An Evening with…Peter Shilton!

It’s not a very girly thing to say, but I have several sporting idols who are footballers. Goalkeepers, actually. My absolute favourite player is Peter Shilton, closely followed by David Seaman. Last night, after 20+ years (yes, I’m THAT old) of being a fan, I finally got to meet Peter Shilton at a charity event in aid of the NSPCC.

Have you ever been invited to a fancy dress party and worried that you’d get there and no-one else would be dressed up, or have you ever had a dream that you’ve gone somewhere, naked? Well, last night it was as bad as the former, but not so bad as the latter: hubby told me the event was casual, so I dressed accordingly. I wore jeans and a top (albeit my best, most expensive jeans). However, on our arrival to the venue, I looked out of the car window to see what looked like a scene from a wedding/the races: men in shirts/ties and ladies in their posh frocks! My heart sank and I really didn’t want to get out of the car. Only the fact that I’d been assured I would get to meet THE Peter Shilton stopped me from going home. I got a few ‘looks’ (ladies, you know the ones) as I slunk up the stairway into the venue.

There was a VIP Reception upstairs before the main event. There he was, the man himself, Shilts! Just as I remembered him, sans curly hair…and a little greyer! As a number of people said, I thought he would be taller. Perhaps it was because he cut such in imposing figure in the goalmouth, or perhaps because when I was little, someone who was 6 ft tall was a giant. For a donation to the NSPCC, we were able to go and get our photos taken. I was a bit starstruck, whereas hubby can talk to anyone, but I knew this was my one opportunity to speak to him. It was great! He shook our hands, and I told him I’d been a fan since the 80s. He asked our names, and was very friendly. We had our photo taken with him and wished him a nice evening. He looked a little surprised, as though no-one had said that to him. Us Geordies ARE a nice bunch, really. I must point out that I was pretty impressed with the mini-photography studio that had been set up for the evening. It was so fast and the quality was good.

Later on, we had to go back to Shilts’ table to have our photo signed. Joe Allon was there, too (he’s very loud, but also funny). Peter asked us where we wanted his signature. Quick as a flash, I said, “Just there,” pointing at my hubby’s face. They all laughed and it made my day (hubby even managed a wry smile). Later on, hubby returned to ask if Shilts would sign a ball for our charity evening in October. Joe was kind enough to ensure this happened, as one of the charities we raise funds for is close to his own heart. We have a lovely photo of the ball being signed.

I was dreading the pie ‘n’ pea supper aspect of the night, as I hate both (and I was so hungry). However, I was pleasantly surprised and subsequently cleared my plate (unfortunately for hubby). Then came the talk. He apologised for the locker-room language (I’ve heard worse in the rap music hubby listens to) before telling us about his incredible career. I was enthralled, and thoroughly entertained, as there was a lot of humour (which I hadn’t expected). I was glad to know he hasn’t forgiven Maradonna for the ‘Hand Of God’ and he certainly seemed bitter about it. As you would! It was nice to hear stories about Sir Bobby, who is a firm favourite in this region, and Joe Allon was a very good compere. It was a great night, except…

There are always people (usually seated near us) who drink too much and get loud. There are always ignorant people who, say, let their phone ring and don’t answer it (very annoying musical ringtone, too). There are always people who will talk over the top of the speakers (grrrrrr). Basically, there will always be attention-seekers and you can’t do anything about them. The person that actually annoyed me was a local singer, who sang as they were doing the food. She was OK (not my kind of music) but she was REALLY put out that people were chatting amongst themselves. She made it incredibly clear by saying things like, “Don’t bother clapping, because I know you aren’t listening,” and, “This song’s about drugs. I wasn’t going to sing it but you aren’t listening.” Well, actually pet, we were and that’s how we know that you came across as very unprofessional. I felt really uncomfortable at that point.

I really enjoyed the football chat but, when I went to the loos, I heard two women (who’d obviously been dragged along by their husbands) plotting to escape to the MetroCentre because they were ‘bored’. I wondered how many times their husbands had had similar conversations after being dragged to the MetroCentre!!!

I had a fantastic night and I would recommend seeing Peter give a talk, if you get the opportunity. Now, I’d better go as hubby tells me there’s some kind of important football match on…