The story of Paul Trevillion-brief version.
Genius or clown? Either way you have to love him.
Born in the Tottenham area of London and a die-hard Tottenham Hotspur football fan, he learned to draw before he could write. He had a strict Catholic upbringing where he and his 3 brothers all attended the same school. Only problem was, Paul had learning difficulties and only wanted to draw. He used to go to the Tottenham football teams training facility instead of going to school. He would sit and watch the players training and then draw them. By the time he was 5 he’d made his first venture into the world of business. He’d gone to see the candy cigarette maker Barrets in North London and persuaded the receptionist to let him meet the President of the company to show him an idea he’d come up with. The the man in charge of one of the UK’s largest candy manufacturer loved Paul’s ideas, and they were soon increasing their sales by publishing a drawing of a soccer player on the back of every box of candy. They produced a set of 25 and if you can find a complete set of these today they could be worth a fortune.
Paul went on to be one of the top sport illustrators that the UK or Europe has ever produced. In the following years he worked with the golfing duo Gary Player and Lee Trevino, and then became involved with Mark McCormick at the IMG group. His involvement in soccer in the UK was huge and his antics at Leeds United Football Club are infamous in soccer folklore. He is synonymous for making the players kick the ball around the field before the game actually started, just to warm up, something that, believe it or not, had never been done before he thought of it, and is now commonplace in every game played today around the planet.
He worked for the Sun newspaper and was famous for drawing Princess Anne in the nude on horseback and Yvonne Goulagong in the nude playing tennis. These two articles alone brought the circulation of The Sun newspaper to outlandish numbers in comparison with its rivals in the late 1970’s. I believe he told me that they increased their sales by over 1 million copies based on the controversy alone of him drawing the Queens only daughter without clothes on.
He wrote or illustrated more than 20 books and worked with Peter Allis in golf and Pele in soccer. Then quite suddenly in the early 1980’s Paul retired from drawing and decided to make a career in show business. He revamped his whole persona and started a double act with a lady called Sadie Nine. They were extremely successful and even got to play the London Palladium, which Paul describes as the pinnacle of his show business career. Then he married his current wife Lorraine and decided to work part-time with her in his new comedy act, which he took on the road all over the UK. He was gathering quite a following when in 1992 he was introduced to me.
We were sitting enjoying the KFC (back to the chicken all over his suit!) and Paul was telling me all his showbiz tales and stories from his sporting ties and I was literally on the floor in laughter. How do you cope when someone tells you about the time he was hired by a soccer team to make life difficult for the opposing team in one of the most vital matches in this particular clubs history. The team that hired him had to win the game at all costs to stay in their division and Paul was brought in to physic up the players. Instead he blew away the opposition by flooding their changing room with cold water on a freezing cold day and smashing the windows so that the freezing air made the conditions even worse. The opposing team lost the game by a landslide and so Paul was the hero that saved the day.
He had so many more stories like that and I had to sit back and think hard, pondering how I would cope with such a maniac. He was certainly a challenge, but his art was amazing. My only consolation was that I could eat chicken faster than he could so I could watch with ease as he came up for breath in between bites.
He brought with him a portfolio of art as well as his stories and we soon got down to the nitty-gritty, finding a way to combine his art and my ideas. He’d never met anyone quite like me and I’d certainly never come across anyone like him. We agreed that we’d be a perfect match and so our partnership was born. Our strategy was simple. We needed to create something that had never been done before in the sports collectables business. Something that would be as good if not better than the now famous 1970 Esso World Cup coin collection.
“What do you think Paul? I asked
“Lets do it big Alan” His trademark phrase at the time was always MEGA. Everything was mega.
“It will be mega,” he said. “This will be bigger than big”
“How do we get started?” I asked.
“Don’t worry about that, I will set you up with all the footballers and their so tell me who you want.”
We rattled off a list of 45 of the UK’s top players and then narrowed it down to 25. We agreed we would need a final collection of 20 of which 15 would come from the English leagues and 5 from Scotland. That way we could sell them all over the UK.
“How much will you charge me Paul?”
“100 pounds per drawing and I want a royalty on each pin”
We agreed on this and we shook hands.
“Two provisos though” Paul said.
‘Oh shit here we go’ I thought to myself. He is going to want me to buy him Kentucky Fried for the next year or something outrageous like that.
“I want you to meet my accountant Alan Gainsford, and I want to come with you to all of the meetings with the players agents. I also think that we should try to promote this project through the Sun newspaper. And you have to tell me how you are going to sell these to the public”
Well to be honest although I’d had this idea in my mind for several months I had no clue how I was going to get the players to agree to sign an exclusive contract with me nor did I have any idea how to market these pins to the general public. I’d always imagined selling them through the petrol or gas stations around the UK but now Paul was suggesting that we involved the Sun newspaper and find a large retail group to do all the retail marketing for us.
“Why would the Sun need us?” I asked.
“Look Alan. I’m a newspaper man. I know what newspapers want and need. Every paper needs something new. They also want it for free. If you can give every reader 1 pin free of charge you will create such a huge buzz around the country”
1 pin to every reader free of charge!! There were 4 million readers of the Sun. How was I going to do that. NFW!! Translate that for yourself if you want to. Paul insisted it could be done. We decided to put a 6-week program together and decided to go at it until it was done. First things first. I had to meet his accountant. We arranged it for the following day.
Alan Gainsford was Paul’s accountant. (He is now deceased). They had known each other for many years and were very good friends. Alan sat in his large office in the west end of London behind a huge oak desk that was cluttered with many papers from all the companies he was currently attending to. Alan was a small bald-headed man with glasses and was extremely pleasant to talk to. He offered both Paul and I a seat and we began. In a very well spoken manner he conducted the meting and asked me various questions about our intended pins project. At the end of the meeting he asked me to put together a contract for Paul that he could approve and send to him as soon as possible. It turned out that he was a very likable person although going forward, the opposite became quite clear.
We left Gainsford’s office and went for what was now becoming our customary KFC lunch. I was sitting enjoying my chicken inside this shopping mall just off Oxford Street thinking ‘if I carry on like this I will grow breasts from all of the hormones that I was putting into my body!’ Paul liked it though and it gave us another chance to talk.
“I’ve known Gainsford since I was a boy you know”
“It shows Paul. Isn’t time for a change?”
“We always told one another that we would be at each others funerals”
‘That would be a bloody miracle’ I thought to myself. This was like the blind leading the blind. Paul’s life and friends were beginning to unravel before my eyes and it seemed at that time he’d amassed a tremendous following with not only the general public and the press but also with outdated and old accountants. What I really needed right now was someone to do 20 drawings for me and the more I talked to Trevillion the more I was convinced that this would never happen. Even though we had just come from his accountant and agreed to make a contract, I was quickly getting the distinct impression that Paul WAS actually retired! He was 49 for goodness sake and he was retired! What was I doing here? I had this horrible feeling that this man was going to go all the way to the finishing line but he wasn’t going to cross it! He continually talked about his past. Nothing about the present. I needed to find a way to guarantee that he was going to draw for me. The question was how did I do this? The answer wasn’t too long in coming. We finished lunch and he told me that as soon as the contract was finished we would start to sign up the footballers and that he’d get the meetings with their agents set up. I left that day wondering if indeed this would actually happen. How could one man know so may people and have the capability to draw so many footballers in such a short period of time?
Remember, I was hoping to sign up 20 of the top soccer players in the UK and to have their drawings in place for production and approval along with all of the packaging and the promotion with the Sun and an a major UK retail chain all within 6 weeks! Not a chance!
Maybe we could get to the footballers and sign them to contracts, but I felt that this would be all we could do.