Monday, April 12, 1982


Melissa was in fine form in the morning, drawing us pictures and dragging me and Robert to the swings and slide across the road. She's really domineering even though only six: she had us both sliding down the slide.

Me and Robert set off for Heathdale and the match at 11:30, driving over the moors to Barlow: spectacular and desolate, all browns and peaty black, blotched by cloud shadows. The road was a lonely grey line through the flat expanse. As we dropped down the long hill into Barlow, a reservoir up ahead looked tiny and overshadowed by the sweeping slopes.

The sprawl of Heathdale and Debdenshaw was visible in the distance, a flat expanse as far as the horizon, punctuated by grey towerblocks. Passed wall art on the side of Eagle Iron Works (art & people communicate), decaying terraces, mounds of weed-strewn rubble, bare graffiti’d walls, concrete fly overs, underpasses. Everything pessimistic and crumbling. People living out their lives in this!

We found the ground, parked nearby, and sat in the Black Swan until two. Heathdale Rangers A.F.C.’s ground Ridge Lane is at the end of a narrow terraced street: big, covered all the way round, lots of new breeze block and concrete. There were a lot of Athletic fans wandering about.

The match was terrible. The large Easterby contingent was quiet as Athletic played badly and looked slow compared to Heathdale who were skillful, well-organised, and more determined to win the ball, especially their number 9, a bronzed powerful greaseball. Halftime 0-0. The second-half was more of the same: Heathdale pressure, Athletic outplayed, mistakes galore, Wild and Scarborough bad as usual. One moron next to me kept swearing and cursing and when the Heathdale fans around us clapped or cheered he'd turn round and shout “fuck off!,” his eyes dim under heavy brows, his face snarling and angry.

Heathdale scored midway through the half with a superb first time volley and we looked sunk: no answer to their tight defence and slick one-touch moves, Overrun. Our best chance came from McArdle who took the ball the length of the field and had his shot just saved. By now Robert and I were restless and resigned to an obvious defeat but then a last chance corner, a late goalmouth scramble and . . . amazing . . . a goal, an equaliser with only a minute or so to go! We leaped up and down, Reprieve, amazement, relief. But with Cross End winning at Haley Hill the pressure is really on.

Back to Easterby over the same brown bogs, now tanned yellow by the setting sun, down through Leckenby, city blocks gleaming. Janet and Trev and their baby were visiting when we got home. The house was crowded for a while before Robert left for Dearnelow, taking Andrew with him.

I set off for a party at Tim’s at eight. I bought three bottles of cider in Moxthorpe and hurried on to Egley Terrace as the bottles leaked and the box started to dissolve. Loads of people were there and although I took along a few records, they didn’t go down well: they all wanted Queen, Bob Dylan, Genesis, etc . . . As more people arrived, things got chaotic with the TV going, records, cassettes, someone on the computer console in the corner, the table overflowing with bottles, glasses and cans.

There were now so many people downstairs I stayed upstairs talking with Peter, Colin etc. and a few others in Tim’s bedroom. Wendy was next to me on the bed, leaning against my leg and . . . things went predictably somehow, I don’t quite know how, but everyone seemed to get the message. It's strange (I’m uncomfortable writing this). We kissed etc., the light off, Peter & co. a noisy congregation on the landing, someone coming in to get a coat. . . .

Most people had gone by the time we went back downstairs and the booze was all gone, so I kissed Wendy goodbye and faced the comments and jokes with a sheepish smile. Someone was reading a Mayfair mag. I sat drinking coffee and feeling sober.

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