top of page
  • Writer's picture Tim Caple

"There's such a fine line between defeat and losing " Gary Newbon

Gary Newbon has informed and entertained in equal measure over the last 50 years as a broadcaster and from that 50 years comes the book

"Newbon Bloody Hell". A life in sports Broadcasting .

In the this edition of "Talking Sports Books" we are joined by broadcaster Gary Newbon to talk about his just-released book looking back at his 50 years spent in television. Gary built enviable relationships with some of sport's greatest names and characters including Brian Clough and Sir Alex Ferguson we delve into his career exploring a time when sports television and the sports journalist/presenter's role was very different to what it is today.

tim caple

So this was a really entertaining book for me, which takes you back to an industry

that simply doesn't exist anymore and the irony is here as I was reading, preparing this today, I came across a piece in the Daily Mirror saying that they're getting rid of all journalists and editorial staff are going as well.

This is about 450, 500 redundancies and they're replacing them all with influencers. That's a bit of a sad day for the industry, isn't it?

gary newbon (01:06.126)

Well, it's different, that's for sure. I have to be careful what I say on this, Tim, because you're accused of being a dinosaur, and the world has changed. For instance, when I started, there were very strong unions, and you never get a happy balance in life, whether it was Russia with communism, then overnight capitalism, whatever you look unions being very powerful, and then they get...

less powerful and managements become very powerful and pay themselves a lot of money and then get a lot of redundancies in that becomes cost cutting is the new word that they use. So you never get a happy balance and you have to remember that I started in a completely different time when the print industry was very strong. When I was on the Sunday Mirror I think they were selling 8 million copies every Sunday.

life has changed and the things that have changed particularly are computers and now they talk about possibility of AI. They say they'll be able to control that. Well it's very difficult to control anything really when it gets going and that would create even more redundancies because the human factor would come out of it. So life changes all the while and as you move up the bench of life as I am you have to be very careful that you don't sound like a dinosaur.

tim caple (02:28.301)

60 years, isn't it? Almost to the month, September 1964, that you begin your career in Cambridge at the agency and you're in on five quid a week. You go out on the first morning, your boss takes you for a walk, and buys you an address book.

gary newbon (02:34.026)

Yeah, September, September 64 actually.

gary newbon (02:52.384)


tim caple (02:57.353)

And next on the item on the agenda, teach you how to drink.

gary newbon (03:02.286)

Well, it put me off scotch for the rest of my life, sure. I hate spirits, otherwise I might have become an alcoholic because I love wine and I still drink the odd pint of draft beer. Yeah, I mean, cultures have changed. When I was an executive in the business of television, I did a lot of deals over very long lunches and I've got to be honest, even though I still work every day and work hard, I still enjoy a long lunch. Now, you see that people

go out to a sandwich bar, come back and sit in front of their screens. I think one of the most important things of business is meeting people, knowing people, having contacts, having access. And it's very difficult if you spend half an hour in front of your screen eating a sandwich for lunch. That doesn't make sense to me, but that's the modern world.

tim caple (03:51.289)

Your first interview, Mandy Rice Davis you were literally thrown in at the deep end because this was big news back in the day, in 1964.

gary newbon (03:53.942)

Yes, it was wonderful.

gary newbon (04:06.674)

It was, I mean, just so people know, the Minister of War, wasn't it, John Profumo had slept allegedly, I suppose it was proved, allegedly with a lady called Christine Keeler and there was Mandy Rice Davis who was a showgirl and he lied about the relationship. The problem was that Christine Keeler was also apparently having an affair with a Russian KGB man.

gary newbon (04:35.85)

and obviously things were at risk and the problem was that Perfumo denied it in the House of Commons and that's where the big scandal was. There were court cases and Lord Astor denied having an affair with Mandy Rice Davis and she said that famous phrase in court, well he would wouldn't he, which is a part of English literature now I think, well not literature more of a language of phrases and things.

tim caple (05:03.357)

And day two is EM Forster for the very famous William Hickey column.

gary newbon (05:15.25)

Yes, the Daily Express. The first one had been for the Daily Mirror. Mandy had been peering in a nightclub in a village called March. You wouldn't get a nightclub in a village called March anymore. So I'll go off to King's College where this very old E.M. Forster, I'd read his book at school, Passage for India, and he wouldn't open the door and he kept asking me who I was, why I was there and what I wanted and he told me rather an impolite phrase for a great novelist to disappear.

When I got back to the office I was really distraught and my boss put his arm around me, Mike Gcock, and said Gary get used to it, it won't be the last time that somebody tells you to off in your career. So that was an interesting baptism being on my own, working on my own for the first time. But it was all great experience really and experiences that I don't think people are going to get today.

tim caple (06:07.961)

Many life lessons that you talk about in the early stages of this book, they keep on coming. Travel first class and you will think first class.

gary newbon (06:15.026)

Yes, that was one of the great tips I got actually. I mean, the reason I could afford to be on five pound a week was because I was still living at home. I'm a Cambridge boy and my parents didn't want any money off me. They were building a successful business. So I was very lucky from that point of view. But I had a girlfriend obviously, as most people did, at 19 I was, and I was trying to take her out and it was a bit difficult on that money. So

I was a bit tempted to pocket the difference between second class welfare and first class, but this great photographer, Louis Garnet, said, no, you travel first class, it's not your money, and you think first class. And it was a great tip. And you definitely feel a benefit if you travel in comfort, if you're lucky enough to travel in comfort, whether it's on a plane or a train.

tim caple (07:05.589)

It took you a bit of time to get used to the whole expenses thing, didn't it? Because you had the trip to Paris for the rugby and the uproar when you put your expenses claim in, that didn't actually exceed the total of your float.

gary newbon (07:10.387)


gary newbon (07:19.082)

No, we ought to stress that life is different now, you can't go around living your expenses. It was a fair game in those days for journalists subsidising their wages. I got this trip to, I became the rugby correspondent for the Sunday Mirror, which sounds unlikely in this day and age, but it was a big deal in those days with such a big circulation. So I go off to Paris with a float, as they call it, advanced expenses, and I didn't spend it all.

gary newbon (07:48.198)

And when I did my expenses, when I came back, I had the intention of him being brought up as an honest citizen to have money back. There was a crisis meeting in the sports editor's office. I was the only one not invited. I got the biggest volley of abuse. You know, if you want to wreck your expenses, don't do it for the rest of us. I was John Clark, the Speedway reporter. They had so many specialists in those days on sport. He had.

he was ordered to redo my expenses and the company finished up owing me more than I'd taken out there. So that was quite a lesson. Not a thing to be recommended in this day and age.

tim caple (08:25.229)

Your first football report and you're off to Charlton v Millwall for Hayters It didn't get well received, did it, the first one?

gary newbon (08:31.174)

Yeah, yes.

gary newbon (08:36.286)

No, I didn't have a byline on that. But the thing was that I worked for this agency in Cambridge, which was really good. I got discovered by George Casey, the legendary sports editor at the Sunday Mirror, but he put me into Haters and asked Haters to take me because that was a really good finishing school for polishing me up as a journalist, which obviously has benefited me over the years. So I thought I was quite smart. You know, I was what, 22.

I go to, Reg asked me to do this match ahead of the game, which was Charlton-Nil, Millwall-Nil. I read this piece in the Sunday Times, I thought, gosh, this is marvellous the way I've written this. Turn up in his office, he throws the Sunday Times, because I start the following Monday, the day after the Sunday Times came out, there are rings everywhere, do not use this if you want to stay here. We have a reputation and we don't want somebody like you ruining it. I was quite upset.

because I thought it was good and I remember it starting with it was and you learn your lessons particularly in those days I never used the phrase but began with the word it ever again. So that was a lesson and I sat down quite depressed and a great friend of mine who no longer with us unfortunately Chris Lander put his arm around me and said welcome to haters just get your head down and get on with it.

tim caple (09:59.737)

The other thing that people don't realize when you go to cover these games, you cover the games for multiple outlets. You could be in the press box covering this game and writing, and the content will be going to six or seven different, papers and agencies

gary newbon (10:28.67)

Yeah, local papers. I remember one in particular, Chelsea, a youth game. I was the only bloke in the press box and I never had a chance to write a word because of all these different papers and they were all hitting deadlines. I had to run down at one point and ask the linesman as they were called in those days who scored. Although I didn't smoke, I was to smoke cigars later on but I don't smoke now.

But I used to carry a cigarette lighter, primarily for lighting young ladies cigarettes as a bit of a chat up line as I was single. But I used it because they put the lights out when I was still dictating rewrites, as they called them. And one occasion I had to climb out of Stanford Bridge, they'd locked up and gone home, not realizing I was still working. That was life at Hayter Sports Agency.

tim caple (11:20.425)

incredible. And again, as we're meandering through this book the other life lessons, always dress for work.

gary newbon (11:27.582)

Yes, I mean, you wouldn't go out in the 60s, 50s and 60s, without a tie on. I mean, to think now that managing directors hate wearing ties. You just wouldn't go out on a date without a tie on and a jacket and everything. I mean, life has changed. It's one of the many, I think, American influences. I mean, I quite I haven't got a tie on as I'm talking to you. Obviously, you can't see me, but I wear a tie when I have to. I wear a dinner jacket when I have to with a bow tie.

I prefer not to wear a tie, but I wouldn't go to, very rarely go to a football match or a race meeting without a tie on because the first thing that people look at when you see somebody on television is how they are dressed. You know, it's a very important thing. I mean, Auto-Q for instance, which I very rarely used in my career, but Auto-Q, and I certainly didn't have it at Westwood Television when I started, Auto-Q is there

for newsreaders to look at the viewers. Because once you put your head down and start reading something, the viewers start thinking subconsciously, what's he looking at? So that was an American thing that came in to make sure that the eyes were contact with the viewers. So they look at that as well, but the first thing people look at is, how is he dressed on television?

tim caple (12:44.149)

Yeah, you mentioned the Westwood television. You were offered a job as a floor manager initially at the BBC, weren't you? And your response was, no thanks, I want to be a star.

gary newbon (12:51.154)

Yeah, yes, I mean how arrogant can you be? You know, I mean, you know, in my book Barry Hearn did the forward and he says that some people think of Gary Newbon was made of a bar of chocolate and eat himself, which was a bit harsh because I hope that I've never behaved like that. But I certainly did on that occasion. I mean, I'd made up my mind that

newspapers I'd been persuaded by Sam Leach a famous columnist that my future would be in television not in newspapers It was gonna be a shrinking industry, which it wasn't then but of course, he's proved to be right on that the print side of it Although I still think there's room for newspapers, but you know, I wanted to be a presenter I wanted to do programs I didn't want to be a floor manager not that there's anything wrong with floor managers The one thing I'd like crews and television crews and studio crews

think about me was that I always had the greatest respect for everybody working in television and indeed I had a reputation for going round after a live show thanking all the people involved in making it because it is a team game and sometimes TV presenters get a bit carried away with their own importance they're just the face in front of a machine a team that where you need sound people you need floor managers you need you need directors you need vision people you need everybody it

Yeah, but I still wanted to be a presenter and when I got my chance, I was frightened out of my skin. I was four years out of school, had a tough journalistic background which has always served me throughout my career and I'm suddenly facing this piece of glass that gives you nothing back. It doesn't smile, it doesn't laugh, it's not interested in what you're saying and the red light goes on and you are conscious that a lot of people are watching. As it happened at Westwood Television, it was a very small...

West Country area, but it was still big time to me. And I didn't know how I was going to get rid of these nerves. I was on a three month trial. I'd been offered a bigger job at Anglia Television and they were a bit shocked when I took westward down in Plymouth instead of Norwich. But my home area was East Anglia. I'm an East Anglia boy, educated, born in Cambridge, educated in Suffolk. And I wanted to go somewhere where nobody would know anything about me because I had quite a successful...

sports career which is in John Motson's book. I was in the same year at boarding school as John Motson. Anyway, how I got over it would probably have cost this very brilliant local anchorman and former actor called Kenneth MacLeod, long gone unfortunately, he was absolutely brilliant. And he listened to me and said that he could help me cure my problem of nerves and there was a short gap between his local news programme and my sports programme which was twice a week.

gary newbon (15:38.458)

And as I walked past him, having bought him a lot of scotches, listening to him, not realizing he never saw it in my programs, I was waiting for this word of advice and it never came. But as he passed me, he gave me this tremendous whack in the testicles. And I was in absolute agony. And I sailed through the program. All I wanted to do was get to my dressing room and put some ice on my private parts. And.

tim caple (15:55.193)


gary newbon (16:06.326)

The point that he was making was, what are you worried about? And of course, I lost my nerves. I suddenly thought, if I can do that show, I'm looking at a piece of glass, think about the cameraman, don't think about anybody else, and concentrate on the words you are saying. So how I got over it was, obviously experience now, like I'm talking, you know, I've gotta be careful I don't over talk on this show because I'm finding talking easy these days, but I concentrate on what I'm saying. And I still did that in front of million, later in...

television career where I was appearing in front of millions of people, especially on the boxing and the football, I concentrate on what I'm saying and don't think about I'm conscious of the audience but I'm not thinking about how many people are watching or listening this. So that was a big lesson. That guy would have been sacked on the spot in 2023 but thank God in 1968 he wasn't.

tim caple (17:01.613)

You moved to ATV in 71 in December. And what's great about having the career that you've had is you can look back at things that didn't maybe mean much then, but now are significant. First of all, of course, there was the piece with Arnold Schwarzenegger. And then it was the first ever interview with Trevor Francis as a 14 year old kid.

gary newbon (17:29.126)

Yeah, I mean, I got my, nobody went to the gym in those days. You played football, you put your coats down, had five a side football, or you played cricket, or French cricket, or you played tennis, or you went swimming, you didn't go to the gym. I mean, that's probably unheard of today, but you didn't go to the gym. So I get this phone call from this guy who's got a gym, he's paid a lot of money for this young, younger than me, Mr. Olympia.

who didn't speak English, he didn't speak, he just said hello and T were the only two words in those days he could say. I didn't want him on the programme and the guy who said look I haven't sold any tickets and I said well I'm not surprised and he said look everybody, everybody my dear who watches your sports desk, now if you get him on there I could sell my tickets love. So I said well I don't want him on. Anyway he wore me down and I got my programme fixed. I said come in and record it, if it's any good I'll use it, which I did in the end and if I don't.

like it, I'm not going to use it. We said, well, I've got nothing to lose my dear, I'll bring him in. So this huge guy comes in really tall, absolute rippling with muscles coming out of his ears, as the bloke said. And all he could say was hello and tea. And Chris Robertson, the press officer there came up to me said, Oh, you got this chap in. I said, are you going to use it? I said, I don't know, I can't even pronounce his name. I said, bloody hell. So anyway, he said, do you want your picture taken with him? I said, No, we're never hearing of him again.

When I was leaving the building after I'd shown it, the switchboard girls who really liked me were cursing me saying, we're cursing you Gary Newbon, we've got phone calls from people watching in Cornwall saying, getting that man off the tellies, putting my kids off their pastries. Anyway, it was Arnold Schwarzenegger, whoops, and said I'd never hear of him again, whoops. We certainly did. And then Trevor Francis. Now I got this 14 year old schoolboy who was brilliant playing for Plymouth schools with

Everybody wanted to sign him and he came in for the interview. He was nervous. I was nervous. Thank God they didn't did not record the interview and It we got through it. Anyway, he signed for Birmingham City and then in 1970 London asked for me to go to the World Cup As the youngest reporter, I did not know but Westwood television refused to release me thinking I'd never come back

gary newbon (19:48.214)

When I found out afterwards that I'd been denied the chance, I made up my mind I gotta leave and go to a big station. I couldn't be having this in my career. So I bumped into Billy Wright at a cocktail party, the Billy Wright, famous 105 caps for England and Wolves, 21 years at Wolves, lovely, lovely man, who was very famous but never chose to remind you that he was famous. And he said, we're looking for a new sports presenter. And I said, I think I'm your man. And then, cut a long story short, I...

finished up at ATV in Birmingham. And the rest of it, as they say, is history. That was my big break. In 1972, I covered the Munich Olympics, and I got dragged out of bed at some unearthly hour to cover the terrorist attack, which was all obviously a new experience for me at the age of 27. I just got engaged to my wife, who worked at ATV, and I did it over the phone, actually. She was at the restaurant. I'd already planned it. I won't go into that, but I planned it all.

That was 50 years ago, and well we got married 50 years ago rather. That was 1972 and I did so well on the terrorist attack that ITN offered me a job on the spot, but I didn't want to go there actually. I wanted to be sports matches and things presenter. My boss, I was just going to say sorry just to finish that very quickly, my boss overheard it.

and he was furious and he said, you're not going, are you? And I said, no, he said, well, when you get back, instead of the yearly contracts, you're coming on the staff and I will give you a final salary pension, which meant absolutely nothing to me at the age of 27. Well, when I got headhunted by ITN, they did me a massive favor. That pension was in the end worth a fortune and means I'd never have to worry about money again.

tim caple (21:22.945)

does now.

tim caple (21:38.029)

That night in Munich, you had that tip-off. You climbed over the wire fences to get into the village and got onto the terrace of the Puerto Rican teams and were literally watching and observing and filming.

gary newbon (21:45.558)


gary newbon (21:52.554)

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And in fact, I was stupid. I went around the back of the Israeli thing and bumped into a boxer called Terry Spink, who'd been at, I think, at the Olympics previously. He was now coach to North Korea. And I soon whippled back to where our base was across. I was working with the ITN guys and the local Stuart McConnachie from London Weekend and an ITN crew. And I watched the whole thing, really, and it was just so sad. I mean, just depressing. And I saw the guy.

the hostage come out with the guy with the white helmet, the famous picture there. It was just terrible. So when I read about wars and things, my father was in the war. He flew 40 times in the RAF over Germany. I just sort of often think back to that. It's so futile and hopeless, all these disputes. It's often about religion and race and everything else. It's just sickening really.

It had a huge impact on me that, and I mean, I suddenly realized there were more important things in life than sport and television.

tim caple (22:59.681)

Relationships have always been very important to you. And again, if you look back at this time, it's hard to believe that you could be sat there one night and you get a phone call from a West Bromwich Albion director he calls and says, listen, we want to change our manager. Can you suggest anyone?

gary newbon (23:16.97)

Yeah, what happened there? I mean, that happened a lot in those days, actually, journalists tapping up, because we're all trusted. You have to just sidetracking for a moment, if I may. You have to understand that one of the biggest changes was that in those days, there were about 12 reporters. There was the national newspapers had regional football reporters. There was the Press Association, Extell, local newspapers, one local radio station, if there was one then, I can't remember, but certainly...

there was the BBC and that was it and you were trusted. So you knew what you could report on, you knew what you couldn't. I remember Brian Clough saying that, you know, he'd give us all stories and headlines and everything else and then he'd say, right, put your microphone down, put your camera away, put your pens down, we're going out for a drink and that would be it, what stayed on tour, what happened on tour stayed on tour. So Brian Baldi rings me knowing that I'm not going to spill the beans and said,

Burt Millichip, our chairman, is the chairman of the Football Association and can't be seen to poach anyone. Who would you suggest? So I said, well, I'll tell you what, I think John Bond at Norwich City would be brilliant for lots of reasons. They're having a great run in Europe. I can't remember who was in Europe, but certainly in the league. He's a charismatic guy. He's terrific. He's just what you want. The media love him, etc. Can you get him? I rang him up. Do you want the job, Bondy? Yeah. Love it, mate.

So I rang Boundy back and said he's interested. Anyway, I didn't hear anything for two days. And Boundy rings me back, lovely director. And he says, he's turned us over. I said, what do you mean? He said, well, all he's done is double his salary with Arthur South, the chairman at Norwich. Leave me out of it. Anyway, my phone goes, private phone I had then, it's Ron Atkinson, who I'd known as a player manager at Kettering. And he's now manager of my home club, Cambridge United.

Uh, Bondi's rang me about this job. Yes, Ron. I can't believe you put Bond before me. I said, Ron, I didn't even think about you. Don't make it worse. He says, now get on the phone. Good lad. Get on that phone and get hold of Boundi and get me the job, which is what I did. Boundi said, what do you think? I said, I think it's true. I don't mention I never thought of him because he's gone potty about that. I said he'd be brilliant.

gary newbon (25:45.822)

And of course he came and he was absolutely brilliant. And in fairness to Ron, we're still the closest of friends. And Ron, when he got the job, he met Burt Millichip in secret at Oxford. He rang me and said, I'm coming to the studio. So I got the first interview as well. There were one or two times when managers let you down, they promised you the first interview, you did something. I remember Burt head at Crystal Palace. When I was at Haters, I moved Roger Hoy for him from Spurs to Palace. And then he gave it to a bloke from the Daily Mail, which are the...

made me quite annoyed but most of the time the managers were great and that's how he got into the big time, big run. When he gets a bit uppity with me, he's always taking the mickey, I remind him that a conversation we had before Manchester United playing in Warsaw, in Poland, Lysia Warsaw I think it was or one of these places, we went for a long walk together.

And we were swapping about how I was a rugby first 15 captain at a public school and the best he ever did was a milk monitor. So comprehensive. So every time he gets a bit uppity trying to take the Mickey ice, I say to him, not bad for a bloke who has only reached milk monitor status. So we do have a good laugh over it

tim caple (26:59.289)

The two people that had the biggest impact on your career, the most significant, Fergie and Cloughy. I mean, the book is littered with just hilarious, amazing tales. The moment Clough kissed you on a TV screen after the game against Everton. I mean, I'm just trying to imagine you standing there when one of the most famous faces in football just leans over across and just kisses you.

gary newbon (27:07.776)


gary newbon (27:16.384)


gary newbon (27:29.278)

I was shocked and actually, I've got to be honest, I didn't handle it very well. There's a shot of me bouncing all over the place. What had happened actually, basically, I'll keep it short, was that we only had 30 seconds for the... It was a midweek match and it was just before Nottingham Forest were playing at Wembley in the League Cup final. It was a midweek match and I only had 30 seconds because we were going into news at 10 and they said, you've got to stick with it. And Clough had promised me an interview, whatever the result. So he comes bounding off. They've...

They've lost heavily and they've played awful. They were awful. And he still gave me the interview. And I started off by saying, you know, trying to make it easy for him because I didn't want to stuff him. He'd given me the interview and they'd lost and played badly. I said, was that down to the fact that you're soon going to be playing at Wembley? And Cluffy said, no, only Albert is sure of his place on the coach to Wembley. And I got annoyed. I thought...

They haven't got an Albert, you know, doing my homework. I said, you haven't got an Albert? He said, yes, we have, he's the driver. Oh, I thought, oh no. So I got a bit annoyed, a bit unprofessional. I pushed him a bit too hard. And I over ran, which is the worst thing you could do. I started to ask another question and the floor manager, Trevor East, the head of ITV Sport, who's a great colleague of mine, he's going potty at me in my earpiece and Stan Harding, the floor manager's going potty and Cluffy can see him. And he understood television, Cluffy. So he grabbed me and he said,

Why are we so bad? Because we're a bunch of pansies like you and me and gave me this huge kiss. Well, I mean, it was unbelievable and sports editors were watching the program because it was live in London. They got their reporters to come around. Was he drunk? And I said, no, he loves me. So anything I could think of. But actually, I'm told that northern comedians started telling much more vulgar jokes about a kiss.

speculating where his tongue went and all sorts of things I better not go into on a nice program like this.

tim caple (29:28.941)

agents, which didn't really exist at that time you had some great stories of Clough This was in particular about signing Roy McFarland, who Liverpool wanted at the time. And he and Peter Taylor just rock up at his house at 1130 at night. McFarland was in bed and he's just like, well, we're here to sign you.

gary newbon (29:39.032)


gary newbon (29:44.93)


gary newbon (29:50.482)

Yes, I mean, I think it might have even been later than that, but it doesn't matter. It's late and McFarlane's played, it was a Friday, and he's gone up to bed, he's in his pajamas, the front doorbell goes, his parents answer it in their dressing gowns and there's Clough and Taylor. They'd done the deal with Tranmere, now they had to persuade the player to sign. So Roy McFarlane comes down, these two gentlemen to see you, and they start talking to him and...

He's not sure and he turns to his father and his father says, listen, if they want you that badly, sign it. So he's about to sign it and then he thinks, now I'm going to Liverpool tomorrow. I know that Shankly wants me. I'm going to watch the match with my mate. I'll try and stall it. And Taylor slides the contract under his nose, McFarland's nose, and says, listen to your dad. You've got to sign now. We can't wait till tomorrow. So he signs. And then he goes to.

Liverpool the next day and they win 5-0 and he thinks what have I done? You know, what have I done? Anyway, he said what he did changed his life and his career because they started winning big time And he played for England. So it was a great move for McFarlane who I'm still in touch with. He's an ambassador at Derby County And then he wanted to sign Archie Gemmell from Preston So he slept on the Gemmell family sofa all night until Gemmell signed the next morning. I mean

Amazing. Clough could not have coped with agents. There was one agent who he just looks after, Gary Lineker, and a few of the great broadcasters now, called John Holmes, a lifelong friend of mine. I used to do my finances actually before he became an agent. He took Gary McAllister to meet Clough with a view to signing, and Clough behaved so badly that Holmes and McAllister just walked out

But he wouldn't have been able to cope with agents.

tim caple (31:52.021)

He did come out with some amazing quotes and there was the relationship that you had with him. You were part of this handful of trusted Media there is the time before the game with Slovan Bratislava, where Clough took your dad into the dressing room and introduced him to the team. lovely moments, very personal, highly personal moments.

gary newbon (31:57.966)


gary newbon (32:06.559)


gary newbon (32:15.274)

Yeah, my father flew in the slowest plane in the war. Only 8% survived, did 40 raids. He'd come back after a day's leave and find that his crew and the plane had been destroyed. It was just a matter of luck in the war. Anyway, he was to die at 62, unfortunately, from a heart attack. But he wasn't into football. He loved boxing and cricket. But like many of his generation, the 1966 World Cup completely converted him.

and he became football man. And I was doing this match for ITV midweek, sports special recorded highlights of Derby against Slovak and Bratislava. And I said to dad, do you wanna come and sit with me? And he said, oh, I'd love to. So he comes up from Cambridge, we sit there. I introduced him to Clough before the match. And after the match, Clough walks past us and he said, hey, come with me, New Bond, Mr. New Bond, come with me. And I thought he meant me.

And he said, no, not you, your father. So he takes him in there. He introduces it to all the players. My dad saw these signs. What are these about? God didn't invent grass to play football in the air, and the greatest crime in football is to give the ball away, and all these things. And he's asking my dad about the war and his business. And I'm looking at my watch and thinking, I'm on a deadline here. They've got to get this to London. Anyway, he eventually comes out just in time.

And he turned around to my dad and said, Mr. Newbon, Jack, if I may call you Jack, it's been an absolute pleasure. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to do some work with your son. And he turned around to me in front of my dad, he was only five foot seven, and he felt six foot my dad, because he said, by the way, Gary, I much prefer your father to you. Lovely. I was so grateful. Honestly, it was it was wonderful. I mean, my dad died, I suppose, about five years later. And I thought, well, you know, Cluffy was.

terrific and then when I had a stroke he wrote me the most beautiful letter, short as it was, just saying, and he never really wrote letters, he just said Gary get well soon, we love you, Brian and Barbara Clough and it was fantastic and then he's, you know there were times when we, you know, you have a bit of friction now and again but because it was a long relationship but I mean I remember I lost my voice one day and I was meant to be introducing a highlight show for him.

ground after the match and I turned up and I'd lost my voice and my wife said you can't do it and I said I'm not letting anybody else do it so I turned up and he come the first book I bumped into was Clough. Morning! Morning Brian! What's the matter with you? I've lost my voice. There'll be two and a half million people in the Midlands absolutely thrilled with that news and pissed off you know I mean you know that was that was he came back with a doctor later on but that was Cloughy really just

The great thing about him, he never knew what he was going to come out with. And it's quite interesting that Ferguson, Alex Ferguson was brilliant with me. I've interviewed out Alec, Mohammed Ali three times, Pele seven times, Becken, Behr, Kalllo and all these people. Great names of sport. I've been very lucky. Number one, they asked me, Brian Clough, always the most intriguing interviewee. He didn't know what he was going to do, where I was going to be with him. Um, an amazing guy.

You know, he had everything really good and bad, but wonderful.

tim caple (35:46.745)

There many quotes in this book. I think the one that literally made me laugh out loud, because I hadn't heard it before, and you've heard many of them, is when Martin O'Neill asked him, why do you keep playing me in the second team? Because I don't have a third team.

gary newbon (35:50.154)


gary newbon (35:56.865)



gary newbon (36:03.97)

Yeah, well Martin O'Neill is a very, in fact he's on the back of my put, I got some great quotes from people including Martin, a very clever guy, a law student who gave it up to play football. He was a bit too clever for Clough, he liked Clough and respected him but I'm not sure Clough particularly liked him and you know when I'd be talking to Clough he'd say well Archie this and my son Nigel and our number seven by the way may not be as clever as he thinks he is.

gary newbon (36:33.238)

Anyway, it was a great story and he put him in the second team for quite a while and Martin went in and that was the answer. But when Martin was manager of Celtic with John Roberson, who was a fantastic player on the wing for Nottingham Forest, I used to go and cover those matches for ITV when they played in Europe. One of the great atmospheres in Europe was Celtic actually.

go to the Hilton Hotel in Glasgow, because I'd stayed there, but because the team and Martin were there. And Martin and John Robertson, the three of us would sit in the lobby while the players were asleep, going over Clough stories. And there were so many like, Rome wasn't built in a day, you know, but I wasn't on that particular job. I mean, stuff like that, just imagine. I wouldn't say I'm the best manager in the world, but I'm number one for sure.

and things like that. He just came out with a massive stuff really. It was just very funny.

tim caple (37:37.609)

Looking back at your relationship with Fergie and the infamous first interview that you have with him, and you literally dive straight in and ask him about the rumours he will be getting the sack knowing what we know about Alex Ferguson, for you to make a recovery from that and that not to be festering for years afterwards was a significant achievement.

gary newbon (37:41.407)


gary newbon (38:07.102)

It was actually, it taught me a great lesson as well that, you know, if you've got something like that check. I mean, one of the things that disappoints me and I try not to comment on present people, because I'm out of the game now. I mean, you know, I, there's no point me, newspapers sometimes try and draw me on what I think about this and that. And it's not really my place. It's just that the only thing I feel about, about interviewers now on football is that.

They're trying to prove to you that they know a lot about the game. And they say, so they talk to a player or manager and they say, so you hit the bar twice in the first half, you had two goals ruled offside. The referee didn't do you much favors on that penalty decision. And then stick the mic under their nose or just say, do you agree? Well, I'm not interested in what the interviewer thinks, I'm interested in the guy.

gary newbon (39:03.914)

So I went straight in and said, well, the word is that you're facing a sack. Boom. And I thought I was talking to a boxer or something, looking back. And I was wrong. I was wrong. I should have warned him. So when I went to Norwich, I didn't do anything about it. I didn't realize I'd caused a problem really, because he cut short the interview, but I thought that's because he wanted to get back to the dressing room. So when we did Norwich about

Three or four weeks later against Manchester United, I went up to him and said, Alex, you're all right for an interview after this? No, why not? You ask crap questions. But where I respected him, where I respected him was that he said I could talk to anybody else but not him. Anyway, I used to introduce a program that half the country took every fortnight on the first day called Fight Night, young boxers, professional boxers on their way up. So I happened to be staying in Manchester at the Midland Hotel and much to my amazement

gary newbon (40:01.206)

When I go down for the buffet breakfast as it was in those days, Sir Alex is sitting on his own. So I thought, hmm. So I went up to him and said, can I join you for breakfast? And he looked at the bit puzzled and said, yes, which surprised me. So I went and got my buffet and I think, well, I've done the difficult thing. What do I do now? So I sat down, looked him straight in the face and said, can I start again? And he said, what do you mean? I said, well, if I have a curveball question like the one I asked you the other week,

I will tell you all about it first.

And he said, OK, and that's what happened. And people didn't realize that. And that's what happened for the rest of our time. And he went the other way. He started seeing us at 4 o'clock, and the commentator and the producer, and telling us the team and the thoughts and the opposition, knowing we wouldn't use it till we went on air. We were live with these European matches. He agreed to do a halftime interview with me. And he was just fantastic for the next, I suppose,

22 years I suppose I worked with him and nothing came as a surprise because he won he was an outstanding manager probably the best we've ever had at club level and he just didn't want his authority challenged so if a player challenged his authority not challenged what he said but challenges authority they were moved on and in the end although he had a lot of time for Beckham and like Beckham

Beckham became bigger than the club in his eyes and that was probably the story behind his move.

tim caple (41:38.193)

When you think about guests or pundits who've been difficult or you haven't found easy to work with, where does Alf Ramsey rank?

gary newbon (41:48.182)

Well this is an interesting story because one of the things that I've said in my book is that I followed all these great names. I used to get on a train to go see Jimmy Greaves and I was involved in coming into television. I used to follow Billy Wright as a model footballer captain and then I worked for him. And Brian Clough I saw as a school boy and then I etc etc. So it was very strange.

how life works out. Sorry, what was the question?

so there were some people with difficulty and I once interviewed Sir Alf Ramsey when I was at Westwood Television and found him really difficult. It was an under 23 match being played at Home Park. So in 1974 he's been sacked by England for failing to get to the

What am I talking about? Was it... 1974 World Cup. Yeah, in Germany. He's been sacked. Sorry, I just lost. It's the 72 Olympics. I'm just getting the years muddled up. So it's 1974 World Cup in Germany and ITV sign him as their pundit and special guy. So they decide that I'm going to be his interviewer and chaperone, amongst other things like,

we bought and everything else for interviews. So I didn't know what was gonna be ahead of me, but I got on with him really well. We traveled the length and breadth of Germany with a chauffeur up and down the Autobahns. I spoke more to him on the interviews than I did in the car. I sat in the front, he sat in the back with his wife, Lady Vicky, and on the interviews, he was fine, absolutely fine. And we struck up.

a good interest. I had an interest in the Greyhound that reached the final, the Greyhound Derby final. It was a big news in those days. 50,000 people at White City called Jimson. The owners wanted to fly me back because I was a good luck charm and ITV obviously wouldn't release me. I'm in Dusseldorf with my wife's come out, my fiance as she was at the time. No, she was married then. So she's come out and joined us and I've taken Al and her to a restaurant.

in Dusseldorf in the Old Town and I'm trying desperately to get the result of this dog race because I've got money on it. Anyway, I eventually got through to the News of the World because I knew their number because I wrote football for them and the guy says and if you won the dog result it was Jimson. In his understated way, Ramsey looked at me and said I take it the dog won

gary newbon (44:51.894)

He put in a really good word for me with the bosses, which I really appreciated. And thanked me very much for looking after him and it was a pleasure. And he said, I had no idea how difficult your job was. And indeed, if I were to be a manager again, which I won't be, I would treat you people much differently. I said, well, thanks, that's really nice to know, Alf. Anyway, amazingly, he becomes manager of Birmingham City and they lose four nil.

Coventry and I'm the interviewer and I knock on the door because you could do that in those days and he answered hello Gary nice to see you hello Alf any chance of an interview no thank you and shut the door

tim caple (45:35.757)

Ha ha.

gary newbon (45:37.574)

Managers who appear on television and pundits when they're out of work often revert to type when they get a manager's job again and Alf was my first example of that.

tim caple (45:50.797)

You got him out though, didn't you, on the eve of the competition closing the World Cup finishing, to an end of tournament, booze up in a marquee in Munich.

gary newbon (45:55.979)


gary newbon (45:59.558)

Yeah, well, I've told you about my relationship with Cruz. They're very important to me and much to my sort of horror, really, in a way. Not so much the request from the boys on the outside broadcast, but his answer. Alf, is it all right if we ask Alf something, Gary? Yeah, yeah, go ahead. Alf, yes. We're going to a beer house, you know, where they serve beer and they've got an umpire band and...

and everything, would you and Lady Vicky like to come? Yes, yes, I think it would be interesting. Are you coming, Gary? Oh yes, I'm coming, Alf. So we all sit there, there are bottles flying everywhere and no one recognizes Alf Ramsey and it's only just like, isn't it? It's just, it's four years after Mexico and only eight years after England have beaten them. Nobody recognizes them and the bottles are flying and I'm saying, are you all right, Alf? Yes, a bit different, isn't it?

bit different and I'm thinking, yeah, it is a bit different, but he was fine on it. But it was an unusual experience.

tim caple (47:07.969)

You made a great signing with Jimmy Greave initially not eveyone was convinced I remember again, seeing in the book, one of the local news outlets writing, why have we got to have a Londoner, not a Midlander on our screens? But he was one of those, wasn't he? That you rarely come on who just takes to television.

as if it is just second nature or thats how he made it seem and the quips and quotes are now part of TV legend

gary newbon (47:42.885)

I'm sorry. Well,

gary newbon (47:48.97)

Actually, I wouldn't want to correct you too much, Tim, but actually, he wasn't very good to start with. What happened? What basically happened? Sorry about that. I didn't mean to stuff you on that one. But sorry about that. But what happened basically was that Michael Gray, now Lord Gray, and John Bromley, won the snatch of the day of match of the day.

contract which ironically is still with the BBC and they've just had it extended as we speak. So BBC go to court, they're not happy about it and the judge rather fudged it by saying right well the first year of this new contract it'll be ITV on a Saturday night and BBC on a Sunday afternoon with Jimmy Hill and then vice versa the following season. So we're at fairly short notice suddenly faced with doing Star Soccer which was the

on a Saturday night out the studio with that day's football.

Somebody suggested Derek Dugan, who was a great friend of mine, but Derek was a bit verbose, as was to be proved when he went to Yorkshire Television as a presenter, despite advice that I'd given him. I just couldn't think of who I really wanted in this new role. We're now on Monday, the week of the event, on the Saturday, and there's Billy Wright, Head of Sport, myself, presenter, assistant Head of Sport, Trevor East, sports editor and producer of the programme.

and the overall boss of us really, Tony Flanagan, the executive producer. And we're arguing about names and I'm saying, I'm not sure about that. Yeah, maybe. And then Tony Flanagan says, I'm just reading a column, he's a northerner, just reading a column, love of Jimmy Greaves. Anybody got any view on that? And I said, yeah, I've just seen a documentary about his drinking because he's packed up, you know, he's an alcoholic who doesn't drink. One day at a time or something, I can't remember the name of the title, but yeah, he's, he's.

He's an interesting guy, great player, I used to watch him as a schoolboy. What do you think? Well, I can't think of anybody else. And we had a vote and all four said we'll go for Greavesley. So Trevor East rings Greavesley, who says, I live in deep Essex. To be honest, Trevor, I don't really fancy it. So back to the switchboard. So we're now in Birmingham, we're desperate. And Thursday, I'm sitting there, so is there any point having another meeting?

gary newbon (50:13.874)

I mean what are we going to do? And then suddenly by coincidence his phone goes, hello Trev, it's Jimmy Greaves here. My old lady Irene says I've got to take the job, am I too late? And Trevor says no, but you've got to be here tomorrow, Friday to be on the local news programme with Gary to promote it. So he comes on, signs the contract, comes on, he's as nervous as hell obviously, and the first few shows he's okay.

but I'm trying to teach him the ropes and Trevor and I chatting to him, chatting him through it and he's getting through and the local paper writes an editorial why we got a Londoner, a Cockney doing it we wasn't Cockneys from Essex but a Londoner doing it, the viewers are going potty, there's letters coming in and then about four programmes in, it all changes because Greavesy is watching Birmingham against

Blackpool and Blackpool's Alan Ainsco gets a penalty and Greaves says, gal this is an even deeper dive than Jacques Cousteau. Anyway, second match, I'll never forget it, Manchester City against Coventry. Coventry got this flying winger called Tommy Hutchison. He goes one way past Willie

then beats him twice before he crosses the ball and Greavsy says, they had to unravel Willie in the dressing room afterwards and tell him, where he been gal? You know, and I start laughing. I never heard of anybody. I mean, people have credited me with spotting a guy who's got great humour. I got fed up explaining I didn't know. So now when people still say it, I take the credit because I think, well, there's no point explaining I didn't know. But then.

We were 15 companies at war really and London didn't treat us very well on a sports level. They were picking the World Cup team and they didn't want to know. I was picked for the 82 World Cup in Spain but they wouldn't pick Jeff Farmer who joined me. He was a brilliant journalist. They wouldn't pick Jimmy Greaves. So Trevor Easton and I went down to see John Bromley and said, look, you've got to have Greaves. One of your blokes has said he's a disaster in the Midlands. They've never even seen him.

He's rocking the audiences here. ELO, take a recording set with them and between recording songs in Munich, they're playing star soccer to laugh at Grievesy because he's making them all laugh. I said, the whole Midlands is falling in love with this bloke on television because he's so funny. He's so personable. You've got to use him. So Bromley said, okay, lads, I'll take your word. So they signed him and he became a massive hit of the 82. You know?

Tardelli is such a dirty player for Italy. He's responsible, said Greavesy for more scar tissue than the surgeons at Harfield Hospital and things like that. I mean, you know, line after line. So then Bob, nothing to do with me, but Bob Patience, who was a producer at London Weekend, came up with this idea of St. and Greavesy, which was brilliant. And St. and Greavesy and St. John and Jimmy Greaves became a must watch program on Saturdays. It was so funny, so brilliant. I mean, they even got Donald Trump on the show at Trump.

got at Trump Plaza, you know, drawing the League Cup and Grievesley taking the piss out of him by presenting, I'm now going to present you Donald with something very rare, a Saint and Grievesley coffee mug. And he doesn't know what's going on Trump, he draws Leeds against Manchester United and Grievesley says, oh Donald, you don't know what you've done here. I mean, the guy was just unbelievable and very funny.

gary newbon (54:05.21)

And that's how it all happened and I had 18 years with him.

tim caple (54:11.165)

I know we've been talking for a while here, but I do want to mention your persona, your style. Now, it was often seemed to be controversial, often seemed to be outspoken. Was this something that you actually actively tried to develop or was it just you being you?

gary newbon (54:33.45)

It was me being me because I'd come through this tough line. You know, we've talked about my, my journalistic side in two agencies. It was really tough. The pressure on me to get stories. Um, and that was one factor. The other factor I suppose was that boxers took it. But what used to annoy me and it was unreasonable because boxing is a dangerous brain damaging sport was that we pay a lot of money for a fight and realize that.

tim caple (54:41.398)


tim caple (01:02:50.229)

One last story I want to pick up on is how you became friends with Nigel Mansell and this was before he was even involved in formula one

gary newbon (01:03:08.67)

Yeah, well, I live in a road in Solihull. I still live there. I moved here in 1976, full of big old houses. I love it here. There's a few roads off it, and one of them is mere sideways with flats. And it turned out there was a young guy in there who was a Formula 3 driver who had broken his back severely.

enough to be told he wouldn't walk again when a Formula Ford car landed on him and he was told they'd be in a wheelchair and they could never drive again and he discharged himself after a weekend hospital just got up, which told you a lot about the guy. So then he starts running up and down our road trying to get fit and I'm driving home from introducing the local news programme that night actually and as I pull into my drive

I wound my window down, something you probably wouldn't do in this day and age, but I said, I don't know who you are or what you're doing, but why don't you come and have a cup of tea and explain. I was quite curious, I'd seen him before. So he sat in a chair and he convinced my wife and I that he would be one day Formula One motor racing driver and that he told us his history, but he said, I need TV exposure and I need some sponsorship, you've got to help me. And do you play squash? And I said, yeah, I do. So we played every day squash to start with.

and I could not beat him, which infuriated me. I'm a bad loser. I hit him against the wall, I smashed his racket, I drew blood and all he'd do is laugh. He wouldn't show any pain. And Jonah Barrington, who was a former world squash champion, who lived in Solihull at the time, would lean over at the Albany Hotel and would say that he couldn't believe me. He said, you're the dirtiest, filthiest, you should never be on the squash court. And then I got banned.

tim caple (01:04:42.201)


gary newbon (01:05:03.478)

We got banned from Edgbaston Priory, a very snobby club, a lovely club actually as it happens, because of my language at Nigel. So it got me into quite a lot of trouble. And he would come into our office while I'd write the scripts with Trevor East. Because he had no money, we'd give him a couple of quid to go and buy some rolls out the canteen while we finished the script. And then I'd play him squash. And then one day we're playing squash and he said to me, well,

He said to me one day, yeah, you've got to send a whole lot of cameras to Silverstone. I'm having a test for Colin Chapman at Lotus and I want to impress them. So I had all these cameras flying around. Anyway, about two weeks later, we're playing squash and he said, I can't play tomorrow. I'm going to the Isle of Man. I said, oh, when are you back? He said, I'm not. I said, what are you going there for? He said, I'm going to live. Well, what do you want to go there for? He said, because Colin Chapman's just paid me a million pounds. I need to get out of the country. And

We've stayed in touch, I still talk to him, he lives in Florida now because he can't, his back is so bad and he's in so much pain that although he plays golf he can't do his shoelaces up. And that's the amazing story of Nigel Mansell. Terrific.

tim caple (01:06:15.317)

Lastly, Barry Sheene, because again, from that fabulously glamorous era, the 90s, when we had obviously James Hunt and Barry Sheene, but what a guy. But the bit in there that stood out was the fact that he had a hole drilled in his chin bar on his helmet so he could actually have a cigarette while he was on the grid.

gary newbon (01:06:31.767)


gary newbon (01:06:37.662)

Yes, he never stopped smoking. Unfortunately, I'm sure it killed him because he died from cancer in Australia. Although I don't know that, I would imagine it, but he was always smoking. He was a wonderful guy. He was charismatic. He was a winner. Huge following. I used to cover him in the two Midlands tracks, Donington Park in Derbyshire and Mallory Park in Leicestershire.

and we just hit it off from day one. And I would go in his motor caravan with him and his future wife Stephanie McLean, a beautiful model. And Barry just looked after me. I mean, he was a dream to interview. Nothing was too much trouble. He was a brilliant rider. And when he had this terrible smash, I don't know how he survived, a guy called Nigel Cobb, a surgeon, put him together at Silverstone.

at 140 miles an hour, he smashed everything. When he finally came out of hospital in a wheelchair, he was to ride again. The media were packed, because he was a superstar and he was on the brute adverts with Henry Cooper and everything else. He spotted me and picked me out and I got the first interview. And that meant a lot to me. I would say one of the most important things in my career, and to me as a person, has been

the trust that people have put me on. On the back of my book there's a quote from David Seaman, the former great goalkeeper for Arsenal in England who said, Gary was a great professional and you always knew you could put your trust in that smiling face. And that was really important. That's what upset me about upsetting Ferguson the first time I met him, that I felt he couldn't trust me. And if you miss out on the odd things, so be it, but you gain more in the long run. And I think that...

no one can really say that I broke their trust. I've never broken a confidence knowingly. Brian Clough said to me, I asked him one thing in confidence once, he said, I don't do things in confidence because if you don't use it now, you'll use it in 10 years time. And there's a lot of truth in that as well. So there are situations where I haven't actually named the people in here, not because of evasives, not for legal reasons, but because I would be breaking a trust. And that...

gary newbon (01:09:03.17)

You know, you don't last 50 years in TV in front of a camera if you keep going around breaking trust. You can ;listen to the full feature with Gary on the latest podcast just go to the Podcast homepage and click to play.

2 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page