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  Short Story I  Page1   Page2
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....written by James McKenna author of Last Exit from Bridgeton          (get his book)

Some You Win………….’


Paris: France March 1999   ©


“I’m going; just you try and stop me. There is no way I am going to pass up an opportunity like this. You only get one chance of a lifetime, this is mine.”

“But what about me and the children, what’s going to happen to us? Don’t you ever think of anyone but yourself? You have been like that ever since I first met you three years ago; it’s got even worse recently.”

“You can come over with me of course; we can raise the children in Scotland. That’s if you want to of course, if you don’t want to well……..”

“Yeah I see, if I don’t want to, tough luck, that’s it. Isn’t it? Isn’t it?”

“There was no reply from Claude; the look on his face, the tone of his voice said it all. Dana had seen the look, heard the tone many times before.”


Claude reached for the rapidly emptying large glass of brandy beside him. He reflected on the events of the previous two days. The offer from Rangers had arrived unexpectedly; he had no idea that scouts from the most famous team in Scotland had been watching him. He had scored twenty-eight goals this season, his second season as a professional and there was two months of the season still to go.

He and Dani lived in this largely working-class district of Paris for two years now since he has signed for Pigalle in the second division. They were far from being well off  financially but they “got by” as they say. Now here he was, beyond his wildest expectations being offered the chance to sign for one of the biggest clubs in Europe while getting paid thousands of pounds a week. Any momentary doubts, any guilt he felt about uprooting Dani and the young twins from their homeland evaporated when he thought of the lifestyle that awaited him in Scotland.


Dani had returned to the room. There were tears in the corners of her eyes.

“Claude you know I have always stood by you, even when I have not been in agreement  with you but I don’t want to leave here for a freezing cold country like that I like it here, you know that, I was born here and have lived here all of my life.”

“I like it here too Dani, but it will only be for one season.”

“What do you mean?”

“What I mean is that the club will do everything for us, set us up with a new home, and attend to our every need. They have offered me a four-year contract but what are contracts these days? They are pieces of paper, bits of  information with signatures on them that nobody pays attention to anymore.”

“So?” Enquired Dani?

“So, so, after a while, after I have scored plenty goals and my market value increases I ask for a transfer. By that time I will have the top clubs in England chasing me, the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Liverpool even. There is big money to be made at these places..”

“And what after that?”

“Well, I may have to stay in England a bit longer than in Scotland but well after at most two seasons I will have the likes of the Milan clubs, Juventus and Barcelona coming in for my signature, perhaps too St Germaine back here. We’ll be millionaires Dani and we will still be young.”


A bemused look spanned Dani’s face.

“The money is certainly appealing but what about this first move to Rangers?” She said, moving to sit alongside him and taking a sip from the glass of Martini she had just  poured.

“How do you know it will work out for you and how do you know you will get a transfer after a year?”

“S’long as I keep scoring goals I cannot go wrong. The big clubs from England will be in for me, you’ll see.”

“If you score so many goals they might not give you a transfer, you thought of that?

Easy, if that happens, well I just stir up a bit of unrest in the dressing room, demand outrageous bonuses, things like that, its been done before, a few players at Celtic in Glasgow did these things a few years back. They will be only too glad to get rid of me then.”


Claude took the last swallow from his Brandy, quickly and liberally refilling the glass.

Once more Dani spoke.

“Call me naïve if you like but isn’t all of this a little bit underhand? Don’t you feel anything at all for the club you are signing for? And those fans, those fans who will worship you if you score all these goals you say you are going to. Is it all about money?” Dani had a concerned look on her face.

“Of course it is why do you think I want to go there in the first place? Do you think that I actually feel any loyalty to this club? I have never even been in Scotland. When I sign on Friday it will be the first time that I have ever set foot in the place.”

Dani was silent, pondering the words of her boyfriend.


Claude was in full flow now, he poured himself another drink.

“Oh  of course I ‘ll have to go through the old routine, I’ll stand in front of the television cameras, beside the manager wearing a Rangers scarf. The  television crews will be there and I’ll say things like “this is the only team I have ever wanted to play for, and when I was a youngster Rangers were my favourite team and to this day I still look out for their results”. It’s all total nonsense of course but well that’s just the way things are these days. Loyalty? Don’t make me laugh. Just think Dani I will be on the sports pages of newspapers all over the world, on the television screens too” “Unknown French striker signs for Glasgow Rangers”. I will soon be recognised everywhere I go.”


Dani had remained mostly silent as he detailed his plans to her, only interrupting his flow when she thought it necessary. As she went to put the twins to rest for the night she looked out of the west-facing window. The sun was setting, it had been an unusually warm day for early March, the clear skies though beckoned a frosty night.


Claude reflected, he knew Dani well enough to realise that in spite of her silence and her doubts that she was coming round to his way of thinking. It was the money thing of course, all doubts, all misgivings became secondary in the light of wealth, the opportunity for that was there, he for one was not going to let it slip past. He realised that if she had continued to protest and had stood her ground it would not have dissuaded him, he would have upped and left without a second thought, without a shadow of regret. Taking a large sip from his glass he told himself that it did not bother him in the slightest.


He was by now more than slightly drunk. Dani had  again returned to the room. He had watched here entering the room, her silky black hair flowing down her sides, the outline of her shapely breasts stark against her tight fitting yellow top. Sitting down beside him once more she looked at him straight in the face. The sad expression on her face gradually gave way to a smile “Ok I’ll come with you Claude” she said quietly.

“Let’s celebrate Dani, here, let me pour you another Martini.” He swayed as he approached the small table in the middle of the room, the brandy bottle now more than half empty as he replenished the the amber liquid while pouring a Martini for his lover.


“Its All there for me Bill, I’ll be a millionaire in no time, no time at all. I can retire at  thirty, maybe even earlier.”


“Claude, you have lost your love for the game itself, is money all that matters to you? If you’re lucky to stay clear of serious injury you could play on until your mid thirties, a lot of people do these days you know.”


The words were those of Bill, Claude’s close friend. Bill was close on sixty now. In his day he had played for Dundee FC in Scotland and had in the 1960s played for the Scottish national team. He had been a one –club man, remaining loyal to and playing for his boyhood heroes for over twenty years. Bill had lived in France for over a decade now, moving from Scotland when his son, William Junior had been handed a dream ticket, a move from DundeeFC where for the most part he was a reserve team player to the Paris Club St Germaine.

They were sitting at a table in the Bar De Biarritz, a favourite haunt of Claude’s and close to his home. It was Thursday evening, the next day he would be off to Glasgow to sign for Rangers. He would return to France later that same day, then on the Monday he would begin training with his new club. Dani and the twins would follow him within a few weeks after the club had arranged accommodation for all four of them. Until then he would stay in s city-centre hotel.


“Yes I love the game Bill said Claude answering his friend’s semi-rhetorical question. It’s just that I love the money more. By the time I am thirty I’ll be past my peak anyway, so why play on? Surely it’s best to quit when you’re on top. I know I can be the best there is Bill I know I have what it takes and then some. I know that at my best no-one, no-one comes a close second to me.”

“In my playing days Claude there was nothing like the same opportunities that the top players have these days but most of us were only too glad to play on for as long as we could. I know it sounds corny but it was down to this love of the game thing. I  know that most of my generation had this love of the game, it was a passion inside of us. We played for the jersey; it was an honour just to simply put on that jersey, just to pull it over your head. Yes, in those days there was loyalty, its all gone now of course. It’s all money these days.”


Claude pondered on the words of  his friend for a moment or so as the Scotsman went to the toilet.

Loyalty what the hell do I care about loyalty? He thought as he watched Bill ordering their drinks at the bar a beer from himself, a brandy for Claude.


“Loyalty Bill what is all this bloody loyalty when you’re paid a pittance. You can stay with the one club for twenty years and what do you get? What did you get Bill? What the hell did you get? Tell me what  the bloody hell did  you get? Come on Bill, tell me I’m waiting.”

Bill realised that Claude was by now quite drunk and becoming a little aggressive. In the two years that he had known him he had seen him in this mood before, though never quite as bad as this. He was unsure how many drinks Claude had consumed before he met up with him this evening but he thought it must have been quite a few.


“I got enjoyment from the game Claude, that’s what I got, the enjoyment from the game that never diminished in all of the twenty years or so that I played football. That enjoyment compensated for the low pay. I think, in fact I know that players today do not get the same enjoyment from the game that my generation did.”

Bill took a huge swallow from his tumbler of beer, he wanted to make a quick getaway, Claude was not good company when he was like this. Even when sober though Bill knew he had that arrogant streak about him, it was only when he became drunk though that he could turn nasty.

“I’m off mate, I have to meet Maureen, we are going to the theatre this evening. The best of luck in Glasgow see you the next time you are back in France. Oh by the way, one big bit of advice, don’t bless yourself in front of the television cameras in Glasgow, in fact don’t bless yourself anywhere in Glasgow.”

“Don’t what?” said the drunken voice.

“Don’t bless yourself in front of the television cameras.”

“Why not?”

“Well you see there is this…………….ach don’t worry you will soon learn.”

Bill waved goodbye to his friend and walked smartly on to the by now darkening streets of Paris.


The hangover from the previous evening was clearing, albeit a little slower than the previous morning and he was feeling better by the moment as he drove along the motorway at high speed in his rented car going towards Orly Airport. His disposition in fact mirrored the weather, the early mist was clearing, somewhat slower than it had on Thursday morning but now the sun was breaking through, another fine early Spring day beckoned.

His thoughts returned to Thursday evening. He had met Bill at a football dinner dance and since that time they had become close, the older man often taking him under his wing and giving him advice as well as the benefit of his vast experience as a footballer. Sometimes though thought Claude, Bill could be a right old pain with his preaching about what it was like in the “good old days” as he saw them.

He found himself shouting out loud to himself as the car went even faster. “What the hell did you get out of it Bill? What the hell did you get out of it? Don’t give me that enjoyment crap. Twenty years at the one f*****g  club and then what? A letter of thanks, a few best wishes and that was you, looking for a f*****g job that would keep you going till you were sixty bloody five, another thirty years, if you were lucky that is”.

He felt no guilt at all in labelling Bill a mug, a bloody fool.

No, all this loyalty crap is  not for me, I will take all I can get and stuff everybody else. Rangers even paid for this car.

The speed of the car increased yet again.


He looked around the hospital ward. He had been slowly becoming accustomed to the bright lights of the hospital ward since he had regained consciousness some two hours previously. He was in the casualty ward, in the next bed he noticed that the patient had had his right leg amputated. Across the ward another patient screamed in agony from some unknown (To Claude) injuries.


He reflected on his situation. He thought of how people would read about the crash in the newspapers. They would say things like “what a shame, he is so young, what a tragedy, driving to the airport to catch a plane, to sign for one of the top teams in Europe and this happens. He could have risen to the very top in football, and now they tell him that he will never walk again, both legs mangled, twisted beyond repair, just like his career in fact.”


He lay in his bed reflecting this. More cries of pain, even louder than the last time he thought emanated from the bed opposite.

“Yes of course they would think that, of course they would. But what the bloody hell do they know anyway. I will never play football again, I will never walk again but what do they know. Wankers, the whole lot of them. Mugs they are, mugs. Score a few goals and you’re a god to these people, a saviour. Yeah, a bloody saviour. That is until the next guy comes along and then they forget all about you just as quick, and you are yesterday’s man. The suckers have found a new hero, a new god. Saviour? I know better. What do I care about them? Nothing, that’s what I care about them, nothing, nothing at all. It’s all about money, all else is pure fiction, utopia. Screw the lot of the gullible suckers.

Now I will never have that opportunity I have always dreamt of and that only yesterday was within my grasp. But them out there? Screw the lot of them. I have still got Dani and the twins. Dani will look after me yes she will. Yes she will.  ©


~ end ~

Short Stories  Page1    Page2    Page3   Page4    Page5

Jun 2009


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