Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Trav:
Come On England.

Hope everyones well, and the holiday goes well.

Alright folks as I write this at 4:37 pm East Coast time, Croatia have just scored, to make it 2-3. As seeing I'm already on pins and needles, this is turning out to be a real good day, what with one of my posts for the teeth implants not sitting, so now I have to wait four more months for it to heal, then put a new on in, which then means another four month wait until a crown gets built over it.

Cheers
Trav

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Johnny Rumble:
Johnny's Folly part 4

The stadium erupted into a chorus of screams and shouts and uproarious cheer when the referee’s whistle sounded three times to signal the end of the match. The victory drought was over, and Greensea was hoisting the GM Trophy silver over their heads in celebration. The score line had taken on an embarrassing look at the end of the game. Five brilliant Greensea goals to zero from the Pilgrim side.

I was standing on my chair shouting celebrations myself, as were the rest of the 17,000 fans in Independence Stadium. Thirty-eight years of heart ache and disappointment were being worked out of Greensea’s system right now. A few of the players were even leaving the relative safety of the pitch to jump into the stands to party with the fans. Security was having a hell of a time keeping some sort of order amongst the chaos surrounding them. Eventually, the people did settle down and slowly exit the stadium. Our own group met up outside the gates to decide what to do next.

“Hey Mark,” Sam said with a twinkle in his eye, “Why don’t you try and set something up. Mid town. Near the depot.” Mark left the circle and pulled out his phone to make some calls. All the other were visibly excited.

I was curious, as always, about the habits of my new-found friends. “So what are we doing now?”

Sam looked me over like I was a little stupid, sighed and said, “We’re going to go see some people near the bus depot. Have ourselves some of fun. And you’re coming with. Ya might learn a few things.”

Paul slapped me on the back, “Damn right your coming.”

Okay, I thought, some more people to remember and memorize. Should be fun. I looked around and saw hundreds of people. My eyes fell on one woman in the crowd and when she flipped her brown hair back over her shoulder it had purple tips. Her! I stared and once again lost my train of thought. I want to, need to talk to her. She turned her head and searched for something. She found me. Her smile was genuine and sincere, and very, very teasing. Her eyes locked with mine and seemed to say, “Come on, you know you want to.”

I turned to Paul and Sam without taking my eyes off her, “Sorry guys, but, uhhh, something has come up. Meet you back at the pub later?”

Paul turned and followed my eye sight, but didn’t see what I was staring at. “Alright, you know your way around?” I nodded, incoherent. “Okay, just be careful. Listen to me. Be careful.” I nodded again and took off toward the “come-hither” eyes.

Rick turned to Paul when I was out of sight, “You know there were Bushwackers in that stadium. You know they looked us over and sized us up. Hell, there are more coming down the corridor right now. Be here in an hour. And you know that they will go after him if he’s alone. So why?”

“Because this might get him involved sooner and faster than if we dragged him into it. Let him go, and let them follow.”
________________________

I ran after her, trying to catch up. Unfortunately, in the rush to leave Paul and the others, I had lost sight of her. I looked around, in and out of the crushes of fans leaving Independence Stadium. I peered down streets and around corners until I caught sight of her. She was walking with a sort of arrogance, hands clasped behind her back, bouncing from one step to the other, as she knew I was there and she was waiting for me to catch up.

I jogged after her, and when I finally did, I fell in step, walked a dozen steps before turning and asking, “What are you doing down here in Greensea?”

Her response was immediate, “I could ask you the same thing. My parents live here, and I’ve never seen you in Greensea before today. So what’s your excuse?”

I turned to her and walked sideways, “Excuse?”

“Yeah, excuse, nobody comes to here with out very good reason.”

“Well,” I paused to put my next words in proper order, “That day in the elevator, that was my last day in university.”

“You graduated?”

“No, I was expelled, tossed out, excommunicated.”

“And that would explain why you look really down the tubes. So why did you come down here?”

“Yeah, yes it would, and I’m staying with a friend until I can get sorted.” I changed the subject, “You said that your folks lived in the here with a hint of disdain. This place isn’t your home?”

She frowned a little, “No, Greensea isn’t my home. After I graduated high school, my parents moved up here from Charleston. I wasn’t excited about it, but it made them happy.”

“Charleston is a nice place, why’d they move? Career opportunities?” The ones that never knock. Every job they of…I cleared the song in my head. Pay attention, moron!

“Yeah, career. His last boss screwed him out of his job, and so he came up here.” I could tell she was getting antsy about the topic, and she did, in fact, change it, “You enjoy the game?”

“Yes, very much so. I gotta say, I wasn’t that big a fan of football until today. My friend, the guy I’m staying with, Paul, introduced it to me. I’m hooked.” We turned down another road that looked like it was the main street of the town.

She turned to me and asked, “You hungry? I haven’t eaten all day, I’m craving some Mexican food, and there’s this small place about two blocks from here.”

I turned and was snared once again by the depth her gorgeous blue eyes. “God, your eyes are beautiful.”

She laughed and poked me in the stomach, “Thank you, but that doesn’t answer my question. Would you like to get an early dinner?”

I thought about for a few seconds and accepted. We continued walking and talking about nothing and everything. I was relaxed for the most part. There was that part of brain that was screaming Get in her pants! but I ignored it. The Mexican place she talked about, named “Mi Madre’s,” really was a small place. Only three tables and they were covered in yesterday’s issue of the newspaper. An old jukebox was sitting the corner crooning out a mix of rockabilly and old Spanish folk songs. It was actually a really nice place.

She walked up to the register and an old heavy-set woman came out from the back, and exclaimed with a thick Mexican accent, “Sadie! I haven’t laid eyes upon you in many days, senorita! How have you been? You haven’t flunked out of college now have you? And who is this bum you bring into my store, huh?” She stuck her chin out at me and smiled.

“Madre, be nice. He may look scruffy, but he’s gentle. Madre, meet Johnny, Johnny Rosita.” She hugged me and kissed me on the cheek like a son.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you Miss Rosita, and this store you have has some real character to it,” I said after she released me.

“Oh please, call me Madre. You make me feel so stodgy,” Rosita blushed. She turned back to, Sadie was it?, and asked, “The usual plate, dear? Or should I make it two?”

“Two please, and two cervesas.”

“Oh what,” Rosita turned stern, “I don’t see for days, then you come in here and insult me and my store by asking for alcohol.” Madre waved a finger at Sadie, “You know I don’t have that rubbish in my store.”

“Then tell me, Madre, why do I smell tequila on your breath?”

Rosita broke into a big bright smile, and patted Sadie on the cheek, “Never could get that past you could I? Two plates, twenty minutes.” Sadie grabbed me by the hand, Wow, her skin is soft, and pulled me to a table. I felt a snap of a towel on my butt, and heard Madre saying, “Behave Johnny, I’m watching you.”

Sadie turned and sighed out, “Madre!” She just threw her hands up and walked back to the kitchen laughing. “You’ll have to forgive her, she rarely sees me with a man, and her natural maternal instinct takes over.”

“No, it’s alright, I like her, your mother is cool,” I replied.

“Mother? Oh, no, no, she’s not my mom. Just a very close friend. I help out here when I can, and I just started calling her Madre one day, and it stuck. She pretty much is my second mom though.”

“Ah, okay. Makes sense. But here’s another question. How’d you know my name, Miss Sadie? As far as I can remember, we never properly introduced ourselves.”

Sadie giggled. “How badly do you want to kick yourself?”

“Apparently pretty badly, if I can’t remember such a pretty face.”

She blushed a bright crimson hue, “I’m not pretty, but thanks. I sit about two rows behind you in Economics, and my roommates are all infatuated with you and your… ‘Gentleman Solider’ attitude. And you start singing the Pogues, I’m going to hurt you.”

“I wasn’t, don’t worry. My attitude? They liked the fact that I pull pranks, thumb noses, and…”

“Steal cars?” Sadie poked.

“Yes, steal expensive, bright yellow Italian cars,” I poked back, “So what do you know about that?”

“I know what you did was wrong, but you did it for the right reasons. But I’m still not sure I can support such crime sprees.”

“Well, that was my last one, I promise,” I place my left hand on my heart and the right in the air. Sadie laughed, and was about to say something, but Rosita came sweeping out of the kitchen with two massive plates of food, and two condensation wrapped Coronas.

I looked at my watch because it hadn’t seemed like twenty minutes, and Rosita confirmed it. “Hoolio saw you coming down the street while on completely unhealthy smoke break, and started cooking. Eat up, enjoy, and leave big tips.” Both Sadie and I laughed at what Rosita said as she swept back into the kitchen. Sadie called her thanks after her.

Looking down at my near over-flowing plate, I saw Spanish rice, refried beans, two enchiladas, a burrito the size of both my fists, a pile of tortilla chips and in a separate cup on the plate, flan. My eyes bulged, and I just didn’t know where to begin. It all smelled so good, and my mouth was watering. I heard Sadie’s voice ask me, “Don’t know where to start?” I nodded, and she told me to start out with the rice. Picking up the silver fork, I dived straight in. I was overwhelmed by the taste of everything.

I looked up at Sadie, and she was chowing down on her burrito. I swallowed what I had in my mouth and said, “This is excellent. It’s a foodgasm. I mean, it’s just brilliant.” I took a bite of enchilada and found it filled with seasoned chicken, cheese, and small pockets of diced green pepper. If I hadn’t of already been with Sadie, that would have been heaven right there on that plate.

Our conversation continued between bites and pulls from our beer. I learned that she was hoping to become a doctor, that she could play blues guitar, and that she had an odd attraction to the bagpipes.

“Odd? That’s not odd. Bagpipes have that drone that just draws you deeper into the melody and caress your very soul,” I got lost in what I was saying and started to reminisce, “It’s the type of instrument that if you go long with out listening to it, it calls out to you and drives you mad. To think I stopped playing.” I let out a long low sigh.

“You play?” Sadie asked in amazement.

I snapped out of my thoughts and realized that I had said. Shit, I didn’t want THIS to be a topic. Oh well. “Used to play. Haven’t blown up the bag in three years.”

“Why not?” she asked. Her eyes were glistening with interest.

I sighed again and composed my thoughts. “Three years ago, my sister died. Shot in a 7-11 by a crook. She tried to be a hero and died,” I was delivering a death grip to the fork in my hand, “My parents wanted me to play at her funeral, but I couldn’t. I still can’t play today with out thinking about her. She got me hooked into the pipes.” I looked into Sadie’s eyes and saw that she had regretted asking me about it. “It’s okay. It’s not really something ashamed of, but it does hurt to talk about it.” I drained my third bottle of Corona, placed it back on the table, and covered the mouth with the coaster. My plate was as empty as I could make it and pushed it away from me. I looked at Sadie’s plate and it was completely devoid of food. Where the hell did she pack all that away?

“You done?” she asked and I nodded. “Mind if I have the rest of your rice and beans?”

I gave her a surprised look and she laughed, knowing what I was thinking. “I don’t know how, but I can pack food away like a bear.”

“And just how do you maintain that girly figure of yours?”

“I run. Lots of it. Habitual. I try to get two or three miles every week day and five miles of Saturday.”

“Amazing,” was all I could say, “If I did that much I think I’d keel over and die.”

Once again, Rosita came flying out of the kitchen and cleaned up our table quickly. She quickly pointed at me and asked, “Food good, you going to come back?” I nodded and she continued, “You going to treat Sadie right and be a gentleman with her?”

Sadie reeled and exclaimed, “Madre!”

I chuckled and waved Sadie down. “If the bonnie lassie is willing to give me the chance, yes, I will be a gentleman and treat her right.” I knew Sadie was blushing for the second time.

Rosita seemed satisfied with the answer and took the dishes away calling back, “No charge this time. Treat her wrong, and I’ll beat you with a rolling pin. And don’t think I won’t.” She was gone for less than a minute and she was back out with a to-go box of more rice and beans for Sadie.

Sadie turned to me after Rosita left and asked, “I have a bus to catch back to the University in 15 minutes. Care to walk with me?”

“I’d be delighted to.”

I knew Rosita was probably watching, so I held the door open for Sadie as we walked out. Back out into the sunshine, we hooked a left and walked toward the bus station. “Seeing as how you made a quite blatant Pogues reference in the restaurant, I’m going to guess that you listen to a lot Celtic-themed music. Dropkick Murphy’s, Dubliners, Bloody Irish Boys and the like.”

“You’d be right. But include a lot of punk rock into that list.”

It was my turn to laugh. “I knew it! It’s not an ordinary chicka that dyes her hair and paints her fingernails the way you do.”

“Oh, and what about you, with your worn out hoodie and torn up and faded jeans. Your sky blue hair is quite out there too.”

“Hey! I like my hair! It’s distinctive,” I raved.

“So what music do you listen to?” she asked.

“Oh, punk music mostly. But I do enjoy an occational foray into classical and opera. Wagner’s Die Walk├╝re is a great piece of Viking mythology. And don’t get me started on Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.”

“Chances are you’re familiar with Holst.”

The Planets is an absolutely amazing set of pieces. How do you know about Holst?”

“Our orchestra teacher in High school was obsessed with Holst. They’d play at least one pieces everyday. Drove me insane.” Sadie pointed toward a building emblazoned with the Greyhound logo. Several busses were sitting outside waiting for passengers and luggage. We walked inside and saw a few people milling about or sleeping on the chairs. I waited for Sadie by the door while she took care of her bus ticket.

It took her a few minutes, but when she got done, she headed in my direction and back into the outdoors. Naturally, I followed her flowing purple-tipped auburn hair to her waiting bus. At the bus door, she turned to me and looked me in the eyes. “Thanks for spending time with me. I enjoyed it.”

I looked into her eyes and responded in kind. I took both of her hands in mine and gave them a light squeeze. “So will I get a chance to see you again?” I asked.

She gave me a mischievous smile, “Maybe. Just maybe.” Sadie let go of my hands, boarded her bus, and waved goodbye from her seat. I waved back and watched the bus pull out and whisk Sadie back to the campus I can never return to. I turned and left the station and started to retrace my steps back to the stadium. I hope I do get to see her again. That would be very, very nice. I whistled the tune to the Pogues, “Gentleman Solider” as I walked. I noticed that there was a group of people in front of me, and I moved to get out of the way of them.

They moved back into my way, and I moved again to get out of the way. I frowned when they, once again got into my way. There were four of them, and they looked like they had a mission. I paused on the sidewalk and thought about turning the other way.

And then somebody threw a bottle.

I heard it crash and shatter behind me as I sprinted away from the group that was keen on hurting me. I heard them run after me, shouting, cajoling. I heard none of it and kept my legs pumping. Down one street, then another, in and out of tunnels, through a backyard or two or six. I lost count. I kept the distance between me and them.

I didn’t see it coming. The two guys waiting behind the corner an alley I was trying to round. It was like I had hit a brick wall of human flesh. Pinning me against the alley wall, the two guys waited for the other four. It was only a short time, and I struggled against the bonds these people had me in.

A guy, who reminded me of the stereotypical privileged suburban white son, strode up to me and sneered in a thick New England accent, “So you need to tell me where that faggot leader is of the Phoenix, or you won't be walking out of this alley."


Johnny Rumble

Monday, November 05, 2007

Johnny Rumble:
Johnny's Folly part 3

“So Johnny, tell me, how many did you let through?”

The laughing was deafening. The whole group was giving me a good bashing about my first football game. I had done ridiculously terrible. So terrible in fact, that I had run out of both fingers and toes to keep track. I was laughing right along with them, so it wasn’t any sort of deal. I had had plenty of fun. The game we played was able to push out all the bad things that had happened recently.

“I don’t know Jack,” I took a sip of my Guinness, “I lost count somewhere around 20.”

The laughs started up again and it gave me a chance to take stock of my surroundings. Our game had ended about half an hour ago, and we had made our way back to the bar to get our own anticipation levels up and going. The bar itself was filled with many other fans of Greensea. People were laughing, chanting, singing, and drinking lots and lots of booze. Our group was seated in a corner booth, drinking plenty of beer.

Paul stood up and raised his glass, “To Johnny! The worst keeper ever!”

Everybody raised their glasses together and shouted, “Here! Here!”

When we sat back down, James grabbed my shoulder and looked me in the eye, “Before the game you said something about having a style before you got kicked out of University? What else did you do to that greedy son-of-a-bitch?”

I laughed. “Oh fuck man. I did every thing to that old bastard. I took a shit on his office chair, saran wrapped his car doors shut, and I think the best one I ever did is when I broke into his office in the middle of the night and took all the bolts, nails, and screws out of his desk. When he came in the morning, I was his first appointment. It took a few minutes to get him angry enough, but when he slammed fist on the desk, it completely collapsed on him.” Everybody had a good laugh at the Deans mis-fortune. I continued, “And there was the time I fucked with his computer. That one was a pure riot. Not even the campus IT could figure it out.”

Juan leaned forward and asked, “How you do it?”

“Well, there are computer keyboards that are known as “ABC” boards. Instead of the typical “QWERTY” set up, I swapped in an “ABC” keyboard and re-arranged the keys into the “QWERTY” set up. The dean couldn’t get any work done for a week,” I drained my beer, “I did loads to screw with him. Perhaps it’s a good thing I’m out of there. Anybody need some more drink?” I asked lifting my glass.

“Yeah man,” Sam said, “Bring another round for the table and a couple of pitchers of beer. St. Paulie’s Girl.”

“And a packet of those cracker like things that you put in chowder,” Mark requested.

“Oyster Crackers?”

“Yeah, yeah, those.”

I saddled up to the bar and waited for Danny. I grabbed a few packages of the crackers that Mark wanted and threw them across the room in his direction. He caught one or two, but the rest fell helplessly on the table, the chairs, or to Juan’s distinct determent, in his glass of beer. He laughed, fished it out, and tossed it at Mark’s head.

Danny had worked his way down to me and asked, “Lemme guess, another round?”

“Yes sir, But not Guinness. St. Paulie’s Girl. And two extra pitchers.”

“You got it,” the gruff barman replied. “You looking forward to the match today?”

“Oh yeah,” I suddenly remembered, “I keep meaning to ask, who’s playing?”

“Greensea versus Pilgrims. Pilgrims are out of Plymouth, Massachusetts. They are one of the stronger League 1 sides out there, so it should be a very good match. Here’s your tray,” Danny handed me a tray with nine overflowed glasses and two pitchers filled to the brink with beer.

Carefully making my way back to the booth, I maneuvered between chanting crowds of fans. Thankfully, I got back without spilling too much of the gold booze. The tray was empty of glasses and pitchers before it hit the surface of the table.

“Hey, Hey!” James exclaimed, “It’s our song! It’s Johnny’s Song!”

Paul threw his empty arm around me and pulled me into the crowd to sing. I didn’t know the words as it was, and the slurring crowds didn’t make deciphering them any easier. Never the less, I tried to sing along with the crowds.

“Where are the eyes that look so mild?
Huroo Huroo
Where are the eyes that look so mild?
Huroo Huroo
Where are the eyes that look so mild,
When our poor hearts you first beguiled?
Why did you run from we and the child?
Johnny, we hardly knew ya!

You had guns and drums and drums and guns
Huroo Huroo
You had guns and drums and drums and guns
Huroo Huroo
You had guns and drums and drums and guns
The enemy never slew ya!
Johnny, we hardly knew ya!
Johnny, we hardly knew ya!”

The crowd started clapping and shouting, “Greensea F.C.,” as loud as their voices could. As people veered off into another song, Paul pushed me out of the sea of people back toward the booth. I grabbed my glass of beer and Paul patted me on the shoulder. Pretty soon, everybody was back and sitting down. People were beaming pride and happiness. I was curious as to what the song was all about so I took a deep gulp of St. Paulie’s and put my question out in the open.

“The song?” Keith asked, and I nodded. “Well, the song is an old Bostonian tune. There’s many more verses than what we sing here. You see, way back in the 60’s, you know, hippie era and Vietnam, well, back then, Greensea had a player by the name of John Hawthorne. Greatest player we ever had,” our group started murmuring their approval, “The bloke was bloody brilliant on the pitch. Unfortunately, the government swiped him out of Wailer Grounds to go fight at Nam Fo in Vietnam. He never came back from that rotten valley. The town was devastated. The team suffered. When his body came back, the whole town showed up at his internment.”

“But what about the song? You said it came from Boston…”

“Hold your horses, I’m getting there. During the 60’s, there was a lot of off the pitch rivalry between the clubs. There were ‘social clubs’ called firms that supported the teams, and they fought each other. At that time, Greenseas biggest rival was Boston A.F.C. The firms fought each other at every game the teams played, and at some games they didn't. It was vicious. Well, after Hawthorne was brought back for his funeral, the entire Greensea firm showed up to pay respects. What we didn’t expect was when the Boston firm showed up. Bad blood was made sourer instantly.

“The two leaders had some words, and nobody knows what was said. But what’s known is that no blows were exchanged. Boston and Greensea stood side by side paying respects to a fallen footballer. Boston sung Johnny’s Song in a low voice, and then left. Since that day, Boston A.F.C. and Greensea F.C. have never had a problem. The club unofficially adopted it as the supporter’s song. We’ve been singing it ever since.”

“That’s quite a history. Really. Amazing actually,” I said between sips of my beer. I noticed that Paul was glancing at his watch with anticipation. “What’s up Paul?” He got up from his seat and walked over to the bar. He stopped at a brass bell hanging from the ceiling, reached up and grasped the rope with his hand. The room quieted down until you could hear a drop of beer hit the floor.

“Lads…I think you know what day it is. Today is the day of the finals. The last stepping stone on the way to claiming the GM Trophy Dash. I want that day to be today. I want a victory that we can be proud of for years to come. Now, unfortunately, we face a club that we haven’t beaten in 38 years. We face the Pilgrims today.”

The bar erupted in a chorus of boos and hisses.

“I know lads, I know. It’s been a long time coming. We want to see that silver hoisted on the shoulders of the mighty Fleet. Today is Finals day. Today is Match Day!” Paul started ringing the bell like there was a fire in Johnny’s Folly, and there pretty much was. The whole place went mad with excitement. People were completely empting their half empty beers in the air, arms were waving everywhere, people were yelling, and it seemed that the whole place became the mosh pit from when Bad Brains played CBGB’s New Years 82-83. Paul shouted, “Let’s get ‘em boys!”

The place emptied out on the streets on Greensea, and the fans were pushing and shoving their way out the doors. Everybody had literally gone mad. Viking mad. It’s must have been Jack that started to gather the troops with song and chant, the French accent was unmistakable, “Do you think you’re mental?”

The crowd responded, “Yes, we’re fucking mental!”

“Do you think you’re mental?”

“Yes, were fucking mental! Yes, we’re fucking mental!”

Jack was at the top of his voice now, “I asked, do you think you’re mental?!”

The amassed human bodies got rowdier, “Yes, were fucking mental! Yes, were fucking mental!” People were slamming into each other, yelling and screaming, and loving every minute of it. I know I would be in there if I wasn’t so stunned at how rabid everyone was. In the not-so-far-off distance I heard a car alarm go off. I just stood and watch from a window in the bar and the fluid movement of the fans causing a ruckus on the streets. Paul came up behind me with his glass of beer in one hand and threw his other around my shoulder.

He took a sip of beer before looking at me, “Rowdy bunch, they are. Every match day it can get like this. Although, I’ve got to say, it’s been a good long while since I’ve seen them this amped up for a match.” He threw his glass over his shoulder and it shattered on the floor. “Come on lad, let’s go have some fun.”

He walked outside, threw his arms in the air and started shouting, “Where are the eyes that look so mild?” The crowd responded by singing Johnny’s Song, Paul took the lead of the mass of fans, and they, we, set off down the street toward the stadium.

I stuck close to Paul’s side and chanted with him where I could. I really was stoked for this match. The energy of the crowd just fed my own fire and zest for life. About three blocks away from the Johnny’s Folly, a few mounted police officers flanked our group and escorted us the rest of the half mile to the stadium. No one seemed to care that somebody with the authority to rain destruction down upon our group was around us. We kept singing, chanting, and shoving each other around, keeping the carefully culled and crafted energy at its peak.

Independence Stadium was a smaller place than what I was imagining. There was only enough seating capacity for ten thousand people, but at both ends of the fields were large green expansive hills for fans to stand or sit on. It really was a small stadium. But what it lacked it size, it more than made up for in character. There were homemade flags being waved by zealous fans, massive seas of Greensea jerseys that flashed dark green and blue. Vendors were hawking merchandise and questionable looking food. Aromas and smells of sweat and stale beer filled my nostrils. Many people were chanting club songs and insults at the visiting Pilgrims.

The cinder block walls supporting the stands were being spray painted with personal messages to the players. One guy had even sprayed in bright florescent green, “Never Forget #13.” I learned later that it was Hawthorne that had worn that number and it had been retired after his passing. From our seats right near the pitch, I could smell the freshly cut grass. If heaven were like this place, I’d join the priesthood right now.

Sam was sitting behind me and leaned over into my ear so that he could be heard, “First game right? Prepare to be amazed, because here comes the Fleet now.” He pointed to a tunnel, and sure enough players started to emerge. Everybody started to cheer and whirl shirts, scarves, flags, whatever they could find. One of the ladies near-by us, I noticed, was twirling what looked like bright pink and lacy thong underwear. I couldn’t help but laugh and cheer right along with her and the other fifteen thousand people in Wailer Grounds.

The players took their positions on the pitch in front of us, the announcer was firing up the crowds even more, the referee blew his whistle, and just like our five-a-side match that morning, the Greensea versus Pilgrim kicked off.

Johnny Rumble