The venue was The Approach on Friar Lane, and of all the “Audience with…” nights, this was one of the most eagerly-anticipated; even the staff said so when they sold me the tickets.
The response from most non-Forest or non-football fans when you say that you are going to see Stan Collymore is something to do with dogging or wife-beating. The response from most footy fans is that he is one of the most naturally-talented players ever to grace the red shirt, and that despite his well-publicised indiscretions, he has recently done a lot of good work to raise awareness of both racism and mental health issues.
The event was hosted by 5live’s Darren Fletcher, who obviously knows Stan quite well. The first thing I noticed was Stan’s potty-mouth; when not on TV or radio, it doesn’t take long for the F-bombs to start flying. The first half was led by Fletch asking questions, with Stan giving a potted history of his career, starting with some of Nottingham’s dogging hotspots. OK then…
The second half was Stan responding to questions from the audience, which had been submitted on slips of paper and via Twitter. Unfortunately, as with the first half, much of it seemed to centre around Stan’s (ahem) conquests, including his starring role in Basic Instinct and his previous relationship with Sky TV’s Kirsty Gallacher. I don’t think either of the women involved will be particularly pleased about Stan’s willingness to recount these stories, nor the tone he adopted when he did.
Don’t get me wrong, the big man did tell some amusing stories, notably one about Martin O’Neill after the La Manga fire extinguisher incident. He was as arrogant as you would expect from a footballer of his undoubted talent, but that’s not a bad thing when you consider that he was a centre-forward.
Stan also clearly has a love for Forest, and Frank Clark. He suggests that he did get on the phone to Mark Crossley and Bryan Roy to throw their hats in the ring when Steve McClaren walked, and he also admitted that it may have been a mistake to have left Forest when he did, although he believes that the team had already hit their glass ceiling in qualifying for Europe.
The evening ended on a high with the former number 10 leading a rendition of “You’ve lost that loving feeling”, but my overall feeling was one of discomfort. When Stan was at Forest, we loved him for his ability, but his behaviour on and off the pitch was a cause for concern at every club he played for, and he seems to revel in that. He did recount his slide into depression, and the shocking (no pun intended) use of ECT to treat him. I am guessing that wasn’t on the NHS. However, bearing in mind that he is currently portraying himself as a crusader against racism, his misogyny was shocking – the way he talks about women he has slept with as mere objects was pretty distasteful in my view.
To be honest, I thought Stan had done a lot to repair his reputation in the last year or so, but I really struggle to maintain respect for him. The level of laddish bigotry that he showed in a mixed audience was rather unpleasant, and for someone who has publicly been outed as enjoying sexual conquests, as well as hitting his partner, the lack of respect he displayed towards women was pretty horrific.
Maybe he was playing to the crowd, and giving them what they want? Well, as I seem to be in a minority (everyone else seems to have enjoyed it), maybe it is just me who feels this way. If you were there, please leave a comment and let me know what you think.