Last Friday (3 July) The Charlatans played a special show for fans on the roof of Hotel Football next to Old Trafford stadium, co-owned by five of Manchester United’s famous “Class Of 92” including former club captain Gary Neville. A friend of Charlatans singer and Man Utd fan Tim Burgess (both are pictured above with The Stone Roses’ Mani), Neville also joined the band on stage to play acoustic guitar on the band’s 1995 hit Just When You’re Thinkin’ Things Over. Q’s Simon Goddard was there and grabbed a few “post-match” words with an admittedly nervous Neville about his new, ahem, “musical career”.
Well done, Gary. Have you always played guitar?
No. About a month ago, Mark [Collins, Charlatans guitarist] came to my hotel room in London when I was doing a game down there. He showed me the ropes for about two hours and then he went away. I filmed him on my phone so I could study his fingers, and taught myself how to play the song from that. I used to play about ten years ago, I had a guitar but then I got married and had kids so it all stopped.
You were part of Manchester United’s legendary “Class Of 92”. What was it like being in the city during the 90s?
It was great. United hadn’t won the league for 26 years, then they won the league without us and then us lot, the Class Of 92, we came into the team around the same time all the Manchester bands started to evolve, we had The Charlatans obviously, the Roses, Happy Mondays, then Oasis. So suddenly music and sport seemed to come together in the same city at the same time.
Did Fergie let you play music in the dressing room?
Not in those days! No, but a lot of the concerts we all went to as a team. A lot of the bands, like The Charlatans, were fans of United, and we were fans of them. Though some of the bands were City fans, but we all went to them together. We were all big music fans.
Even David Beckham?
He went to a few of the concerts, definitely. Not sure if he saw The Charlatans with us. But they were proper lads’ nights out. They still are, even now. There’s nothing better than watching a band in Manchester, the sun’s out, there’s thousands of people, whether it’s The Charlatans, The Stone Roses, any of the great Manchester bands, it doesn’t get any better than that. It’s an escape from the pressures of what you’re doing in your life, from the pressure of being a football player or whatever.
So after tonight’s gig with The Charlatans, would you do that again?
No! I’ve never felt that nervous.
Really? That was more nerve-wracking than any cup final?
I’ve not felt that nervous in years. I was massively out of my comfort zone. I mean, it’s not a good feeling, but it is a good feeling at the same time. It was great, but I wouldn’t put myself through that again.
And are you going to keep up the guitar playing?
Definitely. Just not in front of an audience!