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

Saturday, April 12, 2008


"I sit down and count numbers in my head constantly when I have free time."

-St.Pats and former Shels winger Bobby Ryan gives us an insight into his, er, hobby.

I've been trying to figure out how exactly you "count numbers." You count other things like sheep or cars, but numbers? "There's a 206 - that's one. There's a two and a half - that's two. Eight thousand, nine hundred and twelve, that's three..."

Sunday, April 6, 2008


Pic courtesy of Maurice Frazer
Teams in red, it’s been said,
Can leave other teams for dead.
Their football’s often skilful and well-paced.
And its true teams in blue
Have a strength that pulls them through
And their shirts at least show honesty and taste.
Teams in brown come to town
And will cause a worried frown
By playing far much better than you’d think.
And teams in black won’t hold back
When supporting their attack,
But you’ve got to beat a team that plays in pink.

Teams in white are a sight
When they’re sweeping left and right.
Spreading lovely cross-field balls in haste.
Those who play in dull grey
May hold other teams at bay,
And very rarely find themselves disgraced.
Orange kits are the pits,
Make you think of orange splits,
And yellow often drives a man to drink,
And I amn’t homophobic
And those shirts may be aerobic,
But you’ve got to beat a team that plays in pink.

Ways of old, we are told,
Should be scraped out of the mould.
The future’s bright and waiting to be faced.
But I think gaudy pink,
While it might make some boys wink,
Should not be automatically embraced.
Modern ways are the craze,
But such luminous displays
Will only drive the new man to the brink.
Yes I’m blue that we drew
But it’s gnawing at me too
That we couldn’t beat a team that played in pink.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

A Tolka romance by Bill Zunmoon

Chapter 3
Something was definitely wrong, Lionel thought, as he sat with Karen in Section D. He could not put his finger on it, but that was because she was covering it tightly with her programme.
She had gone to the away games in Kildare and Monaghan without him, while he had been having his ears syringed and this was the first time they had met up since the frustration of the fumbled draw against Dundalk.
Somehow she seemed different. Maybe it was the red hair, the fishnet tights, the nose stud and stiletto heels. Maybe it was the words “I love Nigel” tattooed on her left breast but somehow she did not give off that air of lust and longing for Lionel’s body that had characterised their first couple of dates. He hoped Shels would run rings around Athlone and get back that lovin’ feelin’ that Scott Walker was crooning about over the tannoy.
“How was Monaghan?” he asked nervously, mindful of the devastating result.
“What is this? The Spanish Inquisition?” snapped Karen and Lionel fell silent.
Her mind, it was clear, was not on the game at all. She kept glancing longingly over to the New Stand, where the lads were crooning “Give us a song, Robbie Hedderman” in an upbeat jazz-funk sort of style that would have had Billy Joel hopping up and down with excitement, had he been able to hear it from his New Jersey brownstone.
“I’m going for a sausage and chips,” she said suddenly. “Beat the halftime queue.”
“But we’re only ten minutes into the first half,” he replied but it was too late. She had bounded down the steps two at a time and was half way to Burdock’s before he had even finished the sentence. He watched her go, smiling wistfully as her ample derriere sent small boys flying with every stride.
A rare Athlone attack dragged his senses back to the game and he yelled abuse at Davy Byrne for no other reason that it felt good, though he was surprised when Davy Byrne rounded on him vituperatively, questioning in ringing terms both his parentage and sexual orientation.
The minutes ticked by, as minutes habitually do, and there was no sign of Karen. He craned his head towards the Drumcondra end and was suddenly assailed by a sudden and very loud roar that seemed like the end of the world to his recently syringed ears. Bisto had scored! And he’d missed it!
He joined in the jumping and scarf waving, wishing passionately that Karen was there to wrap his arms around (at least, as far as they would go.) How he’d yearned to share such an ecstatic moment with her and she’d gone off to the far end of the ground for some sausage! Life was like a green iguana eating a plate of mushrooms, he thought, though he had no idea why.
She didn’t reappear during half-time, nor at the start of the second half. He thought about going down after her in case she had got lost or broken her heel but he knew from past experiences that it was not a good idea for men to use some initiative.
Bisto scored again – his third League goal in four matches – and again Lionel celebrated on his own, resisting the temptation to clasp Vinnie and his two teddy bears to his bosom. Shels were surely safe now, he thought, as the outpouring of joy washed over him in hot flushes. But where was Karen?
She returned, at last, three minutes before the end of the match. Her clothing was dishevelled, her lipstick was smudged and she had a large red mark on her neck but at least her mood seemed to have improved, for she was smiling beatifically as she resumed her seat.
“It was a very long queue,” she said by way of explanation, as he eyed her quizzically.
“Oh, I see,” he laughed in relief. “For one moment there, I thought... No, that would be too far-fetched! Good Lord! It looks like you’ve been stung by a hornet. There, on your neck!”
Karen felt her neck wistfully. “Oh that!” she smiled. “Yes, it was a hornet, all right. Biggest hornet you ever saw.”
But despite the perfectly reasonable explanations, somewhere at the back of Lionel’s mind, in a deep recess just south of his left ear, a large furry question mark with two big chipmunk-like teeth was gnawing incessantly at his brain.