Ryan Sidebottom: My love of Manchester United

“Ryan Sidebottom” by royster00 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

You are a massive Manchester United fan and your father played for the club. Sum up what the club means to you?

I’m a Huddersfield boy born and bred but with my dad’s cricketing and football background, I went to football all over the country. We used to go to Oakwell [Barnsley FC] a lot as that is where my grandparents lived as well as Huddersfield Town games too.

I was very lucky but with my dad [Arnie Sidebottom] playing for Manchester United and as such the connection we have with the club is special.

Amazingly, the lady in charge of giving dad his wages at United is still at the club today which sums up the family ethos of Manchester United even though they are such a big club. They are very loyal.

I love football and watching United is in the blood. He took me regularly and I absolutely loved Paul McGrath when I was growing up. I also loved watching Viv Anderson and Gordon Strachan too. I have great memories of United back then and to this day.

You are an international and top level cricketer but when you were younger how was your footballing ability? Who was your first footballing hero growing up?

“Ryan Giggs Dribbles Ball” by Paolo Camera is licensed under CC BY 2.0

My first footballing hero was Ryan Giggs as he is a left footed as am I. As I mentioned before, Paul McGrath was special for me as I was a centre half or a left back and he was such an outstanding player. My dad rated him very highly.

I played a little but my dad was very honest with me like any Yorkshireman and told me that football probably wasn’t a realistic career for me. That’s when I started to concentrate on cricket because before that I had a few trials at Sheffield United and Huddersfield Town.

Your father Arnie played football for United and then went on to play international cricket for England. That’s a unique journey. How proud are you of your fathers achievements?

I’m massively proud of him and what he achieved. I’ve got all of his scrapbooks that I keep to this day. Looking at the pictures playing alongside George Best and Bobby Charlton makes me so proud. Not everyone can say that they’ve done that.

“George Best” by Pat McDonald is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

He always tells me that George Best was such a lovely man and in his opinion was the best player he ever played with.

My dad is very humble considering he played football and cricket at a high level. He doesn’t talk about it a lot and is very down to earth in that regard.

Your career in cricket was incredibly successful. You won five county championships. How do you reflect on your domestic career?

“P1090413” by al_green is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

To win five is really nice because you play the game to win. I’ve always given my best and I love the game. I was quite a fiery player to be honest just like my dad (laughs).

Winning those five championships is a lovely achievement but I don’t dwell on it too much. The memories and the friendships mean everything to me.

You also won the 2010 ICC World Twenty20 with England. How do you reflect on your international career?

Playing for your country is the pinnacle. To get international honours is such an honour. I played over 60 times for England across all formats and I loved every minute of it.

Winning the World Cup was incredibly special and I look back with pride on what I achieved. Making my family proud was a great feeling especially given what my dad achieved. His praise means the world to me.

You took more than 1,000 career wickets. What are your proudest moments from your cricket career?

The hat trick in New Zealand was an amazing moment for me particularly with my family there in attendance. My dad doesn’t watch me too much as he’s very nervous when I play.

Playing the game and meeting new people as well as the ups and downs is a big highlight. You train hard and to be rewarded with success makes it very sweet but the enjoyment of the game is the most important thing.

“Barbados beach at Foul Bay” by Corvair Owner is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The celebrations are always very good (laughs). Singing ‘We are the Champions by Queen’ in Barbados when we won the World Cup was amazing and a moment I’ll always cherish.

Of all the top class cricketers you played alongside, who were the most talented footballers?

There’s a few who think they’re Cristiano Ronaldo. The cricket lads absolutely love football and many times our coaches had to cancel the warm up football match before games as we would get so into it as players. It could get quite heated as that competitive nature is always there regardless of the game.

“Graeme Swann 1 – Lords 2009 – E v WI” byGareth1953 All Right Now is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Graeme Swann and Steve Harmison were good footballers to be fair. Liam Plunkett was decent as well. Many of them had trials at clubs too.

The love of football within cricket makes the dressing room a great place to be as you have fans of so many different clubs which leads to the banter flying around. The bragging rights are always there to be had.

What would you say are your favourite Manchester United memories as a fan so far in your lifetime?

It has to be the ‘99 season. Solskjær and Sheringham scoring so late in the Champions League final was iconic and will live with me and every Manchester United fan forever.

I went through every emotion in that game and it was such a rollercoaster from start to finish. Dad and I still talk about it a lot.

We take my son to watch as many games as we can and we go to Harrogate Town who are local to us. My dad and I have a burger and chips with a few pints and introduce my son to the game that we both love.

My dad’s close friend Tony Whelan took us on a tour of Carrington a few years ago and it was such a special experience for us. It’s such an incredible facility and dad was blown away with it all and the progress that’s been made in facilities since he was playing.

Last by not least, who would be in your all time Manchester United 11 of your lifetime?

That so difficult but I will give it a go.

Peter Schmeichel in goal.

Paul Parker, Gary Pallister, Steve Bruce and Patrice Evra would be my back four.

My midfield would be Paul Scholes, Roy Keane, Marcus Rashford and Cristiano Ronaldo.

With Wayne Rooney and Bruno Fernandes in the more advanced positions.

Fergie would obviously be the manager as he was a genius and is the greatest manager of all time in my opinion.

Published by Callum McFadden

Football CFB founder. Freelance football writer & broadcaster of over 350 interviews with professional players and managers across all levels of football.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s