Filed: Thursday, 8th March 2001
By: Graeme Howlett
Frank Lampard played for West Ham between 1967-1985. During his playing career he made a total of 663 appearances, a feat only ever bettered by Frank's former defensive partner, Billy Bonds.
One of the most cultured full backs ever to feature at the Boleyn Ground, Lampard was unlucky not to add to his handful of full England caps. He is fondly remembered in Hammers folklore for scoring the winning goal in the 1980 FA Cup semi-final against Everton, which led him to dance around the corner flag at Elland Road - a feat Frank Junior repeated nearly 20 years later.
Frank moved into co-management in the early 90's, and has been Harry Redknapp's right hand man since 1994.
Firing the questions on your behalf were Tony Fowles, Graeme Howlett and Dave Clements.
KUMB.com: First of all Frank, thanks very much for taking the time to talk to us. To start with - your playing days. That goal in the FA Cup semi-final at Elland Road in 1980, what do you remember about that night? And when you hear the fans sing about it, how do you feel? Does it give you a lump in your throat?
Frank Lampard: Well to be fair my mind is a little bit blank about it. It still remains a mystery how I got there in the first place - I was probably too knackered to get back. But I know it was a throw in; I donít know who took it, did Brooking take it? Or David Cross? Anyway, I was coming out to get back into position and I thought that I might as well take a chance. It was right in the dying minutes, right at the death. So, there was a chance and I thought that Iíd take it, but other than that I donít remember much about the whole thing really. I just dived and that was it.
KUMB: Does it make you laugh when the fans sing about it?
FL: Yeah, I do like it when they sing that! Iíd be telling a lie if I [said I] didnít.
KUMB: And it was good when young Frank did it?
FL: Yeah. He said: 'If I score dad, Iím going to run around the corner flag'. I just said - because I could remember, the corner flag would have been where the Leeds supporters were, 'be careful because theyíll throw a bottle at your head or something!'
KUMB: What was your favourite game that you played in? The one that sticks in your memory?
FL: Well the two favourite games I think were both of the Wembley cup finals. Fulham and Arsenal.
KUMB: It was a strange one with Bobby Moore on the opposing side though Frank, wasnít it?
FL: Yes it was, and apparently he wrote about that in his book. I was his room mate [at West Ham] for eight years, and it was strange really. But they are the two main ones; I played at Wembley for England against Yugoslavia but the two that stick in my mind were the two cup finals. They were very big occasions for us.
KUMB: It would have been nice to go back as a coach before it gets pulled down?
FL: Oh yeah. I kept telling the lads it's not just the day, itís the actual build up, and luckily enough we went there twice and won. I wouldnít want to know what it is like for teams that get beat, I donít want to know what thatís like. But its hard to remember the teams that get beat isnít it?
KUMB: Frank, going back to when you touched on England - I know Harry has said in the last few days that it should have been an Englishman in the [managers] job, what do you think about that? Do you feel the same way?
FL: Well I think that in your heart of hearts that you do, but at the end of it they have got this guy in. It's just a matter of being successful. I donít care who you put there; if you get results then you havenít got a problem, but like everything else, if you donít get results then heís got the same problems as everyone else has had. But if he comes in and does well then obviously weíve got to all get behind him; itís not an easy job.
KUMB: You touched on Bobby Moore and that coincides with a question that someone sent in asking who the greatest player was that you have played alongside. Without trying to put words into your mouth Frank, would Bobby be up there? Who, in your opinion was the greatest ever player that you played alongside?
FL: Definitely Bobby, without a shadow of a doubt.
KUMB: Most difficult opponent?
FL: George Best, Willie Morgan and Steve Coppell when he first came to play at Upton Park. I didnít know him then and I was getting on a bit, and he took me to the cleaners a little bit. I tried to boot him but I couldnít get near him!
KUMB: Youíve spent a long time in your career at Upton Park Frank. Iím sure that these days players will not be as loyal to one club like you were. Did you ever consider leaving West Ham at any stage?
FL: There was a time when we went down, when we got relegated. I drove up to Norwich to speak with John Bond who was manager there (it was also at the time that Ron Greenwood later wrote in his book. I didnít know this at the time but it was something that someone told me later - that Ron made Billy Bonds captain, but he would have made me captain - but I was in a bit of a dispute with the club. It's in his book anyway, I didnít know that and he never told me. It only came out years later). So anyway, I went up to Norwich and I got as far as Ipswich, turned left and thought, ďHang on a minute, Iíve come out of Canning Town, this isnít for meĒ. So I got there, went through the motions, came back and dropped it all.
KUMB: Biggest disappointment as a player? Anderlecht?
FL: Well that sticks in my mind. Obviously it was a disappointment because we would have won that game if I hadnít have back-passed, and if I hadnít have come off. Not just for me being on the field, but I think that we would have won that game because we were all right, we were going well. We were one up and it was all under control. It's not my biggest disappointment but its one of them; after that game I didnít play for a while because I had an operation on my stomach. So my biggest disappointment? I donít know.
KUMB: Going down maybe?
FL: Going down was sad, that was sad for everybody and we didnít get back up the first year did we? Although we got to the Cup Final and we got up the next year.
KUMB: Do you think thatís what cost us promotion that year? The 1980 Cup Final?
FL: It might have done, it probably did. But probably going down was the biggest disappointment - thatís when everything started about Norwich, about moving because my pride was hurt a little bit. But yes, probably going down was the biggest let-down for me.
KUMB: And it was ironic that Francois Van der Elst ended up at Upton Park?
FL: Yes it was, yeah.
KUMB: Was that after your time Frank, I canít remember too clearly?
FL: No, I played with him.
KUMB: Frank in your role as assistant manager, now all a lot of the fans see is you, Harry and Roger Cross sat in the dugout on match days, they donít really know what goes on behind the scenes. We see a lot more Frank because we come down the training ground a lot, but the fans who are asking these questions donít. So could you explain your role as assistant manager and what it entails?
FL: Well I think that with the role of assistant manager, I think that you have to be the middle man. Harryís at the top there to be shot at, thatís what it's all about for a manager. If we are doing well then Harry will get all the good bits, but when we donít do so well you know he gets the bad bits. My job is to get amongst the lads like I do on a day to day basis and, I donít know, sort of get inside their heads if you like. I think that the thing with a good coach or a good assistant manager - it's not just on the pitch coaching, its off the pitch as well. When they come in here and things havenít gone so well or there are things that they want to think about or talk about, or when theyíve been left out of the side and theyíve got the hump with the manager.
KUMB: You have to pick up the pieces?
FL: Yeah, thatís part of my game. And I get on well with the boys, I mess about with them a bit and we have a laugh. But that is part of the job, to keep the thing ticking over. Harry donít need to hear every little bit of stuff thatís going on, thatís what Iím here for and thatís part of it.
KUMB: Do you think that is vital Frank, as you say to have a laugh with the players? Because I can't imagine someone like Arsene Wenger sitting in the Arsenal canteen cracking jokes?
FL: We do here, its something unique to West Ham. This guy came down from Tottenham yesterday, he wanted to get a West Ham shirt signed for a charity thing. He had a Tottenham shirt on and a Tottenham tattoo round his neck, and I said, 'leave the shirt there with Sue'. There were only one or two of the players in - it was half past nine. He said that he had to leave at ten, so I said 'leave it here and stay for half an hour and youíll get one or two coming in. Youíll get them as they come in'. After a while he said that he 'couldnít believe how open this place is', and he said that he was 'going to be a West Ham supporter'! And he had all the gear on, a Tottenham tattoo around his neck.
KUMB: Is that something that you and Harry have ever looked at changing? Because it is unique to West Ham and at a lot of clubs you wont get past the main gates?
FL: No, but sometimes you do consider changing things. During the course of a season you might get a lippy press man who gives you a bit of stick in the papers.
KUMB: David McDonnell?
FL: No, Iím not mentioning names but you know, you start to think 'hang on weíll stop them on a Friday morning and they can wait outside', but then things go on and you get back to normal. But the general public? I donít think that we give them a hard time because I donít think that you have to! I think that football is a grass roots game and it belongs to the man in the street.
KUMB: And as Harry has said on many occasions, they pay the wages donít they?
FL: Yes thatís right. I think that the game is a working mans game; itís a man in the streets game. I know that it's getting corporate now with people sitting in boxes and eating meals and all that but to me it isnít football. I know it brings money into the club, but I think that the working man is your bread and butter.
KUMB: With the season so far Frank, I think that if, when we look back to June when the fixtures came out, we knew it was not an easy start?
FL: Yeah, thatís right.
KUMB: Do you think that we have turned the corner now?
FL: I hope so. I think that we have been playing all right. Give the crowd credit - to be fair they could have got on our backs a lot more than they have. And they have stuck with us because although we havenít got the points I think that we have been playing some decent stuff, but that can only go on for so long because they can't keep saying, 'unlucky, unlucky'. But hopefully, now that we have got a few results together it will be the turning point, but Iíve got to be fair - look at us at Coventry, we beat them 3-0 but we had 5,000 people there! And that was on the back of not winning too many games, thank God they got to see a three goal win. Youíve really got to give the fans credit.
KUMB: But going back to June when you first saw the fixtures, what was your reaction?
FL: We thought, 'f*ck this!'
KUMB: You probably thought that you would beat Leicester, but other than that?
FL: Well thatís the game really, the Leicester game. I think that if we donít lose Stimac then we are going to win the game, and I know how silly it looks now, but if you took that three points and added it to our total where would we be?
KUMB: Champions League or UEFA Cup place?
FL: Well I wouldnít have gone that far but yes, the Leicester game is one that we should have won. And the Bradford game of course.
KUMB: Frank, you play a 3-5-2 at West Ham, yet a lot of the successful clubs play 4-4-2, and many supporters thought that with the signing of Nigel Winterburn that this could be an option you could switch to. Any thoughts on that?
FL: Our system really is 3-5-2, but we are getting to the stage now where there are going to be certain times when we need to switch to 4-4-2. Sometimes itís a bit difficult with the players that weíve got because weíve got some individual players. But to go and play a 4-4-2 could be a bit more difficult.
KUMB: Youíve got a lot of players who want to play in the hole havenít you Frank?
FL: Yes. We had the same sort of problems when Berkovic was here, but weíve got Winterburn, and Steve Lomas can play right back for us sometimes. Steve Potts did great the other night to give him credit, but now we are getting to the stage where if we want to change it we can.
KUMB: Did you consider playing a weaker side in the Worthington Cup games?
FL: What, Walsall with only a 1-0 lead? No, if we had a 3-0 lead we might have done it but not with only a one goal lead.
KUMB: Going on from what you said about having the option to change systems is that where you would want to strengthen the squad? What sort of areas would you want to strengthen if any?
FL: It's hard to say that really, I mean youíve got players outside this office who might be ear wigging! No, seriously all over the field we are always looking to strengthen the side. I can remember when I played and when John Lyall was manager, we finished third one year. It was just after my time to be honest, but even after I was playing if weíd finished mid-table then weíd done well. We were always down the bottom and scrapping and scrambling, and when we had a decent run we never, ever added people to the squad. These days we donít let that happen, but youíve got to be careful about that now. I mean, if we win two or three games then weíll be all right, but I think that youíve always got to be looking to improve the team. Because of the way things are now; I think that football moves on so quick. You pick up the paper most morningís and someoneís spent big money and I think that youíve got to keep adding to the squad. It might mean one or two going and one or two coming in, you cant just think, 'Itís okay weíre alright', because those days are gone!
KUMB: And itís the size of the squad as well because years ago you only used to use about fourteen players a season? I think that now we have used something like 23 players already?
FL: Yeah, there seems to be a lot more injuries these days.
KUMB: Do you think that is because the physioís are better now, they are not letting the players play with injuries like they used to?
FL: Probably, but it just seems to me that we have a lot more injuries. It's not just here its all round; Leeds have got the same problem, George Graham at Tottenham is having a bit of a hard time and heís on about the injury situation.
KUMB: I think that Newcastle have used something like 34 players already havenít they?
FL: Yes, so you do need a squad, at the end of the day you do need a decent squad and when you look at West Ham over the years theyíve never really improved the team. I know itís to do with finance and money and all that but weíve never improved the team when we probably should have done.
KUMB: Full credit to you and Harry because youíve pulled off some amazing deals over the last few years, thereís been some fantastic wheeler dealing and ducking and diving. But does it ever get to you when you pick up the papers and see other teams spending big money on players?
FL: Well yes, it does, and obviously weíd like to have money to go and do that sort of thing and just go out and buy - but we just cant afford it. It does get to you a bit, but you also get a lot of pleasure out of doing it this way. When you do get some good results over the last two or three years like we have had, then it does give us a lot of pleasure knowing that we havenít broke the bank to do it.
KUMB: It must give a big boost to the squad when just underneath the regular first team players youíve got players like Adam Newton and Shaun Byrne coming through?
FL: Well yes, and youíve got to give credit to the youth people - Jimmy Hampson, Jimmy Tindall, Tony Carr and Peter Brabrook. You can go through them all because they have brought the players through for us. West Ham over the years have had some great youth players coming through, going back twenty five or thirty years but that had all changed when we came here! Harry and myself found that our youth structure wasnít very good.
KUMB: What do you think changed it?
FL: I donít know. I think that people got their feet under the table and they sat on their a*se, itís a bit like not buying players when you are going well. We are alright now, we are a good team.
KUMB: The old West Ham Frank never really had to buy players did they?
FL: No, not in those days, no! We did at the end.
KUMB: There was you, Harry, Paul Brush, Geoff Pike, so many.
FL: We bought Billy Bonds didnít we.
KUMB: It was only the occasional top quality signing?
FL: But it's changed now. I donít think that you could be like that, but full credit to the Academy staff, theyíve brought players through for us.
KUMB: It must be hard deciding when the right time is to bed in a youngster? You nursed Joe in slowly with a sniff here and there, then send him back to the youth team or reserves, and then bring him back for another sniff and keep going like that until the player is ready. With your Frank as well, it was a similar scenario? It must be hard getting the timing right?
FL: Yes it is, but sometimes I think that the situations cause it to happen. You get someone who does well but you only put them in in the first place because something had happened. Maybe somebody had got injured at the last minute or something, but what it does do is give you an insight and you then realise, that he can do it! You know he is all right - that happened with Michael Carrick, he came in under the same sort of circumstances but that is part of our job recognising things like that. I can't really sit here and say that weíve done this because of this and weíve done this because of that, it was situations that have brought things about and it's up to us to react to the situations.
KUMB: Obviously the loan system helps out with the young players?
FL: Yeah, definitely. Iíll give you a good example now - Richard Garcia. Iíve been and watched him play a couple of times at the Orient and he has done very well. Tommy Taylor is really, really pleased with him. His three months loan was up yesterday and he was not too sure about going there for the rest of the season. We had a talk yesterday and we decided that he was going to stay there until the end of the season because he is better off playing in their first team than our reserves. Youíve got Diawara in front of him, youíve got Paul Kitson, so I said that he should be playing in the big league. Nobody knew who Richard Garcia was three months ago, but by going out on loan he has got himself known.
KUMB: I suppose that the only other option would have been if a first or second division club came in for him?
FL: Well if that had happened yes, but that didnít happen.
KUMB: With Jermain are you going to leave him at Bournemouth for the rest of the season to toughen him up?
FL: Weíll see, weíll deal with that one month at a time. I donít like to single players out too much but I think that Jermain has got something.
KUMB: Heís had a great start at Bournemouth Frank? A terrific debut?
FL: Yeah, I spoke to Mel Machin and he said that he only had about five touches in the first half. He hit the bar, the keeper made a great save, someone dropped it on the line and then he scored! So thatís what heís like, he reminds you of Ian Wright a little bit.
KUMB: With Tony Cottee talking over at Barnet, can you see a bit of a tie up developing there between West Ham and Barnet?
FL: Well weíve got Omer Riza on loan there havenít we? Theyíre going to have a midget forward line arenít they!
KUMB: Do you think that Tony will be on the phone looking for players?
FL: Well as you probably know weíve got a good tie up with Barnet - whenever we want a friendly game they always come down and play us. All we used to do was ring John Still up, and within twenty-four hours youíve got a team here.
KUMB: Do you think that Tony will do well there?
FL: I really hope he does - it isnít an easy job player-manager, Iíve got to be honest about it. but I really hope that he does do well; heís got John Still who is still there with him, and at that level he does know what it is all about. Iím sure that heíll be a big help to Tony.
KUMB: Changing tack Frank - do you regret loosing Marc Vivian Foe?
FL: Yes I do really, he was strong and a skilled player, and he could play at the back as well. A powerful sort of player, and a good player to have around.
KUMB: We know that Michael [Carrick] has come through, but heís a different sort of player isnít he?
FL: Yeah, Michaelís a ball player and a very good player.
KUMB: Was it a must to sell Foe to get Freddie Kanoute in?
FL: Yeah, that was the wheeler dealer bit coming in again.
KUMB: It still seems short Frank; Iím not being funny but weíve sold Paulo Wanchope and Marc Vivian Foe, yet weíve only really bought in Frederic Kanoute plus a couple of Bosmans. I know that they still cost money in signing on fees but obviously thatís £4m thatís gone somewhere?
FL: Thatís the way we have to work here.
KUMB: Are there still more players that you and Harry are looking at?
FL: Weíre always looking at players.
KUMB: Frank, Hayden Foxe? What is going on with that one?
FL: I think that you will find that something will come out about that today one way or the other.
KUMB: It must be hard because you started trying to sign him in July and now weíre into November?
FL: Yeah, I think that by the weekend it should be sorted out one way or the other.
KUMB: I donít know if you were at the reserve game the other night but youíve got a Norwegian on trial? Ragnvald Soma?
FL: No, I went to Derby, I didnít see him, he did well didnít he?
KUMB: Well it was his first game Frank.
FL: Come on, yes or no!
KUMB: I think that Roger said he did well didnít he?
FL: Come on I want your opinions as fans, didnít you like him?
KUMB: Frank I havenít got your knowledge of the game and Iím seeing it as a supporter, but I think that you read in the press about a big signing and maybe you are expecting another Rio or another Stimac straight away, so maybe it would be unfair to pass comment. Youíll see the game totally different to me.
FL: Yeah, of course, I didnít see the game but they said that he did well, but I can see where you are coming from.
KUMB: It must also be hard for players coming on trial Frank when, with no disrespect to the reserve team, they are playing with a mixture of players where some of them - with the greatest respect in the world, donít really care about it. And others are trying to impress?
FL: Yeah, I know, it isnít easy, but we had him watched out there though in Norway under-21 games and there were good reports on him, he did well.
KUMB: How long is he over here for Frank?
FL: Heís gone back now for the time being, but he might come back.
KUMB: Frank - your biggest mistake as a manager, or rather you and Harryís biggest mistake as a manager? We all make mistakes and at the end of the day, weíre all human?
FL: I suppose itís got to be Boogers hasnít it? I think that me and Harry decided at the time, Harry is going to blame me and Iím going to blame Harry!
KUMB: Something like that you surely couldnít have seen that happening could you?
KUMB: I think that we were all a bit amazed at Man United when he was on the field for five minutes and he took out, Gary Neville was it?
FL: Yeah. He was a right nutter wasnít he?
KUMB: On the other hand Frank, your highlight as a manager? Was that finishing fifth or going into Europe maybe?
FL: Yes, finishing fifth was a tremendous achievement that year.
KUMB: And that led to the Intertoto? It was a long time since we saw European football?
FL: Yeah, and a lot of the lads came away with us didnít they? On the flights and that, thatís what its all about. It's something worth getting back into isnít it?
KUMB: A question that a lot of people have asked Frank, is why didnít we go back into the Intertoto as holders? Everyone had said that it was Mickey Mouse and weíd proved them all wrong, we could have gone in at the second round stage?
FL: Well thatís a decision that would have come from upstairs, obviously the chairman will say to us, 'What do you want to do?', but then it was a bit tight at times with the season finishing and then start again. Tottenham did it once and Roger Cross tells me that they ended up getting players from non-league. I mean, if you are going to start doing it like that then itís a waste of time getting involved.
KUMB: What about the experience for our so-called reserve players? To play against, well I think that in the second round you get a team that our reserves should really beat anyway?
FL: I think that going back three or four years ago it was a bit of a no-no, but I think that now youíve got to seriously think about it.
KUMB: Where do you see us being three years from now? As a club?
FL: We hope to have a new ground thatís always full, and hopefully we can be in that top six on a regular basis. Thatís where we need to be.
KUMB: Is a Cup run more important to us than a high League placing?
FL: No, but I think that a good cup run is important.
KUMB: Just to get a trophy in the cabinet?
FL: Well, chipping away week in week out in the league is very important, but you canít beat a good cup run.
KUMB: In the Worthington Cup, that half of the draw has opened up for us now with Arsenal going out?
FL: Yeah, and I think that we definitely need to get a Cup run going, it would be fantastic.
KUMB: On match days Frank, do you still have any lucky rituals?
FL: The only silly thing that I do really is wait until Harry hands in the team sheet at 2pm before I get changed. I only put my track suit on after I have seen their team. Thatís the only strange ritual Iíve got really.
KUMB: It was a strange one Frank when Paulo Futre was down to play, and you had to go and change it for Harry?
FL: Yeah, Harry blamed me didnít he? But it wasnít down to me! Thatís part of being an assistant manager isnít it, you know what I mean? I did get him back another time but I canít tell you about that one!
KUMB: The Asian market is another question one of the readers asked us to put to you. Have we any plans to tap into it? Plus there has been talk of this Japanese centre back [Miyamoto] - what happened with him?
FL: Yes there was, but I donít know what happened about it. I donít know if it is still going to come off or not, but I think it was a bit more of a commercial thing than a playing thing.
KUMB: Didnít we have two players over from Hong Kong last year?
FL: They came over last season. But this Japanese lad was supposed to be coming over at one time, but it seems to have died a death at the moment. I donít know if there is anything going on in the background.
KUMB: Frank there are an awful lot of questions here that question the merits of father and son being at the same club. Is it a strain having father and son together at the same club? I know when we have been linked with Jamie Redknapp in the past Harry has said that he prefers for them to be at separate clubs?
FL: Well he was with Harry at Bournemouth first, and Iíd rather be at Liverpool than Bournemouth wouldnít you?
KUMB: It must be a strain though, isnít it?
FL: Not really no. There is going to come a time when he won't be here but thatís obvious, modern day footballers donít stay at clubs for all of their careers. The days of players having testimonials are now few and far between.
KUMB: Does it frustrate you when you hear the crowd have a go at him just because he is your boy?
FL: No. It used to, but Iíve seen the crowd at West Ham dig out Bobby Moore, so he shouldnít worry about that. They dug Mooro out when I was playing with him. Theyíve got their likes and theyíve got their dislikes; you won't ever change them so I let them get on with it. If they can dig Bobby Moore out then they can dig my son out.
KUMB: If you look at it Frank, Michael Carrick, who is a player I very much admire, has had some good games and he has had some quiet games - but nobody digs him out. The attitude from the fans seems to be that he is a youngster coming through who, like Frank, has a bright future and the crowd seem to get behind him rather than dig him out. Do you think that maybe if Frank had changed his surname and kept the fact that he is your son and Harryís nephew a secret then the minority in the crowd would have treated him differently?
FL: I donít know actually why they are on his case do you? I mean, when I was a player I used to get stuck in for this club and boot a few people for the cause! So I really donít know why they have a go, I canít get inside their brains. Youíd need to be a doctor to do that.
KUMB: Staying on the subject of our promising youngsters, Rio being linked with Barcelona and Leeds - is that just paper talk? Or is there anything in it?
FL: I think that when you have got players like we have got then you are going to get people making noises about buying them, and I just think that sometimes you have to look at what is right for the club and what is right for the player. The situation may change - you never know do you? If we are getting this sort of interest for our players then we are not doing too badly are we? So it comes with the territory.
KUMB: When it gets to that kind of money though Frank, you must start to wonder what you could do with it?
FL: Yeah, of course you do, youíre only human arenít you? Youíre only human to think that way, you know things can change. But at the moment heís happy playing here, like they all are. But at the end of the day it's whatís best for the business.
KUMB: What do you think of the possibility that transfer fees are going to be scrapped, with this new European rule?
FL: I thought that there was a big meeting going on about that?
KUMB: It was supposed to be last Friday?
FL: Thereís not a great deal thatís come out of it has there? Weíre a little bit up in the air about it like you are, you hear things and it's all hearsay and maybes.
KUMB: Wasnít there something about keeping it to players over the age of 24 still?
FL: And they were talking about having two times of the year where you can buy and sell like they do abroad.
KUMB: Do you think that would work though Frank? Because if youíve got an unsettled player it means youíve got to have him for up to six months?
FL: Yes thatís right, I have to be honest here - Iím not sure exactly what they are going to come up with and all we donít want to do is upset the club too much. We've got some good assets here and what you donít want is some law coming in that cuts that down.
KUMB: What we can read about it inbetween the lines was that they are going to pay up so much per year of his contract, so all that happens is that players end up on bigger wages?
FL: Someone had already said that to me, I donít know how it would work to be honest, but I can see where you are coming from.
KUMB: Frank, most of our readers questions have been answered within other questions as weíve been chatting, so could we run with what weíve got and say to the readers that if they have anything to ask in response to what weíve discussed today that we can come back to you in about a months time? We are very grateful for your time and donít want to abuse that.
FL: Yeah, you can come back once a month if you want.
KUMB: That would be great Frank, if we can finish off with a few of our own questions?
FL: Of course, fire away.
KUMB: Weíve got three players on the staff who have come from non-League - Jimmy Bullard, Tom Williams and Gavin Holligan. Do you think that the days of getting a player straight from the non-League scene to the Premiership are long gone now? Alan Devonshire was a long time ago?
FL: You can think of names like Les Ferdinand and Ian Wright who have come straight from non-League, but youíve got me thinking now. What other clubs today have players in their squads who have come straight in from non-League?
KUMB: Stuart Pearce was one wasnít he?
FL: No, Iím on about now.
KUMB: Neil Harris of Millwall, or Kevin Phillips?
FL: Yeah, but they didnít come straight in from non-League did they? They went to other clubs in the Football League. Neil Harris went to school with Frank; I watched him play with Frank, they called him 'Chopper'. He has come through and done well, but any other clubs, they are few and far between.
KUMB: So from non-League to the Premiership, itís a bit of a jump Frank?
FL: Thatís what Iím saying, you try and think of anybody in the Premiership who has jumped straight from non-League. I saw the boy Christie play the other day for Derby. Did he come from non-League?
KUMB: Worksop or Nuneaton wasnít it?
FL: Something like that, heís one maybe whoís come through. Thereís one other - Nathan Ellington, they reckon heís a fair player but they are much sparser on the ground now to what they used to be.
KUMB: So do you think that it may have been fairer to them to go to a club like Orient, Southend or Barnet first, then if they make an impression at that level, then join a Premiership club?
FL: I think so, but you know what its like. When we hear about a player - let's say Dagenham and Redbridge, we go and watch them, and all of a sudden thereís six other clubs there, all Premiership clubs. Now youíve started something and his agent or whoever is in charge will say, 'Well Chelsea want him, theyíve already made an offer', and then all of a sudden itís a race to get him. I think that sometimes you can make mistakes by that. I mean to be fair, Omer Riza who we took from Arsenal for a small fee of about £20,000, heís gone to Barnet now with John Still. What Iím saying is that players need to go and find their level.
KUMB: Maybe the same could be said of Matt Holland to a degree, heís been brilliant hasnít he?
FL: I took Matt Holland when Steve Rowley was the chief scout at Arsenal. Iíd just joined the club and he said to me that he had a lad he was releasing from Arsenal on the YTS. He said, 'he was not good enough for us but he could be good enough for your youth team'. At that time our youth team wasnít very good and I went and watched him play at Little Heath Park on a Sunday morning. He was good enough and we took him, and he progressed though and he was willing to learn. He played centre-half in the reserves sometimes, he played full back, but he got a move and now heís come good.
KUMB: Do you think thatís a disadvantage when a kid is played in several different positions?
FL: No, years ago I used to play all over the place, itís a good thing at a young age to play in different positions. I came here as an inside left; I played for the district at inside left, I played full back sometimes.
KUMB: A lot of players have changed positions from the age of 15? Rio wasnít a centre-half was he?
FL: No, Rio was a midfield player. I watched Rio play in midfield as a boy, so it does happen.
KUMB: Something we have come to see over the last few years of watching the youth sides is that for every Joe Cole or Michael Carrick, Frank Lampard or Rio Ferdinand, there have been dozens who have not made it. It must be hard having to say to a kid, 'Sorry son, youíre not going to make it here'? That must be hard; do you get involved with that side of it?
FL: Yes. Iíve just been dealing with one that would be a good example for you - Ryan Briggs. We had to release Ryan and he was such a dedicated lad. I was gutted; when you have to tell someone who isnít so dedicated it's hard, but when youíve got someone like Ryan who is really conscientious and wants to be a footballer - you know what I mean, it was hard. So he left, and he rang me a while back and asked if I could fix him up with a club. He said that heíd been around the non-League scene. I rang a few clubs for him; I rang Tommy Taylor at Orient, he said he wasnít really taking anyone on, and I rang Lincoln who said that theyíd have a look at him. I rang him back to tell him that I was trying for him, and he said that he was at Carlisle. He said that he didnít like it up there. So he came back; Iím still trying to get him something, but I got a phone call the day before yesterday from a computer company asking me to give them a reference for Ryan Briggs. Now obviously he has realised that he isnít going to get a club, but the kid has gone and got a job - and top marks to him because too many kids walk around feeling sorry for themselves. You know, they are in the pub in fifteen years time: 'Oh I could have made it at West Ham but Lampard didnít like me, or Redknapp didnít like me', but this kid has gone out and done it, and he can still go out and play non-League football. If he does any good he can come back again. Itís the bad side of it, but itís the good side when someone like Ryan has got enough about them. This guy that I have spoken to at this computer company; I rang him up and he said that when Ryan came in they were so happy and delighted with him, heís a confident lad and he wants to do well. He still wants to play football and the bloke said that if he wants time off or wants to leave early he can. It was pleasing to know that he has got himself sorted up to a point.
KUMB: We all sit here and want to be a football manager Frank but something that I donít envy is when you actually have to break the news to the lad that he is not going to be kept on. Who actually does that? Is it you? Harry? Tony Carr? Peter Brabrook? A mixture?
FL: Well itís a mixture but Tony Carr would have the final say. Jimmy Hampson and Jimmy Tindall would be involved but that has to be the case because they see them week in and week out. We see them in youth games and the odd night game, we see them in training sometimes but those boys see them all the time. I think that with a youth player that is coming through, if there is even half a chance then you still take them, its only the ones who you think otherwise that you release straight away. Because what it costs to give them another year, it doesnít break the bank.
KUMB: And at the end of the day you can only field eleven players?
FL: Yeah, and I also think that some players can develop a little bit late. At seventeen or eighteen they might need that other year; some havenít done it but one or two have, so we try to give them a fair crack.
KUMB: Like Grant McCann, last season some would say that he had a poor season, but in pre-season he was on fire?
FL: Heís at Cheltenham now and they want to take him on loan for the rest of the season. Theyíre well pleased with him, he played at left back the other day for them.
KUMB: Didnít he come here originally as a left back?
FL: Maybe, I cant remember that. But anyway, they were short of players through injuries and he played at left back for them and did very well. They want him until the end of the season and it will do him good, get him to play in the real world.
KUMB: He was at Notts County as well wasnít he?
KUMB: The very last question Frank - how do you think that your side of the mid-seventies would fare against todayís team?
FL: Weíd kick them off the park! No seriously, what about the 1980 team?
KUMB: Okay, if youíd prefer that?
FL: Billy Bonds, Ray Stewart, David Cross - it wasnít a bad team was it? Parkes in goal, Devonshire, Brooking; I think it would be a draw with me scoring for the 1980 team and young Frank scoring for todayís team!Ē
KUMB: Frank - thank you very much for your time, it has been a real pleasure talking to you.
FL: No problem.Ē
That just about wraps up the Frank Lampard Q&A. Our thanks to Frank, and to everyone who sent in questions.
New pictures by Dave Clements. Other pictures appear courtesy of Pomeroy.
What did you think of Frank's comments? This is what you had to say ...
"Great stuff. Get him on that once a month offer. BRILLIANT!"
"Top notch stuff :o) Can't wait 'til the TC interview!!"
"Very Frank I thought.
"Seriously, excellent stuff. Look forward to the next one."