Tuesday, 15 March 2011
I woke up in my Caird Park tepee for the last time. As I walked out into the brisk January morning I wondered how I’d get on in a luxury flat in Wolverhampton. It was a definite step up, accommodation-wise, yet somehow I’d really miss my Native American-style abode.
My last day in Dundee was set to be an emotional one. I had already said goodbye to the fans. They’d given me a wonderful, moving send off after a home win against Falkirk. I had a lump in my throat as I did a post-match lap of honour.
My final day in Dundee would start at Dens, where I would bid farewell to the players and staff. The evening would be spent at a fundraising night at the Fairmuir, where I would be seen off by the many friends I’d made there. It would be a day of heartfelt goodbyes. Parting really is such sweet sorrow.
Poor Rab. The big man pretty much crumbled the minute I laid eyes on him. After a final meeting with manager Barry Smith, a man who has done so much to revive the playing squad in the dark post-admin days, he took me to the dressing room to see the players. He made a wee speech, thanking me for my efforts as a Dundee player and wishing me every success for the future. He passed me a gift the players and staff had chipped in for. When I saw the security tag was still attached I chuckled, looked around the room and found Rab biting his lip and looking to the ceiling with wet eyes. As I went to thank him he burst into tears and scooped me up into his massive frame, hugging me to within and inch of my life and telling me if I ever needed anything – ANYTHING – he was more than happy to steal it for me. What a guy. I love Rab Douglas.
I went around the room for handshakes and hugs. I’d miss the boys at Dundee immensely. Gary Harkins: the hairiest genius turned dependable captain I’d had the pleasure of playing with; Craig Forsyth: a second generation Dee player who would go on to great things himself one day; Sean Higgins: my strike partner and owner of the finest collection of Nazi memorabilia this side of Archie Macpherson’s house. Good boys one and all. I told them it had been an honour and a privilege to play with them, and that I looked forward to one day returning to Dens to watch them playing an SPL fixture.
I walked out onto Sandeman Street with a tear in my eye. Taking a deep breath I steeled myself for more of the same later, because saying goodbye to the Fairmuir, and in particular their moustachioed Top Boy, was likely to be harder still.
I pulled up outside the clubbie in a taxi to find the surrounding streets jam-packed. Scores of cars and an attack chopper took up every available space, and many vehicles were double-parked or ditched anywhere they could be. Pleasingly, Dundee’s fundraiser had drawn a big crowd. I got to the front door to find the usual two old jokers in place taking names and £1 entry fees. They were pleased to see me, and I them. After a quick exchange of banter I dropped in my pound coin and a fiver for the lads to get themselves a pint, which always went down well. They ushered me through to the main function suite, which was as busy as I’d ever seen it. I looked around the room smiling. This was Dundee right here; good, honest, friendly, working class people who were proud of their background and home town. If ever the term “salt of the earth” was an appropriate term to use it was right here in finest working men’s club in the city.
The Pope was in the queue for the bar. I went over to say hello.
‘Leigh! Good tae see yi’, pal! We kept yi’ a seat.’
He nodded towards a table where Jim McLean sat holding court. He caught my eye, gave me a thumbs up and patted a vacant seat by his side. I stuck a £20 note in the empty pint tumbler used to hold the kitty, added another +1 next to “Pint o’ Special” on the drinks list sticking to the tray used to transport drinks to and from the bar and went to join my pals. As I went I heard my name being called out from the other side of the room, where a table of Dundee players sat grinning and waving. As an unexpected bonus it seemed I’d get a final bevy with my now-former teammates.
I joined my table and got right in the swing of things with the good-natured ribbings and banter, and by the time Tam returned with a round of drinks an announcement was made over the PA.
‘Ladies and gentleman, please welcome your host for the evening: Biiiiiiiiiig Jocky!’
Snoop Doggy Dogg’s “Gin and Juice” burst out the speakers, and Jocky made his entrance.
I spat a mouthful of beer all over myself when I saw he was wearing what could only be described a pimp outfit – a full length purple fur coat, a matching hat with what looked like a seagull feather sticking out of it and his trackie bottoms. The trackies were less pimping than his coat and hat but at least he was actually wearing something to cover his nether regions.
He took a mic as he got up on the stage at the front of the room. As the music continued playing he waved a hand over his head from side-to-side, and encouraged us to do the same. The whole room waved in unison until the music faded out.
‘Eh’m laaaid back; wi’ meh mind on the stovies and the stovies on meh mind. Yas! Bit o’ Snoop Doag there, ken? Mind that time he turned up wi’ a’ his pals fae the Crisps? Fuckin’ shitey gang name!
The crowd, mostly of pensionable age, murmured as they recalled the night one of the most notorious gangs on the planet turned up. Tam shook his head dismissively, snorting, ‘Crips? Fuckin’ Mid rule ya fool. Those cunts wouldnae last 10 minutes in Dundee.’
Jocky removed his coat and hat before gathering our attention so he could continue.
‘Right a’body, hud yer wheesht. We’re gonnae hae the auction first, the proceeds o’ which – minus meh 10% fee – will go tae a’bodies favourite futba team, the biggest and best team in the toon, Dundee FC.’
A big cheer went up, drowning out McLean’s protesting voice.
‘Efter that there’s gonnae be a wee ceremony tae mark the occasion and we’ll finish the gig aff wi’ some live music. Eh’ll warn yi’ now: It’s likely tae be fuckin’ teckle!’
As we gave him a warm round of applause Jocky ushered a handful of folk up with the auction prizes. It was quite the collection of oddities, and included......no, it couldn’t possibly be......
‘Right folks, first up: A gemme o’ twa-touch wi’ Pele!’
The greatest footballer of all time stepped forward. This was quite a coup. Jocky had played against the Brazilian legend back in the ‘70s and the pair of them had obviously kept in touch. What an incredible prize.
‘Eh’ll start the biddin’ at 10p. As a side note, if any cunt reckons they’re gettin’ their hole later but cannae keep the bad boy standin’ at attention – and eh’m lookin’ at you here, McLean – cunto here’s puntin’ Viagra as well as playin’ the highest bidder in the car park.’
The room went into a frenzy as pretty much every guy present started trying to outdo each other with the highest offer. After a furious period of bidding Sean Higgins won it with an offer of several thousand pounds, a fully operational Panzer tank and Hitler’s jawbone.
‘An all-expenses-paid trip tae Heaven, courtesy o’ meh Granny. It’s a return trip, like, yi’ll be back in time fur last orders.’
Understandably there was a great deal of hesitancy, and despite Jocky’s encouragement only a couple of brave souls ventured a bid. A blue-rinse-haired pensioner called Betty won it for 70p, reasoning that it was worth the risk if she could meet Elvis.
‘Well in, Betty doll. Yi’ll meet Elvis nae bather, he plays fur Davie Cooper’s 5-a-side team. Chuck Berry plays fur Tommy Burns’ team, it’s a rock ‘n’ roll Old Firm clash and nae mistake.’
With that she was lead out the room to be strangled in the toilet. The prizes had been good so far. Jocky asked for quiet as he introduced the next item.
‘This next prize, ladies and gents, comes straight fae the pits o’ Hell. Eh give yi’.......Lee Wilkie’s soul!’
A chorus of boos went up, and some people had to avert their eyes as Jocky held up the jar of black smoke I’d seen in his secret room a few weeks back. There were no bids for this particular auction item, so Jocky had to improvise. He went into a rambling auctioneer spiel.
‘YacuntthisprizeisshitecauseWilkie’sadirtyJudasArabbastardbutsomemongocunt’sboundtaewantit, SOLD! Big round o’ applause fur Jum McLean a’body, that wiz an affy generous offer o’ 15 grand! Teckle, baldy!’
As McLean got a standing ovation he could only sit dumbfounded and speechless with a wallet now several thousand pounds lighter. Jocky gave him a sincere look as he offered hearty applause then let his mask slip for just a second with a cheeky grin and a “wanker” hand gesture before switching back to clapping.
The rest of the auction went well. By the end of it we’d raised a large sum of money to add to Dundee’s fighting fund, McLean had a raging erection to contend with after dropping one of Pele’s pills earlier than he perhaps should have, the Pope had a necklace made of Jim Duffy’s teeth, and although there was no physical evidence of my prize, I was, apparently, the proud owner of Charlie Nicholas.
There was a brief break in proceedings so everyone could replenish their drinks and use the toilet. Once the crowd settled back down in their seats Jocky took to the stage again. He raised the mic to speak, but as he did so he looked my way and paused to offer the sweetest, most honest little smile I’d seen on his face in all the time I’d known him. He winked at me then continued.
‘Settle doon, ya cunts. Oarder, oarder. That’s the gemme. Now, this is a wee fundraiser night fur the mighty Dee, but as maist o’ yi’ ken it’s somethin’ else tae.’
Lots of heads turned in my direction.
‘One o’ oor pals is leavin’ the night. He’s awa’ doon the road ti’ play futba fur an eagle in England.’
Oh man. I felt my heart jump up into my mouth and my face go bright red. I looked across the room to see the Dundee contingent smiling in my direction. Apart from Big Rab, who was dabbing tears from his eyes with a white hankerchief.
‘A’body kens Leigh, eh? Stand up, pal.’
I sheepishly stood up.
‘Leigh’s been comin’ here fur aboot a year now. Cunto’s been gettin’ awa’ wi’ no’ even being signed in! That wiz meh doin’, eh says it wiz nae bather. Since he’s been drinkin’ in the Fairmuir eh think eh speak on behalf o’ a’body when eh say he’s been a braw guest. Boy respects the clubbie, the people, and he gets the drinks in, which is fuckin’ teckle fur cunts like me wha are on the dole. What does a’body think? Has he been a good guest?’
The whole place shouted, ‘AYE!’ as one.
‘Eh kent that, likes. Wi’ that in mind, Leigh, we – the Fairmuir – want ti’ gie yi’ a wee leavin’ gift.’
I was fighting back the tears and losing.
‘Leigh, eh saw thon film aboot plastic surgery the other night. As eh watched Scarface one o’ Ally Pacino’s lines struck iz as similar tae what goes on here: In this clubbie yi’ hae ti’ get signed in first. Then when yiv been signed in yi’ get tae ken a’cunt. Then, when a’cunt thinks yir sound as fuck.........then, yi’ get yir membership. ‘Mon up and get yir caird, pal. That’s you officially Fairmuir fur life.’
I walked up to the stage with thunderous applause ringing in my ears. I climbed up and walked towards Jocky, who suddenly announced, ‘Say hello tae meh little friend!’
‘BILLY LIKES FUTBA!’
Billy Dodds came bounding out in a Tony Montana-style white suit. He leapt up into my arms and showered my face with kisses.
‘Hiya Leigh! Hiya pal! Billy’s a sports journalist!’
I hugged him back, laughing.
‘I see yi, Billy! Leigh sees yi!’
When he broke our embrace he went to the inner pocket of his suit jacket and pulled out a membership card for the clubbie. As he handed it to me and I inspected it (it read ‘LEIGH “MONGCHOPS” GRIFFITHS – FAIRMUIR ON TOUR YA BAS’) a huge cheer went up. What an honour. I was as proud as punch. I turned to Jocky, who smiled, shook my hand and whispered, ‘Meet iz in the dugout efter the perty’s finished, pal. We’ll hae a wee blether before yi’ go.’ He winked and ushered Billy and I off the stage.
A familiar song suddenly came over the PA.
‘The Beastie Booooooooys! They are they’re comin’ home. They’re coming hoooooooome, oh, they’re comin’ hooooome......’
It was “The Biz vs The Nuge” from Check Your Head. Jocky started bouncing up and down like a kid on Chrsitmas morning.
‘Ya cunt, set phasers tae FUCKIN’ TECKLE, ‘cause here comes tonight’s special guest band: THE BEASTIE BOYS! YAAAAAAAAAAASSSS!!!’
The Beastie Boys, the actual fucking Beastie Boys, burst out onto the stage. Ad Roc hit the mic.
‘Yo Fairmuir, it’s tiiiiime to set the fucking record straight!’
As they smashed into their punk rock barnstormer “Time for Livin'” the whole place went mental. Within seconds a heaving, pogoing, slam-dancing moshpit had formed at all points of the function suite. Pensioners were crowd surfing and stage diving. Jocky was going seven shades of crazy right in the midst of it all. I gaped at the crowd, the band and then the crowd again. I decided against asking questions and threw myself into the melee. I’m pretty sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen at the Civil Service clubbie.
Closing time came around far too soon. As the shotgun blast from the bar signalled it was either get out or go to the crematorium, everyone present formed a guard of honour out the function suite. Mike D started a chorus of “For He’s the Jolly Good Fellow”, and as I walked out shaking every hand and accepting every hug and kiss going, one of the old ladies started up a song from the pre-hip hop generation.
‘We’ll meet again, don’t know when, don’t know where....’
As everyone joined in Jim McLean and the Pope wished me all the best and told me to come back and see them soon. I would miss them both greatly, and felt deeply honoured to rank among their friends. Same deal for Billy, and had he not been on his potty in the corner I would’ve told him I’d fight Papa Shango for him any day of the week. His enthusiastic wave and smile as someone wiped his arse suggested he knew that anyway.
I walked out the Fairmuir, a club of which I was now a member, filled with sadness, joy and pride. I didn’t know when I’d be back to see these wonderful people, but I knew we’d meet again one sunny day.
Under a clear night sky filled with stars and bright full moon I clambered over the fence into the ground. Dens Park is not the most modern stadia in the world, but it has that special something so many football grounds are sadly lacking these days. It has character. It has a sense of history. It has soul. None of these things are tangible, but somehow you can just feel the place. Perhaps you need to know, understand and maybe even love the club before it strikes you, but Dens is almost a living, breathing part of the city of Dundee. That feeling had never been quite as apparent as I when walked onto the moonlit pitch for the last time.
Jocky was sitting in the home dugout. We’d been here before like this; it wasn’t so long ago that he was saying his goodbyes. Now it was my turn, and this time it was a much more permanent farewell.
I didn’t say anything as I joined him, taking a seat by his side and helping myself to one of the cans of Special in the carrier bag at his feet. I cracked it open, drained about half of it in one go and let out a satisfied gasp.
We sat in silence for quite some time. Though there was much to be said there was no awkwardness or discomfort about it. The times we’d shared allowed us to be at peace with each one another.
I could live for another thousand years and never come close to replicating what had gone on in my life at Dens and with Jocky in the past 18 months or so. We’d bonded and forged a friendship that was quite unique, and it was only just dawning on me that it was a mutual feeling. Jocky may have been the constant epicentre of the wild events, but I’d been there every step of the way with him. There had been a time when I was just another one of his players. Over time I’d become his sidekick, his partner in crime, and most importantly, his best mate.
He nudged my arm and pointed to the night sky. A satellite was passing overhead; a bright little spark tracing a steady path southwards. We watched it until it disappeared from sight.
He laughed a little under his breath, his shoulders bouncing ever so slightly.
‘Mind that time eh hud yi’ phonin’ thon gay chatlines, Leigh? That wiz funny, like.’
I giggled, nodding in agreement.
‘Aye, that was a belter. Mind that time your Popemobile broke down and the AA had to come and tow you away?’
He laughed a little louder.
‘Fuck aye, bet thon boy disnae get many call-oots like that, eh?’
We were getting a little more boisterous as the memories flooded back.
‘Remember the time.....’, I burst into a real belly laugh and struggled to finish my sentence, ‘you took a shit in the hole of the Spanish golf course....’
The pair of us were absolutely pissing ourselves, and in unison we concluded, ‘Calm the ham, Joe. Calm the ham ya shitey-handed cunt.’
I was laughing so much it hurt. We both were. When we finally began to regain our composure the wave of sadness hit me hard. When I turned to him I saw it had caught him too. With the tears now openly streaming down our cheeks we embraced, weeping into each others shoulders and patting each other on the back. It was most emotional, profound moment in all of our time together.
We broke our hug and grinned as we tried to maintain ourselves just a little bit better, and I managed to speak first.
‘Thank you, Jocky. For everything. For bringing me here, for being there for me, and for being one of the greatest guys I’ve ever, and will ever, meet in my life. I’ll never forget you. It’s been mental from start to finish. Mental, but absolutely brilliant. You know you’re mental, don’t you?’, I laughed.
‘Oh fuck aye, eh’m a fuckin’ lunatic. Cannae really deny it, ken? Fucking yaaaas!’
We burst out laughing again.
‘I mean that in the best possible sense, though. I’m going to miss you, boss. More than you know.’
He nodded in thanks and hugged me again. I gave it back to him with all the love I could muster.
‘Cheers, Leigh. That wiz affy nice o’ yi’ sayin’ a’ that. Meant a helluva a lot tae Big Jock here. Seriously, like.’
He tapped his fist against his heart. Taking a deep breath, he gathered himself.
‘Eh’m gonnae say a few thing now, pal. If it’s half a good as thon time eh did the alternative Queen’s speech on Channel 4 it’ll be a real treat. ‘Mon wi’ me.’
He got up and started heading toward the centre circle of the pitch. As I followed he put an arm round my shoulder. We took a few moments to look around the place, to soak it up; to feel it.
‘Mind that Cup gemme against Rangers last season, pal? Yi’ scored a helluva good goal that night.’
I remembered it well. I had scored a curling free kick from distance into the top corner. It would go down as one of my finest moments in dark blue.
‘Meh favourite bit aboot that goal wiz the celebration efter it; yi’ went chergin’ right intae the crowd behind the goal. Tell Big Jocky aboot that.’
I hesitated for a moment as I recalled the moment.
‘I was ecstatic. I went a wee bit daft and jumped into the crowd to join them.’
‘Because......I don’t know......because they looked as happy as I was, I suppose. I felt like one of them and wanted to share the joy I felt.’
‘See ti’ me, pal, that wiz a big moment. When yi’ went in the crowd there yi’ became one o’ the crowd, and nae cunt loves Dundee mair than the fans. Dundee fans huv been through the wringer, and when things like your goal against Rangers happen it’s the greatest feelin’ in the world. Yi’ cannae beat those moments. That’s what it’s a’ aboot.’
He was looking deep into my eyes as he talked now. I could feel his power and passion.
‘When yi’ went intae the crowd that night yi’ went fae bein’ a Dundee player tae a Dundee boy. There’s a difference. Yi’ felt what it’s like tae love this club. It only lasted a second or twa, but fur that wee moment yi’ were dark blue tae the core.’
He was right. I knew exactly what he meant.
‘Ken Big Rab Douglas? He’s no’ just a Dundee player; he’s a Dundee boy. Rab kens what it’s a aboot. Ken Barry Smith? Big time Dundee boy. A leader on the pitch and now fae the dugoot. Eh wiz thrilled when eh heard he wiz the new manager, ‘cause eh ken Barry loves this club. Rab and Barry are Dundee till they die, same as Jocky.’
He puffed his chest out as he burst with pride. There was no doubting his words.
‘You’ve no’ been here long, pal, but ken what? Eh think yi’ ken the score. Eh think yi’ ken what it means ti’ be a Dundee boy, not just a Dundee player, and that will never leave yi’. Never forget what it felt like, son; that moment against Rangers, a’ the shite yi’ had ti’ witness when things went tits up wi’ administration, and maist o’ a’, how the people wha support this club wouldnae let it die quietly when it looked like the end wiz comin’. There’s no’ many sets o’ fans wha huv experienced the lows Dundee fans huv, and accordingly there’s no’ many wha love their club as much. It’s no’ easy bein’ a Dee, but by Christ there’s no’ one o’ us wha would change it.’
I was burning with pride. I felt it. The love for the club and everyone associated with it surged through my veins. Jocky stood watching, searching my soul, and he knew.
‘Good luck, Leigh. Go doon tae England and give it everything yi’ hae. Every-fuckin’-thing, cunto. Fight fur every ba’, chase every lost cause, and mind that me and a’ cunt at Dundee are with yi’ in spirit forever more. Eh’m affy proud o’ yi’, son, baith as a player eh hud the pleasure o’ haein’ on meh team and as a boy eh consider tae be one o’ meh best pals.’
He offered me his hand, and I took it. As we shook them his eyes teared up.
‘Eh’m gonnae miss yi’, Leigh. Cannae even begin ti’ tell yi how much. Jocky loves yi’, pal.’
Once again we embraced. We’d come a long way, Jocky Scott and I. It wasn’t so long ago he was picking his nose and wiping it on my face during a bounce game that had actually finished several hours previously, yet here we were hugging, crying and feeling the pain of a wonderful friendship that, while it will never be broken, is about to be wrenched apart by circumstances and considerable distance.
Though I’m young and relatively inexperienced in the ways of the world I understood that one of the most melancholic, bittersweet aspects of life is that you have to leave good things behind sometimes. My path into the future was bright, yet I would forever look longingly to the past I left behind. As much as it hurt I knew that was the way it had to be.
The soft buzz of a miniature jetpack approaching ended the most heartfelt of embraces. Another friend I would miss terribly was on his way.
‘Wee Jocky’s comng to say cheerio, eh?’
‘Oh fuck aye, of course.’ A look of concern suddenly crept up on his face. ‘If it’s no’ Wee Jock it means McLean’s got himsel’ a jetpack, and if that’s the case the gemme’s up the fuckin’ poley here.’
As the finest feline I’d ever known came into view Jocky breathed an audible sigh of relief then greeted his pet.
‘Hiya Wee Jocky! Hiya pal! How’s it goin’, pal?’
The cat responded, and not in the usual cat-like fashion.
‘No’ bad big aine, no’ bad a’ ta’. A’right, Leigh?’
The cat talked. THE CAT FUCKING TALKED. I stood staring at it, mouth agape, eyes bulging out my head.
‘You......you can talk! What the fuck!’
He looked at Jocky, grinning as he nodded at me as if to say “what’s he all about?”
‘That night on the beach in the Ferry........you DID say hello to me! I thought I was going insane!’
The wee one chuckled.
‘Leigh, you were right aff yir pus that night, it’s nae surprise yi’ thought yi’ were losin’ the plot. Bomber’s mushies are teckle, ken?’
I was just about to ask what he was on about when Big Jocky interjected, ‘Pay nae attention tae that, Leigh, fuck knows what he’s on aboot!’ and gave the cat a look that suggested he should keep his mouth shut.
‘Leigh, it’s been a pleasure, mate. A’ the best down at Wolves, man. Keep in touch, eh?’
As he hovered in front of me he offered his outstretched paw. I took it between my thumb and forefinger and shook it, stuttering, ‘Aye, you too, Wee Jocky. Thanks, pal.’
It was only fitting that the madness that had been my life in Dundee should stretch all the way to the final moments. The cat could fucking talk. Good grief.
As Jocky went to retrieve his jetpack from the dugout his pet told me about some woman he met in Deja Vu and had shagged in the Wellgate car park, which said as much about the Vu’s clientele as the sexual prowess of the cat.
Jocky hovered back to the centre circle. This was it. This was goodbye.
Jocky looked me dead in the eye and held my gaze before asking the question that had encapsulated my time at Dundee, four words that summed the whole damn thing up perfectly.
‘Wha’s in cherge here?’
It had been asked of many people on innumerable occasions, and there had only ever been one answer. Until now. In many ways, everything that had gone before had been leading up to this final moment, this final question, that, ultimately, he’d hoped he would ask of me and get the correct response.
‘I’m in cherge here, Jocky.’
It wasn’t a challenge. It was confirmation that he’d guided me as far as he could, that he’d played his part, a huge part, in my development and that I would move on ready for whatever the future would bring my way. It was the greatest compliment I could pay him.
He stood tall, proud and satisfied. Job done.
With that he smiled, fired up his jetpack, and with his flying, talking, ninja cat by his side, took off and flew over the Main Stand and out of sight. Goodbye, Jocky.
Life was good in Dundee. When I say “good” I mean it was a never ending onslaught of wonder, joy and balls-out-fucking-mental times. It’s been beyond anything I could have possibly imagined previously on so many levels. It’s been an honour and a privilege to play for this club, to live in this city and make friends with some of the finest people mankind has to offer. I leave feeling blessed to have experienced it, and although it’s time to move on, the fact I was once one of the brave boys who wore the dark blue of Dundee will stay in my heart forever.
Thursday, 3 March 2011
I awoke curled up on my side holding a hand that hung lazily in front my face. Still half asleep and perfectly comfortable, I thought nothing of it. But then a soft kiss was planted on my earlobe and my eyes shot wide open. What the hell….
He’d spent the night at the teepee after his house had been burned down. A tired grunt was all he could muster by way of a response.
‘Why did you kiss my ear?’
A brief pause as he came to life and responded, ‘Why are yi’ holdin’ meh hand?’
While we remained unmoving all of a sudden we were both wide awake.
‘Boss, where’s your other hand?’
Without hesitation he replied, ‘Between twa pillows.....’
Our bodies stiffened as one.
‘THOSE AREN’T PILLOWS!’
We jumped up as fast as lighting and shook ourselves off, horrified. Good fucking grief. I tried to make things less weird and more heterosexual.
‘How about them Bears, huh?’
‘Oh fuck aye, the Bears! McLean tried ti’ shag them a’, the dirty bastard. What’s a’ that aboot? Fuck sake, Wee Jum! Nae need!
Wee Jocky stretched to life and offered a ‘Miaow’. Rise and shine….
A couple of hours later we were back in the Ferry at the smoldering remnants of Jocky’s house. A few friends from the Fairmuir had been roped in to help salvage anything that hadn’t been destroyed in the fire. There wasn’t much worth saving.
‘Fuck sake, man. This is worse than 9/11! Di’ yi’ mind whaur yi’ were when America got telt, Leigh?’
I’m sure everyone on the planet did.
‘Aye, I was just getting home from school. Where were you?’
‘New York, as it happens. Funny thing is, the day before eh wiz wanderin’ through Central Park lookin’ fur thon wummin fae Casualty wha looked after a’ they pigeons in Home Alone II: The Search for Spock, when this boy up ahead o’ iz drapped his wallet. There was fuck all cash in it so eh shouted, “Ow wee man! Fuck up, ya cunt! Yi’ drapped yir wallet!” Boy wiz affy grateful, likes. Muslim fella. Ken what he says tae iz?”
Amused at the fact he checked the wallet for money before handing it back, I smirked and asked what the Muslim guy said.
‘Boy says, “Stay awa’ fae thon Twin Towers the moarin’. Tellin’ yi’ likes.” He said it just like that tae, turns oot he wiz fae Dundee and yaesed ti’ bide on the Provie Road. Eh says, “How come, pal?” thinkin’ eh wiz aboot ti’ get the inside track on a conspiracy theory, but the boy says, “It’s a lot o’ shite like, yi’d be better aff up at thon toy shop, Schwarz. It’s got the teckle piano keys on the flair that yi’ see in Big!” Eh fired up the next day and right enough there wiz the flair piano Tam Hanks had a wee go on. Eh wiz playin’ Protect Ya Neck when the bather kicked aff at the Trade Centre.’
Just then a member of the fire brigade appeared from the wreckage. As Jocky went over to speak to him I inspected the remains of his possessions, which had been laid out in the front garden. Granny’s stovie cauldron was burnt but intact, as was a large section of wooden bench that had once provided seating in the old Provest Road end of Dens. The stuffed Cumbernauld bear was missing most of its fur but still standing tall and unshagged, and a silver Tennent’s Sixes trophy was essentially unharmed. Other than that there wasn’t much left.
The fireman was departing, leaving Jocky staring intently at a piece of paper held in both hands. I strolled over to see what was happening. When I asked what the fireman had to say Jocky said nothing and passed me the piece of paper. It was a flyer for Horne’s carnival, which was currently in town down on Riverside by the Tay Rail Bridge. It didn’t seem particularly unusual to me.
‘Fireman Sam there found this in the livin’ room.’
I didn’t grasp the significance the look on Jocky’s face suggested it had.
‘It’s no’ burnt, Leigh. Some cunt left this once the fire went oot late last night.’
I struggled to figure it all out. He indicated that I should flip the flyer over. On the back read a ransom note-style message constructed from letters of varying fonts and sizes.
MEET ME AT MIDNIGHT. I BURNT YOUR HOUSE DOWN.
‘Yi’ dinnae hae ti’ be Tosh fae The Bill ti’ figure it oot, pal. Fancy comin’ doon the carnie wi’ Big Jock the night? It should be quiet at midnight, we’ll get a wee shot on the waltzers! Nane o’ this sharin’ a car pish either, we’ll get one each. Teckle!’
I agreed to join him. As he went to help pull a badly burnt red, white and blue Dalek out the wreckage, I gulped as a sense of foreboding took root in my stomach. This, I felt, was not going to be good. I silently cursed David Goodwillie and pressed on with the salvage work.
We sat in the Magdalen Green bandstand sipping cans of Special. It was pushing midnight. A full moon illuminated the night sky as cold breeze came off the nearby river, making me shiver and duck my head down further into the upturned collar of my jacket. Horne’s carnival was just over on the other side of the rail tracks. It had long since closed for the evening. While I was very apprehensive about what lay ahead, Jocky was taking it in his stride and blethered away as comfortably as ever.
‘Eh thought McLean wiz takin’ the piss when he says he’d played a lead role in a film. Eh bet the cunt 50 brick he hudnae. The wee fandan pure suckered punched iz when he turned up at the Fairmuir wi’ a copy o’ White Men Can’t Hump. Cunt wiz in a porno! He spent maist o’ it takin’ doags abuse aff Wesley Snipes as they pumped ghetto booty, but credit whaur it’s due he wiz in a film right enough. No’ bad cock on him tae! Sakes, Wee Jum.’
As Jocky made me stand up to help him re-enact key scenes from the movie we were distracted by the whirring of a tiny engine making its way through the darkness towards us. Wee Jocky was returning from a reconnaissance mission.
‘Well wee aine, what’s the score? Any sign o’ Teckledong?’
Wee Jocky landed gracefully and replied, ‘Miaow’.
‘Aye, we’ll get candy floss, pal, it’s nae bather. Right lads, fuck it. ‘Mon we’ll fire doon and see if this dayglo joy boy has the nerve tae show face.’
The two Jocky’s headed off at a determined pace. I took a second to gather myself before following on. I was nervous. I didn’t like this one little bit. I took a deep breath and jogged to catch up with them. We crossed the rail track via a pedestrian bridge that took us onto Riverside, an area that played host to several football pitches, Dundee University’s sports facilities and the city’s small airport. The carnival was set up a short distance away towards the rail bridge. Jocky kept up the pace, striding onward as we weaved through the trailers and caravans that formed the carnival’s boundaries.
The whole place jumped into life the moment we entered. I got a fright worse than I’d had when I fell out the hot air balloon as garish light and noise filled our surroundings. While it usually encouraged a fun, friendly atmosphere, right at that moment it was downright creepy.
Jocky had stopped in his tracks. He surveyed the scene around him. When his gaze focused and a frown fell upon his face I followed his line of sight. The carnival was, officially, closed for business, yet it appeared to be fully staffed. A carnival worker stood manning each stall and attraction. Suddenly much more cautious, Jocky slowly approached one of them.
‘Hiya pal! Eh’m lookin’ fur Davie Teckledong. Futba player, likes. Wears colours yi’ winnae get lost in a fog in and gies aff heavy gaybo vibes. Yi’ cannae miss the cunt.’
The worker said nothing. He just stood at attention by his ride, staring straight ahead. When I looked him in the eye my apprehension intensified greatly. His eyes were brimming with fear. He was petrified, stricken by some unknown terror of which he could not speak. Though I was too far away to gauge the look in their eye, every other member of staff here stood rigid and oozed the same feelings of their colleague. Something was terribly wrong here. I wanted to get the fuck out immediately.
Jocky turned to me, saw my anxiety, and with a silent movement of the head signaled that I should follow him. We took a short walk and stepped up onto the carousel, taking a seat on a couple of ornate metallic horses. I saw him look over my shoulder and turned to see a pink cloud fly in our direction. Wee Jocky had got his wish. As he passed us our candy floss the ride kicked into life. With the cat flying level with us, Jocky and I began the slow, bobbing rotation of the carousel, its chiming, slightly out-of-tune music providing a haunting soundtrack.
‘Jocky, this isn’t right. This is all fucked up. I……I don’t think we’ve got David Goodwillie on our hands. He doesn’t command this kind of fear. There’s something worse than David Goodwillie at work here. The fire, this creepy fucking carnival…….it’s beyond him, boss. I don’t like it one little bit.’
He held the brass pole that speared his steed with one hand and his floss with the other. He chewed thoughtfully on it for a while, his darting eyes betrayed his calm exterior just a little. He heard what I said and didn’t take it lightly. We sat going round and round in silence until the ride finally came to a halt.
Wee Jocky, who had taken a seat on the saddle of the horse in front of us, did something I’d never seen him do before: He quickly stood on all four paws, arched his back high in the air and made a sound closer to a hiss than his usual relaxed miaow. Judging by the shocked look in his eye Big Jocky obviously hadn’t seen him do this before either. He jumped off his horse ready to fight.
Panic seized me. I made a hash of my dismount and fell hard on the riveted steel floor of the ride.
‘Penalty! ‘Mon tae fuck, ref! That cuddy cunt wiz nae place near the ba’ there!’
I took some comfort in the humour that shone through his battle-ready state. I picked myself up and fell into formation with my companions. Whoever was behind this had all three of us to contend with, that was for sure. I was shit scared but I wouldn’t stand idly by should there be any call for action.
‘Ya cunt, this is somethin’ else, eh? Bit like thon time there wiz an uprising at the Downfield clubbie efter we banjoed the cunts in darts league championship decider. Jocky fair rocked the oche that night. Ooft!’
Wee Jocky hissed again, this time with real venom. There was someone over by the House of Mirrors. A figure clad in long, flowing white robes. As it disappeared through the dark entrance a strange glow appeared to emit from its head.
My voice trembled as I asked, ‘Boss……..what the fuck was that?’
Jocky could only shake his head as he continued staring at the point the mysterious figure had disappeared. He gulped and turned to me.
‘Fuck knows, pal. Yi’ were right enough though: It’s definitely no’ Davie Teckledong.’
With a great deal of hesitancy we made our way towards the House of Mirrors, where danger surely lurked among the warped reflections.
I nearly jumped out my skin as Jocky saw his reflection in the first mirror we passed.
‘Fucking yaaaaaas! Check oot big fat Jocky! Ya cunt, these mirrors are fuckin’ teckle! If eh hud a hoose ti’ hing them up in eh’d be stealin’ these things!’
I was on a knife edge. The slightest thing made my heart race.
“Check your heid, Leigh, it’s weird as fuck! Looks even fuckin’ worse in the mirror!’
I was far too terrified to be offended. The House of Mirrors was dimly lit and ever-so-slightly smoky. The mirrors cast a series of bizarre reflections as we crept along the passageway. I moved with my trembling fists cocked as I followed on behind the ever-fearless Wee Jocky, who had adopted the Crane position as he glided slowly onward. Big Jocky seemed to have lost all his anxiety as he stopped to flap around in front of every mirror, giggling like a wee laddie and obviously enjoying himself despite the serious nature of the situation.
Ever so carefully we moved onward until we reached what appeared to be a dead end. It was a square room with mirrors covering every inch of wall. Our reflections repeated back into infinity wherever I looked. My heart thumped so hard I could barely hear the laughter.
The soul-crushing, blood-curdling laughter.
Just as I thought fear would get the better of me a flash of white caught the corner of my eye. We spun round as one to face the elusive enemy but there was nothing but the sound of footsteps moving quickly back the way we came followed by a shriek that scared me to the point it felt like a knife thrusting into my chest. The cold steel of terror seemed to penetrate my flesh and plunge deep into my heart. I turned to Jocky with tears of liquid fear streaming down my cheeks. It was too much; I was ready to crumble.
I began to fall into a petrified stupor but was saved when Jocky caught me with his eyes. As he puffed his chest out and raised his chin I felt him drag me back up as if he’d caught me a tractor beam. His life force dragged me up and vanquished the fear that had only seconds go threatened to overcome me. Adrenaline surged through me like water pouring from a burst dam. I felt energised. I felt like the noise coming out the Derry. I felt like a fucking warrior.
We never run. We fear no foe…..
We are the Dens Park Dynamo.
We charged screaming into battle. Down the dark corridor and out into the neon light-illuminated night we ran, prepared for anyone and anything. No army in the history of warfare would have defeated us at that very moment. We roared out the House of Mirrors to find…..
Nothing. No enemy. Not a soul.
Rigid and pumped up to a point of near-hysteria we quickly turned one way then another, our eyes darting in every direction in the search of our nemesis. I had gone from a whimpering mess to a growling war pig. I was ready and frustrated at the lack of focal point for my fury.
It slipped when I saw Jocky standing limply, staring at the ground in front of him. What was he looking at? As I paced over impatiently he crouched down to pick something up. He rolled a small white pebble between the tips of his finger and thumb then slowly rose back up to a standing position.
‘Boss, what the fuck? What’s wrong?’
He kept staring at the pebble as he held it up in front of me. My demeanor changed to one of confusion as I realised it was no stone.
It was a tooth.
He passed it to me. As I took it in my hand and inspected it he walked on a few paces and picked up another one. A few steps on lay another, then yet another a few feet onwards. It was a trail of teeth. I looked at the one in my hand and felt that cold, creeping sensation once again.
It was a trail of human teeth.
Who the fuck would leave a trail of human teeth in their wake? What possible significance could this hold? What the fu…..
I gasped as if I’d been punched in the gut.
The memory flooded my head with such ferocity that I lost touch with reality. I was back playing for Dundee at Dens. I heard the shouts of the players as the game took place around me. I heard the noise of the crowd from every direction.
‘Can yi’ hear me, Leigh? Wave at the bench if yi’ can hear me.’
Like a lucid dream, it felt like I was actually there. I knew it wasn’t real yet I was living and breathing the moment regardless. It was as if a testicle recognition-activated lever had been pulled somewhere, allowing me to buck the space/time continuum.
‘Tell him eh shagged his wife in 1987’
Jocky’s voice was crystal clear in my ear. I put my hand up to it and found a small ear piece that relayed instructions from the bench lodged in there.
‘Tell him she went first class on the Jocky Express, Leigh!’
I turned to Partick defender Alan Archibald. Contrary to what had happened at the time he stood staring at me, grinning as if he was in on it from the start and knew how it would end some 12 months later. As Jocky’s passed on his next instruction Archibald mouthed the words silently in synch along with them.
‘Tell the baldy fucker eh pummeled her until her teeth fell oot!’
A barely discernable squeak left my throat as the memory shattered like glass and brought me crashing back to a grim reality where Jim Duffy had arrived to exact revenge on Jocky Scott.
He stood but 20 feet away. Draped in long, flowing white robes that covered him from the neck to the ground, his hands clasped together and his mouth offering a serene smile, he seemed like a Buddhist monk; a being of tranquility and inner peace. His bald head was much bigger than it appeared on TV. While his face was proportionately sized his cranium was freakishly large. As we stood transfixed by his presence it started to glow. Before our very eyes it emitted a soft yellow hue that faded to a dirty orange before settling on a dull green. His head was the weirdest thing I’d ever seen in my life.
The four of us remained silent for a good 60 seconds. Nothing was said as Duffy and Jocky locked gazes. I couldn’t breathe as I stared at Duffy’s napper. The tension was unbearable. Finally, Jocky broke the silence.
‘Hiya Jim Duffy! Hiya pal! By Christ, last time eh saw you eh wiz hingin’ oot yer wife! Mind that, Duff? Mind? Ya cunt, that wiz fuckin’ teckle!’
While Jim Duffy remained passive and silent, his head turned a deep, crimson red. Jocky giggled mischievously like a kid who just pulled a sheet of cling film over a toilet bowl.
‘Yaaaaaaaas! You ken the score, baldy. Number one rule o’ shaggin’ the missus is if you’re no’ daein’ the damage some cunt wi’ a cock like a giraffe’s neck’ll dae it fur yi. Eh dinnae mak’ the rules, Duff, eh just yase them ti’ get the old Nat King Cole now and then, ken? Fuckin’ right.’
I started to suggest Jocky shouldn’t goad the guy any further when a voice like rolling thunder boomed out of Duffy.
‘I. AM. DUUUUUUUFFY. I AM THE CREATOR. I AM THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA; THE BEGINNING AND THE END. I. AM. DUUUUUUUUFFY.’
His lips had not moved as he produced the deepest, most sinister intonation ever heard. His head had turned a colour I’d never seen before. He was utterly bizarre, and terrifying with it. Jocky straightened up into a more familiar wide-o pose.
‘Whit? Fucking WHIT? The fuck are you on aboot ya traffic light-heided cunt?’
‘I. AM. DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU……’
The noise from within him stuck like that and droned on. The lights in his head changed rapidly, gaining speed until they became a brilliant white light we had no choice but to shield our eyes from. It faded quickly. When our eyes were able to withstand it we looked back and saw that he hadn’t moved a muscle. The drone gradually faded and stopped.
Even Jocky looked stunned.
But not that stunned.
‘Question fur yi’, Alfie and the Megadrive cunto: Wha’s in cherge here?’
Duffy resolutely maintained his smile. This time, though, there was movement. He unclasped his hands and raised his index finger. The finger began to glow. He pointed to his own chest and touched it. By moving the tip of his finger over his breast and stomach in a large circular shape he burned a hole in the material of his robe. It blackened then started to fall away. When it came loose and tumbled to the ground the resulting hole revealed a torso made of clear glass. Instead of internal organs he had…….
A cat dressed in long white robes.
A cat with a bald head that glowed in unison with Duffy’s.
Jocky turned to his own feline with the arched brow look I’d pulled so many times myself. There was a cat inside Jim Duffy. Jim Duffy wasn’t even fucking human. Good grief didn’t even come close to covering it.
The cat appeared to be in command of Duffy. It stood up inside him, pointed its paw at Jocky and the voice boomed out again.
‘YOU, JOCKY SCOTT, MADE MY MATE IMPURE WITH YOUR HUMANOID SEED. YOU RUINED OUR MISSION, A MISSION THAT WOULD HAVE SEEN OUR KIND REPRODUCE AND BEGIN THE INFILTRATION OF MANKIND. INSTEAD I HAD TO BE CONTENT WITH RELEGATING ANY FOOTBALL TEAM I TOOK CHARGE OF.’
Jocky looked thoughtful for a moment before replying, ‘Fuck aye, that kind o’ maks’ sense now, like. Eh wondered how yer missus hud a glowin’ index finger. Eh wiz too busy tellin’ the dirty bitch ti’ stop tryin’ ti’ stick it up meh dunger ti’ realise she an alien. Funny thing is, eh wiz pure giein’ it big licks wi’ the, “ET phone home!” shite as eh wiz pumpin’ her. Turns oot eh wiz on the right track there, eh?’
Duffy was about to respond when Jocky interjected, ‘Ya cunt, eh’ve shagged an alien! McLean’s never beatin’ that! Yaaaaaas!’
Duffy’s head started throbbing a violent red. His whole body started shaking and a noise like a radio caught between stations started growing louder and louder. The cat inside him stood on its back paws and pointed its front ones towards Jocky. Something was about to happen. He was about to strike.
‘Boss, I think we should get out of here…..’
I was already backing off, ready to make a break for it.
‘Fuck up, Leigh, eh dinnae run fae any cunt! It’s punch in the pus time fur Du...’
He was cut short by the blast of red laser beams from Duffy’s eyes. He barely managed to duck out the way so they could fly over him and explode against the wall of the House of Mirrors. I bolted and leaped over the counter of the coconut shy. I expected my companions to be right behind me, but when I looked back they were still standing firm. Duffy let off another blast from his eyes and Jocky side-stepped to avoid it with remarkable reflexes. Seizing the opportunity to retaliate, Jocky charged forward and kicked Duffy between the legs. The resulting deep, low vibration of sound like an oil tanker sounding its horn suggested Duffy’s race’s reproductive organs were positioned in the same anatomical position as that of a human.
The cat inside Duffy smashed through the glass of its vessel and flew – unaided – towards Jocky. As it screeched into attack it was intercepted by the jetpack-assisted Wee Jocky, who launched a flying roundhouse kick and sent its alien counterpart tumbling back through the air. Both Duffy and Jocky turned to watch as the cats began fighting furiously like something out a feline version of the Matrix.
As the paws and fur went flying I turned back to Jocky. He had turned his attention back to Duffy, who did a double take at him then made what I could only guess was a plea for help in his strange native tongue. He needed his cat’s protection but his cat was too busy being Agent Smith to Wee Jocky’s Neo to answer the call. Jocky was in no mood for showing mercy.
‘This is fur burnin’ meh hoose doon! And fur gettin’ the Dee relegated, ya hopeless cunt!’
He stepped forward and cracked Duffy in the jaw. A good punch in the pus crosses the interstellar divide; Duffy went down like a ton of bricks. Jocky stood over his fallen nemesis and seemed to have a brainwave. He laughed and tugged his trackie bottoms off. He took his mighty member in one hand and started tugging at it. With the other hand he rolled Duffy over onto his stomach and pulled his robes up over his head before kneeling down behind him. Oh no….
‘Boss! No! For goodness sake, don’t do it!’
He heard me, looked over and waved.
‘Fuck up, Leigh! ‘Mon hae a wee shot! Plenty space in cunto’s mooth!’
As Jocky got down to business and Duffy made an unholy squealing sound I was mercifully distracted by the flying cat fight. They were going at it hammer and tong in mid-air as they flew towards the coconut shy. As Wee Duffy came close with his back turned I instinctively helped my pal. I was definitely due him one.
I reached out and grabbed the feline foe by the tail, holding it in position. Wee Jocky seized the advantage. He adopted the Crane pose and immediately launched his attack, thrusting forward and crashing a rear paw into his foe’s head, knocking him out. In the background I heard Jocky on the phone.
‘McLean! Guess wha eh’m up ti’ meh beanbag in right now! Guess!...............How the fuck did yi’ manage ti’ guess that, ya cunt? Go and gie iz Wesley Snipe’s number!’
I ignored it, refusing to look around and see what would surely be the worst thing I’d ever laid eyes on. Besides, I had an unconscious alien cat to deal with. Wee Jocky miaowed his gratitude for me helping him and nodded towards the Tay. In a move unlikely to win me any favours with the intergalactic RSPCA I walked out the booth, twirled the inert pussy cat over my head like a Jambo singing Glorious Hearts and hurled it into the river. It splashed into the Silvery Tay and sank out of view.
Judging by the cries of, ‘Wha’s in cherge here, Mork?………Wha’s in cherge here, ya mad extraterrestrial vagina?……WHA’S IN FUCKING CHERGE HERE, DUFFY?!’ Jocky was putting the polishing touches on his own victory.
When I finally brought myself to look round Jocky was wiping his tool on Duffy’s robes. I grimaced at a sign proclaiming, “The Ride of your Life!” in the background. Jim Duffy most certainly had not experienced all the fun of the fair.
A short while later we were in the back of a taxi. I freaked out when Jocky told the firm’s operator he had a body to ditch somewhere, but he waved me off and continued talking, explaining he was and old pal of Peter Marr. The taxi arrived mere minutes later, and the driver even helped load the unconscious and completely toothless Jim Duffy into the boot.
We drove to the Ferry. Jocky had only grinned when asked what was to become of Duffy. I wasn’t entirely surprised when we pulled up outside David Goodwillie’s house. We hauled Duffy out the boot and dumped him at the front door. As we got back in the taxi and sped off into the night Jocky made a phone call.
‘Hiya polis, hiya pal! By Christ, some cunt’s been raped in the Ferry! There’s a boy wi’ an arsehole like the Channel Tunnel in the gairden at thon United player Davie Teckledong’s hoose! Mak’ what yi’ will o’ that, ken?’
He came off the phone, stood up out the open sunroof and gave a “YAAAAAAS!” that was most likely heard as far away as Jim Duffy’s home planet.
I gazed up at the stars and sighed. I was going to miss this: the “YAS!” moments, the crazy, unpredictable behavior, and most of all, the man at the centre of it.
It was almost time for me to say goodbye.
Sunday, 20 February 2011
Jocky was right when he had said it was for the greater good. The club desperately needed the money my transfer would bring in. It would play a big part in helping the club survive. Yet still I felt aggrieved at having to go when the job I came to help do was far from complete. It speaks volumes about how I felt about the club, its supporters and the city of Dundee in general. I like it in Dundee, and the fact my days at Dens were numbered hung heavy on my heart.
As the January transfer window loomed I became a transfer target. Clubs started making tentative inquiries about signing me. Thankfully my agent was on hand to take calls on my behalf.
‘Hearts? Are you fucking daft, cunto? Leigh supports Hibs, ya mad vagina! There’s mair chance o’ Jock Stein risin’ fae the dead and tellin’ a’cunt he kent but wisnae really bathered ‘cause that wee laddie wiz askin’ fur it wearin’ a wee skirt like that. Fucking Hearts? Good aine! Albert fucking Kidd ya bas! Yas!’
I had no problem with him getting the Jambos telt, or anyone else for that matter. I knew that the interested parties were getting in touch with people at Dens as well as talking to Jocky, so I wasn’t perplexed by his abrasive negotiation technique. Just as well, really.
‘Delilah? The burd fae the Tam Jones tune? Fucking yas! Eh didnae ken yi’ ran the show at Norwich City, pal, that’s fuckin’ teckle! Soooo before! McLean takes a shite at yir door! Forgive him Delilah, he just couldnae hud it no more. Sakes, Wee Jum.’
I wasn’t hugely inspired by any of the clubs who showed interest. The only Scottish team I would’ve signed for was Hibs, and they weren’t in a position to make an offer. Heading down south was looking like the better option both as a career move and financial reward.
I sat tight and kept my fingers crossed that the right club would make a move.
As speculation about my future mounted it was business as usual on the park. I had hit a rich vein of form, playing well and scoring goals. The club had caught a financial break when they’d been drawn against Motherwell in the Scottish Cup, and another still when Sky announced they would televise the game. It was a welcome cash injection.
The game was thrown into doubt when the winter weather took a turn for the worse the night before the game. Scores of volunteers worked through the night to get the game on, and they succeeded. Apparently Jocky had arrived at 3am straight from the Fairmuir and spent the night hovering inches above the ground in the lotus position so that the heat from his jetpack would melt the snow.
Unfortunately the team couldn’t muster a performance to match the sterling efforts of those who’d worked so hard to ensure the game went ahead. Two Motherwell goals at the start of each half pretty much killed us off. By the end we were four down. Frustration saw me launch a terrible tackle on a Motherwell player and I was deservedly sent off. As I trudged up the tunnel to the dressing room I hoped it wouldn’t be my final act as a Dundee player.
I was surprised to find Jocky and a well-dressed gent in the dressing room. I went to say hello but Jocky cut me short.
‘Hiya pal! Hud yer wheesht a minute, me and cunto here are just feenishin’ a gemme o’ pitchie.’
The guy in the suit said hello and turned back to the game they were playing. He sounded English. Jocky watched him intently as the guy balanced a 10p piece on top of his thumb and flicked it at the far wall. The coin bounced against the wall, spun round in a semi-circle then came to rest a couple of inches from where it had rebounded.
‘Good shot, pal! Yi’ picked pitchie up nae bather, eh? Eh’ll hae ti’ play the kind o’ shot that won iz the bronze medal at the Olympics in ’84 ti’ beat yi’ here. It’s nae bather.’
Jocky took the English guy’s position and prepared to flick his coin. The aim of the game seemed to be to hit the wall and leave the coin sitting as close to it as possible. Jocky weighed up his shot then flicked the coin towards the wall. It clipped it and dropped no less than a millimeter away.
‘FUCKING YAAAAAS! THAT’S THE KIND O’ SHOT THAT WON BIG JOCKY BRONZE, YA CUNT! THAT’S WHAT EH’M TALKIN’ ABOOT!’
He made me and the Englishman inspect just how good his shot was. The three of us crouched down and admired the barely discernable distance between the coin and the wall.
‘Good, eh? Maist cunts thought the ’84 Olympic were fucked when the Russians boycotted it. Maist cunts didnae realize eh wiz gonnae be there playin’ pitchie. Probably would o’ won gold if eh hudnae been up a’ night lettin’ Tessa Sanderson throw meh javlin.’
The Englishman congratulated Jocky and turned to me.
‘Leigh, it’s a pleasure to meet you. I represent Wolverhampton Wanderers. How would you feel about signing for an English Premiership club?’
My heart did a summersault. I looked to Jocky who was still squatting over his winning pitchie coin. He was lost in a daydream, mumbling, ‘Hiya Tessa, hiya pal! Fuckin’ right eh’ve pumped black burds before. Eskimos tae!’ I coughed to get his attention and he snapped out of it.
‘Huv yi’ met cunto fae Wolves, Leigh? Boy wants ti’ sign yi’! Ooft!’
Ooft indeed. I drifted off into a daydream of my own as the guy gave me a brief overview of the terms on offer and told me Mick McCarthy would be up to see me in the next week or so to finalise the deal.
The Premiership. I’d be playing at Old Trafford, Annfield and Stamford Bridge. I’d be sharing a pitch with Rooney, Torres and Lampard to name but a few. A childhood dream was about to come true.
I went through the following week in a happy daze. The only down point was realising I wouldn’t get to play against Dunfermline at the weekend. Getting myself sent off against Motherwell was to be the last thing I’d do as a Dundee player. It took the shine off my good mood.
In light of not playing Jocky invited me to join him and his Fairmuir pals in the Dundee support heading to Fife for the game. While it would be weird watching the match instead of participating in it, I accepted the invite. It would probably be emotional as well as a lot of fun, but I was keen to be present in whichever way I could.
Our transport for the day was, in true Fairmuir style, unconventional. The Graham Street football pitches that were mere minutes from the Fairmuir had several hot air balloons lined up on them. Each fully inflated balloon was shaped like the head of a familiar face: there was one based on Jocky, McLean, the Pope, and for some reason, Mr Belding from Saved by the Bell. The baskets in which passengers travelled were decked out in Dundee flags bearing slogans such as “DERRY RHUMBA”, “FAIRMUIR ON TOUR YA BAS” and “Hey, hey, hey, WHAT is going on here?”
‘Check oot the balloons, Leigh! Got them aff thon pickle cunt when eh switched fae BT ti’ Virgin. Wee incentive ti’ sweeten the deal, like. Eh says, “Branson, wha’s in cherge here? BT are offerin’ iz ten minutes in a locked room wi’ that thundercunt fae their TV adverts. Care ti’ mak’ a counter offer?” Efter a bit o’ wheelin’ and dealin’ we eventually settled on the heid-shaped balloons. Good, eh?’
I shrugged and agreed they were before asking why he’d gone with Mr Belding.
‘Wee Jocky wiz watchin’ Saved beh the Bell when eh wiz negotiatin’ wi’ Branson. Cunt put iz on the spot a wee bit askin’ which heids eh wanted ballooned right up. The first three came easy enough but eh wiz strugglin’ fur a fourth. Belding wiz on the TV getting’ Zack telt fur raping Screech so eh just says him. The boy’s catchphrase isnae bad, like! Ow, ow, ow, WHA’S in fuckin’ cherge here?’
With a fair degree of trepidation I boarded the Jocky balloon. McLean and Tam were commandeering the balloons in their own likeness, and Joe the wrestling referee took charge of Mr Belding. The Fairmuir regulars piled on board decked out in Dundee tops and scarves, carrying plastic bags filled with enough booze to last the week, never mind the short flight over to Dunfermline. The ropes securing the balloons were untied and the Fairmuir took to the skies.
I stood looking over the side of the basket and chatted away to my fellow passengers. As we rapidly gained height Jocky kept himself busy securing a skewer loaded with lorne sausage above the flame that filled the balloon with hot air.
As we climbed up to a couple of thousand feet above the city the view became spectacular. I could see for miles around. Satisfied that the lorne sausage was cooking away nicely, Jocky joined me and started up the first song of the day.
‘If eh hud the wings o’ an eagle! If eh hud the erse of a crow. Eh’d fly over Tannadice tomorrow, and shite on the bastards below, below!’
Everyone joined in and sang, ‘Shite on! Shite on! Shite on the bastards below, below! Shite on! Shite on! Shite on the bastards below!’ As a blue-rinse-haired woman of about 85 launched into, ‘Oh you never won a derby Ian McColl’, Jocky continued mumbling, ‘shite on the bastards below, below’, to himself. Stroking his ‘tache, he peered over the side of the basket and grinned. He was looking somewhat mischievous.
‘Boss, what are you up to?’
He responded by whipping off his trackie bottoms and jumping up to balance precariously on the edge of the basket, his arse perched over the side. I looked down and saw that we’d floated over the home of our local rivals. Tannadice was directly below. As I thought the worst a fart blared out his arse.
‘It’s no’ every day yi’ get the chance tae shite on Tannadice, Leigh! Last time eh done this wiz when Pat Linney took iz oot fur a wee shot in his Spitfire. Check this oot!’
Another ripper of a fart signaled the emergence of shit from his arsehole. I turned away with a bad case of the dry heaves as it snaked out and dropped towards its tangerine target like a brown bomb.
As everyone present burst into rapturous laughter and quickly moved to see the shite make its way towards Tannadice, the weight in the basket shifted dramatically, tipping it dangerously to one side. Jocky flapped his arms wildly as he lost his balance. I cried out a warning and grabbed his hand as he started falling backwards. Unfortunately I didn’t have the strength to provide the anchor needed to pull him back in. As he tumbled back I simply went with him, his weight taking me over the side. As I went over Jocky was grabbed by other people in the basket, preventing him from falling. I lost my grip of his hand, and all of a sudden I was tumbling through the air on my way to a grisly demise.
It’s a strange thing, falling from a great height. There’s a sensory overload as the mind realises the body has been placed in an extreme emergency situation. Adrenaline surges through every inch of your being, closely followed by terror when the ground starts rushing towards you and the grim realisation that there can only be one winner in the fight against gravity crashes home. Yet as tears stream from your eyes, your scream is silenced against the on-rushing wind and limbs swim helplessly in thin air there is a certain thrill lurking in the background as an overwhelming experience that will be followed be certain death registers both mentally and physically. You will never feel so free as when you stare death in the face.
My body jolted as a great impact hit me from behind.
‘Hiya Bodhi! Hiya pal! Nae cunt robs banks on Jocky Utah’s shift, ya surfer cunt! Point fuckin’ Break!’
Jocky had joined me so we could face doom together. He wrapped his arms round me as we plunged ever closer to the ground. I was too busy screaming to let the enormity of the gesture sink in properly. As Jocky unleashed a final, glorious, ‘YAAAAAAAAS!’ there was nothing left to do but d…
A squawk rang out as we were suddenly wrenched out of freefall. It took a few moments to come to terms with the fact we’d somehow been pulled from death’s clutches. I dangled by the collar of my jacket like a cat being held by the scruff of its neck and wondered what the hell had just happened. Jocky was being held parallel to me in the same fashion. We were placed on solid ground in a gentle fashion that seemed impossible but a few seconds ago. I collapsed in a heap on the grass on which we’d landed. Somehow, mercifully, I was still alive.
I rolled over and looked up at my saviour. I nearly choked as a man with the wings of an eagle stood over me, smiling. They spread some 15 feet wide, curled at the tips a little then enclosed behind his back. I’d have been forgiven for thinking it was an angel.
‘How do Leigh lad! What the fook are you doing jumping out of a hot air balloon? You’re of no use to me dead, lad.’
It was no angel. It was Mick McCarthy.
‘Fuck sake you, whaur did yi’ get thon teckle wings? Argos? What Every Cunt Wants?’
My old manager greeted my new manager with a handshake before walking behind him to inspect his method of flight. He poked and stroked his feathered wings like a man thinking of upgrading his jetpack.
‘I was born with ‘em, lad. It’s not uncommon in Yorkshire.’
McCarthy had a comical bird of prey look about him. His nose, eyebrows and sloping brow were very eagle-like. That said, I had no idea he was some actual half-man,
half-bird cross-breed. He offered his hand, but as I went to take it he pulled it away with a look of disgust on his crazy eagle face. I looked at my hand and saw it was covered in shit.
‘Yaaaaaas! That’s meh shite! Calm the ham, Leigh, ya shitey-handed cunt.’
I frantically wiped it on the grass. I looked around at our surroundings and realised we’d landed in Tannadice. Jocky wandered over towards the East Stand, the part of the ground that housed United’s singing support. He pulled his trackie bottoms down to his ankles and stood with his arms outstretched, goading the empty seats.
‘Your pal there’s a bit of a character!’
I agreed with the winged footballing personality of some note. He most certainly was a character. McCarthy took me over to the dugout. As Jocky sang ‘One team in Dundee’ at the top of his voice I agreed personal terms with my new manager and signed a contract that made me a Wolverhampton Wanderers player. As we shook hands to celebrate the deal a shout came from the tunnel. A couple of official looking blokes were running after Jocky, who was just finishing off taking a follow up shite on the penalty spot. He pulled his breeks up and ran back towards us.
‘Mick ya avian Davie Dodds cunt, prepare fur fuckin’ take off!’
McCarthy laughed, took me in one hand and flew towards Jocky. He scooped him up and took off out the ground.
‘Eh like yir new manager, Leigh! Boy’s a fuckin’ eagle! Teckle!’
I supposed it was teckle. As Mick squawked away happily I noted that of the three clubs I’d played for professionally thus far in my career, two had featured managers who spent a good portion of their time airborne. With any luck I would one day discover that Alex Ferguson had a handglider.
We didn’t make it to Dunfermline. Jocky and I took Mick to the Fairmuir and spent the day drinking Special. There was a lot of football talk, mince rolls and a battle of the flying managers. Jocky retrieved his jetpack and won the race along Strathmartine Road by a cock, which he had primed and ready to go in case of a close finish. Mick’s beak was big but it wasn’t that big.
It transpired that none of the Fairmuir away trip balloons made it to the game; the Jocky balloon made it as far as the Tay before the lifeboat rescue had to come and pluck them from a sandbank, Tam’s vessel was brought down by spear-throwing Fifers who thought aliens were invading, McLean was shot down by a Tornado fighter jet after purposefully flying over RAF Leuchars and hurling grenades, and the Mr Belding balloon was last seen drifting out over the North Sea. Hopefully the search party finds them safe and well.
Darkness had long since fallen when we bid farewell to Mick and jumped in a taxi back to Jocky’s. As we drew closer to the house a pall of dark smoke became prominent in the near-distance.
‘Looks like some daft cunt burned the stovies. It’s a fuckin’ sin, like.’
As we turned on to Jocky’s street we realised the fire was close to home. When he suddenly sat bolt upright and peered ahead between the driver and passenger seat his anxiety spoke volumes about just how close it really was.
The taxi pulled up and we found Jocky’s house fully ablaze. Flames and smoke belched out broken windows. A look of shock was etched into Jocky’s face. We looked out the taxi window, stunned at the sight before us. He gasped and his body tightened further still.
Oh fuck. He was out the taxi in a flash, charging up the garden path to his burning home. The cab driver was already dialing 999 as I jumped out shouting concern about entering the house. Thankfully Jocky didn’t have to go in to save his beloved pet. The front door burst open, and through a plume of smoke emerged the flying cat. He was moving slowly as he dragged a coughing and spluttering Soapy Soutar along behind him. We grabbed Soapy and helped pull him to safety.
‘Fuck sake! Meh hoose! Meh hoose! Meh hoose is on fire! We dinnae need nae water let the motherfucker burn! Actually, scrap that: some cunt get loads o’ fuckin’ water! Pronto, cunto!’
We stood looking on. It was an utterly shocking sight. The stunned silence was broken by Wee Jocky.
It sounded distinctly like he’d just remembered something, a notion confirmed when he immediately zoomed back in the house. Jocky tried to follow but I grabbed hold of him.
‘Boss, no! It’s too dangerous! Wee Jocky’ll be alright!’
It killed me to see my pal stricken by panic and fear. I put an arm round his shoulders and pulled him in close as he made mumbling pleas to his Granny to keep an eye on Wee Jocky and get him back out alive. I was on the verge of charging in after him myself when a naked, shrieking man erupted out the front door. Holy fuck, it was….
‘Ya cunt, there goes Darren Jackson! See yi’ efter pal! Cheers fur comin’ roond!’
My former agent didn’t stop. I’d never seen a man move quite so fast. He roared out the garden, down the street and out of sight. What. The. Fuck. Wee Jocky flew back out and almost shrugged as I looked at him in disbelief.
Two fire engines screeched to a halt and the crew leapt into action. They ushered us away from the burning house. The four of us took a seat on the grass and looked on in silence as the fire fighters went about their work. Jocky gathered himself.
‘Fuck sake, man. This is well less than teckle, but at least a’ cunt’s a’right.’
He picked his cat up and cuddled it, put it down then did the same to Soapy, who told him he had no idea how it had started. He’d been on duty in the bathroom when he felt the heat slowly rising. When wisps of smoke started to creep under the door he’d charged out but been unable to face the blaze and resulting smoke. He gave the cat his second cuddle of the afternoon as he explained how he had saved his life by flying in out of nowhere to rescue him.
Jocky sat staring at the house. I could almost hear the wheels in his head spin round as he tried to figure out who could do such a thing. It appeared to come pretty quickly. With a rueful smile he whispered, ‘Teckledong’.
As if by reflex I immediately started to refute the accusation, searching for a more plausible answer.
‘Was that cauldron of stovies still cooking, boss? Maybe…’
The look of deep offense cut me short. No, Jocky knew how to handle cooking stovies.
‘Davie fuckin’ Teckledong.’
It seemed extreme for David to be responsible for such an action………..yet it made some sense. It made a lot of sense, when you thought about it.
We resumed sitting in silence and watched the firemen fight the inferno. As the flames that had turned his home into a smoking ruin were doused, the flames of anger deep within Jocky were stoked. Wherever he was and whatever he was doing, David Goodwillie would have been best advised to pack his bags and sign for a team as far away as possible. Though he was definitely due Jocky one back for the clotheslines and torched sheds, this was a step too far and was unlikely to end well for him.
The day finally came to an end at my teepee in Caird Park. Jocky could’ve called on any number of friends who could offer a more bricks-and-mortar-based place to stay until he figured out his next move, but when he asked if it was ok to spend the night at my place I couldn’t tell him it was no problem quickly enough. He was rattled. The anger at Goodwillie had subsided and given way to a subdued, reflective mood. He knew he had a bed somewhere if he really wanted it, so I was deeply touched and honoured to be the kind of friend he sought the company of in an hour of need, regardless of my inferior sleeping arrangements.
After a quick scrub of Jocky’s balls Soapy was given leave of absence to spend the night at a mate’s house. I made my guest – and his cat, of course – as welcome and comfy as possible. I managed to lift the mood by sticking some music on.
‘Fucking yas, Leigh! Bit o’ the B-Boys, eh? Teckle!’
I knew the words to loads of the Beastie Boys’ songs by this time. I started acting up for a laugh, rapping along to the words and giving it big licks with the hip hop hand gestures. Jocky loved this and started joining in, jumping in to add his voice to the last word of every line just as the Beastie Boys bust out their rhymes. Even
Wee Jocky got in on the act by dropping a “Miaow” now and then.
After going through our favourite songs we eventually called it a night. I lay on my side and shielded my eyes as Jocky went through his bedtime routine of brushing his teeth, reapplying more toothpaste to the brush and giving his light bulb-sized helmet a good going over, combing his ‘tache and finally praying to Bobby Cox in order to give thanks for leading Dundee to the championship back in the ‘60s.
‘Oor Faither, wha bides in Heaven, Boaby be thy name. Thy will be done in the Coxy as it is in the Derry. Gie us this day oor daily stovies, mibbe a couple o’ pehs tae, ‘cause pehs are fuckin’ teckle. Lead us not intae Tannadice, ‘cause a’cunt there gies aff heavy spaz vibes. For Dens is the kingdom, the power and the glory, Dundee fuckin’ Derry, ya bas.’
Wee Jocky lay spooning in against my torso and purred as I stroked the top of his head with my middle finger. Jocky did the same to me. He cuddled into the back of me, ruffled my hair for a while then yawned, ‘Night night, pal! Sleep tight, dinnae let meh cock bite. Ooft!’
As he immediately started snoring away in a deep sleep I became all too aware of the enormous, languid penis nestled against the back of my thighs. I said numerous prayers to Bobby Cox, God and anyone else who might be able to prevent Jocky having a dream that sexually stimulated him in any way whatsoever. As Jocky asked wha was in cherge in his sleep I visualised myself playing against some of the best teams in the world, smiled as I remembered it was going to become reality and drifted into the best nights sleep I’d had for a long time.
Satisfied that the first act of revenge had gone according to plan the unseen enemy chuckled quietly to himself. It began bubbling and building into a steady stream of laughter, gaining depth and volume until it reached the unmistakable deranged mirth of a man pushed too far. He wasn’t finished with Jocky Scott. Not by a long chalk. The next attack would come soon, and this time he would make it while face-to-face with his nemesis.