Friday night’s a quiet one for football players. It’s important to eat and rest well on the eve of a game. I was chilling in my tepee in Caird Park. The boss had insisted on taking my iPod and adding a playlist to it for me. ‘Geez yir ehPod, pal, Jocky’ll put some bumper tunes on it likes. Beastie Boys, bit o’ drum ‘n’ bass, the theme tune fae Minder, a’ the best o’ the fuckin’ teckle, ken?’
My foot was tapping away to the beats when the mobile started flashing to announce an incoming call. It was our glorious leader himself, Jocky Scott. I took my headphones out and answered it.
‘Is Leigh there please?’
‘It’s me, Boss’
‘…Leigh Griffiths please’
‘Boss, it’s me, Leigh…’
‘Eh? Wha’s in cherge here, operator? Put Jocky through to Leigh Griffiths or it’s punch in the pus time’
‘…Boss, you’re speaking to Leigh Griffiths’
‘Jocky’s switching to Virgin Media if he disnae get Leigh Griffiths on the phone quick fucking smart here, operator! Fucking BT!’
‘Boss! It’s me! Leigh!’
‘Eh? Jocky disnae want double fucking glazing ya cunt! Jocky’s already got double glazing! Jocky’s got triple fucking glazing, cunto! Nae mair glazing required! Jocky’s hoose is glazed to the fuckin’ hilt. Comprendez? That’s what eh’m talkin’ aboot!’
He hung up. I pondered the call for a moment then decided to call him back. It rang out and kicked into an automated response system –
‘Wha’s that? Eh? Disnae matter. Please select one o’ the following options: Tae find oot wha’s in cherge here, press 1 on your key pad. If you’re Boaby Brannan, press 2. Tae divulge information on the whereabouts o’ Jocky’s Tippex, press 3. To speak tae Jocky aboot stovies, which are fuckin’ teckle by the way, press 4. If you’re Boaby Brannan, press 5. For any other business, press 6. That’s what eh’m talkin’ aboot!’
I weighed up the options for a moment then pressed 6.
‘Hello boss, it’s Leigh Griffiths’
‘Leigh Griffiths, boss. I play for Dundee.’
‘Boss, it’s Leigh!! I play up front for you! Have been since the start of the season, been scoring loads of goal and all that!’
‘Leigh! Hiya pal. Hiya! A’right pal? Eh wiz tryin’ tae phone you a minute ago, but the operator put iz through tae some double glazin’ company. Jocky’s jist been on the Etchasketch composing an email tae that beardy fucker Richard Branson, cunt can set me up wi the Virgin Media package, likes. Fuckin’ sick o’ BT’s shite. Anyway, eh wiz wonderin’ what yir up tae the night? Jocky’s got the hoose tae himself. Fancy comin’ doon for a can o’ Tartan Special and a blether? Mibee fire up the Sega Megadrive for a game o’ Sonic? Twa player like, eh’ll be Sonic and you can be Tailz! Teckle!’
‘You sure it’s ok to do that the night before the game, boss? I should probably be having an early night. Big Cup game tomorrow!’
‘Away tae fuck you, it’s only they Raith cunts! We’ll fuckin’ pump them nae bather! Get doon here ya cunt!’
‘Well, if you’re sure……….’
Jocky gave me his address and said he’d send a taxi. 20 minutes later I was in the back of a cab heading to Jocky’s house. I have to admit I was pretty excited. The man seems to have taken a bit of a shine to me, and although his methods were verging on lunacy, I admired him greatly. The cab pulled up. I went to pay the driver but was told it was pre-paid to Bob Brannan’s account. I raised an eyebrow but said nothing.
I wandered up Jocky’s drive. I could hear the dull thump of a bass-heavy sound system coming from the house. It was a cracking place, an old stone-walled detached home that suggested the Boss had done pretty well for himself over the years. The garden was well-tended. I saw the monkey puzzle tree I’d heard the boss talk about. Stopping to admire it for a moment I noticed a small plinth lying in it’s shadow. There was a plaque bearing the inscription ‘David Goodwillie – Dirty Arab Bastard.’ Good grief.
I carried on up the driveway to the front door. I hit the buzzer. The music from within turned down a few notches. After a few moments the intercom by the side of the door burst into life.
‘Boaby Brannan residence, how can I help you?’
Puzzled, I took a few seconds to respond. ‘Um…..Boss? It’s Leigh?’
‘It’s Leigh Griffiths’
I took a deep breath.
‘Boss, it’s Leigh Griffths. Dundee’s top goalscorer. I play for you. You invited me over’
Several bolts start unlocking. Curiously enough it has 17 bolts, just like his office at Dens. The door swings open, and I’m greeted by the sight of Jocky in his trackie bottoms, grasping a can of Tartan Special.
‘Fucking Leigh Griffiths in the hoose! Hiya pal! Hiya! Welcome tae meh humble abode, ‘mon in ya wee rat’
I step in. ‘Nice place you have here, boss. Thanks for inviting me over.’
‘Nae bather, pal. Good tae hae yi ower. ‘Mon ben the hoose and get a beer.
As I enter a white cat strolls past my feet. A black moustache has been painted on it’s face. Jocky picks it up and kisses it.
‘Hiya Jocky. Hiya pal! Check meh cat, Leigh. It’s fucking teckle! Called Jocky tae, likes. Trained in seven martial arts and a Grand Master at Connect 4. Good, eh?’
‘Aye…..it’s a fine looking cat, boss’
He puts it down and it scuttles off.
I follow him to the lounge. My jaw drops as we step in. The walls and ceiling are covered in tinfoil. The floor is 3″ deep in sand, and there’s a big paddling pool in the middle of the room. There’s a TV the size of a snooker table hung up on the wall, and two deck chairs sit facing it. In one corner of the room there’s a stuffed grizzly bear standing on it’s hind legs. In another there’s life-size cardboard cut outs of all three Beastie Boys. Ad Roc’s face has been replaced with that of Jocky. One of the walls has a huge painting of Mount Rushmore hanging from it, but instead of the faces of ex-US Presidents it depicts those of Jocky, Stevie Wonder, Jesus and Bullseye host Jim Bowen. Jocky sees me staring at it.
‘Bonnie painting, eh? Boy on the left’s that blind Motown laddie. Jocky likes his song aboot Happy Birthday Tae Yi. Fuckin’ teckle tune! Boy next tae him is that Jesus fella. Jocky’s nae time for his auld man, but he seemed like a decent enough boy. Turned water intae Tartan Special! How’s that for a perty trick! Next boy’s Jim Bowen, Jocky’s favourite TV cunt of all time.’
He motions me to sit on a deck chair and grabs me a can of beer.
‘Did yi ever see Bullseye, Leigh? Trust Jocky when he says it was fuckin’ marvellous. It wiz a game show based aroond playin’ darts! Darts is fuckin’ class! Jocky plays iviry Tuesday at the Fairmuir clubbie wi’ his pals.’
He sits cross-legged on the deckchair and leans towards me like an excited school girl telling her friends about her latest crush.
‘Jim Bowen ran the show, like. If cunts got oot o’ order this big bull came in and battered them. Mental. The best bit wiz at the end of the show. Cunts could either stick with what they’d earned to that point o’ the game or gamble the lot on one final round. Bowen would make it tense as fuck, like. “Do you want to gamble or stick with what you’ve got? What do the audience think?” The audience would aw be shoutin’ “GAMBLE!”. Jocky would be sittin’ here daein’ the same. “FUCKING GAMBLE YA CUNTS! FUUUUUUCKKKKIN’ GAAAAAAAAAAAMBLE!!!”. Ken what, Leigh? It was fuckin’ teckle.’
He sat back in his chair, shaking his head and clearly reliving some key moments from the show in his head. I sipped my beer.
‘That’s some TV you have, Boss. Some size!’
He was still lost in the thought of Bullseye, mumbling away to himself.
‘……..nae point stickin’ wi what yi’ve got, ya cunts……..FUCKIN’ GAMBLE!……..YASSSS! That’s what eh’m talkin’ aboot!………..AND BULLY’S SPECIAL PRIZE!…….fuckin’ brilliant………get them telt, Jim Bowen……….’
I sat back and relaxed. This was a cool scene, hanging with the gaffer like this. I sat and listened to him blether away as we had a few tinnies. I laughed along at his tales, and warmed to his passion and enthusiasm for life in general. After an hour or so I felt the effects of the beer working its way through the system and had to go to the loo.
‘Boss, where’s your toilet?’
‘Tap o’ the stairs, first of yir left pal. Nae solids mind, just pish. There’s a compost heap oot in the gairden if yi need a keech.’
I nodded in agreement and left the room. I climbed the stairs, taking in the photos that adorned the walls. Every one was of Jocky with his top off in various famous locations…….in front of the Sydney Opera House…..on the Great Wall of China……outside the Deep Sea chippy at the bottom of the Perth Road……
I got to the top of the stairs and opened the bathroom door. I nearly jumped out my skin when I saw Derek “Soapy” Soutar standing there holding a towel.
‘Soapy! What the hell are you doing here?!’
‘Leigh, mate……you don’t even want to know. Let’s just say my non-footballing duties at Dens extend to Jocky’s home life too.’
I carry on and go about my business. It’s not easy to take a piss when Soapy’s standing five feet away. I think of Niagara Falls and manage to squeeze it out. When I’m finished, Soapy hands me the towel and offers me a range of aftershaves. As I dry my hands and slap on some Brut I notice a bowl sitting on a shelf. It’s filled with coppers, a few buttons, and a stick of chewing gum. I sheepishly chuck a 50 pence piece in. Soapy mumbles some gratitude as I leave and head back downstairs.
When I get back into the lounge Jocky’s up and getting ready to go out. His jetpack is on, and he has a big holdall filled with goodness knows what.
‘Here Leigh, let’s go and noise up that Arab fucker Goodwillie! Jocky kens whaur he bides!’
I try to protest, but he’s having none of it.
‘Fucking yas! ‘Mon Leigh, grab a can and we’ll head oot! Gie Jocky a minute to get a slash before we go. Might get Soapy to spruce up the old ball-bag tae!’
He bounds off up the stairs. I look around the room and notice a bookcase in the far corner. As I walk over to browse Jocky’s collection of literature I hear him entering the bathroom with a ‘Hiya Soapy! Hiya pal!’
The boss has some serious pieces of work here. Plato, Joyce, Chaucer and Darwin grace the shelves. There’s a couple of Broons and Oor Wullie annuals. I skim the collection. Something catches my eye. ‘The Art of War’ by Sun Tzu is sitting out of line from the rest of the books, further forward on the shelf, like it’s been looked at recently and not put back properly. I grasp it and pull it out to have a wee look. The moment I pull it towards me the bookcase and the floor around it swivels round. All of a sudden I’m on the other side of the wall, in a hidden, secret room of Jocky’s home. It’s a big laboratory of some sort. There are a dozen men and woman in white lab coats beavering away at various pieces of technological equipment and scientific experiments. I stand open-mouthed in wonder. It’s like something out a Bond movie. The floor beneath me suddenly swivels round again, and I’m back in Jocky’s living room. What the fuck.
I hear someone coming down the stairs and quickly move away from the bookcase. I stand in the shadow of the stuffed bear. Jocky comes in the room.
‘Fucking Soapy Soutar, he’s some boy likes. Punters asked Jocky if it’s really necessary tae hae three goalies at the club, but the boy’s worth his weight in gold if yer after a ba’-scrubber. Braw laddie.’
He sees me standing by the bear.
‘Like the bear, Leigh? Jocky got it when he wiz on a hunting trip to Cumbernauld wi Jim McLean. Fucking hunners o’ the things running free over that way. Eh chased one down, wrestled it tae the ground and strangled it. McLean wanted tae shag it, but eh telt him tae get tae fuck. Awa’ and shag yer aine bear, baldy. Dirty mink so he is! “Eh telt you no’ tae ask me that question!” Get them telt, wee Jum! Jocky paid that reporter £50 tae ask that question for a laugh, but we’ll keep that tae ourselves, Leigh. You ready tae rock ‘n’ roll?’
Tartan Special in hand, we head out the door and down the street. It’s pretty late. The streets are empty and silent. Not for long though.
‘WHEN YOU HEAR THE NOISE O’ THE DUNDEE DERRY BOYS, WE’LL BE COMIN’ DOWN THE ROAD! Sing Leigh, belt it oot!’
We sing in unison. Jocky starts up another Dundee song –
‘JIM MCLEAN HAD A FARM! EE-IE EE-IE OH! AND ON THAT FARM HE HAD SOME PIGS! EE-IE EE-IE OH! HEGARTY HERE, NAREY THERE, TANGERINE BASTARDS EVERYWHERE! JIIIIIIIM MCLEAN! BALDY HEADED CUNT!’
We’re going old school on the Dee songs as we barrel down the road. It turns out David Goodwillie only live about 10 minutes from Jocky’s house. Poor boy. Jocky chuckles to himself as we stand outside.
‘Jocky’s doon here every other night gettin’ this Arab nugget telt, Leigh. Fuckin’ class. Follow me, cunto. Quietly likes….’
I follow him. The lights are on inside. We sneak around the side of the house into the back garden. Jocky opens the holdall and starts pulling out fireworks. This doesn’t bode well for David Goodwillie, or the neighbourhood at large. He pulls out half-a-dozen fearsome looking rockets and plants them in the grass. Once they’re set up he dips into the bag and takes out a huge, folded piece of cloth. He unfolds it, and I see that it’s a red, white and blue Dundee flag bearing the legend ‘DFC #1 YA BAS! WHA’S IN CHERGE HERE?’ He motions for me to help hang it on the washing line. Once it’s waving proudly in the wind he goes back to his bag and takes out a big can of lighter fluid. My heart sinks. Jocky’s giggling away to himself as he tip-toes to the garden shed and douses it in highly flammable liquid. He covers his mouth with his hand, trying to keep his laughter at bay. He pulls a couple of Zippo lighters out his pocket and passes me one.
‘Right Leigh,’ he whispers, ‘you set aff the rockets and Jocky’ll torch the shed. Bet Goodwillie keeps his mountain bike in there. Cunt’s never seen a mountain in his fucking life. Telt!’
He scurries off, indicating that I should start the proceedings. I can’t believe I’m about to do this.
I start lighting the long fuses of the rockets. As I quickly move the flame from fuse to fuse I hear the roar of the jetpack. I spin around and Jocky’s already 20 feet up and rising. A lit Zippo with its inextinguishable flame drops and lands on the shed roof. At the exact moment the shed is engulfed in flames the first rocket goes off.
WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHH – BOOOOOM!!!
Jocky’s off and out of sight. All of a sudden I realise I’m on my own in David Goodwillie’s back garden with
WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHH – BOOOOOM!!!!
the shed fully ablaze, a massive
WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHH – BOOOOOOM!!!
Dundee flag hanging from
WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHH – BOOOOOOM!!!
the washing line, and
WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHH – BOOOOOOM!!!
a fucking fireworks display going off. As every dog for miles around starts
WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHH – BOOOOOOOOM!!!
barking and the neighbourhood starts peering out to see what the hell is going on I come to my senses and run like the wind. Blind fear and panic makes me run like I’ve never run before. I’m like Usain Bolt choc-full of steroids riding greased lightening as I rip along the road. I charge full-pelt all the way to Jocky’s house. There’s a taxi waiting with the back door open. With no signs of life from the house, I just jump in. The driver doesn’t say a word, he just drives off. As we pull away from the house I look back. My eyes nearly pop out their sockets.
Jocky the moustachioed cat’s in the garden, standing on its hind legs doing what appears to be Tai Chi. No way. I only catch a brief glimpse of it,before it disappears out of sight. I must’ve inhaled some of that lighter fluid.
We drive on. As I desperately try to catch my breath in the back seat of the cab a fire engine tears past in the opposite direction.
In around 12 hours time I’ll be playing in the quarter finals of the Scottish Cup. This is no way to prepare. I’ve got a bad feeling about this one……..
We were out the Cup. Raith beat us 2-1. We played poorly, and the bold Fifers deserved their victory. The sound of their huge away support celebrating wasn’t helping the general mood in the dressing room.
Jocky came charging in bollock naked.
‘WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED THERE YA DAFT CUNTS?! WHAT THE FUCKING FUCKITY FUCK HAPPENED, EH?’
He’s raging. Saliva forms at the corner of his mouth, and his balls swing like a pendulum as he shakes with anger.
‘Raith fucking Rovers……….RAITH FUCKING ROVERS!! Jocky hud the Premier Inn on Sauchiehall Street booked for the Cup Final ya bams! One room for me and Soapy, another room for the rest of the squad! It would’ve been fucking teckle haein’ a day oot in Glegae ya fucking muppets! Aw they mad Weegie punters running aboot wi’ bottles o’ Buckie saying “Aye but, aye but, aye but…” But what ya mad west coast bastards? But fucking what?! By Christ, eh dinnae think they even ken themselves!! Glesgae’s a fuckin’ teckle toon!’
He plants himself down on Craig Forsyth’s knee, facing away from him. He turns to speak to him.
‘Bit o’ reverse cowgirl action here, eh pal? Fuckin’ teckle!’ Craig looks massively uncomfortable. ‘Jocky used tae manage yer old man, by the way. Tell him Jocky wiz askin’ for him. The man’s a pleasure to watch on that Strictly Come Dancing. On the Sky + at meh hoose, fuckin’ right it is.’
Craig doesn’t have the nerve to counter this crazy statement. Jocky looks far off into the middle distance.
‘…nice tae see yi, tae see yi, NICE!…fuckin’ teckle televisual entertainment…get them telt, Brucie…that Tess Daley’s a wee ride, is she no’?…’
He gets up and heads into the showers.
‘Soapy, you ken the score. Bring that Mint Original Source shower gel gear wi yi, Jocky could dae wi a tingly feelin’ on the old ball-sack tae soothe the pain o’ defeat.’
We sit dejected, gutted to be out the Cup. As we start getting changed, Gary McKenzie pipes up.
‘Here Craig…I didn’t realise Bruce Forsyth was your old man!’
Good grief. Time to go home.
Darkness has fallen when I reach my tepee in Caird Park. I went out for a meal and a couple of drinks with a few of the boys, but we weren’t really up for socialising. I’m in a sombre mood as I enter and ditch my gear. As I lay on my bed I feel something hard underneath the pillow. I sit up and lift it. Good Lord…….
It’s The Art of War by Sun Tzu. I stare at it, horrified. He knows. He knows I saw the hidden room. Fuck.
It took me ages to fall asleep. Images of the lever in his office, the hidden lab behind the bookscase, and his weird cat that may or may not be some kind of super-ninja go round and round my head. I can’t begin to comprehend what it all means. But while the possibilities are beyond me, I’m certain of one thing – I want to find out. I want to know what the Master Plan is. I want to be onboard with whatever madness may lie ahead.
We better get our fingers out and win the league.