by George Aitch
Walking through the centre of town, I was stopped by an older man fixed on my scarf. It was a football scarf with the owl logo displayed prominently on the front. In Sheffield that’s practically an open invitation to say hello. This guy was keen to tell me his story and I wasn’t in a hurry, so I decided to indulge my raconteur.
“Young man,” he said “is that a Sheffield Wednesday scarf?” his brewery breath sprayed in my face, the product of the tin in his hand.
“It is.” I replied.
“I’ve been going to Wednesday games since I were a lad. Recently its right hard like and I have to scrape the price of a ticket from my sister. Do you ever see a match? Do you go often?” I told him that I had, against Leeds two Saturdays past. Here he pressed a grubby hand to my shoulder. His face split into a toothless grin. A single denticle clung like a stalactite to the roof of his gums.
“Ah yes,” he continued “I remember now. We did well. Lucky you to get a ticket. I’d have made it myself if I could. Didn’t see it on down t’pub.” I nodded, wondering where his story was going to stray to. Honestly, I just needed to know what he wanted before I could go on my way. “I’m a lifelong fan. Dedicated to the team. If you cut me open I bleed white and blue. Glad to see a fellow like yourself wearing the colours. Oh yes.” He leant in and changed his tone.
“I don’t suppose I could press you, a fellow Wednesday fan for a cup of tea? Just a spare two pound? Please?” But I knew exactly where those two pounds would go.
“I’m sorry, I don’t have any change.” I explained, and this was the truth. The spell was broken and his hand fell away.
“Don’t worry about it.” he said, “I’m sorry to trouble you like that, a fellow Owls fan to boot. Thank you sir.” and my companion left me. Laughing to myself, I thought little of this casual encounter. But I had no sooner started towards the town centre when the same wheedling voice struck up behind me.
“Is that a Newcastle scarf sir? I’m a lifelong Magpies fan I am…”
George Aitch is a medical student living in Sheffield who writes short fiction in his spare time.