Football: Jungle guerrilla off bench to save me from sack

THE GAFFER TAPES
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The Independent Online
HE'S ONLY been here a week but already Ruben Tuesdai looks the signing of the season. He may be raw but he's learned things while kidnapping government officials in the jungles of Central America that they don't teach in the schools of excellence.

I put him on the bench last week. After 30 minutes he turned to me, pointed at Brocolli Moore, the club's record pounds 9m signing, and said: "This man will get you zee sack."

"I know," I replied, "but he's the chairman's signing so I have to play heem."

"I fix heem boss," said Ruben, adding coldly, "and don't take zee mickkee out of my accent." Anyway, at the break he bummed a cigarette off Cliff Phace, our centre-half who was having his half-time Marlboro, and took Brocolli into the showers. A few minutes later Brocolli returned, walking a little unsteadily and ashen faced. I could have sworn there were cigarette burns on his shorts but I must have imagined it, he's a non-smoker.

In the second half half he scored twice and made three for Ruben while doing more running than he had all year. For the first time this season we've to send his shirt to the launderette.

Unfortunately we let in five so we only gained a point but I was fairly happy having been 4-0 down at half-time. Not so Sir Hirem Firem, the chairman.

On Tuesday he summoned me to the Old Cornfield for a meeting. "I can tell you've been under a lot of pressure," he said, "and I think it's affecting your judgement and your family life. I know I'm your godfather, I taught you to walk, bought you your first Action Man and signed you for this club as a Junior Sludge many years ago, but maybe it's time you had a break from the game. It's for your sake and the club. I'll tell the press you've resigned."

Bit of a shock, but fortunately I had Ruben with me as we were moving him to a new safe house after a brush with the CIA. I was pretty grim- faced when I left the boardroom and Ruben asked me what was up. "Wait here," he said.

A few minutes later the chairman emerged and said he'd reconsidered and would I like a raise. I naturally agreed and went to shake on the deal but he shied away muttering something about having a slight problem with his hands, it was then I noticed three of his fingernails appeared to be missing.

As I said, Ruben looks a good signing, I've had three managers on already wanting to loan him out for a couple of hours. There's also been a couple of agents sniffing round but I've told them Ruben takes a dim view of extortion unless it benefits the revolution.

Meanwhile Ruud has turned down our generous offer to help us out with some coaching. Even though the local Pizza Hut has just been refurbished he said he wouldn't be seen dead in Sludgethorpe. "You do not even have an Emporio Armani or Calvin Klein boutique," he said, "how can a man of my reputation go shopping in Top Man?" Maybe booking him into the Bates Motel was a mistake.

We've made a move for Brian Little instead, I'm sure he'll sign once he sees the new Sludgethorpe Mall, it's got Millets, Shoe Save and Ratners.

There's been one other problem this week. In the club shop we sell posters of Duane Spice dressed up in a dicky bow with the logo "Licenced to Skill". It's a long-running campaign and he plays the role for all it is worth. He wears 007 on the pitch, drinks Martini (and anything else in reach) and, by all accounts, has cut a swathe through the local female population.

Now I hear that Mandy Mandleson has given part of his precious dome the same name. Well, it's just not on, and we're not saying that just because they refused our bid to erect the thing on the waste land behind the Gasworks End. I am surprised because we have been heavily involved in the planning, several junior ministers have been to see Swettie Bettie to help proportion the Body Zone and Brian Heckinbottom's lined up as the poet-in-residence.

Anyway, we've told Mandy that the name's got to be changed and the only thing that will persuade us to drop our opposition is an appeal to our patriotism and a full listing of remaining tax loopholes.

Ivor Niggle is out, he burnt his hand lighting a countryside campaign beacon, and Shaun Prone received a nasty stab wound taking his kids on a guided tour round Villa Park. The police have assured me he was an innocent bystander.

Barry Gaffer was talking to Glenn Moore

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