You have read about people being saved from alcohol but there can be a case put forward for Wivenhoe Town F.C actually being saved BY alcohol. I say this because over the years during some traumatic times the fact that several individuals frequented our bar with such regularity the club was able to keep going mainly thanks to sales of the demon drink. “SOBS” corner located at the end of the bar probably saw an ocean of booze consumed over the decades resulting in some entertaining drunken incidents – who can forget Daddsy spectacularly plunging headfirst into the Bethell family from the top of the bar counter having smashed his skull on the metal shutters?. An insight into some of goings on can be gleaned from the following article that appeared in the club’s fanzine “Look For Floodlights” issued in December 2000.
ALCOHOLICS ( NOT SO) ANONYMOUS
The following events took place in the Broad Lane Clubhouse on the night of Saturday November 2000. The characters portrayed are NOT fictitious and names have not been changed to protect the innocent.
“Do you realise you lot in the back bar have drunk more than all the people at the party?” said Vicky with a disapproving tone in her voice. There was no way I could deny this, especially as I had long since lost the power of coherent speech after consuming more shorts than John Wark’s ample backside during 120 minutes of F.A Cup football for Felixstowe against the Dragons.
The signs were ominous approaching 7 O’clock as Joff’s good lady had already set the pace by being well over the “tipsy” line and heading on towards “steaming”. By 7.10pm she had given us all new names…”Elvis matey” (Yours truly), “Thingy” (Richie) and “Miserable Bastard” (strangely that one was Joff) and before 7.30pm we had all been ushered into the back bar where a motley crew of alcohol-based life forms were beginning to assemble with the arrival of Jon Rensink and Matt. By 7.45pm I must have been totally pissed as well as I could have sworn that I saw Val Doonican walk through the door along with “Muppet”, his missus and Sean, although when I asked Val which song he was going to croon for us I must admit that “F**k off” wasn’t one that I instantly recall from Radio Two’s Easy Listening Collection ! So, the scene was set and the session started.
As I watched him polish off his latest purchase, a particularly frightening looking Stella/Becks/Lucozade/Vodka and Red Wine mixture, it occurred to me that “Muppet’s” drinks all seem to be inspired by those brimming and frothing concoctions you see in old Jekyll & Hyde movies, you know, the ones that always result in the mild mannered geezer collapsing behind the sofa clutching his throat before emerging seconds later transformed into a disfigured homicidal maniac. Perhaps, with this in mind, it probably shouldn’t have come as a surprise when our man suddenly announced to a startled Richie that; “I’m going to have to hit something!”. Thankfully he eventually settled for whirling the coat stand around his head instead as, I suspect, storming into the function hall and shrieking “AWOOGA !!” at the top of his voice before lashing out blindly at Grandma Miggings over by the buffet table might not have gone down too well.
Every so often the girls would escape into the hall to do a spot of “Dirty Dancing” to Max Bygraves much to the concern of the disco bloke who pointed out that it wasn’t so much their “throwing shapes” on the dance floor that was the worry, rather it was the fear of them “throwing up”!.
As “Muppet” engaged him and Jon Rensink in his now infamous drinking game “Celebs” (where the loser has to down two “fingers” of their drink) Matt announced “I’ve got to play football tomorrow at 10.30”. Would he actually make it in time I began to wonder as he was gradually beginning to lose the capability to hold up two fingers let alone drink them!. Several days later I got my answer as I was accosted by one of Matt’s team mates in the shape of a distraught Mark Dadds. “What the hell happened on Saturday night?” he demanded. Apparently, these drunken goings on had resulted in Matt being so dehydrated that upon his zombie like arrival his head sucked all the moisture out of the changing room and once on the field of play he transformed into Paul Merson for the duration of the match. Sadly for his team mates we are not talking about the Merson whose form this season on the pitch has sparked campaigns in the press for an England call-up, rather the one who used to be found rolling around on the pavement outside the “Stumble Bum Arms” at chucking out time a few years back. I probably didn’t help the situation by pointing out to “Daddsy” that the fact that Matt didn’t get substituted really did not say a lot for the standard of his Sunday Team. Mind you, that said, at least Matt resurfaced again unlike Mr.Rensink who was last seen staggering off into the night swathed in party balloons and appears to have dropped off the radar completely having not returned to the club since !!.
Footnote…. At the time of writing there is still no confirmation as to whether Ian Kershaw was arrested by the “Style Police” on the way home for his Val Doonican attire (although it was worrying to discover that he got so pissed that he went and signed for Brightlingsea United !!). Also Steve Henson was surprised when he woke up the next day to discover a framed photograph of his good self safely stashed in his kit bag, though not as surprised as when he was informed by Richie that he had actually paid the princely sum of £10 for this item (yes Wivenhoe fans explore all forms of fundraising/exploitation in aid of bringing funds in for the club).
A party guest soon regrets picking up Mr. Henson’s drink by mistake.
Now days the back bar no longer exists as it was eventually transformed into a hospitality area, although I am sure that even now visiting club officials, while enjoying their tea and biscuits, out of the corner of their eye still catch a fleeting glimpse of the residual ghost image of a bloke dancing on the table with his shorts pulled up in a “wedgy” and a McDonalds bag over his head with eye and nose holes cut out !! (Don’t ask as that would entail writing a whole new article).
The infamous “SOBS” corner. Alan Day (on the right) was just one of the players who used the bar on a regular basis outside of football hours.
“No drinking on the terraces” – Maz, Richie, John and JB with enough supplies to see them through another Dragons match.
Back bar patrons – Rob, Matt (Still suffering from the “Alcoholics Not So Anonymous” Episode eight months after the event!), Rustic and Daddsy (without McDonalds Bag on head).