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About tenthreeleader

  • Rank


  • Biography
    | 31-time FMS Award winner
    | FMS Writer of the Year 2008-09-12-15-16
    | Rob Ridgway's doppleganger

About Me

  • About Me
    FMS Hall of Fame Class of 2012


  • Interests
    "Raising Cain" - 2016 FMS Story of the Year

Favourite Team

  • Favourite Team
    Rangers, MUFC, Reading

Currently Managing

  • Currently Managing
    Partick Thistle

Recent Profile Visitors

21,989 profile views
  1. Hi, all: Playing with Distillery in Northern Ireland and have just signed a young trialist striker with a promise of a loan move. The loan option is greyed out (it's preseason) and after his first friendly match he already wants to leave the club. As part of the "broken promise" conversation, I'd like to be able to say something along the lines of "I think you're good enough for my first team so I'd like to keep you here." As it stands, the options are: 1) fall on your sword and apologize 2) let the player leave the club 3) let the player accuse you of lying and THEN let the player leave the club 4) tell him to shut up and stay in his lane None of those are really viable in this case, especially since I can't physically make the player available for loan.
  2. The team wasn’t playing at anywhere near the level it was capable, so Roy decided after blistering his players in the changing room that they needed a bit of time to rest. When the team reported back for training, it was a different manager they saw. “Look, I’m not out here to shred you lads every time you don’t win,” he began, walking between the rows of players stretching out to begin training, and who were wondering whether they should really believe their boss. “It’s just that the way we’ve been dropping points of late is such that I can’t let certain things go.” Doolan, who was fourth on the club’s all-time scoring list and known as a fan favorite, spoke up. “Are we topping the table?” he asked, with enough of a smile to avoid Roy’s wrath. Doolan also assisted with the u-18 team and was working on his badges, so Roy was boss to him in more ways than one. “I believe we are, yes,” Roy responded. “But honestly, if we want to stay there, we’re going to have to up our ideas a bit.” Doolan had played well against County so he was largely immune from criticism. He also knew it, which is why he felt he could afford to stand up for the lads in a public way. Once drills began, Roy called Doolan over to him on the touchline. “Kris, what would you do if any of your players had piped up in a youth session like you did today?” “I’d box their ears.” “Well,” Roy said with a smile, “you’re too big for me to do that to you, but steady on a bit with me, will you?” “Sorry.” He had expected worse. “Look, you’re one of the senior players so I can tell you this. We aren’t playing horribly but you know as well as I do that we sure aren’t playing well. This can be a special group if it will just apply itself for ninety minutes. I’m trying to bring that out in them. How about some help?” “Of course,” Doolan answered. “But you know it was all in fun.” “Yes, I do know that,” Roy replied, “which is why you aren’t running laps right now. But, time and place, yeah?” “Yeah,” Doolan grinned, and jogged off to rejoin training. No one had been the wiser. As Roy watched training, he thought back on the events of the morning. “Struth would have made him run until he dropped,” Roy thought to himself. He wondered if he was getting soft. But then, player power was the thing now. When Roy captained West Ham, he did it in the old-school way because it was the only way that occurred to him. Now, as a manager, he knew he would have to think differently from time to time. As a captain, he could lead by example and not have to worry about making final decisions. But as a manager, decisions he made could affect the club financially if they involved players or reputationally if they involved speaking out of turn. For now, he had a reputation as a hard-nosed boss who would still find a way to talk with a player to resolve conflict. He felt that the days of the old-style boss were over – players made too much money and had too much influence for that day to come again – so he would have to be creative to keep certain players onside while maintaining his authority over the team. It was a delicate balancing act but it was conversations like he had had with Doolan that would help more than they would hurt. Sighing, he returned to watching training. The good old days were both good, and old, for very good reasons. # # #
  3. Thank you, my friend ... as a recently relegated team Thistle might be expected to do well against certain opponents. But not all ... ___ The month had been a very good one – four wins and a draw in five matches – so there was another trophy on Roy’s desk prior to the next home match against Ross County. September’s Manager of the Month was going to get a big head, at least in the eyes of the staff, which celebrated the occasion by tying all the arms and legs of his workout kit into knots before he arrived for training. Davids couldn’t contain his glee at the sight of Roy’s expression when he saw what his coaches had done, and boss looked at his coach and simply smiled. “As you know, I admire a man with courage,” Roy joked. It had been a solid week of training, and the team could afford to laugh. Now leading the league by three points, regardless of the result against County, the team would remain at the top of the table since its goal difference was rather extraordinary as well. Roy had a real decision to make about Coulibaly, who it now appeared was a streak scorer. He hadn’t produced much over the last few matches and Mutombo was itching to play. There were times when Thistle made scoring from open play look only slightly easier than a preschooler solving Rubik’s Cube, and this was one of those stretches. Adrianinho had been wonderful, and his work necessary for the team’s early success, but there had to be a better way to score goals. Thistle was far from artistic in much of its work – which was one reason why Roy wanted to keep the tactic simple until it was fully mastered. They were a typical Scottish side – hard working, tough, filled with desire and graft – but they lacked a true finisher. Even as good as Storey and Coulibaly had been, at times, the team would go through stretches where they simply floundered in the attacking third. It was a top priority for Roy and his coaches to deal with, but as long as the wins kept coming nobody complained too loudly. The training, for the most part, had remained general in nature with a heavy emphasis on tactics. Roy wanted his players to have absolute mastery over the base tactics before moving on to other things, so that meant he would have to put up with shortcomings in certain parts of the park. The manager who loved a good one-nil had precisely the team capable of delivering them in bunches. So it was that Ross County came to Firhill aiming to be the club that could knock Thistle off its perch. If it wasn’t the visitors doing the job, it might have been a gale-force wind which blew across the field for the entire match. It was the kind of wind that, to paraphrase the American humorist Mark Twain, “took off half the dog’s hair last night and got the rest this morning.” That made certain parts of Thistle’s game rather untenable. Roy was finding he liked the idea of Bell getting the ball up the park sooner than he otherwise would have done in Roy’s tactic – which was a big admission for the old-school boss who liked to build up from the back. So as Roy stood on the touchline with the wind whipping at his face like a sandblaster, he watched his team playing as narrowly as the slits of his eyes. It was going to be a slog, without doubt. The teams battled through a scoreless, windswept first half. Watching goal kicks swerve in the breeze was the most entertaining thing there was to do on the ground as neither team mounted much of an attacking threat. “Just get the ball down and play it,” Roy urged at halftime. “This over the top stuff doesn’t look like it’s the right thing today. Do like we’ve done all season – get into space, run onto the ball and make them chase it.” Nine minutes after the restart, Blair Spittal found the way through, scoring a peach of a goal from Doolan’s flick on. Roy’s frustration with his strike force had led to his pairing Doolan and Islam Feruz up front that day, and with Doolan playing as a target man, his decision to take Adrianinho’s cross and head it on to the midfielder on the right was inspired. That would have been enough on most days but unfortunately, it wasn’t to be on the day in question. Worse yet, County’s equalizer came in added time, and still worse it came when Thistle couldn’t get its lines cleared in front of goal. It was Declan McManus who staggered the Jags, toe-poking home for the Staggies in the first minute of added time. Drawing matches at home didn’t make Roy a happy bunny. Throwing away winning positions made the feeling worse. In added time – well, let’s just say that the wind on the pitch was nothing compared to the hair dryer the players received after the match. Ladbrokes Championship Game Day #8 – Partick Thistle 1-1 Ross County # # #
  4. I'll be sending my mine shortly, Mark. Cheers to you as always.
  5. The fixture list gave the Jags the opportunity to forget their mid-week stumble thanks to a trip to East End Park at the weekend. A trip to Dunfermline was hopefully just what the doctor ordered, but it gave Roy the opportunity to do more than a bit of hinting at what he wanted to see. “I do love a good one-nil,” he remarked to Davids as the players got off the bus. It was just loud enough for most of them to overhear and Davids smiled in reply. “You mean I rode all the way up here for one-nil?” he joked, and that made Roy smile. “You rode all the way up here for some score to nil,” Roy answered. “That’s what I need to see from these players today.” He reinforced the notion during the team talk. “You are more than good enough to get what you want today from this lot,” he said. “But what I want to see is attention to the small things, especially at the back. If Cammy has to raise his voice today, he won’t be the only one. Now go and get the job done.” The players headed to the pitch and immediately forgot most of what Roy had said about playing from the back. The first half alone saw nearly twenty attempts at goal – ten from the Jags and nine from the Pars – but some solid goalkeeping by Bell and Pars keeper Sean Murdoch meant that somehow, the match was still scoreless at the break. Mutumbo had been placed in the XI – but in central midfield, which was far from his best position. Even allowed to cheat forward ever so slightly so he could approximate a number ten position which didn’t really fit the tactic, the Belgian was ineffective. “I did say nil,” Roy said at halftime, “but you’re making this really hard on yourselves. They can get about any shot they want through the channels and if they had a striker who could hit a cow’s arse with a banjo we might be having a different conversation right now.” It wasn’t a day that felt much like late September, and that was cramping the Jags’ style as well. It had begun to spit freezing rain – like tiny darts hitting Roy’s face as he stood on the touchline. They were going to have to truly earn any points they got today. Thirteen minutes after the restart, it was Feruz -- for the second straight game – who found a way to break the deadlock. Erskine, playing for the shattered Spittal on the right, was provider, rolling a lead ball right onto the striker’s boot as he entered the penalty area. No problem, and Thistle led. For now, though, it was simply a matter of not throwing away a winning position. The Pars had studied video of the Dundee United cup tie and immediately tried to spread the Jags’ backline. They patiently probed for openings in what looked like a lock-tight 4-4-2. Roy’s philosophy, never terribly adventurous to begin with, now grew more cautious. He knew that once he got fresh legs in the midfield in the form of Adrianinho for Mutombo and Storey for the ever-game Stuart Bannigan – that the task would become much easier. The Jags then dug in tight and dared the Pars to blast them out. The best chance they had came through young striker Andy Ryan, but his effort was both tame and wide, both of which delighted Bell. Ten minutes later it was over, and Roy had exactly what he wanted. But more importantly, the Jags were back in the business of winning. Ladbrokes Championship Match Day #7 – Dunfermline 0-1 Partick Thistle # # #
  6. Silently, the Jags returned to their changing room for the expected dressing-down from their boss. To a point, Roy delivered it, but saw little use in beating an already dead horse. “Lads, there’s no way I am going to stand here and tell you the end of that match was acceptable,” he began. “And by that, I don’t mean penalties. I mean the last minute of regular time. You threw away 89 minutes of good work because nobody saw Fraser Aird. You have to see that player in front of our goal. You just have to. We cannot switch off and throw away those 89 minutes. No excuses.” “This was a game where we threw away a winning position and there’s no excuse for that either,” he said. “Now, that said you battled them hard and played two hours of football on a mid-week night after a Saturday game. I understand that. But this is the time when you have to show that you are as mentally strong as you are physically strong. Winning teams do not make these kinds of mistakes very often and when they do, they learn from it and grow. That is what I expect of you. Now hit the showers.” It wasn’t exactly a happy atmosphere. It was also the first setback for the team since the Bradford friendly, which was the day after Roy had been hired. While technically the match would go in the books as a draw, it still left a bad taste and it still meant that the Jags’ dreams of Hampden Park were extinct. That was sting enough for the players and Roy knew it. So, he let them stew. He told the media the same thing he had told the players – that he expected this to be a learning experience for a team that needed some of these types of experiences to truly grow. “They found out they didn’t like losing last year and they needed to find a way to get past it,” he said, “But to be honest, sometimes teams need reminders. Yeah, we’re out of the Cup but if it makes us a better team and helps us do what we need to do to get back into the Premiership then so be it.” Yet, that didn’t ease the sting. United were one of the league favorites and Roy had meant every word he said about not wanting to let them think the Jags were an easy mark. That confidence might mean everything at a crucial point in the season and now the Terrors had some. Roy had quickly learned that getting horsed out of a cup competition was just as painful for a manager as it was for a player, and he knew he had to try to find ways to up his ideas as well. So, it was back to the drawing board. Since it was a school night, Kate and the kids couldn’t make the match either, so Roy drove home alone and thought things through. “You just never know sometimes,” he said as his wife greeted him at the door. “Funny damned game.” “Well, come in, have a drink and forget about what happened,” she replied, kissing him as they stood in the hallway. “Hard to forget when you lose,” he said. “And impossible to forget when you win,” she advised. “Just get ready for the next one.” By the time he reached his laptop, an email with a link to match video was already waiting for him. He looked at his computer and then at his wife, who was giving him a look that suggested he might want to pay attention to something else for a few minutes. He grinned, closed his laptop, took Kate in his arms and started the process of forgetting. # # #
  7. The hard work had paid off, and it was the Chelsea man who had made it stick. Islam Feruz was a happy young man as the Jags headed to the changing room. His goal in first-half added time had staked the team to a 1-nil lead over Dundee United to the delight of a somewhat smallish home crowd. Yes, it was a Cup quarterfinal, but even that didn’t bring out the crowds on a Tuesday night. However, the size of the crowd mattered little to anyone on either team, of course – there was a semifinal spot on the line and right now the Jags had their noses in front. “Great job,” Roy enthused as the players sat for refreshments. “You were patient and it paid off at the right time. Nice work, Islam.” The Somali-born striker smiled shyly at the public praise from his manager and sat back in his locker. “Now, I hardly need tell you what to expect next,” Roy added. “You’re going to get their best shot and that’s just how it is. But as before, I do not want that lot thinking they can beat you. Keep your shape, keep your bottle and make yourselves hard to beat. We’ll swipe one on the counter and send them home angry.” He nodded to Litmanen and the assistant finished the interval with some added comments while Roy headed into his office to try to scheme out the second half on his note pad. He liked where his team sat. They had allowed only three opportunities at goal in the opening 45 minutes, none of which were especially difficult for Bell. There was no reason to believe the second half would be any different if only his players would respond in the right way. As the second half started, they did just that. As Roy had predicted, the Terrors threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Jags once the half began, but the back line stood firm, O’Ware was immense in the center of defence and there was just no way for the visitors to find a way through. Partick Thistle didn’t even need to try to score on the counter as the single goal looked as good as gold. Finally, the Terrors threw everyone including goalkeeper Matej Rakovan forward – and then the Jags buckled. Fraser Aird scored off a frantic scramble in front of Bell with one minute of regular time remaining, forcing added time that the Jags neither wanted nor needed. The reaction was palpable and the Jags, who hadn’t seen much adversity in their young season, were called upon to respond. Fresh legs didn’t help. Roy had carefully tried to save his substitutions but as added time dragged on, everyone on the park was looking like the bloom had come off their wild Irish roses, if you will. Half an hour of added time produced nothing so it was off to penalties. The first up was Adrianinho, who had had a quiet game but scored a perfectly taken penalty to get the Jags off to a solid start – only reinforced when Aird blazed over the bar on United’s first attempt. Keown and Craig Curran each scored in the second round and that brought Feruz to the spot. But the game’s other goal scorer was denied on a full-stretch save by Rakovan, which allowed Christoph Rabitsch to even the tally with United’s third shot. Spittal grabbed the ball, though not necessarily willingly, and put it on the spot. He went the opposite way from Feruz – but the result was the same, with Rakovan diving to turn the midfielder’s shot around the post. Yannick Loemba was now presented with a huge opportunity and he made no mistake, beating Bell to the top left corner for a 3-2 lead for his team. O’Ware was next, and he soothed frazzled nerves with a perfect effort to make it 3-3. Unfortunately, the Terrors had a last shot to take and had Callum Booth to take it. He beat Bell cleanly to put his team through. The Jags were out, and they had no one but themselves to blame. Betfred Cup quarterfinal – Partick Thistle 1-1 (p) Dundee United # # #
  8. The next day’s light training got the team in the mood for Dundee United, in the Betfred Cup quarterfinals at home. The board had asked for the knockout stages and the team had done better than that – but now the thought of a potential cup final down the road was starting to get into the players’ heads despite Roy’s best efforts against it. He wanted them focused in the moment – obviously the Terrors, being a league rival, warranted a little extra interest. “I don’t want this lot getting it into their heads that they can beat you,” he told the players as they stretched for a light workout. “Keep your thoughts on Tuesday and you’ll be fine.” He had wanted to give the team a day off after the Saturday contest but preparation wouldn’t allow it. He kept things very short and sharp before getting the team into video for a look at Dundee’s latest efforts and sending them home. Sunday was supposed to always be a day off, but on a Saturday-Tuesday schedule that was difficult. Monday’s training was a full session for those who hadn’t played against Queens and a light workout for those who had. He was trying to save legs, but as the team took the pitch for the match, they looked leaden. But then, so did their opposition, which promised a matchup which wouldn’t show the beautiful game in its best light. There was a place for Feruz in the lineup – Roy had wanted to use the Chelsea man more in recent weeks but Coulibaly had blocked him out of the lineup. This was the perfect chance for him. Storey had played the lions’ share of time on Saturday so a mostly-rested Adrianinho was able to slot into his preferred spot without difficulty. Gordon had played Saturday so he was rested on this night. So it looked like the Jags would have the advantage in terms of fresh players. Roy had already had to deal with the know-it-alls who asked why Partick Thistle was running such a large squad. “Well, we’re in several cup competitions, we haven’t really had a major injury bug, touch wood, and I want competition for every place on the park. That means that yes, we have a big squad. If something happens where that isn’t sustainable for whatever reason, I’ll deal with it, but right now I’m happy with what we have and there’s enough football to go around.” Perhaps surprisingly, nobody except for Mutombo had really complained about lack of involvement in the first team. Roy had really tried to rotate his squad so he could learn his players, but Mutombo was one to bear watching. For one thing, he was a natural attacking midfielder, a number ten type or even a pressing forward – and none of those roles showed up anywhere in Roy’s tactic. So in that regard, he was a square peg in a round hole. He was also well behind Coulibaly, Storey and even Doolan on the striker depth chart, which didn’t help either. He was also a new arrival that Roy hadn’t purchased. That can be real bad luck for a player, who sees change in managers put him out of favor rather than the quality of his play, or lack of the same. So while Roy’s office door hadn’t been kicked in by an angry player yet, he figured it was only a matter of time – and he knew who would be doing the kicking. # # #
  9. Skinning those kits for FM would be very interesting indeed. What kind of reaction is the club getting?
  10. You're doing very well. Glad to have you here -- Chelsea is an intriguing team to play and we don't get a lot of stories about them. Well done so far!
  11. “I’m not going to lie to you, we were lucky,” Roy said. “For eighty-nine minutes we were second best today and then we finally put ourselves in a position to succeed.” The post-match briefing had a general mood of relief from the home point of view. They had generated more attempts at goal than Queens but had put only three on target, including the goal that split the points. Roy took an offered towel and wiped rain from the top of his head. It had been a cold, drizzly day and the team jacket hadn’t really served Roy as well as it had often done. But at least it hadn’t lost. The press, of course, asked Roy about his team selection. “Well, we do have Dundee United in the Betfred quarterfinals coming up on Tuesday night and we need key players ready to go for that match,” he said. “I have faith in all my players but sometimes you need an extra boost for the team. That’s why we did what we did in our substitutions.” “So, is this two points lost or a point gained?” “Both,” Roy answered. “I’m disappointed that we didn’t do better for the vast majority of this match but to be honest, I felt we deserved a draw and that’s what Adrianinho got us.” “Surely you don’t want to rely on set pieces for everything you get?” That was a cheeky question, especially given Roy’s mood, but it had been asked and the manager had to deal with it. “The last time I checked, every goal counts the same no matter how it goes in the goal,” he said. “Whether that’s a set piece, open play, a penalty, an own goal, it’s all the same on the scoreboard. We need to work on some elements of our game in attack which I will not disclose, but for now, when we aren’t quite hitting on all cylinders we need to pick up the goals where we can find them.” “What did you think of the way Queen of the South set up for you defensively?” “I thought they were disciplined, kept their shape and made themselves difficult to beat,” he answered. “It was the kind of defensive game I like to see my team play so my hat’s off to them. We were able to exploit a weakness with a special player and get a point but I was impressed at how they stood up to us.” Still, it was disappointing. By this time, Kate knew better than to try to engage her husband in conversation when the team hadn’t performed well, so they drove home together in relative silence. It had always been that way. When the Hammers hadn’t done well, there wasn’t a lot of conversation in the car. Now that Roy was the man in charge, it was even more difficult to break through the cone of silence. So Kate simply turned on the car radio and when she found a song she liked, she sang along softly. Possessed with a beautiful mezzosoprano singing voice which she had trained with lessons as a girl, Kate soon had a smile on her husband’s face. She couldn’t talk to him, but she could sing in his vicinity and melt the human iceberg known as Roy Scully. Finally, he turned to her as they drove. “I love you,” he smiled. She took his hand. “Even when you don’t win,” she giggled. “Imagine that.” # # #
  12. Roy talked about the incident with Kate before they slept that night and she was just as shocked as he had been. “Why do they let children get away with that?” she asked. “It sounds to me like they didn’t,” Roy replied, “but I think we need to watch Shelley for the next couple of days. She sounds like she wants to help people to feel better but I’m not sure that’s either her role or what she ought to be doing.” “Just let them be kids,” Kate sighed, leaning back into the pillows. Things quieted down over the next several days, giving Roy an opportunity to get the team prepared for its next matchup – at home against Queen of the South on the 22nd September. Roy expected the visitors to bar the doors and that’s just what they did, giving the Jags a lion-sized share of the possession even as they maintained a very compact and disciplined shape in their 4-4-2. It was, Roy reckoned, almost like the Romans would have felt in their phalanx in ancient days. Their enemies knocked and pounded and struck but they couldn’t get in, and that was the feeling of the Jags’ forwards before half an hour had gone. Of course, part of that frustration was due to an early mistake at the back which allowed Glenn Middleton to ghost between Scobbie and O’Ware, catching Bell by surprise only five minutes into the match. The crowd of just over 5,000 mostly sat on its hands, with the exception of about 200 away supporters who were having a right old yell at the Jags. Queens kept right with the Jags all through the first half, with five attempts at goal to the hosts’ six. That gave Roy the opportunity to air out the team at halftime, for a performance which could charitably have been called “substandard.” “You know, there are about 5,000 people out there wondering what all the fuss is about with you lot,” he said. “This match is winnable and it isn’t being won. You’ve been told what you need to do, now who’s going to be the first to do it?” With that Roy turned on his heel and left the room to Litmanen, who was more specific in his criticisms. The team responded well to the challenge – they felt they should have done better as well – and they took to the pitch looking like a different group of players. Perhaps they were wearing false beards or some such thing because even though they looked different, they played the same way as they did in the first half. The worst of it was that Roy’s team was just plain wasteful in front of goal. Nothing was winding up on frame and that only led to the sense of impending disappointment now rapidly building among the home faithful. Doolan had taken a nasty kick to the shins right after the restart and Roy waited only a few minutes before substituting Mutombo for him. Then it was Jack Storey coming off, the prize prospect proving ineffective on the left wing. As such, Roy had quick word with Adrianinho before sending him on. “Win us a set piece,” he said. “We’ll take whatever you can give us.” The Brazilian nodded and headed onto the pitch, followed soon afterward by Shea Gordon. The loanee left in favor of Craig Slater ten minutes from time with the team still trailing by a goal to nil. Roy was already kicking himself for his team selection. Storey and Gordon needed minutes but had shown they weren’t up to standard. Most of his best eleven were on the pitch now but time was running out. The fourth official put up the board for three minutes of added time as Adrianinho finally did what Roy had asked him to do. He won a free kick twenty-five yards from goal on the left. His effort was inch-perfect, past the despairing dive of Alan Martin in the Queens goal. With one minute left in regular time, the Brazilian wonder had stolen a point for his club. That was twice in a row. Ladbrokes Championship Match Day #6 – Partick Thistle 1-1 Queen of the South # # #
  13. Shelley stood in the doorway to Roy’s den with a worried look on her face. He was sat watching video. Kate always did her best to keep the kids entertained for that hour or so in the evenings when Roy was doing that particular work, so he could concentrate. As such, he tried to make his video time for when the kids were in bed – but that cut down on his time with Kate and wasn’t always satisfactory. So, on this night he was working right after dinner. As the door opened and Shelley edged her way inside, Roy turned to her. He might ordinarily have been slightly annoyed at the interruption, but he saw his daughter’s distress and instead simply opened his arms. “Come here, sweetheart,” he said, pausing his video. “What’s wrong?” Shelley approached, climbed into her dad’s lap and put her head on his shoulder. She then floored him. “Daddy, what’s a Hun?” she asked. Roy’s eyebrows shot up his forehead and seemed like they would hide in his hair. “Where on earth did you hear that?” he asked. At school,” she said. “Tommy called Ian a Hun. Ian called Tommy a Tim and then they got into a fight.” Roy collected his thoughts. But the five-year old thought faster. “I hear you call Mommy ‘hun’,” she said. “Does that mean Tommy loves Ian?” Roy smiled, thrown completely off his stroke. “It means something different when I say it to your mum,” he said. “But when football people do it, it’s very bad. And I’m pretty sure Tommy does not love Ian.” “But what does it mean?” He took a deep breath. “It’s a bad name used among two sets of fans and it’s language that can get you banned from school,” he said. “They are words you should never, ever use.” Roy resented having to teach a five-year old girl about sectarian language and really had no idea how he would explain the big rivalry in Glasgow other than to say that some people just took it too far. Kids fighting on a playground meant there were home issues that needed sorting, given how it all started. So he tried a different tactic. “Why are you sad, sweetheart?” he asked. “I like them,” she said. “I didn’t want to see them fight.” Roy thought briefly about trying to explain why West Ham hates Millwall and vice-versa. But she was too young to understand, and surely wouldn’t have remembered anything from Roy’s playing days as she was even younger then. He hugged his daughter tight. “Well,” he said, “don’t be sad. I’m sure your teachers and the principal have talked with Ian and Tommy and their parents and I bet it won’t happen again. Just remember that words can hurt someone just as much as a fight can. And those are two words you should never, ever say.” “I know, Daddy,” she said. “I see people crying on the playground sometimes. They get teased and I just want to go help them.” “Kids can be cruel,” Roy thought to himself, “in the worst possible ways. But your heart’s in the right place.” “I’m glad nobody called you names,” she said, snuggling in tight to Roy’s shoulder. “Little does she know,” Roy thought to himself. For now, though, a short but important lesson had been taught. # # #
  14. It's all good, Mark. We do check in to mind the store. Take your time.
  15. Glad to make you smile! ___ “Okay, you did this to me,” Roy laughed as he removed his track top in the coaches’ changing room after the match. Litmanen just smiled. “I guess I am superstitious,” Roy admitted. “I was going to leave this on the coach and wear a warmer coat but you left me no choice.” It had been a raw, windy day and Roy was chilled. He sat down and picked up a cup of hot coffee from a beverage tray. “We’re going to have to get you something else to wear,” Litmanen said. “We can’t have the boss catching cold.” It was a joke – Roy thought so, anyway – but there were players who were also starting to get into habits they weren’t willing to break as long as the team was playing well. It was a long trip home and that gave Roy a chance to warm up as he thought ahead. Next up was a winnable match at home against Queen of the South in a week’s time, but following that was a matchup people were starting to look forward to – the Betfred Cup quarterfinal against Dundee United. The team was off to the good start everyone craved – thirteen points from fifteen had the Jags level on points with Ross County at the top of the table – but the prospect a return matchup against the Terrors was one that had set imaginations going. Kate had sent Roy a video of the girls listening to the match on Jags Radio – they were in their kit and jumped all over the sitting room after Adrianinho had scored – and it made him smile. He missed all his best girls and he was glad to be going home. “Don’t forget to bring that lucky jacket,” Kate had teased. Roy wasn’t about to leave it behind. It was early evening by the time the team coach pulled back into Glasgow and Roy sent the players home with the following day off as a victory day. Then it was time for him to return as the conquering hero. Whether he had won or lost, the reaction was always the same. That was the best part – in the eyes of his girls, Daddy always won whether or not the score had been favorable. So he scooped up the kids, gave them hugs, and advanced to his wife, who was sitting at the dinner table. “I have a great idea,” she said, rising to greet her husband. “How about we get a sitter and you take me out to celebrate?” “You’re so old-fashioned,” Roy teased. “Expecting me to look after you.” “Tell me you wouldn’t,” she said, taking his arm as they headed for the sitting room. “Okay, okay, you win,” he smiled. “Let me get my phone and you pick the place.” # # #
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