Sunday, 24 February 2008
On for Shearer in place of Baxter, The Boldscot.
My greatest day in football and no-one believed me.
What age was I - about sixteen?. No, exactly fifteen. Maybe sixteen.
I got invited along to watch a football match. Not invited, told
A match between the Russian sailors from a ship visiting Glasgow and a team of ex-professionals playing as 'The All Stars'
At the police dog training school and social club at Bellahouston in Glasgow
How did I get involved?
Well, my dad sometimes had contact with the Russian ships because of his background and the fact he could speak really good Russian.
My sister's boyfriend had some sort of Church involvement with doing, like, missionary work to the sailor's mission.
OK, I'll go along. I should really be studying for some exams but this should be fun. Anything except studying.
Better still there should be some professional players involved. I might see someone and get an autograph.
I go with my father and we find the place. We speak to the referee (my sister's boyfriend) and hear the buzz.
Wow. Jim Baxter is going to play. And U can meet him I think.
I am going to die. Jim Baxter - the greatest ever Scottish player. Only 34 caps but a left leg to die for. Keepy-uppy against the Sassenachs. Played with Pele, Charlton, etc.
My fucking hero. My left leg has learnt all his tricks.
Who else is playing? Anyone I would know?
Well, I'm a bluenose from Glasgow so I don't know Lawrie Reilly (38 caps) or Johnny Divers or any of the other famous faces that I am told of. Except, Bobby Shearer (4 caps), of course.
But, no no no. Jim Baxter! I have died and gone to heaven.
The pitch is in front of the social club. Both teams are ready.
Where is Baxter?
He is still in the social club and is not playing the first half.
The game starts and goes on and on in a one way direction. Or rather it doesn't.
I can't describe any end to end play or amazing incidents or moments of great tension.
Years later, I saw the Brazilian Cup final in the Maracana stadium and could almost describe these things. Today, all I can see is a bunch of ex-professionals enjoying themselves.
And the football is great. And the players are great. And you can see why they are still legends with their fluency of play. But no fucking goals. They don't need to. They don't want to.
Why? Because if they score the ballboy has to retrieve the ball. All the spectators are in the Social club - so, I am the ball-boy as well as the touchline judge and the spectator.
And, they don't want to score goals they just want to play about.
The Russians want to score. They also want to play. They want to drink vodka after the game.
Probably, they have been drinking before, during and after. Maybe Baxter was Russian.
OK, half time and a problem. Bobby Shearer is fucked. I am not surprised, he is about the same size as a small marquee. Quick confab and Shearer comes to the ball boy touch-judge-spectator
He said, 'wee man do you want to go on?.Fully-in goals. Backy-in later'.
In later years, I would have said "is the Pope a Catholic?"
In my cocky student years I would have said, "do the Haarlem Globetrotters shit in the woods?"
I was too young though.
I could hardly even speak to such an August personage but I did say "No, I don't, I am an inside left, I'm no a goalie" - thereby betraying the lack of judgement which has plagued me through the years.
Shearer ignores this and says "Baxter's no cummin' on - YOU have to. Follow me". I don't argue. I can't.
Shearer was known as 'Captain Cutlass' during his playing days. Nuff said.
I go into the changing room.
Shearer gives me his shirt. It is fucking massive and so fucking heavy through sweat. He gives me his boots and I suddenly realise my father has lied. These boots are Stylo Matchmakers and feel like carpet slippers. My boots always had toe-caps like industrial boots. How might my life have changed if I hadn't spent years as the only player in my team with diver's boots.
Nevertheless, I leave the changing room wearing a rather large sweaty marquee which almost covers me apart from a pair of boots and looking like a pantomime Aladdin because they are sticking up.
I look like a minor pyramid with sticky up toes and, unsuitably clad, head for the goals.
My father announces through the Tannoy :
'Baxter can't play. Boldscot is on in place of Shearer'.
I love him at that point even though (being a teenager) I usually loathe him.
I later find out that the Elder Boldscot has had a drink with Baxter in the Clubhouse.
Nefarious dealings, no doubt.
No matter. I'm on
Orright, wee man in the goal.
Did I touch the ball?
Yes. Very often . No.
But, I was there.
The game finished in a (fairly comfortable) win for the All Stars. Of course.
I kept a clean sheet. Ahahahahah.
Sure, the teams finished and I gave my shirt back - no one to swap it with, fortunately.
Back home and ready for my exams
Next day in school we are having a break. The guys are discussing football of course.
One guy talks about last night in the Scottish Boys champs. Another talks about the league.
We are at a boy's Rugby School so football is at a premium
I say, 'that's nothing, yesterday I came on for Shearer in place of Baxter'.
Someone slaps me - my best friend Davie Thom.
Fuck off dickhead.... blah blah blah
Nothing like school, in Glasgow, to bring you down to earth.
Doesn't matter- I WAS THERE and I DID IT. I was one of the 'All Stars'.
On for Shearer instead of Baxter.
The one and only time for anyone.