My friend Archie who died last night

My friend Archie Christie died on the 30th of January 2014. Archie – one time Bradford City Chief Scout, Director of Football and the man offered the post of Chief Executive which he turned down as he left the club – will be sorely missed.

It is hard to countenance the impact that Archie had on my life and my thinking about football, about the business of football, and about how football should be played but I’m in his debt for what he did teach me. He is the only man I have spent significant time with who I felt knew more about football than I did.

His legacy for Bradford City may be debated. Colin Cooper – caretaker manager of the club following Peter Jackson’s resignation – said he would get rid of Christie to which Julian Rhodes is said to have replied “Well, he is making the decision…”

There is much talk and one hates to say where verbatim is in the mythos but the impression I found when close to the club in that period of time is that Rhodes had asked Christie who he thought should be the next manager of Bradford City and Christie had said Phil Parkinson.

And that all worked out pretty well.

But what he did or did not do for the club is not what I will miss about him. I will miss the calls at the end of his days – his days ended at eleven or twelve – when he just seemed want to talk about the game. He was working with John Still at Luton Town and only last week I had heard him put off his boss so he could carry on chewing the fat with me about Rhys Murphy.

“Had I seen this player? What did I think of that player? Did I know this about that player?” The man’s appetite for football was immense and his thoughts on it incisive and accurate.

Talking to people who knew him today there was a feeling that if every club had an Archie Christie to manage the business side of their dealings then there would be less debt in the game.

As a man he was as straight shooting as they came and had the rare trait in life of being able to face up squarely to unpleasant realities. I hope to take that from him.

And he was funny too. Buy me a beer and I’ll tell you how he got me to pretend to be the Bayern Munich manager to pull the wool over the eyes of a Premier League gaffer.

It worked.

His love of soul music, his pride in the young players he helped on their way, his commitment and love for his family. Those are my memories of my friend. Funny, warm, and with a knowledge of football which was easily the sum of every pundit and back page column writer and ex professional looking to make a quick buck.

I will miss Archie Christie very much.


Archie and I by Jason McKeown

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