Fletcher, Cole, Flintoff, X Factor & folk rock

More from our roving reporter as he meets Manchester United legends past and present...

Wednesday

Interviewed Darren Fletcher at Carrington for United We Stand. He was superb – inspiring even - and spoke for well over an hour.

Some of his quotes were like listening to a mini-Ferguson and I want that boy to play in every Manchester United game until he’s 39.

We’re going to put him on the front cover, which he seemed a bit embarrassed by. But he still picked his favourite photo to be used on the cover.

It’s frustrating knowing that newspapers will take quotes and not always credit us, but what can we do?

If they didn’t it would show we weren’t getting the exclusives and inside track.

Fletch (Godber not pictured) 

In playing for United, Fletcher thinks he’s fighting for a cause. He was respectful towards rival players, cogent and a very nice person.

He loves football, loves magazines and gave a five-minute critique of why FourFourTwo is better than World Soccer. (Ed: Good lad.)

Lots of people walked past as we did the interview: Giggs, McClair, Solskjaer and Welbeck... Fletcher hammered Welbeck for his celebration at Barnsley the night before. 

Then the young Brazilian twins, Fabio and Rafael, walked around side by side.

As they passed I said: "Todo Bem" – "Everything OK?" in Portuguese.

They both stopped in their tracks, smiled and said: “Sim.”

Hardly in depth – but it helps to know two words of their language.

Thursday

Met Andrew Cole outside Selfridges in Manchester. He’d driven from his home in Cheshire to help me out with two book signings for Glory Glory!.

He brought his son Devante along as he was on school holidays. Devante plays up front for Manchester City U15s.

I wanted him to meet my brother Sam… who is currently playing up front for Manchester United U15s.

Sam is on a six-week trial from Stockport County and he was playing away at Aston Villa. He scored in a 2-1 win so we were all delighted for the little ferret, who could become the first non-human to be paid to play football.

When he was 10, I managed to convince him that he wasn’t born in a hospital, but was actually found in the soil on wasteland behind Altrincham’s ground.

When Roma came to Old Trafford, I almost convinced him that the wolf on Roma’s badge was because Roma often kept a real wolf on the bench in case of emergencies.

I explained that the wolf would come on in a Roma kit and had scored a few late goals, including a famous one which won the title at Sampdoria.

He thought about it for a good 10 minutes before rightly accusing me of lying.

As I walked with Cole through the Arndale Centre to the Waterstone’s branch, he admitted that he’d never been in the shopping centre before.

Other shoppers were clocking him and double-taking.

There was a queue of people waiting at the store which was a relief. The store manager told us that there were more people than Freddie Flintoff drew for his book signing. Thanks, Mr Cole.

I thanked every single person for coming while Andrew posed for pictures, signed books and got embarrassed as people told him that he was their favourite ever player.

Or third favourite. Or fifth.

Andy gets his autograph book out for Andrew 

A few people tried to extract the urine by bringing piles of photos for Andrew to sign and not even buying a book.

They didn’t want the autographs making out to anyone and most probably had their eye on selling them on eBay, so rather than be diplomatic we just told them where to go.

One man didn’t give up so easily and waited for us outside the shop with more pictures.

He was ignored. The same bloke will probably be slagging Andrew off now because he didn’t sign his 60 photos. Tool.

We then went for some food in Manchester and did the One-on-One readers’ questions interview for FourFourTwo.

One asked him to describe his personality in five words, prompting Devante to say: “Stubborn, lazy…”

His dad didn’t disagree, but I would. There’s a friendly, reliable, funny, private man in there.

We then drove through the heavy traffic to do the second signing at the Trafford Centre.

WHSmith had asked us to change the time because a boy band called JLS were switching on the Christmas lights.

I argued that most of the likely readers would never have heard of them, let alone want to see them sing, and we kept the slot.

Devante had heard of them, though, and explained that they’d been on X Factor.

Another person was singing, Chipmunk or someone. Chipmunk, ferret, it was all getting confusing.

There was another decent turnout of people waiting patiently to have their books signed, though nothing like the thousands of teenage girls who’d come to see JLS.

We’d signed all the books there after an hour but started to notice a change in the type people loitering about.

Who were this edgy-looking new breed, far more numerous than had shown up for the Glory Glory! signing?

We soon found out why as we were shifted from our seats to be replaced by the Saw Doctors, the Irish folk-rock band.

It’s tough near the bottom.

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