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Baker's Dozen

Pitch Perfect: Pat Nevin's Favourite Music
Richard Foster , June 2nd, 2021 08:17

Footballer, DJ and now writer, Pat Nevin talks Richard Foster through his 13 favourite records, including the time he got the fear from Delia Smith being at John Peel's birthday party, and being asked to write lyrics for Vini Reilly

What is the normal footballer? A question for another time and place, perhaps but whatever that would constitute, it would not include Pat Nevin. As the title of his new book, The Accidental Footballer hints, (Octopus Books, released May 25th), the talented Scotland, Clyde, Chelsea, Everton and Tranmere winger could have carved a career in higher education or been sucked into the indie music world he was in thrall to. But no, he chose fitba', and international recognition, terrace adoration, being the subject of a song by Vini Reilly and getting kicked by Kenny “Sit on the Ball” Wharton awaited. “It was interesting to tell those stories, because I was an outsider within the game, and the game kinda changed around then. I just saw football as fun. And looking at the way footballers in general behaved, as an outsider, (because I had different interests and tastes), that was the fun element for me. Especially when writing the book. I loved writing it and once I started I couldn't stop.” 

Nevin was a player and person very much of his time and background, and he chronicles it well. The reader may note that the book is often a principled one. For example, and to his great credit, Nevin was one of the few in the game at the time to actively and publicly stand up against the open racism that was once unavoidable on the terraces and now finds its incubus online.

Now employed as a match expert on BBC Radio 5Live, Nevin is one of the few voices in football punditry who can be trusted not to aggrandise or to be a willing marionette in the meeja circus that smothers the game. In short, he concentrates on the subject at hand and tells it straight. He's also a popular DJ who likes to mix: favourites being My Bloody Valentine's 'Soon' (both versions at once) and the Stones'  '2000 Light Years From Home', “which is pure psychedelia. I splice that record into my deejay sets. In the right club it sounds absolutely brilliant.” 

To chat with Nevin is to reveal his passion for alternative music. Album covers are mounted in frames behind him. I spot the Bunnymen's Heaven Up Here, MBV's Loveless, Associates' Sulk, The Go-Betweens' 16 Lovers Lane, Bowie's Heroes and singles from Orange Juice and New Order. “By the way they change quite a lot. I was on breakfast television recently, on a Monday. Now the last thing anyone wants to see is my face in the morning. However if you leave the LPs in the background, you get people pointing, 'ooh look he's into that!'” That passion led to him being close friends with John Peel, who Nevin openly cites as his musical mentor. “I lived by his Festive Fifty. I always entered and then I would always record it to see if I could find something new. I remember finding 'Revolutionary Spirit' by the Wild Swans, things like that.” This fandom shines through the whole interview. Nevin comes across as the mate who would, back then, record everything and then send you a copy of the tape.

Pat Nevin's The Accidental Footballer is out now via Orion Books. Click the image of Nevin below to begin reading his Baker's Dozen selection