Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Second Eleven

Of course, when I said "tomorrow", I meant three days - but I'm allowed the occasional weekend of ill-advised hedonism, if it's accompanied of a day of feeling absolutely dreadful, right? Of course I am. So, tonight... the other characters from "Roy Of The Rovers", the football that I (and I daresay you) read religiously for a period of time in the late 1970s and early 1980s. For the most part, it was all about the adventures of Roy Race and Melchester Rovers, but that wasn't the complete story of the comic. There was a broad raft of secondary stories, that ranged from the predictable and mundane to the frankly bizarre. Time, I rather think, for one of my patented round-ups.

"The Hard Man" - The adventures of Danefield United captain (and occasional England player) Johnny Dexter, and his eccentric manager Viktor Boskovic (pictured). Dexter was a borderline psychopath centre half, but was nowhere near as interesting a character as Boskovic, an Eastern European of indeterminate nationality, whose psychological games and tactical nous channeled his captain's latently violent tendencies in a constructive way - most of the time, at least. Typical storyline - Viktor dresses as a vampire to scare his team into winning an important cup match.

"Mighty Mouse" - Kevin Mouse has been mentioned on here before. The squat,tubby, bespectacled striker who played part-time for Tottenford Rovers whilst inexplicably studying at St Victors Hospital, whose team he had to play for on Sunday mornings. Neither side of the arrangement was a happy one. St Victors manager, a wizened old man with a long beard and a walking stick called Doctor Mender, was constantly angry at the possibility that Mouse would get injured playing for Tottenford. Tottenford were (arguably justifiably) upset at the prospect of one of their best players getting lumps kicked out of him every Sunday morning. Typical storyline - Mouse gets injured getting booted up in the air playing for St Victors on a Sunday morning, and has a race against time to get fit for Tottenford's vital FA Cup Fifth Round match the next weekend, with hilarious consequences.

"The Safest Hands In Soccer" - A largely po-faced trip about goalkeeper Gordon Stewart, custodian for Tynefield City, who saved more or less every shot fired at him, and kept a toy skeleton called Fred in a bag as a good luck charm. Fat load of good it did him. He was killed in a plane crash off the coast of Brazil in 1982. But - BUT! It wasn't the end of the story! His son, Rick Stewart, signed for their nearest rivals, Tynefield United, and kept the story going for another couple of years. Typical storyline - Gordon/Rick has to keep ten clean sheets in a row to win £5,000 for an orphanage.

"The Football Family Robinson" - Oh yes. A family, The Robinsons, who make up an entire First Division football team, called Thatchem United. It does rather beg the question of who are the people that turned up every week to watch them, of course. The team's captain was Fred, a sixty year old who played whilst wearing a bowler hat, and their manager was Ma Robinson, a fierce matriarch, who was prone to going after people whilst wielding an umbrella. Typical storyline - Fred loses his bowler hat and his form goes down the pan, until he finds it.

"Hot Shot Hamish" - Hamish Balfour was an absurdly-proportioned giant from the Outer Hebrides who was signed by the Scottish giants Prince's Park. He travelled down with his pet sheep, McMutton, and got a reputation for his fierce shooting, which usually ripped a hole in the net or, occasionally, destroyed the entire goal. He was latterly joined in Scotland by the aforementioned Kevin Mouse. Now, that's entertainment. Typical storyline - Hamish has to kick a ball through a brick wall to rescue Mouse, who has locked himself in a broom cupboard at the hospital.

"Mike's Mini Men" - Mike Dailey's team was... a Subbuteo team, and Mike played in the local Subbuteo league with all of his friends from school. Perhaps surprisingly, his parents decided to transfer him to a boarding school, whereupon he had to introduce his (unrealistically ordinary) class-mates to the joys of flicking to kick. He was also an occasionally talented player for his school team. Typical storyline - Mike has to play the school bully at Subbuteo, and wins the respect of his friends and humiliates the bully by beating him.

If it wasn't for the fact that it's getting rather late, I could easily carry on with this: "Tommy's Troubles", "Simon's Secret", "Millionaire Villa" and "The Footballer Who Wouldn't Stay Dead" were all stalwarts of the comic that ran for many years. I'll save them for another day, though.


Ed said...

I loved Roy of the Rovers. I still want to do my own version of one of the strips, but I'm such a cunt I've not got round to it.

Gary said...

You forgot the best ever ROTR strip ... The Kid From Argentina, which they didn't have the balls to continue through the Falklands War.

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