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Rocky (Turner) MCMLXX - An Ordinary Bloke Pt.2
Posted by southstander on November 29 2006 - 14:37:22

By McLaren_Field

In the second part of our new series for the long winter months we bring you McLaren_Field's 1970's Diaries.

Its the story of an ordinary bloke, living an ordinary life, in an ordinary street, and his love for his rugby league club, in other words he's just like you and me. Set during the second half of the winter season of 1969/70 it follows his devotion to the Leeds RLFC through the league title games, a challenge cup run and a championship final appearance. Characters and matchday reports are fictional but the fixtures, results and player names are real enough, as are some of the more unsavoury elements of the period.

You may find parts of this story distasteful, but it's told realistically for the time.


Three days into this new year and the world continues as normal, nothing has changed in his life, and he knows damn well that nothing will change in 1970, he's 20 years old, lives with his parents in a small rented house in a working class area of Leeds, study's two nights a week at tech so that he can finally shake off his apprenticeship bonds at the engineering factory down Kirkstall Road and earn some decent money next year, maybe even apply for a job at the Monkbridge Forge where his neighbour Sid Fensome worked, highly skilled they are at the Monkey, make turbine blades for Rolls Royce, loads of overtime, Fenno is rolling in it, he'd have some of that next year when he gets his indenture papers back.

For now its more bloody 6am wake up calls in a frozen attic bedroom and a five minute walk to the bus stop on Burley Road, a nine hour shift at Woodheads on Kirkstall Road, five days a week and some Saturday morning overtime if you were lucky, nine hours stood minding a lathe that spits hot shards of metal at you from the bolts it's carving out of solid lumps of stainless steel, a monotony only broken when the cutting tool needs changing or tolorances adjusting, or the whole bloody machine needs setting up again for a different sized bolt, but even then you have to shout for a skilled setter to come and do it for you because even though you could do it in your sleep you're still only an apprentice and the company don't officially let you tinker with the lathes like that.

The bacon inside his two slices of Mother Pride is crisp and burnt, its how he likes it, and he's just putting a dollop of tomato sauce on it when his dad kicks open the staircase door behind the table where he sits, its obvious that he too has a saturday morning hangover and its obvious that he would have liked to sleep it off.

"What the bloody hell are you doing up at this time, what time is it anyway you daft bugger ?"

"I forgot, set the alarm didn't I"

"Yer daft bugger"


"Mek me a cup of tea"

And as he stands up to go make his father a cup of strong but sweet tea, his father sits in the seat that he had just vacated and takes a big bite out of the bacon sandwich.

"An yer can mek me one of these an all, yer daft bugger, five an twenty past bloody six..."

Later they both sit at the small wax cloth covered table at the back of the room, hugging their pots of tea in both hands, waiting for their respective hangovers to ease, sharing one of the old mans Gold Leaf cigarettes, the tiny glowing ember at the end of the cigarette the only source of heat in the house, the father wearing an old khaki army greatcoat that he uses as a dressing gown these days, the son still in his cotton pyjamas and bare feet and although the living room window is still frosted on the inside the son doesn't feel the cold as much now he has the hot sweet tea inside him.

"You goin to match ?"

"Aye dad, you ?"

"If its on"

"It'll be on, undersoil 'eating'll be on"

"Aye yer right, its on telly, BBC'll be paying 'leccy bill"

"Its on telly if you've got a telly"

"Nowt wrong with our telly"

"It won't stay on for more than 'alf an hour"

"One of t'valves is loose thats all, it packs in when it gets too 'ot"

"Like ah say, bloody tellys knackered"

"Ave just told you, its just a dicky valve, theres nowt wrong wi'telly, ah know what you want, but we're not getting a colour one"

"Don't get yer knickers in a twist dad"

"Well theres nowt wrong wi'telly, its a Baird, years of life in it yet"

"Lets just put it this way then dad, match is on telly this afty, but you're going to t'ground instead of watching it on telly"

"I like to watch it in t'ground, not the same on telly"

"You've changed yer bloody tune"

"I go lots of times, got me own space in t'paddock wi' Wilf an Earnest"

"I bet you don't kow who we're playing today then, eh ?"

"I bloody do you cheeky bugger, its Hull int' it ?

"Aye, go on then, name one Hull player"

"You think your so bloody clever you, I wor watching rugby league long afore you were born you know"

"Go on then, name one"

"That blackie, Sullivan, there clever clogs, give me that ciggie"

There's a long pause as each man sits with his thoughts on this afternoon rugby match, the son takes his last long draught of tea, stands up from the table and walks three paces to the sideboard where the large wooden radio sits. He turns one of the knobs on the front and stands and waits as the dial with its multitude of cities of the world enscribed on it slowly illuminates, and then a faint whistling noise eminates from the huge cloth speaker frontage which gets louder as he fiddles with another knob until the strains of "Lets work together" by Canned Heat bursts loud and clear through the static, and the son sways his hips to the music and raises his arms above his head to click his fingers in the beat, cig hanging from his lips he dances silently there, in his pyjamas.

"Turn that bloody racket down yer daft bugger, yer mother's still asleep upstairs, you'll 'ave the whole street up"

"Keep yer hair on daddy-o"

And he turns the volume down slightly as his father mutters "I'll bloody daddy-o you", taking a packet of his own PLayers Number 6 cigarettes from the sideboard drawer he takes a few steps to the scullery, takes the teapot from the drainer and returns to the table with it, this mornings hangover needs another pot to shift it.

Two cigarettes are lit, one passed to his father and he draws deeply on the other and exhales slowly, staring through the smoke with narrowed eyes,

"He's bloody fast is Sullivan, Atki'll have to watch him this afty"

"Course he's bloody fast, he's a blackie"

"What does that mean ?"

"Well he is isn't he, hes a blackie and hes fast"

"What, he's fast because he's a blackie is that what you're saying ?"

"You know what I mean, he's only in the team because he's fast and he's only fast because he's a blackie"

"Atkinson's fast and he's not a blackie"

"And long may it last lad, long may it last, we won't have blackies at Leeds you know"

"Bloody rubbish"

"We won't, they won't have them"

"Course they will, who's "they" anyway"

"The jewboys, won't have them at the club, well known in the paddock that is"

"Give over, you old bastards in the paddock are like a load of old women with yer gossip"

"We get to hear a lot more than you lot in the south stand"

"Oh yeah, like the directors lean over the wall and shout, 'ere George, we won't 'ave no blackies at this club you know"

"You can laugh, mark my words, you'll not see blackies playing at leeds, thats why that Sullivan gets the stick he does"

"He gets stick off you old wives in the paddock, he doesn't get it in from the south stand"

"Give over"

"No its true"

"Aye, like bloody hell its true"

More next time.....



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