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By Phil Thornton 


He was sat there when he walked in. Stoney was going to swerve it but at the last minute decided he had nothing to lose by speaking to the Scots prick for an hour or so. The Professor got up from his rickety, wooden chair and went over to Stoney. Ramon smiled at Stoney.


‘Hi Kevin, glad you could make it’ the academic said a bit too loudly for Stoney’s liking, alerting the table of young students sat eating their various vegetarian concoctions in the corner. 


‘OK mate’ Stoney quietly replied shaking the over-eager professor’s limp hand.


‘Shall we sit?’


‘I’ll get a brew first’


‘I’ll get these’


The professor looked at Ramon who smiled enigmatically


‘Please sit’, Ramon said in his broken English ‘I’ll bring it over.’


‘So….’ the professor began but Stoney cut him short.


‘I’ve got to be back in work in an hour mate, so we’ll have to crack on…’


The professor clicked the button and sat forward, avoiding eye contact with Stoney. Ramon came over with the teas and stood over them. Stoney looked up at him.




Ramon nervously smiled and walked away.


‘So, I think we got up the point where you’d stopped going to watch Liverpool with your dad.’


Stoney took a deep slurp and nodded, his eyes drilling into the professor’s.


‘Then….how long….’ He stuttered, ‘I mean….’


‘How long was it before I went again?’ Stoney asked impatiently.




The professor visibly relaxed and sat back in his chair.


‘Must’ve been a good, I dunno, five or six years atleast. It was a night game I remember that. Fucking freezing and we were in the Anny Road, the fences had come up by then. Last time I’d been with me dad, there were no fences. The whole atmosphere had changed. We were playing Blackburn I think, a cup game and they’d brought quite a few, not far is it Blackburn and to them that must’ve been a massive game. Must’ve been a replay, I don’t really recall much about the game itself but I knew it was kicking off outside and we couldn’t get out. I’d gone with this lad from school, Barry Carmen and his dad and after the final whistle his aul fellar was trying to keep us inside but I wanted to get out where it was kicking off. These three or four lads shoved past us and I heard one of em go ‘let’s get the fucking woolybacks’ and me and Baz smiled at eachother because they didn’t realise we were woolybacks too. Outside there was all sorts going off, police horses, vans, lads running up and down the street and even though I was only eleven maybe, it was just such a massive buzz. I managed to get out behind the Anny Road and lose Baz and his dad and went running off down the street with these scousers after the Blackburn lot. I couldn’t really make out what was happening but I think some of the Blackburn lot had made a stand and suddenly everyone was running back past me and I got knocked over. I was on the pavement and managed to get in between two cars and then the Liverpool mob regrouped and charged back at em and I was right in the middle of it, I just stayed there while it all went off and no-one took any notice of me, I was still a kid I suppose. This Blackburn lad, a black kid was standing but all his mates had left him and two scousers ran at him and he put one on his arse, fucking cracking punch it was, lad went down like a sack of shite but some other lads had come round the back and jumped him. He went down with about five or six of em on him and someone must’ve got a Stanley out because I heard this scream, next minute everyone was on their toes and this lad was rolling round holding the side of his face, blood everywhere and some older fellars gathered round him and tried to get him up.


I heard Barry’s dad shouting me, must’ve seen me and he grabbed me by me coat and pulled me over the road, frogmarched me up the street like a fucking bizzie or something. I’m going ‘get the fuck off me’ and I can see Baz is shitting it’ his aul fellar’s going ‘I knew I shouldn’t have brought you with us, I told you to stay inside the ground y’little bastard.’ It was silent all the way home, I don’t think Baz knew what to say and I was sat in the back just getting angrier and angrier. Next day in school Baz is trying to apologise but I thought ‘fuck this who does he think he is, grabbing hold of me like that?’ I went round their house that night and keyed all his car door, he came round ours on the bounce but I said I’d been in all night and me ma vouched for me. He knew it was me though. That was the last time I went the match for about another three years.’


The professor looked up at Stoney.


‘So you didn’t go to another match again till you were how old?’


Stoney thought hard.


Must’ve been fourteen I reckon, fourteen or fifteen. But I was a big lad for my age, I’d grown about two foot in the meantime, I was only ever a skinny little kid but I’d filled out a lot by this time and because of what was happening at home, I was out of the house more and more.’


Stoney looked at the professor who glanced down at his notebook.


‘You wanna know what was happening at home I suppose.’  


‘You only have to tell me what you feel is relevant Kevin.’ The professor answered diplomatically. Stoney thought hard again for a few seconds, put another sugar in his tea and stirred it.


‘No harm in telling you this I suppose. Me dad was back on the scene, well on and off anyway. Said he’d made a big mistake and me ma the soft cow took him back after a few months. But then once he had his feet back under the table, he was back to his old ways. I couldn’t believe me ma had let him back home and he was nice as pie for a few months, took me to Witton, the local non-league team a few times and at first I thought it’d be back like the old days but then he was drinking a lot and coming home pissed, wrecked the house a few times. I was getting big enough to stand up to him and he never touched me mum but one time, it looked as if he was going to smack her and I got in between em and he smacked me, put me on my arse and I had a go back. Managed to lamp him but he just laughed and threw me against the wall, smacked me head against the kitchen cupboard and that was that. Me ma went loco, flew at him, never seen her like that before and even the neighbours were coming round to see what was going on.


That’s the last time we saw him ‘till the funeral. Fuck knows where he went to. Just disappeared for two years and next minute we’ve got a letter saying he was dead, died of pancreatic cancer somewhere in Sheffield. We went the funeral like, not many there, some woman who he’d probably shacked up with, his brother, my uncle Tony, Aunty Sue, me nanna, me and me ma, that was it. Me ma seemed to go a bit mad after that, like she couldn’t really enjoy herself till he was dead and next minute there’s some Brummy fellar sat in the front room. I don’t really blame her, she never had much of a life with me dad but it’s not easy seeing another fellar sat there, in yer front room, sharing the bog with some stranger. Norman! Nosey Norm I called him, always asking us where we’d been, what we’d been up to, I think he was a bit of a crank but me ma seemed to like him, so I made meself scarce.


I went everywhere, liked me own company. I suppose I was a bit of a loner but that suited me, I preferred it that way. I wasn’t lonely though, always had mates going over to Manchester, Liverpool wherever we could get a bus or a train to. That’s when I thought, I can start going to the match meself. There was always a big crew who went to the home games from Northwich way, loads of Everton too and United, it was split between those teams, the odd City fan but not many. I used to catch the Lime Street train with em, some of the Winsford lot too, scousers and they took me under their wing a bit. I played up for em, I suppose, they were older lads, sixteen, seventeen, I was a few years younger and Liverpool were the biggest team in England still, in Europe! I’d missed out on all the Paisley years, been to Anfield once or twice since 73 and then all of a sudden it’s 1981 and everything’s changed. The Kop’s not where it’s at, the Anny Road’s where all these lads go, there’s no scarves and stupid fucking badges and all that shite, just plain jumpers, trainers, wedge haircuts. I was still at school but bunking off and going to all the away games with these Winsford scousers, robbing all the service stations, doing the slot machines, the bandits with clickers, robbing jewellers, the lot. They were proper thieves and I must admit I went a bit daft, started burgling shops and everything. I got caught shoplifting in Stoke and got a caution but the lads were moving onto doing jewellers and I got away with a load of sovs and chains at this place in fucking Luton or somewhere. Half the time we weren’t even going the match just driving down, doing a few shops and coming home, getting bevvied or chonging. I never touched it though. Ale didn’t agree with me, always puked so I didn’t really touch it and weed just made me ill. I had the odd blast but it did fuck all for me really. I was quite strict like that, even then. I’d seen me dad when he was bevvied and I thought ‘there’s no way I’m ending up like that prick’ and when weed came on the scene I tried it but never liked it. The other lads, the Winsford lot, two of em ended up on smack after a bit, saw one of em last year in town begging on Bold Street. Fuck’s sake, this kid was the best dressed lad about, proper handsome kid, had all the birds after him and now he’s scrounging ten bob for a bag of smack.”


Ramon interrupted.


‘More teas Stoney?’


Stoney shot him a look that said ‘don’t you dare fucking interrupt me’ but the professor agreed that two more brews would be fine and Stoney fidgeted with his finger nails, bitten down to the wicks. He sucked on one, a habit that he’d picked up back when biting your nails was one of the ultimate signs of scaldom, along with other physical ticks such as affecting a slight limp and flicking your fringe from your eyes, even when there was no fringe to flick. He’d become adept at copying such superficial scouse stylings that others, the squares, the divs, the wools never picked up on, adapting them to suit his own sullen demeanour. It wouldn’t be right to say that had engineered his own enigma as that would imply that he’d actually planned it all out yet he was very aware of how he came across to most people and he came across moody, aggressive and dangerous. It was something he played on when he was younger and after a few months of hanging around with the Winsford scals he also began adapting his accent accordingly, that flat quasi-Mancunian accent becoming scousified here and there with the odd bit of scally parlance. Suddenly everyone around him was a wool, was a ‘Manc’ whether or not they supported Liverpool, Everton or one of the Manchester teams never mind the local non-league teams Northwich Vics and Witton Albion. At school his exploits became legendary and once he’d offered out the cock of the school, a United fan called Joey McIntyre and he’d shit out, no-one would touch him. He didn’t even have to prove his hardness, his rep had been secured without ever throwing a punch in anger.     


Stoney realised he’d been day dreaming. He returned to the subject.

“I was coming up to leaving school, didn’t really have a clue what I wanted to do and joined the army just to get away for a bit. Again, that was that for a few years. Went over to Ireland a few times, went to Germany, lost touch with the Winsford lot, missed out on the Eurpean cup finals, Paris, Rome. Next Liverpool game I go to is fucking Heysel.’


The professor looked up again and shuffled in his chair. Stoney’s face told its own story.


‘Do you want to go on or shall we stop it there for a while?’


Stoney swallowed hard and looked at his watch.


‘Do you need to get back?’


He DID need to get back but fuck em, they were taking the piss anyway, the lot of em. He wasn’t going to rush back to clear up all Johno’s paperwork. If he could fuck off to the Dam for a weekend and leave all his files in a mess, why should be be arsed about another hour spent with this professor, who in the long term was perhaps a better bet at getting some kind of career going than Johno and the rest of the dickheads at probation?


‘It’s OK’ Stoney replied looking at his watch again.


‘So Heysel…’


To be continued.    



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