Sunday 15th January - Friendly
v Calders at Holyrood Sports Centre
Martin Kelly, Arthur McCue, Allan MacKenzie, Stuart Waugh (Sean Connolly), John Crosbie (Andy McNaught), Ally McNaught (Ryan McCue), Paul Joyce (c), Craig McKenna, David Blair, Calum Colquhoun and Adam Walker
The adventure continues.
As the Club started the festive period (or Winterval) there was an air of optimism that 2012 could finally be our year. But, tragedy was waiting just around the corner……….
Venerable Club Kit Man Old Reg Winkerman had headed to the village of Taynuilt before Christmas Day (Winterval Sunday) to put a coat of varnish on the statue of The Crosshill Goal Machine, Club President Lord Drennan’s footballing brother.
The weather wasn’t the best as Old Reg climbed up a ladder to put the finishing touches to CG Machine’s head. Sadly the hurricane conditions blew CG’s Isle Of Mull Tammy off the top of the statue and struck Old Reg with such force he was thrown off the ladder and onto the Eternal Flame at the shrine to one of football’s greatest centre forwards.
Old Reg called for help but his voice was lost in the wind and, as the locals, population 35, stayed indoors curled up at their coal fires, the heat took hold and melted Old Reg’s four prosthetic limbs.
Young Bessie McCorquodale, spinster of the parish, was out walking her Rottweiler in the early hours of the morning and discovered Old Reg’s gruesome torso. Young Bessie managed to alert the authorities before collapsing at the sight of Old Reg sitting with a smile on his face and CG’s tammy melted to his chest.
The news reached Glasgow and Mister C rushed to the scene driven by Club chauffeur Barry Bannan who made the journey in record time.
On arriving at Taynuilt Mister C firstly checked Old Reg’s belongings for the key the Club Drinks Cabinet then faced the press.
“This is a really sad day for everybody connected with the Club and Old Reg will be sadly missed. The work he did for the Club made him irreplaceable but I have already received hundreds of applications for his job and will be interviewing as soon as I get back to Glasgow. Thank you.”
Mister C jumped into the back of Barry Bannan’s car and they sped off at 100mph back to Fortress Holyrood.
The squad were training at Fortress Holyrood and Mister C called them all into the dressing room to break the news.
“I’ve got good news and bad news. You know how you have always wanted to take your own kit home to wash, well you can now. The bad news is Old Reg’s dead, any questions”, said a clearly reverential Mister C.
“Any word on who got the job as there’s no way I’m washing my own kit”, said a still traumatised Mister Joyce, our beloved Club Skipper.
“The interviews will take place this afternoon and there will be an announcement after the funeral, out of respect for Old Ron”.
“Was his name not Old Reg ?” said Weewhatshisname, clearly angling for a bigger part this year.
“Ron, Reg, they sound the same anyway”, said Mister C, clearly still emotional.
“Boss, can I ask a question ?” said Phil Neville to audible groans from the rest of the squad.
“Okay, go on, I’ve got all day”, replied Mister C with the slightest hint of sarcasm in his voice.
“Well, I was wondering whether you believed in reincarnation ?”
“Well, as you know, my brother Gary Neville and myself are devout Buddhists and we strongly believe in reincarnation, in fact Buddha accepted the basic Hindu doctrines of reincarnation and karma, as well as the notion that the ultimate goal of the religious life is to escape the cycle of death and rebirth.
“Buddha asserted that what keeps us bound to the death/rebirth process is desire, desire in the sense of wanting or craving anything in the world. Hence, the goal of getting off the Ferris wheel of reincarnation necessarily involves freeing oneself from desire. Nirvana the Buddhist term for liberation. Nirvana literally means extinction, and it refers to the extinction of all craving, an extinction that allows one to become liberated.
“Where Buddha departed most radically from Hinduism was in his doctrine of "anatta”, the notion that individuals do not possess eternal souls. Instead of eternal souls, individuals consist of a "bundle" of habits, memories, sensations, desires, and so forth, which together delude one into thinking that he or she consists of a stable, lasting self. Despite its transitory nature, this false self hangs together as a unit, and even reincarnates in body after body. In Buddhism, as well as in Hinduism, life in a corporeal body is viewed negatively, as the source of all suffering. Hence, the goal is to obtain release. In Buddhism, this means abandoning the false sense of self so that the bundle of memories and impulses disintegrates, leaving nothing to reincarnate and hence nothing to experience pain.
“From the perspective of present-day, world-affirming Western society, the Buddhist vision cannot but appear distinctly unappealing: Not only is this life portrayed as unattractive, the prospect of nirvana, in which one dissolves into nothingness, seems even less desirable. A modern-day Buddha might respond, however, that our reaction to being confronted with the dark side of life merely shows how insulated we are from the pain and suffering that is so fundamental to human existence.
“Following death, according to Tibetan Buddhism, the spirit of the departed goes through a process lasting forty-nine days that is divided into three stages called "bardos” At the conclusion of the bardo, the person either enters nirvana or returns to Earth for rebirth.
“It is imperative that the dying individual remain fully aware for as long as possible because the thoughts one has while passing over into death heavily influence the nature of both the after-death experience and, if one fails to achieve nirvana, the state of one's next incarnation.
“Stage one of the Bardo (called the "Chikai" Bardo), the bardo of dying, begins at death and extends from half a day to four days. This is the period of time necessary for the departed to realize that they have dropped the body. The consciousness of the departed has an ecstatic experience of the primary "Clear White Light" at the death moment. Everyone gets at least a fleeting glimpse of the light. The more spiritually developed see it longer, and are able to go beyond it to a higher level of reality. The average person, however, drops into the lesser state of the secondary "clear light."
“In stage two (called the "Chonyid" Bardo), the bardo of Luminous Mind, the departed encounters the hallucinations resulting from the karma created during life. Unless highly developed, the individual will feel that they are still in the body. The departed then encounters various apparitions, the "peaceful" and "wrathful" deities, that are actually personifications of human feelings and that, to successfully achieve nirvana, the deceased must encounter unflinchingly. Only the most evolved individuals can skip the bardo experience altogether and transit directly into a paradise realm. Stage three (called the "Sidpa" Bardo), the bardo of rebirth, is the process of reincarnation”.
As everybody took the chance to take forty winks, Phil eventually stopped talking and his brother Gary piped up.
“I believe in reincarnation because our pet rabbit Beelzebub looks just like our Great Uncle Nobby Neville who had big ears and enjoyed eating carrots.”
“I’VE GOAT AW NIRVANA’S RECORDS IF ANYBODY WANTS TO HEAR THEM”, said veteran full back Arthur who had been listening intently.
“Enough of this nonsense, make sure you’re all at the funeral and, because it’s your day off the new Club Treasurer Craig Whyte has agreed to pay you overtime, cash in hand”, announced Mister C.
Old Reg’s funeral took place a few days later at St.Hector’s Episcopal Church and a huge crowd filed into the pews with the full squad making a dignified entrance with their IPods in place.
The Reverend Raeburn conducted a lovely ceremony although there was an interruption at one point when the Rev claimed that Old Reg “was not dead, he’s only sleeping”.
On hearing these lovely words, our Arthur stood up and said, with his ghetto blaster playing the soothing “Ace Of Spades”, “IF HE’S NO DEID GONNAE GIE HIM A SHOVE AND WAKE HIM UP, HE OWES ME A GUINNESS”.
As Old Reg’s coffin moved through the curtains to the strains of “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini”, his favourite song, our own P.Danny, one of Muirend’s finest rappers, said a few words.
“My blud Old Reg has melted away,
We’ll all miss him especially Dougay,
There’s loads of tears and eyes that sag,
Old Reg was hit by Hurricane Bawbag”
With the ceremony over the squad made their way back as quickly as possible to Fortress Holyrood where new Club Chef Anthony Worrall Thompson was laying on the purvey in the Thomas Moony Moon Gold Lounge.
Club Treasurer Craig Whyte was taken aback at the lavish spread of cheese and wine but Club Chef Tony assured him that there was no cost involved. Celebrity Fan Richard Madeley and his gorgeous wife Judy Madeley were also in attendance although Richard had brought his own wine.
With everybody tucking into the buffet Mister C took to the stage. “Ladies and gentlemen, this has been a sad day but to cheer you up I’d like to introduce you to Old Ray’s replacement, Mister Zoltan Pepper.”
Zoltan took the microphone off Mister C and introduced himself.
“It is an almost impossible task to fill Old Roy’s boots (size 5 on the left, size 12 on the right) but I’m not any old Tom, Rick or Larry and I will do the job to the best of my ability.”
Mister Joyce didn’t appear convinced judging by his comment, “yet another joker at the Club”, seemed to indicate.
But what do we know about Zoltan Pepper, or the Man For All Seasons as Scotland’s top journalist and pundit Chico Young once described him ?
Absolutely nothing at the moment but I’m sure over the coming weeks we’ll learn more.
But where, I hear you ask, was Club Owner and Hollywood Heartthrob Mel Gibson when all this was going on ?
Well, Mel had possibly been another victim of Hurricane Bawbag as he was last seen in Mister C’s office at the height of the storm saying, “I’m off to pick a kite.”
And what of Club President Lord Drennan of Crosshill.
Well, Lord Drennan had booked himself into the Terry Pratchett Home For The Befuddled in his beloved Crosshill after suffering emotional heartache.
Unfortunately Lord Drennan’s marriage to the delightful Sinead O’Connor had been annulled after only 36 minutes when his Lordship said to his bride, “well………eh………nothing compares to you………..eh” and his ex-nun bride had replied, “eff off”. Sadly the two young lovers become just another statistic but let’s hope Lord Drennan gets back to full health, or what passes for that, very soon.
The New Year came and finally thoughts turned to the playing side of the Club, the reason we’re all really here, apparently.
The squad put in a last training session before the huge game against Calders and Club Doctor Herman Kuntz was back with us after being put on a sabbatical after Old Reg’s death. Doctor Kuntz’s autopsy report stated that Old Reg had taken his own life through a cocktail of alcohol and drugs and it was felt that the “good” doctor maybe needed a wee holiday.
However, Doctor Kuntz had bad news for Mister C. “I’m afraid Goal A Game Alan has suffered tinnitus and is out for the next few weeks.”
Mister C immediately asked for a second opinion and new Club Masseuse Miss Fay Thealer had a look and said that GAGA had torn his ligaments and indeed would be out for a few weeks.
In the dressing room Mister C broke the news to the squad.
“Guys, GAGA’s missing so someone else will have to play well for a change and score some goals.”
“Boss, I really like GAGA, she’s my favourite singer”, piped up Seanelli.
“And why is that ?” asked Seanelli’s chum Craigyboy.
“Well, first of all she has so much talent. She's the real thing - a hard working professional who learned her craft in lots of small venues. She uses the auto-tune sound at times but, unlike a lot of stars, she can do without it.
“Personally I prefer Justin Beiber”, said young Ryan McCue.
“It’s Spandau Ballet for me, “Gold”, shouted Andy Boy, putting a quadruple cheeseburger to one side.
“It’s the Clarkston True Blue Flute Band for me”, said Slide Tackle Stu, to nobody’s surprise.
“Runrig”, shouted Wee Al.
“I’m actually a big fan of Celine Dion”, said Mister Joyce which drew a look from everybody until our beloved skipper burst into an evil cackle.
“I’ve always admired Olly Murrs”, piped up Gary Neville which prompted his brother to say, “well, if anybody is interested, Olly Murrs………………..”
At so it went on as the squad all argued about which music was best for no apparent reason, apart from Safehands whose musical knowledge is zero.
Whilst all the commotion was going on Mister C called over to Zoltan, “I think it’s time for my medication, let’s go and get some, I’ll pour.”
At last the day of the game dawned and there could be no bigger test than Calders, the Club’s fiercest local rivals.
However, the weather conditions weren’t the best and new Club Groundsman, Juan Zapona Thyme, who is a bit of a storyteller, claimed the pitch was perfect despite it having quite a large covering of frost.
“The pitch will take a stud”, said Juan Zapona.
“Hey, that means I’m playing !” sniggered LHD who, in the absence of The Great Marzinho through “injury”, had taken over the mantle of Club Pin Up Boy.
“Okay guys, today starts another year so let’s go out and play with some good old fashioned Scottish joie de vivre”, said an inspired Mister C who had been up all night with Club Kit Man Zoltan Pepper eating boxes of Liqueurs which the local public had handed in as unwanted Christmas presents.
“Phil, who is Joy Devivre ?” asked Gary Neville.
Before Phil had a chance to reply, Mister C rushed over and placed his hand over the gorgeous ones mouth.
“Right, here is today’s team. I think it’s time we acknowledged that Safehands is our number one net minder, as we’ve nobody else, and we should all get behind him and support our long haired fumbler.”
“It would be better if we all got behind him on the goal line so we don’t lose so many stupid goals”, said Mister Joyce, who was his usual cheery self.
“In defence we’ve got plenty of experience, and Stu, so we’ll start with Arthur and Wee Al at full backs and Stu and Uncle Crossers in central defence.”
It was good to see Uncle Crossers back in the team after he had been busy over the festive period performing his new play “Gone Away”, a dark mysterious tale of a postman’s search to find the owner of a letter which had been returned unopened. In his bleakest work to date there was still time for a moment of levity as Uncle Crossers told one of his famous jokes. “A guy goes into a butchers and says, “huv you got frog’s legs ?” and the butcher replies, “naw, it’s just the way I walk.” “Ha, ha, just the way I walk.”
Anyway, on with the team.
“In the centre of midfield we have Craigyboy, Phil Neville and Mister Joyce, and up front LHD with Gary Neville and Weewhatshisname on the wings. With this line up I can only see victory so go out there and play with some je ne sais quoi”, continued Mister C again showing his use of French was basic if nothing else.
“Phil, who is June……………..”
The teams ran out and immediately there was a pile up as players slipped and slid on the icy surface. All eyes were on Juan Zapona but he just shrugged and said, “seems okay to me.”
Conditions were far from ideal but Calders Player/Manager Dannyinho had come prepared with hat, gloves, salopettes, jammies (of course) and ski boots, and he took his place in the midfield.
The referee waited until everybody stood upright then 2012’s football was off and running.
The early stages saw our heroes enjoy themselves as they passed the ball about with confidence and Slide Tackle Stu was like a dog with two tails (or a “cat with three tails” as Zoltan described it) as he skated past the Technical Area waving his arms with Arthur holding onto his waist.
Our Hooped heroes were dominating the game with only Safehands eccentric attempts at gathering through balls giving the visitors much encouragement.
We thought we’d got the chance to go ahead when Mister Joyce found Gary with a pass to allow him to beat the offside trap. Gary had only the keeper to beat but unselfishly, or his bottle went, he passed sideways to LHD and the referee blew his whistle for offside much to everybody’s consternation, apart from the Great Marzinho on the sidelines who applauded the decision.
Players were falling over at will though and Zoltan summed it up when he turned to Mister C and said, “Boss, it’s like Dumbo on Ice out there.”
Mister C was getting concerned about the lack of chances being created despite our possession and it was Calders who finally got the first opportunity when Safehands dived full length to save a shot and, when the ball slipped under his body, Arthur was there to clear the ball away for a corner.
Our one and only effort at goals saw Weewhatshisname set up LHD but the long haired one’s shot was saved by the Calders keeper.
Just before the break there was an incident of car crash proportions when Uncle Crossers went down along with Wee Al and then Slide Tackle Stu came to the touchline to say that he had a sore back and had to come off.
Doctor Kuntz raced on and fell over but luckily he was okay despite Mister C wanting to announce a time of death. Our veterans recovered as well but Seanelli had to come for Stu with Mister Joyce volunteering to go into central defence (well, truth be told, he did say “what the (expletive deleted), there’s no way I’m (expletive deleted) playing there you baldy (expletive deleted)”).
Thankfully the half time whistle blew and we could regroup in the dressing room after a goalless first half.
Unfortunately there wasn’t much of a crowd in as Club Tannoy Man Simon Bates had inexplicably announced that the game was postponed minutes before kick-off. The remaining few who couldn’t escape quick enough then heard Simon tell the story of a poor young wheelchair bound woman who had got stuck on the train tracks near her village in Dorset and was run down by the 15.23 Express to Lyme Regis. To make matters worse her fiancée was driving the train and on the day before the wedding as well. A truly harrowing story and made more poignant by the music in the background, “Railroad Blues” by The Beastie Boys.
“Right guys, you’re playing remarkably well so keep it up and go out and give it a bit more cordon bleu.”
“Phil, who is Gordon Blue ?”
The second half started well for us when Craigyboy played a one two with LHD then rounded the out rushing keeper but his shot was blocked by a defender who had slid back into the six yard box.
It looked like Doctor Kuntz had slipped something into Craigyboy’s Earl Grey Tea at half time as he then made a great pass to Weewhatshisname but his shot went straight at the keeper who saved it.
The big midfielder with the pink boots (both on the park and off it) wasn’t to be denied on the hour mark however as he took a pass from Gary on the right hand side of the area and delightfully chipped the ball over the keeper for the opening goal of the game and the year.
Mister C turned to Zoltan and said, “I think this is going to be our year”, and went to give him a fist pump, which is apparently all the rage these days amongst sporting people, but the Club Kit Man wasn’t able to respond as his withered right arm hadn’t the power and his left arm is paralysed.
Everything in the garden was rosy, thanks to new Club Gardener Alan “Titch” Titchmarsh, but for every rose there is a thorn and Uncle Crossers decided that he would have to come off when one of his fifteen injuries was too sore. Andy Boy was the next sub in line so he came on although only after much thought by the Boss who wondered whether we’d do just as well with ten.
Wee Al went into the middle of the defence with Mister Happy so the versatile Phil, the man who makes up the numbers, lumbered over to left back to replace the Wee Highlander.
There wasn’t much between the teams but we were ahead although starting to tire and Calders were chucking plenty of people forward as they went route one.
Calders had the pressure now and from a corner they equalised. A header was cleared off the line, the rebound was cleared off the line, the next shot hit the post and finally the ball got put into the net. Veteran broadcaster Arthur Montford who was in the VIP Box described the goal as a “stramash”.
Five minutes later we were back in the lead as Craigyboy played a one two with Weewhatshisname and ran on down the left wing before shooting past the keeper from a very tight angle.
Another change was then made when Gary was taken off and Young Ryan came on although Gary was hardly off the park before LHD had to leave the pitch as he couldn’t play in midfield.
The game was being stretched and we were into the last ten minutes when Calder equalised again. A quick throw in was taken and a cross came into the area but Safehands dropped it onto a Calders guy’s head and he made no mistake. “Zoltan, could you give Raymondo Martinez a phone and see how far away he is from full fitness.”
Only five minutes to go and we threw it all away as Calders started a move from their own area which ended with a guy running through and chipping the ball over Safehands for the winner.
Shocked, stunned, help ma boab, the team stood at the final whistle and shook their heads not believing we’d managed to lose a game we should have won. It was unbelievable right enough, surely they’d seen this many times before and weren’t that surprised.
The man that could have made all the difference stands behind GAGA on the sidelines at Fortress Holyrood
Back in the dressing room and it was like a morgue as Doctor Kuntz had brought in one of his former patients who he’d accidentally given the wrong medication to.
The air of despondency was palpable but it was onwards and upwards to the Thomas Moony Moon Gold Lounge where the Club Chef Anthony Worrall Thompson had again done us proud.
Mister C was standing at the bar when Uncle Crossers shouted him over to meet a musical hero of his who had turned up for the game.
“Hello, I’m Hank Marvin.” “Oh, sorry to hear that. Tony, can you bring a big portion of cheese and wine over here…………….