Not many people can say they have had a team talk from Jeremy Kyle! Well we did today,” tweeted Southend United centre-back Ryan Cresswell at 9pm on Saturday.
Alas, the infamous television host’s Any Given Sunday moment at Roots Hall on Saturday afternoon didn’t pay off. The Shrimpers lost 1-0 to fellow League Two mid-tablers Morecambe.
And although some might wonder what the man behind debates such as “Believe Me, I Haven’t Cheated, Drugged You or Taken Cocaine While I’m Pregnant” and “Today I’ll Prove I Was Sleeping with Your Fiancé” could possibly do to emulate Al Pacino’s famous “inch-by-inch” speech, Kyle has recently recovered from testicular cancer and may have had some inspirational words to share. He probably didn’t mention that he’s a West Ham United fan.
The quirky team talk wasn’t the first orchestrated by Southend’s manager, Phil Brown. Famously, after a first-half shellacking at the hands of Manchester City on Boxing Day 2008, Brown, a tanned north-easterner with the air of a Napoleonic bad-cop bouncer, conducted his half-time team talk on the pitch in front of the travelling away fans. His Hull City team lost 5-1.
City, meanwhile, once had their own bizarre team talk, as revealed in ex-player Paul Lake’s autobiography, I’m Not Really Here. City, under the management of Mel Machin, were 3-0 up against Bournemouth, needing a win to be promoted. Machin invited TV funnyman Eddie Large – a fan – to gee up the team at half-time. City, characteristically, blew it, drawing 3-3.
Following in Large’s footsteps was Bournemouth co-owner Maxim Denim’s wife, Irena. She popped in for a half-time chat during the Cherries’ loss to MK Dons in February. The club’s chairman, Eddie Mitchell, later defended her by saying that Mrs Denim is “not very football-intelligent… she can’t speak English, she just wished them well.” With friends like these…
Non-managerial sporting oratory isn’t always destined for failure, mind. One non-footballing man has a hardy habit of reminding players how important it is to win, and often influences the result. It helps, of course, that Roman Abramovich pays the gas bill. And owns the gas.
Salomon Kalou revealed that Chelsea’s owner regularly had meetings with the team which helped to propel them to last year’s European Cup success. “We weren’t scared,” Kalou said, “but he doesn’t speak all the time, so when he does, you listen.”
They said the same thing about Eddie Large…