While not nearly as sensational a story as the DIY video endeavors of Manchester City’s Micah Richards, the Guardian’s Tom Lutz interrogated former Leeds chairman / current Cardiff City exec Peter Ridsdale on the occasion of the latter’s ‘United We Fall: Boardroom Truths About the Beautiful Game’ hitting the bookshelves. Mindful of Ridsdale’s alleged role in Leeds’ financial collapse, Lutz asks “can you walk the streets without getting a pasting?”
Do you ever miss going to Elland Road?
When I first left Leeds I found it strange because I had been there since I was a schoolboy, every week. In the book I apologise for the mistakes that I made, and I think the book also begs the question of whether others should put their hands in the air and say they made mistakes.
And which people would that be, Peter?
[Tersely] I think if you read the book you can draw your own conclusions.
Gah! Reading’s for girls, Peter. Real men have fights in Leeds city centre and play football. Were you much of a player yourself?
I played in goal for my county when I was younger. I played every weekend and loved it.
Who was the best player you brought to the Leeds?
There were some great players, but I’d go for Mark Viduka, who had great feet and created as many goals as he scored. Then there was an unknown striker called Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, who we bought for £2m and sold for £12m, but of course nobody gives us any credit for that one.
You were in top pop band Midnight Orange in your youth …
Ah yes, I was lead singer. It was in the 60s and we played all sorts of stuff – (If Paradise Is) Half As Nice – I modelled my haircut on Peter Noone out of Herman’s Hermits. [Detecting the squeak in Small Talk’s voice] You’d be too young to remember all this of course.
Yup, Small Talk is a hip young cat with its finger on the pulse of the modern scene. Apparently there’s a band from Leeds called Kaiser Chiefs …
I think the Kaiser Chiefs are great, absolutely great. We’ve got their CDs here at home. They’re something to be proud of as a lad from Leeds.
Rodney Marsh has just appeared on I’m a Celebrity … Have you ever been invited to go on?
I’m not going to get involved in reality television. [Out of nowhere] I’m a businessman who takes very seriously doing my job well. You make mistakes and you have to hold your hands up and in most countries in the world people acknowledge that when you make mistakes you’re better for it, if you put the lessons learned into practice. Whereas in this country we want to grind people down and that’s what’s happened to me over the last four and a half years and this is an opportunity to keep my head down and get on and complete the task at Cardiff.
[Small Talk puts a tentative tick in box marked “Not interested in reality TV shows”] Erm, so you’re saying there’s a culture of knocking people in Britain then?
I can only speak from experience but some people have said very nice things about me, for example during the incidents at Galatasaray, and over the things that were thrown our way during the Woodgate/Bowyer trial and yet today you’d think from reactions today that I’d never done anything right as Leeds chairman, yet for five years we were one of the top teams in the country.
Yikes! Let’s bring it down a level, Peter. What was the last CD you bought?
I’ve just bought Katie Melua’s one actually. I particularly like If You Were A Sailboat.
Ah, sailboats – that’s lovely and calming. And Katie’s a nice looking lady, even if she did go out with that bloke from the Kooks.
Yes, a nice looking lady indeed.