BBC BLOGS - Gavin Strachan
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The names you always look out for

Gavin Strachan | 07:30 UK time, Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Hi, hope you are all well.

As you know I have represented quite a few clubs in my career and as a consequence that means there are a lot of results to look out for on a Saturday after my own match has finished.

Some clubs obviously mean more to me than others purely because of the length of time I spent there and the friendships that are built up over the years.

I feel quite lucky in a sense that I have always left clubs on good terms so when I do look out for their results I genuinely hope they have won. It's quite a frightening sign of just how old you are getting when you look through the teams in the Sunday papers and realise that you have played with just about every player in the bottom two leagues at some point in your career! That said, there are certain names that you look out for every week. Good friends that regardless of what part of the country you end up playing in, you always keep in touch with.

One such name is that of Ritchie Humphreys. I feel quite guilty about the pre-conceptions I had of Ritchie when I first joined Hartlepool United. I thought, because of his (how shall I put it?) "stocky" frame, that the reason he had slipped down the footballing ladder after bursting on to the scene at Sheffield Wednesday was because of an excessive lifestyle. Maybe you thought the same.

Ritchie Humphreys, Hartlepool

I have never been more wrong about a player in my whole career. Ritchie is the ultimate professional and I am not embarrassed to admit that I learned an awful lot from him in terms of how to look after your body as a football player. The strange thing is that I didn't actually realise this until I left Hartlepool and the fact that I did not until quite a late stage in my career is one of the few regrets I have.

Now, although I admire him, this could be taking it to the extreme. A little birdie told me that on a pre-season run he stripped right down to his compression garments because it was raining and he didn't want the wet kit to weigh him down. That is a sight I am glad I was not there to see!

In all seriousness the man is a legend at Hartlepool and is a tremendous role model to the Hartlepool youngsters that he now coaches. He has a street named after him, he is the club's ambassador, he has currently played over 300 games for the club and he was also selected in the club's all-time eleven. Did not see my name in it, must have been an oversight (only joking).

Notts County achieved a 2-1 victory at Port Vale on Saturday. It was a thoroughly deserved victory which keeps us hot on the heels of the teams in the play-off positions. The win itself was down to a lot of good football but also a new found mental toughness which is evolving at the club. Last season, if we conceded an equaliser just after half time (which is what happened at the weekend) we would invariably lose the game but on Saturday we managed to regain control of things and earn the three points.

The only negative aspect of my weekend was the defeat that my son's under 8's team suffered. They are a new team and have so far played four, lost three and drawn one. However, they seem to be having fun which is the main thing. So much fun in fact that when they were getting beat 6-0 and their goal was under siege my little boy was up the other end pretending to be an aeroplane! Don't think the gaffer would be too pleased if I tried the same thing.


  • 1. At 08:23am on 07 Oct 2008, scotsmaningermany wrote:

    Nice to hear from you again. Yes, indeed Under 8 Footie. That thing with players pretending to be aeroplanes reminds me of David James at Liverpool.

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  • 2. At 08:33am on 07 Oct 2008, Lostboy wrote:

    Enjoying your blogs Gavin. You'll have PLENTY of stories to tell about youth football!! I've coached U8 through to U18 (this year) and it's been fantastic, but I remember the days of players counting daisies, bless them!

    Tell the old man he's always welcome back at St Mary's when he gets bored of his European adventures!!!

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  • 3. At 08:38am on 07 Oct 2008, ThePaniniBandit wrote:

    Is it Humphries or Humphreys?
    Your article says the former, but your link about the road name says the latter???!!!

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  • 4. At 08:45am on 07 Oct 2008, Dan Umphray wrote:

    I was in Majorca a few yars ago on a stag do, and as my nickname is 'Umphs' he approached me and ended up getting lashed togther amongst other football minded friends. I can tell you one thing, that night, he most certainly wasn't a role model......!!

    He's a top lad on the field though, much like your self Stach. Well in son, great effort with the blog matey, great to see you can spell!!

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  • 5. At 09:06am on 07 Oct 2008, shanewexford wrote:

    The Ritchie Humphreys quality that I most recall from watching Hartlepool was the work ethic - simple, but so very important.

    Saw you at Vale on Saturday. You looked comfortable in the holding midfield role. Hope you can steer clear of injury.

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  • 6. At 09:33am on 07 Oct 2008, MarkB2 wrote:

    Great blog again, Gavin, but I wouldn't be too proud of winning at Vale - we're about as bad as it gets in football terms.

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  • 7. At 09:45am on 07 Oct 2008, yeopud wrote:

    hi Gavin , i am enjoying your insight to a journeyman's life .
    i live in leeds and as i am in my 40's no longer have the energy to play football on a saturday afternoon (too much beer), i watch a team called mount st. marys , one of the lads who plays for them is called kevin henderson, who said you and he were mates from when your dad was at leeds utd. i was wondering if you remembered kevin. he is a quality centre -half who if he had a bit more pace would have been playing at a lot higher level .

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  • 8. At 09:45am on 07 Oct 2008, SHABBA1888 wrote:

    Hi Gav, another great blog. You mentioned your wee lad playing in the Under 8 team. If you could fast forward 10 or 12 years to see if he had developed into a top player would you do it, or would you say what will be will be?

    Or maybe you would rather see him take another route in life?

    Keep up the good work and good luck.

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  • 9. At 09:46am on 07 Oct 2008, boomshakalak wrote:

    quality stuff again Gavin... you are nailing this blog malarky!

    Anyway - i have a question about you (and others like you)... what is it like being a professional in a profession where your dad obvioulsy excelled and performed at the highest levels. Does it help you (i.e contacts) or does it hinder you (constant comparisons).. the comments on your blog always have references toi your dad (like this one from me)... whilst i am sure you are very proud of him, etc, etc... does it annoy you?... Not having a famous Dad myself, or being a professional footballer I would love to know honestly what you think about it... as there are examples of dad/son relationships all over football (you, Ferguson, Clough, Cruyff, Dalgleish, etc... some good names there aren't there!) and i think there must be an interesting dynamic around the whole thing...

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  • 10. At 09:50am on 07 Oct 2008, cockers30 wrote:

    Fantastic blog! Its refreshing to read a footballers real thoughts etc rather than a watered down... 'my boss wouldn't be too happy if I put that'... blog!
    I hear that you play a holding midfielder role, that is the position that I am currently playing after slowly working my way down from striker to winger to centre excuse tho is that I probably like a beer too much!

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  • 11. At 10:42am on 07 Oct 2008, Barry wrote:

    The part about your son at the end is priceless keep up the good work

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  • 12. At 10:44am on 07 Oct 2008, toonfan wrote:

    I wonder how many other footballers have kids playing in mini soccer, Robbie Elliott's son plays for a local boys team, and I wonder if they feel any pressure to do well just because their dad is famous.
    Both my sons play and watching them train and play matches is great fun, even when they lose, because all the kids try their best. The only problems I have seen have been caused by "over-enthusiastic" parents, or coaches who get a little too competitive.
    As far as I'm concerned, lower league and grass roots football is the true game, without the highly paid prima donnas in the EPL trying to outdive each other. This is the football that most football fans can identify with.
    Gavin, more power to your elbow, mate!

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  • 13. At 10:49am on 07 Oct 2008, BognorRock wrote:

    Interesting to hear about Ritchie Humphreys. I remeber him bursting onto the scene as a youngster at Sheffield Wednesday in the Premier League and he was incredible, scored some blinders (including one against my team Leeds) but then it didn't really work out for him at that level after that. I thought he'd be a future England player for sure back then.

    Also interesting about not judging a player by their appearance. Rooney and Lampard are two players who often get accused of being on the chunky side when in reality they must be as fit as anyone to play at the level they do. Just shows everybody is made differently.

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  • 14. At 10:59am on 07 Oct 2008, akaTommySmith wrote:

    When Sheff Wed went on a pre-season tour of Holland, Marco van Basten watched 18-year-old Ritchie Humphreys and said he was the best young prospect he'd seen for 20 years....seriously

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  • 15. At 11:33am on 07 Oct 2008, sewellm wrote:

    Top blog mate! Its nice to here from the real footballers who actually play for the love of the game. That story about your son is a classic and sure you will be reminding him of it from time to time throughout his life.

    I have just broken into the first team at my local club as a central/holding midfielder do you have any tips that will help me progress further?

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  • 16. At 11:59am on 07 Oct 2008, Spaced Invader wrote:

    Interesting blog Gavin - great to get the player's perspective. Humphreys was clearly always a special talent, and at least we saw him reach the top level for a while - I remember Sheff Wed briefly leading the PL when he was there! Have you ever played with/against a player good enough to reach the very top level who didn't for some reason?

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  • 17. At 12:02pm on 07 Oct 2008, Lango wrote:

    Alright Gavin, brilliant blog mate and look forward to reading it every week.

    I remember Ritchie Humphreys when he first broke on the scene at Sheff Wednesday, i thought he was going to be a really big star, Im glad he is doing well for himself at Hartlepool.

    Does it suprise you when you see certain players breaking onto the scene or into the england squad the just totally losing it? Michael Ricketts is a prime example. And also a lad who i grew up with stephan moore. How can they go from being so good to struggling to even find a club?

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  • 18. At 12:07pm on 07 Oct 2008, Danny Crow PE15 wrote:

    George Boyd is being described as 1 of the hottest propertys outside the premiership.

    gavin,you have played and trained with him,exactly how good is he?

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  • 19. At 12:35pm on 07 Oct 2008, SheffieldMagpie wrote:

    Great Blog Gavin... Now get yourself back playing regular for the mighty Magpies!

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  • 20. At 12:37pm on 07 Oct 2008, Rabruce wrote:

    Enjoyable blog Gavin.

    Fancy giving Chick Young some tips?

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  • 21. At 1:21pm on 07 Oct 2008, grinch2 wrote:


    Pleased to see the bit about your son's team I manage a group of under 9's in their first season and our record is played 3 lost 3 with a goal difference of minus 22. They take the defeats far better than I do. It ruins my saturday night curry but they seem unbothered and turn up to training keen as mustard

    I love the blog. keep it up

    I look for every update and to be honest I'd never hgeard of you before the blog

    good luck and to your son

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  • 22. At 1:22pm on 07 Oct 2008, flyingFilinfive wrote:

    I thought I'd mention that Richie Humphries displayed the best bit of skill/showmanship I've ever witnessed at a football match.

    Hartlepool v someone (not important) Richie got the ball on the left wing touchline and was running at quite a pace to the opposition full back.

    As the full back came in for the tackle Richie turned his body to the pools crowd gave a cheeky smile, and whilst sticking his tongue out (and not looking at the ball) nutmegged the floundering full back and ran on to deliver another inch perfect cross.

    Of course I would be very frustrated if I was the full back, but to see skill like that is worth the entrance fee alone.

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  • 23. At 1:36pm on 07 Oct 2008, the-white-tino wrote:

    yawn. heard the gav strach blog was quite an insight, but after reading so far i only discovered richie humphreys was quite a good young player tipped for stardom but didn't make it. tell us something we didn't know or that we care about gav.

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  • 24. At 1:51pm on 07 Oct 2008, Expatde wrote:

    Jumpers for goalposts wasn't it? Gary Liniker never booked you know

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  • 25. At 3:40pm on 07 Oct 2008, backhome_hartlepool wrote:

    Enjoying your blogs Gavin, as much as I enjoyed watching you on the pitch for Pools.

    The dedication of players like Ritchie is missed by a lot of fans who only see the glamourised world of the Premier League. Whatever people may say about Ritchie's ability he gives 100% and thats what has earned him his legendary status. Good to see you giving him the credit he deserves.

    Dont worry about your sons antics, I remember Jan Aage Fjortoft and it never did him any harm!

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  • 26. At 4:10pm on 07 Oct 2008, jaythedon wrote:

    Well done Strach, I didn't know you could read never mind write... nice touch about humphs. Wish you all the best mate. Shame I used to rinse him...


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  • 27. At 4:36pm on 07 Oct 2008, SuperStrikerShivam wrote:


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  • 28. At 5:15pm on 07 Oct 2008, WonderboySA wrote:

    Wonder if you want the Strachan football legacy to continue hey Gordon. By the way would you consider management.

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  • 29. At 5:47pm on 07 Oct 2008, scottyburen wrote:

    Good to see your still playing football Gav. Me and my brothers used to play football with you and your old man at your grandads house, still remember us???

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  • 30. At 7:47pm on 07 Oct 2008, Jamie wrote:

    For people who choose to follow a team in the lower leagues, this is just a wonderful blog because we are just so used to the three paragraph reports and the lack of coverage in the press. I mean the Guardian is almost a desert for anything outside of the Championship and the Observer usually has the score and a couple of lines if we are lucky.

    It's good to see you talking about some of the honest pros who do it for the fans and for the love of it too!

    Hats off to the BBC and you Gavin for this blog, it realyy is addictive and it's getting some great people commenting on it.

    Plus since you've been blogging and back in the team, things have turned for Notts. Viva le passing game and God save IanMac!

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  • 31. At 8:03pm on 07 Oct 2008, The-pen-is-mightier wrote:

    I was interested in following your first link to Soccerbase.................and discovered that no club has ever paid a penny for you in transfer fees!?!

    Can this be true? Doesn't that make you feel.......undervalued....or do players really care about how much they're transferred for?

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  • 32. At 8:45pm on 07 Oct 2008, Randy Dutch wrote:

    Great blog, Gavin. Very enjoyable read!

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  • 33. At 8:57pm on 07 Oct 2008, elmothered wrote:

    you are great.
    you show us that footballers actually do have a life and are as human as the rest of us.
    i hope i will be a footballer but the chance is very slim
    i wish your son's team all the best.
    keep writing the blogs please!

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  • 34. At 11:10pm on 07 Oct 2008, rufus110 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 35. At 11:10pm on 07 Oct 2008, rufus110 wrote:

    An answer to my question from either Gavin or the bbc would be most welcome!

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  • 36. At 07:47am on 08 Oct 2008, Gavin Strachan wrote:

    Post 14 . Your right and its a story Ritchie likes to tell at every opportunity!.

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  • 37. At 07:50am on 08 Oct 2008, Gavin Strachan wrote:

    Post 18 . I am a big fan of George Boyd and the stuff I have seen him do in training is up there on a par with the stuff I saw Robbie Keane do . Hopefully George will go far in the game because he is a lovely lad.

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  • 38. At 10:50am on 08 Oct 2008, akaTommySmith wrote:

    Great blog Gavin and great to see you responding to the comments...makes a refreshing change from a lot of the BBC blogs.

    Further to posts 14 and 36, why do you think Ritchie didn't fulfil his early promise?

    I had always presumed it was his dedication/ "refuelling"

    But you say that is definitely not the case, which is very interesting

    What do you think happened?

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  • 39. At 12:19pm on 08 Oct 2008, mikemodano wrote:

    Always nice reading your comments, Gavin.

    I am sure you recall meeting a Norwegian Poolie outside the dressing room at the Vic a few season back - we had a quick chat and a photo session. Great stuff. And you're right: Ritchie is a great ambassador to both Hartlepool United and the sport itself.

    Keep up the good work, man, and good luck at County for the rest of the season.

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  • 40. At 12:30pm on 08 Oct 2008, mikemodano wrote:

    (As for recalling that brief encounter in Hartlepool, I am sure you realized it was a joke ;-) )

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  • 41. At 8:44pm on 08 Oct 2008, poolymooseman wrote:

    The megs on the Mill House stand was against Bristol Rovers - remember it well a cheeky wave and a smile as he shot by him. Think it's called taking the p!

    You were a main player in what was probably the most successful time we've had at Pools - play-off seasons - before it all went wrong one season.
    How was Neale Cooper to work for and between him and M***** S**** how did they work out as a pair??????

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  • 42. At 09:06am on 09 Oct 2008, EMC1862 wrote:

    u pies!!!! great win at the weekend!!! keep up the good work for in front of the cameras on monday, enjoying the blog!

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  • 43. At 4:14pm on 10 Oct 2008, samcrome wrote:

    Hi Gavin, loving the blog so far. I am a journalism student at the University of Gloucestershire and I'm doing a module at the moment on specialist journalism and feature writing. I have chosen the football league to write about, and more specifically examining the lack of money in the league. Anyway, I am going to write a profile soon and was wondering if I could use you as a subject? I would just need a 15 minute phone call or a few emailed questions. You are the perfect candidate for my subject as a veteran in the football league and trainee journalist. By the way, I've got a lot of respect for a guy who could probably walk into the industry with no training and use his name, but well done for putting the time in to master your trade. Cheers, Sam.

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  • 44. At 8:32pm on 11 Oct 2008, BobbyPosh wrote:

    It's interesting that you call yourself a "journeyman", Gavin. When I saw you play for Peterborough I though that you were more than that. I don't suppose you would call your dad one. He played big roles at Man U and Leeds.
    So what has been the difference between you? Was he faster than you, quicker of thought, a better passer or shooter?

    Or was it that he just got the breaks? Do you think that you could have succeeded with those teams if you had had the chance? Have you talked about it with him?

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  • 45. At 9:12pm on 13 Oct 2008, KING A_star_blue_eaglefan4life (CCFC BOARD LEADER 2009-10) wrote:

    I see you do sports journalism at Stafford University. How are you finding it and what did you have to do to get there?

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  • 46. At 09:51am on 17 Oct 2008, angelicdelaney wrote:

    I frequently watch Celtic's Reserve and U-19 teams.
    Any chance you could persuade your Dad to loan some to Notts Co.?
    I am thinking particularly of Jim McGowan but there are a few others who would prosper at Meadow Lane.

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