Your questions answered by football's biggest legends
I’m too young to have seen you play, but my dad says you weren’t all that. How would you describe yourself as a player? Honestly.
Liam Chadwick, Bury
Your dad may think I wasn’t all that, but that’s not what your mum thinks! I’ve said it before, but players like Glenn Hoddle sit down and play the piano but without someone carrying the piano on and putting the stool down, they wouldn’t be able to play. In other words, you need workers, and I was a worker who played for the team.
I’ve heard that Gerry Francis is one of the worst losers in football. Can you confirm this?
Roger Frost, Birmingham
That man hates losing a game of tiddlywinks. I thought I was bad enough, but he was unreal. He talked [assistant manager] Kenny Jackett into playing a game of darts against me and Gary Penrice. Me and Gary won because Kenny wasn’t very good and Gerry had an argument with Ken. He told him to sort his effing life out and practise whenever he got the chance. Kenny said he didn’t want to play in the first place. We were loving it.
Do you regret not going bald gracefully? You were halfway to a Nutkins with that mullet...
Cliff Handle, Bournemouth
That’s a bit harsh you bastard! There’s no regret when it comes to being bald. I’ve lost my midfield, I’m strong at the back, but I’ve only got one up front! I don’t think you can do anything about what’s happened to your barnet. But the good news for me, and the way I’ve always looked at it, is that I can’t ruin the face I’ve got with a bad haircut!
When you were offered the player-manager position at Bristol Rovers, what made you say ‘yes’?
Darren Ward, Manchester
The four-year contract on blue paper. Blue paper means it’s a player’s contract, which is written in stone, it has the strength of the PFA behind it. I saw it as a window of opportunity. It probably came a bit too early, because as a player, I’d never been fitter, but it was something I couldn’t turn down. So I bought a big house I couldn’t really afford so I had no excuses; if I didn’t make it, I’d be homeless.
As a manager, you quickly developed a reputation as a funny interviewee. Was that something you set out to do to make a name for yourself?
Gillian Minkle, Tamworth
No, most of it comes from the fact that I get the same questions over again. When I started I used to worry about what I said, but that’s all bullshit, all you’ve got to do is be yourself. What you see is what you get. I don’t practise any lines, I don’t write speeches, I just go with the flow. Some managers are scared stiff and have a pole up their arse and that’s all rubbish. They’re too scared to be themselves. I’m me. And that’s it.
It appeared that you got sacked from QPR for being interested in the Leicester job, but then you didn’t even get it. What happened?
Pat Green, Dublin
If you’re happily married, your wife doesn’t tell you to go out with another woman does she? And that was the scenario. I wasn’t allowed to say at the time, but that’s how it was. The QPR chairman was called by Leicester – I had nothing to do with it - and he said I could talk to them. I asked my agent what was going on because I had two and half years to go and he thought they didn’t want me so I went for the interview. When I got there they told me they were looking at seven other people. I said, “You realise I’m going to get sacked now, don’t you?” I went back to QPR and within a week I was on gardening leave, which meant I was banned from going to work and was being paid for staying in my garden. Thing is, I needed a bigger garden. I only had a little one. I told my wife after a week I was knackered. I tried to help by pulling out weeds, and it turned out they were her plants! She weren’t very happy.
After your first away win in charge of Plymouth at Sunderland (3-2), you offered to buy every travelling fan a drink. Were you true to your word?
Ian Rideout, Derby
There were four or five hundred of our fans there and I swear I bought 1,500 drinks! I spent a fair few quid. I even had a load of letters from people saying they couldn’t meet me down the bar but could I send them £2.50 instead, which was unbelievably tight!
You’ve famously got three deaf children. But do you have a similarly surreal sense of humour in sign language?
James Geratrix, Stoke on Trent
It comes out because I’m absolutely useless. My kids go so fast now. My wife is in the flow of it because she sees it all the time, then I come in [starts signing frantically] saying “What? What?” I get really frustrated but I try my best. They’ve got a hell of a sense of humour, particularly when I used to try to discipline them when they were younger. I had a vile temper, and all they ever saw me doing was [flays his arms around, while mouthing in silence]. Then they’d cover their eyes and I couldn’t do anything. They thought it was hilarious.
Is it true that your favourite film is Jaws. What’s your favourite line?
Harry Pearson, Cornwall
I love Jaws. I have to say “swimming with bow-legged women” just tickles me. I think the whole thing, the cast and how it was made was excellent. And it’s terrifying ain’t it? Oh, and “I’m gonna need a bigger boat.” That’s another belter.
What did you missus make about your most famous quote, when you compared a scrappy win to pulling “not the best looking bird”? Did you get any reaction from female fans?
Adrian Howley, Plymouth
She weren’t very happy – I was just lucky that I reminded her that I didn’t meet her in a taxi! I didn’t really get much reaction from female fans, because although I can see how it might be deemed as insulting, I think the ladies out there play the same game. [FourFourTwo; What game’s that?] I think if it’s late at night in a place, they do the old look-around and try and get the best-looking guy. If he ain’t there, they don’t care. If they can’t get Real Madrid, they’ll make do with Hartlepool.
Ollie: The Autobiography of Ian Holloway is available from September 17 from all good book retailers for £16.99. If it’s half as good as an afternoon with the man himself, we strongly recommend it.
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