Sunday 9th January 2000
Guess the gate and an ASBO
Late breakfast this morning and a long read of the papers. Fiona wouldn’t let me read the sports pages because of guess the gate. Didn’t want to anyway given the madness of yesterday’s game. Went to the Albert for 12 and back to Clarkie’s after just to make sure he was o.k. for tomorrow’s op. Thrashed him at Guess the gate. Had to write a plan for Dan Spittles and Sam Taylor this afternoon. Think they may have been on something and we will have to be quite careful with talking to their parents over them not being excluded. Ginnsy told me the Governors and senior management want an explanation of why we haven’t excluded them, already. Will have to tie it in with a review of what and how we are doing things. Eddie Gaynor is the one to get on board and the most likely to stick the knife in to the centre. Barney Wild will need to fill me in with a lot more background to their behaviour before Wednesday’s meeting. Finished notes in time for second sight at 9.
Guess the gate was our Sunday lunchtime football ritual. It involved the following.
- Collect together lots of coins in one’s pocket. This would be good if you have been out on the beer the day before as you know that a round always produced a pocket full of shrapnel with each beer in a round.
- SHOWING OF THE COINS. Dig in to pocket with one hand and pull out a handful of coins. The bigger the number of coins the better. Show your opponent your handful to be compared with their paltry penny-ladened collection.
- Neutral referee to open and read out one by one the fixtures from yesterday. Usually this was Ray but sometimes Fiona would step in.
- Guess the attendance. For example: Charlton V QPR in the FA Cup of Jan 8th 2000
Charlton was usually an easy one to guess so on this occasion I would let Clarkie have first go and he would jump in at 22,258. This was the full house figure quoted every week.
I would then guess 17 000. I knew that as a cup game there would be significant segregation and fewer there. I could have gone 22,257 but that wasn’t allowed and was considered very bad form.
- Ray would read out the actual attendance of 16,798. As a winner, being nearest, one coin would be placed on my winnings pile from my stack of coins. That was a skilful guess by me and he would be told so.
- Next go; Grimsby V Bolton My go first. My thinking? Grimsby at home = never less than 4000, Add in a few more for Bolton, then a premier league team. My Guess 4,800 Clarkie couldn’t trim it by much so would go 4,000. Actual attendance 4270. One coin for Clarkie. He would have got lucky here and he would be told so.
The game ended a couple of pints later and there was no prize other than the chance to rub in the FACT that one was better at knowing about all things football than your opponent.
Some other rules
Rochdale – never less than 3000 except for cup games
Premier league games usually at capacities of ground
Seaside derbies have to be claimed whenever they exist by saying “seaside Derby” For example on that day Swansea V Hartlepool is a seaside Derby.
If result is a tie then we could go to Scottish games.
Winner is always, yes always accused of reading the results before the game or worse still of watching match of the day and memorising the attendances.
Surprise high attendances should be explained by “inside knowledge of large away following or cheap price offer”
Surprise low attendances must be explained by “freak cold weather and / or crash on the motorway.”
The game was played at the round table in the Albert. This round table was threatened once by a reorganisation of the furniture so that we couldn’t sit together for a while. The square tables offered as an alternative soon became amalgamated but at one time we almost relocated to the Vic in protest.
Player invitations would be extended to guests or friends but they were often so useless at the game that we would sit tactically to make Clarkie or myself apply the gentlemen’s agreement and have to give up a coin to the guest rather than the serious players.
There was a running score but I could never remember it when losing and could always recall it when ahead. It was only recorded as one up or three down rather than 17 – 15 over the season. For the record I am still 2 up and we haven’t played since our last game in New Zealand in August 2004.
The day before Fiona and I had been at Colchester. A 5-4 defeat sounds like a great game but as you know these games are only good when your team gets the five. The programme and team sheets showed that the strengths of both sides lay with forwards. Lumana Tresor Lua-Lua and Steve McGavin for them, Cureton and Roberts for us. Our first visit to Layer Road struck us as odd because half of the away fans were seated at the opposite end to the bulk who were standing.
At the game we were given a copy of the following photo. Appearing in the local Bristol Press it was taken the week before at Cambridge. I have cropped the original to focus on a not so happy Chris Stickler, Fiona and myself watching a 1-0 defeat with appropriate misery.
Dan Spittles and Sam Taylor are permanently etched on my teaching memory. They were two of the initial five members of the Centre at Lealands. In the weeks previously they had been part of a combined and rather serious disruption of good order and we were tested by the staff at the school to get our responses appropriate to the whole school. In other words, some wanted them excluded and our centre closed. As it happened we had to rethink our way of working and explain it to the whole school why the original plan needed to change. Out went a class of 5 of the most difficult students taught be volunteers. In came carefully tailored timetables with restricted access to the main school, individual lessons and out of school provision to run alongside our classes. Dan became a bit of a local legend as the first to get an ASBO. Sam Taylor became our local hero by surviving five years in school eventually leaving with support from many outside agencies. The folk at Luton Churches support group were excellent and Chris Curtis and his team became a good influence on many of the pupils as a result. Eddie Gaynor was a former Head of English and a Senior Manager who made his opposition to our working very evident whenever possible. In this case there was little point in trying to win him round to our way of thinking despite him being very good at working with difficult students. He soon left the school
Barney Wild was our first Ed Psych. He was very keen to be seen as doing the right thing and came from a social work background. Unfortunately he was soon quite ill but while with us he was a great support and sounding board.
The year was a good one for teaching. Fiona continues to get given more responsibility as a leading Maths teacher in Milton Keynes. She had a period as temporary head teacher at her school and should really have applied permanently. I was commuting every day along the M1. It made for a long day but living in MK and having a good routine for pub and football constituted a social life of sorts. A change of headship at Fiona’s school set up a train of thought that she might move on. The T.E.S. was bought from the summer onwards.
Our summer holiday this year was a return to the States. We flew to Newark and drove around New England taking in Lake Placid, the White Mountains and the Salem – Boston Coast.
Lake Placid ski jump
One of my favourite Fiona pictures, whale watching off Cape Ann
A Burlington balcony scene
And as she would say “Piffy on a rock bun”
It was a very relaxing trip with long stays at rural motels. I even did a bit of primitive sketching and no, there is no way that can be shared on this blog. Really, OK then, but don’t laugh.
A sketch of home in Jan 2000
Football weekends included trips to Southport, Cardiff (Staying in Penarth), Bath, Bristol and Torquay. Holiday breaks included trips to Tunbridge Wells in February, April, August and October.
On this day:-
1988 1sts Redingensians H L 0-14
1999 Burnley H 3-4
1996 Fulham A 2-1
1976 Fulham H 0-3
1993 Grimsby A 0-2
2001 Plymouth H 3-0