Friday, November 28, 2008

Ten days

It’s now ten days
And still my mind
Is in a haze.

The wound is raw,
Still not resigned
To that late score.

My cheeks are dry,
But still I’m blind
In either eye.

Could God above
Be so unkind?
The God of love?

Ten days have passed
But still I find
The feelings last.

And tears of rage
Are not confined
To tender age,

For, though I’m old,
You can’t rewind
A bell that’s tolled.
In all my years following football, I don't think I've ever experienced such a low. Thirty seconds from the end of the match and we were going up. Then a late, late Limerick equaliser and Dundalk couldn't believe their luck.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Last match terzanelle

The fates have set November’s sky aflame.
Like Lazarus, we’ve risen from the dead
And now it all comes down to this one game.

The night was dark; the hopeful stars had fled
But then we started this unbeaten run.
Like Lazarus, we’ve risen from the dead.

Dark clouds had blotted out the summer sun
For football can be cruel as well as kind,
But then we started this unbeaten run.

But still our season waits to be defined –
A season’s work may hinge on one mistake,
For football can be cruel as well as kind.

And Limerick may get a lucky break!
Who knows what way the fickle fates may turn?
A season’s work may hinge on one mistake.

Above the ground, our aspirations burn.
The fates have set November’s sky aflame.
Who knows what way the fickle fates may turn,
As now it all comes down to this one game?

A Tolka Romance by Bill Zunmoon

Chapter 17.

The trial, Lionel thought, was a complete farce. The barrister’s trousers kept falling down and the judge was mistakenly accused of having an affair with the usher, whose wife made sudden sporadic appearances with a rolling pin and curlers.
The impartial jury of six men, five women and a chipmunk called Marvin, who had been constantly chanting “Hang him! Hang Him!” all during the trial, got their desire when the judge donned his black cap and sentenced Lionel to be hung by the neck until he was dead. Fortunately, the clerk informed him that capital punishment was no longer on the statute books due to health and safety concerns and the sentence was commuted to four weeks imprisonment.
“Four weeks!” yelled Lionel. “That means I’ll miss the end of the season! Can you not let me go now and I’ll serve four weeks after the Limerick game?”
The judge however was adamant, even going so far as to do the silly Prince Charming dance with Diana Dors. Lionel was led off in handcuffs and tears, as the chipmunk pelted him with salted peanuts.
The warders in the Joy proved to be curiously unsympathetic to Lionel’s requests to have access to Shelsweb on Friday nights to keep up to date with Shelbourne’s final few matches of the season. His plaintive appeals of “Don’t you know how important this game against Longford is, you morons?” fell on deaf ears as well as on other parts of the body that were hard of hearing too.
One evening a pigeon landed on the ledge outside Lionel’s cell while he was lying on his bunk, dreaming of the late departed Karen and the alluring way that a big green bogey used to dangle elegantly from her nasal hairs. Lionel had once seen The Birdman of Alcatraz – the film, not the actual birdman – and he recognised the poignant bond that existed between the prisoner and the bird.
“Food!” he yelled, making a grab for it. With a dummy and a feint worthy of Sparky in his heyday, the pigeon hopped further down the ledge. Suddenly Lionel had an idea. If he could tie a message onto the pigeon’s leg, he could get word of how Shels had done against Lokomotiv Fingal.
He ran back to his writing desk and began to write, the pigeon following him curiously and leaning over his shoulder, correcting spelling mistakes. The pen is mightier than the sword, he thought, though it probably wouldn’t be my choice of weapon in a duel.
He wrote to Zug, who was now living in Slovenia with her “Uncle” Reuben. He poured out his heart to her, though the ventricles kept smudging the ink. He told her how he felt about her – thirteen pages of aching words of love that had the pigeon gagging uncontrollably – and then he tied the letter to the bemused pigeon’s leg.
Carrying the bid to the window, he kissed it on the head and threw it gently through the bars, where the weight of the paper caused it to plummet three floors to its death.
The days dragged. Lionel heard on the grapevine that Shels had drawn 0-0 with Hajduk Fingal and he heard on the banana vine that a McAllister penalty had disposed of Waterford. It was all down to the final game of the season! This was the most important game in Shelbourne’s history since the last one and Lionel couldn’t believe he was going to miss it over a trifling little crime like murder.
The day of the match loomed grey and Novembrish and Lionel used the bucket seven times during the day, which irked Crusher McBonehead, his cellmate, to the point of violence.
Only thirty minutes to go, thought Lionel, trying to unwrap his left leg from around his throat. What I need is a miracle.
Suddenly the door flew open and there was Karen, as lovely as he remembered her, her golden hair flowing mellifluously from her ears.
“Karen!” he yelled.
“Yes I know,” she said.
For a moment neither of them spoke. “Lionel, I’m sorry I was so late,” blurted Karen eventually. “When I got swept out to sea, I thought I was a goner but fortunately I got harpooned by a Japanese whaling boat and brought back to Ibaraki. It’s a long walk home and I’ve only just arrived. I’ve told the police everything and they say you’re free to go.”
“Er, yep, sorry about that,” mumbled the police officer in the doorway. “Off you go then.”
Lionel looked at Karen. Karen looked at Lionel. Then they rushed into each other’s arms, embracing long and passionately.
“Oh Karen,” whispered Lionel, coming up for air from between her enormous breasts. “Let us never be apart again. Let us get married and have many children and bring them all down to Tolka…”
“Tolka!” yelled Karen. “Haven’t we a much more important match to attend to first?”
And arm in arm, giggling like a couple of love-struck teenagers, they ran out the door.

The End

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Tolka Romance by Bill Zunmoon

Chapter 16
In the interrogation room, the Chief Inspector huffed and puffed in his attempts to batten down the hatches of a large suitcase full of Garda t-shirts and swimwear. Eventually, with the help of a burly PC, he managed to click the locks shut. Turning to Lionel, he snapped his fingers and exclaimed, “The case is closed.”
Lionel felt very alone at that moment, notwithstanding one of Zug’s goats who had agreed to attend the interrogation. “What do you mean?” he stammered.
Sighing, the Chief Inspector went back over to the suitcase. He snapped open the locks and lifted the lid. Then he closed it again. Then he opened it and closed it once more.”You see, it’s an open and closed case,” he said.
“Say nothing,” whispered the goat. “I sense a trap.”
“People have come forward to say that they witnessed an altercation between yourself and Nigel de Havilland Ponsonby Smythe on Richmond Road on the night in question,” said the Chief Inspector. “Mr Smythe has never been seen since.” He slid the suitcase over to the radiator. “This case is hotting up nicely,” he added.
“How many times have I got to tell you?” shouted Lionel, as the goat laid a restraining hand on his shoulder. “Yes, we had an altercation. But in the middle of it, a rogue satellite crashed back to earth instantly vapourising both Nigel and itself. If Karen was here, she would tell you!”
“Ah yes, Miss Strangely-Buoyant,” responded the Chief Inspector, leafing through his notes. “Tell me again. What exactly became of her?”
“She tripped and fell into the Tolka, never to be seen again,” muttered Lionel, the defiance visibly seeping out of him.
“And three days later you moved your Mongolian mail order bride into the flat and into Karen’s bed?” He produced a sheet of wrapping paper and a roll of sellotape from behind his back and proceeded to parcel up the suitcase. “I’ll soon have this case wrapped up,” he said.
“You’ll never take me alive, copper!” snarled Lionel, which caused the Chief Inspector to furrow his eyebrows and look darkly over at the defendant. Then he strolled over to the suitcase and jumped on top of it. “Be very careful,” he warned, “The Chief Inspector’s on the case.”
Back in their cell, Lionel and the goat continued to pace up and down, though the goat kept tripping over. “Don’t know why they removed my shoelaces,” he said gruffly.
“Maybe we can tie some sheets together to make a rope and escape out the window,” suggested Lionel.
“You already tried that,” said the goat, nodding at the bare bed. “You forgot to tie one end, remember?”
Suddenly the cell-door swung open. “You got a visitor, Snitchie,” said the screw, laughing cruelly. (Due to cutbacks, prison warders had been replaced by pieces of ironmongery) “Oh good,” said Lionel and the screw stopped laughing.
“I have some good news and some bad news,” said Zug, her fingertips pawing the glass pane between them. “The bad news is, my darling, that I never loved you and I only agreed to marry you so that I could rip you off and claim EU citizenship. I have sold your apartment – you’re going to be banged up for 30 years anyway, so you won’t be needing it – and on the proceeds, Reuben and I are going to get married and live in a dacha in Slovenia. The baby was his all along, not yours, and I didn’t put Geogho down on the birth cert– we called him “Robbie Doyle” instead. Grandma has given a statement to the police that she swears she saw you washing blood out of Karen’s clothes before you incinerated them and you’ve been disowned by your entire family who have told the papers they always knew that you would come to no good.”
Lionel gulped visibly. The six inch nail by the wall glanced over at him, truncheon at the ready. “And the good news?” he stammered.
“You beat Wexford Youths 1-0,” answered Zug. “Great diving header from McGill. Still top of the table on goal difference from Dundalk. Longford Away and then Torpedo Fingal at home.”
“Yessssssss!” yelled Lionel at the top of his voice and was immediately hopped on by two raw plugs and a picture hook who proceeded to hammer the bejaysus out of him before dragging him back to the cell.

We need goals

We need goals, goals and even more goals,
Kneel down contritely and sell off your souls,
Blow them in, suck them in, summons dark holes,
All we need now is a hatful of goals.

Lets get right at them and knock it around
We look quite a team when its played on the ground
So lets play the football for which we’re renowned,
Pass it and move as we knock it around.

A dead eye for goal we’re relying upon,
Our shooting boots must be the ones that we don,
Don’t be afraid or the chance might be gone,
A dead eye for goal we’re relying upon.

The fans must be vocal and urge them to score,
Not one or two but a dozen or more
Let’s spur them on with a deafening roar
Raise the roof loudly whenever we score.

Certainly we must be firm in defence,
Losing eight-seven does not make much sense
The games left are few and the atmosphere’s tense,
But they say that attack’s the best form of defence.

We need goals, goals and even more goals,
The season’s near over, we all know our roles,
Give us one more of those Tolka Park strolls,
With some goals,
Lots of goals,
A whole netful of goals.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Legend nearly played at Tolka this year?

"Never mind the Borats, there was only one story that really caught the eye last week - the news that Morrissey is a Millwall fan.
The sardonic genius/grumpy old git (delete where applicable) has been swanning around LA in a Lions top bearing the legend 'Mobster' - and the famous quiff could be putting in an appearance at the New Den this Saturday when Millwall take on those other shrinking violets, Leeds.
At first glance the lentil-munching, Thatcher-hating, gladioli-wearing pop star and the club whose anthem is "No-one likes us, we don't care" make for strange bedfellows. But then this is the fella who penned tracks called Sweet and Tender Hooligan and that popular ode to Dennis Wise, Bigmouth Strikes Again.
In another startling revelation, Millwall number two Joe Gallen revealed: "Me and Morrissey have been best mates for years and he's always emailing me to see what's going on at the club. He's obsessed with Millwall and its culture." Extraordinary.
Gallen added: "He kept badgering me to ask if he could play 10 minutes in our pre-season friendly against Shelbourne but we couldn't do it. He hasn't been to see a game at the Den yet but he says he is going to try and get over for the Leeds match."

A Tolka Romance by Bill Zunmoon

Chapter 15
From the ashes of disaster grow the roses of success, as Georges Pompidou once remarked to Lionel Ritchie. Shels’ demoralising defeat in Oriel Park, followed by the frustrating goalless draw at home to Waaaaterford, seemed to be the last iced bun that broke the camel’s coffin, but subsequent victories against star-studded Kildare County and the Magic Mons breathed new life into Shels’ promotion charge.
For Lionel, the talk of building for next season had been replaced by the need for Shels to beat Athlone and Wexford. He argued constantly with Zug’s Cousin Genghis over whether Bisto should be brought back into the team for the two matches. Lionel’s point of view was that the aforementioned striker’s presence was vital to the team. Cousin Genghis merely drew his hand across his throat and grinned menacingly which, to Lionel, did not constitute a well-reasoned argument delivered in a cogent and lucid manner.
On the Wednesday evening between Claudia Winkelman and Coronation Street, Zug gave birth to a healthy baby boy. “What is it?” called Lionel over the heads of the goats, who had gathered round to watch the birth. “It’s a baby,” snapped Zug’s grandmother. “What were you expecting, a vaccuum cleaner?”
“I think I will call the baby Geogho,” said Zug, cradling the tiny infant in her arms. “Look at his moustache and the little jink he does when he runs up to take a penalty. You are happy with this, Lionel?”
Lionel could not have been happier. He had heard rumours that mail-order brides do not often work out but here was Zug, producing a son for him only six weeks after they had met. He couldn’t wait to teach the child how to execute a perfect slide tackle while unobtrusively kicking his opponent with his trailing leg. He couldn’t wait to bring him to Tolka and show him how to abuse the opposition players. He couldn’t wait to smack him around the head and tell him not to be leaving those magazines where his mother might find them.
Curiously Zug’s Uncle Reuben, who shared a bed with the happy couple, also took a great shine to the baby and insisted on breast-feeding it during the night. However, Zug assured Lionel that this was the custom in her native Mongolia. Also, she suggested, it would be an advantage to put Reuben’s name down on the birth certificate, purely for tax reasons, to which Lionel acceded willingly.
On the Saturday afternoon of the Athlone match, Lionel was preparing to leave when Zug announced she was not feeling well and would prefer to stay in bed. Full of concern, Lionel offered to stay behind with her but she assured him that Uncle Reuben had already volunteered and that she would not want to spoil his enjoyment of the match.
He kissed her tenderly and loaded up the 93 Sunny. Grandmother took the baby in the back with Cousin Genghis while one of the goats sat in the front seat. The other goats, tethered to a piece of washing line, trotted along behind. Glancing up at the bedroom window, he could see Uncle Reuben standing there in his underpants and idly wondered if he had turned the heating up too high that morning.
The procession started off down the M50, the goats paying their way handsomely by bunching up as they passed the toll plaza, thus concealing the number plate from the camera. They turned off onto the N4, with Grandmother softly singing “When Jayo went to Poland” to the baby and Cousin Genghis amusing it by pretending to decapitate it with his scimitar.
They were just about to branch off onto the N5 when Lionel noticed the blue, flashing lights in his rear view mirror. Well, they were actually behind him, not in his mirror, and by the time Lionel realised this, the car had pulled up alongside and the long arm of the law was telling him to pull over. Being a law-abiding citizen, Lionel did so, though the goat in the passenger seat urged him to make a run for it.
“I was only doing 20mph, officer,” said Lionel, puzzled, as a team of marksmen took up position around the car.
The policeman leaned into the car and spoke through a megaphone. “Step out of the car and lie down on the ground with your hands behind your back!” he yelled, waking the baby.
Slowly, Lionel did as he was told, as did Grandmother and the baby and the goats. Only Cousin Genghis defiantly drew a finger across his throat until a bullet in the thigh put an end to his bravado.
Lionel felt the handcuffs click round his wrist.
“Lionel Snitchie,” shouted the officer through the megaphone. “I am arresting you for the murder of Nigel de Havilland Ponsonby Smythe.”

The First Division Championship

She is slim, she is brash,
She’s beguiling
In her low-cut flamenco red dress.
If you flash her the cash,
She’ll be smiling,
But its no guarantee of success.
And the suitors surround her,
They’re always around her,
They all try to woo her,
She beckons them to her.

She is wild, she likes fun,
She laughs loudly,
As you grasp her cold hand with intent.
Your actions are done
Very proudly,
Yet she’s of a flirtatious bent.
She dances with passion
In amorous fashion,
She twirls you intently,
Then lets you down gently…

The men almost fight
To escort her,
But she’s an incredible tease.
Deep into the night
They exhort her
With plaintive and heartrending pleas.
For everyone knows
At the evening’s close,
With a flick of her head
She will bring one to bed.
And I’m hopeful this time,
She will indicate I’m
The one she’ll hold tight
At the end of the night.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Classy pic

Pic by Ringsendreds

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Tolka Romance

Chapter 14
Even Tosh Moher, the kindly and affable man that organises the supporters’ buses for Shelbourne away trips, drew the line at livestock. Irish Rail were similarly unimpressed, so Lionel was forced to hire a mini-bus to get himself, Zug (his Mongolian mail-order bride), her extended family and the family’s herd of goats down to Limerick for what was Shels most important game of the season since the last one.
“We win this and we go second,” he explained to Zug. “Then, all we have to do is beat Dundalk away and Waterford at home and Bob’s your uncle.”
“She already has an uncle,” muttered the old man passing behind them, pointing angrily at his own chest. “If this Bob shows up, I will slit his throat.”
“Oh you make it sound so easy, Lionel” sighed Zug, laying her head on Lionel’s chest. “If only it could be this way all the time. We’d soon be back up among the higher echelons of Irish football where we belong.”
Lionel stroked her hair gently. She really was perfect in every way, he thought. His life had really changed for the better that dreadful day three weeks ago when Karen had been swept downstream by a raging River Tolka, never to be seen again.
After the match, as they drove the minibus down to Henry Street Garda Station to collect Zug’s grandmother and the goats, she nuzzled up to him again. “This James Keddy, he is a great player, no?” she asked. “Why are you laughing?”
She slept beside him on the minibus on the long drive home, waking only when Grandmother and Uncle Reuben broke into a particularly rowdy verse of “We’ll keep the red flag flying here.”
As the Dundalk match neared, the tension grew. Grandmother wandered around the apartment muttering “G’wan Shels!” to herself and Cousin Genghis came down with a particularly nasty case of itchy bowel syndrome. Even the goats refused to give milk, though as they were all male, this was probably not too surprising.
“You must believe!” said Zug to Lionel, whenever he got into one of his pessimistic moods. “Have you never listened to Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers? We can do anything we really want to. He is not big in Ireland, no?”
“Darling, I really don’t know how I’d get through this without you,” said Lionel, nibbling her fingers affectionately.
“I wouldn’t do that,” she warned him. “I’ve just been trying to milk the goats.”
The day of the match dawned hot and humid. Well, it was hot and humid in Yemen but in Drumcondra it was overcast and grey. Lionel climbed over Uncle Reuben and the goat on the bathroom floor and put his head under the tap. After about thirty seconds he turned it on.
“We will win Lionel!” called Zug. “I felt the baby kick me three times. In Mongolia that is a sign that we will win 3-0. One for Bisto and two for Forsyth, I think. Believe!”
“You sure?” asked Lionel doubtfully. “Unborn babies can predict football scores? This is a proved medical fact?”
“In my country, yes,” said Zug simply. “In your backward Health Service, who knows?”
Buoyed by this premonition, Lionel’s mood lightened and even the grim discovery that one of the goats had eaten his vinyl copy of “Dancing on the Ceiling” during the night could not stop Lionel grinning. He whistled as the party tore up the M1 in the outside lane at 30kph and waved cheerfully back at all the drivers who waved their fists at him as they overtook on the inside lane.
Grandmother tethered the goats to the railings of the railway station and the party made their way into Oriel Park. “They have funny grass here,” remarked Zug wistfully, as the rain came down in bucketfuls. “No wonder it is so green with all this rain.”
When Dundalk went ahead on the quarter hour mark, Lionel looked quizzically at Zug. “Believe!” she said. “We can still win 3-0.”
When the second blasted past Dean Delaney, she shrugged and went silent. Lionel’s optimism evaporated and the tears ran down his cheeks, down his arms, twice round his midriff and finally streamed down his legs. Alan Keely’s consolation goal near the end set up a grandstand finish but it was not to be.
When the final whistle blew, Lionel just sat there, while Cousin Genghis shouted at the Dundalk fans and drew his finger across his throat. At last he spoke.
“Of all the liars,” he said. Zug blanched visibly. Then she blanched invisibly. Then she blanched in and out of vision.
“Of all the liars,” he repeated, “that there baby of yours is the worst I’ve ever come across. I’ll not believe a word out of its mouth when it’s born.”

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The end of our season?

The optimists tell me I ought to believe,
But after Dundalk, sure, I just want to grieve.
How we’ll get promoted is hard to conceive,
Defying all logical reason.
I’m a mis’rable sod, wear my heart on my sleeve,
And it looks like the end of our season.

The damage was caused in our midseason slump.
It took us too long to get over the hump.
When it started to rain, we could not find the pump,
Though to say so was very near treason.
Our aces were no match ‘gainst Dundalk’s late trump
That effectively finished our season.

To look at the table, they’re too far in front.
That recent defeat means we’re out of the hunt.
Our defence was too porous, our attack was too blunt.
The footballing gods need appeasin’.
Ideas were reduced to the long hopeful punt
And its spelling the end of our season.

And so, as we’ve sown now, we surely shall reap.
Our boat is too flimsy, the water’s too deep.
The hare gives a laugh and the tortoise a cheep,
There’s no word yet that Hell might be freezin’.
Crawley and Giller will not fall asleep
And be caught at the end of the season.

But football, I’m told, is a funny old game.
A horse on the gallop may well pull up lame
The moth can’t give up, he must seek out the flame,
The north wind shows no sign of easin’.
Failure might hurt but it doesn’t bring shame
If we fight till the end of the season.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Tolka Romance by Bill Zunmoon

Part 13
Lionel was so upset by the sight of Karen disappearing down the swollen River Tolka like an upturned whale that he could scarcely finish the Snickers bar that he was eating. After going home for a leisurely bath and a meal, he immediately phoned the police, the coastguards, the lifeboat service, Tesco home delivery service and anybody else he could think of. An air-sea search and rescue operation was launched but it unfortunately proved fruitless except for a crate of nectarines discovered near Poolbeg Lighthouse.
The tragic and traumatic circumstances of Karen’s disappearance and almost certain death were slightly assuaged however by Shelbourne’s 5-0 drubbing of Longford Town, a scoreline that renewed hope among the faithful that a serious attempt at the title could be launched. Okay the defence was still as watertight as a colander but sheets had not been renowned for their cleanliness of late and Lionel clutched at every straw that blew his way.
Ten days had passed since Karen’s untimely disappearance and Lionel realised that the time had come to let go. What they had had, had been beautiful, he thought, though not nearly as beautiful as stringing three consecutive “hads” together in a sentence. But everywhere he turned in the small flat reminded him of his one true love.
There was the dirty underwear scattered over the bedroom floor; the wart cream in the fridge; the dentures still grinning madly by the side of the bed; the chicken leg she had playfully discarded down the back of the settee. Like an enduring old composer, the Liszt went on. There was her wooden leg still propped against the wardrobe; the surgical stockings dangling from the lampshade; her underarm hair scattered over the chest of drawers.
Lionel realised he would have to make a clean break. “I’m sorry, darling,” he whispered as he stuffed everything in a large black sack and tiptoed to the skip down the road at two o’clock in the morning. He felt as if he was betraying her memory, as if he was finally cutting the strings and letting her fall over the cliff to be lacerated by the jagged rocks below. The guilt washed over him like a giant wave of chocolate custard and he hesitated before the skip. “Sod it,” he said and threw the sack in.
Without Karen’s personal belongings, the flat somehow felt emptier and Lionel realised in a there’s-a-hole-in-my-bucket sort of way that he would have to fill it up with non-Karen things. He immediately sent away for a Mongolian mail order bride called Zug and was pleasantly surprised when she arrived two days later with her extended family and a herd of goats in tow.
He brought them all up to Morton Stadium on the Friday night to see Shels play Torpedo Fingal. He was delighted that he was able to get all thirty eight of them in on a family ticket for €20, though he had to leave the goats with the police at the gate, as they constituted a potential hazard in case of fire (the goats, that is, not the police)
Zug became animated when the match began and insisted on asking the name of every player who touched the ball. “Hed-der-man,” she would repeat and nodded sagely as she said the name over and over until he passed it. In broken Egyptian, she confided to Lionel that she had followed Shels 2004 European run from her yurt outside Ulan Bator and still couldn’t believe how Jason Byrne’s lob had missed by so much in the game in Á Coruña.
It was an awful game but Zug’s family seemed to enjoy it and her grandmother even initiated a chant of “We are Shels!” near the end of the match. Zug sensed Lionel’s despair at the three points dropped to the team just behind them and rubbed his buttocks frenetically to buck up his spirits. Karen had never done that, he thought, and then he was suddenly racked with guilt again, even though it was a whole fortnight since she had been swept to her doom.
As they walked home through Whitehall, Zug confided to Lionel that she was pregnant and he was the father. Lionel was delighted. All that effort trying to make a baby with Karen and here was Zug carrying his baby only 48 hours after they had met and before they had even slept together.
As he settled down on the bathroom floor between Zug’s Uncle Reuben and one of the goats, Lionel realised he was the luckiest man alive.

Another good chant...

...sung by Shels fans after the Reds had taken the lead against Dynamo Fingal -

"One -nil to the football club

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Tolka Romance by Bill Zunmoon

Part 12

Once Lionel got the hang of it and didn’t need to consult the diagrams, he found that trying for a baby with Karen was actually quite enjoyable. These were the halcyon days of the summer of 2008 when gales ripped the country apart and flash floods brought back memories of the great Tolka inundation of October 2002, particularly to those who witnessed it and remembered the occasion.
Shels meanwhile found their scoring touch too, banging in six goals in two games against Athlone and Wexford to claw their way back up to third spot in the table. Even the perennial grumblers in Section D were heard to grudgingly admit that there was a touch of optimism in the air, even though “yer man’s no Val Harris,” which was true enough in its own unique way.
Far away in Beijing, a load of drug-fuelled sporty types competed in something called the Olympics, somebody in the news invented a place called South Ossetia to help start up a new cold war and a young man in Santry lost a pencil.
Lionel and Karen were blissfully in love. They snogged in the queue for the butchers and they snogged in the queue for the ATM machine. He put his hand on her backside in the queue for the bus and she, gigglingly, pushed it away, causing a slight dislocation of his elbow. Public Health officials were called in to deal with an epidemic of vomiting as they snogged in the queue at the Social Security office and the lovebirds even found themselves singing along to Boyzone songs whenever a DJ on the radio accidentally played one.
Of course such bliss could not last and from their apartment window, Lionel and Karen lay in bed watching the storm clouds gathering over Tolka. Someone called Dave Rogers was issuing a severe weather warning on behalf of Met Eireann and Lionel’s mind instantly flicked back to the volley against Hajduk Split.
“Ow!!” yelled Karen, nursing her hip gingerly.
“Sorry darling,” said Lionel, retrieving his foot from the rolls of flesh. “I was just remembering those golden days of 2004 when we were heroes.”
“Before you met me, you mean?” bristled Karen and Lionel knew instantly that he had put his foot in it, an image that is best left to the reader’s imagination. A drop of rain hit the window pane.
“It doesn’t mean to say there’s a thunderstorm coming,” advised Lionel, who had experience in such matters. A second drop hit the window. Then a third. Then there was a pause before another drop. Then a fifth and a sixth, though not necessarily in that order.
“There’s a thunderstorm coming,” said Karen matter-of-factly and sat up in bed, fumbling in among the sheets for her bra.
“Where are you going, love?” asked Lionel, idly counting the pimples on her back and suppressing an urge to squeeze a few of them.
“We,” corrected Karen.
“You don’t need to get dressed to go for a wee,” said Lionel, puzzled. Karen fished out what appeared to be a parachute from the bedding and put it on.
“No, darling,” said Karen, “We are going down to Tolka to see if they need a hand. The bar is below road level and subject to flooding, you know.”
As they stepped through the door, the rain bucketed down like buckets of rain. It hit the ground, bounced up six feet and came down a second time. Several ducks floated down the middle of the road, yippee-ing and giving each other high fives. Above, on the main road, a large black dog strapped a triangle on his back and swam around humming the theme tune from “Jaws,” until he was eaten by a shark.
“Come on!” yelled Karen, grabbing Lionel tenderly by the nose and ploughing gamely into the eye of the storm. They sloshed through the flooded streets, the water at times coming above the height of their flip-flops and soaking their feet. Lightning flashed and thunder crashed and Noah’s carpentry stores on the corner appeared to be a hive of activity.
Wading along in Karen’s wake, Lionel wished he was at home in bed again, flag in hand, preparing for another assault on Karen’s unclimbed south side. So deep was his reverie that he failed to see Karen stumble against the kerb and plunge headlong into the River Tolka.
“Karen!” he yelled, but if she answered, it was lost in the drumming of the rain on his head.

The rule book

The rule book’s writ in black and white
And Ollie, rest his soul, would say
That whether it was wrong or right,
It is imperative to fight
To make sure that the clubs obey.
And if a rule is deemed to be
An ass, as people oft maintain,
Then change the rule if all agree,
But keep the law’s integrity –
Thus Ollie often would explain.
For if a rule’s but half-observed
And not enforced by strength of law,
The game itself is badly served
And leads to madness, death and war.

And thus, when Shels were shown to breach
Financial rules, we’d no defence.
Our relegation sought to teach
The League of Ireland clubs that each
Should monitor their pounds and pence.
But now comes news that sev’ral teams
Are tottering upon the brink.
They’ve over-reached whilst chasing dreams
And wage caps have been breached, it seems,
And caused a large financial stink.
The current quagmire thus expels
An odour of the worst degree –
You cannot have one rule for Shels
While others walk away scot-free.
Cork, Bohs, Galway, Sligo and Cobh all believed to have infringed the same rules that got Shels demoted

Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Tolka Romance by Bill Zunmoon

Part 11
“Lionel?” said Karen.
Lionel looked up in surprise at the mention of his name. Karen usually flicked her fingers in exasperation when called upon to remember it.
“Yes, darling?” he replied, watching her eyebrows arch like some demented viaduct. The uninspiring football being served up between Shelbourne and Dundalk had caused him to glance down at his open programme and he had been reading some unadulterated tosh called “A Tolka Romance,” when Karen spoke.
Karen broke wind nervously. “Lionel,” she repeated and her face reddened. Then it browned, purpled and finally reddened again. There was no other way to say it, she realised. In the end, it all came out in a rush, together with a half a pint of spittle. “Do you think we ought to try for a baby?”
Lionel ducked suddenly as a Hedderman clearance slammed into the stands. “That was a close one,” he remarked jovially as the ball struck Karen square in the nose, splattering it all over her face.
“Go on, lad, show us what you’re made of!” he shouted loudly as the quick throw in was intercepted by the ever-dangerous Georgescu.
Karen wiped the blood and mucus from her face and repeated her question, watching the back of his head closely for a clue to his inner feelings.
When the ball went out of play on the far side of the pitch, Lionel turned and held her giant pudgy hand in both of his. “Sorry darling,” he said. “Something about gravy?”
“A baby,” Karen repeated again, gripping his hand tightly and causing sudden paralysis of his lower arm. “Do you think we ought to try for one?”
“Try for one? What do you mean - try for one?” he asked, clicking his tongue in exasperation as Keddy went down again.
“What do people normally mean when they say they’re going to try for a baby?” asked Karen incredulously. “Buy a raffle ticket for it?”
“Is that how it’s done?” asked Lionel in all seriousness, missing the sarcasm in her voice. “I always wondered. Do you think Bisto’s ever going to score again?”
“Oh forget about Bisto for once, will you!” she snapped and Lionel gasped audibly at the sacrilege. “This is important. This is you and me. Are you seriously telling me you don’t know how babies are made?”
Lionel opened his mouth to speak but Karen pointed a warning finger at him. “Don’t you dare tell me you think Dave Crawley raises his game every time he plays against us,” she threatened, breaking wind again aggressively.
Lionel closed his mouth, an act which probably saved his life. He thought a while. “No,” he said at last. “It never really came up.”
With a lot of finger pointing and with the help of the ring doughnut that she had been saving for the end of the match, Karen painstakingly and graphically explained to Lionel the facts of life. Lionel kept quiet, his face down, only looking up when Dave Freeman seemed for a split second to be in on goal. His face turned green at one point and Karen thought he was going to be sick but he held it in like a man until she had finished.
“I had no idea,” he said eventually. “How bizarre! And you say birds and bees do all that?
“Humans too,” said Karen quickly, afraid he might be missing the point of her spiel.
“Good Lord!” replied Lionel. It was like the relevations to Saul on the Road to Damascus. The pieces all fell into place.
“Well?” asked Karen. He looked at her quizzically.
“Do you think we should try for a baby?”
Lionel stood up suddenly. “He’s not one of the Untouchables of India! He’s only from Dundalk!” he yelled, as the Shels defence backed away. Muttering and shaking his head, he sat down again and turned to Karen. “You want a baby very much, don’t you?” he said tenderly, picking at the matted blood in her hair.
She nodded, not daring to her speak. This was her moment, she realised. His response would either fulfil her spiritually, mentally and physically or else she might as well be as barren as Anto Flood’s current scoring record.
Lionel looked at her and love swept over him like a bath of treacle. He could see the fear in her eyes, the snot hanging precariously down her nose and her beauty wart on her bottom lip. He knew he hadn’t the power to refuse such loveliness but yet... but yet...
Eventually he spoke. “I think,” he said, “that maybe we ought to wait until the end of the match.”
And he was instantly enveloped in a mass of slobbering kisses that Anto Flood would have given his right arm for.

Two paintings

At two ends of a great hall
Hang two pictures on the wall,
One small in size, the other somewhat bigger.
And in this great museum,
Joseph Public flocks to see ‘em,
The fav’rite, though, is not too hard to figure.

The smaller tells the story
Of a club that’s gained great glory.
Upon the pitch, a player holds high the Cup.
In the stands the fans are singing,
On the terrace, praise is ringing.
It seems this is a team now on the up.

But if you peer more closely,
Look! The chairman stares morosely
At those vultures that are circling overhead.
And regard those bailiffs knocking!
Not a happy scene, but shocking
And one that should be viewed with pure dread.

The larger one, conversely,
Shows defeat inflicted tersely,
The players sink to the turf, their heads in hands.
But although the fans are grumbling,
Those old terraces aren’t crumbling,
And no dandelions are sprouting in the stands.

Mister Keely, the curator,
Tries to talk to each spectator
‘Bout the special merits of the larger painting.
But that Cup is gleaming brightly
And the masses crowd round tightly,
So tight in fact that some of them are fainting.

Yes the team that’s won promotion’s
At the hub of the commotion,
The vultures and the bailiffs notwithstanding.
The curator, feeling slighted,
Claims they must be all short-sighted –
“You should see the bigger picture!” he’s demanding.
Following a poor run in form, criticism has been levelled at the club for playing friendlies in the middle of the season - Millwall, Leeds, Celtic. Dermot's response ids that the critics ought to see the bigger picture

The greening of Millwall

Oh Millwall, how thy name doth rouse
The passion in the purist’s heart
And raptures those that doth espouse
The beauty of this sporting art.
For though thy name brings forth to mind
Elysian fields of verdant hue,
And dappled brooks that twist and wind
Round hillocks moulded ‘pon the view,
Still I recall a distant time
When athletes played the noble game
For football’s sake, not fleeting fame,
Adored by thousands in their prime.

Upon the walls the names that we know,
Dunphy, Kennedy, Cascarino…

Ah, Dunphy, with his boyish grin
And reticence to get stuck in.
McCarthy, Eamonn’s nemesis
To whom he gave the Judas kiss.
Bold Tony, yet another scribe,
Adept with head and foot and pen,
And Kennedy, who felt the vibe,
Sometimes. Every now and then.
And giant Richard, tall and keen
To whom cruel fate was roundly rotten.
Oh they will never be forgotten
Who painted Cold Blow Lane so green.

Upon the walls the names that we know,
Dunphy, Kennedy, Cascarino…

Last night I dreamt of Paul Reaney

Last night I dreamt of Paul Reaney,
Still sporting those Boney M locks.
He was driving a red lamborghini
And was wearing an odd pair of socks.

And no, there was no Norman Hunter,
Nor Madeley, nor Charlton, nor Giles.
Just Paul and the Argentine junta,
Who chased the calm fullback for miles.

No Bremner, no Jones and no Cooper,
No Lorimer, Clarke, Sprake or Gray.
Just Reaney the curly-haired trouper
Who kept roving wingers at bay.

How wondrous the intricate workings
That power the cerebral machine!
Perhaps ‘twas that jar of fresh gherkins
That triggered this unlikely scene?

Or maybe ‘twas my fascination
With those who don’t get much acclaim,
Who don’t capture the hearts of the nation
But play a huge part, all the same.

Among the fine jewels assembled,
This quiet undemonstrative gem
Was noted because he resembled
The lad who sang in Boney M.

In my dream, that red lamborghini
Disappeared in the desert’s warm haze,
The same way that thoughts of Paul Reaney
Disappeared in my young adult days.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

A Tolka Romance by Bill Zunmoon

Part 10
It was shortly after Sporting Fingal hit the bar for the second time that Karen made her request.
“Hobnobs and custard?” echoed Lionel. “Where on earth am I going to get Hobnobs and custard at this hour of the night? Clear it down the line, will ya!”
“Of course if its too much trouble...” sighed Karen despondently, picking her nose and examining the contents forlornly.
“No of course not, darling,” whispered Lionel earnestly. “I’ll be right back.”
The girl serving in Burdock’s merely looked at him blankly, causing him to ponder a quick dash to Tesco’s on the Drumcondra Road. Thankfully the sudden appearance of the Hobnobs and Custard man – who had replaced the irreplaceable Rocket Man some time previously – saved him a journey.
“Thank you, darling,” said Karen and she bit his ear playfully in appreciation before wolfing down the contents in one foul swoop and belching loudly.
“No problem darling,” replied Lionel weakly, as the St. Johns Ambulance men tried to staunch the flow of blood.
It was a good match, keeping the fans on the edge of their seats throughout, particularly those who were sitting down. Some poor deluded souls even conceded that perhaps Torpedo Fingal had deserved all three points and Lionel, walking hand in hand with Karen out of the ground whispered that it took all sorts to make a post-match discussion.
“Do you know what I’d like?” said Karen, stroking one of her chins. “A packet of liquorice allsorts. Dipped in chutney. With a banana on top.”
Lionel raised one eyebrow then, exhausted, let it go again. “Tesco’s it is so,” he capitulated and they headed off into the night, like Laurel and two Hardys.
Tosh Travel departed Tolka Park at 2.30 pm the following Friday for the trip down to Waterford. As they boarded the coach, Lionel took Karen’s handbag as four burly supporters put their shoulder to her backside to force her through the door.
“Good Lord, what do you have in here, darling?” asked Lionel, rupturing a muscle in his back as he heaved it down the aisle to a vacant seat.
“Just a little snack,” she panted as a sudden exertion from the four men catapulted her onto the cowering driver.
Full of curiosity, Lionel snapped open the padlock and peered inside. There was a packet of crunchy nut cornflakes, three tins of semolina, a half pound of sausages, a packet of wagon wheels (not the confectionery – actual wagon wheels), a bowl of mashed potato and broccoli, a quart of red lemonade and a tube of toothpaste. And that was just in the side compartment.
“In case I feel peckish,” snapped a red-faced Karen, sitting down heavily in the two seats across the aisle and snatching the bag from his grasp, pausing only to wolf down three packets of Hunky Dorys and an olive and marmite sandwich. Hurriedly, Lionel tried to change the subject.
“What do you think of our chances tonight, love?” he asked. “Isn’t it great to have Bisto back?”
“Bisto??” she yelled incredulously and smacked her forehead with the palm of her hand.
During the game, Lionel tried to resist any references to feeding the forward line, nutmegs or Max Cream. He refrained from calling either of the own goals a cracker and he didn’t accuse the Waterford full-back of “making a meal of it” when he was accidentally scythed down. Bringing Sparky on might prove more profitable, he stated at one point, changing the adjective from “fruitful” at the last minute. He chose his words carefully when Chambers got sandwiched in the middle of the park and he made no reference whatsoever to Bisto or his poaching abilities.
On the bus home, Karen finished off the last of her Werther’s originals and cleared her throat, sending bits of caramel flying in all directions. “Lionel,” she said softly. He didn’t stir, tired after a hard day’s travelling and avoiding food metaphors.
“Lionel darling,” she whispered again, smacking him forcefully across the temple with her now empty handbag. Lionel snapped awake in an instant.
“Darling,” Karen said. “You know I’ve had these strange cravings for weird combinations of food recently?”
Lionel felt his heart simultaneously sink and leap. Could it be? He didn’t dare enunciate the words. “It isn’t because...because...” he stammered.
She looked at him and grinned. “Yes,” she said. “Its because I’m a greedy cow.”

Summer football at the RSC

The fans gazed around
The rain-spattered ground,
Unable to fathom the mystery.
In their years watching ball,
None could ever recall
Quite anything like it in history.

The God of the Wind
Blew his cheeks out and grinned,
As the ball swirled about with great revelry.
And the God of the Rain
Sang a lusty refrain,
Which many ascribed to sheer devilry.

“So what?” you might say,
“Just an ordin’ry day.
Our summer’s are often quite scuttery.
Full of rain, wind and sleet
And to make it complete,
The surface turns greasy and buttery.”

But this was not why
Faces turned to the sky,
Amazed at the unforeseen frippery,
For great numbered balls
Bounced down ‘mongst the squalls
As conditions got even more slippery.

Bright coloured and gay,
They broke up the play,
Like a bull in a shop full of pottery.
No it doesn’t make sense
But these lurid events
Had turned the match into a lottery.

Monday, June 23, 2008

A Tolka Romance by Bill Zunmoon

Part 9


Reunited, and it feels so good, warbled legendary singing duo Peaches and Herb over the tannoy and, as Lionel and Karen’s relationship blossomed, it seemed that the only thing that could spoil the party was a downturn in fortune for Shels. Lionel had won her heart – and the other 22 stone of her – but since that balmy evening when Wexford Youths had been despatched to the corner of the classroom, the team had experienced a wobble not seen since Karen had dashed down the New Stand at half time to get to Burdocks before the crowd.
The mauling at home in the Cup by Dundalk had been an aberration, Karen said, as she nibbled his ear at the end of the match, leaving it like a shredded beefburger. Besides, she continued, the Cup was only a distraction. “Would you rather make love to me once on a white beach in Mauritius or regularly in my flat in Fairview?” she asked by way of an analogy and Lionel agreed that the latter was entirely preferable, as she might be mistaken for a beached whale in the Indian Ocean.
The break came. Not between Lionel and Karen whose love was as strong as that of Leonardo di Caprio and Kate Winslett in “Titanic,” but in the League season. Lionel spent the evenings in Karen’s apartment and they made glorious love on the floor all during the group stages of Euro 2008, pausing only to urge on their respective teams to further efforts.
Lionel had gone for the Croats because, as he explained, it was hard not to feel a great warmth towards them for their mauling of England in the qualifying stages. Karen had adopted the Italians because she “liked their food.”
One night, after debating van Nistlerooy’s offside goal for nearly an hour, Karen rolled on top of Lionel and said, with deadly seriousness, “I think we should get married.”
Lionel said nothing. It was as though the thought had struck him dumb and that he was grappling with his thoughts and emotions. Karen searched his face for the answer, even checking behind his ears, but Lionel made no reply. It was only by his frantic gestures towards his throat that Karen realised the problem and rolled back off him.
“Oh darling,” he gasped at last, as Eamonn explained how it was possible for a player lying four yards off the field to play the Dutch striker onside. “Do you think we can really make it together in this harsh and cruel world that we live in? What if Shels go on a losing streak and Dundalk surge past us, holding their thumbs to their noses and shouting “Na, na, na-na na?” Can our love survive the pain of losing out on promotion?”
Karen placed a tender finger on his lips, chipping a tooth. “If Bisto should get transferred back to Rovers during the transfer window,” she said. “If Roddy Collins should take over from Dermo and signs Robbie Doyle and Trevor Molloy. If Shels get demoted to the AUL and leave Tolka and ground share with St. Francis. If Shels become a feeder club for Bohs,” – here Lionel turned away and was violently sick into a discarded fried rice container – “If all of these things happen, will you still follow them?”
As Liam explained to a confused Bill that Pirlo had not technically left the field of play with the referee’s permission and was therefore lying on the touchline, playing everybody onside, Lionel could feel the tears welling up in his eyes and, curiously, in his nose. “That’s the most beautiful speech I have ever heard, since Gerry Collins made an impassioned plea for reform of agricultural policy in the Daíl twenty years ago,” he said. “Darling, do you think it can really work? You and me, alone in this mad, mad world? Just the two of us, building castles in the sky?”
Her lips sought his. They roamed over the settee and across the Chinese rug until at last they found them on his face just below his nose. As John explained that Don Revie had always said that the offside law should be dictated by common sense, they locked in a deep embrace. Lionel could feel his life force slowly ebbing away as he melted into a liquid world of warmth and contentment. What adventures lay ahead, he wondered, as he slipped slowly into unconsciousness?
What indeed?

Just a little wobble

Before the break we seemed to take
Each game with such conviction.
“We’ll win by four,” “A cricket score,”
Was often the prediction.
Then came the Cup, we messed it up,
The ball began to bobble.
Was this malaise a passing phase,
A temporary wobble?
Going down to Longford Town
Has altered our perspective.
Things aren’t as sweet since that defeat –
It’s made us more reflective.
Our surging run, once full of fun,
Has turned into a hobble.
Oh, has our dream run out of steam,
Or is this just a wobble?

Those two losses ran across us,
Striking without warning.
Unprepared, we’re now quite scared
We might end up in mourning.
To lose again would inflict pain,
Cause team and fans to squabble.
Oh will we start to fall apart?
Or is this just a wobble?

So we, as fans, must make our plans
To roar the team to glory.
No more slips or little blips
Must mar this rampant story.
A good win then, ‘gainst Bucko’s men,
Is what we need to cobble,
To fan the flames and show those games
Were just a little wobble.

A Tolka Romance by Bill Zunmoon

Part 8
All the way home from Lissywoolen, Lionel and Karen talked about revitalising their relationship, the concept of true, unselfish love and whether Philly Hughes would ever be fully fit. Lionel could scarcely believe his luck. He thought he had lost Karen forever, though at 22 stone, she was not a girl who you could lose easily. Yet here she was sitting demurely in the passenger seat, the rolls of fat from her thighs making the gear stick difficult to move.
The smell of her aftershave mingled with her underarm sweat and Lionel had to pinch himself to make sure he hadn’t died and gone to heaven. Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, girl puts boy in a neck-brace, boy finds girl – it was the classic love story.
In his minds eye, Lionel could see himself and Karen queuing up outside Tolka with lots of little Lionels and Karens, waiting to go in and see Real Madrid getting thumped in the quarter final of the Champions League. He could see them living happily in a whitewashed cottage with pictures of all the Shelbourne greats – Gannon, Sheridan, Trebble – adorning the walls.
For her part, Karen admitted that putting Lionel in hospital had caused her many minutes of anguish. If only he could find it in his heart, or even in his pancreas, to forgive her, she knew that they could start to build a relationship that could stand the test of time. Impulsively, Lionel leant over and kissed her tenderly on the cheek and the magical moment only came to an end when Karen screamed “Watch out!” and grabbed the steering wheel forcefully from his grasp.
They arranged to meet the following week at the Wexford Youths game and all through the week, Lionel could hardly contain his excitement. He was so nervous that three times he put his fork through his cheek at mealtimes and got seriously wet when he tried to take a short cut home over the canal on his way home from the chicken factory.
It seemed to Lionel that Friday would never come. He tried crossing the days off two at a time on the calendar but that didn’t work. He had butterflies in his stomach and a ferret in his bowels, excitedly anticipating Friday. Every tree with low hanging branches that he passed he would jump up and head the leaves until somebody fired a warning shot at him.
Love, as Annie Lennox had once told him, is a stranger in an open car, though Pat Benataur had argued that it was a battlefield. Foreigner, remembered Lionel, just wanted to know what it is and John Lennon said it was all you need. According to John Paul Young it is in the air anytime he looks around, though Lionel found scant evidence of this.
Whatever that many splendour’d thing actually was, Lionel knew he felt it as Karen eased herself into two bucket seats beside him and squeezed his hand tightly, fracturing two fingers. All that is needed now was three points, he thought, and I know my life is complete.
Shelbourne pressed hard and Lionel’s hand wandered towards Karen’s thigh like a distracted crab. Problem was, once there, he didn’t know what to do next and played incey-wincey-spider up and down her leg until she told him to cut it out.
Bisto went close, Freeman went close but Wexford Youths belied their tender years and held firm against wave after wave of red pressure. Lionel slid his arm around Karen’s shoulder but could only reach halfway across her back and withdrew it when he found he had nothing to hang on to. Yells for a penalty went ignored and Lionel nibbled Karen’s fingertips until she reminded him where they had been recently.
Scoreless at half time, Lionel could feel the old frustration welling in his loins. One point wouldn’t be good enough to leapfrog Dundalk who had clawed their way passed Lokomotiv Fingal the night before. He hoped Dermot’s team talk would be an encouraging one, accentuating the positive and garnering hope.
Shels continued to press in the second half and Lionel resumed his explanation of Karen’s anatomy. Bisto went close again and Lionel stroked Karen’s cheek and she bit his hand. The Wexford keeper fumbled but the ball was cleared and Lionel, in Section D, sympathised with him. And then it happened!
A cross ball and Bisto was in the clear to stroke the ball home. The place erupted, with rivulets of molten lava flowing down from the back of the stand. Celine Dion in a nearby stadium, paused in the middle of “My heart will go on,” to declare to an ecstatic crowd that “I guess Shels must have scored.”
And Lionel and Karen, locked in a passionate embrace that nearly asphyxiated the former, entwined in a love clench that would have left Bob Marley in no doubt, celebrated the goal in the best way possible.

Superstitious Cedric

Managers in general are quite blunt and down to earth,
But Cedric, the exception, had been spiritual from birth.
He didn’t have that nous that made, say Fidel Castro logical,
But rather he was driven by events more astrological.

He consulted every horoscope before he made decisions,
His matchday routine was a constant stream of superstitions.
He always wore his lucky rabbit’s foot, through force of habit,
[Lucky, maybe, for himself, but hardly for the rabbit.]

One time, when things weren’t going well, he sought a fortune teller,
With great big bushy eyebrows, like a female Uri Geller.
He sat down in her kitchen and he crossed her palm with gold,
For nothing rhymes with “silver,” or so I have been told.

She took his mutton hand in hers, examining the lines,
Which told, she said, a lot regarding discipline and fines.
And then she got the tarot cards and shuffled them up well,
Imparting that their title charge would soon be shot to hell.

And then they had a séance and they held hands round the table,
When suddenly appeared the ghost of Cedric’s Auntie Mabel.
They asked about the tactics that his charges should adopt,
But Mabel burst out crying and the apparition stopped.

Mrs. Fortune-Teller then brewed up a cup of tea,
And offered it to Cedric, who did sip it gratefully.
“No, no, you ass!” she scolded him, “Just swirl the cup around.
Throw out the tea, the leaves will form a pattern most profound.”

Sheepishly, the manager did just as he was bade,
And placed the cup upon the table, terribly afraid,
When suddenly her cat jumped up, and with a wayward paw,
It smashed the cup to smithereens upon the linoed floor.

Tea-leaves, tea-leaves everywhere, and not a drop of drink.
The fortune-teller whispered it was worse than she dared think.
“What does it mean?” poor Cedric wailed, not daring to look up.
“Obvious,” she muttered. “You’ll get knocked out of the Cup.”

Monday, May 26, 2008

Another photo

Found this photo in "My Computer" on, well, my computer. Have no recollection of downloading it!

From Shelsweb

"My favourite moment of the game was when the players for both sides spontaneously decided to play out an interpretive dance routine." - Comment and pic by Pizzapie

A Tolka Romance by Bill Zunmoon

Part 7
Spring arrived at last in Ireland. The sun came out, admitting in a live TV interview that it had always had feelings for Alpha Centauri, starlings hurriedly completed snag lists for their nests and Shelbourne surged up the table like testosterone rising in a buck rabbit just emerging from four years in Glenstal Abbey.
A veritable goalscoring fest from Freeman, O’Brien, Dunne, Hedderman and Brennan saw the Mighty Reds reach the pinnacle of the First Division in the middle of May as Dundalk struggled with altitude sickness at Camp V, yet Lionel was a troubled man. Amid the euphoria that greeted every goal, he knew that his life was incomplete, as if there was a piece of the jigsaw missing and somebody had hidden it for a laugh. As the great Irish composer Stephen Gateley once said, “Have you tried looking under the settee?”
Of course he knew the reason for his malaise. Karen. The love of his life, the girl of his dreams, twenty one stone of pure woman. He had gone to the Kildare game, hoping to bump into her – not literally of course, as that might have resulted in serious injury – and explain his feelings. He was sure she would understand, providing he spoke in English. But, although he lay in wait by Burdock’s for most of the game, her ample frame was nowhere to be seen.
At the Tuesday night game against Monaghan, he circumnavigated the ground three times before admitting that she wasn’t there. She had always joked that hide-and-go-seek hadn’t been her forte at school, laughing jocosely that many of the other kids had used her as a hiding place. And Lionel knew well that she was no Wally, blending effortlessly into the background like Osama bin Laden in Tora Bora.
On the coach down to Lissywoolen, Lionel brooded over Dundalk’s sneaky Friday night attack on the summit, pushing Shels back down the slope and robbing their chocolate. And he brooded over Karen. He knew she hadn’t gone by Tosh Travel since that embarrassing incident with the coach doors on the way back from Wexford but neither had he heard any mention from AA Roadwatch that a large load was moving slowly down the M5 and that motorists were being advised to continue on the N4 to Edgeworthstown before cutting back.
“Let me tell you ‘bout the way she looked, the way she’d act and the colour of her hair,” he remarked to the bearded guy in the seat next to him, and from Kilbeggan to Moate he poured his heart out to a complete stranger, stopping only when the latter pulled out his earphones and said “Wha’?”
She wasn’t in Athlone at all. Lionel knew this by the absence of a large shadow across the playing surface. He tried to concentrate on the football, marvelling how Sparky, now in his early eighties, still managed to cover every blade of grass on the pitch, except perhaps seven of them near the far corner flag. He roared with the sizable travelling contigent as the net bulged for the opening goal and watched Shels slowly inch back up to the summit, panting at every step.
It was a game of two halves but Nigel only remembered this as he got back onto the dual carriageway. Cursing his forgetfulness he returned to the ground to watch Shels playing into the teeth of a hurricane like Captain Birds Eye lashed to the mast for the second half. The minutes dragged by, limping heavily and with their noses in a sling. The tension was unbearable. Deano looked vulnerable. The normally watertight back four were springing leaks everywhere and there was no Carl van der Velden to stick his fingers in the dyke.
But then it was all over and Shels were back on top and it was Dundalk’s turn to camp on the windy ledge high above the sheer cliff face and hope they didn’t roll over in their sleep. For a moment, Nigel forgot Karen. The relief of victory washed over him like relief washing over somebody and he exited the ground whistling “There’s a whole lotta loving going on in my heart,” by The New Seekers.
And then he stopped dead in his tracks.
She was there, leaning lightly against his passenger door, which had buckled alarmingly under the pressure. Panting, as if she had run all the way from St. Mel’s Park, and with rivulets of sweat flowing copiously from her armpits, she idly squeezed the pimples on her chin as she waited for him.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

I’m Tosh. Fly me.

Oh Iarnrod Eireann is known through the land,
An option when distances have to be spanned
From the wastelands of Cobh up to bustling Mayo,
But they won’t bring you where the damn train tracks won’t go.

Bus Eireann is great when you’re out in the sticks,
In need of a sharp agricultural fix.
Their tentacles reach out from Malin to Schull,
But the driver won’t stop if your bladder is full.

Oh back in the past, there were times when I drove
Through Cashel and Mallow and on down to Cobh,
But on the road home, I’d regard with dismay
The welcoming pubs that I’d pass on the way.

Oh sometimes I dream of a twenty foot chopper,
Although my wife says this is highly improper.
Away trips to Lim’rick would be quite sublime –
We’d be back up in Dublin before closing time.

Some folk see an offer and hurriedly book it,
Queue up at the station or else Thomas Cook it,
But whenever the Reds have a match out of town,
There’s only one way for the fans to go down.

Tosh Travel! Tosh Travel The ideal approach,
Discovering Ireland by luxury coach.
The craic and the humour have won much acclaim
And sometimes you’ll get there in time for the game.

Oh Tosh is a rare and a wonderful breed,
He knows every hedge that could do with a feed.
Like a wandering minstrel, he’s criss-crossed the land
And knows every route like the back of his hand.

He’s been hiring coaches since 1915,
Is acquainted with every small pub and shebeen.
The young and the old, the deprived and the posh
Are assured of a welcome when travelling with Tosh.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

For the love of Bisto

I thought he didn’t care for me,
I thought my love was just a one-way ride,
For though I’ve watched him lovingly,
The gulf between us always was too wide.
I’ve yearned his body from afar
And marvelled at his rising star,
And got down on my knees and begged the Lord,
And when Bisto ran into my arms
And held me tight in deep embrace,
I knew right then and there that I had scored.

‘Twas only a long punt from Dean,
Defender should have knocked it out the ground.
The header down was quite pristine,
But fortunate my gangly love was found.
He nipped in quick around the back,
So damned incisive in attack,
His narrow-angled shot brought its reward.
And when Bisto ran into my arms
And held me tight in deep embrace,
I knew right then and there that I had scored.

I’ve played it back a thousandfold,
His joyous run to me with arms outstretched.
The way he ran to me to hold –
Upon my mind the imprint’s ever etched.
My rivals all bitch constantly
About the way he ran to me
And showed me where the grapes of joy are stored,
For when Bisto ran into my arms
And held me tight in deep embrace,
I knew right then and there that I had scored.

Since first we lovingly embraced,
There’s never been a setting of the sun.
So now I will make sure I’m placed
At that one point to where I know he’ll run.
I’ll cheer him on in snow and rain
And pray that he will score again,
And run to this one spot where he’s adored,
For when Bisto runs into my arms
And holds me tight in deep embrace,
I know right then and there that I have scored.
From Shelsweb - "So there i am, hanging over the wall, arms outstreched, screaming at the top of my lungs after Bisto has just scored his first and Shels second, when who comes sprinting over and straight into my arms but Bisto himself. He nearly knocked me out as he never even slowed down." - Anto (legendary Shels fan)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Tolka Romance by Bill Zunmoon

  1. Chapter 6
  2. .
  3. Lionel discharged himself from the Mater Hospital still suffering from amnesia, although he was sure in his mind that this was a type of rice pudding. Trouble was, he couldn’t remember. Neither could he remember his name or his address or how he had landed in hospital in the first place. The only clue to his former existence was a red and white scarf with the name ‘Shelbourne’ emblazoned across it.
    He hailed a cab. “The Shelbourne,” he said peremptorily and the taxi sped off down Eccles Street, leaving Lionel on the pavement.
    He reached the end of the road on foot and tossed a coin. He caught it in his left hand so he turned left down Dorset Street heading in the direction of Drumcondra. Somewhere Sandie Shaw was singing “Always Something there to Remind me,” though Lionel suspected it was only a recording. Strange how he could not remember his own name but he was still sharply focussed on barefooted singing stars of the sixties.
    On and on he walked as the yellow sun slipped slowly down behind a bunch of poplars and then shot back up again, as though stung on the backside. He passed Fagan’s. “Spare the price of a pint of Bass, pal?” an old man accosted him. Lionel thought he looked familiar and stopped. “What is Shelbourne, old man?” he asked. The man looked quizzically at him and scuttled away, the cord of his deep-pocketed anorak trailing the ground.
    He reached the corner of Richmond Road and tossed another coin, though it might have been the same one as before. This time he caught it in his right hand, so he turned right, down the row of red-bricked terraced houses. Somewhere, Andrea Corr was singing “Forgiven, not forgotten,” though as she was up in Dundalk, Lionel couldn’t hear her.
    As he walked down the street, Lionel’s brow furrowed. Then his elbow furrowed and the little dinge below his ankle followed suit. He came to a large red double gate upon which someone had scrawled the name “Quasimodo.” That rings a bell, thought Lionel and approached with trepidation. Remember, he urged himself. I must remember! Damn this rice pudding.
    The gate was locked and the turnstile beside it was fairly well on itself. He pressed his fingers against the metal sheen, willing his memory to return. Somewhere Elvis Costello was singing “Remember you’re a Womble” but Lionel instinctively knew that the bespectacled crooner could not be trusted. Suddenly the sky seemed to turn black and a large shadow squashed him against the gate. With difficulty he turned around and there facing him was a familiar figure.
    “Karen,” he whispered, and his memory came rushing back like a memory rushing back from somewhere. “Karen, you look lovelier than ever. Darling, I’m sorry for whatever I did. It was wrong of me and I know it. I’ve been a damned fool. Can you ever forgive me, darling? Can you? Can you?”
    The burly policeman stroked his ginger moustache carefully and considered Lionel with a detached air. Years of psychological training led him instinctively to mark Lionel down as a nutter. Somewhere Patsy Cline was singing “Crazy,” though Lionel was sure she was dead.
    “Yes of course I forgive you,” said the policeman and the couple embraced warmly. “However,” he said, disentangling himself, “I fear you may be confusing me with somebody else. This Karen. Can you describe her for me?”
    With a tear in his eye, Lionel described the angel that was Karen while the policeman dutifully jotted down the particulars, interrupting only to enquire if “moustache” had an “o” in it or not. “She sounds quite something,” he said, when Lionel had finished. “I knew a girl with a flatulence problem once. She really blew me away. Well,” he said, laying a kind and compassionate hand on Lionel’s shoulder and an evil and spiteful hand on his head. (Lionel idly wondered how two hands could have completely different personalities.) “I hope you find her.” He turned and walked away, whistling a sad, melancholy air, that sounded like “Mama we’re all crazee now,” by Slade.
    I’ll find her, vowed Lionel under his breath. I was her. She was me. We were one. We were free. If there’s somebody calling me on, she’s the one. He glanced up at a poster adorning the wall of the turnstile. “Next match – Shelbourne vs Kildare County. Friday May 16th,” it said.
    “Good lord!” said Lionel. “A talking poster.”

Idle chat in the workplace

Normally, I think of a witty riposte about a day and a half too late and the moment is lost but for once on Friday, it came to me. I had been waxing lyrical about Shels v Dundalk when a Liverpool supporter asked me which English team I supported. Normally I just give them a withering stare and say, "I'm Irish - why would I be supporting an English team?" but this time I was quick.
"That's like asking which is my favourite member of the Royal family," I said, which drew a fair bit of laughter.

Dundalk 1 Shelbourne 3

Sometimes but only very rare,
There comes a match that sparks a fire,
A match that crackles in cold air
And fans the flames that breed desire,
Exploding in sulphuric glare
That blinds the darkness of despair.

And, when it comes, it’s unexpected,
A lightning bolt quite unforeseen,
A thunderclap by Zeus projected
Through the evening’s balmy sheen,
With unerring aim directed,
Leaving no-one unaffected.

A very early goal conceded.
Eyes awash and teeth clenched tight.
Then as hope like waves receded
Came the flash of blinding light.
Life’s true course trailed off unheeded.
Believe! the banner said, and we did.

Dundalk, pounded and defeated,
Trooped away in deep dismay.
The vicious battering just meted
Clouded o’er their glorious day.
As their title hopes retreated,
Shels grinned wide, the rout completed.

Banner of the Season

"B.D. Girls - Always Ultra"

at the Dundalk v Shels match

Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Tolka Romance by Bill Zunmoon

Chapter 5
She looks the part of the grieving widow anyway, thought Lionel, as Karen pushed her way through the turnstiles in a long, flowing black dress and a dark veil that covered the bacterial playground that was her face.
Lionel watched her rotund figure wobble by on her way to the New Stand and grinned. If there’s a smile on my face, he thought, it’s only there to fool the public. Inside his heart was broken, aching for the girl he had loved and lost, a girl who had eyed him nervously ever since his love-rival Nigel had been mysteriously vapourised by an obsolete rogue space satellite.
Don’t go breaking my heart, he whispered, as she ascended the stone steps, the force of her footsteps causing the whole stand to sway precariously. He yearned for her to turn around and tell him that she couldn’t, if she tried, but instead she grabbed a large bearded man by the testicles by way of a friendly greeting.
Lionel dipped another chip into his tomato sauce and rammed it with his ferocity up his nose. Damn this hand-eye coordination thingy, he thought, retrieving it slowly.

Bisto scored twice, one early, one late, to secure a valuable victory over Waterford United, thus catapulting Shels into second place in the table. He had celebrated the goals with the rest of the Section D faithful but he could not help glancing over to the large black-clad figure in the New Stand twirling her red scarf around her head like a demented helicopter.
In the period between the goals he had listened morosely as the oul’ lads kept telling number eight to play it down the wing, young feller, and do you remember Ben Hannigan in that game against Cork Hibs?
Dermot had been his usual erudite self in the dugout, eloquently relaying his tactical reading of the game to his players with a richness of language that would have had Damien Richardson scurrying in dismay for the dictionary.
The three massive points certainly put hope in Lionel’s heart but he still walked alone and it was in this solitary mode that he intercepted Karen as she demurely made her way through the crowd at the end of the match like a battering ram.
She saw him coming through the crowd towards her like a salmon swimming upstream and stopped. He halted too about a yard from her. “Somebody get that bleedin’ crane out of the way!” yelled a voice behind her.
“Karen,” he said. It was more a statement of recognition than anything for her name had burned a swathe across his heart since the pre-season games in Cabra.
“Laurence,” she said simply.
“Lionel,” he corrected her. “Karen, do you think you think we could ever regain what we once had?”
She furrowed her brow. “Sausage and chips?” she guessed.
“No Karen, our love. We had a love that was true and kind and good and ... and ... and true. Do you think we can ever regain that?”
“Oh Laurence,” she whispered, and her stomach trembled like a deep Atlantic swell. “Maybe someday. In a future that’s bright and happy and ... bright. But right now, I need some space.”
“Of course you do darling,” said Lionel, stepping back two yards. “You’re a big fat girl. You take all the space that you want.”

When he awoke in the Mater Hospital, Lionel couldn’t remember a thing. The wire through his jaw and the bandage on the place where his left ear had once been led him to suspect that he had suffered some kind of impact injury. He didn’t know who he was, or where he lived, or indeed the name of the footballing franchise that had recently been created in the artificially created “county” in Dublin’s northern hinterland.
Dr. Lobotomee told him that his memory would probably return slowly and in small chunks, but, when the esteemed surgeon ran away trying to stifle a fit of giggling, Lionel knew that he would have to try and piece his life back together himself. The only starting point he had was a red scarf with the word Shelbourne emblazoned across it.
What was Shelbourne, thought Lionel, as he sipped his dinner through a straw?
What, indeed?

For dedicated followers of fashion

In the chic boutiques of Paris, on the catwalks of Milan,
The world of fashion’s thrown into a tizzy.
Naomi’s pictured wearing one aboard a yacht at Cannes,
And Harrod’s say the order books are busy.

Gautier is gutted and Viv Westwood’s gone to ground,
The Armani boys are jumping from the ledges.
Vera Wang, her aides admit, is nowhere to be found,
Lacoste looks somewhat rough around the edges.

Heidi Klum’s been seen in one, and Condoleezza Rice
Drew gasps at the Republican convention.
Meryl Streep was quoted, saying “The lines are very nice –
The summit of sartorial invention.”

Gok Wan says he’ll go naked first – he will not put one on,
Though he twitches in an unconvincing manner.
And who’s that in a matching pair outside of the Sorbonne?
Oh Lord, I think its Trinny and Susannah.

The critics are unanimous in praise of the design.
The trim, they say, is elegant, yet daring.
It’s bound to rouse a market that was facing a decline,
The next big thing that everybody’s wearing.

You can wear it to a wedding, to the butcher’s, on the beach,
Hawaiian shirts, in contrast, are much duller.
However large your wardrobe, it should always be in reach
For the experts say it goes with any colour.

Its for people who are stylish and know how to dress themselves,
Supporters sing its praises with a passion.
It’s the brand new Shels away shirt and its flying off the shelves,
The ultimate in this year’s must-have fashion.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Tolka romance by Bill Zunmoon

Chapter 4
“Let’s nuke it!” suggested Earl, as he watched the little blip that was known as Omega XJ12 drift slowly across the radar screen.
Lazenby shook his head. “It’s one of the oldies,” he said. “It’s been up there since 1963 and it’ll never survive the descent through the ionosphere. I think we should let it die with dignity.”
“Perhaps you’re right,” said Earl. “Besides, we may need that nuke when we’re attacking some country with different political ideals to ours. Pow! Kaboom!”
At 114,000 feet, Omega XJ12 accelerated slightly on its long spiral back into the earth’s atmosphere.

Travelling back on Tosh Travel from Wexford, Lionel knew he had lost her. Not literally, of course, for she was sitting two seats behind him with her tongue halfway down Nigel’s throat. He felt the tears welling up in his eyes and tried to kid himself that it was the aftershock of the luminous pink strip that Wexford had worn. But it was no good. If love was a battlefield, as Pat Benataur maintained, then he had been shot to pieces trying to mount Heartbreak Ridge.
He had suspected things weren’t quite right when, while waiting for the coach at Tolka, Karen had told him to “get lost, dog-breath,” when he approached her. Frustratingly, he found himself separated from her on the coach by 51 seats and she had seemed much taken by one particular Neanderthal, judging by the way she had wrapped herself around him like the red flag the fans habitually sang about.
The word formed like a gargantuan ball of phlegm in his throat. What on earth did Karen see in Nigel? What did Nigel have that he, Lionel didn’t? Apart from good looks, of course. And wads of cash. And style. And a knowledge of the Eircom League that was second to none. And a great sense of humour. And a villa on the Amalfi coast.
The journey back home seemed to go on for miles, which in fact it did. Nigel tried to think about Bisto’s amazing goalscoring feats this season (though surely he couldn’t claim the own goal?) but his mind was constantly distracted by the lurid squelching noises emanating from two seats behind him. He couldn’t wrest his mind from Karen and her lily white skin covered in faint downy hairs, the beauty mole on her nose, the luscious mass of ripe pimples arranged in perfect symmetry all over her face like an intricate dot-to-dot puzzle.
Lionel knew that a faint heart had never won a fair lady, for it was the type of thing his father had often told him before he launched into the obligatory Al Jolson impersonation and the nurses cajoled him back to bed. He knew that sometimes you gotta fight when you’re a man and that Karen was Becky and Nigel was the Gatlin Boys. Deep in the pit of his stomach, just to the left of his pancreas, a knot of fear tightened and he felt like he was going to be sick. But he knew that if he wanted to win back the fair Karen, radical measures were called for.
When the bus finally turned down Richmond Road, Lionel stood up and walked to the front. He knew from past experience that this was the best thing to do when you wanted to get off. He strolled down the steps into the clear night. Somewhere a harmonica was playing a sad, wailing tune of unrequited love, but it was in Bratislava, so he couldn’t hear it. He swung his poncho over his shoulder, strode into the middle of the road and waited.
After what seemed an eternity, but was in fact only a quarter of an eternity, Nigel and Karen got off the bus, still wrapped together like sticky tape. The others had disappeared and the coach set off towards Ballybough, fortunately with the driver at the wheel.
Lionel waited. The air felt cold and...airy. Nigel and Karen didn’t see him till they were almost on top of him.
“That’s my girl, punk,” Lionel said menacingly. He removed the cigarette from his mouth and ground it under his foot, wondering if he should have lit it first for better effect.
There was silence for a moment and then Nigel and Karen collapsed in hoots of laughter. Lionel pushed Nigel’s shoulder and assumed the classic pugilist’s pose, ignoring Karen’s sarcastic “Oh run, Nigel, he’s going to hit you.”
Nigel stopped laughing and approached Lionel. His face was so close that Lionel could smell the strong odour of Karen’s armpit on his breath. This was it, thought Lionel. He drew back his puny arm and ... whooooshhh!!

Lazenby had been wrong. Omega XJ12 survived re-entry relatively intact and slammed into the Richmond Road at 140,000 miles per hour, vapourising both itself and Nigel instantly. All that remained of the two of them was a large crater, some three feet in diameter.
Lionel looked from his fist to the crater and back to his fist again in wonderment, oblivious of the screams from Karen that shook the sleeping neighbourhood.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Six in six for Anto

It’s six in six for Anto,
A lilting scoring medley,
In French or Esperanto,
It’s equally as deadly.
With head or foot
Or knee or butt
He makes sure where the ball is put.
All hail this great goalscoring glut
And raise a cheer for Anto.

He scores for fun, does Bisto,
The scourge of all defences.
Whene’er the ball strikes his toe,
The run just recommences.
He doesn’t flinch
Or give an inch,
The winner’s always his to clinch.
But will he score? Oh it’s a cinch,
Just put your cash on Bisto.

He tops the charts, does Anto,
Out front is where you’ll find him.
And, as in any panto,
The rest are all behind him.
He goes in where
The rest don’t dare,
Along the ground or in the air,
All arms and legs, deceptive flair,
He’s got the lot, has Anto.

There ain’t no stopping Bisto.
He’s really in the humour.
I heard that once he missed! Oh,
I’m sure ‘twas just a rumour.
It hits his shin
And bobbles in,
He takes it with a cheery grin.
When he’s on song, I know we’ll win.
Oh, thank the Lord for Bisto.
Anto "Bisto" Flood scores again