Jeff Turner of the Cockney Rejects talks West Ham's anthem and his disdain for Robbie Savage.
Jeff Turner of the Cockney Rejects talks having a hit with West Ham's anthem and his disdain for Robbie Savage.Not many football fans can say they have recorded a hit cover of their team's anthem but Cockney Rejects frontman Jeff Turner has that exact achievement under his belt. A fierce West Ham supporter, Turner admits the "greatest days of his life" came back in 1980 when the Hammers celebrated FA Cup glory to the soundtrack of the Rejects' punk cover of 'I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles'. With the frontman's passion for his beloved club burning just as brightly some thirty years later, it's no surprise the East London punk heroes are still strongly interweaved with the Clarets and Blues. With 'rockumentary' East End Babylon, the story behind the Cockney Rejects, set to premiere at London's KOKO club on Thursday, Sky Sports caught up with Turner to chat about the highs and lows of being a Hammers fan.
West HamI was born in Custom House, about a mile from the ground, so it's in your blood. My granddad played in goal for West Ham, I think it was from about 1912-1914, he made 31 appearances. His name was John Geggus but people called him Jack. By all accounts he was useless, so no change there. When I was 10 or 11 years old I'd meet with my mates at the top of my road and in those days you could just walk over to the ground, queue up and pay and you used to get in there for 1 o'clock just to stand in the North Bank. We recorded 'Bubbles' in 1980. We were very lucky because we'd only been in existence for 12, 13 months but everything happened really quickly. Obviously we got to the cup final that year and it really went global, and still to this day it's a standard. I've always been proud of it, those must have been the greatest days of my life. How do you rate your promotion chances? I'll be honest, I don't think we'll go up this season. I know it's pessimistic, but every time we come down, I remember we were relegated in 1978, it took us three seasons to get up. I remember being relegated again in 1989 and it took us two or three seasons to get up, then again in 2002-03. I think we've blown our chance and to be honest, if West Ham did go up, although the fan base and everything has the structure of a Premier League team, player-wise we can't cut it. Sometimes I think what is the point of going up just to get a payment when you're going to be getting hidings from Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham every week? It's disheartening. We should be a Premier League team but I know with the team that they've got there, there's probably two players that could cut it in the Premier League. It's going to be a struggle but I've accepted our fate now. If you don't expect anything you're not disappointed.
West Ham v Chelsea, August 1970My dad took me over there when I was about seven, when West Ham drew with Chelsea. I think it was 1970 and it was a 2-2 draw. You could take in a beer crate in those days and stand your kids on it - you'd never be allowed to do it now. All I remember is we went 2-0 up, but they'd just signed a player, Chelsea, called Keith Weller. They'd signed him from Millwall, and that hurt. He made his debut for Chelsea that day and he came back and got two goals. I can't remember who scored for us, but I think Clyde Best might have scored. In the second half they were all over us.
Bobby MooreMy first hero would obviously have been Bobby Moore. It doesn't get any better than that really. I might be biased but he was England captain, a supreme ambassador of the game and a terrific player. The first player after that to really catch my eye, when I thought just how good is this fella, was Trevor Brooking. Nowadays he'd be worth £30/40million. The nearest player I've seen to him, maybe a better version who played very much like him, is Zinedine Zidane. Brooking never had great pace or anything but he had guile, he had great skill. Then going into the late 1970s, early 1980s, my favourite player was Alan Devonshire - he was an absolutely brilliant player - and obviously Billy Bonds, who was probably the greatest player never to win an England cap.
Robbie SavageTo be honest, in the 1970s I liked a lot of the players, even the hard players like Ron Harris from Chelsea and Norman Hunter, they were old school. I suppose one that was old school but useless was Vinnie Jones but he wore his heart on his sleeve. I couldn't stand Robbie Savage and I can't even watch him on the telly now. I thought he was a rubbish player, he was a snidey player, always complaining and diving. What he's doing as a pundit I don't know. They should take him off and put me on there. I admired the entertainers in the day, like Stan Bowles, Frank Worthington and players like that. They brought a bit of magic. When you think of it, they weren't earning that much more than a brick-layer or a plumber, so you could kind of relate to those people more.
FA Cup semi-final replay v Everton, 1980I think one of my best memories was travelling up as a 15-year-old to the FA Cup semi-final replay at Elland Road, we played Everton. We drew the match at Villa Park 0-0 and I couldn't go there because I think the band was playing a gig. But I went to the replay three days later - they used to play them straight after then. We went all the way up to Elland Road in a mini-van and the atmosphere, it was better than the final. It was 1-1, and we were a second division team, and in extra time Frank Lampard senior, who I think in 500-600 appearances for West Ham scored about as regular as there's an Ice Age, he fell over in the box and the ball hit his head, went in the net and we won 2-1. The euphoria of that, and knowing as well that I'd also recorded the single 'Bubbles' and we had it ready to go and we were in the final, it was just fantastic. My worst memory was going to Cardiff in 2004 and putting on a shocking display against Crystal Palace and losing in the play-offs. We were absolutely rubbish. It was terrible, there was no commitment, nothing there and to be beaten by Crystal Palace, no disrespect, I found that very hard to take. There's been ups and downs, more downs than ups, but you've got to try and remember the good times.
TaranaI've played a lot of football; I played when I was young and played for Sunday teams. I don't think I was bad. I played for a senior team called Tarana when I was 14 or 15, and they were all like 26-30 years old. I used to play up front and I was fast, I would score a few goals, but unfortunately I did have a bit of a bad streak in me then. I wasn't the best of teenagers and I did have quite a few sendings off. At one point there was fella over from Millwall talking about me maybe having a trial for them, but to be honest, in my heart of hearts, I wouldn't have been good enough. I absolutely loved it though. Then again I love all sports; I boxed as an amateur and played a lot of cricket as well. I've got two boys of 14 and 15 and I'm proud of them because they play rugby, cricket and football. They're not the greatest but they play and they're really dedicated to it, so that keeps me ticking as well, going to watch my lads.
West Ham home, 1972You didn't have the West Ham shop back then but the Bobby Moore shop was a little tiny shop facing the ground and you could go in there and get your kit. I think that was the only place you could go. You could get your Mitre boots and stuff like that to play on a Saturday morning with your school. My first kit would've have been about 1972, for my eighth birthday. You'd put your kit on and go out in what little back garden you had and wear it there. Kids didn't used to walk around in their West Ham shirts and you'd never go to the game in your shirts. It was only a later thing in the Premier League that I can remember people all decked out in their shirts.
Queen - Sheer Heart AttackI think I was 11 years old, so it would have been in 1976 and it was Sheer Heart Attack by Queen. I think it came out in 1974 but I actually started becoming aware of the heavier side of rock about that time. They were quite heavy then, Queen, and I remember listening to Brian May's guitar and Freddie Mercury's vocals and thinking this is great. You saved your pocket money and went out with a bucket cleaning people's cars so you could earn your money and go to the record shop. After that I got onto Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd. I've still got a load of vinyls, all my hard rock stuff.
Visit the band's official website for more details on 'East End Babylon', the story of the Cockney Rejects.