Sunday, December 20, 2009

A bridge too far

When Shels overreached
And were brusquely impeached,
The delight down in Cork was incredible.
They greeted our troubles
By ord’ring large doubles
With a joy that was very near edible.

So, I vowed there and then
If there came a time when
They had spent all the cash in their kitty,
They would quite understand
If I could not command
Any semblance of pity for City.

Revenge, I’ve been told,
Is a dish best served cold
And now Cork are immersed in the doo-doo.
And I’ve laughed at their plight
Every day, every night.
Ah, come on now, me boys, what would you do?

But now comes a rumour
That’s stopped my good humour
And frozen my bones to the marrow.
And my laughter’s been stilled
And my blood has been chilled
As the news hits my brain like an arrow.

Cork have got their desserts,
They’ve been hit where it hurts,
But I’d wish this foul turn on nobody –
A bridge much too far
If the Villagers are
To be further subjected to Roddy.
Just when you think things can't get any worse...
Cork City, massively in debt, their chairman suspended for a year for bringing the game into disrepute, only 5 players on the books, possibly about to be thrown out of next years Europa League and demoted (if the FAI follow the same sanctions they applied to Shelbourne) now find that the ultimate spoofer Roddy Collins has left his job in Malta to come home hoping to take over the reins.
May the Lord have mercy on their souls.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Gloom upon gloom

Snatching defeat out of victory’s jaws,
We threw it away once again.
Draws became losses and wins became draws
And all we have left is the pain.

We thought for a while we’d get out on parole
And walk out, head high, from this jail.
But promotion remains an impossible goal
And suddenly we’re looking frail.

Condemned once again to spend twelve months or more
In this cold and despicable prison,
Staring at walls and the cold concrete floor,
While others in here have arisen.

Conditions down here defy human rights,
The rations decidedly meagre
The minutes tick slow in this cold, lonely nights,
When you’re sentenced to be a low-leaguer.
Another season and we lost out on promotion by a whisker again. Its like Captain Scott waiting for the ice to melt so the Terra Firma can sail home only it doesn't and they're forced top spend another winter on the Antarctic ice shelf.

A Tolka Murder Mystery by Christie Agatha

Epilogue – Where are they now?

Since I finally put the lurid events of the Tolka Murder Mystery down on paper two, nay, three weeks ago, I have been stopped thousands of time both in the street and in my bedroom and asked what became of the main perpetrators of this case that held a nation captivated for six months.
In order to finally lay the matter to rest, I have decided that I shall reveal all. After this, I have taken a solemn oath that never more will talk of these foul deeds pass my lips, though it might of course decide to pass my nose instead.
Dean Delaney, one time suspect for the first two murders, is still under house arrest at Tolka Park for fear that he might be poached by a top Italian club.
Lionel Edward (L.E.) Mentary, the greatest detective in the world who was absolutely no help to DI McBiscuit during the course of the case, is currently on the trail of a missing tiger that was last seen jumping off Rosslare Pier shouting “Sod this for a game of soldiers!” His mission is to recapture the tiger and bring him back to Ireland but the initial prognosis does not look good.
The three victims in the case, John Clapper, Quasimodo O’Shaughnessy and Miroslav Kampanolojyzt, are still dead, though O’Shaughnessy is showing definite signs of improvement. John Clapper’s last request to “bury me not at Wounded Knee” was adhered to by his tearful family and his body was laid to rest in a brown wheelie bin. A bronze plaque erected to the memory of the three men never came to fruition as the money was spent on a trip to Finn Harps instead.
Commissioner Salami, McBiscuit’s superior, received a knighthood for his hand in the case, although he is still trying to attach it to his knight-jacket. It would be unfair to say the award has gone to his head, but he now sits on a solid gold throne and demands to be addressed as ‘Your Excellency.’
John Delaney, who was arrested for the grisly murders, was acquitted on a technicality (lack of evidence) However, the judge in the case sentenced him to between six months and three years (whichever came first) for his haircut.
Liam Buckley, also an initial suspect in the case due to his admission that he gets his hair cut by Stephen Kenny’s ma, is still manager of Lokomotiv Fingal.
Roddy Collins is running a highly profitable painting and decorating business in Bugibba.
Pat Dolan, the underworld mastermind, went on the run after the case. He shed several stone and led reporters on a wild goose chase to Argentina. At first rumours came through that he was lying low in the fields of Athenry but it has since emerged that he may be working for Setanta Sports.
Mrs. Groundsman, wife of the unfortunate suicide victim, lay on her front porch with an arrow in her throat for several weeks until the ambulance came. She was treated for a hernia and discharged. She has since fully recovered and nowadays leads a normal life, though the arrow still hampers her when she goes ducking for apples.
Alan Kelly, who was implicated in the murders because he had a beard, was last heard of running a bed and breakfast in Alicante.
The constable in the case, who infiltrated the club during the investigation, was transferred to Bray Wanderers, where he was voted player of the season by a section of the club’s supporters, despite the fact that he never actually made an appearance. He has currently on trial with Neil Trebble for impersonating a footballer.
As for DI McBiscuit, he got promoted to the rank of Detective Inspector, until they found out that that was what the DI stood for. On the back of the Tolka Murder Mystery, he was called in to help in the Arsenal FC fire tragedy, where he told the press that he suspected it was Arsene. Last seen battening down the hatches of an old suitcase, gasping “Ah, the case is closed.”

Like the poem below, this was produced for the 2nd play off game that never happened, as we lost the first play off game!

The poem that might never be read

Frank’s been told he must put out
A poem for the Friday bout,
Though how is he to know at all
That we’ll get through against Fingal?
The march of time, alas, can’t wait,
Although it seems like tempting fate
To spend time on poetic labours
Before we’ve even played our neighbours.
Logistically, we must assume
We’ve banished our post-season gloom
By raining on Fingal’s parade
(Before the game is even played.)

In order that we get this straight,
I think I should elaborate.
The printer needs the copy quite
A few days prior to Friday night.
You cannot simply send it them
At one or maybe two pm
And hope that they will turn it round
Before the first fan’s in the ground.

So Frank has asked that we should write
Our bits before the Tuesday night,
Though as he says with some dismay,
They might not see the light of day.
So, if anybody’s reading this,
Then Tuesday night was full of bliss
And it’s to our untold delight
We have this match on Friday night.

However, if we lost instead,
This poem will remain unread
And, like a tree that makes no sound
When falling, and no-one around,
It will not matter if it scans
Or rhymes or has metaphors or any of the other things so beloved by poetry fans.
As it happened, Frank never had to produce a programme. Shels lost 2-0 at home to Sporting Fingal in the play offs

A Tolka Murder Mystery

Chapter 13 – The murderer is revealed

“You want to know why I have gathered you all here together?” announced McBiscuit when the puzzled assembly had taken their places in the bar of Tolka Park. “It is simply this, my friends. I intend to reveal the identity of the fiendish murderer who perpetrated these...these...fiendish murders.”
There was an audible gasp of breath from the people sitting at the tables, followed closely by an audible exhalation of breath. Then there was another gasp of breath. This could have gone on all night but McBiscuit held up a restraining hand.
“Murder number one,” he announced. “John Clapper found beneath the roller at Tolka Park. Murder number two, Quasimodo O’Shaughnessy force fed lumps of gravel. Murder number four...”
“Three, sir,” whispered the constable at his side.
“Thank you, constable,” purred the detective, producing a ruler and measuring the constable’s height. “I just wanted to make sure you were on your toes. Murder number three, Miroslav Kampanolojyzt, skewered through the heart by a corner flag. One anonymous letter. One dead groundsman. Now gentlemen, what does all this add up to?”
Slowly, at the back of the room, a hand went up.
“Er, five?” said a hesitant voice.
“Exactly!” continued McBiscuit. All eyes were on him. He looks like a peacock, thought the constable idly, doing a quick piece of embroidery.
“It is clear to me,” went on McBiscuit, clasping his room behind his back and pacing his hands, “that somebody has a grudge against Shelbourne Football Club, a grudge so bitter and so deep that they were prepared to commit three murders, drive a groundsman to suicide and cut up an edition of Nuts. Now, I asked myself, who could possibly bear a grudge so deep that they would be prepared to desecrate a fine cultural magazine simply to try and destroy a football club?”
Among the assembly, eyes darted sideways until they got fed up and returned to their rightful owners. Liam Buckley combed his hair nervously; Pat Dolan studied the bar menu intently; Roddie Collins tried to work out how many tins of matt vinyl it would take to do one wall; Trevor Molloy tried to concentrate on his disallowed goal against Hibernians of Malta (a thought that never ceased to warm his heart); the population of Limerick made sure their knives were in their inside pockets.
McBiscuit stopped in front of a man wearing a false nose, glasses and a dark curly wig. “You, sir,” he cooed. “You have an interest in this case, no?”
In response, the man jumped up and made a dash for the exit but he was intercepted by a plain clothes policeman and a fancy clothes policeman. McBiscuit strode up to him and tore off the wig and dark glasses.
“Ow! That’s my real nose!” he wailed.
There were more gasps of astonishment from the assembled crowd as the familiar face glared angrily around the room.
“Drat! I’d have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for those pesky kids,” he spat, a remark which caused a lot of bewilderment in the room.
“John Delaney, I am arresting you for crimes against hairdressing,” cautioned McBiscuit. “You don’t have to say anything but we’ll be writing your confession anyway, so it doesn’t really matter one way or the other.”
“You’ll never take me alive, copper,” came the growled answer which, again, caused a lot of consternation among the gathering
“How did you ascertain that the suspect was indeed the perpetrator of these effusive, nay, choreographed homicides, detective inspector?” asked an anonymous former Shelbourne manager after the Waterford serial killer had been led away.
“It was simple,” replied McBiscuit. “One only had to see the punishment meted out to Shels for financial shortcomings and then compare them to the leniency shown to other clubs subsequently. It was clear to me, right from the very start that there was an orchestrated campaign to destroy Shelbourne Football Club and it came from the very top.”
“Three cheers for DI McBiscuit!” shouted somebody and the place erupted in a maelstrom of flag-waving and badger baiting. They hoisted the policeman onto their shoulders until they remembered his flatulence problem and put him down again very quickly.
Standing at the back of the room, unimpressed by the unconfined joy all around him, the constable glanced morosely at the League table.
“Now, if we could only get out of this bloody division,” he muttered.

Red red chains

We’re still not certain where next year will find us,
Though probably we won’t be out of debt.
A topsy turvy season lies behind us
And heaven knows, it isn’t over yet.
Will Mother Tolka soon be up to let?
Will we move up to Phibsboro with our minders?
Whatever. We’ll walk on without regret,
United in these red red chains that bind us.

They say that God is very fond of triers,
So why, then, is he not too fond of us?
It seems to be his mission to defy us –
Thwarting must be all he ever does.
His vengeance though will not succeed becuzz
There’s higher things to which this club aspires.
We’ll face the future with the same old buzz,
United in these red red chains that tie us.

Little men queued up with glee and told us
They’ll relish our eventual demise.
Beset by all the debt that did enfold us,
‘Twas hard to separate the truth from lies.
They swarmed around our broken flesh like flies.
Instead of throwing money, they threw boulders.
But slowly and determinedly we’ll rise
United in these red red chains that hold us.

A Tolka Murder Mystery

Chapter 12 – The net closes

It was clear that the groundsman had been so afraid that he had preferred to throw himself in front of a moving train than to reveal the sinister figure behind the three murders. The question, put very succinctly by a passing owl, was Who?
“He’d been acting very strangely of late, as if he were afraid of someone,” said Mrs. Groundsman when DI McBiscuit went around to tell her of her husband’s unfortunate death. “Would you like another bourbon cream?”
McBiscuit leaned forwards. Then he leaned sideways. “Do you know who he was afraid of?” he asked.
“I never saw him,” came the reply. “My husband did however mention a name. He said this person was the most sinister and evil demon one could ever imagine and that I should never utter his name again, not even in a game of charades. His name was aaaaarrrggghhh!”
“Aaaaarrrggghhh!” wrote down McBiscuit assiduously. “Sounds Eastern European. Well thank you, Mrs Groundsman, you’ve been most helpful.” And he stepped over her now lifeless body and the arrow protruding from her throat and marched out of the door.

“Three murders and one suicide,” said McBiscuit, back in his office. “How many games until the end of the season?”
“Five,” answered the constable. “Starting with the game against Athlone on Friday night. Win every match and we get promoted.”
“We must find the murderer before the season ends,” murmured McBiscuit. “Once the season ends, the whole transfer merry-go-round begins again and the trail may go cold.”
“How about a reward for information?” suggested the constable. “Anybody who has any information that may lead to the arrest of the perpetrator can pay the police €5,000.” As he finished speaking, he picked up a thumb tack from the floor and looked at it curiously.
“That’s one tack,” replied McBiscuit. “You’re a famous landscape artist, constable. You design the posters.” He looked at the two bits of haddock in his shopping bag. “I, on the other hand, have other fish to fry,” he added mysteriously.

As McBiscuit watched from the stand at Morton Stadium, he noted down two very significant facts. Number one, the Fingal goalkeeper Quigley seemed to be very nervous about his presence and, in fact, allowed a speculative shot from Giller to slip through his arms and into the net, as he scanned the stands to locate the detective. And secondly, there was the curious case of the mysterious disappearance of the ball boys when Fingal were leading.
The constable’s idea of reward posters seemed to bear fruit too, when a large quantity of grapefruit and rhubarb arrived at the station. McBiscuit chewed on his pencil late into the night, digesting these salient facts and indeed the pencil, ceasing only when he had to be taken to the Mater with cramps in his stomach.
“I feel we are near to a resolution,” he said to the constable the following morning.
“Its not New Year already, is it?” asked the constable in alarm. “Don’t tell me I missed Christmas?”
“I want every available man in the force to be in Tolka Park for the Athlone match,” went on McBiscuit briskly. “Let them dress up as Athlone supporters and mingle through both stands.”
“Won’t a large number of Athlone supporters at a Shels match arouse some suspicion, sir?” asked the constable, who was more worldly in the ways of League of Ireland football than his superior.
“Constable, we can’t go on together with suspicion minds. I want you to pack the stands out with blue and black.”
“Yes sir. And will they have to shout for Athlone in strange midlands accents too, sir?”
“Absolutely, constable. I place the diction coach at your disposal.”

The day of the Athlone match dawned, as days have a habit of doing. McBiscuit stretched out in bed as the early morning sunlight flooded in through the window like sunlight flooding in through a window.
“Today’s the day we catch a murderer,” he remarked grimly to the inert figure beside him. “He may think he’s got one over on us but I’ll get two over on him. Maybe even three. They don’t call me Detective Inspector McBiscuit for nothing, you know.”
Beside him, his teddy bear contemplated this last remark but decided not to comment.

Out of the wilderness

Oh Lord, if you’re listening,
Look down with good grace.
The teardrops are glistening
Upon my sad face.
Our enemies may chide us
For dreams built on sand
But Lord, won’t you guide us
To more fruitful land?

My ribcage is bony,
I’ve gotten so thin.
The pathway is stony
And punctures my skin.
There’s nothing to feed us,
My blood runs so hot,
So Lord, won’t you lead us
From this desolate spot?

No water sustains us,
The stomach ache pains us,
The burning sun drains us
Throughout the long day.
In our minds, we are hearing
The promised land cheering
But oh, is it nearing
Or fading away?

We’re punished enough, Lord,
Can’t take any more.
Our feet were once tough, Lord,
But now they’re just sore.
Oh do not forsake us,
Look down on our plight,
Oh Lord, won’t you take us
Back into the light?

A Tolka Murder Mystery

Chapter 11 – A tragic turn of events

The familiar figure of Pat Dolan elbowed aside Hank Marvin and stepped out of the shadows. A sinister leer stretched across his face, skirted his ear and disappeared down his neck.
“How did you get in here?” demanded DI McBiscuit, thoroughly shaken by the sudden appearance of his Number One suspect in his office.
“I am everything and I am nothing,” replied the menacing figure with a laugh that seemed to have started in the bowels of Hell itself. “I am light and dark, ancient and re-born, here and not here...” He stopped as he caught sight of the detective’s raised eyebrow. “Up the back stairs,” he finished lamely.
“Where we you on the nights of the three murders in Tolka Park, Mr. Dolan?” demanded McBiscuit, reaching under the desk for a box of safety pins.
“You can’t pin anything on me,” came the reply. “I was live on Setanta Sports on each occasion.”
“Okay,” growled McBiscuit curtly. “You’re free to go. And put down that pie.”

Commissioner Salami had given DI McBiscuit until the end of the league season to bring the murderer to book and with only nine games to go and a roaring fire in the grate, McBiscuit was beginning to feel the heat.
“I believe we can get this wrapped up before the end of the season,” he told his constable at the morning briefing.
“So do I, sir, providing McAllister doesn’t get injured in the near future,” replied the constable, a remark that McBiscuit brooded upon for several days. Suddenly there was a knock at the door. The constable opened the door and was somewhat startled to find a trouser press sitting in the corridor.
“It’s the press, sir,” he called out.
“Tell them that we expect to make an arrest in the next day or two,” remarked McBiscuit grimly.

A steely look of determination on his boots, McBiscuit strode down Richmond Rd, while the constable skipped along behind, singing “We’re going to make an arre-est, We’re going to make an arre-est.”
“Tell the groundsman I want to see him again,” said McBiscuit. “I’m sure there’s something he isn’t telling us.”
The groundsman, Quasimodo O’Regan, who had been sound asleep since Chapter Five. appeared somewhat annoyed at being woken up and gave McBiscuit dagger looks.
“Thank you, these dagger looks will go very nicely in my herbaceous border,” replied McBiscuit, gathering them up and dropping them carefully into a polythene bag.
“What’s all this about?” said the groundsman. “I’ve a pitch to roll before the UCD game and you know how fussy those students can be. Two inches of grass and they’re claiming subterfuge.”
“I believe there’s something you are not telling us,” answered McBiscuit.
“There’s a lot of things I’m not telling you,” replied O’Regan. “There’s a slight chance that the planet Titan may supoport an oxygen-based atmosphere. Adolf Hitler was a Pats supporter and indeed wrote their theme song. Luke from Bros is currently working as a bus conductor....”
“I mean, about the murders,” interrupted McBiscuit. “Three murders take place under your very nose...No, I don’t mean that literally, you buffoon... and you claim that you know nothing. Well, you don’t fool me. I think we ought to have a little chat down at the station.”

“Why are we here?” asked the groundsman worriedly, as the station master announced the imminent arrival of the express train to Maynooth.
“It bothers you that you have to answer questions on a platform?” shot back McBiscuit craftily.
The groundsman recovered his composure and threw it around his shoulders. “Not at all,” he answered. “It just seems like a dessert with the cream on the bottom and the jelly on the top.”
“A trifle unconventional, you mean?”
“Exactly. But I’ll never tell you anything, despite these surreal surroundings. It’s more than my life’s worth, you see, copper.”
“We can protect you,” said McBiscuit. “We can give you a new identity. Two new identities, even. Set you up in a safe house, even.”
“I’ve seen those safe houses,” growled the groundsman. “You have to remember the combination and they don’t have any windows.”
And jumping up, he shook off McBiscuit’s restraining hand and threw himself in front of the approaching express train.
“I suppose you could say he expressed himself very well,” giggled the constable, as they scraped the remains of the groundsman off the tracks.

The call of promotion

Come all of ye faithful and lets raise the roof,
Don’t sit on your hands and pretend you’re aloof.
Lets cheer on the lads to win ten on the hoof,
And keep the momentum from falling.
Just glance at the table for obvious proof
That promotion is definitely calling.

Come former supporters throughout this fair land,
We need your attendance to pack out the stand.
Help us to generate confidence and
Dispel the dark fears that come crawling.
Don’t sit in your armchair, a beer in your hand
For the voice of promotion is calling.

Come mothers and fathers and set your kids free
From all of that Premiership codology.
Bring them to Tolka and help them to see
That football in Ireland’s enthralling.
Lets hear their young voices cry out joyously
That they feel that promotion is calling.

Come all of ye oul’ lads we hold in esteem
And give up the way that you gripe at the team.
We need to rise up to the top like the cream,
No more to go Sporting Fingalling.
For all of us share the one ultimate dream
And promotion, promotion is calling

A Tolka Murder Mystery

Chapter 10 – A new suspect looms large

After five months, the Tolka Park serial killer still had not been apprehended and the press were having a field day. The Irish Times won the javelin and the shot putt while the man from the Roscommon Herald won the 4 x 400m relay on his own.
DI McBiscuit’s boss, Commissioner Salami was not a happy bunny. In fact he was not a bunny at all, as rabbits have little prospect of rising to any position of eminence in the Garda Siochana.
“Five months!” he yelled, pointing at his egg timer to emphasise the passage of time. “Three murders in five months and we don’t even have a suspect! The press are making us out to look like fools.”
McBiscuit shifted his dunce’s cap nervously. “But sir...” he began.
“I want the murderer behind bars by the end of November,” snapped the Commissioner. “Now, take off that suit and tie and put on these more casual clothes.”

“I’ve just received a dressing down from the Commissioner,” related McBiscuit later. “He says we have until the end of the League Season to find the murderer.”
The constable glanced at the suitcase, hidden in the darkness of the alcove. “L.E. Mentary couldn’t shed any light on the case then, sir?” he sympathised. McBiscuit merely snorted in reply. Then he sneezed.
“Stop that!” he told the constable, who was busy spraying himself with disinfectant. “Can’t a man snort and sneeze these days without people coming over all Howard Hughesy?”
“I’ve been leafing through the files, sir,” said the constable beneath his face mask. “There is one man who hates Shels more than anyone in the whole wide world. And he hasn’t even figured in our investigations yet.”
“Who is it? John Delaney? Bohs till I die? George O’Callaghan?”
“No, sir, even worse.” And he held up a large sinister photograph.
“Urrgghh! That’s horrible, constable. Put it away, immediately. Who is this fiendish ghoul?”
“More of a ghoulish fiend than a fiendish ghoul,” replied the constable. “His name’s Dolan. Pat Dolan.”

“My God! Has this man no morals?” exclaimed McBiscuit, reading the file closely. “He actually tried to pin the blame on a fine upstanding institution like the Post Office? What a cad!”
“Ten years ago, an eminent psychologist described him as a sad man who was perplexed by Shels,” nodded the constable. “Matters came to a head with a vicious attack on him at Tolka Park when he claimed his trousers got splashed with water. There were other incidents. He once tried to kick Owen Heary on the studs while the latter was taking a throw-in. And he nearly broke Pat Fenlon’s leg down in Turners Cross before a match.”
“And why has this man never come on the radar, constable? He seems like a prime suspect to me.”
“Probably too big to fit on the radar, sir. That and the fact that a rumour went around that he had become the coach of Argentinian side Boca Juniors and had left these shores for good.”
After McBiscuit had picked himself up off the floor and wiped the tears from his eyes, he said, “Hmm. Rather like a man leaving his clothes on the beach and pretending he’s committed suicide, eh?”
“Yes sir. We did in fact find his clothes off Bray Head being worn by a sartorial hump back whale. But we have reason to believe that he has changed his appearance radically. He is now the new slimline Pat Dolan, back to almost the same physique as in his playing days. And we believe he is still in the country. Rumour has it that his spirit still stalks the land waiting for vengeance on Shels.”
“Constable, I have lost every wristwatch I own. There is no time to lose. Watch the ports and airports. Watch the bus stops. I want this Dolan alive or dead, whichever is the better for questioning him.”

That night, thousands of “Wanted – dead or alive” posters were put up all across the country. Interpol were contacted as well as MI5, the CIA, Mossad and the Association of Nantucket Lighthouse keepers. Pat Dolan’s image flashed across television screens with the warning not to approach him, particularly if you happened to be carrying pies. Parents of traumatised children complained to RTE when images of him appeared before the watershed.
Alone in a darkened office, McBiscuit clasped the most recent photograph and spoke to it. “Where are you Dolan?” he snorted. Then he sneezed again.
“Will you ever use a tissue, McBiscuit?” came a sinister voice behind him.

Many a slip

There’s many a slip
‘Twixt the cup and the lip,
Though it isn’t the Cup we’re concerned with.
Instead, it’s the League,
And bad luck and fatigue
Are the matches we’re scared to get burned with.

Last year we were flying
And raucously crying
That promotion was ours for the taking.
At the end, though, the sound
That rang out cross the ground
Was the sound of a thousand hearts breaking.

Oh yes, there’ll exist
Doubtless many a twist
‘Ere the fate of the title’s decided.
Last year I was sure,
But ‘twas too premature,
So don’t make the same mistake I did.

Yes there’s many a slip
‘Twixt the League and the lip,
There’s four sides still very much in it.
Of course, we might go
For an nine in a row,
But I don’t believe that for a minute.