Time for one of the most random posts ever on here. I’m not giving you a visa guide for Suriname, a backpacking overview of Taiwan or indeed how to get a farming job in the land down under. Life can freak you out sometimes. And in this case it’s a good thing. If you have a clock or a calendar, rewind it 10 years please. We are now in February 2004 and I’ll have you back to the present by the time you’ve finished reading. This 10 year journey will basically explain how my mate Lock In Lee and I encourage freaky events when we get together. It’s spooky and weird. We’re so freaked out by it that it has just become a funny obsession now. I felt I needed to write about it this week before the entire 10 year history of these freaky coincidences is forgotten. This is a written record of the weird shit that happens in life. I bring you a story which began in Bournemouth in late 2003, took us to places like Australia, Prague and Adana and returned to England again after 10 years. Along the way you’ll become aware of Nicky Barmby.
Episode 1 – The Lock In, Bournemouth, England (February 2004)
“Lock In Lee” is Lee Adams. I met Lock in Lee in December 2003. I had been voted into a spoof Big Brother style TV show called the Lock In, which was to be held in February 2004. It was hosted by Nerve TV at Bournemouth University in Dorset, England.
Basically around that time, reality TV shows were massive and Bournemouth had a great Media School and a Cool Student’s Union. It was a place for people with personalities rather than bores. I got involved with the Student’s Union on a load of events – Welcome Crew, Nerve TV, Nerve Magazine, Nerve Radio and I even did vocals for an Irish Radio Drama once. Then there was “The Lock In”…
After 2 rounds of auditions, the contestants were whittled down to just 10. On a crazy night in the Student’s Union bar, from those 10, only 6 would get to enter the house. When the big moment came round, I was in. And so was Lee Adams, a crazy Nottingham Forest fan. We were about to be locked in with 4 others for a weekend “away from the world”. OK so while that was mad and a crazy weekend, the report on the Lock In itself will have to follow at some point on a separate post (I promise – it’s been 10 years now). Right now I want to mention how Lock In Lee and I became freaks.
OK so we came out of the Lock In and the next day I get a text on my phone with the words “Nicky Barmby” only. It had to be Lock In Lee. It was. He texted me “Nicky Barmby” and I was in stitches for hours. I couldn’t stop laughing. It’s quite hard to explain why – you had to be there. But basically we were in the Lock In and on the Sunday I went to the diary room claiming Lee and I were bored and we wanted the football results. They refused to give us them as that was one of the rules, but as a peace offering they compiled a football quiz for us.
The girls in the Lock In and the other guy, Paul didn’t know their football but Lee and I got almost all the answers in the quiz right, in fact maybe we got them all. One of the questions that stood out was about Nicky Barmby. It was something like:
“Who played in England’s 5-1 win v. Germany for their last ever cap?” or “Who is the only player to have scored in the Premier League for 5 teams?”. The answer was Nicky Barmby. It became a code word of some kind.
You can watch a video of the Lock In here, Nicky Barmby doesn’t feature:
Episode 2 – “The Lock In Aftermath”: Big Brother Auditions, London, England (March 2004)
So we get out of the Lock In with Lee as the winner and me in third place. Through appearing in the Lock In, Lee and I have become really good mates. Oddly, Paul who finished in 2nd was one of the ones who “played up to the cameras” and spoke behind our backs and neither Lee nor I particularly liked him in the end because of that.
The week after the Lock In we randomly sat beside each other in the students union 24 hour open access centre. It’s freaky. We both have an assignment in the next day and we sit down. A guy walks past with a newspaper. It says on the front cover “BLAIR MEETS ADAMS”. Of course we know it’s Tony Blair and Gerry Adams but this was some coincidence. We were freaked out by it.
We head to London a few weeks later to audition for the proper UK Big Brother. It turns into a big day out in London. We’re in a bar watching the football results come in and Lock In Lee has received a text message saying “Forest have signed Nicky Barmby”. What?? Lock In Lee, Nottingham Forest fanatic is with me in a bar when we hear that his team have signed Nicky Barmby. We are laughing non stop into our pints. It’s just hilarious. I then tell Lee that 10 years ago, in 1994, I met Nicky Barmby. True – and my parents have a photo of it somewhere. I met him at Chase Lodge Spurs training ground in North London.
Episode 3 – The Original Nicky Barmby bet (March 2004)
As Lock in Lee is living in Bournemouth (in March 2004), I invite him along to the AFC Bournemouth match (I’m a Cherries fan) and Lee agrees. Bournemouth are playing Wycombe that day, which by no small coincidence is who Doug supports (Lee’s housemate).
That day is also, of course, Nicky Barmby’s full debut for Nottingham Forest. Lee and I agree that we HAVE to put a bet on Nicky Barmby for first goal. So we call into Coral/Ladbrokes on the way to the match and stick a bet on. We are skint students so we only stick a quid on (maybe £2 together). Forest are away to Gillingham that day.
Half time comes, we get a radio on at the Bournemouth match and low and behold Nicky Barmby has scored the opening goal for Nottingham Forest and we’ve won the bet. We are in absolute stitches. It just couldn’t be funnier. Forest go on to lose 2-1 but even Forest die hard Lock In Lee finds the entire event funny.
Nicky Barmby scored.
Episode 4 – Prague, Czech Republic (August 2007)
I’ve skipped a few episodes here such as the two Nottingham Forest v. AFC Bournemouth matches which we both attended in 2005 – 2006, plus a few meet ups for drinking. No big deal really but Lock in Lee and I then go backpacking together in Prague and have a topsy turvy time. Just adding this episode into the story as Lock In Lee has featured on my blog a few times before. This was the first time I’d seen him for ages and we met at Prague airport, toured the city together, drinking a few bars dry before I headed off on a backpacking trip overland to Marseille. It was during the week we came out of the Lock In we made a deal “let’s go to Prague together“. It was that random and we did it.
There were a few crazy coincidences in Prague too though – one of which was that the barmaid in an Irish Pub, Sarah Hayes knew a mate of mine from Bournemouth, Dan who had also had his own show on Nerve Radio the time I met Lock In Lee. Things were always freaky when Lee and I were together. Nerve Radio was what got me into Nerve TV which hosted the Lock In…
Episode 5 – Birmingham, England (October 2008)
This episode was a night of pure carnage in a £9 all you can drink night in Birmingham. I’m including it because, we didn’t know it then but it would be the last time Lock In Lee and I would meet for FOUR years. Crazy stuff. But it happened. There was one minor coincidence here as well. I was up in Birmingham with my mate Graham Anderson, who works as a driving instructor. Lee then met up with a girl in one of the bars. Guess what? Graham had been her driving instructor. No shit. And Graham lives in Bristol. Nuts.
Episode 6 – Pub Cluedo in Bury, England (April 2012)
Despite the fact that Lock In Lee and I both backpacked and worked in Australia at the same time (2009 – 2010), we missed each other by HOURS in cities. He got a bus out of Melbourne the day my ferry arrived in from Tasmania. He worked for 6 months in Sydney – those were the ONLY 6 months of my time in Australia that I wasn’t in Sydney. It was crazy that we missed each other but we saved it up for the next big one. A day of Pub Cluedo in Manchester.
I organised it and we had a great day out, the day after I headed to watch Bournemouth play Bury, Lee went to the Forest game and I flew to Hong Kong.
Episode 7 – Back in Birmingham, England (January 2014)
Geography is kind to us sometimes. My family live in Northern Ireland near Belfast, my brother lives in Liverpool, Lock In Lee lives in Birmingham, Neil and James live (most of the time) in London/Dartford and my other best mates all live in Bournemouth. On my short trip back to England in January this year I found time to meet all of them. After seeing my family and Northern Irish friends, I headed across the Irish Sea on boat to Liverpool. A day with my brother and I boarded a bus to Birmingham for yet another Lock In Lee reunion. We had no real plans. Except Lee is a top mate – he booked the following day off work just for me. That could mean only one thing – pub, football, beers, banter.
It was a tight schedule though – I got off my bus, we caught another 2 buses up to Lee’s place in Harborne, dumped off my bags, gave Lee a souvenir from Iraq (a Saddam Hussein banknote).
Episode 8 – Minor Footnote, Adana, Turkey (November 2013)
While backpacking in Turkey, I find out Northern Ireland play Turkey in Adana so I head down to watch the lads. I meet Jonny Evans (who plays for Manchester United and Northern Ireland) in the team hotel while collecting my match tickets. I think nothing of it.
Episode 9 – The Jonny Evans Bet, Birmingham, England (January 2014)
I was back in England in January 2014 and ready to meet Lee again. However on leaving Liverpool earlier that day I caught a glimpse of the Daily Star front page. I was in shock. I couldn’t believe it. The day I was meeting Lock In Lee again and there on the front cover was ” Big Bro Lee beds Casey”. What the fuck?! Of all the days, of all the names of Big Brother contestants, of all the pages it could have been on, plus the chances of me checking a newspaper were remote at the time. I don’t make a habit of buying a daily paper any more. And there it was. “BIG BRO LEE BEDS CASEY”.
Front page. Even weirder, Casey was the surname of one of my best mates, Jody Casey, who Lee also knew from my time living in Bournemouth. Lock In Lee also once attended a house party hosted by Casey. Amazing.
On Facebook a few days before we were due to meet, we checked that neither of our teams were playing that Tuesday night which was perfect – we could watch a match down the pub in Harborne (Birmingham) with no stress and not care who would win. It was Manchester United v. Sunderland. Lock In Lee suggests “should we put on a bet?”.
My answer was obvious. We had to put a bet on! It was almost 10 years since we entered the Lock In. We didn’t for one second ever believe we would win the bet – that would just be too freaky. We hadn’t put a bet on together for 10 years. But we went into Coral and put a bet on.
The bet had to be related to the Lock In so we looked at the players names and put bets related to the Lock In contestants:
E.T. (Elliott Tagg) – Extra Time?
We decided a combination of those four bets would mean that:
1. Jonny Evans would score the first goal
2. Manchester United would win the match 2-1 with those 3 scorers
3. They would win 2-1 in Extra Time
4. That would mean penalties (we tipped Sunderland to win)
There were a few weird things that happened in the bookies though – as we went to put the bet on – Jonny Evans wasn’t down on the betting sheet for the match! But we knew he must be playing. We had to write it on a separate piece of paper, after asking the guy at the counter. With the Nicky Barmby bet 10 years earlier, we also had to write it on a separate sheet.
Also the guy behind the counter in Coral would not allow us to put a bet on 2-1 Man United and Sunderland to win on penalties. He couldn’t give us odds on that for some reason. I found it odd, but the match was literally about to start so we put the bets on and headed to the pub – the White Horse.
We get our two Guinnesses and have a proper lads catch up – just like old times. Epic in fact. Lee is a top mate. No matter where I travel around the world – he’s there on the end of a Facebook message or a text. We have it confirmed that Evans is on the teamsheet. The match begins.
At some point in the first half, Manchester United win a corner. Lee says “Jonny Evans will score from a header here”. I heard him and quickly I said “We only need to win a fiver to get our money back anyway”.
The corner comes in, DANNY Welbeck knocks it on and JONNY Evans heads it into the net. Truly unbelievable. We are in complete stitches. It’s 10 years since the Lock In, 10 years since Lock in Lee and I did any bets and we have won the bet. I met Jonny Evans in Adana the previous year. I had also previously met Nicky Barmby. This is crazy. Life is crazy. We cannot stop laughing. At half time we check the other bets too and realise that if the match stays 1-0 and goes into Extra Time, we could win more money. It’s not the money at this point – it’s the freakiness of it. But still we had won 25 quid back (at 25/1) plus our 1 pound stake. If we had put 100 quid on that, 2,500 quid…
Jonny Evans has scored a header. We have won the bet. 10 years on from the Nicky Barmby bet. The match goes on to finish 2-1 after Extra Time (Elliott Tagg) and Sunderland win on penalties.
We have a good night out at Snobs after that and are still in shock. Things cannot possibly get any freakier. Or can they?
Episode 10 – Jack Barmby, On a Bus to London, England (January 2014)
I leave Birmingham behind for London the next day – it’s been 5 years since I was last in the English capital and I board the bus and say goodbye to Lock In Lee at the bus stop in Birmingham. As I bid farewell I wave the Sun Newspaper at Lock In Lee, which has a picture of Jonny Evans goal near the back.
As I approach London, I get a text message from Lock In Lee “Hartlepool have signed Jack Barmby”. (Jack Barmby is Nicky Barmby’s son). I’m in stitches. You can’t make this up. Hartlepool United have signed Jack Barmby. That’s the day I left Birmingham and Lock In Lee and Hartlepool sign Jack Barmby.
At that very moment I glance out of the bus window a shop has the word “Evans” on it. I grab my camera and photograph it just to make sure this is not a crazy dream. I’m freaked out.
I meet my best mate Millwall Neil in Dartford that night for the first time in 2 years to celebrate 10 years to the day that we first met.
Episode 11 – Jack Barmby scores for Hartlepool United, England (January 2014)
On the Saturday I’m back in Bournemouth for the first time in 5 years. I attend Bournemouth v. Liverpool in the FA Cup. We lost 2-0. Lock In Lee has texted. “Jack Barmby has scored on his Hartlepool debut.” (it’s no joke any more)
I then reveal to Lock In Lee that just 2 months ago I actually met Jonny Evans! I was in the Northern Ireland team hotel in Adana, Turkey and managed to get my photo with Evans and Lafferty!
Last weekend Nottingham Forest played AFC Bournemouth at Dean Court and my team won 4-1 – we beat Lock In Lee’s team. Lee and I were on Facebook chatting throughout the game. During the conversation (which incidentally is the FIRST time ever we have had a Facebook conversation while simultaneously watching football, never mind our team’s playing each other) Jack Barmby scores for Hartlepool United.
I wanted to close the book on this now, as 10 years have passed and it was all freaky. All that stuff really happened and it was only when Lock In Lee and I were together. It has freaked us both out for years but we love it. This year, in January when we met, we both predicted that the freakiness was behind us and nothing weird would happen and yet it did. The Daily Star cover, the Evans goal and bet, the Jack Barmby signing, the Evans shop. If this isn’t at all freaky, I don’t know what is!!!
Here’s to the next drink with Lock In Lee, possibly in normality. Perhaps now that I have written about this, the freakiness is over. There may never be a part 2 to this long Barmby Army story.
This post is dedicated to Nicky Barmby, Jonny Evans and Jack Barmby. Thanks lads. Fancy a beer?
The Nicky Barmby timeline:
August 1994 – Jonny Blair meets Nicky Barmby in North London.
December 2003 – Jonny Blair meets Lock In Lee in Bournemouth, auditioning for “The Lock In”.
February 2004 – In the Lock In, Nicky Barmby is the answer to one of the questions in the football quiz. Both Jonny and Lee find it hilarious for whatever reason we don’t know.
February 2004 – Nottingham Forest sign Nicky Barmby. He scores on the same day that Jonny and Lee attend a Bournemouth match together. They had a bet on for him first goal and won it.
November 2013 – Jonny Blair meets Jonny Evans in Adana, Turkey
January 2014 – Jonny Blair meets Lock In Lee for the first time in 2 years in Birmingham. The same day the front page of the Daily Star reads “Big Bro Lee Beds Casey”.
January 2014 – Jonny Evans scores the first goal for Manchester United in the 2-1 win over Sunderland. Jonny and Lee watch the match together and the drama unfold in the White Horse, Harborne. They had a bet on for him first goal and won it.
January 2014 – The next day Jack Barmby signs for Hartlepool and later scores on his debut.
April 2014 – Jonny and Lee chat on Facebook for the first time during a live match and during the conversation Jack Barmby scores for Hartlepool.
Only two words my friends – Nicky Barmby.
Safe travels. Don’t Stop Living.
Jonny Blair and Lock In Lee 😉