Soapbox: a black and white Christmas carol


What the Dickens is this? Why, nought but a heartwarming tale from the season of goodwill, in which Sir Michael Ashley plays Scroogely, the fans play with large alphabet shapes but still cannot get the hang of spelling the simplest of words and the One Wise Man plays himself. Are you sitting quietly? Then Pete Sixsmith will begin …

Once upon a time – on, of all the good days the year, Christmas Eve – old Scroogely sat in his counting house at sports direct deckchair stripes@stmikes’ He looked up and snarled at Bob Lambias, his poor benighted clerk, who sat in the cold, cheerless office surrounded by Lonsdale track suits and Dunlop trainers.

Scroogely had a small fire on which he burned small lumps of football boots and old blankets with “Boycout the clubb” scrawled on them in fine copper plate handwriting but little evidence of spelling ability. Poor Bob could burn only copies of managers’ contracts and although there should have been plenty to go round, Scroogely had kept them for himself, all the better to line his pockets with.

There was a knock at the door and his cheery nephew, Hugh bounded in, looking immensely pleased with himself.

“Hello Uncle Scroogely and a Merry Christmas to you,” he cried.

Scroogely fixed him with his gimlet eye. “Bah, Humbug,” he croaked.

“Oh, come, come Uncle”, said Hugh. “Why so miserable? All is well in the world. We are top of the League (albeit the second tier of English football), the crowds are flocking to whatever it’s called now and the club is on the way back. ‘Tis a time to rejoice and be cheerful.”

“Bah, deckchairs,” came the reply.

“Surely you mean humbug Uncle,” spoke Hugh.

“Deckchairs, boy, to reflect our second strip. Anyway, what have you got to be cheerful about? What’s Christmas but a time to be paying your bills without money and trying to flog loads of old tat to people who have become deluded that this old rubbish is actually any good? Leave me alone. Be off with you. And as for you Lambias, back to your ledgers or I’ll force you to streak around the ground in front of the crowd nest time.”

That night, as Scroogely returned home, he glanced at his door knocker and stepped back. The knocker took on the appearance of his former partner, Wise, a person much loved in the city as well as in Leeds, Swindon and at the taxi drivers’ rest home.

He shook his head and entered the house. It was cold and miserable, no sign of Barclays munificence, just a house full of empty and rattling Coca Cola tins.

As he prepared his toilet, the door flew open and the figure of Wise, bound in chains and making a fearful howling sound, appeared in front of him. Scroogely cowered in the corner.

“I know this man. It is my former partner, Wise, come to sell me a dodgy Spanish centre forward and a ropey Argentinian winger. I’ll have no more to do with you Dennis. Get thee gone.”

As he spoke, he looked up and saw the room fill with phantoms, wandering hither and thither as they went. There was Alain Boumsong, Lord Westwood, Bill McGarry, Freddie Shepherd, Hugo Viana and two figures punching each other, who turned out to be Kieron Dyer and Lee Bowyer.

“Take heed of these that you see,” spoke Wise. “Remember that the spectres that haunt this place cannot be dispelled by winning the second layer of English football, sponsored by Coca Cola. Three spirits will visit you to show you the way. They will appear when the clock strikes midnight. Be warned.”

And at that, Wise disappeared to Hertfordshire, never to be heard of again.

* In the spirit of the time of year, though almost certainly against Pete Sixsmith’s better judgement, Salut! Sunderland is open to a well-written riposte from any Newcastle United fan who feels up to the challenge of a 500-word posting. Let us know via the comments field for this article and we will contact you via the e-mail address you give ….

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