It had been a couple of weeks since I’d met Jocky at Dens for the late night heart-to-heart where he had announced his time at Dens had ended and that he would leave us to get on with it. It had been an emotional night, and one that had affected me quite deeply. The man had spoken from the heart and articulated his true feelings about his love for the club and the pain his dismissal had brought. He’d shown me what it meant to be a football man. Jocky had not been in it for the money. He’d given his heart and soul to the game, and in particular to Dundee Football Club. There was no reward for his efforts. At the first sign of trouble and of not satisfying the requirements of those in charge he’d been unceremoniously dumped. I’m a relative newcomer to the game, but I wasn’t blind to the fact he’d been treated poorly.
Without Jocky’s influence a degree of normality had set in at Dens. Gordon Chisholm was taking a firm grip of things, training us hard and trying to gear us up for the title run-in that lay ahead. We’d taken a bit of time to adjust to the change of management but were getting it together. After a poor display and defeat to Dunfermline at East End Park we got back on track with a good win at home to Ayr United. I was suspended for the game, but we played very well and were worthy of a 3-0 victory. It looked like we were set for pushing league leaders Inverness Caley Thistle all the way. They were in pole position, but they had to deal with the pressure that went with it. All we could do now was keep snapping at their heels.
While Bob Brannan and Gordon Chisholm seemed to have accomplished their goal of marking their territory and focusing us on the task at hand, a day didn’t go by that I didn’t think of Jocky. My ears would strain for the roar of a jetpack or the sound of the Beastie Boys. While I realised I had to concentrate on footballing matters, I missed my friend. I was concerned about him. I hadn’t seen or heard from him since that late night meeting on the pitch. I had great empathy for the man, and worried about his well being in the tough personal times he was experiencing.
I decided to ignore Brannan’s stern words about not keeping in touch with Jocky. I understood why he had taken a hard-line approach to the matter, but I couldn’t leave my pal like this. I wanted to speak to him and make sure he was ok. In my eyes there was nothing wrong with that, and if Brannan had a problem with it then so be it. I was prepared to face whatever consequences I would face if I was caught breaching the rules.
I headed down to the Ferry one afternoon after training. I tried to disguise myself a little by wearing a baseball cap and keeping the hood of my favourite Kappa trackie up. It wasn’t exactly fool-proof, but it was probably enough to put anyone who might care off the scent. I arrived at Jocky’s house. There were no signs of life. I cautiously walked up the garden path to the door and knocked. There was no response. I didn’t want to be seen lingering around so I left and started off down the road. Without thinking about it I realised I was heading towards David Goodwillie’s house. Maybe David had seen the boss recently and could offer me a clue to his whereabouts.
I wasn’t prepared for the sight that greeted me as I approached David’s house. I was stopped dead in my tracks by the devastation I was confronted with. A smoldering wreck of a suburban home lay where David’s abode had once stood. I looked around the street before walking up the garden path. The door was still in place, so I chapped at it and yelled, ‘David….it’s Leigh. Are you in there mate?’
I heard movement from inside. ‘Leigh? What the fuck mate, is he back again? Please….I’ve had enough….’
He sounded terrified. What on Earth had happened here?
‘Dave, it’s cool man. I’m on my own. I’m looking for Jocky, have you seen him?’
It was blindingly obvious that he had seen him. The door swung open. United’s star striker looked like he’d been terrorised to the point of a mental breakdown. His hair was all over the place, his fake tan was smudged unevenly over his face, and his bloodshot eyes looked like they hadn’t closed for more than a blink in days. He looked around anxiously and let me into what remained of his home.
‘David, what the fuck happened here? It looks like a bomb went off!”
His voice trembled as he replied, ‘Leigh, a bomb has gone off. You wouldn’t believe what went down here the other night.’
He was shaking like a leaf. We went through to his living room, which was mostly still intact. We sat down, and I asked him what happened.
‘Leigh, if I didn’t have it on camera you probably wouldn’t believe me. Check this out.’ He pulled out his phone. ‘I had problems recently with someone setting my shed on fire. Probably a mental Dundee fan at the capers.’
I cringed and agreed with him. ‘Aye, probably….’
‘United got me hooked up with CCTV in case they came back. A few nights ago it caught the guy red-handed. Turns out it wasn’t a fan, but your old manager….’
Holy shit. Goodwillie pressed play on his phone’s video player. It showed grainy black and white footage from his front garden. At first there was nothing to see, just an empty garden shown from various angles the CCTV cameras picked up on. All of a sudden Jocky flew into view on his jetpack. Goodwillie shuddered. Jocky landed by the front door and started shouting through the letterbox. The CCTV hadn’t pick up the sound.
‘What was he shouting?’
Goodwillie shook his head. ‘Something about United being shite and Jim McLean shagging a bear. I was fucking terrified, Leigh. I was hiding behind the settee hoping he’d go away. He just stood there bellowing about McLean and asking who was in charge.’
The CCTV footage showed Jocky bodypopping and doing “the robot”. Credit where it’s due, the man’s some dancer.
‘Check this bit out, Leigh. This bit’s fucking mental.’
As Jocky swaggered around the garden busting out moves something else came into view. Goodwillie looked at me.
‘I must be going bonkers, but to me that looks like a flying cat. Is that a flying cat, Leigh?’
Goodwillie wasn’t wrong. Jocky the cat flew into view. Jocky the jetpack-flying cat started circling his master and moved his legs into what looked like a martial arts stance. Fans of the Karate Kid would recognise it as “the crane”. This was crazy. The CCTV footage showed Jocky taking some sort of package out his holdall. It looked like a shoe box with a wire trailing out it. Jocky placed it on the doorstep and leaned down to the letterbox again. I looked at David. He kept on staring at the screen, but answered the question before I could ask it. ‘Happy birthday, cunto! Got yi a wee present likes. Wee Jocky wanted tae get yi a jigsaw, but eh thought this wiz better!’ I turned back to the screen. The wire trailing out the box was a fuse. Jocky lit it and they quickly flew off out of view. Seconds later there was an almighty flash, and the CCTV footage turned to static.
‘He bombed my house, Leigh. That mental bastard bombed my house. I was lucky to get out alive. I phoned the police, the fire brigade and Tannadice. They’ve seen this footage. A warrant is out for Jocky Scott’s arrest.’
I couldn’t believe it. Jocky was having problems, but he’d gone too far here. He could have killed David Goodwillie. There was no condoning this behaviour.
I wished David well and left in a daze. I didn’t know what to think. A taxi went by, and I hailed it. I jumped in and told the driver to take me to the Fairmuir clubbie. It seemed like the only place I might find some answers.
I got out the cab and went to the door. The Fairmuir is a typical working man’s club, a place where beer is cheap, bingo is important and newcomers are treated with suspicion. The door was guarded by a couple of pensioners who clearly thought I was there to rape their woman and steal their pension. ‘This isnae a public bar son, members only.’
I took my hood down and my cap off. ‘Sorry to bother you gents. I’m just here looking for a pal of mine. Do you know Jocky Scott?’
They raised their eyebrows and looked at each other with knowing glances. ‘Jocky’s no’ here jist now. Huvnae seen him for a wee while. Best be on your way, son.’
They were being evasive. I persisted. ‘Look, I’m a good pal of Jocky. I just want to find out if he’s ok. He’s had some bother recently, I’m worried about him.’ One of the old men nodded in understanding. ‘Eh hear yi son, but he’s no’ here. Huvnae seen Jocky since Dundee gave him the bullet.’
A thought struck me. ‘Fair enough. Is…….is the Pope here? Can you tell him Leigh Griffiths wants a word please?’ The old men looked at each other and laughed. ‘The Pope? Are you aff yir fucking heid, son? The Pope! Fuck sake!’ I blushed, but continued. ‘Jocky always said he played darts here with the Pope. They’re mates, like.’
The old boys laughed a little bit harder. ‘The Pope plays darts here? Fuck sake son, are you on they bubbles a’ you youngsters are takin’ these days?’ They were having a good laugh at my expense. I felt like a total idiot. I mumbled an apology and turned to leave. One of the old guys shouted after me. ‘Look son, we ken wha yi are. We’re Dees, like. We ken Jocky, tae. Jocky’s a brilliant guy. You usually hae tae get signed in by a member tae get in this clubbie, but since yi’re a pal o’ Jocky’s we’ll let yi in. Some of Jocky’s mates are in, they might be able tae help yi’. Yi’ll hae tae pay a pound, same as all non-members though . Clubbie rules, son.’
I nodded and raked in my pocket for change. ‘Here’s a tenner. That should cover my entry fee and a couple of pints for you boys.’
The old boys smiled. ‘Sound, Leigh. Welcome tae the Fairmuir clubbie. Abide by the rules and yi’ll be made maist welcome. Break the rules and yi’l end up in the bin oot the back wi’ yir eyes pulled oot their sockets and yir neck snapped in seven different places. Enjoy.’
I laughed nervously as they waved me through. They pointed me in the direction of a door up past the entrance to the main bar and lounge. I walked up and into the sports lounge. Several old men stood around drinking and playing darts. They all stopped and looked at me.
‘Sorry to bother you lads……I’m looking for…….um……a mate of Jocky Scott. Jocky called him the Pope, but he was maybe just pulling my leg.’
A few of the guys chuckled to themselves. I looked to the bar. An old balding guy in a tracksuit, brogues and a stained white tshirt gave me a nod. ‘ Wha’s askin’?’
‘Erm, Leigh Griffiths. I play for Dundee. I’m a mate of Jockys. Have you seen him about recently?’
The guy gave me a good, long hard look before replying, ‘Buy iz a pint and we’ll hae a blether, son.’ The old guy motioned for me to join him at the bar. His dart-playing pals kept a wary looking eye on me. He ordered us up a couple of pints of Tartan Special. I paid the barman. The old guy raised a glass and said, ‘Cheers, Leigh.’ He took a good swig, wiped the froth from his upper lip and introduced himself. ‘Meh name’s Tam. Been mates wi’ Jocky for a lang time, since the days he played fur Dundee.’ I sipped my pint. I was getting a taste for the Special. ‘Nice to meet you, Tam. I was half expecting you to be wearing long white robes and a crucifix.’, I joked. Tam smiled. ‘Aye, that nickname fair stuck with Jocky. Naebody else called iz it, but Jocky’s called me nothing else since the 70’s. He’s some boy.’
‘Why did he start calling you the Pope?’
He smiled. ‘We were at a fancy dress perty. Eh went as a ghost, white sheet over mi’ heid wi’ holes fur the eyes. Jocky came barrelling in dressed as Mohammad Ali. Daft cunt had covered himself from head tae toe in boot polish and hud white shorts and a pair o’ boxin’ gloves on. Kept shouting, “Wha’s in cherge here a’body? Whaur’s that cunt Joe Frazier? Rumble in the fuckin’ Jungle, that’s what eh’m talkin’ aboot!”, and punching folk. He saw me and went, “Fuck sake, check oot the Pope! Tam ya hairy clam, that’s a fuckin’ teckle ootfit!” Must have explained eh wiz a ghost a dozen times, but he wiz haein’ none o’ it. Eventually jist left him tae it. He’s some boy is oor Jock.’ Tam drained his pint and ordered up another couple.
I stayed in the Fairmuir for several hours. Tam was great company, one of those guys who commanded respect and made you feel welcome at the same time, and he was quite the raconteur. He told me loads of Jocky stories over numerous pints of Special. Tam clearly had a great deal of love and respect for his old pal. He was most interested to hear my take on his sacking, and deeply concerned to hear about the goings-on at Goodwillie’s house.
‘A’ways thought the auld daftie would get himself in bother. Probably best that he lies low fur a wee while. Eh’m sure the club will try and sort oot the polis and get them aff his back.’ I wasn’t so sure about that. Tam got up. ‘Gies a minute, Leigh. A’ that Special’s fair flowing through the system. Eh’m awa’ for a pish. When eh get back eh’ll tell yi’ how Jocky got that bloody megaphone.’ He winked and headed towards the loo. What a top bloke. I smiled at the scene around me. I was a wee bit bleary-eyed from the drink, but I was really enjoying myself. The locals were sound, friendly folk. A few of them said hello, wished the team well, and asked for autographs for their grandchildren. Even the ones who said they were United supporters were nice to me and said they hoped we would return to the SPL. It seems the derby is missed by more than just Dundee fans.
Tam returned with a couple of nips. I half-protested, ‘Tam, I’m a bit bevied here. I’ll get my arse kicked for drinking like this.’
‘Leigh, yi’ll never be a futba player if yi’ cannae handle a decent drink. Here’s to yi’ son.’ We raised our glasses for perhaps the seventh or eighth time. I was losing track. Tam settled back into his seat.
‘Jocky came in here one efternoon in a highly excited state. Boy’s a’ways pretty animated, but he was jist aboot bouncing aff the walls. Eh asked him what wiz going on. He said, “Hiya the Pope. Hiya pal! Jocky’s got a wee business venture on the go, like. Wee sideline number ootside o’ the futba. Gonnae mak’ a fortune!” Eh asked whit it wiz, but he said it was a secret. What he did say wiz that he needed something like a portable microphone tae make his voice loud so a big crowd could hear him. The boys were puzzled, but one o’ them, boy called Jimmy Carmichael wha yaesed tae be a Trade Union leader, said he might hae somethin’ that would dae the job. Next day eh wiz playin’ darts wi’ Jock when the boy turned up. He said, “Here yi’ go Jock, this might dae the trick.” He handed over a megaphone. Jocky’s face wiz a picture! “Jimmy pal……….THAT’S FUCKIN’ TECKLE! Can Jocky git a wee shot o’ that?” Jimmy said he used it during the strikes when he wiz addressin’ the crowd ootside the Timex, but he’d retired and hud nae use fur it. Jocky gave him a big cuddle, took the megaphone aff him and yaesed it fur the first time. “HIYA A’BODY! HIYA PALS! CHECK THIS OOT! OH YA CUNT, THIS IS FUCKIN’ TECKLE! YAAAAAAASSSSS!”
I laughed heartily. Brilliant. ‘He still uses that megaphone to this day!’ Tam laughed as well. ‘Leigh, he’s barely put it doon since the day he got it. Anyway, a few days later we found oot what his new business venture wiz. Eh wiz on the way up tae the clubbie here. Eh walk up at aboot the same time every day. When eh got tae the end of the street eh saw half a dozen buses parked up ootside. They a’ hud JOCKY’S POPE TOUR written on the side. Eh walked past them thinkin’ “whit?!” When eh got ootside the club eh find Jock. He’s dressed as a clergyman, a’ black robes and a big crucifix roond his neck. He sees me and goes, “Hiya pal! Stick this on ya big glass o’ fanny juice, Jocky’s got hunners o’ catholics inside waitin’ tae meet yi. £20 a heid, eh’ve made a fuckin’ fortune! Been giein’ them a guided tour o’ the toon showin’ them a’ the holy places, like Dens and the teckle newsagent in the Overgate wi’ a’ the porno mags.”
‘Eh could nae believe it. Eh started protestin’, but he slipped iz a couple o’ hunner note and said, “it’s nae bather pal, dinnae be shy. Jocky’ll dae a’ the talkin” Eh wiz skint at the time, so eh put the sheet on and followed him inside. Eh wiz telt tae stand ootside and wait for his cue. He went intae the main function room, which wiz packed tae the rafters. He stood up front on the stage the bands wha come on at the weekends play on.’
“Ladies and gentleman, welcome tae the Fairmuir clubbie. It’s like the Vatican, only wi’ cheaper beer and a better dominoes team. Meh name’s Faither Jocky, eh’m a good pal o’ yir man the Pope. His holiness jist turned up like, he’s in the shitter drappin’ his guts. Eh telt him no tae flush in case any o’ you cunts wanted tae buy a bit of his shite or a wee vial o’ holy water straight fae his bladder.” He looked over towards the door and saw me peeking through. “Right a’body, here he comes. A’ the way fae Mid Craigie, top boy in yir church and a helluva good darts player – the Pope!” Eh wandered oot on tae the stage. Jock wiz bowing and making a fuss. The crowd were nae happy. “That’s just a man with a sheet over his head! That’s not the Pope!” Jocky replied, “Of course it’s the fuckin’ Pope! Check him oot!” I tried to help the situation along by doing a few Hail Marys. The crowd were pure raging. “We don’t believe you! We want our money back!” Jocky laughed. “Yi’ dinnae believe me? Yi’ believe a’ that shite aboot virgin births, cunts comin’ back fae the dead, and some invisible man keepin’ edge on a’ cunt…….but yi’ dinnae believe me? Fuck sake!”
The crowd turned into an angry mob and started moving towards us with vengeance in mind. Jock pointed tae the back o’ the room and shouted, “Jesus Christ, it’s the Holy Ghost!” Every head in the room turned and looked. Jock took the opportunity to bolt oot the door, shouting, “Run like fuck Tam! Gemme’s up the poley!” I sprinted efter him. We jumped in one of the tour buses and made our getaway. Absolutely unbelievable.’
I was ending myself with laughter. I tried to get up to go to the loo but my legs gave way and I fell back in my seat.
‘Steady on there son! Jeez, yi’re no’ much o’ a bevy merchant are yi! You’ve hud enough wee man. Eh’ll phone yi’ a taxi.’ He chuckled and called me a cab. I was much drunker than I thought.
A short time later a man came in and shouted, ‘Taxi for Griffiths!’ Tam got me to the door and made sure I got in the cab ok. I slumped in the back and rolled down the window. ‘Tam…cheers. It was great to meet you. I had a braw night.’
‘The pleasure wiz a’ mine, son. Yi’re welcome up here anytime. If yi’ see Jock tell him eh wiz askin’ fur him. And dinnae worry – he’ll be awright, whatever he’s up tae. Jocky’s a wild one, but he kens the score.’
We shook hands through the open window. The taxi pulled off. I pulled my phone out and realised I had a voicemail message. I dialed it. I couldn’t hear it very well with the driver’s music on. It was that song by the Doors.
“This is the end…beautiful friend…”
The message was from Brannan. ‘Hello Leigh, this is Bob Brannan…’
“Of our elaborate plans, the end….”
‘We have a major problem with Jocky Scott…’
“Of everything that stands, the end…”
‘I want you to come to my office at 9am tomorrow. I need you to do something for me…”
“Can you picture what will be, so limitless and free…”
‘It’s a highly confidential and important matter. I’ll fill you in on the details tomorrow. Good night.’
I was far too drunk to take it all in. I’d worry about it in the morning. As the taxi approached my tepee I slipped into a drunken unconsciousness. If I’d known what was to come the following day, I would have prayed to Tam that I had never woken up.
“This is the end…..”