"Guess who's back, back again? Shady's back, tell a friend."
After a disappearing act that would make David Copperfield proud, our very own Dave is back in his usual spot with the illuminated fruit machine flashing around his silhouette. The faintest of clicks indicates he has pressed the ‘Start’ button, and obeying the paying customer’s demands, the three reels dance to the tune and stops suddenly with random drawings on display. The slightest of clicks has now been replaced with a loud and slightly higher-pitched clunk, which is the evidence of our returned friend now hitting the glass display case with his sovereign ring on his right hand.
“Seriously Sandra, I’ve been away for a few weeks now,” Dave shouts over angrily, “and you’ve not changed this poxy machine. Do you not realise the amount of money I’ve put in this over the years?!”
“Oh leave it out, Dave,” Sandra replies from behind the steam-bellowing kettle that is screaming to be poured, “you don’t think I’d bring in a new fruit machine just to have you back quicker would I? Anyway, where exactly did you go?”
“Well,” Dave said sheepishly, “if you must know Sandra, where I actually went was….”
I sit there with my builder’s strength tea waiting to hear Dave’s reason for his magical mystery tour. I’ve stopped eating my fried egg and toast so that the mastication I am generating does not drown out his nervous tones.
“The real reason I was away so long was….” Dave continued.
“’Ere have you seen the retained list?!” came a loud squeal behind us. We turned around expecting to see Samantha Patchcole, but instead it was my mate ‘Arry. “We’ve released loads of players. Even Harry Toffolo who was on our table at the end of season dinner! I’m gutted, he was a cracking fella and seemed like he really enjoyed it down here. Well he enjoyed the profiteroles at the very least…”
“I know I saw that earlier,” I said, firing up my iPad to re-read the list of players that Millwall had decided to part ways with, “Timmy’s gone as well, but that was always half on the cards and it says here that Jimmy Abdou has left too. That’s a shame, I loved Jimmy but suppose that it’s time to move on.”
“Did you see as well that Jason Shackell and Ben Marshall have gone too?” Sandra asked as she brought over ‘Arry’s double ristretto, venti, half-soy, non-fat, decaf, organic chocolate brownie, iced vanilla, double-shot gingerbread Frappuccino, extra hot with foam, whipped cream, upside down, double blended, one sweet'n’low and one nutra-sweet and ice to calm his nerves. “I’d love for Ben Marshall to come back, not only did he love my boiled egg and soldiers, but he was a cracking player. I miss him already!”
“More than you missed me Sandra?” Dave asked with a quick wink from his right eye.
“Yeah, whatever Dave,” ‘Arry laughed as he read this week’s Smash Hits magazine. “We didn’t miss you that much. Steve Cavalar kept Sandra company while you were gone, and Charlotte Clinton was her shoulder to cry on when she went to get her nails done.”
“Well I certainly wasn’t pining for you ‘Arry,” Dave snarled at my friend with the backwards baseball cap on, “Unlike Paul Robinson who told NewsatDen that he would like to come back here in a coaching role one day, the thought of seeing your smug little face was one of the reasons why I was away for quite a while.”
“He’s doing really well Robbo,” I say in a bubbly way to try and diffuse the situation, “he’s halfway through his ‘A’ licence and should have it done by Christmas. What a lovely little present that will be? Finishing his coaching badges and then the thought he may come back in a few years.”
“Did anyone see the articles about Steve Kavanagh on the club site earlier?” Sandra asked after pulling one of her varnished chairs out to sit on, “he’s responded positively to new mayor Damien Egan’s letters and suggested an informal meeting with the mayor and Renewal. That’s good to hear they are sitting around the table isn’t it?”
“Hopefully it’ll be better then sitting round this table with that idiot on the machines, Sandra,” ‘Arry moaned as he watched Dave gamble his win-spins on a number higher than a four, “but looking at those lights reminds me of what I read the other day about the Wembley arch lighting up in Millwall’s colours. It’s an initiative from the FA, so even though we didn’t make the final we are still gonna be there on the day!”
“It’s a good time to be a Millwall fan at the moment,” I say, “Neil Harris has also put out a statement saying that this summer will be busy with recruitment, but we won’t spend beyond our means. They have identified players and will make a wish-list to present to the board. It’s a great idea!”
“I just wish I had three poxy nudges instead of two,” Dave moaned without turning round to speak to make eye contact, “anyway ‘Arry, make yourself useful and tell me what’s been happening with the Lionesses."
As I look down at my plate that's full of greasy food, I sit there and just contemplate life. I wonder what my life would be like if Neil Harris had seen my ability when I was younger. The crispy bacon's not really doing it, actually in all honesty I think Sandra has burnt the bacon, but I best not say anything. She’ll only give me a bollocking, just like the time when I stepped on her foot down in Pontins on our week away. Mike sat there, he had a fresh haircut to go with his new gleaming high vis.
"Important day today, Mike?" I asked as I sat there confused as to why he looked so clean.
"The boss has been on at us all week," Mike sighed, "why just the other day I was putting in a beam in a house, and of course you got to obey the beam rules, but our new starter Dave-o Standing was not measuring properly. Let’s just say I hope the new residents like everything slanted to the left."
"You really are something else," I replied shaking my head, "but that don’t explain the fresh high vis or the new haircut."
"Well you see I think we’re going to get a complaint so I’ve disguised myself!" Mike replied, "I was meant to be doing a job on Sunday but I went with you to the Lionesses instead!"
"It was good to get a lot done on Sunday regarding interviews," I beamed,
"but I can only hope now that the man above works his wonders and saves such an amazing club."
"The man above?!" Mike replied puzzled, "Tim Gale is tall but he ain’t that tall and why would he work wonders?"
"Not him!" I moaned back, "God!"
"Right I get you..." Mike said, more puzzled then he was earlier, "I think, well I thought the girls were brilliant Sunday. We just lacked a bit in the final third."
"It just wasn’t meant to be I felt," I replied, "fair play to Doncaster, deserved winners and after everything that has happened with this club we can hopefully rebuild for next season."
"You know what?" Mike chirped up, "that would be great, but I’ve got a bigger problem there’s something down my back."
"Dave’s come back to haunt you for all your bad taste jokes that aren’t funny and you’re the only one laughing at?" I asked.
"Honestly mate," Mike said, trying to wrestle the itch off his body, "something is biting me it’s getting on my nerves a bit like the FA."
"Boys! I’ve got some toast here if you want it?!" Sandra shouted over. "Some old fella ordered some and has left and I’m not sure where he's gone! He seemed to be quicker than Megan Wynne!"
"I highly doubt that’s possible," I replied, "I wonder who’s buying the ice creams and sun hats Sunday after they break Brighton? We can have a party on the beach. I’ll bring my big picnic blanket!"
"I’m sure they’d love your big blanket that has a picture of Mahlon Romeo on it," Mike tutted, "and below says 'I Love You Mahlon!'"
"Listen," I explained, "we all have idols. Mine happens to be Mahlon, yours is Meg Alexander because she’s consistent and is an amazing left back."
"I voted for Meg," Mike agreed, "MSC bias made me. I then voted for Sarah on another account. Feel worse than when I won them tickets!"
"Anyway, I'll let you know who wins it next week after I present the award," I said with my chest puffed out, "I'm off now to get my suit out the dry-cleaners. See you next week mate."