When we announced that Chris Waddle was the next guest on The Big Interview with Graham Hunter we got a lot of feedback on Twitter. Would Graham get him on Gazza? On Sheffield Wednesday? On that penalty? On Diamond Lights? A surprisingly high number of people, however, shared my reaction to the news. Would he talk about Falkirk?
In 1996 Waddle played four times for Falkirk, in the second tier of Scottish football. I know because I was there.
I was stood with my mum, my dad and my two brothers in our usual spot behind the goal on the Hope Street end of Brockville (now a Morrisons) as the 36-year-old Waddle ambled out of the tunnel wearing the worst Falkirk strip of all time.
The man who made mincemeat of Maldini (hear all about it on the podcast) now had to face Clydebank. The result was predictable, but nonetheless memorable. Despite being less than match fit Waddle hypnotised a parade of defenders before scoring a brilliant goal to write a peculiar chapter into the history of my club, and its wonderful old stadium (now a Morrisons).
So when I found out that Martin BackPage, Graham and I would be recording at Chris’s house in Sheffield, I knew I wanted to find out more about his time at Falkirk. It soon became clear that there was too much competition to get the Bairns into the podcast proper. But that didn’t mean I couldn’t subtely raise the subject off-mic. Then I saw Chris’s collection of shirts in the room where we were to record the podcast. It was fate.
There was that monstrous home shirt, one down from Chris’s England jersey. A bit along from George Weah’s Monaco top.
As soon as the mic was off, we talked Falkirk. “Falkirk?” said Chris. “I’ll tell you something about Falkirk…
“When I signed I went into that stadium [now a Morrisons] and up to the directors’ room. There were strips drying across a line in there. Then I went to the sponsors’ room and it was packed with press. I literally couldn’t get in. There was a little desk at the back where I was meant to sit, and I couldn’t get near it. I had to get them all out so I could get in. I’d signed for Spurs, Marseille, Sheffield Wednesday, and there wasn’t this many press there.
“When I signed for Marseille, I got off the plane, and I was the third most expensive footballer ever, I thought I’d get mobbed. Nobody there. Then I saw this small bunch of journalists and I thought, right, this must be it.
“Right enough, they looked over and started to come across to us. then one of them asks: ‘What songs will you be singing at the Velodrome tonight?’
“I was stunned. I thought ‘Has Diamond Lights come out in France?’
“It turned out they thought I was the singer from Pink Floyd.”
Wish You Were Here? I doubt Chris ever dreamed of playing Clydebank and firing over crosses for Ally Graham. But Falkirk fans who were there will never forget the sight.
Listen to the podcast