“Every musician I know wishes they were a footballer!”

For Bill Ryder Jones, former lead guitarist of popular Liverpool band The Coral, he didn’t quite realise this dream.

But, while taking time out from rehearsals ahead of his March 21 concert in Liverpool to speak to Merseysportlive, it’s clear his love for the sport has taken on a different guise.

As well as sponsoring his local junior football side, and declaring his undying love for Everton, Bill even listed the footballers he would like to be in his band!

Back in July 2002, The Coral’s debut album crashed into the UK Album charts at number 5, and Everton had just completed another season which saw them closer to relegation than they would have liked.

Not much has changed on the pitch 22 years on.

But for Bill’s career, a lot has changed from those early days.

He is now a critically acclaimed solo artist, whose most recent album Iechyd Da, released in January 2024, has received near universal praise.

Bill Ryder Jones musician The Coral Liverpool
Bill Ryder Jones

Bill is about to embark on a tour of the UK and Europe, including a home gig in Liverpool and is pleased with how the album has been received.

“I knew the record was good, I knew it was a thing of beauty and I thought, I’m fairly confident in the music now.

“I’ve not known anything like this. From the day we released [lead single from the album] This Can’t Go On to when the album came out, it’s just been a hell of a lot of love.”

Bill grew up in West Kirby, where he still lives today, and it the location of his Yawn studio, where Iechyd Da was recorded.

As part of the promotional campaign, he has also sponsored West Kirby United Under 10s with their shirt featuring his name and Iechyd Da on the front.

Bill with sponsored football shirt
Bill with sponsored football shirt

Although Bill was hesitant at first, joking: “The poor kids, they’ve never heard of me!”

It was a perfect chance to blend two of his passions – football and music – and to give back to the community that has played such an important part of his life.

“It’s just a boss thing to do,” he adds.

Looking back to his childhood heroes, Everton’s team from the 1990s very much dominates.

“Duncan Ferguson, was sort of the only shining light in that period, in those dark days… Andrei Kanchelskis, I loved. Anders Limpar, I thought was a great player.”

The David Moyes side of the mid 2000s also has a special place in his heart, as the last team he truly identifies with.

Bill Ryder Jones of The Coral“Leighton (Baines) is still one of my favourite footballers, because I had my season ticket…from 2006 to 2010.

“So, I saw some good Everton players. Mikel Arteta, Joleon Lescott and Phil Jagielka we re very good.

“Steven Pienaar – I loved him, he was great. We just never had that striker.”

Unfortunately, Everton’s recent struggles and the general dominance of the Premier League by clubs with billionaire backers has taken away some of the love of watching football.

“Like a lot of people my age, my love for the game is waning a bit.

“It very much feels like ‘Who’s got the best millionaires’. I think 30 years of supporting Everton has toughened me somewhat.”

While Bill’s new album has a hopeful feel, that’s something in short supply when watching his beloved side.

“It’s something you can’t afford to have as an Everton fan.”

Thankfully, Bill has five-a-side to fall back on, when Everton and the Premier League let him down, and he still plays regularly.

“Football is just a huge part of my life… 5-a-side, which I do play as often as I can.”

Although sometimes things can get a bit too intense!

“Someone told me about two weeks ago, that my performance level was unacceptable.

“I was like, mate… this only cost me a fiver, this ain’t the World Cup final… He didn’t take kindly to that.”

For Bill, there are a lot of similarities between a football team and a band, and the need to make room for different personalities.

“My drummer is the goalkeeper because they’re at the back.

“The bassist is the centre half, and they’ve got to oil together.

“And then, Nat, my rhythm guitarist, he’s a bit of an all-round player, a bit of a box-to-box player.

“And then I’ve got a keyboard player, a lead guitarist, and a cellist, and they’re all like wingers… floating around the song… adding a bit of flair.”

But there is no doubt of Bill’s role within the band: “I’m number 9, I’m taking the pens.”

We discuss who would make it into Bill’s musical five-a-side team and which footballers would make good band mates, before Bill has to disappear into the night… to play five-a-side.

If all that practice on the football pitch can translate into the band’s performance, his upcoming tour should not be missed.

Limited remaining tickets for Bill’s show at Content on the 21st March are available at this link.

His album Iechyd Da is available to buy here and stream on all major platforms.

Bill’s Musical 5-a-side team – Name: Dzeko and The Bunnymen

Matt Gregory – Little Flames – “There’s a band from Liverpool called The Little Flames, and Matt Gregory, their songwriter, was an incredible goalkeeper. I’d never really met an incredible goalkeeper until I played with him”
Nick Power – The Coral – “I will tell you who is good, Nick Power from The Coral, he was good. He was really good, he was the lad who had trials at Chester and Wrexham, you know, when he was a teenager. And he can still play.”
Mick Head – Solo Artist, ex-Shack – “Mick was meant to be good, Mick Head (lead singer of Shack, now solo artist). He played for St. Domingo, and I was told by many sources that he could play. And he’s a damn sight healthier than me now, so I will stick him up front”
Cavan McCarthy – Swim Deep – “Cav’s (Cavan McCarthy, bass player for Swim Deep) is meant to be a player… apparently, he can sit a man down”
Bill Ryder Jones – “I was a terrible footballer until I was in my mid-20s, I was really not very good. I’m great now!”

Bill’s band of footballers – Name: Faustino Asprilla’s Big Beat Manifesto

Drummer – Neville Southall – “Nev would go on the drums, Big Nev, and I reckon he could write a few songs as well, he’s got a lot to say”
Bass Player – Roy Keane – “I’d have Roy Keane on the bass. He would never go out of time. he’d never try and solo. Just do the job and do it well”.
Rhythm Guitar – Steve McManaman – “He looks like he could play guitar, He looks like Cammy a bit (Peter Cammell, ex-lead guitarist, The La’s).”
Lead Guitar – Johan Cruyff – “Johan Cruyff, you’d have him in, he looks like he could play a bit of lead guitar, put a denim jacket on him. Bit of a troublemaker, a smoker.”
Lead Singer – Ian Wright – “Ian Wright, he’s my singer. Yeah, that would be a look wouldn’t it. Like a cooler version of Ian Brown or something.”
Tambourine, Keyboard, and vibes – Tino Asprilla – “I need a loose cannon – Tino Asprilla! Doesn’t really play much, give him a tambourine and a keyboard… Big beats are best, get high all the time”.