Archive for May, 2010


He watches them lining up across the tracks, filling platform A like a flock of blue sheep barging into the same crowded paddock. The round bellies, the faces blank save for the expression of a mild confusion.

A train pulls in; he hears them shouting: Moov dahn!

Arthur taps the base of his pole on the concrete. Tap tap. A girl is eyeing him suspiciously; he nods at her. Tap tap. It’s the smell of fish, they don’t put up with anything nowadays. Steer well clear. It gives him the space to stretch his legs, though, so he isn’t too bothered.

The train departs; fresh waves of Spanners are filling the platform. You wouldn’t have guessed they’d just won at Wembley. Sour-faced lot. No-one likes them, they don’t care. Same old, same old.

Arthur’s train comes in. Cheerio! He waves goodbye to the Spanners. They go to London Bridge from platform C too, you know.

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The blokes behind him have been muttering all game; eventually one of them explodes – Siddarn!

But Arthur is too busy dancing, the haddock strung from the pole in his hand flying up above his head.

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Big Dave Lockwood turns his back on the jubilation busting out of the Jimmy Seed Stand. The shaft of the microphone in the palm of his right hand is running with sweat now; he stops to wipe it off on his sleeve, and slowly begins the walk back along the foot of the West. On the pitch the players are drifting towards the tunnel, alone and in pairs, all unbelieving.

The big Spaniard; Semedo; Eliott and Randolph. 

And Bailey, crying useless tears into the bunched up letters  KRBS, with comforting arms around his shoulders, and Deon’s fist is smacking his bare abdomen, saying chin up, boy, chin up.

Big Dave reaches the tunnel. But it doesn’t seem enough tonight, to scurry away from sight, to join the old hands commiserating in the bar. There would be time enough for all that. The Covered End are still gathered there, watching with silenced faces the Swindon lads diving on the turf. Dave keeps on walking; he thinks of all the hundreds of Saturday afternoons that have led them here, to another season in the third tier, League One.

Ignominy. He shakes his head. He is alongside them now; someone says something he doesn’t quite catch. He turns his head anyway, but there are too many, he doesn’t know who to look for. He shakes his head. How close it had been. And he thought Mooney had finally done it! They all did. But they are a long way from Wembley now. Big Dave Lockwood, and all these men and women who stay on together, watching the floodlit, emptying field.

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Another corner

Lloyd Sam places the ball by the corner flag and lopes away hunch-shouldered. The giggles are bubbling up in him again, but he nurses them, keeps them down. They tell him not to grin. The fans don’t like to see him grinning.

Borrowdale comes over, lines up to take the kick.

And they’ve bought it again; two of them are on their way over now, watching him warily. Lloyd just hangs about, keeping vaguely close to the flag.

Borrowdale swings his boot. It’s too close to the keeper, but dipping dangerously; the keeper panics and turns it over the bar.

Lloyd starts to jog towards the far side of the pitch.

Another corner.

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