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Past Masters #4 – Pat Nevin

Despite only spending a couple of years with The Bully Wee, Pat Nevin established himself as a firm favourite amongst the Clyde support during his time at Shawfield, and is an obvious choice for number 4 in the re-published “Past Masters” series.

Below is an interview Paul Pettigrew conducted with Pat around two years ago, when he was Player / Chief Executive at Motherwell…

#4 – Pat Nevin (1980s)

Can you please give a potted history of your career with dates? – My senior career in football started out with a great club and went steadily downhill from there. It was Clyde between 1981 and 1983, followed by 5 years with the blues of Chelsea, another 4 years on Merseyside with the blues of Liverpool, Everton, then a 5 year sojourn across the Mersey with the blues of Birkenhead, Tranmere Rovers. I then decided to return to Scotland with Kilmarnock and played for a season in 97/98 before being lured by my friend John Boyle to Motherwell. In between times I have also had the odd few games for Scotland.

What are you doing now? – I play a little and help to run a football club. You could say I am the Ronnie McDonald of Motherwell, only I do a wee bit more than taking penalty kicks at goalkeepers during the kick-in! I think actually that I am the only Player/Chief Executive in British football, which is quite amusing.

What was the highlight of your career with the Bully Wee? – Clyde won the Second Division Championship in my first season, and that was a great thrill for me. There is nothing like early success to help build confidence and attract interest. But there were lots of highlights in those early days, and it is hard to pick out particular ones. Sorry, I forgot to mention the tour of Mid Wales in 1982, which was the whole highlight of my Bully Wee career. Brilliantly organised, top venues, big crowds…(Thanks, Pat, I take the compliment!)

And the worst moment? – John ‘Winker’ Watson saying to Craig Brown for the umpteenth time, “Don’t bring him on, he’s not ready yet”. If Craig had listened to him I’d still be sat on the bench at Shawfield now!

Any ambitions unrealised? – No. I’ve never had any ambitions. I didn’t even have an ambition to play football professionally. It just happened. I was blessed with some talent for the game, worked hard, had a natural fitness, and got lucky. The only personal ambition I probably had, and still have, is to be happy. And despite life’s ups and downs, I generally am.

Who was the best player you played with at Clyde, and why? – Tommy O’Neill. He was what you would call a ‘players’ player’. He was very intelligent and selfless, which probably wasn’t obvious to the fans. He always gave me an option, making lung-bursting runs just to create space for the man on the ball, knowing that he probably wasn’t going to receive the ball and grab any glory for himself in the process. His attitude was totally professional and that made a big impression on me as a youngster.

Who was your most difficult opponent and why? – Myself! I think one of the secrets of the game is to get inside your own head and understand why things are going well or badly. Half the battle is understanding yourself and overcoming your mind’s own mental barriers, and releasing your own creativity, daring to do well rather than trying to avoid reproach. You have to be honest with yourself, be ultra confident, and relaxed without being arrogant. Hold on, I’m beginning to sound like an amateur psychologist, now!

Do you still look out for the Clyde result on Saturdays, or perhaps even come to watch our games? – Absolutely, I have always checked the Clyde score first, and I’ve even been to a few games in the last couple of years. I can’t come along as often as I would like, however, while I am involved further down the scale in the Premier League. I know that Alan Maitland has been looking at me, but when he found out that I never played as a junior he lost interest!

Would you rather be playing today compared to your day and why? – What kind of question is that! This IS my day! You are not Gerry McNee in disguise, are you? Yes, the game has changed a lot since I started, and it has in my opinion improved in many areas. We hear a lot about the negative changes ad nauseam, and quite honestly, through the game’s history, commentators hark back to the halcyon days, which actually never were. The critics in football would be out of a job otherwise, when you think about it. No, the standard and pace of football at top level in Britain is just breathtaking, as you will know being a Bully Wee fanatic!

Do you still keep in touch with any of your former teammates, and if so, who? – I tend to meet them as I go about my everyday business. I’ve met Brogie (John Brogan), the Doc (Jim Doherty), Cindy (Robert Reilly), and John McVeigh in the past 18 months.

X-Files: Tell us something about yourself that would surprise us? – I wear women’s underwear at weekends! No, the truth is that I love gardening. I know this is something slightly different from the image portrayed by the media, but hey, gardening is the new rock ‘n’ roll!

What was the funniest incident you experienced with Clyde? – Robert Reilly came on as a sub in one game, scored a hat-trick, and then got himself sent off. As we walked into the dressing room after the game, Craig Brown laid into him with the never-to-be-forgotten words: “Haw, Reilly, yer da’ wiz a jiner an’ he made yer heid!” I’m not sure what they would have made of that at Stamford Bridge!

Which former team-mate was the funniest or oddest character and why? – Danny Masterton. I have never before or since met anyone so different from me. He was older I suppose, and I think that socially and culturally we lived in parallel universes, although I suppose I was the one who must have seemed odd to him. Like the rest of the Clyde team at that time, I really liked ‘The Dancer’ and I loved making goals for him as much as scoring myself.

Anything you want to say that I haven’t asked? – I would like to thank all the people at Clyde who were so good to me and gave me such a fantastic start in my profession. Players, staff, and particularly fans were always generous and helpful to me. They were among the happiest times in my life.

Next time, we’ll be revisiting the 70s again to reveal all about a former star. All suggestions gratefully received via the Message Boards.

Thanks to Paul Pettigrew for his co-operation.