In May of 2013, I was in Benidorm. My first and definitely my last visit there. It’s safe to say I’m not a big fan of the place but maybe that’s just me.
When you’ve seen one Four Tops or Meat Loaf tribute act, you’ve seen them all in my book.
I was there as an end-of-season trip paid for by Lincoln City as a reward for us staving off relegation on the final day of the season and, as a carrot, the manager had negotiated this “bonus” for us.
I know I probably sound ungrateful here, but it wasn’t a very appetising-looking carrot to me. The only incentive for me was the chance of some sunshine on my face which I thought would cheer me up, so I went, despite my reservations.
I needn’t have any packed shorts. We were only there for four days and to rained for three and a half of them and, of the 12-hour respite from the downpours on the last day, the sun shone for about just enough to to burn the whole of my left arm.
That’s right, I returned home whiter than than I arrived except for a bright red, now blistering, left arm.
It was in one of Benidorm’s delightful hostelries that I received a phone call from a number which had an Icelandic dialling code.
It must be pointed out here that I had been partaking in the the main local custom of consuming some light refreshment.
And that day, I was particularly refreshed.
Now, I should point out here a quirk of mine. I say a quirk because I wouldn’t go quite so far as to say it’s a phobia, but I don’t like answering telephones, especially from numbers I don’t recognise.
I never have, yet this day, the local dancing juice had made me forget my usual rule and I answered the call. It was a old team-mate from the days I played in Denmark who had moved back home to his native Iceland.
He explained that their season was starting the following week and the keeper who played for his team, Keflavik, had broken his finger and they were in dire need of a temporary replacement.
So here I was, stood outside a bar on the Costa Brava, drink in hand, considering going to Iceland for three months.
Decisions like this should probably be made after much thought and deliberation has gone in to it, but my only thought was “Why not?”. The next day I was on a flight to Iceland. As easy as that.
To be honest, this isn’t an isolated incident.
This was pretty much how most of my moves happened, in circumstances like this.
I never have been a big drinker, yet managers and coaches seem to have a knack of catching me when I’m vulnerable. Take my move to Denmark, for example. I was on a pre-season trip to Holland with Aberdeen and as was always the case when were over there, the manager made sure our final friendly match was in or near Amsterdam.
This particular game was against a Fourth Division Dutch side who were beaten 14-0, with me touching the ball about half a dozen times during the whole match.
The object of playing near Amsterdam was two-fold; we could check in to a hotel at Schiphol in preparation for our flight home and, perhaps more importantly, we could have a team night out and enjoy the delights of Holland’s capital city.
On nights like this, there were only ever two rules laid down by the manager; nobody get arrested and make sure you’re on the coach at the set time to leave.
The night was a success in that respect with everyone managing to avoid the cells at the police station and the head count on the bus was correct, even though those heads looked weary and slightly worse for wear, none more so than yours truly.
So you know what happened next, don’t you?
A phone call from an ex team-mate asking me if I was interested in going on loan to a club Denmark for three months.
If I’m honest, I had a splitting headache and was struggling to keep my breakfast down and the last thing I wanted to do was talk to anyone so to quickly end the call I just said, “Sure, why not?”.
The next day I was on a flight to Denmark and that three months turned into four years.
It became a pattern – not that I’m saying my decisions would have been any different mind, but I probably should have at least given them more thought with a clearer head.
I once agreed to take a pay cut to extend my contract while in a bar in Portugal after having a few beers with the manager there.
To this day, I still think he’d slipped something into my drink to get me to agree.
When I think of all the cloak and dagger intrigue of how some transfer sagas are usually portrayed in the media, the reality is often far less glamorous than you’re led to believe.
Just last week I was speaking with a friend who had been approached by the manager of a Championship club and where do you think these lucrative contract negotiations were taking place? A top London hotel? A fancy five star countryside restaurant?
No, they met in a Costa at a service station along the M4.
I’m not sure whether he was going to sign for that manager, but he did say the large hot chocolate with extra marshmallows and whipped cream the manager paid for just might have been enough to sway him.
I was disappointed in my mate though, and I told him that.
If I was him, I’d have held out for at least a piece of carrot cake or a cookie as well.