Pat Nevin rolls back the Chelsea years

 The wizard of Stamford Bridge in action vs Liverpool, May 3, 1986

The wizard of Stamford Bridge in action vs Liverpool, May 3, 1986

If you go back to the mid 1980s, Chelsea's most popular player was Pat Nevin. As well as his wonderful skills, much has always been made of his indie music tastes and Guardian reading (the snobbish subtext is that Wham! and The Sun were all any footballer was good for). A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of interviewing him in Edinburgh and the article is out now in issue 8 of Nutmeg. For those new to this periodical, it looks at all aspects of Scottish football, and is beautifully designed and edited by Ally Palmer.

Over a long chat in a cafe near the top of Leith Walk, Nevin revealed a cheekier side - how he outwitted Ken Bates over a new contract by delving into the bullying chairman's  desk to find out what other players were on. And how some of his best mazy runs were just a way of saying Hi to his Dad, who had helped train him as a boy and came all the way from Glasgow on day trips to watch his home games.

It is 30 years this summer since Nevin broke our hearts by playing his last game at Stamford Bridge and moving to Everton. But how fascinating it was to hear his take on those days, not all rosy by any means – the racism towards Chelsea's first black player Paul Canoville from his own "fans" seems staggering today.

Overall, you get the impression Nevin is happy to have played when he did. The material rewards were minuscule by comparison with today but on the pitch he usually had a ball with the ball. And off it he relished the freedom that is no longer afforded to most top level players. 

 

 What a gent. He even came back for this selfie. Sorry Pat, I just had to...

What a gent. He even came back for this selfie. Sorry Pat, I just had to...

Sam Phipps