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A 'Bridge Christmas Carol
It was Christmas Eve and Daz Scrooge was warming his hands over a small fire made from old teamsheets. Suddenly there was a knock on the dressing room door. Daz didn't move from the fire but stood and watched as his assistant Tony Cratchet stopped sweeping the floor before opening the outside door to the cold dark night.

"Mister Daz Scrooge?" asked one of the two gentlemen stood in the doorway. "This way Sir" said Tony showing them in. "Now then, what can I do for you?" asked Daz. "A Mr Binns sent us Sir, we are from the WRCFA  Benevelent  Fund and we are collecting for elderly and mentally challenged footballers", said the larger of the two men. "How many do you want? We have loads of both" answered Daz. "Sir you misunderstand us, it's money we are after so we can look after the unfortunate" replied the second man. Daz's face darkened. "Money? Money? Bah nutmegs" he shouted. "Are there no nursing homes? Are there no asylums? What am I paying taxes for? Here this is what I'll give you!" as he snatched the brush off Tony and made a charge at the two men chasing them out of the door before stopping half way across the cricket pitch with the men no longer in sight.

As he came back into the dressing room Tony was attempting to break the ice on the top of a large bucket of water while surrounded by a dozen or so dirty footballs. "What on earth are you doing?" Daz asked. "Well" said Tony, "the ladies caught me last week washing my balls in the sink so now they have barred me from the kitchen on health grounds". "Yours or theirs?" asked Daz. Tony ignored him and continued "Would it be alright if I went early tonight Daz, and perhaps had the day off tomorrow as we have no match till Boxing Day?". Daz's face turned blue. "No it would not be alright, but, if you sweep all the dressing rooms out, wash and pump up all the footballs, mark the pitch out and put up the nets, then write out the sixty two team sheets to go around town then you can go early. But be here all the earlier on Boxing Day to get ready for the game". "Deal" said Tony quickly. "By the way did I mention you have to deliver the team sheets as well? You had better get a move on or you will still be here tomorrow night"added Daz

Tony had gone, all the jobs had been done and Daz was walking around the clubhouse turning all the lights off when he spied a sandwich left over from the game the day before. "Mmm, waste not want not" thought Daz as he woofed the morsel down before returning to the job of locking the clubhouse down for the night. As he approached the front door he noticed an eerie light appear around the lock as it transformed itself into a face. "Mick Gudgeon" Daz exclaimed!  "I haven't seen you for 20 years or more ".  "Whoo  whooo whooo , yes it's me Daz, the spirits of football have sent me here with a message and a warning. You will be visited tonight by 3 spirits, take heed what they tell you or else you will end up like me and never be able to watch a footy match again". "You've been coming down regular then?" Daz replied as Micks face faded away to be replaced by the lock. "Bah nutmegs, what a load of garbage" thought Daz. "Thats the worst performance I've seen since Sherburn away" as he entered the A dressing room to bed down for the night.

Daz couldn't sleep, tossing and turning thinking about the strange apparition he had seen. "It was probably that sarnie, prawn and sawdust, must have been one of Andy Layton's". The church clock struck 12, this was quickly followed by Daz's phone going off.13 times the ring sounded and then the lights in the shower room came on. Daz could hear that the showers had also come on, when suddenly the shower door was flung open and when the steam cleared a little figure of a man wearing thick spectacles appeared in the doorway. "Na then" he said. "My name is Fred and I am t' spirit of football past. You've got to come with me on a journey. I don't know where we're going so I hope tha's got a map; here 'old on to this seat belt and we're off". The room swirled and when Daz opened his eyes he was in the clubhouse bar and a party was going on. "I know this" said Daz. "It's the county cup winning party, all the lads are here and look theres old Andy Fezziwig on the piano! I recognize his white hair. What a time we had; County champions twice over ". "Yes" said Fred. "Then what happened?" "I loved the cup but then I lost her. Oh I loved that cup" whispered Daz. "Hrmm hrmm". Fred looked at him. "Thats all for now. I've got to get back to take our lass out. Come on". Once again the room swirled and Daz found himself back in the A dressing room.

Fred had gone but before Daz could settle down again his phone started ringing again, 13 times and then the showers started again .Once again the door opened and this time when the steam cleared it was a younger man dressed in a football kit. "Hi, I'm Steve Tovey, and I'm the spirit of football present. You've got to come with me. Here, hold onto this tracksuit top and we're off". The room swirled and this time Daz recognized he was in dressing room D. "Why! There's Tony Cratchet and his partner Barney struggling with a huge pile of paperwork. They must be Christmas cards and letters to Santa from the lads". "Far from it" said Steve. "They are forms and ref's reports for the county FA the workload is unbelievable". "Look"added Daz, "there is more of the lads at the back, Slonka, Tricky, Turtle and Chappy! They must be preparing Xmas pud's for their dinners by steaming them in large coppers".  "Think again" said Steve. "They are washing dirty kits, there is no glamour here". Daz's attention was then drawn to the back door which was open and through it he could see a lad sat on a chair watching while all the others played football. "Why thats Tiny Bernie sat there isn't it? Don't tell me he's suspended again, tell me spirit what will become of him?" "I see an empty peg in the dressing room where he used to get changed and a bulging postbag filled with letters from the county FA addressed to him, but of Tiny Bernie there is no sign". Daz bowed his head. "No no spirit, tell me its not true, can nothing change future events?" Daz then noticed 2 figures hiding behind Steve dressed in football kit. "Spirit who are these lads I don't know them?" Steve ushered them forward. "The first lad is discipline.He is a weak sickly lad who if not looked after becomes ill and costs you points, and the second is a huge lad weighing in at nearly 30 stone. He needs slimming down  because his weight is to much to bear.His name is expectation". Daz looked at them. "Can't the County do anything for them?". Steve pushed them behind him before saying "Are there no hospitals? are there no asylums?". "Steve, you mock me with my own words". With that the room started spinning  and once again Daz returned to dressing room A.

Almost immediately the phone started ringing again and the showers turned on but this time there was no steam. "Bah nutmegs" thought Daz. "The showers are down again, I'll have to have a word with Tricky". This time stood at the door was a figure dressed completly in black. His head was covered with wild grey hair. "Hello pal" said the figure. "My name's Raymond and I am the spirit of football yet to come. Here, grab hold of my whistle and notebook and come with me." "You are the one I fear the most" said Daz as he grabbed the whistle and closed his eyes. When Daz opened his eyes he found himself stood at the side of a football pitch. There was no grass on it just a mess of sand and mud with huge clumps of tumbleweed blowing from one side to the other. "We must be at Kirk Deighton, why are we here spirit Raymond?" Raymond did not speak which was unusual, just pointed to a pile of tracksuit tops that had been left unused for sometime and were covered in mud. Daz noticed the name on the back. "BBAFC Academy" it read. "I see" said Daz. "This is what the future holds if I don't get back to loving football, at least it can't get any worse than this". "Oh yes it does" said Raymond. "Come with me." They were back in the clubhouse and Raymond was leading Daz down an unlit passageway to Daz's office. Daz noticed that the office door had taken the shape of a large tomb stone and as they got closer Raymond pushed him forward to read the name on the door. "B DAVEY Manager BAFC". Daz closed his eyes and screamed. "No no no" he shouted, "Noooooo".

Daz sat up with a start. He was back in dressing room A. "Was it all a dream?" He ran to the door and looked out. There was a small lad walking across the field through 6 inches of freshly fallen snow which came up to his knees. "You boy!" "Yes Sir?" replied Andy Hall. "What day is it?" asked Daz. "Why its Christmas Day Sir!" Daz jumped up in the air. "Get in!" he said. "Then I'm not too late! Do you know the butchers down the High Street? The one with the prize turkey with the funny name hanging in the window". "I do Sir" replied Andy. "And I also know the name of the turkey, it's called Knaresborough Town". "Well" said Daz. "Here's some money go buy it and deliver it to Tony Cratchet's house for the lads' Christmas dinner. If you do it quick you won't have to pay subs for a year!" "Will do Sir, just one thing. Would you like it stuffing?". "Only everytime we play 'em!" replied Daz.

Daz was as good as his word and he got back to loving football. He even enrolled Tiny Bernie into the Eliza Doolittle Finishing School for Young Ladies which prompted him to say "God bless us every bloody one!"

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