Pianist Vocalist Manchester United Players’ Awards 2006:
Blimey. I might have to mention this in my CV… Could this be my best corporate gig ever?
It was my absolute honour to be invited to perform at the Man Utd Players’ Awards dinner last Wednesday. I travelled to Old Trafford on the Tuesday to set up my white piano and PA before grabbing some lunch in the Red Café. The burger looked great but I couldn’t stop looking at all the pictures of past footballing legends. I had watched these players on the telly when I growing up.
My excitement was building already as I imagined all the former players I might get to see at the awards. I was told Rooney was on crutches. My boots were packed… just in case.
I played piano early on as the guests came into the suite. Amongst them, I recognised familiar faces of players I had only seen on the telly in their heyday. I couldn’t wait to tell my Manchester cousin Pete! He’d had trials at a few clubs and always dreamed of playing for United. If Rooney was unavailable for selection, this could be his big chance!
The big entrance:
I’d been playing for quite a while I got the signal to stop. The MC announced to the room the arrival of Sir Alex Ferguson and the Manchester United team. They walked in to a massive fanfare of applause. This was a big deal. On the night, Wayne Rooney received the Sir Matt Busby Player of The Year Award. Cristiano Ronaldo received the Goal of The Year Award and Ryan Giggs was named Players’ Player.
After the awards ceremony, Sir Alex and the team left and the party began in earnest. At one point, former captain Martin Buchan came over to the piano to say how much he was enjoying my playing. Wow! It turns out he is a keen keyboard player. We had quite a natter about songs that he played, Brown Eyed Girl, which I’d just played and just how much we both enjoyed playing. So, there I was chatting with a footballing great about our shared passion for playing piano and singing a few tunes. As you do…
Most of the other guests were sat chatting happily at the tables. However, one young couple came over during my dance sets and started ballroom dancing while I was playing Sway. A great cha cha cha. They were really good! One of their friends took this photo and captured the moment beautifully. They were really quick too!
I confess: I didn’t mention that I had my boots with me. I didn’t put in a good word for Pete either. The time just never seemed right. In my defence, I think I played for about 5 hours! Who else has had a debut at Old Trafford and stayed on for 5 hours? I could have carried on too!
Anyway, it really was an honour to perform in front of so many greats of the beautiful game. I just hope Pete will understand. Mind you, at 48 now he might be past his best…