Chris Wolstenholme is the bassist with Muse, one of the biggest bands in the World who were recently voted 'Best Act in the World Today' by Q Magazine.
More importantly, Chris is a Millers fan. Born in Rotherham in December 1978, he moved to Teignmouth, Devon 11 years later where he eventually met up with Matt and Dom to form Muse.
The rest, as they say is history. With the help of his Uncle Maurice (thanks Moz), me and a good mate of mine David Brook were given the opportunity to talk football and music with Chris on the day of their gig in Birmingham early in November. Over 90 minutes coincidentally) we chatted long and hard about the Millers, football in general and of course his day job in
Muse. It was fantastic to talk footy with a Millers fan who on a nightly basis plays in front of 15-20,000 people and who, like the Mighty Millers, has played at Wembley (2007).
We hope you enjoy reading this as much as we enjoyed chatting to Chris?
Please note, this interview contains some swearing, and it has been censored as much as possible, however milder swear words are still included unedited.
How long have you been a Millers fan?
Since I was born really. I'm from Rotherham obviously, my dad was a big fan, my grandad was a big fan and my Uncle Maurice (Moz) is a big fan. I always followed their results when I was young as it was kind of in the family, my dad, my grandad and Maurice used to go. Yeah. They started to take me to games when I was 7 or 8. I didn't go to many, maybe 5 or 6 a season.
Can you remember your first game?
Not sure, maybe it was Shrewsbury? I certainly remember the second game I went to. It was great, it was an evening game against Leyton Orient and we hammered them 5-2. I think Clive Mendonca scored a hat trick, maybe Shaun Goodwin scored too? I loved it you know. It was weird because Millmoor was only a small place but at the time it seemed massive.
Did you stand on the Tivoli ?
Most of the time, it was all standing then and we used to stand in the corner of the Tivoli on the shop side I think…….I might have got on the telly too at some stage. I remember the last game I went to before I went down to Devon, it was against Crewe and it was the first time I actually saw us lose.
Everyone thought that if they took me then we wouldn't lose. I'm having the same thing with my son, every time I take him to see Rotherham we win, so I gonna keep taking him. I remember the game against Crewe really well, we lost 3-1 and had a perfectly good goal disallowed for offside. I remember the linesman getting pelted with apple cores…..I just loved it. The stadium seemed massive, but then going back having played Wembley Stadium it seemed really tiny.
Who was your favourite player when you first started?
Probably Bobby Williamson cos he was banging 'em in left right and centre at the time. I struggle to remember most players back then, but I do remember Mendonca, Shaun Goodwin and Kelham O'Hanlon.
Do you remember Kelham's voice?
Yeah he had a weird voice, all high pitched, and he used to spend all match screaming allsorts at his defenders.
Do you have a favourite match?
Maybe that Leyton Orient match. Like all football fans I always love games with loads of goals. It was after our promotion I believe, and we started like a house on fire. I stopped going, particularly after I went to Devon, everyone started taking the piss out of my accent, and nobody knew where Rotherham was.
Where did the accent go?
Well I just had the piss taken out of me so badly I just had to get rid of it. I found myself deliberately not using the accent, because there's so much slang, I was saying stuff and people just couldn't understand me. They were like, 'what does all that mean?', the thee's and tha's, so I deliberately didn't speak like that and within a year it had gone. I was still only 12.
Did you make it to Wembley in '96?
No I didn't, I think Maurice did. To be honest, I went through a period when I didn't really go to games, but when I used to come back on visits to Rotherham I'd take in a couple of games. I remember a night game against Torquay in '98, we were 2-0 down with a couple of minutes to go, it was pissing down, it was freezing cold and I had the missus with me, and we thought 'sod this, let's go - it's not gonna get any better'. Got in the car 5 minutes later, turned the radio on and ….2-2!!!
And guess who blames himself for that? Your Uncle Maurice!!!
Does Moz keep you updated?
Yeah, I follow it pretty heavily now. I've been to Don Valley once and I didn't really enjoy it all that much. It was against Notts County and we won 2-1. I thought the atmosphere was a bit poor. 25,000 capacity but only 3,000 in it, it's almost as if you feel self-conscious cheering when we score because there's 20 empty seats around you!!
The season before, I went to 6 or 7 games at Millmoor and I really kind of got into it again. When I'm at home I've always got Sky Sports on and Moz is always texting me from the games. It's a pull from Teignmouth but I do the matches now with my eldest son Alf, who's 10.
Have you got your kids on the Millers straight and narrow?
I'm trying, he's a Chelsea fan the little tinker, but he got into football at the time when Chelsea were winning things. Everyone in my school year was a Man Utd fan because that was the time when Man Utd were winning everything all the time. I think everyone in Alfie's school year are Chelsea fans because that's what they grew up with. I mean 10 years before Man Utd's time, Liverpool was the top club. I can't really blame him cos he was born at such an unfortunate time!!! I'm lucky though, he's really into his football and he loves playing, he's a really good player, he's top scorer with his team and he won Manager's Player of the Year last season. He just loves watching football.
I haven't had him to Chelsea yet but took him to the 2007 FA Cup Final, the first one at Wembley because it was just before Muse played there in June 07 and we got a load of free tickets in the hospitality bit. That was his first Chelsea game.
What does he reckon to the matchday experience at Rotherham?
He just loves watching football, he'll watch any football. I mean we've got a second lounge in the house which doubles as a kid's room and I catch him watching stuff like FA Cup classics from 1976. Regardless of who it is, he loves watching football. He follows Rotherham a bit and looks out for their results. They're his second team which is better than nothing I suppose!!
Do you have an adopted team seeing as you live down in Devon?
Not really, I just couldn't bring myself to do it. The thing is that all the teams down in Devon are teams that have at some stage been in the same league as Rotherham.
Teignmouth's only 5 miles away from Torquay and not far from Exeter and Plymouth. I mean I was reading the messageboards at the time that Rotherham looked as though they might go under, and people were asking 'who would you support if Rotherham wasn't there?'. It wouldn't be the same. I'd still be a fan of football, but when you're born into it, when it's inside you it's not something where you could just go 'Oh, I'll support Leeds now', or support Barnsley. The thing is that you aren't going to support anyone nearby because they're all seen as arch-rivals and nowhere else means anything. I wouldn't support anybody; I'd enjoy watching football, simple as that.
Were you caught wearing a Rotherham shirt during the Hullaballoo DVD?
Yeah, I think it was…..in one of the studio shots. The promotion shirt with the white stripe down the front?
Moz told me that you wore it on stage to celebrate promotion…??
I don't think I wore it on stage. I was going to but the other guys wouldn't let me…they're pretty strict about wearing sports-gear on stage.
What about wearing one on stage at Don Valley?
It would be nice to. It's good to do stadiums anywhere but to do the one where your team plays would be special, though we're not really big enough to do a stadium gig in every town in England…..because obviously people travel from everywhere when you play somewhere like Wembley!! The idea next summer is to definitely do a couple of Wembleys again, but there's talk of doing something in the North. There's a problem because we can't play Man City, they just don't do gigs, Old Trafford you can but there's a very small window of opportunity.
U2 got 50,000 at Don Valley in August!
That's another option but our Management is saying that people from the other side of the Pennines won't travel, but people from our side will travel to Manchester! Personally I'd love to play at DV, it'd be great to get some of the players down, I've never really met any of them and as well as the huge majority of Millers fans. (Ed. Since this interview Muse have announced 2 Wembley gigs and a gig at the Old Trafford Cricket Ground all for Sept 2010)
We have it on good authority that you share a manager with the Chuckle Brothers!
Actually it's our Accountant…….though our accountant is our manager!!! But he's the Chuckle Brothers' accountant! He started off as our accountant and then became our manager. So yes, we have something in common!
Are you as funny as them?
I bet you are???........What about what's happened to Rotherham over the last 4 or 5 years?
It's been awful. Things were looking really good for a bit during the 4 years in the Championship. It was great, everyone expected us to go up and then come straight back down again, but we hung around for a bit. Though I always had this niggling feeling in the back of my mind that this was always a bit temporary; because as much as the players had done well and the team was moving up, the club wasn't moving up around it.
Did you expect the balloon to burst quite so badly?
I didn't expect it to go quite as badly, but I did think to myself that we were riding on this wave and that things were eventually going to subside a bit. I always felt that once we started to slip down again, we'd soon find ourselves back down in Div 3 or league 2 or whatever it's called nowadays!! But 37 points is ridiculous. There was the season we started on -10 in League 1, we got rid of the deduction quite quickly, we had Will Hoskins banging goals in up to Xmas and it looked as though we were gonna get out of the mess we were in. Then he left, results started to go down and we'd clearly sold our 2 best players in him and Lee Williamson, We put ourselves straight back into trouble again. It all went downhill from there and we ended up back in League 2 again!! Again a great start, but then we got hammered with another 10 pointer later in the season. We looked as though we could have made the play offs, but the deduction must have been so deflating for the players knowing that they were on the road to possible promotion only to then have it taken away.
It feels like the Football League is punishing the wrong people, they're punishing the club for the faults of the old regime and that's basically what's been happening!! And then to start on -17; I always looked at last season as a battle between the 3 at the bottom between us, Luton and Bournemouth, and I genuinely believe that this helped the players by making them think that the minimum they had to do was finish the top of 3 clubs and that we weren't on our own. Without this mindset I think it would have been difficult, though it did help that our new owner put money into the squad.
Where do you think the new stadium should be?
They reckon they've got somewhere now don't they? Though every time I go on the website they've got another possible site and saying that we're still on schedule to get this done. We've got to be back in Rotherham in two and a half years, haven't we? I mean how long is it gonna take to build the place? Hopefully it's not going to be more points deductions if we aren't back by 2012?
We'll simply lose the £750K bond and possibly lose our League Share!
Ok. Though the main positive I see here is that we have a Chairman who really wants this to work, he's put money in and seems to be the first Chairman for years who isn't dealing in pipe-dreams. He's very serious about what he wants, he wants to be back in the Championship in 3 years; he seems passionate about the club but is a sensible businessman as well.
It does help having money. The previous regimes apart from the Booths found the lack of cash a real problem.
I always found it amazing with Boothy, I suspected that they were always trying to push us out of Millmoor because they wanted the land but I was wrong, cos it was revealed at some stage that there was a covenant on the land and it had to be used for sport. There was even talk of using it for f****** stock car racing or something like that. You're not telling me that stock car racing is gonna bring in more money than 4 thousand people turning up for a football match every fortnight? Now the pitch is sat there doing nothing. I know Millmoor's not great but not many League 2 grounds are. At least there's a bit of atmosphere there y'know? At least you can go and feel as if you're actually at a football match - you feel as though you're watching a training session at Don Valley.
Me and Moz were talking about this the other day, about how away games keep us going. That's why I went to Wealdstone last Sunday?
That was a bit touch-and-go from what I heard??
We were alright up till half time, then it got a bit tight because they started to run at us. They were coming through midfield too easily. Pablo and Danny Harrison aren't the quickest.
That's what I found weird. When I managed those 6 or 7 games the season before last, I always thought Pablo Mills was a good player, but playing a bit out of position. He's great at breaking down play, but when he'd got it, he sometimes didn't know what to do with it, so it often ended up being hoofed in the hope that someone would get on the end of it…….he wasn't the only one in the team though.
There's just no playmaker, is there? So many of the games I saw that season, you might as well have not had a midfield. One of the centre-halves gets it, hoofs it up to the forwards and sees what happens.
Pablo does overdo the 'Hollywood' ball instead of playing the simple pass, but he's one of those players that when he's not there, you miss him badly. But we do need some dynamism in the Lee Williamson mould, don't we?
An attacking midfield player, exactly. I guess you've got someone like Paul Warne who could play there maybe? I know he's getting on a bit now - sorry Warney - but could he do a job at this level? His work rate's great but is he gonna make something happen? It feels like we haven't had that (dynamism) for a long time.
He's a great fouler is Warney……
I can remember when he played for us the first time round he was a bit like Emile Heskey, not necessarily in the way he played but in the sense that he wasn't a prolific goalscorer. You can't question his workrate, his effort is brilliant but my opinion is that anyone who plays in an advanced position on a football pitch should score F****** goals, your strikers and your attacking midfield players should be scoring more goals than anyone else on the pitch.
I mean Emile Heskey scoring 5 goals in 70 f****** starts for England is just not on, it's not on, I don't care what else he does, football's about who scores the most goals. I know he sets 'em up, but it's not like Wayne Rooney is
scoring hat-tricks every match.
Anyway, I gather you play too. What position do you play? You were up at the Aurora before the Sheffield gig last week weren't you?
Yeah, yeah. I usually play centre forward. When I was younger I used to play left wing or centre forward…..and sometimes right winger. I'm right footed but can use my left as well……or at least I used to be able to!! I've started cutting inside a bit now, you know….but usually play up top now.
One of the lads we know came up and took part. He didn't actually know you were going to be there, he just thought it was going to be members of your (Muse) Crew. He had a whale of a time.
It was a really good laugh. Managed to score a couple of goals!!