Monthly Archives: January 2015

United’s Untold Cup Stories (Inside United, January 2015)

UNITED’S UNTOLD CUP STORIES (original unedited author’s version)

Manchester United’s 129-year relationship with what they’re still calling The World’s Greatest Knockout Competition has been a decidedly chequered, but undeniably passionate affair. Memories of the reds’ numerous journeys to Wembley (and elsewhere) flow freely, whether from the finals themselves (see Cantona’s winner in ’96, Macari and Greenhoff’s inadvertent double act in ’77, Whiteside’s curler in ’85) or the route thereto (Any advance on Giggsy’s semi-final wondergoal and chest rug celebration in ’99?). But there have been plenty of lesser-known stories that surround the reds’ history in this competition. You’ve probably got a few of your own, of course, but we’ve collected a few that might not have caught your attention before.

 

Manchester United – Perennial Cup rebels

When the club reluctantly withdrew from the FA Cup in the 1999-2000 season in order to take part in FIFA’s World Club Challenge in Brazil, at the insistence of the government and the FA, they were widely criticised.

Yet 2000 wasn’t the first time United had withdrawn from the competition. They actually did so after the first season they entered it, as Newton Heath LYR in 1886. The Heathens were taking part in their first major national competition, and the players could perhaps have done with reading the small print of the rules. Because when the final whistle blew after a hard fought 2-2 draw away to Fleetwood Town in Round One, they were dismayed to find that the referee was asking them to play 30 minutes’ extra time. Newton Heath’s captain Jack Powell refused – probably assuming that if they stood firm, the match would be replayed at their North Road home ground, with a nice big gate to boot. If he was gambling, though, it backfired, as the Heathens were disqualified from the competition and Fleetwood were awarded the tie. In protest, the club refused to take part in the competition for the next two seasons.

Even when the renamed Manchester United finally won the trophy, in 1909, they managed to fall foul of the authorities. In celebration, the players had a duplicate made of the famous trophy, planning to present it to their chairman, John Henry Davies. However, the FA reacted furiously, insisting that the trophy should be unique, and the club were forced to hand over the fake Cup to avoid confusion. The ‘real’ trophy, it turned out, was already a replica anyway, as it had replaced the original cup that had been stolen from a Birmingham shoe shop in 1895. So just to be double sure that there weren’t any more hooky FA Cups floating around, the FA commissioned a brand new trophy, a reproduction of which is still in use today.

Of course, the FA should have known that United were a club full of wrong ‘uns and not to be trusted. That summer, the entire Cup-winning side were temporarily banned from playing, after refusing to relinquish their membership of the new AFPA players’ union. But ‘Outcasts FC’ stood firm, and the governing body eventually backed down. It was a precursor for the PFA, which would do much to help players earn ever-higher wages. So next time the United team get a bonus for a good Cup win, they can thank those brave renegades from 1909.

 

Name. On. The. Trophy.

Even Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted that United have owed a modest debt to lady luck for some of their most impressive achievements.

That’s surely true of most Cup winners making their way through a knockout tournament where one bad day at the office can mean an early exit.

Thankfully, United’s winners from 1909 managed such a dismal performance and still lived to fight another day. That was when Ernest Mangnall’s men played away at Burnley in the FA Cup quarter-final, and were 1-0 down with only a quarter of an hour remaining. However, a sudden snowstorm rendered the pitch markings invisible in weather that the Weekly Dispatch described as “conditions of a most rigorous character”. Referee Herbert Bamlett decided to abandon the game, and four days later, United won the replay 3-2. Bamlett, meanwhile, would later go on to manage United. Coincidence? Why of course…

74 years later, United would go the extra mile to ensure a helping pair of gloves from lady luck. After the 1983 Final ended in a 2-2 draw with Brighton at Wembley – partly thanks to a superb point blank save from keeper Gary Bailey to deny Gordon Smith at the death – the South African was given a lock and key with a white ribbon on by his father, who had also been a top goalkeeper and flew in for the replay. “They’re big into witchcraft over there,” he later explained, “and he had seen goalkeepers use a lock and key.”

He was skeptical, but did as dad suggested, and in the replay he ‘locked’ the goal before he played in it, then ‘unlocked’ it at half-time so United could score in the same goal in the second half, and did the same in the opposite goal when he took up his position in front of it. United duly won 4-0, and the next two times he played at Wembley, against Liverpool in the Charity Shield the following August, and against Everton in the 1985 Cup Final, he also kept clean sheets, with the help of that lock and key.

You can call it luck, of course, or just positive mental attitude. When Alex Ferguson’s job was supposedly on the line, back in January 1990, few people believed United would not only beat Nottingham Forest at their place in the third round. But one man did bet a handsome sum at 16-1 for United to not just beat Forest, but go on to win the trophy – Alex Ferguson himself.

“My optimism had more to do with instinct than logic,” he later recalled, “since half our first-choice team missed the game because of injury. Webb, Robson, Ince, Donaghy, Wallace and Sharpe were all sitting in the stands… Yet something told me we could win.”

Mark Robins’ famous strike did the job that night, and four months later Fergie won his first United trophy… along with a handsome payout from the bookies.

 

Rarities and one-offs

Another United goalkeeper can boast of a less enviable, and barely less unlikely Cup feat. When keeping goal for United against Barnsley in 1938, United’s Irish custodian Tommy Breen managed to touch a long throw-in into his own net. It remains the only time a goal has been scored in this way in the history of the competition.

An even stranger rarity from a United Cup game is still in existence, but you might have to remortgage your house to get your hands on it. That’s because it’s the match day programme for the third round replay against third division Plymouth Argyle in January 1974. That wouldn’t be remarkable ordinarily, but for the fact that United defeated Plymouth 1-0 at Old Trafford at the first time of asking, so no replay and no programme were required. Argyle had taken the precaution of printing up a programme for the replay in advance, as the government’s ‘Three Day Week’ measures had strictly conserved electricity use during the coal strike. The few copies still in existence are highly prized on the memorabilia market.

Yet rarer than all those was something achieved by Peter Schmeichel. United were trailing 1-0 in a fourth round FA Cup tie against Wimbledon at Selhurst Park when the great Dane went up for a corner in stoppage time, as was his wont. At first the corner was headed out, but Schmeichel gambled and stayed close to the six-yard box. The ball was headed back into the fray, bounced up invitingly and Schmeichel thumped a spectacular bicycle kick into the net.

Except… the Wimbledon defence had pushed out and caught him offside. And that made him the only keeper ever to have been caught offside in the history of the English game and quite possibly the world. Not to mention depriving him of what would surely have been another unique feat – I mean, goalkeepers’ goals are rare enough, but can anyone recall a goalkeeper ever scoring, legally or otherwise, with an overhead kick?

 

Manchester Disorganised

The best laid plans can go awry amid the hoopla of Cup Final day. Several United players found that to their cost in 1983, when the team coach wasn’t big enough to accommodate the BBC film crew recording the journey to Wembley, so several red stars had to quickly hire a minicab and travel to the Twin Towers that way.

It’s not as if media attention in the Cup Final was a new thing, either – when United recorded their first FA Cup win in 1909, a touch of showbiz was already creeping in. United boss Ernest Mangnall invited top music hall comedian George Robey to present the players with their brand new change strip for the final, and after their 1-0 win over Bristol City at Crystal Palace, the great man invited them to appear with him on stage at 9pm that evening at the Pavilion Music Hall in London’s West End, along with the Cup.

However, United captain Charlie Roberts and a handful of team-mates ended up meeting some friends from Manchester in a restaurant across town after the game, and after enjoying several light ales, they lost track of time, until at quarter to 9, Roberts suddenly remembered their appointment with Robey. One frantic Hansom cab journey later, he and Cup goalscoring hero Sandy Turnbull made it to the Pavilion Theatre with the Cup and a couple of other reds in tow. “Where are the rest of you?” asked Robey. Roberts explained that he couldn’t possibly find them all in time for them to all appear on stage, so Robey suggested “go and get somebody to make up the team”. The United Captain duly roped in a bunch of his Mancunian pals from the nearby Trocadero, and the ‘English Cup winners strode proudly onto stage, including in their number a poultry dealer, a publican, a builder and a greengrocer, including, in Roberts’ words, “two or three men of aldermanic proportions”.

The crowd were none the wiser, and cheered the Cup winners to the rafters. And unlike Karl Power nearly a century later, United had fielded half a team of chubby impostors without anyone noticing.

 

When Puskas came to shove…

United have endured plenty of near misses in the Cup over the years. And naturally, a particularly chaotic period for the club came after its worst tragedy, when Jimmy Murphy and his colleagues tried to cobble together a team to play for United after the horror of Munich had wiped out much of the first team squad and injured several others. They were helped by a wave of sympathy, which extended to the FA, who lifted the rules prohibiting players appearing for two separate clubs in different rounds of the Cup (hence Stan Crowther’s unique feat of playing for Aston Villa and United in the same season’s competition), and also spread abroad, leading to offers from foreign players to turn out for the reds. Among them were three members of the Hungarian national team. Although then known as the Mighty Magyars and the toast of world football, the revolution in their home country had led several of them to defect, including the brilliant Ferenc Puskas. Alas, since he spoke no English, along with the FA’s restrictions on foreign players, plus his likely wages demands (he later earned over 10 times that of the best-paid United player at Real Madrid) meant Murphy’s wish to snap him up came to nothing.

 

1948 – UNITED’S GREATEST EVER CUP WIN?

In the usual league of memorable red Wembley triumphs, it’s mentioned pretty rarely. Yet United’s first post-war trophy was arguably won in as impressive a style as any in the club’s history.

After a 6-4 win at Aston Villa in the third round, Johnny Carey, Jack Rowley, Stan Pearson, Charlie Mitten et al beat reigning champions Liverpool 3-0, Charlton 2-0, Preston 4-1 and Derby 3-1 in the semi-final. Remarkably, all of those opponents were from the top flight, and all were played away from Old Trafford – even the ‘home’ games, as OT was being rebuilt after the wartime bombing, and the reds’ temporary home at Maine Road wasn’t available for the first three rounds as they clashed with City’s own cup fixtures. So Liverpool were beaten at Goodison Park, Charlton at Huddersfield, and after a return to Maine Road for the Preston game, a semi-final at the neutral venue of Hillsborough held no fears, and United progressed to Wembley for what turned out to be one of <the> great FA Cup Finals. The Blackpool side of Stanley Matthews and Stan Mortensen were beaten 4-2 despite United trailing 2-1 with 21 minutes left. And that made it an impressive 22 goals in six rounds for the 1948 Cup winners, bagging Matt Busby’s first trophy and crowning his first great side. For all the achievements of the reds’ other Cup-winning sides, have any of them won it in more style?

 

THEIR CUP WAS EMPTY….

Any list of Reds’ Cup winners features plenty of iconic names. But likewise, you could fill a useful side with United players who never lifted the big silver jug. Such as:

1 Edwin Van Der Sar

2 Patrice Evra

3 Jim Holton

4 Nobby Stiles

5 Rio Ferdinand,

6 Nemanja Vidic

7 George Best

8 Remi Moses

9 Joe Jordan

10 Wayne Rooney

11 Willie Morgan

Subs: Harry Gregg, Dennis Viollet, Brian Kidd, David Sadler

Duran Duran – Wild Boys (from Be80s.co.uk)

Duran Duran – Wild Boys

It only amounts to around 20 seconds of footage, but that bit from the Rio video nailed Duran Duran’s place in pop history. All iconic bands must have one – the clip in all those brutally edited documentaries that sums up here-today-gone-tomorrow pop acts’ primary contribution to our nation’s cultural riches as someone narrates doubtfully over the top of it. Spandau in tartan, George and Andrew in the Club Tropicana pool, Boy George on TOTP, The ‘Relax’ balcony scene… and Duran on the yacht.

It’s one of those images – the visual fingerprint that instantly identifies them for future generations.

But in fact what Duran Duran’s Rio video managed to nail was not the Thatcherite dream that critics claimed they promoted, but a boy band personality that would endear them to a teen audience in a way their contemporaries could never quite match.

On the one hand, sure, they were presented as suave, pouting, meringue-haired sophisticates in Antony Price suits, cavorting with models and expensive cocktails. But on the other hand they had a touch of swagger and a glimmer of mischief in their eyes.

You remember the Rio video, right? Roger Taylor getting bitten by a crab while trying to chat up a young lovely on the beach? Simon slipping on a banana skin and falling off a pier? The same man getting a phone call from a mermaid-like model only for the phone cord to yank him into the drink? John throwing Andy overboard?

What do you mean, ‘no’? OK, so those frankly questionable moments of ‘comedy’ haven’t stood the test of time like the footage of Le Bon straddling the bow in his yellow suit, but to fans who hung on the band’s every move and utterance, they spoke volumes. These may be impossibly fantastic figures of peacockish male glamour, but they’re also <lads>. The kind of prat-falling, prank-playing young cheeky chappies you might meet down your local youth club disco.

Those Beatle-esque hints of accessibility, humility and familiarity made them all the more attractive, and allied to the frisson of bad-boy loucheness suggested in previous videos such as Girls On Film as well as various tabloid tales of their extra-curricular habits, by the summer of 1983 Duran Duran were pretty much irresistible. But they were also falling apart at the seams, not least because the decadent, model-chasing, cocktail-sinking, coke-snorting rock’n’roll lifestyle their image suggested was a little too close to the truth for their own comfort.

 

Maybe they just ended up believing their own hype, as many a successful musician has done. And few bands had cultivated an image geared around success and excess like Duran had done. They’d achieved it, of course, partly through being in the right place at the right time. Their blend of electronic pop, new wave punch and funk groove fit perfectly into the burgeoning and highly visual New Romantic scene that the pop press were getting excited about (they even mention “new romantic” in their debut single Planet Earth), and shortly afterwards, the increasing reliance on promo videos and the growth of MTV meant they were often half-sneeringly referred to as a “video band”, given the importance of such visuals in their rise to fame.

It began with Girls On Film, whose risqué video full of pillow-fighting, mud-wrestling topless models was designed for nightclubs with big screens and a certain scene with an ice cube soon became infamous.

But it was two trips to exotic climes that set their jet-setting playboy image in stone. The video for 1982 single Hungry Like The Wolf was filmed in Sri Lanka, along with the promos for Save a Prayer and a couple of others, and once they had proved big hits, a band holiday in Antigua was hijacked by management who flew a film crew in to shoot the Rio video.

Yet in the first instance at least, they were travelling economy class, living off cheese sandwiches to avoid food poisoning in their modest accommodation, Nick Rhodes collapsed from dehydration after a four-hour taxi ride from the Sri Lankan shoot and Andy Taylor was hospitalised with a stomach bug after swallowing water from the lake in which they shot Save A Prayer.

Not quite living the dream yet, then, but to their public, they were escapism and conspicuous consumption personified. The rock press, which all had grown up reading, hated them from day one (“They’re going to be huge, and they don’t deserve it,” hissed the NME), as if they were rubbing the noses of Thatcher’s Britain in their own success. As it happened, they were far from being Thatcherites – Andy Taylor once said it “makes me sick what she’s doing to the country” – but nor were they consciously political in their approach to making pop music. Either way, to the new UK pop mags like Smash Hits and No.1, however, they were manna from heaven, and their readers couldn’t have agreed more.

Yet it was actually Australia that first took Duran Duran to their bosom. Quite literally, in some cases. And made them realise just what a curious kind of fan base they seemed to be attracting.

The phenomenon of Durandemonium had first been witnessed when the band kicked off their summer tour to screaming crowds in Brighton in June 1981, but the Aussies had given Duran their first number one hit when Planet Earth hit the top spot there six months previously, and they had to wait over a year to see their new idols in the flesh.

Immediately, Andy Taylor found that girls’ willingness to disrobe in their presence was increasing exponentially. Before the tour even started, a party was thrown for the band and their new friends INXS on a Sydney beach. “Someone had phoned up a modelling agency, so the beach was crawling with gorgeous women. There was a trampoline on the sand and before we knew it the girls had started to take off their bikinis and were bouncing up and down topless on the trampoline before the open-mouthed crew.”

The newly single John Taylor, meanwhile, was discovering “the rather strange phenomenon of meeting a girl in the hotel lobby upon check-in and being in bed with her less than an hour later”.

From Australia they moved on to Japan, where different but not dissimilar scenes greeted them, and if parties full of models on the beach weren’t an option in this most conservative of countries, Simon Le Bon, for one, found he was still able to enjoy the fruits of success to the full.

“All I cared about was finding women,” Simon later recalled about his time there. “And I’d go to the clubs where the Western models meet, and I’d take ‘em back home with me. And I’d spend all my time either in the nightclub, or in my bedroom bonking!”

You might think they’d have taken in a bit more culture, but as it turned out, that wasn’t to be a realistic option. After John and Roger Taylor ventured out for a shopping trip one day, word soon got out and when the crowd of screaming girls swelled to close to 1000, our heroes had to be bundled back into a car by police and delivered back to the hotel with strict instructions not to leave. All of which meant departures for gigs and promotional shows were military operations: “We became familiar with service lifts and the mechanics of exiting through the kitchen,” recalled JT. “Everywhere we went we were hustled, smuggled.”

Soon enough, the pressure of working hard, partying hard and being at the eye of the Durandemonium hurricane began to tell. One night in October 1982, John and Roger Taylor were drinking in a Munich hotel bar when they were attacked by a gang wielding baseball bats. In the ensuing fracas Roger was badly hurt, and John subsequently put his fist through a glass wall fitting, resulting in a hospital visit and the cancellation of a string of gigs.

Or at least, we think that’s what happened. Because JT’s memory isn’t perhaps all it should be. In his autobiography, The Pleasure Groove, he recalls having a night off in Munich on tour in Germany, going to see Kool and The Gang and then bumping into Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music in a nightclub, but visiting the toilets too often on nose-powdering trips to make the most of this meeting with his childhood heroes. Then, he writes, “the night turns black”, and the next thing he knows, he’s sitting with a blood-soaked Roger Taylor covered in blood and recently returned from the hospital. Irritated by the attention Roger is getting from JT’s then girlfriend Amanda Berrow, he stomps back to his own room and punches a glass light fitting, resulting in an injured hand and a cancelled tour.

However, according to Andy Taylor, who had elected to stay in that night, he’d been told that the attack in the hotel had resulted in a pitched battle between Duran’s security and their assailants while John Taylor and Bryan Ferry hid in the toilets.

From that moment, security was ramped up, and it increased further a few months later, after the band played at a Prince’s Trust show in London in the presence of Charles and Diana. An IRA plot to blow the venue sky high was only foiled by the bomber, Sean O’Callaghan, being an MI5 informant and sabotaging the plot. Andy Taylor, who was unaware of the terror threat until years later, recalls, “It was as if a whole new negative dimension had been added to our success.”

 

Meanwhile, John Taylor, as well as Roger and Nick, was still living at home with his mum and dad in a suburban semi in Birmingham. It was only when he contracted crabs on tour in the US, and he had to persuade his dad to help him wash the bedsheets so his mum wouldn’t know, that he realised it was high time he got a place of his own.

The tall, angular-cheekboned bassist was Duran Duran’s number one heartthrob from early on, and that wasn’t bad going considering his bandmates were no slouches in the looks department.

“We competed against each other for the sexiest girls. And I won!” Simon Le Bon said later, but by all accounts it was really John who took to the life of lady-killing, jet-setting rock star with most gusto.

“My horror of lonely hotel rooms meant I would go to any lengths to avoid sleeping in them alone,” he recalled. “Coke, I was beginning to realise, was an effective insurance policy against that eventuality… I was able to be this pin-up guy 24 hours a day, especially after midnight.”

Given their increasingly tenuous grip on reality, there would be a sheet of information slipped under their hotel-room door every morning: ‘TODAY IS OCTOBER 3. IT IS FRIDAY. YOU ARE IN CHICAGO. TODAY IS A SHOW DAY. SOUND CHECK IS AT 4PM’. Taylor comments in his book, “You almost expected it to say YOUR NAME IS JOHN.”

Oh, and on the left hand corner of each page of the tour itinerary there was a number, usually 18, or 21. It referred to the age of consent in that territory.

It was perhaps only prudent to be wary of predatory fans, because Duranies across the world had earned a reputation for being among the most obsessive and vociferous followers of any band.

In his book Like Punk Never Happened, Dave Rimmer writes of witnessing duranies at a 1983 gig “organising themselves into formations to beat the bouncers… standing in groups, chanting, waving, taunting the security guards and generally having a whale of a time, feeling the power of their collectivity”. On Jim’ll FIx It, one fan arranged for Simon to dress as a knight in shining armour and sweep into her classroom, pick her up and gallop off with her into the sunset. She surely wasn’t alone in that fantasy.

Fans were found hiding under dressing room tables, while Andy Taylor once opened his hotel room wardrobe to find three of them who had camped out there for hours hoping to meet him.

Duranies just seemed to want their band (and their chosen favourite member) that little bit more. And anyone with anything bad to say about their idols could expect a similarly passionate vengeful response. As Boy George learned to his cost when his habit of disparaging his chart rivals came to the attention of the Duran massive.

“You might as well call Smash Hits ‘Duran Hits’,” George sneered after coming second in another poll to the nation’s favourite, and that was one of the more restrained things he said about them.

As a result, Duran fans would hiss and spit at the Culture Club singer while waiting for Duran to show up at major events, and even vandalise his car and burn his picture along with making the inevitable unsavoury references to his weight and sexual orientation. “I stand a better chance of sleeping with Simon Le Bon than you do, honey,” George told them on one occasion, convinced as ever that everyone in pop group was in the closet.

But that was the day the Duranies went too far. 15-year-old Janice Cracknell got her friend Alison English and other fans to plot revenge after the above exchange, and they took turns to lie on the floor and pretend to have been knocked to the floor. The picture of Alison was the most convincing, so they took it to The Sun in return for £50. “BOY GEORGE HIT ME, SAYS GIRL, 16′ was the following morning’s front page. ‘Pop fans in “fattie” fury’, went the subheading. All manner of denials ensued from Boy George’s camp, before Alison’s mum forced her to admit she was fibbing and the whole thing was a set-up. Still, the lesson was clear – cross a Duran fan at your peril.

 

Not that most of them had much chance of snaring a member of the band unless they happened to be regular fixtures on the cover of glossy magazines. John Taylor’s string of flings included dating perennial rock star muse and Playboy model Bebe Buell, whose previous conquests included Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page and Steven Tyler, but according to Andy Taylor, it was when Nick Rhodes met American heiress and model Julianne Friedman that cracks started to appear within the previously tight-knit group.

“Julianne wasn’t a bad person,” he says of the ‘brash American heiress’. “But her presence in the group was like a bomb.” The guitarist also suspected Rhodes’ new wife of leaking stories to the press, although there’s no evidence to suggest this was anything more than substance-fuelled paranoia.

Meanwhile, Rhodes’ disinclination to join his old school friend John Taylor on his drug binges meant two founder members were also becoming estranged. The band may have been flying around the world in a private plane Le Bon nicknamed the ‘Excess-a-jet’, but these things cost money. A lot of money. The band had already become tax exiles and spend a maximum of 60 days in the UK, and that heightened resentment about how big a cut the band’s management, the Berrow brothers, were taking from the band’s earnings. The fact they also sided with the US label Capitol, who resisted releasing Nile Rodgers’ remix of The Reflex because it sounded ‘too black’ was another bone of contention.

Then when, in 1983, the band came to record Seven and The Ragged Tiger at Air studios in Montserrat, Andy Taylor’s coke habit, while the band’s chief party boy was introduced to ecstasy.

“It was the closest a drug had come to giving me a feeling of complete relaxation and oneness with the universe,” said JT. “It had brought me closer to god.”

But also further away from the music, to the point where he would sometimes resist doing extra takes on his bass tracks so he could carry on partying, and he admits that on the subsequent tour, he began getting high on stage – breaking a strict rule the band had always had in place.

More mishaps occurred, such as JT crashing his car on Sydney Harbour Bridge, and needing 40-odd stitches in his foot after a coke-fuelled row with a girlfriend ended with a smashed vodka bottle and a nasty accident. He was injected with morphine and given pharmaceutical cocaine so he could play that evening’s gig in San Francisco.

On the face of it, though, the only way was still up. More success was to come – the single and the subsequent live album it was tacked onto, Arena, proved the band’s biggest seller to date. Soon afterwards, the group’s oft-repeated four-year plan from back in 1980, which proposed that they would headline Hammersmith Odeon by the end of 1982, Wembley by 1983 and New York’s Madison Square Garden in 1984, would be achieved when they sold out two nights at the iconic arena in Manhattan.

But by that time, John Taylor admits, he barely took it all in, because “I was too busy making sure my roadie was scoring for me.”

Andy wasn’t much better. On one occasion during the making of SART, he recalls staggering around in front of a coke machine trying to work out how to get a line of the other sort of coke from it.

Meanwhile, relations between Andy and Nick in particular were souring. With Andy and other members of the band believing the keyboard player was getting a little too pompous in his attitude, they arranged for a stripper to run on stage unannounced and drape herself around him at the climax of their LA show in April 1984. However, Julianne, watching stageside, clocked the plan and tried to physically restrain the interloper. She was unsuccessful, though, and both Nick and Julianne were predictably furious.

During the aftershow party, one of the Duran roadies, himself not quite compos mentis after over-indulging, attacked a hanger-on with a knife. Things were really getting out of hand. On AT’s return, the car containing his five months pregnant wife was besieged by Duran fans banging on the roof hysterically while her husband was being strip-searched in customs by staff keen to teach these pop stars a lesson. She would later suffer from severe post-natal depression that accelerated her husband’s retreat from the band and its attendant lifestyle. The guitarist wasn’t the only one wondering if all this madness was really worth it.

In May 1984 The Sun ran a huge expose from a story sold to them by Duran’s old security man from the Rum Runner days. “I saw Duran go coke crazy,” it screamed, and the following day exposed their activities with girls.”

The band’s parents naturally got to read it. Even fellow pop stars took the piss: when John Taylor ended up living in a New York apartment block down the corridor from Boy George at one stage in 1985, his chart rival left a large mound of sugar outside his door one morning by way of a nod to the bassist’s now well-known proclivities.

Nick and John further fell out over their contributions to the James Bond soundtrack A View To A Kill, which the latter had arranged with Bond producer Cubby Broccoli. Then the two side projects formed by the band – John and Andy’s supergroup The Power Station and the others’ more pop-oriented trio Arcadia – would only emphasise the distance them from each other.

By the time they came to play Live Aid in Philadelphia in July 1985, they were barely on speaking terms, and it would turn out to be the end of an era, as soon after they sacked their management team (also partly blaming them for Simon Le Bon’s near-disastrous involvement in the Whitbread Round The World Yacht Race when his boat, Drum, capsized and he was trapped beneath the hull for over an hour.), and both Andy and Roger Taylor decided they’d had enough of this pop stardom lark, and retreated from the band to raise families in relative seclusion. The classic Duran line-up was no more.

 

In many ways, it was a classic firework trajectory that a lot of huge pop groups experience. Four or five years of huge success, then the joy of fame starts to wear off, the pressure takes its toll, relationships fray at the seams, boys turn into disgruntled young men, and nothing is ever quite as much fun any more.

Duran Duran would live to fight another day, of course, as the central trio of Taylor, Le Bon and Rhodes went on to several further waves of success with new guitarist Warren Cuccurullo, but the party was over. From now on, it would be strictly business…

 

Johnny Sharp

Why does the January detox make me feel so bad? (Daily Telegraph, Jan 2015)

If I were a musician, I might call it the detox blues.

I woke up this morning with a gnawing pain behind the eyes. Just as I did yesterday. And the day before.

Hangover? No, I have been booze-free for over a week. Not a drop of alcohol has passed my lips for eight days.

Aren’t I supposed to feel better by now? Shouldn’t feeling dreadful in the mornings be a thing of the past? Why does my head still feel like it’s stuffed with wire wool retrieved from an old truck’s exhaust pipe?

It’s been like this, on and off, since I started my ‘detox’ regime. For the first couple of nights, it took hours to get to sleep, and by the time I finally drifted off, the sheets were soaked with sweat.

Meanwhile, after getting out of the wrong side of the bed (having turned top to tail in order to escape the sweat pool), I was in a mood to match, and instantly instigated a row about shared use of a phone charger with my similarly irritable partner, who is also decrying the drink and trying to give up smoking to boot.

I might have given it all up as a bad job and turned straight back to my old friend the bottle, but we have an agreement.

 

Unlike many New Year detox plans, it wasn’t really planned at all. My organs had been groaning for mercy after a particularly well-lubricated New Year turned into a very wet first weekend of January, and I had the following conversation with my girlfriend one groggy morning.

“Oh gawd, I feel awful. This has got to stop,” I told her. “As of next week, I’m not drinking any more…”

“Really?” she said.

“…any more than the average touring Irish folk band! Arf!”

She laughed politely at my brilliant and entirely original joke, but then said something serious.

“Actually I think we should. Just for a couple of weeks. To let our bodies recover.”

To my surprise, and mild sense of pride, we’ve so far managed just over a week off, from a scheduled two weeks off the sauce. A modest ambition, perhaps, but it’s already proving tough, mainly because ‘recovery’ isn’t feeling as good as expected. My best behaviour has not been rewarded. The child in me wants to sulk, stamp his feet and shout “s’not fair!”

Yet this experience tallies with medical evidence. Looking up symptoms of alcohol withdrawal online, it mentions symptoms not a million miles from ours. Insomnia. Sweats. Generally feeling rotten. That’s an experience also backed up by Andy McIntyre, whose book Last Orders – A Drinker’s Guide To Sobriety records a whole year the once heavy drinker spent foreswearing the demon drink.

“The first couple of days, I found I just couldn’t sleep, and when I looked into the medical reasons for that, it’s mainly because my body was so used to having the depressant of alcohol on board.”

As for the sweats, that’s a little more complicated.

“After an intense bout of boozing you’re taking on two things,” he says. “Alcohol and sugar. And when you quit, you quickly notice the sweating. But it’s largely a myth that says it’s your body cleansing itself. The majority is withdrawal symptoms from processed sugar and alcohol. Your body is going into a mild form of shock.”

A more medically qualified view broadly backs up his anecdotal evidence. According to Warwick University’s Dr Thomas Barber, who has studied the effects of alcohol on obesity, people often wildly underestimate the calorific and sugar content of alcohol, and how the body comes to rely on it.

“The body is very good at redressing deficiencies it detects,” he says, “and we’re biologically programmed to maintain bodyweight to avoid the harmful effects of starvation, which historically has been the biggest evolutionary threat to most species. When you give up after a long period of heavy drinking, you’re suddenly not getting as many calories or sugar into your system, and alarm bells are ringing in your body, which is one reason why you don’t feel so good. You’re also craving sugar to replace what you’ve lost from the alcohol.”

Ah yes, that’ll be why we’ve both found ourselves regularly raiding the cupboard for chocolate and biscuits, and feeling an irresistible urge to stock up on Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Sticky Toffee Puddings. McIntyre had much the same experience.

““I never used to eat chocolate before I quit, but I found myself constantly getting cravings,” he says.

As for the non-drinking hangovers, he also knows where we’re coming from.

“Most hangovers are because of dehydration, and although alcohol is a diuretic that makes you more dehydrated, if you give up booze but don’t drink as much other liquid to replace it, you’ll still be dehydrated.”

In my case, I realised that I’d been in the habit of drinking a couple of pints of water before bed every night to prevent potential dehydration from booze, and now I’m not drinking, I assumed that wasn’t necessary. “Wrong!” cries my body each morning.

But ultimately, McIntyre concludes that I’m just a typical 21st century man: impatient.

“Our culture is obsessed with the easy fix,” he says. “The five or ten-day detox diet after which everything will be rosy. But in my case I’d been drinking heavily for 20 years so it’s ridiculous to expect to right that after five days.”

I didn’t think I’d been drinking that heavily. But once you actually count your drinks, and the units involved, you realise you’re kidding yourself. Particularly over Christmas and new year when you’re boozing at home with generous measures and no work to get up for in the morning.

A couple of glasses of cava in the morning. A wee tipple at lunch. Red wine opened mid-afternoon. Gin o’clock comes round soon enough, then it’s onto the white wine on the sofa in front of the telly, out to the pub to get a couple of pints in before last orders, back home to finish off the bubbly, and – oh yeah, there’s those Christmas liqueurs we got given. Fancy a night cap?

“Studies have shown that people’s perception of the units they consume is inaccurate,” Dr Barber points out. “Government guidelines talk about two units being a glass of wine, but some people are drinking enormous glasses, and home measures can be a lot more than pub measures. It’s just the same with food ­– people don’t realize how much they’re actually taking on board.”

So maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise that going cold turkey isn’t making us feel too good in the short term.

The good news is, according to McIntyre, that better times are just around the corner…

“After a couple of weeks, when your body starts to adjust and heal itself, you’ll reach what Alcoholics Anonymous call the ‘Pink Cloud’ period.

“You’ll think ‘Wow, I feel great! Why didn’t I do this before?!’”

“You might also find out the truth of that classic George Best quote: ‘You don’t know how many hours there are in a day until you stop drinking.’ You’re so much more productive.”

That can last a couple of months, but then the cloud bursts and you get a bit down because the problems that may have led you to drink are still there and not drinking is just normal now. That’s what I found difficult when I did a year off. March was really hard.”

I wasn’t planning to abstain long enough to find out. But now I’m on the wagon, maybe I’ll stick around a while. After all, it’d be a shame to make all this effort then miss out on the good stuff, right?

So I’ll still say no to the booze for now, and patiently await the rewards. If you’re buying, mine’s a pink cloud.

Johnny Sharp