Monday 9 December 2019

Wheels turn full circle to put brakes on schoolyard bully

The Fielder: The real adventures of an inter-county footballer

"Studies have shown that 90 per cent of the women that drive the make and model in question are damn fine budgies." Photo credit: Sion Touhig/Getty Images

The Fielder

Some weeks ago, my well-travelled car finally gave up after five years of solid service. I was tipping along the Dublin road and spotted a bright red Mini Cooper up ahead. Like any red-blooded male would've done, I dropped her to third and welded my right foot to the floor. Studies have shown that 90 per cent of the women that drive the make and model in question are damn fine budgies. A plume of black smoke erupted from the back of my 1.9 litre, green diesel-powered chariot of love as she took off round the outside like a marauding half-back.

I tapped the dash in a coaxing manner as my front wheels drew level with the rear axle of the target vehicle. The rev counter was climbing ever closer to the red, but I knew she was well able for it. I afforded a quick glance in the mirror to fix the fringe, first impressions and all that. The gap was down to inches and as our windows began to align I smiled warmly and prepared for eye contact.

"A fecking lad?"


Suddenly, we were losing ground rapidly and there were more lights flashing than at the annual morse code convention. All systems had shut down and I was forced to roll into the hard shoulder timidly.

Attempts to restart proved futile. A jaunt aboard a tow truck and a brief examination confirmed my worst fears. Not even Jesus Christ could resurrect this stricken ship. At least she'd gone down in the line of duty.

Though the reconnaissance mission had proved ultimately unsuccessful, we'd had dozens of fruitful female-spotting voyages during our time together. A quick clean-out, a fistful of fifties from the scrapyard and some fibs to the car finance crowd left me ready for a spot of shopping.

* * * * *

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"What's she like on juice anyway? Me old yoke drank the stuff."

As I put the question to the salesman, I delivered a subtle kick to the rear tyre of the car he was showing me, to make it look like I knew what I was doing. He broke into a spiel about 'eco-friendly' this and 'miles to the gallon' that. I didn't give a rats, she was going to be running on the green stuff anyway. I interrupted his babbling and pointed towards the door.

"Have you a key there bucko?"

He blinked for a second, perhaps taken aback by my ignorance. But I had to act confident; otherwise he'd know he was in control and rip me off, or so I was told. He obliged and pitched the key across the car to me.

"Jaysus, she's grand and clean anyway. Tell me what all these buttons do?"

I examined the interior as he began to rattle off the various gadgets on offer. Again I interrupted him.

"Would three lads fit in there? We do carpool to county training and it looks fierce tight."

Of course I didn't give a shite about the room in the back. The only time I'd be in there was if I managed to find a girlfriend. No, I'd asked this question to make my status as a county player known. I'd seen some of the GAA's big shots upload pictures of their sponsored cars and figured I'd chance my arm.

"Well that's the downside to a two-door sir . . ."

Bollox. He hadn't bought it.

"Has she a phone kit? They're after bringing in the thousand-euro fine aren't they? Me old yoke didn't."

He nodded and before he could begin to demonstrate the hands-free kit in action I fished my phone out of my pocket.

"Connect that up there. How much do you want?"

He looked slightly stunned as I held out my mobile. "Eh . . . 13,000 sir."

"Right, I'll give you ten and a half but I want four new tyres and a full valet."

I was pretty sure that 13,000 was excellent value, that the tyres on it were perfect and that inside it was cleaner than Stephen Hawking's shoes, but I'd been told to make these requests. We settled on 12 and a full tank of fuel.

* * * * *

"Alright bollox! Nice car, does the hairdressing pay well these days?? Haha You soft whoer!"

Casey Brown was the parish lug. I'd been classmates with him in primary school, where he'd picked on me and others for his own amusement.

Looking back, it'd all started the morning my mum had convinced me to wear a pair of her tights in my class's production of The Pied Piper of Hamelin. Not one of my finer moments. He was now a fat useless slob with damn-all going for him. He drove tractors for the local contractors while drawing the dole and drank himself into oblivion at the weekends.

I frowned as he climbed into the cab of his tractor, a breakfast roll and a dirty magazine stuffed under his arm. We were outside the local filling station and his outburst had attracted the attention of everyone in the forecourt.

"See you later geebag," he added before his tractor roared to life and he sped off. I shook my head and started my new car, taking a second to reassure myself that it was indeed suitable for an alpha male like myself.

I smiled as she glided down the road gracefully. It was surreal not having to fight against an off-line steering column, or to open all the windows because the air-con was fecked.

I flicked on my indicator and overtook Casey, pretending not to notice the middle finger aimed in my direction. As I rounded the next bend, blue lights greeted me; it was a Garda checkpoint. I reassured myself that I had nothing to hide; she hadn't yet been filled with the emerald elixir. They motioned for me to keep going and suddenly an idea popped into my head.

I used buttons on the dash to bring up my mobile phone contacts before scrolling downwards briefly and hitting 'call'. A couple of cars passed as I slowed down, my eyes fixed on the rear-view mirror and the checkpoint now a few hundred yards behind me. As Casey rounded the bend in the distance, my nails dug into my palms with the anticipation.

"Come on!" I whispered, the dial tone ringing in my ears.

"Hello . . . who's th . . . ah bollox.!"

Casey's voice buzzed through the car's speakers and I cracked a huge smile as a guard motioned for him to pull into the hard shoulder. The call ended. He'd been caught.

I made sure to leave him a voicemail with some words of wisdom.

"Make sure you get a receipt for that thousand-euro fine, 'geebag'."

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