Chris Austins has combined a love of football with a passion for policing, that’s took him from Sovereignville to Scotland.
The next door neighbours are watching. It’s like Rear Window but with more jogging bottoms. An elderly woman stops mowing her lawn to gaze through the brittle, superannuated fence. The panels are weary, just like the woman. But what’s catching their attention? Is it a dune bug, jumping on the blades of grass? Is it a summer-beaten dog, staggering around wearily looking for a place to die?
The short answer is no (incidentally, the long answer is also no). It’s Chris Austins. Topless, his figure glistens in the sun, his sideburns long brown beacons soaking up the rays. He thrusts his body and squats up and down like a randy caveman, as ‘OMG’ by Usher blares out his ghetto blaster. As workouts go, Austins takes it to the next level.
Austins, 30, has always been big on fitness. He needed to be. As one of Sovereign’s prized back-four, he had the ability (though never the motive) to run up and down the flanks, helping chip in with goals and sheath Matt Palmer like a lanky condom.
When Sovereign went their separate ways, many expected ‘Bostin Austins’ to stay local. But Austins has always thrived on being unpredictable.
“Before I became full-time with the Sov, I was matchday security,” he recalls now, sitting down to rest. “I’d watch the Sov games and be desperately trying not to intervene. I’d even bring my boots just in case they needed me. One day, at half-time, a boy threw a brick onto the pitch. I went on to retrieve it, as well as throw it back at him, and saw Chris Caddick had left a football idling on the turf. I did a slew of football moves and the gaffer saw it. He told me to take off my epaulets and put on a jersey.”
Austins shone for Sovereign, and loved his role as a full-back, although he preferred being full than to being back. “My mentality is to never look back. The problem was, I applied that to my football, too!” His hero was former Wolves right-back Ronald Zubar, who had a fondness for galloping up the wing and staying there. “Liam Dixon and the gaffer’s face were beetroot red. Neil would be screaming at me to get back. He even started playing ‘Get Back’ on the stereo as a hint. I ignored it. I knew what I was doing.”
Whilst at Sovereign, Austins was known for loving three things – football, policing and sex. “All three are close to my heart,” he said. “Sometimes one of the three things would land me in trouble. Sexy trouble.”
Austins co-founded the ‘love’ app, Plenty Of Fish, and spent hours tracking down potential suitors. “We’d have long coach journeys to away games,” Austins says. “And whilst Derrie would do his card tricks and Ash would learn Swahili, I’d be nose-down looking for girls in the area. We’d get there and whilst the lads were checking out the stadium, I’d be in a hotel busting my ‘burns.”
It was one of these encounters that led to Austins landing in hot water (although a cold shower would have been more apposite). Whilst making sweet love to a Russian woman, Olga, he was unaware he was being filmed by a teammate. “I told the lads I was going to watch Goldenballs as I was a sucker for Jasper,” he says. “So we put it on and as his bald head filled the screen, I was getting goofy with a Russian graphic designer.
“We like getting dirty, so I was telling her to ‘shut up’ and to ‘crunch my nuts’. She took the last one literally, though – what a waste of cashews.”
A few days later, the video, titled ‘One Night in Austins’, became an internet sensation on YouTube. He was reviled by the fans and admired by the lonely. “No one knows who filmed it, but it was a dark time in my life. The worst thing was they had to dub Olga’s voice to avoid her suing us. In the video she tells me to ‘poo on her’ in the voice of Christopher Walken.”
Things have long changed now, though. Austins has spent the last two seasons in Scotland, playing for Inverness Caledonian Thistle. He’s also married to long-term partner Keeley Hazell, a former Page 3 model who he met whilst promoting PoF at a gala dinner. “We clicked right away,” he says today. “The move to Scotland was tough, but it’s going good and it’s proved to me I can thrive in any environment.”
An infamous Sovereign game saw Austins clash with midfielder Mat Hodson. “I love a grumble, even more than Ash Wiley,” he says. “If I’m not on duty or on the job, I’m on my high horse. And I like being on my high horse. It makes me look like a knight.
“Our team had a lot of personalities. Liam was the captain and he did a good job of keeping us grounded. But sometimes things would get out of hand – Mat was chucking a Frisbee about and it hit Ash square on the jaw. They began pinching one another, so I had to intervene.”
Now, with his Scottish tenure over, he’s heading back to England, where he’s reportedly joining new phoenix team Hereford FC. “I’ve enjoyed my time in Scotland it’s garnered me some vital experience, but it’s time to come home,” he says. “I’m going to combine my football with my policing, so I’m just hoping I don’t leave my truncheon on the pitch.”