Blog: Richardson pays the penalty with off-the-wall ghost writer
4th Dec 2012
It isn't often that outsiders are allowed into Villa's first team changing room at Bodymoor Heath, but when I arranged for the Birmingham Mail's sports editor Dave Whaley to get some treatment on his knee from physio Jim Walker in 1994, we were invited to wait there.
It might easily have been a boring 10 minutes but Dave and I could barely believe what we saw.
Every player had been allocated a clothes hook, and alongside each one was a collection of black felt-tip messages - none of which was exactly complimentary.
Earlier that year, Kevin Richardson had shot unbelievably high from the spot during a penalty shoot-out in the Coca-Cola Cup semi-final against Tranmere Rovers.
It wasn't the first time he had fired wildly over in such circumstances, Villa's skipper having practiced his rugby conversion method in an FA Cup shoot-out at Wimbledon the previous year.
And the phantom graffiti writer wasn't going to let him forget.
Above the captain's hook was a diagram entitled "The Kevin Richardson method of penalty taking."
It featured a matchstick figure [Richardson], the goal and the executive boxes in the North Stand - with a series of arrows from the penalty spot to the boxes indicating the direction of the ball.
Needless to say, it wasn't heading towards the net.
Yet I can say with some certainly that Richo wouldn't have taken offence at the jibe from an anonymous team-mate, who had similarly disparaging things to say about other Villa players of that era.
Kevin Richardson, who celebrates his 50th birthday today, was as hard as nails on the pitch - and easy-going off it.
I will never forget arranging to call him on Cup Final day for a story about his new contract.
Kev was watching the game at home with him family. I was at Wembley covering the final for the Mail.
Unfortunately the noise in the press room was so bad after the game that we could hardly hear each other - so I took my mobile phone and notebook into the Gents, settled myself into one of the cubicles, and proceeded to ask Villa's skipper how he felt about his extended spell at Villa Park.
"It sounds quiet there," he said. "Are you sure you're at Wembley?"
By then, I'd got know Kevin pretty well and he had been perfectly happy to give me his home phone number.
Not that I'd expected it when he had arrived from Real Sociedad in the summer of 1991.
Skipper Stuart Gray introduced Kevin to me with the comment: "This is Rob, he works for the local paper and he will ring you for stories at all hours."
To which Richardson replied: He'd better f****** not!"
Happy birthday Kev!
Snap up your tickets and back the boys against Stoke.
rob bishop, blogs,
More from this bloggerAll blogs
Most popular blogs