Serbian football follows a pattern, so the order of the games was familiar to us. Vrbas was the first challenge. We had drawn with them at the Deterlinari on the opening day of the season and had beaten them away. We were back at home. My original programme feature was entitled “The Year for Novi Sad.” I changed it. I didn’t want to jinx the team.
I felt like the train had come off the tracks. In the 6th minute, Mladost striker Vokje simply walked past the defence and slotted the ball in the net. If anyone could be accused of having little faith, it was the Novi Sad contingent, and on 14 minutes Ninko the Kid picked up the ball and fed Branko, who played it out wide to The Turd. With plenty of space on the left, he advanced and played a ball through to Darko who slid it in with precision. After 28 minutes, Ilijah picked up a ball from the defence and knocked it 45 yards to Darko who was moving clear. A savage strike saw Novi Sad take the lead. There was still an inevitable air of gloom over all concerned. In the 37th minute Grujic received the ball outside of the Novi Sad box. The defence melted away to let him stroll in and plant it into the roof of the net to draw Mladost level.
I drained the glass, and gestured to Angel to bring me another. She stopped scratching the flaky rash that spread across her thighs, pulled her skirt down, and waddled toward me. She was all I had! Jesus, I thought I’d hit the bottom, but the truth was I had only broken the crust on the surface.
Slobodan Zecevic was after me because his wife had been out whoring while he was in Finland; as if I was to blame for that. I only did what anyone in Novi Sad would do with a scab-free hooker, and had ridden her relentlessly. Vasa was trying to put the squeeze on me, and now he knew I was trying to stab him in the back. Boris seemed to be growing distant as he mistakenly considered himself to be a good football manager. The local anglers were after me for filling the river up with unsold programmes. The club was in debt to the tune of nearly £1 million. Chairman Milan Labus had stated that he feared for the long term financial future of the club. A shoddy draw had knocked us off the top of the table. I didn’t have enough money to pay for the drinks I was ordering. However, worst of all was the scabby peasants had started singing that song again.
All focus in the Deterlinari turned from the game to scores from other matches. This was obviously a walkover; the results from Veternik and Bezanija were very important. Veternik were still losing, but Bezanija had taken the lead in their match. […]
The remaining friendlies were against Balkan Bukovica and 14 Oktobar. Neither were classics, nor where they meant to be. The object was to build fitness. Mirkin tore a groin muscle and ruled himself out for 2 months, and Novi Sad won both games, 3-0 and 1-0. Both Cretin and teenage sensation Pilipovic (Pillhead) looked good. I saw Slobodan Zecevic around the place, but managed to keep out of his way. I asked Boris to send him off on a trip and he just laughed, pushing his index finger in and out of his fist in a crude sexual gesture. What’s more, I was sure that Vasa was pissing in my office on a regular basis. On the plus side, I was back in Angel’s good books. I gave her half a jar of marmite, and she was happy.
“Sister, dry your tears and wipe that snot off your face, our region will be the pride of the mudflats; wash yourself with the turnip wine, it’s starting to stink worse than a fisherman’s bilge tank!”
My mind was on other things, such as ensuring my bollocks stayed attached to my body! Obilic proved themselves to be the cheap men of the First Division with a derisory offer for Branko that was rejected out of hand. Then Big Head complained that he wanted first team football. I spent every day avoiding the ground and typical Novi Sad hangouts. Muntpig disappeared that night, and I hadn’t seen her since. I found myself thinking about Angel’s shaved snatch, but there was no way I was going to the ground. I saw Zojan at the bar, and he just laughed. He obviously knew. Then it dawned on me, they all knew. Chuff! […]
A few days later it was New Year. I got hammered, and celebrated with Muntpig. A few hours later we were in the squalor of my house. Muntpig had a piece of firewood in her mouth, biting against the pain because I was intent on a bit of backdoor action. Things were going swimmingly when Read more about The mood turns black … well, blacker[…]
The winter break meant no matches for 10 weeks, and a transfer window was about to open. Boris did was unusual in Serbia; he arranged some friendly matches prior to kicking off again. No one else bothered. A rumour was circulating that Veternik’s keeper, Jovanovic, might be headed to Vojvodina. The training ground was empty, Vasa spent his days wandering the streets with bags of sweets, and Angel told me she had shaved her snatch. I spent my days drinking cheap beer with Boris’ son Zojan and talking football, and I spent my nights banging seven bells out of Muntpig. She started to walk bandy, and could pass a pint pot through her anus, but she seemed to enjoy it all. The weather deteriorated, the printing press started to rust, and Novi Sad settled beneath a patina of misery.
The day after the Veternik game, the board announced that they were very pleased with Boris Krakov’s performance; a message that must have wounded Vasa. As if to celebrate, Alex fractured his arm and would be missing for 3 weeks, which only really meant one game because of the break. The not so welcomed news was that Atletico Madrid were after teenage winger Pilipovic. He was one of the Under 18 stars I had covered in the programme, and he was now in the reserves. Boris wanted to start playing him as a substitute in the first team after the break, but his fear was that someone would swoop for him while he was still on a youth contract. Boris offered him a new contract, and told Atletico to fuck themselves unless they paid up £250,000 rather than the £22,000 they were offering. I could see his point; Novi Sad were nearly a quarter of a million in debt, and a few thousand were no good to man nor beast. With the transfer window approaching, it was essential to shift some of the dead wood.
Finding a not too ugly hooker in Novi Sad is like winning the lottery, so I made certain that she was handsomely paid. Waking up next to her was often disconcerting; admittedly, she wasn’t much to talk about the next morning, but with a head full of turnip cognac she had a certain something; an inner sexiness that set her apart from the hairy and cankerous cart-horses that usually frequented the seedier parts of Novi Sad. She also had what at times teetered on innocence, almost like she wasn’t really a hooker, but a lost soul seeking affection in the arms of another human. She’d also let you slip it in the back door for a few potatoes, so it worked on many levels. I asked her name. She blushed, and asked what I wanted to call her. I settled on Muntpig. She thought it sounded exotic. Isn’t language a wonderful thing? […]