Football Crazy

Willaston White Star FC 1972

A nonsense story for miners and children. In memory of H Bickerton & S. A Nicholls

Every morning about six, dad would leave the house to go and mark out the football pitch then do a ten-hour shift down the mine. It was gruelling toil, yet every day he’d be there, hail, rain or shine, spring, summer or winter. But it was during the fall that he fell. He was backing his bicycle out of the the shed and disappeared down a manhole he didn’t know was open.
He was down there for days, nobody could hear his cries for help because in my eight-year-old imagination he’d been carried away by sewer subterraliens. Finally, when they let him go (but confiscated his bike) it was me who could hear his moans.

“Dad?” I yelled.

“Is that you son?” he echoed with much relief.

“Indeed,” I said, “What are you doing down a sewer when you should be down a mine?”

“This is no time for smart-arse comments,” he said, “get me out of here!”

So I dashed to the garage, found the rope, dangled it down and hauled him up with great human strength for such a young boy, back to daylight where he wheezed and writhed in agony.

“I think I broke my neck,” he said.

“Was it the aliens who broke your neck?” I asked.

“The aliens?” he said, “What the fuck are you talking about?”

“I was worried they’d abducted you and tortured you and pinched your bike.”

“Listen son,” he said, “there were no aliens. If it hadn’t been for some fucking lunatic leaving open the manhole cover I wouldn’t have been down there at all!”

“Sorry dad but that was me,” I confessed, “I dreamed there were subterraliens in the sewers under the house so I went to investigate.”

“You what?” he hissed, “Subter fucking aliens?”

“Yes,” I said.

“Look son,” he said, “I’ve worked down the pit since I was the age of three and never seen a single alien, subter or otherwise.  OK?!”

“Thanks dad,” I said, “Then I suppose you better go, you’re late for marking out the pitch.”

“Son,” he said, as we walked back to the house, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”

“A writer,” I said.

“A writer huh?” said dad, “To be honest I wanted you to be a miner or a footballer but I don’t think you’d make it. I think you might make it as a writer though.”

“Why dad?” I said.

“Because you’re full of shit,” he said.

So there you go, there were no aliens and I could never be a miner or a footballer, but I could be a writer because I was full of shit. Then again, and this is the weird thing, dad never did find his bike.

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