While we wait around for the new boss and other late arrivals, the other guys and I talk amongst ourselves. The younger ones discuss their weekend nightclubbing exploits while I attempt to hold a debate on the ‘Theory of Forms’ with Marc Crosas but his constant reply of ” Si, Si, I’m from Barcelona” becomes tiresome. My lecture is interrupted by three sub-sonic booms which herald the arrival of Robbie Keane in his usual fashion: a DeLorean time machine from Back to the Future. He skids across the Lennoxtown training pitch, leaving two flaming tracks and the smell of what I deduce to be sulphur and ozone. Robbie exits the vehicle with a hiss of steam, pulling out what looks like a wheel-less skateboard, and declares he’s been 50 years into the future. As he floats over on his “Hover-board” I ask him what the future holds for my beloved and historical homeland, Greece, but he fobs me off with some incoherent babble “in the future, we won’t need Rhodes…”
Just then, Wee Shaun Maloney is dropped off by his Mammy. Maloney begins bawling as he doesn’t want his Mammy to leave, but she gives him a big hug and a kiss and tells him she’ll come back for him later on, to go and enjoy himself playing football with his pals. I extol the virtues of a rounded and loving family system to the other boys (and deep down wish someone would give me a hug) as wee Shaun strolls over wiping his nose on his sleeve. He brightens up a little when he sees Scott Brown come bounding onto the training pitch singing “The Wonderful thing about Tiggers, is Tiggers are wonderful things…” Wee Shaun falls about laughing. There’s no better sound than the laughter of children. I try to correct Scott’s grammar by telling him that it should be “Tiggers ARE wonderful things” and also that they’re called Tigers and not Tiggers. He says he “knows and he’s not stupid or nuffin, but that’s what Tigger calls himself and Pooh bear accepts it,” so I should too. I try to counter with Plato’s argument that “knowing isn’t really knowledge, and that knowledge is justified true belief.” I ask Scott does he really think tigers can sing and bounce on their tails? Before he can reply, we are stopped in our debate by the sound of a distant trumpet being blown. A sound which shakes the Lennoxtown training complex to its very foundations and in turn, shakes us to our very souls. The bellowing trumpet heralds the arrival of our new first team coach. Johan. The man who I believe wants to kill me.
I begin to tremble as the Scandinavian giant approaches. He is shirtless, carrying an ox over each of his shoulders and is pulling a cart filled with balls, goals, cones and what looks like a giant catapult, which Johan later informs us is called a trebuchet and is used to destroy citadel walls during a siege. When I question him on the Oxen, he fixes me with a stare which would strike a Titan dead and merely replies “Lunch.” I begin to shake in fear and fall to my knees clutching my head. Robbie zips past on his hover-board and tells me to “stop crying like a Jessie and get up, ya Bollox”. I pray to Zeus that he will keep me safe today.
My fears are later confirmed as the first training exercise, after a warm up that consisted of naked wrestling with Johan (I don’t understand why we have to be naked, but Johan tells me “We’re all men here, aren’t we? Let’s get it on, ya pansy”), was for me to be loaded onto the trebuchet and fired at Artur Boruc, who was positioned in his goals over a kilometre away. As I hurtle through the foggy Lennoxtown air, past several startled pigeons, towards The Holy Goalie (who isn’t really Holy – I found out after asking him to give me confession and he asked for 20 Marlborough lites and a six-pack of lager for penance), I ponder the argument that societies have a tripartite class structure corresponding to the appetite structure of the individual soul. My concentration is impeded when I smash into Artur, who coughs his lungs up, but seems unharmed, his excess fat seems to have absorbed most of the kinetic energy of the collision. As he helps me to my feet I explain the principles of Athenian democracy, “You know Artur, until philosophers rule as kings or those who are now called kings and leading men genuinely and adequately philosophise, that is, until political power and philosophy entirely coincide, while the many natures who at present pursue either one exclusively are forcibly prevented from doing so, cities will have no rest from evils,… nor, I think, will the human race.”
Johan comes racing over, screaming “Philosophise this, ya Greek pansy”, before punching me in the face. I look at my portable sundial and see it’s only 8:30am. Ye Gods, it’ll be a long training session…