As we finished Part 2 of the interview with Jamie he was describing going on loan to Bristol City during the 1993-94 season and that is where we pick up his story.
You were back at United and back in the squad when we visited Stamford Bridge on our final day relegation in 1994. I was up in the Gods at the top of the main stand that day and I don't think any fans there could believe we were relegated. Did the players ever believe it would happen and how did you find out?
Alan Kelly and I were subs and we were warming up. Ray Stubbs was there for the BBC pitch-side and we kept asking him for score updates and each time it was, “Yep, we are alright, we are alright.” Then Harry put me on and I nearly scored. They got to two all and we were still alright, then suddenly a cross from Dennis Wise, Glenn Hoddle (who has never headed a ball in his life) has flicked one on and Mark Stein has come in at the far post and steered it home. Even then, we thought we were okay. I came off the pitch and said to Ned (Alan Kelly); “So are we alright?” and he said, “No, I think we’re down”. I said; “We can’t be down? All the other results can’t have gone against us?”. He said; “No, we’re down!”. We got into the dressing room and a guy from The Star tried to come in and take pictures and he just got shoved out. It was a horrible day.
A few lads from the South stayed down, the rest of us came back to Bramall Lane. When we got back there were fans waiting for us, we thought we were going to get lynched. Yet when we got off the bus they were so emotional, draping scarves on us and I thought, “Wow! We have just gone down and they are treating us like this.”
It was like the end of an exhilarating ride.
Yes we’ve come to the end, we have had our photo taken, got the mouse mat and keyring. It was over. Harry had done everything he could do. It was time to move on and start a new era. He did that with players, shifted them on after time because they’d had enough of him and he’d had enough of them. Harry always made us feel underdogs with a great team spirit, which was brilliant, but after a bit, once you’ve established yourself playing at a certain level, you know you are not the underdogs. “Don’t keep telling us we’re crap, we are alright actually.” Eventually, it plateaus out and I think that is where it had got to.
Do you still have warm feelings towards Harry, despite the issues you have mentioned and your subsequent departure, early the following season?
Yes I still have good feelings towards Harry. I fell out with him at times, but I have bumped into him a few times since and he’s brilliant. His machine gun talks, he is still funny and I have taken so much of what he taught me into my coaching career; about what you need to be a good team and how he built it. It’s not all about players, it is how you make them work as a group, how you motivate them. How you make them feel a million dollars and how you make them want to prove you wrong. He got players wanting to run through a brick wall for him and that ran throughout the club.
Was it hard leaving United early the following season? You turned down a move to Blackpool, what drove the decision to move to Burnley?
Blackpool came in for me, but I was always going to Burnley. It was similar to United; everyone in the town supported them. Okay Sheffield is divided, but you are either United or Wednesday. There are few shirts of the big clubs like you see in Preston.... Everyone in Burnley and the surrounding valleys is passionate about the club and if they like you, they are brilliant to you, if they don’t...oh my God. It is another historic, special club.
A good team spirit as well highlighted by your LEJOG for Parky?
It was another close knit group of players under Jimmy Mullen, the spirit was similar to United, even if the players were not as good. Still there was Steve Davis, Marlon Beresford, David Eyres, Liam Robinson, Gary Parkinson, myself...we had a great bond; one in, all in. You really enjoyed training and I know that sounds daft when you are a professional footballer, but not a lot of players do.
What changed at Burnley?
There were changes of manager; Adrian Heath followed Jimmy Mullen and then Chris Waddle took charge. I mentioned before about how Harry brought players together, got them working as a team, Chris Waddle couldn’t do that. That’s why he only lasted a year at Burnley. Chris Waddle was a brilliant player, yet couldn’t understand why everyone else was “rubbish” and he had no respect for anyone who couldn’t live up to his expectations. It was a waste of time, he was never going to be a good manager, even though he was a fantastic player.
I read a great story on a Clarets fan site about you fetching a pie for a fan from the other end of the ground at Bristol Rovers whilst warming up as a sub. The away end refreshment bar had run out, a fan approached you as you warmed up on the touchline and you popped off down the other end returning with a pie. Please tell me this is it true?
Yes it is. It was whilst Waddle was in charge and you know my thoughts there!
Waddle’s reign very nearly ended with relegation to the fourth tier though?
Over the course of the season Wadds had bombed all the experienced players out of the team, (Jamie had been out on loan to Carlisle) he tried to bring players in, tried to bring new ideas in, but he was never there. He managed from Sheffield. He gave players three days a week off a week and the senior players often ended up taking training. In the end he brought us back in for the final game of the season, a must win home game against Plymouth Argyle. Defeat and we were relegated. Thankfully two goals from Andy Cooke got us to a 2-1 win.
From Burnley you ended up at Scarborough for a season, what eventually led to your retirement?
Scarborough was a big mistake. The club had three owners, some months you wouldn’t get paid, then you would get it in cash and you wonder what the hell’s going on. Former Rotherham chairman Anton Johnson came in for a spell and thing were going awry, it was a mess. We went down to Jimmy Glass’ goal on the last day of the season and that’s when I made my mind up; I’m not enjoying it anymore. At 33 I wanted to look for a different avenue in football. I didn’t want non-league football, or six month contracts here and there.
Along with Ned (Alan Kelly), Kevin Gage and Billy Mercer we always used to meet up for an end of season drink. We were known as the Menzel’s Four. When Gagey had packed in and we were still playing he said, "You will know the day you want to pack it in" and I was always telling him that was rubbish. He was spot on.
Was it always in your mind to get into coaching?
I’d started dipping my toe into coaching waters working with the u15/u16’s at Bolton’s academy and I enjoyed it. As a player I always knew I was going to be a coach. Not being the quickest in the world I always had to talk to people around me to get them to do it. I knew what I was doing playing-wise, I enjoyed that part of the game.
You have had spells as Assistant Manager at Rochdale and working with David Unsworth as caretaker managers at PNE. Is there an ambition to move into management, or are you settled developing young talent?
I went to Rochdale working with the youth side and then had a year as assistant to Simmo (Paul Simpson). We had started in digs together at City and we are still best friends now. We had a turbulent year. He was still playing, one of the better players, so I was doing more managing than coaching, doing more of the talking at half time etcetera. I didn’t want to do that, I wanted to learn more about the coaching side, but it was still a good experience.
At the PNE academy it has gone well, we have had 13 players make their debut in two years. I would like to move on in my career at some point, be it coaching senior players, not sure about managing as you sometimes have to be lucky to drop into that. I do love working with the kids though, they absorb everything and it is a great feeling to watch someone you have developed make their first team debut and then kick on from there. We have some great talent coming through, just like Pembo has at United.
So finally, you have committed to a huge undertaking in May. Raising money for friend and former team-mate Gary Parkinson who suffered a severe stroke in September 2010.
(After suffering the stroke, the then Head of Youth Development at Blackpool suffered locked-in syndrome where his body shut down, but his mind remains active. His only means of communication with family and friends is by blinking. He lives at the Priory Highbank neurological rehabilitation centre in Bury. The aim is to raise enough money to get Gary home on a permanent basis)
I had this idea before Xmas, I want to raise some money for Gary. Believe it or not I did a New York marathon before I was 40, I’d had 8 operations on my knees so that was a challenge. For this, I wanted something different that offered a similar challenge. I was never going to swim the channel, so it was something on a bike.
My dad never let me have one round here, so it is all a bit new, but the hills around where I live give me a good test. I put the idea out there and Chris Gibson (Burnley Head of Catering) had done Lands End - John O’Groats before, so he is doing all the logistics. Some ex-players are going to join us for bits of it, Alastair Campbell as well. The plan is to do it from May 6th to May 15th, 100 miles a day.
A mammoth task, but one that I am sure they will succeed with. If you want to know more about the Gary Parkinson Trust Fund visit www.garyparky.co.uk To support Jamie on his cycling LEJOG a sponsorship form can be downloaded here
And with that we head to our respective cars and a short drive over to Hillsborough, where a much less enjoyable afternoon awaited us. It was a pleasure spending 45 minutes in Jamie's engaging company and I hope some of the stories and memories here are just as enjoyable to read as they were to listen to first hand.