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By Phil Thornton


Stoney trusted The Professor a bit more now. He seemed almost human…for a professor! He told him the rest of his story, not that it amounted to much really. How he’d left the army in 86 after butting the Geordie sergeant and returned to Northwich and his ma’s house but couldn’t hack it with the prick she’d asked him to treat like a father. He’d already had one prick for a father and didn’t need another. At a loss, he’d gone to London working on the sites for a few months, looked up one of his old squaddy mates, Billy Maher, a Millwall fan from Dartmouth way. Billy introduced him to a few of the Millwall lads and he was nicknamed ‘Scouse Kev; which amused him because he didn’t think he spoke with a scouse accent, at least not as scouse as the real scousers. Yet this also gave him a sort of refuge, an identity that he could mould into anything he wanted and, once he returned up north, he moved to Liverpool and re-invented himself.


Heysel had a number of effects, not only on Liverpool’s away support, their hardcore firm, not they ever called themselves a ‘firm’ or a ‘crew’ which seemed such a wool thing to do. The lads, the boys, call em what what you want, suddenly lost a lot of the hangers on and some got sidetracked by other things; family life, drugs, crime, boredom. By the beginning of the 87/88 season, just by hanging on in there it seemed, you became a recognised face and Stoney, with his new alter ego, ‘Stoney from Kenny’ worked his way up the ranks and through a mixture of courage beyond the call of duty – taking on those Mancs at Oxford Road on his own, charging into Spurs’s mob on the Seven Sisters on his own, taking on and defeating Rigger, one of the top lads after a post-match bust-up and an ability for organisation and tactical awareness,  he ensured that Mad Stoney (it was was ‘Mad Stoney from Kenny’ now!) got to sit with Kavvo and the rest of the top table. It was a loose coalition, little cliques from different areas, old legends, young turks, there was no real hierarchy but some of the younger lads were fast replacing the old guard and looked to older lads like him for guidance and direction. What he noticed about these kids was their utter lawlessness, their total disregard for authority in whatever form it took.


At heart Stoney was a traditionalist, a Cheshire country bumpkin used to tugging his forelock to the master, the whole of Cheshire seemed to be carved up between those two thieving clans, the Grosvenors and the Cholmondleys. His dad, who never had a bean in his life, always voted Tory, he may have been a shiftless, brutal alcoholic but he believed in Queen and country and accepted his place in the grand scheme of things. Stoney’s army experience had only convinced him of this con trick even more. They weren’t protecting the nation, defending its people, they were protecting the rich, defending their wealth. It was all bullshit, the places they went to; Ireland, The Falklands, these outposts of empire. He admired the way in which that empire had strategically placed its dominions, not huge swathes of redundant desert like the French had, things that looked good on paper, on maps but didn’t really bring in any money. ‘We’ - and he seldom used that word these days, seeing no connection between himself and his countrymen – invested in small pockets that protected shipping lanes; Gibraltar, the Falklands, Singapore, Cape Town, Hong Kong. Same as the Greeks and the Romans did. Water was key, back then before planes and trains and automobiles at any rate. Britannia ruled the waves and everyone benefitted, so the story went, except that was bullshit too. No matter how you dressed it up, bringing democracy, Christianity or civilisation to these poor savages, they ended up getting royally fucked over.  Stoney now realised he had been used, just as all his mates had been used. Now he only had one army, one regiment, one battalion.                


He told all this to the professor, his political conversion and also his personal story, a story that contradicted his more socialist, collectivist ideals. In a way it was the same trick the army used; you weren’t fighting for The Queen or the country or for abstract notions of freedom, you were fighting for your mates. His mates eventually let him down, turned on him. Those he thought were his mates that is. Only Kavvo stayed loyal when they’d left him to take the rap after an organised meet with thirty Mancs spiralled out of control. It was tit for tat stuff. One of their lads had been ambushed outside the court, they’d responded by attacking three of their lads in a pub in otwn, before an England game after a tip off by some kid who worked behind the bar. Him, Danny, Jonah and Ged had got into town and luckily they were still there, two of the cunts who’d stabbed Lee. He still remembered that look of horror and they walked through the door, no shouts, no giving it the big un, just a quick in and out, he’d put an iron bar over one of their heads but Ged had chivved one and he’d ended up losing a lot of blood, almost died. The lad he’d smacked with the iron bar had also received surgery to his head but was released the same day. He, Ged and Danny were all arrested two days later and charged with GBH and wounding. Stoney, stupidly had immediately coughed, but Ged denied the stabbing and the others, three of whom weren’t even there also kept shtum. It was looking like attempted murder at one point, but luckily the stab wound was to the arm. Fair play to the Mancs, they didn’t want to press charges, that’s how it worked, that was the code, but the landlord was under pressure from the bizzies and three of the regulars had provided statements, two of them identifying him, one identifying Ged.


In the end they could only bring charges against Stoney and suddenly Ged and the others deserted him, leaving him to face the stabbing charge too. He got seven years, served almost five. Never got one visit. Only Kavvo and Big John and his ma. His ma died while he was inside. He knew then, that he couldn’t rely on anyone, couldn’t trust anyone. There was no such thing as honour any more, he’d placed his trust in so many people, offered loyalty to so many people and they’d all let him down, all looked after number one, so that’s what he’d do from now on. When he got out, Ged and Danny were off the scene, Danny was working abroad somewhere and Ged had become some kind of bouncer stroke security expert down south. He’d made a lot of money in the meantime, hooked up with some Mancs and shipped in parcels. That’s the way it was now and it took Stoney a while to work out this new terrain. The top lads were in cahoots together, spivving, dealing, whatever.


He wanted to stay away, give it up all together but Kavvo was always on at him, just come to one game, ease yourself back in. So he started going again and soon enough he’s at all the aways and back in Kenny back working as a postie and he’s got this legendary aura around him, ’Mad Stoney From Kenny’ but inside he wants to jib the whole thing. He realised this caper’s not for him any more and the game itself has changed so much. He was inside from June 92 to September 96 and in that time, not only has the crowd, the fans changed but the stadiums, the players, the managers; everything. He kept himself to himself now, and to be honest, there was no reason or opportunity to get involved in any of the old nonsense. The bizzies had it well and truly boxed off.  Stoney even started to enjoy the football and actually spent time watching the game.


Then Kavvo went and died on him. Everyone knew the daft cunt had a death wish, that he’d been lucky to make it to thirty eight but there was something all too fateful about that millennium trip to Thailand. No-one was surprised when they heard the news. They toasted him, going out the way most of them wished they could go too; buzzed off their tits with an oriental beauty waiting on the beach. Some raised a few objections to Stoney moving in with Jo, not that they said it to his face, but even that was accepted as soon as Jade was on the scene. If nothing else, Jade had opened his eyes to how they treated women, how they treated their wives and their girlfriends and even their own kids. This, more than anything, gave him the impetus to separate himself from the lads.


Fuck, he was forty three now, how long could he remain ‘one of the lads?’ The postie job was going nowhere and although he’d finished it with Jo almost three years ago, her WAG pretentions on a postie’s wage, he still had enough put by to pay half the mortgage for her and tip up for whatever Jade needed. He was sure most of it was going into her arse pocket, on her beak habit and nights out with all the other plazzy molls. That’s why he’d decided to change career, try something different, social work, youth work, something he could be good at, something he could a sense of achievement from. He doubted his own motivations really, was he just trying to play the system, use his rep and his intimidating presence to carve out a niche for himself as some kind of Hooly Elder? Maybe he did but he also genuinely wanted to help some of these kids, kids who’d had it a lot rougher than he had in most cases. He’s poured all this out to the professor, seen him back to his train and then realised he’d been gone most of the afternoon but fuck it!               


Back at the office, Stoney was immediately met by Angela, the personnel manager.


‘Kev, can I have a quick word?’


‘Sure yeah.’ Stoney replied then looking at his colleagues, who all avoided eye contact realised there was something wrong. Angela ushered him into one of the side rooms in the corridor and closed the door. Inside Jeff, some baldy big cheese in probation sat behind a desk looking both nervous and serious.


‘Please have a seat Kevin’ Jeff said.


Stoney sat forward in the small, uncomfortable blue chair as Angela joined Jeff behind the desk.


‘Could you tell me where you’ve been this afternoon?’ Angela asked.


‘Why what is it?’ Stoney answered brusquely.


‘Just answer the question please’ Jeff interjected. Stoney shot him a look and he quickly looked down at his pen.


‘I’ve been with a professor of sociology who’s been interviewing me for a book he’s doing, no big deal’


‘It IS a big deal if you’re leaving the workplace for three hours without permission from your line manager’ Angela responded with an outraged glare.


‘Line manager!’ Stoney laughed, ‘Who’s supposed to be my line manager?’ 


‘John Kenwright is your line manager Kevin.’


‘Yeah well he’s in Amsterdam.’


‘If John’s not at work then you should report to Donna Mills’ Jeff interjected with that same self-righteous look on his face.


‘OK let’s get this straight’ Stoney turned to Jeff. ‘I’ve worked here now for five months for fuck all and I go out for a few hours….’


‘Over three hours actually’ Angela piped up.


‘Whatever love, three hours then, to meet someone who my ‘line manager’ – he said that bit ironically – ‘asked me to meet, someone I didn’t even want to meet in the first place and now it’s a problem.’


‘It’s a problem Kevin’ Jeff replied his big patronising head wobbling from side to side, ‘because a) this is our busiest time of the month and b) you didn’t inform any of your colleagues as to your whereabouts and incidentally whether we pay you or not I think you should feel a bit more grateful for us taking you on in the first place.’


Stoney stood up now and Jeff almost fell back on his chair. Angela stood too and asked him to sit back down.


‘Look knobhead’ Stoney growled, ‘if this is about that Thomas Machin file, I can tell yer that Tommy’s one lad you’ll never get through to, not in a million fucking years and if you look at the case notes you’ll see why but you never look at the fucking notes do you? Johno – sorry- John Kenwright’s files are all piled up on his desk and the ones I haven’t completed for him are all at least three months out of date but I don’t see you pulling him up. You know why he never has a dinner break? Cos he’s in here at half seven downloading porn that’s why and if you don’t believe me go through his disks. So y’know what mate, I don’t feel grateful to be working here, I feel exploited because no matter how hard you cunts try, those kids’ll never respond to you lot, because you’ve never done anything in your sad miserable lives.’


With that Stoney stormed out of the room and back into the office, where he grabbed his coat from the back of his chair. Jan and Donna were watching him along with the others. Stoney put on his coat and Angela walked into the office.


‘Kevin, there’s no need for this, let’s just calm things down and sort this out.’


‘You know what love, I’ll give you my files, there y’go’ Stoney reached over and placed fifteen or so heavy folders into her arms, ‘now you go and check on Johno’s desk for those porno disks and see how up to date his files are eh?’


He looked over at Jan and Donna.


‘Jan been nice knowing yer love, Donna sort that Botox out girl!’


With that Stoney left his potential career in tatters.


To be continued.      









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