‘In Conversation With’ were articles for the matchday programme during the 1998/99 season in which Dave Tavener interviewed various members of the team. Below is the interview with central defender Mick Bodley that appeared in the programme for the FA Trophy semi-final 1st Leg against Forest Green Rovers on 10thApril 1999.
Born: 14-09-67, Hayes.
Home Life: Married to Lucy, they have two children Charlotte (6) & Georgia (4).
Previous Clubs: Chelsea (6a, 1g), Northampton Town (20a), Barnet (69a, 3g), Southend United (28a, 1g), Gillingham (loan) (7a), Birmingham City (loan) (3a), Southend United (39a, 1g), Peterborough United (62a, 1g) (League appearances & goals in parenthesis).
St Albans City Playing Record
Debut: 30 March 1999, a 2-1 Ryman League defeat at Chesham United.
Amongst the Saints’ influx of new signings during the hours running up to the transfer deadline at the end March was Peterborough United defender Mick Bodley. Born in west London, he has experienced the thrill of playing in front of over 32,000 people for Chelsea at Everton and suffered the embarrassment of playing in Barnet's first match in the Football League - a 7-4 defeat at home to Crewe Alexandra. He put that setback behind him to collect the Bees Player of the Year trophy at the end of the season.
In the beginning
“I was first spotted by Chelsea when I was 12 years of age playing in a 5-a-side tournament for my local Sunday team in Hayes. I signed schoolboy forms with Chelsea when I was 14, at 16 I became an apprentice and a professional a year later. I was lucky to a degree in that I was born with a certain amount of skill and I found the progression natural rather than a big step each time. There was a jump at 16 going into youth team football but after about ten games you get used to it. I was signed on by Gwyn Williams who is now the assistant manager at Chelsea.”
Breaking into the big time
“At the time I broke into the First team, and I only played six times, there were the likes of Kerry Dixon, David Speedie, Mick Hazard, Tony Dorigo and Pat Nevin. I remember my debut very well, it is something you never forget. It was against Norwich City at Stamford Bridge in front of sixteen thousand people (15,242 to be precise on 19-09-87 in a Division One fixture). It was a good feeling when I got the call up to say I would be playing against Norwich, I remember I couldn't sleep!”
It's A Knock-out
“Things didn't work out for me at Chelsea and I moved on to Northampton Town where I played for six months before walking out of my contract (his final two League appearance’s for Chelsea, against Charlton Athletic when he actually scored, and Coventry City, came during a run of one win in 26 Division One matches as the Blues headed for relegation). We were involved in a relegation battle at the time and I got a bang on the head and suffered from concussion. I had to see a doctor who told me that I was not to play as I had been knocked out for 30 minutes and was on the critical list. I was actually back within three weeks where as the doctor, because of the position I played, said I should not play as I could suffer more trouble. He was right, I was in a dreadful state mentally and it took me about eight months to get over it.”
Football the Barry Fry way
“After leaving Northampton, Barry Fry rang me and it was the start of a long romance - it you can call it that - and I went to Barnet where my career took off again. The thing about Barry Fry is that he doesn't know how to defend, he just wants to attack. He loves winning games 7-4 but it is no good for me although he must have seen something in me as I used to take all the stick but still kept playing. I had eight years with Barry, some bad some good but ultimately, I really enjoyed my time with him. (Mick played a total of 148 games for Barnet during which time he scored 15 goals). They were lovely years, we won the Conference in my second year there, it was magnificent. At the time Barnet were like the Liverpool of the non-league game. We got into the play-offs in our first season in the Football League and a year later won automatic promotion. I left Barnet when we all got 'frees' (when the money ran out at Underhill as chairman Stan Flashman made a somewhat hasty exit).
I went to Southend United for three years but halfway through my time there Peter Taylor came in as manager, he didn't fancy me as a player so I went out on loan to Gillingham. From there I went on loan to Birmingham City which again meant teaming up with Barry, and after I finished my final year at Southend I went to Peterborough United with Barry after he paid £80,000 for me. I was only at Birmingham for a short while but it was just magnificent walking out in front of 17,000 people, the new stand was tremendous.”
“I felt that Peter didn't really have a lot of money to use at Southend and had he had some then things might have been different for him. I think he is a splendid coach, he wanted to do things the right way but there were a few rascals there who didn't help his cause. I feel that he was unlucky in a way but I was not really there long enough to say too much about him.”
“Things didn't really work out this time for me (at Peterborough this season) as Barry said that the chairman at Peterborough wants to bring the youth through next season rather than use the experienced players. Barry said that he didn't want to do that but that is what the chairman wanted, whichever way you look at it, it was time I left. But all that is gone now, the pro game is behind me. It is strange now because my body is going through a transformation and has to get used to not training every day but I do still like to tick over and run a couple of miles each day.”
The Road to Wembley
“I think I was in the squad when Chelsea won the Full Members Cup but I was just a young lad in those days and all I wanted to do was play. I have come close to playing at Wembley on a couple of occasions since though. I missed out on the Autoglass Trophy with Peterborough a couple of years ago when we were 2-0 up from the 1st Leg of the semi-final only to lose the 2nd Leg 3-0. Then there was the Anglo Italian Cup when drew 1-1 on aggregate after winning the first match and then lost on penalties, so I think I've been near to Wembley three times and I suppose I may have another chance now with St. Albans. It would be lovely if selected but we shall just have to wait and see and obviously you have to give great credit to the lads who got the club to the semi-final and for me just to be a part of it would be something special.”
“I am on nine bookings this season but these days you cannot make a tackle, if you are an inch out you get booked. At Walton last Saturday it was a silly sending-off and the lad (Chris Whelan of Walton & Hersham) should not have retaliated but it was nothing really. Personally, I think the game nowadays is very much in favour of the forwards.”
Professionals v The Semi-Professionals
“It is very hard playing for a League side against a non-league side in the FA Cup as everyone is very much up for it. I played against Enfield for Peterborough a few years ago, we drew 1-1 at their place and then beat them 4-1 at our ground. (Mick played in the first game but not the second whilst one of our other 13 signings during deadline week, Derek Payne, played in both matches for the Posh. In the Enfield side for both games was Jimmy Carstairs while Justin Gentle came on as substitute in both matches and Dominic Gentle came on during the replay - ed). If you can get a couple of early goals then it's not bad but the more it drags along goalless then the worse it becomes for you. To me the main difference between the Divisions are the strikers.”
Best stadium played at
“It has to be Goodison Park, I played there for Chelsea back in 1987-88. We lost 4-2 but it was tremendous, what a day, absolutely magnificent. It was very loud, there were 32,000 spectators in the ground and although there were some lovely grounds around that was the one for me.”
With a hectic schedule to season’s run-in, Garry Hill signed Mick Bodley just prior to the transfer deadline in the spring of 1999 and he was selected for both FA Trophy semi-final games against Forest Green Rovers. At the end of the season, after making eight appearances for the City, he followed Garry Hill to Dagenham & Redbridge. Mick, by now a postman, played in 29 of the Daggers league games as they picked up 101 points on their way to winning the Isthmian League title.
Mick left Dagenham at the end of the season to join Canvey Island and in his first season at Park Lane played in the FA Trophy final as the Islanders defeated Forest Green Rovers. But he still did not get to fulfil his dream of playing at Wembley as the final was staged at Villa Park. His second season with Canvey was dogged by injury and saw him retire from the game.