With the seemingly wacky weather going on at the moment, I thought I would look back on my playing days dealing with the elements and how it enabled me to discover a useful habit which I continued throughout my career!
When I was at Gillingham, we played away at Cheltenham and I remember that they had a slight slope on the pitch. We got there and it was blowing a gale, which forced the wind from one end of the slope to the other.
We tossed the coin and decided to kick against the wind and about five minutes into the game, it started to snow. It then turned into sleet, before it poured down and the heavens opened.
We had to change our tops and socks because they were absolutely soaked, but thought we’d have the advantage after half-time with the wind behind us.
We had all the elements to deal with in the first half, but then went out for the second half with the sun shining and the advantage was over! It was the only time I played in a game which had snow, wind, sun and rain all in 90 minutes.
We played Chesterfield when I was at the Albion. Every time we played Chesterfield it was really windy. We always tried to make sure that we kicked against the wind in the first half, and there was an unwritten rule that if the ball went out of play, you went to go and get it.
Any time the ball went out for a goal kick, Michel Kuipers had the slowest walk to go and retrieve the ball. If it went out for a goal kick on the left-hand side behind the goal, he went to collect the ball, walked past the left-hand side of his box to place it on the right side.
Their crowd are going absolutely mad, but because it was the first half, we didn't get penalised for timewasting. We came in 0-0 at half- time and Joe Gatting scored in the second half.
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I remember playing for the Tottenham youth team and it was a bitterly cold day. I came off the pitch at half-time and my fingers were so cold but, like an idiot, I decided to wash them in hot water. They warmed up, but then when I came out in the second half, I found out that hot water freezes quicker than cold water!
My fingers were hot and in the second half I was nearly crying because it felt like someone was biting my fingers and I was getting frostbite.
I was trying to run around with my hands under my armpits. The youth team manager went absolutely spare. During the second half, someone had to run in and get me some gloves. That was unheard of in those days and the manager was fuming with me after the game and called me a soft southerner!
But the physio for the youth team, who used to be in the army, taught me an invaluable tip. He told me to rub Vaseline on my hands before a game. I did that from the age of 16 or 17 through the rest of my career until I was 38.
I used to get a massive load of Vaseline, rub it up my hands and arms and never had a problem with it. The only issue was when I was skipper and I had to go and shake hands with the referee and the opposition with my hands covered in the stuff!
In the end, I had to take a big scoop of it in one hand, do the coin toss and then smother my hands and arms in it. So if anyone ever saw me rubbing my hands before a game, that was me rubbing in the Vaseline!