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Three star jumper halfway up me back …

 

by Shaun Smith

 

The Swine column still struggling to come to terms with the removal of the Cockneys Die graffito from the wall approaching Edge Hill station, being unable to play Spear of Destiny’s Liberator on the vuvuzela and seminal Jimmy Nail vehicle Spender not being available as a box set dvd collection ....

     

 

Going to the Royal Blue chapel ….

Miss ****** ******* and Mr ******* ****** would like the three star jumper-wearing wool to join them to celebrate their marriage at Everton Football Club on Saturday ********** 2010 at 1:00pm in the Dixie Dean Suite followed by a reception in the Alex Young Suite. R.S.V.P. The Red Brick, County Road, Liverpool 4 or on the 08:45 ordinary to Euston, next London away

 

How could I even consider refusing? An invitation to attend the wedding of a long time match-going associate and good mate in the very place that brought most of the invited male attendees together in the first instance? I honestly don’t think it gets much better. Suitably suited, booted and sober rather than the usual Barboured, trainered and lagered, I arrived at Lime Street on the train I’d caught on a regular basis to Saturday home games for more years than I cared to remember. If there was any doubt as to which city I had arrived in, it was dispelled as soon as I walked across the station foyer. A cracking-looking blonde beauty sashayed past in high heels in the opposite direction as though she were strutting down the Milan catwalk for Giorgio Armani .... complete with a full head of two inch diameter green plastic hair rollers, giving the optical illusion from a short distance of her wearing a Norwich City-themed rasta hat. Only in Liverpool ....

 

With time on my hands, rather than catching a joe up to the holy territory of Liverpool 4, I opted for a nostalgic bus trip instead and walked past Ma Egerton’s and out onto London Road to catch the number 21 Northwood bus. I proffered my £1:70 to the bastard son of Stan Butler and set off on the not-so-magical mystery tour that is:

 

London Road, Moss Street, Shaw Street, Netherfield Road South, Netherfield Road North, Walton Road, County Road

 

Outside a shop at the top of London Road, a bloke in an off- white LFC away shirt with “5 Times” on the back is struggling with a roll of carpet of giraffe-height proportions. First thought that crossed my mind? - “... have you only just got that back from Istanbul? ..”. Why this entered my twisted head, I don’t know but there was something niggling away at the back of my sub-conscious associating our friends across the park with carpets and Istanbul in 2005 and it was going to annoy me until I remembered why. It took for the bus to reach Netherfield Road South for me to work it out. It was a Liverpool “fanatic” from Bedfordshire interviewed on either Come Dine With Me or Home In The Sun. Or maybe it was on Why The Modern Game Is Fucked. He talked about going to the Champions League Final in Istanbul in 2005. With his wife. And how they went shopping and fell in love with a rug and simply had to bring it back with them. As you do when going the match abroad. If you are a complete weapon that is. Must have had one extra large fuck-off Head bag with them ....     

 

What passes for reality in my warped mind returned as we passed Prince Rupert’s Tower on Everton Brow. I doffed an imaginary half-and-half Everton/Becks of Bremen bobblehat in the direction of the centrepiece of our club crest. Then on past where The Tug Boat alehouse used to be – whenever I pass, it always reminds me of the line in The End about dickheads spraying 1690 on the wall by there - and on to the junction with the killing fields of Walton Road. Not the site of the kind of battle you’ll read about in any of Antony Beevor’s books you understand nor are you likely to find a pair of crossed Stanley knives on the Ordnance Survey map for this location either. But the likes of United, Chelsea, West Ham and Boro all ran into their own personal Den Bien Phu’s at one time or another along this particular stretch of road ....

 

I got off the bus on County Road and walked up Spellow Lane to be greeted by the supermodel beauty that is Goodison Park looming larger into view. I still melt every time I see her. Who in their right mind would want to leave Archibald Leitch’s aesthetic equivalent of Helena Christensen for a soul-less concrete Yoko Ono new build in a middle-of-nowhere retail park? Get a grip please Bill Kenwright and co for fuck’s sake. I continued on Goodison Road in the shadow of the Main Stand as far as the public bar entrance to the Winslow Hotel where we’d arranged to meet for a pre-match drink. The bridegroom and best man looked the absolute business in navy suits, teamed with white waistcoats and shirts with royal blue ties but given the groom’s propensity for getting into all manner of scrapes and alcohol-induced states on our trips together, you’d have got a very long price on said white waistcoat not looking like an exhibit from a Jackson Pollock collection by the end of the night. About a dozen of us were then joined by an old fellar in a Glasgow Rangers shirt. You’d really have thought Big Dunc could have made a bit more of an effort on the old sartorial front, particularly for one of the lads. As we finished our drinks off, the uninvited Hun astounded us by producing a ghettoblaster from his bag and we left the Winslow to the sound of The Sash blasting out. Our Loyalist friend was well early for the 12th of July celebrations in Southport so I wondered if he was like one of the Celtic fans in Lisbon in 1967 who never made it home from Portugal after their European Cup victory. Perhaps he’d decided to stay in the Winslow after Dave Watson’s testimonial and had been in there on the piss since in 1997? I really should think about getting out a bit more .....

 

We walked across to the lounge entrance and upstairs to the Dixie Dean Suite. More familiar faces and handshakes all round as we waited for the bride to arrive ..... and the Wigan contingent, still waiting for a taxi. All finally did arrive and we filled our allocation of the seats along with several also standing up at the back (double-clickers and blagged complimentaries no doubt - we’re Everton aren’t we?). Naturally, the bride looked beautiful and the bridesmaids porting royal blue dresses was a lovely touch. Forty-five minutes later, ceremony over with Mr and Mrs Toffee pronounced husband and wife, we walked out into the Main Stand for the photos. All sat in the directors’ box and lounge members seats – all very civilised. Then down to the Alex Young Suite for the reception and a three-course meal surrounded by our history. Framed photographs of Duncan Ferguson waving farewell to the Gwladys Street end ... a young Dave Hickson with his boots hung over his shoulder ... the Golden Vision himself notching against Leeds ... Alan Ball and Tommy Lawton walking in deep conversation at Haydock Park races ... Brian Labone nursing the FA Cup. For any Evertonian, I really could not think of a greater place to be than this on the biggest day of your life ....

 

As the drink flowed following the speeches, the best man straight-facedly advised our table that a certain notorious Everton old head was coming especially to cut the wedding cake  - a veiled reference to an incident during our madder, younger days after a game in London. Some people might frown. The type of football fans who buy rugs (real ones as opposed to the rhyming slang variety) while following their team abroad would probably be horrified. We cracked up laughing and I make no apologies for doing so. Scenarios like that formed a part of the Everton glue that held together a large number of us who were present at the wedding – along with the football, the travel, the drunken escapades and the laughs. More drink and more nostalgia followed as day reception morphed into evening do. Travel plans for the pure diehards going to watch the pre-season games in Australia were discussed along with those of us with more modest ambitions of Wolfsburg away via Berlin and Ewood Park first league game. Had I got home that night, found that I had all six numbers in the lottery up and then crept into bed next to Penelope Cruz, I don’t think I could have had a more perfect day. Unless, perhaps, I’d got 50% discount at Allied Carpets Luton store on an Axminster rug with a picture of Dirk Kuyt’s face woven in .......          

        

England Away ….

Don’t know about anyone else but I enjoyed this World Cup. ITV’s digital coverage interrupting the adverts to show England players celebrating a goal, Wayne “once a Blue, always a Blue” Rooney lecturing passing television cameras about the true meaning of loyalty, John Terry fancying himself as Bob Crowe to Fabio Capello’s CBI, ‘arry Redknapp forgetting all about his threat to sue Panorama and his consequent refusal to do interviews with the BBC to prostitute his way onto their “expert” panel as soon as there was a potential sniff of the England manager’s job being available. And most of all, English football’s so-called golden generation being shown up for the bunch of over-rated, spoilt bastards that most people with a modicum of unblinkered football-watching knowledge already knew that they were anyway – except for the majority of the media seemingly. If anyone is still in any doubt as to how much England’s World Cup on-pitch representatives were really bothered, compare their reactions and body language after receiving their footballing lesson off Germany to those of the Ghanaians following their quarter-final defeat by Uruguay. Having the gall to complain via agents (as usual) to the press of “being bored” while under preparation for what is supposed to be the pinnacle of their playing careers contrasts somewhat badly with the attitude of Chile’s players. As England moaned, the Chilean squad trained with a tattered national flag recovered from the rubble of this year’s earthquake staked next to their training pitch as a humble reminder of exactly who and what they were representing. Food for thought perhaps for the likes of Terry, Rooney, Lampard et al to consider next time their agents and PR advisors sanction some story about their “hellish” lifestyles due to missed hairdressing appointments and the spare Jag needing a service ....

 

This month’s Marco van Basten angled volleys ….

.... listening to the Style Council without feeling the urge to dress like Phil Brown ....Diego Forlan’s free-kick against Ghana .... Gap Band’s Burn Rubber On Me still at number one after 987 weeks in the South African township pop charts .... latest Nike Elite issue - green with black swoosh .... fixture list announcements .... Germany playing Holland 1974-style football .... Holland playing Germany 1990-style football .... navy Barbour Active Kagoule .... Uruguay’s Puma home kit .... 158-game sets of tennis .... seafood salads .... the vision that is Elle Macpherson in spray-on kecks .... jacket spuds with cheese and baked beans .... The Last Days of Mussolini by Ray Moseley .... your teenage god-daughter announcing those immortal three words – “ ... I hate Millwall ...” .... long-length dark socks with knee-length shorts and Adidas Gazelles .... Clarence Seedorf talking footballing common sense .... plain v-neck jumpers with Lacoste crewneck t-shirts .... wanting to twat Mick McCarthy with a Spear & Jackson brass-handled number three shovel .... Lebanon .... smirking at Alan Shearer’s shite shirts on World Cup Match of the Day and even shiter Gucci trainers on the Morrisons advert .... Shalamar Dead Giveaway .... M&S fresh orange juice jelly .... Everton in tasteful new home kit shocker .... Porridge – the film on Film Four .... Barcelona signing David Villa .... England shirts roasting on an open fire .... Three Star Jumper special offer: free entry to Burnley v Stoke pre-season friendly at Huddersfield and a portion of onion bhajis for any English Defence League member who also holds a Wetherspoons loyalty card and can recite any passage from the Qur’an ....           

 

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