Come and have go if you think you’re hard enough!

Warning. May not be suitable for people of a nervous disposition. This post is issued with an 18 certificate. Features football violence and lots of bloody swearing.

Manchester United did their promotion hopes no harm at all after running out clear victors over a lacklustre Blackpool side at Bloomfield Road this afternoon; Forsyth, Macari, and Mc Calliog all getting onto the scoresheet. The event was marred by some crowd trouble ouside the ground when groups of United fans ran amok along the seafront and Pleasure Beach. Police said they made three arrrests. Blackpool nil Manchester United three.

21 OCTOBER 1974

A Monday morning on the furthest muddy reaches of the school grounds. Marked by a saggy chain link fence. Most of the pupils keep to the path as they walk towards the school gates. A small group of lads, however use the sag in the fence to climb through. They gather by a mature sycamore tree and some bushes, which gives them cover from the main gates. Their breath condenses in the chilly autumn air.

‘Come on, spark up’. Says one. He is wearing a feather-style haircut, parallels, black zip up platform shoes. His school blazer is done up with the middle button . Its badge bears the legend ‘Caritas’. His tie is tied in a ludicrous huge flapping knot.

Yeah C’mon we ‘aven’t got much time. Says another, wearing a cheap black crombie coat over his blazer. Brogues and red socks on his feet.

They all get out their fags, Feather cut takes out a zippo lighter and each in turn light their cigarettes. ‘Ahhhhhh….’ They let out a collective gasp of relief.

‘Did you see it then?’

‘What? ‘

‘Sat’day night’

‘What? I went out Sat’day night,’

‘It were fuckin’ hilarious’

‘What were?’

‘Finny. Din’t you see ‘im?’

‘Ont’ telly?’

‘No, what happened?’

‘Well, he went to Blackpool wi’ United and you know there was bit of a tear up with the cops? Well Finny was right at the front. So I’m watchin telly Sat’day night waiting for Match of the Day and on’t News, you know how they have a picture about each news story? Y’know? Behind Reginald fuckin’ Bosanquet. They only had a massive picture of Finny … leading the fuckin’ troops.I nearly fuckin’ pissed meself’.

‘Ey here he is now’. Finny skips over the fence. Hair like an explosion in a Ginger Nut factory. They all pretend to bow and scrape before him

‘We’re not worthy’ they cry.

‘All right stop all the bollocks you set of cunts. Who’s got a spare fag ? ‘

He takes a cigarrete and Feather cut lights it for him.

‘So, have you had any offers?’ Feather asks Finny.

‘What offers? What the fuck are you on about?’

‘Offers, You know, Hollywood? TV and that. I’d have thought that the producers of Starsky and Hutch would have on the phone after your appearance on Sat’day night TV’. They all burst out laughing. Finny attempts a half hearted kick, but Feather is too fast.

‘What did your Old Man say about it?’

‘He never saw it did he, he was in the pub. Fucking good photo though. Mind you the cops gave us a right kicking. I were black and blue Sunday morning’

Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough.

Come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough … Look at the flares!

‘Oh shite, look out it’s Harris!’ A teacher strides purposefully across the playing field, he has spotted them: too late, they try and dock their fags and pocket them.

‘You boys! Stay where you are.’ Mr. Harris affectionately known as ‘Bummer Harris’ is Head of PE and likes to throw his weight around a lot. ‘I thought it might be you lot. Have you any idea what it looks like from the staff car park? It’s as if the tree was on fire, clouds of smoke billowing out of it. Let’s have them’ He looks at Finny.

‘Finnerty, give’

‘I haven’t got any Sir, honest’

Harris pats Finny down – as roughly as possible

‘How about you Kinsella?’ Reluctantly the boy puts his hand into his blazer pocket and takes out his packet of ten.

‘Sovreign? Quick Burns?’ Harris says, turning his not insubstantial nose up at them.

‘Owyahh!’ shouts Feather, his half smoked cigarette is smouldering in his trouser pocket and has just worked its way through the lining.

‘You Goon!’ Yells Harris as Feather tries to get the offending article out of his trousers. (If you see what I mean) Harris adresses them all ‘ Mr. Baldwin’s’s office, line up outside, NOW!’

‘Not you Finnerty’. He grabs the boy’s shirt collar and backs him against the tree. Speaking close to the his face So that Finny is able to smell the stale tobacco on the teacher’s breath.

‘So, I saw you made the news on Saturday night’

‘Well, didn’t you lad?’

‘Yes Sir’.

‘Go on. Mr. Baldwin’s office with the rest of those idiots AND think yourself lucky that Mr. Baldwin was at a Parents and Teachers’ Association Treasure Hunt on Saturday night. And unless you want me to tell him how you’ve dragged the school’s reputation through the mud, you’d better keep your nose clean. Do I make myself clear?’

‘Yes Sir’

‘Now go’

As he trudged to the Headmaster’s Office Finny couldn’t help but wonder about what he was sensing from Harris. Something other than all the play acting about the fags.

It couldn’t be jealousy

Could it?

© Andy Daly 2015

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2 thoughts on “Come and have go if you think you’re hard enough!

  1. Moo Cha Cha

    Although I’m a proud social media Luddite some things just need to be commented on and with ‘ginger Finny’ ( who in today’s more advanced [sic] media would have now be ‘ginja Finja’ or some such.

    If YOU are sitting comfortably…..

    1) I was at Blackpool. Last saw Finny at Blackpool Train Station the mythical Blackpool South if I remember. Can’t remember ever using that station ever again. Probably used to keep us out of the main town. Finny should not be a mere footnote of BBC News & football hooliganism, he also made the front page of the Evening News on the Monday under some headline like ‘Manchester’s Shame’ If anything it was a better photo of our hero.

    I saw Finny quite a few times over the 74 – 79 period and always got on o.k. with him. Always at UTD – our social circles didn’t mix. The odd cursory nod at school never followed up but at UTD we had common ground.

    The following are true stories witnessed first hand, although I can no longer place them in reliable chronological order. Following on the above:

    2) Derby day at Maine Rd, train from Cassie to Victoria. A ticketless Finny decides to liberate a City fans ticket. Normal intimidation is not working, the City halfwit ( actually a quarterwit for even being on THAT train ) is insisting he is picking up his ticket from a mate at the ground. Finny plays his ACE ( of Spades naturally ) opens the door, a little catch lock one as were common in the day, and begins moving our quarterwit towards the open door. Our friend, who had been a little cockier than his situation merited, is reflecting on his foolishness. I am not that bothered YET! After all FInny could be a little unpredictable but…
    as the intended ‘departing passenger, reached a yard from the open door I ran across and pulled them both into the aisle. I offered words such as ‘FUCKING HELL FINNY’, got the quarterwit off him , told him to fuck off to another carriage and get off at Moston because I wouldn’t be helping him at Victoria . I stood with Finny all the way to Victoria without a word being said. He had a look that I like to feel was ‘ thanks for that’ or it could have been ‘ you just ruined my fucking day’

    3) Norwich City away. UTD get beat, mayhem ensues. Walking back to the train station I spot Finny seriously rearranging a panel fence. He looks up we exchange greetings before he returns to the task in hand.

    4) Wolves away. As was our want we arrive in Wolverhampton at 10am. Reception commitee waiting. Quite a hullabaloo followed. All the lads we went with were either arrested or taken to be penned in until kick off time. The West Midlands police at the time did not limit their nefarious practices to Irish activists. So when they began to wade in on the side of our less than gracious hosts,it was time to ‘say nothing – act casual’ and take my leave. A not un- dangerous move in a foreign city. Unknown to me Finny had made the same judgement call. Of all the bars, in all the places….. So whilst all our lads are locked down in one way or another we spend 11am to 2.45pm ( we were never really bothered about kick off ‘ nothing ever happened in the first few minutes! ) in the pub. We get to the ground relaxed and happy and not a little unpopular with lads who’ve spent 3 hours in a pen. Green is such an unflattering colour!

    That was early season 1979 and although we passed each other a few times over the next few years I don’t recall talking to him again

  2. Thanks for the memories! I recall you in Doc Keefe’s Chemistry lessons telling me all about midweek away- game shananigans. Baz went to the World Cup in Spain with Finny and said he was ‘Good as Gold’

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