'I Was There'


Great moments in sport, No.87: Travis Bickle remembers the 1981 Headingley Test

It’s been three days of Australian dominance. I’m thinking the only thing that can save England from certain defeat is for a real rain to come along and wash away all these scum-sucking Aussies…fucking Mau-Maus.

I gotta get in shape. Too long sitting in corporate hospitality nibbling canapés. Time to put on my blue cagoule and hit the mean streets of Headingley. My body is a temple. I train on pork scratchings and scotch eggs alone.

I met a girl today – what was her name? Oh yeah, Betty. Betty’s doing real important work in the campaign to elect Geoffrey Boycott as Yorkshire CC President, whatever the fuck that is. I keep getting pains in my head – I think I got brain cancer, or maybe it’s because I got hit in the skull by a cricket ball when I was walking past the confectionary stall. I don’t know. Anyway, I asked Betty out on a date today, and she said ‘yes’. I think I’ll get her a present.

We went to Harry Ramsden’s that night and I ordered two fish suppers with all the trimmings. Everything was going real well, I think she liked the Showaddywaddy album I bought her, and the packet of Orange Matchmakers. Betty gets up and goes to the bathroom just as the food arrives, so I thought I’d surprise her by putting mayo on her fries. ‘That’s disgusting,’ she says and walks off, crying. I chased after her, pleading with her to see reason – I thought everyone liked mayo on their chips. Damn! I gotta shape up. Damn!

It’s time for action. I look in the Yellow Pages for an arms dealer/fixer/drug dealer/pimp. Luckily there’s one just down the road. I buy a .44 Magnum, this small Colt – good balance – a Walther PPK, and he throws a leather holster in for free. Nice. The guy was a real hustler. ‘I can get you anything – Rubik’s Cube, 20 Lambert & Butler, the new Thompson Twins album.’ ‘Thanks,’ I told him, ‘but no thanks.’

I’m at the ground for the final day of the Test. England take a wicket. Nice fucking game. So I stand there and clap, real slow – ‘clap-clap-clap’. Then this voice comes over the PA: ‘Will the gentleman with the mohawk, wearing a combat jacket and a pair of Foster Grant sunglasses please stop moving behind the bowlers arm.’ Get to fuck, I think to myself, before moving away to sit in the cheap seats.

What do you know? A couple of hours later, hundreds of people are running on the pitch and England have won an historic, like, victory. I smile, look down at my half-empty can of Long Life and make the decision not to slaughter the 1981 Australian tourists in cold blood.

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