"Islands in the stream. That is what we are. No one in between. How can we be wrong?"
The cold rain droplets are gently falling down the external glass of the Millwall Café. The weather is unforgiving and with each drop of water that slides down the double glazed door, a same drizzle decides to run down my face also. I am quick to open the door, the square 'open' sign blowing in the wind that has beaten me through the doorway announces my arrival. The familiar smells hit my tingly nostrils as my feet hit the doormat, but the usual sound of the radio that comes out of the worn speakers is being drowned out by another noise.
Looking over the laminating flooring, I see 'Arry in his black baseball cap, the peak following the direction of his eyes that are fixed on Sandra's. Sandra is gazing straight back at him from a few inches lower, her hands slightly outstretched and cupped tightly in 'Arry's. Like the raindrops on the door and my cold skin outside, their actions are mirroring each other perfectly. Unlike the rain outside, they are gently swaying in a warm and seemingly longing embrace.
"And now we're back together. Together,
I wanna show you, my heart is all so true!
And all the love that I have is especially for you...."
"What is going on in here?!" I ask, puzzled at this new romantic embrace I am witnessing.
"Don't start Mike." said Dave, who after walking out the toilet checks his worn, denim back pocket for whatever change he has on him. "They've already whacked out 'You're the One That I Want' from Grease. All to do with Timmy Cahill coming back. Every song that comes on that's got a duet, these two jump up and start singing with each other. If they do 'Islands in the Streams' again I'm leaving."
"But how can you not be excited Dave?!" shouts 'Arry, gently rocking from side-to-side during Sandra's solo rendition of Kylie. "That's an unbelievable bit of business getting him back. I must've seen that video they put up about five times now."
"Yeah it was impressive I have to say." I agree, "gives me goosebumps even now watching that. The way the number 7 falls when he puts his top on, it really was unbelievable."
"Well I hope more 7's fall mate," says Dave, crouching down in a squat position to look up the reels of the fruit machine. "If three of these red 7's fall I'm up £15."
"It says here," I reply, after firing up my iPad and looking through the Millwall news, "that Chopper reckons that Cahill's got to get a bit more match fit before he gets the game time. Makes sense really, he's not played since leaving Australia after he played for Melbourne City last year."
"Reckon it's the jet-lag?" asked Dave, his eyes not leaving the illuminated copper who is chasing his robber around the game board.
"Oh shut up Dave," said 'Arry, "you reckon you got jet-lag when we went to Pontins. Turns out it was because you didn't want to visit the onsite shop and get the papers."
"Tell you who should be fit," interjects Sandra, walking through the daggers that have left Dave's eyes and are flying in 'Arry's direction, "those two new lads we've signed. What's their names again, love?"
"Hang on Sandra," I say as I scroll through the pages on my iPad, "I'll have a look for you. Couldn't fetch me over the usual while the page loads?"
"Builder's strength and a caramel glazed skinny macchiato with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles for 'Arry?"
"That's the one Kylie!" 'Arry shouts back with a cheeky wink, "I think she means Toffolo on a short term from Norwich and Marshall on loan from Wolves."
"They're the two!" I say, spinning my iPad so 'Arry can see the news, "tell you what, we'll need them after the way we played against Derby. They were class weren't they? We need some young Championship players alongside Timmy to take us to that next level. We've had a good year so far, but I still think we're a bit behind some teams in this league."
"Gotta say though Mike," said Sandra, as she gently placed the cups on the red chequered table cloths, "I thought we played alright. Did you see Gregory needed stitches in his head? I thought Hutch had a blinder too. Honestly, after that game he would be my captain on the pitch."
"Looks like he may have the armband more than he has recently Sandra," shouted Dave, only giving us the decency of the back of his head while he was on the machine. "I've heard somewhere that Tony Craig is on his way out, Bristol Rovers apparently. Had his contract terminated by the club they reckon."
"Be a shame that if he does go, he may not get the game time but he's a club legend." I reply with a downbeat tone, "hang on Dave, you're right mate. Signed a contract with them it says here."
"Oh that's a shame," said Sandra, sharing my negative mood, "I'll miss TC. He used to come in here for his ketchup when Zampa fish ran out and before I got the deep fryer."
"I'll miss him too," Dave said, "not only was he a great player and club legend, he had this little knack of helping me on the old Monopoly fruit machine you had in here before you got this poxy one."
"To TC!" toasted 'Arry, getting caught up in the moment and raising his coffee above his head.
"Behave yourself 'Arry!" I said sternly, before grabbing some napkins and cleaning up the whipped cream and marshmallows that have left 'Arry's drink and are now resting on the table.
"He'll probably be back one day. Anyway, what's been happening with the Lionesses?"
Finishing my egg and bacon sandwich after the tiring week it has been, it was time to tell Mike just how good the Lionesses were on Sunday and the news this week had brought us. As I carefully picked up my caramel cappuccino which burnt the whole of my tongue, I did manage to ask Mike what he thought of Sunday’s 3-2 win over Durham which put us a point off the top.
"So what did you make of Sunday’s performance Mike?" I ask with my inflamed lips.
"You can see why they are up there," said Mike, "they’re such a good footballing side and if it wasn’t for a resilient backline at times, Durham could have nicked it. Just like how the Fruit machine always nicks Dave's money."
"Couldn't agree more" I reply, "I thought we were superb at the back. Leighanne Robe is a rock at the back and really commands well. She’s like....err....how do you put it? A frozen bit of meat: you’re just not breaking it down!"
"Surley if you heat it up you will?" said Sandra from behind the till with a puzzled look on her face.
"Well yes Sandra," I sigh, "but I don’t think you understood what I was implying."
Mike continued, "the Lionesses have built a strong foundation and it’s just about keeping the squad fit. The fact that they’ve got a bench that won’t look out of place when they come on also helps."
"Lee has the perfect balance of players right now" I say, "and they bounce off of each other. Saying that what did you make of the officials Sunday?"
"My old man has done a better job and he’s never refereed a game!" Mike laughed, "the problem is, is that if you’re a bad ref that's fine, but be consistent with both teams and no one will care."
"Personally," I said, "I thought they made a few mistakes but the lino on our side was alright though. Leigh Nicol’s goal is in contention for goal of the week, what a hit, you wouldn’t have thought that was her first goal for the club would you?"
Mike nodded, "she plays with passion, the main thing this Lionesses team has is passion. Even against the sides technically better, the passion they show on that pitch is always amazing."
"It was also nice to see Headcorn one of the Lionesses sister clubs down there cheering them on," 'I say, gulping down a glass of water Sandra has brought over for my blistered mouth, "it’s a great way to promote the club and the game as a whole."
"Hold up, SANDRA GET ME ANOTHER CUPPA. 2 SUGARS AND SOYA MILK PLEASE?!" Mike yells. "Sorry mate. Yeah it just shows how far this game can go and it must be so inspirational for them kids to meet the women and have photos as well? FA cup this weekend!!"
"Indeed it’s set to be a cracker hopefully," I reply excitedly, "let’s just avoid this banana skin first, then win, then get an interview done. Easy as that! Well I hope it is!"
"Never that easy," says Dave, counting through his last remaining pieces of shrapnel, "once I put £10 in the scratch card machines and all I got was a free packet of pork scratchings. I don’t even like them."
"You said you did!" Mike shrieked, "tell you what you eat some pork scratchings, and I’ll gve you a fiver to put in the fruit machine."
And just like that... he ate them all in one.