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Talking To Chris Kirk
Talking To Chris Kirk

Exclusive Interview: Kevin Drinkell (Part Two)

By: Chris Kirk
Date: 10/01/2008 (Last updated: 03/03/2008)

THE second part of Chris Kirk's interview with Kevin Drinkell, which first featured in BAWC Issue Nine.

Home > Features > Interviews > Kevin Drinkell

What about your time at Norwich? What are your memories of playing with them?

I had three good seasons at Norwich. They were when I joined them in the top division, and had just won the Milk Cup, so would be in Europe the following year. Then things changed dramatically. I joined in May and everyone had finished playing but Coventry still had three games left. They beat Stoke, Luton and Everton , and those nine points relegated Norwich. Then the Heysel disaster happened so we were out of Europe as well. The upside was we were a top division side playing in what is now the championship, and we went back up the following season as champions. I scored 24 league goals and was top scorer, and I won player of the year. I remember we beat Grimsby at Carrow Road, but unfortunately for me, we played them back at Blundell Park on the penultimate game of the season. Although my determination was ten-fold, because we had already won the league, the application of my team mates did not match mine and they were more bothered about a night out in Cleethorpes. Grimsby beat us. Unfortunately my main memory is of getting booed. My dad never missed a game and was glad I was coming home to play against Town, but from the start to finish, I got nothing but abuse. My mum, my wife and my dad all left at half-time- it wasn't very pleasant, and I think it was more than a minority who were doing it. The only excuse I could think was they thought I had been unfaithful. Despite this I still have great affection for the club and the teams I played in, and the football we played. It is disappointing when that happens.

When I left Wilkinson and Lund were doing well and were in the England under-21s, so I wasn't getting a game, but that's football, isn't it?

How did you come to leave Norwich and join Rangers? Were other clubs interested?

Again it was all about my contract situation. I had a very good first year and we won the league. They promised to extend it I did well and they gave me another year. In our first year back in the top division we finished fifth. We did well but then they started to sell the good players. Chris Woods went to Rangers and Dave Watson went to Everton. The start to the next season wasn't good and Ken Brown got sacked. He was the big reason for me being there. Tottenham came in for me but Norwich got greedy. They asked how much Norwich wanted. Tottenham said they would pay it, then Norwich upped their asking price. If they had just said no I would have understood, but they were just trying to flog me for lots of money. It ended up that I just did not want to be there any more. They had messed up my move to Spurs but I was still in touch with Chris Woods who was already with Rangers. The biggest draw was they could still play in Europe, and that was why the likes of Terry Butcher, Ray Wilkins and Mark Walters were there.

What was Graeme Souness like to play for? Didn't he pay you a very nice compliment, saying you were the hardest working striker he had ever seen?

He was arrogant but fair. He said if he had ten other Kevin Drinkells in his team, he wouldn't have to worry about giving a team talk. It is great to think about that and is a nice thing to look back on. I will always remember that, and how Terry Venables and Alex Ferguson had both tried to sign me.

Hang on a minute! Fergie wanted to take you to Old Trafford? What happened?

It was before Ken Brown was sacked. He was still there and I liked playing for him. He said Alex Ferguson had rang and said he wanted to sign me. Ken said he wouldn't stand in my way if I wanted to go. Out of loyalty, and the fact we were a better team than Man Utd at that time, I decided to stay. I wasn't going to make a fuss. Two months later, Ken was sacked and Man Utd went and bought Mark Hughes from Barcelona. I wasn't too disappointed but perhaps I could have helped Fergie turn it around, or I could have gone there and been another Alan Brazil. I was enjoying my football. I had gone to Old Trafford the year before and scored the winner, and we were a better team than them at that time. Maybe my trouble was I never played up at that time. I roomed with Steve Bruce at Norwich. In the November Steve got a call from Man Utd saying they wanted to sign him, so he drove to the chairman's house and said, 'I'm going, see you.' Perhaps sacking Ken upset the apple-cart.

What are your best memories of playing for Rangers? As a player, are you aware of the sectarian element? I remember scoring with a diving header in my first game against Celtic at Ibrox when we beat them 5-1. That ingratiated me to the fans, and still does. I didn't know anything about it before I went up there. I think to describe the feeling you have to have been involved in it to understand it. I really cannot describe it. You just cannot transmit how it feels. Sectarianism didn't come into it for the footballers. The team was basically English, so it wasn't about Catholics and Protestants. For the majority, it is just like if it's Liverpool v Everton, or Spurs v Arsenal. It is about our team being better than yours. Both clubs had mixture of different religions playing for them. There is enough history and tradition about without bringing religion into it.

I was lucky throughout my playing and management career to have won many medals but I would not put one above another.

Why did your Rangers career come to an end?

There's a financial element to everything. I had a great first year, but in my second year they bought Mo Johnston and Trevor Steven for big money. That was the first time I had come across the rotation system. One week I'd play with Mo, the next with Ally McCoist. It wasn't something I was used to. Clubs down south became alerted to that. Coventry offered enough and they offered me a contract until I was 32, giving me long-term security.

Third Part Tomorrow

This interview first appeared in BAWC issue eight…for more information on the only current Mariners paper based fanzine email

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