Season 2, Chapter 8: Time for Livin’

All good things must come to an end. It was time for me to move on, and while I would miss Dundee FC and all that surrounded it greatly, I left knowing I’d given my all, that the money from my transfer would go a long way towards keeping the club afloat, and that my goals and efforts as a player had played a part in the team standing up to be counted when it mattered. Undefeated in the league since administration and more resolute than ever before, I had a feeling in my bones that Dundee would not be relegated, go under, and that they would live to fight another day. I wished more than anything that I could have been part of a promotion winning team, but when fate plays its hand you have to make the best of it. I was proud of my time as a Dundee player.

I woke up in my Caird Park tepee for the last time. As I walked out into the brisk January morning I wondered how I’d get on in a luxury flat in Wolverhampton. It was a definite step up, accommodation-wise, yet somehow I’d really miss my Native American-style abode.

My last day in Dundee was set to be an emotional one. I had already said goodbye to the fans. They’d given me a wonderful, moving send off after a home win against Falkirk. I had a lump in my throat as I did a post-match lap of honour.

My final day in Dundee would start at Dens, where I would bid farewell to the players and staff. The evening would be spent at a fundraising night at the Fairmuir, where I would be seen off by the many friends I’d made there. It would be a day of heartfelt goodbyes. Parting really is such sweet sorrow.

——————————

Poor Rab. The big man pretty much crumbled the minute I laid eyes on him. After a final meeting with manager Barry Smith, a man who has done so much to revive the playing squad in the dark post-admin days, he took me to the dressing room to see the players. He made a wee speech, thanking me for my efforts as a Dundee player and wishing me every success for the future. He passed me a gift the players and staff had chipped in for. When I saw the security tag was still attached I chuckled, looked around the room and found Rab biting his lip and looking to the ceiling with wet eyes. As I went to thank him he burst into tears and scooped me up into his massive frame, hugging me to within and inch of my life and telling me if I ever needed anything – ANYTHING – he was more than happy to steal it for me. What a guy. I love Rab Douglas.

I went around the room for handshakes and hugs. I’d miss the boys at Dundee immensely. Gary Harkins: the hairiest genius turned dependable captain I’d had the pleasure of playing with; Craig Forsyth: a second generation Dee player who would go on to great things himself one day; Sean Higgins: my strike partner and owner of the finest collection of Nazi memorabilia this side of Archie Macpherson’s house. Good boys one and all. I told them it had been an honour and a privilege to play with them, and that I looked forward to one day returning to Dens to watch them playing an SPL fixture.

I walked out onto Sandeman Street with a tear in my eye. Taking a deep breath I steeled myself for more of the same later, because saying goodbye to the Fairmuir, and in particular their moustachioed Top Boy, was likely to be harder still.

—————————-

I pulled up outside the clubbie in a taxi to find the surrounding streets jam-packed. Scores of cars and an attack chopper took up every available space, and many vehicles were double-parked or ditched anywhere they could be. Pleasingly, Dundee’s fundraiser had drawn a big crowd. I got to the front door to find the usual two old jokers in place taking names and £1 entry fees. They were pleased to see me, and I them. After a quick exchange of banter I dropped in my pound coin and a fiver for the lads to get themselves a pint, which always went down well. They ushered me through to the main function suite, which was as busy as I’d ever seen it. I looked around the room smiling. This was Dundee right here; good, honest, friendly, working class people who were proud of their background and home town. If ever the term “salt of the earth” was an appropriate term to use it was right here in finest working men’s club in the city.

The Pope was in the queue for the bar. I went over to say hello.

‘Leigh! Good tae see yi’, pal! We kept yi’ a seat.’

He nodded towards a table where Jim McLean sat holding court. He caught my eye, gave me a thumbs up and patted a vacant seat by his side. I stuck a £20 note in the empty pint tumbler used to hold the kitty, added another +1 next to “Pint o’ Special” on the drinks list sticking to the tray used to transport drinks to and from the bar and went to join my pals. As I went I heard my name being called out from the other side of the room, where a table of Dundee players sat grinning and waving. As an unexpected bonus it seemed I’d get a final bevy with my now-former teammates.

I joined my table and got right in the swing of things with the good-natured ribbings and banter, and by the time Tam returned with a round of drinks an announcement was made over the PA.

‘Ladies and gentleman, please welcome your host for the evening: Biiiiiiiiiig Jocky!’

Snoop Doggy Dogg’s “Gin and Juice” burst out the speakers, and Jocky made his entrance.

I spat a mouthful of beer all over myself when I saw he was wearing what could only be described a pimp outfit – a full length purple fur coat, a matching hat with what looked like a seagull feather sticking out of it and his trackie bottoms. The trackies were less pimping than his coat and hat but at least he was actually wearing something to cover his nether regions.

He took a mic as he got up on the stage at the front of the room. As the music continued playing he waved a hand over his head from side-to-side, and encouraged us to do the same. The whole room waved in unison until the music faded out.

‘Eh’m laaaid back; wi’ meh mind on the stovies and the stovies on meh mind. Yas! Bit o’ Snoop Doag there, ken? Mind that time he turned up wi’ a’ his pals fae the Crisps? Fuckin’ shitey gang name!

The crowd, mostly of pensionable age, murmured as they recalled the night one of the most notorious gangs on the planet turned up. Tam shook his head dismissively, snorting, ‘Crips? Fuckin’ Mid rule ya fool. Those cunts wouldnae last 10 minutes in Dundee.’

Jocky removed his coat and hat before gathering our attention so he could continue.

‘Right a’body, hud yer wheesht. We’re gonnae hae the auction first, the proceeds o’ which – minus meh 10% fee – will go tae a’bodies favourite futba team, the biggest and best team in the toon, Dundee FC.’

A big cheer went up, drowning out McLean’s protesting voice.

‘Efter that there’s gonnae be a wee ceremony tae mark the occasion and we’ll finish the gig aff wi’ some live music. Eh’ll warn yi’ now: It’s likely tae be fuckin’ teckle!’

As we gave him a warm round of applause Jocky ushered a handful of folk up with the auction prizes. It was quite the collection of oddities, and included……no, it couldn’t possibly be……

‘Right folks, first up: A gemme o’ twa-touch wi’ Pele!’

The greatest footballer of all time stepped forward. This was quite a coup. Jocky had played against the Brazilian legend back in the ‘70s and the pair of them had obviously kept in touch. What an incredible prize.

‘Eh’ll start the biddin’ at 10p. As a side note, if any cunt reckons they’re gettin’ their hole later but cannae keep the bad boy standin’ at attention – and eh’m lookin’ at you here, McLean – cunto here’s puntin’ Viagra as well as playin’ the highest bidder in the car park.’

The room went into a frenzy as pretty much every guy present started trying to outdo each other with the highest offer. After a furious period of bidding Sean Higgins won it with an offer of several thousand pounds, a fully operational Panzer tank and Hitler’s jawbone.

Next up….

‘An all-expenses-paid trip tae Heaven, courtesy o’ meh Granny. It’s a return trip, like, yi’ll be back in time fur last orders.’

Understandably there was a great deal of hesitancy, and despite Jocky’s encouragement only a couple of brave souls ventured a bid. A blue-rinse-haired pensioner called Betty won it for 70p, reasoning that it was worth the risk if she could meet Elvis.

‘Well in, Betty doll. Yi’ll meet Elvis nae bather, he plays fur Davie Cooper’s 5-a-side team. Chuck Berry plays fur Tommy Burns’ team, it’s a rock ‘n’ roll Old Firm clash and nae mistake.’

With that she was lead out the room to be strangled in the toilet. The prizes had been good so far. Jocky asked for quiet as he introduced the next item.

‘This next prize, ladies and gents, comes straight fae the pits o’ Hell. Eh give yi’…….Lee Wilkie’s soul!’

A chorus of boos went up, and some people had to avert their eyes as Jocky held up the jar of black smoke I’d seen in his secret room a few weeks back. There were no bids for this particular auction item, so Jocky had to improvise. He went into a rambling auctioneer spiel.

‘YacuntthisprizeisshitecauseWilkie’sadirtyJudasArabbastardbutsomemongocunt’sboundtaewantit, SOLD! Big round o’ applause fur Jum McLean a’body, that wiz an affy generous offer o’ 15 grand! Teckle, baldy!’

As McLean got a standing ovation he could only sit dumbfounded and speechless with a wallet now several thousand pounds lighter. Jocky gave him a sincere look as he offered hearty applause then let his mask slip for just a second with a cheeky grin and a “wanker” hand gesture before switching back to clapping.

The rest of the auction went well. By the end of it we’d raised a large sum of money to add to Dundee’s fighting fund, McLean had a raging erection to contend with after dropping one of Pele’s pills earlier than he perhaps should have, the Pope had a necklace made of Jim Duffy’s teeth, and although there was no physical evidence of my prize, I was, apparently, the proud owner of Charlie Nicholas.

There was a brief break in proceedings so everyone could replenish their drinks and use the toilet. Once the crowd settled back down in their seats Jocky took to the stage again. He raised the mic to speak, but as he did so he looked my way and paused to offer the sweetest, most honest little smile I’d seen on his face in all the time I’d known him. He winked at me then continued.

‘Settle doon, ya cunts. Oarder, oarder. That’s the gemme. Now, this is a wee fundraiser night fur the mighty Dee, but as maist o’ yi’ ken it’s somethin’ else tae.’

Lots of heads turned in my direction.

‘One o’ oor pals is leavin’ the night. He’s awa’ doon the road ti’ play futba fur an eagle in England.’

Oh man. I felt my heart jump up into my mouth and my face go bright red. I looked across the room to see the Dundee contingent smiling in my direction. Apart from Big Rab, who was dabbing tears from his eyes with a white hankerchief.

‘A’body kens Leigh, eh? Stand up, pal.’

I sheepishly stood up.

‘Leigh’s been comin’ here fur aboot a year now. Cunto’s been gettin’ awa’ wi’ no’ even being signed in! That wiz meh doin’, eh says it wiz nae bather. Since he’s been drinkin’ in the Fairmuir eh think eh speak on behalf o’ a’body when eh say he’s been a braw guest. Boy respects the clubbie, the people, and he gets the drinks in, which is fuckin’ teckle fur cunts like me wha are on the dole. What does a’body think? Has he been a good guest?’

The whole place shouted, ‘AYE!’ as one.

‘Eh kent that, likes. Wi’ that in mind, Leigh, we – the Fairmuir – want ti’ gie yi’ a wee leavin’ gift.’

I was fighting back the tears and losing.

‘Leigh, eh saw thon film aboot plastic surgery the other night. As eh watched Scarface one o’ Ally Pacino’s lines struck iz as similar tae what goes on here: In this clubbie yi’ hae ti’ get signed in first. Then when yiv been signed in yi’ get tae ken a’cunt. Then, when a’cunt thinks yir sound as fuck………then, yi’ get yir membership. ‘Mon up and get yir caird, pal. That’s you officially Fairmuir fur life.’

I walked up to the stage with thunderous applause ringing in my ears. I climbed up and walked towards Jocky, who suddenly announced, ‘Say hello tae meh little friend!’

‘BILLY LIKES FUTBA!’

Billy Dodds came bounding out in a Tony Montana-style white suit. He leapt up into my arms and showered my face with kisses.

‘Hiya Leigh! Hiya pal! Billy’s a sports journalist!’

I hugged him back, laughing.

‘I see yi, Billy! Leigh sees yi!’

When he broke our embrace he went to the inner pocket of his suit jacket and pulled out a membership card for the clubbie. As he handed it to me and I inspected it (it read ‘LEIGH “MONGCHOPS” GRIFFITHS – FAIRMUIR ON TOUR YA BAS’) a huge cheer went up. What an honour. I was as proud as punch. I turned to Jocky, who smiled, shook my hand and whispered, ‘Meet iz in the dugout efter the perty’s finished, pal. We’ll hae a wee blether before yi’ go.’ He winked and ushered Billy and I off the stage.

A familiar song suddenly came over the PA.

‘The Beastie Booooooooys! They are they’re comin’ home. They’re coming hoooooooome, oh, they’re comin’ hooooome……’

It was “The Biz vs The Nuge” from Check Your Head. Jocky started bouncing up and down like a kid on Chrsitmas morning.

‘Ya cunt, set phasers tae FUCKIN’ TECKLE, ‘cause here comes tonight’s special guest band: THE BEASTIE BOYS! YAAAAAAAAAAASSSS!!!’

The Beastie Boys, the actual fucking Beastie Boys, burst out onto the stage. Ad Roc hit the mic.

‘Yo Fairmuir, it’s tiiiiime to set the fucking record straight!’

As they smashed into their punk rock barnstormer “Time for Livin’” the whole place went mental. Within seconds a heaving, pogoing, slam-dancing moshpit had formed at all points of the function suite. Pensioners were crowd surfing and stage diving. Jocky was going seven shades of crazy right in the midst of it all. I gaped at the crowd, the band and then the crowd again. I decided against asking questions and threw myself into the melee. I’m pretty sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen at the Civil Service clubbie.

Closing time came around far too soon. As the shotgun blast from the bar signalled it was either get out or go to the crematorium, everyone present formed a guard of honour out the function suite. Mike D started a chorus of “For He’s the Jolly Good Fellow”, and as I walked out shaking every hand and accepting every hug and kiss going, one of the old ladies started up a song from the pre-hip hop generation.

‘We’ll meet again, don’t know when, don’t know where….’

As everyone joined in Jim McLean and the Pope wished me all the best and told me to come back and see them soon. I would miss them both greatly, and felt deeply honoured to rank among their friends. Same deal for Billy, and had he not been on his potty in the corner I would’ve told him I’d fight Papa Shango for him any day of the week. His enthusiastic wave and smile as someone wiped his arse suggested he knew that anyway.

I walked out the Fairmuir, a club of which I was now a member, filled with sadness, joy and pride. I didn’t know when I’d be back to see these wonderful people, but I knew we’d meet again one sunny day.

—————————

Under a clear night sky filled with stars and bright full moon I clambered over the fence into the ground. Dens Park is not the most modern stadia in the world, but it has that special something so many football grounds are sadly lacking these days. It has character. It has a sense of history. It has soul. None of these things are tangible, but somehow you can just feel the place. Perhaps you need to know, understand and maybe even love the club before it strikes you, but Dens is almost a living, breathing part of the city of Dundee. That feeling had never been quite as apparent as I when walked onto the moonlit pitch for the last time.

Jocky was sitting in the home dugout. We’d been here before like this; it wasn’t so long ago that he was saying his goodbyes. Now it was my turn, and this time it was a much more permanent farewell.

I didn’t say anything as I joined him, taking a seat by his side and helping myself to one of the cans of Special in the carrier bag at his feet. I cracked it open, drained about half of it in one go and let out a satisfied gasp.

We sat in silence for quite some time. Though there was much to be said there was no awkwardness or discomfort about it. The times we’d shared allowed us to be at peace with each one another.

I could live for another thousand years and never come close to replicating what had gone on in my life at Dens and with Jocky in the past 18 months or so. We’d bonded and forged a friendship that was quite unique, and it was only just dawning on me that it was a mutual feeling. Jocky may have been the constant epicentre of the wild events, but I’d been there every step of the way with him. There had been a time when I was just another one of his players. Over time I’d become his sidekick, his partner in crime, and most importantly, his best mate.

He nudged my arm and pointed to the night sky. A satellite was passing overhead; a bright little spark tracing a steady path southwards. We watched it until it disappeared from sight.

He laughed a little under his breath, his shoulders bouncing ever so slightly.

‘Mind that time eh hud yi’ phonin’ thon gay chatlines, Leigh? That wiz funny, like.’

I giggled, nodding in agreement.

‘Aye, that was a belter. Mind that time your Popemobile broke down and the AA had to come and tow you away?’

He laughed a little louder.

‘Fuck aye, bet thon boy disnae get many call-oots like that, eh?’

We were getting a little more boisterous as the memories flooded back.

‘Remember the time…..’, I burst into a real belly laugh and struggled to finish my sentence, ‘you took a shit in the hole of the Spanish golf course….’

The pair of us were absolutely pissing ourselves, and in unison we concluded, ‘Calm the ham, Joe. Calm the ham ya shitey-handed cunt.’

I was laughing so much it hurt. We both were. When we finally began to regain our composure the wave of sadness hit me hard. When I turned to him I saw it had caught him too. With the tears now openly streaming down our cheeks we embraced, weeping into each others shoulders and patting each other on the back. It was most emotional, profound moment in all of our time together.

We broke our hug and grinned as we tried to maintain ourselves just a little bit better, and I managed to speak first.

‘Thank you, Jocky. For everything. For bringing me here, for being there for me, and for being one of the greatest guys I’ve ever, and will ever, meet in my life. I’ll never forget you. It’s been mental from start to finish. Mental, but absolutely brilliant. You know you’re mental, don’t you?’, I laughed.

‘Oh fuck aye, eh’m a fuckin’ lunatic. Cannae really deny it, ken? Fucking yaaaas!’

We burst out laughing again.

‘I mean that in the best possible sense, though. I’m going to miss you, boss. More than you know.’

He nodded in thanks and hugged me again. I gave it back to him with all the love I could muster.

‘Cheers, Leigh. That wiz affy nice o’ yi’ sayin’ a’ that. Meant a helluva a lot tae Big Jock here. Seriously, like.’

He tapped his fist against his heart. Taking a deep breath, he gathered himself.

‘Eh’m gonnae say a few thing now, pal. If it’s half a good as thon time eh did the alternative Queen’s speech on Channel 4 it’ll be a real treat. ‘Mon wi’ me.’

He got up and started heading toward the centre circle of the pitch. As I followed he put an arm round my shoulder. We took a few moments to look around the place, to soak it up; to feel it.

‘Mind that Cup gemme against Rangers last season, pal? Yi’ scored a helluva good goal that night.’

I remembered it well. I had scored a curling free kick from distance into the top corner. It would go down as one of my finest moments in dark blue.

‘Meh favourite bit aboot that goal wiz the celebration efter it; yi’ went chergin’ right intae the crowd behind the goal. Tell Big Jocky aboot that.’

I hesitated for a moment as I recalled the moment.

‘I was ecstatic. I went a wee bit daft and jumped into the crowd to join them.’

‘How come?’

‘Because……I don’t know……because they looked as happy as I was, I suppose. I felt like one of them and wanted to share the joy I felt.’

He nodded.

‘See ti’ me, pal, that wiz a big moment. When yi’ went in the crowd there yi’ became one o’ the crowd, and nae cunt loves Dundee mair than the fans. Dundee fans huv been through the wringer, and when things like your goal against Rangers happen it’s the greatest feelin’ in the world. Yi’ cannae beat those moments. That’s what it’s a’ aboot.’

He was looking deep into my eyes as he talked now. I could feel his power and passion.

‘When yi’ went intae the crowd that night yi’ went fae bein’ a Dundee player tae a Dundee boy. There’s a difference. Yi’ felt what it’s like tae love this club. It only lasted a second or twa, but fur that wee moment yi’ were dark blue tae the core.’

He was right. I knew exactly what he meant.

‘Ken Big Rab Douglas? He’s no’ just a Dundee player; he’s a Dundee boy. Rab kens what it’s a aboot. Ken Barry Smith? Big time Dundee boy. A leader on the pitch and now fae the dugoot. Eh wiz thrilled when eh heard he wiz the new manager, ‘cause eh ken Barry loves this club. Rab and Barry are Dundee till they die, same as Jocky.’

He puffed his chest out as he burst with pride. There was no doubting his words.

‘You’ve no’ been here long, pal, but ken what? Eh think yi’ ken the score. Eh think yi’ ken what it means ti’ be a Dundee boy, not just a Dundee player, and that will never leave yi’. Never forget what it felt like, son; that moment against Rangers, a’ the shite yi’ had ti’ witness when things went tits up wi’ administration, and maist o’ a’, how the people wha support this club wouldnae let it die quietly when it looked like the end wiz comin’. There’s no’ many sets o’ fans wha huv experienced the lows Dundee fans huv, and accordingly there’s no’ many wha love their club as much. It’s no’ easy bein’ a Dee, but by Christ there’s no’ one o’ us wha would change it.’

I was burning with pride. I felt it. The love for the club and everyone associated with it surged through my veins. Jocky stood watching, searching my soul, and he knew.

‘Good luck, Leigh. Go doon tae England and give it everything yi’ hae. Every-fuckin’-thing, cunto. Fight fur every ba’, chase every lost cause, and mind that me and a’ cunt at Dundee are with yi’ in spirit forever more. Eh’m affy proud o’ yi’, son, baith as a player eh hud the pleasure o’ haein’ on meh team and as a boy eh consider tae be one o’ meh best pals.’

He offered me his hand, and I took it. As we shook them his eyes teared up.

‘Eh’m gonnae miss yi’, Leigh. Cannae even begin ti’ tell yi how much. Jocky loves yi’, pal.’

Once again we embraced. We’d come a long way, Jocky Scott and I. It wasn’t so long ago he was picking his nose and wiping it on my face during a bounce game that had actually finished several hours previously, yet here we were hugging, crying and feeling the pain of a wonderful friendship that, while it will never be broken, is about to be wrenched apart by circumstances and considerable distance.

Though I’m young and relatively inexperienced in the ways of the world I understood that one of the most melancholic, bittersweet aspects of life is that you have to leave good things behind sometimes. My path into the future was bright, yet I would forever look longingly to the past I left behind. As much as it hurt I knew that was the way it had to be.

The soft buzz of a miniature jetpack approaching ended the most heartfelt of embraces. Another friend I would miss terribly was on his way.

‘Wee Jocky’s comng to say cheerio, eh?’

‘Oh fuck aye, of course.’ A look of concern suddenly crept up on his face. ‘If it’s no’ Wee Jock it means McLean’s got himsel’ a jetpack, and if that’s the case the gemme’s up the fuckin’ poley here.’

As the finest feline I’d ever known came into view Jocky breathed an audible sigh of relief then greeted his pet.

‘Hiya Wee Jocky! Hiya pal! How’s it goin’, pal?’

The cat responded, and not in the usual cat-like fashion.

‘No’ bad big aine, no’ bad a’ ta’. A’right, Leigh?’

The cat talked. THE CAT FUCKING TALKED. I stood staring at it, mouth agape, eyes bulging out my head.

‘You……you can talk! What the fuck!’

He looked at Jocky, grinning as he nodded at me as if to say “what’s he all about?”

‘That night on the beach in the Ferry……..you DID say hello to me! I thought I was going insane!’

The wee one chuckled.

‘Leigh, you were right aff yir pus that night, it’s nae surprise yi’ thought yi’ were losin’ the plot. Bomber’s mushies are teckle, ken?’

I was just about to ask what he was on about when Big Jocky interjected, ‘Pay nae attention tae that, Leigh, fuck knows what he’s on aboot!’ and gave the cat a look that suggested he should keep his mouth shut.

‘Leigh, it’s been a pleasure, mate. A’ the best down at Wolves, man. Keep in touch, eh?’

As he hovered in front of me he offered his outstretched paw. I took it between my thumb and forefinger and shook it, stuttering, ‘Aye, you too, Wee Jocky. Thanks, pal.’

It was only fitting that the madness that had been my life in Dundee should stretch all the way to the final moments. The cat could fucking talk. Good grief.

As Jocky went to retrieve his jetpack from the dugout his pet told me about some woman he met in Deja Vu and had shagged in the Wellgate car park, which said as much about the Vu’s clientele as the sexual prowess of the cat.

Jocky hovered back to the centre circle. This was it. This was goodbye.

Jocky looked me dead in the eye and held my gaze before asking the question that had encapsulated my time at Dundee, four words that summed the whole damn thing up perfectly.

‘Wha’s in cherge here?’

It had been asked of many people on innumerable occasions, and there had only ever been one answer. Until now. In many ways, everything that had gone before had been leading up to this final moment, this final question, that, ultimately, he’d hoped he would ask of me and get the correct response.

‘I’m in cherge here, Jocky.’

It wasn’t a challenge. It was confirmation that he’d guided me as far as he could, that he’d played his part, a huge part, in my development and that I would move on ready for whatever the future would bring my way. It was the greatest compliment I could pay him.

He stood tall, proud and satisfied. Job done.

With that he smiled, fired up his jetpack, and with his flying, talking, ninja cat by his side, took off and flew over the Main Stand and out of sight. Goodbye, Jocky.

—————————–

Life was good in Dundee. When I say “good” I mean it was a never ending onslaught of wonder, joy and balls-out-fucking-mental times. It’s been beyond anything I could have possibly imagined previously on so many levels. It’s been an honour and a privilege to play for this club, to live in this city and make friends with some of the finest people mankind has to offer. I leave feeling blessed to have experienced it, and although it’s time to move on, the fact I was once one of the brave boys who wore the dark blue of Dundee will stay in my heart forever.

Season 2, Chapter 7: All the Fun of the Fair

I awoke curled up on my side holding a hand that hung lazily in front my face. Still half asleep and perfectly comfortable, I thought nothing of it. But then a soft kiss was planted on my earlobe and my eyes shot wide open. What the hell….

‘Jocky?’

He’d spent the night at the teepee after his house had been burned down. A tired grunt was all he could muster by way of a response.

‘Why did you kiss my ear?’

A brief pause as he came to life and responded, ‘Why are yi’ holdin’ meh hand?’

While we remained unmoving all of a sudden we were both wide awake.

‘Boss, where’s your other hand?’

Without hesitation he replied, ‘Between twa pillows…..’

Our bodies stiffened as one.

‘THOSE AREN’T PILLOWS!’

We jumped up as fast as lighting and shook ourselves off, horrified. Good fucking grief. I tried to make things less weird and more heterosexual.

‘How about them Bears, huh?’

‘Oh fuck aye, the Bears! McLean tried ti’ shag them a’, the dirty bastard. What’s a’ that aboot? Fuck sake, Wee Jum! Nae need!

Wee Jocky stretched to life and offered a ‘Miaow’. Rise and shine….

——————————-

A couple of hours later we were back in the Ferry at the smoldering remnants of Jocky’s house. A few friends from the Fairmuir had been roped in to help salvage anything that hadn’t been destroyed in the fire. There wasn’t much worth saving.

‘Fuck sake, man. This is worse than 9/11! Di’ yi’ mind whaur yi’ were when America got telt, Leigh?’

I’m sure everyone on the planet did.

‘Aye, I was just getting home from school. Where were you?’

‘New York, as it happens. Funny thing is, the day before eh wiz wanderin’ through Central Park lookin’ fur thon wummin fae Casualty wha looked after a’ they pigeons in Home Alone II: The Search for Spock, when this boy up ahead o’ iz drapped his wallet. There was fuck all cash in it so eh shouted, “Ow wee man! Fuck up, ya cunt! Yi’ drapped yir wallet!” Boy wiz affy grateful, likes. Muslim fella. Ken what he says tae iz?”

Amused at the fact he checked the wallet for money before handing it back, I smirked and asked what the Muslim guy said.

‘Boy says, “Stay awa’ fae thon Twin Towers the moarin’. Tellin’ yi’ likes.” He said it just like that tae, turns oot he wiz fae Dundee and yaesed ti’ bide on the Provie Road. Eh says, “How come, pal?” thinkin’ eh wiz aboot ti’ get the inside track on a conspiracy theory, but the boy says, “It’s a lot o’ shite like, yi’d be better aff up at thon toy shop, Schwarz. It’s got the teckle piano keys on the flair that yi’ see in Big!” Eh fired up the next day and right enough there wiz the flair piano Tam Hanks had a wee go on. Eh wiz playin’ Protect Ya Neck when the bather kicked aff at the Trade Centre.’

Just then a member of the fire brigade appeared from the wreckage. As Jocky went over to speak to him I inspected the remains of his possessions, which had been laid out in the front garden. Granny’s stovie cauldron was burnt but intact, as was a large section of wooden bench that had once provided seating in the old Provest Road end of Dens. The stuffed Cumbernauld bear was missing most of its fur but still standing tall and unshagged, and a silver Tennent’s Sixes trophy was essentially unharmed. Other than that there wasn’t much left.

The fireman was departing, leaving Jocky staring intently at a piece of paper held in both hands. I strolled over to see what was happening. When I asked what the fireman had to say Jocky said nothing and passed me the piece of paper. It was a flyer for Horne’s carnival, which was currently in town down on Riverside by the Tay Rail Bridge. It didn’t seem particularly unusual to me.

‘Fireman Sam there found this in the livin’ room.’

I didn’t grasp the significance the look on Jocky’s face suggested it had.

‘It’s no’ burnt, Leigh. Some cunt left this once the fire went oot late last night.’

I struggled to figure it all out. He indicated that I should flip the flyer over. On the back read a ransom note-style message constructed from letters of varying fonts and sizes.

MEET ME AT MIDNIGHT. I BURNT YOUR HOUSE DOWN.

‘Yi’ dinnae hae ti’ be Tosh fae The Bill ti’ figure it oot, pal. Fancy comin’ doon the carnie wi’ Big Jock the night? It should be quiet at midnight, we’ll get a wee shot on the waltzers! Nane o’ this sharin’ a car pish either, we’ll get one each. Teckle!’

I agreed to join him. As he went to help pull a badly burnt red, white and blue Dalek out the wreckage, I gulped as a sense of foreboding took root in my stomach. This, I felt, was not going to be good. I silently cursed David Goodwillie and pressed on with the salvage work.

———————–

We sat in the Magdalen Green bandstand sipping cans of Special. It was pushing midnight. A full moon illuminated the night sky as cold breeze came off the nearby river, making me shiver and duck my head down further into the upturned collar of my jacket. Horne’s carnival was just over on the other side of the rail tracks. It had long since closed for the evening. While I was very apprehensive about what lay ahead, Jocky was taking it in his stride and blethered away as comfortably as ever.

‘Eh thought McLean wiz takin’ the piss when he says he’d played a lead role in a film. Eh bet the cunt 50 brick he hudnae. The wee fandan pure suckered punched iz when he turned up at the Fairmuir wi’ a copy o’ White Men Can’t Hump. Cunt wiz in a porno! He spent maist o’ it takin’ doags abuse aff Wesley Snipes as they pumped ghetto booty, but credit whaur it’s due he wiz in a film right enough. No’ bad cock on him tae! Sakes, Wee Jum.’

As Jocky made me stand up to help him re-enact key scenes from the movie we were distracted by the whirring of a tiny engine making its way through the darkness towards us. Wee Jocky was returning from a reconnaissance mission.

‘Well wee aine, what’s the score? Any sign o’ Teckledong?’

Wee Jocky landed gracefully and replied, ‘Miaow’.

‘Aye, we’ll get candy floss, pal, it’s nae bather. Right lads, fuck it. ‘Mon we’ll fire doon and see if this dayglo joy boy has the nerve tae show face.’

The two Jocky’s headed off at a determined pace. I took a second to gather myself before following on. I was nervous. I didn’t like this one little bit. I took a deep breath and jogged to catch up with them. We crossed the rail track via a pedestrian bridge that took us onto Riverside, an area that played host to several football pitches, Dundee University’s sports facilities and the city’s small airport. The carnival was set up a short distance away towards the rail bridge. Jocky kept up the pace, striding onward as we weaved through the trailers and caravans that formed the carnival’s boundaries.

The whole place jumped into life the moment we entered. I got a fright worse than I’d had when I fell out the hot air balloon as garish light and noise filled our surroundings. While it usually encouraged a fun, friendly atmosphere, right at that moment it was downright creepy.

Jocky had stopped in his tracks. He surveyed the scene around him. When his gaze focused and a frown fell upon his face I followed his line of sight. The carnival was, officially, closed for business, yet it appeared to be fully staffed. A carnival worker stood manning each stall and attraction. Suddenly much more cautious, Jocky slowly approached one of them.

‘Hiya pal! Eh’m lookin’ fur Davie Teckledong. Futba player, likes. Wears colours yi’ winnae get lost in a fog in and gies aff heavy gaybo vibes. Yi’ cannae miss the cunt.’

The worker said nothing. He just stood at attention by his ride, staring straight ahead. When I looked him in the eye my apprehension intensified greatly. His eyes were brimming with fear. He was petrified, stricken by some unknown terror of which he could not speak. Though I was too far away to gauge the look in their eye, every other member of staff here stood rigid and oozed the same feelings of their colleague. Something was terribly wrong here. I wanted to get the fuck out immediately.

Jocky turned to me, saw my anxiety, and with a silent movement of the head signaled that I should follow him. We took a short walk and stepped up onto the carousel, taking a seat on a couple of ornate metallic horses. I saw him look over my shoulder and turned to see a pink cloud fly in our direction. Wee Jocky had got his wish. As he passed us our candy floss the ride kicked into life. With the cat flying level with us, Jocky and I began the slow, bobbing rotation of the carousel, its chiming, slightly out-of-tune music providing a haunting soundtrack.

‘Jocky, this isn’t right. This is all fucked up. I……I don’t think we’ve got David Goodwillie on our hands. He doesn’t command this kind of fear. There’s something worse than David Goodwillie at work here. The fire, this creepy fucking carnival…….it’s beyond him, boss. I don’t like it one little bit.’

He held the brass pole that speared his steed with one hand and his floss with the other. He chewed thoughtfully on it for a while, his darting eyes betrayed his calm exterior just a little. He heard what I said and didn’t take it lightly. We sat going round and round in silence until the ride finally came to a halt.

Wee Jocky, who had taken a seat on the saddle of the horse in front of us, did something I’d never seen him do before: He quickly stood on all four paws, arched his back high in the air and made a sound closer to a hiss than his usual relaxed miaow. Judging by the shocked look in his eye Big Jocky obviously hadn’t seen him do this before either. He jumped off his horse ready to fight.

Panic seized me. I made a hash of my dismount and fell hard on the riveted steel floor of the ride.

‘Penalty! ‘Mon tae fuck, ref! That cuddy cunt wiz nae place near the ba’ there!’

I took some comfort in the humour that shone through his battle-ready state. I picked myself up and fell into formation with my companions. Whoever was behind this had all three of us to contend with, that was for sure. I was shit scared but I wouldn’t stand idly by should there be any call for action.

‘Ya cunt, this is somethin’ else, eh? Bit like thon time there wiz an uprising at the Downfield clubbie efter we banjoed the cunts in darts league championship decider. Jocky fair rocked the oche that night. Ooft!’

Wee Jocky hissed again, this time with real venom. There was someone over by the House of Mirrors. A figure clad in long, flowing white robes. As it disappeared through the dark entrance a strange glow appeared to emit from its head.

My voice trembled as I asked, ‘Boss……..what the fuck was that?’

Jocky could only shake his head as he continued staring at the point the mysterious figure had disappeared. He gulped and turned to me.

‘Fuck knows, pal. Yi’ were right enough though: It’s definitely no’ Davie Teckledong.’

With a great deal of hesitancy we made our way towards the House of Mirrors, where danger surely lurked among the warped reflections.

—————————-

I nearly jumped out my skin as Jocky saw his reflection in the first mirror we passed.

‘Fucking yaaaaaas! Check oot big fat Jocky! Ya cunt, these mirrors are fuckin’ teckle! If eh hud a hoose ti’ hing them up in eh’d be stealin’ these things!’

I was on a knife edge. The slightest thing made my heart race.

“Check your heid, Leigh, it’s weird as fuck! Looks even fuckin’ worse in the mirror!’

I was far too terrified to be offended. The House of Mirrors was dimly lit and ever-so-slightly smoky. The mirrors cast a series of bizarre reflections as we crept along the passageway. I moved with my trembling fists cocked as I followed on behind the ever-fearless Wee Jocky, who had adopted the Crane position as he glided slowly onward. Big Jocky seemed to have lost all his anxiety as he stopped to flap around in front of every mirror, giggling like a wee laddie and obviously enjoying himself despite the serious nature of the situation.

Ever so carefully we moved onward until we reached what appeared to be a dead end. It was a square room with mirrors covering every inch of wall. Our reflections repeated back into infinity wherever I looked. My heart thumped so hard I could barely hear the laughter.

The laughter……

The soul-crushing, blood-curdling laughter.

Just as I thought fear would get the better of me a flash of white caught the corner of my eye. We spun round as one to face the elusive enemy but there was nothing but the sound of footsteps moving quickly back the way we came followed by a shriek that scared me to the point it felt like a knife thrusting into my chest. The cold steel of terror seemed to penetrate my flesh and plunge deep into my heart. I turned to Jocky with tears of liquid fear streaming down my cheeks. It was too much; I was ready to crumble.

I began to fall into a petrified stupor but was saved when Jocky caught me with his eyes. As he puffed his chest out and raised his chin I felt him drag me back up as if he’d caught me a tractor beam. His life force dragged me up and vanquished the fear that had only seconds go threatened to overcome me. Adrenaline surged through me like water pouring from a burst dam. I felt energised. I felt like the noise coming out the Derry. I felt like a fucking warrior.

We never run. We fear no foe…..

We are the Dens Park Dynamo.

Thundercats…….

‘HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!’

‘MIIIIIIIIAOOOOOOWWWWW!!!’

We charged screaming into battle. Down the dark corridor and out into the neon light-illuminated night we ran, prepared for anyone and anything. No army in the history of warfare would have defeated us at that very moment. We roared out the House of Mirrors to find…..

Nothing. No enemy. Not a soul.

Rigid and pumped up to a point of near-hysteria we quickly turned one way then another, our eyes darting in every direction in the search of our nemesis. I had gone from a whimpering mess to a growling war pig. I was ready and frustrated at the lack of focal point for my fury.

It slipped when I saw Jocky standing limply, staring at the ground in front of him. What was he looking at? As I paced over impatiently he crouched down to pick something up. He rolled a small white pebble between the tips of his finger and thumb then slowly rose back up to a standing position.

‘Boss, what the fuck? What’s wrong?’

He kept staring at the pebble as he held it up in front of me. My demeanor changed to one of confusion as I realised it was no stone.

It was a tooth.

He passed it to me. As I took it in my hand and inspected it he walked on a few paces and picked up another one. A few steps on lay another, then yet another a few feet onwards. It was a trail of teeth. I looked at the one in my hand and felt that cold, creeping sensation once again.

It was a trail of human teeth.

Who the fuck would leave a trail of human teeth in their wake? What possible significance could this hold? What the fu…..

I gasped as if I’d been punched in the gut.

The memory flooded my head with such ferocity that I lost touch with reality. I was back playing for Dundee at Dens. I heard the shouts of the players as the game took place around me. I heard the noise of the crowd from every direction.

‘Can yi’ hear me, Leigh? Wave at the bench if yi’ can hear me.’

Like a lucid dream, it felt like I was actually there. I knew it wasn’t real yet I was living and breathing the moment regardless. It was as if a testicle recognition-activated lever had been pulled somewhere, allowing me to buck the space/time continuum.

‘Tell him eh shagged his wife in 1987’

Jocky’s voice was crystal clear in my ear. I put my hand up to it and found a small ear piece that relayed instructions from the bench lodged in there.

‘Tell him she went first class on the Jocky Express, Leigh!’

I turned to Partick defender Alan Archibald. Contrary to what had happened at the time he stood staring at me, grinning as if he was in on it from the start and knew how it would end some 12 months later. As Jocky’s passed on his next instruction Archibald mouthed the words silently in synch along with them.

‘Tell the baldy fucker eh pummeled her until her teeth fell oot!’

A barely discernable squeak left my throat as the memory shattered like glass and brought me crashing back to a grim reality where Jim Duffy had arrived to exact revenge on Jocky Scott.

———————–

He stood but 20 feet away. Draped in long, flowing white robes that covered him from the neck to the ground, his hands clasped together and his mouth offering a serene smile, he seemed like a Buddhist monk; a being of tranquility and inner peace. His bald head was much bigger than it appeared on TV. While his face was proportionately sized his cranium was freakishly large. As we stood transfixed by his presence it started to glow. Before our very eyes it emitted a soft yellow hue that faded to a dirty orange before settling on a dull green. His head was the weirdest thing I’d ever seen in my life.

The four of us remained silent for a good 60 seconds. Nothing was said as Duffy and Jocky locked gazes. I couldn’t breathe as I stared at Duffy’s napper. The tension was unbearable. Finally, Jocky broke the silence.

‘Hiya Jim Duffy! Hiya pal! By Christ, last time eh saw you eh wiz hingin’ oot yer wife! Mind that, Duff? Mind? Ya cunt, that wiz fuckin’ teckle!’

While Jim Duffy remained passive and silent, his head turned a deep, crimson red. Jocky giggled mischievously like a kid who just pulled a sheet of cling film over a toilet bowl.

‘Yaaaaaaaas! You ken the score, baldy. Number one rule o’ shaggin’ the missus is if you’re no’ daein’ the damage some cunt wi’ a cock like a giraffe’s neck’ll dae it fur yi. Eh dinnae mak’ the rules, Duff, eh just yase them ti’ get the old Nat King Cole now and then, ken? Fuckin’ right.’

I started to suggest Jocky shouldn’t goad the guy any further when a voice like rolling thunder boomed out of Duffy.

‘I. AM. DUUUUUUUFFY. I AM THE CREATOR. I AM THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA; THE BEGINNING AND THE END. I. AM. DUUUUUUUUFFY.’

His lips had not moved as he produced the deepest, most sinister intonation ever heard. His head had turned a colour I’d never seen before. He was utterly bizarre, and terrifying with it. Jocky straightened up into a more familiar wide-o pose.

‘Whit? Fucking WHIT? The fuck are you on aboot ya traffic light-heided cunt?’

‘I. AM. DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU……’

The noise from within him stuck like that and droned on. The lights in his head changed rapidly, gaining speed until they became a brilliant white light we had no choice but to shield our eyes from. It faded quickly. When our eyes were able to withstand it we looked back and saw that he hadn’t moved a muscle. The drone gradually faded and stopped.

‘UUUUUUUUUUUUFFFFFffffffyyyyyyyyyy.’

Even Jocky looked stunned.

But not that stunned.

‘Question fur yi’, Alfie and the Megadrive cunto: Wha’s in cherge here?’

Duffy resolutely maintained his smile. This time, though, there was movement. He unclasped his hands and raised his index finger. The finger began to glow. He pointed to his own chest and touched it. By moving the tip of his finger over his breast and stomach in a large circular shape he burned a hole in the material of his robe. It blackened then started to fall away. When it came loose and tumbled to the ground the resulting hole revealed a torso made of clear glass. Instead of internal organs he had…….

A cat.

A cat dressed in long white robes.

A cat with a bald head that glowed in unison with Duffy’s.

Jocky turned to his own feline with the arched brow look I’d pulled so many times myself. There was a cat inside Jim Duffy. Jim Duffy wasn’t even fucking human. Good grief didn’t even come close to covering it.

The cat appeared to be in command of Duffy. It stood up inside him, pointed its paw at Jocky and the voice boomed out again.

‘YOU, JOCKY SCOTT, MADE MY MATE IMPURE WITH YOUR HUMANOID SEED. YOU RUINED OUR MISSION, A MISSION THAT WOULD HAVE SEEN OUR KIND REPRODUCE AND BEGIN THE INFILTRATION OF MANKIND. INSTEAD I HAD TO BE CONTENT WITH RELEGATING ANY FOOTBALL TEAM I TOOK CHARGE OF.’

Jocky looked thoughtful for a moment before replying, ‘Fuck aye, that kind o’ maks’ sense now, like. Eh wondered how yer missus hud a glowin’ index finger. Eh wiz too busy tellin’ the dirty bitch ti’ stop tryin’ ti’ stick it up meh dunger ti’ realise she an alien. Funny thing is, eh wiz pure giein’ it big licks wi’ the, “ET phone home!” shite as eh wiz pumpin’ her. Turns oot eh wiz on the right track there, eh?’

Duffy was about to respond when Jocky interjected, ‘Ya cunt, eh’ve shagged an alien! McLean’s never beatin’ that! Yaaaaaas!’

Duffy’s head started throbbing a violent red. His whole body started shaking and a noise like a radio caught between stations started growing louder and louder. The cat inside him stood on its back paws and pointed its front ones towards Jocky. Something was about to happen. He was about to strike.

‘Boss, I think we should get out of here…..’

I was already backing off, ready to make a break for it.

‘Fuck up, Leigh, eh dinnae run fae any cunt! It’s punch in the pus time fur Du…’

He was cut short by the blast of red laser beams from Duffy’s eyes. He barely managed to duck out the way so they could fly over him and explode against the wall of the House of Mirrors. I bolted and leaped over the counter of the coconut shy. I expected my companions to be right behind me, but when I looked back they were still standing firm. Duffy let off another blast from his eyes and Jocky side-stepped to avoid it with remarkable reflexes. Seizing the opportunity to retaliate, Jocky charged forward and kicked Duffy between the legs. The resulting deep, low vibration of sound like an oil tanker sounding its horn suggested Duffy’s race’s reproductive organs were positioned in the same anatomical position as that of a human.

The cat inside Duffy smashed through the glass of its vessel and flew – unaided – towards Jocky. As it screeched into attack it was intercepted by the jetpack-assisted Wee Jocky, who launched a flying roundhouse kick and sent its alien counterpart tumbling back through the air. Both Duffy and Jocky turned to watch as the cats began fighting furiously like something out a feline version of the Matrix.

As the paws and fur went flying I turned back to Jocky. He had turned his attention back to Duffy, who did a double take at him then made what I could only guess was a plea for help in his strange native tongue. He needed his cat’s protection but his cat was too busy being Agent Smith to Wee Jocky’s Neo to answer the call. Jocky was in no mood for showing mercy.

‘This is fur burnin’ meh hoose doon! And fur gettin’ the Dee relegated, ya hopeless cunt!’

He stepped forward and cracked Duffy in the jaw. A good punch in the pus crosses the interstellar divide; Duffy went down like a ton of bricks. Jocky stood over his fallen nemesis and seemed to have a brainwave. He laughed and tugged his trackie bottoms off. He took his mighty member in one hand and started tugging at it. With the other hand he rolled Duffy over onto his stomach and pulled his robes up over his head before kneeling down behind him. Oh no….

‘Boss! No! For goodness sake, don’t do it!’

He heard me, looked over and waved.

‘Fuck up, Leigh! ‘Mon hae a wee shot! Plenty space in cunto’s mooth!’

As Jocky got down to business and Duffy made an unholy squealing sound I was mercifully distracted by the flying cat fight. They were going at it hammer and tong in mid-air as they flew towards the coconut shy. As Wee Duffy came close with his back turned I instinctively helped my pal. I was definitely due him one.

I reached out and grabbed the feline foe by the tail, holding it in position. Wee Jocky seized the advantage. He adopted the Crane pose and immediately launched his attack, thrusting forward and crashing a rear paw into his foe’s head, knocking him out. In the background I heard Jocky on the phone.

‘McLean! Guess wha eh’m up ti’ meh beanbag in right now! Guess!……………How the fuck did yi’ manage ti’ guess that, ya cunt? Go and gie iz Wesley Snipe’s number!’

I ignored it, refusing to look around and see what would surely be the worst thing I’d ever laid eyes on. Besides, I had an unconscious alien cat to deal with. Wee Jocky miaowed his gratitude for me helping him and nodded towards the Tay. In a move unlikely to win me any favours with the intergalactic RSPCA I walked out the booth, twirled the inert pussy cat over my head like a Jambo singing Glorious Hearts and hurled it into the river. It splashed into the Silvery Tay and sank out of view.

Judging by the cries of, ‘Wha’s in cherge here, Mork?………Wha’s in cherge here, ya mad extraterrestrial vagina?……WHA’S IN FUCKING CHERGE HERE, DUFFY?!’ Jocky was putting the polishing touches on his own victory.

When I finally brought myself to look round Jocky was wiping his tool on Duffy’s robes. I grimaced at a sign proclaiming, “The Ride of your Life!” in the background. Jim Duffy most certainly had not experienced all the fun of the fair.

———————

A short while later we were in the back of a taxi. I freaked out when Jocky told the firm’s operator he had a body to ditch somewhere, but he waved me off and continued talking, explaining he was and old pal of Peter Marr. The taxi arrived mere minutes later, and the driver even helped load the unconscious and completely toothless Jim Duffy into the boot.

We drove to the Ferry. Jocky had only grinned when asked what was to become of Duffy. I wasn’t entirely surprised when we pulled up outside David Goodwillie’s house. We hauled Duffy out the boot and dumped him at the front door. As we got back in the taxi and sped off into the night Jocky made a phone call.

‘Hiya polis, hiya pal! By Christ, some cunt’s been raped in the Ferry! There’s a boy wi’ an arsehole like the Channel Tunnel in the gairden at thon United player Davie Teckledong’s hoose! Mak’ what yi’ will o’ that, ken?’

He came off the phone, stood up out the open sunroof and gave a “YAAAAAAS!” that was most likely heard as far away as Jim Duffy’s home planet.

I gazed up at the stars and sighed. I was going to miss this: the “YAS!” moments, the crazy, unpredictable behavior, and most of all, the man at the centre of it.

It was almost time for me to say goodbye.

Season 2, Chapter 6: Out Come the Wolves

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.

Fucking yaaaaaas!

———————-

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.

‘Wee Jocky!’

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.

‘Miaow!’

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.

Season 2, Chapter 5: When the Going Gets Tough.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. While it’s a cliché to the point of being the title of a Billy Ocean song it is absolutely appropriate when describing Dundee Football Club and its magnificent support in times of crisis. Upon falling into administration for the second time in seven years it was left to those who had little or absolutely nothing to do with causing the problem to take the full weight of financial disaster’s brutal body blow. Wounded, the club reeled back against the ropes of Scottish football.

The situation was bleak. Funds had to be raised, and quickly, or the doors would shut forever. The administrator announced in no uncertain terms that it was very much a case of do-or-die. Those who cared instinctively rallied and began doing what they had to do to survive. Money started pouring in from ordinary punters and local business alike as the fundraising began in earnest.

The people of Dundee would not see their team go quietly. With over a hundred years of history the club was a vital part of the City of Discovery. For it to cease to exist would be much akin to opening the Sunday Post to find Oor Wullie had kicked the bucket he once sat on, leaving Jeemy the mouse distraught and wondering if he could sneak across the page to live with The Broons.

Just as we attempted to steady ourselves the knockout punch was delivered. The SFL committee designated with the task of meting out punishment to the club for slipping into administration mid-season unleashed a brutal upper-cut in the form of a 25 point penalty deduction that left us crumpled on the canvas with the beginning of the ten-count ringing in our ears.

I’d become a bit of a reader in my time at Dens. Having learnt much about the Art of War I’d started devouring Jocky’s book collection. To be honest I couldn’t grasp the deep philosophical thought of Nietzsche and the likes, and other than Jocky’s own Biro-added touches – “To get them telt, or no’ tae get them telt: Wha’s in fuckin’ cherge here?” – I wasn’t much of a Shakespeare fan.

My favourite piece of writing was by a man called Dylan Thomas. One particular passage held a great beauty and power, striking a chord when it came to thinking of Dundee’s plight.

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rage at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

In the midst of all the off-field activity the players had fed off the never-say-die attitude coming from the stands and started putting vital points on the board. When Partick Thistle came to Dens for the first game since the 25 point deduction there was an air of “us against them” all around the ground. When we scored a last-gasp winner the place erupted like we’d won the league itself, sending every man, woman and child in Dens with Dundee in their heart wild with delight.

Defiance and pride poured out of Dens Park at the final whistle. The fight would go to the last man standing, and we were ready for it. The rage against the dying of the light pulsed from the heart of the club out across the city and beyond.

——————————————–

‘FUUUCCKKINGGGG YAAAAAAAAAASSS!!! OH YA CUNT, LEIGH! DID YI’ SEE THE DERRY WHEN THAT WINNER WENT IN? OOFT!’

I arrived at Jocky’s house later on in the night of the Thistle game to find a party in full swing. It might have only been a mid-season win against Partick but it felt like so much more given the circumstances.

‘Eh wiz watchin’ fae the roof o’ the Main Stand. The auld jetpack fair comes in handy fur gettin’ a sneaky peek at the gemme once the coppers turf yi’ oot.’
Without the faintest hint of surprise I asked why he’d been ejected.
‘Hud a big flag wi’ iz. Mind Ian McColl shat in Stainrod’s shoe? Eh wiz on the revenge mission. The flag says “BIG JOCKY SHAT IN IAN MCCOLL’S MOOTH”, which tells yi’ a’ yi’ need tae ken aboot that gig. Anyway, the copper’s didnae like it and eh didnae like their disregard fur Simon’s crocodile skin loafers, so that wiz me oot.’

It was a weird scene at the party. Various Fairmuir regulars danced with eyes-bulging and arms-flailing to an old ’60s number that seemed to tell the story of Alice and Wonderland, and a light show transformed the walls into an ever-moving montage of psychedelic shape and colour. I stopped to take it all in but Jocky quickly hustled me through the revolving bookcase into his secret lab.

Last time I’d visited it was a flurry of scientific activity as experts in cloning technology strove to produce a second set of testicles for the boss. The lab equipment had been stripped out and replaced by the biggest cauldron I’d ever seen. It stood as tall as Big Rab reaching up to catch a crossed ball and was as wide as half-a-dozen Mark McGees standing shoulder-to-shoulder. It sat perched above a pile of burning timber and contained something that smelled deliciously familiar. I inhaled deeply, savouring the aroma of Jocky’s staple diet.

‘That’s the gemme, pal. Cannae beat the smell o’ the auld Jon Bon Jovis, eh? It’s like yir nose is getting its hole. Fuckin’ marvellous.’

He pointed out a couple of ladders that sat in the corner and told me to grab one. We perched them against the side of the cauldron and climbed up to peer into the pot. It was practically full to the brim with corned beef and potatoes. Jocky cast his eye over them like a preacher looking benevolently out into his congregation.

‘Stovies, Leigh. Pure, undiluted YAS! for yir taste buds. The snowy peak o’ Mount Teckle. The stuff that wiz glowing in thon suitcase in Pulp Fiction. If Rocky blew up the Death Star in the A Team van and yi’ stood there watchin’ wi’ yir mooth open, it would taste o’ the stovies.’

The man’s love for corned beef and potato was staggering.

‘Probably quite healthy too, eh boss? Good for you, like’

‘Fuckin’ right, pal. The stovies’ll put hairs on yir chest, ba’bag, and teeth. Aye, yir teeth. Eh hae ti’ shave mine three times a week. They’ll mak’ yi’ a man, or a wummin that looks helluva lot like a man. Mind that boy that yaesed ti’ play fur United, John Clark? Scored in the Nou Camp against Barca? That wiz a lassie. A big, mental, stovie-raised lassie. Sooked aff Gary Lineker in the bog at the Centenary efter the second leg at Tannadice tae. Go on yersel’, Hoss!’

‘I know you like the stovies, boss, but why so much of them? There’s enough to feed half of Dundee here.’

‘That’s the plan, cunto. That’s the fuckin’ plan. ‘Mon see this.’

I followed as he got off the ladder and went over to a massive stack of empty, clear plastic containers like those you’d receive takeaway food in, only with the DFC club crest on one side and a red, white and blue pound sign on the other. Next to the containers stood a pile of lids with a label placed in their centre. I picked one up. It read ‘STOVIES – FUCKING OOFT!’ across the top, a photo of Jocky with a topless, grinning Jon Bon Jovi in a full nelson wrestling hold and ‘MAY CONTAIN TRACES O’ NUTS – YAAAS!’, below it. I strained my eyes to see the small print, which read, ‘Soapy spruced the auld ba’bag up before they were dunked in though so it’s nae bather, ken?

‘Eh ken what yi’ must be thinkin’, Leigh. “Did Jon Bon manage ti’ get oot the full nelson?” The answer is did he fuck, yi’ mad vagina. Boy wiz there like that fur the best part o’ 45 minutes before his tour manager hit iz wi’ a steel chair so the cunt could finally get onstage.’

He was planning on selling his homemade stovies as a fundraiser for the club. His overheads weren’t much: the cauldron was apparently Granny Scott’s, the tatties came through being “on the co” with Savo Milne, who was supplying the portion of his wage that was paid in St Johnstone chairman Geoff Brown’s premium range potato, and while the corned beef wasn’t free it was sold at a discount rate because Jocky gets that kind of treatment from Dundee-supporting shop proprietors.

There was to be an accompanying product called “Bomber Broon Sauce” but Jocky admitted it was just the cheapest stuff available with a new label featuring a photo of the time Bomber met John Digweed at the Rhumba plastered over the top of the existing one. Jocky was eager to do his bit to help the club, and as far as methods in which to do so went, this was actually a very good one.

It didn’t stop there either. A Dundee v Dundee United 5-a-side match featuring players old and new was to take place at Gussie Park, the Astroturf pitch in the shadow of Tannadice. A fundraising night at the Fairmuir was planned. Guests would hand over £2 at the door instead of the usual £1 and Jocky had gathered a number of weird and wonderful prizes for an auction.

Among the strange items to be sold off was a framed print of the classic photo of a victorious Mohammad Ali standing over his fallen opponent, Joe Frazier, only with Jocky’s head stuck over Ali’s and Kevin from The Wonder Years grinning mug over Frazier’s. Steve Irwin’s shirt had somehow made it back from Heaven. An empty tub of Vaseline once owned by Jim Leighton, and a leather jacket stolen from the former Scotland international at the same time the Vaseline was “donated”. A Dundee top signed by the United squad and a United top signed by Dundee provided oddities for the serious collector, and a jar filled with black smoke labelled, ‘LEE’S WILKIE’S SOUL – BLACKER THAN WESLEY SNIPES DRESSED AS JOHNNY CASH AT A FANCY DRESS PARTY IN A COAL MINE’. If that didn’t bring the money rolling for Dundee, the bachelor auction featuring Dick Donnelly, George “Zico” McGeachie and the butcher who gave Jocky a good deal on corned beef surely would.

‘Fancy playin’ fur the Dee in the 5-a-side gemme, Leigh? £500 per-skull ti’ play, it’ll just be a wee kickaboot ti’ raise a few quid like, nothin’ serious like. Me and baldy are team captains, there’s a few auld lads and a few o’ the current lads up fur it.’

He hesitated for a second, his face and mood seeming to drop ever-so-slightly before continuing, ‘be braw fur yi’ tae get even a wee taste o’ a derby gemme.’

I heard what he said but didn’t grasp the full weight of it. I agreed and said I’d love to play. Barry Smith was unlikely to be concerned about me playing and potentially getting injured in a fundraising kickabout. There was no threat involved in such an event.

I should have known better than to think a Dundee v United game with the sides captained by Jocky and McLean would turn out to be anything even vaguely resembling a friendly affair.

———————————————-

The attack chopper strafed us with gunfire as it screamed overhead, sending chunks of Astroturf flying as it was pocked with bullet holes. A hand-held rocket launcher boomed in retaliation. The small missile left a trail of white smoke as it flew straight and true to meet its target, clipping the helicopter’s tail section and sending it into an uncontrollable spin. It descended like a drunk falling down a spiral staircase and crash landed on the centre circle. The pilot and navigator jumped out and ran but were thrown 20ft in the air by the shockwave as the chopper exploded in a fireball. The chaos and destruction of war was all around. It was 0-0in the 5-a-side Dundee derby at Gussie park.

‘Leigh, hae a run at goal! Here’s yir chance tae be a Dundee legend.’

Jocky and I were hunkered down a crater created by a rocket from the helicopter. The ball was sitting next to me as I lay cowering in the foetal postion with my hands shielding my head as best possible.

‘Fuck off! We’re going to get killed here! What the fuck is going on, eh? It’s meant to be a kickabout for the Dundee fund, not a fucking warzone!’

Jocky looked disappointed, shaking his Stars-and-Stripes crash helmet-protected head, which, while making me a tad suspicious when he put it on in the changing room, had given no real indication of the level of violence that was about to take place.

‘Fuck up, ya cunt! Yi’ didnae see Mo Malpas being a wee pap like that did yi? That cunt’s a credit tae his club!’

‘MAURICE MALPAS IS LYING OVER THERE DYING WITH A LEG BLOWN OFF! WHY WAS THERE A LANDMINE BURIED IN THE ASTROTURF?!’

‘Eh ken you’re a striker, Leigh, but we need a defence tae! Fuck sake you, that’s basic fuckin’ tactics!’

The game had erupted into a fire fight less than a minute after kick off. David Goodwillie was a nervous wreck as he got things underway with Kevin Gallagher. He’d been duped by Jocky marking himself on the team sheet as a trialist and was now rightfully in fear of his safety.

‘Hiya Davie Teckledong! Hiya pal! Dinnae look so worried, son, it’s just yir pal Big Jocky loomin’ ominously over yir future like a rape charge, it’s nae bather.’

The Dundee team, consisting of Big Rab, Tosh McKinley, Craig Forsyth, Jocky and myself in the starting line up and Bobby Glennie and Stevie Campbell on the subs bench, had been told to follow Jocky’s lead when the game got underway.

It turned out that meant assaulting David Goodwillie the second the whistle blew to get the game started. Jocky went full steam ahead at him and launched his patented flying clothesline, making it the second time David had felt its brutal force. Craig Forsyth (or “Stewart” as Jocky called him) and I just stood there watching but the group of older players and a seriously hyped-up Rab Douglas followed orders and piled into Goodwillie as he lay in a crumpled heap.

McLean had reacted quickly, commanding the United side (Paul Hegarty, Maurice Malpas, Goodwillie, Gallagher, Jon Daly and Billy Thompson) to retaliate. As had happened on our team the younger guys had backed off while the old heads piled straight in and started scrapping. When McLean took a kick in the nuts and a friendly, “fuck you, ya baldy Arab bastard”, from a clearly thrilled Bobby Glennie he called in air support.

An attack chopper had come in all-guns blazing, driving us back and making huge holes in the turf as rockets and bullets rained down. Jocky called in his own reinforcements – the Hulltoon Huns.

A crack unit of the tap o’ the Hull’s elite urban commandos, under the command of Jocky’s pal and scourge of the 22 to Downfield, Mikey, dropped the cunning guise of a St John’s Ambulance team on duty for the game that they’d been hiding behind and unleashed the ground-to-air assault weaponry and mortar rockets. As they sent the Arabs running for cover with returning fire the Dundee team took shelter in the rocket craters left by the chopper. Apart from Rab Douglas, who simply jogged and stretched along his 18 yard line as he would in any other game when the action wasn’t in the immediate vicinity. He’s played in Old Firm derby so was no stranger to this kind of scene.

United had attacked us in the footballing sense first. With Goodwiliie and Daly obviously terrified it was left to Maurice Malpas to break from his defensive position and dribble towards our goal. He got pretty far before finding Jocky’s defensive line where a bang halted his progress and saw him vanish in a cloud of smoke. The ball rolled into the crater Jocky and I hid in. Just as we thought the attack was over a leg severed mid-thigh tumbled down from a height and landed right on Stevie Campbell’s head.

‘’Mon tae fuck ref, that boot wiz at head-height! Get a hud o’ him!’

The ref had long since disappeared, and Malpas was rolling around in shocked agony with most of one leg missing. We all stood up and looked on at the most horrific injury ima….

‘Mo! Mo! Fuck You, Mo!’

Bobby Glennie was singing and clapping at the injured Arab. It was disgu…

‘Mo! Mo! Fuck You, Mo!’ responded Jocky. Everyone bar Craig and I sang it the third time and they added extra venom to a final, ‘Fuck You Maurice Malpas!’, before ducking for cover, laughing.

Jocky was in his element among the madness. He sat pondering his next move. Using his trusty megaphone he started taunting the enemy.

‘Hear, McLean – mind that time eh’ caught you and Brewster daein’ what you claimed wiz, “a wrestling-based training technique used on the continent”. Aye, at clubs like FC Dung Tonguer. Di’ yi’ think eh’m zipped up the back, ya mad bisexual vagina?’

Silence on the battlefield broken only by a few sniggers from both ends of the pitch.

‘DAAAAVIDDDD TECKLEDONG! How are yi’ gettin’ on up they mountains wi’oot that mountain bike that got burnt when the shed mysteriously went up in flames? Bet it’s affy inconvenient no’ haein’ adequate transportation up they mountains yi’ ken like the underside o’ yir helmet, ya Ghurkha cunt.’

He took the megaphone away from his mouth and jabbed his thumb towards enemy lines as he insisted, ‘cunto there’s never seen a mountain in his life! That bike wiz a fuckin’ joke.’

There was a tense silence for several minutes. Jocky broke it when he suddenly remembered an important non-footballing matter.

‘HEGGIE! WHAUR’S MEH SAVED BY THE BELL BOX SET, YA CUNT? SURELY YOU AND YIR CIVIL PARTNER DAVIE NAREY HUV WATCHED THAT BY NOW! GIES IT BACK, YA CENTRE HALF CUNT.’

Something had to give. Either we attacked or United came to try and take possession. I was scared witless and wanted it over as soon as possible.
Thankfully a call came in that got things moving. We heard an Erasure ringtone in the distance and McLean’s gruff response to the caller. 30 seconds later Single Ladies went off in Jocky’s pocket. After a series of “kens” and a concluding “cheery!” Jocky came off and went on the megaphone.

‘THE POPE JUST PHONED YOU TAE, EH JUM?’

He responded in the aftirmative.

‘BETTER GET UP THERE PRONTO, CUNTO.’

Another affirmative response.

‘NEXT GOAL THE WINNER?’

No response.

Jocky paused only for a heartbeat then exploded into life. He leapt up, took the ball at his feet and dribbled quickly to Mo Malpas’ severed leg before turning towards the United goal. McLean was already out to face him and started sprinting forward to meet the attack. He didn’t see what Jocky was carrying until it was too late. Jocky accelerated, feigned left then right, swung the leg by its foot and smashed McLean across the head with it at the exact moment he nutmegged him with the ball. The United players had stood to watch and were now faced with Jocky coming at them with a severed leg he’d just knocked Jim McLean out with,. There was no decision to make. They parted and let him through, and after coshing Goodwillie with the leg on the way he walked the ball into the net to make it 1-0 Dundee.

For a couple of seconds we just stood there without moving or saying a word…….

‘YAAAAAAAAAAASSSSS!!!’

We shouted in unison and raced downfield to celebrate with the goal scorer, who by now was over by the corner flag break dancing. It was a brilliant celebratory routine that climaxed in a full head spin. I realised that’s what the Stars and Stripes crash helmet had been for all along. A man can’t do a proper head spin without a good crash helmet on his head.

We mobbed him, lapping up our hard-fought victory. Dundee had won the derby, battered David Goodwillie, blown up a helicopter and taken Mo Malpas’ leg clean off. Jocky proclaimed it to be, ‘the 6th best derby of a’ time,’ and called on McLean to get a move on. Apparently the phone call was from the Pope who had informed them a member of a visiting party from the Civil Service Clubbie had been overheard suggesting his pint wasn’t up to much and that the pipes might need cleaned

‘Cheeky fuckin’ bastard. Nae danger he’d comin’ up tae oor clubbie and spouting shite like that. Eh kept meh pus shut when eh discovered the gloryhole in the bog at their clubbie, even when some cunt poked their dinger through it and aboot took meh mince peh oot. You a’right there Jum? Derry Rhumba by the way, 1-0 ya cunt.’

McLean was groggy from the smack in the head with the leg, which was now clamped between the teeth of a vicious looking dog one of the Hilltown lads had brought along. Jocky ushered him along towards the exit and asked me to join him. I quickly shook hands with everyone and followed them into a taxi bound for the clubbie.

————————————————–

‘Eh’ll fuckin’ “pipes need cleaned” you, ya cunt! Nae cunt comes up here and gies us shite like that. Nae cunt!’

Some clubbie rules are written down in an official manner. The signing-in process and regulations relating to drink transportation, for example. There are also unwritten rules, which, while not strictly official, are observed with the same due respect. Keep it quiet during the bingo. Long-term members hold priority rights to their seat, regardless of the fact there is no notification of said members name on that seat. They aren’t written down because they don’t need to be. It’s the law of the land and everyone obeys them without question.

The man who made the mistake of his life questioning the cleanliness of the Fairmuir’s beer pipes knew this now. The process of being stripped naked and tied spread-eagled to two chairs so that the club’s bowling team could use your groin as target practice will do that to a man. He will remember the rule he broke for as long as he lives.

Bowl after bowl thundered down the long green carpet that had been laid out in the main function room. The bowling team were among the finest in the city. They hit their target with deadly accuracy time and time again as Jocky stood over him and ensured he “kent the score” on the quality of the beer available in the fine establishment he was currently being tortured in.

Once the man’s groin was bruised and swollen beyond all recognition he was sent packing, still naked, with the instruction to remember and tell his fellow Civil Service Club members there was a quiz night on the 24th with £23, 6 week rollover first prize up for grabs and that they were all most welcome to attend.

‘Good seein’ yi’, pal. Mind and tell a’cunt at the Civil Service eh wiz askin’ fur them. Teckle!’

Back inside and Special in-hand we raised a toast to the derby win.

‘Eh’ve seen rougher gemmes, pal. That’s no’ the first time Fuck You Mo lost a limb in the derby, and Heggie wiz quite subdued wi’oot his hubby there. Wonder how Davie Narey couldnae mak’ it? Probably had a prior toe-pokin’ engagement somewhaur.’

I started gabbing away about the bit where the helicopter came down and how it’s hard to imagine it happening at Dens or Tannadice.

‘Next time we play them I’ll keep an eye out for McL….’

I trailed off into silence as it hit me. That was going to be my sole derby experience. Funny though it may seem I hadn’t thought the administration crisis through at a personal level. My focus had been fixed on everything but the fact I was a saleable asset who would be sold to ease the financial burden come the next transfer window in the New Year. My time at Dundee was only weeks away from coming to an end.

‘Eh wondered when the penny would drap,’ said Jocky with a sympathetic smile. ‘It’s no’ been much o’ a scrammy waitin’ fur you tae realise the Dee will hae tae sell yi’ come January.’

I sat letting it run through my head. I never expected nor wanted to stay at Dens all my life. I had plans to play down south, maybe abroad, and definitely at Easter Road for Hibs. But this wasn’t right. I wanted to see out the original goal of helping to take Dundee to the SPL. I didn’t want to leave while the future still hung in the balance.

‘Jocky sees yi’ thinkin’ it’s no’ the right time tae go yet, Leigh. Jocky sees yi’ and thinks a lot o’ yi’ fur feelin’ that way. But a decent transfer fee will go a helluva long way here the noo. Yi’ might feel bad goin’ elsewhere but yi’ll be playin’ an even bigger part in savin’ the club than yi’ could play on the park by headin’ aff tae pastures new. It’s a’ aboot the dough the noo, pal, and you’re the doughiest thing we’ve got. You’re a fuckin’ doughball, Leigh.’

We sat staring into our pints. I was gutted. Dundee meant a lot to me, both the club and the city. I had a lot of good friends here. Jocky slunk off to the loo, allowing me to have a moment of quiet contemplation amid the homely sound of darts landing in the board and the chatter of friendly Dundonian banter. I realised just how much I had grown to like the place. The thought of leaving was definitely less than teckle.

Season 2, Chapter 4: Punch in the Pus Time

A scream left Calum Melville’s lips in a tortured dream and didn’t fade to silence until he was bolt-upright and wide-eyed back in reality. Dawn’s sunbeams stretched across the luxury Chicago hotel suite, penetrating the gloom to cast light on the morning-after-the-night-before mess that acted as a projection of his state his mind.

Through bleary eyes he looked round to see empty bottles and glasses on every white powder-smeared surface. Debris was strewn everywhere and the Persian rug by the bed sported a large pile of shit that gave off a stench fitting of the mess the place was in. Sleep was one of the few opportunities to take respite from his problems. Within seconds of becoming awake they returned as if a hot coal had been placed in his stomach. He could not shake the burning anxiety. There was trouble on the horizon, trouble he could run but not hide from, and Melville knew it only too well.

‘Baaaaaaa,’ bleated the sheep dressed in a basque and crotchless panties responsible for the fecal element of the clutter.

‘You are ok, baby? You have bad dream,’ mumbled the sleepy-yet-stunning, thickly-accented Russian prostitute by his side.

‘I think I lost my watch up your sheep’s ass, man,’ drawled the midget dressed as an Oompa Loompa raking round the clutter on the floor.

Melville lay back and shielded his eyes from light that came into the room. His heart was pounding like a kick drum. He listened to it beat hard in his chest and let out a long, low moan as he remembered why he was in Chicago. As far as nightmare scenarios went running a marathon in aid of charity was pretty much as bad as it got.

‘Fit time is it min?’

‘Hopefully I’ll tell ya in just a minute,’ said the Oompa Loompa as he groped around elbow-deep in the sheep’s arse. He sighed and pulled his hand out with an elongated squelch.

‘Shit, it ain’t up there. Mind if I check inside you, dude? No charge this time.’

After months of training and preparation Calum Melville had blown it by partying hard on the eve of the marathon. He dragged himself out of bed and into a cold shower. As the ice cold water shocked him into something resembling wakefulness the heat of the hot coal in his gut spread through the rest of his body. His world was crumbling around him. His business transactions had not been entirely above board and were nowhere near well enough disguised. There was no avoiding the repercussions, and those repercussions were serious. Very serious. The sense of dread, a near-constant weight that only grew heavier and weighed down his very being, was almost overwhelming. He leaned against the cold tiled wall and let the water stream over him.

‘Baby, you have room service at door. I let them in as I leave. Midget says he wants to work in my chocolate factory,’

The beautiful young Russian had changed back into her cocktail dress and put her head round the door to bid her client farewell. She took one final look at the smallest penis she’d ever come across and closed the door. Melville didn’t acknowledge her as she went. She had her fee for last night so he was none too concerned about closing pleasantries. She wheeled the room service trolley in and departed with the midget. The sheep remained, looking traumatised. Given the previous night’s events it would be hard-pressed to look anything but.

After a good soak Melville jumped out the shower, dried off and returned to the room to put his running shorts and vest on. What a nightmare. He was in no condition for walking to the other side of the room to open the curtains, never mind run a marathon. He sat on the edge of the bed, slumped on his elbows and noticed the room service trolley. A large silver dome covered a platter of breakfast he couldn’t remember ordering. A monogrammed hotel table cloth draped over it to within millimetres of the thick shag carpet. Maybe a nutritious bite to eat would help dull the pain and get him to the starting line. He reached out to see what was on offer.

‘Baaaaaa……baaaaaaa,’ bleated the sheep as Melville lifted the dome.

‘Black sheep huv yi’ any wool?’ sang the head of Jocky Scott that sat on the platter. ‘Yes sir, yes sir, Fairmuir rule. Quiet when the bingo’s on, glesses on a tray, should o’ smelt the ganja when eh signed in Dr Dre. The place wiz fuckin’ hoachin’ like. Eh says, “fuck up, Doc, this isnae the Civil Service clubbie. Ootside wi’ that.”‘

Jocky Scott’s head on a platter. Melville squealed like he’d seen a ghost who had a copy of Cosalt’s stock report.

‘Hiya Calum Melville! Hiya pal! Question fur yi’, “eh’ve got a fehve year plan” cunto: Huv yi’ got that Oompa Loompa’s moby number? He wiz fuckin’ teckle! Eh want aine tae! Wonder whaur yi’ put their batteries? A’ cunt immediately thinks “up the dunger!” when yi’ ask that, eh? Fuckin’ right, whaur else are they gonna go?’

Calum Melville started flapping about in a state of near hysteria.

‘Fit the fit? Jocky min! The fuck is this aboot min?’, he wailed pathetically. His heart felt like it might explode. The pressure. The shock. The post-coke binge fear and accompanying burning sensation in his rear-end, a result of having the midget blow powder up there with a rolled up photo of Stewart Milne. And now this. It was all too much. He buried his face in his hands in the vain hope he was still dreaming, shaking his head and begging someone, anyone, to make it stop. When he looked back up Jocky’s head was gone and had been replaced by a white cat with a black moustache. He sat behind a miniature travel-sized version of Connect 4.

Amazed, he looked at the cat intently. It looked right back at him.

The sheep bleated quietly as if it was concerned. The cat turned to it and miaowed. Some form of inter-species communication appeared to have taken place, because the sheep wandered off into the bathroom and nudged the door closed with his head. Melville wanted to get up and follow it but could not. He was paralysed, fixated by the cat’s never-blinking stare. It wanted him to play Connect 4. Yes, that was it. As his body moved into a playing position his mind protested vehemently and tried to prevent further movement towards the board. The mind over matter clash was a one-sided affair, and within seconds he was dropping a coloured disc – red, like that of the only football team he gave a damn about – into the top of the board. As the cat went to make a move Melville gazed at his mind’s eye as it played the highlight package of his life.

‘Mia…’

‘Hud the boat there, wee aine. Eh’ll start proceedings here,’ interrupted Jocky, who had suddenly appeared on the other side of the room and was filling a Tesco bag with complimentary tea and coffee, toiletries from the bathroom and the salted snacks from the mini bar.

He checked his wrist, and although there was no watch there asked, ‘ken what time it is, Wee Jock?’

Melville slowly turned to the cat, saw it nodding in response and turned back to Jocky. He started to cower away as he approached purposefully. His voice was quiet and cold, his words carefully measured.

‘This is fur a’body wha disnae deserve what will come at Dens. This is fur the brave boys, and girls, wha’ wear the dark blue o’ Dundee.’

It was the stroke of punch in the pus time in the Windy City.

———————————————————

The dark clouds that had gathered on the day of Jocky’s tribunal hung menacingly over Dundee Football Club for weeks, and with each passing day the rain grew heavier. It was an anxious time for all concerned. The players and staff tried to soldier on as best possible but there was no denying we all felt the tension and struggled not to let it affect us. The fans were in the same boat. They’d been through so much in the modern era. There was a time when Dundee were a force. The 1960s had seen a league championship win and some of the best teams in Europe fall at Dens. It may seem hard to believe now but Dundee were only two wins away from becoming European champions before Celtic’s lions roared in Lisbon in ’67.

That was the peak. From there Dundee slid back down to earth and landed with a bump. The team on the pitch would never scale the glorious heights of the championship winning team. The only side that could be considered anywhere near capable of bringing back the glory days never realised the dream and eventually saw the club go into administration with debts of £23 million without anything of any real note to show for it.

In the weeks after the tribunal it came to light that the situation was as serious, perhaps even worse, than they had been when the club went into administration. Melville, he of so many promises in which our faith was placed, started singing an entirely different tune to the one he’d hypnotised us with on his arrival. He wanted out. The man had poured a lot of money into the club but was drawing a line, effectively turning previous promises into lies. As we wondered what hope there would be without his financial backing the tax man came a calling. There was no money to pay for the bill he demanded be paid. The board started pointing fingers at each other but offered no solution. Dundee was in trouble, big trouble, and the possibility going to the wall – of ceasing to exist – was sick-to-the-stomach real.

On the 14th of October the storm reached a new level of intensity. Lightning crashed down as Dundee FC went into administration for the second time in seven years. The roar of thunder that followed shook the club to the core. The day after we went into administration vital cost-cuts were implemented and people lost their livelihoods. As my team mates, my friends, were told they were no longer Dundee players those who caused the problems were nowhere to be seen. Melville wasn’t even in the country. Bob Brannan was probably in TK Maxx and at least had the insanity thing to fall back on when blame was being proportioned. The people who lost their jobs and the fans who followed us through thick and more thin than they deserved took the brunt of the blow.

‘It’s a sad day, pal. This club’s seen far too many o’ them tae,’ sighed a visibily upset Jocky. I hadn’t seen him for a few days but he’d turned up at Dens that morning to offer moral support. ‘Cannae believe it’s come ti’ this again. It’s a fuckin’ shambles. Tell yi’ what, it wouldnae o’ happened under the Marrs, like. Well, mibbe Jimmy, but no’ Peter. Peter’s as financially astute and unwilling ti’ tak’ risks as any cunt eh ken, and eh ken a lot o’ cunts. Ken?’

The axe fell and we said farewell to those who got the chop, offering condolences and good wishes for the future. Most of the guys who went would be sadly missed. Others, well, maybe not quite as much.

‘Mon Dieu! Zees ees a disgrace! Zey cannot be allowed to get away weeth eet! En guarde!’

Mikael Antoine Curier stood on Sandeman Street waiting for a lift. I might have had more sympathy for him had he not already changed into a full Hamilton Accie kit and been acting like a plank. When he realised I’d been kept and he was sacked he flew into a rage and asked why the superior striker was being let go. It was pretty poor behaviour when the rest of the lads had taken the awful news with such dignity.

‘Monsieur Reid is on ze way, Leigh! I go back to ze SPL whereas you, you keep your place in ze hellhole! Who ees winning, huh?’

I was in no mood to challenge him. The place was crawling with national press who were treated with much more caution than the generally sound local papers. Apparently the Beano was here too because Jocky was offering his thoughts on events to someone and declaring, ‘the Bash Street Kids are sound. Plug’s a good cunt. Jocky kens his auld man, yaesed ti’ bide on the Provie Road.’

I tried to leave Mikael on good terms.

‘I’m sorry you lost your job, Mikael. All the best to you.’

I extended my hand but he only spat at my feet in return.

‘OW! You fuckin’ daein’ yi big prick? Eh? You gettin’ wide wi’ meh pal, cunto?’

Jocky stormed up and I had to hold him back before he made a scene. Curier backed off but kept the motor mouth running.

‘Here he ees, ze lunatic manager who ees always asking who is in charge. Do you not realise zat I, Mikael, am in charge?’

Oh man. That wasn’t smart. Thankfully Jocky seemed to find it quite funny.
‘Yas! That’s the gemme, big stuff! See if yi’ showed that attitude on the pitch instead o’ bein’ a big lazy spazzie bastard wha’s mair injury prone than the Brittle Bone Society’s karate team, yi’d be the maist famous Frenchman since Zidane and revered like thon boy fae ‘Allo ‘Allo.’

Curier responded by shouting, ‘YOU KNOW NOTHING OF ‘ALLO ‘ALLO! ALL YOU KNOW IS HOW TO CARE FOR ZAT RAT OF YOURS!’

Jocky took exception to that comment but for all the wrong reasons.

‘Dinnae call Leigh a rat ya bam! He’s no’ the bonniest laddie in the world but yi’ dinnae meet many sounder!’

Slightly offended, I suggested he was infact referring to Wee Jocky, and it pushed him over the edge.

‘WHIT? FUCKING WHIT? NAE CUNT CALLS MEH CAT A RAT, CUNTO! NAE CUNT!’

He softened instantly and politely asked if I had the time.

‘It’s just after…’

‘PUNCH IN THE FUCKING PUS TIME! THUNDERCATS – HOOOOOOOO!’

Curier bolted and Jocky was hot on his heels. I looked to see if anyone from the press saw it. Thankfully they were pre-occupied with people coming out the front door of Dens, so I gave chase. I tore down Provest Road and caught sight of them taking a right up on to Dens Road. Mikael was fast but Jocky was keeping pace just behind him. As they approached the play park Jocky started yelling, ‘Bomber! Get a hud o’ this cunt!’ at a middle-aged man with red hair and a wild look about him. He didn’t lay a finger on Curier but he blocked his way by dancing furiously in front of him, preventing him from passing and holding him up long enough to allow Jocky to catch up. The dancing man saw Jocky closing in and jumped out the way. As Curier turned to gauge his next move he was obliterated with a flying clothesline.

‘YAAAAAAAAAAAAASSSSSS!’ cried Jocky as he rolled Curier on to his back and lay over him. He started looking around, shouting, ‘some cunt count! Big Jock’s got him pinned ti’ fuck here!’

The dancer was making a UNTZ-UNTZ-UNTZ-UNTZ-UNTZ noise to himself and was lost in some robotic dances moves reminiscent of those I’d seen Jocky pull. I did the honours and got down on the pavement to slap my hand on the concrete three times.

‘YAAAAAAAAAAAAAASSSSS! Ya cunt, that wiz some clothesline! Best aine since eh banjoed Hacksaw Jim Duggan doon at the train station. The other Aberdeen casuals got right back on the train and went hame efter that aine.’

Curier moaned and groaned on the pavement. The aggression had been knocked out of him and the three-count seemed to have ended the matter as far as Jocky was concerned. He helped his defeated foe back up and dusted him down a bit.

‘A’right chief, it’s nae bather. Eh think yi’ learned yir lesson there, eh?’

He exhaled deeply,surrendering with a handshake and a weak smile.

‘Monsiur Jocky, I apologise for calling ze cat a rat.’

Jocky took his hand and shook it, nodding with respect as his opponent showed some dignity in defeat.

‘Fair doos, pal. Ain’t no thang but a G thang, a’body kens that. We’ll call it quits there, eh? Teckle! Now, what’s the plan? What yi’ up ti’? Bowzer for a swift jar? The High Corner fur a wee shot on the buckin’ bronco?’

Mikael gave it some thought. While he had said Hamilton were about to sign him and was certainly dressed for the occasion it seemed that deal wasn’t as cut and dried as he made out, because he stood for a minute looking a bit lost. I felt bad for him. Suddenly his eyes brightened and he stood tall as he walked out in the middle of Dens Road and lay down on his back with his hands behind his head. A couple of cars had to screech to a halt to avoid running him over.

‘Mikael! What the fuck, man?’

He shook his head at my failure to grasp what he was up to.

‘Leigh mon amis, can you not see what ees ‘appening? I am on strike! Why? No real reason. Perhaps someone suggested it’s only a matter of time before Hamilton will be back in ze 1st division. Perhaps I ‘ave just been informed ze actor who played Reni in ‘Allo ‘Allo was not only English but a notorious homosexual. Who knows? One thing is for sure – I am on strike.’

Les Marsaeillais started up out of nowhere. Jocky looked around for the source of the music, found none, shrugged his shoulders and gave Mikael a wee salute. I felt obliged to do the same. Mikael merely waved us off with disdain and got settled in for his latest strike action.

As traffic built up all the way down the road and the beeping and tooting started, Jocky introduced me to a guy whose name I’d heard a few times but hadn’t actually met.

‘Leigh “Mongchops” Griffiths, John “Bomber” Broon. Say hiya, cuntos!’

Bomber grabbed me and hugged me lovingly as if we’d known each other for years.

‘Leigh! Alright man! Having a good night?’

It was only lunchtime but I said I was indeed having a good night.

‘Fuck aye man, it’s pure mental in here! Did you catch Weatherall’s set? Fucking brilliant by the way, pure givin’ it UNTZ-UNTZ-UNTZ-UNTZ-UNTZ.’

Bomber shuffled away dancing to the beat he was recreating. Jocky looked on smiling and shaking his head.

‘Some cunt right there, Leigh. Bomber Broon! If yi’ ever need sorted oot that’s the man ti’ see, a’body kens that. Apparently his mushies are pure tec….’

He coughed and indicated it was time to head off. He told Bomber to meet up at the Fairmuir later on and received a hands-in-the-air salute and smile as wide as the Tay. I waved and followed Jocky. The day of sad goodbyes wasn’t over quite yet.

———————————————–

Though the bouncy castle was now deflated it didn’t stop Billy bouncing up and down on it. Jocky and I said hello to the team of removal men and called on our pal. Gordon Chisholm and Billy Dodds had been the first out the door today.

Billy stopped bouncing when he saw us. He waved, enthusiastically at first but slowing down gradually until he stopped and burst out in tears. Jocky and I both jogged over to console him.

‘Poor wee man! ‘Mon now, nae greetin’,’ soothed Jocky as he hugged Billy lovingly and kissed his forehead. Billy hugged him back fiercely then offered an open arm to me so I could join them. The three of us stood in a group hug. Billy’s wailing set Jocky off doing the same, and the sight of both of them crying started my waterworks. It was awful. Jocky wiped his eyes and tried to cheer his wee pal up a bit.

‘Billy, mind that time eh took yi’ ti’ Edinburgh Zoo? Mind that, Billy? The zoo’s fuckin’ teckle! Eh ended up scrapin’ wi’ thon penguin right enough, but it wiz a braw day oot. Mind that, Billy?’

Billy sniffled and nodded, smiling at the memory.

‘Mind what eh says tae that penguin, Billy? Eh?’

Jocky gave him a huge smile and a nudge with his elbow as he coaxed the good memory out him. Billy laughed through the end of his tears, wiping the snot from his nose and nodding. Jocky wanted Billy to say it so he nudged him a little more until he did.

‘Jocky asked the biscuit wha’s in cherge!’

Jocky erupted in laughter.

‘Yaaaaaas! Mind that, Billy? Fuckin’ right! Big Jocky’s in cherge here, a’body kens that! Fuckin’ penguin bastard, that wiz him telt.’

The three of us laughed heartily. The removal men stood watching with a freaked out look in their eye before continuing to load the lorry. It was a busy scene and we didn’t want to hang around getting in the way.

‘Well Billy, that’s you aff, eh? Affy sorry yi’ got the bullet, pal. Yi’ll be a’right though! Boy like you’ll hae another gig on the go in nae time.’

Billy nodded and creased his face as if it was daft to suggest he was stuck for work.

‘Billy’s on the radio! Speaks about futba.’

Jocky opened his arms up in a “well there you go” gesture.

‘See! It’s nae bather! If any cunt ever puts that Video Killed the Radio Star sang on eh’ll say, “ow, cunto, that’s no’ entirely true, like,” and tell them meh pal Billy’s a wee star and he’s on the radio, ken? Eh? Fuckin’ right.’

They shook hands and embraced. Watching them say goodbye brought the tears back to my eyes, and when Billy came to me to say farewell with a sad yet brave look that would melt a glacier I couldn’t help but let them run down my cheeks. Billy had been there for me. He was there when I pulled the lever, been prepared to fight for me when Brannan’s goons threatened me afterwards and taken the long journey up the Tay to find Jocky. He was a good man and a great friend whom I would miss terribly. We didn’t say a word as he hugged goodbye. Everything I needed to know was in his bright, sparkling eyes and the nod of complete understanding he gave me as we broke our embrace.

He looked and smiled at us in turn then wandered off to his tricycle. He put his propellor hat on, revved the engine (or at least made the noise it would make if it had an engine) and pedalled off. Jocky and I stood watching him go as the removal guys, who would follow on to Billy’s new location shortly, started packing up the bouncy castle. Just as he was almost out of sight Billy swerved round and came back towards us. With an enormous smile he approached to within a few feet, bellowed, ‘BILLY LIKES FUTBA!’, then turned without stopping and disappeared back down the road until he vanished from sight.

See yi’ later, Billy. See yi’, pal.

Season 2, Chapter 3: Day Tripper

We were on Broughty Ferry beach enjoying the last days of summer. Having received a text message announcing, “Hiya pal! Pure lappin’ up the sun doon Ferry beach. The sandy aine, like. Wiz on the stony aine fur a bit but ended up punchin’ a few o’ the swans that hing aboot there in the pus when they got wide. Ferry cunts frown upon fightin’ the swans. Fuck knows how, they’re a bunch o’ pricks. Fire doon ya aunt x”, I took a taxi down and arrived late in the afternoon.

I wandered along from Castle Green at a leisurely pace, enjoying the sun, family atmosphere and the refreshingly cool water of the Tay lapping at my feet. The crowd thinned out the further I walked until I eventually found my friends. Jocky looked like he’d been there since 1950-something. He was lounging in an old deck chair with a knotted white handkerchief on his head and trackie bottoms rolled up to his knees. Wee Jocky the cat sat beside him in his own miniature deck chair and also sported a knotted hanky on his little head. Bob Brannan sat in the sand picking it up by the handful and letting it slip through his fingers with a look of vaguely terrified astonishment that suggested he’d never seen it before in his life and thought it might be some kind of threat. The length of washing line rope attached to the frame of Jocky’s chair and tied round Bob’s waist seemed cruel, but it would, as Jocky put it, ‘stop him runnin’ aboot annoying folk. Daft cunt chased a Border Collie halfway ti’ Carnoustie shoutin’ aboot TK Maxx earlier.’ A couple of blue poly bags filled with cans of Special sat by Jocky’s side, and a cauldron of stovies sat atop a fire build from driftwood. It was a fine summer scene.

I made myself comfortable on a beach towel and accepted the beer Jocky passed my way.

‘Just the two of you is it?’

‘Miaow.’

‘Sorry, just the three of you is it?’

‘No pal, Billy’s doon beh the water building a sand-Dens. He did a sand-Tannadice tae but eh flew high over it and shat on the bastards below, just like in the sang aboot United the Monkees wrote. The Monkees were Derry boys, a’body kens that.’

I shielded my eyes from the sun and looked towards the water’s edge. I saw the “sand-Dens” but there was no sign of my assistant manager. Jocky noticed he was gone too and sat forward on his deck chair. He pulled out a brightly coloured plastic telescope that must’ve been for a recommended age range of 3-7 and scanned the horizon.

‘Aw fur fuck sake….’

I stood up and strained my eyes as I tried to pick him out. Billy was several hundred feet out and waving frantically towards shore. Jocky was the first to react. He was up in a flash, ripping off his trackie bottoms as he went. Unfortunately he wasn’t wearing any swimming trunks, or indeed any form of underwear. He sprinted towards the water then stopped suddenly and turned back towards me.

‘Leigh, di’ yi’ mind Baywatch? Teckle documentary aboot Knight Rider’s summer joab when the talkin’ car went to Ayia Napa to work the bars fur three month? Check this oot!’

He started running in slow motion towards the water, turning back numerous times to make sure I was watching and getting the joke.

‘Thon burd wi’ the tits wiz in it tae! Big Jock’s no’ got any fun bags but the auld ba’ sack’s fair booncin’ aboot here!’

It was bouncing in some style. I shuddered then shouted for him to hurry up because Billy was in trouble.

He waved a dismissive hand at me for spoiling his fun and got in the water. He turned round to face me again and grabbed his cock, holding it at it’s base with his right hand. He started winding it up, swinging it round and round like a propeller. “The Helicopter”. As he built up some speed a passing middle-aged man walking his dog who was clearly and quite understandably horrified stopped to look on.

‘A’right pal? Braw day, eh?’

The man couldn’t muster a response.

‘Bonnie doag that. Cocker Spaniel, is it? Eh’ve got a Boaby Brannan. Lovely animal, but a wee bit temperamental.’

The man followed Jocky’s directional nod, saw Bob tied to the deck chair and suddenly screaming TROOSERS! repeatedly, and started backing away.

Jocky had worked up a spin so fast his cock was but a blur. He jogged backwards into deeper water. As soon as his cock was submerged he shot off like a speed boat, waving at me with his free hand as he went. He reached Billy in seconds flat, grabbed him with his free hand and turned back towards shore. He was back on the sand less than 30 seconds after he’d left it. Incredible.

He dropped a spluttering, slightly distressed but essentially perfectly healthy Billy down in the sand. He let go of his cock and stood hands-on-hips for a few seconds as it wound down from the spin and dangled low between his legs again. Billy sat up and started talking excitedly.

‘Billy saw a dolphin! Fish for tea! Klimpl sha…’

Jocky had kneeled next to him, leaned down and cut him short by administering the kiss of life.

‘Erm, I don’t think he needs that, boss. He’s conscious and actually talking to you.’

Jocky broke the kiss and looked up at me.

‘It’s nae bather, pal, he’ll regain consciousness in a minute. Knight Rider did the damage every time wi’ this move, there wiz nae fatalities on that cunt’s shift. Cunt saved lives while the motor went ti’ perties and shagged burds wha like R&B.’

‘Jocky! Billy saw a dolp…’

Jocky stopped him short again, sealing his lips over Billy’s and breathing air into him as the wee man’s arms and legs flailed around. When the seal was broken Billy started coughing and spluttering, probably more at Jocky’s beer breath than an intake of sea water.

‘There’s the boy! Y’a’right there, Billy? Thought yi’ were a goner there like! Ooft! What did eh tell yi’ aboot goin’ in the water? Eh?’

Billy thought about it for a second before responding, ‘dinnae fucking bather!’

‘Yas! That’s the gemme, pal. Mind it next time, cunto.’

Drama over, we returned to our spot further up the beach. I kept a watchful eye on Billy as he made a start on building sand replicas of the Hilltown Multis that overlooked Dens.

‘Leigh, wee question fur yi’, cunto: what are yir thoughts on mind-alterin’ hallucinogenic substances?”

‘Eh? Why do you ask?’ I enquired, puzzled.

Jocky shrugged nonchalantly.

‘Dinnae ken. Just askin’ like. Never drapped acid or that?’

I was baffled by this unusual line of questioning and explained that as a footballer from a young age I’d never been interested in drugs. A bevy on occasion, aye, fair enough, but nothing illegal. He seemed impressed, nodding and giving me a wee wink. He got out his seat and tended to the stovies, giving them a good stir with a big stick. He spent some time giving them great care and attention, occasionally making whispers of encouragement as they cooked. When he seemed satisfied that they were up to scratch he left them be and called on Billy.

‘Billy, ‘mon get yir cream on, pal.’

Billy bounded over, his smile as bright as the sun in the clear blue sky above. Jocky grabbed a bottle of suncream. Sitting back down on the edge of the deck chair he got Billy to kneel down in front of him and squeezed some into his cupped hands.

‘You dae yir airms and eh’ll dae yir back, wee aine. Cannae hae yi’ gettin’ a’ burnt now, can wi’? Chis’ll no’ be happy if yi’ go back redder than Alex Ferguson’s pus when eh telt him Posh Spice wiz replacin’ him on the Fairmuir dominoes team. Fuckin’ hates that lassie so he does. Cheeky cunt gave iz the hair straightener treatment ‘n’ a’hin’ when eh telt him. Fuckin’ toby.’

Billy stuck his tongue out a little as he concentrated on applying the cream evenly to his arms. Jocky shook the bottle, smiled and said, ‘this is a bit like when eh wiz up at Arbroath in the caravan wi’ Duffy’s missus! Eh’ll tak’ yi’ ti’ Pleasure Land a’right doll, it’s nae bather,’ as he squirted a load of white cream on Billy’s back and started rubbing it in with more tenderness than I cared for.

‘The Jon Bons are ready by the way, pal. Fire in. It’s Granny’s recipe wi’ a wee twist courtesy o’ the Jockster here. As Egon Ronay once says ti’ iz when he fired up fur a gemme o’ John Madden on the Megadrive, by Christ thon stovies are fuckin’ teckle! Ken they are, Egon. Ken they are.’

I dished out a big portion into one of the paper bowls Jocky had brought along, cracked open a Special and tucked in. They were teckle right enough. Very tasty. I finished them off in no time and went back for a second helping.

‘Are you lot not eating some? They’re really good. Compliments to the chef!’

Jocky grinned.

‘We ate before yi’ came doon, but you fire in likes. Enjoy, cunto!’

I ate another bowl and lay back, relaxing in the sun watching Billy work feverishly at his sandcastle. I thought I caught Jocky looking at me intently a couple of times, but when I glanced back at him he turned his head away.

‘What’s up, boss? Something on your mind?’

‘Big day the mo’rin’, pal. Eh’ve got meh tribunal, likes.’

Ah yes. Having been sacked by Dundee earlier in the year Jocky had lodged an unfair dismissal claim. It seemed he felt some conflict about it.

‘Bit o’ a weird aine, like. Big Jock should never huv got the bullet, yiz would be playin’ in the SPL the now if eh hudnae been punted. Didnae matter if Inverness were catchin’ up, eh hud plans ti’ send a squad car full o’ Fairmuir cunts up ti’ batter fuck oot Terry Butcher. Nae danger they’d maintain a title challenge if’ their boss wiz in a full-body cast covered in graffiti sayin’ WHA’S IN CHERGE HERE? DFC #1. Fuckin’ sure Chis wisnae up fur playing an attackin’ formation that aggressive. Hopeless cunt’s been playin’ you on the left weeng fur fuck sake.’

I had to give him that. I was no winger despite Gordon Chisholm’s insistence on playing me there at times.

‘Eh reckon eh wiz treated poorly. A’ cunt at the Fairmuir agrees. Even McLean! So eh took it ti’ tribunal. There’s no’ as much money in darts as eh expected, and bein’ your agent isnae exactly lettin’ iz buy the Tesco Finest corn beef.’

I started mumbling an apologetic explanation but he cut me off.

‘Shut yir pus, Leigh. Eh hate takin’ dough aff the Dee, fuckin’ right, but eh need a wee wedge ti’ tide iz over until either the pension comes in or Wullie Miller comes oot the closet and the bet eh put on in 1982 pays oot. ‘Mon ti’ fuck Wullie. A’body kens, be as well makin’ it official.’
Billy called on me.

‘Leigh! Billy found a jelly fish! Bring ice cream!’

Not wanting him to get stung trying to eat his discovery I jumped up and ran over shouting to leave it alone. Fortunately when I got there I saw it was just a used condom. I got him to drop it and buried it under a pile of sand with my feet. Billy insisted I stay and play with him, so I got down and helped. He’d done a remarkable job with it. Dens looked just like a football ground and he’d made a good start on the surrounding Hilltown.

After a while I felt a strange tingling feeling building up inside me. It started down in the pit of my stomach and seemed to spread slowly yet steadily through my body. I felt it filter through every inch of me. I stood up and took a breath. What the fuck? It was the oddest sensation. I looked over towards Jocky. He sat looking right at me, smiling and nodding like he knew something I didn’t. I tried to make sense of what was going on but came up blank. I looked down at the sandy Hilltown and had to rub my eyes when it seemed as if tiny little people were walking about in there. My eyes moved away from it and attempted to readjust. Wherever my eyes rested there was movement. The sand appeared almost alive. Shapes formed, swirled away then reformed. Everything in my field of vision began to shimmer and pulse.

I sat back down. Billy was looking at me, smiling curiously as he sensed something was amiss. He started talking and it sounded all garbled. It echoed around in my head making no sense. Trying to respond had the same effect. My mouth felt full of cotton wool. When he waved at me his hand left a trail in its wake. I waved my own hand in front of my face and it had the same effect. Objects in motion looked as if they were seeping some kind of energy which then rushed back in before it lost sight of it’s source.

I sat lost in my own head looking at the sand. It was a living, breathing entity. I ran my hand through it and watched a wake push out on either side of the line I made. The wake kept on moving, rippling across the whole beach. Amazi…

‘HIYA LEIGH, HIYA PAL!’

I nearly jumped out my skin. Jocky sat in the sand a few feet away with his megaphone raised to his mouth. Brannan and Billy sat quietly behind him.

‘HOW’S IT GOING THERE? Y’A’RIGHT AYE?’

He smiled knowingly, his kind eyes helping put me back at ease as my heart thundered in my chest. I went to speak but he hushed me.

‘DINNAE WO…’

He put the megaphone down and continued. He radiated good vibes and wisdom. He was a man in cherge. I knew that well enough but hadn’t quite appreciated the depth of it until now.

‘Dinnae worry, pal. Yi might be feelin’ a bit funny but it’s teek-a-fuckin’-leek, ken? It’s nae bather. Sometimes a man hus ti’ take a step ootside himself…..or mibbe a step inside himself…..ti’ find oot wha’ he is and whaur he’s goin’. Ken?
I nodded, both hearing and feeling what he was saying.

He got up and started heading back to his deck chair with Bob trailing behind on the end of the rope. Billy waited for a moment, looked right inside me with his smiling eyes then waved and skipped away after them.

I took a breath and lay back in the sand. The sky was electric. A spark fell away and spiralled elegantly down towards me. I closed my eyes and let the current flow through me.

——————————————-

When I opened my eyes again I was right there in the sand where I’d started. Not all journeys are physical adventures. Much of what I saw, most of what I felt, would make no sense if I tried to describe it. I couldn’t do it justice with mere man-made concepts like words.

While I’d seen things it takes the right kind of eyes to notice and felt all the more aware for it, some of the most vivid moments incorporated elements of my day-to-day normality and left me feeling deeply uneasy. I’d been in a high vantage point watching over Dens and watched as a darkness blew over it like a sandstorm. I’d seen Jocky fighting a hideous beast the likes of which I’d never encountered, and felt very afraid when I noticed a mysterious figure lurking in the background, watching him as if biding its time for the right time to strike. I’d heard a chorus of voices bid someone farewell with a war-time song, and as I joined in with the words I recognised – “we’ll meet again, don’t know when, don’t no where” – I’d looked across the room and made eye contact with…….myself. I noticed I was wearing a football strip. It wasn’t one which Dundee players wore.

I gazed out across the mouth of the Tay into darkness. I was definitely back. I had no idea what had happened, but there was absolutely no doubt something major had just taken place. It was an experience like no other. Though I’d never taken any and therefore couldn’t gauge it properly, I could only describe it as like being on mind-altering halluci……..

‘Hiya Leigh, hiya pal.’

I jumped and turned quickly. No-one was there. The beach was deserted.

‘Jocky?’

It was a hesitant response. The greeting was his but the voice, although similar, wasn’t. My eyes darted around looking for him. Nothing. Just Broughty Ferry beach in the middle of the night, a bloody incredible sand-built replica of Dens, the Hilltown and surrounding area…………

And Jocky the cat sitting in a mini deck chair next to it.

I stared hard at him. He just sat there looking right back at me. It couldn’t have been……

My vision started swirling, twinkling as it began to fade out. My legs turned to jelly and I felt myself tumble forward. My last thought before lights out was that I’d just ruined the best sandcastle ever.

——————————————

I sat on the kerb outside the building the tribunal was taking place gulping a bottle of water. I’d managed to dust myself down and get most of the sand I’d woken up covered in off. Waking up dazed and confused on Broughty Ferry beach may have been a rite of passage for youngsters who lived out that way but it wasn’t something I’d taken any pride in doing. The well-to-do elderly dog walker whose four-legged companion had woken me with an affectionate lick to the face was none too impressed either, and managed to rattle off quite a speech about “the youth of today” before I managed to get my bearings and make as hasty a departure as I could manage. Thankfully the team had a day off from training and I didn’t have to face the music at Dens, so I had taken a taxi into town and Jocky’s tribunal.

It turns out I didn’t have long to wait before he appeared. I checked my watch. It was still early. They must have sorted the matter out with less fuss than might have been expected. He stood holding court among a small pack of members of the press. He’d sharpened up for the occasion by wearing dress black trousers and a tie. He hadn’t bothered completing the outfit with a shirt, and the football boots didn’t exactly set off what he had managed to get on.

‘What paper are you fae, son? The Record? Train station’s that way, get ti’ fuck. You tae Sun-shine. Ooft! Wee joke for yi’ there! Now fuck off back ti’ Glesgae ya tabloid cunts. Big Jocky only speaks ti’ the Tully, the Courier and the Beano.’

He gave the reporters what they wanted and they dispersed. I whistled over at him and he came across to join me, the studs of his boots clicking on the concrete as he went.

‘You’re finished early. How did it go?’

He sat beside me on the kerb.

‘Started aff a’right. Eh stated meh case and telt them eh wanted £76m compo.’

I spluttered.

‘Whit? That’s outrageous!’

He looked genuinely hurt and replied, ‘fuck up ya cunt, Jocky’s worth millions! Think o’ a’ the dough eh’m losing on wages and image rights fur the ‘tache. Eh hud aboot £3m worth o’ 20p pieces stashed in Smarties tubes in the office! Cheeky wee bastard, dinnae “whit!” me!’

I shook my head but said no more.

‘Anyway, eh did meh bit. That wiz that, like. The gig wiz postponed ‘cause thon boy Melville didnae turn up.’

We both paused for a few moments to let that sink in. Without saying a word to each other we both agreed that Melville not showing up for such an event was troubling. As more time passed it grew increasingly so.

We decided to head up to the Fairmuir for breakfast. A lorne roll and a pint was in order. As we walked through the city centre Jocky asked if I had a good time at the beach. He apologised for leaving me but thought I looked like I was having a good time and left me to it. I couldn’t place a reason for the devilish glint in his eye so I ignored it and began pouring out details of my strange, incredible and slightly creepy experience from the previous night. He was most intrigued and highly concerned by some of my visions, particularly the one featuring Dens. I saw real fear in his eyes as he absorbed that bit.

I wasn’t sure whether to be relieved or not when he explained the bit about him fighting a hideously ugly beast may have been terrifying but was in fact just a chance meeting with an old acquaintance instead of a vision in my mind.

“Could nae believe meh luck when Davie fuckin’ Dodds went wanderin’ past. Eh says, “whaur’s meh fuckin’ ten-spot yi half-elephant bastard!” and gave the cunt a kicking. Took £10.50 aff him. That’s the tenner he wiz due and 50p Jocky tax. Teckle!’

I began pondering what had triggered the crazy things I’d seen. Jocky quickly offered his thoughts.

‘The Special must huv been aff, or the corn doag in the stovies. Mibbe the Geordie fella in the clouds decided yi’ needed ti’ see certain things. A wee bit o’ perspective, ken? Maist cunts either never see it or dinnae recognise it when they do. You took it in and’ll mak’ something o’ it. Mibbe it winnae be a dramatic cheenge, but yi’ll remember what yi’ saw and tak’ it forward.’

His voice trailed off to a barely audible mumble and he added, ‘or mibbe eh needed a guinea pig to try the mushies Bomber grew before the Fairmuir boys fire intae them….’

He jumped into the road waving an arm to hail a taxi before I could say I didn’t quite catch that last bit. We dived in and sat idle in the morning traffic. I decided to venture a couple of questions.

‘Boss, does Wee Jocky sleep in the house at night or does he go out?’

‘Wee Jocky likes his kip, pal. They’re no’ called cat naps fur nuthin’. Usually sleeps in the bunk bed in meh spare bedroom. He’s on the bottom, Soapy’s up on top. Suppose he does go oot sometimes, mibbe fur a scrap ootside the Vu or munchies fae the garage or something. Fuck knows. As lang as he minds ti’ tak’ his key eh could nae really gie a fuck.’

I hesitated for a moment and wondered if I really wanted to ask the next question.

‘Has he ever………has he ever talked to you?’

The look on his face confirmed I shouldn’t have asked in the first place. He shook his head, smiling, and patted me on the knee. Apparently I was “some fucking boy”, and “a massive spazzie”.

The mind-taxing events of the previous day and night sleeping rough had taken a toll. I felt washed out and jaded. Had I been my usual self and not slipped into a half-asleep daze as I peered out the taxi window I might have picked up on the phone call Jocky made – “Hiya Jum! Green fur go wi’ Bomber’s gear. The eagle has landed, and it thought meh cat wiz talkin’ ti’ him. Fuck aye. We are at DEFCON Teckle, repeat; we are at DEFCON Teckle. See yi’ efter pal!’ I might also have paid heed to the instinctive uneasy twinge poking at my gut a little bit more as a car with blacked out windows discreetly followed us all the way along our route.

By the time we’d reached the clubbie news and rumours about the tribunal and Melvilles’s no-show were already starting to fly around the city. News travels fast in Dundee, and rumours about the city’s football teams travels even faster.

It wouldn’t take long for the rumours to become ugly facts that would change everything.

Dark clouds were forming over the horizon. Soon they would roll in over Dens and unleash a storm the likes of which the weather-beaten club had never seen before.

Season 2, Chapter 2: Nae Boaby Does it Better

Darren Jackson had enjoyed a successful career as footballer. He’d spent time at both the Edinburgh clubs, Dundee United, Celtic, and had represented his country on 28 occasions. Most professional players in Scotland would give their right arm for the career Darren Jackson had. When his playing days came to a halt he became an agent, representing a number of Scottish players. Though they draw criticism and a great deal of disdain from many quarters within the game, agents are an intricate, and, perhaps unfortunately, necessary part of modern football.

Jackson received a cryptic message regarding one of the players he represented late one night. The communication requested his presence at a meeting that was of vital importance and worth a large sum of money for the player. Large sums of money for players mean a cut for the agent. With pound signs flashing in his head Jackson didn’t think twice about agreeing to attend the meeting.

He arrived in Dundee by train the following day and took a taxi to the given address in Broughty Ferry. He strolled up the garden path of an impressive detached home, noting an unusual looking tree as he went. The front door was slightly ajar. He knocked, and when no response was forthcoming he put his head through and called out a greeting. Nothing. Slightly sheepishly he entered and walked to the living room. Though no-one appeared to be home he found a cat sitting by a Connect 4 board. The cat had a black moustache that contrasted it’s pure white fur. How very odd. He called out again, wondering where the person he was meant to be meeting could possibly be.

‘Miaow’

Jackson smiled. It was almost as if the cat had answered him. It was certainly looking his way, and rather intently at that. ‘Nice pussy cat’, he said absentmindedly as he looked around the room. Just as the stuffed bear in the corner started to strike him as incredibly bizarre the cat stood up on it’s back legs, picked up one of the Connect 4 discs and slotted it into the board. Jackson stared hard at the cat. Cats don’t stand on their hind legs like that. Cats don’t know how to play Connect 4.

Jackson laughed nervously. A cold, creepy sensation started to creep through him like a sharp frost setting on a winter morning.

‘Miaow’

He continued staring at the cat. The feline’s dark glare was unflinching. As he picked up a a different coloured disc to that which the cat had played he heard a distant voice inside his head screaming in protest. The urge to take flight flooded him, yet he couldn’t prevent his hand moving towards the board. The cry from his mind was silenced the instant he dropped the disc through the narrow slot at it’s summit. As it fell into place a wicked grin spread across the cat’s moustachioed face, and Darren Jackson felt the ice cold grip of terror clutch his very soul.

———————————

The first day of the season came at last. I had a spring in my step as I headed towards Dens, eager for the next few hours to pass so the opening game against Queen of the South could get underway. Traffic on the Kingsway was at a virtual standstill, allowing me to snake between the static vehicles to the other side without having to dice with death on the busy dual carriageway which carved through the length of the city. The road was choked all the way up to Clepington Road. Horns beeped impatiently and a few drivers had stepped out their vehicles to try and gauge what was going on up ahead that was causing the hold up. It was unusual for traffic to be gridlocked to this extent in Dundee. There must’ve been an accident.

As I approached what seemed to be the spot the incident had taken place the cacophony of car horns seemed to gather together and find a harmonic plateau. I slowed my pace down a few notches, letting my ear tune into the traffic jam’s seemingly-orchestrated blare. The music that filled the air toyed with my sense of recognition for a few moments before hitting home. Les Marseillaise. Straight away I realised what, or rather who, was holding up traffic.

Mikael Antoine Curier lay in the middle of the Clepington Road. He had stretched out across the central dividing line so that nothing could pass in any direction. While a small band of baffled, irate commuters formed a broken circle around him to offer curiosity-tinged abuse, Mikael lay on his back puffing lazily on a cigarette without a care in the world. As I looked on from the fringes he seemed to sense my presence. He noticed me, smiled and made a “come hither” motion. I broke through the crowd and self-consciously got down on one knee beside him. He spoke with a casual indifference to the chaos he was causing.

‘Bonjour Leigh. Ca va?’

He puffed on his fag and blew a series of smoke rings out above him. I could’ve sworn they merged together to form the shape of the Eiffel Tower for the briefest of moments before dispersing.

‘Aye, not bad, Mikael….’

He looked at me with the gentle disapproval a parent or teacher might give a child capable of providing a better response to the question they’d just been asked.

I realised what he was getting at and rephrased my answer.

‘Um…..oui, bien merci. Erm……est tu?’

He shrugged nonchalantly.

‘Comme si, comme ca.’

He took a long drag of his cigarette and blew out a cloud of smoke that seemed to take the shape of David Ginola washing his hair before evaporating.

‘Mikael, what the hell are you doing? You’re causing a massive bloody traffic jam!’

He guffawed.

‘Leigh my friend, you think zis minor hold up is un faire du trafic l’embouteillage?’

He repeated the guffaw.

‘You have much to learn about French culture, Leigh. Much to learn. A traffic jam, indeed. Zut alors! You know nothing about causing massive disturbances on the road, mon ami. Nothing!’

The chorus of car horns emanating from the immediate vicinity had returned to sounding like the less melodic result of lots of pissed off motorists trying to get somewhere in vain. I looked around nervously before trying to get answers out of Mikael.

‘Why are you lying here like this, mate? What the fuck are you playing it?’

He gave me a perplexed look that suggested I shouldn’t even have to ask.

‘What am I doing? What does it look like you fils d’un âne! I am on strike. Why? No reason. Maybe mon croissant was a little bit stale this morning. Maybe I lost my copy of ze Serge Gainsbourg album where Parisian-flavoured jazz provides a backdrop for the sound of a man making love to a goat while berating it for being a lousy fuck . Who knows? One thing is for sure: I am on strike.’

‘You can’t just lie here, man. Come with me to Dens, we’ve got a game today!’

He spat wildly.

‘A game? My knee is……..how do you say……..pure buckled, man! I was injured in a bizarre accident. You would not believe me even if I told you and swore on the life of le saint de patron de la France, Asterix ze Gaul, that it was ze truth.’

I remembered him limping away from the Fairmuir in the aftermath of the fight with Jocky. Not many players can say they got hurt during a wrestling match in a working man’s club car park when the assistant manager of the team threw them off the top rope while dressed as Macho Man Randy Savage. That’s bizarre by any standards.

There would be no budging him from his prone position in the middle of the street. I got back up to my feet and wished him all the best. As I walked off he shouted, ‘au revoir, mon ami! One day Billy Reid will save me from zis existential Dundonian ‘ell and take me to ze Accies on a full time basis! I will recommend he saves your soul too! En guarde!’

I cut off the Cleppy Road away from the strike-induced disorder and breathed a sign of relief as the shadow of Dens Park fell upon me.

——————————

45 minutes after the game I was showered, changed and on the way down the Provest Road. We’d earned a hard fought three points. A Gary Harkins free kick gave us a lead that had been defended in spite of Queens winning a penalty and the ref reducing us to nine men towards the end. Off-field highlights included Jocky turning up in the Derry with a ‘CHISHOLM OUT’ banner and being ejected from the ground for hurling a half-full can of Special at the linesman who made the ridiculous call that saw Netan Sansara receive his marching orders. He’d used his ball boy contacts to get word to me that I should meet him in the play park after the game.

As I turned right on to Dens Road and walked up towards the Coldside roundabout a flaming 22 bus rocketed past in the other direction. Shocked, I stopped and watched it fly down past Dens like something from Hell’s park ‘n’ ride scheme before warily continuing up the road to the play park, where I saw Mikey the Hilltown Hun with a crate full of empty milk bottles and a canister of what I assumed to be petrol.

Jocky was flying high on the swings, working up as much momentum as possible then launching himself through the air, landing and tumbling forward about 10 feet from where he’d hit the ground. As he got up and dusted himself off he noticed that I’d joined him.

‘Hiya pal! Did yi’ see that? By Christ, few things in life are as teckle as flingin’ yirsel’ aff the sweengs!’

Slightly concerned by a man his age pulling stunts most folk leave behind before they hit puberty, I ventured, ‘you’ll end up hurting yourself, boss. That looked sore when you landed.’

Looking at me with the contempt only kids can muster for adults who simply do not get it he replied, ‘fuck up, ya daft cunt! Yi’ cannae hurt yirsel’ in the play park these days. Technological advancements, like.’

He was referring to the soft surface that surrounded the swings and all the other features of the play park. He started walking in slow motion with an exaggerated, bouncing stride in the style of an astronaut strolling along a lunar surface.

‘Check oot this rubber stuff eh’m walkin’ on! It’s pure space age! That Buzz Aldrin cunt invented it efter he came aff the see-saw and broke his ribs. Eh says, “fuck sake, Buzz! Careful, cunto!” and hud ti’ tak’ the boy hame. Thankfully he’d moved fae the moon ti’ the Provie Road by that point and didnae hae ti’ go too far. C’mere, eh’ll show yi’, Leigh’

He motioned for me to approach him. Apprehensive at where this was going I hesitated.

‘It’s a’right pal! What di’ yi’ think eh’m gonnae dae, suplex yi’? Dinnae be daft! ‘Mon now…’

I walked up to him and was immediately given a boot in the stomach. I bent over double, winded.

‘Big Jock wi’ the double-cross! Yas!’

He hooked my arm around the back of his neck and locked my head in his left arm. Taking a handful of my tracksuit bottoms he used unnatural strength for a man his age to lever me up and hold me suspended upside down with my legs sticking straight up in the air and my head pointing towards the ground.

‘Suplex right enough, cunto! See what eh did there? Telt yi’ eh widnae dae it then went ‘n’ did it anyway! Ooft!’

I was in a precarious position. With a fair degree of panic in my voice I told him to put me down. Preferably gently.

‘It’s nae bather, Leigh. Eh’m aboot ti’ demonstrate the remarkable progress that’s been made in play park safety fea….’

He was cut off by the sound of his mobile going off in his pocket. Single Ladies by Beyonce provided the ringtone.

‘Fuck sake, there’s the auld Al Capone goin’ aff.’

Realising he had his hands full and couldn’t answer it he called out, ‘Mikey! ‘Mon answer the phone fur iz, it’s probably Bomber!’

Mikey abandoned the Molotov cocktail he was preparing and ran over.

‘That’s the gemme pal, dig it oot and put it ti’ meh lug.’

Mikey fished the ringing phone out Jocky’s pocket. Jocky sang along, ‘if yi’ liked it then yi’ should o’ put a ring on it, dinnae be mad because yi’ didnae put a ring on it…’ then started shouting into his mobile as soon as Mikey flipped it open and held it up to his ear.

‘Bomber? A’right, big aine. Cheers fur gettin’ back ti’ iz.’

The blood was rushing to my head and I was starting to feel a bit woozy. Jocky seemed to have forgotten he had me held midway through a suplex and chatted away to John “Bomber” Brown.

‘…..aye, teckle mate, cannae complain like……just hingin’ aboot the play park wi’ a couple o’ mates……..aye, it wiz a good result the day…….eh, eh wiz there, ended up gettin’ turfed oot though………apparently yi’ cannae chuck stuff at the match officials these days………..ken, changed days like……..mind that time eh threw a frozen chicken at Davie Syme at Easter Road? Nae cunt batted an eyelid…..’

As spots filled my vision Mikey seemed to hurry him along with a “get on with it” gesture.

“Anyway Bomber, any joy wi’ the ectos?……….aye……….teckle mate, nae bather…….cheery!’

Mikey asked if he was sorted, to which Jocky gave a positive response and told him to head to the Bowbridge to meet Bomber, who was apparently dealing drugs these days. He disappeared and left Jocky to it.

There was silence for several seconds. As my vision went dark and I started to pass out I heard him mumble to himself, ‘sakes man, whaur the fuck’s mongchops? Cunt’s later than aine o’ Dave Bowman’s tackles.’

I barely managed a groan as I tried to catch his attention. He actually seemed startled by the fact he was holding me upside down above his head.

‘Fuck, there yi’ are there pal! Forgot a’ aboot yi’! Whaur were wi’ now? Oh eh! Yi’ cannae hurt yersel’ on the saft stuff at the play park! Check this oot…’

Finally, mercifully, he completed the suplex. I crashed down to earth on my back. My head was swimming so much I couldn’t really tell if my landing was any softer that it would’ve been on a regular surface. I lay dazed as my blood re-routed itself.

‘See what eh mean, pal? It’s nae bather! Yi’ arenae even hurt!’

I was too stunned to beg to differ.

‘Tell yi’ what will hurt: Billy’s Flying Elbow!’

Survival instinct jump-started me back to life. I quickly rolled away from danger then looked up and around…..but here was no sign of Billy.

‘YAAAAAAAS! Ya cunt, that wiz a good aine! Jocky’s just kiddin’ yi’ on, pal. Billy could nae come oot ti’ play, he’s awa’ ti’ see the Singing Kettle at the Whitehall Theatre. Anyhow, enough fuckin’ aboot; ‘mon we’ll go see BOOOOOOABY BRAAAAANAN. Yi’ ken Boaby – baldy cunt wi’ nae troosers wha hears voices.’

As my head cleared sufficiently to get up I wondered just how Bob was feeling after the strange and terrifying events of the summer. The last time I’d seen him he’d been running down the street screaming without any trousers on. Hearing voices from above wasn’t really something that could be easily reconciled in your head. I followed Jocky over the railings and walked towards Dens.

——————-

A few stragglers from the game were still milling around as we passed the Bobby Cox. A man with his young, Dundee-top-clad daughter politely asked if it was ok to get a photo taken with me. I happily agreed and kneeled down with my arm around the wee lass, smiling for her Dad’s camera. Jocky stood by his side waving at the wee girl with a big, friendly smile on his face.

‘Di’ yi’ like Leigh, wee aine? Leigh’s pure teckle! One o’ meh top three Dundee boys o’ a’ time. The other twa are Tommy Coyne, wha wiz known as the Cobra due ti’ the fact his cock used ti’ jump up and dance whenever Keith Wright played that penny whistle o’ his; and Alan Gilzean, wha introduced a young Jocky ti’ the liquid teckle that is Tartan Special. Bless yir soul, Gillie, ya mad ken-the-boy-fae-Saint & Greavsie vagina.’

The reception and office staff greeted Jocky warmly. After a round of hugs and good wishes he asked if Bob Brannan was available. The silence and concerned looks on their faces immediately told me that I had been right to wonder about Brannan’s well being in the aftermath of hearing the madcap voice from the heavens.

‘Bob’s been a bit……..well, he’s not quite been himself of late…….’, stumbled the receptionist as she tried to find diplomatic words.

‘What’s up wi’ the baldy cunt? Dinnae tell iz he’s got HIV again. Eh fuckin’ telt him ti’ stay awa’ fae that Magic Johnston, but would he listen? Would he fuck. Sakes, Boaby.’

The receptionist looked rather confused before explaining Brannan seemed to be spending a lot of time in the retail park on Dock Street. We thanked her, waved goodbye to the office staff and headed back out onto the street.

We jumped in a taxi. By the time we reached our destination Jocky had ascertained that the driver wasn’t busy as such but business remained steady, that he planned on working until about 11pm, and, like most people, was completely unaware that Jim McLean had converted to Islam in support of Cat Stevens and his autobiography had been tentatively titled Jihading With Giants until the publisher decided to focus on his penchant for riding around on horseback with a big stick and call it Jousting With Giants instead.

A lot of people were milling around the car park laden with shopping bags from Next, TK Maxx and Borders, but there was no sign of Bob Bra…

Wait a minute. TK Maxx.

‘I think I know where he is, boss.’

‘Eh’m thinkin’ the same thing, pal. Cunt’s bound ti’ be in Brantano snapping up a’ the cheap shoes. Boaby’s got mair pairs o’ shoes than Imelda Marcos. Eh’ve actually got a theory aboot Boaby and Imelda. Think ti’ yirsel’, “huv eh ever seen they twa in the same room?” Ken what eh’m sayin’, like? Anyway, Brantano, cunto.’

‘I was thinking more along the lines of TK Maxx…..’

It took a full five minutes for me to explain why this seemed like the obvious spot. Jocky’s lack of memory and capacity to say “wha?” and “eh?” repeatedly knew no bounds. He eventually got up to speed and complemented me on my powers of deduction.

‘If a’bodies favourite detective, Tosh fae The Bill, wiz here he’d say the same as eh’m aboot ti’ say, pal: good thinkin’, cunto. Also, did yi’ here aboot Burnside shagging June at the weekend? Fucking kent she wiz gemme for a length. Boy says she wiz wild tae, licked his farter and a’hing. Fuck sake, June.’

Jocky and I walked into the shop and scanned the vast retail floor. We couldn’t pinpoint him. Jocky called over a young shop assistant and unfolded a piece of paper that he had in the pocket of his trackie bottoms. He showed it to the guy and asked if there had been any sightings of the man in the shop recently. I was impressed with Jocky’s investigative foresight until I realised it was a photo of Davie Dodds.

‘Cunto there owes Jocky a tenner. If yi’ see him aboot eh want yi’ ti’ phone iz immediately. Meh number’s in the Yella Pages under “In Cherge” and also “Get Them Telt”. If he looks like he’s awa’ tae bail oot before eh arrive he’s easily distracted wi’ a big bag o’ peanuts. Boy’s half-elephant, like. His mither went a bit doolally once at the circus when it came ti’ Cairdie. Crazy scenes.’

Jocky ruffled the boy’s hair, turned to me and said, ‘right pal, Boaby’s in here somewhaur. Let’s split up. You look aroond the wee ski-wear section that shows a monumental misunderstandin’ o’ the Dundonian public’s need fur winter sports gear and eh’ll scope oot the bogs and checkoot. A’ cunt needs a pish sometimes, even Boaby, and the checkoot bit in here’s got a range o’ impulse-buy shite that’s beyond belief. Brannan’s fond o’ Russian chocolate shaped like Stalin’s heid and talking book versions o’ Nietzsche as read by Barry White, mibbe he’s floating aboot there somewhaur.’

We went our separate ways. While there was no sign of the club chairman I did spot Jocky admiring a pair of trackie bottoms then rolling them up and stuffing them down the pair he was already wearing. I continued the search without success until a voice came over the PA system.

‘Check one-two, this is a customer service announcement, would Leigh Griffiths please report to the service desk. Over.’

Was that Jocky? A member of staff certainly wouldn’t say “check one-two” or “over”. The PA announcement continued.

‘Has any cunt seen Davie Dodds? The Elephant Man, likes. Boy owes iz a ten-spot. Eh says ti Davie, “mind and gies that back now, ya trunk-for-a-nose Arab bastard,” but there’s been nae sign o’ him since. Sakes. Anyway, Leigh Griffiths to the service desk please, that’s Leigh Griffiths to the service desk. Over.’

It was definitely Jocky. I wandered across the store to meet him. As I approached he nodded silently towards the queue at the checkout.

Bob Brannan was in a bad, bad way. Much worse than I’d anticipated. He looked like a man who had not only looked into the abyss, but had taken a running jump at it, went for a bit of a swim and accidentally swallowed a turd curled out into the murky depths by Satan himself. Bob Brannan had lost the plot big-style.

He’d taken Jocky’s Godly advice and put a pair of trousers on. They were made of tinfoil. As was the rest of his outfit. Obviously fearing the Voice from above and the dangerous mind-invading signals it sent out, he’d wrapped himself almost entirely in aluminium foil by means of protecting himself. It was like a budget suit of armour. Only his face was visible. In front of him sat a trolley full of more conventional trousers. Combats, jeans, slacks, tracksuit, and chalking one up for the bright spark who saw Dundee as a mecca of winter sports, ski pants. The trolley was heaped full of them.

‘Boaby’s looking well,’ commented Jocky. I looked at him like he was nuts but he gave me a wee nudge and chuckled. ‘Just kidding pal, he looks like he’s gone bat-shit insane.’ He seemed to ponder that thought for a moment before smiling and saying, ‘fucking yaaaaaas!’

Brannan was now at the checkout, putting the assistant through the rigorous process of scanning at least 60 pairs of trousers. Jocky decided we’d meet him when he came out to the car park. We left the store and waited for several minutes until Brannan came out pushing his trolley full of now-bagged trousers. As soon as he stepped into daylight he dropped to his knees and threw his hands up to the sky.

‘I HAVE DONE THY BIDDING, MASTER! I HAVE TROUSERS APLENTY!’

Good grief.

He got back up and started pulling trousers out, waving them at the sky and darting his head around as if the Voice was playing hide and seek behind a cloud somewhere. I looked on with genuine sadness. Brannan had done enough during the course of last season to warrant ill-feeling from me yet somehow I felt sorry for him. He’d flipped his lid.

Jocky didn’t share my pity. The increasingly difficult ability to maintain his composure reminded me of watching an old school pal who’d drawn a massive cock and balls half way through a flip chart and knew it was drawing ever-closer to being displayed to the teacher and class. The mirth bubbled to boiling point then erupted.

‘Oh ya cunt! Check the nick o’ Boaby! Yaaaaaaaaaas!!! By Christ, this is as funny as fuck!’

He was ending himself, doubled over and holding on to his sides for fear they might split.

‘Come on boss, this isn’t funny. It’s a bloody shame,’

My empathy for Brannan’s state didn’t wash with Jocky.

‘Listen tae you ya cunt! Is it a wee shame for Boaby, pal? Is it? Poor wee Boaby, eh’m affy concerned aboot him tae………..FUCK UP, LEIGH! Cunt’s went and wrapped himself in tinfoil fur fuck sake! This is the funniest thing that’s happened tae a Dundee suit since Jimmy Marr got his heid stuck in thon railings and Peter cherged cunts a pound a go ti’ gie him a kick up the erse!’

I realised people were stopping to gawk at Brannan. This was not a good scene to play out in public. This was not a good time for Dundee United chairman Steven Thompson to walk past. Fuck.

He looked on with a mixture of disbelief, horror and amusement at the nick of Dundee’s chairman. This did not look good for our club image. Thompson was clearly thinking along the same lines. Oh how the city rivals had fallen. He couldn’t contain a contempt-ridden grin.

While it was well within the boundary of acceptability for Jocky to have his fun with Brannan, it did not stretch much further, especially not to Arabs. Jocky spotted Thompson and the switch inside him flicked to Dundee Til I Die mode. He straightened up and his demeanor quickly changed.

‘What the fuck are you lookin’ at, speccy? Eh?’

Thompson raised his hands as if to say, ‘nothing,’ but the smile on his face remained.

‘Question fur yi’, inherited-a-futba-team cunto: wha’s in fucking cherge here?’

The smile dropped off Thompson’s face. Jocky’s pretty menacing when he gets wound up. He’s a hard man. Thompson sensed it and started walking off.

‘You ken the score, spectacles. Big Jock’s in cherge here, a’body kens that. Boaby here’s haein’ a bit o’ a daft moment but that’s a’right! He’s still a Dee, and nae cunt, especially cunts fae the tangerine mong squad wha bide at the dingy end o’ the street, mess wi’ the Dee when eh’m aboot.’

As Thompson increased his pace to get away from him, Jocky gave him a final salvo.

‘Tell yi’ what son, yir faither will be rolling in his grave at what you’ve done ti’ his team. Third in the league? Qualifying fur Europe? Winning the Scottish Cup? Be as well diggin’ the poor cunt up, feeding Lee Wilkie his bones and lettin’ a’ cunt hae a turn pretending they’re the Undertaker in his coffin. You’re a disgrace ti’ the family name ya speccy fuck!’

Jocky dropped to the tarmac and did a rapid 10 press-ups before jumping up and doing a bit of shadow boxing. His routine was interrupted by Brannan starting to howl like a dog in heat as he took a match to the trolley filled with trousers in some kind of sacrifice offering to the Voice.

Jocky slumped a little as he realised Bob was going to have to be dealt with. As funny as he’d found it at first, and as much as Brannan had been an enemy in the past, Jocky wasn’t one for leaving his people behind. He put an arm round his shoulder and told him it was time to go. Brannan seemed to grasp it and allowed himself to be lead away as Jocky told the crowd who’d stopped to stare, ‘nothing tae see here, folks. It’s just Dundee’s chairman wrapped in tinfoil, burnin’ troosers fur God. We’ve a’ been there. Any cunt tells the Courier or the Tully aboot this and yi’ll hae the Young Leith Team ti’ deal wi’, eh Leigh?’

I gave him a “what the fuck?” look then dutifully mumbled in agreement. I put my arm round Bob’s other shoulder to complete the show of solidarity. Jocky and I held our heads up high as we walked through the crowd of bemused shoppers and piled into the next available taxi.

The driver stared at Bob and asked Jocky, who had claimed “shotgun” and taken the passenger seat up front, why his pal was wrapped in tinfoil.

‘He’s no’ really meh pal, chief, he’s just….’

Jocky faltered as he responded. He turned in his seat and stared hard at Bob. I saw the tightening of his jaw, then the softening of his eyes and the slightest of nods as a decision was made in his own head. Turning back to the taxi driver he changed tact.

‘Yi’re right enough, big aine. That’s meh pal. Boaby’s a good cunt. Dundee man, and a’body kens the Dees are sound as fuck. Isn’t that right, Boaby?’

Brannan lurched forward and whispered, ‘there’s some bargains ti’ be had in that shop like, but yi’ need the patience ti’ wade through it a”

Jocky nodded in agreement, ‘right enough, Boaby, right enough. Drehvur – Fairmuir, cunto!’

As we snaked through traffic a news report on the radio announced that concern was growing over the whereabouts of former footballer Darren Jackson. I sat up and asked the driver to turn up the volume. The news reader said Darren, my agent, had last been seen departing Dundee train station a few days ago and had not been since.

‘That’s a bit weird, eh? I wonder what Darren was doing up in Dundee?’

Jocky shrugged his shoulders.

‘Mibbe he wanted ti’ see one o’ the city’s many tourist attractions, like the Discovery, or Oor Wullie’s hoose.’

I sat back and thought about it. Jocky half-turned his head towards me, nodded sagely, then started whistling Single Ladies to himself. It didn’t take Tosh from The Bill to see he was acting in an ever-so-slightly suspicious manner. I gave it a few more seconds thought. Oh man……

The driver was busy talking to control on the taxi’s radio, so I leaned forward and spoke quietly in Jocky’s ear.

‘Boss…..what happened to Darren?’

‘Wha?’

‘Darren Jackson, my agent who’s just been reported missing on the radio.’

‘Wha?’

‘Don’t give me the “wha?” routine. What’s the score here?’

Jocky smiled.

‘Well, the thing is pal, eh wiz efter a joab during the summer. Eh wiz offered the Celtic gig, and as much as it would’ve been as funny as fuck tae accept it and hae a teckle laugh wi’ the Big Jocky Knew angle, there’s nae danger eh wiz takin’ cherge o’ those pricks. The boy wha did the interview had Bobby Sands commemorative dinner plates hingin’ on the wa’ in his office fur fuck sake.’

That all-too-familiar mischievous glint came to his eye.

‘Darren Jackson came ti’ meh hoose the other day. Just so happens the cunt fancied a gemme o’ Connect 4.’

Good grief.

‘Well………yi’ ken whaur it goes fae there……..’

Oh man. Poor Darren. Jocky turned to me, smiling.

‘Meet yer new agent, Leigh. The name’s Jocky. Big Jocky. Eh like meh Special shaken, not stirred. In fact, dinnae even bather shaking it. Just put it in a pint gless and gies it, cunto. That’s the gemme.’

I sank back in my seat as Jocky engaged Brannan.

‘What di’ yi’ say ti’ that, Miss Boabypenny? 00Jocky’s in the hoose! GOLD-FINNNNGA! Phwew-wheeeeh-weh! Oh ya cunt! Wha’s in fucking cherge here, Boabypenny?’

Brannan rolled down his window, leaned out and bellowed, ‘WHAUR’S THE FUCKING TIPPEX?’ at no-one in particular. Jocky told him it was a good question and followed suite from his own window.

As they scared pedestrians and the driver witless I took stock for a moment. The first day of the season was over. It had been eventful. As my new agent started singing, ‘nae Boaby doooooooes it better! Mak’s iz feel sad fur the rest….’, I got the distinct feeling it wouldn’t be the last eventful day the 2010/11 season would bring.

Season 2, Chapter 1: The Battle of Fairmuir Car Park

Our summer holiday was over. Most of the lads had been to places like Ibiza, Magaluf, or in Rab Douglas’ case, jail. Forgetting his sword-swallowing accomplice, Tony Bullock, had left the club he’d been caught departing Tesco Metro with a trolley full of hairspray and blue and white stripe mushy peas. He did a weekender in Bell Street before he was bailed out. Good old Rab.

Pre-season training was brutal. Gordon Chisholm ran us ragged. Physically, it’s the toughest time of year for footballers. Excess weight and lethargy is targeted by a harsh regime of running up sand dunes until you vomit. Once you finish spewing your guts up you have to run some more. It’s hard going, but it’s necessary and worthwhile. A good pre-season often leads to a successful year on the pitch.

We played a series of friendlies and minor cup ties in the lead up to the start of the league campaign. Personnel changes had taken place since the squad broke up in May. A lot of guys had gone and a few new arrivals had been welcomed. The games preceding the league matches were an opportunity to gel together. It was important to hit the ground running come the start of the season proper.

We had a new team captain. Gary Harkins was a great choice of skipper. He was well liked among the boys and his talent was an inspiration. On his day he’s the best player in the division. His team of barbers had to go at him with lawnmowers for nigh-on five hours in order to get his summer growth under control, but when he was back to a regular Teen Wolf-level of hirsuteness he’d been thrilled to accept the captaincy.

We had a mixed bag of performances during the pre-season games. While we destroyed Forfar we struggled against Alloa. Things didn’t quite click into place as we hoped they might have. I had personal concerns of my own to deal with. There was a new striker at the club. Mikael Antoine Curier was back from his loan spell at Hamilton Academical. I’d barely met him when he left for Accies so I’d been apprehensive about his return to Dundee. Apparently he wasn’t the easiest guy to get on with. Big Rab had cracked him in the jaw at one point when he was late in paying for Mach 3 razor blades, an item often lumbered with security tags and difficult to steal.

Chisholm had introduced us properly at training, telling me he wanted us to forge a goal scoring partnership in the coming season. I remembered the meeting well…….

———————-

Chisholm pulled me up at the start of one of our first sessions at the facilities in Caird Park and told me about the returning Mikael Antoine Curier.

‘This guy has potential to be a great strike-partner for you, Leigh. He’s big, strong and knows where the goal is. I think you’ll do well together. One point to note: he’s a wee bit……well……he’s a wee bit….. eccentric……’

Fuck. Not another one.

The French national anthem, Les Marseillaise, suddenly burst out in all it’s pomp and splendor. A full orchestra seemed to be playing close by but were nowhere to be seen. Where the hell was the music coming from? I didn’t have time to think about it. Mikael Antoine Curier came marching up towards me with a look of pure arrogance on his sneering face. He stopped inches from me and bellowed along to the music emitting from an invisible source.

‘AUX ARMES, CITOYONS! FORME VOS BATTILIONS!’

He sang along to the rousing anthem with passion then made a slicing motion across his throat. The music instantly cut out.

‘Bonjour Leigh! I am Mikael, ze saviour of ze Dee! I come from ze dizzying heights of ze bottom half of ze SPL to assist you in your quest for promotion. En guarde, First Division! Mikael is back and he is angrier than a lorry driver blocking ze road in Calais iin protest of a trade issue zat is inconsequential to ze rest of ze civilized world.’

Mikael lay down in front of me with a nonchalent look on his face.

‘Hey Leigh, I am on strike! Why? No real reason. Maybe you looked at me funny. Maybe I am outraged at Sarkozy’s Cuban heels not being polished to a military shine. Maybe I just want to lay around smoking for a while.’

He pulled a Gaulloise out his sock, lit it and puffed away without a care in the world.

I asked Chisholm what in the name of fuck was going on. He shrugged his shoulders and explained how Curier would be a good foil for me up-front this season and that I should try and put up with eccentricities. Given the events of last season it was probably manageable. I was well-versed in coping with eccentrics.

Chisholm gave Mikael a smiling thumbs-up then looked at me as if to say “indulge him, please”. I mustered the best of my high school French classes to annouce, ‘Mon nom est Leigh. J’habite un tipi dans Caird Park. C’est tres gentil.’

Curier called halt to his strike and jumped up.

‘Leigh! Vous parler un peu français?

I was struggling to grasp the gist of conversation but took a stab in the dark.

‘Oui, j’ai odeur de bacon.’

Curier gave me a strange look but seemed vaguely impressed by my efforts. He gave me a hug, slapping me hard on the back. He held my face in his hands and looked deep into my eyes.

‘Leigh, togezer we score many goals for ze Dee, huh? We break through the defense of our opposition like zey are ze patio doors at my ex-girlfriends parents house! It will take more zan zat B&Q garbage to prevent me hacking your Bebo page, mon cherie! En guarde!’

As he turned and marched off Les Marseilles inexplicably kicked in out of nowhere again. Where the hell was it coming from? I looked all around but saw no musicians. As Mikael got further away the music faded out.

—————————

It was the week in the run up to the opening league game against Queen of the South when I saw Jocky for the first time since he took a piss in the tunnel between Heaven and Earth. I left the ground after training one day and walked up the Dens Road. As I passed the play park across from Frew’s I noticed Jocky was on top of the climbing frame drinking a can of Special. A bunch of wee Hilltown neds were falling about drunk with cans in their hand beneath him.

‘Hiya Leigh! Hiya pal! By Christ, this is fucking teckle play park! A’ the bairns are fucked oot their skull! Good sweengs, tae!’

I jumped the railing and joined him.

‘Boss, please tell me you didn’t buy these children a carry out.’

He laughed.

‘Check you, ya social-conscience haein’ mongchop cunt. Of course eh didnae buy them a kedger! The wee cunts paid for it themselves, eh just did the damage in the shop on their behalf. Eh wiz comin’ oot the Bowzer efter a swift pint wi’ when one o’ the wee vaginas said, “here mister, gonnae buy us a carry oot?” Eh says, “fuck up, ya wee prick! Eh’ve only got enough dough fur meh aine carry oot!” The boy says ti’ iz, “nae bather, mister. Here’s £20. Get as much as yi’ can and a couple fur yirself.” Wee boy wiz fuckin’ minted! Entrepreneurial cunt, like. The Hulltoon’s full o’ them.’

He shouted after a wee boy who was throwing rocks at passing cars.

‘Isn’t that right, Mikey? Yi’re a wee entrepreneurial cunt, like?’

Mikey hurled a half-brick through the window of the 22 to Downfield, shouted “Huns rule” and gave Jocky the finger.

That amused Jocky no end. ‘Yas! That’s the gemme, wee aine!’ He nudged me and explained, ‘boy’s a Hulltoon Hun, like. Jocky feels mair o’ an affinity wi’ the Lochee Fleet but the Huns are a’right tae. TOTH ya bas!’

Just then I spotted Mikael Antoine Curier swaggering along Dens Road. Les Marseillais mysteriously started up. Jocky and I looked all around, confused as we tried to locate the source of the music. Curier spotted us at the top of the climbing frame, jumped the railing and stormed over towards us. This didn’t look promising. He cut the music with a slice of his hand and spoke.

‘Le Jocky! We have unfeeneeshed business, monsieur! En guarde!’

Jocky put a hand on my shoulder and spoke calmly. ‘Gies a minute here, pal.’

He climbed down and went to him.

‘A’right, big aine? What’s the problem, cunto?’

Curier spat at Jocky’s feet. Ooft.

‘Ze problem ees you sent me to Hamilton! Eet ees a…..how do you say…..a beeger shitehole than Dundee!’

Jocky was apologetic.

‘Eh’m sorry, big aine. Nae cunt likes Hamilton, yi’re right enough, but Granny telt iz yi’ were a troublesome bugger on the ouija board and that eh should punt yi’ as soon as. Granny’s often right aboot stuff like that. She predicted Bobo Balde wiz black before the papers got hud o’ it ‘n’ a’hing.’

Curier spat at Jocky’s feet again.

‘No excuses, Monsieur Jocky! I challenge you to a duel! Peestols at dawn!’

Jocky squared up to him.

‘Pistols at dawn? Whaur di’ yi’ think yi’ are, Montrose? Fuck up, cunto! This is Dundee! There’s nae pistols at dawn here! If yi’ve got a problem it gets sorted wi’ wrestling in the Fairmuir car park………….at dawn!’

The music started up again as Curier stomped off screaming he’d be there and ready to wrestle. It faded as he disappeared out of sight. I climbed down and stood by Jocky’s side.

‘Are you really going to wrestle him, boss?’ I asked weakly, already knowing the answer.

‘Leigh, shut yir pus. Of course eh’m gonna wrestle him. Nae cunt spits twice in the Hulltoon play park! Nae cunt! Curier’s lucky Mikey fae the Hulltoon Huns didnae see that, the wee man would o’ panned his heid in.’

He walked off. Arguing would be an exercise in futility. I sighed, followed him and jumped on the opposite end of the see-saw.

————————-

It was that peculiar time of day when, depending on which angle you were approaching it from, it was either terribly late or far too early. The opening bars of the dawn chorus provided a soundtrack to the first glimpse of sunshine out over the horizon to the east. The sky was clear, the air cool and crisp. I approached the Fairmuir, passing an attack helicopter that was parked between a white Transit van and a skip filled with broken masonry and the prerequisite dirty old mattress. While most folk would find that bizarre beyond belief and stop dead in their tracks to ensure they weren’t hallucinating, I merely made a passing mental acknowledgement of Jim McLean’s presence in the vicinity and carried on without missing a step as if it’s perfectly normal to see such vehicles neatly parked on residential streets.

Attack choppers are fairly passe to me these days, yet I was surprised by the scene that awaited me in the Fairmuir car park. When the fight had been arranged earlier I hadn’t given much thought to how it would pan out. When Jocky had suggested a wrestling match I didn’t appreciate the extent to which he planned on taking it to.

There was a proper, full-size wrestling ring in the middle of the car park. It was surrounded by seating that was almost entirely filled with spectators. The Fairmuir had come out in force to see the match. By the looks of things they were firmly placed in the “it’s really late” frame of mind when it came to judging the time of day. There was a constant babble of rowdy conversation and laughter. People were stumbling about with trays loaded with pints and spirits. They’d been up all night drinking in preparation for a wrestling match involving one of their favourite sons.

I wandered in, a little unsure what I should do with myself. I scanned the crowd and caught the eye of a familiar face.

‘Alright Leigh! ‘Mon over here and get a seat, pal.’

The Pope waved me over. He was sitting second row from front. I shuffled along a row of pished pensioners to meet him.

‘Tam! How’s it going? Jeez-oh, it’s a bit mental here tonight, eh?’

‘No’ half, mate. We’ve hud a braw night. There’s no’ been scenes like this since Jocky and Archie Knox settled a minor dispute by haein’ a sumo wrestling match. Eh thought eh’d seen it all until the pair o’ them came out in nappies and knocked fuck oot each other. Archie eventually said he’d hud enough and conceded that Jocky wiz a better player than Johan Cruyff.’

No doubt seeing the look on my face his comment had ellicited, he elaborated, ‘a better darts player, like. Fuck knows why Archie argued about it.’

Another voice from the recent past mercifully evaporated the mental image of Jocky wearing a nappy that was mounting an assault on my mind’s eye.

‘Leigh Griffiths! How are you, son?’

I turned to find Jim McLean making his way along the row. He was still looking very much the leader of an apocalyptic helicopter attack unit in combat trousers, a stetson and aviator shades. He had a tray with three pints and three shots on it.

‘One of my scouts saw you coming so I got you a drink. Fire in.’

I tried to protest that it was a bit early for a drink but was swiftly reprimanded for being a wimp and cajoled into it. The three of us raised our shots and downed them in one. It was vile, so I quickly washed it down with a big swig of Special. Breakfast of champions.

I’d arrived just in time. An old woman entered the ring with a microphone.

‘Ladies and gentleman, it’s time fur the Main Event o’ the evening – The Battle o’ Fairmur Car Park!’

A cheer went up. Anticipation and drunken excitement hung heavy in the morning air.

‘Introducing first…’

Les Marasaillies came over the external speakers that had been hooked up to the clubbie’s PA.

‘….from Orsay, France and weighing in at 193 pounds – Mikael….Antoine….Cuuuuuurier!’

The crowd erupted into a chorus of boos. We turned towards the clubbie. Curier came bursting out the back door in a black, single-shoulder-strap leotard and matching knee-high wrestling boots. His arms were raised aloft as he walked down the aisle. He jumped up on the ring apron, through the ropes and into the ring. He paraded around in a circle with his arms still up and a look of utter contempt on his face. He was very much the “bad guy” in this contest, and the crowd dutifully gave him pelters. McLean was standing on his seat swearing his head off. Tam had taken the classic “come ahead then” stance as he yelled, ‘Mid rule ya cunt!’. A group of old woman with blue-rinse hair-doos were chanting, ‘YOU’RE GOING HOME IN A TAYSIDE AMBULANCE!’ Curier, reveling in the role of the pantomine villain, sneered out at all around him.

The French natonal anthem cut out and was replaced by a soft rock guitar riff that was instantly recognisable to any wrestling fan.

‘When it comes crashing down and it hurts inside….’

Jocky was going to make his entrance to Real American, Hulk Hogan’s theme song. The crowd cheered and turned back to see him come out.

‘His opponent: from Broughty Ferry, Dundee and weighing in at 168 pounds of stovies and Special…..the Man in Cherge himself…..BIIIIIIIIIIIG JOCKY!!’

The crowd roared their approval. I stood on my seat to see him make his entrance. And what an entrance he made.

He came bursting out in nothing but a red, white and blue cape, the swimming goggles he wore in the shower and a pair of those green Wellington boots with frogs eyes protruding from them. Either he’s forgotten to put trunks on or he planned on wrestling as he was. He’s not known for being forgetful….

He stopped just outside the door to take the acclaim of his fans and shook his hips so his monstrous cock and balls flapped from side to side, slapping against his upper thighs. Good fucking grief. He waved his hand round then cupped it to his ear, Hulkster-style, and the crowd went wild. He met the high-fives of the fans lining the aisle as he marched towards the ring. McLean and Tam were giving it laldy. I was stunned into gaping-mouthed silence.

As he jumped up on the ring apron he turned towards where we were sitting. He saw me, waved with one hand and used the other to do “the helicopter” with his fearsome member. As it cut the air it made a dull “whump” like that of McLean’s helicopter’s rotor. Terrifying. I couldn’t hear him over the noise of the crowd but my lip-reading skills were sufficient enough to recognise a “hiya Leigh, hiya pal!” when it came my way. He noticed Tam next to me and blessed himself. Tam laughed and did the same back at him, drawing a double-thumbs up and a smile. The smile evaporated when his gaze fell on Jim McLean. He started making a furious button-pushing motion of some sort before landing a punch into the palm of his other hand. I looked at a highly amused Mclean who turned and to me and explained, ‘try as he might he can’t beat me at Hungry Hungry Hippos. Twister, yes, but he plays that in his cape and Wellies too and I find it’s a tad off-putting.’

Jocky was giving it big licks with the Hulk Hogan moves. He gave Mikael the Big Pointed Finger from the ring apron before going through the ropes and working the crowd into a frenzy with the cupped-hand-to-ear routine at all sides of the ring, including the one that faced a brick wall. He grabbed the ring announcers mic. and sang along to his entrance tune.

‘Eh am a real Dundonian! Fight for the rights o’ Jum and Tam! Eh am a real Dundonian! Fight for what’s right, shag Duffy’s wife!’

He ditched the microphone and pulled a series of bodybuilder flexes before joining Curier and the ref (Joe McConachie fae Lochee, according to Tam) in the centre of the ring. As Curier protested at his rival’s lack of undergarments the crowd broke into a chant of, ‘JOCKY! JOCKY! JOCKY!’

The gaffer’s in great shape for a man in his 60’s, no question, but he was up against a big, tall professional footballer in his 20’s. As they went toe-to-toe I got the distinct feeling he had bitten off more than he could chew.

The opening exchanges were tight. The two combatants grappled away, putting each other in a series of holds. Curier stood with his hands up and fingers spread, inviting Jocky to accept a Greco Roman knuckle challenge. Jocky took him on, locking his fingers into Mikael’s. The two men squeezed, grimacing as they tried to over-power each other. At well over 6′ Mikael had a huge advantage. He managed to grind Jocky down until he sunk to his knees, gaining a psychological victory as well as a physical one.

As Jocky yielded to Curier’s strength McLean shouted, ‘Jocky! I just offered your hippo a Jaffa Cake and he refused it because he wasn’t hungry!’ Jocky heard him, looked over and unleashed a barrage of abuse at his old pal. As he screamed, ‘meh hippo’s fucking sterving ya mad baldy vagina! Jaffa Cakes are fucking teckle, nae cunt says no ti’ one of them!’, he started pushing back up and slowly rose to his feet, equalizing Curier’s pressure. Mikael started going down.

‘See when this is finished eh want a fucking rematch, McLean! Jocky’s hippo nearly put Jimmy Chung oot o’ business he wiz that hungry! Wiped out the whole fucking buffet, it wiz nae bather! When the food wiz finished the cunt started eating chopsticks and drinking a’ the soy sauce. Efter a’ that he still wanted a chippy on the way back up the road!’

With that he forced Mikael down onto his knees. McLean laughed and shook a celebratory fist before settling down to apply some lip balm. Jocky realised what his pal had done for him and his anger switched to a cheerful nod. With Mikael in a vulnerable position on his knees Jocky pressed home the advantage by breaking the knuckle grip, quickly grabbing his cock and clobbering Curier in the face with it. He swung it like a baseball bat and made a heavy connection. Curier toppled over and Jocky pounced on him, pinning his opponent. He waited for the referee’s count, but it never came. He looked up and saw Joe rolling a fag in the corner.

‘Fucking hell, Joe! Get over here, cunto!’

Joe abandoned his rolly-up and slid in.

One….two….thr…

The moment of hesitation had given Mikael the time he needed to recouperate. He kicked out the pin in the nick of time. Jocky was furious. He jumped up and started remonstrating with Joe, who was apologetic but steadfast in his reasoning about needing a smoke. As Jocky started questioning his credentials as a proper Fleet man Curier struck back, crashing a double axe-handle into the back of Jocky’s neck. It was the moment the tide turned.

After coming so close to defeat the big Frenchman took control. If you neglected to take penis size into account Mikael had a distinct physical advantage. He was bigger, stronger and around 40 years younger. He battered Jocky from pillar to post, mocking both his opponent and the crowd as he went. He exuded arrogance. He knew he had Jocky licked.

It wasn’t easy to watch. Jocky was loved by everyone present and it was hard for us to look on helplessly as he took a pounding. Though he fought valiantly Curier was too big and strong for him. Along with the fact his massive cock was flying around like an unmanned fire hose, his cape had become wrapped round his neck and his Wellies clearly weren’t meant for anyone over the age of seven, it made for grim viewing. It was now a matter of just hoping Jocky made it out the ring in reasonable health.

Curier body-slammed the boss in the centre of the ring. With his foe flat out on the canvas and all but beaten, Curier signaled it was time to finish it by slicing a hand across his throat. The end was nigh. He climbed the turnbuckles and stood on the verge of some kind of high-flying coupe de grace. The crowd begged Jocky to get up before he was annihilated, but he was lifeless. I couldn’t even look. As I sat down and put my head in my hands a cry suddenly came from the back of the car park…….

‘OHHHHHHHHHHH YEAHHHHHHHHHHH!!! DIG IT!!!’

Macho Man Billy Dodds came tearing down the aisle and hit the ring like a retarded cannonball. Curier lost both his concentration and balance at the sight of his assistant manager in all his multi-coloured, Randy Savage-aping glory and started wobbling about on the top turnbuckle. Billy grabbed a foot out from under him, sending him crashing down to the canvas. He landed heavily on one leg and rolled on to his back, the wind knocked out of him.

Billy leaped up to where Curier had stood seconds before, primed and ready to fly. He waited until Jocky got himself out the way.

‘Jocky! Billy’s Macho Man Randy Savage! Watch Billy, Jocky! Jocky! Are you watching Billy?!’’

Jocky hauled himself to his feet and stumbled about aimlessly like a blind man.

‘Eh cannae see fuck all, pal, meh goggles are a’ steamed up here! Jocky cannae see yi’, Billy! Jocky cannae see yi’!’

Billy looked like he was about to get down and help Jocky. McLean yelled, ‘BILLY! CONCENTRATE ON THE MATCH!’

Billy heard him and waved. ‘Wee Jum! Billy’s a surfer! Fish for tea!’

McLean muttered, ‘good fucking God,’ and yelled back, ‘YES, I KNOW, SON! FINISH OFF CURIER!’

Billy remembered what he was supposed to be doing and focused. He pointed to the sky with both hands, bellowed, ‘BILLY LIKES FUTBA!’, and flew off the top rope, delivering the famed Flying Elbow.

He hit him hard. We cheered as he nailed him. Job done, he immediately charged out the ring and back down the aisle out of sight. The impeccable timing that made Billy a natural goalscorer during his football days had not been lost as he’d grown older and stupider. What a boy.

Jocky had managed to clear his goggles and was back into the Hogan routine again. He paced round Curier’s prone body in circles with his fists clenched tightly and his head shaking wildly. He stood over his fallen opponent and delivered the Telling Off, a classic Hogan move than involves wagging a finger and getting his foe in trouble for daring to mount a challenge.

Hogan’s Leg Drop finishing move had ended many a wrestling match. Jocky’s modified-yet-equally-effective version could only be described as a Cock Drop. He propelled himself off the ropes, took to the air and landed his mighty tool on Mikael’s chest. Jocky lay over him and Joe delivered the three-count between puffs of the fag he’d rolled during Billy’s appearance. The bell rang. Real American came back on. The Battle of Fairmuir Car Park was over.

‘The winner of this contest, and STILL the Man in Cherge…..BIIIIIIIIIIG JOCKY!’

It was after 5am in the Fairmuir car park. Scores of rabid, drunken old folk celebrated one of their own overcoming the odds to win a classic wrestling match. The loser slunk off, limping heavily. The victor stood in the middle of the ring furiously thrusting his hips so his cock jumped around like an epileptic python. It was quite a scene. It was a night that would be long remembered in the clubbie’s folklore.

Not wanting to get caught up in the Hungry Hungry Hippos contest that would surely follow, I slipped away quietly. Yet more madness had taken place. As much as I had grown used to things here, it wasn’t normal. Honestly, it was nothing like this at Livingston. The worst thing I’d had to contend with at Livi was those annoying bastards with the drums that I’d spent entire games willing to give it a bloody rest. Say what you like about Dundee FC but it’s rarely boring for anyone connected with the club.

The new season was about to get underway. Last year had been an insane rollercoaster off the pitch and a failure on the pitch. While I was prepared for yet more craziness off the field I was absolutely determined to be a success on it this time round. As the strains of a no-doubt-Jocky-lead singalong to Jay-Z reached far beyond the Fairmuir (“eh’ve got 99 problems but the ‘tache ain’t one o’ them!”) I looked up and saw a solitary fluffy white cloud drift across the clear blue sky. It seemed to morph and take shape into………..into Granny Scott. Just as I went all Jim Spence and began marveling at how clouds sometimes looked like stuff, a voice boomed out the sky.

‘Hiya Dorothy, hiya pal! Mind what eh says now – AWAY THE DEE!!’

That shot McLean gave me must have had a mental level of alcohol content, I was hearing voi…

‘Why aye Leigh! Howay the Newcastle too, like! The fog on the Tyne is all mine, all mine, the fog on the tyne is all mine!’

I was hearing voices, all right. Well, better that than those bloody drums I suppose.

Seconds out, round two….. ding-ding!

IN THE FUCKING HOLE! – Part 2

I stood in perfect white light. It enveloped me, filling all points of my vision. The ground beneath me wasn’t solid yet it held my weight. I couldn’t tell if the edges of the space in which I stood were inches or several miles away, or indeed if there were any real edges at all. It felt like being inside a room without dimension, with indefinable limits, yet somehow it was perfectly formed and tangible. Existence here seemed to be some kind of optical illusion.

Granny Scott. I don’t know how I knew it was her, it was just something that I was instantly aware of. She was ancient. Her face was etched with all the hallmarks of old age and exuded a weary benevolence. Her eyes were kind and full of the fire one might attribute to someone a fraction of her age. Disturbingly, she looked just like Jocky and had a fearsome moustache to match his award winning facial decoration. On the face of it, that probably had a lot to do with the instant recognition.

I felt a rush of panic for a second as Jocky came to mind and I realised he wasn’t here. Granny Scott sensed my fear, smiled and pointed to the long, dark tunnel from which I’d came. Someone was floating down the tunnel towards us. I looked at Granny Scott and she nodded. Yes, here came Jocky.

Whilst I had somehow floated down it unaided Jocky was traveling in his usual style. He arrived via jetpack in his golfing outfit. He still had that bloody sombrero on. He came out the tunnel and touched down in the cloudy substance beneath our feet. After a cursory glance around to take in his surroundings his gaze fell upon his Granny. His eyes welled with tears and the smile that formed damn near split his face.

‘Hiya Granny. Hiya pal.’ He opened his arms up and stepped forward to embrace her. Granny Scott mirrored the gesture and went to meet him. Just as they were about to lock together…

WHACK!

Granny Scott leathered him with her handbag. ‘Hiya Jocky, hiya pal! What did eh fucking tell you aboot calling me cunto on that ouija board! Eh? Nae cunt calls me cunto ya mad vagina!’

I jumped back a step, shocked by the sudden outburst.

‘Fuck sake Granny! Eh call a’body cunto! Stop hittin’ iz ya fucking dingbat!’ Jocky cowered slightly and held his arms up to protect himself from the flailing handbag that was raining blows on him.

‘Telt yi’ hunners o’ times, but would you listen? Would yi’ fuck!’ She walloped him another few times then stopped. She was pretty fucking violent for a woman who looked like she’d been of pensionable age for at least half her life. Jocky straightened up. They faced each other and Jocky once again opened up his arms for a hug. His Gran melted. She dropped her handbag and accepted the embrace. They held each other tight, and the tears that had formed in Jocky’s eyes moments before finally spilled down his cheeks.

‘Hiya Granny! Hiya pal! Meh God, it’s fucking teckle ti’ see yi’! Missed yi’, cunto!’

‘WHAT DID EH JUST TELL YOU YA DAFT BASTARD!!’

Granny laid into him again, this time using her fists. She had quick hands for an old lady. Jocky backed off, apologising profusely until she calmed down again.

‘Eh’m glad ti’ see yi’ still dinnae tak’ any pish fae folk. Even Jocky! That’s the gemme auld aine! Get me telt!’ Jocky re-engaged the hug and kissed his Gran on the forehead. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so happy, and I’ve seen him find his Tippex.

‘Granny, eh want yi’ meet meh pal Leigh Griffiths. Leigh’s fucking sound. Lives in a teepee!’

Granny Scott burst out laughing at me. ‘A teepee? Get a hoose, Crazy Horse!’

Jocky roared with laughter at that remark. ‘Granny, eh wiz just sayin’ that earlier on! Eh called the daft cunt Crazy Horse tae! Fucking yas!’

Granny Scott gave me a cuddle. ‘Hiya Leigh, hiya pal. Nice ti’ meet yi’, mongchops.’

Jocky went into hysterics. ‘Granny, eh call Leigh mongchops tae! Calling Leigh mongchops is fucking teckle! By Christ, this is as funny as fuck!’

Granny laughed along but gave me the sweetest smile. ‘Pay nae attention to us, Leigh. The Scott family are well known fur takin’ the piss, but equally well known fur holding their pals in the highest regard. Any pal o’ Jocky is a pal o’ mine. It’s affy nice ti’ meet yi’ son.’ She motioned for me to lean down and gave me a kiss on the cheek.

‘Pleasure to meet you, Granny Scott. I don’t understand what’s going on though. How did we get here? It feels like we’re in a dream but it seems so vivid, so real. What’s happening?’ A sense of dread crept into my stomach. Something wasn’t right here. Jocky’s Gran was dead yet I could feel the trace of her kiss on my cheek. Realisation seeped into my mind. No……….

Granny Scott smiled weakly, her eyes portraying great pity. I shook my head. No. She took my hand and squeezed it. She nodded to counter the shake of my head. She didn’t have to say anything. It was just a matter of letting the truth sink in.

She gave me some time. It was too much to take in. My mind was overloaded and struggling to compute the dreadful information that had been thrown at it. Jocky seemed to be dealing with it better than I was. His eyes were on me, full of empathy and concern.

‘Fucking Joe Calshaggy, eh Leigh? Took the pair o’ us oot! Cunt’s well gettin’ haunted.’

Granny Scott spoke softly as she explained our final moments. ‘Jocky passed away first after being hit by the golf buggy. Leigh, you died when your head cracked against the concrete after Joe knocked you out.’

I was slightly puzzled by a minor detail. ‘How come I arrived here first if I died after Jocky?’

‘Big Jock’ll field that one, Granny. Eh stopped fur a slash in the tunnel. Fuckin’ burstin’ so eh wiz. Eh saw you going past, Leigh, but could nae wave ‘cause holdin’ meh cock’s a two-hand job. You ken the score. Glad eh hud the jetpack on in there, it looked like a bit o’ a trek ti’ reach the light and there didnae seem ti’ be much o’ a bus service. Mibbe it’s a bank holiday and there’s only a Sunday service on.’

I was even more puzzled by a much more major issue. ‘Granny Scott…….where are we? What is this place?’

‘This, Leigh, is the Afterlife. The bit we’re standing in right now is whaur new arrivals get their heids together before moving on to the Kingdom of Heaven.’

Wow. As I took that onboard Jocky struggled to grasp it. ‘The Kingdom o’ Heaven? Is that the new private estate up the back o’ Whitfield?’

‘Dinnae be daft, Jocky. Yi’re a helluva long way fae Whitfield.’

I felt my emotions catching up with me. The gravity of the situation started to really hit home. I was dead. I didn’t make it out my teenage years. I burst into tears. Jocky immediately took me in his arms and hugged me. I wept into his shoulder as he consoled me.

‘Yi’re a’right pal. Jocky kens the score here. Eh’m no’ even bathered aboot being brown bread. Eh’m auld and hud a good life. Went oot in style haein’ a square go’ wi’ a golf buggy quoting Star Wars. That was fucking braw! Bit o’ Obi-wan, likes. You went doon efter one punch when yir ba’s huv barely drapped. Fucking shame. Only the good die young, pal. The good……..’ he gasped before continuing with a barely audible whisper, ‘and the crocodile hunters……..’

He quickly pushed me away and turned to his Gran with a face filled with excitement and anticipation. ‘Here Granny, is Steve Irwin here? By Christ, we might just hae a best o’ the teckle situation on oor hands………’

Granny reprimanded him for being so insensitive, but replied, ‘aye, Steve’s here.’

‘FUUUUUUCKINGGGGGG YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSS!!!! OH YA CUNT! YAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSS!!! Cheer up Leigh! The Crocodile Hunter’s in the hoose!’

He did a jig of joy in circles around us and sang, ‘we’re off tae see Steve Irwin! The wonderful Irwin of Oz! Ya cunt, ya cunt, ya cunt, ya cunt! The wonderful Irwin of Oz!’

He stopped suddenly and whispered in my ear. ‘Here Leigh, mind that day that wiz affy reminiscent o’ Apocalypse Now? This aine’s got Wizard of Oz written all over it! You can be Dorothy, Granny and me’ll be the Lion and the Tinman, McLean can be the Wicked Witch o’ the West and even though he’s no’ a doag wee Jocky can be Toto. Eh hope it rains doon in Africa!’’

This was complete gibberish to me. ‘What on Earth are you on about?’

‘Och it disnae matter, forget eh even mentioned it.’

Granny made an announcement. ‘Boys, it’s time to move on. Youze are brown bread. Dead, likes. And when yi’re brown bread yi’ hae ti’ go and meet someone…..’

Jocky looked worried. ‘Dinnae tell iz it’s that Boaby Brannan. Surely tae fuck….’

Granny shook her head and looked perplexed. ‘Don’t be daft, cunto. Eh’m talkin’ aboot the chief. The man in cherge.’

‘Wooooah there auld aine. Big Jocky’s in cherge here, a’body kens that. Wha’s this chancer wha’s claiming he’s running the show? Reckon it might be punch in the pus time.’

‘You’ll keep yir hands ti’ yerself, Jocky. God doesn’t take kindly to people trying to gie him a dab in the pus. ‘

Jocky went wide-eyed. ‘God? Did you say God there, Granny? Fuck sake, does that boy actually exist? Eh thought he wiz just a character fae a fairy story, like Tom Thumb, or Daley Thompson.’

‘Aye, He exists all right. We should mak’ oor way to see Him as soon as. Follow me youze twa.’
—————————

We moved through the white light until a huge gate came out of the horizon. A middle-aged man in a white suit was sitting at a table outside it.

‘What’s the score here, Granny? We gonna get in ok?’ Jocky looked a tad concerned, probably because he was thinking back to the lifetime of craziness that was unlikely to have gone down well with whoever, or whatever, God is. Granny had it covered though.

‘Eh’ll sign yi’ in.’

Brilliant. Heaven was just a big clubbie where members could sign a few pals in. I wondered how much a pint would be. You have to assume you get a decent pint in Heaven. Granny lead us to the table and signed the visitor book before passing the pen to me. I scribbled my name and handed it to Jocky, who enquired as to whether Heaven was busy tonight as he signed the book “BIG JOCKY, DFC #1”.

With the signing in process complete we were about to head through the gate when the guy on the door coughed to get our attention. He pointed out a bucket on the table marked with ‘ALL GUESTS £1’. Ah. We should’ve expected that really. Jocky asked me to pay him in but promised he’d find a cash machine inside and square me up later.

The gate swung open. We entered the Kingdom of Heaven.

—————————-

Have you ever been to Alton Towers? Heaven’s remarkably similar. It’s essentially a big theme park where the visitors are dead people spending eternity in the perpetual bliss of rollercoasters and candy floss. As Granny Scott lead the way to our audience with God I noticed a log flume called Noah’s Ark, an Oblivion-style white knuckle ride called Straight to Hell and a woman wearing a fig leaf bikini tending a candy apple stall called Forbidden Fruit. As we wandered along Jocky bumped into an old friend.

‘Fuck sake, there’s Davie Cooper. Davie ya big Hun bastard! How’s it goin’ pal?’

‘Alright Jocky! No’ bad mate. Didn’t realise you were here. How did you die?’

‘Aye, just kicked the bucket half an hour ago. Went oot in style, like. Di’ yi’ ken the bit in Star Wars when Obi-Wan gets killed? Replace Darth Vader wi’ a fresh-aff-a-crucifix Joe Calzaghe and his light saber wi’ a speeding golf buggy and yi’re maist o’ the way there.’

‘Sounds like a grand finale. If you fancy a kickabout sometime give me a shout, there’s a five-a-side league on the go up here. All the best, Jock.’

We pressed on and reached an administrative block. Granny entered a door under a sign saying Manager’s Office. We filed in behind her.

God has often been portrayed as an old Caucasian man wearing robes and a big white beard. It turns out that popular representation is way off the mark. God is a black guy who wears stonewash jeans, Adidas Samba and an Iron Maiden tshirt.

‘Howay Granny Scott, how are ya pet?’

Oh aye, and he’s a Geordie.

‘No’ bad, chief. Eh’ve brought a couple of new arrivals ti’ see yi’. Meet meh Grandson, Jocky, and his good pal Leigh Griffiths.’
God came from behind his desk and approached us. He greeted me first. God’s got a bloody good handshake. Firm yet friendly. He put his hand out to Jocky, who had his chest and chin stuck out and looked ready for trouble. Oh no. Please don’t get wide with God, boss.

They locked hands. Jocky grimaced as he applied the pressure. God met his grip, and they went eyeball-to-eyeball. Jocky spoke through clenched teeth. ‘Hiya God! Hiya pal! Question fur yi’, biblical cunto: wha’s in fucking cherge here?’

Jocky tilted his head in anticipation of the response. A sense of impending doom hit me. Anyone who has read the Bible will realise that God’s a bit of a nasty bastard capable of dishing ridiculously cruel and unusual punishment. Thankfully he broke into a smile.

‘Alreet Jocky lad, lovely to meet ye man. Been watching you play darts at the Fairmuir on the God Vision. Play a bit meself like. That was some finish when ye beat the team from the Boars Rock like!’

Jocky softened in an instant. ‘Did yi’ see that, big aine? Fuck sake! Yi’re right enough pal, it was some gemme. Big Jocky needed double three ti’ win it. First arrow wiz just the wrang side o’ the wire. Eh went, “ooft!”. Second arrow wiz closer yet but still the wrang side o’ the wire. Eh went, “fucking ooft!”. Third dart……bang in the middle o’ the berth! Eh went, “fucking yaaaaaassss! Get the fuck oot o’ here ya Boars Rock cunts! Awa’ back ti’ yir shitey boozer whas only redeeming feature is the fact it’s next door ti’ Grossets the butcher which sells fucking teckle steak pehs.” That wiz the Boars Rock telt, like. Yas!’

They were bonding over Dundee’s inter-boozer darts league. How very surreal. Jocky caught my attention and winked. He was up to something. Slapping God the black Geordie heartily on the back he suggested they should have a wee game themselves. God apparently had a board through in his rumpus room and happily agreed. Jocky put his plan into action by suggesting they make it more interesting with a bet.

‘If eh win yi’ send Leigh here back ti’ his life. If you win eh’ll refrain fae kicking yir teeth oot yir heid and putting them in the Dee4Life raffle. They’d no’ be as popular as that jar o’ Tommy Coyne’s pish eh managed ti’ get hold of but they’d probably bring in a couple o’ quid fur an affy good cause. What say you, cunto?’

God gave it some thought. He must’ve taken the threat from Jocky seriously, because he put his hand out to shake on it.

‘Why aye lad! Deal!’

———————————

They played from 501. God may be the omnipresent, all-powerful creator of the universe but he can’t play darts worth a fuck. Jocky beat him easily. When he hit his double 10 finish he roared, ‘YAAAAAAASSSS!! FAIRMUIR ONE – HEAVEN NIL! WHA’S IN FUCKING CHERGE HERE YA BYKER GROVE-WATCHING CUNT?’

God just laughed along. He turned to me. ‘Leigh pet, I’m a deity of my word. Ye can go back to ya life, like.’ Jocky watched on with a wry smile on his face. The man just saved my very soul. I was ecstatic for no more than a moment before I realised this meant I was leaving him behind until I died again.

‘God, I’m not going without Jocky! We go together or not at all.’ Jocky and Granny started to protest vehemently, but God hushed them. ‘Leigh pet, ye better fooking believe he’s going with ye. If ye think I’m putting up with being called a “Byker Grove-watching cunt” ye have another thing coming. Take the mental bastard with ye, and for the love of Shearer keep him alive as long as possible.’

‘That’s the gemme, God! Cheers pal, that’s fucking teckle! Fire doon the Fairmuir fur a gemme o’ darts anytime, like. The Pope plays there tae. Yi’ ken the Pope, eh?’

‘Why aye like, the German fella who lives in the Vatican.’

‘No pal, he bides in a semi in Mid Craigie. Braw lad, one o’ meh best mates. Fire doon and see him ya big ride!’

Jocky recalled something God had mentioned earlier. ‘Here big fella, what’s that God Vision a’ aboot? Is it CCTV fur a’ humanity, like?’

‘Spot on like, Jocky lad. C’mon we’ll gan through the next room and ye can see for yaself, pet.’

God kept an eye on everyone on the planet (“well, mainly Christians and the Toon Army if ah’m being honest, like.”) on an enormous widescreen TV. He had a leather recliner sat in front of it alongside a mini-fridge full of Newcastle Brown Ale. Jocky jumped in the chair.

‘Here big aine, ‘mon tell Jocky how it works then.’

God told him to say out loud the name of the person he wanted to watch. Jocky thought about it for a second or two, then with a fair degree of predictablility, announced, ‘Boaby Brannan’. The screen of the giant TV jumped into life and there was Bob Brannan sitting in his pants eating a Pot Noodle in front of the telly. Jocky chuckled. ‘Check oot Boaby. Fuck sake.’

God snapped his fingers and a control console popped out the floor in front of the recliner. It had a host of buttons and a microphone protruding from it.

‘The mic. goes on when ye put it in ya hand, man. At that point anything ye say will be heard by the person on the TV.’

Jocky grinned. As he realised the implications of this his grin grew wider and wider and he sat up in the chair. He looked at God.

‘Here pal, is it a’right if eh hae a wee shot fur a laugh?’

God didn’t look keen at first. It would be a massive misuse of power. But then God was a Geordie who dressed like he was just back from Monsters of Rock festival in 1987 and, at the end of the day, didn’t really give a fuck.

‘Fire away Jocky lad. Speak to ya pal.’

He smiled at Jocky. Jocky looked like he wanted to kiss him then turned his attention back to the TV screen. Ever so carefully he took the mic. in his hand. He had to put his other hand over his mouth to supress the giggles. He was barely holding it together. He took a deep breath, composed himself and spoke into the mic in a low, ghostly growl.

‘Booooooooaby……’

On the screen Bob sat bolt upright and cocked his ears in turn. He looked freaked right out. Jocky was giggling like a little girl, his left hand covering the mic. so Brannan couldn’t hear it. Again he composed himself, and spoke a little louder into the mic.

‘Booooooooaby Braaaaaannan……’

Brannan was now up on his feet having a hairy fit. He slapped himself in the side of the head. He must have been thinking there was no doubt that time; he was definitely hearing voices. The thing is, he was right. Jocky sat laughing away with the mic. covered, his shoulders bouncing and eyes misting with tears of joy. He cooled down and went quiet for a second. Then, wiith pure venom, he shouted, ‘BOABY FUCKING BRANNAN! WHAUR’S MEH TIPPEX YA BALDY-HEIDED CUNT?’

Brannan lost his shit completely. He started screaming and running for the door. He bolted out into the street in his pants and ran like the wind. The God Vision followed him and Jocky kept talking.

‘Put some troosers on Brannan! Cannae run aboot like that ya daft cunt! Yi’ll end up on the Sex Offenders Register wi’ Dougie Donnelly!’

Brannan seemed to find yet more pace and volume. He ran faster and screamed louder. Jocky pissed himself laughing but let go of the mic. Enough was enough.

God was laughing along but motioned to end Jocky’s time in the hotseat. Jocky halted him with a raised finger. ‘Twa minutes, pal. Eh’ve got one mair cunt tae speak tae.’

I wondered who wa….

‘David Goodwillie’

….obviously. The screen jumped scenes to a BBQ in David’s back garden. He was at hosting a gathering of friends in the summer sun and was stationed behind a large, smoking grill filled with cuts of meat. Jocky started looking around the control panel.

‘Here God, what di’ these buttons dae?’ God pointed out a few key ones. Jocky seemed tempted by the one for sending a massive flood but decided on the lightning strike function instead. God showed him how to aim it and warned him not to hit anyone.

‘Jocky’s no’ aiming for Davie Teckledong, pal. Oh no……’

We followed what was happening on the the screen. A crosshair appeared and Jocky guided it across the garden to………….the shed. David had a brand spanking new shed sitting where the charred remains of the one we’d set up a couple of months ago had been situated. Jocky didn’t fire immediately. He’d gone into that weird trance-like state that thinking of Raith Rovers usually put him in.

‘Hiya Davie Teckledong………….hiya pal………….are yi’ haein’ a nice wee time wi’ yir pals there? Are yi?……….that’s affy nice………..Jocky likes yir “Kiss the Chef” apron, that’s fucking teckle!………..gies a burger yi’ dirty Arab bastard…….’

He snapped out of it and hit the button.

FLASH!

We all jumped as a bolt of lightning came out of nowhere and hit the shed, making it burst into flames. We didn’t jump half as high as the guests at the BBQ though. They completely shat themselves. When Jocky hit the button again they scattered in every direction. The shed was fully ablaze. Jocky was in fits of laughter and burst into song.
‘Burn, baby, burn! Disco fucking inferno, cunto!’

A panic-stricken David Goodwillie ran out into the street. Jocky sent a bolt in his wake as he started sprinting away from his house, then took the mic. and started another song.

‘Johnny’s in the basement mixing up the medicine, eh’m in the bookie’s awa’’ ti’ put a coupon on….’

He turned and gave us a double thumbs up, looking no less thrilled than a kid on Christmas morning. He watched with glee as Goodwillie fled.

‘Wha’s in fucking cherge here, rape-face? Eh? That wiz a wee bit o’ Boaby Dylan eh wiz singin’ fur yi’ there, Davie boy. Boaby’s a good cunt, used ti’ bide on the Provie Road. Yi’ dinnae need a weather man tae ken which way the wind blows, a’body kens that.’
Something on the God Vision caught his eye and he roared, ‘speaking o’ cunts called Boaby…….THERE’S BOABY BRANNAN! YAAAAAAAASSS!!! HIYA BOABY! HIYA PAL!’

Bob Brannan had just sprinted past Goodwillie in the opposite direction shrieking like Billy Dodds would if Papa Shango should ever show up at the door of his bouncy castle. Jocky switched his focus and started firing lightning bolts in Brannan’s wake.

‘Huv you no’ got some breeks on yet, Boaby? Yi’ better be running ti’ TK Maxx there ya cunt!’

His tone changed to one more thoughtful and told Bob via the God mic. that, ‘there’s some bargains ti’ be had in that shop like, but yi’ need the patience ti’ wade through it a’. Personally eh cannae be ersed and just pinch a pair o’ trackie bottoms aff some cunt’s washing line every now and then. Teckle!’

God was creasing himself at all this but had to step in. He brought the fun to an end by switching the TV off and making the control panel disappear back into the floor. ‘Awww, come on big fella. Eh wiz just aboot ti’ send a plague o’ locusts ti’ McLean’s hoose! Would o’ caused havoc in the baldy bear-shagger’s vegetable patch. Nae bather though, cheers fur the wee shot. That wiz braw!’

We started heading towards the door again. I asked God what the score was with getting home.

‘It’s easy enough, Leigh. In order to get back all ye have to do is click your heels together three times and say there’s no place like home…..there’s no place like home…..’

Fair enough. I closed my eyes, clicked my heels and repeated the words from God’s instructions.

‘There’s no place like home……there’s no place like home…….’

God, Jocky and Granny started howling with laughter.

‘Yaaaasssss! By Christ, that wiz as funny as fuck! We got a wee bit o’ Wizard o’ Oz efter all!’

The three of them were beside themselves. I realised what had happened and could only mutter, ‘aye, very good, very good…..’

Jocky was nearly wetting himself. ‘Daft cunt clicked his heels and a’hing! Fucking brilliant! Hiya Dorothy, hiya pal!’

It took a couple of minutes for them to become subdued enough to say cheerio to God. He was far from what anyone at any given moment of history would have expected him to be like, but he was a top bloke. There’s no need to fear death when you’ll be judged by a black Geordie in a Maiden tshirt who has lightened up considerably since the times of the Old Testament.

As we strolled back to the tunnel from which we’d came the experience was complete.

A dirty great crocodile ran past us. Our heads turned as one to follow it. Jocky gasped. ‘Oh ya bastard……’ Our heads snapped in the opposite direction. ‘Oh ya fucking bastard…….’ Jocky looked like he was going to explode with excitement. ‘HERE COMES THE CROCODILE HUNTER!’

Steve Irwin came charging towards us, hot on the croc’s tail. He was in his khaki shorts and shirt and had that wonderful look of pure enthusiasm you so often see on that face of his.

‘OH YA FUCKER! HIYA CROCODILE HUNTER! HIYA PAL!’

Steve Irwin stopped in front of us and caught his breath. Jocky was weeping with joy.

‘How’s it goin’ pal? Eh’m a big fan, like! Fucking shame when that stingray kicked yer cunt in. Jocky wiz greetin’!’

‘G’day Jocko! I’d love to stay and chat but that big gullah of a croc’s getting away. Crikey!’

Jocky fired up the jetpack.

‘Nae bather, big aine! Jocky’s on the case!’

I started to protest but Jocky was already taking off and shouting the Thundercat war cry. Irwin seemed to like that and did the same. The pair of them flew and ran off at top speed.

Granny and I hung around waiting for them. She whistled away to herself. I eventually recognised it as Somewhere Over the Rainbow and gave her a playful sneer, to which she chuckled heartily.

‘Sorry Dorothy, Granny’s just kidding yi’ on. “There’s no place like home!” Fucking belter.’

Jocky came back with a grin wider than Sandeman Street. For the first time since I’d met him he was wearing something on his top half. It looked suspiciously like Steve Irwin’s famed khaki shirt. He saw my inquisitively-arched eyebrow and explained himself.

‘Once we’d kicked fuck out the crocodile eh battered into Irwin. Cunt wiznae expecting that like. Eh says tae the boy, “here, kangeroo cunto: what time is it?” Just as he went ti’ check his watch eh went, ‘it’s punch in the pus time, cunto!’ and knocked him oot. Pinched his shirt, like! Eh’ll wear it just this once then frame it next meh Pele tap in the hoose. Teckle!’
I wasn’t ready to argue the mechanics of taking a stolen shirt back to the land of the living so I let him have his moment.

———————————-

We returned to the tunnel by which we’d entered. It was time to say goodbye to Granny.

‘Cheers fur gettin’ wiz signed in there Granny, that was teckle. Sorted it right oot, like.’

‘Nae bather, pal. Yi’ ken eh’d dae any’hing fur yi’. It’s been braw seein’ yi’ Jocky. Eh’ll miss yi’, but eh’ll see yi’ again. Keep in touch on that ouija board now, and for goodness sake, try and keep oot o’ bather. You ken the score. ‘Mon gie yir Granny a cuddle.’

Jocky gave her the hug of a life – and indeed Afterlife – time. She was teary-eyed as she came and gave me one too.

‘Pleasure ti’ meet yi’ son. All the best next season. Away the Dee!’

Jocky cheered. ‘Fucking yas Granny! Away the Dee!’

Granny Scott grabbed hold off Jocky and myself, started jumping about with remarkable agility for an old lady and started chanting, ‘Derry Rhumba! Derry Rhumba!’ Jocky joined in with gusto, and as it would’ve been rude for me not to, I gave it big licks too.

We stood for a good half hour singing what must have been every Dundee song ever written. Granny’s false teeth came flying out during the final verse of Hector Nicol’s rendition of Up Wi’ the Bonnets of Bonnie Dundee but she managed to get them back in to bellow the final line, ‘for the brave boys who wear the dark blue of Dundee!’

After another round of hugs Jocky and I stepped into the tunnel, turned and waved goodbye to her. She’s quite the lady, is Granny Scott. As we slipped away from one life to another she took off on a jetpack and headed back towards Heaven. Jocky and I floated along. The light at the end of the tunnel, the light of our life, gradually drew closer.

‘Well boss, that was something else, eh? Boss?’

He’d disappeared from my side. I looked round and saw him taking a piss against the side of the tunnel.

‘Eh’ll see yi’ back there, Leigh. Nae bather. Eh’d wave cheerio but it’s all hands on deck when the bad boy’s oot. You ken the score, mongchops.’

Good grief.

—————————————

I was in my hospital bed in the Spanish hospital Jocky and I had been rushed to when Joe attacked us. Apparently we had been offically dead for no more than a few seconds before being resuscitated. A few seconds seems like a long time when you’re in God’s own theme park with good people like Granny, the Man himself and of course Steve Irwin. I browsed an English language newspaper that had been left by my bedside and saw an interesting report.

“Welsh boxer Joe Calzaghe has been arrested and admitted to a mental hospital after seriously injuring two golfers in a golf buggy accident at a local course. Calzaghe was deemed to be of unsound mind when he claimed he had been crucified by a cat after it defeated him in a game of Connect 4. As Calzaghe was dragged off by the authorities he was heard to shout “IN THE FUCKING HOLE!” between bouts of maniacal laughter”

Zoinks!

IN THE FUCKING HOLE! – Part 1

I woke up one fine summer morning in Caird Park to find a voicemail on my mobile. I stretched the last remnants of sleep out and enjoyed the warmth of the sun on my face as I left my tepee. I noted the message was from Jocky. He’d called at half three in the morning.

‘Hiya Leigh! Hiya pal! By Christ, eh’m fair pished here, like. Just oot the Fairmuir. The Pope invited iz oot fur a quick pint, ended up gettin’ right on it and haein’ a few gemmes o’ Hungry Hungry Hippos wi’ McLean. Arab bastard wiz cheatin’ like fuck, nae danger his Hippo wiz hungrier than mine. Meh hippo wiz stervin’! Anyway, eh’ve got a proposition fur yi’; fancy bein’ meh caddie at a charity golf tournament in Spain? Charity’s teckle, golf’s teckle and a’body kens Spain’s fucking teckle. That’s a hat trick o’ teckle there, Leigh. You ken the score, mongchops. Gies a bell. Cheery!’

The message disintegrated into the roar of his jetpack and ended. A few days in Spain on the golf course? A bit of sunshine? A bit of Jocky-action to help pass the time until pre-season training got underway?

It had trouble written all over it. That said, it was likely to be good fun.

A week later I was in the bar at Glasgow airport waiting for Jocky to turn up. I’d checked in and had ordered myself a pint. As I sat enjoying the start of my holiday Jocky arrived in fine style.

‘WHAAAA’S IN CHERGE IN SUNNY SPAIN? AND VIVA EL JOCKY!’ He was singing his heart out. He’d added a sombrero to his usual trackie bottom/topless look and by all accounts appeared to be looking forward to his holiday.

‘Leigh ya mad vagina! Hiya pal! On the sauce already eh? That’s the gemme! We’re a’ goin’ on oor summer holidays! Like that gay fella wha’s ayewiz singin’ when it rains at Wimbledon, Dave Grohl.’

He stormed up to the bar shouting for a pint and demanding an audience with “that bam wha gave the terrorist a sneaky boot. Boy wiz on fire fur fuck sake, there wiz nae need ti’ kick the cunt tae”. John Smeaton was otherwise engaged but the Special was on tap.

We had a few pints then headed through customs. Jocky held things up slightly due to the fact he had cans on Tartan Special stashed away on his person. They found the one under his sombrero pretty quickly. Using a hand-held detector they found the one in his pants next. When they asked what was in there he replied, ‘Just meh cock and ba’s, big aine. Hae a look if yi’ like, but be prepared for the of wave o’ inferiority that’ll wash ower yi’. Surf’s up, cunto.’ They persisted and he eventually gave up his can. The detector beeped one more time as it passed Jocky’s rear-end. He grinned shamelessly. ‘Prepare ti’ launch aft torpedoes! Better put some newspaper doon or something, big aine. This is gonnae be slightly less than teckle.’

The flight was uneventful. Jocky occupied himself with his ouija board, holding an animated conversation with his Gran before lambasting the Glasgow Airport bomber for not putting up more of a fight against Smeato. When the plane hit Spanish tarmac Jocky ignored the instruction to remain seated until they taxied in to the terminal in order to walk up and down the aisle with his up-turned sombrero collecting a whip-round for the pilot.

A couple of hours later I was poolside at our hotel. The golf tournament, a charity affair organised by Jim Leishman, started the following morning, so we had time to soak up some rays before the event took place. I was stretched out on a sun lounger. Looking up at the hotel I noticed a big Dundee flag with the words DERRY RHUMBA printed on it hanging over a balcony. Jocky’s room, no doubt. That thought was confirmed seconds later when he flew out and started descending towards the pool. He’d changed out his trackie bottoms into the smallest pair of Speedos imaginable. They were at least three sized too small, making his not inconsiderable crotch highly, highly prominent. He was still wearing his sombrero. He landed next to me. ‘Hola, cunto! By Christ, it’s fucking roasting, eh? Eh huvnae felt heat like this since Jim Duffy set fire ti’ the caravan eh wiz pumping his wife in. Wee love nest on the street ootside his hoose, like. Probably should’ve been mair discreet, but the dodgem eh wiz drehvin’ at the time didnae hae the oomph ti’ carry it ti’ the Red Lion Caravan Park in Arbroath, which is the spot whaur maist cunts shag Jim Duffy’s wife.’

I tried to avert my eyes from the monstrous package that was pushing the elasticity of his trunks to their absolute limit. He settled down and sunbathed on the lounger next to me. The hip-hop beats from the earplugs of his “ehPod” providing distant-sounding background music. As I dozed off a little I heard Jocky singing along to himself. ‘Oh-oh-oh, woah-oh-oh! All the teckle ladies! All the teckle ladies. All the teckle ladies! All the teckle ladies. Fucking yas. Get them telt, Beyonce.’ I sat up and realised a few recognisable faces had started to appear around the pool and bar area. The rest of the golfing party was congregating. Jocky sat up and spotted them. Unplugging his earphones he whistled and motioned for them to come over to say hello. Former Scotland manager Craig Brown was first to approach.

‘Well Jocky, how are you? Long time no see.’

‘A’right Broon, no’ bad pal. Question fur yi baldy: di’ yi’ like it?’ Craig looked baffled but gave an affirmative response. ‘Then yi’ should’ve put a ring on it ya daft cunt! Beyonce kens the score! Eh wiz at her and Jay Z’s wedding perty at the Woodlands Hotel in the Ferry. Fucking class, like. Some cunt says ti’ iz “yo J-Dog, shizzle my nizzle muthafucka”. Eh says, “wha’s in cherge here? Crack is whack, cunto. Increase the peace.” Craig sunk deeper into confusion. Jocky continued. ‘How’s Hen gettin’ on? Huvnae seen that lanky cunt fur ages. Tell him big Jocky wiz askin’ fur him. Daphne tae!’ Brown had completely lost the thread by this time and could only mumble, ‘aye…erm, fine, aye…’ by way of a reply.

The rest of the party said hello. Craig Levein was here, as was ex-Liverpool star Alan Kennedy and event organiser Jim Leishman. We sat chatting away for a while, discussing the previous season of Scottish football and the golf tournament that kicked off the following morning. As Jocky was in the midst of telling a story about the time he beat Seve Ballesteros at crazy golf on the course by Broughty Ferry beach, an athletic, tough looking guy strode towards us. Leishman jumped up to greet him then introduced him to the rest of us. It was Welsh boxing legend Joe Calzaghe. As he went around the group shaking hands I saw Jocky steeling himself. He puffed his chest out and raised his chin as he waited his turn for formalities.

‘Hello Jocky, I’m Joe. Nice to meet you.’ Jocky took his hand to shake it but said nothing. Joe looked down at their clasped hands, seemingly surprised at the force of Jocky’s grip. His fighter instincts kicked in and he met both Jocky’s steely gaze and the pressure of his handshake. They stood in silence squeezing hands. The muscles in their arms tensed, and their eyes burned holes in each other. When the grip was finally broken Jocky spoke first.

‘Hiya Joe Calshaggy, hiya pal! Whaur’s the Mystery Machine parked? Zoinks!’ He turned to me and whispered, ‘bit o’ Scooby Doo fur yi’ there pal. Scooby Doo’s fucking teckle! Cartoon doag, like.’ He turned his attention back to Joe. ‘Here, Joe Calshaggy; question fur yi’, boxer cunto: wha’s in cherge here?’

With good reason, Joe looked at him like he was utterly mental and couldn’t muster a reply. Jocky shook his head in disgust at the lack of response. ‘Eh heard you were an undefeated champion. Just as well yi’ never turned up at the Fairmuir’s celebrity boxing night. Barry McGuigan barely made it oot the taxi before Tam McGinty battered fuck oot him. Frank Bruno got signed in but left ten minutes later wi’ a handful o’ dominoes up his arse and a look of despair in his mince pies. Nae cunt messes wi’ the Fairmuir, Joe Calshaggy. A’body kens that. Eh hud a cunning plan ti’ get Mohammad Ali up so we could tak’ the piss as he tried playin’ darts wi’ that shakey Alzheimer’s hand o’ his. Eh would’ve got awa’ wi’ it if it wisnae fur that pesky Boaby Brannan.’ Jocky turned to me and whispered, ‘that’s a wee line fae Scooby Doo, pal. Honestly, check it oot on the Cartoon Network, it’s fucking teckle!’

Later that evening we all went out for tea and a few drinks. The fancy restaurant we went to had a dress code that Jocky’s swimming trunks and sombrero ensemble didn’t come anywhere near satisfying, but after a lot of shouting and threats to have Tam McGinty and various members of the Wu Tang Clan (“the good aines, no’ the dingy cunts that get sent oot on tour”) over on the next flight to wreck the place he was allowed in. He spent most of the evening asking Joe Calzaghe who was in charge and eventually disappeared into the kitchen to try and teach the chef how to make stovies. ‘El corned beef and el tatties, Pedro. It’s nae bather. How the fuck did yi’ get a Michelin Star if yi’ cannae mak’ stovies?’

——————

I was up at the crack of dawn for the charity golf tournament. I made my way to the nearby course and found most of the group already there. Mercifully, Jocky had finally changed out his Speedos. He was wearing appropriate attire for the occasion. Well, sort of. He had on a pair of tartan plus four golf trousers which were in line with standard, if not slightly out-dated, golf clothing. Unfortunately he’d matched them with a pair of white Donnay socks and muddy old Umbro football boots. He was still wearing his sombrero. As always, the man was topless.

‘Hiya Leigh! Has a’body met Leigh? Jocky kens him fae the futba, like. Good cunt. Lives in a teepee! Get a hoose, Crazy Horse. Fuck sake.’ He thrust a golf bag in my direction. ‘Grab that, cunto. Follow Jocky roond the course, it’s nae bather.’ Jocky strapped on his jetpack and hovered over to the first hole, shouting abuse at Joe Calzaghe as went. Joe had been paired off with Jocky for the opening round. There was still a bit of tension between the two after yesterday’s shenanigans. Well that wasn’t entirely true. Jocky was still getting a bit wound up by the Welshman’s presence, but Joe was as cool as a cucumber and generally just ignored him. As I approached the tee of the first hole Jocky was there doing press-ups on his knuckles. Making sure Joe was watching he bounced up and did a threw a few tight punches into fresh air. ‘See that, Joe Calshaggy? Float like a butterfly, sting like meh pee. Got a bit o’ cystitis like, it’s nippy as fuck. Zoinks!’

Jocky finished off his warm up routine with a few stretches then he was ready to play.

‘Right Leigh, gie Jocky his drehvur. Time tae show cunto here how it’s done.’ I removed the driver and passed it to him. Just then I heard a rustling in the golf bag. Something was moving about in there. I was a bit freaked out and stepped backwards away from it.

‘Jocky, there’s………there’s something in your bag……..’

‘Ken there is Leigh, they’re called testicles. Grow a pair, mongchops.’

‘No, I mean your golf bag…’

Jocky looked puzzled and wandered over. Just then an engine fired up in the bag, and the source of our puzzlement showed it’s feline, moustachioed face. Jocky the cat hovered out into the Spanish sun.

‘Sweet hairy Tosh McKinley, eh’ve got a stowaway! Hiya wee Jocky! Hiya pal!’

‘Miaow.’

Wee Jocky flew over to say hello to his master. Jocky stroked him and gave him a wee kiss on the head. The cat then came over to see me and I did the same. He’s a braw cat, is wee Jocky. I’d grown rather fond of him over the past few months, and lest we forget he saved me from a hiding at the hands of Bob Brannan and the goons who work as stewards at Dens. As Jocky smashed his drive up the centre of the fairway and screamed ‘IN THE FUCKING HOLE YA CUNT!’, Calzaghe took a long, hard look at the flying cat, rubbed his eyes then looked back.

‘Is that a ………..is that a flying cat?’

Jocky answered him. ‘Nah pal, it’s a swimming fucking budgie. Shut yir pus and get golfing.’

Calzaghe gave Jocky a cold look for a second then managed to drag his gaze away from the cat to concentrate on the matter at hand. He hit his drive long and straight then started heading down the fairway. Joe and his caddy kept a bit of distance from us. Things weren’t too convivial considering it was a charity event. Jocky hovered by my side, took his next shot then hovered on again. Jocky the cat followed on obediently, and seemed to be having as good a time as a cat with a jetpack can on a golf course. Jocky had reached the green in two and had a birdie opportunity.

‘Pass Jocky the putter, Leigh. Eh’m pure deadly wi’ the putter, a’body kens that.’

I raked in the bag for a putter but couldn’t find one. What I did come across was a snooker cue. ‘Jocky, you don’t seem to have a putter. Why is there a snooker cue in here?’ He looked exasperated, and replied, ‘the cue is the putter, pal. Unconventional, aye, but you ken as well as any cunt that Jocky’s no’ a man wha abides by convention.’ Turning to wee Jocky, he said, ‘isn’t that right, wee aine?’

‘Miaow.’

‘Fucking right. Get Leigh telt, wee Jocky.’

I handed Jocky his “putter”. He got down on his stomach, laying flat out on the green. Calzaghe and his caddy looked on, astonished by the latest development in their time with Jocky. He lined up his shot, addressing the ball as he did so. ‘Right wee man, nae fucking aboot here. In the hole, a’body’s happy, best o’ the teckle. Ken what eh’m on aboot? That’s the gemme.’ He drew his cue back and made a firm connection with the ball. He remained flat on the green as it made its way towards the hole.

‘It’s goin’…….it’s goin’……..ya cunt, it’s……..it’s……..IN THE FUCKING HOLE!! YAAAAAAASSS!’ He jumped up and swaggered over towards Calzaghe with his arms outstretched. ‘How’s that ya leek-munching, Tam Jones-listenin’ dragon-shagger? Eh? Big Jocky sterts proceedings wi’ a birdie! FU-CKING OOFT! Woot woot! That’s what eh’m talkin’ aboot!’

He was absolutely delighted. He swaggered back over and handed me the cue.

‘Wha’s in cherge here, Leigh? Did yi’ see that putt? Belter!’

‘Aye, great stuff, boss.’

Calzaghe had made it to the green too. As he lined up his putt Jocky started noising him up by going, ‘ooooooooooohhhhhhhhHHHHHHHH!!!’ Joe stopped and looked around at him with a mean look in his eyes. Jocky shut up and apologised. ‘Sorry, big aine. Jocky’s just kiddin’ yi’ on.’ As Calzaghe went back to his putt Jocky turned to me and laughed silently, his shoulders bouncing, mirth in his eyes. Calzaghe took his putt. It crawled to the hole and looked like it was on the way in, but it stopped less than inch short.

‘YAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSS!’ Jocky wasn’t shy in roaring his approval at his opponent’s misfortune. He started singing and pointing at Joe. ‘Whhhhhat the fucking hell was that? Whhhhhhhhhhhat the fuuuucking hell-was-that?!’ Joe looked like he was boiling up inside. He was doing well to keep it in check, but it was unlikely to last if Jocky kept riling him.

Jocky sent his second drive of the round off with the same cry of ‘IN THE FUCKING HOLE YA CUNT!’ It wasn’t quite as accurate as he might have hoped, so he flew off in front to check the situation out. Calzaghe drove and we headed up the fairway. Jocky had disappeared out of sight. I couldn’t see him or his ball. I heard a shout from the nearby bunker.

‘In here Leigh, Jocky’s in the bunker.’ The bunker was a deep, high-walled sand trap. I could hear him but couldn’t see him.

‘Do you need the sand wedge, boss?’ I started pulling the club out. ‘No pal, pass Jocky the bog roll that’s in the side pocket o’ the bag.’ The toilet roll? That couldn’t be right. I strolled over to have a look into the bunker. Good grief. I flinched at the sight that greeted me. Jocky was squatting with his trousers pulled down around his ankles reading a copy of the Beano. He was in the midst of taking a dump.

‘Chuck iz that bog roll, pal. Eh’ll no’ be lang, eh’ll just finish the Bash Street Kids then it’s back ti’ the gemme.’

I took the toilet roll out the bag, threw it to him and walked off to give him some privacy. Joe was at the other side of the fairway. He’d also found the rough and was searching for his ball. After a few moments Jocky came out and told me as his caddy it was my duty to rake the sand in the bunker. I protested, but he said it was “golf etiquette”. Quite a statement from a man who just took a shit in the bunker.

I threw some sand over his pile of shite and raked around it. As I did so Jocky and Joe played their second shots onto the green, which was over the crest of a hill and out of sight. Jocky flew on in front again. When the rest of reached the green he was standing by the two balls which were no more than three feet from the hole. Easy birdies for both players. Jocky approached Joe.

‘Big man, you put your ball in first. It’s meh shot, but as a way o’ apologising fur meh behaviour eh’d be honoured if yi’ went ahead o’ me did the business first. It’s a wee gesture, like.’ Joe seemed to like the idea. ‘Thanks, Jocky. I appreciate that thought.’ The two men shook hands. Jocky walked over to stand with me by the side of the green with a twinkle in his eye. Joe lined his putt up and sank it. Jocky applauded him. ‘Nice one, Joe. Good birdie!’ Joe doffed his baseball cap at him and reached down to pick his ball out the hole. He shuddered and froze. Slowly, he lifted his ball out the hole. His ball and hand were covered in shit. Jocky erupted.

‘FUCKING YAAAAAAAASSSS!!! OH YA CUNT, THAT’S MEH SHITE! THUNDERCATS – HOOOOOOOO!!’

He was beside himself and creased with laughter. He’d taken some of his crap from the bunker and put it in the hole while we were still walking up to the green. The friendly putting gesture had been an elaborate rouse. As Jocky howled away to himself, Calzaghe reached his breaking point. He threw his club down and stormed towards us.

Jocky the cat flew in between Joe and Jocky. He adopted the Karate Kid “crane” pose and hovered at head height in front of him. Joe tried to sidestep him to the left then the right, but wee Jocky followed his movement and remained in position between them. Joe was going bonkers, but couldn’t get past the cat. Big Jocky wiped the tears of laughter from his eyes and tried to cool things down.

‘Settle doon, Joe. Calm the ham ya shitey-handed cunt.’

Joe was raging. ‘You’re fucking dead, you old bastard! Come ahead! Me and you, right here and now!’ Jocky merely chuckled. ‘Square go time, is it? Meh Goad, yi’ couldnae even win a square go wi’ meh cat, nivir mind me. Tell yi’ what, wee ba’s. Meh cat’s a braw Connect 4 player. If yi’ beat the cat at Connect 4, eh’ll gie yi’ the square go yi’re after. Deal?’

Calzaghe looked mightily confused, but after another explanation of the deal he laughed and agreed. Beating a cat at Connect 4? Mental, but easy. If that’s what it took to get his hands on Jocky he’d play along. Jocky went to his golf bag and took out a travel version of his cat’s favourite board game. He handed it to Joe and told him to set it up. Jocky the cat landed at Joe’s feet and awaited the start. Jocky put an arm around me and lead me off back down the fairway.

‘Jocky keeps all manner of stuff in that golf bag, Leigh. Eh like tae keep Connect 4 in there in case there’s any bather and wee Jocky’s in the area. Eh’m fucking sure the bog roll came in handy back there, and the Connect 4’s gonnae prove it’s worth in about 60 seconds time.’ I looked over my shoulder and saw Joe sitting cross-legged on the green with the Connect 4 board between him and Jocky the cat. The game was about to start.

‘Leigh pal, keep the old mince pies facing straight ahead. Yi’ dinnae want ti’ see what’s aboot tae go down at that gemme o’ Connect 4.’

I did as I was told and walked away with Jocky. He’d always warned me about the danger of playing the cat at Connect 4. It had seemed like daft talk, and I took such claims with a pinch of salt. How could a simple game with a cat go so wrong? We walked a hundred feet or so before Jocky stopped me. He raised a finger aloft for a few seconds as if waiting for something. He then dropped it and turned around. I did the same, and my jaw almost hit the fairway.

Joe Calzaghe had been crucified. He was tied (not nailed, thankfully) to a fifteen-foot-tall cross that had been planted on the green. He’d been stripped to his pants and gagged with Jocky’s swimming trunks. Jocky the cat lay stretched out at the foot of the cross in a nonchalant fashion. My brain froze as it tried to comprehend the situation. We’d only turned our backs for a minute. Where the hell did the cross come from? How the fuck had the cat managed to subdue and crucify a champion boxer? How the……..what the…….

I followed Jocky as he swaggered over to the crucifix. I was numb, incapable of speech. Jocky didn’t bat an eyelid. This came as no surprise to him. He stood at the base of the cross, a serious look on his face. ‘Wha won, Joe?’ He burst out laughing. ‘Yaaaaaaasss! Just kidding, pal, eh ken wha won. Jocky sees yi’ on yir cross. Jocky sees yi’. Bit like thon boy Jesus, eh? Fucking shame him gettin’ nailed up there. Bet that wiz sair. Bet he wiz up there thinkin’, “fucking hell man, this is shite. Some cunt should invent an adhesive that does the same joab as nails without actually haein’ ti’ use nails. Mibbe call it Nae Mair Nails, or Jew Glue or something, fuck knows. Bit late fur a’ these bright ideas really, some cunt just nailed iz tae a cross. Fuck sake. Good aine Judas, yi’ grassin’ cunt.” Bet he wiz sayin’ a’ that sort o’ stuff, eh Joe?’

Joe couldn’t talk through the trunks stuffed in his mouth but his eyes told the story. They were as wide as saucers, filled with terror, rage, and the 1000 yard stare of someone who has witnessed the incomprehensible. His caddy shared the same look. He stood staring at the cat like a man who dearly wanted to run like the wind but whose mind had suffered a severe trauma and couldn’t relay the impulse to do so down to his legs. Jocky wrapped a comforting arm around him. ‘Sorry yi hud ti’ witness that, Pedro. Crazy, eh? Wee bit fucking loco.’ There was no reaction from the caddy. Jocky waved a hand in front of his face. Nothing. He just stared at the cat like a lobotomy patient staring out the window of a mental ward. Somewhat cruelly Jocky decided this was an opportunity for further amusement and pulled the boy’s trousers down round his ankles before we headed back towards the club house. The round of golf was most definitely over.

———————–

We spent the couple of hours at the bar in the club house. Jocky was calling every member of staff Pedro and asking them how to say key phrases such as “Jim McLean is Bible John – think aboot it” and “the rain in Spain falls mainly on Boaby Brannan” in Spanish. The rest of the golfers returned in dribs and drabs. When they asked where Joe had got to Jocky explained he’d abandoned the round in favour of taking his caddy back to the hotel so he could dress him up like a little boy and have sex with him. ‘Eh tried ti’ convince the cunt it wiz better ti’ raise some dough fur charity, but he just said, “Jocky boyo, my lust for young lads far out-weighs my desire to contribute to a charitable cause” Cannae really argue wi’ a boxer cunto when he says mad shite like that, eh? Fuck sake.’

Jocky and I decided to head back to the hotel. We left the rest of the lads to it and walked out the club house. As we crossed the car park a golf buggy came tearing over a hill in the distance. It was being driven recklessly at top speed. I stopped immediately, Jocky kept walking ahead. It was Joe. He’d got off his cross and was coming for Jocky. I shouted a warning. Jocky stopped and waved. ‘Hiya Joe Calshaggy! Hiya pal! By Christ, it’s the Second Coming of Joesus! Zoinks!’ Joe continued driving straight towards Jocky. The insane look in his eye he’d had on the cross was still firmly in place. He was aiming to take Jocky out.

As the buggy came roaring towards him Jocky didn’t budge an inch. He stood as cool as you like and said, ‘Yi’ cannae win, Joe. Strike me doon now and eh’ll become more powerful that you can possibly imagine.’ He turned to me, laughing. ‘Did yi’ catch that, Leigh? Bit o’ Star Wars fur yi’! Star Wars is fucking tec…’

THUMP.

He was cut short by the horrifying impact of the golf buggy hitting him at top speed. He went flying and lay crumpled on the ground. I ran to him and turned him over on to his back. His eyes had glazed over and a little trickle of blood came from his mouth. Shit, he was badly injured. He managed to utter the words, ‘Jocky sees yi’ Granny………..Jocky sees yi’………..’ before slipping into unconsciousness. I looked up and saw Calzaghe striding towards us. I was suddenly filled with furious anger. I got up and charged at him. Now, I’m not a bad footballer, but I’m not much of a fighter. Joe ducked away from the wild swing I threw at him then retaliated with a savage right hook that connected square on my jaw. I saw the concrete rushing up to meet me and my head smashed hard against it. My eyes rolled back in my head and everything went black.

For a few seconds there was nothing, just darkness. A pin-prick of light appeared in the centre of my vision then slowly grew bigger. I seemed to be floating towards the source of light. As I drew closer to it a small old woman came into view. She must have been more than 100 years old. She was hunched over, whithered by the sands of time. As I came to a halt next to her I saw that she had an all-too-familiar mischievous glint in her eye. She also had a fearsome looking moustache that put Jocky’s to shame.

‘Hiya Granny Scott. Hiya pal.’