Thursday, 16 October 2014

Celebs - dontcha just love em!

There are a few celebrities who own narrowboats or barges and you may come across them from time to time on your travels. Prunella Scales and her husband Timothy West and Timothy Spall and his wife Shane instantly come to mind. I missed Guy Martin but did meet up with John Sargent at Thrupp. However, there are other 'Celebs' that you could meet just as unexpectedly walking along the towpath or even down your street.

8th of September 2014 was one such day. We were waiting as a hire boat and that days new crew were busy working what I thought at the time, must have been their first solo lock. The Memsahib as usual was on the lock side giving them some encouragement and a few hints and tips. When I noticed that there was a growing crowd of onlookers starting to gather around the lock. I tied up the boat by its centre line and nipped up for a quick neb at what was going on. There were an older couple with a couple of matching dogs. They were also wearing matching sweaters and even sported colour matched dog leads. The Memsahib, remarked to the couple about the colour combination of their attire – well, she notices things like that.

My jaw dropped, it was ex England manager Graham Taylor OBE. Graham was the manager of the England national football team from 1990 to 1993. A former Chairman of Watford Football Club, having also been a football pundit and player. He was also manager of Watford, a club he took from the Fourth Division to the First in the space of five years. Then from bottom of the second division to the Premier League in two seasons two decades later.  Though I did not let on to anyone else stood round the lock who he was. I did not even tell the Memsahib until we were back on the boat. A quick shake of hands and he asked which team I supported (He supports Scunthorpe United) I said 'Manchester United' - to which he said 'ah! well that's it then!' He made my day.

Being a football fan, this rates with the day that I met the late Allan Ball, MBE. I was walking from work one evening to collect my car when a fellow pops his head out of his car window and says 'can you direct me to Sheffield Wednesday football ground'. Wednesday were without a manager at the time and I expected to hear that he had gained the job, but unfortunately for Wednesday fans it was not to be.

Alan Ball was the youngest member of England's 1966 World Cup winning team and played for various clubs, scoring more than 180 league goals in a career spanning 22 years. His playing career also included a then national record £220,000 transfer from Everton to Arsenal at the end of 1971. After retiring as a player, he had a 15-year career as a manager which included spells in the top flight of English football with Portsmouth, Southampton and Manchester City.

Other sporting celebs that I have met by chance include Jack Charlton, OBE, former footballer and manager.  He was part of the England team that won the 1966 World Cup. He is the elder brother of former Manchester United striker Bobby Charlton, who was also a team mate in England's World Cup final victory.

Lucinda Prior Palmer (Lucinda Green) well known for winning the Badminton Horse Trials a record six times on six different horses. Another celeb lost in Sheffield and this time looking for the hospital.

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