Often Partisan

Dave Langan Interview

Dave Langan was Birmingham City’s record signing for fourteen years after coming to Blues in a £350,000 deal from Derby County in 1980. The right-back made 102 appearances for Birmingham City (92 in the League) and scored three goals in a four-year spell. I was lucky enough to speak to Dave about his career at Blues and about his new book “Running Through Walls”.

OP – Thanks for taking the time to talk to me today, Dave. You mention in your book that you trialled for Blues prior to trialling and signing for Derby County. Did the fact Blues turned you down ever weigh in your mind prior to signing for the club?

DL – I trialled for Birmingham City just before my 15th Birthday, when Freddie Goodwin was in charge and I wasn’t very good – I was very homesick and I had a poor trial. I couldn’t believe it when they came back in for me; I thought about the trial and that they could have had me for nothing but here they were signing me for £350,000.

OP – Did you feel much pressure on your shoulders from being the club’s record signing – a record that stood for fourteen years until the signing of Ricky Otto in 1994?

DL – I was very naïve, I didn’t really realise that it was such a large amount of money. I just thought about playing for the club, I wanted to join because Derby had been relegated to Division Two and Blues had been promoted to Division One (which is now the Premier League), the deal was done in ten minutes in a motorway cafe with Jim Smith. People in Ireland thought I’d get the £350,000 but all I got was £3,000 signing on fee, spread over three years.

OP – Do you have any outstanding memories of St Andrews – the fans, the atmosphere or players?

DL – One game that stands out was the 3-0 win over the Villa, and there was the game against Stoke where we were 4-0 down after something like 20 minutes but the fans kept cheering us and backing us, we lost 5-1 but they didn’t stop singing. Then there was the Southampton game at home we won 3-0 and the crowd gave us a standing ovation.

OP – Can you confirm for my mate that Mark Dennis was 10 times Kenny Sansom was?

DL – Dennis was a great player, he could have easily played for England but it was his temperament, he got sent off so many times. Off the pitch he was a quiet lad, a smashing lad but on the pitch he was something else. We called him “Damien”, you know like in the Omen.

OP – Do you bear a grudge or any ill-will to Alain Couriol or Jean-Francois Larios for the injury that they caused to your knee?

DL – It was part and parcel of the game then. They came into the tackle to do me, studs up. It would have been a straight red card these days but there wasn’t even a booking then. The adrenaline kept me going but the next day at my Ma’s house the knee had ballooned up and it was agony. It caused an ulcer to form under the kneecap which rotted the bone away.

OP – Do you think that if you’d have done the injury today that you’d have suffered in the same way? I got the impression from the book that the techniques used are now antiquated and that they didn’t really give you the same level of care you would get these days.

DL – All they used was a block of ice and a cortisone injection to make the swelling go down. It would be very different these days – the club would have diagnosed the problem straight away with an MRI scan and would have been able to treat it but back then you’d have to wait for the swelling to go down, they’d give you an injection, you’d wait a week or two for an x-ray, and so on.

OP – You were very brave to carry on, you only missed two league games after that incident that season.

DL – I was very naïve, I just thought cortisone was a painkiller, I didn’t know what it did or that you shouldn’t have too many cortisone injections. To the club you were a waste of space if you were injured, they just wanted you out there, playing.

OP – You talk about the depression you suffered as a result of your injury – is that something that was overlooked then?

DL – There was no one to look after you – you’d go in for half an hour of treatment, and then you’d go home, where you’d be sat alone – and that’s where I turned to the drink. These days, the PFA have set up stuff to deal with that, there’s the clinic Tony Adams has helped set up and they’re doing stuff in the wake of what happened to Gary Speed.

OP – Is there anyone you admire currently in the ROI squad?

DL – I went to see Ireland play Germany in Dublin after a book signing, and they were battered, it was difficult to pick a player. I do like Robbie Keane though, and Richard Dunne – although I shouldn’t say that because he plays for that vile lot.

OP – What about Stephen Carr and Keith Fahey?

DL – Stephen Carr is a good player, I’ve not really seen Keith play though.

OP – You mentioned on Twitter that you’ve not been to St Andrews for over 25 years – are you looking forwards to Saturday?

DL – I’m excited but I’m also very nervous, I hope people will remember me. It’s very good of the club to do this.

OP – I don’t think you’ll have anything to worry about, a lot of people I know a little older than me have fond memories of you. Do you have any advice for aspiring footballers?

DL – Roy McFarland told me that I should put money in a pension scheme – which I never did – but he was right, and that your career goes very quick – which it does. Savour every minute.

OP – Thanks very much for taking the time to talk to me Dave, and I look forwards to seeing you on the pitch at St Andrews on Saturday.

His book, “Running Through Walls”, written with Trevor Keane and Alan Conway is out now, priced £12.99. Dave will be signing it at the Club Store on Saturday between 11 and 12 and the George pub between 12 and 1.


9 Responses to “Dave Langan Interview”

  • Richard Granfield says:

    David Langan was a good player and was a part of arguably Blues’ best ever side in 1980.
    Colin Todd,Frank Worthington,Archie Gemmill,Alan Curbishley,Willie Johnston,Joe Gallagher.Alan Ainscow,Keith Bertschin,Kevin Dillon as well as Mark Dennis.
    Unfortunately David made some less than complementary comments when leaving the club to the effect that his time at Blues was for him wasted years.

  • DoctorD says:

    Great interview — horrific to hear about his knee injury. How times have changed in such a short time.

    I thought this comment sums up the former short-termism of so many clubs:: “To the club you were a waste of space if you were injured, they just wanted you out there, playing.”

    Probably there’s a bit too much player power these days though.

  • Paul Carter - The Voice Of Reason says:

    ‘I do like Robbie Keane though, and Richard Dunne – although I shouldn’t say that because he plays for that vile lot.’

    You never lose the hatred :)

    Also – ‘Do you bear a grudge or any ill-will to Alain Couriol or Jean-Francois Larios for the injury that they caused to your knee?’ – Great research Al.

    • almajir says:

      Funny story about Larios, he went to the World Cup in Spain 82 but was promptly sent home again as it was rumoured he was, ahem, playing away with Platini’s wife.

  • Paul Carter - The Voice Of Reason says:

    I also was at the World Cup in Spain in 82

    In a word, MAD

  • Keep the faith says:

    Will dave be introduced to the fans on Saturday? Best right back I have seen in a blues shirt .

  • B25dave says:

    The Book Signing in the Royal George is sponsored by The Blues Trust and Hollywood Monster
    look forward to seeing as many as possible there,and lets sell some books to help out one of the best and certainly the best ive seen at Right Back for Birmingham City

  • Paul Carter - The Voice Of Reason says:


    I look forward to actually meeting some of the trust cos as I said fundamentally it’s a good idea.

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