Previously in Leeford Village: Cody, Nick and George poke fun at Ted about getting free drinks for football team meetings. George Owens questions whether there would be eight divisions in a new league for ‘walking football’, but Ted still hasn’t spotted his own administration error. The first match looms large. Sherry has an appointment with the nurse and encounters Kelly Bale, who denies meeting Linda. Sherry smells a rat, and that rat is called Gomez. Stephen and Gary, Leeford’s intrepid thin blue line, visit Vera with the intention of interviewing her about the tribe of gnomes in her garden. Things don’t go exactly to plan and she demands a ‘warranty’. Meredith muses about her chequered past but seems happy with Cody’s son and heir.
‘Ok, Zack, but are we ready?’ asks Simon, plugging in his keyboard.
‘Ready? There’s ages to go yet, Simon. We could have a two-hour set ready by the time the fete arrives.’
Of course we’re not ready, he thinks. We haven’t finished writing any songs yet. He’s not the only one thinking along those lines.
‘I’ve got a song we could use,’ pipes up Ziggy.
‘What is it? They’re not going to allow cover songs,’ says Zack, not entirely sure this is true, but he wants his own songs, whenever they are written, to take priority.
‘It’s not a cover - it’s my Dad’s’
‘Your Dad’s?’ questions Zack with the incredulous look he favours whenever Ziggy has anything to say.
‘Yeah, it’s a straightforward pop song.’
‘What’s it about,’ asks Simon, showing considerably more interest than the group leader, ‘and what’s it called?’
‘Bit corny really. “Love Me Crazy”.’
‘Let’s hear it then,’ concedes Zack.
‘He was about nineteen at the time, you know, late seventies. He was seeing this bird every Sunday night at the Spring Hill Hotel.’
‘What?’ exclaims Zack.
‘No, not in a hotel room, you wazzock. They had discos at the hotel in those days. Dad loved ‘em. Claimed he could dance a bit as well.’
‘Not then, he wasn’t even married.’
‘Get on with it,’ pleads Simon.
‘Anyway, he really fell for this girl. Jacqui, I think her name was. She seemed really keen, apparently, and said she would never leave him.’
‘Aah, shucks,’ interjects Zack again, not wanting to give Ziggy a chance.
‘They were dancing, and she told him she loved him - all that sort of stuff.’
‘She dumped him at the end of the night.’
‘He never knew.’
‘Somebody else involved?’
‘He didn’t know, but when he got home just before midnight...’
‘Midnight?’ snorts Zack, ‘midnight? Bit early wasn’t it? Clubs go on till four in the morning these days.’
‘Not in 1978. Not in Leeford you berk. Licensing laws were different then.’
‘For pity’s sake, Ziggy, finish your story and get to the song before I grow a beard and join ZZ Top,’ pleads Simon, becoming increasingly irritated
‘Well, just after twelve o’ clock the phone rang. It had to be Jacqui. Had to be.’
‘What did she say?’
‘We’ll never know what she intended to say. He didn’t pick up.’
‘They didn’t have one in those days. Just a bog-standard telephone.’
‘What did your Dad feel about it the next day?’
‘He used it in the song. The last line.’
‘I wish I’d answered the phone.’
‘Let’s hear it,’ says Simon.
Ziggy plugs in his Ibanez Electro-Acoustic and starts to pick out a harmonious tune with his favourite chords - Am, G, Dm and C. No one knew he could play and sing so sweetly, and with such emotion. This is the flamin’ bass player, thinks Zack.
‘I could not be happy without you
Knowing how much I care
You said that you’d never leave me
But that was all you could say.
And I said love, love me crazy
All I could do was run to you baby
And I said love, love me crazy
All I could do was run to you baby
I took you dancing on Sunday
And held you tight in my arms
You danced as though you were happy
But then you gave back my love.’
Ziggy then repeated the chorus, ‘And I said love, love...’ and onto the final verse, followed by the chorus three times:
‘You left me standing the same night
Crying, unhappy, alone
You called me just after midnight
I wish I’d answered the phone.’
No one notices Clare standing at the back of the room.
‘Oh, Ziggy, that’s beautiful.’
‘Babe?’ spits Zack.
‘Zack!’ shouts Simon.
‘I’m not sure about it, but it’s a pop song and it’s the best we’ve got,’ admits Zack, reluctantly.
‘There we go, then,’ says Ziggy. ‘My dad will be over the moon!’
‘Vera, how long have I known you?’
‘Well, a good while, Stephen. You’re almost part of the family.’
‘Well then, you know I’ve looked after you. Remember when Hilda sent me over here a couple of years ago? Then there was Allen Gomez.’
‘Stopped him dead in his tracks, didn’t we?’
‘Exactly. You trust me, don’t you? No need for a warranty, um, warrant, is there?’
‘I suppose so. Cup of tea?’
‘I want to see what my young assistant was shouting about first, Vera.’
‘He looked quite desperate for the toilet. Does he often pull his trousers down in broad daylight?’
‘No, no, not usually... He’d loosened his..., never mind, he’s coming back down now.’
‘Mrs Cleeve to you, young whippersnapper.’
‘Mrs Cleeve,’ says Gary, in his I’m-an-officer-of-the-law voice, ‘we’re not going to find the gnomes in the garden, are we?’
Vera looks sheepishly across at Stephen, ignoring the now relieved Gary.
‘You won’t find all of them in the garden, only a few. Some of them are mine.’
‘Why do you do it, Vera?’
‘I take them on gnome holidays, you know that.’
‘Yes, the odd one. But hundreds?’
‘There’s loads packed away in the spare room and even in Vera’s bedroom. Up to the ceiling, Sarge. I even found two behind the loo.’
‘Sorry, Vera, we’re going to have to take you down the station.’
Crestfallen, Vera holds out her hands, ready to be handcuffed.
‘No need for that, Vera. This isn’t The Bill, and you’re not going to get very far if you make a run for it, are you?’
‘We’re here then, Ted.’
‘George,’ replies Ted, ‘that’s what I love about you - stating the blummin’ obvious.’
Laughter rocks the minibus Frank Reed has hired, with George joining in, as they pull into the long driveway leading to the North Banfield Social Club.
‘Do you want to see their secretary, Frank?’
‘No, Ted. I’ll concentrate on preparing the lads. You focus on the admin side of things. OK?’
‘Fine, Ted, I’ve got his name. John Smart, General Manager and Club Secretary.’
‘Think that’s him approaching now. We’ll find the changing room.’
‘Catch up with you in a bit, Frank. We’ve got an hour before kick-off.’
‘Mr Coleman - John Smart.’
‘Ted, please, good to meet you, John.’
‘Do you have your bar-coded document?’
‘Yes, here you are.’
‘I’m sure it’s all in order. I’ve been to your pub, ted. Nice pint, and I have to say, lovely place, Leeford.’
‘Now, you can join your team, and, basically, we’ll see you on the pitch.’
‘Cheers John, see you later.’
‘In the bar – my treat!’
The minutes tick by. The boys are beginning to show pre-match nerves, with Frank doing his bit to build up confidence.
‘I’ve seen some of their lads. They’re even younger than me, and I’m the baby of the team,’ says Nick.
‘Pity we didn’t have enough for substitutes,’ pipes up George, ‘if somebody gets injured.’
‘In walking football?’ says Steve Adams.
‘Never mind all this negative talk,’ interrupts Frank, ‘in my day, we had much worse to put up with.’
‘What formation are we playing?’ queries Cody.
At that, the referee knocks on the door.
‘Got your team sheet, Mr Reed?’
‘Yes, here it is.’
‘Are you sure?’
‘Bit short aren’t you?’
‘I suppose, but we’re not professionals. They may be short, my lads, but they’re stout-hearted.’
‘Ok, let me confirm their IDs.’
‘What you mean, like a school register?’
‘If you like. Now, Nick Allthorpe?’
‘Er, Daniel Windrush?’
‘Absolutely, your honour.’
Down the corridor, their studs click and clack on the freshly-laid linoleum. They can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Literally. They eventually reach the pitch.
‘Bit big, isn’t it, Cody?’ says Nick, looking concerned.
‘The pitch. Thought it was three-quarter size.’
‘Hang on,’ shouts Steve from his left-wing position. ‘Their subs haven’t left the field. There’s eleven in their half warming-up. I’ve counted ‘em.’
‘I’ll have a word with the ref,’ asserts Nick, trying to take control, although Frank has omitted to appoint a captain.
‘Sir, a word, please?’ calls out Nick to the man in black.
‘When are their subs going to leave the field? You’ve just blown for the kick-off.’
‘Subs? They’ve only got one. Come on, let’s get started.’
‘But...,’ stammers Nick,’ they’ve got eleven players, we’ve only got six.’
‘Thought you had a recruitment problem.’
He blows his whistle, and eleven young, fit, footballers bear down on the Leeford Six, running at a pace that even the thirty-year-old Nick Allthorpe struggles with.
‘Hang on ref!’ screams Frank from the touch-line.
The ball runs out of play near Frank and Ted. They confront the ref.
‘It’s supposed to be walking football,’ pleads Ted.
‘No, this is Football Association rules football, Category A.’
‘But we’re Category B – walking football.’
‘Not according to your registration document you’re not,’ says the ref, ‘give me the damn ball so we can get on with the game.’
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