Saturday – 2.05pm: It is 55 minutes before Boston United’s most important match of the season, their most important match for a generation. They are playing for their future in the Unibond Premier Division and, quite possibly, the very future of the club. I, meanwhile, am in the Housam flat part of an efficient team, which includes a not-so-innocent anymore 12-year old – eyes on stalks – ripping up unwanted porno magazines for the cause. This is the world’s first manufacture of titertape, not tickertape, titertape. It’s the future and Trudy, you could have been so much more than an Escort centrefold.
The day had started with the mandatory Wetherspoons visit. Standard stuff. Their sirloin left much to the imagination: medium does not equal cremated. Worse still, I’ve never encountered a tomato completely devoid of juice before. I have now. It must have congealed nicely while sitting on the kitchen windowsill all week, periodically rushed out on people’s plates and then returned, unwanted. A few pints of Laaaager exterminated the aftertaste and our clan proceeded to the game.
Everyone who still touches Boston United with an extendable barge pole turned out with their aunt, father and daughter, which really does beg the question as to their whereabouts all season. The 1500+ crowd included about 14 from the Merseyside dock badlands, hardly enough to fit on a jet ski, let alone the kind of mighty liners which made the shipbuilding firm famous. The rammed Town End was rocking for the final push, a single point would be sufficient to ensure survival and avoid those dead-end jaunts to Grantham, Spalding and Quorn (where the fuck is Quorn? Some kind of vegetarian’s utopia?) next season.
Six minutes in and, finally, in the season’s 42nd league fixture, Boston gained the benefit of a referee’s deliberations, winning a penalty for which no one, not even the Cockney controller (flask restored!), appealed for. Never mind, Jon Froggatt slotted it home and the party could begin in earnest. Oh yes, and there was titertape everywhere; the floor was liberally coated with nipples, c**t and adverts for premium-rate grannies promising to get you wet. Would have been nice to be the old bloke sweeping up just once.
Problem was, Boston had scored too early. The atmosphere went from jumping to buoyant to audible to muted to nervous until the titertape looked rather out of place. But, just once, the Pilgrims held out. They bloody did it and safety was secured at the last. Of course, the Football Association (a.k.a. the antichrist) tried their darndest to fuck us over again: under direct orders no doubt from Soho Square, five minutes of stoppage time were added on, five more minutes to hold out. They’ll still probably find something to demote us again: corner flags the wrong colour, Batemans in the Sports Bar too warm, too many yellow seats, Mickey Nuttell’s elbows too sharp, Adam Milson too good.
‘Millie’ scooped all the player of the year awards. The poor lad, crippled and struggling with his NHS-issue crutches, was forced to hobble up on five separate occasions to collect trophies of various dimensions. Strolling around on the York Street pitch in the April sunshine, titertape blowing in the wind, the team finally safe. Excellent.