Monday, 31 December 2012

Piss Drenched Jeans: The Night Micky Geggus Saved Our Lives

Highlight of 2012 was undoubtedly West Ham beating Blackpool 2-1 at Wembley. I was with all my West Ham faithful, the only exception being my good mate John from Canning Town who was elsewhere busying himself with studying Law in his last year in Paris; always thought law was a wise subject to study for a man who heralds from a place known to some as the City of Thieves.
          A brilliant day got off to a bad start. I slept in. The meet was Bond Street 11am. I got out of bed around about that time of morning. It’s what I do best. I rushed out, boxer shorts on back to front, my Morrissey flat-top, proper flat and no top. Awaiting the tube I ran into an old friend who was going to the game with a pack of mates I didn’t know. He’s a top DJ, a large chap thrown into the bargain, and I made reference to this still being the case. It didn’t go down well what with his mates not knowing me. I got blanked and they shifted to the right as the train came in and I decided it was best to get in the left carriage. It was empty. I felt empty, not a good feeling to piss someone off who you haven’t seen in a while, especially on a Wembley Cup Final Day. I sat down. Gazed up sheepishly and said this delicately to the person sat opposite.
          ‘Fuck me, it’s Stinky Turner.’
          I said that because it was him. The front-man of the Cockney Rejects. Stinky Turner aka Jeff Turner aka Jeff Geggus. From then on we had a manic love-in of all things West Ham and his band and then me taking over a bit. His son looked bored throughout but that was okay. I felt bad about having to get off at Bond Street. But that was where our meet was and anyway he was on route to hook up with Trevor Brooking for a pitch-side interview. Before we parted Jeff asked me where I was in the ground and then said he thought his brother was in that same section.
          Fast forward. I meet his brother at half time.

          ‘Alright Micky, I just ran into Jeff and his boy on the way up here.’
          Once again the conversation was like one between old school mates. But I did have some history with Micky. The night he saved me and my small band of mates from getting buried round the back of the Bridge House in Canning Town in March 1981.
          Those were seriously violent days back then. At gigs and at football. On Saturday West Ham had beaten Chelsea in the old Division Two 4-0 and there was fighting everywhere. The next day my band set off along the M4 to support Vice Squad at a pub in Bristol. Happy with the previous days result and naively not appreciating any violent connection with Bristol City, I proudly wore my West Ham scarf. We got there early. The locals didn’t dig my scarf. We had to take refuge in a Marks & Spencer. I was told to tuck the scarf inside my jacket. That night Vice Squad never showed. And neither did the PA. On the Tuesday they were supporting the 4 Skins at The Bridge House in Canning Town. We thought we’d show up and ask for an explanation and an apology. Before I was picked up that night I was told this.
          ‘Don’t wear that fucking scarf.’
          I didn’t bother to labour the point that Canning Town was safe territory for claret and blue colours as emotions were tender after what happened in Bristol. So I left the scarf at home. On the night we never got to speak with Vice Squad. We were the only non skinheads in a 300 strong pub. It didn’t help that they thought we were Chelsea. We drank furiously to accommodate the unsettling paranoia. As the toilets in the pub were evidently a no go area for non skinheads, the five of us agreed we’d have a piss where our van was parked, which was round the back of the pub in a dimly lit anonymous dead end that was flanked either side by high corrugated walls. To compound the problem, we were also afraid to leave the pub.
          We eventually left after the gig, almost unable to walk what with our bladders holding so much lager and then our small and desperate collective got ambushed mid-piss; words directed clearly indicated that they thought we were Chelsea taking liberties on their manor. It was messy on all levels. With more than the odd boot in the face. Lying on the floor cut and bloody and wearing piss drenched jeans, it was all quite depressing. More than that, it looked like we were not going to make it home. In such moments you don’t get overwhelmed in fear because quite simply, there isn’t the time. The only thing I remember thinking was in how I wished I had my fucking West Ham scarf on.
          And then when all looked beyond help a young Micky Geggus – the only other non skinhead and a face we hadn’t seen all night – appeared wearing a green flight jacket with sown on Motorhead patch. He parted the waves, an Oi Moses, stopped the fighting, calmed the masses, got us in the van, climbed in the back with us as they were going to brick the van once we got to the front of the pub, and then ensured we were safely on the A13, homeward bound safe and sound.
          ‘I normally have a good memory but don’t recall that night,’ Micky had said to me during half time at Wembley.
          Not sure if he was just being modest, but that was a night I wasn’t ever going to forget in a hurry and the story was still surging through my head when I went to take up my seat just after half time. When I got there I was asked what I was smiling about. Surviving that night, I thought. But Tom Ince had scored for Blackpool and it was 1-1. What lay ahead was a grim second half of biting fingernails, gasping for breath, the desperate urge to have a piss – going to the toilet would definitely mean Blackpool would score – therefore also, the fear of piss drenched jeans and all of this augmented by the sickening taste of impending gloom and loss. It was all going wrong. Like that night in the Bridge House. And then when all looked beyond help, Ricardo Vaz Te – who we hadn't seen all afternoon – appeared and buried the ball into the roof of the net and I was soon able to empty my bladder and feel the joy.

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