Chadwell Heath, Monday 12 September….weather:….”Toy Story Blue Sky and Clouds”, fine….…….The sound of studs on concrete sounded like rain on corrugated iron as the six new signings trooped across the gravel toward the centre of the training pitch. No-one had been looking forward to this moment, even the established players had hands in their pockets and were looking at their toes.However, Allerdice had imposed this initiation process after adopting it at previous clubs. Baldrick, Brian, the Eastern European Paraguayan, Tutti Frutti, Unimaginative parents (Guy), Angela, and the self-proclaimed “BGT” (Bentley’s got Talent) collectively cracked their knuckles, before launching into a stirring rendition of Dvorak’s “New World” symphony in a brass band arrangement – the “Hovis” advert theme tune to you and me – and Allerdices favourite song of all time.
The collective instruments din rose above the sound of a passing train en route to Liverpool Street. “Eee, makes ya proud t’ be English so it does” purred Allerdice. Brian only held the triangle as this was all he could master in the short time he’d been in the country. Upon the finale’, the remaining squad members clapped in embarrassment. Corlton had videoed the ceremony on his phone under stifled giggles. Allerdice noticed and reached into his pocket, chucking a Turkish Delight at his main striker “Nearest you’ll be getting there lad, now stop wit’ that phone and lead lads on a lap ot’ pitch”….Corlton held the confectionery and looked around for a usual face to pass it to……but then realised Benni Mac had long since passed on.
As the lads began their lap, a familiar purr of the Ducati 1198 superbike roared into the gravelled car park. Mother Hen noticed and quietly jogged away from the squad to see who could master a 170hp 6 speed beast. As the angry cylinders in the engine strangled out a final cry, Scottie dismounted with the ease of an Olympic gymnast from a beam (not a British gymnast of course). His “Top Gun” leathers (which still made Brody swoon) had been reinforced with padded shoulders and knees so that he resembled an NFL terminator.
As Scottie took off his helmet (emblazoned “Maverick” across the back) he noted Mother jogging slowly towards him. “Althight there are ’kid, ow’s it going like?” opened Mother, “Fine thanks Kev, just collecting a few bits. First Aid box, food mixer, pitch fork, that kind of thing. Oh, while I’m at it, here’s a document I wrote a while back, some bits and bobs but might come in useful you know, instructions for lunchtime meals, nap times, location of Kalpol, emergency contact numbers for the lads etc….couldn’t ever trust AG with this stuff”…Scottie half smiled and looked down at the floor. “Eh eh that’s grate are kid, top work fella, I’ll do me best like yer’ know?” retorted Mother….Scottie had trouble with the scouse accent at the best of times, but managed to understand Mother, he seemed genuine which pleased Scottie. “OK, well, all the best, hopefully be playing against you next year” said Scottie, swinging his bag over his shoulder. “Yeah, take care are kid” and with that Mother turned and jogged to catch up with the rest of the squad.
Allerdice surveyed the players as they jogged around the pitch, every now and then monitoring performance on his laptop as the GPS technology satellite he’d launched last week tracked the players. Murk Nobels heart rate was reading just above zero, Allerdice rubbed his eyes, “Flamin lips man, Wally, what’s going on wit’ Nobel?”, Wally casually leant back in his Directors chair, “Don’t worry gaffer, he’s not out there, remember that course you booked ‘im on? ‘The 65 minute ceiling – how you too can break through and work beyond this time barrier’? well ‘ees there t’day”…..Allerdice heaved outward slowly “Thank Martha for that, thought we’d lost ‘im furra minute”. His gaze drifted to the front of the group, Tomka and Wenston were in perfect rhythm, no doubt enhanced by Allerdice’s decision to tie their ankles together “I’ll ‘ave you two timing it betta than Pryor and Wilder in Stir Crazy lads ye mark mar words.”
Rab Greene had joined in and appeared to be suffering no ill effects from his “finger injury” that caused him to return from England duty, “What wurrit Wally? twist or sprain or summit?”, Wally chuckled, “Not exactly gaffa, Greeno gave Fubio the Bird when ‘ee told him ‘ee needed to be playing Premier level to keep ‘is place in the squad”. Allerdice roared, “Ha ha, good lad Robertos, never knew yew ‘ad it in ya!” Brody adjusted the blinds in Allerdices office, and noticed, strangely, that she was casting no shadow today….. Sully stood in the corner, practising his “double tops” on Allerdice’s dart board. Allerdice wandered in, “Alreet pet, chicken?”, Brody rolled her eyes, Sully shanked his last dart at the eruption of Allerdices voice and put it straight through his Pirelli calendar.
Allerdice sat on the edge of his desk in his now customary intimidatory pose, 80’s shorts riding uncomfortably high. “What’s doing then lad?” demanded Allerdice. “Ah yes” countered Sully, adjusting his tie, “Now, listen in old chap and hear me out before interrupting. We’ve accepted an offer for our Aga multi fuel coal burning stove. I know it heats up the canteen a treat, but I’ve been wanting to invest in something more efficient, that thing costs a bomb. Anyhoo, funny thing, I put it on eBay last night, and first thing this morning Tottering have just bid £4.9m.
“Now I know I should run all transfer activities past you Mr Allerdice, but we just couldn’t turn that sort of offer down. I put it on there for £4,900”. Allerdice rubbed his stubbled chin, “What’s up wit that lot? Money t’ burn or summit?! Hahahaha, dya gerrit?!, money to” “Yes I get it Mr Allerdice, haha, very good. No, Brody has a theory, may have trumped them on this one” Sully looked towards her. Brody turned back from the window, the blue vapour trail from her cigarette forming a halo around her head (which quickly evaporated) “My theory is that twitcher has seen the words Coal, West Ham and Sully, put 2 and 2 together and got 5. I think he’s jumped up and down and demanded General Levvy goes in high to blow the competition away”. Allerdice smirked, “Eeh that sounds champion, luv t’ see their face when truck arrives with their new signing!”. Sully clapped his hands “Righto, sounds like we have a deal ladies and gentlemen, prepare the Aga!”