Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 317

Monday 12th November 1984

I got up at 8.00, and at 8.30 Doug came and we went to school. First was Maths, then History. Next was rugger and I made what Mr Anderson described as a ‘great pass’ then at 12.00 I had dinner. After that Ozzie, Stan, Placie, Slackie, Harding and Furny took shots at me in goal.

At 1.00 I came in and had French, then I collected my merit in English. Then I got another merit in Geog, and at 3.05 it was maths. At 3.40 mam came to meet me and at 4.00 I went to the dentist to get my brace adjusted.

When I came back I had tea and after that I did a picture for Iceworld Adventure. At 8.00 I watched Rising Damp, at 8.30 I watched Lame Ducks and at 9.00 I watched Laugh??? I nearly paid my licence fee. I went to bed at 9.30.

I didn’t have many great moments in my school PE career. In fact, I can only think of three in the five years that I spent doing physical education at Conyers (I was actually at the school for seven years, but I gave up PE immediately after discovering it was unofficially ‘optional’ during sixth form. Us hardy 16-18 year-olds had three solid hours of running around scheduled every Wednesday afternoon, but after a couple of half-hearted, unsupervised football matches, I quickly twigged that nobody would notice if I sloped off home and spent the afternoon watching daytime television. So I spurned Mr Ledgerwood for the equally alluring charms of Mavis Nicholson and Judi Spiers. And then, in Upper Sixth, we’d all pile into Andrew Harding’s Mini Metro and head to Moore’s Billiard Parlour in Stockton to play on the pool tables and (yikes!) drink underage pints of Guinness. We eventually got so cocky that we did this during a Tuesday afternoon free period, and I returned for one of Mr Branfoot’s Computer Studies lessons with three pints inside me. I must have stank)

Anyway, those moments of PE glory in full…

1. A football match in October 1988, aged 15. After spending four years of Conyers PE lessons flailing about aimlessly in the mud and dreaming of my beloved ZX Spectrum, a goalscoring opportunity suddenly presented itself to me. My team was 1-0 down when I found myself on the edge of an almighty goalmouth scramble, and a scuffed shot from David ‘Furny’ Furness bobbled to the edge of the six-yard box, where I was standing filing my nails. 

Without thinking, I slid clumsily underneath the ball and somehow scrambled it over the line for an equaliser. Then, ten minutes later, something even more unlikely happened. Buoyed by my success, I began making surging runs forwards, and was astonished when school team hero Paul ‘Frankie’ Frank picked me out with a pin-point through-ball. Without thinking, I curled the ball with my outside of my right foot and was amazed to see it whistle fully 25 yards through the air before thundering into the top-right hand corner of the net* for the winner. I can still picture the look on goalkeeper Andrew ‘Paddy’ Smith’s face as I write this.

(*Not that we had nets, of course. The ball kept soared through the goal and sped over the wet grass another forty yards to the hedge at the back of the Shell garage, with a grumbling Paddy traipsing after it)

As a result of this, I was staggered to find myself selected the following week for Mr Ledgerwood’s House Football side, only to be placed at left-back where – predictably – I reverted effortlessly to ‘falling over my own feet and crying’ form. I was pulled off at half-time (insert your own jokes here)

(And yes, that’s a 17-year-old me, ‘flicking the Vs’ on that same Conyers football pitch in April 1990. Notice the legendary Puma bag on the end of an incredibly limp wrist. Terrible hair, but great waistline)  

2. Another football match almost exactly a year later, aged 16, in September 1989. Unbeknown to many of my classmates (and teachers), I’d actually been enjoying post-school kickabouts for over a year, and had picked up a few sneaky tricks as well as a pretty nifty turn of pace. On another rainy, muddy, Thursday morning, I picked up the ball on the right-hand side of my own half and decided to chance my arm. I skipped past one lunging challenge from Ian ‘Griff’ Griffiths, then pushed the ball past the right-hand side of an advancing Andrew ‘Barlow’ Barlow before immaculately rounding him on the left-hand side. I then decided to cut inside and suddenly found myself one-on-one with the keeper, my old nemesis Andrew ‘Paddy’ Smith. To everyone’s astonishment, I sliced the ball into the bottom right-hand corner and ran off celebrating into the long-jump sandpit as Mr Ledgerwood – bless him – came over to applaud and hail my solo effort as ‘an absolute touch of class’.

3. The ‘great pass’ that I made in our rugby match exactly 25 years ago today, the ONLY half-decent thing I EVER did on a rugby field. I hated the game with a passion, couldn’t understand ANY of the rules and found myself – more often than not – on the receiving end of bone-crunching tackles from grim-faced lads twice my size, eager to push my face into a mush of frozen mud and churned-up grass. However, on this occasion I found myself – to my terror – clutching the rugby ball 20 yards away from the touchline with a herd of stampeding nutcases thundering towards me from behind. In true cowardly tradition, I employed my usual tactic at times of great sporting pressure… I ran like buggery. All to no avail, and I quickly found myself on the end of a thumping rugby tackle from the strapping Paul ‘Haysie’ Hayes. However, on the way down to a sickening landing, I somehow managed to throw the ball over my shoulder in a graceful, looping arc – where it was collected effortlessly by the nippy Jo Spayne, who promptly crossed the line for a winning try. 


I picked myself up from the mud to see Mr Anderson giving me a gleeful thumbs up and delivering his legendary ‘Great pass’ verdict, and it still gives me a little glow of pride to think of it today. And clearly I was still in a sporty mood by time our dinner break came around, allowing myself to go in ‘goal’ against the brick wall of our towering Sports Hall while a gaggle of grinning loonies took pot-shots at me in their school shoes. Paul ‘Haysie’ Hayes still insists that I was once so proud of my goalkeeping prowess that I instructed my classmates to call me ‘The Panther’, but I deny everything (what does he think I am, some kind of egomanic? It was ‘The Puma’ and he bloody well knows it)

And then back to swotty academia for the afternoon. My Geography merit seems to be the result of me drawing the two main methods of public transport in British towns… the bus, and the – erm – helicopter…

Notice the cheeky advert for ‘WOOLWORTHS REMNANT DAY’ on the side of the bus. Clearly a bit of artistic licence here, as it was actually the Teesside department store Uptons that was famous for its near-permanent ‘Remnant Days’. The Middlesbrough branch of Uptons was a favourite port-of-call for me in the early 1980s, as the toy department on the first floor had a display of permanently switched-on ZX81s just begging to have the following Sinclair BASIC program entered into them…

20 GOTO 10

And in English, we were required to write a letter to an imaginary Pen-Pal that was coming to visit Yarm for the first time. Here’s my effort…

Dear Richard,

I just thought I’d drop you a line to tell you how much I am looking forward to your visit. Judging by the weather forecast, I think you will be glad to arrive in Yarm and leave all that terrible weather in Scotland behind.

You will like it in Yarm. When you come, the first thing I will do is take you on a tour around the town with Doug, my friend.

I’m glad your sister is not coming with you. She does not sound a very likeable type of person. I don’t have any brothers or sisters so we will have perfect peace.

I feel sorry for you not having any pets and I hope you like Ricky, my collie dog. He is not vicious and everyone calls him Poggy Doggy.

Just one more thing before I sign off, and that is that I hope you enjoy the TV programmes in England. Some of them are really funny if you have my sense of humour.

Well Richard, that’s about it, so I’ll see you on Thursday. Say, you’ll be here just in time for my birthday!


It’s a terrible symptom of my fragile psyche that I now feel a bit guilty about the appalling slur on the imaginary Richard’s imaginary sister. I bet I secretly fancied her, and all. I was just being self-conscious about my dental brace.


PS ‘Rugger’? ‘RUGGER???’ Blimey. You could tell I was flushed with sporting success. I probably spent the evening in bed trying to learn ‘The Hair On Her Dickie-Di-Do’ from Gareth ‘Gazzie’ Jones filthy songbook.



  Dr Giles Parcel wrote @

Your positioning of the face from Munch’s ‘The Scream’ just there has made me laugh far more than it probably should.

I point this out so that you know I’m not laughing at you – anyone quite so gifted in separate sports is bound to be a bit of a bruiser so we puny scientists had better be on our guard.

  bobfischer wrote @

If we’re talking football, then I’m more Windass than Crouch.

They’re making their own jokes up over there…

  Fiona Tims wrote @

Ahhhhh Rutger’s Guiness ads. They were the best. He has been one of my fave actors since I was ickle. I must go and look for more of these ads on youtube :O)

  bobfischer wrote @

I used to love them as well! And it took years for me to realise he was the same bloke that I’d watched in Blade Runner. They dressed him in black so, with his blond hair, he looked like a pint of Guinness, didn’t they? Great stuff.

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