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Jackie Milburn Said

Easter monday is a big day for second-tier soccer fans, all eyes looking up or horrifically pondering the drop... For you, Mark Piggot week continues in O/L with a soccer story of sorts...

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by Mark Piggott, for outsideleft.com
originally published: April, 2010
Gymnasium run by Jesse Owens, the floodlights designed by Einstein, match programme written by Shakespeare...
by Mark Piggott, for outsideleft.com
originally published: April, 2010
Gymnasium run by Jesse Owens, the floodlights designed by Einstein, match programme written by Shakespeare...

Just after George Best died, he immediately found himself drifting along a long, dark tunnel a lot like Wembley Way. Finally he emerged into a blinding light, and to his astonishment, realised he was at a kind of gate, or rather, a turnstile, where two men were waiting for him: Matt Busby and Bill Shankly.

'See?' said Shanks gruffly to Busby, 'I told you it were more important than life or death.'

Busby gave Shanks a tenner and smiled at George.

'What kept you? We've got the match of the century tonight.'

Too dumbfounded to speak, George regarded the two living - or rather, dead - legends open mouthed.
'What - where am I? Am I dead? Dreaming? Drunk? What?'

'Dead, yes,' said Shanks in his thick Scots accent, 'dreaming, possibly. You've come to the right place, son. We've a big match tonight against the best team in the football-playing galaxy. It's going out live on satellite across a thousand light years of space. The Greens have a pretty good squad, but we've got Duncan Edwards, Wor Jackie Milburn, Hughie Gallacher and we want you to play left wing.'

Best could hardly believe his ears. Five minutes previously he'd been lying in agony in a hospital bed, and suddenly he felt match fit again, like a boy of twenty. Busby left the turnstiles, where thousands of the un-dead in shellsuits and flat caps were waiting in an orderly but enthusiastic fashion, and showed him round.
'The best facilities this side of Alpha Centauri,' crooned Busby, 'Gymnasium run by Jesse Owens, the floodlights designed by Einstein, match programme written by Shakespeare. Do you know who's cooking the hot dogs? Henry the Eighth. And on the pitch, apart from the best dead players of all time, Isaac Asimov has designed hi-tech robots of Becks, Pele and Maradona in their prime. Hurry up Bestie, we need you to kick off.'
Still unable to believe his good fortune, Best hurried to the centre circle, shaking hands with the four-footed, tentacle-waving alien centre forward and taking in the vast, Gaudi-designed 250,000 seater stadium, the Babylonian turf like carpet, the 3-D cameras. This was even better than the Theatre of Dreams! The referee (Martin Luther King) tossed up a solid gold Roman coin and somehow he knew it would be heads. The alien captain wore a sporting smile on each of his three mouths.

'Your decision - kick off or ends?'

Not knowing which end had the advantage, especially as there was no sun, just a ghostly omni-present light (a bit like Elland Road, back when they still had the three "Holy Trinity" floodlights), Best shrugged.

'We'll kick off.'

The ref blew, both ends stayed where they were, and Best watched his team mates limbering up. The ref beckoned him over and he looked round, then nudged Jackie Milburn.

'Just one thing Jackie... where's the ball?'

'Ball?' frowned Milburn, as if Best were totally insane. 'Where do you think you are - heaven?'

RIP Georgie x


Mark Piggott Week in Outsideleft:
Out of Office (excert)
Interview: A Man from Hebden Bridge
The Happy Shopper

Find out more about Mark at his website www.markpiggott.com at the website of Legend Press.

Out of Office and Fire Horses are available now in fine stores and of course on Amazon so that you never have to actually get out of your chair anymore.

see more stories from outsideleft's Fiction & Poetry archive »»

Mark Piggott

London based writer Mark Piggott's first novel, Fire Horses (Legend Press) is available now. You can find out more about Mark on his website markpiggott

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