Very few things in life warm the heart more than a nice hot cup of tea or coffee.
Had a busy day? Put the kettle on. Had a bad day? Put the kettle on. Meeting friends and family for a catch up? Put the kettle on. Meeting your potential chairman, who is still considering giving you a vital job? You know what to do.
Ex-Burnley and Bolton Wanderers manager Owen Coyle knew how to charm St Johnstone chairman Jeff Brown, in what would have been his first full time role in football management. And after arranging a meeting with Brown during his holidays in Dunkheld, Coyle attempted to impose himself on the football supremo using Britain’s most important tool – the kettle.
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“I said, ‘come in Mr Chairman, take a seat, would you like a tea or a coffee,” Coyle explained, to the Under the Cosh podcast. “He said, ‘I’ll have a coffee’ and then I thought, ‘oh no, we don’t drink coffee’. I’m T-Total, never had a drop of alcohol in my life, but me and my missus we love cups of tea, and we have mugs like that size. I’m trawling through the breakfast area, ‘yes, Mr Chairman, just bear with me’ I’m looking about, anyway, I find the coffee.
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“Made the tea and coffee, big mugs, milk, and sugar, sat there for over an hour and it couldn’t have got any better, [it was] brilliant, brilliant football chat…I check my phone, 12 missed calls, from the missus, she wanted to get back in.”
At the time, Coyle’s wife Kerry had just been ushered out their holiday home in the torrential rain so he could meet Brown for the first time. However, Coyle definitely could have done with her in the vicinity at the time.
“I call her and she is like ‘thank god for that, we are soaked through, me and the kids’,” Coyle added. “She comes back in, the rain is dripping down her face, and she said ‘that better have been worth it’ and I said ‘Kerry, that could not have gone any better. The only thing that threw me was that he wanted a coffee, I eventually found it, made the tea and the coffee, great chat’.
“She said ‘we don’t have coffee’ and I said ‘yes we have, it’s over there’ and she said ‘that’s Bisto gravy you clown’. I’d made him a full mug, that size – he drank the lot.”
Even for non caffeine addicts, serving gravy instead of black coffee is quite the mistake to make, particularly when it’s about the future boss.
If he couldn’t be trusted to serve a simple coffee, how could he be trusted to spot a potential player or put together a team? Fortunately, Brown was as understanding as he was polite.
“I picked the phone up and said ‘Mr Chairman, it’s Owen’,” a rather sheepish and rambling Owen would have said. “He said ‘aye Owen’ and I went ‘I need to apologise’ and he said ‘why?’
“I said, ‘I thought I made you a coffee, but it was Bisto gravy’ and he went ‘aye, I thought there was a funny tang’. Then he said, ‘while I’ve got you, I want to give you the job’.” Fortunately, Coyle’s management skills were significantly better than his adeptness on the tea and coffee run, as he went on to spend two years at St Johnstone, before moving across the border to take over at Burnley.
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