Long-serving Port Vale kitman Stan “Stan the man” Nicholls has passed some more of his anecdotes onto OVF. In this episode – ‘losing’ the Autoglass Trophy, passport panic, Tony Naylor’s shorts and a load of balls against Man City…
Stan Nicholls writes…
I LOST THE AUTOGLASS TROPHY
After we’d won the Autoglass trophy at Wembley, we had a fantastic party laid on at the hotel. It was for players and their families, staff, ground staff, everyone was there. There was plenty to drink and eat and a good time was had by all, The players were passing round the trophy all night and the “gaffer” came to me and said “I’m putting you in charge of the trophy, when they have finished with it put it up safe as we need to put it on the front of the bus on our way home to Burslem.”
Well, I’d had quite a few drinks (into some of which Swanny had sneaked in a couple of whiskeys) so I went to bed a little worse for wear.
Next morning, when we pulled ourselves together, the gaffer said: “What did you do with the trophy Stan?” I had to tell him that I hadn’t a clue. “Oh God, I hope it’s not being stolen,” he said. After a lot of searching, it came to light Steve Speed (the head groundsman) had it in bed with him, What a relief that was!
When we went for a pre-season competition at the Isle of Man, we got to Liverpool waiting to get on the ferry and the gaffer, who liked a joke, said go ask all the players for their passports. I went to the players who were full of it and a little rowdy. I said “The gaffer wants all your passports.” It went dead silent, all of them looking at one another and panic was setting in, Boy, were they relieved when I started laughing!
A LOAD OF BALLS AGAINST MAN CITY
Here’s a thing that came to mind, we were playing Manchester City at home and I always took out three balls on match day. We had a bumper gate and most of the Man City supporters were standing behind the dugout. Every time a ball went in the crowd, they kept it, passed it along the line and one of them would hide it, This went on all afternoon and the gaffer said: “Stan, go and blow up four more balls,” which I did.
I was standing just behind the dugout and I saw this supporter with one of our balls so I shouted to him to throw it back. I won’t tell you what his response to that was, but I had a word with a policeman next to me, but he took no notice. I wasn’t happy with that response and the next thing I know the ref had come to the line and threatened to send me off from the field of play. The gaffer said “Come sit down Stan,” which I did pronto. We lost four balls that day.
TONY NAYLOR’S SHORTS
Another incident I remember involved Tony Naylor. It was match day and we were just ready to go out on to the pitch. The ref was waiting and, as you know, Tony was on the small side. He shouted to me and said that his shorts were too big and pointed to the tag at the back of the shorts. He said he wanted small ones, so I took them off him, shot back to the dressing room, ripped out the tag at the back and ran back to him. He was holding the match up, but he put them on and said “That’s better.”
That’s footballers all over.
There will be further recollections from Stan in the next edition of “Kitman confessions”…
These are the personal recollections of Stan Nicholls.