Blog: Dwight the wine waiter
31st Aug 2010
"Rob Bishop?" said the Calypso Kid."Is he still around? I still owe him some wine, don't I?"
Fifteen years after the event, Dwight recalled that he still hadn't honoured his promise to give me half a dozen bottles of vin rouge.
Not that I'd really done a great deal to earn them.
During the build-up to the 1995-96 season, Dwight's agent Tony Stephens invited me to be his guest at to a Molineux friendly between Wolves and Arsenal, with a pre-match meal thrown in.
Dwight was also there and as he poured me a glass of red wine I cheekily suggested he should give me a glass for every goal he scored during the coming campaign.
He readily agreed - and was on fire during the next few months, enjoying his most prolific campaign in claret and blue with a total of 25 goals.
At an average of five glasses per bottle, that impressive record should have earned me half a case of Bordeaux, but I'm still waiting to toast his achievement.
The flamboyant character that Yorkie eventually became was a far cry from the timid teenager who turned up at Villa Park in the winter of 1989-90.
I was the first reporter to write about his arrival in this country, although I was by no means sure during those first few months that he was destined to develop into a megastar.
Despite his obvious talent he always cut the figure of a little boy lost, and there was a nagging doubt that he was too frail for the physical nature of English football.
Even Dwight admitted to having a few reservations, particularly when Ron Atkinson recruited experienced strikers Cyrille Regis and Dalian Atkinson after taking over as manager in the summer of 1991.
By then, Dwight had played several first team matches for Villa, but he was concerned that the signing of Regis and Atkinson might hamper his progress.
As it happened, I was able to reassure him that he was very much a part of the manager's plans, having put the question to Ron during a pre-season trip to Germany.
Ron was as good as his word, and it wasn't long before Dwight's beaming smile was signaling some fabulous goals - none better than a breathtaking individual effort against Nottingham Forest.
Receiving the ball from Kevin Richardson deep in his own half, he sprinted to the edge of the Forest penalty area, left defender Brett Williams on his backside with a clever turn and floated the ball tantalisingly over goalkeeper Mark Crossley's outstretched fingertips.
That was also the first time I heralded Dwight as the Calypso Kid in the Birmingham Mail after watching him weave his Caribbean magic.
It was also one of the few occasions on which he acknowledged something which had been written about him.
A few days after he had mesmerised Forest's defence, Villa played at Grimsby in the League Cup, and the Press facilities at Blundell Park were basic, to say the least.
Essentially, there was nowhere to interview players after the game, so I ventured down to the visitors' dressing room in search of a post-match quote or two.
As I popped my head around the door, Dwight was sitting alone in the corner.
He didn't have a great deal to say about the goalless draw which had just taken place, but grinned at me and said: "Calypso Kid, eh? No problem!"
Our paths haven't crossed so frequently in recent years but whenever we meet, his greeting is invariably the same: "How you doin'? I still owe you that wine, don't I?"
rob bishop, dwight yorke,
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