Andrew Flintoff - the Lancashire cricket legend talks about his new career
PUBLISHED: 00:00 30 June 2015
Preston’s Ashes hero Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff will be back in the city this month as he kicks off a new career. Words by Paul Mackenzie
Andrew Flintoff expects a raucous reaction when he strides on to the stage at Preston’s Guild Hall this month. Not only will it be a homecoming for one of the city’s most popular sporting icons but he knows his family and friends will be in the audience as he begins the next stage of his career as a comedian.
‘My mates will be there so I know I’m going to get heckled and there are a couple of stories which are indirectly about my wife and she’ll be there, too, so it should be an interesting night,’ the former England cricket hero said. ‘We enjoy doing it and hopefully the crowd will feel the same way.’
This latest twist in a post-cricket career which has so far included regular appearances on TV panel shows and a brief stint as a boxer, sees him embarking on a nationwide comedy tour with his show, called Second Innings. His July 7 date in Preston is one of 35 around the country – he’s also appearing at Chorley Little Theatre this month – with his friend, Clyde Holcroft, a producer of the Comic Relief shows.
‘People seem to like the podcast where we just talk about anything,’ said Flintoff, who is known as Fred because of his similarity to Fred Flintstone. ‘We were talking about it and said “Why don’t we do a tour?” and here we are, we’ve got a 35 date nationwide tour. It’s exciting but I’m also a bit nervous, especially about kicking it off in Preston.’
Flintoff, who now lives in leafy Prestbury in Cheshire, is a former winner of the Australian version of I’m a Celebrity and is now making a BBC programme about the armed forces, having recently filmed the tenth series of Sky’s sports panel show A League of Their Own. ‘Over the years I have found I’m more comfortable in that situation and being around people like Jack Whitehall and John Bishop,’ he said.
‘In the new show I don’t tell jokes, it’s full of stories about some of the stuff around cricket, mostly the stuff I did on tour. There is a format but it’s very loose. Sometimes when I start speaking I’m not sure where it will go, so the show will be different every night. I think that’s good for the crowds but it’s important for my sanity too. I think I’d go mad saying the same things every night.
‘People seem to like hearing about the daft stuff I got up to. It’s stories people have probably never heard. It’s not all about cricket – you certainly don’t need to be a cricket fan to enjoy it – it’s just for people who want to have a laugh, mostly at my expense. I like that though, I don’t take myself too seriously. I’ve got some things right in my career and lots wrong, so there’s plenty to go at when we’re looking for stories to tell.’
You may not need to be a cricket fan to enjoy his show, but Flintoff has lost none of his love for the game. Long before he was England’s Ashes hero, he learned his trade at St Annes, where his grandfather is a still a regular.
‘St Annes was a really important stage of my career and the club helped me so much,’ he said. ‘I owe a lot to the club. It does what a cricket club should do and it’s at the centre of its community. My Grandpa Harry is always at the club and it’s the centre of his world. I’m hoping I’ll be able to get down and play some games there later in the summer, but I need to fit that in around everything I’m doing.’
He won’t be playing for Lancashire this season – his other commitments mean he won’t have the time – but is confident the side, now coached by his former England team-mate Ashley Giles, will do well. ‘Lancashire should win Division Two,’ he said. ‘They have got a good squad and nothing but promotion should be acceptable.’
For tour dates and ticket information, go to andrewflintoffofficial.co.uk