WHEN the charity-benefiting collection of sports journalists’ stories Henrik, Hairdryers and the Hand of God was published earlier this year, Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday writer Tom English’s contribution hinged on an episode where he had requested an interview with then Rangers defender Kirk Broadfoot.
In the same week, English had the fortune to secure an opportunity to sit down with Joe Frazier, the former heavyweight boxing champion, for a piece for that weekend’s paper. After two hours – “the two most engrossing hours in my life”, he writes – he returns to his car, switches on his phone and learns that Broadfoot did not, in the words of a press officer, want to be interviewed. The tale was included to highlight the occasional absurdities involved in trying to write about Scottish football and the obstacles placed in one’s path.
Yesterday, however, Broadfoot did agree to be interviewed, and he wanted to stress that he never received the initial request. Sportingly, he was keen to promote the book in which he unwittingly features.
Most importantly, he wanted to help the charity that the proceeds from the book have already helped and will go on helping – the stillbirth and neonatal death support group, Sands. “The book is for a great cause, and I would urge everybody to go out and buy a copy,” he said. “There is a bit which talks about me, but I would like to say I was never asked for that interview!”
Much has happened since he was a frequently sidelined defender with Rangers, not least the club’s liquidation. A broken ankle and a broken foot didn’t help Broadfoot’s cause as he sought to establish himself at Ibrox, and then there was that semi-comedic episode with an exploding egg. There is much to catch up on, with Broadfoot having begun a new career in England with Blackpool. The defender came to an agreement with Rangers earlier this season after transferring his contract from the oldco to the newco.
To the benefit of the club, he elected to accept the option of a free transfer, thus freeing up his wages as the club prepared to begin life in the Third Division. He also took a cut in salary when signing for Blackpool, where he has relished first-team football.
“I went to Crystal Palace last week and there were 25,000 fans there and the atmosphere was incredible,” he said. It is also less intense when he goes shopping with his girlfriend and young son: “Maybe one or two fans approach me if I am lucky. At Rangers I would easily have 15 to 20 people coming up to me.”
He is “proud” to have left Rangers in the way he did, and it has helped preserve him from the brickbats aimed at the likes of Steven Naismith and Kyle Lafferty, who decided to walk away from their contracts with the club at the end of last season. Naismith, indeed, recently acknowledged that it might be difficult for him to return to Ibrox to watch a match in the near future.
“Everyone makes their own decisions in their careers,” Broadfoot said. “They [Naismith and Lafferty] have made the decision they thought was best for their careers. They have to live with it. I am still good friends with them. But they made their decision and I made mine.”
He hasn’t been back at Ibrox to see a game yet. However, Broadfoot added that he “would like to think” he could return with his head held high. “At the end of the day, I am still one of them [a fan],” he said. “I still look out for Rangers results and I still support the club.
“I had some great times and some great runs in the Champions League and then all the way to the Uefa Cup final. There were some great memories, including three-in-a-row.”
He described his departure as “emotional”. Everyone got a “cuddle”, including manager Ally McCoist. “He has done a magnificent job. I think he could be up there with the greatest Rangers managers ever,” he said.
When he drove out of the Murray Park gates for the last time as a Rangers player, Broadfoot “probably didn’t realise what a big step it was”. But that was then, this is now. He has started to establish himself at Blackpool, and scored his first goal for the club in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Blackburn Rovers. Indeed, it was his first goal full stop since scoring for Scotland against Iceland in 2008.
He is hopeful that the move to the Championship can resuscitate his international hopes, having earned his last cap in Craig Levein’s second game in charge. The defender would prefer that the hapless 3-0 defeat in Sweden does not stand as his final Scotland match after four appearances in total.
“When I was playing week in, week out for Rangers, I was in the Scotland set-up,” he recalled. “I was fighting Alan Hutton for that full-back place and then I broke my foot. After that it was injury after injury.”
He has now played five consecutive matches for Blackpool at centre-half, which he feels is his best position. He had timed this burst of activity well, given that he hopes to begin re-signing negotiations again soon, with his contract due to expire at the end of this season. “Things are on the up,” he said.
For the time being then, should anyone else wish to interview the likeable Broadfoot, he is contactable via Blackpool Football Club.
• Kirk Broadfoot was speaking to promote ‘Henrik, Hairdryers and the Hand of God’ by BackPage Press; a collection of exclusive stories by top Scottish sports writers. All profits go to the stillbirth and neonatal charity Sands. Priced £8.99, it is available in all good bookshops and online retailers.