Canners on Tour
Canners on Tour
I am touched and moved after reading this....
Meeting Paul Canoville…
When I was in London a few months ago to attend Chelsea’s last game with Spy, he told me that once in New York I’d be meeting Paul Canoville, the first brother to ever play for Chelsea FC.
You can imagine my excitement, not only is Paul a legend, he also helped pave the way for every racially abused black child dreaming of making it big. It wasn’t an impossible dream for us anymore, it now became doable.
Once in New York and all settled into my hotel room, Beth Wylde, in charge of Chelsea in America called me down to come meet everybody. While greeting everyone I spotted Paul in between people, I walked over to him and he went to shake my hand, I said “No brother, I’m not going to shake your hand, you I’m going to hug! You’re a legend, it’s an honor to meet you!” he replied smiling “It’s an honor to meet you too.”
We hit it off straight away, just like brothers do.
I found out that although he’s been to New York several times he never saw Times Square, so the following day I took him, we walked and chatted, until we encountered an Elvis Presley look-a-like and decided to take a picture with him, once the picture was snapped and we were about to walk off, Elvis asked us for money we both thought we were being robbed, after all we aren’t American and so didn’t know that you have to pay to take a picture with fake look alike celebrities.
Once the mistake was cleared up, I gladly payed Elvis for his troubles and we walked on.
In the following days we spent a lot of time together and got to know each other a little better.
We attended the New York Redbulls – Chelsea game in the Redbulls Stadium and then proceeded to fly from New York to Charlotte, North Carolina.
In the flight over we got to reminiscing on some of our best football moments. Paul told me the story of him getting called for a try-out for Chelsea in 1981, at the time he was playing for Hillingdon Borough FC. He came to train and since he didn’t hear anything back he figured he didn’t get in and just didn’t come back the following week. Since he didn’t show up, one of the Chelsea coaches called him up and asked him why he didn’t show, Paul explained that he thought he hadn’t gotten in and the coach apologized for the confusion and assured him they wanted him on the team, and so Paul started playing for Chelsea at 20 years old.
A team for which he played for 5 years, just like me.
On his first game and first time riding the team’s bus, he could barely withhold his excitement, he had never been on a bus with a toilet on it, let alone tables and a kitchen. He loved it so much, he was ready to move in.
Once in the stadium he started off on the bench, as the minutes passed he was getting more and more anxious to come on the field, he kept moving in his chair and finally got the coach to get him to warm up.
As soon as his feet touched the sideline’s grass, the insults began, and so his confidence began to sink.
Since the coach didn’t seem to notice Paul was ready to come on, he started jumping up and down, stretching behind the goal and doing everything in his effort to make himself visible to him.
On the 85th minute the coach gave him the chance he had hoped for and called him on the team, but that day broken by the hurtful screams and slurs Paul did not play the way he meant to, and once the referee blew the whistle he couldn’t have been quicker at making his way into the locker room.
To get as far away from those nasty screams as he possibly could.
I asked him how he managed to get his confidence back after what had happened and he replied with the same answer I had grown up with:
“Mario, as long as you believe in yourself, nobody can break you.”
Written by Mario Melchiot ~ Ex Chelsea Player.