Strictly personalby Frederic Raphael / July 20, 1998 / Leave a comment
Published in July 1998 issue of Prospect Magazine
Gazza was gutted? I was gutted in my day. Man is that kind of a fish. Selection is the devil, which is why John Prescott, the government’s 12th man, is against it. By rights, as he says, we should all be/have been in the first eleven or (in my case) the house team. I still feel the bitterness-to tell you the truth, Brian-of omission by the boss, Ken A (who once leaped 20 feet ten inches in the long jump and never let anyone forget it). I thought Ken and I were mates until I looked at the team sheet for the house cup knockout competition (the Carthusian equivalent of the World Cup) and saw that Alban (Alban!) had been picked as centre forward, although he lacked the height to meet a corner at the far post and nod it past the hapless custodian. Alban might be better when the ball came to feet, but-no disrespect to him-the lad could easily be barged off it.
Will Gazza be wishing, somewhere in his thick patriotic head, that England go down the tubes without him? I didn’t take off for Miami, or even pedal down to Godalming, after my disappointment. No, I turned up loyally to watch Lockites being hammered. My honour rooted in dishonour stood and faith unfaithful kept me falsely true. (We’re talking late 1940s, when that’s how Sir Galahad and I were educated.) I even yelled encouragement, especially to Alban- “Get into him!”-after Saunderites had taken the lead.
Alban was dumped after the defeat. Ken reinstated me for the remaining league games. I kept my place in the end of term photograph, but I was not given “houseteams,” the colours which would have entitled me even today to wear black socks with apple green tops. Young Alban’s turn came; a year later-after I’d left-he was what the French called titulaire. The lad never came to much on the world stage, even if he could turn on a sixpence. Good luck to him, mind.
Ken A had small feet and, as he may have reminded you, he once jumped 20 foot ten. He also had a large appetite. A y…