6th October 1999
The City Ground
Kev Lockhart; Stanno

Kev: Alan, I know it's annoying for you but, we've got to ask you the obvious question first because everybody's talking about it - Liverpool - is there any truth in the rumours?

Alan: Yeah, absolutely, I do come from Liverpool! (laughs all round)

No, I mean, as far as I'm concerned I'm a Forest player, I don't want to go anywhere else so I'm more than happy to stay here - end of story. I've got no intentions of leaving.

Stanno: How much is left on your contract?

Alan: Two years and if anything I want to renew my contract and extend it. I've got no ambition outside of Forest so end of story.

Kev: So at the end of the day its going to be down to the Club on whether they feel its actually worth making any money on you or not?

Alan: Yeah, but as far as I'm concerned, I'm more than happy to stay here.

Kev and Stanno: That's the best bit of news we've had today.

Kev: When you first joined us from Tranmere a couple of seasons ago you took over the Number 3 shirt from you know who - what was that like?

Alan: It was very difficult, I was only 20 and I'd never lived away from home, I still lived with my mum and dad and as you know, your mum does everything for you and I had to come up here and as you say, take over from a legend up here.

When I signed, people were saying I was going to be playing alongside him, they were planning on playing three at the back with me left wing back, so I was hoping I was going to be learning from Stuart Pearce because I don't think there's any better tutor to learn from and all of a sudden he's gone and I'm put in his position and I think the fans wondered what was going on. It didn't help that I didn't play too well at first because I found it to be too much pressure. The fans saw that and didn't really like me at the start so it was really difficult.

Stanno: Do you feel left back is your best position or do you prefer it where you are now?

Alan: I prefer to play further up field, at Tranmere I played left back but with the license to do what I wanted up and down the left because I always had two centre halves and a right back who were just defenders and I was just the tackle man so if I went forward the three of them were there. So I've come here and was an out and out left back which I don't think I am anyway.

Stanno: Well I mean at the moment you're covering so much ground with the role you're playing, you're up front then you're at the back etc.

Alan: Yeah, I think if I keep doing that I'll retire in 2 years. Yeah, the gaffer's told me to get up and down so I'll do it the best I can until I collapse.

Kev: So left back isn't your natural position, you're a winger really aren't you?

Alan: Wing back I prefer, I can play left back but I prefer wing back.

Kev: Was it the case that Bassett was left with no choice when Psycho left other than to play you at left back.

Alan: Yeah, I think it was. But now I'm in more of a wing back role I am much happier. I need to be involved in the game all the time. I'm the not the type of player for left back really, you've got to concentrate all the time on your position first and then when you get the ball, although you don't get the ball an awful lot, so I prefer to do more with my game and get in the action a lot more.

Stanno: How did it feel the first time you played against your mates from Tranmere?

Alan: It made me more determined because I was happy at Tranmere - it was a really good up and coming young team at Tranmere, we felt we could actually become quite a good force in the First Division. We had a lot of young lads and a lot of players of around 24 or 25 who were really good players and then they sold Ian Moore and myself to Forest, and they sold Kenny Irons, John McGeel (sp) and I just don't think at a club like Tranmere you can do that, but playing against them it made me more determined to play well against them, I think it does when you play against your old club.

Stanno: Did you get much stick?

Alan: No, I got quite a decent reception from Tranmere, I think.

Kev: When you were a youngster in Liverpool were you a Red, Blue or White?

Alan: I was a Red.

Kev: So what's it like as a Red's fan ending up playing for what, no disrespect intended, is considered as Liverpool's third team? Is it a disappointment?

Alan: No wasn't disappointing. I was at Liverpool as a kid and I broke my arm and they decided not to give me a contract and then that night the Youth Development Officer at Tranmere 'phoned me up and offered me a YTS contract straightway. So from being on a downer, all of a sudden I'm on a high, I've got a YTS contract and I've never looked back from there.

Kev: Where did the nickname 'Tank' come from?

Alan: It was Dean Saunders, we played a pre-season friendly in Finland and the ball was in between three Finnish players in like a little scramble and I just ran through them and the three of them just shot off, since then it's just stuck.

Kev: Can you talk us through that goal you scored against Barnsley the other night?

Alan: I think one of their players had crossed it and Mark Crossley came out to collect it didn't he?

Kev: Yeah, they'd just missed scoring hadn't they; I think Craig Hignett had had one of his famous misses that night.

Alan: Well, we do work on that in training and if Norm gets the ball and I'm free he just throws it out to me and I just try and get further up field. But when he threw the ball out no-one was coming for me, I just saw the one lad and I just knocked it inside and nearly fell over, so I just kept on running and it seemed like it opened up for me and I just hit it and fortunately it went in.

Stanno: As fans, we say loads of times, you're really quick, pace is probably the biggest asset you've got, but we don't think you use it enough. Loads of times we think, just shove it past him and run and you've done it against Barnsley and scored, so is it something we're going to see more of?

Alan: Yeah, if I get the chance I'll knock it along because I don't feel anyone can catch me.

Stanno: I don't think anyone will catch you, you're probably one of the quickest in this division by a long way.

Alan: I have to say that that is the biggest part of my game.

Stanno: Is it right that when you were a schoolboy you held a sprint record for your age group?

Alan: Yeah, that was a race in London. As you know I'm not the biggest and I was against all these big massive kids and I broke a record so the pace is a big asset and if I can I'll certainly knock it and run. Hopefully you'll see more of that in the future.

Kev and Stanno: We hope so; it opened the game up once you'd got that goal.

Alan: Yeah, I think we were desperate for a breakthrough like that.

Kev: Who is your best mate at Forest, who do you get on with?

Alan: To be honest, we all get on great together. Its one of the main things at Forest, all the lads get on well, we all socialize together, go and play golf. I get on well with Mark Crossley, Dougie Freedman, Christian Edwards and Andy Johnson - all of the boys. They're a good set of lads; I don't think there's a bad one in there since we got rid of a certain centre forward.

Stanno: How well personally did you get on with Pierre before all the trouble?

Alan: I just thought he was an arrogant man. He always thought he was bigger than the club and I don't think any player is bigger than the club. He was a very arrogant man - it was either his way or no way and you might miss his goals but as I think you heard Norm say last night, he's unproven in the Premier League. How many goals did he score last year?

Stanno: Five I think.

Alan: Well there you go I scored four. He's unproven in the Premier League and he thought a massive club would come in for him and it was only a club I've never heard of before - Vitesse Arnhem I think.

Stanno: The consensus of opinion was maybe he was looking for a move because he was scared of going back into the Premiership.

Alan: That was the feeling between all the boys when he didn't come back. I thought personally that he was too scared and he just decided to get away from what he'd done in the First Division but no club's going to take a chance on an unproven player. As far as I'm concerned, "good riddance" to be honest.

Kev: What was it like at the beginning of that Premiership season with all the problems - Kevin Campbell being sold, then obviously Pierre went on strike, what was the feeling in the team then? Was it a feeling of "we really are in the shit"?

Alan: You look at it and think oh Jesus! What's happening here, we've lost our two forwards. To be honest, the boys were more disappointed in losing Kevin Campbell. You have a look at what he's doing at Everton now - what a bonus if he could have been doing that with us - but I think we just decided to rally round and give it our best. We didn't have a bad start, at one point we could have been top of the league. But then it just went from bad to worse and we were all downhearted about that. It was a disappointing season.

Kev: Although we lost at Arsenal on the first day of the season, I thought that Geoff Thomas' goal was great, and I thought if we played like that we wouldn't have a bad season.

Alan: That was the feeling between the boys as well. To go and play the Champions and play well, we never got over-run and I thought we were very unlucky to lose. We looked at that game and Harry Bassett said we've got to build on that and then we won two games and we thought this is alright but obviously it wasn't.

Stanno: Is there anybody out there that you don't relish playing?

Alan: You mean best player? I suppose the best player I've faced - and I know a lot of people don't like him, me included - is Beckham. I know a lot of people don't like him but you've got to give him credit.

Kev: We saw you mincing behind him.

Alan: Well, you've got to give him credit, he's not the most popular but some of the things he does on the pitch are fantastic.

Stanno: Is there any truth in the rumour that in the game against Man U. you wound him up by telling him that Posh Spice's baby wasn't his.

Alan: No comment. I'm sure the baby's his (big smile).

Kev: Well you obviously did something to wind him up.

Alan: I did.

Kev: If we promised not to print it.

Alan: You couldn't print it what I said.

Kev: So who is the player you'd most like to play with?

Alan: My personal choice was Scot Gemmill. I don't think he was too popular with the fans.

Kev: It was 50:50 but I always thought he was a good player.

Alan: Yeah, but I've heard people say Scot's brilliant and then you hear other people say he doesn't do enough but I think if you ask all of the players at Forest or whoever has played with him, if you're in trouble with the ball he's always there to give it to. He always seemed to find space for himself. If you're in the shit, just give it to Scot.

Stanno: That's one of the things we seem to be missing at the moment, we're playing all these lovely triangles for 70 yards and then you think where do we go from here? We haven't got anybody at the moment that can just put the killer ball through. We seem to be missing that at the moment.

Alan: That's the thing. We've made a not bad start, we've won a few games and we've considered ourselves unlucky in a few games where we should have taken points like West Brom. Andy Johnson should be back between 2 and 3 weeks. Bart was going to play in the reserves last night but they felt it was just a bit too soon. So Bart's back in training with us now. So when you look at that you've got two quality players coming back in.

Stanno: There's a bit of a consensus among the fans that although we're not setting the league on fire, you don't need to be top now and if we're still in touch at Christmas, you can go on a good run in the second part of the course.

Alan: Course we can. When we get all the players back and the young kids who come in have done fantastic. I think we've been unfortunate with injuries to key players but the kids have come in and done well so if another key player gets injured you've got the likes of David Prutton, who I think has been absolutely outstanding, Doig's a good player, Carlos is unbelievable, he's got so much ability and skill. But I think it's just a bit of consistency with Carlos and if he gets a run in the team it will give him confidence. After the Barnsley game he's bubbling at the moment, walking around about 10 feet tall.

Kev: So what was the mix up about this man of the match award then?

Alan: I think they got his name wrong. They gave it to Moreno and when someone said it was the Italian he's given it to Moreno Mannini and he's popped it open and poured a cup out for the boys and poor Carlos was gutted. I think he got the empty bottle though.

Stanno: What about England aspirations, do you still think you can force your way into that?

Alan: I'm full of confidence in my ability. I've under 21 and B level experience and I'd like to push all the way but I think it's unfortunate that Forest are in the First Division.

Stanno: The next question is going to be do you think it makes a difference being in Division 1.

Alan: Yes, I do think it makes a difference. There are some great players in Division 1. You've got to look at Johno and big Norm playing for Wales, even though there's not a Welsh bone between them but they've made it for Wales. All the Fulham lads; they've got a lot of internationals because our games off against them. I just think maybe they should have a little look down here now and again.

Stanno: One of the good things about being here in Division 1 is that you're going to get a lot of TV coverage, we've got 4 or 5 games on Sky before Christmas. So you do get a chance to get nationwide exposure.

Alan: Yeah you do get a chance but you can't see everything on Sky. If you come to watch a certain player you just watch that player so on Sky you don't always get the coverage you want.

Kev: England are still notoriously short of good left sided players. They even brought Psycho back. I mean I've nothing against Stuart but you've got to think bringing a 37 year old in with experience and there are left sided players in the First Division like yourself to do that job.

Alan: I agree with you but then again you say about Stuart Pearce and I was watching the England game when he was playing and I thought he was the best player on the field. I'm sure he would have been playing on Sunday it was just a fit unfortunate about his leg. I just hope he recovers in time because I am a big fan of Stuart Pearce.

Stanno: What's it like working under David Platt. Do all the guys generally rate him?

Alan: I rate him very highly. He's come in and the training has been superb. The trainings really hard, like yesterday, you would have laughed if you'd have come yesterday we were up and down the stand, up and down the stairs, for half an hour, and you're thinking what's this for, and you realise how tired your thighs are he's just working on our fitness all the time. I mean this is the fittest I've felt since I've been a professional footballer. The training is hard work but really enjoyable as well.

Stanno: What about this three at the back? A lot of people think it wont work in Division One. Are the guys generally happy playing that system?

Alan: From day one the gaffers wanted to play three at the back, 3-5-2, so the players have just basically got to get on with it, its okay me saying I don't like it or I like it but I've just got to get on with it. The manager wants us to play that way it's his decision.

Stanno: Has he changed all the diets as well?

Alan: Yeah, we don't eat nothing fattening and we have pastas with proper sauce like tomato sauce, no creamy sauces. All boiled potatoes boiled chicken, sounds boring doesn't it?

Kev: There have been a lot of changes to the training and to the diet and I'm trying to think back in the years I've been supporting Forest and I cannot remember a season when we've had so many injuries all at the same time. Do you think its something to do with the change in the training and the diet that's catching players out and causing these injuries or is it really just bad luck?

Alan: I think its just bad luck. The training is just normal training really but its more enjoyable than what we were used to. We still do the 5 a sides, we still do running, possession and crossing like everyone else but its all done to a high tempo, what he wants is a high tempo so its enjoyable, but quick.

So I think its just genuine bad luck. I think when you look at Bart against Mansfield, we all know Bart can't run and he tried to sprint, so he got a bit of stick over that. Johno was playing last season with a little tear in his Achilles and he just thought it was a little strain but it kept getting bigger and bigger and it was a bit of shock when we found out that he had to have a big operation.

Stanno: We were talking to him at Norm's golf day and he said he spent all summer in plaster when he could have had the operation anyway.

Alan: Yeah that's the disappointing thing about it you've got to ask why it wasn't done in the summer. He'd have been playing. He would have been fine now. So it's disappointing for the team and for Andy because he's an important player.

Kev: Who should have made him have the operation in the summer? Was it because we didn't have a manager in the summer? Is that part of the problem?

Alan: Yeah, that was probably part of the problem, that's why the fans and the players wanted to know who the manager was straightaway. He should have been appointed early and then problems like that would have been solved.

Kev: Was Platt being appointed manager as big a surprise to you as he was to us?

Alan: I couldn't believe it; he wasn't even in the frame. He'd never been mentioned. I personally thought it was Roy Evans.

Kev: Did the players have a preferred choice out of all the names that were being bandied about?

Alan: I suppose Martin O'Neill. He's played here most of his career and the players were thinking he'd be good. You know you watch him on the television and it seems his hearts in the right place, he seems to get on really well with his players. But David Platt's come and I think he's superb myself. I think we've got a good future with him.

Stanno: We mentioned the golf earlier, have you got a good handicap?

Alan: No I haven't. I break a lot of clubs through anger with bad shots. I've had about four sets in a year.

Stanno: Can you tell us who nicked Chettle's shoes at Norm's golf day? Apparently they were found hung up in a tree.

Alan: I get the blame for everything so he'll probably blame me anyway.

Kev: Well the finger seems to be pointing at Johno. Because apparently someone also stole Woanie's dad's ball off the fairway and the finger's being pointed at him for that as well.

Alan: He nicked quite a lot of balls because he came and gave them to me. There's a lot of players who did better than what they thought and I've got all their balls in my bag. Johno gets a bit bored so you come back expecting all your clothes and everything to be cut up because he gets bored through this injury.

Kev: So he's the camp troublemaker then?

Alan: Yeah.

Stanno: You say he's only a few weeks away now.

Alan: He's been running again today and I think he starts his pre-season on Monday. All his heavy running to get his fitness levels up. So if he does that for maybe two weeks he probably get a reserve game within 2 ½ to 3 weeks. And then get him back in the first team as soon as possible.

Stanno: Who do you room with on the away trips?

Alan: I room with Mark Crossley now. I used to room with Johno before he got injured.

Kev: Do you get a choice?

Alan: Not really, you just get a roomie. But Norm's a good lad. Its true about his habits that they mentioned last night. Very, very true.

Kev: He is looking a lot fitter than he ever has done for a long time.

Alan: This is my third season and I've not played with him an awful lot. It was Big Bess last time in the First Division and most of the Premier League and then Norm's come in. I didn't realise what a good keeper he was personally. I honestly didn't. I think he's a fantastic keeper.

Kev: Again, he's one of those who have got an awful lot of fans here but like Scot Gemmill he's got a few detractors.

Alan: Obviously the fans pay their money so they've got the right to voice their opinion but like you say there are fans that think you're a good player and fans that don't. You've just got to get on with it really haven't you?

Kev: As long as you've got the majority on your side you've got no problems. Now then, Wrighty, what's he like then. Was that a surprise to you as it was to us?

Alan: To be honest, Norm mentioned that to me before it was ever brought up, I'm talking a while ago and he was involved at West Ham, and Norm said we should go and get Ian Wright. This was months ago. And when the gaffer brought him in I said to Norm it looks like you got that right and now Norm thinks he'll make a good manager. But it was a surprise and he's brilliant in the dressing room. He has really good banter with the lads. He does genuinely get on with everyone here. I think he really likes it and he does want to stay.

Stanno: Yeah, he comes across like he wants to stay for the rest of the season; does he give you that impression as well?

Alan: I know for a fact he'd like to stay. I think he'd rather go out on a bang with Forest scoring goals week in week out than sitting in the reserves at West Ham. So I think he does want to stay.

Kev: Do you think there's much chance?

Alan: I don't know to be honest. You'd be best asking the manager that but I think there must be a chance surely if he wants to stay. I think the stumbling block might be if they want money for him. Is it worth the business side of Nottingham Forest buying a player and say paying £500,000 for a player whose only going to be useful for 4 or 5 months.

Stanno: Personally speaking, I'd say spend the money.

Alan: So would I. I would personally keep him.

Kev: On that note, a lot was made last night about David Platt's disappearance.

Stanno: Yeah, Mark Arthur let it slip that he'd gone to the States and that leads everybody to Stern John.

Alan: Yeah it does, but no comment. I know the gaffer's away today but I don't know what it means to be honest.

Stanno: Yeah, he let it slip; I don't think he meant to though did he?

Alan: No, the look of shock on his face when he said it tells you that.

Stanno: What is your most memorable goal, is it always the last one you scored or have you got one that sticks in your mind?

Alan: Yeah, I've scored a couple of decent goals, the one against Man U. was a good goal, but then it all went wrong.

Kev: As we watched you and Darch carving your way down the middle, we knew one of you was going to score and we thought we're going to be alright here. We didn't expect to win, but we thought we might get the draw.

Stanno: We'd got a Man U. supporter sitting in front of us in the Trent End. He's been up in the air celebrating when they got their first one and when you equalised, I'd got him round the back of the neck and I'd still got hold of him when Andy Cole scored again. But he stopped celebrating after four.

Kev: The fans were obviously devastated after the game, I think most had lost the will to live after five, but as a player what's it like to be on the end of a kicking like that?

Alan: Devastating I think. Me personally, that affected me badly. Even my girlfriend will verify that. When I get beat, be it at chess or whatever on the computer, I sulk. I'm not a good loser. So when I play football and get beat I'm not the best company. If I've arranged to go out for a meal with my girlfriend on a Saturday and we get beat, especially at home, all of a sudden I just wont go. I just stay in. I can't stand getting beat but after that game I was absolutely gutted, because I scored a goal, and I don't score too many. I was over the moon and then the next minute the game's over and you think Jesus where did that come from.

But going back to my favourite, it's probably Leeds away.

Stanno: Referees, impressed or unimpressed?

Alan: Its poor, very poor. I think something's got to be done about it, especially after seeing the Aston Villa Liverpool game. Staunton's sending off was a joke and some of the bookings as well. They're a joke as well. The way the games going now, with all the pace and everything, you've got to accept that mistakes will be made and use some common sense.

Stanno: So you're not impressed.

Alan: No, not impressed at all.

Stanno: We watched you take the free kick against Barnsley and the wall was about 4 yards away when you know it's supposed to be 10, why don't you just refuse to take it.

Alan: Well that's the referee. I said to the referee get the wall back and he said they are back. I'm glad you picked it up though because I was thinking how am I meant to lift it, the goal keeper was standing right in his right hand corner and I thought I'm just going to lift it over and I couldn't because the wall was at most 5 yards away and I'm saying to the ref get the wall back, and he's saying take it you're time wasting and obviously you get booked for time wasting so I had to take it. You can't win.

Kev: I know it could get you in trouble if you name a ref you don't like, but are there any out there you don't mind being in charge of a game.

Alan: No! I don't like any of them.

Kev: Well, we asked you for 15mins and you've given us 40! We know you've got your lunch ready, so we'll let you get off. Many thanks for your time Alan.

Alan: No problem lads, any time... see you later.



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