I had a pint in the company of John Aldridge at lunchtime, and that’s not something you can say every day of the week. That’s right. John Aldridge, former Liverpool and Ireland striker, who turns out to be a damn nice guy. Self-effacing, modest, witty, funny and friendly. All the things, in short, that any of us would like to be, apart from those of us who are complete tools and wish to be none of these things.
Here, for proof is a picture of John Aldridge outside Bourkes Bar in Limerick, and while I could show you the one of us together, I would then have to dispatch my henchmen to kill you.
We don’t want that, so just take my word that John and I are sitting together at the same table discussing things like Liverpool’s disastrous season, the management skills of Jack Charlton and whether Kenny Dalglish should have been sacked.
John is looking fit. Far fitter than I am, although he bears a disturbing resemblance to Baal from Stargate. Yes, Baal is an evil fictional galactic warlord and John Aldridge is just a guy with a lot of football talent, but in fairness to him, Aldridge and Baal have the same engaging characteristic: neither of them believes he’s a god.
You’re joking, I hear you say.
No I am not, I reply to you.
How the hell did that happen? Well, I blundered up town from the Milk Market, devouring a delicious chicken Madras when I noticed the huge Newstalk signs outside Bourkes Bar. This is the delicious meal I had for my breakfast. Isn’t it nice?
The proprietor grabbed me by the elbow. Come in. We have all sorts of stuff going on today.
Good, I say. Let’s have a pint.
What do I know about soccer? Little or nothing, as any regular reader of this site will know, and yet I well remember John Aldridge as a deadly striker. As it happens, he’s also a damn nice guy. Did I mention that?
It wasn’t that I pursued him. Newstalk were doing a live broadcast from Bourkes and I happened to be there because I wanted to hear Keith Wood and Alan Quinlan talking about rugby. It was interesting to hear their story and I wanted to ask them things that occurred to me but that wasn’t possible in the end. It got a bit crowded for me so I slid outside with an ice-cold beer to enjoy the extraordinarily hot weather and listen to the show on the speakers.
What sort of questions did I want to ask? Well, for example, I’d have liked to ask Alan Quinlan if he thought his Tipperary hurling background influenced his direct, no-nonsense approach on the rugby field. And I might have liked to ask Keith Wood what he thinks about the physical toll professional rugby takes on the human body, including the extraordinary outbreak of baldness we’ve witnessed in recent years.
It was all good. No complaints. I’m sitting in the sun, enjoying an ice-cold beer when I realise that the friendly guy opposite me is the great John Aldridge, and this is a great relief. Why? Because I know he was supposed to be on the panel, and I’d already shaken my head disapprovingly at a fat bastard with a gold necklace. Look at the state of Aldridge. Jesus he really let himself go.
Well thank you, non-existent God. Thanks for keeping Aldridge in good nick. He’s not even drinking a pint: just a nice cup of tea. And he’s signing t-shirts. What a nice guy.
How cool is that? A football legend, sunshine, delicious grub and ice-cool beer.