Twenty years ago a new girl band called The Spice Girls exploded into the UK charts with their catchy debut single, ‘Wannabe’. I liked it. A lot. At my age – 24 – it wasn’t cool to admit that, but I’d never really been one for caring what anyone thought about me.
I bought the single and played it on a loop at home for a week until my flatmate threatened to cook it. At the time I was writing for a UK-based football (aka soccer) weekly called ’90 Minutes’. We always had this football/music crossover where we would talk to bands about football and footballers about bands and we decided to put this new girl band on the cover dressed in football kits.
Naturally, as I was the one who was obsessed with them, I got to do the interview. I went along to a studio in London and was so excited I said ‘bye’ instead of ‘hello’ when I was introduced to the girls.
After breathing into a paper bag to calm myself down I had a chat with Mel B (Scary Spice), Mel C (Sporty Spice), Emma (Baby Spice) and my favourite Spice Girl, Geri (Ginger Spice). I have literally no filter between my thoughts and what comes out of my mouth and let slip to Geri that I couldn’t believe she could stand up straight because her boobs were so enormous yet her feet were so tiny. “You could wear hedgehog shoes! Or baby shoes!” I squealed.
Geri looked a bit scared, and waved Victoria (Posh Spice) over while she went off to have her lunch. (If anyone’s interested, Mel B, Geri had sausages and mashed potatoes, Mel C had sushi and Emma had hummus, salad and pitta bread.)
Every Spice Girl apart from Mel C smoked. Cigarettes, I mean, nothing sinister. But you could tell that their PR didn’t want anyone to write about that. These girls were role models for a new generation.
— Spice Girls (@SpiceGirlsNet) December 2, 2015
I liked Victoria instantly. She had a slight awkwardness about her and was the shyest of the group. She kept pulling at the hem of her dress, saying that she didn’t know why she always had to wear such short skirts. “The other girls have got good legs,” she shrugged, “but we’ve all got our thing now and mine seems to be the tight dresses and heels.”
“It could be worse,” I said. “You could be ‘Hobo Spice’ instead of ‘Posh Spice’. Just imagine what they’d dress you in then!” She laughed, smoothed down her hair and nibbled on a couple of dried dates.
That’s all I saw her eat all day, and I felt a bit sad for her. She was clearly incredibly self-conscious despite her killer figure that she obviously felt needed trimming down. It didn’t.
I pulled out an envelope in front of Victoria, explaining that it contained photos of footballers whose attractiveness I wanted her to rate with a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Five photos in and she was beginning to tire of my stupid charade. I pulled out the last one with vigor.
“What about him?”, I asked, holding out the last photo. Her eyes lit up and her jaw dropped simultaneously. “God, yeah,” she replied, beaming and smoothing down her hair again. “He’s lovely! Who is he?”
“No point doing your hair,” I said, “It’s only a photo, he can’t see you! His name is David Beckham. He plays for Manchester United. If you want to meet him,’ I said, “why don’t you ask Mel C to take you to Old Trafford? She knows her football.
“I’ll put it in the magazine that you fancy him so he already knows and you’ll only need turn up in the players’ bar and smile at him. He’s bound to fancy you. I mean, who wouldn’t? It’ll be the easiest date ever procured, I guarantee it. You can thank me later.”
“I will,” she whispered. “I’m going to ask him out for dinner.” She got ready for the shoot and what do you know? She appeared in a Manchester United kit, on account of their manager, Simon Fuller, being a fan of the club. It was almost too good to be true.
The article came out over Christmas exactly twenty years ago. In it I’d written up the chat with her verbatim and I knew David Beckham would see it as most footballers read the magazine. During an interview with a few of the Manchester United players which appeared in a newspaper that same week, David was quoted as saying he fancied ‘the one with the legs from The Spice Girls.’
Obviously they all had legs, but we took it to mean he meant Victoria on account of hers being so delicious. We put that in the same issue so she’d see it.
Found a ’96 copy of footie mag 90 Minutes, featuring Spice Girls interview & the moment Posh set her sights on Becks. pic.twitter.com/PDM10FjDny
— Richard AL Williams (@RichALWilliams) April 6, 2014
A few weeks later Victoria met David in the players’ lounge at Old Trafford. They were engaged a year later and when the news broke I kept expecting a wedding invite to land on my doormat but it never did. Both their autobiographies mention my role as cupid, but twenty years later I’m still waiting for that ‘thank you’.
If you’re reading, Victoria, a couple of handbags from you latest collection will do nicely, as would a new car. Or even a house. Cheers.