The life of a footballer is often transient. You become settled in one place then all of a sudden you move on and have to start all over again. A new team in a new location meant you had to start a new life. It’s nothing I’d ever complain too much about because it’s a small sacrifice to make for the inflated wages we earn and the lifestyle we lead. But it’s still hard, especially when you like playing for the team you’re with and enjoy living in the place you’re based, and more so when you feel like there’s unfinished business to be taken care of and circumstances beyond your control dictate that you have to walk away from it all. Such were my feelings about leaving Dundee.
Jocky was right when he had said it was for the greater good. The club desperately needed the money my transfer would bring in. It would play a big part in helping the club survive. Yet still I felt aggrieved at having to go when the job I came to help do was far from complete. It speaks volumes about how I felt about the club, its supporters and the city of Dundee in general. I like it in Dundee, and the fact my days at Dens were numbered hung heavy on my heart.
As the January transfer window loomed I became a transfer target. Clubs started making tentative inquiries about signing me. Thankfully my agent was on hand to take calls on my behalf.
‘Hearts? Are you fucking daft, cunto? Leigh supports Hibs, ya mad vagina! There’s mair chance o’ Jock Stein risin’ fae the dead and tellin’ a’cunt he kent but wisnae really bathered ‘cause that wee laddie wiz askin’ fur it wearin’ a wee skirt like that. Fucking Hearts? Good aine! Albert fucking Kidd ya bas! Yas!’
I had no problem with him getting the Jambos telt, or anyone else for that matter. I knew that the interested parties were getting in touch with people at Dens as well as talking to Jocky, so I wasn’t perplexed by his abrasive negotiation technique. Just as well, really.
‘Delilah? The burd fae the Tam Jones tune? Fucking yas! Eh didnae ken yi’ ran the show at Norwich City, pal, that’s fuckin’ teckle! Soooo before! McLean takes a shite at yir door! Forgive him Delilah, he just couldnae hud it no more. Sakes, Wee Jum.’
I wasn’t hugely inspired by any of the clubs who showed interest. The only Scottish team I would’ve signed for was Hibs, and they weren’t in a position to make an offer. Heading down south was looking like the better option both as a career move and financial reward.
I sat tight and kept my fingers crossed that the right club would make a move.
As speculation about my future mounted it was business as usual on the park. I had hit a rich vein of form, playing well and scoring goals. The club had caught a financial break when they’d been drawn against Motherwell in the Scottish Cup, and another still when Sky announced they would televise the game. It was a welcome cash injection.
The game was thrown into doubt when the winter weather took a turn for the worse the night before the game. Scores of volunteers worked through the night to get the game on, and they succeeded. Apparently Jocky had arrived at 3am straight from the Fairmuir and spent the night hovering inches above the ground in the lotus position so that the heat from his jetpack would melt the snow.
Unfortunately the team couldn’t muster a performance to match the sterling efforts of those who’d worked so hard to ensure the game went ahead. Two Motherwell goals at the start of each half pretty much killed us off. By the end we were four down. Frustration saw me launch a terrible tackle on a Motherwell player and I was deservedly sent off. As I trudged up the tunnel to the dressing room I hoped it wouldn’t be my final act as a Dundee player.
I was surprised to find Jocky and a well-dressed gent in the dressing room. I went to say hello but Jocky cut me short.
‘Hiya pal! Hud yer wheesht a minute, me and cunto here are just feenishin’ a gemme o’ pitchie.’
The guy in the suit said hello and turned back to the game they were playing. He sounded English. Jocky watched him intently as the guy balanced a 10p piece on top of his thumb and flicked it at the far wall. The coin bounced against the wall, spun round in a semi-circle then came to rest a couple of inches from where it had rebounded.
‘Good shot, pal! Yi’ picked pitchie up nae bather, eh? Eh’ll hae ti’ play the kind o’ shot that won iz the bronze medal at the Olympics in ’84 ti’ beat yi’ here. It’s nae bather.’
Jocky took the English guy’s position and prepared to flick his coin. The aim of the game seemed to be to hit the wall and leave the coin sitting as close to it as possible. Jocky weighed up his shot then flicked the coin towards the wall. It clipped it and dropped no less than a millimeter away.
‘FUCKING YAAAAAS! THAT’S THE KIND O’ SHOT THAT WON BIG JOCKY BRONZE, YA CUNT! THAT’S WHAT EH’M TALKIN’ ABOOT!’
He made me and the Englishman inspect just how good his shot was. The three of us crouched down and admired the barely discernable distance between the coin and the wall.
‘Good, eh? Maist cunts thought the ’84 Olympic were fucked when the Russians boycotted it. Maist cunts didnae realize eh wiz gonnae be there playin’ pitchie. Probably would o’ won gold if eh hudnae been up a’ night lettin’ Tessa Sanderson throw meh javlin.’
The Englishman congratulated Jocky and turned to me.
‘Leigh, it’s a pleasure to meet you. I represent Wolverhampton Wanderers. How would you feel about signing for an English Premiership club?’
My heart did a summersault. I looked to Jocky who was still squatting over his winning pitchie coin. He was lost in a daydream, mumbling, ‘Hiya Tessa, hiya pal! Fuckin’ right eh’ve pumped black burds before. Eskimos tae!’ I coughed to get his attention and he snapped out of it.
‘Huv yi’ met cunto fae Wolves, Leigh? Boy wants ti’ sign yi’! Ooft!’
Ooft indeed. I drifted off into a daydream of my own as the guy gave me a brief overview of the terms on offer and told me Mick McCarthy would be up to see me in the next week or so to finalise the deal.
The Premiership. I’d be playing at Old Trafford, Annfield and Stamford Bridge. I’d be sharing a pitch with Rooney, Torres and Lampard to name but a few. A childhood dream was about to come true.
I went through the following week in a happy daze. The only down point was realising I wouldn’t get to play against Dunfermline at the weekend. Getting myself sent off against Motherwell was to be the last thing I’d do as a Dundee player. It took the shine off my good mood.
In light of not playing Jocky invited me to join him and his Fairmuir pals in the Dundee support heading to Fife for the game. While it would be weird watching the match instead of participating in it, I accepted the invite. It would probably be emotional as well as a lot of fun, but I was keen to be present in whichever way I could.
Our transport for the day was, in true Fairmuir style, unconventional. The Graham Street football pitches that were mere minutes from the Fairmuir had several hot air balloons lined up on them. Each fully inflated balloon was shaped like the head of a familiar face: there was one based on Jocky, McLean, the Pope, and for some reason, Mr Belding from Saved by the Bell. The baskets in which passengers travelled were decked out in Dundee flags bearing slogans such as “DERRY RHUMBA”, “FAIRMUIR ON TOUR YA BAS” and “Hey, hey, hey, WHAT is going on here?”
‘Check oot the balloons, Leigh! Got them aff thon pickle cunt when eh switched fae BT ti’ Virgin. Wee incentive ti’ sweeten the deal, like. Eh says, “Branson, wha’s in cherge here? BT are offerin’ iz ten minutes in a locked room wi’ that thundercunt fae their TV adverts. Care ti’ mak’ a counter offer?” Efter a bit o’ wheelin’ and dealin’ we eventually settled on the heid-shaped balloons. Good, eh?’
I shrugged and agreed they were before asking why he’d gone with Mr Belding.
‘Wee Jocky wiz watchin’ Saved beh the Bell when eh wiz negotiatin’ wi’ Branson. Cunt put iz on the spot a wee bit askin’ which heids eh wanted ballooned right up. The first three came easy enough but eh wiz strugglin’ fur a fourth. Belding wiz on the TV getting’ Zack telt fur raping Screech so eh just says him. The boy’s catchphrase isnae bad, like! Ow, ow, ow, WHA’S in fuckin’ cherge here?’
With a fair degree of trepidation I boarded the Jocky balloon. McLean and Tam were commandeering the balloons in their own likeness, and Joe the wrestling referee took charge of Mr Belding. The Fairmuir regulars piled on board decked out in Dundee tops and scarves, carrying plastic bags filled with enough booze to last the week, never mind the short flight over to Dunfermline. The ropes securing the balloons were untied and the Fairmuir took to the skies.
I stood looking over the side of the basket and chatted away to my fellow passengers. As we rapidly gained height Jocky kept himself busy securing a skewer loaded with lorne sausage above the flame that filled the balloon with hot air.
As we climbed up to a couple of thousand feet above the city the view became spectacular. I could see for miles around. Satisfied that the lorne sausage was cooking away nicely, Jocky joined me and started up the first song of the day.
‘If eh hud the wings o’ an eagle! If eh hud the erse of a crow. Eh’d fly over Tannadice tomorrow, and shite on the bastards below, below!’
Everyone joined in and sang, ‘Shite on! Shite on! Shite on the bastards below, below! Shite on! Shite on! Shite on the bastards below!’ As a blue-rinse-haired woman of about 85 launched into, ‘Oh you never won a derby Ian McColl’, Jocky continued mumbling, ‘shite on the bastards below, below’, to himself. Stroking his ‘tache, he peered over the side of the basket and grinned. He was looking somewhat mischievous.
‘Boss, what are you up to?’
He responded by whipping off his trackie bottoms and jumping up to balance precariously on the edge of the basket, his arse perched over the side. I looked down and saw that we’d floated over the home of our local rivals. Tannadice was directly below. As I thought the worst a fart blared out his arse.
‘It’s no’ every day yi’ get the chance tae shite on Tannadice, Leigh! Last time eh done this wiz when Pat Linney took iz oot fur a wee shot in his Spitfire. Check this oot!’
Another ripper of a fart signaled the emergence of shit from his arsehole. I turned away with a bad case of the dry heaves as it snaked out and dropped towards its tangerine target like a brown bomb.
As everyone present burst into rapturous laughter and quickly moved to see the shite make its way towards Tannadice, the weight in the basket shifted dramatically, tipping it dangerously to one side. Jocky flapped his arms wildly as he lost his balance. I cried out a warning and grabbed his hand as he started falling backwards. Unfortunately I didn’t have the strength to provide the anchor needed to pull him back in. As he tumbled back I simply went with him, his weight taking me over the side. As I went over Jocky was grabbed by other people in the basket, preventing him from falling. I lost my grip of his hand, and all of a sudden I was tumbling through the air on my way to a grisly demise.
It’s a strange thing, falling from a great height. There’s a sensory overload as the mind realises the body has been placed in an extreme emergency situation. Adrenaline surges through every inch of your being, closely followed by terror when the ground starts rushing towards you and the grim realisation that there can only be one winner in the fight against gravity crashes home. Yet as tears stream from your eyes, your scream is silenced against the on-rushing wind and limbs swim helplessly in thin air there is a certain thrill lurking in the background as an overwhelming experience that will be followed be certain death registers both mentally and physically. You will never feel so free as when you stare death in the face.
My body jolted as a great impact hit me from behind.
‘Hiya Bodhi! Hiya pal! Nae cunt robs banks on Jocky Utah’s shift, ya surfer cunt! Point fuckin’ Break!’
Jocky had joined me so we could face doom together. He wrapped his arms round me as we plunged ever closer to the ground. I was too busy screaming to let the enormity of the gesture sink in properly. As Jocky unleashed a final, glorious, ‘YAAAAAAAAS!’ there was nothing left to do but d…
A squawk rang out as we were suddenly wrenched out of freefall. It took a few moments to come to terms with the fact we’d somehow been pulled from death’s clutches. I dangled by the collar of my jacket like a cat being held by the scruff of its neck and wondered what the hell had just happened. Jocky was being held parallel to me in the same fashion. We were placed on solid ground in a gentle fashion that seemed impossible but a few seconds ago. I collapsed in a heap on the grass on which we’d landed. Somehow, mercifully, I was still alive.
I rolled over and looked up at my saviour. I nearly choked as a man with the wings of an eagle stood over me, smiling. They spread some 15 feet wide, curled at the tips a little then enclosed behind his back. I’d have been forgiven for thinking it was an angel.
‘How do Leigh lad! What the fook are you doing jumping out of a hot air balloon? You’re of no use to me dead, lad.’
It was no angel. It was Mick McCarthy.
‘Fuck sake you, whaur did yi’ get thon teckle wings? Argos? What Every Cunt Wants?’
My old manager greeted my new manager with a handshake before walking behind him to inspect his method of flight. He poked and stroked his feathered wings like a man thinking of upgrading his jetpack.
‘I was born with ‘em, lad. It’s not uncommon in Yorkshire.’
McCarthy had a comical bird of prey look about him. His nose, eyebrows and sloping brow were very eagle-like. That said, I had no idea he was some actual half-man,
half-bird cross-breed. He offered his hand, but as I went to take it he pulled it away with a look of disgust on his crazy eagle face. I looked at my hand and saw it was covered in shit.
‘Yaaaaaas! That’s meh shite! Calm the ham, Leigh, ya shitey-handed cunt.’
I frantically wiped it on the grass. I looked around at our surroundings and realised we’d landed in Tannadice. Jocky wandered over towards the East Stand, the part of the ground that housed United’s singing support. He pulled his trackie bottoms down to his ankles and stood with his arms outstretched, goading the empty seats.
‘Your pal there’s a bit of a character!’
I agreed with the winged footballing personality of some note. He most certainly was a character. McCarthy took me over to the dugout. As Jocky sang ‘One team in Dundee’ at the top of his voice I agreed personal terms with my new manager and signed a contract that made me a Wolverhampton Wanderers player. As we shook hands to celebrate the deal a shout came from the tunnel. A couple of official looking blokes were running after Jocky, who was just finishing off taking a follow up shite on the penalty spot. He pulled his breeks up and ran back towards us.
‘Mick ya avian Davie Dodds cunt, prepare fur fuckin’ take off!’
McCarthy laughed, took me in one hand and flew towards Jocky. He scooped him up and took off out the ground.
‘Eh like yir new manager, Leigh! Boy’s a fuckin’ eagle! Teckle!’
I supposed it was teckle. As Mick squawked away happily I noted that of the three clubs I’d played for professionally thus far in my career, two had featured managers who spent a good portion of their time airborne. With any luck I would one day discover that Alex Ferguson had a handglider.
We didn’t make it to Dunfermline. Jocky and I took Mick to the Fairmuir and spent the day drinking Special. There was a lot of football talk, mince rolls and a battle of the flying managers. Jocky retrieved his jetpack and won the race along Strathmartine Road by a cock, which he had primed and ready to go in case of a close finish. Mick’s beak was big but it wasn’t that big.
It transpired that none of the Fairmuir away trip balloons made it to the game; the Jocky balloon made it as far as the Tay before the lifeboat rescue had to come and pluck them from a sandbank, Tam’s vessel was brought down by spear-throwing Fifers who thought aliens were invading, McLean was shot down by a Tornado fighter jet after purposefully flying over RAF Leuchars and hurling grenades, and the Mr Belding balloon was last seen drifting out over the North Sea. Hopefully the search party finds them safe and well.
Darkness had long since fallen when we bid farewell to Mick and jumped in a taxi back to Jocky’s. As we drew closer to the house a pall of dark smoke became prominent in the near-distance.
‘Looks like some daft cunt burned the stovies. It’s a fuckin’ sin, like.’
As we turned on to Jocky’s street we realised the fire was close to home. When he suddenly sat bolt upright and peered ahead between the driver and passenger seat his anxiety spoke volumes about just how close it really was.
The taxi pulled up and we found Jocky’s house fully ablaze. Flames and smoke belched out broken windows. A look of shock was etched into Jocky’s face. We looked out the taxi window, stunned at the sight before us. He gasped and his body tightened further still.
Oh fuck. He was out the taxi in a flash, charging up the garden path to his burning home. The cab driver was already dialing 999 as I jumped out shouting concern about entering the house. Thankfully Jocky didn’t have to go in to save his beloved pet. The front door burst open, and through a plume of smoke emerged the flying cat. He was moving slowly as he dragged a coughing and spluttering Soapy Soutar along behind him. We grabbed Soapy and helped pull him to safety.
‘Fuck sake! Meh hoose! Meh hoose! Meh hoose is on fire! We dinnae need nae water let the motherfucker burn! Actually, scrap that: some cunt get loads o’ fuckin’ water! Pronto, cunto!’
We stood looking on. It was an utterly shocking sight. The stunned silence was broken by Wee Jocky.
It sounded distinctly like he’d just remembered something, a notion confirmed when he immediately zoomed back in the house. Jocky tried to follow but I grabbed hold of him.
‘Boss, no! It’s too dangerous! Wee Jocky’ll be alright!’
It killed me to see my pal stricken by panic and fear. I put an arm round his shoulders and pulled him in close as he made mumbling pleas to his Granny to keep an eye on Wee Jocky and get him back out alive. I was on the verge of charging in after him myself when a naked, shrieking man erupted out the front door. Holy fuck, it was….
‘Ya cunt, there goes Darren Jackson! See yi’ efter pal! Cheers fur comin’ roond!’
My former agent didn’t stop. I’d never seen a man move quite so fast. He roared out the garden, down the street and out of sight. What. The. Fuck. Wee Jocky flew back out and almost shrugged as I looked at him in disbelief.
Two fire engines screeched to a halt and the crew leapt into action. They ushered us away from the burning house. The four of us took a seat on the grass and looked on in silence as the fire fighters went about their work. Jocky gathered himself.
‘Fuck sake, man. This is well less than teckle, but at least a’ cunt’s a’right.’
He picked his cat up and cuddled it, put it down then did the same to Soapy, who told him he had no idea how it had started. He’d been on duty in the bathroom when he felt the heat slowly rising. When wisps of smoke started to creep under the door he’d charged out but been unable to face the blaze and resulting smoke. He gave the cat his second cuddle of the afternoon as he explained how he had saved his life by flying in out of nowhere to rescue him.
Jocky sat staring at the house. I could almost hear the wheels in his head spin round as he tried to figure out who could do such a thing. It appeared to come pretty quickly. With a rueful smile he whispered, ‘Teckledong’.
As if by reflex I immediately started to refute the accusation, searching for a more plausible answer.
‘Was that cauldron of stovies still cooking, boss? Maybe…’
The look of deep offense cut me short. No, Jocky knew how to handle cooking stovies.
‘Davie fuckin’ Teckledong.’
It seemed extreme for David to be responsible for such an action………..yet it made some sense. It made a lot of sense, when you thought about it.
We resumed sitting in silence and watched the firemen fight the inferno. As the flames that had turned his home into a smoking ruin were doused, the flames of anger deep within Jocky were stoked. Wherever he was and whatever he was doing, David Goodwillie would have been best advised to pack his bags and sign for a team as far away as possible. Though he was definitely due Jocky one back for the clotheslines and torched sheds, this was a step too far and was unlikely to end well for him.
The day finally came to an end at my teepee in Caird Park. Jocky could’ve called on any number of friends who could offer a more bricks-and-mortar-based place to stay until he figured out his next move, but when he asked if it was ok to spend the night at my place I couldn’t tell him it was no problem quickly enough. He was rattled. The anger at Goodwillie had subsided and given way to a subdued, reflective mood. He knew he had a bed somewhere if he really wanted it, so I was deeply touched and honoured to be the kind of friend he sought the company of in an hour of need, regardless of my inferior sleeping arrangements.
After a quick scrub of Jocky’s balls Soapy was given leave of absence to spend the night at a mate’s house. I made my guest – and his cat, of course – as welcome and comfy as possible. I managed to lift the mood by sticking some music on.
‘Fucking yas, Leigh! Bit o’ the B-Boys, eh? Teckle!’
I knew the words to loads of the Beastie Boys’ songs by this time. I started acting up for a laugh, rapping along to the words and giving it big licks with the hip hop hand gestures. Jocky loved this and started joining in, jumping in to add his voice to the last word of every line just as the Beastie Boys bust out their rhymes. Even
Wee Jocky got in on the act by dropping a “Miaow” now and then.
After going through our favourite songs we eventually called it a night. I lay on my side and shielded my eyes as Jocky went through his bedtime routine of brushing his teeth, reapplying more toothpaste to the brush and giving his light bulb-sized helmet a good going over, combing his ‘tache and finally praying to Bobby Cox in order to give thanks for leading Dundee to the championship back in the ‘60s.
‘Oor Faither, wha bides in Heaven, Boaby be thy name. Thy will be done in the Coxy as it is in the Derry. Gie us this day oor daily stovies, mibbe a couple o’ pehs tae, ‘cause pehs are fuckin’ teckle. Lead us not intae Tannadice, ‘cause a’cunt there gies aff heavy spaz vibes. For Dens is the kingdom, the power and the glory, Dundee fuckin’ Derry, ya bas.’
Wee Jocky lay spooning in against my torso and purred as I stroked the top of his head with my middle finger. Jocky did the same to me. He cuddled into the back of me, ruffled my hair for a while then yawned, ‘Night night, pal! Sleep tight, dinnae let meh cock bite. Ooft!’
As he immediately started snoring away in a deep sleep I became all too aware of the enormous, languid penis nestled against the back of my thighs. I said numerous prayers to Bobby Cox, God and anyone else who might be able to prevent Jocky having a dream that sexually stimulated him in any way whatsoever. As Jocky asked wha was in cherge in his sleep I visualised myself playing against some of the best teams in the world, smiled as I remembered it was going to become reality and drifted into the best nights sleep I’d had for a long time.
Satisfied that the first act of revenge had gone according to plan the unseen enemy chuckled quietly to himself. It began bubbling and building into a steady stream of laughter, gaining depth and volume until it reached the unmistakable deranged mirth of a man pushed too far. He wasn’t finished with Jocky Scott. Not by a long chalk. The next attack would come soon, and this time he would make it while face-to-face with his nemesis.