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Sport: Richard Thompson

You sound a bit out of breath.

I am. Just as you called I was walking in from a couple of sets of tennis. I play a few times a week. It’s great.

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Apparently your son Teddy is a good player.

He’s really good. He should be playing in these pro-am tournaments.

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Are you competitive?

Some people say I am, but I don’t think I am. I love playing with people who are better than me.

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You’re on solo tour this summer, is there a link between that and the solo nature of tennis?

Actually, in tennis I prefer to play doubles if I can. It’s just more fun, you tend to get more ridiculous things happening. And I love team sports too, cricket and football.

Do you miss the slap of leather on willow?

I still play cricket in the summer. We have supposedly a musicians’ team in the UK called The Sharps.

On to football: you’re a Chelsea fan.

Yes. Originally I’m a Celtic fan, but my son and his mates were fanatical Chelsea fans so I had to go to loads of games.

Your dad’s Scottish – is that the Celtic link?

Yeah, and I had a great-uncle who played for them. He was in their Cup-winning team of nineteen-twenty-something.

And you’ve coached ‘soccer’ in the States.

Yeah, that was when my son was five-to-fourteen. And it was great. Having an English accent was what qualified me to coach – that was about the only intro I needed: “Ah, you’re English. Great – you’ll do.” It’s a burgeoning sport here – three million kids are playing in the US, which is a lot.

Late NME, Daily Mirror and Classic Rock writer Gavin Martin started writing about music in 1977 when he published his hand-written fanzine Alternative Ulster in Belfast. He moved to London in 1980 to become the NME’s Media Editor and features writer, where he interviewed the Sex Pistols, Joe Strummer, Pete Townshend, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Ian Dury, Killing Joke, Neil Young, REM, Sting, Marvin Gaye, Leonard Cohen, Nina Simone, James Brown, Willie Nelson, Willie Dixon, Madonna and a host of others. He was also published in The Times, Guardian, Independent, Loaded, GQ and Uncut, he had pieces on Michael Jackson, Van Morrison and Frank Sinatra featured in The Faber Book Of Pop and Rock ’N’ Roll Is Here To Stay, and was the Daily Mirror’s regular music critic from 2001. He died in 2022.