v Bramley (home) 10th Jan 1970
He'll never love you, the way that I love you
'Cause if he did, no no, he wouldn't make you cry
Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye - Steam - #9 Jan 70
He takes his half finished pint and wanders to the back door of the Cardigan Arms, stands there are stares woefully out at the 20 yard square, opaque pocket of Burley that is visible through the fog, he's not sure whether its getting worse or not, one thing is for sure, its 2pm now and he and his mates need to make a decision - go to the match or stay in the Cardigan for the rest of the afternoon.
He'd rather go to the rugby this afternoon because he's spent most of the money he has with him, this morning's overtime was welcome but he won't get that until next week, after tax, and he only had enough in his account to cash a cheque for five pounds yesterday afternoon. His mother will wait for her board money though and he's just spent nearly two pounds in The Cardigan in the last two hours, the rest of the fiver is waiting at home for tonights trip into Leeds, bird hunting in Tiffany's, and he's hoping that three quid will be enough to catch himself a good one, one who won't let him pay for the taxi right the way to her front door then run inside and leave him on the doorstep without so much as a peck on the bloody cheek like that one did the last time, he had to walk home from Wortley that night as his last five bob had gone on the taxi fare.
"Is it clear yet Eric" Big Dave asks from the corridor behind him.
"Nah, just the same as it was this morning"
"What do you reckon"
"Reckon we should go Dave"
"What if its off ?"
"Go to the Oak"
"Everyone else ready ?"
"Think so, are we going now ?"
"When I've finished me beer and bin to t'slabs, aye"
And after he's sunk the last of the beer out of his glass and he's visited the toilet Eric and his three friends leave the Cardigan Arms and make their way slowly up Burley Hill, constantly peering ahead at the grey wall of cloud that dances provocatively twenty to thirty yards in front of them and as they climb higher up the hill and closer to the ground they find that the thirty yards has become forty, then fifty and as they turn into the south stand car park behind the ground they are relieved to see that the floodlights are already lit and appear to be piercing through the cloudbase so that something like normal visibility is accomplished on the pitch.
Its damp, the clagging, clinging wetness that they have ploughed through and inhaled as they puffed and panted their way up the hill has settled deep into their lungs and in the warm humid air of the southstand bar, they and everyone else in there hack and cough their way through a pint of tepid Tetley bitter served by a tall swarthy barman known to Smiffy as "Peter" from the Kirkstall Forge finishing shop.
Peter is friendly enough and informs them that the game won't be played today in this fog and if it is then they won't see anything and the group are undecided as to whether to go up to The Oak or not, in the end its Smiffy who decides for them because he has had to pay to get in today, not having a season ticket like the others, and so they finish their beer, buy a programme from the spotty youth who stands outside the southstand bar and take up their places in front of Eddie Warings ladders in the middle of the southstand.
To their dismay the fog has come down again and they can't actually see all the way across the pitch, the floodlights do their best to pierce the gloom but offer little in the way of extra visibility, its a damp, dark and claustrophobic and a miserable way to spend a saturday afternoon.
And then amazingly, out of the gloom, they see a human form trotting towards them across the pitch and then another and Atkinson and Langley take up their positions on the wing in front of the southstand ready for the kickoff - they are the only two players visible to the small crowd in the stand on this ludicrous day for playing rugby league and as the game progresses they have to guess what is happening on other parts of the playing field by the muffled cries and occasional cheers from what they assume is the rest of the 4000 crowd in other parts of the stadium.
They find that walking up and down the length of the southstand in what they believe to be following the play of the ball will allow them occasional glimpses of the action and its only when they are at the far eastern end of the stand that they can view the scoreboard and although they only vaguely see one of the tries they retire to the southstand bar at half time with a score of 11-2 in Leeds' favour.
"Who's the subs lads ?" Kirkstall Forge Peter behind the bar asks.
Big Dave consults his programme,
"Eccles and Briggs" he informs the barman.
"Briggs ? Who's he ?"
Someone else shouts from further down the bar that he scored a try whoever he is but no-one knows who he has substituted or why and the only other thing that the lads learn is that Atkinson has scored two tries and is on a hat trick for the second half, this knowledge is digested greedily by the inhabitants of the southstand bar.
"Its a bloody farce is this" Smiffy comments.
"Agreed" Big Dave concurs
"We'd do better in t'Oak" Gordy mentions
"Good call Gordy, this beer is crap" Eric adds
"Oak then eh lads" Big Wayne decides
"Hang on lads" shouts Kirkstall Forge Peter from behind the bar, "I'm coming with you"
More next time....