I’ve been reading Michael Simpkins’s “Fatty Batter”, charting his love affair with cricket from an early age.  In it he makes the point that sport seems to bring out primeval instincts in otherwise placid men.  The shyest and most mildly mannered of men (and I do here mean “men”) can transmogrify into Mr Hyde by playing and spectating sport.

Take Gunny for example (not his real name but close enough).  I met him while we were spending taxpayer’s money at Durham University in the 70’s.  As gentle a soul as you could come across.

Durham had a pretentious college system, aping Oxford and Cambridge, compared to which it had aspirations and a well-deserved inferiority complex.  Besides the several secular colleges, to one of which I was attached, it had a small number of “church” colleges – St Cuthbert’s, St John’s, St Chad’s, for example, to which most Theology students were attached; as was, indeed, Gunny.

Quite appropriately, as it happened because, although he didn’t read Theology, you could not hope to meet a more devoted and worshipful Christian.

Now, you recollect this started off talking about sport and Jekyll and Hyde, well, after we’d graduated I went up to stay at his place for a few days in Newcastle and on the Saturday we went to watch his beloved “Toon”, standing in the Gallowgate end.  We watched in companionable silence barring the odd observation we made to each other for about 10 minutes until the ref blew for a foul by one of the Newcastle players.

At that, Cliff Richard next to me exploded into an incomprehensible and guttural roar, punctuated by what sounded like “foggy, foggy, foggy fog”.  This happened a couple more times until a bloke in front of us turned round and said “It’s you, isn’t it?  We hear you every match.  We call you the Throat”.

He was the mild-mannered monster and legend of Newcastle fans and didn’t know it.




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John Coopey

Tue 21st Mar 2023 12:03

Thankyou, Graham and Stephen.

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Stephen Atkinson

Mon 20th Mar 2023 19:39

Yes, I thought the same as Graham. Reeled in again. Turns out to be much worse: forced into the Gallowgate end to watch the mags! Can't think of anything worse 😉😚FTM

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Graham Sherwood

Mon 20th Mar 2023 14:47

Thank God! I thought Linda Lovelace was going to make an appearance in this one!! Fooled us again JC!

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John Coopey

Mon 20th Mar 2023 13:16

Thankyou for the Likes, Stephen, Uilleam and Philip.

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