Chapter 12: Up for the Cup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

——————-

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

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

‘Hamilton Accies! Barcelona! Scotland!’

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

‘What have you got there, boss?’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The United supporters nearly jumped out of their skins.

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

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

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

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

”CAUSE WE ARE THE DUNDEE DERRY BOYS!’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘…..um….aye, hello…..um…..’

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

‘….um…..aye, I suppose so…..’

‘Leigh Griffiths a’body! Yaaaasss!’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—————————-

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

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

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

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

‘Yes boss!’, we replied as one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Ken eh am, pal, ken eh am. Cheers!’

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

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

It was time to go to Hampden.

—————————–

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

‘Got a spare, boss?’

‘Nah pal, Jocky needs twa tickets.’

‘….erm…how come?’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was too stunned to answer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

——————-

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

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

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

‘What’s the verdict, boss?’

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

‘What has she got wrong in the past?’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

——————–

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—————————–

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter 11: The Age of Jocky

“When the time comes to initiate Jocky’s Master Plan, Leigh, the first thing I’ll do is pull that lever. When that lever is pulled, prepare for the Age of Jocky.”

——————-

McLean’s helicopter had dropped me and Billy of at Dens. Billy left, saying it was past his bed time. I bid him farewell and steadied myself for the meeting with Brannan and Chisholm. I went into Dens and was ushered through to Brannan’s office. He cut straight to the chase.

‘What happened? Did you find him?’ His face was full of anticipation.

‘No Bob, I didn’t find him. I found the place he had been hiding, but there was no sign of him. Jocky’s gone.’

Brannan stared hard at me for what felt like an eternity. ‘You’re lying. You found him.’ I shook my head. ‘Sorry, Bob. There was no sign of Jocky.’ He stared at me for a while longer then asked, ‘Leigh….what’s that on your face?’ I was puzzled. Brannan pointed to his upper lip, and my hand went up to mine and found the moustache Jocky had given me. Shit. I mumbled an explanation about growing one, and Brannan gave me a funny look. There was silence. Eventually he calmly thanked me for attempting the mission and said I was free to go.

I got back out to Sandeman Street and breathed a sigh of relief. That hadn’t gone too well. The ‘tache was a dead-giveaway that I doubt he bought my excuse for. Well, at least the meeting was over. I pressed on with my real mission.

————————

It was around midnight when I approached Jocky’s house in the Ferry. Dundee’s premier affluent suburb was as quiet as the grave. I slipped inside his garden and approached the door. I immediately realised I had no way of getting in. Fuck! Jocky hadn’t given me a key. How was I meant to get in? I stood there for a second and considered my options. I knew full well he wasn’t here, but instinct made me knock at the door anyway. I heard a sound from inside. Someone was in there. The 17 locks started to come loose at the other side of the door. My heart was pounding. Was he back? Who the hell was in there?

The 17th lock came free and the door opened slightly. Tentatively, I pushed it open and stepped inside. Jocky the jetpack-flying cat hovered at head height behind the door. The cat had answered the door. I shouldn’t have been surprised. This creature was, apparently, a martial arts expert and a bad-ass Connect 4 player. Opening doors wasn’t that much of a challenge to him.

I closed the door behind me. The cat stared at me. I looked around and realised we were alone.

‘….um…..hiya Jocky….’

‘Miaow’

I stroked it under the chin, and it purred in response. I was strangely thankful it liked me. I didn’t want to test the theory of it being a trained killer.

Jocky flew off through the living room door, and I followed it. Everything was as it was the last time I’d been here. Jocky hovered by the bookcase. I walked up to it and scanned the books for Watership Down. I found it. It was sitting next to a copy of Jim McLean’s autobiography, Jousting With Giants. I didn’t realise McLean had a book out so I took it off the shelf for a quick look. The front cover had been altered slightly. A photo of a grizzly bear had been stuck on along with a pornographic image of a black man with an erection and Jim McLean’s head pasted on him. I sniggered. Jocky the cat miaowed, and I focused on the task at hand again. I slowly reached out to the teckle book about rabbits. I fingered it and pulled it back towards me.

The floor beneath me started to revolve. Jocky flew close to me, and we were spun around into the secret lab.

———————-

‘Mr Griffiths, we’ve been expecting you.’

A man in a white lab coat approached and offered his hand. I took it and said hello.

‘Nice to meet you. I have no idea what I’m here for. All I know is Jocky said you’d be able to help me access the lever in his old office.’

The man grinned and ushered me into the lab. I’d had a glance of it that night a few weeks back, and it was every bit as intriguing as I’d remembered. It was the a room filled with complex looking equipment and on-going scientific experiments. Massive computers sat by glass beakers filled with colourful bubbling liquids. There was about a dozen men and woman in white coats, all of whom stopped to acknowledge my presence with a smile and a nod. This was incredible. If every house in the Ferry had this kind of thing going on it was no wonder property prices were extortionate around here.

‘Welcome to our laboratory, Mr Griffiths. My team and I have been working here for quite some time on a couple of projects, one of which will assist you in activating the lever in Mr Scott’s office at Dens. The other is perhaps the greatest scientific achievement in the history of mankind. You’ll find out about it in due course, I’ve been instructed to maintain the secrecy of it at this point.’

He smiled at Jocky the cat who was flying close by me. The man stroked him under the chin, and wee Jocky purred appreciatively. The man turned his attention back to me.

‘The lever in Jocky Scott’s office works under a security feature which is the first of it’s kind. It is on the cutting edge of modern technology. While fingerprint and retina recognition programs are slowly becoming more commonplace, we’ve developed something similar yet altogether more revolutionary….TEsticular Controlled Kinetic LEver, or TECKLE for short. The name isn’t ideal, but Mr Scott insisted it should be called TECKLE and we had to work from the acronym upwards.’

I was pretty much dumbstruck by my surroundings, so I just nodded in acceptance. The scientist continued.

‘Footballing matters are not our concern, Mr Griffiths. All I know is we were asked to create a security feature that relied on scanning Jocky Scott’s testicles, a scrotal recognition system. We did that. The lever in his office at Dens Park can only be pulled once a positive ID of his testes is taken. That was only half the job. At the turn of the year Mr Scott decided he needed a back-up entry method. I tried to tell him a simple computer password would do the job, but he insisted on going a step further. His instructions were quite clear – “Fuck up, cunto, dinnae gie iz yer pish. Jocky wants a spare set o’ ba’s!’

Oh my God. The scientist saw my look and chuckled.

‘I had much the same reaction as you just did, Mr Griffiths. A spare set of testicles! I argued long and hard against his suggestion but he merely kept repeating a mantra that queried who was in charge here. A spare set of testicles was the only way forward. I gathered a team of the world’s top scientific minds and experts in the field of cloning. The men and woman you see here are the finest scientific people on the planet. We managed to carry out the task, Mr Griffiths. We have cloned Jocky Scott’s balls.’

Oh my fucking God. The scientist pointed to a nearby table. I walked up to it and gasped in disbelief as I saw the fruits of his and his team’s labour……a pair of balls in a jar. The jar was filled with a clear solution, and a scrotum floated around in it.

Jocky had cloned his own balls. I repeat: Jocky had cloned his own balls.

——————–

I left the lab with the jar of Jocky’s spare balls in a Lidl carrier bag. You’d think the top scientific minds in the world could provide a more appropriate logistical solution. Jocky the cat flew out with me. I stopped in the living room and took stock, taking a seat in one of his deckchairs. Wee Jocky landed in my lap and I stroked him as I gathered my thoughts. I had to get into Jocky’s old office at Dens. I remembered Jocky’s advice and realised it was time to go and get Billy Dodds.

——————–

Jocky had given me Billy’s address before I left his compound in the wilderness. He’d claimed it was “the maist teckle fuckin’ hoose in the land. Mind and tak’ yir shoes aff.” I phoned a taxi from Jocky’s. When it pulled up outside I said goodbye to the cat and left. As the cab pulled away I looked back and saw the cat hovering at the window. It may have been a trick of the light, but it looked like he was waving a paw at me.

We drove for a few miles. Billy lived out in the countryside on the outskirts of town. We drove up a country lane. The driver stopped.

‘This is the address, pal.’

I looked around. Nothing.

‘Mate, are you sure? There’s no houses here.’

‘Aye, there’s no houses…..but there’s a bouncy castle…..’

He pointed out his window. Right enough, there was a big inflatable castle sitting over in a nearby field.

‘That can’t be the add……’, I thought about it for a second then continued, ‘actually that most likely is the address I’m looking for. Wait here a minute would you mate? I’ll be heading back into town once I’ve picked my pal up.’

The driver agreed to wait. I got out the taxi and jumped a fence to get into the field. It was a cracking bouncy castle, a huge thing with turrets in each corner. It wasn’t open-topped like most bouncy castles, and it had a front wall with holes for windows and a door covered by a big Dundee flag. The flag had BILLY’S HOWSE written in almost illegible crayon marks on it. A generator hummed away somewhere, keeping the thing inflated. There was no doorbell, so I just shouted in.

‘Billy! It’s Leigh!’

‘Hiya Leigh! Hiya pal! Come on in!’

As I started to make my way in he yelled again. ‘Shoes aff! Shoes aff!’ Of course. Jocky had mentioned it, and bouncy castle etiquette dictates that you can’t go on with your shoes on. I took them off and entered. It was hard to walk along the inflatable floor. I stumbled along a corridor. The walls were inflatable too. This was some bouncy castle! I got to a doorway and went in. Billy was bouncing around like mad.

‘Hiya Leigh!’

He looked delighted to see me. He bounced over and gave me a cuddle. ‘Come and have a bounce!’

I started to protest, but then remembered the days of my youth and just how much fun bouncy castles are. Why not? I started bouncing around with Billy. If the press could see us now…..Dundee’s star striker and assistant manager on a bouncy castle, which the assistant manager happens to call home. After a few minutes of bouncing off the “living room” walls and jostling each other playfully we were out of breath. We sat down.

‘Billy, Leigh needs a wee hand getting into Dens and Jocky’s old office. Can you help me, pal?’

Billy grinned and took a key out his pocket.

‘Master key for Dens. Jocky already told me plan, about…..’, his eyes went wide, ‘….Age of Jocky….’

I nodded. ‘Good lad, Billy. Thanks for your help. Are you ready to go?’

He got up and bounced off to another room. ‘Two minutes, Billy has to get changed!’

I sat and waited for him. After a couple of minutes he announced his return with the words, ‘OOOOOOOH YEAH!’ Billy was dressed as Macho Man Randy Savage. He wore a colourful leotard and leather jacket with long tassels hanging from the armpits to the sleeves. He wore a stetson, and had added put a fake beard to his Jocky ‘tache.

‘BILLY’S MACHO MAN! DIG IT?’

I laughed. ‘I dig it, Billy. I like your outfit. Come on, let’s go.’

We hopped in the taxi. The driver did a double-take at the sight of Billy, and he looked at me. I smiled and nodded without saying a word. Yes driver, Billy Dodds did just leave his bouncy castle home dressed as Macho Man. The driver looked back at Billy, shrugged, and started driving towards Dens.

———————

Billy’s key worked a treat at the front door of the stadium. Making sure there were no prying eyes around I ushered him inside and closed the door behind us. We crept through the dark corridors that lead to Jocky’s old office. Billy whimpered. ‘Billy no like dark, Leigh…..scared of Papa Shango!’ I soothed him as best I could. ‘Don’t be scared pal. Macho Man can beat Papa Shango!’ He smiled and whispered, ‘Ohhhh yeahhhh! Dig it!’

We reached the door to the office which was now occupied by Gordon Chisholm. Billy took his master key out. We had 17 locks to get through and time was of the essence. The poor boy’s hand was shaking badly, so I helped guide it to the locks. It took a minute to get through them all but when the final one was unlocked the door swung open.

The office was as I’d remembered it. Chisholm had few personal effects around, but it was exactly the same. I couldn’t see the lever at first, because Chisholm was using it to hang his manager jacket up on. I removed the jacket from the hook. Shit, here we go. I started shaking like a leaf. This was huge. I didn’t know what was about to happen, but I was scared. Bless his cotton socks, Billy put his arm around me. I looked at his smiling face and he whispered, ‘Billy’s looking out for you, Leigh. Dig it? Yeah!’ I giggled nervously and put my arm around him. Right then and there I loved that half-daft wee bastard like I’ve never loved anyone in my life. What a boy. I carefully took the jar out the Lidl carrier bag. I unscrewed the cap of the jar and put it back in the bag. I put my hand in the jar and took the loose skin of the scrotum between my fingers. I gently lifted it out the jar. Jocky’s spare balls dangled. I waved them around in front of the lever. Nothing happened. Shit, how did this thing work? My hand started shaking again, and the balls trembled. Billy returned the favour I’d done him moments ago and placed his hand on mine to steady it. Together we waved Jocky’s balls in front of the lever. ‘Steady, Leigh….try this…’ Billy guided my hand to a point above the lever and held it there. The balls stopped wobbling about. Just as I was about to move them again a green laser emitted from the wall, fanned and scanned the balls. It swept up and down them twice then went off. I stood with my heart in my mouth. A little green light came on in the wall. Green for go. Yes! We had activated the lever. Billy and I looked at each other and exhaled simultaneously. I placed the balls back in the jar, screwed the cap on and returned it to the carrier bag. The lever was primed and ready to be pulled.

I heard a noise from outside. Shit, we’d been caught! Billy looked petrified and fell into the foetal position on the floor, wailing, ‘Papa Shango!’ The noise drew closer, the soft burr of an engine. Relief washed over me and I placated Billy. ‘It’s ok pal, it’s just…’

The office door opened. It was wee Jocky. He floated in and miaowed at us. Billy hadn’t seen Jocky before, but the fact he was flying a jetpack didn’t seem to phase him. He stood up and stroked it. ‘Hiya pussy cat!’

We stood together on the edge of goodness knows what. How did it come to this? How did I come to be in this moment? No time for questioning the cosmos now. Here we were. Macho Man Billy Dodds, a cat flying a jetpack and myself in Jocky’s office, with the lever that leads to the Age of Jocky activated. I clasped my hand round it, took a deep breath, and……

I pulled the lever.

————-

Brilliant, blinding white light ripped through my head. The floor beneath me shook violently, and the vibrations ran through every inch of my body. A terrible roar rose up and engulfed me. My basic senses were overcome, my grip on reality was lost. I became adrift in existence, mere flotsam in time and space, and for a second I saw it all. The world and everything in it. Everything that was, had been, and ever would be. A moment of perfect clarity and understanding. A glimpse of Life from the perspective of the force that created it. It came and went in a heartbeat.

————-

I came crashing back to reality in the blink of an eye. I was still in the office. I was still holding the lever. I was still alive. What the…..

A huge roar came from outside. A crowd of people making an incredible noise. I turned my head this way and that. Jocky’s office was empty. I was alone. Another roar from outside. I released my grip on the lever and went to the window. I pulled the blind up and gasped. There was a game going on. Dens was full. Only it wasn’t the Dens I knew. The dilapidated South Enclosure was now a modern stand that held at least 20,000 people. I looked around in astonishment. The Bobby Cox and Bob Shankley ends of the ground were also new, enormous and filled to capacity. My focus turned to the pitch. A game was taking place. A team in the dark blue of Dundee were attacking a side in claret and blue stripes. It was familiar yet completely alien. The crowd roared again as what I assumed was Dundee won a corner. As a player ran over to take it my attention was drawn to a scoreboard that read

CHAMPION’S LEAGUE SEMI FINAL

DUNDEE 1 – BARCELONA 0

17:17

The time on the board struck me hard. It didn’t seem to move for several seconds before it passed to 17:18, 17:19, 17:20…

My eyes drifted towards the dugouts in front of the Main Stand. In front of the one marked HOME stood a man waving his arms and barking instruction to the players on the pitch. He was old, grey, yet commanding……Jocky. Jocky Scott.

The very instant I recognised him he froze. His arms slowly dropped to his sides and he turned around. He felt me looking, then he saw me. Jocky. He stared at me. Our eyes were locked. Slowly, he made his way towards me. I couldn’t move nor break my gaze. Jocky Scott walked over to the window I was looking out of. He came to a stop just a few feet away from me, his eyes unflinching. He nodded slowly and smiled. Words came out his mouth in a whisper.

‘Hiya Leigh……….hiya pal…………’

He was stunned. I could only stare back at him, no words would come forth. He scanned my face like I was someone he’d seen once in a long-forgotten dream.

‘You pulled the lever……eh dinnae ken what that means exactly, but somewhaur in another place far, far awa’ you pulled a lever that brought yi’ here tae see me.’

I nodded. Yes, I had pulled the lever. I remembered it. I did it mere seconds ago, but the seconds now felt like several years. Jocky looked at me in awe, and seemed to recall a distant memory from a life he didn’t lead.

He had a look of wonder on his face, and he found realisation from a source deep within his psyche. ‘This is……….this is the Age o’ Jocky. The Age o’ Jocky! This….’, he raised an arm and waved it round the ground, ‘is the story that went untold, the future that never came tae pass. This is reality in another time and place, another dimension……this is…..this is…..’ He looked around with the same astonishment I felt. This was his life. He lived in the moment, right here and now, but he saw it for what it was. Two parallel worlds had collided.

The game raged on behind us. Jocky looked round at it, then back at me. He smiled. I knew he had to go and carry on down this path. I had no place here. It wasn’t my reality.

Jocky started backing away. I wanted to reach out to him but knew it would have dire consequences for the very fabric of space and time.

‘Good tae see yi’ pal. Eh’m glad yi’ came tae witness this. Champion’s League, likes! Beating Barca 1-0! Hola, cunto! El Fairmuir es beuno! Fuckin’ teckle!’

He smiled, winked, then turned away from me. A brilliant white light filled my vision, and a thunderous roar built up around me. The ground shook, and I surrendered to the invisible hand that grabbed me and thrust me back to where I came from.

——————

I woke up on the floor of Jocky’s office. It was like coming out a hyper-vivid dream. It had left it’s mark on me, I could still feel it’s touch. I was groggy. What the fuck had just happened? Through the fog in my head I heard a voice.

‘Leigh, wake up! Wake up, you’re scaring Billy!’

I sat up and managed to reply, ‘I’m ok, pal. I think I’m ok.’

Billy helped me up. The lever was still there. I looked at it in awe. It was the most incredible, mind-blowing piece of technology ever created. I couldn’t even begin to fathom how it had been conceived or constructed. Billy saw me looking at it. ‘Leigh, what happened? You just fell over!’

‘Wait a minute, didn’t you see any of that?’

Billy looked confused and shook his head. ‘Didn’t see anything! You fell over and made me scared.’

‘Sorry, pal. Man, that was crazy. Billy, there’s no time to explain. I’m not sure I even understand it myself. We better get out of here. Where’s the cat?’

‘Got scared when you pulled lever and flew out window. Nice pussy cat!’

‘Aye, he’s something else…’

Just then there was noise from outside in the corridor. Voices, Bob Brannan’s among them. Shit, we’d been caught. I considered our options and decided to flee.

‘Billy, quick…..out the window!’

We jumped into life. I gave Billy a lift up and practically hurled him out the window before quickly following. He was waiting for me on the other side, the poor boy was terrified. I took his hand and started moving towards the track, hoping to escape over the fence I used a few weeks ago. But our exit was blocked. Several stewards in yellow jackets stood in front of us. I turned and saw several more in the other direction. Brannan had called for reinforcements. The man himself was now approaching flanked by more stewards. He looked angry. Very angry.

‘Griffiths! I knew you were up to something. I didn’t believe a word that came out your mouth earlier. That bloody moustache gave the game away. I’ve had the lads here following you since the moment you left my office.’

The stewards looked like a mean bunch. They had a reputation for being over-zealous, power-hungry little Hitlers. Brannan continued.

‘Leigh, you’re a valuable asset to this club. You should be sacked for your actions tonight, and for failing to carry out your task of calling the police when you found Jocky. But I can’t sack you. The fans wouldn’t stand for it, and we’d lose out on the transfer fee you will bring in one day. But you deserve to be punished. Oh yes. You won’t play for the rest of the season. We’ll announce that you’re injured. While the press will hear you’ve got some standard footballing injury, the truth will be slightly different…’

The squad of stewards started closing in on me. Shit, I was about to get a hiding. Bless him, Billy stood in front of me and took his Macho Man jacket off, ready to fight. The stewards had an evil look in their eye as they rolled up their sleeves and prepared to jump me. I braced myself for a kicking.

Suddenly the floodlights came on. We all shielded our eyes at the powerful blast of illumination. It took a few moments to adjust our vision, and when I was able to see properly again I saw Bob Brannan staring at the Derry with his jaw on the verge of coming off it’s hinge. I followed his gaze, and the stewards followed mine. Holy shit.

The Derry was full. Every seat was taken up by a topless man with a moustache who was wearing a jetpack. It was Jocky’s army. A voice boomed out from the PA system.

‘BOOOOOOABY BRANNAN! WHAUR’S MEH FUCKIN’ TIPPEX YA BALDY WEE RAT?’

Jocky. He was up in the DJ box.

The fuzzy baseline of Gratitude by the Beastie Boys came over the PA, and Jocky started MCing.

‘A’ the Jocky’s in the hoose say HOOO-OH!’

‘HOOO-OH!’, came the response from the Derry.

‘Back da fuck up, Boaby Brannan! Throw yir hands up in the air! Wave them aboot like yi jist dinnae care!’

The boys in the Derry started waving their hands up and from right to left in perfect synchronisation. Jocky dropped the volume of the music and started doing a human beatbox. After laying down a beat he burst into a rap.

‘Well meh name is Jocky and eh’m hear tae say, Boaby Brannan’s a wee bit fuckin’ gay, he stole meh Tippex, he’s a fuckin’ rat, he’s awa’ tae get a doing fae meh teckle cat!’

Brannan looked confused and repeated, ‘about to get a doing from what? A cat?’

Jocky the cat started flying down from the DJ box. Brannan and the stewards looked utterly stunned. No wonder, really. Wee Jocky hovered to within a few feet of Brannan at head height. He adopted “the crane” pose from Karate Kid that I’d seen him do on Goodwillie’s CCTV footage. Brannan laughed.

‘A flying cat! I’ve seen it all now!’

Jocky the cat flew in quickly and kicked his little legs, landing a blow on Brannan’s face. All of a sudden he was a flurry of flying paws. He landed blow after blow on Brannan’s face.

‘YAAAAASSSSS! JOCKY! PUNCH HIS PUS! JOCKY, JOCKY PUNCH HIS PUS!’, boomed the voice from the PA. The Derry joined in with the song. As Brannan fell to the ground under the weight of the attack the stewards moved in to help him. The voice boomed out again.

‘THUNDERCATS! HOOOOOOOOOOOO!’

The air was filled with the roar of hundreds upon hundreds of jetpacks firing up. The stewards stopped and looked to the Derry. Jocky’s moustachioed army took flight and flew across the pitch. The stewards didn’t hesitate, they ran like the wind out the ground. The army gave chase.

All of a sudden it was perfectly calm. Brannan lay groaning on the ground. Wee Jocky hovered over him, daring him to get up. Billy and I stood dumbstruck.

Jocky came out the DJ box in the stand and hovered down to us. He landed over Brannan, who was now whimpering for mercy. Jocky looked at him and turned to the cat. They gave each other a high-five.

‘That wiz fuckin’ teckle Jocky! Fair kicked his heid in, likes.’

‘Miaow’

Big Jocky grinned and turned his attention to Brannan. ‘Boaby, yi fuckin’ asked fur that. As if giein’ me the bullet wiznae bad enough yi wur awa’ tae batter Leigh. Nae cunt batter meh pals, Boaby. Wha’s in cherge here?’ Brannan could only shake his head in disbelief at what had just happened. Jocky kneeled down next to him. He spoke slowly. ‘Boaby, Jocky’s awa’ tae ask yi a wee question. See if yi dinnae answer it honestly, eh’ll let wee Jocky here finish the joab aff. Ken whit eh mean?’ Brannan nodded. He was in no position to argue. Jocky took a deep breath and gave him a deadly stare. ‘Boaby………whaur’s meh fuckin’ Tippex?’

Brannan couldn’t look him in the eye. He scratched his baldy head before finally meeting Jocky’s gaze. ‘The Tippex you let me borrow about three months ago? Jocky, I gave you that back! Remember? You put it back in your pocket and told me it was “the maist teckle correction fluid in the land”.’ Jocky thought to himself for a moment then started raking about in the pockets of his trackie bottoms. He fumbled about in them for a few seconds before he gasped and slowly removed his hand from his right-hand pocket. He held a bottle of Tippex aloft.

‘JOCKY’S FOUND HIS TIPPEX! BY CHRIST, IT WIZ IN MEH POCKET A’ THIS TIME! YA CUNT, EH’VE BEEN LOOKIN’ FUR THAT FUR FUCKIN’ AGES!’

He was overjoyed. The daft bugger had it in his pocket the whole time. He started body-popping and laughing away to himself. Jocky the cat started mimicing his moves. So did Billy Dodds. I laughed and started doing the same.

‘Check it oot Boaby! Check the lads bustin’ oot the teckle moves! Twa turntables and a microphone ya fuckin’ cocklord!’

Brannan shook his head and looked at us. He had no response to all this. He pulled himself up and departed, leaving us to dance about to ourselves. One of Jocky’s men flew back in and landed next to us. It was Maros Klimpl. ‘Boss, men are ready to move on to next phase of mission. Ve await your command.’

‘Hiya Maros. Hiya pal! Tell the lads tae form a flyin’ V formation over the Hulltoon and get ready tae head tae Goodwillie’s hoose. Cunt’s no’ seen the last o’ big Jocky!’ He turned to Billy and smiled. ‘Billy pal, fancy comin’ doon the Ferry wi’ Jocky?’ Billy started jumping up and down with excitement. ‘Billy wants to go with Jocky! Jocky’s found his Tippex!’

‘Ken eh huv Billy! Ken eh huv! Fuckin’ yas! Maros, get this cunt a jetpack.’

Klimpl and Dodds scurried off somewhere. I’m not sure Billy was capable of flying a jetpack, but I kept my reservations to myself.

It was just me and Jocky by the side of the pitch. He put an arm around me and we strolled over to take a seat in the dugout. We didn’t speak for a moment or two, but curiosity was clearly getting the better of him. ‘Leigh…..yi’ pulled the lever! Bet it wiz mental, eh?’

‘Boss……it was beyond comprehension. I can’t even begin to think how it works or what it means.’

Jocky chuckled. ‘Ken, it’s pure scientific as fuck,likes. Jocky wiz discussing quantum physics and a’ that jazz wi’ thon body-cripple Stephen Hawking in the Fairmuir once. Boy’s totally gubbed, like. Cannae play darts worth a fuck. Jocky kept wheelin’ the wee fucker up tae the oche…….Jocky rhymes wi’ oche! Yas!……..and tryin’ tae get him tae hae a go but he jist kept saying, “here Jock, this isnae happenin’ likes. Dominoes is mair meh gemme” in that mad robot voice o’ his. The pair o’ us sat doon and hud a few pints o’ Special instead. Boy wiz drinkin’ it oot one o’ they teckle big curly straws, like. Started bangin’ on aboot space, time, aw kinds o’ mad shit. Efter aboot four pints wi’ sussed out how tae access parrallel universes. That’s when eh got the lab on the go and telt they scientist fowk tae get busy wi’ makin’ the lever.’

Wild. I told him what I’d seen when I’d pulled it.

‘Ya fucker……..fuckin’ kent eh should’ve dived in that field and shagged a sheep wi’ Sir Eck! Bastards! Och, never mind. Jocky’s hud a braw time in this dimension. Ups ‘n’ doons likes, but fuckin’ teckle nane the less. Leigh, question fur yi’ cunto: whaur’s meh spare ba’s?’

I shook my head, smiling. ‘I can’t believe you cloned your own balls.’

‘Fuckin’ right! Jocky’s beanbag’s worth fuckin’ haein’ twa sets o’, like. Meh ba’s are fuckin’ teckle!’

I laughed and got up. ‘They’re in a Lidl bag in the office. I’ll go and get them.’ As I strolled off I heard him complain, ‘Lidl! Jocky’s a Tesco man fur fuck sake.’ I went in the office and retrieved the bag with the jar in it. I took Chisholm’s jacket and hung it back on the lever. I wonder if Chisholm had considered what the lever was for. It was more powerful than anything he could possibly imagine.

I walked back out to the dugout where Jocky was still sitting. There was something sitting next to him. A jetpack. He looked at me and nodded his head towards it. ‘What say you, cunto? Yir season’s over, really. Fancy joining Jocky fur a carry-on through the summer? You saw the Age o’ Jocky in another plain o’ existance, but yi’ can be part o’ it in this one.’

The Age of Jocky.

‘It’s a’ready kicked aff, pal. You ken the score. Think aboot it! Jocky’s in cherge! Me and the lads are gonnae hae a teckle time gettin’ fowk telt. What dae yi’ reckon, fannycock?’

I thought about it for no more than a nano-second and picked up the jetpack, hooking myself into it.

‘YAAAAAASSSSSS! That’s the gemme Leigh!’

We shook hands and smiled at each other. Jocky looked up and pointed to the sky. A flying V of jetpack warriors was hovering over the Hilltown. Jocky quickly showed me how to operate the jetpack and took off. I stood for a few seconds, watching him go. I took a deep breath and hit the button.

WOOOOOSH. I was airborne. I was flying my own jetpack! What a feeling! I flew upwards and joined Jocky at the head of the V formation.

‘Some view, eh pal? Teckle!’

It was hard to disagree. The lights of Dundee twinkled below. It was a wonderful sight. I heard a cry and someone zoomed past us. ‘BILLY CAN’T WORK HIS JETPACK!!!’ He was flying round in circles at top speed. Jocky pissed himself laughing. ‘By Christ that laddie’s no’ wise! Klimpl – help that wee daftie oot ya big Swedish goat-blower!’ Klimpl flew off to assist Billy. Jocky got his megaphone out and bellowed his orders.

‘RIGHT A’BODY, LET’S FIRE DOON THE FERRY. GOODWILLIE’S GONNAE LOOK FUCKIN’ TECKLE NEXT TAE MEH MONKEY PUZZLE TREE! THAT’S WHAT EH’M TALKIN’ ABOOT! THUNDERCATS! HOOOOOOOOOOO!’

And with that we began the flying charge. I flew alongside Jocky and shouted HOOOOOOO! as long as my lungs could carry it. As we passed the Law Hill, Jocky got my attention and pointed to it’s summit. I looked down and saw a massive statue of the man himself, topless and grinning, just like the one in my dream from weeks ago. It stood tall at the highest point in the city, an enormous stone monument watching over the city in which he made his name and asking it wha was in cherge.

 

Chapter 10: Ajockalypse Now

“This is the end, my only friend, the end….”

Caird Park. Shit. I’m still only in Caird Park. Every time I think I’m gonna wake up back in the jungle. Or Leith, even……

I had a raging hangover. The previous night in the Fairmuir had taken a heavy toll. I looked in the mirror and barely recognised myself. My eyes were bleary and bloodshot, my skin sallow and blotchy. Damn those tasty pints of Special at clubbie prices. I stumbled aimlessly round my tepee trying to get my head together. I checked my phone and remembered my meeting with Chairman Bob Brannan. His voicemail the previous night had mentioned a serious problem with Jocky Scott. I was already cagey from the previous day’s session, and the thought of what was on the cards today magnified the dull sense of doom in the pit of my stomach. Best get to Dens to face whatever was in store.

——————

Bob Brannan’s office, 0900 hours. Brannan and Gordon Chisholm welcomed me and invited me to join them for a spot of breakfast. We ate and made small talk. Brannan’s desk was covered in official looking documents and photographs. He flicked through some papers and got down to business.

‘Leigh, we have serious matters to discuss. Needless to say, you know Jocky Scott….’

‘Yes, of course.’

Brannan nodded and continued. ‘Jocky Scott is one of the finest men to have ever graced this football club. He was brilliant, outstanding in every way. And he was a good man, too. A humanitarian man, a man of wit and humour. He joined the ranks of the club’s legends, but after that his ideas….his methods….became….unsound.’

Gordon Chisholm picked up the thread. ‘You’re aware that we were deeply concerned about Jocky’s reaction to his dismissal. After a couple of quiet weeks we thought he’d come to terms with it and we no longer had cause for concern. Unfortunately this is not the case. Intelligence reports inform us that Jocky Scott has “gone rogue” in the wilderness out in Perthshire. He has taken command of a small moustachioed army, a group who worship the man like a God and follow his every order, however ridiculous, in a quest to “get them telt” and locate a bottle of Tippex, which for some unknown reason he puts a great deal of stock in.’

Chisholm went to a laptop sitting on Brannan’s desk. ‘We’ve intercepted a radio transmission that Jocky has managed to broadcast. He’s putting his crazed thoughts out over the airwaves.’

Chisholm clicked the mouse. After a few seconds of static and high-pitched whining Jocky’s voice spoke loud and clear.

“Hiya a’body. Hiya! Check one-two, wha’s in cherge here? Fuckin’ right. Whaur’s meh fuckin’ Tippex, like? Has any cunt seen Jocky’s Tippex? Bet that Boaby Brannan’s got it, fuckin’ sure o’ it. A’ we hear is, Radio Jocky (clap-clap), Radio Teckle (clap-clap), Radio Jocky (clap-clap). Radio what’s new? Radioooooo! Some-cunt-still-loves-youuuuuuu! That’s what eh’m talkin’ aboot! Bit o’ Queen fur yiz there like. Thon Freddie boy had a fuckin’ teckle ‘tache! Boy wiz hefty fruity like, but that’s a’right! Anyway, ken what? Jocky watched a snail crawl across the edge o’ a straight razor. That’s meh dream; that’s meh nightmare. Crawling, slithering along the edge o’ a straight razor….and survehvin’. Ooft! Mental, eh? Ken it is like. And now fur Jocky’s traffic report…”

The broadcast disintegrated into static, and Chisholm stopped it.

Brannan continued. ‘There was an incident at Dundee United striker David Goodwillie’s house recently. As a result of Jocky’s mission to “get him telt”, a warrant has been put out for his arrest. We’ve talked to Tayside Police about it and they have agreed to treat the matter with a degree of sensitivity. They will allow us to keep the matter private, an internal affair for the club, as long as we bring him in and hand him over. We can’t let this go public, Leigh. The bad press would be too much to bear, especially when we’re on the brink of failing to achieve our objective of winning promotion. Our benefactor, Calum Melville, would be forced to reconsider his position here if Jocky’s actions and the resulting negativity were exposed. Quite simply, we cannot allow that to happen. Melville’s backing is our main hope of returning to the upper echelons of Scottish football.’

I felt deeply uneasy about where this was going. Brannan continued.

‘There’s a conflict in every human heart between the rational and the irrational. Between good and evil. And good does not always triumph. Sometimes the dark side overcomes the better side of our nature. Every man has a breaking point, Leigh. You and I have one. Well, Jocky has reached his, and very obviously he has gone insane.’

I felt the weight of Brannan and Chisholm staring me down. I quickly considered everything I had been witness to in my relationship with Jocky. As much as it pained me, I couldn’t disagree with them. Chisholm spoke again.

‘Your mission is to journey up the Tay, pick up Jocky’s path, find his Unit and infiltrate it by whatever means available to you. You should then terminate his command.’

I looked at him with wide eyes. ‘Terminate….Jocky?’

‘Phone the police and give them his location. They’ll swoop in to arrest and convict him quietly. Doing this will save the club from the embarrassment of having him continue to ruin our good name. It will also prevent us from having to let your career rot away to nothing.’

Chisholm gave me a cold, unflinching look.

‘You’re one of the best young players in the country, Leigh. You’re also the closest man at the club to Jocky. He won’t suspect you. Find him, call the police, and end his reign of craziness once and for all. Do this for us and we’ll allow you to flourish into the player you’re capable of becoming. If a big club comes in for you we won’t stop you leaving us and fulfilling your potential. You will languish away into nothing if you stay here, especially if we don’t win promotion. Your career depends on this mission.’

Brannan interjected. ‘Terminate….with extreme prejudice. This mission does not exist, nor will it ever exist……’

Good grief. My back was against the wall here. I had no choice but to obey orders, to save the good name of the club and indeed my own career. I was about to step into a place I did not want to tread. I was about to step into the heart of darkness.

————————–

I left Brannan’s office and was put into a taxi that headed towards the banks of the Tay. I was to join a small crew who would guide me up the river. The cab pulled up by the Tay bridge and I got out. A small boat was bobbing up and down in the water. Just as I started to wonder who would be joining me in the boat a child-like voice burst forth.

‘BILLY’S GOING ON HOLIDAY! IN THE WATER WITH THE FISHES! BILLY LIKES FISH!’

Sweet mother of mercy, Billy Dodds was coming along for the ride. He was wearing an all-in-one bathing suit, his propeller hat, water-wings on each arm and a pair of flippers. He was carrying a surfboard.

‘Hiya Leigh! Hiya pal!’

Dodds came up and hugged me. His greeting reeked of Jocky’s influence. He was an interesting choice for this mission. While he was part of the new regime at Dens I had seen his love for Jocky. Brannan and Chisholm may have seen Dodds as an ideal man for overseeing the mission, but they may have overlooked the fact he was actually pro-Jocky in his own way.

‘Hi Billy. Erm….Hiya pal! Are you going to be sailing the boat?’ I certainly hoped he wouldn’t be. The man couldn’t tie his own shoe laces, never mind navigate a vessel up the Tay on a dangerous mission. The question was answered by an eastern European accented voice that came from behind me.

‘In my country, we do not let half-wit command boat.’

I spun around to see Maros Klimpl, our Slovakian defensive midfielder. He was in full combat gear.

‘Mr Brannan tells me to guide you up river to find crazy person. Ve vill find Jocky Scott and end his reign of madness. Mr Brannan vill pay me seven goats for carrying out mission successfully. In my country this is equivalent of winning lottery, and offers opportunity for sexy liaisons. I vill take you to required location, Leigh Griffiths.’

Maros was an intimidating character. He had a thousand yard stare and a tough demeanor that had never sat comfortably with me. He seemed like a perfect fit for this mission though. He was certainly dressed for the part, and I got the feeling he wasn’t a stranger to undertaking military-style operations. One could only assume all Slovakians were war-hardened soldiers of fortunes who made love to goats before using them as currency.

Our unlikely trio stepped into the boat. Klimpl immediately got to work getting it started and steered it out into the river. We passed under the bridge and headed west. The mission was underway.

—————————-

As Maros guided us up river I sat looking through some documents, marked TOP SECRET, that Brannan had given me. There was dossier on Jocky detailing his career and fall from grace. I read through it, trying to gain further understanding of the man. Where had it all gone wrong? When, and why, did he flip his lid and start going insane? I thought back to the time I’d spend with him. The crazy training techniques, the jetpack, the fact he hadn’t worn any form of clothing on the top half of his body in the all time I’d known him. Though it had almost started to seem normal, it clearly wasn’t. Anyone could see that.

‘LEIGH, BILLY’S FISHING! LOOK AT BILLY, LEIGH!’

Billy Dodds was sitting at the end of the boat waving at me. He had a big stick with a long piece of string attached to it. It was a homemade fishing rod. The fact he was using a tin of corned beef as bait meant it was unlikely to yield any results.

‘That’s good Billy, I see you pal. Catch us some fish for tea.’

‘FISH FOR TEA! BILLY LIKES FISH!’

All of a sudden he threw the rod down and dived into the water.

‘Fucking hell! Maros! Man overboard!’

Klimpl turned from the steering wheel, shook his head and started muttering in his own tongue. He turned the boat round and manoeuvred towards Billy, who was flapping around in a panic. Lucky he had those water-wings on. We pulled alongside and I grabbed hold of him. He was spluttering and choking.

‘Billy ya numptie, you can’t go jumping out the boat like that!’

I hauled him in.

‘Billy went swimming with the fishes! Here fishy-fishy! Fish for tea!’

Klimpl looked deeply unimpressed. ‘In my country, ve would keep you in cage and charge people 15 rubles to poke you vith stick!’ He gave Billy a wee slap on the head, making him burst into tears.

‘Oi! Leave him alone, man! Don’t hit him!’ I wasn’t happy with the Slovak. Billy wasn’t the sharpest guy, but he was harmless and a nice bloke who I felt quite protective over.

‘Keep him in check, Leigh Griffiths. He will ruin mission!’

I gave Billy a cuddle, trying to console him. ‘I’ll keep an eye on him. You just drive the boat, eh?’

Klimpl headed back to the wheel. Billy was sobbing away. ‘He’s a bad man, Leigh.’

‘I know, pal. Just ignore him.’ Checking that Klimpl was looking elsewhere, I smiled and whispered, ‘He shags goats!’

Billy burst out laughing. ‘KLIMPL SHAGS GOATS! KLIMPL SHAGS GOATS!’

I clamped a hand over Billy’s mouth. Klimpl turned round. ‘What did half-wit say?’

‘Nothing, Maros. Just keep on doing your job there.’ He eyed us suspiciously and went back to concentrating on steering the boat. Billy and I laughed and sat down. He had calmed down after his venture into the river. He looked at me and grinned. ‘We’re going to see Jocky. Billy likes Jocky. Jocky’s Billy’s pal.’ A pang of guilt stabbed at me. ‘Leigh likes Jocky too, Billy. Leigh likes Jocky too.’

I sat back and looked to the clear blue sky above. I was going to the worst place in the world and I didn’t even know it yet. Hours away and dozens of miles up a river that snaked through this madness like a main circuit cable plugged straight into Jocky.

—————————-

We sailed west up the Tay. Maros was under instruction to go to a small stretch of beach a couple of clicks (his terminology, not mine) away. We were to rendezvous with some kind of special forces group who would take us past Perth. Perth is no place for Dundee players. While the feeling is generally unreciprocated, Perth folk, and particularly St Johnstone fans, have a great sense of rivalry towards Dundee. I was ambivalent towards them, but I was aware of the potential danger brought on by our presence in the vicinity of the Fair City. We’d have to tread carefully.

We reached the rendezvous point. We docked the boat by the shore and clambered up on to the beach. Klimpl checked his watch. ‘Ve made good time. Special forces unit vill be here soon.’ He went back to the boat to carry out some minor maintenance work. Billy had a bucket and spade and was making a start on a sand castle. Just as I was settling down to enjoy the moment of peace and quiet the dull “whump” of helicopter rotors came over the horizon. What the hell? We all stopped and looked towards where the sound was coming from. Sure enough, half a dozen choppers were heading towards us. Klimpl shouted, ‘Make space for landing. This is unit ve are here to meet.’ I grabbed Billy and got out the clearing. As the helicopters hovered down to land they kicked up sand and dust and made a lot of noise. We jammed our fingers in our ears and turned away. The choppers landed and switched their rotors off. I turned to see who on Earth it could be.

Men dressed in military uniform jumped out and headed to the boat. One of them went to what appeared to be the lead chopper, opened the door and saluted. A older man wearing aviator shades and a stetson hopped out and started walking towards me. He looked familiar. It couldn’t possibly be…..

‘Leigh Griffiths? I’m Jim McLean.’

Goodness gracious me. Dundee United legend Jim McLean had arrived to assist us on our mission. He gave me a firm handshake.

‘Mr McLean, I….um….didn’t realise you were the commander of a helicopter attack unit.’

‘Son, the only reason United won the league in ’83 was because this very helicopter attack unit blew the shit out of the Old Firm training facilities in the weeks leading up to that fateful day at Dens Park. Massive casualties. It went largely unreported because we blew the shit out the west coast media headquarters around the same time. They were the glory days, son. Good times that will never be repeated, mainly because the Old Firm have installed heavy artillery at their new facilities. Weedgie bastards. Anyway, we’re going to fly you over Perth to a point where you can continue your mission safely. We’ll attach your boat to one of the choppers and glide right over the Fair City.’

Incredible stuff. One of McLean’s men ran up to him. ‘The boat’s ready, Captain. Are you ready to go?’

‘EH TOLD YOU NO’ TAE ASK ME THAT QUESTION!’

Boom! McLean punched him out.

Maros Klimpl ran up to us. ‘Vhy you punch your own man?’

‘EH TOLD YOU NO’ TAE ASK ME THAT QUESTION!’

Boom! Klimpl went down like a ton of bricks. McLean had some swing on him. He turned to me and said, ‘Leigh, it’s best you don’t ask me any questions.’ He grinned and headed towards his chopper. One of his men took out a bugle and sounded the charge. I helped Klimpl up and told Billy to come along. We jumped in the back of his chopper and it quickly took off.

As we flew towards Perth, which was only a couple of miles away, McLean’s men took their helmets off and sat on them. Klimpl asked, ‘vhy do you boys sit on your helmets?’, to which a came the reply, ‘so our balls don’t get blown off….’ Klimpl laughed, thought about it for a second, then followed suit. Billy, who was having the time of his life flying in a helicopter, shouted, ‘BILLY’S BALLS HAVEN’T DROPPED YET!’ McLean glanced round from his “shotgun” seat to see who had spoken about their balls. ‘Sweet mother of mercy, is that Billy Dodds?’

‘Hiya wee Jum! Billy played for United!’

McLean laughed. ‘Yes, I remember you Billy. Welcome on-board.’ He took a lollipop out his breast pocket and passed it to Billy. ‘Thanks wee Jum!’ As Dodds slobbered all over it McLean looked at me with an arched eyebrow and let out a soft whistle.

We were approaching Perth. McLean began yelling about starting up the music. He turned to us, pointing out the loudspeakers that were attached to the exterior of the chopper. ‘I like to play music when we’re on a mission. It scares the shit out the enemy.’ He fired up an antiquated tape recorder. I was expecting something powerful and dramatic, maybe a classical piece by Wagner. Ride of the Valkyries would have been appropriate. We got something altogether different.

As we swooped low over Perth city centre Erasure came blaring out the speakers. McLean sang along at the top of his voice and gestured to the bemused shoppers below.

‘I TRIED TO DISCOVER! A LITTLE SOMETHING TO MAKE ME SWEETER. OH BABY REFRAIN! FROM BREAKING MY HEART. I’M SO IN LOVE WITH YOU, I’LL BE FOREVER BLUE…’

He turned to us, shouting, ‘EVERYONE JOIN IN THE CHORUS!’

Klimpl and I looked at each other, shrugged, and decided to go with the flow. As we swept past Perth we sang with gusto.

‘OH BABY PLEEEEEEEEEEASE, GIVE A LITTLE RESPECT! TO-OO-OO-OOOOO MEEEEEEEE!’

Billy was giving it laldy too. We wasn’t singing the right song, but the intention was there.

‘The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round….BILLY’S ON A FLYING BUS!’

Lordy.

The choppers zoomed past Perth and reached our destination. We disembarked and watched as our boat was lowered back into the river. McLean’s mission had been a success. He accompanied us to our vessel and had a look around. Billy was highly animated and was desperate to show McLean all his stuff.

‘Look wee Jum, Billy’s got a surfboard!’

McLean chuckled. ‘Well let’s see you use it, son! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a man surf the Tay before!’

Klimpl intervened. ‘Bad idea, McLean. Perth people must be angry at us, too dangerous to hang around here surfing.’

McLean replied, ‘Too dangerous? Son, if I say this river is safe to surf, it is safe to surf!’

Klimpl persisted. ‘But these Perth folk, they will be after us!’

McLean was getting wound up. ‘Son…….FARMERS DON’T SURF’

Billy broke the tension by bounding out with his kit bag. He started showing McLean his Noddy bubble bath and Winnie the Poo toothbrush. As Klimpl and I used the distraction to sneak on the boat and prepare for a fast getaway from this crazy old Arab, Billy passed him something. ‘Present for wee Jum for shot on flying bus.’ McLean took it. ‘Ah lip balm……thanks Billy.’ Klimpl fired up the engine. I hauled Billy into the boat. Just as we took off Mclean uncapped his gift, took a good sniff of it, and remarked, ‘I love the smell of lip balm in the morning…….’

Maros hit the accelerator and we left him and his men to their business. As he became a small speck on the horizon I smiled and gave a little salute to Jim McLean, who truly is a legend in his own lifetime.

—————————

We continued our journey up the Tay. As darkness began to fall Klimpl delivered some bad news. We had a problem with the fuel tank that meant we were losing petrol rapidly. An emergency stop would have to be made in order to buy a small part to fix the problem and some replacement fuel. I was concerned, but Klimpl seemed to have the situation under control.

‘Ve vill stop at depot in Dunkeld. Parts and fuel can be purchased there.’

‘Whatever you say, Maros.’

It was dark by the time we approached Dunkeld. The place was lit up like the Blackpool illuminations and a great deal of noise rose from it. Maros got on the radio and tried to contact the depot. The word that came back was not good. It transpires there was some kind of Playboy Bunny show going on. This was very, very strange, and highly unexpected. We were still in St Johnstone country. There was potential danger here. As we had no choice but to go into port we decided to attempt to wear some form of disguise. Maros wasn’t easily recognisable, but I was. He had a spare military outfit that I put on. We both applied stripes of greasy black face paint across our cheeks. It would have to do. Billy stood out like a sore thumb in his swimming costume and flippers, so we put a big khaki jacket and cap on him to try and make him less obvious.

‘Ok Leigh Griffiths, Maros vill do deal at depot. You must keep half-wit under control at all times. Mission may depend on it, ze people here may not be friendly.’ He made good sense. ‘Ok Maros, no problem. We’ll keep a low profile. Isn’t that right, Billy?’ Dodds said nothing, but he made the universal gesture for zipping your mouth shut and throwing away the key. We were ready to go.

——————

We’d walked into a more dangerous scene that we’d initially anticipated. Dunkeld was awash with St Johnstone and United supporters. Our disguises were working a treat though. Nobody batted an eyelid at us. Maros was proving his worth, he was as cool as a cucumber.

‘Ok, I must seek out depot where fuel and spare parts are sold. Ve split up and meet back at boat in 20 minutes.’ He pointed at Billy and made the “zip it” gesture. Billy smiled and did the same back. He seemed to grasp the potential for trouble and was on his best behaviour.

Maros headed off. I decided to follow the crowd to see what this Playboy show in Dunkeld of all places was about. We reached an amphitheatre of sorts that overlooked a circular platform on the edge of the river. A huge crowd had gathered, many of whom wore the colours of St Johnstone and Dundee United. The Perth/Dundee rivalry apparently extended only to the dark blue side of Dundee.

The crowd was buzzing with anticipation. They were ready for whatever show was about to be put on. For the second time of the day the dull “whump” of a helicopter’s rotor came into earshot. The crowd rose and cheered. Billy, who had been perfectly quiet since being asked to do so, turned to me and whispered, ‘Wee Jum?’ No, I didn’t think so. I shook my head and repeated the “zip it” motion. We watched from the sidelines as the chopper came in to land on the platform. As soon as it hit the deck a bespectacled man with a gammy leg bounded out. The bad foot on the leg he dragged behind him was clad in the biggest orthopedic shoe I’ve ever seen. He was wearing a white tshirt with a huge image of Tam Cowan’s face on it, and brandished a banjo. I smirked as I recognised the popular broadcaster and die hard St Johnstone man Stuart Cosgrove. A mic was passed to him and he burst into life. ‘Gentleman! Are you ready for some red hot female action?’ The crowd roared in approval. Cosgrove cupped his hand to his ear and repeated, ‘I said, are you ready for some red hot female action?’ Again the crowd roared. Cosgrove worked them into a lather by bellowing out the words, ‘OH WE HATE DUNDEE, HATE DUNDEE!’ The crowd picked it up instantly and finished the song for him. ‘HATE DUNDEE AND WE HATE DUNDEE! WE HATE DUNDEE AND WE HATE DUNDEE! WE ARE THE DUNDEE – HATERS!’ They cheered in unison. Fuck me, St Johnstone and United fans were a strange bunch. Billy and I looked at each other. With remarkable insight for someone whose mind had come loose from it’s moorings, he pointed his index finger to his temple and twirled it. Bang on, Billy. The “wanker” gesture he followed it up with was pretty close to the mark too.

Cosgrove took his banjo and burst into a fast-paced yokel tune of some description. The St Johnstone fans went wild and started bouncing about like it was the last day of the harvest. They whooped with delight and encouraged the Arabs to join them in their rural revelry. Cosgrove finished to great applause. He got back on the mic and worked the crowd.

‘Gentleman, we have the two sexiest ladies in the country right here for you! United fans, please welcome…….Lorraine Kelly!’

For fuck sake. United’s most famous supporter came out the chopper in a tangerine bikini and started dancing about like a £10-a-ride whore. It was a million miles from sexy. Credit where it’s due though, she had a cracking pair of tits and wasn’t shy in whipping them out. The Arabs in the crowd were going bonkers. Just I thought it couldn’t get any worse, Cosgrove continued.

‘St Johnstone fans, please welcome……Aggie the tea lady!’

Holy fuck. Seriously. Holy fuck. Aggie was well into her 60’s. Cosgrove dragged his sorry ass over to her and raised one of her arms aloft. She was dressed in a St Johnstone top and a pair of hot pants. When Cosgrove pulled her top up to reveal tits that went south of her belly button I thought my eyes were going to run out my skull in protest. The crowd was going wild. Lorraine was sucking a cucumber suggestively as Aggie stood looking slightly lost. Her demeanour changed in an instant when Cosgrove brought out a blow up doll in a Rangers top and a Graeme Souness mask. All of a sudden she was a whirling dervish of roundhouse kicks and and savage karate chops. When the doll burst she raised both hands in the air and drove the crowd to the brink of mayhem by hoisting one of her floppy old tits up round her neck so she wore it like a skinned ferret stole.

When she started sucking on her nipple the crowd lost the plot. They started jumping on to the platform in an attempt to get closer to the “Bunnies”. Cosgrove was too busy masturbating furiously to care. Aggie was quickly taken back into the chopper by a security officer. Lorraine was ushered back too, but she shrugged the attempt away before ripping her bikini thong off and making the classic “come ahead” gesture to the oncoming crowd. Enough was enough. I didn’t want to see Lorraine Kelly being gang banged by hundreds of rabid Arabs, Saintees and Stuart Cosgrove. Actually, Cosgrove apparently wasn’t into Kelly. As the chopper took off with Souness-slayer Aggie inside he ran at it and threw himself off the platform. He managed to grab hold of one of the stanchions which the chopper sits on when it’s grounded. It continued to rise away from the platform. Cosgrove held on valiantly, even when his trousers fell down around his ankles and his butt plug slipped out his hairy arse. As his grip finally came loose and he plummeted towards the water below I grabbed Billy and dragged him off. This was no scene for the wee man. These people were savages.

I fought back the vomit that was rising in my throat as we ran back to meet Klimpl. He was already there and had the boat’s engine running. He waved us on.

‘You look like you have seen terrible things!’

‘Maros, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you. Let’s get the fuck out of here.’

He saw that I was serious. He jumped behind the wheel and set off.

We were back on track. We were on the final leg of the journey. We were closing in on Jocky.

———————————–

He was close, real close. I couldn’t see him yet, but I could feel him, as if the boat was being sucked up the river towards him. We sensed it was almost time. Maros was tense. I was alone with a thousand thoughts. Billy was trying to lick his elbow.

Dawn was starting to break. We trundled on up the river in silence until, finally, we reached our destination.

Maros slowed the boat down to a crawl. Up ahead lay an abandoned temple of some sort. In the water before us scores of men, topless and sporting moustaches, sat in canoes. As we approached them they parted, allowing us to pass. They covered the land up ahead too. Hundreds of them, all fully focused on us. A voice broke the silence.

‘Hey come on in, it’s all approved! I’m a Dundonian, a Dundonian civilian!’

Maros guided the boat to the shore where the man who was shouting stood. He leaped on to the boat. He seemed vaguely familiar. As he started shaking hands with us all he announced, ‘I’m a photojournalist. Jim Spence! Leigh, I’ve been ghost writing your BBC website blog.’

‘My blog……..’ My voice trailed off and I gave Spence a strange look. His eyes darted from me, to the sky, then he quickly turned his head and looked behind him before looking at me again. He spoke as if in a dream-like state. ‘Yes, your blog……..but this is………’

We both snapped out of it and shivered. Something deeply weird happened there, but this was no time to dwell on it. I shook off the the strange sensation that had come over me and continued.

‘Jim, who are all these people?’

‘They think you’ve come to take him away. These are all His children, man.’

‘Who’s Him?’

‘Him! Jocky Scott! Hell, everyone here….we’re all His children.

‘Could I, uh, talk to Jocky….’

‘Hey, man, you don’t talk to Jocky. You listen to him. The man’s enlarged my mind. He’s a poet warrior in the classic sense. I mean sometimes he’ll… uh… well, you’ll say “hello” to him, right? And he’ll just walk right by you. He won’t even notice you. And suddenly he’ll grab you, and he’ll throw you in a corner, and he’ll say, “Dae yi’ ken that stovies are the best o’ the teckle? If yi’ can keep yir stovies when a’ aboot yi’ are losing theirs and blaming it on you, if yi can trust yourself when a’ men doubt yi”… I mean I’m… no, I can’t… I’m a little man, I’m a little man, he’s… he’s a great man! I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across floors of silent seas…’

Spence had clearly been out in the bush too long. I told Maros and Billy to stay with the boat and jumped on to the shore. Spence followed me, raving away in my ear.

‘I wish I had words, man. I wish I had words… I can tell ya something like the other day he wanted to get me telt. Somethin’ like that… ‘

‘Why’d he want to get you telt?’

‘Because I took his picture. He said “Here, spunk-splash, dinnae tak’ meh photae unless eh’ve struck a suitable pose. Come on, Vogue! Let yer body move tae the music! Like that boy Maradona. Ken what eh mean, Spence? You’ll end up gettin’ telt, cunto.” And you know what?’ Spence made spread his arms wide and gave me a wild look. ‘He meant it.’

I walked through the crowd with him. They all had a crazed look in their eye, and bristling moustaches on their upper lips.

‘I need to talk to Jocky’

‘He’s not here. He’s out with his people. But he’ll be back for his stovies in due course.’

The crowd of people started closing in on me. I was surrounded. Shit, they must have sensed I was a potential threat. They grabbed me and tied my hands behind my back. I was then tethered to a tree and left there.

Hours passed. The rain had come on and left me soaked to the skin. As darkness fell and the smell of stovies filled the air I braced myself for Jocky’s return. How would he react to seeing me? Would he realise what I was here to do? The tension was mounting. My mind drifted and I fell into a dream. I could hear Spence whispering in my ear about Jocky. ‘His mind is clear but his soul is mad…..’

I wasn’t asleep, but I was miles away. A shadow fell over me and I snapped out of it. Looking up I saw Jocky. He looked at me, his face expressionless. He didn’t say a word. He pulled something from behind his back and dropped it in my lap. It was Maros Klimpl’s decapitated head.

I screamed and tried to shake it out my lap. It rolled away from me. My cry echoed for miles around. I looked back up at Jocky. A wee smirk started to spread, and he burst out laughing.

‘Meh Goad that wiz a fuckin’ belter! For fuck sake, it’s no really Klimpl’s heid, Leigh!! It’s paper fucking mache ya daft cunt! Did you think eh’d takin’ the boy’s heid aff?!! YAAAASSSSS! Oh ya cunt yi should’ve seen your pus Leigh!! Fuckin’ YAAAAASSSS! By Christ that wiz teckle! Eh kent that big goat-fucking Swedish spunk bucket wiz comin’, been makin that dingy heid a’ day!’

My heart was pounding. I’d never had a scare like that in all my life. The paper mache head was reasonably realistic and had been covered in mud, so it looked the part at a moments glance. I took deep breaths then looked up at Jocky, who was starting to calm down. He kneeled down next to me.

‘Hiya Leigh! Hiya pal! Welcome tae Jocky’s summer home! Eh’m pretty sure yi’ll agree that ootside o’ the Red Lion Caravan Park in Arbroath it’s the maist teckle holiday abode in the land. Have yi met the lads? Jocky’s army! Here lads, say hiya tae meh pal Leigh Griffiths!’

His men barked out a greeting as one, ‘HIYA LEIGH! HIYA PAL!’

He gave me a wee pat on the head and started to untie me. ‘Sorry aboot this pal, but the lads are a bit jumpy when it comes tae strangers. Expectin’ a visit fae the polis, likes. ‘Mon inside and git dried aff. Fancy a plate o’ Jon Bon Jovi’s? Tea time, cunto!’

He helped me up and we went inside. If I was going to complete my mission, now was the time.

————————-

I sat cross-legged in Jocky’s hut. We ate our stovies in silence. I was scared to look him in the eye, because I knew he was searching my soul with his gaze. He knew why I was here, and he was going to let me complete my mission. He finished his food and began talking.

‘Jocky kens what yir thinkin’ pal. You’ve witnessed a few mad things in yir time at Dens. Eh’ve seen horrors… horrors that you’ve seen. But yi hae nae right tae call me a lunatic. Yi hae the right tae phone the polis. Yi hae a right tae dae that… but yi hae nae right tae judge me. It’s impossible fur words tae describe what is necessary tae those wha dinnae ken what horror means. Horror… Horror has a pus… and yi must make a pal o’ horror. Horror is yir pal. If it’s no’, then it’s an enemies tae be feared. It’s truly an enemy! Eh mind when eh wiz up in Aberdeen visitin’ meh mate Alex Ferguson…..seems a thousand centuries ago. We went oot wi’ a’ the players fur a night oot. We a’ came pilin’ oot the boozer and walked past this field o’ sheep. A’ o’ a sudden the whole lot o’ them stripped aff and jumped in the field. They ran in, caught a sheep each, and started shagging the life oot o’ them. Eh could nae believe whit eh wiz seein’. Even Fergie was makin’ one o’ them suck his boaby. Wullie Miller wiz daein it wi’ a big ram, gave it a wee hand-shandy and a’hing. Boy wiz a bit fruity, likes. And eh remember… eh… eh… eh cried, eh wept like some grandmother. Hiya Granny! Hiya pal! Eh wanted to tear meh teeth oot; eh didnae ken what eh wanted tae dae! And eh want tae remember it. Eh never want tae forget it… eh never want tae forget. And then eh realized… like eh wiz shot… like eh wiz shot wi’ a diamond… a diamond bullet right through meh forehead. And eh thought, my Goad… the genius o’ that! The genius! The will tae dae that! Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure. Nae point fannying aboot buyin’ wummin’ drinks and tryin’ tae chat them up when yi’ kin jist grab a sheep and shag fuck oot it! And then eh realized they were stronger than boys like me and teams like Dundee, because they could stand that these were not monsters, these were men… trained cadres. These men wha fought wi’ their hearts, wha had families, wha had children, wha were filled with love… but they had the strength… the strength… tae dae that. Tae shag sheep! The cunts won a trophy in Europe that year. If eh hud half a dozen o’ those men, the troubles at Dens would be over very quickly. Eh’d win the Dee the Champions fucking League. You hae tae have men wha are moral… and at the same time wha are able tae utilize their primordial instincts tae act without feeling… without passion… without judgment… without judgment! Because it’s judgment that defeats us. Ooft! Hefty heid-fuck chat fae auld Jock there, eh? Ken what eh mean though, Leigh? Eh believe you hae a phone call tae make…’

I sat and held his gaze for a few moments. It was time. I took the phone out and flipped it open. I looked back at him. He didn’t budge, but his stare was locked on me. I looked deep, deep into his eyes. Flashbacks raced through my head. The laugh we’d had when he played the phone prank on me in his office……..the feeling of unity when we followed him in his charge out on to the street to back up Eddie Malone after he’d been fired out the cannon…….the image of him standing on the roof of the Falkirk Stadium with his fist raised after I’d scored for Scotland…..the camaraderie of sitting is house having a blether over a couple of tins the night before the Raith game……the soul-bearing, heartbreaking chat in the dugout night at Dens……

I dialed 9………..9……….

I stood up, walked to the doorway of his hut……………………….and threw the phone into the river. I turned back to him. He was still sitting. His face was a picture. Joy, pride, triumph….all at the same time. He leaped up, and we embraced. It was a fearsome hug.

‘That’s the gemme, Leigh! Jocky kent yi’ were sound! Kent yi’ were meh pal!! Tae be honest, if there wiz any doubts eh would’ve telt wee Jum tae throw yi’ oot that helicopter over Perth, but there wiz nae need!’

‘Did you know I was coming all along?!’

He laughed. ‘Fuckin’ right. Wee Jum’s a good pal o’ Jocky’s ya daft cunt! Pure telt iz on the Jimmy Bone. Wee Jum would’ve battered the fuck oot o’ yi’ if eh didnae tell him yi’ were a’right and would nae cause any trouble! That bear-shaggin’, helicopter-flehin’, BBC cunto-punchin’ chum o’ mine disnae take any shite, like. Go on yerself Jum!’

He went into his pocket. ‘Got yi’ a wee present, Leigh. It’s fuckin’ teckle!’

He handed me a sticky-on replica of his moustache. I pressed it against my upper lip.

‘Oh ya cunt, yi’ look like a fuckin’ muppet wi’ that on!’ He laughed hysterically. ‘But at the same time, yi’ look braw! Bit like Jocky!’

We walked out into the open. Jocky’s men were mulling around. Among them stood Maros Klimpl. He’d taken his top off and was wearing a ‘tache. I started to think about where we went from here.

‘Boss…..what now?’

‘Go back tae Dundee, pal. Tell Brannan fuck all. Tell him Jocky wiz naewhaur tae be seen. Maist importantly…….dae yi’ mind the lever in meh auld office?’

I remembered. How could I forget?

‘The………the Age of Jocky…….’

He nodded. ‘That’s right, cunto. Go back and pull the lever. Wee Billy might be useful when it comes to getting intae the office on the fly…’

Just then Billy came bounding up to us. His top was off, and just like Maros, myself, and every man here, he had a ‘tache.

‘BILLY’S GOT A ‘TACHE LIKE JOCKY! THAT’S WHAT EH’M TALKIN’ ABOOT!’

Jocky laughed and put a hand round his shoulder. He turned to me. ‘This cunt’s no’ wise! Solid gold, though. Braw laddie!’ Isn’t that right, Billy? Yi’re some boy!’

Billy smiled as he replied, ‘Billy likes futba. Futba and wee Jum’s flyin’ bus!’

Jocky chuckled away to himself. I was trying to think ahead. ‘Jocky, I can’t pull the lever. You said only you could pull it.’

‘Dinnae worry aboot it, Leigh. Go back tae Jocky’s hoose in the Ferry. Mind meh bookcase? You’ve got Art of War, but pullin’ Watership Down, which is a fuckin’ teckle book aboot rabbits by the way, will activate the mechanism that gets yi’ intae meh secret lab. Boy there will help yi’ oot. Keep yir eyes peeled fur wee Jocky tae!’

——————-

It was time to head back home. Maros had decided to stay as part of Jocky’s army. He’d been converted. Jocky had arranged for us to get a lift home with Jim McLean. A helicopter turned up to collect us, and Billy charged on. As I went to follow him Jocky shouted after me.

‘Here Leigh, Jocky disnae get the futba results up here. Wha got tae the Scottish Cup Final this year?’

‘Ross County!’, I shouted back.

‘Wha?’

‘Ross County….’

‘….wha?’

‘ROSS COUNTY!’

‘…………wha?’

For fuck sake. Exasperated, I replied, ‘Ross County. We played them several times while you were manager. They’re from Dingwall.’

‘Whaur?

‘Dingwall!’

‘Eh?’

‘DINGWALL!!’

‘Wha’s in cherge here? How the fuck did Ross County get tae the Cup Final?’

‘They beat Celtic in the Semi.’

Jocky spluttered. ‘Whit?!! By Christ, wait til the Pope hears aboot this! There’ll be carnage in the Fairmuir!’

I laughed as Jocky continued. ‘Leigh….wha are Ross County playing in the Final?’

I hesitated for a moment, then replied, ‘United…..’

His eyes rolled back in his head a little, and although I couldn’t hear him over the rotor of the helicopter I could see the words his mouth was forming as we took off and left his compound in the wilderness.

‘………………the horror…………….the horror………………the horror………….’

Chapter 9: “Welcome tae the Fairmuir clubbie”

It had been a couple of weeks since I’d met Jocky at Dens for the late night heart-to-heart where he had announced his time at Dens had ended and that he would leave us to get on with it. It had been an emotional night, and one that had affected me quite deeply. The man had spoken from the heart and articulated his true feelings about his love for the club and the pain his dismissal had brought. He’d shown me what it meant to be a football man. Jocky had not been in it for the money. He’d given his heart and soul to the game, and in particular to Dundee Football Club. There was no reward for his efforts. At the first sign of trouble and of not satisfying the requirements of those in charge he’d been unceremoniously dumped. I’m a relative newcomer to the game, but I wasn’t blind to the fact he’d been treated poorly.

Without Jocky’s influence a degree of normality had set in at Dens. Gordon Chisholm was taking a firm grip of things, training us hard and trying to gear us up for the title run-in that lay ahead. We’d taken a bit of time to adjust to the change of management but were getting it together. After a poor display and defeat to Dunfermline at East End Park we got back on track with a good win at home to Ayr United. I was suspended for the game, but we played very well and were worthy of a 3-0 victory. It looked like we were set for pushing league leaders Inverness Caley Thistle all the way. They were in pole position, but they had to deal with the pressure that went with it. All we could do now was keep snapping at their heels.

While Bob Brannan and Gordon Chisholm seemed to have accomplished their goal of marking their territory and focusing us on the task at hand, a day didn’t go by that I didn’t think of Jocky. My ears would strain for the roar of a jetpack or the sound of the Beastie Boys. While I realised I had to concentrate on footballing matters, I missed my friend. I was concerned about him. I hadn’t seen or heard from him since that late night meeting on the pitch. I had great empathy for the man, and worried about his well being in the tough personal times he was experiencing.

I decided to ignore Brannan’s stern words about not keeping in touch with Jocky. I understood why he had taken a hard-line approach to the matter, but I couldn’t leave my pal like this. I wanted to speak to him and make sure he was ok. In my eyes there was nothing wrong with that, and if Brannan had a problem with it then so be it. I was prepared to face whatever consequences I would face if I was caught breaching the rules.

I headed down to the Ferry one afternoon after training. I tried to disguise myself a little by wearing a baseball cap and keeping the hood of my favourite Kappa trackie up. It wasn’t exactly fool-proof, but it was probably enough to put anyone who might care off the scent. I arrived at Jocky’s house. There were no signs of life. I cautiously walked up the garden path to the door and knocked. There was no response. I didn’t want to be seen lingering around so I left and started off down the road. Without thinking about it I realised I was heading towards David Goodwillie’s house. Maybe David had seen the boss recently and could offer me a clue to his whereabouts.

I wasn’t prepared for the sight that greeted me as I approached David’s house. I was stopped dead in my tracks by the devastation I was confronted with. A smoldering wreck of a suburban home lay where David’s abode had once stood. I looked around the street before walking up the garden path. The door was still in place, so I chapped at it and yelled, ‘David….it’s Leigh. Are you in there mate?’

I heard movement from inside. ‘Leigh? What the fuck mate, is he back again? Please….I’ve had enough….’

He sounded terrified. What on Earth had happened here?

‘Dave, it’s cool man. I’m on my own. I’m looking for Jocky, have you seen him?’

It was blindingly obvious that he had seen him. The door swung open. United’s star striker looked like he’d been terrorised to the point of a mental breakdown. His hair was all over the place, his fake tan was smudged unevenly over his face, and his bloodshot eyes looked like they hadn’t closed for more than a blink in days. He looked around anxiously and let me into what remained of his home.

‘David, what the fuck happened here? It looks like a bomb went off!”

His voice trembled as he replied, ‘Leigh, a bomb has gone off. You wouldn’t believe what went down here the other night.’

He was shaking like a leaf. We went through to his living room, which was mostly still intact. We sat down, and I asked him what happened.

‘Leigh, if I didn’t have it on camera you probably wouldn’t believe me. Check this out.’ He pulled out his phone. ‘I had problems recently with someone setting my shed on fire. Probably a mental Dundee fan at the capers.’

I cringed and agreed with him. ‘Aye, probably….’

‘United got me hooked up with CCTV in case they came back. A few nights ago it caught the guy red-handed. Turns out it wasn’t a fan, but your old manager….’

Holy shit. Goodwillie pressed play on his phone’s video player. It showed grainy black and white footage from his front garden. At first there was nothing to see, just an empty garden shown from various angles the CCTV cameras picked up on. All of a sudden Jocky flew into view on his jetpack. Goodwillie shuddered. Jocky landed by the front door and started shouting through the letterbox. The CCTV hadn’t pick up the sound.

‘What was he shouting?’

Goodwillie shook his head. ‘Something about United being shite and Jim McLean shagging a bear. I was fucking terrified, Leigh. I was hiding behind the settee hoping he’d go away. He just stood there bellowing about McLean and asking who was in charge.’

The CCTV footage showed Jocky bodypopping and doing “the robot”. Credit where it’s due, the man’s some dancer.

‘Check this bit out, Leigh. This bit’s fucking mental.’

As Jocky swaggered around the garden busting out moves something else came into view. Goodwillie looked at me.

‘I must be going bonkers, but to me that looks like a flying cat. Is that a flying cat, Leigh?’

Goodwillie wasn’t wrong. Jocky the cat flew into view. Jocky the jetpack-flying cat started circling his master and moved his legs into what looked like a martial arts stance. Fans of the Karate Kid would recognise it as “the crane”. This was crazy. The CCTV footage showed Jocky taking some sort of package out his holdall. It looked like a shoe box with a wire trailing out it. Jocky placed it on the doorstep and leaned down to the letterbox again. I looked at David. He kept on staring at the screen, but answered the question before I could ask it. ‘Happy birthday, cunto! Got yi a wee present likes. Wee Jocky wanted tae get yi a jigsaw, but eh thought this wiz better!’ I turned back to the screen. The wire trailing out the box was a fuse. Jocky lit it and they quickly flew off out of view. Seconds later there was an almighty flash, and the CCTV footage turned to static.

‘He bombed my house, Leigh. That mental bastard bombed my house. I was lucky to get out alive. I phoned the police, the fire brigade and Tannadice. They’ve seen this footage. A warrant is out for Jocky Scott’s arrest.’

I couldn’t believe it. Jocky was having problems, but he’d gone too far here. He could have killed David Goodwillie. There was no condoning this behaviour.

I wished David well and left in a daze. I didn’t know what to think. A taxi went by, and I hailed it. I jumped in and told the driver to take me to the Fairmuir clubbie. It seemed like the only place I might find some answers.

—————————–

I got out the cab and went to the door. The Fairmuir is a typical working man’s club, a place where beer is cheap, bingo is important and newcomers are treated with suspicion. The door was guarded by a couple of pensioners who clearly thought I was there to rape their woman and steal their pension. ‘This isnae a public bar son, members only.’

I took my hood down and my cap off. ‘Sorry to bother you gents. I’m just here looking for a pal of mine. Do you know Jocky Scott?’

They raised their eyebrows and looked at each other with knowing glances. ‘Jocky’s no’ here jist now. Huvnae seen him for a wee while. Best be on your way, son.’

They were being evasive. I persisted. ‘Look, I’m a good pal of Jocky. I just want to find out if he’s ok. He’s had some bother recently, I’m worried about him.’ One of the old men nodded in understanding. ‘Eh hear yi son, but he’s no’ here. Huvnae seen Jocky since Dundee gave him the bullet.’

A thought struck me. ‘Fair enough. Is…….is the Pope here? Can you tell him Leigh Griffiths wants a word please?’ The old men looked at each other and laughed. ‘The Pope? Are you aff yir fucking heid, son? The Pope! Fuck sake!’ I blushed, but continued. ‘Jocky always said he played darts here with the Pope. They’re mates, like.’

The old boys laughed a little bit harder. ‘The Pope plays darts here? Fuck sake son, are you on they bubbles a’ you youngsters are takin’ these days?’ They were having a good laugh at my expense. I felt like a total idiot. I mumbled an apology and turned to leave. One of the old guys shouted after me. ‘Look son, we ken wha yi are. We’re Dees, like. We ken Jocky, tae. Jocky’s a brilliant guy. You usually hae tae get signed in by a member tae get in this clubbie, but since yi’re a pal o’ Jocky’s we’ll let yi in. Some of Jocky’s mates are in, they might be able tae help yi’. Yi’ll hae tae pay a pound, same as all non-members though . Clubbie rules, son.’

I nodded and raked in my pocket for change. ‘Here’s a tenner. That should cover my entry fee and a couple of pints for you boys.’

The old boys smiled. ‘Sound, Leigh. Welcome tae the Fairmuir clubbie. Abide by the rules and yi’ll be made maist welcome. Break the rules and yi’l end up in the bin oot the back wi’ yir eyes pulled oot their sockets and yir neck snapped in seven different places. Enjoy.’

I laughed nervously as they waved me through. They pointed me in the direction of a door up past the entrance to the main bar and lounge. I walked up and into the sports lounge. Several old men stood around drinking and playing darts. They all stopped and looked at me.

‘Sorry to bother you lads……I’m looking for…….um……a mate of Jocky Scott. Jocky called him the Pope, but he was maybe just pulling my leg.’

A few of the guys chuckled to themselves. I looked to the bar. An old balding guy in a tracksuit, brogues and a stained white tshirt gave me a nod. ‘ Wha’s askin’?’

‘Erm, Leigh Griffiths. I play for Dundee. I’m a mate of Jockys. Have you seen him about recently?’

The guy gave me a good, long hard look before replying, ‘Buy iz a pint and we’ll hae a blether, son.’ The old guy motioned for me to join him at the bar. His dart-playing pals kept a wary looking eye on me. He ordered us up a couple of pints of Tartan Special. I paid the barman. The old guy raised a glass and said, ‘Cheers, Leigh.’ He took a good swig, wiped the froth from his upper lip and introduced himself. ‘Meh name’s Tam. Been mates wi’ Jocky for a lang time, since the days he played fur Dundee.’ I sipped my pint. I was getting a taste for the Special. ‘Nice to meet you, Tam. I was half expecting you to be wearing long white robes and a crucifix.’, I joked. Tam smiled. ‘Aye, that nickname fair stuck with Jocky. Naebody else called iz it, but Jocky’s called me nothing else since the 70’s. He’s some boy.’

‘Why did he start calling you the Pope?’

He smiled. ‘We were at a fancy dress perty. Eh went as a ghost, white sheet over mi’ heid wi’ holes fur the eyes. Jocky came barrelling in dressed as Mohammad Ali. Daft cunt had covered himself from head tae toe in boot polish and hud white shorts and a pair o’ boxin’ gloves on. Kept shouting, “Wha’s in cherge here a’body? Whaur’s that cunt Joe Frazier? Rumble in the fuckin’ Jungle, that’s what eh’m talkin’ aboot!”, and punching folk. He saw me and went, “Fuck sake, check oot the Pope! Tam ya hairy clam, that’s a fuckin’ teckle ootfit!” Must have explained eh wiz a ghost a dozen times, but he wiz haein’ none o’ it. Eventually jist left him tae it. He’s some boy is oor Jock.’ Tam drained his pint and ordered up another couple.

I stayed in the Fairmuir for several hours. Tam was great company, one of those guys who commanded respect and made you feel welcome at the same time, and he was quite the raconteur. He told me loads of Jocky stories over numerous pints of Special. Tam clearly had a great deal of love and respect for his old pal. He was most interested to hear my take on his sacking, and deeply concerned to hear about the goings-on at Goodwillie’s house.

‘A’ways thought the auld daftie would get himself in bother. Probably best that he lies low fur a wee while. Eh’m sure the club will try and sort oot the polis and get them aff his back.’ I wasn’t so sure about that. Tam got up. ‘Gies a minute, Leigh. A’ that Special’s fair flowing through the system. Eh’m awa’ for a pish. When eh get back eh’ll tell yi’ how Jocky got that bloody megaphone.’ He winked and headed towards the loo. What a top bloke. I smiled at the scene around me. I was a wee bit bleary-eyed from the drink, but I was really enjoying myself. The locals were sound, friendly folk. A few of them said hello, wished the team well, and asked for autographs for their grandchildren. Even the ones who said they were United supporters were nice to me and said they hoped we would return to the SPL. It seems the derby is missed by more than just Dundee fans.

Tam returned with a couple of nips. I half-protested, ‘Tam, I’m a bit bevied here. I’ll get my arse kicked for drinking like this.’

‘Leigh, yi’ll never be a futba player if yi’ cannae handle a decent drink. Here’s to yi’ son.’ We raised our glasses for perhaps the seventh or eighth time. I was losing track. Tam settled back into his seat.

‘Jocky came in here one efternoon in a highly excited state. Boy’s a’ways pretty animated, but he was jist aboot bouncing aff the walls. Eh asked him what wiz going on. He said, “Hiya the Pope. Hiya pal! Jocky’s got a wee business venture on the go, like. Wee sideline number ootside o’ the futba. Gonnae mak’ a fortune!” Eh asked whit it wiz, but he said it was a secret. What he did say wiz that he needed something like a portable microphone tae make his voice loud so a big crowd could hear him. The boys were puzzled, but one o’ them, boy called Jimmy Carmichael wha yaesed tae be a Trade Union leader, said he might hae somethin’ that would dae the job. Next day eh wiz playin’ darts wi’ Jock when the boy turned up. He said, “Here yi’ go Jock, this might dae the trick.” He handed over a megaphone. Jocky’s face wiz a picture! “Jimmy pal……….THAT’S FUCKIN’ TECKLE! Can Jocky git a wee shot o’ that?” Jimmy said he used it during the strikes when he wiz addressin’ the crowd ootside the Timex, but he’d retired and hud nae use fur it. Jocky gave him a big cuddle, took the megaphone aff him and yaesed it fur the first time. “HIYA A’BODY! HIYA PALS! CHECK THIS OOT! OH YA CUNT, THIS IS FUCKIN’ TECKLE! YAAAAAAASSSSS!”

I laughed heartily. Brilliant. ‘He still uses that megaphone to this day!’ Tam laughed as well. ‘Leigh, he’s barely put it doon since the day he got it. Anyway, a few days later we found oot what his new business venture wiz. Eh wiz on the way up tae the clubbie here. Eh walk up at aboot the same time every day. When eh got tae the end of the street eh saw half a dozen buses parked up ootside. They a’ hud JOCKY’S POPE TOUR written on the side. Eh walked past them thinkin’ “whit?!” When eh got ootside the club eh find Jock. He’s dressed as a clergyman, a’ black robes and a big crucifix roond his neck. He sees me and goes, “Hiya pal! Stick this on ya big glass o’ fanny juice, Jocky’s got hunners o’ catholics inside waitin’ tae meet yi. £20 a heid, eh’ve made a fuckin’ fortune! Been giein’ them a guided tour o’ the toon showin’ them a’ the holy places, like Dens and the teckle newsagent in the Overgate wi’ a’ the porno mags.”

‘Eh could nae believe it. Eh started protestin’, but he slipped iz a couple o’ hunner note and said, “it’s nae bather pal, dinnae be shy. Jocky’ll dae a’ the talkin” Eh wiz skint at the time, so eh put the sheet on and followed him inside. Eh wiz telt tae stand ootside and wait for his cue. He went intae the main function room, which wiz packed tae the rafters. He stood up front on the stage the bands wha come on at the weekends play on.’

“Ladies and gentleman, welcome tae the Fairmuir clubbie. It’s like the Vatican, only wi’ cheaper beer and a better dominoes team. Meh name’s Faither Jocky, eh’m a good pal o’ yir man the Pope. His holiness jist turned up like, he’s in the shitter drappin’ his guts. Eh telt him no tae flush in case any o’ you cunts wanted tae buy a bit of his shite or a wee vial o’ holy water straight fae his bladder.” He looked over towards the door and saw me peeking through. “Right a’body, here he comes. A’ the way fae Mid Craigie, top boy in yir church and a helluva good darts player – the Pope!” Eh wandered oot on tae the stage. Jock wiz bowing and making a fuss. The crowd were nae happy. “That’s just a man with a sheet over his head! That’s not the Pope!” Jocky replied, “Of course it’s the fuckin’ Pope! Check him oot!” I tried to help the situation along by doing a few Hail Marys. The crowd were pure raging. “We don’t believe you! We want our money back!” Jocky laughed. “Yi’ dinnae believe me? Yi’ believe a’ that shite aboot virgin births, cunts comin’ back fae the dead, and some invisible man keepin’ edge on a’ cunt…….but yi’ dinnae believe me? Fuck sake!”

The crowd turned into an angry mob and started moving towards us with vengeance in mind. Jock pointed tae the back o’ the room and shouted, “Jesus Christ, it’s the Holy Ghost!” Every head in the room turned and looked. Jock took the opportunity to bolt oot the door, shouting, “Run like fuck Tam! Gemme’s up the poley!” I sprinted efter him. We jumped in one of the tour buses and made our getaway. Absolutely unbelievable.’

I was ending myself with laughter. I tried to get up to go to the loo but my legs gave way and I fell back in my seat.

‘Steady on there son! Jeez, yi’re no’ much o’ a bevy merchant are yi! You’ve hud enough wee man. Eh’ll phone yi’ a taxi.’ He chuckled and called me a cab. I was much drunker than I thought.

A short time later a man came in and shouted, ‘Taxi for Griffiths!’ Tam got me to the door and made sure I got in the cab ok. I slumped in the back and rolled down the window. ‘Tam…cheers. It was great to meet you. I had a braw night.’

‘The pleasure wiz a’ mine, son. Yi’re welcome up here anytime. If yi’ see Jock tell him eh wiz askin’ fur him. And dinnae worry – he’ll be awright, whatever he’s up tae. Jocky’s a wild one, but he kens the score.’

We shook hands through the open window. The taxi pulled off. I pulled my phone out and realised I had a voicemail message. I dialed it. I couldn’t hear it very well with the driver’s music on. It was that song by the Doors.

“This is the end…beautiful friend…”

The message was from Brannan. ‘Hello Leigh, this is Bob Brannan…’

“Of our elaborate plans, the end….”

‘We have a major problem with Jocky Scott…’

“Of everything that stands, the end…”

‘I want you to come to my office at 9am tomorrow. I need you to do something for me…”

“Can you picture what will be, so limitless and free…”

‘It’s a highly confidential and important matter. I’ll fill you in on the details tomorrow. Good night.’

I was far too drunk to take it all in. I’d worry about it in the morning. As the taxi approached my tepee I slipped into a drunken unconsciousness. If I’d known what was to come the following day, I would have prayed to Tam that I had never woken up.

“This is the end…..”

Chapter 8: ‘Dundee til eh die’

Jocky’s departure and subsequent return was a major issue at the club. While Gordon Chisholm was officially managing the team, it was clear Jocky was still “in cherge” to a certain degree. This was not going down well with Chisholm or the Board of Directors. They didn’t sack the man only to see him turn up in the dressing room mere days later.

The day after the draw with Queen of the South we arrived for training. The players chatted in hushed tones about the previous nights events.

‘Did you see Chishom’s face when Deewok turned out to be Jocky? Priceless!’ remarked Gary McKenzie.

‘Aye, that was wild. Jocky should never have been punted.’ said Jim Laughlan. ‘I know things weren’t going well this past few months, but still – who sacks their manager when the team’s top of the league with the finishing line in sight? Something’s amiss with that. Leigh, you should watch yourself mate. I get the feeling Chisholm doesn’t like you. He knows you’re pretty tight with Jocky.’

I nodded in agreement. ‘I can handle Chisholm. He’ll probably give me a hard time because I’m Jocky’s mate, but so fuck.’ I paused, then addressed the room. ‘I saw the look on your faces when Jocky revealed himself last night. We all shouted “IT’S TIME TO GET ILL!” together without hesitation. That spoke volumes about the managerial situation, eh?’ The boys looked at each other, then at me, and nodded.

The door burst open.

‘MAKE WAY FOR BILLY! VROOM VROOM!’

Billy Dodds stormed in on his tricycle. He was wearing a pink romper suit and his little propeller hat. He started doing laps of the dressing room, laughing hysterically and singing.

‘HUMPTY DUMPTY SAT ON THE WALL, HUMPTY DUMPTY HAD A GREAT FALL!’ He stopped the bike suddenly and looked crestfallen. ‘All the King’s horses and all the King’s men……couldn’t put Humpty together again…..’. He burst into tears. ‘POOR HUMPTY! HUMPTY HURT HIMSELF!’ He dropped of the bike and started thrashing about on the floor. The lads looked on in horror. Rab Douglas started fumbling about in his pocket and pulled his phone out. He flipped it open, activated the camera and pointed it at Dodds. In an instant he stopped going mental and reverted to the footballing and media giant we all know and love.

‘Good morning gentleman. I’m Billy Dodds, your assistant manger. Slight change of plan this morning. If you would make your way through to the Captain’s Lounge we’re going to have an emergency meeting. Certain matters need to be discussed.’

Big Rab Douglas, who was still holding the camera up to Billy, interjected.

‘Here lads, check this out’.

He dropped the camera. Baby Billy returned.

‘BILLY’S MACHO MAN RANDY SAVAGE!’

Rab pointed the camera back at him, making Dodds switch again.

‘Gordon Chisholm is waiting for you, so if you could…’

He dropped the camera.

‘OOOHHHHHHHH YEEEAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!’

He pointed it back at him.

‘…just start heading through we’ll get started’

He dropped it again.

‘DIG IT!!’

‘RAB! Stop it man, that’s a bloody shame’, chuckled Ben Hutchinson.

‘Sorry lads, couldn’t resist it. C’mon, we better head through and see what this is all about.’

We strolled through to the Captain’s Lounge, a spacious hospitality suite in the Main Stand. A couple of dozen chairs were laid out in front of a table, behind which sat Gordon Chisholm and Chairman Bob Brannan. For some reason a rather princely looking throne made of gold and deep red velvet lay vacant.

Brannan was an astute business man who had done great things at the club. His financial nous and business acumen had played a big part in keeping Dundee FC afloat in the stormy waters it had sailed through in the recent past. We took our seats. Billy parked his bike in the corner of the room and amused himself with a colouring in book and crayons. Brannan got started.

‘Thanks for joining us,guys. I’ve called this meeting to discuss the situation we find ourselves in with the former manager of the club. Before we get underway I’d like to introduce a special guest.’

Brannan pulled out a gong and placed it on the table. Standing up, he continued. ‘Gentleman, please welcome Dundee Football Club Director, Calum Melville.’ He hit the gong. As the boooooooonngggggg reverberated Brannan looked to the back of the room. Our heads turned, and in walked our multi-millionaire benefactor. We rarely saw the man, so it was interesting to see him up close. He looked sharp in a pin-stripe suit, and smiled kindly as he went past. As he walked up to the front of the room Brannan came out from behind the table and dropped to his knees. He started bowing to Melville in that well known “we’re not worthy” gesture. As Melville approached, Brannan shuffled forward on his knees, bent down low and kissed his feet. Jeez-oh. It was a deeply undignified display. Melville seemed non-plussed. He took a seat in his throne. Brannan got up, hit the gong again and sat down.

‘Gentleman, we are blessed with the presence of our Lord, Master and Saviour, Calum Melville.’ He turned to Melville and said, ‘Thank you, sir. We are deeply, deeply honoured. Would you care to address the players?’

Melville rose from his throne and spoke.

‘Wahay min, fit like? Fit? Calum fae Aburdeen, min. Money fae oil and prossies doon the harbour min, wahay fit like? Fit? Fit? Aye min.’

I’ve heard broad Aberdonian accents before, but that was ridiculous. He sat down again, smiling. Brannan nodded enthusiastically. ‘Yes Calum, wise words indeed. Thank you sir.’

The players exchanged confused glances. Brannan stood up, a deadly serious look on his face.

‘Let’s get down to business. We had a major problem last night. I don’t have to go in to detail about it, you all know what happened. Let me make one thing perfectly clear – Jocky Scott is gone. He no longer has a place at this club. He was sacked and replaced by Gordon Chisholm here.’ He gestured towards Chisholm. ‘Gordon…’

Chisholm got up. ‘Thanks Bob. Lads, I want to say one thing; I’m in charge here. Do you hear me? I’M IN CHARGE HERE. I’m the manager. Jocky Scott is a certified lunatic. Pay no attention to his ramblings about nights out at the Rhumba in 1991 or anything else for that matter.’

‘TOUCH THE LASERS! BILLY LIKES FUTBA!’ shouted Billy Dodds.

‘Quiet Billy! And get that crayon out your nose for goodness sake’

Billy gave him a double thumbs up, a big smile, and took the crayon out his nose. His upper lip and chin were painted a variety of bright colours, suggesting he’d been eating them as well as wedging them up his nasal passage.

Chisholm sat down. As Brannan got back up to speak Melville spouted off a mouthful of Aberdonian gibberish, something about “bonnie loons”, Theo Snelders and the price of fish. Brannan nodded in agreement, ‘Yes Calum, well observed. Well oberved indeed, sir.’ He took a moment to scan the room, making sure we were paying attention before continuing.

‘Jocky Scott is banned from Dens Park. He is not welcome here. Further to that, I don’t want any of you contacting or interacting with him. If I hear of any of you keeping in touch with him you’ll be out on your ear. Is that clear?’

We sat in silence. Brannan looked at me. I stared him down, refusing to look away.

‘Do you have a problem with that, Mr Griffiths?’

I said nothing and held his gaze. As his lips started to curl into an evil smile his moment was rudely interupted by the stadium PA system bursting into life.

INTERGALACTIC PLANETARY, INTERGALACTIC, ANOTHER DIMENSION! INTERGALACTIC PLANETARY, INTERGALACTIC, ANOTHER DIMENSION!

Brannan looked confused. ‘What the hell is that?’ He clearly didn’t know his music. He didn’t know his Beastie Boys. I knew exactly what the hell that was.

He stormed across the room and went through the door that lead to the outer stand. We all jumped up and followed him as he headed down on to the track around the pitch to try and make sense of the noise. We looked up towards the small booth the match day DJ works from. Someone was in there, but from this distance it was hard to tell who. Brannan turned and saw all the players standing behind him smiling. He figured it out. Turning to the DJ box he screamed, ‘JOCKY! YOU’RE BANNED! GET THE HELL OFF THE PREMISES BEFORE I CALL THE POLICE!’. Intergalactic stopped and was replaced by a dark, sinister sounding tribal number full of drums and freaky wailing. There was a crackle, and a deep, threatening voice came over the PA.

‘This is not Jocky…………this is………….PAPA SHAAAAANGO.’

Billy Dodds, now with a crayons up each nostril and sticking out each ear, let out a scream of pure, unadulterated terror.

‘AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!’

He freaked out and ran on to the pitch towards the Derry as if the Devil himself was hot on his heels. A different, wonderfully familiar voice came over the PA.

‘Oh ya cunt that was fucking teckle! BILLY! Eh’m just kidding pal, it’s jist Jocky! Hiya Billy! Hiya pal!’

Dodds was now running back towards us, unsure where his best exit was. He slowed and looked around, confused. ‘WHERE’S JOCKY? BILLY CAN’T SEE JOCKY!’

The deep, scary voice boomed out again.

‘PAPA SHAAAAAANGOOOOO’

Billy screamed, fell to the ground and started digging up the pitch with his bare hands in an attempt to burrow his way out.

‘Fucking yaaaassss!’ boomed the voice from the PA. ‘By Christ he’s no’ wise. Fuckin’ shame takin’ the piss like that, but funny tae! Yir awright Billy pal, hud on a minute likes!’

Jocky emerged from the DJ booth, as topless as ever, and switched the jetpack on. He flew out the stand over the pitch and landed next to Billy.

‘JOCKY! BILLY’S MACHO MAN RANDY SAVAGE!’ He grabbed him in a big hug. Jocky hugged him back, ruffling his hair.

‘Are yi Billy? Are you Macho Man Randy Savage? Fuckin’ braw! Jocky’s a great admirer of thon boy Hulk Hogan, cunt’s got a fucking teckle ‘tache on him. Di yi like Hulk Hogan, Billy? Boy wi’ the braw ‘tache like?’

‘Billy likes futba.’

Jocky smiled from ear to ear. ‘Me tae, Billy. Me tae.’ He hugged him a little bit harder and kissed the top of his head.

‘JOCKY! WHAT HAVE I TOLD YOU?! YOU’RE BANNED FROM DENS!’ Trust Brannan to ruin a tender moment. Jocky looked over and grinned. He let go of Billy and hovered over to us. Brannan tried to make himself big, putting his hands on his hips and puffing his chest out. Chisholm fell in line next to him and adopted the same pose. ‘You heard me Jocky. Enough is enough. You’re no longer the manger here, and you’re not welcome at Dens. Get out and don’t come back.’

‘Wahay min, fit like? Aburdeen wahay.’

Jocky looked at Calum Melville, who’d come through the crowd of players to say his piece.

‘You speakin’ tae me, chief?’

Melville had a friendly grin on his face and replied, ‘Aye min, fit like?’

Jocky looked baffled and responded, ‘Eh?’

Melville looked equally confused and responded in kind. ‘Fit?’

‘……..Eh?’

‘……..Fit?’

‘……..Eh?’

‘…….Fit?’

‘……Wha?’

‘……Fit?’

‘……Eh?’

‘Fit like min?’

‘Wha’s in cherge here?’

‘Fit?’

‘Eh?’

Melville stopped and looked at Jocky, saying nothing. He seemed to freeze. Without breaking Melville’s gaze Jocky took his mobile phone out, tapped in a number and put it to his ear. A ring came from Bob Brannan’s pocket. He looked confused as he pulled it out. Jocky and Melville remained locked in their staring match. Brannan answered the phone.

‘Hello, Bob Brannan speaking.’

‘Boaby, wha’s this foreign cunt? What the fuck’s this “fit?” business a’ aboot?’

Brannan put the phone down from his ear, shook his head and asked, ‘Why on Earth did you phone to ask that? I’m standing right next to you!’

Jocky continued talking into the phone and staring at Melville.

‘Ken eh am, Boaby, Jocky fuckin’ kens whaur yir standin’ ya fuckin’ belter. Jist got a new contract for meh Al Capone, like. 100 free minutes a month on the calls, be as well yaesin’ them up. Still got 500 oadd texts tae send as well, it’s a fuckin’ braw deal likes. Boy claiming tae be called Colin fae Mumbai set it up. Eh says, “there’s naebody in Mumbai called Colin ya lying cunt! Wha’s in cherge here?’ Eftir aboot 25 minutes o’ interogation the boy crumbled and admitted he was called Raman, or something tae that effect. They hae dingy names on the phone tae try and make themselves seem mair familiar tae British cunts. Eh says, “Colin, there’s nae need fur that pish wi’ Jocky! Jocky kens the score!’ Wiz on the blower tae the boy fur near enough six hours. By the end o’ it eh hud talked at length aboot the folly of arranged marriages tae burds rockin’ a better ‘tache than Jocky, discussed the finer points o’ the Communist Manifesto and Uncle Buck, which in many ways is a film aboot Communism, and finally eh converted him tae Catholicism. The Pope buys Jocky a pint at the Fairmuir fur every soul eh manage tae save on his behalf. Commission, likes. Eh telt him eh wiznae entirely comfortable committing them tae a life o’ believing they’re facin’ eternal damnation in some fantasy land that clearly disnae exist and worshipping some mad bullshitter o’ a burd wha claimed she wiz up the duff wi’oot even gettin’ shagged. The Pope says, “eh’m makin’ a fuckin’ fortune aff fowk wha believe a’ that shite, Jock. Shut yir pus and drink yir free pint ya fanny”. And ken what, Boaby? Eh raised meh glass tae meh big pal Colin fae Mumbai and downed the cunt in one. It was a braw pint. Courtesy o’ the Catholic church, like. Teckle!’

Renowned sectarian Bob Malcolm chuckled and mumbled something about the Pope. Jocky, still holding Melville’s dead eyes, ended the call to Brannan and dialed another number. The Sash started up in Malcolm’s pocket. He fished his phone out and answered.

‘Hullo?’

‘Boaby, see if eh hear one mair peep oot o’ you eh’ll send the Pope roond tae yer gaff tae gie yi the hidin’ o’ a lifetime. Boy wiz in the SS, he’s hard as nails. You’re on a slippery fuckin’ slope here, cunto. Ken?’

Malcolm put his phone away and went quiet.

‘Anyway….wha’s this boy wi’ the mad accent and the daft haircut?’

Melville put his hand out. ‘Calum Mellville , Jocky loon. Fit like? ‘sa bonnie jetpack yi’ve got min!’

Jocky accepted the handshake, ‘Bonjour, cunto. Mon nom est Jocky. Ca va? Mon jetpack est tres bien, le best o’ the teckle’

He turned to us, winked, and whispered, ‘the boy’s French, likes. Jocky kens a bit o’ the lingo, it’s nae bather.’

Melville continued, ‘Furryboots are ye fae, Jocky min?’

‘Je vis dans Broughty Ferry. J’ai une grande maison et un jardin avec un arbre de puzzle de monky. J’apprécie joue des fléchettes avec Pape dans le Fairmuir clubbie. Il est un gars agreeable.’

Though I couldn’t quite make out what Jocky had said, I picked out the key elements. Melville certainly looked suitably impressed, and not phased in the slightest by the fact Jocky was talking to him in French. Jocky was warming to the man, so he gave him a playful nudge with his elbow and pointed a thumb towards Bob Brannan.

‘Prenez garde à ce gars, il est un de ces types homosexuels!’

They both laughed and pointed at Brannan. Jocky was beside himself.

‘Jist telt Frenchie here you’re a poof, Boaby! Think he fell fur it tae! Oh ya cunt that wiz teckle! Vive la France!’ He slapped Melville heartily on the back. ‘You’re no a bad lad, cunto. Yi’ll hae tae fire up the Fairmuir some time, eh’ll introduce yi tae the Pope, and mibbe Davie Narey tae. Sound cunts, like.’

Chisholm, who had been stewing away throughout this whole episode, finally exploded with anger.

‘FUCK OFF YOU! JUST FUCK OFF! YOU DON’T EVEN WORK HERE ANY MORE!’

He made a move towards Jocky and looked like he was about to lay into him. Jocky quickly put the jetpack into motion and hovered backwards away from him. He chuckled away to himself as Chisholm followed him.

‘Check the nick o’ Chis! Cunt’s awa’ tae burst likes!’

Chisholm started running after him. Brannan shouted, telling him to stop and calm down, but Chisholm was fully enraged and wanted a piece of his predecessor. Jocky thought it was hilarious and kept hovering away backwards just out of Chisholm’s reach.

‘Wha’s in cherge here, Chisholm? Eh? You ken the score big fella!’

Chisholm was apoplectic, screaming and shouting as he chased him. Billy Dodds got in on the act and started cycling after them. It was quite a spectacle. Jocky Scott flying in reverse with his jetpack and singing the Beastie Boys, our manager chasing him after him in a rage and out assistant manager pedalling furiously on his tricycle in a pink romper suit shouting the catchphrases of his favourite wrestlers.

‘I’ll fucking kill you Jocky! Get away to fuck, this is my domain now!’

‘M.I.K.E. to the D! Yi come and see me and yi pay a fee! Dae whit eh dae professionally, tae tell the truth eh am exactly whit eh want tae be. Yas! Get them telt, Mike D.’

‘IF YOU SMEEEEELLLLLL WHAT THE ROCK! IS! COOKIN’! BILLY LIKES FUTBA! BILLY! LIKES! FUTBA!’

This went on for a few minutes. Chaos. Melville seemed to be enjoying the spectacle, but Brannan was absolutely seething. I didn’t like the look in his eye one little bit. He backed away slowly from the group, his eyes locked on Jocky, hatred and darkness oozing from him. He turned and strode off out of sight, leaving me deeply concerned about what his next move might be.
———————-
Later that night I was back at the tepee. Darkness had just fallen. I was thinking about an early night. It had been an interesting day to say the least, and I was weary. I lay back and immersed myself in The Art of War. My ears pricked up as the soft burr of an engine approached. It wasn’t loud enough to be Jocky’s jetpack, but it sounded similar. I hopped up and went outside. I couldn’t see anything in the vicinity, but the noise drew closer. I looked round in circles trying to pinpoint it. My eye caught something, a small white shape hovering slowly towards me. What the…..

It was Jocky the cat. He was flying a miniature jetpack.

I stood in stunned silence, mouth agape at the feline flyer. It got to within a few feet of me and stopped at head height.

‘Miaow’

I rubbed my eyes and struggled to comprehend it. Jocky’s cat had a wee jetpack and was hovering right in front of me. I stared at him for quite some time, speechless.

‘MIAOW’

Something was attached to his collar. A little rolled up note. Jocky flew in a little closer. Ever so slowly I took the note in my fingers and pulled it free of his collar. As soon as I had it in my hand the cat turned and flew off again, disappearing into the darkness.

I looked at the note in my hand and unrolled it. It was too dark to see it properly so I returned to the tepee and sat down to read it.

‘Hiya Leigh. Hiya pal! Did yi see wee Jocky flyin’ his jetpack there? Oh ya fucker, is that no the maist teckle fuckin’ thing yi’ve ever seen? Meh cat’s got a jetpack! Jist like big Jocky! By christ, that cat’s some boy. Word fae the wise, cunto – dinnae ever challenge him tae a game o’ Connect Four. Eh repeat, dae not EVER challenge that cat tae a game o’ Connect Four. Cunt’ll destroy everything you hold dear faster than yi’ can say “Hiya Jocky the cat, hiya pal!” Fuckin’ serious like. Yi might get awa’ wi’ a quick game o’ Kerplunk, but dae so at yir aine risk. Yas! Anyway, what’s the score here? Wha’s in cherge? Jocky’s waitin fur yi’ up at Dens in the dugoot, ‘mon up ya stroke victim-lookin’ calamity. Jocky’s got something important tae discuss. Pronto, cunto! Get a fuckin’ taxi like!’

Man. I phoned a cab and prepared for goodness knows what.

————————

Sandeman Street was quiet. As the cab pulled away I wondered how I was going to get inside. I wandered up to the Provie Road end of the ground and decided the easiest point of entry was over the fence between the Main Stand and the Bobby Cox. I managed to haul myself up and over it, and I was soon wandering down the track towards the dugout. Jocky was sitting in the home team’s one, lost in thought looking at the Derry.

‘Hi boss. You ok there?’

He continued staring at the Derry for a few more seconds then turned to look at me, smiling.

‘Grab a seat next tae Jocky, pal. Yi want tae split a can o’ Tartan Special wi’ iz? Jist got the one, but we can hae a swig aboot likes.’

He cracked it open, took a sip, then offered it to me. As I went to take it off him he quickly pulled it away.

‘Yi dinnae hae AIDS dae yi, Leigh? Cannae get a swig if yi’ve got AIDS like.’

I spluttered. ‘No boss, of course not!’

He passed me the can. ‘Jist checkin’ like, cannae be too careful. Boy that used tae play for Jocky had it, likes. Keith Wright. Got it aff a dodgy Zoom ice lolly. Teckle lollies, but riddled wi’ the virus.’

My eyebrow was raised to the point it nearly came right off my head as I took a sip of the beer and passed it back.

‘Keith wiz a good cunt. The AIDS fair took a hold of him though. Made his chin, which, truth be told, was pretty fuckin’ big in the first place, get bigger and bigger until Ryanair eventually tried tae use it as a runway for flights tae Copenhagen. Except they didnae actually want tae go tae Copenhagen, like. They jist said that, but the reality o’ the situation wiz that they drapped yi aff in Brechin and expected yi’ tae take a bus and a ferry the rest o’ the way. Fuckin’ Copenhagen meh erse, Michael O’Leary. That boy’s needin’ telt big-style.’

He took a sip of the Special and passed it back again.

‘Leigh, you’re meh pal, eh?’

‘Of course, boss. Definitely.’

He smiled.

‘Ken yi are, like. Ken yi are. That’s how eh brought yi here the night. Eh wanted tae hae a wee blether before eh head aff.’

I felt my heart sink.

‘Head off? Where are you going?’

He looked at me with sad eyes that made me feel like crying.

‘Jocky’s done here, pal. Gemme’s up the poley. Eh ken eh’ve been hanging aboot this past couple o’ days like gettin’ punted didnae matter, but it did. Been thinkin’ aboot it. Decided eh should leave Chisholm and wee Billy tae it, like. Ken why eh’ve decided that, pal?’

I shook my head. Jocky looked around the ground, taking it all in, then met my gaze again.

‘Because eh’m no helping yiz by hanging around here. Eh’m distracting yiz at the business end o’ the season. Yiz are making a wee bit o’ a cunt o’ it at the mo, but yiz can still win this league. Fucking right. Still in wi’ a good shout, like. But eh’ve got tae leave yiz tae it. Jocky’s pride took a dunt when eh got sacked, Leigh. That was a sair aine. But ken what? Disnae matter. The maist important thing is the team winning the league.’

He swallowed hard.

‘Regardless o’ what happened tae me, Leigh, one thing remains as true as ever. Jocky’s a fucking Dundee man. Even though this club has treated me like SHITE on mair than one occasion, eh’m still a Dee at heart. That, my friend, will never change. Eh’m Dundee til I fuckin’ die.’

His chin jutted out with pride, and his eyes misted over. He nodded, agreeing with himself.

‘Dundee til I die, Leigh. Ken what eh mean?’

My own eyes were watering a little as I nodded. He smiled.

‘This is some club, pal. Lot o’ history here. A lot o’ good times, a helluva lot o’ bad times. This club will break yir fucking heart.’ He trailed off as he repeated, ‘Break yir fucking heart….’

We sat in silence staring at the Derry. After a good long while he spoke again.

‘Boaby Brannan’s gonnae ask yi tae dae something sometime soon, Leigh. Jocky sees it coming. Granny telt iz on the ouija board the other day likes. Hiya Granny, hiya pal!’

He stood up. I did the same.

‘Leigh, whatever you decide to do…..it’s cool wi’ me. Jocky’ll understand. Jocky winnae think any less o’ yi. Jist dae whatever yi think is right.’

Confused, I asked what he was on about.

‘You’ll ken when the time comes, pal. Follow yir heart, cunto. Follow yir heart!’

He walked towards the Derry. Turning, he smiled. ‘See yi again, pal. Mind what eh says……………………thon boy fae Ryanair’s a prick!’

He laughed at his own wit and walked off.

I headed back towards the fence I’d climbed in over. As I clambered up it and reached the top I paused and looked back. Jocky Scott stood tall and proud on the centre circle under the pale moon light, taking one last look around Dens Park.

Chapter 7 – Wha’s in cherge here?

Football is a cruel mistress. Those of us who make a living from it walk a slippery slope throughout our careers. The highs turn into lows at the drop of a hat. Dreams turn to nightmares in a heartbeat. The days of patience and loyalty are all but gone. It’s a cut-throat business where money talks louder than any other voice in the room. If things aren’t going right you run the risk of having it all snatched away from you.

On Saturday we were beaten 3-0 by Airdrie United. The match was an unmitigated disaster. With the greatest of respect to Airdrie, teams at the top of the league should not be on the receiving end of 3-0 defeats from them. We failed ourselves, our fans, and ultimately, our manager.

The bus journey home was a long one. There was plenty to be said, but nobody had the energy to say it. The journey home from away games were often sources of great amusement and wild behaviour at Dundee. I remember returning from the 2-2 draw at Starks Park at the start of the season. When we reached the Tay Bridge Jocky stopped the bus and insisted we all head down to the banks of the river. We wandered down and enjoyed the wonderful view of the city, the rail bridge and the hills on the horizon. After a few minutes Jocky came down dressed in khaki shorts and shirt with an inflatable crocodile. ‘Check it oot you lot! Jocky’s pretending tae be that Steve Irwin cunt! Fucking yaaaassss!’ He went charging into the Tay and started wrestling the inflatable croc. His arms flailed wildly as he landed punches on it and splashed around furiously. ‘Wha’s in cherge here ya prick, eh? G’day, cunto!’ He eventually burst the thing and clambered back to shore and sat down. ‘That boy Irwin wiz awright, likes. Fuckin’ shame when he got killed. Jocky wiz greetin’. Swore if eh ever bumped intae that stingray eh’d belt it’s pus. Been goin’ tae the Lochee swimmin’ baths twice a week since the day he wiz killed, still huvnae seen it.’

He was much more subdued returning home from Airdrie. He sat at the back of the bus alone doing the ouija board. The glass he was doing it with was flying back and forth across the board as he said things like, ‘What’s Elvis up tae?’, and, ‘Hiya Granny! Hiya pal!’ When he asked who was in charge something happened. The colour drained from his face. There was no ‘ That’s what eh’m talkin’ aboot!’ He didn’t get the answer he wanted from the spirit world.

When the bus arrived back at Dens the players filed off. Jocky remained seated at the back. I waited for a moment, then asked if he was ok. He didn’t look me in the eye. His gaze had drifted out the window. He spoke softly, and replied ‘Jocky’s fine, pal. Dinnae worry aboot Jocky. Awa’ up the road now.’ I left feeling that something was terribly, terribly wrong.

A couple of hours later I received a phone call from Ray Farningham saying Jocky had been sacked.

———————————–

We gathered for training at Dens on Monday morning. It felt like turning up for a funeral. Jocky was gone. All the boys were feeling his down about his departure, but none more so than I. After everything we’d shared, and with a future lying unfulfilled, I missed him like Eammon Bannan misses his hair. Barely a word was said as we sat in the changing room getting ready. The newly appointed manager, Gordon Chisholm, entered. He went around the room shaking hands and introducing himself. Rab Douglas offered him a shopping basket full of stolen goods as a welcoming gift, a fine selection of teabags, shortbread biscuits and some sanitary towels for the lady in his life.

‘Rab, I’m going to have to ask you to take that back to the shop. You can’t go stealing stuff like that. Get a grip, man.’

Big Rab looked bewildered and dropped his head. Chisholm continued around the room. Eddie Malone stood in his pants, greased from head to toe and clasping a hunting knife between his teeth. Chisholm shook his head and told him to get his training gear on as he took the knife off him. Eddie dropped his head to the ground too. Tony Bullock was about to saw Sean Higgins in half when the new gaffer told him not to bother.

Chisholm came to me. We shook hands. I fixed him with a glare. The wide-o in me wanted to challenge him, the man who could never replace my mentor and friend.

‘Nice to meet you, Leigh. I hear you’re quite the player. Better start proving it, son.’

I felt anger flaring up inside, but I maintained control and said nothing.

‘Gentleman, the new regime starts right now. I’m going to make sure you win this league. I have no idea what your old boss was doing, but things are going to change. Your assistant manager and I are going to put a rocket up your arse and do the job properly. Billy Dodds is out there now setting up training. Get out there, I’ll be with you in a minute to get things started.’

Chisholm was stamping his authority from the kick off.

We made our way on to the pitch. A bunch of cones and markers had been laid out. Chisholm followed us out and cried, ‘BILLY!’

Enter our new assistant manager.

He came down the track riding a kiddie’s tricycle. The players looked on in horror as he approached. He was wearing nothing but a bib, a nappy, and a hat with a little propeller on top of it. Jumping off the tricycle he bounded over towards us shouting, ‘BILLY LIKE FUTBA! BILLY LIKES FUTBA!’. He was drooling profusely, and his tongue was lolling out his mouth like that of a frisky Border Collie who just fucked a sheep.

‘Gentleman, this is Billy Dodds. He’s your new assistant manager. This man can set up cones and markers like no-one you’ve ever met before. If he appears different from the popular sports pundit you all know and love, it’s due to a bizarre mental defect that means he only snaps into what you consider to be normality when a camera or microphone is placed in front of him. The rest of the time he’s a gentle idiot with the mental capacity of a pound of steak mince. Observe.’

Chisholm pulled out a microphone and pointed it at Dodds. Suddenly he changed and became perfectly coherent.

‘Thanks Gordon. Lads, I’m Billy Dodds. You’ll probably recognise me from the media. I’ve spent the whole season calling Dundee a bunch of pricks, but you better believe my attitude changed the moment a wad of cash was waved under my nose. I’m now of the opinion that Dundee FC are a sleeping giant who deserve to be back where they belong in the top flight of the Scottish game. I’m a bit of a whore for the old moolah, but there you go.’

Chisholm put the mic behind his back, out of sight.

‘BILLY LIKES FUTBA! BILLY SLEEPS WITH THE LIGHT ON ‘CAUSE HE’S SCARED OF PAPA SHANGO!’

He started running around in circles singing Brown Girl in the Ring and being sick on himself. As we watched in awe for a few minutes he seemed to tire himself out. He burst into tears and started slapping himself hard in the face. Chisholm ushered him into the home team dugout, put a a blanket over him and put him to sleep. Training got underway.

We were pushed harder than we had been for a long time. Chisholm put us through our paces big time. Sweat was dripping form every pore, and our legs felt like lead. We were on the verge of collapse. Chisholm finally called us to a halt and gathered us in the centre circle.

‘Good session, lads. You worked hard, I’m pleased with that. Expect more of the same every single day at training. The times have changed here at Dens Park.’ He looked at me and held my eye for just long enough to make me start feeling uncomfortable before saying, ‘Ok, hit the showers.’

————————

We played our first game under Chisholm at Dens on Tuesday against Queen of the South. As we were warming up my attention was caught by the club mascot, a big bear named Deewok. Deewok usually strolls around the track entertaining the fans before the game. For some reason on this occasion he had actually taken a seat in the Bobby Cox end and was watching us warm up.

The game started well. I was pulled back in the box early on, and as well as winning a penalty the Queens defender who committed the foul was sent off. I stroked the penalty home and thought we were on for a win as I ran towards the Derry to celebrate. But it didn’t quite work out like that. We didn’t play well, and Queens refused to be broken down, even with a man less on the park. They scored a brilliant free kick to equalise, and held off a last minute onslaught to deservedly earn a point.

We headed up the tunnel and back into the dressing room. Thoroughly depressed that we didn’t beat 10-man Queens we slumped down and take stock. Apparently Inverness won. Our lead at the top was now a mere point. The heat was on. Big time. Chisholm came in. He wasn’t angry. He talked calmly about where we went wrong, and how we would have to sharpen up the killer instinct in future. He focused on the positives as best possible.

As he talked, our attention was diverted to the doorway to the showers. Deewok, the club mascot, had appeared and stood leaning against the wall with his arms folded, shaking his head. Chisholm looked surprised, then pissed off.

‘Mate, I have no idea what you think you’re doing in here. The dressing room is for players and management only. Get the hell out and don’t let me see you in here again’

Deewok didn’t budge. He kept on shaking his head.

Chisholm shouted, ‘ARE YOU FUCKING DEAF AS WELL AS STUPID, SON? AWAY TAE FUCK!’

Deewok stood up dead straight and slowly paced towards Chisholm. He went eyeball to eyeball with him and just stood there staring. Chisholm couldn’t believe it. He looked utterly shocked by the audacity of the club mascot. Deewok put his hands on his over-sized bear head and started to lift it off. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up, and I knew………

‘HIYA GORDON CHISHOLM! HIYA PAL! 1-1 AGAINST 10 MEN? YOU’RE WORSE THAN ME YA CUNT!’

Jocky fucking Scott. Amazing. He burst into song.

‘Guess wha’s back? Jocky’s back! Guess wha’s back, Jocky’s back, ah cunt kens, Jocky’s back, wha’s in cherge here?’

His spun around to face the room, beaming from ear to ear.

‘Bit o’ that Eminem fella for yiz there lads! Twa trailer trash burds go roond the ootside, roond the ootside! Jocky thought the Beastie Boys wur the only honkies wha could rap, but that boy’s no’ bad likes! Dr Dre daein’ the production, likes. Boy’s a doctor! Would nae go to the boy for something to sort oot meh piles, but his tunes are fuckin’ teckle!’

Glancing quickly round the room I noticed that each and every one of the players had a look of sheer joy on their face. The boss was back, and he was giving it laldy.

‘Straight oot o’ Dundee! Crazy muthafucka named Jocky! See yir arm? No’ as big as meh cock, eh? A pair o’ braces, a leather belt, pull yir breeks up or yir gettin’ fuckin telt! Straight oot o’ Dundee. Yaaaaaaaasss! Hiya lads! Hiya! WHAT TIME IS IT?!’

Every player raised a fist and shouted the reply, ‘IT’S TIME TO GET ILL!’

‘WHAT TIME IS IT?!’

‘IT’S TIME TO GET ILL!’

‘Pack it up, pack it in, let Jocky fuckin’ begin! Hoose o’ Pain! Mair honkies! Rappin’s a black man’s gemme fur fuck sake! Hip hop’s a fuckin’ shambles!’

He sat on Brian Kerr’s lap. ‘The B Boys are the only white boys wha kin rap properly likes, Bri. You ken the score. Eh’ve got the ill communication and a’ that.’

He took a breath, smiled, and gave Brian a big kiss on the forehead. He got back up and opened his arms to Gordon Chisholm, who was stunned into silence by what he’d just seen.

‘Gordon Chisholm. How’s it going, pal? You got meh joab, eh? Question for yi, cunto – wha’s in cherge here?’

Chisholm held Jocky’s penetrating gaze for several seconds and managed to regain his composure.

‘I’m in charge here, Jocky. I’m the manager of Dundee Football Club. I’m in charge.’

Jocky smiled. ‘You’re brave as fuck, big aine. Brave as fuck. Jocky likes that.’ He started circling Chisholm. He dominated the room. ‘Mind that night in 1991, Chis? Mind me, you, Walter Smith and John ‘Bomber’ Broon went oot pertying?’

Chisholm’s face dropped. Jocky grinned.

‘Went tae thon Rhumba Club tae see Carl Cox playin’ records, likes. Boy wiz playin’ three decks at the same time! A’cunt wiz aff thir chob on thon Ectos. No’ me likes, eh wiz jist tannin’ Tartan Special. Jocky disnae need chemical enhancement tae hae a braw time.’

Chisholm was turning a deep scarlet red. ‘Jocky, you said you wouldn’t…’

Jocky cut him off and continued.

‘Some night oot, likes. Bomber Broon hud his tap aff, dancin’ on tap o’ the speaker stack. Twa o’ they Doves doon his pus, cunt wiz fuckin’ off his rocker. Go on yerself, Bomber! Touch they fuckin’ lasers! Walter Smith went awa’ up the road wi’ some fruity fella fae Montrose, fuck knows what that wiz a’ aboot. Fuck sake, Wattie……’

‘Jocky, I don’t think this is…’

‘Mind what happened tae you, Chis? Aye? Ya cunt! That wiz fuckin’ teckle….’

‘Jocky, if you don’t mind, this has gone…’

‘Here, Gordon Chisholm. Wha’s in fucking cherge here?’

We had no idea what this was all about, but Jocky appeared to have some kind of checkmate situation. Chisholm’s eyes dropped to the floor. He mumbled, ‘You’re in charge here, Jocky.’

‘Eh?’

He repeated it a little louder, a little clearer.

‘You’re in charge here, Jocky”

Jocky smiled.

‘One mair time, cunto’

‘YOU’RE IN CHARGE HERE, JOCKY.’

Chisholm turned and stormed out the dressing room. Jocky chuckled. ‘Fuck sake, he fell for that big-style. Jocky cannae mind fuck all aboot that night beyond tannin’ 26 cans o’ Special and askin’ Carl Cox if he hud any Chas ‘n’ Dave. Boy telt iz tae get tae fuck! Braw!’

He sat down and took a few moments to take in the room. He looked around at us all, smiling.
‘Hiya a’ body. Hiya! Did yiz hear the news, likes? Jocky got the bullet! Ooft! Eh’m no even bathered, gies iz mair time tae concentrate on the darts. Darts is fuckin’ teckle! “AND BULLY’S SPECIAL PRIZE!” That Jim Bowen’s some boy, likes. Wee speccy fucker! Yi get fuck all for twa in a bed in this gemme, a’body kens that.’

Colin McMenamin ventured a question. ‘Got any work lined up, Jocky?’

‘Hiya Coco. Hiya pal! You’re fucking shite by the way. It’s a fucking miracle that you made a living oot o’ playing futba. Jocky’s seen mair natural ability in the bog in the aftermath o’ a vindaloo. By Christ eh like a good curry, but it disnae half dae meh guts in. Fuckin’ carnage in the too-ra-loo when it heads south oot o’ Jocky. The Japs left Pearl Harbour in a better nick that eh left the shitter efter that last aine. Ooft! Anyway. Aye, Colin. Wiz speakin’ tae the Pope there. Jocky plays darts wi’ the boy at the Fairmuir clubbie, likes. Good cunt. Apparently there’s a joab doon at the Vatican anytime eh want it. Boy wants Jocky tae be in cherge o’ guardin’ aw that Nazi gold they’ve got stashed. What dae yi think o’ that BOA-BY MALLLLLLLLCOLM, eh?’

Bob Malcolm mumbled his approval and congratulations.

‘Dinnae gie iz yer pish ya big Hun bastard, you’ll end up gettin’ a fuckin’ hiding. Telt!’

There was a cry from the doorway. Billy Dodds burst in.

‘JOCKY! BILLY LIKES FUTBA!’

Jocky burst out laughing.

‘Hiya Billy! Hiya pal! Awright wee man!’

Billy Dodds bounded over and embraced Jocky in a bear hug.

‘Eh see yi, Billy! Jocky sees yi! Did Brannan gie you a joab, pal? Fuckin’ teckle!’

‘BILLY LIKES FUTBA!!’

‘YAAASSSSS! That’s what eh’m talkin’ aboot! Get them telt, Billy! Jocky likes futba tae, likes. Futba’s fuckin’ teckle!’

Jocky turned to us. ‘Huv yiz met Billy Doadds? Billy’s fuckin’ marvelous! Hefty fucked in the heid, likes, but a fuckin’ braw laddie! Sets oot cones and markers on the pitch like a fuckin’ champion. Don’t yi, pal? Markers and cones, like?’

‘Billy likes Futba’

Jocky looked at us and winked, whispering, ‘He says that a’ the time, likes. Boy’s fucked in the heid. Funny as fuck, but a wee bit o’ a shame tae. Fuckin’ yas!’

Billy sat cross-legged in front of Jocky and started picking his nose and eating it. Jocky addressed the group.

‘Right lads. A’body kens wha’s in cherge here, aye? Fuckin’ right. Jocky’s no’ gonnae be far away. Eh’ll be watching yi, keepin an eye on the gig.’ He smiled. ‘Right a’body, time tae hit the road. Eh’m awa’ tae see if David Goodwillie’s got a new shed fae the B&Q yet. The cunt’s gettin’ burnt right back doon again! Soapy, see yi back at the hoose mate. Cheery.’

We all looked at Soapy. He just shrugged, as if he fully expected to hear that and accepted the fact he was still going to be washing Jocky for the rest of his life. The boss (yes, he’s still the boss in my eyes) unzipped the Deewok suit. He had his jetpack on, and nothing else. He switched it on and started hovering. ‘See yiz later lads! A’ the best! Eh’ll see yiz again soon, ’cause ken what?’ He caught my eye and winked. ‘Jocky’s got some unfinished business here…..’

Guess who’s back indeed.

Chapter 6: “I’ve got a bad feeling about this one…”

Friday night’s a quiet one for football players. It’s important to eat and rest well on the eve of a game. I was chilling in my tepee in Caird Park. The boss had insisted on taking my iPod and adding a playlist to it for me. ‘Geez yir ehPod, pal, Jocky’ll put some bumper tunes on it likes. Beastie Boys, bit o’ drum ‘n’ bass, the theme tune fae Minder, a’ the best o’ the fuckin’ teckle, ken?’

My foot was tapping away to the beats when the mobile started flashing to announce an incoming call. It was our glorious leader himself, Jocky Scott. I took my headphones out and answered it.

‘Hello boss’

‘Is Leigh there please?’

‘It’s me, Boss’

‘…Leigh Griffiths please’

‘Boss, it’s me, Leigh…’

‘Eh? Wha’s in cherge here, operator? Put Jocky through to Leigh Griffiths or it’s punch in the pus time’

‘…Boss, you’re speaking to Leigh Griffiths’

‘Jocky’s switching to Virgin Media if he disnae get Leigh Griffiths on the phone quick fucking smart here, operator! Fucking BT!’

‘Boss! It’s me! Leigh!’

‘Eh? Jocky disnae want double fucking glazing ya cunt! Jocky’s already got double glazing! Jocky’s got triple fucking glazing, cunto! Nae mair glazing required! Jocky’s hoose is glazed to the fuckin’ hilt. Comprendez? That’s what eh’m talkin’ aboot!’

He hung up. I pondered the call for a moment then decided to call him back. It rang out and kicked into an automated response system –

‘Wha’s that? Eh? Disnae matter. Please select one o’ the following options: Tae find oot wha’s in cherge here, press 1 on your key pad. If you’re Boaby Brannan, press 2. Tae divulge information on the whereabouts o’ Jocky’s Tippex, press 3. To speak tae Jocky aboot stovies, which are fuckin’ teckle by the way, press 4. If you’re Boaby Brannan, press 5. For any other business, press 6. That’s what eh’m talkin’ aboot!’

I weighed up the options for a moment then pressed 6.

Ring-ring….ring-ring….ring-ring…..

‘Wha’s that?’

‘Hello boss, it’s Leigh Griffiths’

‘Wha?’

‘Leigh Griffiths, boss. I play for Dundee.’

‘…Wha?’

‘Boss, it’s Leigh!! I play up front for you! Have been since the start of the season, been scoring loads of goal and all that!’

‘Leigh! Hiya pal. Hiya! A’right pal? Eh wiz tryin’ tae phone you a minute ago, but the operator put iz through tae some double glazin’ company. Jocky’s jist been on the Etchasketch composing an email tae that beardy fucker Richard Branson, cunt can set me up wi the Virgin Media package, likes. Fuckin’ sick o’ BT’s shite. Anyway, eh wiz wonderin’ what yir up tae the night? Jocky’s got the hoose tae himself. Fancy comin’ doon for a can o’ Tartan Special and a blether? Mibee fire up the Sega Megadrive for a game o’ Sonic? Twa player like, eh’ll be Sonic and you can be Tailz! Teckle!’

‘You sure it’s ok to do that the night before the game, boss? I should probably be having an early night. Big Cup game tomorrow!’

‘Away tae fuck you, it’s only they Raith cunts! We’ll fuckin’ pump them nae bather! Get doon here ya cunt!’

‘Well, if you’re sure……….’

Jocky gave me his address and said he’d send a taxi. 20 minutes later I was in the back of a cab heading to Jocky’s house. I have to admit I was pretty excited. The man seems to have taken a bit of a shine to me, and although his methods were verging on lunacy, I admired him greatly. The cab pulled up. I went to pay the driver but was told it was pre-paid to Bob Brannan’s account. I raised an eyebrow but said nothing.

I wandered up Jocky’s drive. I could hear the dull thump of a bass-heavy sound system coming from the house. It was a cracking place, an old stone-walled detached home that suggested the Boss had done pretty well for himself over the years. The garden was well-tended. I saw the monkey puzzle tree I’d heard the boss talk about. Stopping to admire it for a moment I noticed a small plinth lying in it’s shadow. There was a plaque bearing the inscription ‘David Goodwillie – Dirty Arab Bastard.’ Good grief.

I carried on up the driveway to the front door. I hit the buzzer. The music from within turned down a few notches. After a few moments the intercom by the side of the door burst into life.

‘Boaby Brannan residence, how can I help you?’

Puzzled, I took a few seconds to respond. ‘Um…..Boss? It’s Leigh?’

‘Wha?’

Jesus Christ.

‘It’s Leigh Griffiths’

‘Eh?’

I took a deep breath.

‘Boss, it’s Leigh Griffths. Dundee’s top goalscorer. I play for you. You invited me over’

Several bolts start unlocking. Curiously enough it has 17 bolts, just like his office at Dens. The door swings open, and I’m greeted by the sight of Jocky in his trackie bottoms, grasping a can of Tartan Special.

‘Fucking Leigh Griffiths in the hoose! Hiya pal! Hiya! Welcome tae meh humble abode, ‘mon in ya wee rat’

I step in. ‘Nice place you have here, boss. Thanks for inviting me over.’

‘Nae bather, pal. Good tae hae yi ower. ‘Mon ben the hoose and get a beer.

As I enter a white cat strolls past my feet. A black moustache has been painted on it’s face. Jocky picks it up and kisses it.

‘Hiya Jocky. Hiya pal! Check meh cat, Leigh. It’s fucking teckle! Called Jocky tae, likes. Trained in seven martial arts and a Grand Master at Connect 4. Good, eh?’

‘Aye…..it’s a fine looking cat, boss’

He puts it down and it scuttles off.

I follow him to the lounge. My jaw drops as we step in. The walls and ceiling are covered in tinfoil. The floor is 3″ deep in sand, and there’s a big paddling pool in the middle of the room. There’s a TV the size of a snooker table hung up on the wall, and two deck chairs sit facing it. In one corner of the room there’s a stuffed grizzly bear standing on it’s hind legs. In another there’s life-size cardboard cut outs of all three Beastie Boys. Ad Roc’s face has been replaced with that of Jocky. One of the walls has a huge painting of Mount Rushmore hanging from it, but instead of the faces of ex-US Presidents it depicts those of Jocky, Stevie Wonder, Jesus and Bullseye host Jim Bowen. Jocky sees me staring at it.

‘Bonnie painting, eh? Boy on the left’s that blind Motown laddie. Jocky likes his song aboot Happy Birthday Tae Yi. Fuckin’ teckle tune! Boy next tae him is that Jesus fella. Jocky’s nae time for his auld man, but he seemed like a decent enough boy. Turned water intae Tartan Special! How’s that for a perty trick! Next boy’s Jim Bowen, Jocky’s favourite TV cunt of all time.’

He motions me to sit on a deck chair and grabs me a can of beer.

‘Did yi ever see Bullseye, Leigh? Trust Jocky when he says it was fuckin’ marvellous. It wiz a game show based aroond playin’ darts! Darts is fuckin’ class! Jocky plays iviry Tuesday at the Fairmuir clubbie wi’ his pals.’

He sits cross-legged on the deckchair and leans towards me like an excited school girl telling her friends about her latest crush.

‘Jim Bowen ran the show, like. If cunts got oot o’ order this big bull came in and battered them. Mental. The best bit wiz at the end of the show. Cunts could either stick with what they’d earned to that point o’ the game or gamble the lot on one final round. Bowen would make it tense as fuck, like. “Do you want to gamble or stick with what you’ve got? What do the audience think?” The audience would aw be shoutin’ “GAMBLE!”. Jocky would be sittin’ here daein’ the same. “FUCKING GAMBLE YA CUNTS! FUUUUUUCKKKKIN’ GAAAAAAAAAAAMBLE!!!”. Ken what, Leigh? It was fuckin’ teckle.’

He sat back in his chair, shaking his head and clearly reliving some key moments from the show in his head. I sipped my beer.

‘That’s some TV you have, Boss. Some size!’

He was still lost in the thought of Bullseye, mumbling away to himself.

‘……..nae point stickin’ wi what yi’ve got, ya cunts……..FUCKIN’ GAMBLE!……..YASSSS! That’s what eh’m talkin’ aboot!………..AND BULLY’S SPECIAL PRIZE!…….fuckin’ brilliant………get them telt, Jim Bowen……….’

I sat back and relaxed. This was a cool scene, hanging with the gaffer like this. I sat and listened to him blether away as we had a few tinnies. I laughed along at his tales, and warmed to his passion and enthusiasm for life in general. After an hour or so I felt the effects of the beer working its way through the system and had to go to the loo.

‘Boss, where’s your toilet?’

‘Tap o’ the stairs, first of yir left pal. Nae solids mind, just pish. There’s a compost heap oot in the gairden if yi need a keech.’

I nodded in agreement and left the room. I climbed the stairs, taking in the photos that adorned the walls. Every one was of Jocky with his top off in various famous locations…….in front of the Sydney Opera House…..on the Great Wall of China……outside the Deep Sea chippy at the bottom of the Perth Road……

I got to the top of the stairs and opened the bathroom door. I nearly jumped out my skin when I saw Derek “Soapy” Soutar standing there holding a towel.

‘Soapy! What the hell are you doing here?!’

‘Leigh, mate……you don’t even want to know. Let’s just say my non-footballing duties at Dens extend to Jocky’s home life too.’

I carry on and go about my business. It’s not easy to take a piss when Soapy’s standing five feet away. I think of Niagara Falls and manage to squeeze it out. When I’m finished, Soapy hands me the towel and offers me a range of aftershaves. As I dry my hands and slap on some Brut I notice a bowl sitting on a shelf. It’s filled with coppers, a few buttons, and a stick of chewing gum. I sheepishly chuck a 50 pence piece in. Soapy mumbles some gratitude as I leave and head back downstairs.

When I get back into the lounge Jocky’s up and getting ready to go out. His jetpack is on, and he has a big holdall filled with goodness knows what.

‘Here Leigh, let’s go and noise up that Arab fucker Goodwillie! Jocky kens whaur he bides!’

I try to protest, but he’s having none of it.

‘Fucking yas! ‘Mon Leigh, grab a can and we’ll head oot! Gie Jocky a minute to get a slash before we go. Might get Soapy to spruce up the old ball-bag tae!’

He bounds off up the stairs. I look around the room and notice a bookcase in the far corner. As I walk over to browse Jocky’s collection of literature I hear him entering the bathroom with a ‘Hiya Soapy! Hiya pal!’

The boss has some serious pieces of work here. Plato, Joyce, Chaucer and Darwin grace the shelves. There’s a couple of Broons and Oor Wullie annuals. I skim the collection. Something catches my eye. ‘The Art of War’ by Sun Tzu is sitting out of line from the rest of the books, further forward on the shelf, like it’s been looked at recently and not put back properly. I grasp it and pull it out to have a wee look. The moment I pull it towards me the bookcase and the floor around it swivels round. All of a sudden I’m on the other side of the wall, in a hidden, secret room of Jocky’s home. It’s a big laboratory of some sort. There are a dozen men and woman in white lab coats beavering away at various pieces of technological equipment and scientific experiments. I stand open-mouthed in wonder. It’s like something out a Bond movie. The floor beneath me suddenly swivels round again, and I’m back in Jocky’s living room. What the fuck.

I hear someone coming down the stairs and quickly move away from the bookcase. I stand in the shadow of the stuffed bear. Jocky comes in the room.

‘Fucking Soapy Soutar, he’s some boy likes. Punters asked Jocky if it’s really necessary tae hae three goalies at the club, but the boy’s worth his weight in gold if yer after a ba’-scrubber. Braw laddie.’

He sees me standing by the bear.

‘Like the bear, Leigh? Jocky got it when he wiz on a hunting trip to Cumbernauld wi Jim McLean. Fucking hunners o’ the things running free over that way. Eh chased one down, wrestled it tae the ground and strangled it. McLean wanted tae shag it, but eh telt him tae get tae fuck. Awa’ and shag yer aine bear, baldy. Dirty mink so he is! “Eh telt you no’ tae ask me that question!” Get them telt, wee Jum! Jocky paid that reporter £50 tae ask that question for a laugh, but we’ll keep that tae ourselves, Leigh. You ready tae rock ‘n’ roll?’

Tartan Special in hand, we head out the door and down the street. It’s pretty late. The streets are empty and silent. Not for long though.

‘WHEN YOU HEAR THE NOISE O’ THE DUNDEE DERRY BOYS, WE’LL BE COMIN’ DOWN THE ROAD! Sing Leigh, belt it oot!’

We sing in unison. Jocky starts up another Dundee song –

‘JIM MCLEAN HAD A FARM! EE-IE EE-IE OH! AND ON THAT FARM HE HAD SOME PIGS! EE-IE EE-IE OH! HEGARTY HERE, NAREY THERE, TANGERINE BASTARDS EVERYWHERE! JIIIIIIIM MCLEAN! BALDY HEADED CUNT!’

We’re going old school on the Dee songs as we barrel down the road. It turns out David Goodwillie only live about 10 minutes from Jocky’s house. Poor boy. Jocky chuckles to himself as we stand outside.

‘Jocky’s doon here every other night gettin’ this Arab nugget telt, Leigh. Fuckin’ class. Follow me, cunto. Quietly likes….’

I follow him. The lights are on inside. We sneak around the side of the house into the back garden. Jocky opens the holdall and starts pulling out fireworks. This doesn’t bode well for David Goodwillie, or the neighbourhood at large. He pulls out half-a-dozen fearsome looking rockets and plants them in the grass. Once they’re set up he dips into the bag and takes out a huge, folded piece of cloth. He unfolds it, and I see that it’s a red, white and blue Dundee flag bearing the legend ‘DFC #1 YA BAS! WHA’S IN CHERGE HERE?’ He motions for me to help hang it on the washing line. Once it’s waving proudly in the wind he goes back to his bag and takes out a big can of lighter fluid. My heart sinks. Jocky’s giggling away to himself as he tip-toes to the garden shed and douses it in highly flammable liquid. He covers his mouth with his hand, trying to keep his laughter at bay. He pulls a couple of Zippo lighters out his pocket and passes me one.

‘Right Leigh,’ he whispers, ‘you set aff the rockets and Jocky’ll torch the shed. Bet Goodwillie keeps his mountain bike in there. Cunt’s never seen a mountain in his fucking life. Telt!’

He scurries off, indicating that I should start the proceedings. I can’t believe I’m about to do this.

I start lighting the long fuses of the rockets. As I quickly move the flame from fuse to fuse I hear the roar of the jetpack. I spin around and Jocky’s already 20 feet up and rising. A lit Zippo with its inextinguishable flame drops and lands on the shed roof. At the exact moment the shed is engulfed in flames the first rocket goes off.

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHH – BOOOOOM!!!

Jocky’s off and out of sight. All of a sudden I realise I’m on my own in David Goodwillie’s back garden with

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHH – BOOOOOM!!!!

the shed fully ablaze, a massive

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHH – BOOOOOOM!!!

Dundee flag hanging from

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHH – BOOOOOOM!!!

the washing line, and

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHH – BOOOOOOM!!!

a fucking fireworks display going off. As every dog for miles around starts

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHH – BOOOOOOOOM!!!

barking and the neighbourhood starts peering out to see what the hell is going on I come to my senses and run like the wind. Blind fear and panic makes me run like I’ve never run before. I’m like Usain Bolt choc-full of steroids riding greased lightening as I rip along the road. I charge full-pelt all the way to Jocky’s house. There’s a taxi waiting with the back door open. With no signs of life from the house, I just jump in. The driver doesn’t say a word, he just drives off. As we pull away from the house I look back. My eyes nearly pop out their sockets.

Jocky the moustachioed cat’s in the garden, standing on its hind legs doing what appears to be Tai Chi. No way. I only catch a brief glimpse of it,before it disappears out of sight. I must’ve inhaled some of that lighter fluid.

We drive on. As I desperately try to catch my breath in the back seat of the cab a fire engine tears past in the opposite direction.

In around 12 hours time I’ll be playing in the quarter finals of the Scottish Cup. This is no way to prepare. I’ve got a bad feeling about this one……..

————————————–

We were out the Cup. Raith beat us 2-1. We played poorly, and the bold Fifers deserved their victory. The sound of their huge away support celebrating wasn’t helping the general mood in the dressing room.

Jocky came charging in bollock naked.

‘WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED THERE YA DAFT CUNTS?! WHAT THE FUCKING FUCKITY FUCK HAPPENED, EH?’

He’s raging. Saliva forms at the corner of his mouth, and his balls swing like a pendulum as he shakes with anger.

‘Raith fucking Rovers……….RAITH FUCKING ROVERS!! Jocky hud the Premier Inn on Sauchiehall Street booked for the Cup Final ya bams! One room for me and Soapy, another room for the rest of the squad! It would’ve been fucking teckle haein’ a day oot in Glegae ya fucking muppets! Aw they mad Weegie punters running aboot wi’ bottles o’ Buckie saying “Aye but, aye but, aye but…” But what ya mad west coast bastards? But fucking what?! By Christ, eh dinnae think they even ken themselves!! Glesgae’s a fuckin’ teckle toon!’

He plants himself down on Craig Forsyth’s knee, facing away from him. He turns to speak to him.

‘Bit o’ reverse cowgirl action here, eh pal? Fuckin’ teckle!’ Craig looks massively uncomfortable. ‘Jocky used tae manage yer old man, by the way. Tell him Jocky wiz askin’ for him. The man’s a pleasure to watch on that Strictly Come Dancing. On the Sky + at meh hoose, fuckin’ right it is.’

Craig doesn’t have the nerve to counter this crazy statement. Jocky looks far off into the middle distance.

‘…nice tae see yi, tae see yi, NICE!…fuckin’ teckle televisual entertainment…get them telt, Brucie…that Tess Daley’s a wee ride, is she no’?…’

He gets up and heads into the showers.

‘Soapy, you ken the score. Bring that Mint Original Source shower gel gear wi yi, Jocky could dae wi a tingly feelin’ on the old ball-sack tae soothe the pain o’ defeat.’

We sit dejected, gutted to be out the Cup. As we start getting changed, Gary McKenzie pipes up.

‘Here Craig…I didn’t realise Bruce Forsyth was your old man!’

Good grief. Time to go home.

————————————

Darkness has fallen when I reach my tepee in Caird Park. I went out for a meal and a couple of drinks with a few of the boys, but we weren’t really up for socialising. I’m in a sombre mood as I enter and ditch my gear. As I lay on my bed I feel something hard underneath the pillow. I sit up and lift it. Good Lord…….

It’s The Art of War by Sun Tzu. I stare at it, horrified. He knows. He knows I saw the hidden room. Fuck.

It took me ages to fall asleep. Images of the lever in his office, the hidden lab behind the bookscase, and his weird cat that may or may not be some kind of super-ninja go round and round my head. I can’t begin to comprehend what it all means. But while the possibilities are beyond me, I’m certain of one thing – I want to find out. I want to know what the Master Plan is. I want to be onboard with whatever madness may lie ahead.

We better get our fingers out and win the league.

Chapter 5: ‘Does Jocky dream of electric sheep?’

I’m walking along the Clepington Road towards Dens in my training gear. It’s quiet. Terribly, terribly quiet. Not a soul on the street. No people, no passing traffic, nothing. A couple of cars lie abandoned in the middle of the road, doors open, engines still ticking over. Strange scenes.

Storm clouds darker than deep space fill the sky. The rumble of distant thunder pierces the silence. It builds and grows like a tidal wave, a tumultuous sound that shakes me from the ground up like a vibration from a source deep within the Earth’s crust. The tenements around me rattle in their very foundations. I walk faster, aware of an indefinable yet very real fear creeping up on me.

I head down Arklay Street and realise there’s a huge pall of black smoke rising from United’s ground. I’m frozen to the spot, my brain having difficulty processing the scene my eyes are relaying to it. Tananadice is burning.

As I stare open-mouthed and disbelieving at the carnage, a man appears from the wreckage and stumbles towards me. He’s well built, athletic, wearing nothing but boxing gloves and Stars and Stripes shorts. It looks like………it can’t possibly be……..

‘Yo Adrienne! I did it!’, he cries desperately at the dark skies above. Sweet mother of fuck. It’s Sylvester Stallone. Or, to be more precise, Rocky Balboa. He ambles past me. I try to engage him.

‘Here, um, Rocky……are you ok, mate? What the hell is going on here?’. He hears me, stumbles towards me and rests his gloved hands on my shoulders.

‘Yo Leigh………..Leigh………..YO ADRIENNE!’

The man is beyond distressed. He looks me deep in the eye and carefully whispers, ‘Rocky rhymes with Jocky…………Rocky……….rhymes with……..’ He trails off, shaking his head like a man defeated by some horrible truth.

He ambles on, shadow boxing a little as he goes. I watch him disappear round the corner. When I turn round again I see a man sitting cross-legged on the pavement. It’s Bob Brannan.

‘Bob! Did you see Rocky? What the fuck happened to Tannadice? Bob…’

While I’m sure it’s Bob Brannan, when he looks up at me he has no face……………no eyes, nose or mouth, no distinguishable facial features at all………….just skin pulled tight across his skull.

He shows me a bottle of Tippex. He unscrews the cap and takes the brush out. Slowly, methodically, he writes on the pavement….

THE AGE OF JOCKY

He drops the bottle. White corrective fluid spills on to the street. It gushes out and pours down the road like a babbling brook. It develops into a flash flood, then a powerful river…

I’m caught in it. I flounder in the white rapids of Tippex, flowing downstream helplessley with it. Using my kit bag to keep afloat I look around for help. Tony Bullock comes into sight.

‘TONY! HELP!!!’

He smiles and shouts ‘Pick a card, Leigh. Any card…..’, while fanning a deck of red and yellow cards in my direction.

But I’m already past him. I see Rab Douglas. He’s sitting in a shopping trolley filled with oranges and lemons, reading a big book titled ‘DUNDEE F.C. GENERAL LEDGER – SHADY DEALS AHOY’

‘RAB!!! HELP!!!’

He laughs and watches me go by, waving a brown envelope stuffed with money as I pass. I’m struggling to keep my head above Tippex.

Looking downstream, I gasp at what lays before me. Dear God. No….

A massive statue of Jocky Scott. It looms large over the scenes of devastation around him. A wave of Tippex throws me out the current to the base of the statue. It’s huge, intimidating, and terrifying. It stands tall in a typical topless, jetpack-wearing pose. A rumble comes from within it. Flames burst out it’s eye sockets. The statue suddenly comes to life. With a long, slow crack the legs part and step out. The head tilts down. It sees me and laughs.

‘Hiya Leigh! Hiya pal! Wha’s in cherge here? WHA’S IN FUCKING CHERGE HERE, LEIGH?’ He bursts forward, 50 feet tall, a monstrous stone version of the man himself. I close my eyes and scream……..

A voice in the darkness……

‘Leigh………..Leigh ya wee fanny……….Leigh……..’

I open my eyes. Jocky’s in my face, bellowing through his megaphone.

‘WERE YOU FUCKING SLEEPING THROUGH JOCKY’S TEAM TALK, GRIFFITHS?!! WHAT THE FUCK’S GOING ON HERE PAL? NAE CUNT FALLS ASLEEP ON JOCKY’S TEAM TALK! NAE CUNT!’

Reality kicks in hard. I’m in the dressing room at Dens with the lads stripped and ready to go for a game.

‘Aw, poor Leigh, needing a wee catnap eh? Poor wee lamb…FUCKING WAKE UP YA CUNT! 10 MINUTES UNTIL KICK OFF AND YOU’RE FUCKING SLEEPING!’

SLAP! He cracks me across the face.

‘Sorry Boss! Sorry! I don’t know what happened there. I’m ok.’

He sits on my knee and gives me a cuddle.

‘Nae bather pal. Jocky likes a wee sleep sometimes tae. Were you haein’ a nice wee dream there? Bet it was teckle! Does Jocky dream of electric sheep? Fucking right he does. Electric sheep and tits. Sometimes cocks tae! That’s what em talkin’ aboot!’

He jumps off me and starts hollering about who he’s got on his coupon today, ‘Charlton tae win at home the day lads, fuckin’ sure of it. Jocky’s bet a’ yir wages on it. No meh wages, that’s too risky, but you cunts better pray for a Charlton win if yi want tae get paid this week. Teckle!’

Dundee vs Inverness Caledonian Thistle. Let’s get it on.

—————————————————–

We struggled for 70 minutes. We were 2-0 down and facing up to defeat. All of a sudden a roar came from the touchline, ‘CHARLTON ARE FUCKING WINNING! JOCKY’S COUPON’S UP! GET INTAE THESE HIGHLAND COW-SHAGGING, COCK-PUFFING CUNTS! THUNDERCATS! HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!’

It was as if an electrical current passed through the whole team. All of a sudden we started playing football. Passes started flowing, as did the renewed passion for the match and the belief we could haul it back. Brian Kerr started playing like a man possessed. He picked the ball up and hoofed in a peach from distance. 2-1 Caley. We didn’t relent. Gary Harkins, so often a source of hairy inspiration, picked the ball up on the right and drove in towards goal. He took a pop, and his shot took a wicked deflection which sent the ball past the helpless ICT goalie. 2-2. The fans and players went wild. Jocky was the most sedate man in the ground. Coupon apparently in the bag, he had switched his attention to a crossword puzzle, and was debating with himself as to whether 9 across was ‘Aristotle’ or ‘Microwave’.

If we had 5 minutes more to play we would have won 3-2. Alas, we’d left it too late for such events. The full time whistle blew.

We were quite elated. It’s a game we wanted to win, and though that wasn’t to be the late comeback had certainly given us an adrenaline buzz similar to that of a victory. Jocky came in. He was still pouring over the crossword. Stroking his chin with purpose, he paced around in a circle. Brian Kerr ventured a question. ‘Good comeback, eh Boss?’

No response. Jocky continued pacing and concentrating fiendishly. We took this as a bad sign. Perhaps he wasn’t happy with the fact we left it so late to get in the game. I decided to be brave and break the silence.

‘Sorry about leaving it so late to get it together, Boss. We should’ve beaten that team.’

With a slow, measured tone he replied, ‘Aye, Jocky likes his stovies all right. Stovies are fuckin’ teckle. Nae doubt aboot that, likes.’

Many an eyebrow is raised, not a word is said. We start changing and filing into the shower. Derek Soutar looks mighty relieved as Jocky sits on a bench and continues to focus intently on his crossword. As we wash up and share a few jokes there’s a cry from the dressing room.

‘YAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSSS! THAT’S WHAT EM TALKIN’ ABOOT! FUCKIN’ DANCER!’

He comes bounding through.

‘HERE LADS, JOCKY FINISHED HIS CROSSWORD!’

For some reason we all started clapping. It seemed like the right thing to do. A few folk say things like ‘nice one!’, and ‘good on ya!’

‘It was that last clue there. Burstin’ mi haid for ages, then it came to me: ‘professional horse rider’ – Jockey! Ya cunt, it wiz starin’ iz in the pus the whole time! 15 minutes it took to get that!’ He starts wandering round the shower, fully clothed (well, still topless), shaking hands with each and every one of us. By the time he’s done a lap he’s soaking. Standing in the middle of the shower room he rips his trackie bottoms off, raises his arms aloft and yells, ‘SOAPY SOUTAR! IT’S TIME, CUNTO! GET IN HERE YA BIG BOLLOCK-SCRUBBING BASTARD!’

The rest of us start to slip out to leave them to it. The sound of Jocky belting out Time for Livin’ by the ubiquitous Beastie Boys, punctuated with sporadic requests to scrub harder, provides the soundtrack to us getting changed and heading home for the night. As I leave I spot the paper Jocky’s crossword was in. Curiosity leads me to picking it up. Far from being finished, the crossword is a sham. It’s filled with words such as ‘JOBBIE’, ‘TECKLE’, ‘HIYA’ and random combinations of letters. Credit where it’s due, he did actually get ‘Jockey’ right. Well, kind of. I guess ‘JOCKY!’ was close enough.

———————————————————

Monday morning at training. Bob Malcolm has joined us for his first full session. Bob’s got a bit of a chequered past, but you have to let bygones be bygones. He’s a Dee now, and that’s all that counts. He’s a good lad, and fits in well with the players. There’s a good bit of banter going on as we troop out on to the pitch to get the session started. There’s a note in the middle of the pitch instructing us to sit in the Shankley, the stand behind the goal that houses away supporters. We group together in the front rows and await Jocky’s arrival. And what an arrival he makes.

The roar of the jetpack has been replaced by a dull, standard engine noise. What can only be described as a replica of the Popemobile rolls out on to the track over to our right. Jocky’s in the perspex box in the back. He’s dressed as the Pope.

The Popemobile trundles slowly away from us down the length of the Main Stand. Jocky’s waving serenely and doing Hail Marys at the empty stand as he passes. He turns the corner, passes the Bobby Cox end, and heads down the side of the Derry. Bob Malcolm’s face is etched with utter disbelief. It’s a familiar look around these parts. At this point the engine of the Popemobile makes an unhealthy choking sound and dies. Jocky’s lap comes to an end. It takes a moment for him to notice as he’s busy blowing kisses and waving a crucifix at the empty Derry. When he does notice he takes out his mobile and makes a phone call. Jocky then picks up a mic. His voice is amplified through some kind of hidden sound system.

‘JOCKY’S HAEIN’ A FEW TECHNICAL PROBLEMS HERE, LADS. CHAT AMONG YOURSELVES FOR A WHILE.’

We try to make idle chitchat, but there’s no averting your eyes from this. Jocky continues treating the South Enclosure as if it was full of the faithful, be it Catholics, Derry Boys or otherwise. He’s crossing himself, bowing, and taking imaginary applause. After a while he starts body-popping, and you just know he’s singing a Beastie Boys tune to himself in there.

A good 45 minutes pass before the sound of another vehicle entering the ground reaches us. It’s the AA. The guy gets out his van and looks up at us.

‘Alright lads. Bit of a weird one, but I got a call from someone calling himself ‘Pope Jocky’?’ We point over towards the Derry. Jocky’s waving over at him. The guy puts on a brave face, gets in his van, and drives around the track to meet his customer. Jocky conducts business through the Popemobile mic.

‘Hiya chief. Hiya! What’s this a’ aboot? Jocky’s tryin’ tae get aff the drink, he disnae need a breakdoon recovery service.’ He howls with laughter at his own rapier wit. ‘Did yi catch that, chief?! You’re fae the AA! Ken? Eh? The AA! By Christ, that wiz funny as fuck. Jocky used to be in the RAC, but realised there wiz mair potential comedy value joining you boys. Worth every penny o’ the joining fee so it wiz! Fuckin’ yas! Right, ‘mon sort oot Jocky’s Popemobile, mongchops.’

The AA guy stares in wonder for a moment, then gets to work. He opens up the bonnet and starts checking out the engine.

‘Jocky disnae ken much aboot cars, like. Been flyin’ a jetpack for a good few years now. Drove a dodgem before that. Total fanny magnet, but no’ much use for gettin’ aboot unless there was some form o’ live electrical grid directly above yi.’

We can’t hear him, but judging by Jocky’s reaction the AA guy must have delivered some bad news as he gestures towards the engine.

‘Aw for fuck sake! What’s the score, chief? Eh? Jocky’s in the middle of a Papal tour here.’

The guy gets the winch out and hooks the Popemobile up to it. He winds it up on to the back of his recovery vehicle. The “Papal tour” continues. Jocky starts waving and blessing non-existant admirers again. As the recovery truck comes round past the Shankley Jocky tells the guy to stop in front of us. He turns to address the squad.

‘BOA-BY FU-CKIN’ MALLLLLLLLLCOLM’ booms Jocky in a serious tone. ‘HUV YOU GOT A FUCKIN’ PROBLEM WI ME, CUNTO? NO’ JOCKY, LIKE. THE POPE.’

Bob shakes his head slowly. He’s lost the power of speech.

‘HOW WOULD BOA-BY FU-CKIN’ MALLLLLLLLCOLM FEEL IF THE POPE WROTE ‘FBM’ FOR SOME CUNT WHA JUST WANTED YER STANDARD AUTOGRAPH?’

Bob half-shakes his head, half-shrugs. He manages to mumble, ‘That was a bad mistake, I regret it……’

‘JOCKY WINNAE STAND FOR ANY O’ THIS FTP NONSENSE, SON. WHA’S IN CHERGE HERE?’

Jocky gets out the Popemobile and clambers over the advertising board into the stand. ‘Hiya Boaby. Hiya pal! Dae yi ken Brannan? He’s called Boaby tae! Didnae realise yiz were related.’

He sits next to Bob. Bob’s clearly still trying to adjust to the fact his new manger just came barrelling into training dressed as the Pope, in the Popemobile.

‘Ken what, Boaby? Jocky’s no’ a religious man. Jocky’s in cherge here, no’ God. But ken what, Boaby? Eh dinnae mind cunts that dae believe in aw that shite. Tolerance, ya big cunt! Em a big believer in freedom o’ religion, likes. Eddie Malone’s a Pagan for fuck sake, but Jocky’s no’ bathered.’ He turns to Eddie. ‘Isn’t that right Malone, ya Pagan cunt?’. A highly confused Eddie Malone just accepts it and nods in agreement.

He wraps an arm around Bob’s shoulder. ‘The Pope’s no’ a bad lad, Boaby. Jocky plays darts wi him every Tuesday at the Fairmuir clubbie. Sound cunt. Throws a good fuckin’ arrow tae, let me tell you. Saw him last week and said ‘Ow, the Pope, Jocky’s awa’ tae sign that Boaby Malcolm, you cool wi that?’ And ken what the Pope said tae me, Boaby Malcolm? Do yi? The Pope says ‘Couldn’t really give a fuck, Jocky. It’s your round, cunto.’ Boy wiz right enough, it wiz meh round, like. Teckle!’

With that Jocky got up and returned to the Popemobile. As the recovery vehicle drove off he blessed us several times. He disappeared out the way he came.

The players waited a few minutes and digested what had just happened. We decided to have a kickabout. As we got a game together that familiar sound of a jetpack filled the stadium, and Jocky, still masquerading as the leader of the Catholic Church, roared overhead off into the distance.

Bob Malcolm followed him with a slightly dazed gaze until he was a speck on the horizon. I grinned.

‘Welcome to Dens, Bob. It’s pure teckle here………..’

Chapter 4: ‘Get Azerbaijan telt, Leigh!’

This week I was capped at under-21 level for the Scottish national team. I’ve had the pleasure of playing for the under-19 team in the past, and I’ve also featured in the B Squad. At any level, it’s a great honour to be capped by your country.

I made my debut for the under-21 team back in November ’09. I was thrilled to retain my place in the squad for the following match – a European Championship Qualifier against Azerbaijan at Falkirk’s stadium. I received word that I’d been called up a few weeks ago. It started when I was summoned to our glorious leader Jocky Scott’s office, where an important phone call had apparently arrived. I knocked on the door.

‘Wha’s that?’ came the megaphone-amplified voice.

‘It’s me Boss, Leigh.’

‘Wha?’ came the puzzled response.

‘Leigh Griffiths, boss! I was told there’s a phone call for me?’

‘…………..Eh? Better no be Jehovah’s. Jocky disnae need salvation’

Exasperated, I take a deep breath and shout, ‘It’s Leigh Griffiths, Boss. I play up front for you! I was told there’s a phone call for me!’

I hear him getting up and coming to the door. There’s the sound of bolts being unlocked. Lots and lots of bolts. I count 17 of them being pulled back before the door creaks open. Jocky’s topless, shoeless, wearing his trackie bottoms and the swimming goggles he usually wears in the post-match shower.

‘Hiya Leigh. Hiya pal! Takes a while to get the door unlocked, but there’s been a few problems with some cunt pinching Jocky’s Tippex.’ His face suddenly drops into a dark glare. His eyes glaze over as he stares into the middle distance and whispers to himself, ‘Bet it was that Boaby Brannan………fucking big-cocked bastard that he is……….he’s gettin’ telt so he is…………..hiya Boaby! Hiya pal!…………….’ Coming from what looks like miles away, he snaps back into reality. ‘Leigh! Hiya pal! What can I do for you, diseased vagina-pus?’ As always I’m caught off guard by the man, but I repeat that I heard there was a phone call for me. ‘Aye, right enough, there was. Come on in.’

The door opens and I step in. Jocky’s office is sparsely furnished with a desk and a couple of leather recliner chairs. The walls are adorned with a few photos, which are mainly of Jocky standing around with his top off. There’s a coat stand with his jetpack hanging from it. The only items on his desk are a telephone and an Etch ‘a’ Sketch depicting what appears to be a perfect copy of Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’. He sees me staring at it and quickly shakes it away.

‘Someone phoned for you earlier, telt them I’d get you to phone back.’ He hands over the receiver and starts to punch in the number for me. I put it to my ear.

Ring-ring…… ring-ring…… ring-ring…….

‘Thank you for calling the Cock Lover Hotline, calls cost £1.50 per….’

Jocky howls with laughter. ‘YAAAAASSSSSSSS! FU-KING YAAAASSSSSSSSS! Wha’s in cherge here, Leigh?! Eh?? Jocky got yi a belter! Ya cunt, that was fucking teckle!!’

This goes on for a couple of minutes. I laugh along, because it was a good joke, and his reaction of pure, unadulterated joy is infectious. I’ve never seen anyone so amused in all my life. Finally, he calms down. Wiping tears from his eyes and cheeks.

‘Sorry pal, sorry.’ He begins punching in the number.

Ring-ring…… ring-ring…… ring-ring…….

‘Thank you for calling the Cock Lover Hotline, calls cost £1.50 per….’

Another explosion of mirth. ‘OH YA CUNT! YAAAAASSSSSS! Twice, Leigh! Twice! That’s what em talkin’ aboot!’ Once again he’s in fits of laughter. He gets up, opens the window overlooking the pitch and yells ‘Here a’body – Leigh’s phoning thon gay chatlines!’ He stumbles back to his seat. It takes a full minute for him to compose himself before he’s typing the number in again. I can see where this is going.

Fifteen minutes later I’ve been thanked for phoning the Cock Lover Hotline nine times. Jocky finds it as amusing the ninth time as he did the first. As he’s composing himself to type it in for the tenth time it starts ringing. He straightens up and excuses himself. ‘Twa minutes pal, some cunt’s on the phone here.’ He answers it. ‘Wha’s that? That you, Brannan? Whaur’s Jocky’s Tippex ya cunt?!’ He falls silent for a moment then passes it to me. ‘Billy Stark, Leigh. Phoned earlier, like.’ He hands me the receiver. It’s Billy Stark asking me to join the under-21 squad for the game against Azerbaijan. As I chat to Billy, Jocky pulls a bucket out from under his desk and puts it in the corner of the room. He turns to face it, drops his trackie bottoms to his ankles and takes a piss. I can’t help but notice he’s got a tattoo on his arse – a ‘J’ on the left cheek, and ‘CKY’ on the other. As I contemplate why there’s an O missing he finishes his piss, bends down to pull his trackie bottoms up, and shows how cunning use of the human anatomy can save on tattoo ink. Good grief.

Jocky congratulates me on my call up. ‘Proud o’ yi kiddo. Never made the Scotland squad myself, like. Played for Senegal in a friendly against AC/DC’s road crew once, right enough, but that’s no as good as a Scotland cap. Teckle!’

As I head out the door I notice a lever on the wall. Thinking it was unusual I asked what it was. Jocky straightened up and gave me a look that penetrated the very depths of my soul.

‘When the time comes to initiate Jocky’s Master Plan, Leigh, the first thing I’ll do is pull that lever. When that lever is pulled, prepare for the Age of Jocky.’

The Age of Jocky. I take a moment to let that sink in.

‘What if someone else pulls it for you? Like a cleaner, or Bob Brannan?’

‘Son, the only lever of mine that Boaby Brannan will be pulling is the bad boy in meh trackie bottoms. Besides, if anyone managed to break through the 17 locks big Rab poackled fae B&Q for me, the lever has a sophisticated scrotal recognition security feature. Only a scan of meh ba’s will release the mechanism that allows it tae be pulled.’

He holds my eye with the penetrating stare, a look of cold, unforgiving steel.

‘Ken what Leigh, you’re a good lad. Jocky likes you. If we win the league this year I’ll let you in on Jocky’s Master Plan. I’ll show you what happens when the lever is pulled.’

I’ve never known him, or any man, to be so serious. I nod and go to leave.

‘Oh, and Leigh, see if we dinnae win the league……… you’re getting fucking battered, ya fucking muppet. Harkins tae! Telt!’

—————————————–

March 2nd in the Falkirk Stadium home dressing room, Scotland vs Ajzerbaijan. We’re stripped and receiving instruction from Billy Stark. I’m on the bench, but Stark has told me he intends on getting me involved at some point. As we file out into the tunnel, Dundee United striker David Goodwillie pulls me to one side.

‘Here mate, what the fuck was all that about the other week? One minute we’re doing sprints and passing exercises, the next Eddie Malone comes flying in wearing his pants and waving a big fucking knife! We all shat ourselves! Worse yet, when we get out on the street your boss comes at me screaming something about Panthro from the Thundercats! He’s off his rocker!’

‘Aye, erm, sorry about that mate. Hope you’re ok, that was some clothesline you got hit with. All the best, man. Have a good game.’

We shake hands and head out on to the pitch. As I take my place in the dugout I look around the ground. There’s about 2,500 here, not bad for this kind of fixture. A flag behind the goal catches my eye, a big saltire with the words ‘WHA’S IN CHERGE HERE?’ printed on it. Good God. A topless man with a megaphone is shouting, ‘LEIGH! HIYA PAL! HIYA!’ and waving frantically. The boss has come to see me.

As the game gets underway I wonder what madness Jocky’s presence will bring. It doesn’t take long to find out.

‘GET THE FUCKING SUBBIES ON STARK! THIS IS SHITE!’

Billy looks towards the megaphone man and strains his eyes, probably thinking, ‘Is that Jocky Scott? Cannae be!’ Things don’t improve when Goodwillie gets his first touch.

‘BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! YA DIRTY ARAB BASTARD! YA DIRTY ARAB BASTARD!’

A steward approaches Jocky and they appear to have an animated conversation. Thankfully, it ends with Jocky sitting down and being quiet. That lasts about two minutes.

‘GET THAT BIG SPUNK STAIN GOODWILLIE AFF, STARK! YOU’RE A FUCKING DISGRACE! WILLIE MILLER BURST YOUR RING YA CUNT! JIM LEIGHTON FUCKED YOU UP THE ARSE WI THAT BIG NOSE O’ HIS! JUST AS WELL THE CUNT’S FOREHEAD’S COVERED IN FUCKING VASELINE!’

This time the steward’s accompanied by a couple of police officers. They argue for a few moments until Jocky’s flanked by the two officers and ejected from the stadium. Unbelievable. We’re only 10 minutes in and he’s been turfed out.

I settle into watching the game. As halftime approaches a ball boy passes me a note. I discreetly open it.

‘Hiya pal. Hiya! Coppers kicked Jocky oot, likes. Teckle! Mind and stick to the plan. When half time comes, go to the bath in the dressing room. The French Resistance have dug a tunnel up underneath it. When they break through, follow Pele and Sylvester Stallone into the tunnel and get the fuck oot o’ there. Escape tae Victory, cunto! PS – Tell Stallone Rocky rhymes wi Jocky! Yo Adrienne! That’s what em talkin’ aboot! X’

Madness. Half time comes and goes. The second half starts, and I’m told to get warmed up. I do some stretches and sprints down behind the goal. Watching the action at the other end of the pitch I think I hear a faint roar in the distance. Surely not….

The silhouette of a man flying a jetpack passes across the full moon.

Five minutes later and I get my chance to represent my country. A surge of adrenaline washes over me as I run on to replace Goodwillie. I’m barely on the pitch when play suddenly flows forward. We attack, and a vicious cross swings across from the left. It’s perfectly judged, and within seconds of coming on I’m heading the ball into the back of the net. What a feeling! My team mates swarm to me to offer congratulations.

As we jog back to restart the game I hear the cry, ‘GET AZERBAIJAN TELT, LEIGH!’ I look up to the roof of the stand. Jocky’s standing there with a fist raised in the air. I mirror the gesture right back at him. He nods in approval.

Jocky spends the rest of the game hovering around the ground at a height just out of reach of the stewards and police. It’s fairly comical to watch them try to catch him in a net on the end of a big stick as if he was a rare moustachioed butterfly.

The game ends at 2-2. I’m thrilled to have scored a goal. As I leave the pitch I look up, but Jocky’s gone. It was nice of him to come and show his support. I’m starting to feel a real bond with the boss. There might just be a method to his madness.

After the game a handful of players from the east coast are driven home in a mini bus. By the time we’re half way home the lads are dozing off. The silence is rudely interrupted by David Goodwillie shouting, ‘HOLY FUCK! IT CAN’T BE!’ and recoiling from the window in horror.

Jocky’s flying alongside the minibus at 70mph. Topless and wielding his trusty megaphone, he gestures for someone to open a window so we can hear him. He flies close.

‘Goodwillie ya fucking mind-cripple, see when we’re in the SPL next year, you’re fucking claimed! I’ll have you stuffed and mounted on a plinth in meh gairden ya cunt! You’ll look braw next to Jocky’s monkey puzzle tree! Wha’s in cherge here?’

David bursts into tears and starts rocking back and forth in his seat with his knees tucked up under his chin. Jocky turns to me, ‘You did well tonight, pal. Jocky’s affy proud. See ya at training tomorrow.’ He starts to veer away from the bus, but just as we’re about to close the window he flies back and announces, ‘By the way, Leigh, the phone bill’s in. You’re due me £25 for the gay chatlines you were phoning the other week. Dae yi mind that, Leigh? Mind yi were phoning a’ they gay chatlines? That’s what em talkin’ aboot!’

He accelerates and disappears. With a van full of boys who now think I’m gay and an inconsolable David Goodwillie rightfully fearing for his safety I start counting down the miles and eagerly await the sight of the Menzieshill multis rising from the horizon.

Chapter 3: ‘You’ve no scored for a while. Nae bather’

I’ve been giving myself a hard time about my lack of goals recently. I set myself high standards and when a few games go by without hitting the back of the net it dents my confidence a bit. Self-doubt starts to set in and that’s never a good thing for a footballer.

Our glorious leader, the ‘man in cherge’ himself, the bold Jocky Scott, must have picked up on my dip in form and mood because he let me play a key role in Monday’s training session. It’s a familiar routine and a much-loved ritual we all enjoy immensely. As the players play British Bulldogs in front of the Main Stand a giant cannon is wheeled out into the centre circle. The perma-topless Jocky gets his megaphone out and announces it’s time for the weekly attack on Tannadice. We gather round the cannon and watch in awe as Eddie Malone is stripped to his pants, greased up, and issued with a crash helmet bearing the legend, ‘ONE TEAM IN DUNDEE.’ He is then loaded into the cannon and given a large hunting knife, which he clasps between his teeth. Jocky proclaims, ‘Lads, it’s that time of the week when we get United telt by firing Eddie into Tannadice. Those tangerine-wearing fuckers are over there thinking they rule the roost in this toon. DO THEY FUCK, LADS! DO THEY FUCKING FUCK! THERE’S ONLY ONE TEAM IN DUNDEE AND THIS IS HOW WE REMIND THEM IT’S ONLY A MATTER OF TIME BEFORE WE’RE PUMPING THEIR ARSE FOUR TIMES A SEASON AGAIN! YAAAASSSSSSSSSSSS!’ We all cheer. As far as motivational techniques go it’s highly unconventional, but firing a semi-naked, knife-wielding Eddie Malone from a cannon into the midst of United’s training session at Tannadice is one heck of a team building exercise.

Eddie is primed and ready to go. Jocky looks at me and announces, ‘Lads, has everyone met Leigh Griffiths? He’s been playing up front for us this season, a’ cunt should ken him by now. Leigh – I want you to light the fuse that fires Eddie this week. Get up here, cunt face.’ What an honour. What a lovely gesture by the boss. As I approach the cannon Jocky puts an arm round me, ‘Nae bather, Leigh. You ken the score. I want to have a wee heart-to-heart with you later on. We’ll hae a good blether, like. It’ll be pure teckle like, nae doubt about it.’ He gives me a playful slap in the face and hands me a lighter, ‘You all set Eddie?’

‘Fuck aye man,’ bellowed Eddie. ‘Let me at the cunts. Yas!’ I light the fuse and stand back. As it burns down Jocky bellows, ‘WHA’S IN FUCKING CHERGE HERE, UNITED? WOOT-WOOT! THAT’S WHAT EM TALKIN’ ABOOT!’

BOOM! Eddie shoots out and arcs over Sandeman Street. He drops down over the Fair Play Stand, ‘Good shot, Leigh,” screamed Jocky. ‘Good fucking shot ya teepee-dwelling bastard!’ Jocky’s clearly delighted with this crazy behaviour. He rips his tracksuit bottoms off, revealing his Soapy Soutar-washed cock and balls and screams, ‘FOLLOW ME, A’ BODY! TO EDDIE! THUNDERCATS – HOOOOOO!’ With that war cry he charges off out the side of the Shankly end towards Tannadice. The players let out a roar and follow.

There’s chaos outside Tannadice; the United players have been chased off the pitch, out the stadium, and are running for their lives. Eddie’s running them up the road waving his big knife. The stark bollock naked Jocky Scott meets them head-on. He delivers a savage flying clothesline on David Goodwillie, nearly decapitating him. He stands over him singing, ‘So Watcha’ Want?’ by the Beastie Boys through his megaphone. The Arabs scatter and flee in every direction. Victory! Eddie is carried shoulder high back into Dens. Jocky loads him back into the cannon and fires him at the Hilltown multis in order to tackle social depravation. Never let it be said that Dundee FC don’t do their bit for the local community.

I get changed after training and head to Jocky’s office. There’s a note pinned to the door:

‘Hiya Leigh. Hiya pal! There’s a taxi waiting for you outside. Jump in it, ya wee fanny.

Love, Jocky x

PS – Wha’s in cherge here?’

I walk out the ground and sure enough there’s a cab waiting – I hop in. The driver looks round and tells me Jocky is waiting for me, and that I should sit back and enjoy the ride.

The taxi drives north out the city. I sit back and wonder where the boss is, exactly. I venture a question to the driver, ‘Here mate, where are we going?’ He responds by giving me the finger and driving on, saying nothing. We drive for more than an hour through the scenic Sidlaw hills and beyond. The taxi stops at the bottom of a hill. The driver tells me to get out. I do so and find a cow with the words, ‘Hiya Leigh. Hiya pal! Walk to the top of the hill ya ugly fuck,’ painted on its side. I hike up the hill. I reach the summit and, lo and behold, there’s Jocky. He’s sitting cross-legged over a ouija board. He motions me to sit down.

‘Put your finger on the glass pal. This is pure mental.’ I put my finger on the shot glass that Jocky’s using to direct the communication from the spirit world. He speaks in hushed tones. ‘Ow, spirit world: is there any cunt there?’ The glass moves unprompted to ‘yes’ on the ouija board. Freaky stuff. Jocky continues, ‘Ow, spirit world: wha’s in cherge here?’ The glass moves slowly to J. Then O. Then C, and so forth. ‘That’s what em talkin’ aboot ya cunt!’ Jocky picks up the glass and throws it off the top of the hill into the heather below.

‘Hiya Leigh. Hiya! You’ve no scored for a while. Nae bather. Fuck it…’

He gets up, straps on his jetpack, and fires it up. ‘See ya later, Leigh! I have every confidence in you, ya mad vagina.’

With that he takes off and scorches across the sky back towards Dundee. I’m left at the top of the hill wondering what the fuck just happened, and how I’m going to get home. Every day is an adventure when you play for Dundee. Help me, Jesus…

Please help me.