Football: The Gaffer Tapes - What Christmas means to us - bad meat and `banned' single

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The Independent Online
Last Saturday's dust-up at Stamford Bridge brought back a few memories at the Blackfarm Rovers ex-players' Christmas party last week. A lot of papers mentioned that famous match between Everton and Leeds when the ref took the teams off for a cooling-off period but they all forgot about a similar match the previous year when I was playing for Rovers at a certain northern ground.

With that Everton-Leeds game everyone calmed down but on this occasion it got worse. There was a bit of jostling in the tunnel and suddenly Wild Percy Pickaxe was lunging at me with the groundsman's scarifier. With that famous body swerve which became my trademark I sold him a dummy only for his own manager to be spiked in the ribs. Next thing someone smashed the lights and all hell broke loose. In the scrum I managed to work my way into a corner from where I lashed out with a flag wrestled from a linesman. Unfortunately some emergency lights came on just as I stabbed the ref in the unmentionables. He gave me a terrible glare before passing out.

Fortunately, he was unable to take further part that day, the linesman, after a nervous look at his blood-stained flag, took over. Unfortunately, the ref made a complete recovery so he was able to return and, in the five years before he retired he sent me off seven times.

Lights or not that fight could have gone on for ever but the St John's Ambulance turned up. This would not normally make any difference but, as part of a typical peace 'n' love late Sixties experiment the old boys with bottle-top glasses were being assisted by four lags from the local nick who were serving time for GBH. Two minutes later the fight was over and two bloodied, bruised and cowed teams were sent back to the fray with instructions to "behave or we'll see you after the game".

At least the experiment worked and persuaded one of the lads to change his approach to life. He joined the St John's on release and later worked his way up to regional director of the NHS. The other three became football club chairmen. Happy days. Whenever I feel like reminiscing I get out my scars to remind me.

Back to the present and we've another problem with our own club's Christmas party. As a change from turkey we thought we'd have beef this year but, yesterday, the Old Cornfield was raided by Sludgethorpe Council's Beef Inspection Patrol. Kit Mann, my assistant, was arrested and 40 cuts of beef on the bone confiscated. It transpired the chairman, Sir Hirem Firem, had been left with a load of meat at his farm when the ban came in.

So it's Bernard Matthews Turkeyburgers for Xmas unless we can strike a deal with Tesco for whatever passes the sell-by date on the day.

At least we've got the Christmas record sorted out. I went into the local studios with Leroy, Delroy and Brian Heckinbottom - who joined us in a last, very desperate bid to be accepted for the Jamaican World Cup team - to record a gangsta rap version of "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas". The boys told me they had planned a garage version on the B side but apparently Esso wouldn't let us record on the forecourt. Instead we've done a techno "Silent Night".

The resultant sound is, I'm told by those in the know, a cross between Prodigy and the Teletubbies. We've told the tabloids it's been banned by Radio 1 (well, they're not playing it so it must be) which should boost sales and it's already outselling the club's own brand lager in the club shop. I think it could be a big hit, Top of the Pops here we come and, who knows, it could lead to a tour and a Wembley date - it's the only way this club'll get there.

We're certainly be playing it in the dressing-room to pump the boys up over Christmas. We need a few wins. After another defeat last week a long season looms ever more heavily - especially after the shock news that neither Nigeria or Saudi Arabia wanted me to take over as manager for the World Cup. Apparently the Iran job is still up for grabs but even I'm not sure about that - don't they do something unspeakable to people guilty of adultery?

Ivor Niggle and Shaun Prone are both unavailable today, they've got to go to Catterick for some medical tests.

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