Bedtime stories and home by half past 10 – life at the Nolans for Andy Carroll
It's more Men Behaving Badly than Rising Damp.
Nevertheless, it's a budding bromance to warm the cockles, with Kevin Nolan, Newcastle's most high-profile landlord, cast in the role of Rigsby. Well, sort of.
Where Leonard Rossiter's oily character in the celebrated 1970s sitcom made life rather uncomfortable for his tenants, most notably Frances de la Tour's enigmatic Miss Jones, the Newcastle midfielder is proving the model host to team-mate Andy Carroll, to whom he has generously offered sanctuary at a troubled time.
Bail conditions on an assault charge mean Carroll, who this week paid £5,000 in fines, compensation and legal costs after admitting a separate assault, must shack up with his captain, Nolan's wife Hayley, four-year-old daughter Jasmine and nine-month old son for the foreseeable future.
Things didn't get off to the best of starts for football's odd couple, when Carroll's new £80,000 Range Rover was torched on the drive in an act of gangland-style retribution, with graffiti daubed on the garage of Nolan's £1m Darras Hall pad, on the outskirts of the city. Neighbours in the up-market suburb include Michael Turner, the Sunderland defender who will attempt to shackle Newcastle's top scorers – Carroll has five, Nolan four – in tomorrow's Tyne-Wear derby at St James' Park.
After his dramatic introduction, the lodger has soon settled into what appears to be a routine of domestic bliss with the accommodating Nolans. The 21-year-old, himself a father to a 13-month-old daughter, has made sure to help out round the house. He's even offered to do his bit when it comes to bedtime stories and the school run.
In return, Nolan, 28, ensures his tenant sticks to a strict regime, morning and night, in the England Under-21 international's attempts to salvage a career which threatens to be engulfed by off-the-field issues. "The Rigsby thing's not quite caught on yet with the rest of the lads, but I'm sure it will," Nolan said.
"Funnily enough I was watching Rising Damp the other night. It was one of my dad's favourite programmes when I was younger but I have to say I don't see any parallels between me and Rigsby as a landlord. I'm pretty relaxed, but Andy knows he's got to be in for half-past 10, and then he's got to be in bed for 11. We've got the kids on a bedtime routine, so it's no trouble.
"What I've learnt is that he's always asleep at the wrong time, so I've been getting him to bed early and up early to do the school run. He has the school run with me, so he gets up at 10 to eight and we leave at five past. We then have our breakfast at the training ground. I don't know if he likes it, but that's the way it is.
"Normally house guests are asked to read the bedtime stories. My wife has been in Liverpool this week, and when she comes back up, she'll ask him to go and read the kids a book. We've got different ones to pick from, like Peppa Pig, and there's a monkey one I'm reading them at the minute."
After the understandable shock of seeing Carroll's expensive wheels go up in smoke, Nolan admits the family have warmed to the presence of their high-profile lodger. Nolan added: "He's a great lad to be around, he's always happy and smiling. He's had his fair share of trouble, but didn't we all when we were 20, 21? It's just that his have been well documented.
"I felt sorry for him and that's why I agreed to let him stay with us. If he continues to do what he does best, and that's perform on the field, that's the main thing. We were quite close before he moved in. On away trips, we'd spend time together and during the off season we did, too."
With his better half safely out of the way, Nolan admits the Men Behaving Badly element has seeped in: "I'm into my X-Box and PlayStation, but my wife doesn't let me play on it when the kids are around. It's only when the missus is away that I can. I'm normally watching Home Alone for the 15th time with them."
And there was certainly more than a hint of the Martin Clunes and Neil Morrissey about Nolan as, realising the way he had at times eulogised over Carroll, he quickly strove to bring his team-mate back down to earth. "I'm not going to keep bigging him up, I live with him and everyone will think I love him! I keep telling him his hair is absolutely shocking. I've been trying to get him to cut it for ages."
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