Interview: Paul Moody

Credit: Fulham FC

Paul Moody played for Fulham in the old Division Two, experiencing a mix of highs and lows. Daniel Smith spoke to Paul to get his views on Kevin Keegan, the 1998/99 promotion as Champions and the injury which kept him out for most of that season…

DS Hi Paul, thanks for speaking to us. Let’s start at the beginning, did you always want to become a footballer & how did you get your first opportunity?

PM – I think most kids who can play football grow up wanting to be a footballer, however, I did but it didn’t bother me if I didn’t make it! Started off playing local men’s pub football in goal on Saturday, then played on the pitch Sunday morning and afternoon where I’d score 3-10 goals a game! That’s when at the age of 18 had a trial at non-league Fareham Town where I scored a hat trick for reserves then went straight into the first team and got another 3 on the Saturday! Stayed 2 years then moved to Waterlooville where I was invited to Southampton for a week’s trial. I signed a 3-year contract a few weeks later for them.

DS You were born in Portsmouth but made your professional debut for Southampton, conflict of interests there lol?

PM – Yeah would have loved to play for Pompey, however, it was Southampton who gave me the chance and looking back think that was the best move as Southampton were and still are far more professional than Pompey as regards bringing players on! Had lots of stick at the time from people saying they would never join Southampton and why did I do it? My answer to them was ‘if you had the chance to play pro football, who would you join then??! End of conversation!!!

DS You played your most games for Oxford Utd who finished 17th in the old Div 1 (Championship). You then signed for Fulham the following season, who were newbies in the Division below Oxford. Why did you decide to make the drop down to play for the Whites?

PM – I actually played another two seasons at Oxford after getting relegated to the first division, winning promotion on the second attempt! Was a strange one actually, my form had dipped at Oxford after the birth of my twin boys Jake and Ty, who were both poorly at birth so went through a stressful time so the football was insignificant at the time. I then spoke to Micky Adams and Ian Branfoot who were both at Southampton when I was there, to talk about a possible move. Exciting times were expected at the club and having already known a few of the players, Martin Thomas, Glen Cockerill, Mark Blake and Danny Cullip, thought it would be a new challenge for me!

DS I’m also asking this question to Neil Smith as you both signed for Fulham at the same time. The team had just been promoted under Mickey who was a player-manager. So the group must have been a tight group? Did you feel like an outsider or did you fit in straight away?

PM – Going back to my last question, I already knew a few of the players so it was easy to fit in especially with the likes of Smudger and Morgs amongst others who were great lads! There’s always a bit of awkwardness when new players arrive as they have obviously come to take someone else’s place!! Was probably my easiest transition from one club to another!

DS Your first season was a good one on a personal point of view as you finished top scorer. Did you feel it was a good season overall or was you left frustrated by the way it ended?

PM – Yeah wasn’t a bad season, although it would have been nice to have at least got into the playoff final and yes that was a massive low for me getting sent off in the first game! I was so hyped up and probably over excited!! Felt bad for the rest of team coz I think if we were at full strength we’d have won!

DS How did you cope with the time out after suffering a broken leg? Was it difficult to be excited about the team being top of the league knowing you weren’t part of it?

PM – Was the most frustrating time I’ve experienced in my career! Lucky I had an automatic car as I travelled up every day from Portsmouth for rehabilitation! Luckily we had good facilities at the Bank of England sports ground! I’d probably do an hour on the bike, a few weights then half hour on the arm ergo (which was a killer!!). Chris Smith (physio) and Alex Court (sports science and rehab) were brilliant throughout my 6 months out keeping me busy and positive! Yeah was really difficult watching games knowing that you weren’t going to be involved for ages, especially when the team was doing so well and all the ‘win’ bonuses I missed out on!!!

DS What were Keegan and Al Fayed like?

PM – Al Fayed we didn’t really see a lot of, don’t think he was that interested in the football side of things! He definitely wouldn’t have known any of the players’ names!! Keegan was interesting! As a manager, I didn’t really rate him although he was very motivational before games and good at getting the players going! Training wise as a team were mostly 5-a-sides which could get boring; however, he used to do a lot of one on one sessions with the forwards which were very good! Overall I got on quite well with him, most players called him boss but I called him Kev as I remember one of the lads asking what we should call him and he said ‘what you like’!!

DS Were you surprised that Ray Wilkins was sacked when he was, what was the reaction in the dressing room?

PM – I don’t really recall Ray being sacked at the time or what the players’ reactions were?! He was ok when he was there although training sessions were very boring considering the number of top clubs he played for, it was always 5-a-side!!

DS Who were the big characters in the squad that you played in?

PM – Most of the players there were big characters although the main man was Cookie… Chris Coleman!! Was a leader on and off the pitch and always up for a laugh! You had different characters, Neil Smith just used to laugh at anything. Stevie Hayward was always quite chirpy (in a nice way!); Morgs was a leader and Fulham through and through! Could go through the whole team as most were good lads, even Chris Smith the physio (as I did spend a lot of time in his company!!)

DS Who were your closest friends during your time at Fulham & who was your roommate when travelling?

PM – I didn’t really have any close friends, I used to keep myself to myself and as I travelled up from Portsmouth it was difficult to socialise after training and games, so usually after a game, I’d have a quick drink then drive back to Pompey! As for roommates, I shared with a few different lads although I did also room on my own a lot as I did and still do enjoy a good sleep!! Shared with Danny Cullip a few times as I knew him from our Oxford days!

DS Do you still keep in touch with anyone?

PM – Don’t really keep in touch with any of the lads but have spoken to Danny Cullip a few times and Neil Smith.

DS What was your favourite goal in a Fulham shirt?

PM – Favourite goal? I did enjoy the goal against Plymouth at home, think it was a Tuesday evening game and we won 2-0! Obviously, I enjoyed the 3 goals v Preston as well for different reasons.

DS Speaking of that Preston game, did you know that you were the first player in Fulham’s history to score a hat trick as a substitute on this day?

PM – No I didn’t realise I was the first Fulham player to score a hat-trick after coming on as a sub!! Has anyone done it since???

DS Off the top of my head, I don’t think there has been anyone since, so it’s a special tag you have there. You left the club after our promotion. Did you know before the season finished that your time was up at the club?

PM – I had an idea I wouldn’t be staying at the club after we won promotion as I was 32 at the time and obviously the club had plenty of money to spend although the way I was told I was surplus to requirements was very unprofessional and that was down to Paul Bracewell who took over from Keegan, obviously very naive and trying to make a name for himself!! As you’ve probably guessed, I have no respect for the man!!! Millwall came in for me and ended up getting another promotion as well as enjoying my time there.

DS Have you ever considered going into management and have you remained in football since your retirement?

PM – I was going to do my coaching badges while at Millwall with Sean Dyche, however, personal circumstances meant that I couldn’t do it and never really got the motivation to do it again after that! I’ve coached kids of different ages when I retired from football but didn’t really enjoy it! I’ve thought about getting back involved however you need all your badges now and haven’t really got the time or desire to do them! I’m currently painting and decorating now, which is what I did before becoming a pro! I enjoy most days and find it quite therapeutic!!!

DS You mentioned when we spoke on Facebook that you had mostly good times but bad ones too at Fulham. What was the ultimate high and low not including the injury?

PM – My best time at Fulham was the last game I played for Fulham v Preston! Massive game, 0-0 at halftime then I come off the bench and get 3 goals… couldn’t have asked for a better send off!! Worst moment apart from missing most of the last season through breaking my leg was being told I was no longer wanted!!

DS I briefly worked out the maths, you were still injured when Michael Jackson was in town weren’t you? Were you at the Cottage that day anyway and did you get to meet him?

PM – The game when Michael Jackson turned up was also one of my biggest disappointments!! The physio would normally get me in on match days for treatment, however, that day he said have a day off! I was absolutely gutted in the morning reading the papers that ‘Jacko’ who has always been one of my favourite pop stars was at the game and met the players before the game, so, unfortunately, I never got to meet him!!!

DS You went on to play for Millwall which is a club I know pretty well as it’s where I grew up. On few occasions my friends convinced me to tag along for their games when Fulham wasn’t playing, I hated it! It was a completely different experience to the Cottage for me but I’m biased. Did you notice a difference between the two clubs or were they similar from your point of view?

PM – Yeah Millwall was a totally different club in many aspects! The team were a lot younger than at Fulham, they had a crop of brilliant youngsters including Tim Cahill, Lucas Neill to name a few but they wanted a few older heads for experience so that’s where I came in!! We all know about the fans and what an intimidating place The Den is to play, so it was nice to be on their side!!! I suppose having the younger players around me helped me in a way as I was I think 32 at the time and the whole move gave me a new lease of life! I was fortunate enough to get another promotion winners medal with them too!!

DS Which former club are the first you look for when the match day results come in and why?

PM – I look for all my old clubs results, Oxford, Fulham, Southampton and Millwall!! In no particular order! Had good times at each club for different reasons!

DS According to Soccer base, all your transfer fees combined make up approx £600, 000. A bargain in today’s market. How much do you think you’d have been worth in today’s market and how do you feel about the over inflated prices nowadays?

PM – Fees for players now have gone too far I think, especially when you buy a player for 50 million and he doesn’t produce for whatever reason! If I had played nowadays my two ex-wives would be loaded!! Same as house prices though, they just keep on going up.

DS – Finally Paul, pie or pasty – Which filling?

PM – Got to be chicken and mushroom pie!! I don’t eat a lot of them (although looking at me now you wouldn’t think so!!) Now and again when at work we might treat ourselves to one!!!