Just your typical weekend for Geoff Shreeves: interviewing a wonder-goal scorer and meeting rock royalty at the Palace...
“Is that all?” was the response I got from Charlie Adam at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, when I told him his wonder-strike against Chelsea was from 60 metres. I should add it was accompanied by a huge grin, while Charlie also said he was disappointed that 6ft 6in Thibaut Courtois got a hand to it…
It’s a goal that will be discussed and displayed for years to come, yet one that was stunningly simple. As any great military strategist will tell you, one of the key elements in an attack is surprise.
Besides the 22 players on the pitch and 40-odd thousand people at the Bridge, there were millions of people watching worldwide – yet nobody apart from Charlie would have known what he was about to do.
I had a couple of reasons to be pleased for Charlie. First and foremost he’s a smashing lad who has come through some difficult times both on and off the pitch. He wasn’t in the Stoke side at the start of the season and only got his chance due to injury – but he has done well and retained his place.
Would you Adam and Eve it?
Secondly, I’m still mightily relieved that we are both still alive! I interviewed him when he was in the Premier League with Blackpool – it feels like more than four years ago, especially for the Seasiders, who were relegated back down to League One over the Easter weekend. When we went to interview him, we decided that pictorially it would be a good idea to do it on the beach.
So we’re chattering away when the producer says “Geoff, be careful of the tide”; I look over Charlie’s shoulder and sure, it’s coming in quickly, but it’s still 15 yards away so I think we’re fine and carry on. Ten minutes later the producer issues the same warning but with more urgency, and to be honest he’s starting to annoy me as I can see the sea, so I tell him that very firmly.
It’s only when he suggest I look over my shoulder that I appreciate his concern. We’re standing on a sandbank that is by now completely cut off, surrounded by water with the tide coming in at a frightening pace. Shoes and socks off, we grab the equipment and are forced to wade ashore…
Anyway back to the Bridge, and another thing I liked about Charlie’s goal, which I suspect will also be enjoyed by forwards everywhere: it was one in the eye for the new breed of sweeper-keepers. Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer is the arch exponent of this practice: they lurk on the edge of their box on full alert, poised to pounce, instantaneously extinguishing any attack that comes over the top of their centre-halves. Well, any such roving goalkeeper will think twice now. Have that – we ain’t playing rush goalie today!
Relaxed dress code at the Palace
It was a stunning moment and I’m trumpeting the fact that I was there. As I left the ground I thought to myself that when you’re as fortunate as I am to watch so much football, there’s not much that can surprise you – a thought I held on to for 48 hours when Crystal Palace co-owner Steve Parish invited me to be his guest at for the home game against champions Manchester City.
I saw Roy Hodgson at the game and at one point we were chatting to two extremely knowledgeable Palace fans. The first was back at Selhurst Park after a long absence but has been an avid supporter for 68 years, having attended his first game aged 10. He can name virtually every player in that period, despite having spent 30 of those years in The Rolling Stones.
Bill Wyman is not only a charming man but also somebody with a genuine passion for the game and its traditions. Given Bill’s rock-star status, Steve Parish overlooked his normally strict rule that you must wear a shirt and tie in the boardroom.
The other gentleman in the conversation, a well-known actor and comedian, was equally knowledgeable in all things Crystal Palace, having also been a fan since boyhood. In fact, with the champions defeated, he ordered a glass of champagne to celebrate. He too was also afforded the same no-tie privilege – but that’s because Eddie Izzard, as he often is, was dressed immaculately from head to toe in women’s clothing.
Like I said, there’s not much in football that surprises me.