During the recent Iraq conflict, an Irish soldier was arrested for playing cards when he should have been butchering some people who had different religious and political views to his own. At his court-martial, the charge was read out, witnesses were called and finally the soldier was asked if he had anything to say in his defence. Looking the Presiding Officer straight between the knees, the soldier replied: -
“When I see the ace, I think of Tony Sheridan and the goal he scored against Pats at Lansdowne in 1996.
When the two comes up, I am reminded of Donal Broughan and Richie Purdie, now both with Kildare County. If they’d been out here with me, the war would have lasted 27 days less.
The three puts me in mind of Terryland Park in the days of yore and its seating capacity. I actually once saw four people sitting on the roller, but they were all kids.
I look at the four and I see Derry’s away support at Tolka last year. Either that, or the so-called Best Supporters had discovered the secret of invisibility.
I see the five and I remember the time of the morning we used to get to bed on away trips to Ballybofey. Are ye right there, ladies and gentlemen, please?
The six reminds me of October 2001, a rainy night at Dalyer and goals from Nutsy, Richie, Geogo, Jim Gannon, Davy Byrne and Jim Crawford, and the seven accurately describes the heaven we were in as the final whistle blew.
When I turn up the eight, I am put in mind of the great Pat Dolan, and what he did to all the pies.
The nine, on the other hand, doesn’t remind me of anything at all, although for some reason images of unregistered players, and 32p stamps and Inchicore Post Office and docked points keep on invading my consciousness. Maybe I’ll figure out the connection later.
As I turn over the tin, I think of St. Mels Park and the state of the art facilities they have down there. That shed must surely be listed by An Taisce.
The Jack puts me in mind of a balding Bohs centre-forward who never did very much against us, save put the ball in the net with three minutes to go. You thought you had him shackled for eighty-eight minutes, one piece of skill and boom, three points to Bohs. Rest in peace, Jackie.
The Queen reminds me of many things; of Derry City fans and their money, of that crass song “We are the Champions”, and of my best friend out here, Private “Sheila” O’Reilly, but we’d better not go into that.
When I look at the King, I see a narky little Shamrock Rovers midfielder, now a dishevelled television pundit, with a peculiar dress-sense. How I used to wish him a broken leg when he played in the Rovers four-in –a row team, along with Eccles and Keely.
The joker brings to mind Neil Trebble, one of the most interesting erm, players to have worn the famous red over the years. How he fooled us into believing he could play football, I’ll never know. God bless you, Neil, we had many a laugh at your expense.
I spread out the cards and I see four suits, recalling instantly Roddie Collins and his humility. I don’t begrudge him at all his immense success in England.
The clubs naturally remind me of the 22 current members of the eircom League; the hearts recall Gary Mackay and the team he used to play for; spades put me in mind of the new National Stadium, which will never be built, and when I turn over a diamond, I think of Neil Diamond, and how he can play at Croke Park, while soccer, being a foreign culture, can’t.
When you count the number of cards in a suit, you come up with the number thirteen, which is the number of stanchions that block your view at Tolka Park. There are 52 cards in a deck, which is the number of times in a game that you shout at Willo to come off his line. And if you add all the spots in a deck, it totals 365, which coincidentally is the number of hairs that Paul Doolin has left on his head.
And, so you see, sir, this deck of cards serves me as an almanac, a bible, a diary, a calendar and a pretty Easter bonnet.”
When he had finished speaking, the courtroom was in tears. At length, the Presiding Officer cleared his throat and spoke: -
“That’s a load of shite,” he said. “Take him out and shoot him.”