"In the words of a broken heart,
it's just emotions that's taken me over."
His pencil-thin index finger slowly follows the slippery circumference of his porcelain mug. His stare is vacant, distant, like when Dave would spend his last pound on the fruit machine only to watch his guaranteed reel spin not come in. His light brown toast has the slightest indications that it has received attention, with only the slenderest grooves from his top row of teeth showing he has attempted to break through the lightly cooked crumbs. Over the gradual whistle of Sandra’s boiling kettle, he lets out a sigh, which bounces off the white ceramic tiles next to the café’s till.
“I’m really worried about him, Mike,” Sandra says in a troubled tone, “I’ve never seen him like this. He’s not said a word and barely touched his large double chocolate chip frappe with extra cream on the side with a tall half caff soy latte at 120 degrees with a decaf soy latte with extra shot and cream plus a non-fat Frappuccino with extra sass and chocolate sauce.”
“Well it’s been a tough week for ‘Arry,” I reply as I take a gentle sip of the dark brown builder’s strength tea she has made for me, “not only did Millwall lose their unbeaten run, but the Lionesses did too. Both streaks are over.”
“And Timmy’s got a three-match ban as well after that Fulham game,” said a voice from under a mop of combed back hair, “bloody retrospective punishment by the FA, they got that well wrong in my opinion.”
I gently pull the chair from under the table that’s opposite my friend, a light screech rings around the café as the wood is pulled along the tiled floor. “To be fair though ‘Arry, he did accept the ban and now that might be his season over for us.”
“I know Mike,” ‘Arry groaned, “and this coffee Sandra made me isn’t going down too well at the moment.”
“Bloody cheek!” Sandra shrieked from behind the till, “I think it’s one of the best I’ve done!!”
“Well you’ve obviously gone to the Andre Marriner school of modesty, haven’t you Sandra?” ‘Arry shouts back to our plastic apron wearing waitress, “when Neil Harris questioned some of the decisions he thought he was excellent.”
“Well let’s not be too down and negative,” I say as I place my iPad on the table and search for the weekly Millwall news, “have you not checked NewsatDen this week? Neil Harris is confident that we will bounce back from this and has asked everyone to remember last year’s run. It says here to remember the Oxford game, when we lost 3-0 but then went on to Wembley to win the play-offs. I’m confident!”
“Also, did you see what Shaun Hutchinson said?” ‘Arry says, slowly having a smile appear back on his face whilst he dips his biscuit into his latest caffeine concoction, “he says about how fantastic the fans have been and he loved playing in front of a full house. He says he loves being the underdog and reckons our play-off fate will be back in our own hands.”
“Hopefully my bacon sarnie will be in my hands soon,” I say to ‘Arry impatiently, “I ordered it while you were skim reading your Smash Hits magazine, it’s been a while now and I’ve been waiting for ages!”
“You’re like Byron Webster, Mike,” Sandra chuckles as she brings the crisped-rasher filled sandwich, “he must have been waiting ages to get fit and now he’s back in full contact training!”
“That’s great news,” I say, as I move my iPad along the plastic table clothed surface to make space for my plate. I continue our conversation as I wait for my ketchup to leave the glass bottle and settle nicely on the bacon rind that is calling me to eat it. “It’s been tough for Byron and although it may be a bit late this year, I hope he sticks around next season and shows what we’ve been missing.”
“Well he may not be the only one returning next season,” ‘Arry says as his appetite returns, and he takes one half of my soon-to-be masticated breakfast meal, “have you seen what Ben Marshall has said? With Wolves getting promoted they might get rid so I’d love to see him stay down here wouldn’t you?”
“I would mate,” I agree, “I think he’s been absolutely superb and although I thought Aiden O’Brien was irreplaceable, Marshall has been amazing since he’s come here. Settled in superbly and unlike other loan players he knows what the Millwall fans want!”
“Well I know what I want,” ‘Arry says, “a win up at Boro would be bloody brilliant. It’s still all to play for according to Steve Morison, I’m really excited about the game and think we can do it.”
“Me too mate,” I reply optimistically, “also there’s some letters here back and forward on the official site between Steve Kavanagh and the Lewisham Mayoral Candidates that look interesting. With all the good stuff on the pitch we can’t forget about the CPO. Let’s have a proper look together after you tell me about the Lionesses….
With the end of season dinner and celebration approaching this Sunday, and with a smart dress code put in place, Mike had mixed emotions today.
“I’m really looking forward to Sunday,” Mike said like an energetic schoolboy, “some of the players will finally meet us the Greasy Spoon Fellas! The heroes, the amazing partnership, better than Moro and Greggers! But, Tim Gale is wearing the same coloured suit so we are going to end up looking like Dumb and Dumber!”
Not to my surprise Mike had once again assumed we were bigger than the players, despite Lee Burch saying that it’s the team strength that have got the Lionesses to where they are right now.
“You did realise that they won’t be serving a fry up that night, don’t you?” I ask, “I’ve heard they do a nice roast chicken, after the week I’ve had I could do with that!”
The Lionesses lost their first game in over a year in the league when Durham won 2-1 up north on Sunday.
“I’ve never liked the north,” I moan, “they don’t know how to do a proper fry up. Not only that it’s a very dirty place to be, it’s dirtier than this cafe half the time, or a Leigh Nicol challenge.”
“Look,” said Mike, “just because you never made it into the Brotherton little league, there is no need to cry now. Besides after a couple of beers on Sunday and three points for the Lionesses beforehand, I’m sure you’ll forget all about it.”
“I’ve been their good luck charm!” I cried, “and missing their away game this Sunday against Watford is annoying. I’ve never seen the Lionesses lose a game in the league when I’ve watched them.”
“Yeah I’m sure,” Mike laughed, “YOU PERSONALLY are the reason they weren’t losing?! You never know, mace-spray Mason might score again? I’m saying 6-0 and for the football game I’m saying 3-0 Lionesses.”
“Wait, so what was the 6-0 about?” I ask intrigued.
“Oh that’s how many lines I’ll buy of raffle tickets and how many times I’ll win on Sunday.” Mike said victoriously.
“If my number one fan Mahlon Romeo is there,” I say, “I’ll definitely have to recreate the video on my twitter. He says he’s a huge fan, especially when I copied his 80 yard run the other day when I had to catch the bus.”
“Listen, you didn’t hear this from me,” Mike whispered, “well you did but you know what I mean. I reckon if we get to the Premier League and the Lionesses finish top two, I say we book a weekend away in Hastings.”
“Can’t we just go Brighton instead?” I suggest, “bearing in mind the Lionesses play them away on the 20th of May?”
“Good shout!” Mike shouts, “right I’ve got to go get my suit out the dry cleaners. I’ll catch you later.”
“See you later mate.” I reply.
“He does not shut up!” Sandra said from behind the till.
“Tell me about it”, I say, “and he wants a pogo stick for his birthday, he’s having a laugh…”