A ‘Tease’ In LA
Schmoozing With Rod And The Other Stars
Charles Bamforth tends not to do easy when it comes to tracking down former Wolves players. In the early weeks of the new Championship season, he has located two more for us from the 1970s and 1980s – and neither of them lives in England. Mind you, nor does he…..read on for an action-packed story!
If Wolves had not been in desperate financial straits in the early 1980s, things might have turned out very differently for John Teasdale. Instead, he has had to suck it up in later life by jogging at Newport Beach, shooting the breeze with Rod Stewart and dating a movie star.
“Life is good” he tells me. One can see why – but one can also see that the Teasdale football career has been one of so near, and yet…
Although born in Glasgow, John Teasdale’s nomadic lifestyle started as a wee lad. “My father was in the Navy and we travelled all over,” he added. “I went to schools near Ipswich and Portsmouth among other places before we settled in Elgin when I was 12. I went to Elgin Academy.
“I was always a striker or a winger. My PE teacher was Innes MacDonald, a legend in those parts. He was manager of Elgin but was unhappy about how they were run by a committee who would choose the side. So he went off to manage a tiny club, Nairn County, and made them Highland League champions. I had signed for him at Elgin but he came back to ask me as a 16-year-old to play for him at Nairn.
“Scouts started coming, from places like Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Cardiff, Rangers and Aberdeen, but I signed for Wolves pretty quickly.
“My uncle had married a woman from Wolverhampton and he was stationed at RAF Cosford. His father-in-law contacted the club and I went there on a week’s trial.
“We had a friendly against Hednesford and I scored a hat-trick. I signed as full-time pro – it was December 1980, two months after my 18th birthday.
“John Barnwell and Richie Barker were fantastic to me. But I was a young kid from a small town in the far north of Scotland, a bit on the wild side.
“Everything was new to me. They threw me into digs with an 80-year-old woman and forget about me. Boredom kicks in.
“I was close to Mick Hollifield and Paul Bradshaw. Paul took me under his wing. I wasn’t really a big drinker but, let’s say, I ended up having to appease him. It got me in trouble two or three times.”
Teasdale became a regular in the Central League side and recalls: “They were very competitive times. We had the likes of Norman Bell, Mel Eves, Rafael Villazan, Mick Matthews and Hugh Atkinson. If they were together these days, how far up the League would they get?”
John’s progress was being dutifully noted by the management. Early in April, 1981, he was taken aside by coach Ian Ross and told he would be traveling to Sunderland with the first team.
“I thought ‘that’s good experience’ and never dreamed I would be playing, so I didn’t tell my family or anything. After the pre-match meal, I went for a walk with Ian and he told me I was playing.
“They hadn’t told me before as they thought I would get nervous. I played alongside Andy Gray up front and laid on his goal in the 1-0 win.”
The line-up Wolves fielded was: Bradshaw, Geoff Palmer, Derek Parkin, Wayne Clarke, John McAlle, George Berry, Atkinson, Willie Carr, Gray, Teasdale, Eves.
John Teasdale went on as substitute in the next two games, then played out the last four games of the season in the no 11 shirt.
“I was very quick, so they played me out wide to counter the threat of attacking full-backs. I only figured up front in two senior games for Wolves.”
The second of those was his solitary appearance the following season, against Everton in a 3-0 reverse at Molineux. Ian Ross had just been put in charge of the side after Barnwell’s sacking. Soon, though, Ian Greaves arrived.
“The place was in turmoil,” he says. “Everyone could feel it. They were struggling for money. Ian Greaves let me know I could go on a free transfer – me and about ten others, including George Berry and Colin Brazier.
“I found out they stopped me playing after the Everton game because, if they had fielded me again in the first team, Nairn would have had to receive some more money. I think the fee had been something like £20,000 going up to £30,000.
“I was told I would be getting a ‘free’ on the Monday and, on the Tuesday, we had a second team game against Manchester United. I ran Gordon McQueen ragged in front of tons of scouts.
“At 7.30 next morning, I took a telephone call from Neil Martin at Walsall saying they wanted me. To be honest, I panicked, thinking that at the end of the season, I would have no club. So I jumped in the car and spent most of the day there and they convinced me to sign.
“When I got home, I found there had been 14 clubs trying to get hold of me, including David Pleat at Luton, Queen’s Park Rangers and Middlesbrough. I got back to Walsall – but they would not tear up the contract.
“From the very first, I hated it. I’d gone from Molineux with good pros and great facilities like Castlecroft to players with bad attitudes training at the local park.
“Neil Martin hadn’t told me he was on the verge of leaving – he had been joint manager with Alan Buckley, who I had squeezed out of the team. I asked him: ‘So what do I call you, Bucks or Boss?’ He replied: ‘It doesn’t matter. You won’t be here long’. I was six weeks into a two-year contract.
“I spiralled at Walsall. I went from being a kid who loved his football to someone who hated it. Walsall wouldn’t release me and they owed me a slice of my signing-on fee.
“I went on loan to Ian Ross at Hereford. One day, though, I was playing in a reserve game at Walsall and a chap approached me, asking whether I fancied playing in Germany. He pointed out a scout sitting in a car; a chap that didn’t speak a word of English but who fancied me as a player.
“Walsall did release me but there was to be none of that signing-on money. I first of all joined Willenhall Town, the reason being that the German agent needed me to be registered with a club in England so he could negotiate the signing-on fee over there.
“I trained with Schalke 04 for three months and that was superb. I got back to full fitness and played some practice games. But then I was approached about whether I fancied playing in Vienna for Wiener SC. I loved it – a young man playing for a great club in Vienna and being a bit of a ladies’ man……it was Merry Christmas every day!
“Of course they have a winter’s break in Austria, so I went back to Wolverhampton for three weeks and fell in love with a girl I met in a bar in town.
“I was desperate to get out of my contract to come back to England and be with her but they said no. Eventually they relented. When I got back, Sam Ellis got in touch with me and I signed for Blackpool. I loved it there.
“I still lived in Wolverhampton, would go up on a Monday, back home after training on Tuesday. Up again for training on Thursday and the game and then back home late on the Saturday. We had a great season and got promoted, although I spent a lot of time on the bench.
“Sam offered me a contract but I had been approached to go and play indoor football in the United States. I couldn’t get it out of my head.
“I travelled to New York and found the weather like the north of Scotland, so I took a Greyhound bus across America and found my way to California.
“I started training with the LA Lazers but needed to start earning some money. So I signed up with a Yugoslav who had a business making parts for weapons but who loved his soccer and had a Sunday team.
“That’s where I went. It was for the best – I was warned that running around on hard indoor surfaces would have ruined my knees, which I had injured in Austria. A specialist told me I would pay for it later in life.
“One of the teams we played against was Rod Stewart’s Exiles. I hit a hat-trick against them and they invited me to join them. I told them I would need a job so they asked: ‘Can you drive limousines?’
“So that’s what I did, in Beverly Hills for $1,000 a week back in the day. I did it for two years and loved it, becoming quite friendly with Rod. And all of this, with the Scottish accent thrown in, did me no harm with the ladies!”
The lure of the professional game was strong, though, and John was feeling the need to get back to Scotland despite a close relationship with actress Linda Blair, who appeared in The Exorcist. He returned to his first club, Elgin.
“They had won nothing for 20 years and in my first season, we were terrific and won the treble. But, after living in LA, it was tough going back to Elgin.
“I went for a holiday to Lanzarote and ended up staying for 18 months, running a night club. That fitted nicely with my lifestyle!
“Elgin were in turmoil and called me to invite me to return as player-manager. Half the committee were against it. But I took the crowd from 300-400 to 1,600-1,700, playing good attractive football.
“I travelled all over the UK scouting players but the committee had no money. I upset lots of the people who ran the league with my opinions and how we were going to do this and that.
“Right at the end of the season, we were close to clinching the championship. I asked our secretary if anyone was in danger of suspension. He said there was me and one other player in that position and it happened that we would both be missing the final game, in which a win would clinch the title, as the suspension would start on that Saturday.
“On the Sunday, we had a friendly lined up with Dundee as part of the deal that took my brother Mike to Dens Park. So a switch of our league game to the Friday night made sense.
“I contacted the Highland League and asked if we could bring the game forward and they said that it would be fine if the opposition agreed, so I got in touch with the manager of Forres Mechanics and he was happy with the change.
“It meant that me and the other player could appear and we won 6-0. On the Monday night, there was a meeting of the Highland League. The protocol should have been that anything they discussed needed to be taken back to the clubs for further discussion, prior to heading back for final debate and a vote. But, on that evening, there was none of that. We were stripped of the championship for ‘bringing the game into disrepute’. I pointed out that they had sanctioned it but it was pointless. It was a witch-hunt against me.
“To be truthful, I went off the rails and got into a couple of well-publicised fights. I never should have but it was clearly time for me to get out of there.
“I went back to Lanzarote, then back to LA to continue my playboy ways. I blew off steam for a couple of years before settling down to marry my (now-ex) wife. We are still great friends.
“We had a beautiful daughter who has just turned 17. I moved into the car business, first with Nissan, then Toyota for ten years and for the past five with Mercedes-Benz and the best dealership in the world.
“I just moved from Santa Monica to Temecula, although I should have mentioned that I did have three years of madness in Las Vegas! Life is good, waking up to the sun every day.”
John still returns to Wolverhampton every couple of years.
“Wolves is always the first result I look for, along with Celtic. I visit my old pal Ken Bates, the Wolves assistant groundsman, as well as Jane Dudley and Wendy Corbett Evans. I met both of them in Beatties when I had just signed and they made me feel very welcome. I have been their great friend for 35 years – both were engaged to huge Wolves fans at the time.”
There was just one thing left to ask: Was it true John had hawked sheepskin jackets from Wolverhampton market in the 1980s? “No” he replies. “They were calf-skin.”