Football: The next step is a self-justifying autobiography

THE GAFFER TAPES
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The Independent Online
THERE are times when all the hard work, the planning and the meetings, pays off. Thus this week I used all my years of experience in the game and, a few well-placed interviews and an emotional outburst on Sky later, I had won the PR battle. The chairman still sacked me, that was inevitable, but the media described it as "harsh" and said I was "sure to be back in work soon as football needs men like Barry Gaffer".

Even the fans, who had been singing my name for weeks, dropped the "Out" from their chants. As Sludgethorpe Brazil dropped into the First Division, I told them, "you'll be back, I'll be back, but it's a tragedy for us both that we won't be back together."

Actually I'll be pleased to get away from the place. None of the female office staff will let me within three yards of them while the town itself is the pits. At least I won't have to spend my life on the M6 commuting from civilisation to Sludgethorpe anymore.

Still, right to the end we had some good times this season. That team- bonding trip to Alton Towers was one of the best; everyone got soaked, Shaun Prone chucked up over the chairman's best Armani on the roller-coaster and Ivor Niggle was taken to hospital with internal injuries after swallowing an entire candy floss, stick and all, for a bet.

The coach trip home was even more lively. Cliff Phace had a disagreement with Ivor Panic which ended up with Panic's clothes disappearing out of the window while Broccoli Moore got so tanked up he passed out under the back seat. We didn't realise until the coach company rang up the following morning to tell us he was still there. It is just a shame we then lost 5-1 to confirm our relegation.

I've already made a start looking for a new job. My agent has negotiated a newspaper column and a spot of television punditry where I can sell my awareness of the game and crowd-pleasing one-liners. The next step is a self-justifying autobiography and a line of exclusive fashionable clothing - monogrammed shell-suits, that sort of thing. I might even do one of those roadshows where you tour provincial cinemas telling a few tales with some old mates. Hopefully I'll be able to pull some local crumpet on the dubious premise of being able to engineer a night out with David Beckham when Posh Spice is away on tour.

I've a few matters to clear up at the Old Cornfield, the main one being defending Broccoli on a misconduct charge. In our last game he put his tongue in an opponent's ear at a corner. Now this might be alright for an effete cricketer like Merv Hughes but in our manly game the FA take a dim view of such things. No matter that he'd been kicked all over the park by the bloke. Even so, he might have got away with it if he hadn't had beetroot for his pre-match meal. The defender's purple ears, and Broccoli's tongue, gave the game away.

It's that sort of thing that I'll miss. Since taking over from Big Mick in the autumn (he's now coaching the Monrovian national team by the way), I've had a memorable time, no more so than when I was kidnapped in mid- season.

Che Revolta, the guerrilla I signed when I came back, didn't really settle here. He now plays for Manchester City where the Moss Side location and the club's instability and in-fighting makes him feel right at home.

Brian Heckinbottom, our former centre-half, lost his bid to get on the local council with the Natural Law Party but believes he has a real chance in tonight's Eurovision Song Contest. Leroy and Delroy are both optimistic that they'll make the Jamaican World Cup squad, if not as players then as rap artists for the team song.

Cosi Fan Tutti and Dolce Vita returned to Italy where they are spreading the word about bacon butties in Serie X; Ego Massive is hoping to stay one step ahead of the Child Support Agency; and Fritz Unstartz, our German mercenary, has returned home without either his pounds 200,000 bonus for keeping us up or his personal tea-lady Swettie Betty.

She's been offered a new job as personal Cognac girl for one of the leading commentators on the World Cup. You can catch us on the pay-per-view satellite channel, Ooh Lah Lah TV, for whom I'm covering the Marseilles games from an exclusive resort on the Cote D'Azur. They offered to put me up in a two-star doss house in the Arab quarter but I generously said I'd sort out my own accommodation. It means I'll barely turn a profit on the deal but what the hell, I can afford it. Don't tell the ex-wives but that's the best thing about management, the massive pay-offs when you eventually get the sack.

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