It’s traditional when a book is launched for parts to be serialised in newspapers; well, as our local paper has shown zero interest and not replied to an email about the book, I thought I’d serialise it myself.
I’m out all day today, firstly on the ever-supportive Radio Lincolnshire with Melvyn Prior then off (hopefully) having my recent little back issue sorted, but I didn’t want to leave you without anything to read. As I’m plugging my book on the wireless (as Granddad always used to call it), I thought I’d give you a taster of what’s in store.
If you haven’t bought it yet, the five star reviews are piling up nicely on Amazon and there should be a widget here by which you can go and purchase it. I’d recommend it; mainly because I wrote it. Others are recommending it too, but because they liked it. I’d trust them more than me.
Anyway, here is a little tale I recounted at the launch from my early days as Poacher, although I confess in my nervous state speaking in front of the assembled group I did get a couple of minor points wrong!
It was during the Scunthorpe game that I had my first brush with The Law as Poacher. At that time, away fans only occasionally got the Stacey West end, with average crowds of 2,700 it didn’t really matter. Occasionally Scunthorpe came to town and there were 5,000 in the ground.
I came out at half time as usual with City 2-1 up thanks to Dave Cameron and Peter Gain. I recall Gainy’s goal being like all of his goals, a belter (I could be wrong). He’d scored on the stroke of half time and I was in high spirits. I’d been drinking before the game with my Uncle Keith, once upon a time an Imp, but due to a house move in his teenage years he’s also Exeter. He’s a hardcore football fan and having someone to attend the game with was unusual. I was a little worse for wear, especially as my generous relative hadn’t seen his nephew in such a long time.
As I made my way from the tunnel area to our fans in The Coop Stand (it was probably The Coop at that point, although it’s been the Linpave, the Echo and goodness knows what else. For the rest of this book I’ll call it the Coop) I heard a now-familiar shout coming from the Scunny fans. It goes along the lines of ‘What the fucking hell is that’ (repeat). You get used to it after a while, and I decided to give them a little wave to let them know I heard.
My little wave did involve me holding my hand aloft with two of Poacher’s three fingers protruding, so instead of a friendly greeting it may have looked a little like an insulting gesture. One of their number obviously thought so, as he complained to a steward, who in turn pulled me across to him. He explained that my gesture was inciting trouble and he suggested politely I refrain from doing it again. I agreed and went back across the pitch.
Their chanting continued as it previously had, and I wanted to acknowledge their efforts. As they enquired rather gruffly what I was again, I turned and pointed to the name Poacher on my back. I then blew them a kiss and, as I turned, I planted my kiss-blowing hand on my arse. I repeated said gesture a second time in case they hadn’t seen it the first. I’m good like that.
The chanting stopped, and a degree of uproar ensued. Glancing across to where the steward stood I noticed a couple of the boys in blue as well. They were looking at me and beckoning me over. My belly twisted into knots as I knew I had overstepped the mark. I basically asked fifteen hundred angry Scunthorpe fans to kiss my ass in front of a lot of witnesses.
I got to the side of the pitch and the police pulled me in and had a few choice words. It turns out my gesture had been spotted and they felt it was causing them problems in the away end. I was to come straight off the pitch, get changed, and speak to them. They accompanied me down the touchline and to the end of the tunnel. That day I was changing in my old spot as Box 18 had been hired out. The stewards asked the policemen to wait at the end of the tunnel for me and I went to change.
I sat in a cheap plastic chair in the tea room slumped in despair. I had always imagined if I was to be in trouble with the police it might be for something done on a night out in town. I was veering wildly off course; instead of becoming a hermit, I was out three nights every weekend, and I suspected that might be what got me in trouble with the law eventually. I never imagined I’d go this way, for a moment of rash stupidity in front of 5,000 people. I might even lose my job as Poacher. Nightmare.
I packed up the suit for what I thought could be the final time, adjusted my hair in the mirror, and made myself presentable. I then opened the door, turned left, and headed down the tunnel. I could see the police officers ahead of me looking straight at me. I looked down at my feet, dragging them slowly down the tunnel, I looked up at them looking towards me. As I got closer, I realised they were looking straight through me. They didn’t know what I looked like.
It dawned on me as I drew near to them that they hadn’t seen me without the head on. Potentially I could walk right past them. So, that’s what I did. I walked straight past them, tipped a wink to the steward on the tunnel, and dispersed into the crowd. I’d done a runner from the Feds.