Billy in the Off Season

Reads: 132  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

What football (soccer) means to a lonely middle aged man.

After he arrived home from the last game of the season Billy took off his scarf and stuffed it in the back of the press. It would be four months before he’d wear it again. He only ever wore it on matchday anyway and the home draw was the last match of the season.

When he left the pub Billy said goodbye to the lads, “See ye next year.” And they all promised to see each other then. Of course inevitably there’d be some drop off. Family commitments, financial difficulties or just a loss of interest would cause some people to drift away. It was the same every season.

Billy prided himself on being on of the diehards. For him the Bohs meant everything. If football was his religion, Dalymount his cathedral then the Bohs players were his disciples. He was happy to be among the congregation. A true believe with an annual membership, voting rights and a voice in the club. Yes he was someone.

But for now it was over. The season had come to an end and Billy would have plenty of time on his hands. Four months in fact before the new season began. A new season filled with the possibilities and expectation. For the moment this one was best put to bed.

From now on between this and the new year he would fill his days reviewing the season. The scorned opportunities, the lucky breaks, the offsides, miss timed tackled and downright bad refereeing decisions. Such forensic analysis would take place either in company or alone and Billy would find himself locked in discussion or lost in thought.

Friday nights would be spent in the cinema. Thrillers and block busters. For four months Billy would be a regular attendee the Savoy and Cineworld and occasionally the Lighthouse. He would inevitably stop in the pub on the way home. A few of the regulars would be there and they’d have the usual discussions on matches and prospects.

Billy was careful with the drink. In London he’d witnessed what drink could do to a single man. A man like him without the anchor of a family life. He watched Lynch sink literally to the street and swore that no matter what that would never happen him. So he restricted himself to two nights a week, Friday night after the game or not and Monday night.

Monday night the beginning of the week. Monday when the week’s results were dissected. When the slagging in work would be fierce. Rovers, Bohs, Patricks. He knew a lad working in Andrews Street, a Pats supporter, when the two of them would meet there’d be skin and hair flying. The banter would be fierce. But they’d survive if for another day.

If asked in the off season Billy would say he followed QPR another remanent from his days in London. True he’d been to Loftus Road on many occasions but that was years ago and supporting them from afar just wasn’t the same. When talking about QPR he could never say, as many did “We won” or “We lost” or “We were robbed.” No not Billy his “we” was Bohs.

Most of his workmates derided him for following Bohs. He endured the usual arguments about the low standard of football, the poor attendances, the lack of success in Europe and the ongoing financial struggles. Occasionally though some who claimed they’d no interest in the league would approach Billy and say something like “I see Bohs won the other night.” And Billy would feel somewhat vindicated.

On the window ledge of his hatch he displayed a small Bohs pin. Some people would engage in banter. Billy would take it in good stead. It proved people saw him as being more than just a faceless bureaucrat. Occasionally though, if someone’s allowance was cut he’d have to endure an irate customer who might come out with something like, “What do you expect from a Bohs supporter.” It was water off a ducks back.

In the new year analysis of the old season was replaced by expectation of the new. Who was on the move, who was in and who was out. Rumours of possible moves and probable sackings. The tightening of belts and being flush with money. It was something to look forward to and an excuse not to listen to the arguments between Liverpool and Manchester United supporters.

In the new year the banter began to take on an edge. It was as if anxiety was growing. The scene was so small so intimate that over time the regulars on opposing sides came to know each other by sight.

“Going down this year,” someone would say to him. Billy would laugh and say “Well we’re in for a handy nine points against ye.” They’d part with a hearty laugh and “We’ll see.”

The release of the seasons fixtures only heightens the sense of anticipation. Is the first game at home or away? Disappointment if Bohs are playing away first. And the Rovers when do they play the Rovers? That’s the one to watch. A loss against another team is bad enough but a loss against Rovers is unbearable. Needless to say a win against them is pure heaven. Three points and bragging rights. Worth getting up for the next morning.

Then there are the characters who inhabit the game. Cork Tom pestering you throughout the game for other scores, bumming a lift home afterwards. And of course Barry.

Barry who would conduct the Bohs chant in the Jodi Stand. He’d face the fans and urge them on.

“Give me a B,” he’d say.

“B,” the crowd would respond.

“Give me an O.”

“O”

“Give me an H.”

“H”

“Give me an S.”

“S”

“What are we?”

“The Bohs”

“The Bohs”

“The Bohs”

“The Bohs”

The rituals by which the game is run.

The nearer to the commencement of the new season, the more anxious Billy would become. This was it. This was the year they would finally make the big breakthrough. They would finally bring home some silverware. All doubts would be dispelled and with his fellow supporters Billy would rejoice in the victory. All the past defeats and humiliations would be dispelled.

One evening Billy walked by Dalymount. He traversed the perimeter observing the paintwork, the locked turn styles the empty stands. To Billy the stadium resembled a beast still deep in hibernation but stirring slightly with the thoughts that’s soon it would wake again to cheers and imprecations, hopes and heartaches. Other times though it reminded him of a steel factory in the rust belt, sad and forlorn but still a repository of hopes and dreams.

Finally the day would come, the first day of the new season. The long wait and the cold winter were over. The team would be rejuvenated. In work Billy would have a spring in his step. He’d close his hatch and make a dash for the bus home. He’d have already had dinner earlier in the day. This was the special occasion. The righting of the wrongs would take place this year. This was it. All doubts would be dispelled. The old crew would meet up again. Some people would leave but they’d be bound to pick up someone new.

Back home Billy readied himself quickly. He grabbed his coat and black and red scarf. He stopped to look in the mirror. He was no oil painting but he was passed worrying about that now. The scarf looked well. He’d washed it the week before, the colours were pristine. Billy left his house and clutching the scarf tightly round his neck made his way down the North Circular.


Submitted: December 09, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Zesman. All rights reserved.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:


Facebook Comments

More Literary Fiction Short Stories

Boosted Content from Other Authors

Short Story / Non-Fiction

Poem / Poetry

Book / Mystery and Crime

Writing Contest / Flash Fiction

Other Content by Zesman

Short Story / Literary Fiction

Short Story / Literary Fiction