Victory today would cap it, and enable James, also an FA Cup final loser with Aston Villa in 2000, to avoid an unwelcome record. Only one player, to date, has lost finals with three different clubs: John Barnes who suffered defeats with Watford (1984), Liverpool (1988 and with James in 1996) and Newcastle United (1998). Unlike James, Barnes also picked up a winner's medal, with Liverpool in 1989.
Will it be third time lucky for James? "I don't believe in luck," he replied. "The reality is in the previous two FA Cup finals we didn't play well enough and deserved to lose."
When they inspect the pitch today, Portsmouth will be wearing blue suits, chosen by Redknapp. "If the players think the style is a bit old-fashioned it doesn't bother me," said the manager. Jeff Banks has designed them. "Has he," said James with an air of studied indifference. "I really don't care."
Latest in Sport
Three weeks ago as I drove off the Eurostar, I remember thinking what a very long time it was until ...
by Martin Ayres
23 May 2013 05:29 PM
McDowell did brilliantly to land the World Match Play title in Bulgaria last week, but it’s a format...
by Gareth Purnell
23 May 2013 09:13 AM
Wow - what a weekend for British Motorcycle racing!
by Luke Wilkins
22 May 2013 05:00 AM
David Moyes delighted after Rio Ferdinand agrees to stay at Manchester United with new one-year contract
On-loan goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois still believes in Chelsea youth policy
After racist remark, Sergio Garcia fights for reputation as Tiger Woods slams 'hurtful' fried chicken joke
Manuel Pellegrini must decide on futures of Carlos Tevez, Gareth Barry and Joleon Lescott as Manchester City name starting date for new manager
Liverpool striker Andy Carroll delays over West Ham move
- 1 Man and woman arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder victim of Woolwich machete attack, named as Drummer Lee Rigby
- 2 'Sickening, deluded and unforgivable': Horrific attack brings terror to London’s streets
- 3 Grace Dent: I’m not sure how these people can avoid being called ‘bigots’. And the more ‘civilised’, the worse they are
- 4 Woolwich murder: They killed, then they performed - these men should be starved of our attention
- 5 Woolwich attack: The EDL will seek to exploit this evil crime for their own evil ends
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Nook is donating eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools and participating in exclusive events throughout the campaign.
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.