Article on Bash in The Athletic

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LondonBlade89

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I subscribed this morning on a whim because it's 50% off at the moment and so only £2.49 a month if you subscribe for the year. The monthly fee has already been worth it from this article alone, IMO. Great read.

Basham: I went from Newcastle trainee to serving Nicky Butt at McDonald’s. Now for the Premier League
By Adam Crafton 4h ago
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The envelope sailed through the letterbox and landed in the hallway of the Basham family home.

Sixteen years old and dreaming of a breakthrough at Newcastle United, the news hit Chris Basham with the force of a sledgehammer. Fleetingly, his sunny demeanour dims. “It was heartbreaking,” Basham says. “Hard to put into words, really. When I received that letter from Newcastle, telling me I would be released… I went from high up there in the sky to a low I never thought I would hit. There was no phone call, just a note. My dad opened it. He looked at me, wrapped his arms around me and just said, ‘We are still so proud of you.’ Dad got my friends round that night, we had a get-together but it was tough. I felt some were gutted for me but some maybe had a snigger behind my back because they were jealous of what I had enjoyed in an academy. They maybe thought, ‘Now he’s in the real world.’ At 16, it just felt like, ‘What’s next?'”

As Basham himself explains, he could have gone into Sunday League football or “to the pub with my dad”. Instead, he did something else. He left behind the pretensions of the Premier League and entered the “real world”. He enrolled in Gateshead College and walked into the McDonald’s across the road.

***
Passing by the Golden Arches and pulling into the car park, Chris Basham, now a Premier League footballer at promoted Sheffield United, is greeted by a familiar face. Rachel was his colleague at McDonald’s twelve years ago and remembers him instantly. The pair pose for photographs and briefly reminisce. Pausing for breath as we sit down together in a booth, his mind returns to his first day in a McDonald’s uniform.

“I had a little moped. I needed to insure it and put petrol in the engine,” he says. “McDonald’s was a reality check. I had been around managers like Bobby Robson at Newcastle, footballing legends like Alan Shearer. I walked into McDonald’s and just thought, ‘Where do I start here?’ I had to get trained up to be a McDonald’s Chef and on how to use a till. It was things like making sure every burger looks like a McDonald’s burger. Make sure that when somebody asks for it without cheese then it’s right because timing is everything. It was tough, really aggressive. I remember we used to have Nicky Butt coming through the Drive-Thru. It was nine-hour days and long night shifts.

“I went home at 3am, got showered and I absolutely stunk. Then I was up for college at 8am. It was draining. It was something like £3.50 or £3.75 an hour. If you did overtime or Christmas, you could get to £4 or £5. I worked New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. When people were drunk, it was horrible. There aren’t many pubs round here but the drive-thru from Newcastle, we’d get rammed and customers could be abusive. They’d order 30 burgers and eat two.

“I didn’t mind making stuff but it was the sheer amount of hours behind the grill. It is stressful. But this definitely helped me. Discipline, punctuality, structure, wearing a uniform every day. I’d clean the floors. Whatever you signed up for, you do it. You had to collect gold stars on your name badge: one for cooking, one for cleaning, one for working the till. Little goals gave me focus.

“I might still have my McDonald’s cap somewhere. The uniform, if you wanted a second one, it came out of your wages. So mine did not smell the best. Grease, sweat, everything. It is blood, sweat and tears behind that counter. I have so much respect for those people, particularly those working with kids. I did it for around a year and three months and I was worn out.

“I left in the end when my moped, parked outside, was stolen. That disheartened me. I found weekends hard, too. I wanted to play football but if McDonald’s wanted us in, I had to do that. £20 in a brown envelope to play football locally wasn’t the same pay. If someone said to me then that I would be in the Premier League one day, I’d have laughed at them.”

Basham’s journey from chip-fat to champagne has not been straightforward. As an 18-year-old, a second chance came when he was scouted playing for Durham County and he was picked up by Sam Allardyce at Bolton. Yet over the past decade, Basham has played in all four tiers of the Premier League and Football League, while he also had a loan spell at non-league Stafford Rangers and suffered a broken leg while at Blackpool.

“Arriving at Bolton, I was homesick and weedy. I couldn’t even lift a bar. Sam had me training with the first-team inside two weeks but wanted me on the weights in the gym. He sent me to Stafford. It was a culture shock. These guys had real jobs: painters and decorators arriving for training in their overalls. I stayed in Travel Inns the night before the game and had a £20 voucher to get food. Sam wanted me toughened up. All that has been lost a bit. You cannot say a word to anybody now. When I first went into Bolton, if I gave the ball away, it was horrible. I got screamed at by Ivan Campo but it raised standards. Now people give the ball away and you just get on with it. As youngsters, we tidied the gym up and cleaned the toilets at Bolton. I cleaned Kevin Nolan’s boots and looked forward to Christmas tips. All of that has gone.”

Listening to Basham rowing back over his story it is hard not to smile at how much his world has been turned upside down. At the age of 31, Basham is a Premier League player for the third time. “But it is the first time I really belong,” he insists. At Bolton, he was limited to six starts and in Blackpool’s solitary season in the top-flight, he began only one match.

At promoted Sheffield United, Basham will be a central tenet. He created more chances (29) than any other central defender in England’s top two tiers and he scored the most important goal of his life by striking the decisive goal at Elland Road against promotion rivals Leeds United in March.

In a three-man defence, his gliding ventures forward from deep saw him labelled as ‘Bashambauer’ by some supporters online. “The manager calls it an overload. We work on three-against-two situations in training, allowing our wing-backs to move on, a centre-half to underlap or overlap and a No 10 to drop deeper. It’s a see-saw effect: if I go up, then a team-mate covers for me. We barely concede goals on the counter-attack.”

Quite clearly, he worships Chris Wilder, the manager who has guided the club to two promotions in three seasons. “We had an interview the other day where four boys were asked to describe him in one word. We all called him a legend. We admire his background, managing in lower leagues and we all have trophies, medals and open-top bus tours because of his work.”

On the day before a game, Wilder presents his players with a document that outlines the positives and negatives for every individual’s direct opponents. His assistant Alan Knill has encouraged Basham to study videos of Vincent Kompany, the former Manchester City defender. “The way he brings the ball out, his overall communication, which has gone out of the game a bit, but [that is what] the manager wants to see.”

A hard drive then drops into the team’s email inbox on the eve of the match, detailing set-piece instructions and extra guidance. When Louis van Gaal managed Manchester United, he implemented an app that told him whether his players had bothered to open the file. Wilder does not check up on his players, instead trusting grown-ups to do their jobs. The manager allows his players their own quirks. The players eat together on the day of the game, but superstitions – such as Basham’s preference for jam on toast, alongside the nutritionist-recommended salmon and pasta – are also indulged.

Off the pitch, Wilder’s approach is mature. Players were rewarded for a top-10 Championship finish in the summer of 2018 with a trip to Las Vegas and the same prize awaited this year’s promotion. The coaching staff had their own trip to New York. On the pre-season training camp in Portugal, Wilder afforded his players a night out.

“He said to us: ‘Go out, but there’s a curfew.’ Interesting, as in League One, he didn’t do a curfew. The curfew this time was 2am and a man ticked us off when we came in. The captain got us together and had everyone back by 1.30am. We had a good night without being steaming and sick. After the friendly game last week against Real Betis, the manager said, ‘Go and have a drink.’ Not one player did because all our heads are in the Premier League. We want to be the best version of ourselves and be at peak performance. It’s clever management.”

Among Sheffield United players, there are nerves along with excitement. “Sitting here, thinking where I have come from, doing those night shifts in here, I never thought I could make it as a top player,” he says. “I still get jitters and shivers thinking about it. I feel like I’ve gone back in time sitting here with you. I can’t put it into words. It is overwhelming, shocking, amazing.
“It’s all pinch-yourself. I will – hopefully – finally play at St James’ Park in a Premier League match for the first time. I speak to Peter Beardsley, who was my coach in the Newcastle academy, and he says, ‘If I had anything to do with it, you would never have left.’ He writes me notes saying how proud he is of me.”

Basham briefly glances outsides, back to where he used to park the long-lost moped. “I actually got a call three years later from the police saying they’d found the moped. The tyres were a mess. Mam told me: ‘You’re a professional footballer now, best not to worry too much about the bloody moped!'”
 

Darlington82

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Ravel should read that, if Bash has not already told him. We need everyone to be professional, that can have another drink in May.

Great piece by the way thanks for sharing.
 

LoughboroBlade

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I subscribed this morning on a whim because it's 50% off at the moment and so only £2.49 a month if you subscribe for the year. The monthly fee has already been worth it from this article alone, IMO. Great read.

Basham: I went from Newcastle trainee to serving Nicky Butt at McDonald’s. Now for the Premier League
By Adam Crafton 4h ago
save-icon.png


The envelope sailed through the letterbox and landed in the hallway of the Basham family home.

Sixteen years old and dreaming of a breakthrough at Newcastle United, the news hit Chris Basham with the force of a sledgehammer. Fleetingly, his sunny demeanour dims. “It was heartbreaking,” Basham says. “Hard to put into words, really. When I received that letter from Newcastle, telling me I would be released… I went from high up there in the sky to a low I never thought I would hit. There was no phone call, just a note. My dad opened it. He looked at me, wrapped his arms around me and just said, ‘We are still so proud of you.’ Dad got my friends round that night, we had a get-together but it was tough. I felt some were gutted for me but some maybe had a snigger behind my back because they were jealous of what I had enjoyed in an academy. They maybe thought, ‘Now he’s in the real world.’ At 16, it just felt like, ‘What’s next?'”

As Basham himself explains, he could have gone into Sunday League football or “to the pub with my dad”. Instead, he did something else. He left behind the pretensions of the Premier League and entered the “real world”. He enrolled in Gateshead College and walked into the McDonald’s across the road.

***
Passing by the Golden Arches and pulling into the car park, Chris Basham, now a Premier League footballer at promoted Sheffield United, is greeted by a familiar face. Rachel was his colleague at McDonald’s twelve years ago and remembers him instantly. The pair pose for photographs and briefly reminisce. Pausing for breath as we sit down together in a booth, his mind returns to his first day in a McDonald’s uniform.

“I had a little moped. I needed to insure it and put petrol in the engine,” he says. “McDonald’s was a reality check. I had been around managers like Bobby Robson at Newcastle, footballing legends like Alan Shearer. I walked into McDonald’s and just thought, ‘Where do I start here?’ I had to get trained up to be a McDonald’s Chef and on how to use a till. It was things like making sure every burger looks like a McDonald’s burger. Make sure that when somebody asks for it without cheese then it’s right because timing is everything. It was tough, really aggressive. I remember we used to have Nicky Butt coming through the Drive-Thru. It was nine-hour days and long night shifts.

“I went home at 3am, got showered and I absolutely stunk. Then I was up for college at 8am. It was draining. It was something like £3.50 or £3.75 an hour. If you did overtime or Christmas, you could get to £4 or £5. I worked New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. When people were drunk, it was horrible. There aren’t many pubs round here but the drive-thru from Newcastle, we’d get rammed and customers could be abusive. They’d order 30 burgers and eat two.

“I didn’t mind making stuff but it was the sheer amount of hours behind the grill. It is stressful. But this definitely helped me. Discipline, punctuality, structure, wearing a uniform every day. I’d clean the floors. Whatever you signed up for, you do it. You had to collect gold stars on your name badge: one for cooking, one for cleaning, one for working the till. Little goals gave me focus.

“I might still have my McDonald’s cap somewhere. The uniform, if you wanted a second one, it came out of your wages. So mine did not smell the best. Grease, sweat, everything. It is blood, sweat and tears behind that counter. I have so much respect for those people, particularly those working with kids. I did it for around a year and three months and I was worn out.

“I left in the end when my moped, parked outside, was stolen. That disheartened me. I found weekends hard, too. I wanted to play football but if McDonald’s wanted us in, I had to do that. £20 in a brown envelope to play football locally wasn’t the same pay. If someone said to me then that I would be in the Premier League one day, I’d have laughed at them.”

Basham’s journey from chip-fat to champagne has not been straightforward. As an 18-year-old, a second chance came when he was scouted playing for Durham County and he was picked up by Sam Allardyce at Bolton. Yet over the past decade, Basham has played in all four tiers of the Premier League and Football League, while he also had a loan spell at non-league Stafford Rangers and suffered a broken leg while at Blackpool.

“Arriving at Bolton, I was homesick and weedy. I couldn’t even lift a bar. Sam had me training with the first-team inside two weeks but wanted me on the weights in the gym. He sent me to Stafford. It was a culture shock. These guys had real jobs: painters and decorators arriving for training in their overalls. I stayed in Travel Inns the night before the game and had a £20 voucher to get food. Sam wanted me toughened up. All that has been lost a bit. You cannot say a word to anybody now. When I first went into Bolton, if I gave the ball away, it was horrible. I got screamed at by Ivan Campo but it raised standards. Now people give the ball away and you just get on with it. As youngsters, we tidied the gym up and cleaned the toilets at Bolton. I cleaned Kevin Nolan’s boots and looked forward to Christmas tips. All of that has gone.”

Listening to Basham rowing back over his story it is hard not to smile at how much his world has been turned upside down. At the age of 31, Basham is a Premier League player for the third time. “But it is the first time I really belong,” he insists. At Bolton, he was limited to six starts and in Blackpool’s solitary season in the top-flight, he began only one match.

At promoted Sheffield United, Basham will be a central tenet. He created more chances (29) than any other central defender in England’s top two tiers and he scored the most important goal of his life by striking the decisive goal at Elland Road against promotion rivals Leeds United in March.

In a three-man defence, his gliding ventures forward from deep saw him labelled as ‘Bashambauer’ by some supporters online. “The manager calls it an overload. We work on three-against-two situations in training, allowing our wing-backs to move on, a centre-half to underlap or overlap and a No 10 to drop deeper. It’s a see-saw effect: if I go up, then a team-mate covers for me. We barely concede goals on the counter-attack.”

Quite clearly, he worships Chris Wilder, the manager who has guided the club to two promotions in three seasons. “We had an interview the other day where four boys were asked to describe him in one word. We all called him a legend. We admire his background, managing in lower leagues and we all have trophies, medals and open-top bus tours because of his work.”

On the day before a game, Wilder presents his players with a document that outlines the positives and negatives for every individual’s direct opponents. His assistant Alan Knill has encouraged Basham to study videos of Vincent Kompany, the former Manchester City defender. “The way he brings the ball out, his overall communication, which has gone out of the game a bit, but [that is what] the manager wants to see.”

A hard drive then drops into the team’s email inbox on the eve of the match, detailing set-piece instructions and extra guidance. When Louis van Gaal managed Manchester United, he implemented an app that told him whether his players had bothered to open the file. Wilder does not check up on his players, instead trusting grown-ups to do their jobs. The manager allows his players their own quirks. The players eat together on the day of the game, but superstitions – such as Basham’s preference for jam on toast, alongside the nutritionist-recommended salmon and pasta – are also indulged.

Off the pitch, Wilder’s approach is mature. Players were rewarded for a top-10 Championship finish in the summer of 2018 with a trip to Las Vegas and the same prize awaited this year’s promotion. The coaching staff had their own trip to New York. On the pre-season training camp in Portugal, Wilder afforded his players a night out.

“He said to us: ‘Go out, but there’s a curfew.’ Interesting, as in League One, he didn’t do a curfew. The curfew this time was 2am and a man ticked us off when we came in. The captain got us together and had everyone back by 1.30am. We had a good night without being steaming and sick. After the friendly game last week against Real Betis, the manager said, ‘Go and have a drink.’ Not one player did because all our heads are in the Premier League. We want to be the best version of ourselves and be at peak performance. It’s clever management.”

Among Sheffield United players, there are nerves along with excitement. “Sitting here, thinking where I have come from, doing those night shifts in here, I never thought I could make it as a top player,” he says. “I still get jitters and shivers thinking about it. I feel like I’ve gone back in time sitting here with you. I can’t put it into words. It is overwhelming, shocking, amazing.
“It’s all pinch-yourself. I will – hopefully – finally play at St James’ Park in a Premier League match for the first time. I speak to Peter Beardsley, who was my coach in the Newcastle academy, and he says, ‘If I had anything to do with it, you would never have left.’ He writes me notes saying how proud he is of me.”

Basham briefly glances outsides, back to where he used to park the long-lost moped. “I actually got a call three years later from the police saying they’d found the moped. The tyres were a mess. Mam told me: ‘You’re a professional footballer now, best not to worry too much about the bloody moped!'”

Excellent piece that. The Athletic have brought together some top journalists but I’d been waiting to see some output before subscribing. I will do having read that.
 

Grappler

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Great stuff, a down to earth lad, if ever there was one.
 

KeyffSmyff

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That's 2 interesting articles from the same source today.
 

Dimyan93

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If he thinks working part time at Maccy's is hard its probably a good job he got a second chance as a footballer.
 

Grizzly blade

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Gotta love the bloke.
The term Blades legend is used too much if you ask me, but I have to admit Bashambauer is getting there.
A typical “leaves nothing out there” player, more talented than given credit and has his feet firmly on the ground.
Would love him to bag a goal this season!!

Liked the insight into the management too, reminds me of articles read on Clough and how his players felt for him.
 

S5Blade

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Excellent piece that. The Athletic have brought together some top journalists but I’d been waiting to see some output before subscribing. I will do having read that.

Bear in Mind that Alan Biggs is covering us for the first month and then Richard Sutcliffe.
 

the young spaniard

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Sums up what The Blades under Wilder is about...Would love to see Bash make yet another step up.He has had doubters and critics all the way but answered them on the pitch with some great displays.Fortunately he's one of many who wears the shirt with pride and give 100%.
 

itsinyerblood

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Reading that clip is like something out of an Alan Sillitoe novel.

Bash still has that glimmer about him of someone who is out of place, who has somehow snuck into a party uninvited and stayed there. Substance over style best sums up our Chris, and a testament to endeavour, bloody mindedness, and not taking 'no' for an answer. One of the first names on Wilder's team sheet, I doubt it will be a surprise to anyone at United to find that Bash has acquitted himself admirably this season.
 

bornablade

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One of the best articles posted on here. Thanks.

Basham's story sums up what we are about.

Let's all go into this season fearing no-one.
 

diode_blade

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Top article LB, thanks.
"The tyres were a mess. Mam told me: ‘You’re a professional footballer now, best not to worry too much about the bloody moped!'” "
🤣 🤣

Someone should get hold of a knacked out moped, put it outside the players entrance with a no plate of "bash 1"
 

Stretch

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Absolutely fantastic. Compare this lad's journey to some of the pampered, tattooed prima donnas that litter the upper tiers of football these days. Most of them wouldn't know what a proper job is.

No wonder Wilder loves this kid, as do I.
 

Beans

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Arse. I was kind of out on having to pay for this kind of writing, but this is a really good article so now I may have to.
 

Maidenhead

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"Created more chances (29) than any other central defender in the top two divisions" and yet we still have fans that think he's not good enough.

He'll do for me!
 

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