“Wheeeee!” shouts Fotheringay, as we hurtle down the cobbled streets of Pamplona at this year’s bull running fiesta.
“Whooaah!” I bellow, as we approach the final bend still in the lead.
Down the home straight we clatter, the horns of the leading bull inches from my fluttering shirt tails.
And across the winning line we go!
“Huzzah!” I hear you cheer.
And I am sure that the twinkle of a teardrop can be seen in the corner of every eye, so proud are you to read of this rare British sporting success story on foreign soil.
But, before you reach for the tissues I feel it is only right to tell you that our victory occurred, not sadly in one of the blue riband races that take place each afternoon, but rather in a low key event we spotted advertised on a postcard in the window of a local newsagent.
And before you laugh, I have to tell you that Wheelchair Bull Running for the Over Sixties can still be a very dangerous pastime. Those horns are sharp you know; or they would be without the tennis ball glued to the end.
And yes I know that the bulls are all over sixty, as indeed are the Spaniards pushing them on the wheelbarrows to which they are strapped. But they can still cause a nasty bruise if you’re not careful.
Anyway, it’s all Fotheringay’s fault.
I mean to say what was he thinking of in practising his American Slide with Olga, our ballroom dancing kitchen maid. He must have spotted Mandrake waxing the floor of the landing at the top of the grand staircase at Bleasdale Towers. Anyway, as he plummeted downstairs something in his bionic leg short circuited, thus rendering him incapable of delivering the frenetic ankle work needed to compete at the highest levels upon the cobbled streets of Pamplona.
Anyway, he and I are enjoying a celebratory cafe con leche in a local taverna when, through the beaded curtain enters Carruthers, our contact at the local British Consulate. He is carrying this week’s match cards, recently arrived from Fleetwood in a diplomatic bag.
A week old already, I still find myself surprised to read that Chris Blyth Junior has helped the Spirits to a share of the spoils against the Cons. Similarly eyebrow raising is the debut performance of Isaac Guy in helping the Biased Boys wrestle a point from the grasp of defending champions Dockers ‘A’.
It is also great to see a few old names back in the spotlight, as Danny Ford returns triumphantly to the Mount in their trouncing of the Peripatetic Pensioners. Ken Nield is also back for Strawberry Gardens, his win helping secure a share of the spoils with the Tony Brogden inspired Royal Oak. The Beige Behemoth, Don Gair is outstandingly oriental as the Peking Ducks run amok upon the blasted heath, as indeed is Billy Helsby in helping Highbury ‘B’ edge past the challenge of the Tracey Cunningham inspired Femme Fatales.
Stan Billington is best on the night for the Comrades as they pick up both points against the Cricket Club, this despite some splendid wrist work upon the oche by Jimmy Pilling. Meanwhile, Ray Connolly helps table toppers Highbury ‘A’ maintain their advantage over the chasing pack with a 7-1 victory over the Queens Hotel, with Mike Tallentire flying a solitary flag of home resistance upon Beach Road.
A few days later Carruthers makes his second appearance, this time in the darts room of the Arachnophobia Arms. Fotheringay and I have been unbeatable at round the board, the local membership unwilling to go anywhere near double tops, above which is dangling a rubber Halloween spider. He hands me this week’s results, which have been despatched via courier on the overnight Cadiz ferry.
Immediately it becomes clear that the title defence of Moses and the Dockerites is faltering alarmingly, despite early wins for Robert Dagger and man of the match Lee Shewan. A quintet of victories by Alan Ashton, top dog Dave Smith, Wes Newton, Steve Hadgraft and Jordan Brooks sees arch rivals the Cons build up an unassailable lead before last man Brett Dawson reduces the deficit to 5-3 in the dying embers of the match.
Pulling a further point clear at the top of the pile are Highbury ‘A’, this after Johnny Johnstone leads the way to a comfortable 6-2 victory over the Femme Fatales. Sheila Clarke is best on the night for the girls, this after her splendid 100 finish leaves opponent John Shaw gasping for air like a gaffed grouper.
A sterling fight back by the Comrades is probably the performance of the night; this after an eleven darter by Steve Riley gets opponents the Mount off to a flyer on the esplanade. But then, after Rob Saunders and Danny Ford have extended the advantage to 3-0, there is much girding of loins to be seen taking place amongst the remaining Collapsible contingent.
First, skipper Neil Buston reduces the deficit to 3-1, his exemplary performance triggering a tsunami of terrific tungstens by Kenny Harrison, Kevin Morris and Lenny Billington. At 4-3 down things look decidedly bleak for the home side as they endeavour to stay in touch with the table toppers. It is with much relief then that they greet a last gasp victory by Andy Parry Jones, albeit that opponent Gaz Whitehead is but a whisker off completing a remarkable turnaround for the visitors.
Elsewhere, the Workingmens rub further salt into the wounds of the beleaguered Broadwater Boys, a Brian Wilson inspired 6-2 victory leaves the Cricket Club becalmed at the bottom of the pile, this despite another quality performance from the talismanic Jimmy Pilling.
The Beach Road Boys also subside to a 6-2 defeat at the hands of visitors the Atkin Juggernaut. Tony Brogden continues his fine run of form for the rampant Royal Oak, with Bobby Walker best on the night for the quashed Queens.
The Fuzzy Ducks are also 6-2 winners on Friday in deepest Thornton. Andy Gratrix leads the way in good style for the splendiferous Strawberries as the early season promise of the aged ones continues to evaporate like their memories of what they consumed for breakfast. However, a 180 from Geoff Moyle and a splendid win for big slipper boy Harold Davies suggest there is life in the old dogs yet.
Dockers ‘B’ return from the blasted heath with a 5-3 victory over the troubled Taverners, Cliff Blyth best for the belligerent Spirits, with home skipper Pete Hornby these days a troubled front man for Sleepy Time Pillows.
Finally this week we travel back to town to find a terrific shared experience between the Bowling Club and Highbury ‘B’. At 4-2 to the good, the Mick Jackson inspired home side look set to secure their fifth win of the season. Alas, they are unable to find a winner in the remaining legs as man of the match Anthony Rhimes and Geoff Ward both win to salvage a point for the footballers.
Carruthers has just taken Fotheringay and I out for tea.
I asked the waitress, “Do you do paella?”
She replied, “Just meat and potato and how do you know my name?”
Thanks for reading.