The Day A Fan was Pulled In to Play Pro Soccer

Since he was a small child, Steve Davies was a West Ham United fan. When he grew up, he went to all their games, got team tattoos, and played in a Sunday league himself. When West Ham played at Oxford City on July 27, 1994, Davies was up front, giving his beloved team a hard time, as British football fans will do.

Harry Redknapp delights in telling this particular yarn. Last time he told the story it was on TV show A League of Their Own, at Christmas last year. "There's a guy next to the dug-out," Harry told the host, "and he's got West Ham tattooed all over his arms and neck, he's got the earrings … After two minutes, he started on me." Today, speaking to me in his third one-on-one interview since taking over as QPR boss, he slips into storytelling mode.

"'We ain't got that Lee Chapman up front do we – I ain't coming every week if he's playing,'" says Harry, doing his impression of Steve. "Half-time I made five substitutions, and we only had the bare 11 out – I was running out of players. Then we got another injury, so I said to this guy in the crowd, 'Oi, can you play as good as you talk?'"

The rest of the tale is hallowed football folklore. "I slung a leg over the barrier and Harry walked me down the tunnel," says Steve. "What's your name, son?" Harry asked, sizing up this apparent hooligan. "I couldn't believe it. Inside the dressing room, the players were sat down resting at half-time." West Ham were two-nil up, but the team was carrying injuries. "Then Harry and says, 'Lee you're off; Steve you're on.'"

Chapman, shirtless, just nodded. "I asked him, what size boots are you, son?" Redknapp recalls. The kit manager brought Steve a uniform.

Davies thought he would sit on the bench or play a couple of minutes as a joke, but he was in for the experience of a lifetime. Read the whole story at The Guardian. Link -via Metafilter

(Image credit: Steve Bacon)


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