Even though it was Christmas, I still made a point of calling 'Arry to organise our regular chat in the Millwall café. The bell on the door sounded, announcing my arrival and like a Meerkat sticking his head from his den, 'Arry popped up from the opposite corner from where we normally sit. You could cut the atmosphere with one of the cafe's fingerprint covered knives. Our new mate Dave was looking over at 'Arry between the reel spins he had won, after finally getting back on the fruit machine board once again.
"Everything alright 'Arry?" I asked.
"Not really mate," he replied gingerly, "Dave turned away from the fruit machine to chat up Sandra with his new mistletoe pants, and while he was at it someone jumped on the machine and won the tenner he put in. He's raving and thinks it was me."
Puffing out my chest, I thought I'd stand up for my pal. "Want me to have a word mate?" I offered, "put him straight a bit?"
"There's the problem though Mike," chuckled 'Arry, "it was me! I'll pay for breakfast if you go and get it."
I went to the counter, ordered our usual builders strength teas and sat down with 'Arry. "Come on mate," I said, "don't worry about Dave, lets see what's happened at The Den this week." With that I flicked on my iPad and we browsed the usual Millwall pages.
'Arry and I discussed how well Millwall had done to get a result against Wolves, after a poor result against Derby just before Christmas. "To be fair 'Arry," I said, "apart from a shocking five minutes, apparently we weren't too bad and was unlucky not to get anything out of it."
"That's not just The Lions is it Dave who has a dodgy quick five minutes?" chuckled a voice from behind the till.
"Behave yourself Sandra!" Dave said, crouching down to see what reels he would bring down with his two nudges.
'Arry laughed away to himself, as I continued to talk about the news from South Bermondsey. We spoke about what a great game we had seen a few days before, against league leaders Wolves.
"Good performance I reckon, especially when we went 2-1 down from that quality strike." I recalled, leaning back to check the clock.
"Think Archer could've done a bit better myself," said 'Arry, "but saying that, was a good hit, you're right. How's McLaughlin and Elliott getting on?"
We flicked through News at Den to see that both the Millwall full-back and striker may be back in contention for the game against QPR.
"Tell you what lads," Dave screamed over his shoulder to us, "the way it's going with our poxy strikers, I'll get my boots ready for when Ollie is back down here!"
"You're having a laugh aren't you Dave?" I shouted back, "Gregs had a blinder the other day and was Man of the Match against Wolves. Plus, Harry Smith is on his way back from his loan at Swindon."
"Yeah apparently the Swindon fans have got the right hump he's left them," 'Arry joined in, "feel like they've been short changed."
"They ain't the only ones!" Dave scorned, his attention going right back in 'Arry's direction.
'Arry and I turned our attention back to my iPad and read how Chopper wants an electric atmosphere down The Den for when Ollie returns with QPR. He won't have to worry about that, Millwall fans will be queuing to tell Ollie exactly how they feel after what he said about our club and Neil Harris recently. We continued to read how Ollie may be feeling a bit under the weather and may have Marc Bircham in the dugout instead.
"Must've had the eggs down here then," laughed Dave, as he used his arm as a JCB scoop to retrieve the new £1 coins that had gathered under the machine.
"You keep on," Sandra joked, "I'll turn that bloody machine off."
"Come on 'Arry, what's happening with The Lionesses?" I said, trying to change the subject.
"The Christmas period is the season of giving!" Is what I said to the waitress, who declined my request for a free coffee. I was sitting down with a massive sack, and there were loads of presents inside all for different people. I had obviously picked Mike (who was late today) something up and it was none other than a “Greasy spoon fellas” T-Shirt. Like the bright pink t-shirt, Mike glowed with joy and happiness. Michael stared at the shirt for quite a while before shouting and ruining the peace in the café.
“I LOVE IT... we should create our own brand and sell them out to Millwall fans. Imagine 13,000 fans wearing bright pink shirts, we would look the right old sort!”
I stood there stunned at that statement, but didn’t want to bring down his excitement so I replied nicely, “yeah, you sell them I’ll just count the sales in the back.”
“What else is in the bag 'Arry?” Mike said, amused as to what could be in the sack.
“I got all the Lionesses something, do you wanna know what I got?” I asked.
Mike was excited to know, “tell me a few of them,”
Mike had to say no more, as he was about to find out what 'Arry "Santa Claus" had got them all. I started with the 3 players that the MSC sponsored, I got Ellie a new pair of boots.
“Why?” Mike replied.
"Have you not seen her shoot Mike?!" I replied, "her boots must break hitting a ball like that! I also got Megan Alexander a pair of boxing gloves. I heard she wants to battle out Anthony Joshua next, she has defeated all the other right wingers in the league so now it’s time to go for the world title!"
Our final sponsor was Sarah, "I struggled to find a gift for Sarah," I said, "however, I did bump into something. Everyone is bored of the green goalie kit so I bought her a new one - the pink Greasy spoon fellas shirt."
Mike looked so disappointed in my presents.
“WHAT?! They’re great presents! For Ella Rutherford I got 10kg of bubble wrap so no more would we see the skilful midfielder clattered and injured. Rianna Rianna Rianna, A RIFLE!"
“ARE YOU JOKING?! YOU’LL GET ARRESTED?!” Mike said, louder than he should have. I had to lower my voice as everyone on the café had suddenly gone silent.
“Well I was going to give it to her so she could give it to someone in the crowd; so when she gets called offside, shoot the lino!"
"Alright," Mike laughed, "just tell me one more. Who got the best gift?"
I thought about it... Leigh Nicol, it was cheap but well worth it!
"What did you get her?!” Mike asked.
"Well after the player profiles," I began, "I found out she was quite a loud character. So I bought her a megaphone so she could be even louder to her teammates, I’m sure everyone will love her after that!"
Mike could not stop laughing as our food eventually came, and Dave had finally won some of his money back on the fruit machine.