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This Charming Man: Welsh football boss reveals his love of The Smiths

26 May 2022 5 minute read
FAW chief executive Noel Mooney and The Smiths (Credit: FAW)

Christopher Evans

It’s official, Wales has the coolest Chief Executive in world football.

Noel Mooney, who took charge of the FAW in 2021, has spoken to Nation.Cymru about his love of music and in particular his passion for 80’s Manchester indie legends The Smiths.

Mooney, who regularly communicates and engages with fans on Twitter, also today tweeted an image of the cover of the band’s seminal album The Queen is Dead with the words ‘Melancholic genius’.

When he’s not guiding the Football Association of Wales to even greater heights, he loves to relax with music and especially the songs of Morrissey and Marr.

“The Smiths are my band, just clearly my band,” smiles the amiable Irishman.

“I was driving up to Wrexham the other day and I put them on from start to finish. I had them on repeat. Every minute I’m listening to them I think ‘that’s genius’. I got into them when I was about 15 or 16. They just said a lot to me, what nobody else was saying I suppose. They literally said it to me. Through their music, through their words. Things that I had never heard before, it just connected beautifully with me.”

Growing up in the small town of Cappamore in County Limerick, Ireland, Mooney’s musical tastes were initially influenced by his siblings.

“Growing up I was a huge fan of Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, The Doors. That was what was on at my home. My sisters and brothers loved music, our whole household did.”

Strength to be kind

Mooney says that The Smiths resonated with him the way that no other band had, or has since.

“Perhaps Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley were a bit too exotic for us being from Ireland,” he laughs. “The Doors were from LA and that was a bit different and was cool too. But The Smiths, I suppose because they were from these islands and probably grew up in similar circumstances to me, it just spoke to me.”

Mooney visibly perks up when discussing the musicality of his heroes Morrissey and Johnny Marr.

“They were special. This was different, this was actually what was happening at the time. Things that we were thinking but we just didn’t say. It was the way they framed it, the music and the way they encased and wrapped it up. The way they did it all was just perfect.”

The former goalkeeper says that The Smiths were pioneers and paved the way for the “Madchester” scene and bands such as the Stone Roses, Happy Mondays and even Oasis. He beams “The Smiths just stand out to me from that lot.”

When asked about his favourite album, the 45-year-old doesn’t hesitate. “The Queen is Dead.” There is a slight pause when thinking about his favourite song, until he sits forward in his chair and smiles. “It’s got to be ‘I Know It’s Over’ I think. It’s perhaps not a song that stands out or is always listed really, but it’s one that whenever I hear it, I go ‘that makes sense’, I just understand it. I understand what he is trying to say.”

When asked to elaborate, Mooney is more than happy to oblige.

The Smiths (credit: Publicity image)

“When I hear ‘I Know It’s Over’ there are lines in it that blow me away every time. ‘It’s so easy to laugh it’s so easy to hate, it takes strength to be gentle and kind’. Which is so true. It is easy to hate people, it’s easy to make fun of people.

“You see it now in American and British politics for example. This kind of left or right, red or blue. It’s rubbish. We are all quite complex people. They’ve simplified the argument.

“Actually, to be nice to people, to be gentle and to be kind to people actually takes a lot more strength sometimes. You know, we are busy people, we have different feelings – to actually step back and be nice to somebody sometimes is more difficult. The way he says it, you know he really means it.”

The way Noel Mooney says it, you know that he really means it too. Morrissey has somewhat changed in recent years, his view of the world seemingly entirely different to that of the young lead singer with quaffed hair and gladioli protruding out of his back pocket.

“We’ll leave that for another day I think,” laughs Mooney. “Maybe he has been in Hollywood for too long, I don’t know.”

Mooney is keen to take it back to the art, music and lyrics that his hero once produced. “Look, for me, whatever he does, in a period of time, he wrote things that I’ll take to the grave with me because they were just so perfect, so beautiful and so irreverent. The Smiths for me, stand out as geniuses.”

As for the World Cup playoff final on June 5, I’m sure the thought of every member of The Red Wall will be ‘Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want.’

Read Christopher Evans’ exclusive full interview with Noel Mooney about Wales, the World Cup and the Red Wall on Nation.Cymru this weekend.

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