"Whatever I said, whatever I did, I didn't mean it. I just want you back for good..."
I look over the top of my black iPad whilst I wait for 'Arry to meet me in the café. After weeks of being reliable, he has gone back to his old ways of keeping me waiting. Peering over, I see poor Sandra on her hands and knees, her right hand is covered by a luminous yellow rubber marigold glove, and a small bristled brush is gripped tightly at the end of her fingers. Staring attentively at the stained tiles, she aggressively rubs each porcelain square, with each scrub producing more and more soap suds. Her plastic red and white striped apron has a slow trickle running down the front, dripping off the bottom onto a small puddle that has gathered under Sandra's knees.
"Dave was meant to help me with this!" Sandra moaned, the only words she'd said to me since Take That's 'Back for Good' entered it's mid-song interlude. "Makes you laugh, it was his idea to get this wall scrubbed today!"
"I still think he's got the hump with 'Arry to be honest Sandra. The other day when you rang us about getting down to the training ground to speak with Ben Thompson, 'Arry told him to park round by the Quazar a few miles away. He was raving and that's why I think he won't turn up today." I take a big gulp of my usual builder's strength tea in the stained, porcelain cup and gently place it back down on the plastic table cloth.
"Not like Fred Onyedinma up in Birmingham ay Mike?" was a voice from behind me. I place my iPad down next to my mug and turn around to see 'Arry walking through the door, his skinny frame silhouetted by the bright mid-morning sun. "Just when we needed someone to turn up at a tough game, Fred steps off the bench and delivers. Can I have my coffee please Sandra?"
"In a minute 'Arry," said Sandra, not paying attention to the bucket behind her, "I'll just finish these last few tiles off and make it....... oh flipping hell!! Why did I put the bucket there?!"
Seemingly in slow-motion, the red plastic container tips over, and a low thud sounds as it makes contact with the cold, ceramic floor. We all sit in silence as we watch the dull, dirty water spilling everywhere.
"I'm going to have to put wet floor signs everywhere now," Sandra groaned, "I can't let anyone slip."
"You sound just like Neil Harris the other night Sandra," I said, as I walk round the counter to retrieve the mop. "He was saying that he's delighted we are comfortably in mid-table, but doesn't want us to rest on our laurels. He said that we're above a lot of the apparent bigger teams, but this is mainly due to squad morale and inner belief."
"That's true," said 'Arry whilst taking off his cap and putting on Sandra's hair net, "we had a great game the other night against Sheffield Wednesday. Went one down to a brilliant strike which would've deflated most other sides, but it was good to see the fightback and two good goals from Gregs and Moro."
"Also mate," I say, leaning hard on the mop and rinsing it out in the lid of the bucket, "did you see the full-back who got carried off for them seemed to have come out of it alright? Quite a knock he took, we had thirteen minutes extra to play after that!"
"Unlucky for some, thirteen!" said Dave, with a puzzled expression as he walked in and saw the three of us cleaning the soaked floor. "I won thirteen quid out of the fruity in the Wetherspoons this morning. I've broke even."
"What do you mean broke even?" I ask in amazement, "how much you put in?!"
"Well not money put in, but the money I put in the poxy parking machine when we went to Bromley." Dave said with a scowling look on his face, "even got a fine for parking in a bay too long, because SOMEONE asked for the most outrageous coffee the Starbucks there had heard of. Saying that, seeing 'Arry's hair sticking through those holes is brilliant."
"I don't mind you saying brilliant," 'Arry said smugly, "that's what Nigel Clough said about Millwall's season so far, and I'm confident we'll get the points up there at Burton."
"I would say that we can really look towards the play-offs if we win there," I say, slumping into the hard wooden chairs after my manual labour. "But Chopper isn't getting carried away with the league form, and wants to take each game as it comes."
"Just like me now," said Dave, as he aggressively pushes his chair out that he's sitting on, and makes his way to the fruit machine. "Going to take it one quid at a time..."
"Some time I wish he wouldn't return," 'Arry mumbled. "But saying that, I've seen Byron Webster may be back before the end of the season. That'd be brilliant to have more depth in defence."
"Spot on mate," I say with a slurp, "anyway, now the floors tidied and Sandra is making your steamed milk, café au lait with a dash of vanilla, whipped cream and dusting of crushed cinnamon, what's been happening with the Lionesses?"
Bouf daddy bouf daddy! Yeah that’s all that has been in my mind this past week. The Greasy Spoon Fellas will reach new heights after the interview with Ben Thompson, but for now I intended to enjoy my typical full English.
"How many times you watched the video H?" Mike asked, after blowing the steam off of his Builder's Strength tea.
"Too many Mike?" I laughed, "I think I may know it off by heart now, just like how Sandra knows our orders now-a-days."
The Lionesses made it 17 unbeaten on Wednesday after a 1-1 draw against London Bees. While the performance wasn’t their best, the side showed great determination against a London Bees side who really gave it a go.
"17 unbeaten now," Mike said, placing his iPad down after gently pressing the small black lock button at the top. "20 would be an achievement as that’s how much Dave pulled out the fruit machine the other day!"
"Is he really still on that thing?" I ask in amazement. "I thought that was a one time thing? The man has got a gambling problem, oh well each to their own I guess."
"He won’t give up on that game, you know he won’t 'Arry?" Mike says, "we’ve been coming here for a while now. He’s on it all the time, look at the poor kid behind him who has been stood there for 45 minutes. Dave reckons he is just one game away from winning it all, he said that 5 games ago!"
"Well just like the Lionesses he won’t be picking up any form on that machine." I say, "a month off now. That’s 4 greasy spoon visits with no game, might as well get them down the café!"
"Thanks for your help earlier," Sandra says with two large plates full of food in her hands, "two full English breakfasts, one builders strength and one of your weird lattes."
"Thanks Sandra," I reply thankfully, "but I asked for no eggs!"
"My bad, sorry." Sandra said with frustration. "But with Dave shouting at that poxy machine again, I can’t hear a thing!"
"Everyone makes mistakes," Mike says with a mouthful of scrambled egg, "Sunday was the prime example! 'Arry mugged himself off in the stadium telling Ashlee to do the recommended celebration. Saying that I was the only Millwall fan in my end."
"With a month off we have a chance to get some more filming done for the Lionesses," I say after a lightbulb moment. "I can get more interviews out and keep raising the profile of them!"
"I might come down as it goes," Mike suggested, "you know, take part in the session and show them all up? Back in the 80’s I was meant to be the next Maradona. 10 years later I was in the kebab shop getting a large doner, how times have changed...."
"You do make me laugh," I chuckled, "wait a second! Who’s that by your car out there Mike? He looks familiar...."
"Wait!" Mike says "that’s..."