JAN
07
2014
Exclusive Interview With Alan Biley
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Blue Echo Interviews Alan Biley

Alan Biley joined Everton from Colin Addison's Derby County after scoring goals for fun under Ron Atkinson at the Abbey Stadium Cambridge.

Alan's looks were of Rod Stewart and was christened Spike by the Everton faithful.

Alan became one of Howard Kendall's magnificent 7 and became an instant hit scoring on his Everton debut defeating the blues of Birmingham City 3-1.

He went to get one in his next game at Elland Road (Leeds) but things started to go wrong for him and eventually departed from the Goodison gates.

Alan kindly spoke to me about his career in football and holds no grudges with anybody. He was a very warm guy who understands real football supporters.

I hope you the readers enjoy this article as much as I did writing it.

Ladies and gentlemen, Alan Biley. COYB!!

Q1/ YOU STARTED YOUR CAREER WITH LUTON TOWN THEN LATER JOINED CAMBRIDGE UNITED. TALK ME THROUGH IT.

A1/ I t came about as I was spotted as a ten year old with Luton Town then signed schoolboy forms when I was 12 which was the way things happened then. Then signed apprentice then pro forms.

There came a time when the club was struggling so they had to sell as the club looked as if was going out of existence. They had a full first team squad and 2 reserve teams. They had one in the combination and one in the midweek league. They also had a youth development.

I had just broke into the reserve team the season before and hopefully pushing for first team but they got rid of all the star players to survive.

The progression there was they had a chief scout who went to Cambridge United to Ron Atkinson.  He was a brilliant guy who had a word with Ron Atkinson and by the way was a fantastic manager.

He said "If you're old enough you're good enough" then ended up being at Cambridge without a worry because at that stage, I along with many others was about to be released but already had it lined up.

In the end it was quite a smooth transition for me.

Q2/ AFTER NETTING 82 GOALS IN 185 APPEARANCES, YOU JOINED DERBY COUNTY. AFETR THE RAMS HAD BEEN RELEGATED, YOU WERE ONE OF 7 SIGNINGS BY HOWARD KENDALL AT EVERTON. WHEN WERE YOU FIRST AWARE OF EVERTON'S INTEREST IN YOU?

A2/  Well, I'd have to tell the story really. It started when we were in the 2nd division. I got 10 in 20.

It's strange really because it wasn't talked about at all. If the truth be told, I was signed by Colin Addison and got to the stage where I got 9 in 18 in the old first division.  

We were going really well then got a really bad injury but I wasn't getting on with the manager. It was one of the situations for some strange reason. My injury was long term  which put me out for a long time.

He (Addison) told me after the injury that I was due to sign for West Brom as at the time Ron Atkinson had gone there.

To be told that after I had been injured, I wasn't best pleased about what was arranged for me.

I felt as though there was no future for me at Derby as I had not been informed on things which was a long slog after a 5-6 month injury and never went back to Derby.

I did all my rehab and one thing and another.

Howard Kendall made a big decision really because he never saw me play. I know it sounds silly but I can't remember how I found out of Everton's interest.

I then signed and it went without saying that at the time Everton were in a higher league. I had always considered Everton throughout my whole life as being one of the top six clubs in the country in every way.

I don't mean ranking them on how successful but on history and the club, fans, and stadium. It just seemed like a natural progression because my career was on the up and was pleased despite having a long term injury which I'd got over once before earlier on in my career. I got to Everton, full of confidence did enough in a new squad on merit to being selected.

Q3/ YOU WERE CHRISTENED "SPIKE "BY THE GWLADYS STREET BECAUSE OF YOUR ROD STEWART LOOKS. DID YOU HAVE A GOOD RAPPORT WITH THE EVERTONIANS?

A3/ Absolutely, brilliant. It's always been something throughout my life that I have always been appreciative of football people.

I was always appreciative of the Evertonians footballing knowledge and the support and gusto particularly through the tough times.

 They were very loyal through the tough times and they are a different class.

I would like to think they took to me but my only big regret was that I wasn't there long enough to enjoy them if that makes sense?

Q4 TELL ME ABOUT THE BEGINNING. YOU SCORED ON YOUR DEBUT AGAINST BIRMINGHAM THEN THE NEXT AWAY TO LEEDS UNITED.

A4/ The first game was just an incredible one for me with a 3-1 win. I think I did alright scoring on my debut which is great. The most important thing was I set down a marker which was the icing in the cake for me was that Denis Law was working for Granada TV at the time and I was very fortunate to meet him and I did an interview with him after the game.

To meet your one of your hero's is great and he wasn't in anyway a letdown.

Without sounding rash, I'd always been very confident in my ability despite injuries and was just enjoying my football.

I actually halved my wages to come to Everton from Derby just because I thought it was a fantastic career move to a brilliant club. Which I think says it all.

I don't know if Howard Kendall got me on the cheap which I'm not interested in as all I was only interested in was about playing.

When I left Everton to go to Portsmouth, I trebled my wages that way, which goes to show you it was never about the money with me. It was about positioning and working your way up this fantastic football ladder and playing at old fashioned football grounds like Goodison Park which is what I love.

 That was an irony as well because I went to a very similar surroundings at Portsmouth with Pompey having the Archibald Leitch effect on their stand.

The first game couldn't have gone better and also the team. The confidence the manager had shown in me.  I felt it wasn't a case of stepping up to it coming from a team like Derby who were in a worse predicament but  I got 9 in 18 in for them.

I partnered Dave Swindlehurst up front and we did our best to keep them up but it came too late which wasn't to be.

I came to a team (Everton) with a bright young manager who delved into the transfer market and bought 6 other players the same week as me. I happened to be his first signing, so he obviously saw something in me and I wanted to repay that.

The second game at Leeds was marvellous and to get a draw in those days and to get onto the score sheet as well....It was great.

I have to say before the season kicked off, the people at the club could not have been more friendly, feeling really at home and maybe having that extended career that could possibly take me up another notch.

Q5/ OCTOBER 1981. YOU LOST YOUR PLACE IN THE TEAM. WHERE DID IT START TO GO WRONG FOR YOU?

A5/ You tell me, I don't know. I'm sure everybody has their own opinion of it. I genuinely believe years later as I look back at it, I wasn't Howard Kendall's cup of tea.

Whatever that was, I can't put my finger on it because history tells you what I was and what I did and where I played and he had a different opinion of that.

In hindsight maybe he had his eye on getting other strikers in and sometimes that happens.

I don't want to be decrying Howard at all but I would have loved him to have had the faith in me he had in lots of other players.

I think if he thought I was going through a bad time or wasn't the type of player, I really wanted to be there. As funny as it may seem, it was the first time ever that I had been dropped.

There is one plus to that and that is the gentleman that is Colin Harvey. I learned a lot from him like how to knuckle down and do what's right. He was a different class which every other Evertonian would expect anyway.

I rated Colin as a human being as well as a coach, he helped keep me sane.

As the season went on and getting to the end of the season,  I said to the boss " It's obvious I won't figure, please let me go and let me play, I don't care where I just want to play first team football"

The last couple of months I went on loan to Stoke City who were first division and I have to say that I had a fantastic time there. I thoroughly enjoyed it, they had some great players there. Dave Watson at the back, Foxy in goal, Phil Parkin left back, Sammy McIlroy centre mid and up front was young Lee Chapman.

I'd like to think that I played my part and helped them stay up that year. The assistant manager was really keen for me to sign and keep me for next season.

Richie Barker who was the manager wasn't a great communicator, left things in limbo so that was the end of that.

I really wanted to stay at Stoke because they reminded me very much of the club Derby County were.

Again, people that know their football, the Victoria Ground was very similar to the Baseball ground (Derby) which was a tight ground with a great atmosphere.

I would have loved to have signed but unfortunately wasn't in Richie Barker's plans and ended up staying at Everton. 

 Q6/ YOUR NEXT GOAL AT NOTTS COUNTY 24TH NOVEMBER 1981 IN A 2-2 DRAW. DID YOU FEEL THAT GOAL WAS MAYBE TO RESTART YOUR SCORING RUN AGAIN?

 A6/ It's always got to be about impressing and improving making a stamp on the manager's mind, that you are the right person. Genuinely and generally, I could not have done anymore than I did but that is for others to judge.

There wasn't that many things I can say that I did wrong. You would have to ask Howard Kendall why.  I never fell out with him. I worked really hard and wanted it badly other to further my career at a great club.

I think Howard was finding it hard that year to find his best eleven. And in those days we didn't have seven on the bench which was a bit of a different entity. When he looked around at the other strikers, I was third, fourth down the list.

 It happens which is hard and at that time it was a stage in my career where I was progressing, progressing ,progressing  which is difficult to keep that going.

Half way through the season, particularly after the Notts County game and being out again, I just didn't want an in/out career.

If I was going to play:

(A) I wanted to be wanted to play there and to win my place on merit and keep it. That's all I wanted but it wasn't to be. Everywhere that I played, I was given the chance to prove what I could do.

We will never know, but I don't like being bad but it was a great set up and a great place, lovely people with fantastic supporters and wanted to be there for the length of my contract.

I was the type that couldn't sit about being happy in the reserves. It wasn't a case of me demanding a move to another first division club at the time.  I just wanted to play football because that's all I had ever done.

It wasn't a case in them days about the money, thinking that you have to make enough so you don't have to work again, that didn't really happen in those days.

For me personally It was about playing the game which was  the one thing that I loved most. I was scoring goals, particularly If it's the one that counted and you had done the business for the team which made you proud, that's all I wanted to  do.

 I hope that It showed the way I played the game, I tried to play with a smile on my face and play the right way.

Q7/ YOU RECEIVED A ROLLICKING FROM HOWARD KENDALL AFTER A DEFEAT AT HIGHBURY WHICH REDUCED YOU TO TEARS. DO YOU REMEMBER IT?

 A7/I remember it thoroughly as I read about it in Kevin Ratcliffe's book.

Again from my perspective, maybe I wasn't flavour of the month. Anyone that went to that game, even the most stalwart Evertonian would say our team was awful. I had a bad game along with another ten lads.

Like I said, football is my life and it still is and it means the world to me. I'm not a kisser of the badge then gone tomorrow and wherever I was I gave 100%, I gave my all.

I've read some stuff saying that I wasn't committed, something like "I wasn't up for the fight" which was one of the phrases.

Just look at my career. I broke a leg I've done my ankle and my knee, broke my nose twice, had 85 stitches in my head and nearly had my eye kicked out. Okay, I was never going to win a 50/50 outside the box but anything inside the box, I was prepared to have my head chopped off to score a goal.

Bravery and wanting it enough comes in different ways and we are all different players.

Coming back to that day at Arsenal was, what upset me and I will make no bones about it and I did cry on the coach which I'm not ashamed to say that because it meant so much to me.

Yes, I will take it on the chin and I did have an off day that day but what upset me was how much it was pointed at me. It was if the defeat was blamed on me which was absolute garbage.

I have never ever been in a dressing room where it was pointed so much at one figure. You always know it's the beginning of the end when something like that happens and that's the entity of it.

I have never ever been worried about showing my feelings. Every other club that I have been with I want to join in with the supporters and celebrate with them and be a part of it. I wear my heart on my sleeve and make no bones about it.

That day I knew after that was a last chance for me and I had lost that chance to remain with this great club. You are only at the beck and call to one man's decisions and that's the boss, you have to respect that because he paid  lot of money for me.

He (Howard Kendall) may have had his eye on Inchy  (Adrian Heath)who was at Stoke at the time. As you know I went there on loan and eventually Inchy came to Everton but this is being wise 20 years after the event.

What happened that day on the coach was over the top and I could never see anything happening to me after that. He would have probably put a full back up front after me.

 Q8/ YOU EVENTUALLY JOIN PORTSMOUTH IN 1982 WHER YOU MADE 119 APPEARANCES SCORING 57 GOALS. WAS THAT LEVEL MORE SUITABLE FOR YOU?

 A8/ Level? Wherever I went I scored goals. It was only at Everton. In fact I have played in poorer teams than Everton and got a goal every other game.

Literally, I can only tell you how it is and can't tell you what it was like at the time but I feel that the manager didn't have any trust in me. Everywhere else you have good and bad high and low times.

I was what I was, I never tried to be anything else and I was a goal scoring striker. If you are not doing it, you are not doing it but I was a very hard worker as well and was always giving 100%. So whether that level suited me I got 20 odd goals in that season and 20 odd the next.

Then there was another managerial change which was the beginning of the end of my career in England.

Q9/MOST MEMORABLE GAME AND GOAL?

A9/ I'm not just saying it because I'm talking to an Evertonian but the whole day of that day against Birmingham City. It was a good goal and to win it and play well and for Denis Law to be there it would probably be that one.

Closely followed by the first goal I got for Derby County against Tottenham. It was a diving header beating Steve Perryman.

But I still believe going from Derby to Everton, I was going to a pinnacle. And to perform on that stage, that was probably it. That goal on my debut wasn't a bad goal which was the icing on the cake.

Q10/ WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE STADIUM?

A10/ (Long pause)  Now then? My favourite stadium was Fratton Park (Portsmouth). The gates they got there. I think they are quite well known for being quite fanatical.

Very close for similar reasons again are both Derby County and Everton, because they accumulate sound. Some players never used to take any notice but I did and fed off it. I'm probably biased because they are clubs I have been with.

Stoke City was another one. It was similar to Derby County because Everton's was that much bigger, it had that boom to it.

Fratton Park was similarly built which created lots of sound so I would have to say Fratton Park.

Q11/ BEST COUNTRY VISITED WHILST IN FOOTBALL?

A11/  I would say Greece.

Q12/ BEST PLAYER PLAYED WITH?

A12/ Oh dear. I would have to put 3 on that. The first would probably be Mark Hateley and the other Neville Southall and George Best who I appeared with in a testimonial part of Ron Atkinson's Manchester United XI

Q13/ MOST FUNNIEST MEMORY AND MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT?

 A13/ Funniest moment, blimey? You have put me on the spot here.

The most embarrassing moment I ever had also involves Andy King as well. We were apprentices at Luton Town together. When you had been a bit cheeky or whatever, the pro's would blacken your testicles with boot polish.

You would have to scrub them with Ajax (Cleaning powder) with a brush and you would be walking around with sore balls for a couple of weeks so that was embarrassing. Things like that happen every day.

Another incident was waking up in the dressing room after being knocked out by Gordon McQueen.

It was at the Baseball ground. I had was pouring down with rain and I had just gone sown a channel side and was walking along the billboards.

He said "You have just got you f*****g head knocked off" I smiled and 20 minutes later I remember waking up in the dressing room.  That was really embarrassing because the camera's were there that day.  To try and talk about it after without getting Gordon in trouble was embarrassing.

One of the other pranks was again at Luton Town. There used to be a shop just over a bridge at the back of the ground.

They bet me to go to the shop stark naked to buy a Mars bar. There was a lady that always served you. Well, they made you do it with a fiver which was a lot of money in those days. I had to wait for my change but had no where to put it.

 Q 14/ YOUR BIGGEST REGRET?

A14/ I've got 2. The first one was not being maybe a little bit more mature with my time at Everton. I just feel that If I could have done something different by having a fair crack that season, I may have well been up there.

The other one was leaving Portsmouth when I did.

 Q15/ BEST MANAGER PLAYED UNDER?

 A15/ Oh dear. Ron Atkinson and Bobby Campbell.

 Q16/ WHO WAS YOUR BOYHOOD IDOL?

 A16/ Denis Law.

 Q17/ WHO WAS THE FIRST AUTOGRAPH YOU EVER GOT?

 A17/ Probably Malcolm MacDonald.

 Q18/ WHAT IS ALAN BILEY DOING TODAY?

 A18/ He's involved in non league football at the moment and he's doing a lot of scouting and getting information for friends and mates still in the non leagues.

 

Email Bluekipper at enquiries@bluekipper.com

Comments about Exclusive Interview With Alan Biley
 
3
I was at Luton with Alan and the chief scout at the time paddy sowden took Alan and me to Cambridge as he had joined them as assistant manager to big Ron atkinsone3leem
Yorky, Sheffield, 9:52 PM 11/12/2014
 
2
I was there for Bileys home debut against Birmingham, and on that day he really looked good, but later flattered to deceive. I think he wasnt quite up to it, but to be fair neither were the other five, that Kendall brought in ( not including Super Nev) and to be frank we were poor and in transition. Pleased he is still involved in football and was so open about his experiences.
LES, PHUKET, 7:03 AM 8/01/2014
 
1
I was at the Birmingham game! Seems a lifetime ago
holdo, Upper Bullens, 11:07 PM 7/01/2014
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