Night creeps stealthily across the grass, its shadows extending dark fingers that brush your three-stripe boots, your shinpads. You try to move away but you can’t, you are powerless to resist the embrace of evening’s first sirens, calling you to their pillowy breasts from somewhere near the home dugout.
It was hard to know what to make of Luciano Hector Becchio when he came for his trial at Leeds United. He was, after all, just one of a string of obscure foreign trialists to come to Thorp Arch in the days of Blackwell, Wise and McAllister. There was something different about this one, though. For one thing, McAllister was desperate to sign him. For another, he had played for Barcelona ‘B’ and Boca Juniors youth, surely a good indication. An Argentinian, he brought back fond memories of Alex Sabella, a player whose hair had suited the late 70s Admiral kits even if his play hadn’t suited the team; and of the heady rumours in 1988 that Wilkinson was going to sign Maradona. We could only find one video of Luciano, as he was known in Spain, on YouTube, but it was a good one: a goal scored for Merida, the ball dropping on the edge of the box, volleyed crisply home by Luciano. The game, one assumed, was an important one, as while the commentator screamed Luciano’s name all sorts of things were happening in the stadium: crowds of people on the pitch, ticker-tape, fireworks, Luciano himself disappearing under a scrum of players and unidentified civilians; off-camera, one could imagine marriage proposals made in haste, babies named in honour. If that happens every time he scores, I thought, we could be on to something.
Someone must have been telling lies about Jari Litmanen, for without having done anything wrong he was yelled at by Mick Hennigan one fine morning. “Pack your suitcase,” shouted Mad Dog. “You’re shite!”
With apologies to Allen Ginsberg.