Chapter 12: Up for the Cup

Much is said about “the magic of the cup”. It’s a competition where anything goes, where the minnows get the chance to swim with the big fish, and where footballing dreams can come true. At the end of the day football’s just eleven men against eleven men for 90 minutes, and although the status quo is often maintained in these situations, sometimes…….sometimes the magic actually happens.

Step forward Ross County. The bold Highlanders went toe-to-toe with the one of the “establishment clubs” and won. Celtic left Hampden after their semi final with their tail between their legs and the already shoddy-looking remains of their season in tatters. County, on the other hand, left walking tall like champions, filled with joy, a wonderful sense of achievement and the knowledge that what had happened that day would stay with them for the rest of their lives. Fans and players alike would become old and grey yet still feel a warm glow from the fire that was set in their hearts on that glorious day when they vanquished the mighty Celtic. The magic of the cup indeed.

Facing Dingwall’s finest, one of the last clubs to have given the aforementioned “establishment clubs” a proper run for their money, Dundee United. A couple of decades have passed since United’s glory days, but their league win and UEFA Cup Final appearance will not be forgotten, particularly among those of a tangerine persuasion in the City of Discovery. United took on the other cheek of the hideous, boil-encrusted, shit-stained arse of the Old Firm, Rangers, in the quarter final of the cup this season. After hauling back a 3-1 deficit at Ibrox they deservedly overcame the Govan mob in the replay at Tannadice to book their place in the semi. Raith Rovers had a stiff dram of the magic stuff themselves this year, but they didn’t have enough in the tank to beat an impressive United side and create what would have been an unprecedented final that featured two teams from outwith the top division in the country.

And so the scene was set; Ross County vs Dundee United in the Scottish Cup Final. As a Dundee player who was part of the team that lost out to Raith in the quarter final of the competition I felt pangs of regret and a healthy dose of disappointment at the fact I wouldn’t be striding proudly on to the hallowed turf on May 15th myself. We had as good a chance as any but couldn’t cut the mustard when it came to the crunch. I’d have to watch the game on the TV with the rest of the nation. Or so I thought….

‘Right youze, guess whaur Jocky’s takin’ a’body fur a wee day trip? Ya cunt, it’s gonnae be a big plate o’ teckle wi’ a side portion o’ braw!’

We were out at Jocky’s Perthshire abode, mulling around doing nothing in particular when he bounded over to us with the enthusiasm of an excited seven year old. Jim Spence, who’d been out here stoned out his mind for weeks now, ventured a response.

‘Woah man, are we, y’know, going to the inner depths of our souls, man? Because I feel we need to explore that shit. I’m ready for it. I’m…..ready….’, he put his hands on his head, exhaled, and looked as if he’s just been told the meaning of life before continuing to say, ‘…..for……IT.’

Jocky looked over both his own shoulders with confusion etched on his face before replying, ‘Spence, what in the name of Jimmy T Fuck are you on aboot? Eh? There’s been nothing but shite comin’ oot your mooth since yi’ got here, ya mad vagina. Fuck sake. What huv eh telt yi’ aboot smokin’ that wacky baccy, eh? It’s turnin’ yir heid tae shite, pal. Jocky gets mair sense oot the corned beef he puts in the stovies. Stick tae the Special, cuntflap!’

Spence mumbled something about only drinking electric kool aid and shuffled off into the bush with his bong, which was a small hollowed-out cast of Archie MacPherson’s head with a piece of pipe sticking out it.

Maros Klimpl took a guess at Jocky’s plan. ‘Ve go to wage war on Fife! Ve must strike now vhile iron is hot, Jocky Scott. Age of Jocky! Army must start invading foreign lands.’ Frighteningly, Jocky actually seemed to ponder the thought for a moment. He stroked his award winning ‘tache for a few seconds before replying, ‘Hiya Maros, hiya pal! The Age o’ Jocky’s the maist teckle age since the Iron Age, when fowk started gettin’ creases telt, there’s nae doubt aboot that. As fur invadin’ Fife, ‘s no’ a bad idea, likes, but no’ quite what eh hud in mind. Mibbe another time, cunto! Yas! Get them telt, Maros.’ Klimpl looked at me with barely concealed joy and shrugged his shoulders in false modesty. Yes, Maros, that was a wonderful idea. Ya crazy bastard.

Billy Dodds started waving his hand up in the air and shouting, ‘ASK ME, JOCKY! ASK ME!’ This ought to be good. Jocky chuckled and gestured for him to speak. ‘BILLY LIKES EDINBURGH ZOO! BILLY LIKES THE MONKEYS!’ He started tickling himself under each arm and hopping from foot to foot like a chimp. Jocky found it highly amusing. ‘By Christ that laddie’s no’ wise! Fucking yaaassss! That’s the gemme, Billy! Monkeys in the zoo, like. Monkeys are fuckin’ teckle!’ We watched Billy hop off into the bush and out of sight. Jocky stood, hands on hips, shaking his head and laughing as he went. ‘Has a’body met Billy? Crackin’ laddie. Less capacity fur cognitive thought than a mock chop supper, but one o’ the best a’ the same.’ He cupped his hand to his mouth and shouted after Dundee’s assistant manager, ‘Get them telt, Billy! Jocky likes monkeys tae!’

Realising we had no idea what he had in store for us with this day out, he continued. ‘A’body kens the score wi’ the end o’ the futba season, eh? Last gemme’s the Scottish Cup Final.’ The look on his face dropped and his eyes wandered up towards the sky. He started muttering to himself. ‘Fuckin’ Raith Rovers….cannae believe those Fife cunts beat us…..fuck sake…..should o’ been us playin’ United in the semi….Jocky would o’ kicked fuck oot that baldy fucker Houston and got us tae the final, nae bather…..wha’s in cherge here, Houston? Eh? Fuckin’ right, big Jock’s in cherge, a’body kens that…..’ His mind was drifting far, far away, and his legs were kicking thin air as if an Arab foe lay before him. Suddenly, he snapped back into reality. ‘As eh wiz sayin’, the Scottish Cup Final’s no far away. Guess what, cuntos? We’re gonnae go through and cause a bit o’ bather! Fucking yas!’

The group nodded in agreement like it was a good idea. I wasn’t so sure. While I would quite like to see the game, I was instantly worried about the potential ramifications of Jocky’s desire to “cause a bit o’ bather”. There was trouble brewing, for sure.

——————-

It was the morning of Scottish football’s showpiece event, the Scottish Cup Final. Jocky’s Perthshire compound was a hive of activity. Everywhere you looked there were people brushing their facial hair, tweaking the engines of their jetpacks and sipping on cans of Tartan Special. Billy had decided to get in the swing of things by painting his whole body in the colours of the finalists. His right half was tangerine, his left navy blue. I wandered over to speak to him.

‘Hiya Billy pal. You’re looking braw there, very…..neutral. Who do you think will win the match?’

‘Hamilton Accies! Barcelona! Scotland!’

I grinned and replied, ‘maybe Inter Milan will win!’ He looked at me like I was daft and said, ‘Inter aren’t playing, Leigh’ before wandering off singing the Erasure song he’d picked up in McLean’s chopper. Just then Jocky appeared with a couple of his men. They were packing a holdall with big white sheets that had messages I couldn’t quite decipher painted on them. Jocky was chuckling away to himself.

‘What have you got there, boss?’

He came over and wrapped an arm around me. ‘A wee something fur the gemme, pal. Jocky’s keepin’ it secret fur the mo, like, but yi’ll find oot in due course.’

‘I don’t doubt that it’ll be teckle, boss.’

‘Nail on the heid, cunto. You ken the score. Big Jock’s goin’ baws oot the day.’ He winked and took out his megaphone.

‘Lads, gather roond, it’s time fur meh team talk.’ The boys were ready, and gathered round Jocky in a circle. He looked around the group, smiling, then started bellowing out his wisdom.

‘Right a’body, the hour is upon us. Scottish Cup Final, United vs Ross County. Here’s the deal – we’re goin’ in the Ross County end. Fuckin’ right. Jocky’s made a block bookin’ right next tae the segregation point. We’ll be sittin’ next tae the Arabs, but on the other side o’ the fence, like. There’s been some talk aboot Dundee boys like us supportin’ United ’cause they’re fae the same toon as us. Now, had the tangerine mong-squad been playin’ one o’ the Old Firm, eh might o’ agreed wi’ that train o’ thought. United are a’right. Jocky’s got as lot o’ pals wha are United boys. Good cunts. While we hate them on derby days, and truth be told, loads o’ other days tae, we get on no’ bad wi’ the Arabs. That’s the way it goes in Dundee, and when yi’ look at the hefty mind-cripple situation in Glesgae, long may it continue. But we dinnae want United tae win the day. Fuck that! Always back the underdog, lads. United expect tae steamroller County the day, so we’re gonnae go and lend oor support tae the Highland fling dancers.’

There was some shouts of agreement from Jocky’s Army. Jocky nodded, pleased that we understood his thought process. He continued.

‘First step the day is tae fly tae Glesgae. We’ll follow the main road so wi’ kin noise up the bus-loads o’ Arabs on the way. Banter, like. Once wi’ hit Glesgae wi’ll go fur a bevy. Jocky’s sorted oot a good spot. Then, it’s on tae the match. By Christ, keep yir fingers crossed County win, ’cause the Arabs will be fuckin’ murder for months tae come if they dinnae. A’body ready? Fuck it. Let’s go tae Hampden.’

We let out a cheer. Jetpacks started firing up all around. The noise was deafening. One by one we rose up and started forming in the flying V Jocky favoured when we moved as a group. Formation in place, we tore across the sky above Perth and headed towards the main road that links the east coast to Glasgow. As we approached it from above and looked down we could see scores of buses snaking along the route. United fans by the thousand were making their way west. I looked at Jocky, who was sneering down at them and making the “wanker” hand gesture. We flew along at top speed until we approached Stirling. Jocky took to the megaphone.

‘Lads, meet me at the rendezvous point by the Wallace Monument in ten minutes. Gordon’s a great cunt and a good pal o’ Jocky, so pay yir respects. Leigh, ‘mon wi’ me, cunto.’

Jocky peeled off from the group and headed down towards the main road. I followed. He was moving fast, so I accelerated and pulled alongside him. We were about 50 feet above the traffic below and slowed to move directly above a bus with United scarves flapping out the windows and a big tangerine and black flag covering the back window.

‘Let’s go and say, “hiya Arabs, hiya pals!” tae these cunts, Leigh. Follow Jocky!”

He dropped down and landed on the roof of the bus, which was moving along at 70mph. This was extremely dangerous. I carefully guided myself down next to him. We stood on the roof of the bus, the wind battering against us. I crouched low, scared I woud be blown off into traffic. Jocky wasn’t phased in the slightest. He stood with his hands in his trackie bottoms and scratched his balls nonchalantly.

‘Boss, this is madness! What on Earth are we doing here?”

He laughed at the fear in my eyes. ‘Relax ya fucking trumpet, we’re just gonnae say hiya tae oor chums fae doon the street!’ He took his hands out his pants, crouched, grabbed a hold of the plastic vent above the toilet at the back of the bus and ripped it off. Holy shit. He pointed down into it and indicated that I should follow him. The toilet was vacant, and we jumped down. There was barely enough room for us in the tiny cubicle. We stood with our faces mere inches away from each other. Giggling like a wee laddie, he asked if I was ready. While I obviously wasn’t, I could only shrug my shoulders and nod. This was mental. He counted down from three….two….one….

He kicked the door open and burst into the aisle at the back of the bus.

‘HUUUULLLO! HUUUULLLO! WE ARE THE DUNDEE BOYS!’

The United supporters nearly jumped out of their skins.

‘HULLO! HULLO! YOU’LL TELL US BY OUR NOISE!’

I followed him out into the aisle. Utter shock horror on every face on the bus.

‘WE’RE UP TO OUR KNEES IN ARAB BOYS, SURRENDER OR YOU’LL DIE!’

They were frozen to the spot. Only their heads moved in unison, eyes transfixed following former Dundee manager Jocky Scott as he wandered down the aisle singing his heart out.

”CAUSE WE ARE THE DUNDEE DERRY BOYS!’

I followed him sheepishly. There wasn’t really much I could add to this entrance. Jocky was down at the front now, and he turned to face the bus load of United fans.

‘Hiya Arabs! Hiya pals! Wee question fur yi’ – wha’s in cherge here?’

Stony silence, mouths hanging wide open, brains struggling to compute what was happening.

‘THAT’S WHAT EH’M TALKIN’ ABOOT! TAKE FEHVE BOSS WALK JAM NITTY GRITTY, YIR LISTENIN’ TAE AULD JOCK FAE THE BIG BAD CITY, THIS IS JAAAAAM HOT!’

He sat on the knee of a big guy in an aisle seat at the front of the bus. ‘This is jam hot, cunto! Jocky’s mair o’ a lemon curd man, but jam’s a’right tae! Put it on yir piece, like. Teckle!’

Jocky gave the guy a kiss on the forehead, jumped back up and started swaggering up the aisle like he owned the place. I stood watching, as petrified and as stunned as the United fans.

‘Is a’body haein’ a nice time? Fuck up, ya ugly spunk-gulpers, United are in the cup final! Big Jock’s a Dundee man a’ the way, but eh’m affy pleased fur yiz. Hope yiz get pumped, but at the same time eh hope yi’ hae a teckle day oot. Cannae say fairer than that, eh? Fuckin’ right. You lads and lassies ken the score.’

He pointed at me. ‘Does a’body ken Leigh? Best young striker in Scotland, likes. Better than that nae-shed wank sock David Goodwillie anyway, regardless o’ that dingy award he won. Say hiya tae the Arabs, Leigh!’

‘…..um….aye, hello…..um…..’

‘Leigh Griffiths a’body! Helluva nice guy! See if yir man Houston tries tae pinch him, there will be fucking Hell tae pay. That’s right, pals. Yiz might hiv’ lured big Wilkie, wee Dixon and medium-sized Robertson awa’ fae Dens, but Leigh Griffiths here is made o’ sterner stuff than those nae-moral joy-boys. Isn’t that right, Leigh?’

‘….um…..aye, I suppose so…..’

‘Leigh Griffiths a’body! Yaaaasss!’

Jocky laughed heartily to himself and wandered back to the front of the bus. ‘Hiya drehvur! Hiya pal! Stop the bus, eh’m needin’ a wee-wee! You heard, cunto. Seriously like, auld Jock’s back teeth are floatin’ here. Think eh fucked up yir too-ra-loo when eh came in through the roof there. Service station up ahead, pull over, chief. That’s the gemme.’

As the bus slowed to a halt Jocky gestured for me to join him. He turned and smiled at the bus load of Arabs, who hadn’t uttered a word throughout the whole incident. ‘That’s us oot o’ here, folks. A’ the best! One team in Dundee, ya dirty Arab bastards!’

The bus stopped and the door opened. Jocky threw a couple of pound coins in the driver’s tip jar and got off. I followed as quickly as I could. We stood in the petrol station forecourt and watched the bus pull away again. The Arabs looked out the window, their faces still frozen in that look of disbelieving horror. Jocky waved enthusiastically at them. As they drove off, he dropped his trackies and raised his hands in the air. He stood with his cock and balls dangling in the wind until they pulled back out on to the motorway. When they were on their way again he pulled his trackies back up and laughed to himself.

‘By Christ that wiz braw! They’ll hae a story tae tell regardless o’ the result the day. Jocky jist enhanced their day oot big-style. A’ in a day’s work, Leigh. That’s how Jocky rolls. Teckle!’

I still couldn’t believe what had just happened. Incredible stuff. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t been there myself. Lord knows what the United fans on that bus were saying about it. Probably nothing. They would most likely remain virtually catatonic for the rest of the day. Talk about “the horror”…

Once Jocky had been to the toilet we took off and headed to meet the rest of the lads. It was a short flight. We saw them sitting around the base of the Wallace Monument drinking a carry out and landed in their midst. Billy Dodds, looking tremendous in tangerine and blue bodypaint, greeted us both like he hadn’t seen us in years. Jocky took great delight in recounting what had just happened. As we took stock and prepared to make our way to Glasgow the by-now-familiar sound of helicoptor rotors came from off in the distance. As the sound drew closer Billy started hopping up and down on the spot. ‘Wee Jum! Wee Jum and his flying bus!’ We shielded the sun from our eyes and looked towards the horizon. Sure enough, a squadron of attack choppers came into view.

‘By Christ, it’s wee Jum! Batter doon the hatches lads, here comes the bald eagle himself.’ Jocky started waving at the choppers. They grouped in formation above our heads, and one chopper descended and landed right by us. The door burst open and Jim McLean, resplendent in stetson and shades, bounded over towards us. Jocky was pleased to see his mate.

‘Awright cunto! Wha’s in cherge here, pal?’

McLean was all smiles. ‘Jocky! Not bad, cunto. Not bad at all.’ He looked around, nodding and smiling at those of us he recognised. Billy was ecstatic. ‘WEE JUM AND HIS FLYING BUS! HIYA WEE JUM! HIYA PAL!’ He went in for a cuddle, which McLean accepted and returned. ‘Hello Billy! How’s the surfing coming along?’ Billy looked serious and replied, ‘Farmers don’t surf.’ McLean winked at him, ‘You’re damn right they don’t, son.’

McLean turned back to Jocky and shook hands with him. ‘Good to see you, pal. Are you boys going to the match? Big day for United!’

‘Shut yer pus, Jum. We’re goin’ tae the match, like, but no tae support you cunts. Are we fuck! Jist headin’ along fur the day oot, mibbe cause a bit o’ bather. You ken the score, chief. Jocky thinks yi’re a braw lad, but nae danger we’re supporting yer team. Derry Rhumba, cunto!’

McLean laughed, ‘Aye, well you keep yourself out of trouble, eh? Maybe we’ll see you through there. Have a good one!’ The two men hugged and patted each other on the back. As McLean headed back to the chopper he turned back and asked, ‘Jocky, are you going to the Fairmuir for a drink after the game?’ Jocky shouted in reply, ‘EH TELT YOU NO’ TAE ASK ME THAT QUESTION!’ and dissolved into laughter. ‘YAAAAAAASSSS!!! Did a’body catch that?! Big Jock said what wee Jum usually says tae cunts! By Christ, that was fuckin’ teckle! That’s you telt, McLean! Off yi’ pop ya bear-shaggin’ bastard!’

McLean laughed along with him. Jocky was perhaps the only man on the planet who would get away with pulling that one on him. He raised a clenched fist at Jocky and pointed at him, smiling. Jocky mirrored the gesture. ‘Away tae fuck ya baldy-heided cunt, Jocky’s no’ scared o’ you!’ As McLean’s chopper took off he gave Jocky a salute, and Jocky gave him one back in return. Billy stood to attention and did the same. The helicopter unit resumed formation and headed off into the distance towards Glasgow.

‘Right lads, if wi’re gonnae go tae see United play in the final wi’ may as well tail the King Arab himself on the way there. Follow Jum until eh break aff and tak’ yi’ tae the place wi’ll be haein’ a pre-match bevy. If there’s a funny smell on the way, it’s jist wee Jum’s erse. Cunt’s got chronic wind. By Christ he’s a smelly auld goat. Hud tae evacuate the Fairmuir once when he drapped his guts. Right in the middle o’ a big dominoes tournament tae, it wiz a fuckin’ shambles.’

Jocky shook his head as he recalled McLean’s clubbie-clearing flatulence and fired up his jetpack. As the choppers headed off towards the horizon we took flight and followed. Next stop – Glasgow.

—————————-

We landed outside a clubbie in Rutherglen. Jocky said he’d arranged for us to be signed in for pre-match drinks. Apparently the Fairmuir had hosted a visit from the darts team at this club a few years back and they’d maintained good relations. We gathered by the door, and Jocky got his megaphone out.

‘Right lads, bit o’ oarder please. Shut yer pus, Maros. That’s the gemme. Right, Jocky’s gonnae get wiz signed in tae this fine establishment. This isnae an ordinary boozer though, lads. This is a clubbie. And when yi’ hae the pleasure o’ bein’ granted access tae a clubbie, yi’ hae tae abide beh the clubbie rules.’

Having been signed into the Fairmuir recently, I knew the score here.

‘The twa main rules you cunts will hae tae follow here are straightforward. Numero uno – dinnae, under any circumstances, leave the bar area withoot yir drinks on a tray. Eh cannae stress that highly enough, lads. Disnae matter if yi’ve only got twa drinks that could easily be carried by hand! Put them on a tray. Nae bather! Clubbie rule numero twa – if there’s a gemme o’ bingo on while visitin’ the club, keep yir pus shut. Nae chit-chat, nae bletherin’, no’ a fuckin’ peep. It’s best no’ tae play the bingo yirself either, because by Christ the shite will hit the fan if a regular disnae win. Failure tae comply wi’ these rules will result in scenes that make Dante’s Inferno seem like a wee stroll through the park wi’ the finest Arab o’ a’ time, Ivan Golac. Ivan wiz some cunt! £10 million fur Jerren Nixon! Get them telt, Ivan! Meh Goad that man wiz aff his heid. Anyway, does a’body understand? Clubbie rules ya cunt!’

‘Yes boss!’, we replied as one.

‘That’s what eh’m talkin’ aboot! ‘Mon in fur a bevy!’ Jocky lead the way. An old guy stood waiting at the front door.

‘Jocky! How’s it gaun by the way big man? Good tae see ye’, said the old guy as he extended his hand to Jocky.

‘No’ bad Andy pal! How did yi’ ken eh wiz a big man? Been speakin’ tae Soapy Soutar? YASSSSSS! Eh’m only kiddin’ pal, Jocky kens the score wi’ the mad Glesgae patter.’

The two men shook hands and started blethering away about some darts game they’d played last time they saw each other.

‘Mind the Pope hit double 17 tae finish in the deciding gemme, Andy? Ooft! Say what yi’ like aboot the Catholic church, they fair churn oot some braw darts players.’

We filed in behind them and were lead into the function suite. While it had seen better days in terms of decor, it had a warm, friendly vibe. We filled the place, took our seats and quickly established drink kitties. I sat at a table with Jocky and a couple of local guys who’d been to the Fairmuir. I stuffed a couple of £20 notes in an empty pint glass and stopped the others from doing the same. ‘My shout, lads. Thanks for your hospitality.’ Jocky was impressed. ‘Good lad, Leigh.’ As I went up for a round I heard him tell the locals, ‘Helluva nice laddie. Pus like a baboon’s erse, but sound as a pound and a braw futba player tae boot.’ Charming.

I got the drinks up (pints of Special, naturally) and placed them on a tray. I returned to the table and passed the pints around. Jocky raised a glass and proposed a toast, ‘Tae good cunts fae clubbies a’ ower the country, and tae Ross County. Eh hope tae fuck they dae the joab the day.’ We clinked glasses and drank up.

There was a great atmosphere about the place. The visiting party mingled with the locals, and a bus load of Ross County fans turned up. They were in high spirits on their big day out. A few of them recognised us and said hello. Jocky insisted on having his photo taken with anyone who approached. ‘Even if yiz win the cup, gettin’ a bonnie photay wi’ big Jock’ll be the highlight o’ yir day, folks. Teckle!’

As the drinks flowed the talk turned to football. We discussed the finest players of all time. The older guys spoke of Alan Gilzean, Jim Baxter, Jinky Johnstone and the like, while I ventured that Messi was as good as any of them. It turned into an animated debate. It’s a great thing, sitting around with good people having a blether about the football. The simple pleasures and all that. One of the old boys piped up with something we could all agree on.

‘Best wan of all time hid tae be yer man Pele. Unbelievable player, by the way.’ We all nodded in agreement. I’d only ever seen TV footage of the guy, but what I’d seen was remarkable. The old guy nodded towards Jocky and gave him a knowing wink. ‘Ah believe you’ve had the pleasure of sharing a pitch with the man, Jock. Bet there’s a story to be told there, by the way big man.’

Even after spending a season with him that can only be described as utterly demented, Jocky could still surprise me. He sat forward and told us about the day he met the greatest footballer of all time.

‘Yer bang on the money, pal. Big Jock played fur Seattle in the North American League in the late ’70’s. Strange but true, like! We wur playin’ in New York once when the manager said tae iz in that mad Yank accent, “Jacky, I want you to mark the biggest name in world sacker today. I want you to mark Pele. Think you can handle it?” Eh slapped that cunt in the chops and said, “Jocky disnae mark Pele, big aine.  Pele marks Jocky.” Ooft! That wiz him telt. Anyway, the gemme started, and twa futba Gods collided. Eh wandered up tae Pele, and the cunt sticks his chest oot and stares right at iz. Eh says tae the boy, “Hiya Pele, hiya pal! Wha’s in fuckin’ cherge here, cunto?” Pele says tae Jocky, “Que?” Eh says tae Pele, “Eh?” Pele says “Que?” Eh says, “Eh?” etc etc. That went on for a good five minutes wi’ the game raging on aroond us. It wiz mappit. The pair us just standin’ in the middle o’ the pitch actin’ wide as fuck. Boys wur passin’ the ba’ tae us but we just let it roll past. Me and Pele, bold as brass! Eh wiz ready tae spend the gemme daein’ this routine until eh won. Eventually, Pele cracked. Boy grinned and says tae me, and eh’ll never forget it, “Senor Jocky, está encargado aquí” Jocky kens a bit o’ the lingo, the cunt telt iz eh wiz in cherge! Pele kens the score. Eh says, “Pele ya big ride, that’s what eh’m talkin’ aboot! Teckle!” We carried on wi’ the gemme. Boy wiz a good player, right enough. Eh ended up gettin’ sent aff fur giein’ Franz Beckenbaur, another famous fella playin’ fur New York at the time, a bang in the pus fur lookin’ at iz a wee bit funny. That’s another story, like. Still managed tae swap taps wi’ Pele at the end though. Bonnie strip wi’ PELE and the number 9 on the back. Eh’ve got it up on the wa’ at hame. Pele’s probably done the same wi’ meh JOCKY number 1 tap at his hoose in Brazil.’

Amazing. One of the old boys raised a glass. ‘Here’s to ye, big Jock. Yi’re some boy.’

‘Ken eh am, pal, ken eh am. Cheers!’

We drank on until just after 2pm. Jocky stood up and gathered the troops through the megaphone. ‘Right lads, time tae head tae the match. On the way oot eh hope yiz’ll put a wee contribution in the clubbie fund box beh the door. These fowk huv been braw hosts. Bunch o’ Weegie cunts in many ways, but fuckin’ sound nane the less. Here’s tae thum!’

He raised a glass, downed it and headed towards the door, shaking many hands and giving lots of thanks along the way. He was indeed some boy.

It was time to go to Hampden.

—————————–

The streets around the national stadium were awash with excitement and anticipation. Our group, topless, moustachioed and wearing jetpacks, seemed somewhat conspicuous compared to the fans of both teams who surrounded us. People were in good spirits, though, and didn’t seem to bother with us. As we marched on to Hampden I noticed Maros had put Billy up on his shoulders and that Billy was waving a flag of both the finalists. He was a great mascot for the occasion, which seemed so much friendlier and family-orientated than one that featured the loathsome Old Firm. Jocky was in his element. He swaggered up the road sipping a tin of Special. When a drunken Arab recognised him, Jocky passed him the tin and walked up the road with his arm round the guys shoulder like they were long-lost brothers. He shook hands and traded banter with dozens of them until we stood in the shadow of the ground. He gestured for us to gather close and started dishing out tickets. We handed them back to one and other until everyone was sorted. I noticed Jocky had two in his hand.

‘Got a spare, boss?’

‘Nah pal, Jocky needs twa tickets.’

‘….erm…how come?’

A devilish glint came to his eye, and he replied, ‘because eh’m awa’ tae sit in the United end and cause bather, cunto!’

The sinking feeling that had prevailed throughout the season washed over me. I had hoped his quest to cause some kind of trouble had left his system after raiding the United bus, but it wasn’t to be.

‘Meh plan is tae pop in the United end and unfurl a few flags that eh made especially fur the occasion. Once the flags are up gettin’ passed overhead among the Arabs eh’ll mak’ meh way intae the County end tae join you lads. Nae bather!’

One of his men came forward with the holdall I’d seen him sorting out earlier in the day. It hadn’t clicked at the time, but the holdall contained homemade flags. He grabbed hold of it and started heading off towards the United end. He turned and shouted back to me. ‘Here, Leigh! Get Jocky some munchies, eh? If there’s nae Jon Bon’s, a peh’ll dae the damage. Mibbe one o’ they teckle balti things they dae at Dens! Cheery!’ On that note he disappeared into the throng.

We joined the queue at one of the gates to get in the County end. The police were most interested in us. We were all searched and had to persuade them jetpacks weren’t weapons of any sort. Eventually we all filed in and wandered along the concourse to the refreshment kiosk. We loaded up on pies (there were no “Jon Bon’s” to be had) and made our way to our seats.

As I came to the top of the aisle that lead down into the stand I paused for a moment to take in the view. Hampden Park is a wonderful arena. There can be no finer sight in Scottish football than that of our national stadium on a big occasion. The ground was alive with noise and colour. We were among the County fans who were understandably having the time of their lives on the biggest day in the history of their club. On the other side of the ground lay a heaving sea of tangerine. United’s colours are nothing short of bogging, but they were certainly eye-catching, and those who wore them wouldn’t be getting lost if a fog should it happen to descend on us. All around the ground there were flags and scarves being waved, songs being sung, and smiles beaming off the faces of all and sundry. Regardless of what team you were affiliated with, it was a fantastic sight to behold. It was the magic of the cup in full effect.

We figured out where we were sitting and got comfy. As we sat munching pies and enjoying the atmosphere I sat looking round the United end of the ground. Jocky was in there somewhere. My eyes strained to find him. I scanned the mass of tangerine, my eyes drifting from one end of their section to the other looking for him or the flags that he’d brought. One could only assume his flags would stand out from the rest. As the minutes ticked by and kick off approached I started to worry about him. Did he get in the ground? Had the Arabs turned on him? They were pretty friendly outside on the way to the ground, but he was still a Dundee man and therefore an enemy of sorts. Shit, he might have bitten off more than he could chew here. The crazy old bugger might….

Wait. Hold the boat. Was I seeing that right? I was. I sat with my head in my hands for a few moments then looked back across at the United support. A big white sheet with the words ‘HIYA LADS! HIYA! CHECK OOT JOCKY’S FLAG!’ painted in three-foot-high black letters was making its way across the sea of tangerine behind the goal on the far side of the ground. Jocky had infiltrated the United support and had got them to pass his flag out over their heads. The rest of our number spotted it and started cheering. I looked around at their faces and saw pride and amusement. I couldn’t help but laugh myself.

Another flag came up. ‘FAIRMUIR ON TOUR YA BAS. EH LIKE THE POPE, THE POPE SMOKES DOPE. DRINKS SPECIAL, TAE’ Good grief. I started wondering how many flags he had and the messages they would put across. His saving grace was the fact the United fans passing them overhead wouldn’t know what they said, but other Arabs sitting in different parts of the ground, along with the whole County support, and, should the TV cameras allow it, the audience watching on television at home, would see them in all their glory.

As ‘WEE JUM’S A SMELLY BASTARD. THAT’S YOU TELT, CUNTO’ started making it’s way over the United support I started wondering how this would end. There was about two minutes to kick off, and he still had to get himself from one end of the ground to the other in one piece. I remembered that he had a ticket for this end of the ground and breathed a sigh of relief. He would simply leave the United end and walk around to the County side of the ground. Easy.

I burst out laughing as a flag with ‘GOODWILLIE LOVES THE BOABY. COCKS, LIKE, NO’ BRANNAN’ appeared. Poor David. I could only imagine the confusion that one would cause if he saw it.

‘BILLY CAN SEE JOCKY! JOCKY’S COMING TO SEE US!’, cried Billy Dodds. My eyes quickly followed the direction he was pointing in.

Over the course of the past season I really should’ve become used to Jocky and his crazy ways. But time after time, week after week, he raised the bar on what you and I might call normal behaviour. No man has ever made my jaw drop with such stunning regularity.

For some reason Jocky had dismissed the ticket that would allow him to walk into the Ross County end. Why bother walking all the way around Hampden to your seat when you could simply fly across using your jetpack?

He hovered about 20 feet above the United support, zooming above their heads towards us. As they looked up to see this incredible, mind-buckling sight the teams emerged from the tunnel. He’d timed it beautifully. A huge roar went up around the ground and the focus quickly switched to the finalists entering the arena. Regardless of the entrance of the teams my eyes were locked on Jocky. He hovered nonchalantly towards us and made his landing in the seat next to me. As he touched down my eyes darted around expecting to see the police and stewards rushing towards him. But they were nowhere to be seen. Somehow he had got away with flying across the ground. Thousands of people must have seen him. Surely this would provoke a sterner reaction. Apparently he was getting away with it though, as no-one challenged him. The arrival of the teams diverting focus at the crucial moment must have saved him. He landed in the seat next to me, and I asked why he hadn’t used his ticket.

‘Bit short on time like, pal. Could nae be ersed walkin’ a’ the way aroond here when eh could just fly Air Jocky straight here. Anyway, whaur’s meh stovies, cunto? Jocky’s stervin’!’

I was too stunned to answer.

‘Nae stovies? Is that peh fur me, Leigh? Braw!’

He took the pie that I’d been holding all this time and started chowing down on it. The teams were out on the pitch and were making their way towards their respective ends of the ground, applauding the fans as they went. Jocky wolfed his pie down and spat most of it out as he spoke to me.

‘By Christ, Leigh, eh hud a braw time over in the Arab end! Eh got tae meh seat and some Arab fella says tae me, “Here chief, are you Jocky Scott?” Eh says tae the boy, “Hiya cunto, hiya pal! Nail on the heid, big aine. Jocky’s in the hoose! Wha’s in cherge here?” The boy telt a’ his mates tae look and see auld Jock. Eh pulled meh trackies doon and got the beanbag oot, says tae the Arabs, “Jocky Scott c’mon and rock the Sureshot!” Bit o’ Beastie Boys, likes. The Arabs thought it wiz teckle tae see iz and meh beanbag. Cannae blame them, likes. You ken the score, Leigh.’

He dropped his trackie bottoms and started swinging his balls about. ‘Yi’ cannae blame them fur takin’ a shine tae these bad boys, eh Leigh?’ He grabbed my hand and pulled it down on to his testes, holding it in place on them.

‘Mind yi’ phoned the Cock Lover Hotline, Leigh? Ya cunt, this is much worse!’

Horrified, I quickly pulled my hand back off his balls. Jocky nearly collapsed with laughter.

‘FUUUUUUUCKING YAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!! Leigh touched meh ba’bag!! Did a’body see that?! THUNDERCATS – HOOOOOOOO!!’

He actually fell over as he convulsed with laughter. Bastard. He got me big time. He rolled around the concrete floor between the rows of seats. Fuck fuck fuck. I started wiping my hand against my own trackie bottoms. This made Jocky laugh even harder.

‘OH YA FUCKER! OH YA CUNT! LEIGH’S TRYIN’ TAE WIPE “LE ESSENCE DE BALLBAG” AFF HIS HAND! FUCKING YAAAAAASSSSSSSS!!!’

I stood bemused and silent. Jocky eventually got it together and stood up. His cheeks were wet with tears, and he put an arm around me as he tried to console me.

‘Jocky’s just kidding, pal………OH YA FUCKER! YAAAAASSSS! Eh’m sorry pal….fucking BELTER!…..’

Suddenly he turned to the United support with his arms aloft and bellowed, ‘WALKIN’ DOWN THE PROVIE ROAD! TAE KICK FUCK OOT UNITED!’

His men joined him, bursting into song. Jocky sang his heart out. The game was about to kick off, and the place was at boiling point. A wave of sound broke across the stadium as the United and County fans urged their teams to get stuck in and give it their all on this, the biggest game of the season, and perhaps even their footballing lives. Jocky was paying little attention to the occasion at hand and stood facing the United fans with his arms stretched out in the classic ‘come ahead!’ pose, singing a a succession of Dundee songs.

He was relentless throughout the first half. While the game was fairly uneventful, Jocky barely paused for breath as he sang song after song and berated the United support mercilessly. After about half an hour he finally sat back down. No sooner had he fallen silent, there was a commotion in the United end as their fans paid tribute to their Irish striker, Jon Daly, by singing Put Your Hands Up For Jon Daly, a modified version of Fedde le Grande’s cheesy dancefloor hit that included the name of the big lump spearing United’s attack. We were treated to the sight of nigh-on 30,000 people putting their hands up and bouncing around on the spot. They were having a great time and making quite a spectacle.

Jocky looked across at them with a puzzled look on his face, not quite grasping what was going on. He looked at me and jabbed a thumb towards the Arabs, shrugging his shoulders. He watched them a little longer, and I noticed his head was starting to nod back and forth and his foot was tapping. He looked at me again and motioned towards the United fans, but this time there was smile on his face. Seconds later he couldn’t resist it any longer and was up dancing with them. He sang along and put his hands up enthusiastically, totally lost in the moment and having a rare old time to himself. As the song died down he sat back and caught his breath.

‘Tell yi’ what, maist United sangs are a load ay shite, but that wiz a good aine! Nae idea why they’re singin’ aboot an alcoholic golfer, likes, but it wiz fuckin’ teckle!’

I saw the wheels in his head turning, and a big grin spread across his face. Suddenly he jumped up, and for the third time since arriving at Hampden, pulled his trackie bottoms down. He started mimicing the Jon Daley dance and started singing his own version.

‘Get yir ba’s oot! Get yir ba’s oot fur big Jocky!’ He turned to the group and yelled, ‘join in a’body! Ba’s oot fur big Jocky, woot woot!’

Everyone followed his lead but me. Was I the only one who questioned the madness around here? Apparently so. All of a sudden there was bouncing ball-sacks everywhere, and none more bouncy than Jocky’s. Actually, scratch that. Billy Dodds, who claimed only a few weeks previously that his nuts hadn’t dropped yet, had a massive scrotum that swung down around his knees. Jocky saw it and shouted, ‘by Christ, check oot Billy’s beanbag! Ya cunt, it’s bigger than McLean’s heid and twice as hairy! Yas!’ Billy, who was bouncing with all the panache of a man who lives in a bouncy castle, cried, ‘BILLY’S REACHED PUBERTY! THAT’S WHAT EH’M TALKIN’ ABOOT!’

I left my balls where they were and tried to focus on the game.

——————-

Half time came. It had been a tight game thus far. There wasn’t much in it. We sat chatting among ourselves. Billy was still doing the Jon Daly dance and didn’t look as if he was going to stop anytime soon. Jocky has brought his ouija board with him and was consulting the spirit world on the day’s pressing matter.

‘Are yi’ there, Granny? Say hiya if yi’re there.’ The piece of pie crust he was using as a conduit to the Other Side quickly spelled out ‘HIYA JOCKY, HIYA PAL’ Jocky replied in kind. ‘Hiya Granny, hiya pal! How are yi’ keeping?’ The board replied, ‘BUNIONS PLAYING UP, BUT OTHER THAN THAT, TECKLE’ Jocky nodded in approval. ‘Glad tae hear it granny, that’s braw. Question fur yi’ cunto – wha’s gonnae win the match here?’ The pie crust zoomed back and forth across the board angrily. ‘EH’LL GIVE YOU CUNTO YOU CHEEKY WEE BASTARD. ENOUGH OF YOUR LIP.’ Jocky apologised profusely, but turned to me and chuckled quietly. ‘Granny’s some dame. Lived tae 127 year auld before she died on the too-ra-loo squeezin’ oot a big turd. Same as Elvis! Granny has let the building! Yas!’

The crust started moving again. Jocky followed it’s path and looked crestfallen. This didn’t look good.

‘What’s the verdict, boss?’

He ate the pie crust and sighed. ‘Disnae look too hot, pal. Granny reckons United are winning it. She’s been wrang before like, but no’ very often.’

‘What has she got wrong in the past?’

‘She telt me Sinn Fein would win the General Election. Jocky had his balaclava looked oot and a’hing, but that gig ended up wi’ a hung parliament and thon Tory cunt in cherge o’ Downing Street. Shame like, would’ve been interesting tae hear the IRA’s thoughts on the economic downturn.’

The teams emerged for the second half. Jocky was much more subdued and watched the game intently. On the hour mark, his worst fears were realised when David Goodwillie brilliantly lobbed the County ‘keeper to put United one up. The United support went wild. Jocky turned to me and shook his head sadly.

‘Some finish. Boy disnae hae a shed, but he kens whaur the goal is. Cunt.’

I nodded in agreement but remained silent. The County fans and our group were suddenly deflated. United were now on top and in command. When Craig Conway made it two a short while later it was all but over. Jocky remained silent, shaking his head slowly and muttering about Raith Rovers. He got up and made an announcement.

‘Right lads, fuck this. Nae point hingin’ aboot, the gemme’s finished. Fucking sure eh dinnae want tae watch United lift the trophy, and unless meh beak deceives iz, Jum’s drapped the bomb and this place will be fucking stinking tae high heaven shortly. Time tae hit the road.’

He lead the way into the aisle and walked up towards the exit. As he reached the top of the stairs he stopped and turned to the United fans to give them one last wide-o stance and a raised middle finger before leaving.

The roar that followed United’s third goal was drowned out by our jetpacks as we took flight and headed home.

——————–

Footballing rivalry in Dundee is fairly unique. It holds none of the bitter sectarian connotations that are so prevalent in Glasgow, and to a lesser extent, Edinburgh. My time in the city had been short, and I hadn’t experienced the derby match, but I knew the United fans genuinely wanted Dundee back in the SPL so the biggest and best match of the season for both sets of fans could take place again. I also knew that many Dundee fans were pleased to see their rivals get to the cup final because it was “good for the city” and were sincere in wishing them all the best on such occasions.

I remember reading former Dee and Italian superstar Fabrizio Ravenelli’s take on his first Dundee derby at Tannadice. On hearing that the team would walk the short distance from Dens to Tannadice before the game he was incredulous at the prospect, believing that they would be ripped limb-from-limb by the rival fans. When the team headed down Sandeman Street he was stunned by the fact both sets of supporters mingled freely and without the slightest hint of trouble, and that as many Arabs as Dees asked him for autographs and offered their best wishes for the game ahead. That kind of thing would be simply unthinkable in the derby towns he’d played in, and probably in most others around the world.

That said, rivalry is rivalry, and the success of your opposite number is a bitter pill to swallow. I have no doubts that United’s cup win placed the Dundee support in a sombre mood, particularly when we had let them down and would be playing in the second tier of Scottish football again next season.

Darkness was falling as I sat in Jocky’s hut at the Perthshire compound. He’d been unusually quiet since we got back. Remembering bumping into Jim McLean earlier in the day, I asked if he fancied going to the Fairmuir for a couple of pints. He sighed and visibly sagged.

‘Dinnae ken, pal. Cannae really be bathered seein’ the Arabs giein’ it laldy. Eh dinnae grudge them it, but it’s a bit o’ fuckin’ nightmare, ken?’

I knew exactly what he meant, but I encouraged him to come along anyway. ‘The Pope will be pleased to see you. Maybe we can have a game of darts.’

He brightened up at the thought. ‘Aye, that would be a’right, like. No’ seen the Pope fur a wee while, and darts is fuckin’ teckle! A’body kens that.’ He sighed again and thought about it for a minute. Eventually, he straightened up. ‘Fuck it, pal. Be as well gettin’ it over and done wi’. Let’s go and see what the score is at the Fairmuir. If any cunt gets wide it’s punch in the pus time though, fuckin’ right.’

We got ourselves ready. I went to see if Billy wanted to join us, but he was still doing the Hands Up dance and declined. Jocky and I took flight and headed back to Dundee.

—————————–

We landed in the street next to Jim McLean’s helicopter and approached the door. The two old boys I’d met weeks ago there and were pleased to see us both and waved us through. The place was a hive of celebratory activity. We walked into the main function suite to find the party in full swing. There was a lot of United fans decked out in tangerine, and the dancefloor was packed as a clubbie band played United anthem Love is in the Air. Jim McLean was right in the heart of it giving it big licks, but when he spotted us he waved and made his way towards us. Jocky looked tense and stared him down. McLean saw the look on his face and slowed to a halt. The two legends eyeballed each other. McLean looked worried. Jocky looked like he was ready to have a square go. After a few unbearable moments he took a deep breath, smiled and nodded. He opened up his arms and gestured for McLean to embrace him. McLean grinned and did just that.

‘Good on yiz, wee Jum. Jocky’s pleased fur yi’. Congratulations, cunto!’

‘Cheers pal. It was some day. I’m glad you came out. Get yourselves a pint, they’re on me.’

‘Ooft! Wee Jum’s gettin’ a round up! You huvnae bought a drink since 1983, and even then it was just a half lager shandy!’

McLean laughed and headed back to the dancefloor. I found a couple of seats as Jocky got the Special in. When he returned we sat soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying the sight of McLean leading a conga round the dancefloor.

‘Well Leigh, that’s the season finished. Been a mad one, eh?’

I thought back to everything that had gone on both on and off the park since I’d arrived at Dundee. It had indeed been a mad one. Madder than anything I could have ever imagine was possible. If I was to wake up in my portaloo on Leith Walk and realise it had all been a dream I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest.

As Jocky pulled his trackies off and joined the end of the conga, naked and shouting at the clubbie band to play some Beastie Boys, I smiled to myself and wondered where it would go from here. After everything that had happened, nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, would surprise me. Roll on whatever came next in this crazy world I lived in.

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