I’m not much of a sportsman. Being a bit fat and blind in my left eye doesn’t help. But I do try! When I worked at Cinram we had a couple of football trips to France. The first trip coincided with the world cup in 1998. Training sessions were arranged and I managed to avoid all of them. I talked a good game mind you and blagged my way into the first team. I told them that I was a goalkeeper with years of experience. I had to say something or I couldn’t go! We drove to Dover, caught the ferry and then drove in to central France. Well over 12 hours. At least we had a drink.
We arrived at our digs and an impromptu pool tournament was soon underway. I didn’t win. The following morning we got back on the coach and drove to the stadium, via the bloody French factory. After viewing the way the French work we duly arrived at the football.
The first game got under way and saw us English pitted against the Dutch. We attacked straight from the kick off and was all over them. After four minutes their top boy broke through and unleashed a thunderous shot. I flew through the air and managed to tip the ball round the posts. I had to stop everyone from congratulating me as that could wait until after the game. We had a corner to defend. I got up but something felt wrong. I couldn’t stand up.
I was carried off by Ozzy, Sedge and Tan. The fuckers chucked me onto the ground and went back to the game. All the women were telling me to get up and to stop being a tart. I was in agony. Luckily for me the fella in charge called me an ambulance. I was in and out of the hospital in just over 90 minutes. Not like our NHS! I got back in time to see our lads beat the French.
My leg was in plaster and mobility was limited (even more limited than usual). I had a superb time though as Julie, Pat and Kim were waiting on me hand and foot (excuse the pun). During the evening we were treated to a banquet, I’ll give the French their dues they certainly know their gastronomy. I was sat at a table with Ozzy, his misses Julie, Kim and her fella Steve, the Schulens and someone else I can’t recall. I drunk some wine. Then I woke up in bed. The night was a blur. I will have to fill in the gaps with second hand information. Apparently I shared almost eight bottles of red wine with Steve and had to be carried onto the coach, when the coach arrived back at our digs I fell down the stairs and collapsed in a heap only to have Steve Youngs land on top of me. Those of you that know Steve will know that I must have hurt.
Ozzy, Sedge and Dave Archer then carried me to bed. They dropped me a couple of times along the way and kicked fuck out of me. I had several bruises on my back the next day. I woke up without a hangover, got showered and dressed and went downstairs for breakfast. After breakfast we got on the coach and went to the football as it was the semi finals and finals. We had to beat the French (second factory) in our semi, which we duly did.
We had made the final and played the Spanish. Now then the Spanish were a dirty bunch of cheats. They had several ringers and soon went into a 2 goal lead. We showed a lot of grit and determination and clawed our way back to 2-2. When Duane scored our equaliser I momentarily forgot about my broken leg and ran onto the pitch. I fell over. Duane’s goal was the last of the match it was the dreaded penalties. Dave Archer stepped up and missed. The Spanish scored all five of theirs. Yet again an English side crashed out of a major tournament on penalties.
Oh well revenge would be ours. After the final we had to drive straight back to get the ferry. By now the painkillers the French had given me were mixing well with all the lager I had consumed. I was feeling pretty rough on the old boat. I was sitting next to Julie and luckily enough she had an empty carrier bag in her pocket. It wasn’t empty long as I filled it up with an endless stream of vomit. To cap things off the coach broke down about a mile from the Orwell bridge. Almost an hour we had to wait for a replacement coach. Stevie Morgan drove us back to Felixstowe where I had a few hours kip before embarking on another piss up as it was the England v Tunisia game live on BBC1.
At the time Pinder had a rooftop bar called ‘The Mad Cow’. At nine am Smacker and I knocked on his door and within minutes of him letting us in we were tucking into the Castlemaine XXXX. A rooftop bar? Yes the nutter used to live above Hammond’s newsagents and at the back of his flat he built a little bar. It was always well stocked and wasn’t restricted by our countries archaic licensing laws.
Unfortunately the Mad Cow had a short life due to some mindless yobs smashing it up. Anyway the game was due to kick off at 1:30pm so after a couple of cans we sauntered on down to Albies café for a fry-up. There was a good dozen of us all tucking into bacon, eggs, mushrooms et al. At eleven the sports bar opened and a kitty was organised. By one thirty the place was heaving with local drunkards (us). We won two-one with goals from Paul Scholes and Alan Shearer. After the game an impromptu game of football was organised. I was in goal (broken leg restricted mobility) and it was basically everyone versus Pinder. The game came to an abrupt halt with Charlie Manning confiscating the ball after Pinder had yet again dived into the fountain.