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What's the story?
is granted an audience with Britpop godfather, Creation Records founder and the man who discovered Oasis, Alan McGee, to discuss his life as a Rangers fan, his part in Upside Down: The Creation Records Story, hanging out with Graeme Le Saux and having a soft spot for Chelsea.
Last Updated: 12/04/11 1:14pm
You were a big Rangers fan growing up in Glasgow, was that a family thing? Religious?
My dad was never that bothered but you know the score in Scotland. You're either Rangers or Celtic, that's just the way it is. I went to a Protestant school, yeah. I'm not in anyway bigoted. I moved to London when I was 19 and for me, people are people. I'm not racist, homophobic, sectarian. I just support Glasgow Rangers - is that allowed?
Can you remember the first game you went to?
Bizarrely the first game I went to, when I was about seven, was a Celtic game. I went to see the local football team Queens Park at Hampden and it just so happens they were playing Celtic. Celtic had just won the European Cup in '67 so it was a really good time to see them, even if I was a Rangers fan.
Did you have many Celtic fans as friends back then?
A lot of my friends are Celtic fans, I'm not into all the nonsense. Most of the people in the music industry are Celtic fans. Bobby Gillespie is a Celtic fan.
Do you still take trips back up to Ibrox now?
I haven't seen Rangers for ages. I live in Wales now and I hadn't been up in Scotland for about two years before January. I've been up five times in the past few months though, DJing in Edinburgh. I'm still very tight with my dad so go to see him regularly. The only reason I was up in Glasgow over the past couple of years was to see Glasvegas play. James, the singer, is also a Celtic fan.
How often did you used to go to the game when you lived in Glasgow?
I used to go regularly in the seventies, I would have been 11 or 12. They were mad times, I remember being chased through the streets, up the Copland Road, by the Celtic fans. It was just what you did as kids, go to watch the football.
Who were your favourite players at the time?
At the time it was Derek Johnstone, Colin Stein, John Greig - people like that. I liked Jimmy Johnstone too, even though he was at Celtic.
That's a fair old list. Why do you think Scotland are no longer producing players of a similar calibre?
That's true for everyone though to be fair, although in Scotland it's particularly bad. I think in the seventies people played football because it was a way out, for the working classes. Nowadays a lot of working class kids are sedated, on drugs. A lot of good young footballers, I guess, end up losing it before they're 15.
Did you play yourself? Any good?
I was average. I wasn't good but I wasn't terrible. I could play without embarrassing myself that's about how far my talent stretched.
When your music career started to take off is it fair to say your interest in football started to wane?
Completely to be fair, although it was resurrected in 1994 when I came off drugs. I've been clean ever since and it did come back into my life after the best part of 20 years. I loved it when I was around nine to 19 or 20 and then I lost interest entirely. When I cleaned up I got into watching Chelsea and maybe had ten years of going there regularly. Then I had a little girl, who's ten now, so to continue going it would have been ridiculous given I'm living in Wales.
You really got into going to Chelsea though, didn't you? I heard you had a season ticket.
I had a box, I've got a good Ken Bates story if you want it?
At the height of Britpop I went to see Chelsea and they were playing Middlesbrough, or some other garbage team. It was a good game though and it kind of reignited my interest. From then on I started to go all the time. Ken Bates found out and invited me to the club to show me around. I went with a guy who worked at Creation called Andy. He were supposed to be taking him to a restaurant on King's Road. Ken Bates said 'no, no, no - we must eat at the ground'. So we sat there in this deserted restaurant and the only thing they had on the menu at that time, in '95 I think, was steak or steak. We had the steak and at the end of the meal Andy said 'thanks very much Mr Chairman', to which Bates replied 'no, you're taking me out' and made us pay to eat at his bloody football ground! I can remember it cost 38 quid but I've dined out on that Bates anecdote for 15 years now, so it was worth every penny.
Is it true you also owned the chippy at Stamford Bridge?
I think at one point I had about a one per cent share, this was pre-Abramovich. I took the missus to see Chelsea versus Manchester United as I thought that would be the one to get her into it. This was at a time when they were starting to do Chelsea up, they had the Matthew Harding money being pumped into the club. As we walked past the chippy that was built into the ground I said 'I own that chippy' but she wasn't best impressed and instead proceeded to go to Knightsbridge and spunk about 50 grand. I didn't bother taking her again after that.
Chelsea had a decent team at the time, any favourites?
At that time the team had players like Vialli, Zola and Wise. Essentially it was a time when they started to get really good. Gullit was a great player, amazing, spreading 60-yard passes on a whim. He was an amazing talent.
Is it true that you used to take Damon Albarn to the football with you, at a time when he was feuding with Noel?
I don't think 'taking him' accurately described how it was. I used to meet him for a Bovril in the Shed End and we'd talk about music. I've always got on with Damon. It was ironic that we were supposed to hate each other but I never hated him and he didn't give the impression of hating me.
Were any footballers into the Britpop scene?
Graeme Le Saux was a massive music fan, he loved it. All the Chelsea players were into Oasis to be fair. I remember inviting the Rangers players to Oasis gigs because I was friends with Walter Smith. The Celtic players then asked for tickets so it was a case of letting them in on Saturday before the Rangers lads pitched up on the Sunday.
Noel's obviously a big Manchester City fan but were any of the other bands on Creation into football?
Noel's a big Celtic fan too. The Primals are all Celtic, although Mani is Man United. The Super Furries are Cardiff fans, Teenage Fanclub are Celtic. Jesus and the Mary Chain were never into it. Ed Ball was a Chelsea fan and he was responsible for getting me to Stamford Bridge in the first place. He doesn't like the corporate side of football these days, neither do I to be fair. I'm anti-corporate everything but he's especially against the football thing. He stopped going when Ken Bates was trying to sell me a box for about a million pounds!
Sounds like you feel football's lost its soul...
Not as much as music but yes, it has. I don't know how anyone can relate to a player who's getting £180,000-a-week. I just don't understand it.
How would you improve it then?
Bring back the terraces.
In terms of a managerial style I haven't got you down as a Sir Alex Ferguson disciplinarian. Harry Redknapp maybe?
I don't think I'm like that. I just chose great bands and let them make great records. I'm not sure what style that is - maybe like Walter Smith. I love big Walter. Scotland should never have beaten France and we did it twice - with St Johnstone players! He's a genius. We were going to Loch Lomond once and he invited me to Ibrox and we were sat at the wee brown table where he dishes out his rollockings to the players. We sat down and he's got a towel on. I happened to look down and he's got one of his nuts hanging out...it was an unforgettable sight. I bet footballers don't tell you stories like that!I recently stumbled across an interview you did with the Observer back in 2000 in which you said you'd like to buy a football club in ten years' time. So who are you buying then?
I've been asked to buy a few. Once when I was taking a leak at a game I was asked to buy Dumbarton. I have thought about it but they averaged about 42 people a game, or it might have been 123. I would have lost 40 grand a year for the rest of the life even if I never bought a player. At one point I was seriously considering buying Hearts, they were up for about £8million at the time. My wife, thankfully, managed to stop me.
Might be a good time to talk transfers. Who was your most important signing for Creation?
Commerically, obviously Oasis without a doubt but on an aesthetic level, it was probably Primal Scream. Creation could not have happened without Bobby Gillespie. They were the flagship band and so important to everything that we were about. He put me onto the Mary Chain, obviously the Primals, but also Teenage Fanclub. I keep saying Primal Scream were the Creation band, but if you're talking about who made it all work then it would be Oasis.
What about the ones you wish you'd signed?
It would have been great to work with the Stone Roses but it wasn't to be. It would have been nice to work with the Libertines as a label and Glasvegas too, although I found them. They're the only new band that I've got any real interest in you know. James Allen is an absolute genius. The first record is one of the best debuts of all time. They're the best Scottish band out there and they'll be proven over time to be the best Scottish band ever.
I've heard you're not too enamoured with the music scene at the moment?
I like the Gallaghers, I like Beady Eye. I think the album's pretty good actually. Liam's got a great band there, with Andy and Gem who are great guitarists. I love Noel's stuff, I've heard the demos, they're amazing. Noel's B-sides are better than most people's singles. He's a genius. I don't really follow modern music, I wouldn't have a clue who the number one is. Do you know?
I couldn't tell you, but I guarantee it'll be depressing. So why should we go and see your new documentary about Creation, Upside Down?
The reason Upside Down is a great film is that it's a great story but what also makes it better is that Danny O'Connor, the directer, is Celtic and I'm Rangers. He's a genius, he's an Irish boheniam genius who is up there with the best of them. I cannot say enough good words about the man.
It must be nice to know pretty much universally the bands involved have all said they'd love to be back on Creation?
I think I got out at just the right time before they all found me out. I've been hiding out in Wales so all that lot from London can't find me. I hope they never do!
Upside Down, The Creation Records Story is available on DVD, Blu-Ray, Download and On-Demand from May 9th. Pre order your copy here.