Covering football UK wide (primarily Scottish football as I am based in Scotland) with written articles and podcasts from the elite to grassroots. Twitter: @football_cfb. Podcast available on all streaming platforms – https://anchor.fm/footballCFB
Author: Callum McFadden
Football CFB founder, @backonside ambassador. Freelance football writer & broadcaster - Enquiries: email@example.com
Chester FC means a lot, an awful lot to me. If you were to sink a knife into me then there would be quite a high chance that blue blood would trickle out, because Chester is truly my lifeblood.
It all started on a dreary, damp Novembers afternoon back in 2010 against Skelmersdale United, in what was our first season as a reformed club.
My dad, who has been a supporter since the early 1970’s, took me to my first game that day, and ever since then I have caught the bug of going every week. Winning 4-0 obviously was a major factor in that hook, even though we have experienced worse since. In resonance to my dad, I am jealous of him in a way because I often kick myself due to the fact I missed the good old days of the 70’s and 80’s. I really do wish I was around in those days because I often hear stories from him (and other fellow Chester supporters) about the famous five in the sixties, the night that little old Chester put the mighty Leeds United to the sword in our run to the semi finals of the League Cup in the mid-70’s, our promotion to the old Third Division, amongst a whole host of other memories.
The music was also brilliant in those times too, and that’s all I listen to nowadays as I can’t stand today’s modern day stuff at all. Also, I am very envious of our old Sealand Road home as of course I have the misfortune of not visiting there. To be honest I think our current ground is quite nice, but it’s the location that lets it down a lot.
Sealand Road was a lovely old-school ground close to the Deva heartland, and sadly there aren’t many of those knocking around now, especially with the likes of York City, Brentford, and Boston United all moving into new stadiums in the near future.
Anyway, enough about what could have been, and more about what has been. In 2015 I got given my first season ticket, and from then on I attended Chester matches more regularly. Funnily enough, my season ticket wasn’t put to much use as halfway through that campaign a steward offered me a role as a ball boy (where I got in for free anyway), which over the years certainly produced its moments.
Along with going to every home game I got dragged along to the odd away game too, with my first being a miserable 2-0 defeat at Tranmere Rovers on a humid Septembers afternoon. My second was some six months later in a huge relegation six pointer in Yorkshire (at Guiseley). On the subject of Yorkshire, I was all set to watch us play FC Halifax Town away in the FA Trophy a month earlier, but having just arrived into the town centre we had to divert back due to a very late postponement. That Guiseley game though had everything. In monsoon conditions, it certainly was a late Easter cracker as the goals lashed in, with Tom Shaw saving our blushes in the 92rd minute to keep our survival hopes alive by snatching a dramatic 3-3 draw.
From 2017 onwards I have gradually upped my away day tally, as ever since then I have only missed a handful of matches. From Barrow to Newquay, and from Gateshead to Torquay (and all points in between), I have been to an array of places that I otherwise probably would never hear of. You just can’t beat going to a random town 200 miles away to watch a game of football with your fellow mates or family, as that’s what it is all about. Meanwhile, in January 2018 I set-up my own YouTube channel which started off with me vlogging Chester FC matches, and I love it as I want to pursue a career in sports media when I am older. It started off with me just recording the games, but since then I now upload a match preview for every match, have compiled ‘Goal Of The Month’ competitions, and now do a ‘Chester FC Digest’ series where I talk about all things Chester.
I don’t only do these videos for the benefit of myself though, because I also do it for the benefit of fellow Chester FC supporters, which is the perk of my relationship with them. Also, it enables exiles from far away to keep updated with our club and to sample what a matchday is like via the atmosphere, etc. Last January I parted ways with ball boying to allow me to sit back and watch the action from the terraces, but to also take up a new role as our club mascot, Lupus. Again, that brought its moments with a particular standout being at half time on a scorching August Bank Holiday Monday against Hereford FC. In front of our then-biggest crowd, it was only typical me for Lupus’ head to fly off from a football striking my head right in front of a packed Harry Mac, to frighten plenty of children alike. What a way to expose me as the mascot!
A few months ago I passed Lupus onto somebody else, although I still volunteer in our club shop for an hour on a matchday, in a role I have been doing since July 2018. I just love being a Chester supporter, volunteer, and a co-owner as I have had some fantastic memories in my ten years as a supporter, and have forged some brilliant connections with plenty of fellow supporters, volunteers, and players too! The beauty of supporting a lower league club is that you make friendships with people forever in an environment that you all have the same passion for, and as I touched on before the players also mix in too. Would you get players in the Premier League knowing your name off by heart? Absolutely not!
I have had one or two disagreements and tough moments with the odd person, but we all do and with us being very tight-knit we just get on with it and forget it in a hurry. I absolutely cannot wait to see what the future for Chester FC is, and I will firmly play a part in it, as well as many others, and can’t wait to be supporting and volunteering here for many decades to come.
We are a family, a blue and white one! Chester FC means a lot, an awful lot to me.
Today is the first and only time I’ve ever felt like giving up on my dream once and for all. All I ever want to do with football CFB and as a person in life is help others and promote positivity. Football is my life and promoting #FootballForGood is what I love doing more than most things in life. My platform is a space for anyone involved within the game to talk about their experiences without worrying about being pigeonholed into a headline.
Today many see my actions in relation to helping out in my local community as selfish, self centred and an attempt at stealing a job. Anyone who knows me can testify that isn’t me and I would never wilfully intend to cause harm to others.
I started CFB as its my dream to work in football because it’s the game I’ve loved all my life and always will love. Whether the game is a Champions League final, a Lowland League title decider, a local boys club teams dead rubber fixture or a junior game I’ll be watching and I’ll be passionately wanting to see the best game possible.
The feedback so far from players, managers, fans, agents and followers has been absolutely incredible and you have no idea how much it means to me.
I have a very thick skin contrary to what you might think however there are certain sections of social media and the online community who never stop to think about the power of their words. Never stop to think about the mental well-being of others. To them it’s just banter, a charade, an expression of view behind an anonymous name. To those impacted it’s detrimentally mentally, it’s draining, it sends anxious thoughts into your mind that disturb you. Always the first to comment without knowing the full facts or intentions behind any given situation.
I don’t ask to be liked, I don’t ask to be followed, I don’t ask to even be tolerated in any great way, all I ask is to be respected. Mentally, I’ve had my ups and downs. I still struggle from time to time and on days like this I feel like the worst human being in the world. Utterly worthless and pointless if the truth be told.
For me, when you are asked a question about helping out in life, the automatic answer is to say yes. To see the good in an opportunity to help rather than the cynicism is what I’ve always done – always been guilty of doing you might throw back at me. Upon reflection, I can understand an element of that cynicism but I can assure you that anything I do in life is for the right reasons.
That’s not me claiming to be perfect or a saint. I am not. I’ve made mistakes – lots of them – and I’ll continue to make mistakes because I’m a human being. This year we witnessed the horribly sad passing of Caroline Flack. A woman who made mistakes like all of us have, a woman vilified without the chance to speak and tell her side of the story. A woman who decided the only way to deal with the pressure was to take her own life.
This started the #BeKind movement. Sadly, that movement lasted nothing more than a nanosecond as has been shown since and most recently when Prime Minister Boris Johnson was taken into intensive care. Let me be clear, I do not support Mr Johnson’s politics or his party – never have and never will – however on a human level I wish him, his pregnant partner Carrie and family my thoughts and prayers as I wish him well in making a full receiver from his illness. Common human decency should always prevail.
So please, rather than always seeing life in the cynical, cancel culture point of view try and be kind. You have no idea the weight that your words carry.
Life is wonderful, it’s full of joy, humour, more than a few idiosyncrasies and long way that continue. I love my girlfriend Mary-Ann, my friends, my family, my football teams, my associates charities, running CFB and life itself dearly. Please be kind and please try and see the good in what people are trying to achieve.
Stay safe, stay positive, look after one another and God bless the NHS staff, the cleaners, the delivery drives and everyone else working to ensure society can function. Those people are the real heroes in life and they deserve all the recognition in the world. Take care and be kind.
We delve in to the numbers game, when they first appeared and why the football shirt and the number on the back are now inextricably linked.
Numbers on football shirts were first worn in professional games in 1928 when Arsenal took on Sheffield Wednesday at Highbury. When first introduced the numbering was simply a 1 to 11 configuration representing the 2-3-5 formation of a players position on the pitch.
It wasn’t until the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland that football shirt numbers were worn for the duration of a competition, again using the traditional system with number 1 as the goalkeeper up to number 11 left midfield or wing.
Legend has it that the, at the time unknown, 17 year-old Brazilian, Pele was assigned his, now famous, number 10 by a FIFA administrator. Just before the World Cup of 1958, when submitting their team, the Brazilian officials simply forgot to attach a number to each player, hence it was left to an administrator to do so. This is also the reason why the goalkeeper, Gilmar was given the number 3
Gradually over the ensuing years the 1-11 format was abandoned. During the 1974 World Cup, Argentina decided to number their players alphabetically according to their surname with the exception of the goalkeepers who were given 1, 12 and 21.
This continued for two subsequent World Cups, however in 1978 the keeper was included in the alphabetical line up, hence the Argentinian goalkeeper, Ubaldo Fillol, wore number 12 in 1974, 5 in 1978 and 7 in 1982!
Interestingly this system was disrupted for one player during the 1982 World Cup when Diego Maradona who, alphabetically should have been wearing the number 12, but expressed his strong preference for the number 10!
But it was only at the start of the 1993/94 English Premier League season that squad numbers became the rule and with the ever changing formations creating new roles in football, numbering has become a more and more fluid affair ever since.
Although numbers can help referees and fans distinguish between players on the pitch, their evolution means that, in some cases they are now chosen to send a message or deliver a deeper meaning.
One example is the squad number 34 which has been adopted by Justin Kluivert, Philippe Sandler, Amin Younes and Kevin Diks in tribute to Appbelhak Nouri.
Nouri, a promising young Ajax player, collapsed during a pre-season friendly and was left with severe brain damage. His fellow teams mates now wear the number 34 at their new clubs to show their continued support for him.
Lucy Staniforth the Birmingham City and England midfielder chose the number 37 in tribute to her brother, again a promising young player, who died after turning to drink and drugs to self-medicate when arthritis curtailed his football career.
Alvaro Morata, the Spanish forward, changed his number whilst at Chelsea from 9 to 29 when his twin boys were born on the 29th July. Giafranco Buffon also elected to change his number. Not without controversy, whilst at Parma he went from number 1 to number 88, said to signify four balls, to number 77, the year of his birth.
Socceroos’, Tommy Oar was unable to choose his favoured 11 so plumped for 121 as it represented 11 x 11.
And the desire to wear a certain number can impact heavily on the game. West Ham’s Paulo Futre refused to wear the number
16 shirt he was handed and, when given an ultimatum by Harry Redknapp, he chose to leave before the match had even begun. Shortly afterwards lawyers were brought in to negotiate the number 10 and he got the number he wanted!
Then there are the ‘modifiers’, those players who choose a number but change it in some way to reflect another meaning.
In the case of Zamorano’s shirt at Inter Milan this involved the use of a plus sign. Originally number 9 he gave this number up to Ronaldo and went for 18 instead but modified it with the addition of an addition! With this in place the 1+8 became 9 again.
Infamous keeper and vegan footballer, Carlos Roa, also chose to use a mathmatical symbol to convert his 13 in to a 1.3 Previously known for his strong, Seventh Day Adventist, religious beliefs, when asked about it Roa is said to have explained that the point, placed between the numbers 1 and 3, represents Jesus and the Most Holy Trinity.
Other number changes tend to involve one off events or publicity campaigns.
Steven Gerrard and James Beattie donned 08, during the Merseyside Derby of March 2006, to celebrate Liverpool being awarded the European Capital of Culture for 2008.
Brazilian international superstar, Neymar Jnr wore the numbers 100 and 200 to commemorate his 100th and 200th matches for Santos and Usain Bolt wears 9.58 – his 100 meter world record time – when he plays in the Unicef World XI for Soccer Aid matches.
Meanwhile some numbers are ‘retired’ by a football team to honour a particularly outstanding player such as the number 6 worn by West Ham’s Bobby Moore, the 14 shirt donned by Ajax’s Johan Cruyff and Paulo Maldini’s number 3 at AC Milan. The same is true of the infamous 10, retired by Napoli, to respect the tremendous influence Maradona had on the club.
Del Piero on the other hand, refused the Juventus board’s offer to retire his number 10 stating that “I’ve really had so much that I would never want it to be retired, this way, every child can dream one day of wearing it.”
With number 12 often being the number of the fans, some clubs, such as Portsmouth FC, Dynamo Kiev and Bayern Munich have even retired that in order to pay tribute to the loyalty of their followers.
In Spain however retired numbers are curtailed by the one to twenty-five rule, meaning that there’s only 25 for any squad to choose from.
And if you want to know more about the shirt numbers game take a look at www.squadnumbers.com Dennis Hurley, a football shirt number enthusiast, has taken the subject to a whole new level with his rather niche but totally fascinating website.
Join the conversation on Twitter too. Follow us @OSFshop and hear more about shirt numbers and follow @Football_CFB for truly unique football content.
Would you like to go back to the more traditional assignment or do you like the stories behind players numbers and why they choose them?
On the 24th October 1857 the world’s first football club, Sheffield F.C. was created. The two founding members, William Prest and Nathanial Crestwick, team-mates at the local cricket club, were looking to stay fit during the winter months and football proved the perfect pursuit. Arsenal was founded 15 years later in 1886, with Manchester United created in 1878.
Sheffield F.C. joined the Football Association in 1863, but remained an amateur side when the FA allowed professional football in 1885. They reached the F.A. Cup quarter finals in 1874, 1876 and 1878 and were Football Association Amateur Cup Winners 1904
Since 1999 Richard Tims has masterminded Sheffield Football Club’s revival, moving their home ground to the Coach and Horses Stadium in Dronfield. And in 2003 they founded a women’s team, something Man. Utd. only managed to make a priority this year!
In 2004, the club received the FIFA Order of Merit for their ‘historic importance and contribution’, an honour bestowed on only two clubs, with the other being Real Madrid. And in 2007, when the club celebrated their 150-year anniversary, Pele attended a non-league friendly against Inter-Milan.
They are currently playing in a non-league Senior Division with opponents like Cleethorpes Town and Ilkeston.
Many of the rules and innovations that the club implemented back in the 1800’s, including free kicks and corners, are still in use today.
Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley or Jonno and Bern as they are more commonly known. Two football managers – Co-managing Chester Football Club in the National League North – who are very well known to football fans the length and breadth of the UK due to their time in charge of Salford City owned by the Class of 92 and Peter Lim that saw them feature as part of a BBC prime time documentary followed by a multiple series follow up on Sky Sports.
However, there is far more to both men than all that you see on the Salford documentary series. However, before we get to that, how do they reflect of life in the limelight and how they were portrayed in that documentary?
Anthony Johnson summed up the documentary experience for CFB, “You’ve got Paul Scholes, Phil Neville, Gary Neville, Nicky Butt and Ryan Giggs stood over your shoulder. You’re in the limelight. You’re on BBC at prime time, there were cameras in our homes, speaking to our wives and kids and our mothers.
No one trains you for any of that. There’s no training. We don’t have PAs. There aren’t people who come round and say “don’t say this, you can’t say that.”
“I’m not saying there are any bad bits in the programme, but because of the type of characters we are, we provoke opinion so people come away and think a couple of aggressive bullies. Everyone that knows us and has worked with us knows that is not the case and that we take our roles very seriously and work as hard as we can to achieve success at every club we work at.”
Bernard Morley echoes this view and sums up the dilemma they faced at Salford due to the high profile nature of the owners and coverage the club received, “If we won leagues it’s because we had money and if we didn’t succeed it’s because we’re clueless.”
Both men are far from clueless as their record in management together has shown. The duo won three promotions in four years at Salford and had title-winning success at Ramsbottom United before that. Following their departure from Salford, interest in the pair was very high and they were linked with a host of clubs including Barrow, Chesterfield and Carlisle. However, the pair swiftly chose Chester Football Club as their next step being appointed just seven days after they left Salford.
So why did they choose Chester over a host of other clubs?
On the day of their appointment they both stated that, “We are an ambitious management team and whilst we know there are challenges ahead, we would not have taken the job if we didn’t believe that we could get Chester into a position of challenging for promotion.”
Crucially, they also stressed the importance of patience and realism from fans as they both fully acknowledge that it’ll take time to ensure that Chester – a fan owned club – can challenge for a return to the Football League in the future. Despite the call for patience, their passion and determination has not waned in the slightest in this new challenge. Anthony Johnson sums up the work rate of the pair and their determination to succeed, “We immerse ourselves in the football club, we’re massive on it. We don’t travel from Bury up to Chester and just have an hour there and then go home. We believe having sustained success comes from us buying into Chester and Chester buying into us.”
So far after just over 18 months in charge the pair continue to work hard to compete for promotion to the National League. In their first season – 18/19 – Chester finished the season in 9th place and just three points off the playoffs. A stop-start season in many ways but an education for both men in relation to the task at hand.
This season has been a different story with Club sitting comfortably in the playoff positions with games in hand over their nearest competitions. Unfortunately for both men and Chester as a club, due to the COVID-19 outbreak when and if the season resumes remains a mystery but you’d have to be a brave man or woman to bet against Chester competing in the playoffs for promotion under both men in the near future.
Their work across all levels of the club has not gone unnoticed either. Paul Bodman – Chester FC Board member and the club’s Commercial Director – explained the power of their impact. “When Jonno & Bern first became joint managers at Chester FC, I wasn’t sure what we would get, they had been the focal point of a TV documentary about their time at Salford.
What we got was totally committed, dedicated and driven managers who wanted success. They bought into the clubs fan ownership model and embraced everything the club was all about.
The last two years have been a building project to get the club promoted to the National League then challenge for a place in the Football League. Their work ethic, honesty and leadership is a major reason why our club is going forward.
Added to all the above they are two of the friendliest people you could meet, always happy to chat to fans regardless of the result and to promote Chester FC in the best possible way. We are delighted and proud to have Jonno and Bern as our managers.”
Furthermore, both men are incredibly happy at Chester and the fans are incredibly happy with the job that they’ve done so far. This resulted in the pair signing new two years deals at the club that will take them until 2022 at least.
Upon putting pen to paper on their new deals they both had a rousing message for fans: “Stay with us. Our ambitions are limitless. Chester FC’s ceiling is as high as we want it to be. This isn’t a small little club punching above it’s weight, where we are right now is the absolute minimum. We believe where we can get to over the next two-and-a-half years is scary.”
To conclude, as stated in the title of this article there is far more to Jonno and Bern than meets the documentary viewers eye. They are both hardworking, family men with solid records in management and with momentum building at Chester; another promotion may just be around the corner.
Aldo wis never a supporter ae Leith Star and he wis never yin fur keepin his thoats oan the matter tae himsel. Then there wis me and Craig who huv followed thum religiously since we wur auld enough tae wipe oor ain erse. It didnae matter whether it wis pishin doon wae rain and no even the sight ae the four horsemen oan the horizon wid deter oor support fur the team. Nae doubt we wid still be there freezin oor baws off in the famous rid and white hoops ae the mighty Leith Star. Though that didnae stoap Aldo forever takin any opportunity he goat tae shite aw oor the team’s chances ae tastin victory.
‘’That shower ae useless shite’’ he wid often say. ‘’Ah’m fuckin tellin yae no yin ae they eleven fannies wid even make the bench fur The Edinburgh Athletic Wheelchair Team’’
You’ve goat tae remember, likes. His open contempt fur the club and its players wis alweys said within earshot ae the boays oan the team. Especially, since the majority ae thum are local lads and they wid spend their weekends boozin doon at The Spiders Web, jist like everyboady else. But when yur talent’s bein cawed intae question by a six-fit two, coked up, steroid induced mountain. Then understandably, eh? That initial urge tae react becomes somewhat diluted. Jist oan Wednesday passed, eh? ah wis roond at Craig’s flat tae sort oot numbers fur the supporter’s buses. Fur oor big trip oor tae face the mighty Bonnyrigg Rose in the Scottish Cup. This game is huge fur us, likes. As the winner gits Clyde at haime in the nixt roond. And no only that, but the match will be televised live oan BBC Alba.
Soon as we ironed oot the details fur the buses. That’s when Aldo’s new foond love fur the team came up. Ah thoat this wid be a gid time tae git his thoats oan suttin that hus been nigglin awey at me lately. Everyboady kent this wisnae a love that wis gonnae stand the test ae time. But still, ah wise curious as tae what someboady else thoat.
‘’Craig’’ ah said. ‘’Kin ah ask yae suttin?’’
‘’Sure man, shoot?’’
‘’It’s jist, see how Aldo usually hates the Star sae much? Dae yae hink it’s just he lacks a bit ae community spirit? Or is he just a cunt? ’’
Craig paused fur a bit before answerin and ah could tell he wis geein the question some serious consideration.
‘’Ah dunno, Dougie, man. Mean he did kick the shite oot ae Santa last year, eh?’’
Fur some unknown reason ah hud completely furgoat aboot this. It wis probably due tae the fact there’s been a thoosand incidents involvin Aldo since then.
‘’Aw, aye’’ ah telt him ‘’Refresh ma memory again? What wis that aw aboot?’’
‘’Suttin tae dae wae his HO,HO,HO bein too festive, mate’’
Ah jist stood there in the kitchen as ah tried tae process and understand why Aldo hud done what he did tae Santa. But nah, ah drew a blank. And ah couldnae quite git ma heid roond what hud happened.
‘’Too fuckin festive?” ah said “but it wis Christmas? ’’
‘’Aye, ah ken, man” Craig says, sympathetically “but then again, Dougie. Aldo is a Muslim’’
‘’Aye” ah said “Ah huv fuckin noticed. But yae say that as if it should aw make fuckin sense noo. What the fuck hus bein Muslim goat tae day wae anyhing though?
‘’Well” Craig explains “Tae Aldo, Santa’s jist some fat fuck in a rid suit, eh? And it didnae help that yin ae his runner’s hud been pinched wae two oonce ae Ching’’
That wis aw the info ah needed. Suddenly it aw made fuckin sense tae me. Aldo didnae spread Santa acroass the street cos he wis actin too festive, at aw. It coulda been anyboady, eh? he wis simply littin oaff a wee bit ae steam.
Ah mind the very moment Aldo went fae wishin a thoosand deaths oan The Stars players. Tae embracin thum as a bunch ae long loast brothers. Although he wid oaften deny it. Aw ae his initial negatively taewards them stemed face the failed trial he hud when he wis a bairn. But it took the win against BSc Glasgow fur aw they year’s ae ill will tae supposedly disappear.
Whether it’s a glorious victory or another hert breakin loass. Me and the rest ae the boays end up back at the Spiders Web. It’s a sortae tradition, Ken? And oan that particular day, aw the wey back fae Glasgow. Ah found massel dreamin ae the moment when ah’d set eyes oan Aldo. And the satisfaction and relish ah’d git in rubbin his puss in it. Ah made a conscious point ae gittin tae the boozer before everyboady else. Darted oaff the bus, so ah did, it wis practically a sprint. Ah wanted tae be the first cunt tae tell him aw aboot oor great triumph. Ah hud it aw planned oot in ma heid. Pure premeditated mind fuck. Make him hink the team hud went doon in calamity. Before ah revealed that we’d actually only gone and fuckin won. As soon as ah walked in a caught sight ae a familiar picture. Aldo proppes up against the bar. Whilst Auld Maggie wis stood behind it, busy pullin pints. The baith ae thum wur chattin awey tae each other and as soon as Aldo cloacked ma presence ah could tell ma depressed puss hud done jist the trick. Cos ah could see in his eyes and the wey he wis tryin no tae smirk that he wis jist readyin himsel tae start dishing oot his usual pish aboot how shite the team wur.
He wis stood there aw smug and proud ae himsel. And ah kent right there and then that ah hud him oan a string. He wis basically foamin at the mooth, eh? Salivatin at the mere prospect ae wipin his erse wae oor dreams and aspirations ae liftin the Scottish Cup.
‘’Loast did they?” He asked. Aw gleeful and confident that this wis jist another glorious failure fur the club. ‘’Useless Motherfuckers’’.
‘’Naw” ah telt him “We fuckin won!!’’ ah roared sae hard ma lungs felt as if they wur ready tae jist explode, there and then. Although this cunt still seemed unable tae accept ma gid news and didnae hink twice aboot expressin his doots
‘’Pish! ’’ he scoffed. ‘’ Fuck knows what yur smokin the day, Dougie. But be a pal and send some ma wey, eh? ’’
‘’Ah’m tellin yae, we won.” ah telt him. ” And if we beat Bonnyrigg Rose then the next yin will be televised here, live oan the BBC. They’re gonnae be at the game, n aw. Tae talk tae some ae the supporters if we win’’
It wisnae until maire and maire boady’s started tae pile in the boozer and the choruses ae ‘’Wur gonnae win the Cup!’’ rang oot. That the cunt looked as if he believed ah wis tellin the truth. He did seem startled wae aw the noise and a bit overwhelmed wae the sea ae rid and white he wis now faced wae. As he turned and faced firmly in ma direction it wis clear tae me his mind wis gone intae overdrive. Processin the possibilities ae the nixt roond.
‘’The BBC yae say?’’ he asked. As his eyes began widening at the thoat ae gittin his five minutes ae fame oan the telly.
‘’Aye Aldo, its fuckin quality’’
‘’Sure is, Dougie son, sure is. Listen, ah’ve jist remembered ah’ve goat tae be somewhere’’ He shouted back at me as he made a hasty exit oot ae the pub withoot mutterin even as much as a ‘gidbye’.
A gid oor passed by and there wis still nae sign ae him. Then, jist as everycunt hud seemed tae huv settled down. In he comes, chairgin through the doors. As if he’s John Wayne in yin ae those auld westerns who’s come tae save the toon fae destruction. It wisnae even his dramatic entrance that caught ma attention, either. It wis maire tae dae wae what he wis wearin. The cheeky bastard wis stood there, in centre ae the pub, dressed heid tae tae in the rid and white ae the mighty Star. Fuck knows where the cunt goat it fae, likes. But he even hud yin ae they big rid and white foam finger hings. Ken, like the yins yae see at American fitbaw games. Yae could huv heard a prin drop, ah’m tellin yae. Everyboady there seemed tae be frozen in a state ae shock. And the sense ae disbelief which contaminated the atmosphere grew stronger yince he began beltin oot the fans chant ae
‘’There’s only yin Leith Star!!’’
He went roond the hale room embracin anyboady he could find who wis also wearin a Leith Star strip. And he kept mutterin the same words, oor, and oor again ‘’Wur in this taegether, lads’’. Honestly, it wis fuckin ootrageous. And ah doot ah wisnae the only boay who wis observin him wae clenched fists. Fur we aw kent fine well what he wis up tae. Glory hunters are, efteraw, aw the same. Aldo wid only be aroond fur the gid times. He hud nae intention, whatsoever, in stickin aroond fur the bad.
The big match wae Bonnyrigg Rose hus seemed tae arrive in nae time. Three supporters buses left fae the Web at aroond quarter tae two. Bonnyrigg is a wee workin class toon oan the ootskirts ae Edinburgh. Ah’ve heard a lot ae stories aboot these Bonnyrigg cunts but ah try no tae listen tae that sortae hing. Better jist judge fur masel when we git there. The bus hus been rockin fae the moment we departed and it’s only comin up fur the back ae two and everycunt is either half cut or coked up. Or, in Aldo’s case, a deadly combination ae baith. Efter he seeminly tires himsel oot wae aw his signin and questionable chants. He decides tae join me and Craig at the back ae the bus.
‘’Yae seen that film Groundhog Day?’’ he asks us. Aw ootae breath and pishin wae sweat.
‘’Aye’’ Craig sais. ‘’Bill Murray’s in it?’’
‘’Aye, that’s right’’ sais Aldo, who seems tae appreciate Craig’s knowledge ae the film.
‘’Murray’s awrite’’ sais Craig
‘’Aye he is, but ah’m tryin tae make a point here. No discuss his fuckin actin credentials’’
‘’Well’’ he sais. ‘’Ah wis watchin the hing oan the telly last night. And it goat me hinkin, eh? that boays like us are jist like him in the film. We wake up repeatin the same day. Oor and oor again. Wae the purpose ae makin some posh cunt rich’’.
‘’That’s an interestin wey ae lookin at it, man’’ ah tell him.
‘’It’s the only wey tae fuckin look at it. Listen, the opium ae these posh cunts is the blood, sweat and tears ae the workin class. And the opium ae the workin class is anyhin that blanks oot the realisation ae kennin wur a mere slave tae the capitalist machine’’
Ah never hud Aldo doon as nae Karl Marx. But ah’ve goat tae admit it. Fur yince he seems tae be talkin sense. And that’s jist what’s scarin the fuckin life ootae me. As he appears tae make himsel comfy oan the seat he gestures fur us baith tae come closer. Before uncharacteristicly whisperin
‘’Lads, ah’ve goat gid news. Ah’ve takin care ae it’’
‘’Takin care ae what?’’ ah ask him
‘’The fuckin match’’
Me and Craig gee each other a worried look. Efteraw, this is Aldo we’re dealin wae, and absolutely anyhing is possible
Craig tries tae make a wee joke aboot the situation by indirectly askin him a serious question.
‘’Yae didnae kidnap Bonnyrigg’s managers wife or suttin, did yae?’’
‘’Tell me yae never, Aldo’’ ah plead wae him. Cos ah wisnae sure whether tae laugh or phone Justine fur an alibi.
‘’Of course, ah didnae kidnap the boays wife. Fur fuck sake, lads. What dae you pair ae miserable bastards take me fur?”
“okay” ah tell him ‘’So, what huv yae done then, exactly?’’
‘’You’ll see fur yursels during the match” he tells us ” But trust me, you’ll no want tae miss this’’ as he hus a wee sinister laugh tae himsel.
Wae the colour fae Craigs puss quickly drainin awey and ma hert beginnin tae beat at an alarmin rate. It wis clear suttin wis tellin us baith that this is gontae be a long day. Regardless ae the actual result ae the match. We arrived at Bonnyrigg’s groond ‘New Dundas Park’ fur aroond quarter past two. The place wis situated behind some shitty lookin boozer cawed, ‘The Calderwood’. Jist as everyboady else oaff the bus makes their wey inside the stadium Aldo drags me and Craig inside the pub fur a wee pre-match pint. Fae how busy this shitehole is ah kin tell Bonnyrigg is oot in force tae cheer oan their team. Ah wis a bit hesitant aboot comin in here due tae the real possibility we might jist end up gittin oor heids tae play wae. Especially if Aldo decides tae cause yin ae his infamous scenes again. Fae the moment we walk in everyboady jist seems tae stoap what they’re daein tae hae a gid look at us. Aldo scans the room and the first words oot ae his mooth dinnae endear us tae the natives
‘’Fuck me’’ he sais. ‘’The only hing worth pullin in here is a pint. Grab a seat lads, ah’ll git the beers in’’
He goes and makes his wey through the crowded pub and doesnae seem tae gee a fuck that he’s left us starin back at a room fullae pusses who look as if their ready tae reach fur the nearest pitchfork. Wuv only been in here fur nae maire than twinty seconds and Aldo’s awready pissed off maist the cunts in the room. Even as me and Craig hastily try and find an empty table ah kin feel aw they glarin eyes bearin doon oan us. Thankfully though, it’s no too long before ah cloack a few spare seats located near the karaoke machine. Me and Craig dart taewards them and wait fur Aldo tae return. The pair ae us hoapin tae fuck that nuttin kicks oaff. Cos ah widnae miss this match fur the birth ae ma firstborn. Five or so minutes later and he comes swagerrin along wae a welcomin sight ae three cauld beers in tow. No that either ae they two clowns are too bothered aboot a pint. The bastards dash tae the bog wae their big bag ae snow, leavin me aw oan ma lonesome. By the time they come the cloack doesnae seemed tae huv moved. And hings are aboot tae drag oan even maire. Ah notice a lassie standin at the Karaoke machine. She looks aboot oor age and even though she’s aw dolled up, the makeup clearly isnae workin. She soon starts tae belt oot a poor rendition ae Tina Turner’s ‘Simply The Best’ and ah kin tell wae the look oan his puss Aldo is jist waitin tae say suttin cheeky.
‘’Excuse me, pal?!’’ he shouts oor tae the barman, who is busy servin customers.
‘’Aye, what is it?’’ the boay sais, in an impatient sortae wey
Fae Craig’s nervous demeanour ah kin tell he’s as worried as me aboot where this conversation might end up. We’re no like Aldo, we’re actually proper Leith Star supporters and this game is a big deal fur us.
‘’Nuttin in particular, mate’’ Aldo tells the boay. ‘’It’s jist nice tae see yae gee yur local comedians a platform tae humiliate thumsels’’ as he nods in the direction ae the now mortified lassie who’d jist finished her song.
‘’That’s ma wife, yae cheeky cunt!’’ the boay snaps.
‘’So, yae love her anywey?’’ Aldo remarks ‘’ Then that makes you a better man than me’’
This boay seems ready tae explode. Yae kin jist tell by the wey his puss hus turned pure rid that he’s a tickin time bomb. Ah kin sense wae the tension fillin up in the room that wuv clearly oot steyed oor welcome. So, ah dually signal fur the the lads tae drink up and lits git the fuck ootae there. It’s no long before wuv legged it oor tae the shabby lookin stadium behind the boozer and joined up wae the rest ae Leith Star’s faithful. Straight awey ah kin see that baith clubs are well supported. Probably aloat tae dae wae the telly cameras but the atmosphere in here is definitely that ae a big cup tie. The three ae us are stood right behind Bonnyrigg’s goals and their keeper looks maire like a cannonbaw wae legs than an actual fitbaw player. As we stand there freezin oor baws oaff in anticipation ae the referee blowin his openin whistle. What Aldo hud said earlier aboot fixin the result, suddenly comes floodin back intae ma mind. He did, at that moment, appear tae be in his best behaviour, likes. But, still, ah couldnae help but be fixated oan what the cunt hud meant.
The game started jist like a typical cup tie. Neither team wantin tae gee anyhing awey early oan. It wis a pretty borin affair, ken? Cagey n that. That is until Alan Smith, oor midfield dynamo, ootae naewhere bursts straight through oan goal. But composure somehow evades that useless bastard and his weak effort trickles intae the keepers airms. Me and the rest ae oor support dinnae hud it too much against him though. Or at least, no voicing it openly, but no Aldo, he’s hellbent oan geein poor Alan a right piece ae his mind
‘’Ma Granny coulda hit that baw harder ya fat usless cunt, git yur erse in gear!!’’
Efter that wee hertless remark, ah kin see that the real Aldo wis startin tae bubble up tae the surface.
‘’Aldo, it’s still early days, man’’ ah tell him ‘’take it easy, will yae?’’
‘’Fuck that’’ he barks ‘’What ah telt you boays earlier, eh? That still stands. Ah’m winnin this match fur us’’
‘’Aye, what the fuck did you mean there, Aldo?’’ Craig asks, almost pleadin.
‘’Well, see uncle Fester oor there?’’ Aldo tells us, noaddin in the direction ae the plump, bald dafty, in the Bonnyrigg goals.
‘’Aye, what aboot him?’’ ah ask
‘’Well’’ he explains ‘’lits jist say he’s aboot tae hear a few haime truths’’
Ah’m intrigued by this comment and bein the nosy bastard that ah um, ah decide tae investigate further
‘’What dae yae mean by that, Aldo?’’
He glares at us baith. ‘’Ken Three finger Louie?’’
‘’Aye’’ ah sais. ‘’His sister’s a doactur?’’
‘’ That’s right. So yae ken the cunt?’’
‘’ Well, it wid be some fuckin coincidence if it wisnae him. Ah mean how many cunts steyin in Leith are cawed ‘three finger Louie?’’
‘’Well, it’s cos he’s goat four fuckin fingers, ya thick cunt!!’’ bawls Aldo in a blind rage.
‘’So, what aboot Louie then?’’ ah ask.
‘’His cousins a private investigator and ah hired the boay tae dae some diggin intae these Bonnyrigg cunts. And that fanny oor their hus maire secrets than the royal faimily. Anywey, a grand well spent, ah thoat’’
‘’A grand? that’s very reasonable fur that sort ae hing. Ah alweys imagined it wid be dearer than that’’ sais Craig, who seemingly fails tae address the bigger question. Which is why hus this fuckin lunatic hired a PI in the first place’’.
‘’Ah thoatsae tae, a three wey split. It comes tae £349.48, caw it 350 fur cash’’ Aldo informs us.
‘’ Caw it fuck aw’’ ah snap at him. ‘’ That’s against the fuckin law. Yae kin git done fur that sortae hing. Invasion ae privacy, or some pish, they caw it’’
‘’Invasion ae privacy? Laughs Aldo. ‘’You’re precious Dougie, yae really are. When that cunt pit oan that jersey he became public property. Dae yae want tae win or no?’’
‘’Well, of course ah want tae fuckin win, Aldo. But this is some shameless pish’’
Hinkin Craig will back me up oan this, ah gee him a wee glance. Tae ma surprise though ah cannae see any looks ae disgust, but insteed, he hus this expression that sais ‘why no?’ plastered acroass his puss.
‘’Dougie, lit’s no be too hasty here, eh?’’ he tells me ‘’A win’s a win, who gees a fuck how we git it. Cannae dae any herm, kin it?’’
Ken, suttin? This cunt is actually makin sense fur yince. It’s no like playin by the rules hus goat me anywhere before. This win wid set the the club up fur a gid few years tae come. And lit’s be honest. Huvin morals isnae what it’s aw cracked up tae be. Yae jist end up gittin fucked. This is why ah’ve decided tae gee Aldo a wee nod oan the unsuspectin goalkeeper.
Aw Aldo does at the beginnin isnae exactly an act ae brutality. It’s aw mind games, eh? As he repeatedly roars in the keeper’s direction ‘’Pishwater! Pishwater!’’.
Before the boay’s defences finally relinquish and he snaps ‘’Ma name’s Westwater, ya cheeky cunt’’ clearly demonstratin that Aldo’s awready in his heid.
And it’s pretty obvious that by the wey he’s twitchin inside the boax. That Aldo’s words are gittin maire and maire annoyin.
The game itsel hus started like a typical cup tie. Wae baith teams playin cautious. A quiet start that hus offered Aldo the opportunity tae step up his efforts tae brek this perr bastard.
‘’Oi, Pishwatrer, fae what ah wis telt. Accordin tae yur last medical. You’re only yin fish supper fae a hert attack, that right, aye?’’ then he produces a crisp new twinty quid note fae his poacket and begins tae gently wave it in the air ‘’Ah actually saw a nice wee chippy acroass the road fae the boozer cawed, Pias. Take this, eh? and tell Mr Pia he’s tae gee yae the greasiest supper he hus. Tell him its oan Aldo’’. Still though, this cunt seems tae surprisingly retain his composure. But it’s no escaped ma attention the colour ae his skin hus went fae milky white, tae pure beetroot. A fact which does nuttin except gee me hope that Aldo’s plan might actually work.
Ah’ll be the first tae admit it, likes. This game so far hus been nae ‘El Classico’ and Aldo will need tae pull suttin definitive oot ae the bag, sooner, rather than later. Especially since the keepers will change sides in the second half. And gone by the time oan ma watch suttin will need tae gee in the nixt twenty-five minutes. By the wey, Aldo’s personal attacks huv been gittin darker wae each passin minute. It’s pretty evident he’s cautious ae the time, tae. This fuckin lunatic hus went fae questionin the boay’s ‘true motives’ fur volunteerin tae coach bairns fitbaw. Tae implyin that his Victoria Cross winnin grandfaither wis actually a secret Nazi sympathiser. Yit the stubborn bastard still appears no quite ready tae bite back and by the wey Aldo’s pacin up and doon oan the side ae the pitch it’s clear he’s gittin agitated by the boay’s lack ae willingness no tae fold.
‘’Ah’m tired ae walkin oan eggshells wae this fanny’’ Aldo announces tae me and Craig. ‘’Time tae stoap bein merciful’’
‘’Eggshells?’’ ah giggle. ‘’Fur fuck sake, Aldo. Yae jist cawed him the Jimmy Savie ae Scottish fitbaw. Yae even tried tae pin an unsolved murder oan him fae five year ago. He’s no taken the bait, ah hink its oor noo’’.
Jist as the Star seem tae be buildin some momentum in the centre ae the park. It’s then that Aldo goes tae make yin last attempt tae git inside the keepers heid.
‘’Pishwater!’’ he begins yelling again. While the boay tries tae remain focused on Leith’s impendin attack.
‘’Ah wis sorry tae hear aboot yur daughter, Katie, is it?, Nae cunt imagines their wee lassie will grow up and sell their erse fur a poond ago tae dirty auld men. Jist fur a taste ae the broon stuff. Yae must be so proud, eh? fuckin Nickeledon’s faither ae the year, standin oor their’’
Fuckin hell, man. Oor forward, Andy Peters, is straight through oan goal. And the daft cunt hus hit a feeble shot which looks like a waste ae time. But ken what, eh? it’s somehow managed tae roll under the goalies airms, Fuckin Yes! Naeboady kin deny Aldo took hings too far wae the boays daughter but it looks as if it’s done the trick cos there’s nae wey the boay shouldnae huv saved that yin. Oor supporters have come unglued and everyboady’s jumpin up and doon like dafties. The boay is stormin towards us as the referee blows his whistle tae signal the end ae the half and he looks pissed.
‘’You’re fuckin deid, ya cunt!’’ he’s screamin as he points towards Aldo. ‘’Nae cunt talks aboot ma bairn like that!’’.
Jist as he gits close tae the barrier where wur standin, a few ae the stewards stoap him, jist in time. Even wae three ae these cunts huddin the boay back it’s obvious they’re strugglin tae contain him.
‘’Me and you’’ He says, pointin at Aldo ‘’efter the match. Ah’ll fuckin end yae!’’
In typical Aldo fashion he doenae gee a fuck aboot the guy’s threats and if anyhing seems tae welcome thum.
‘’Yae promise, dae yae? sweetheart?’’ he sais sarcastically. A comment that only seems tae enrage the boay further.
Wuv only went and fuckin done it, eh? held oan fur a famous victory. Shite game, dinnae git me wrong, but who gees a fuck aboot the standard ae play. Aldo’s masterplan tae fuck wae Bonnyrigg’s keeper hus proved tae be nuttin shoart ae a masterstroke. Oor supporters are walkin oan air right noo and every cunt is chantin ‘’Wur gonnae win the cup!’’. Craig’s made a quick run fur the bog and Aldo’s standin here amongst the fans, smug as yae like. As if he single handily won us the tie. Which, tae be fair tae him, isnae that far fae the truth. Of course, he’s went tae droap an E in celebration ae the win. But wae everybody jumpin aboot and aw the airms gittin flung, it’s been knoacked right oot his hand.
‘’Fur fuck sake!’’ he roars. Before he collapses tae the groond tae search fur the hing.
‘’Jist leave the fuckin hing. The BBC should be here soon tae interview some ae us’’ ah tell him.
‘’Bairns train here, yae dafty’’ he hisses at me. ‘’Did yae no notice that poster at the entrance? You kin be an irresponsible bastard sometimes, Dougie. Yae really kin’’.
Ah’m left absolutely dumbfoonded wae that response. ‘’Ah’m the irresponsible yin? You’re the bam who broat that shite intae the groond’’.
Maist ae the fans huv begun tae trickle oot ae the stadium. Aw ma fuckin god, eh? here comes Pishwater bargin his wey through the supporters and he looks as if he’s a madman oan a mission, headin straight oor wey.
‘’Aldo, that boays comin’’ ah beg wae him.
‘’Doesnae matter tae me Dougie, son. Yur still ma mate’’
‘’Eh?’’ ah sais ‘’Will yae look up!’’
He’s closin in oan us at lightnin speed. So, ah try tae bloack his path as Aldo’s still oblivious tae oor impendin problem.
‘’Mate, it wis jist banter’’ ah tell him.
Withoot a moment’s hesitation he gees me a swift right hand. Which dually sends me tumblin tae concrete.
Aw ma god, ma heid is bangin. Fuckin hell, how hard did that cunt hit me? Where the fuck um ah? is this that boozer fae earlier? It fuckin is, n aw.
There’s a wuman gone aboot collectin the empties.
‘’Excuse me love, where um ah?’’
‘’The Calderwood. Yur mates dumped yae in here.’’
That sounds jist like that pair ae miserable bastards, ah hink tae masel. Lookin at the corner ae the room ah notice suttin oan the telly. But it cannae be right, is that? Ah mean, is that Aldo? it fuckin is tae.
‘’Kin yae turn that up please?’’ ah ask her, which the wuman kindly does.
Jim Spence is standin there wae Aldo. Who’s aw but booncin as he awaites tae be interviewed.
‘’Ah’m standin here wae a supporter who hus followed his team through the gid times and the bad. What’s yur name, sir?’’.
‘’Aldo’’ he answers, aw gleefully.
‘’Well, Aldo. Why don’t you tell me how proud you are of these players?. This is a great achievement fur yur club’’
‘’Aye, that’s right, Jim’’ Aldo tells him ‘’ We at The Star are yin big faimily, eh? Mean, ah’ve been a supporter ae the club since ah wis auld enough tae crawl. There’s nuttin like the feelin ae community spirit. And kin ah tell ma missus suttin, who’s back at haime watchin?’’
‘’We did it, baby! And you owe me ma hole when ah git back!’’
‘’ Apologies there, for the language, ladies and gentlemen. But forgetting that last remark for a moment. The party currently going on behind me does go to show that community spirit and football do certainly coincide as one. This is Jim Spence, reporting fur BBC Scotland. Back the guys in the studio’’.
Ah’m loast fur words right noo. The absolute audacity. He jist goat interviewed by Jim fuckin spence! This hus goat tae be the maist surreal moment ae ma life. Aldo, ya dirty glory huntin bastard!