|Lee Makel||Ten Second Interview|
|When he first came to Scotland, after a career spent playing down south, Hibs were one of the teams to make an enquiry about Lee. But Hearts, and manager Jim Jeffries, were first to come in with a firm offer and Lee ended up playing for the Gorgie side. |
It’s well documented that Lee has still to sign a new contract for Livingston, with his existing deal due up at the end of the season. But ongoing talks between the club and the player have been amicable. “I have a young family now and I am looking for security for them,” said Lee. Whatever the outcome, fans can be assured that Lee will always give 100 per cent for the club. For he knows no other way of playing.
Born in Sunderland and brought up in Washington, it was Lee’s will-to-win that brought him to the attention of his senior clubs. But he’s not the only star in his family. For Lee’s younger brother, Gavin, is a famous actor, particularly well known for his role as Rob in Byker Grove and his appearances in Catherine Cookson.
Not that Lee’s ever held ambitions of treading the boards. For as long as he can remember he’s always had a ball at his feet. “I used to go to the shops kicking a football,” said Lee, “wherever I went I had a football.”
Lee first got picked for his local district side when he was nine-years-old. “I was a silky right winger at that time,” he joked.
He also turned out for Springwell Juniors, the same team as ex-Celt Tommy Johnson played for. Soon after, Lee was picked up by Newcastle school of excellence and started attending there. Unfortunately, they weren’t exactly his boyhood heroes. “I was a Sunderland fan,” he laughed. But boyhood heroes or not, Lee signed schoolboy forms with Newcastle and then signed a four-year contract with Willie McFaul, before Jim Smith took over as manager. Lee also played under Ossie Ardilles, but found his days at Newcastle were numbered when Kevin Keegan moved into the manager’s chair.
From there, Lee moved to Blackburn, where his highlights included turning out in the Champions League and the Charity Cup final against Everton.
If his spell at Newcastle wasn’t what he’d dreamt of as a boy, Lee was able to fulfil one of his ambitions at Blackburn by turning out against Liverpool at Anfield in front of a full house. “It was an amazing experience,” added Lee, “with all the history and tradition surrounding Anfield.”
Crystal Palace then made a move to sign Lee, but were pipped at the post by Huddersfield, where Lee’s first season was spent challenging for promotion and his following two avoiding relegation. “We had just been promoted that first season and were a bit of an unknown quantity as far as other teams were concerned,” said Lee.
As before, Lee was attracting attention from other teams and was made aware that Hibs were interested in signing him. “I didn’t know much about Scottish football,” added Lee, who is now happily settled in Edinburgh with his wife and child, “but before anything happened Jim Jeffries and Hearts made a firm offer for me.”
It was only after arriving at Tynecastle that Lee was made aware Jim Jeffries had been monitoring his progress since his time at Newcastle. During his spell at Hearts, Lee had another crack at European football, this time in the EUFA Cup. He also played against Livingston in the cup. With Jim Jeffries an acknowledged admirer, it was no surprise that Lee ended up at Bradford when the former Hearts boss took over down there. But by now a man of many clubs, Lee was soon to add to his tally when he made the journey north again to sign for Livingston. And it’s a move he was happy to make.
“I was very impressed with the set-up,” added Lee, “Jim Leishman, David Hay and the chairman all made me very welcome.”
Lee, who celebrated his 31st birthday at the start of this week, arrived at the club in January during Livingston’s first year in then top flight.
“Finishing third was a great experience,” he added.
Although Livingston’s fortunes dipped a bit last year, Lee is confident that the club have a good enough squad to ensure a place well into the top six. “We have a very tight-knit bunch of players here, but we have been drawing too many games and our home form has not been the best. “We’ve got to start turning our draws into victories.”
Today gives Lee and his fellow team-mates an opportunity to start improving their home form. But Lee knows it won’t be easy against a Hibernian side packed with some of Scotland’s best young prospects. “They have a lot of young players and are full of energy. But this is the start of a very difficult spell for us, with games to come against Rangers, Hearts, Dundee and Spartans.”
Off the field, Lee’s loving being a father again, his fiancée Claire recently giving birth to a little girl. Although he takes his fair share of parental duties, Lee is relieved that Claire takes over responsibility for the night-time feeds on a Friday, ensuring that he gets a good, uninterrupted sleep the night before important matches.
When and where were you born?
Romantic status (ie married, single, available, unavailable)
What’s your favourite record?
Altogether Now by The Farm
Who would you want to play you in a film?
Robert de Niro
What do you like most about West Lothian?
There’s not too many traffic lights
What do you like least about West Lothian?
There are too many roundabouts
If you could be someone else, who would it be?
I think it would be a golfer, Tiger Woods or someone like that
What do you like most about yourself?
I am pretty easy going off the pitch
What do you like least about yourself?
I’m not so easy going on the pitch. I like to win, that’s my problem
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I was the North East Kung Fu Champion for two years when I was 14 and 15