Charlie Nicholas: Ask A Silly Question

Arsenal and Celtic hero and Soccer Saturday legend 'Champagne' Charlie Nicholas answers silly questions for FourFourTwo in September 2010.

Hi Charlie. Imagine a world in which cars have been abolished. Everyone must ride animals as a means of transport. What are you saddling up?
[Immediately] I’m going for the ostrich. A great animal, and it’d get you round really quickly. Back in my Arsenal days we used to do an annual fancy dress, and I hired the ostrich outfit for three years running. I loved it. It had the false legs down the side, you know? A few of the lads started implying that there was something sexual about it.

What’s kinky about a comedy ostrich outfit? We never saw Bernie Clifton in that light…
No, exactly. And I never wore that ostrich suit in the bedroom, I can assure you.

We’re glad to hear it. Now, Champagne Charlie was a good nickname, but did it ever bug you?
It did when I was younger. When I first started getting called Champagne Charlie, I couldn’t afford champagne! I was on the shandy, if I was lucky. But Shandy Charlie’s not quite so good, is it? After I while, I grew to not mind it. There are worse nicknames.

Could we call you Horlicks Charlie or Ovaltine Charlie, now you’re getting on a bit?
Jeff Stelling says things like that to me all the time! But I’m not really a Horlicks fan. I’m a bit of a wine buff, and if anything I like a tot of nice Cognac to get me off to sleep – never Ovaltine.

Cognac Charlie could actually work pretty well.
Yeah! I could live with that.

Now, your name is an anagram of: “I’l chance hair los”. Do you fear baldness?
Ha! I don’t think I’m at risk – I’ve got this far with my hair intact. But I don’t fear it. In fact, I’m actually a bit weirdly jealous of bald people. My brother lost his barnet when he was younger and it’s so much easier to look after. Sometimes I look in the mirror and my hair is in a total state. It might just be better if it was taken away.

Are bald men untrustworthy?
I’d say not. A lot of my friends are bald and I trust them. So no.

Imagine you’re a renegade on the run. Where would you flee to in order to start a new life?
I’d get myself to the Cayman Islands. They have this incredible black rock formation called Hell, and I’d venture deep into Hell and lie low for a while. Nobody would find me there. After a while I’d creep off into a tourist area and try to charm a barmaid, set myself up with a new life. I’d live on my wits and I reckon I’d get away with it.

Cunning. Now, if the Soccer Saturday crew were stranded on a desert island and it all got a bit Lord of the Flies, who’d end up as the king, and who would get eaten first?
Le Tiss would probably be the king, because he can eat absolutely anything. You should watch him inhale omelette and chips – I’ve never seen anything like it. Thommo would be first to get cooked. He’d be straight on the campfire, although he’d only be a small appetiser for Le Tiss.

Do you know which one is Ant and which one is Dec?
I’ve no idea. I actually almost got introduced to one of them once – the stocky one, I don’t know which one he is – and I avoided it for exactly that reason. Does anyone know?

I’m not even sure they know, Cognac. Finally, can I have a hug down the phone please?
Of course! No problem!

Brilliant! You’re the first interviewee to agree to it. Mark Schwarzer found the idea odd. He only does hugging in person. What’s wrong with him? I’m up for a phone hug – why not?

You’re a fine man. Thanks for chatting, Cognac!
It’s been fun.

Interview: Nick Moore. From the September 2010 issue of FourFourTwo. Subscribe!


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