Iron-Bru.co.uk, DeCoubertin Books and author Iñigo Gurruchaga are delighted to be able to bring you two exclusive extracts from the forthcoming title Scunthorpe Hasta La Muerte- the story of Scunthorpe United legend Alex Calvo Garcia.
At the end of the season, the team misses out on the possibility of automatic promotion but will be in the play-offs. Their opponent is Swansea City. Paul Wilson, the youth team coach, videos the journey to South Wales.
In the beginning of the film, players get onto the bus on the day before the game. They pick up the rest of the team in petrol stations or road junctions. And then they play cards, sleep or read newspapers.
At the hotel, next morning after breakfast, they spend time hanging around halls and corridors or playing pool. McAuley, the joker of the team, takes a taco as an imaginary microphone for interviews, followed by Wilson’s camera. He asks striker Jamie Forrester: ‘How does it feel to be so small?’ To veteran Russ Wilcox: ‘ Has playing with these types of footballers shortened your career?’ To Justin Walker and Lee Marshall: ‘What can you say about the rumour that you are a cross-dresser?’ And to every member of the team: ‘Are you using this club as a stepping stone?’
When Alex pokes his head through the door of the snooker room, McAuley asks, ‘What do you think of the game?’ Alex responds: ‘Very excited.’ And McAuley turns to the camera and translates: ‘That’s ve-ry ex-ci-ted’. The stigma of Manuel from Ordizia lingers on.
Scunthorpe lose one goal to nil at the Vetch Field, in a game with kicks off at half past twelve in order to avoid brutalities fuelled by alcohol. The return leg is played on a spring time Wednesday evening at a full Glanford Park.
Players practise their rituals in a tense dressing room. The anxious crowd can be heard outside.
‘Brian Laws barmy army. Brian Laws barmy army.’
The masseuse, Gina, talks to the camera and speaks on camera to Gareth Sheldon, who came through the youth ranks, ‘Get a good picture of this guy, because he will come off the bench and score the winning goal.’
Brian Laws gives instructions.
‘Everyone, Justin, Alex, make sure that the final ball is a good one.’
The assistant coach, Mark Lillis, individually encourages the players. They go out to warm up. Lillis leaves the field and returns with the flag of Saint George that he sticks in the penalty area. The fans chant the name of England.
They return to the dressing room, unleashing a flurry of swearing. Fucking and fuck, all possible ways are explored. Laws launches into his last haranguing.
‘No matter what happens tonight we have had a great season. Do not ever forget it. A season is not a fucking game.’
The players shake hands incessantly. They all shout. Between the screaming someone says: ‘We are fucking Englishmen and proud of it!’
Within two minutes, the sides are level on aggregate after a goal from Andy Dawson. But Swansea defend well and also create danger.
No goals are scored in the second half. Before the end of full time, Laws sends on Sheldon. In the second minute of extra time, he scores. The jubilation is short lived as Swansea quickly reply. Victory is in the hands of the Welsh thanks to the away goal rule. But Sheldon scores again in the second half of extra time.
‘Fucking wankers! Come on, boys! Fucking bastards!’
The celebrations in the Scunthorpe dressing room begin with swearing and insults to no one and anyone, while captain Chris Hope and John Gayle enter the opponents dressing room to salute the defeated.
Paul Wilson leaves the camera and hugs ‘Ginger’ Sheldon, the man of the moment, whom he has coached in the youth team.
‘My boy, my boy.’
The stands chant their joy. The players go back to greet their supporters, climb the stairs to the directors box, the fans are on the pitch. Players, crowd and directors all sing ‘There’s only one Gareth Sheldon’. And then another song, an Irish ballad for teetotallers often sung by drunks, ‘The Wild Rover’.
Alex Calvo García’s journey in English football heads towards its next stop, a Wembley final.
Scunthorpe Hasta La Muerte is available to pre-order for £14.99 from the DeCoubertin online store by clicking this link.
Iron-Bru.co.uk would like to thank DeCoubertin and Iñigo for their assistance.