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Rocky (Turner) MCMLXX - An Ordinary Bloke Pt. 4
Posted by southstander on December 07 2006 - 13:27:50

By McLaren_Field

In the fourth 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.

Enjoy.

v Hull (home) 3rd Jan 1970

Hull enter the field of play first with captain Arthur Keegan leading the black and whites onto the field of play, today they are playing in a white shirt with a black vee due to the fact that the BBC aren't covering this outside broadcast in colour and they need a complete contrast to Leeds' blue and amber shirt.

The Leeds team trot onto the field next from their dressing rooms in the corner of the ground to rapturous applause from the small crowd, especially from the paddock area in front of the north stand where his dad is standing with his two old mates Wilf and Earnest.

Finally Fred Lindop takes to the pitch to referee the game and as is the tradition both Leeds and Hull supporters boo him, the toss of a coin sees Hull playing from east to west and the Leeds supporters in the south stand have the opportunity to start the abuse of Clive Sullivan on the wing, both individually and collectively in the form of chants and songs pointing out the colour of his skin to those who hadn't already noticed but at least no-one throws a banana at him today.

Wayne returns five minutes into the game with two pints of bitter and a programme, he gives Eric his change and puts his pint on the concrete step beneath his feet while he checks the programme to see who the two Leeds props are today.

"Burke and Cookson, bastard, I could have had that Cookson you know, we played Fev a couple of years back an he was in the second row, big bloody nancy boy he was, look at him now, bloody Shirley Temple haircut, how the fuck he got a trial for Leeds I'll never know, got my bastard place he has"

An elderley man, well dressed in a suit and dark blue gaberdine leans forward and taps Wayne on the shoulder and asks him to "moderate his language please as they are not on the building site now" and Wayne apologises to him then turns to Eric and says out loud "How the fuck does he know I work on a building site ?"

The first half goes well for Leeds and Phil Cookson in particular plays a blinder, the prop that Wayne so elequently abuses as "yer big poofta" every time he gets the ball, the Leeds front row dominates the forward battle in the middle of the wet and muddy pitch. Ray Batten scores a try for Leeds and the new Leeds full back John Holmes converts the goal to put Leeds into a 5-0 lead after twenty minutes.

Wayne is also critical of the new full back, a tall gangly youth, no apparent muscle mass and a mop of curly brown hair, he is the antithesis of the traditional view of a rugby league player and with two more teenage years still to come he has some big shoes to fill in the shape of the recently retired Bev Risman, Wayne has his doubts and calls him a "nancy boy" too but admits that he has a good kicking boot on him and if he can stay clear of the opposition forwards then he might survive the winter.

Leeds score a second try just before half time thanks to an individual display of rugby masterclass from Mick Shoebottom the Leeds stand off who twists his way out of one tackle then sidesteps two other would be tacklers to run thirty yards and completely wrong foot the Hull full back to score under the posts, Holmes again converts the try although Wayne is convinced that the big girls blouse is going to miss it and Leeds go in at half time 10-0 up.

Half time is an excuse for another pint and big daft Wayne goes to fetch them again and while he's gone two other friends join them, Big Dave and Smiffy, Big Dave being, well, big, bigger than Wayne, and Smiffy having no neck to speak of and very little hair since he was fifteen is named after the Bash Street Kids character.

Smiffy is chomping on a meat pie and instantly Eric feels pangs of hunger until he asks Smiffy where he bought the pie, when he replies "In the bar", Eric asks him to confirm "The south stand bar ?" and Smiffy confirms, and then suddenly Eric isn't so hungry anymore. The south stand bar is only open on matchdays every second weekend and its a well known fact that the pies can often sit under their plastic domes on the bar top for several home games.

"By its bloody perishing today mate" Big Dave is flapping his arms back and forth across his chest in an effort to keep warm.
"Should have put a coat on then" Eric observes as Big Dave stands there in an arran patterned sweater that his mum knitted for him, although if she'd known how much wool it would take she'd never have started it.
"I left me coat in t'Cardigan Arms last neet"
"Yer daft bugger, it'll still be there toneet though"
"Not if someone wogs off with it it won't"
"No-one'll nick your coat, its bloody threadbare"

"That tramp int' tap room might have it, Filthy whatsis name" Eric laughs, "Even Filthy 'Arold wouldn't nick your coat, you'd do better to nick his"

Big Dave mumbles something about not being able to afford a new coat, he doesn't mumble the fact that its because all of his money gets spent on beer seven nights a week though.

Shoebottom wrong foots another Hull defender and throws a pass out wide to Ron Cowan who puts a quick pass out to his wingman John Atkinson but Clive Sullivan the black Hull winger that the crowd love to abuse sees the pass coming and intercepts it, running forty yards unchallenged to put the ball down inbetween the Leeds posts, the small group of Hull supporters on the Western Terrace go wild with excitement while the rest of the ground stamp their feet in exasperation, the try is converted and its 10-5.

Big Wayne rejoins them from the south stand bar with two pints of bitter and after greeting Big Dave and Smiffy turns to Eric and asks "Have I missed anything ?", Eric simply points to the scoreboard on the Eastern Terrace and Wayne sighs, "Oh bloody hell, what happened there then ?"

"If you'd been here, then you'd know, where've you been ?" asks Eric of the bemused Wayne.
"Had to go to t'slabs afore I went to t'bar mate" Wayne explains, "There was a queue, queued for t'slabs and queued for flippin bar an all"
"Did you have a piss ?" Eric asks out of curiosity
"Aye, why ?"
"Did you wash your hands ?"
"I don't know, why ?"
"You had your finger in the top of this beer when you were carrying it just then, give me yours you filthy bugger"
"Hark at you, I suppose you wash your hands when you go to t'slabs do you ?"
"Aye I do"
"Alus knew you were a big poofta - GO ON LEEDS"
A penalty for collapsing the scrum goes against Leeds and another two points are added to the scoreboard, its 10-7.

With twenty minutes to go the flat faced Alan Smith on the right wing takes a short pass from his centre Sid Hynes and somehow manages to keep his feet out of touch when diving just inside the corner flag to score a try the conversion for which the big girls blouse John Holmes goes and misses, 13-7 and its still anyones game although the Leeds forwards are doing a magnificent job of holding back the Hull pack in the middle of the field, much to Waynes disgust as its not giving him any ammunition with which to berate his nemesis Phil Cookson.

A penalty against Hull for foul play gives Holmes the chance to redeem his missed kick from forty yards out but his kick hits the post and then just two minutes later and on the other side of the field from where the last Leeds try was scored, John Atkinson snatches at a loose ball after some sloppy Hull attacking play, cold fingers no doubt resulting in the ball spillage, Atkinson cannot be stopped from twenty yards out and this time Holmes converts the try from the touchline, 18-7 and with ten minutes to go the smiles are spreading on the Leeds faces.

The final ten minutes are a scrappy, ill tempered affair and two more penalties are kicked for Leeds witha final one at the death for Hull, Fred Lindops whistle signals the end of a typical red bloodied clash between these two old enemies and at 22-9 Leeds can be said to have avenged their narrow one point defeat at Hull just four weeks earlier, the players leave the field and logjam at the concrete ramp in the far corner of the field where the changing rooms are located, steam rises from their backs and heads and several of them take the opportunity to scrape the worst of the clods of mud from their hair and shirts while they wait to enter the changing rooms.

The four lads in the south stand applaud the payers from the field and as he stand there Eric glances across at the paddock to where his father and his two friends usually stand and he notices two things, the old bloke from Hull is standing next to his dad, and Jack Myerscough the club chairman, a tall, bald, stocky man in his full length worsted coat, is passing along the pitch side towards the dressing room right in front of where his father is stood and as he passes its obvious that someone in the crowd has shouted something to the chairman for he turns and glares indiscriminately and continues walking along the touchline whereas Erics dad, his two friends and his new found comrade from Hull seem to find something hilarious.

Its only much later on that evening in the Burley Liberal Club that Eric finds out that it was his father that had made the remark to Jack Myerscough, a remark that enquired as to whether he'd be prepared to put his hand in his pocket to buy a blackie winger like Sullivan.

More next time....

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