I wonder how many others at 3.00pm today [before the 3-3 draw with Dagenham -ed] were beginning to think that maybe.... after all.... this season.... might just.... possibly. At such times Iím always reminded of my first meeting with Sage Seth, the Green and White Guru.
Yeovil 1 v 0 Chelmsford, November 9th, 1968
My father is a good man, never swears and I have never seen him angered. He has never knowingly made a wrong decision - except maybe once.
We jostled up the concrete steps of the old C block amongst a hoard of strange men talking about allotments and the advantages of rationing. On past the three fingered ticket collector . I could smell oxo and pipe tobacco in the darkness of damp overcoats. The crowd pushed on as we were hit by daylight and then, suddenly, a beautiful slope of lush green turf.
All the time my father talking. "I expect Dickie Plumbíll play. He always gets into a punch up in the 63rd minute. He sometimes scores, got a good hoof on him. Not like Arthur Hickman of course - now there was a men with a hoof."
It was my first football match. In a strange kind of eight year old way I knew I was being initiated into something special.
We trudged on up the wooden steps towards the top of the stand. A group of men sat around an aging figure with a cloth cap, nodding ruefully. The old manís gaze caught my father, ignoring the disciples around him he stood up. I noticed a look in my fatherís eye - almost as if he wanted to leave.
The Sage spoke, "Whoíve you got with you there, Charlie?"
My father returned the gaze and spoke slowly, "My boy, Sage."
"Take him away."
I was aware that a silence had fallen over the stand and it was spreading.
Not just the stand now but the whole ground .An eerie hush.
"You know what Iíve told you, turn around and leave this ground."
"I gotta do it, Sage."
Now, even Cyril Davies had stopped running down the slope after the ball and was stood motionless.
"Why you doing this to him?" It was like a Saturday morning western. A plastic cup rolled down the steps.
"Because this is my team and now itís going to be his team."
Suddenly the Sage flew into a passionate speech, his voice booming across the ground. "Do you realise what youíre doing? If you donít take him out this second, heíll become caught in a spell - forever bound to Yeovil Town. And what good will that do him? Would you consign your own son to a life time of misery and hurt ?"
"Heís my flesh and blood," my father pleaded.
"And itís because heís your flesh and blood that you should understand. Take him away. Go down Templemanís and buy him one of they flash Division 1 subbuteo teams and bind him to another. Iím begging you. Timeís running out. Theyíve already kicked off."
My father tried to search for words, "All my life...."
"This is your last chance, Charlie. You let that boy stay and his happiness or sadness will be possessed by the whims of a few part-timers dressed in green and white."
My father shook his head. The great man turned to me.
"Lad, have no part of this. Be gone. This is a place for the miserable. No shell with a hole, no bottomless lake for us. Ours is a punishment more terrible. To be given faint dreams and to have those dreams forever dashed on the rocks of fate."
The six old men around him looked at me with sad, watery eyes, big knuckled hands nervously twisting plastic cups. Slowly they whispered a mantra, "Find one of they teams that wins things. Manchester Rovers, Liverpool United, Tottingham, Everdown. Turn and leave. Turn and leave."
I looked at my father. I looked at the great Sage. I turned and took one final look at the pitch. Dick Plumb was running towards the goal, people were standing, kicking the air in front of them and yelling. I was intrigued. He was in the penalty box. My heart started to thump. He pulled back his right leg and hoofed the ball. Suddenly men, boys, humans erupted in an indissoluble knot of friendship. A smile, not a smile but a whole universe of warmth fell around me and I yelled a yell of delight as my father threw me high into the air.
Amongst the chaos, I noticed the Sage. A shadow of defeat moved across his face as he stared sorrowfully into his oxo.
More of the thoughts of Sage Seth - the Green and White Guru will be
revealed as the season progresses.