Wednesday, January 06, 2010

After-Dinner Sports Tales - Chris Kamara

Here is my is my first of 2010 but my sixth installment so far on the subject of light hearted after-dinner sporting tales, as told by current or ex-professional sportsman.

In previous articles on the subject of 'After-Dinner Sports Tales,' I have chosen humorous anecdotes as told by the likes of Rodney Marsh Gareth Southgate and Chris Coleman from the world of football, Phil Tufnell from cricket, and rugby union's Wade Dooley.

Today I have chosen another former footballer, but one who despite having retired from the game in 1998, can still be seen on a Saturday afternoon......but on your TV screens, usually as a Sky Sports TV reporter/analyst - the one and only, the charismatic Chris Kamara.

Chris Kamara was born in Middlesbrough on Christmas Day in 1957. After serving with the British Royal Navy he joined Portsmouth in 1975, beginning a professional footballing career that saw him move between nine clubs, scoring 71 goals in 641 league appearances. He was also manager of Bradford City and Stoke City before retiring from the game.

Here is an amusing excerpt from a speech made by Chris at a sporting dinner.

"I enjoyed a long career as a football player, signing for Portsmouth (twice), Swindon (twice), Brentford, Stoke, Leeds, Luton, Middlesbrough, Sheffield Utd and Bradford. I then made the transition into management, the highlight being taking Bradford into the First Division via a Wembley play-off final.

I became somewhat of an unlucky mascot to several teams during my playing days. In early 1992, I played my last game for Leeds, which took them to the top of the table. Manager Howard Wilkinson wanted to make sure they stayed there - so he sold me to Luton the very next day! Sure enough, Leeds won the Championship, without me.

David Pleat, the Luton boss, signed me to change things. Luton had been in the top division for ten years - the old First Division, now the Premier League. I certainly did help to change things - Luton were relegated!

I then went to my hometown club Middlesbrough, signing for Lennie Lawrence. It was their first season in the Premier League, and even though Lennie had previously saved Charlton from going down for five years in the late 80's and early 90's, without me, I was a part of the Middlesbrough team he managed that were relegated in the inaugural Premier League season in 1992-93!

Then there was the greatest escapologist since Harry Houdini - Dave 'Harry' Bassett, manager of Sheffield United. He was the boss who could get out of anything. But in the 1993-94 season he signed me, the fateful unlucky mascot - you've probably guessed it by now - Sheffield United went down.

During this period struggling Coventry City were actually paying teams to sign me!"

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