John Gorman eyes Non-League role

By Lee Gale

The Non-League Paper, 2004

“Arrghh! Armed raiders steal masterpiece” it reads on the front page of The Mirror. The theft of The Scream from Oslo’s Edvard Munch Gallery is big news, but Interpol should look no further than the kitchen of John Gorman. On a sheet of A4 the former assistant manager of the England national side is reproducing his own version of the painting from the picture on the front of his newspaper – in fact, as we’re shown around his 15th-century cottage, we see that Gorman’s house is full of his artwork, from humorous caricatures of famous footballers to simple village vistas.

The expression of the howling figure in Munch’s nicked painting is an accurate depiction of the way Gorman is feeling at the moment. Apart from scouting duties for Charlton Athletic, he’s not worked in football since being caretaker manager at Wycombe Wanderers last season prior to Tony Adams being handed a permanent position. Keen to get back into full-time coaching, Gorman is tempted to dip his toes into lower League and Non-League football.

“It’s very frustrating,” he tells us, sitting down for a cup of tea at his kitchen table. “I’m an experienced coach. I’ve been through it all. I’m a better manager than I’ve ever been, and would be a good manager if I was given the chance again.

I don’t like saying I’d be interested in the job of a manager who’s already there. I’ve never been that type and I never will.

“But at the same time, I have to realise that I need to work. If a job came up, it would be nice for people to give you consideration because here’s a guy with a lot of experience.”

When discussing Gorman, inevitably the name Glenn Hoddle will crop up. The Scotsman has been assistant to Hoddle at Swindon, Southampton and Tottenham, as well as with England. Gorman thinks he’s being overlooked for League Two and Non-League jobs because of his high-level football past.

“Obviously if a job with Glenn came up, I’d be delighted to go with him, and that’s going to be a job at a top club, isn’t it?” Gorman explains. “But, I need to work. I need to for my family and for financial reasons if I’m being honest.

“I was watching Dannie Bullman at Stevenage Borough and Aldershot’s Darren Barnard the other night, and I have to say there’s not a lot of difference between the Conference and the Third – Dannie could be playing in the League, and Barnard’s an international player.

“It’s funny, you see teams in the League, you look at them, they’re struggling for finances, struggling getting players and everything, whereas teams out of the League seem better managed. They’re more determined to get in the League, and there seems to be a bit more ambition about them, doesn’t there? Especially when you see teams who have dropped out of the League, who have been League teams.”

To supporters of the Conference’s biggest-ever side, Carlisle United, Gorman is something of a folk hero. The Foxes’s old number three was part of the squad that gained promotion to the First Division in 1974, and he still looks out for United’s results.

“We were top of the League for six games. For six games!” Gorman says with pride. “We started the season off with three wins, two draws, then we started to go on a losing streak.

“Something like Carlisle never leaves you, you know. You’ve been there and you’ve made history. The stuff we achieved when I was there was incredible, and I see them now and I just want them to do well again. It’s not hoping they don’t do as well as we did, it’s the opposite. I want them back up there.”

Despite Carlisle’s promotion-form run towards the end of last season, the club couldn’t accrue enough points to avoid relegation. Gorman was quick to phone up Brunton Park to tell player-manager Paul Simpson he’d done a great job since arriving in August 2003.

“I was really disappointed for them to go down. And it’s not going to be easy for them to come back up. I think going into the Conference gives them a chance to go back to the basics. Let’s build again, because for me, Carlisle should be a good Second Division team, touching into the First.”

Given the chance of coaching at a Non-League club, Gorman would surely bring a touch of finesse to any team’s playing style. Plus, he’s the positive type. Players at Wycombe last season went on record to say that Gorman brought some self-belief back to the squad.

“My way is, regardless of where you are in the league pyramid, if you encourage players at what they’re good at, then you get the best out of them,” he says.

“Keep it on the deck and play. You know, no matter what level – I watched the Aldershot and Stevenage game: when it was on the ground it was actually quite good to watch. But when it’s just humped up there, I mean, that’s how people used to look at the Non-League, didn’t they?

“At all levels, I’d say the same thing to players, ‘Go out and express yourselves.’ I’m not worried about the mistakes. At the highest level players make mistakes, and maybe that’s a fault of me, but if a defender’s got the ball, I don’t want him just to smash it up the pitch, I want them to think. I do want them to clear their lines if it’s the right thing to do, but I reckon coaches, and I’ve been under a lot of coaches now, they put too much fear into players.”

Gorman brings out a few of his old Carlisle United programmes from the glory days of the Seventies. Crikey, that Carlisle shirt must have chafed. Gorman says the club’s fans will be looking to emulate the success of ex-Conference side Doncaster who now reside in League One. In Simpson, he believes they certainly have the right manager.

With time to kill Gorman goes back to his Edvard Munch sketch, which is nicely taking shape now. And hopefully soon, the only scream we’ll be hearing from Gorman will be from the touchline.

Ravenously Hungary: Sziget 2013

Blur, Franz Ferdinand and The Cribs defy a Budapest heatwave at one of Europe’s more relaxed festivals

By Lee Gale

GQ.co.uk, 2013

It’s a wonder of the modern age that you can arrive at the entrance of a major European music festival quicker than it takes to drive from London to Glastonbury (factoring in traffic jams, stop-offs to purchase roadside scrumpy in Domestos containers, etc). Having said ta-ta to the cat at midday, six hours later we’re in the Hungarian heat, onsite at the Sziget festival, sipping Budapest-brewed Dreher lager (£2 a pint) with a collection of multi-coloured wristbands. The flight on the Airbus A320 of Wizz was far from restful; it was packed and Luton Airport is a factory process, something to endure rather than enjoy (and at £330 return, it’s a ridiculously costly hop). Despite the grief, a feeling of peace and serenity awaits at Sziget, even when Enter Shikari are on stage.

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Squadron leader

You owe your freedom to the Avro Lancaster, a four-engined World War II aircraft, and the crews who flew it. Here we pay homage to the glorious dam-busting, Tirpitz-blasting, viaduct-smashing bomber

Jack, December 2003

Story by Lee Gale 

If it weren’t for the Avro Lancaster, you might be reading the opening line to this story in German. It would start off, “Dank zur helligkeit von Ernst Heinkel und er seines He-111 mittelmäßiger bomber… and drift into a frightening, umlaut-rich diatribe of how superior German aircraft helped bring our nations together. Your attention would be broken as the front door of your hovel was kicked off its hinges, and your aged, ill grandfather dragged into the street for summary execution because he was no longer contributing satisfactorily to the German Empire. In fact, this magazine would probably be called Jackboot, or Ulrich

Continue reading Squadron leader

I’m not a number, I’m a free Manc!

The inaugural Festival No.6 in North Wales mixes Sixties spy drama with the better elements of indie rock. Despite the rough red wine and absolutely miserable weather, it proves an outstanding, curiously British, cultural gathering

By Lee Gale

GQ.co.uk, 2012

Taking the paranoia of Patrick McGoohan’s The Prisoner and adding Britain’s foremost purveyors of rock-dance crossover – ie New Order and Primal Scream – sounds like the loose plot of a late-morning dream, the sort of wonky scenario you find yourself in once the alarm has stopped and you’re drifting idly back to Boboland. Despite the weirdness, Festival No 6 piques the interest. If cheese and brown sauce can magically combine in sandwich format, then maybe merging an ingenious but frequently unfathomable Sixties spy series with cooler aspects of British indie music might just work. 

Continue reading I’m not a number, I’m a free Manc!

Prince doesn’t like Motörhead: a review of Sziget 2011

Budapest’s annual music festival is better attended than Glastonbury but chances are you’ve never heard of it. It’s planned as a British gathering which is why Sziget feels like a home away from home. It even has bobbies on the beat…

By Lee Gale

GQ.co.uk, 2011

Now in its 19th year, Sziget in Budapest is a week-long festival on the wooded Obuda Island (sziget translates as island in Hungarian) in the middle of the Danube. Hungary’s major tributary, rather than being a bubbling, lead-infused, froth-churning black snake connecting industrial heartlands, would actually make an acceptable image for a 1,000-piece jigsaw.

Continue reading Prince doesn’t like Motörhead: a review of Sziget 2011

Station to station: in praise of a reborn King’s Cross

With its problems of prostitution and drug-dealing, King’s Cross in London had reached the end of the line, but £3bn of investment and an influx of artists and creative minds are changing the perception of this former no-go zone

By Lee Gale

GQ.co.uk, 2013

In the not-too-distant past, when trains operated in pizzazz-free “rail blue”, King’s Cross in London was Hell’s waiting room, a den of iniquity with a dilapidated rail terminus and derelict goods yard at its core. It was unwise to hang about in N1. Travellers from the north arrived at the station, moved with the crowd towards an Underground exit and kept a tight guard of the money in their pocket. 

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Fjällräven Kånken backpack: Too cool for school

By Lee Gale

GQ.co.uk, 2012

One of the main problems with casual fashion is that the Iberian peninsula and, by association, South America, holds too much sway over the way the British currently dress. Where once our fashion pointers were derived from All Creatures Great And Small, golf or WWII armed forces, today’s High Street hotsteppas are more likely to resemble Mario Kempes on a post-Argentina ’78 beach holiday.

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The Hard Sell: Indesit Moon

The Guardian’s The Guide, 2007 

You’d need to know New Order’s back catalogue with McWhirter-like obsession to realise that the soundtrack to the Indesit Moon washing machine commercial is Hey Now What You Doing from the 2005 album Waiting For The Sirens’ Call. New Order and white goods – let’s Hoover up the irony. I once asked bassist Peter Hook if drugs were ever a problem with the band, and he replied; “Yeah, sometimes we couldn’t get hold of any for days.”

With its round window and centred, circular dial, the curiously-named Moon resembles an Apple creation: it’s an iPod that’ll soak your big, baggy Eddie Yates underpants. It costs £280 at one large supermarket and comes with an A+ for energy saving, A for wash efficiency and B for its spin. That’s all well and good, but is Indesit now targeting the potentially lucrative market of students and football hooligans?

The word on the Manc grapevine reckons the Italian kitchen appliance giant may be perilously short of stock – by now, New Order will have sorted out Indesits for themselves, all their families, Bez, Shaun, Mani, MC Tunes, Johnny Marr, Tony W, Fat Neck, Sir Bobby, A Certain Ratio, The Smashing Pumpkins, Anton Corbijn, Deborah Curtis, the One True Saxon office, Jayne who does their press, and all their mates’ mams in the north-west. You watch. Due to freebies, Indesit will end up making a 5p loss on every washing machine they make. Let’s recap. Blue Monday has been used on Sunkist and Mars ads, and Hey Now What You Doing for Indesit. What’s next? Everything’s Gone Green for the Tory party?

GQ Icon: Bernard Sumner

By Lee Gale

GQ, 2012

One of the unsung architects of the Manchester sound, the Salford stalwart has influenced every major musical movement of the past 35 years. Whether pioneering post-punk with Joy Division, melding rock/dance with New Order, or blowing £1m on a nightclub, “Barney” was there. As his band limber up for an Olympic concert, GQ pays tribute to the straight man of Madchester

Continue reading GQ Icon: Bernard Sumner