Comedians Talk Football: Maisie Adam on Leeds United Heartache, Playing with Rachel Daly & More

Ali Rampling

Comedian Maisie Adam, star of Mock the Week, Have I Got News For You and Hypothetical, and nominee for the 2018 Best Newcomer Award at the Edinburgh Fringe, chats to 90min about growing up watching Leeds, playing with future England star Rachel Daly in her youth, and collecting Power Pods.

Maisie Adam was brought up in a Leeds United household and attended a school packed with fierce Leeds United supporters. 

She was a season ticket holder at Elland Road in the early noughties, meaning she witnessed the highs of Mark Viduka, Harry Kewell and David Batty, quickly followed by the lows of relegation and administration.

"It got so heart breaking when we got relegated," Adam said. "On Mondays at primary school you had to all come in and sit in a circle and go round and say what the best thing about your weekend was and the worst thing. 

"I remember so clearly in year 5, everybody said the worst thing about their weekend was Leeds got relegated. 

"I loved it and then when we got relegated it was so sad, like having to learn what it means - I know this sounds really w*nky - but what it means to be a proper fan. 

"You see them at their best and then you have to stick around to see them when we go through an absolute dog s*** era like we did."

​Leeds were relegated from the Premier League in 2004, just three years after reaching the Champions League semi finals. As the club's finances worsened, they were forced to sell the majority of their high profile players in order to balance the books.

"I remember my favourite player growing up was Alan Smith. Do you remember Power Pods? You’d get them from the post office and they’d be three inches tall. There was a lad who was like a dealer, he used to bring them into school in sandwich bags.

"The best day of my life was getting an Alan Smith Power Pod.

"He was sort of a local hero really, and I remember at the end of all of his press conferences he’d be like ‘I’m sticking with Leeds, I’m sticking with Leeds through thick and thin’, and then of course he left, and not just left for anyone, he went to Manchester United. 

"I think that was my first bitter break up."

Leeds suffered another relegation in 2007. Just six years on from rubbing shoulders with European football's elite, the club found themselves in the third tier.

Two relegations, financial implosion and all of her favourite players leaving; Adam's formative football years had been pretty bleak.

But in the third round of the 2010 FA Cup, the club mustered a silver lining with a famous 1-0 win at over ​Manchester United Old Trafford - "Now you're talking! Jermaine Beckford; he was a bloomin' gem" - and this is one of Adam's highlights as a Leeds fan, rivalled only by a victory over Millwall in 2007.

"I was allowed to go to any games except when Millwall came," Adam explained. "But I snuck out to go and watch it, and we beat Millwall, and it was like ecstatic, we were so, so happy. 

"And I got home and my mum absolutely b*llocked me because she knew exactly where I’d been. 

"My mum was coming out with all these stories from like the 80s and 90s, fans getting beaten up outside the Millwall tunnel and all of this and I was like, ‘okay, I’m sorry…but we won!’"

After years in the wilderness, Leeds have emerged as serious contenders to return to the top flight since the appointment of Marcelo Bielsa in 2018, and Adam is a big fan of the quirky Argentinian.

"I just want to take a minute to appreciate our manager, Marcelo Bielsa," she added. "The fact he brings everything to games in a plastic bag. All his belongings in a bag for life. He sits on an upside down bucket for good luck. The man is mad."

Adam also played through her teenage years, starting her career at the mighty Killinghall Nomads before earning a big money move to Harrogate Town. 

She was a pacy winger in her day, and went onto represent North Yorkshire alongside future England utility player Rachel Daly. Adam hadn't realised her former teammate had broken into the Lionesses squad until she saw her at the 2019 World Cup.

"I was watching a game last year when they were playing in the World Cup, and there was a player whose name rang a bell, and then I realised she’s from where I’m from and when I played for the county, she was in the same team and it was Rachel Daly!

"I used to see her every weekend! She was insanely good back then, like way better than everybody else, she’d just run circles around everyone.

"She was always in the local paper, like she’d been selected to play in America for this team. I mean I guess that’s quite a sad reflection on like how under represented women’s football is, you’d see it and you’d ‘oh good for her, but you probably won’t hear much’. 

"Then I was watching the game and I was like ‘Rachel Daly, I’m sure it rings a bell’, and I Googled her and I was like ‘oh my God! That’s mad!’

"She was insane, she was so, so good. Really, really quick and I remember her being quite quiet, like not a big personality on the pitch, not cocky or aggressive or anything like that. She’d just turn up, do the job, go home."

Maisie Adam's Dream Five Aside Team

Paul Robinson: "Obviously I started with a Leeds legend in goal. Safe hands Robinson."

Sergio Ramos: "The defender I idolised when I was at my peak of watching football every weekend was Sergio Ramos. What a brilliant defender.

"My mate named his cat Ramos."

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: "I’ve gone for a Liverpool player for midfield because listen, they should have some good news. They need a positive right now. 

"I just think he’s insane, and especially following the injury he had, the comeback he’s made I think shows proper discipline. 

"He’s very good at - oh my God, I was about to go, ‘he’s really good at what I was on about earlier that I did.’ That would have been such a w*nky thing to say, obviously I’m emulating him. 

"Very quick, very nimble, he’s just dead good I think. Did you see the dance he did on the stairs? I tried to do it like one or two times and was like ‘nah, f*** that’. See nimble, quick on his feet. I’m sure that’s the routine that Klopp has them doing at the training ground."

Oxlade chamberlain seeming to be enjoying his time in precautionary isolation 😭😂

— Bubbles (@bubbIxs) March 14, 2020

Harry Kewell: "My boy Harry Kewell. He was incredible. He was a good Power Pod."

Megan Rapinoe: "She is next level good. Obviously when you’re watching the World Cup, you’re not wanting anybody else to be good except for the England players, but watching the USA play in that final was just incredible. 

"She is exceptional as a player, and I just think she’s brilliant for what she does for bringing women’s football into the mainstream. She doesn’t take any s*** either, I just think she’s class. 

"I’d love to see the dressing room banter. Megan Rapinoe chatting to Paul Robinson would be interesting I reckon."

For more Maisie Adam and news on future tour dates, follow her on ​Twitter​Instagram and ​Facebook, and check out her podcast ​'That's a First' with Tom Lucy. Catch her on 'Have I Got News for You' at 8:30 on BBC 1, Friday 1 May.