We had driven out to Moretonhampstead in the pouring rain, and played out a 0-0 draw in thick mud……but we couldn’t go straight home! It was a Saturday after all!
After the match, we wandered back, through the driving rain, to the converted caravan.
Once inside, I unlaced my mud-caked boots, wrapped them in my football shirt, and threw them into a carrier bag to worry about at some later date.
Eleven naked bodies fought over two tin baths, and the warm water spilled out on to the metal floor. Jock had forgotten his towel as usual, and shared a dry corner of mine.
Half-an-hour passed before our captain, Brian Carter, addressed his troops.
“Right lads! You know the routine by now. I’ve seen a pub in the main street called “The Union”... we’ll meet outside it.”
It was dark now, but, at least, the rain had stopped as we walked back to the lane to locate the cars.
The 'Union' proved easy to find, and we met on the pavement outside.
“Ken, you stay with me, and the rest of you go in and order. I’ll be ten minutes,” said Brian.
I cringe as I recall the silly game we were about to enact, but excuse it when I remember that we were all young, and our weekday lives were mainly serious affairs. On Saturdays, 11 men had a few hours of being boys all over again!
We found the public bar, and queued up to order.
Most of us drunk rough cider, with a blackcurrant top, called a 'snake-bite'. It was tasty, very cheap, and you didn’t need to buy many of them!
The bar was quite full, so we grabbed four tables in the corner.
It wasn’t long before Brian came in, went straight to the bar, and said to the barman, in the very poshest of accents.
“First, I’ll have a scotch, and then the use of your phone, if I may, my man.”
The barman reached under the bar, and handed him the phone. He dialled, and then speaking in a loud voice, for all the room to hear, he began:
“Bethsheba, It’s Marmaduke. I’m at the 'Union' in the main street. Be a good girl, and send the butler down with my feathers.”
He then settled on to a bar stool.
Ten minutes later, Ken burst through the door with a set of darts with bright gold flights. “Thank you, Forbes. Give him a drink, barman, please!”
Brian then strolled up to the dart board, looked all around the bar, and announced: “Who’ll put a pound against my 20, and give me a game of 501?”
He reached into his back pocket and waved two tenners, as he spoke.
“I’ll take you on,” shouted George Loye, and joined Brian at the board.
“What’s your name, my man?”
“I’m George,” came the reply.
Everyone in the bar was watching now as Brian proved himself to be the worst darts player imaginable.
Most darts missed the board completely, and George won the money easily.
“Oh darn it! That’s a bad start,” said Brian. “Is there another brave man in the house?”
At first, no-one responded until a wizened old chap couldn’t resist any longer.
Brian put £20 on the table and the old man added his four half-crowns.
Of course, we all knew that Brian played for the Polsham Arms, in Paignton, and was a superb darts player... and it wasn’t long before he began to prove it.
The old chap stood no chance, and in just a few minutes, he had lost his money.
Everyone in the bar felt sorry for him. A pound was a lot of money in those days!
Putting the four half-crowns into his jacket pocket, Brian grinned and joined us all at our tables.
He waited for the silent hate to spread before getting up, and going to the bar to order a cider.
The barman was not at all friendly but, on his way back to the table, Brian found the old man, put his arm round him, and slipped the four coins back into his pocket.
Another soccer Saturday had come to an end.
We hadn’t achieved much, but perhaps laughter and exercise bring their own rewards!
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