Sunday, 30 March 2014

CHAPTER: 15



GOODBYE Mr PETROVIC, IT SURE WAS FUN WHILE IT LASTED.







As the summer of ’94 was coming to a close I was spending less and less time at home with Wendy and the kids, it was very much eat, sleep and out. Wendy, as usual, was playing the mum and dad role getting the boys ready for school ,preparing meals, shopping etc. In between she was still in demand to model at various charity fashion shows(See photo).


Meanwhile my work load was beginning to affect my performances at Rudy's and on radio, so I decided it was time that something had to give. Jimmy and myself were rowing over the Marbella Auctions working policies and I was coming very disillusioned with the whole business, so given the choice out of my radio and TV shows, Rudy’s or the auction rooms, it was a no contest, it was time to hang up my gavel, a decision I hoped I wouldn't regret later.



Whilst we are covering this period in Marbella I couldn’t leave out one of Marbella’s most controversial characters of all time, and believe me we’ve had a few over the year, the mayor Jesus Gil who swept into power in 1991 and stayed in office until 2002. Gil also presided for a 16-year tenure as president of the Spanish football club Atlético Madrid. Gil made most of his money in the construction business. He was arrested and spent time in jail in 1967 when one of his buildings in Los Ángeles de San Rafael collapsed, killing 58 people. He was eventually released by order of the dictator Francisco Franco! He turned Marbella into his own private town seemingly doing what and when he liked. Most of Marbella's local police were recruited indirectly by Gil among legionnaires and members of other elite military forces throughout southern Spain and Northern Africa during the 1980s/90s, and some of these officers comprised Gil's own private garde de corps. At first he was welcomed into the office as mayor by the wealthy residents of the town, they saw him as that man who could turn a tired Marbella around knowing it had been going downhill for years. He very quickly and with what seemed like a bottomless pit of cash gave Marbella a sparkling new facelift.
(Photo: Meeting Jesus Gil in his private offices in Marbella)

He painted the town in his party colours blue and what and oversaw two huge arches with the name Marbella embedded into them constructed on either side of the town’s main entrances (See photo below). No one seemed to know where the money was coming from but the town was booming, property prices soaring. Jesus continued to run the town almost like his own private party and was so popular that he was voted back into power four times bring his time of mayor to an abrupt end in 2002 when he was finally arrest alongside many of his town hall colleagues for embezzling billions out of the town hall funds. Although Gil died aged 71 a few years ago of a brain haemorrhage many of his ex councillors etc are still serving time in prison including his chief town planner Juan Antonio Roca, the alleged "Mr Big" who ran Marbella from his
from his offices for more than a decade, faces fines of some €800m and 35 years in prison sentences. Also included in Roca’s hall of goods were a private jet and a helicopter, an art collection worth multi of millions, houses all over the world, the list goes on and we’ll probably never know the full extent of his crime. This is extraordinary when you consider the size of this tiny town that saw multi of billions embezzled in front of everybody's eyes and yet no one seemed the question Gil or Roca at the time, perhaps they were all to scared..
Gil saw Petrovic as very much his type of man and it wasn’t long before he embraced him as a very good friend.



Signe were beginning to show in Petrovic's camp that not all was going well, rumours started to spread that he hadn’t actually paid the $4 million for the Marbella Football Club or paid his players salaries. It was also noticeable that Bob was spending very little time on board the Blue Crystal, spending long hours at home incommunicado, his club Long Legs was also suffering from his absence with word that his staff at the club hadn't been paid for weeks. The big question around marbella was; 'Was Petrovc going broke?' One of the sad things I remember about that time was those who hung out with Bob when he was picking up the bills etc now seemed to be turning their backs on him. I could tell by Petrovic demure he was a worried man, he was drinking a lot. I also was beginning to worry as it was coming up to the end of August and the Scandinavians would be returning to the radio leaving me without a time slot for my show. I mentioned this a few times to Bob stressing the importance of him going into to see Pepe if he still wanted the Long Legs radio show, all he would say was; "okay, okay I'll go to see him when I get a moment!" I knew by his tone my persistence was beginning to annoy him. If I was being honest with myself I knew in my heart of hearts this wasn't going to happen and I needed to act fast if I wanted to continue on radio.


What was happening to this fun loving Yugoslavian was very sad. How different it all had been just a short time ago. I remember the excitement the day Petrovic took control of the Marbella Football Club he invited me to accompany him to his first game as the the new owner. When we arrived in Bob’s white convertible Rolls Royce we were given a police escorted to guide us through the enthusiastic crowds making their way into the stadium, which were all waving a cheering their new savior. I sat next to Bob in the executive box as we were greeted by the thousands of Marbella FC fans chanting Petrovic Petrovic, Petrovic. After the first game, which the club won, Bob threw a super party in one of Marbella’s top hotels, during the meal each player was handed an envelope bulging with thousands of dollars as a way of a bonus for winning. Bob promised that there was plenty more where that came from for the correct results. All the players, managers and traynors stood and cheered him. Everybody loved Petrovic.

Less than a season later the picture told a very different story. Petrovic’s arrival at games was met by boos! His players weren't been paid, he owed fortunes everywhere. To add to his misery he made a terrible mistake whist been interviewed by a major Spanish TV station, he said that the only players worth their salt in his cub were the Serbs he had bought and that the Spanish players were not good enough even to lick his boots!!! This got him terrible negative press throughout Spain. Bob’s world was beginning to implode in on him. Even Marbella's controversial Mayor Jesus Gil, who welcomed him with open arms just a few short months ago, turned on him publicly by calling him; a liar, a cheat and a fake! I felt that maybe it was time I started to put a distant between myself and Bob but I couldn't, I didn't want to join all those who were now turning their backs on him, I felt sorry for him but his behaviour was becoming irrational, I was also worried that he might stop the sponsorship of my radio show. The rent then was a whopping 600,000pts per month, in today’s money value approx 5,000€, there was no way I could afford to bankroll that amount!



The Long Legs Radio Show has been broadcast from the OCI’s studios in Marbella throughout July and August from 2 to 4pm weekdays. Petrovic had negotiated a contract for the two months of summer whilst the Scandinavian radio station, who rented that that time slot, took a summer break but now that the summer was coming to an end the station director, Pep Navajos, continued to remind me that I would have to vacate the slot shortly.

(Photo: Pepe Navaja the director of Onda Cero International. I was to become the bane of his life for the next 10 years!)

I kept assuring him that Petrovic was coming in to negotiate a new contract etc. One afternoon as I was leaving the studio to go home Pepe called me into his office to let me know that he had called Petrovic to ask him if he was interested in negotiating a new deal and time spot. Pepe said that Bob informed him that he was NOT interested as he was closing Long Legs in a few weeks. This was devastating news. I knew that Pepe, who started off very unsure of me as a broadcaster, was now warming to me and I also knew from inside info he really didn’t want me to leave the station.
Pepe kept his cards close to his chest at first and told me that perhaps he could offer the 7.15 to 9pm slot. As little as I knew about radio at this stage I knew this to be disastrous time as historically English listeners do not listen to radio in the evenings unless, that is, they were out in their cars. I then asked about the rent;"The same." He replied and without hesitation he added; "That's 6000,000 per month!". I nearly fell off my chair and started to argued that the revenue from evening advertising was considerable less than peak daytime listening so how could he justify such a huge rent? Laying both hands firmly on the table he snapped; “Take it or leave it!” With that he got up to leave.Just as he was about to close the door behind him I heard myself saying; “I’LL TAKE IT! Those words were totally involuntarily of which I seemed to have very little control over, a knee jerk reaction I think is what it's called! The door flew back open leaving Pepe as surprised looking as I felt. We shook hands and he said that a contract would be drawn up in a day or two.

I remember driving home thinking how the hell am I going to pay that amount, what's more I knew Wendy would go crazy when I tell her what I had just agreed to. She had been going on lately about me getting a proper job as we were hardly paying the household bills and struggling to meet school fees etc By the time I arrived home Wendy had the dinner on the table; "So" she asked; "How did you get on?" She knew I was hoping to convince Petrovic to sign a new radio deal that day and most important to agree to pay me a set salary. I smiled nervously and told her that I had negotiated a new deal. “How much?” she asked excitedly. I sheepishly replied; “600,000pts.” Her eyes lit up “Wow, that's brilliant! he's agreed to pay YOU 600,000pts a month?” I knew now I was in deep trouble, I had no choice but to tell her the truth that in fact it was ME who had to pay THEM. At first Wendy thought I was joking but after convincing her it was a fact all she could say was; “Where the hell are you going to find that kind of money Boland, go back and tell them to forget it and go and get a proper job?”
I think I might have slept in the spare room that night!

Photo: Comedian and impressionist Faith Brown on stage at Rudys. Like my Tom Jones shirt?
Thankfully Rudys was still as busy as ever. Unfortunately no matter how successful those nights were they certainly weren't earning me anything like the amount of money Pepe was asking for to rent the time on radio station. We still hadn’t bought a house and were living in very nice rented home, are three sons were in English schools that cost a bloody fortune so to try to find an extra 600,000pts per month was going to be impossible and I had only days before I was going to sign the contract or I was out!



Lying in bed with only days to go to come up with a sponsor I remembered Roy Peires, a South African friend of mine, who owned one of the most successful timeshare companies in Europe , Club La Costa , who I also knew to be interested in new marketing ideas and hoping a Club La Costa Radio Show might interest him I drove down to his headquarters approx 15 minutes from Marbella and put the idea to him. Thankfully he liked the idea a lot and shook my hand agreeing to sponsor my show for a million pesetas per month approx 6,000€. I was delighted, not only that Club La Costa was going to be my main sponsor but I was also going to make a small profit. Now all I had to do was to work out a way to attract a listenership at that time of the evening and in turn attract some serious advertisers.

When launching a new idea or buisness the first thing I always try to decided on is a name, something I can hook into to continue to develop, this is something I always do whether it be a name for a discotheque or a
restaurant , or perhaps a title for a magazine or in this case a radio show, the name I came up with was The Late Late Breakfast Show I called it after the Late Late Show in Ireland, I'm not sure why I added 'Breakfast' perhaps to make it different I suppose. Now with the name was settled all I had to do was to come up with an a original winning format to attract an evening audience and this I did by turning the full two hours into radio games. I had never heard of a radio show dedicating it's full air time to games, so I assumed this might have been a first. I needed to also come up with something much more substantial than some general knowledge games etc So with pen and paper in hand I sat down and started to design games that I believed would work on radio, I also wrote them in mind to attract a sponsor per game.
The first potential sponsor I approached was Hyper Andalucia owned by the Irish retail group Dunnes Stores who owned two stories at the time on the Costa del Sol, one on the Fuengirola bypass and the other in Las Rampas Fuengirola. I met with the Manager for Dunnes Spain Leo Keohane and explained my idea which I called ‘Let’s Go Shopping With Dunnes, the Trolley Game’ the idea was that every evening we would read out a list of shopping in the fantasy shopping trolley, the object of the game was to guess the total price of the goods, the winner was the person who phoned in with a price closest to the total. The shopping list would be read out at the beginning of the show and the listener who was closest to the amount of shopping in the trolley would win the lot! Thankfully Leo loved the idea and agreed to sponsor that spot.

Next was my idea of a game I called The Hole In One Golf Game. Playing golf on radio might sound crazy but I designed it as a grid game. i.e Make out a grid squire, then write A,B,C,D,E,F across the top and 1,2,3,4,5,6 down the side, I would then place an X in the spot I would allocate as the hole. The player would ring in and say for example D,4 we would then have a sound effect of a golf club swinging and hitting a ball, if it wasn’t the squire that I had marked X there would be a large sound effect of an Ahhhhh! Every time someone missed, the prize money went up by 50€! It didn’t take long, if the X spot wasn’t hit, to build up an attractive amount of cash in the prize fund and became a huge hit with the listeners. It was sponsored by Miraflores Golf.

Another game I remembered using was the well tested Guess Who’s Talking It was simply a mystery voice game that I recorded earlier off the TV or a video etc and play on air. To tell you the truth I can’t remember all the games but I can tell you the show was an instant hit with the listeners all enthusiastically trying to get through on the studio phones to win prizes from the minute the show went on air. The show brought evening listening for English residents into a whole new level. It was a phenomenon.


Petrovic club Long Legs was now closed down and the rumours about his troubles with the football club were now been written about in the press etc. Bob seemed to be spending more time at home and less on Blue Crystal. I felt sorry for Bob his popularity had all but disappeared. Sitting at home staring and his television but not watching it he came across as a very lonely broken man added to the fact that his so called ‘friends’ had all but left him. Why did it all go so terribly wrong for the generous man? Perhaps only he can answer that. I continued to visit him at home trying to show him support etc but he just wasn’t interested. Bob Petrovic’s was simply fizzling out and it wasn’t long before he started to lose everything. This is so typical of Marbella. It seemed every year a new name came into town flashing the cash, the same crowed of vultures would start picking at their bones until they'd picked them clean. the vultures would then disappear and waited for the next vulnerable culprate to arrive in Marbella ladened down with cash so they could get picking again, this lot make me sick! There is a saying here; ‘To make a small fortune in Marbella you need to start with a large one!’ The Petrovic story ended sadly but I for one will be forever grateful to the extraordinary, bigger than life, Yugoslavian for the start he allowed me in radio. If it wasn’t for him I would never have had the opportunity. I haven’t seen Bob for years. I have no idea where he is or where he lives I just hope he’s happy. THANK YOU BOB PETROVIC FOR EVERYTHING.

To be continued......

COMING NEXT THE LATE LATE BREAKFAST SHOW SETTLES INTO ITS NEW TIME SLOT. WE DO OUR FIRST OUTSIDE BROADCAST THAT GOES DESPERATELY WRONG. MY 'BIG RISK TV SHOW' IS GETTING TIRED AND I NEED TO FIND A NEW FORMAT TO KEEP MY TV AUDIENCE FIGURES UP. I HOST MY FIRST CHARITY EVENT AND BARRY AND MYSELF DECIDE TO SPLIT. ALL THAT AND MORE IN THE NEXT CHAPTER OF MY STORY

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