About this series
Close encounters: Paul Wilkinson
15 November 2007
It was May 2002 and myself, my dad and best mate Alan drove over from Manchester to watch Town take on Burnley at BP. It was a six pointer and another relegation fight.
Problem was I did not book any tickets and it was a 9,500 sell out.
After a good rollicking from the lads I resorted to my press experience once again. Paul Wilkinson was Town's coach. Wilko was the nephew of my dad's best mate George Reynolds. I knew I could probably get into the press box. Alan would be on work experience. But we needed a ticket for my dad.
So I go to the main gate and ask to see Wilko. The steward says: "No problem. Walk round to the dug outs, mate. He's down there warming up."
When all three of us get around the hallowed turf, there's no sign of Paul. So we wait in the dug out for 20 minutes and watch all the lads turn up, like Livvo and Micky Boulding.
Eventually Paul turns up and my dad collars him and says: "Hiya Paul - how you doing?" To which Paul replies: "Who are you?" Great start, eh. Me and Alan are cringing in disbelief. My dad carries on trying to talk old Wilko around and asks if he's got any spare tickets. Wilko says he'll see what he can do and tells us to wait here.
We wait for 30 minutes and Paul doesn't come back. So we slip around the corner to try and get into the player's lounge. We tell the burly bloke on the door we're with Paul Wilkinson and the red carpet comes out. "In you go, my son."
We mingle at the bar with the family and wives of players like Danny Coyne and co. Absolute bliss. With the clock ticking my dad goes back out to try and meet Paul but there's no signs. He comes back without any tickets. So we hatch a plan to stay in the lounge until 2:50pm and then head out and take our chance.
My dad disappeared to my grandad's old season ticket seat and Alan and myself found plenty of seats in the press box.
It was a great match and we won 3-1.
It was one of the best freebies we ever had at Town. The fish and chips at Ernie Beckett's never tasted better. Thanks Paul!