The real-life tales of a football writer
I’m supposed to be in paradise, but I’m getting abuse from all sides.
A week ago, we went to Reunion. Not for one, but to the French-owned island in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
Up to date copies of France Football were on sale for less than two euro and the books shops were loaded with Carla Bruni and her husband, who, like the former Manchester City chairman Peter Swales, wears Cuban heels.
The sport shops displayed shirts of Marseille, Nantes, Bordeaux and Lyon for 75 euro and men in stripy Breton jumpers chomped on onions while singing Joe Le Taxi. It was like that French baguette place in the Trafford Centre.
"Heels! Come and say that again to my face"
After that, Mauritius, which is full of Manchester United and Liverpool fans. As I tried to leave the port, a security guard collared me.
“Where you from?” he asked.
“Manchester,” I replied wearily.
“Liverpool is the best,” he went on. “Number one glorious team of England. Five European Cups. Manchester three. The most popular team on earth.”
I humoured him for a bit but he was deadly serious. He wouldn’t know the Kemlyn Road from a cowshed and has never seen ‘his’ team play in his life, but he was hammering me when all I wanted to do was pass his checkpoint.
“We’ll see what happens later today then,” I confidently concluded.
I saw what happened later that day with my brother-in-law, who is a Manchester City season ticket holder and was there on holiday. He just smirked as Liverpool scored four.
The following day, in front of 400 people, the captain of the ship, a Liverpool fan for over 60 years and long time friend of Sir Matt Busby, Joe Mercer and Bill Shankly, said: “Do we have an Andy Mitten in here?”
He knew full well I was there. 800 eyes looked at me, then him.
“We have a football result for you,” he went on. “Manchester United 1 Liverpool 4.” People actually cheered.
The ship’s receptionist is a Scouser who worked on reception in the famous Adelphi hotel. She delivered a note to me with the score on. Thanks.
Dossena pops in number, erm, four
Peter Hooton, formerly of The Farm and a home and away Liverpool fan, texted. He’d seen Terry Christian and Tommy Sheridan buying United We Stand when he went to get his copy.
A week later, the captain had a note sent to me with a rhyme celebrating Fulham’s win over the league leaders. If United beat Liverpool in the European Cup final, I’ll paint ‘MUFC’ in red across his ship while she’s in dry dock.
As I write from the equator, the closest landmass is Somalia. A fair few of the Somalians who haven’t left their lawless country for Streatham have turned to piracy.
Security has been stepped up on the ship and barbed wire spread, among other measures, to prevent unwanted boarding. I shouldn’t be trivial about a serious issue and we’re to pass the troubled Horn of Africa after visiting India.
But knowing my luck we’ll get attacked by pirates with knock-off Liverpool shirts and Terry McDermott haircuts shouting ‘four’, ‘five’, ‘19 years’ or whatever else they chant these days.
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I know you have been away a while but the pound has not sunk that much against the Euro ( yet ). €75 = £700 ???
A fine spot eagle-eyed reader. Although yes we agree it's probably only a matter of time!
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