Football is a cruel mistress. Those of us who make a living from it walk a slippery slope throughout our careers. The highs turn into lows at the drop of a hat. Dreams turn to nightmares in a heartbeat. The days of patience and loyalty are all but gone. It’s a cut-throat business where money talks louder than any other voice in the room. If things aren’t going right you run the risk of having it all snatched away from you.
On Saturday we were beaten 3-0 by Airdrie United. The match was an unmitigated disaster. With the greatest of respect to Airdrie, teams at the top of the league should not be on the receiving end of 3-0 defeats from them. We failed ourselves, our fans, and ultimately, our manager.
The bus journey home was a long one. There was plenty to be said, but nobody had the energy to say it. The journey home from away games were often sources of great amusement and wild behaviour at Dundee. I remember returning from the 2-2 draw at Starks Park at the start of the season. When we reached the Tay Bridge Jocky stopped the bus and insisted we all head down to the banks of the river. We wandered down and enjoyed the wonderful view of the city, the rail bridge and the hills on the horizon. After a few minutes Jocky came down dressed in khaki shorts and shirt with an inflatable crocodile. ‘Check it oot you lot! Jocky’s pretending tae be that Steve Irwin cunt! Fucking yaaaassss!’ He went charging into the Tay and started wrestling the inflatable croc. His arms flailed wildly as he landed punches on it and splashed around furiously. ‘Wha’s in cherge here ya prick, eh? G’day, cunto!’ He eventually burst the thing and clambered back to shore and sat down. ‘That boy Irwin wiz awright, likes. Fuckin’ shame when he got killed. Jocky wiz greetin’. Swore if eh ever bumped intae that stingray eh’d belt it’s pus. Been goin’ tae the Lochee swimmin’ baths twice a week since the day he wiz killed, still huvnae seen it.’
He was much more subdued returning home from Airdrie. He sat at the back of the bus alone doing the ouija board. The glass he was doing it with was flying back and forth across the board as he said things like, ‘What’s Elvis up tae?’, and, ‘Hiya Granny! Hiya pal!’ When he asked who was in charge something happened. The colour drained from his face. There was no ‘ That’s what eh’m talkin’ aboot!’ He didn’t get the answer he wanted from the spirit world.
When the bus arrived back at Dens the players filed off. Jocky remained seated at the back. I waited for a moment, then asked if he was ok. He didn’t look me in the eye. His gaze had drifted out the window. He spoke softly, and replied ‘Jocky’s fine, pal. Dinnae worry aboot Jocky. Awa’ up the road now.’ I left feeling that something was terribly, terribly wrong.
A couple of hours later I received a phone call from Ray Farningham saying Jocky had been sacked.
We gathered for training at Dens on Monday morning. It felt like turning up for a funeral. Jocky was gone. All the boys were feeling his down about his departure, but none more so than I. After everything we’d shared, and with a future lying unfulfilled, I missed him like Eammon Bannan misses his hair. Barely a word was said as we sat in the changing room getting ready. The newly appointed manager, Gordon Chisholm, entered. He went around the room shaking hands and introducing himself. Rab Douglas offered him a shopping basket full of stolen goods as a welcoming gift, a fine selection of teabags, shortbread biscuits and some sanitary towels for the lady in his life.
‘Rab, I’m going to have to ask you to take that back to the shop. You can’t go stealing stuff like that. Get a grip, man.’
Big Rab looked bewildered and dropped his head. Chisholm continued around the room. Eddie Malone stood in his pants, greased from head to toe and clasping a hunting knife between his teeth. Chisholm shook his head and told him to get his training gear on as he took the knife off him. Eddie dropped his head to the ground too. Tony Bullock was about to saw Sean Higgins in half when the new gaffer told him not to bother.
Chisholm came to me. We shook hands. I fixed him with a glare. The wide-o in me wanted to challenge him, the man who could never replace my mentor and friend.
‘Nice to meet you, Leigh. I hear you’re quite the player. Better start proving it, son.’
I felt anger flaring up inside, but I maintained control and said nothing.
‘Gentleman, the new regime starts right now. I’m going to make sure you win this league. I have no idea what your old boss was doing, but things are going to change. Your assistant manager and I are going to put a rocket up your arse and do the job properly. Billy Dodds is out there now setting up training. Get out there, I’ll be with you in a minute to get things started.’
Chisholm was stamping his authority from the kick off.
We made our way on to the pitch. A bunch of cones and markers had been laid out. Chisholm followed us out and cried, ‘BILLY!’
Enter our new assistant manager.
He came down the track riding a kiddie’s tricycle. The players looked on in horror as he approached. He was wearing nothing but a bib, a nappy, and a hat with a little propeller on top of it. Jumping off the tricycle he bounded over towards us shouting, ‘BILLY LIKE FUTBA! BILLY LIKES FUTBA!’. He was drooling profusely, and his tongue was lolling out his mouth like that of a frisky Border Collie who just fucked a sheep.
‘Gentleman, this is Billy Dodds. He’s your new assistant manager. This man can set up cones and markers like no-one you’ve ever met before. If he appears different from the popular sports pundit you all know and love, it’s due to a bizarre mental defect that means he only snaps into what you consider to be normality when a camera or microphone is placed in front of him. The rest of the time he’s a gentle idiot with the mental capacity of a pound of steak mince. Observe.’
Chisholm pulled out a microphone and pointed it at Dodds. Suddenly he changed and became perfectly coherent.
‘Thanks Gordon. Lads, I’m Billy Dodds. You’ll probably recognise me from the media. I’ve spent the whole season calling Dundee a bunch of pricks, but you better believe my attitude changed the moment a wad of cash was waved under my nose. I’m now of the opinion that Dundee FC are a sleeping giant who deserve to be back where they belong in the top flight of the Scottish game. I’m a bit of a whore for the old moolah, but there you go.’
Chisholm put the mic behind his back, out of sight.
‘BILLY LIKES FUTBA! BILLY SLEEPS WITH THE LIGHT ON ‘CAUSE HE’S SCARED OF PAPA SHANGO!’
He started running around in circles singing Brown Girl in the Ring and being sick on himself. As we watched in awe for a few minutes he seemed to tire himself out. He burst into tears and started slapping himself hard in the face. Chisholm ushered him into the home team dugout, put a a blanket over him and put him to sleep. Training got underway.
We were pushed harder than we had been for a long time. Chisholm put us through our paces big time. Sweat was dripping form every pore, and our legs felt like lead. We were on the verge of collapse. Chisholm finally called us to a halt and gathered us in the centre circle.
‘Good session, lads. You worked hard, I’m pleased with that. Expect more of the same every single day at training. The times have changed here at Dens Park.’ He looked at me and held my eye for just long enough to make me start feeling uncomfortable before saying, ‘Ok, hit the showers.’
We played our first game under Chisholm at Dens on Tuesday against Queen of the South. As we were warming up my attention was caught by the club mascot, a big bear named Deewok. Deewok usually strolls around the track entertaining the fans before the game. For some reason on this occasion he had actually taken a seat in the Bobby Cox end and was watching us warm up.
The game started well. I was pulled back in the box early on, and as well as winning a penalty the Queens defender who committed the foul was sent off. I stroked the penalty home and thought we were on for a win as I ran towards the Derry to celebrate. But it didn’t quite work out like that. We didn’t play well, and Queens refused to be broken down, even with a man less on the park. They scored a brilliant free kick to equalise, and held off a last minute onslaught to deservedly earn a point.
We headed up the tunnel and back into the dressing room. Thoroughly depressed that we didn’t beat 10-man Queens we slumped down and take stock. Apparently Inverness won. Our lead at the top was now a mere point. The heat was on. Big time. Chisholm came in. He wasn’t angry. He talked calmly about where we went wrong, and how we would have to sharpen up the killer instinct in future. He focused on the positives as best possible.
As he talked, our attention was diverted to the doorway to the showers. Deewok, the club mascot, had appeared and stood leaning against the wall with his arms folded, shaking his head. Chisholm looked surprised, then pissed off.
‘Mate, I have no idea what you think you’re doing in here. The dressing room is for players and management only. Get the hell out and don’t let me see you in here again’
Deewok didn’t budge. He kept on shaking his head.
Chisholm shouted, ‘ARE YOU FUCKING DEAF AS WELL AS STUPID, SON? AWAY TAE FUCK!’
Deewok stood up dead straight and slowly paced towards Chisholm. He went eyeball to eyeball with him and just stood there staring. Chisholm couldn’t believe it. He looked utterly shocked by the audacity of the club mascot. Deewok put his hands on his over-sized bear head and started to lift it off. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up, and I knew………
‘HIYA GORDON CHISHOLM! HIYA PAL! 1-1 AGAINST 10 MEN? YOU’RE WORSE THAN ME YA CUNT!’
Jocky fucking Scott. Amazing. He burst into song.
‘Guess wha’s back? Jocky’s back! Guess wha’s back, Jocky’s back, ah cunt kens, Jocky’s back, wha’s in cherge here?’
His spun around to face the room, beaming from ear to ear.
‘Bit o’ that Eminem fella for yiz there lads! Twa trailer trash burds go roond the ootside, roond the ootside! Jocky thought the Beastie Boys wur the only honkies wha could rap, but that boy’s no’ bad likes! Dr Dre daein’ the production, likes. Boy’s a doctor! Would nae go to the boy for something to sort oot meh piles, but his tunes are fuckin’ teckle!’
Glancing quickly round the room I noticed that each and every one of the players had a look of sheer joy on their face. The boss was back, and he was giving it laldy.
‘Straight oot o’ Dundee! Crazy muthafucka named Jocky! See yir arm? No’ as big as meh cock, eh? A pair o’ braces, a leather belt, pull yir breeks up or yir gettin’ fuckin telt! Straight oot o’ Dundee. Yaaaaaaaasss! Hiya lads! Hiya! WHAT TIME IS IT?!’
Every player raised a fist and shouted the reply, ‘IT’S TIME TO GET ILL!’
‘WHAT TIME IS IT?!’
‘IT’S TIME TO GET ILL!’
‘Pack it up, pack it in, let Jocky fuckin’ begin! Hoose o’ Pain! Mair honkies! Rappin’s a black man’s gemme fur fuck sake! Hip hop’s a fuckin’ shambles!’
He sat on Brian Kerr’s lap. ‘The B Boys are the only white boys wha kin rap properly likes, Bri. You ken the score. Eh’ve got the ill communication and a’ that.’
He took a breath, smiled, and gave Brian a big kiss on the forehead. He got back up and opened his arms to Gordon Chisholm, who was stunned into silence by what he’d just seen.
‘Gordon Chisholm. How’s it going, pal? You got meh joab, eh? Question for yi, cunto – wha’s in cherge here?’
Chisholm held Jocky’s penetrating gaze for several seconds and managed to regain his composure.
‘I’m in charge here, Jocky. I’m the manager of Dundee Football Club. I’m in charge.’
Jocky smiled. ‘You’re brave as fuck, big aine. Brave as fuck. Jocky likes that.’ He started circling Chisholm. He dominated the room. ‘Mind that night in 1991, Chis? Mind me, you, Walter Smith and John ‘Bomber’ Broon went oot pertying?’
Chisholm’s face dropped. Jocky grinned.
‘Went tae thon Rhumba Club tae see Carl Cox playin’ records, likes. Boy wiz playin’ three decks at the same time! A’cunt wiz aff thir chob on thon Ectos. No’ me likes, eh wiz jist tannin’ Tartan Special. Jocky disnae need chemical enhancement tae hae a braw time.’
Chisholm was turning a deep scarlet red. ‘Jocky, you said you wouldn’t…’
Jocky cut him off and continued.
‘Some night oot, likes. Bomber Broon hud his tap aff, dancin’ on tap o’ the speaker stack. Twa o’ they Doves doon his pus, cunt wiz fuckin’ off his rocker. Go on yerself, Bomber! Touch they fuckin’ lasers! Walter Smith went awa’ up the road wi’ some fruity fella fae Montrose, fuck knows what that wiz a’ aboot. Fuck sake, Wattie……’
‘Jocky, I don’t think this is…’
‘Mind what happened tae you, Chis? Aye? Ya cunt! That wiz fuckin’ teckle….’
‘Jocky, if you don’t mind, this has gone…’
‘Here, Gordon Chisholm. Wha’s in fucking cherge here?’
We had no idea what this was all about, but Jocky appeared to have some kind of checkmate situation. Chisholm’s eyes dropped to the floor. He mumbled, ‘You’re in charge here, Jocky.’
He repeated it a little louder, a little clearer.
‘You’re in charge here, Jocky”
‘One mair time, cunto’
‘YOU’RE IN CHARGE HERE, JOCKY.’
Chisholm turned and stormed out the dressing room. Jocky chuckled. ‘Fuck sake, he fell for that big-style. Jocky cannae mind fuck all aboot that night beyond tannin’ 26 cans o’ Special and askin’ Carl Cox if he hud any Chas ‘n’ Dave. Boy telt iz tae get tae fuck! Braw!’
He sat down and took a few moments to take in the room. He looked around at us all, smiling.
‘Hiya a’ body. Hiya! Did yiz hear the news, likes? Jocky got the bullet! Ooft! Eh’m no even bathered, gies iz mair time tae concentrate on the darts. Darts is fuckin’ teckle! “AND BULLY’S SPECIAL PRIZE!” That Jim Bowen’s some boy, likes. Wee speccy fucker! Yi get fuck all for twa in a bed in this gemme, a’body kens that.’
Colin McMenamin ventured a question. ‘Got any work lined up, Jocky?’
‘Hiya Coco. Hiya pal! You’re fucking shite by the way. It’s a fucking miracle that you made a living oot o’ playing futba. Jocky’s seen mair natural ability in the bog in the aftermath o’ a vindaloo. By Christ eh like a good curry, but it disnae half dae meh guts in. Fuckin’ carnage in the too-ra-loo when it heads south oot o’ Jocky. The Japs left Pearl Harbour in a better nick that eh left the shitter efter that last aine. Ooft! Anyway. Aye, Colin. Wiz speakin’ tae the Pope there. Jocky plays darts wi’ the boy at the Fairmuir clubbie, likes. Good cunt. Apparently there’s a joab doon at the Vatican anytime eh want it. Boy wants Jocky tae be in cherge o’ guardin’ aw that Nazi gold they’ve got stashed. What dae yi think o’ that BOA-BY MALLLLLLLLCOLM, eh?’
Bob Malcolm mumbled his approval and congratulations.
‘Dinnae gie iz yer pish ya big Hun bastard, you’ll end up gettin’ a fuckin’ hiding. Telt!’
There was a cry from the doorway. Billy Dodds burst in.
‘JOCKY! BILLY LIKES FUTBA!’
Jocky burst out laughing.
‘Hiya Billy! Hiya pal! Awright wee man!’
Billy Dodds bounded over and embraced Jocky in a bear hug.
‘Eh see yi, Billy! Jocky sees yi! Did Brannan gie you a joab, pal? Fuckin’ teckle!’
‘BILLY LIKES FUTBA!!’
‘YAAASSSSS! That’s what eh’m talkin’ aboot! Get them telt, Billy! Jocky likes futba tae, likes. Futba’s fuckin’ teckle!’
Jocky turned to us. ‘Huv yiz met Billy Doadds? Billy’s fuckin’ marvelous! Hefty fucked in the heid, likes, but a fuckin’ braw laddie! Sets oot cones and markers on the pitch like a fuckin’ champion. Don’t yi, pal? Markers and cones, like?’
‘Billy likes Futba’
Jocky looked at us and winked, whispering, ‘He says that a’ the time, likes. Boy’s fucked in the heid. Funny as fuck, but a wee bit o’ a shame tae. Fuckin’ yas!’
Billy sat cross-legged in front of Jocky and started picking his nose and eating it. Jocky addressed the group.
‘Right lads. A’body kens wha’s in cherge here, aye? Fuckin’ right. Jocky’s no’ gonnae be far away. Eh’ll be watching yi, keepin an eye on the gig.’ He smiled. ‘Right a’body, time tae hit the road. Eh’m awa’ tae see if David Goodwillie’s got a new shed fae the B&Q yet. The cunt’s gettin’ burnt right back doon again! Soapy, see yi back at the hoose mate. Cheery.’
We all looked at Soapy. He just shrugged, as if he fully expected to hear that and accepted the fact he was still going to be washing Jocky for the rest of his life. The boss (yes, he’s still the boss in my eyes) unzipped the Deewok suit. He had his jetpack on, and nothing else. He switched it on and started hovering. ‘See yiz later lads! A’ the best! Eh’ll see yiz again soon, ’cause ken what?’ He caught my eye and winked. ‘Jocky’s got some unfinished business here…..’
Guess who’s back indeed.