Knowing three weeks beforehand that you are going to meet one of your heroes requires a certain taciturn approach. Which is difficult for me seeing as I effervesce to anyone whenever I’ve just had a particularly tasty Scotch Egg – nevermind coming face to face and interviewing someone who I revered from afar.
I held it together and grimly counted down the days until Ray Parlour Day. If you read the previous installment then you will be well aware that much hilarity ensued and a good time was had by all. The real substance though, the yolk of the egg ( why do I keep mentioning eggs? ), the jam in the Jammie Dodger though – is the interview with the man himself.
I will transcribe the exchange ad verbatim. Not a drop of Romford Pele will be wasted. Full flavour Parlour is heading your way.
The Interview with Ray Parlour
Jok – I’m ready if you’re ready.
Ray – I’m born ready.
Jok – I listened to the stories you were telliing about Tony Adams earlier, what was the best practical joke in the dressing room you’ve seen?
Ray – I think the best one – ever – and it wasn’t to do with a player either, was with the Arsenal Chef. The Arsenal chef turned up…..
Jok – Rob Fagg isn’t it?
Ray – Yeah, Rob Fagg, and he’ll vouch for this. On everybody’s birthday he used to bake a big cream cake, as big as this table…
Jok – *Massive girly giggle* – Yaya Toure would love that.
Ray – *small charity laugh* – yeah he would’ve done. He was trying to get in with the lads when he first turned up. This was 1998 and I’ll always remember the lads wanted to get him back and see what he was like. He brought this cake out one day, I think it was Lee Dixon’s birthday. Dixon started sniffing it and said ” Oh, that’s off, I ain’t eating that”. You could see his face, like that ( makes a shocked face )…..
Jok – *another girly titter*
Ray – Rob says ” no, no, it can’t be off. I just made that fresh. we’re all sniffing it, going ‘Eurgh’! The next minute he comes out with his full outfit, chefs hat on, big glasses. I said ” sniff that then”. He didn’t know what the lads were like then. He thought we were all as good as gold. As he sniffed it, BOOM!
Jok – *High pitched shriek* ( listening back to my noises is making my skin crawl with embarrassment) Who did that?
Ray – Well, we all pushed it. Well, it was more me really! So now, cream is all round his glasses, all over his beard. I remember he came out to serve Arsene dinner and he still had cream in his glasses! Arsene is looking at him going ” What has happened”? Rob told him what happened and Wenger was cracking up…
Jok – He was a bit of a practical joker wasn’t he?
Ray – Oh, yeah. That was brilliant though, and we planned it all. The chef was brilliant after that, he was one of the boys after that because he laughed about it. If you don’t have a laugh, then we would’ve got him again.
Jok – Now, this might be an obvious question, but obviously you scored the Cup Final goal, ‘It’s only Ray Parlour’ etc, but…..
Ray – that was the most important goal….
Jok – Oh yeah, but what was the most memorable…
Ray – Well the most memorable was the Cup Final goal. To score in a Cup Final, you can’t beat that….
Jok – To score one that maybe….
Ray – Valencia. When we won 2-1. Quarter Final of the Champs League. We was one nil down at half time.
Jok – Was that the John Carew tie?
Ray – He scored in the second leg…
Jok – That’s right ( At this point, I’d like to point out I realise how many times I interrupted Ray and I apologise wholeheartedly to not only Ray, but for you having to suffer my idiocy )
Ray – Well I hit it, you know when it just bobbles up perfectly, the keeper? No chance…
Jok – Was the keeper Canizares?
Ray – Yeah, yeah, it was.
Jok – World class Keeper as well. Another string to your bow. 2002 double or ’98?
Ray – I like the ’98 one. That was my first real….to win the Championship. I won the FA Cup in 93, two cups that season. 98 was…I played every single game that season, more or less. that was my first ever, that was when my career really got better. After Tony Adams and going out drinking, we could concentrate a little bit more. So 98, I love the back4, the team itself was so efficient, unbelievable. We had Ian Wright, Nicolas Anelka. So I’d go ’98.
Jok – ’98! Cool, cool.
Ray – Evden if I did score in the 2002 Final!
Jok – *another girly giggle* Who was your better back-up? Lauren or Dixon?
Ray – Errrrrrrm…..Lauren was a brilliant player, but Lee, Lee was brilliant. Yeah, Lee was great, I love Lee. But Lauren was a top player.
Jok – He was as hard as nails as well wasn’t he? Dixon was the one who celebrated with you behind the goal in the Final when you scored in 2002….
Ray – Yeah, so it’s gotta be Dixon.
Jok – I just recently read about Geordie Armstrong, his training ground techniques and how they did ‘The German’ ( this is a training ground exercise )
Ray – Yeah, yeah, the German game….
Jok – Yep. What was your favlourite when you went to the training ground, that you enjoyed the most?
Ray – Errrm, I used to like the 5vs2. what we used to do was a little session of 5 vs 2. 2 in the middle, keep the ball. It was such a tight area, You had to be good, quick thinking. The ball is coming to me and I know exactly where I’m going to pass it, hopefully before it comes to me. those little drills we did on the Friday before the game on Saturday. A lot of it was possession. 8vs 8, possession, keep the ball, small area. No word of a lie, that was the biggest thing when Arsene came, the training methods he brought in….
Jok – A massive leap forward?
At this point, a friendly fellow from one of the sponsors told me that my time had elapsed with Ray. Ray then says ” No, No, it’s OK, we can carry on “. My love for this man growa ever stronger!
Jok – * in hurried tones *….If you could sign anyone in world football right now, apart from Messi and Ronaldo, in terms of what we need, who would you choose?
Ray – Errrrmm, a top centre half I would say. Who would that centre half be?
Jok – We’ve just been linked with Hummels?
Ray – I’d say a top centre half who’s a leader, like Tony Adams. If you can find him…
Jok – *cue the girly laugh*
Ray – Or a Patrick Vieira…
Jok – Have you thought about coaching in the future?
Ray – I put my name into the Academy, after Liam Brady left. Yeah, I’d have loved to have done that. I’ve got some experience coming through the ranks and I could sit down with the players, I mean, I love working with kids. Kids are so genuine, they try their best. I’ve got 5 kids myself so I can see when I can get the best out of them. I put my name in but whether the organisation will….but I’d have loved to have worked with the youth teams or a lower level, Under11’s or Under 12’s. I can offer my experience.
Jok – Just like Geordie did.
Ray – Exactly. Geordie was brilliant. Amazing fella. I remember the day he died, I’d had lunch with him. He trained us in the morning, that’s how fit he was. I was actually gutted. When they phoned me about it, they said someone died, I thought, Woah, and a lot of older guys worked for the Club. They told me it was George Armstrong and I was like ‘What?’ I was so shocked. He was a fit man.
Jok – One last question, who threw the pizza?
Ray – It was Fabregas I think. It was pepperoni.
Jok – *Uncontrollable burst of girly laughing*. Thank you Ray, you’ve made my day…
Ray – I wasn’t there! But I heard it was Fabregas!
There we have it guys and gals. My favourite seven minutes. Ray was a dream to interview and I just wish my nerves hadn’t taken over the internal controls to my laughing, as I sounded ridiculous. What a memory to have though. I hope you enjoyed Ray’s revelations. My inner fanboy can relax for a while.