4 weddings and no funeral
I think it’s fair to say that the Addis Army has undergone somewhat of an evolution over the years and this has expressed itself in a number of marriages amongst our membership. Having attended all three wedding celebrations that have resulted, there’s some fond memories which all add to the amazing AA experience. It’s not just about the cricket, you know.
The first of the happy occasions took place in the ancient kingdom of the northern monkeys, when Sheffield’s leading couple, Mr. and Mrs. Blade tied the knot. Unbelievably, the actual proper wedding took place in the Convict Colony. Naturally, I find it hard to understand why anybody would choose enemy territory for such a happy occasion, but over time I have forgiven them.
The proper and appropriate chapter of the wedding of course took place in Sheffield itself and we all turned up for that. At the time, West Ham and Sheffield United were both in the Premier League, and my abiding memory of the wedding was the succession of ruddy faced Yorkshiremen loudly boasting that the Irons would be taking the drop and Sheffield United were “safe as houses”. They were confident, of course, because they had recently defeated us 3-0.
Luckily it didn’t turn out that way and it was the Blades that ended up back in the Championship, after they imploded on the last day of the season and the mighty Irons prevailed away at Old Trafford. Carlos Tevez got the winner - Mr. Blade’s favourite player - while ex-West Ham player, David Unsworth rather fittingly scored the winning penalty for Wigan at Bramall Lane. It was a shame that the wedding didn’t take place after the conclusion of the season, but I doubt if I would be here today to write this piece if it had.
I was not alone in receiving abuse at the Blades’ wedding as Nottingham’s leading cricket fan, SP was also getting a lot of grief over the miners’ strike. Apparently, due to the reluctance of his fellow Notts folk to join the strike, this made SP a ‘scab’. “But I’ve never even been near a mine”, protested the hapless insurance broker to no avail.
The second wedding was that of SP himself and of course we all trotted off to Nottingham to that one. I don’t recall a great deal about this, except encountering a very large gentleman who turned out to be Boatsy, a leading member of Nottingham Forest’s firm, the Forest Executive Crew. Luckily, he was good mates with Cas Pennant of West Ham’s Inter City Firm, and seemed to have a soft spot for the Hammers. I do remember the AA flag having pride of place on the dance floor.
SP’s wife, Hyacinth (so named because she was the proprietor of a flower shop at the time) has legendary status within the AA, because she saw England win at her very first match on tour in Durban, South Africa. Contrast that incredible record with Mr. Blade, still winless on tour after 13 years of fruitless attendance virtually every year at international cricket matches. It’s almost poetic.
The third wedding was a very posh affair and involved PC Tango and Tractor 1. These were a couple that the AA can justifiably claim as being completely instrumental in bringing together. It all started in India in 2006 when they met as a result of Tractor being part of the original 2004/05 South Africa crew and Tango turning up in India after encountering Gilo in Pakistan in 2005.
The wedding itself was a proper affair in a very photogenic village church somewhere in rural Suffolk. The wedding reception was memorable for the fact that each of the tables was themed as an international cricket ground. I also enjoyed the father of the bride’s speech which recalled that Tango himself had first turned up at Tractor Towers proudly wearing a West Ham shirt, not so subtly underlining that bragging rights were firmly in place as Daddy Tractor’s team, the unspeakable mob from London N17 had been recently spanked by the mighty Irons.
We all stayed over in Suffolk and I shared a room with the legendary Wycombe, who in true clumsy style left his keys in the room, remembered that after we had driven 25 miles and then forced me to return to pick them up. We also had a traditional AA cricket match, where Wycombe also proceeded to hit the only ball we had up into the branches of a tree. This is not the first time that he has ruined a game by losing a ball.
Much entertainment followed as first an attempt was made to scale the tree where certain death looked on the cards; and then Wycombe decided to launch bricks into the tree to try and dislodge the ball. It was only by pure chance that fatal head injuries were inflicted on the various children running around.
But possibly the most eventful AA wedding of all is about to happen when Wycombe himself takes his vows later this year and we go to a wedding reception at his beloved Wycombe Wanderers FC. Don’t ask me how he has engineered that as I thought he was not welcome in the ground after past misdemenours. Wycombe’s intended is actually a Saffer, so we are now moving on to a new international dimension. It could have been worse, I actually quite like Saffers.
Last time we were in South Africa (2015/16), Wycombe arranged to meet his future in-laws for the first time. I dropped him at the restaurant in Cape Town where the rendezvous was taking place and I have never seen anyone move so fast in their life when I said that I liked the look of the restaurant and thought I might come in my myself. “See you later, Herbie”, said Wycombe as he shot off like a rat down a drainpipe.
One can only guess what madness will ensue at this fourth wedding, and I rule nothing out as Wycombe is by far the clumsiest individual I have ever met in my life. If I survive this celebration, I might write a piece about it as there certainly will be something to report.